Sunday, June 28, 2009

EDJUCATION-R-US: "We B Edjucatin' U." [Issue #2: Rocky & Bullwinkle Trivia]

Hello, Low IQers [as Bullwinkle J. Moose sez], welcome to "EDJUCATION-R-US: We B Edjucatin' U.; Issue #2: Rocky & Bullwinkle Trivia (Or, Test Yer Knowledge Of Moose & Squirrel)."

For too many years, I have said that The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle was the cartoon for brainy kids. I’ve said that mostly because, as a kid, Rocky & Bullwinkle was one of my two favorite cartoons, so I’ve been primarily trying to prop up the illusion of my own intelligence. But the truth is that Rocky & Bullwinkle really is one of the most clever and intelligently conceived kid’s programs ever. Rocky & Bullwinkle includes some of the wittiest humor content in the history of TV animation.

It was only after watching these shows as an adult, however, that I came to realize that we kids watching the Moose & Squirrel in the mid-‘60s were missing most of the stories. Perhaps as much as 70% of the material was written to entertain the adult mind, and being youngsters, the best parts of the presentations were going over our heads. Children, of course, are nearly always captivated by any moving cartoon; good quality is not essential. But despite the very poor quality of the actual animation, the writing in Rocky & Bullwinkle is funny, filled with double entendres and sly allusions to (then) current events and politics. If ever there was a cartoon aimed higher than a child’s head, Rocky And Bullwinkle was it.

I remember that when I was a kid, one of my favorite segments was Peabody & Sherman’s improbable trips back in history, and my least favorite was Dudley Do-Right. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate Dudley Do-Right a little more and Peabody & Sherman a little less. To Stephen T. McCarthy’s semi-adult 2009 mind, the improbable trips in the Waybac Machine are perhaps the show’s weakest link. What I enjoy the most now are the Fractured Fairy Tales and Aesop And Son. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Know-It-All, and the actual adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, of course!

In 1961, the show included introductions by a Bullwinkle hand puppet which would poke fun at celebrities and cultural events. Bragging about his multi-talented self, the Bullwinkle puppet once described himself as a kind of “Sammy Davis with antlers.” In one intro, he told kids how they could have a television set in their own bedrooms: drag Mommy and Daddy’s television into your own bedroom and lock the door. He promised that next week he would teach them about charging admission.

Eventually, however, the Bullwinkle puppet went too far. He suggested that the kids pull the channel-changing knob off the TV, “and that way you’ll be sure to be with us next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, and the week after that…” Well, when an estimated 20,000 kids did what Bullwinkle suggested, NBC came unglued! The next week, Bullwinkle suggested to the kids that they glue the knobs back on. The Bullwinkle puppet was given the axe soon thereafter. Now that’s funny stuffs!

On to the test, Low IQers. Get your old trusty Number 2 pencil and the back of a bill – gas bill, electric bill, water bill – any bill will do. Read the questions below and jot down the letter of the answer corresponding to what you wrongly believe to be the right answer. At the end of the test, compare your guesses with the correct answers and see how little you don’t know about a show you should know a lot… about. Granted, it’s a difficult test, but don’t cheat by checking out the answers before reading ALL the questions. Remember: cheaters never prosper. Well, actually, one can look around and see that cheaters nearly always prosper. But don’t cheat, ‘cause cheating is wrong with a capital Y! (Y not?)

Because the test is not easy, I’ve been easy on the grading. Alright, let’s get on it:

1: Rocky was born in…
A: Winnemucca, NV.
B: Frostbite Falls, MN.
C: Truth Or Consequences, NM.
D: Slipperysnake, TX.
E: Los Angeles, CA.

2: Bullwinkle attended which college?
A: Wossamotta U.
B: Frostbite Falls Jr. Junior College.
C: M.I.T. (Moosylvania Institute of Technicalities).
D: University of Moosylvania North-Eastern Southwest.
E: Purdy Poly.
F: All of the above.

3: Bullwinkle received a college scholarship to participate in…
A: Football.
B: Baseball.
C: Water Polo.
D: Choir.
E: Rocket Science.

4: Which of these textbooks did Bullwinkle study at college?
A: Dick And Jane At The Seashore.
B: 101 Moose Calls.
C: The Misguided Low I.Q.ers Guide to Moosylvania History, Part IV.
D: The Hardly Boys Mystery Of The Vanishing American.
E: Everyday Stuffs For Practical Mooses.
F: Who’s Who Of North American Moose.

5: When that brainy beagle Mr. Peabody first saw Sherman, the boy was…
A: Being beaten up by other boys.
B: Making mud pies in a puddle.
C: Being used by a blind German Shepherd as a “seeing eye boy.”
D: Chasing cats in the park.
E: Playing polo.

6: Mr. Peabody’s first name is…
A: Hector.
B: Henry.
C: Harvey.
D: Horatio.
E: William.

7: The first time Mr. Peabody and Sherman entered the Waybac time machine together, they traveled to…
A: Ancient Rome.
B: Ancient Africa.
C: Ancient Egypt.
D: “The day before yesterday.”
E: The American Revolutionary War.

8: Boris Badenov answers to…
A: Fearless Leader.
B: Big Bossman.
C: Neckneeda Khrustchev.
D: Captain Comintern.

9: What size shoe does Bullwinkle wear?
A: 22.
B: 20.
C: 58
D: 103.

10: The first famous person Mr. Peabody and Sherman interacted with was…
A: Benjamin Franklin.
B: Wyatt Earp.
C: William Shakespeare.
D: Sir Walter Raleigh.
E: Ulysses Grant.

11: Mr. Peabody and Sherman live…
A: In a New York City penthouse.
B: In a steamboat on the Mississippi River.
C: On a ranch in Wyoming.
D: In a fictional place called Youtopia.
E: In Frostbite Falls, Minnesota.

12: At the time Mr. Peabody decided to adopt Sherman, the boy was living in…
A: The Hardrock Orphan Home.
B: Wilbur’s Home For Wayward Boys
C: A hollow log.
D: A dark alley.
E: A Cave.

13: The population of Frostbite Falls is…
A: 29.
B: 59.
C: 103.
D: 2.

14: Boris Badenov has received a medal for…
A: Burning down an orphanage.
B: Kicking a small dog.
C: Taking candy from babies.
D: All of the above.

15: What exclamation does Rocky frequently use?
A: Hokey-Smoke!
B: Hoo-Wee!
C: Flibbertigibbit!
D: Phfft!
E: Pshaw!

16: The Frostbite Falls newspaper is called…
A: Picayne Intelligence.
B: The Cold Hard Facts Times.
C: The Frozen Gazette.
D: The Icicle Outlook.
E: The Overlook Overview.

17: A good friend to Moose & Squirrel is…
A: Captain Peter Peachfuzz.
B: Professor Yoey O’Dogherty.
C: Special Agent Stanky Stover.
D: Rasslin’ Wilbur Whatchacallit.
E: Elkhart J. Elk.

18: What apparel does Bullwinkle customarily wear?
A: Gloves.
B: Hat.
C: Boots.
D: A Bow Tie.
E: A String Tie.

19: In the first Dudley Do-Right episode, we are told, “At the close of the 19th Century, Canada was overrun with _____ and smugglers.”
A: Canadians.
B: Thieves.
C: Bandits.
D: Villains.
E: Moose.

20: Snidely Whiplash and his band of musicians are called…
A: Guy Whiplash And His Disloyal Canadians.
B: Nelson Spittle And His Band Of Note-Droppers.
C: Lawrence Welch And His Count ‘Em Five.
D: Perry Shlomo And The Sleepwalking Canadians.
E: Elvis Whiplash And The Likeable Villains.

21: What got Dudley Do-Right thrown out of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police?
A: Eating peas with a knife.
B: Disguising himself as Snidely Whiplash.
C: Giving perfume to Nell Fenwick.
D: Riding His Horse backwards.
E: None of the above.

22: Boris and Natasha are from…
A: Pottsylvania.
B: Rooskieburg.
C: United Smelly States of Rodentstan.
D: Villainville.
E: Frostbite Falls.

23: Dudley Do-Right’s horse is named…
A: Horse.
B: Nellie.
C: Horatio.
D: Stanley Steed.
E: Gidyap.

24: The voice of Rocky was provided by…
A: June Foray.
B: Edward Everett Horton.
C: Sterling Holloway.
D: Mary Martin.
E: John Fiedler.

25: According to The World Economic Council, the real basis for our world economy is…
A: Box Tops.
B: Sand Dollars.
C: S&H Green Stamps.
D: Magazine Coupons.
E: Clams.

26: The first lesson taught by Mr. Know-It-All was…
A: How to train your doggy for fun and profit.
B: The ABCs of singing in the key of E.
C: How to pull a rabbit out of your hat.
D: How to capture a pink elephant.
E: How to avoid papa’s paddle and make a fortune in the process.

27: The Frostbite Falls school colors are…
A: Pomegranate and Puce.
B: Hypothermia Blue and Icicle White.
C: Custard Yellow and Nonfat Milk White.
D: Chartreuse and Grenadine.
E: Black and Blue.

28: Rocky is regularly described as…
A: Plucky.
B: Speedy.
C: Quick-thinking.
D: Heroic.
E: Obsequious.

29: The Coast Guard once mistook Rocky & Bullwinkle for enemy agents from a submarine named…
A: Hokey-Smoke.
B: The Bamboozled.
C: Deep Six.
D: The Lulu.
E: Underwear.

30: Nell Fenwick was in love with…
A: Dudley Do-Right’s horse.
B: Snidely Whiplash.
C: The Camp Commander, Smedley Canuck.
D: Her distant husband, “Dear Dan.”
E: Dudley Do-Right.

(*If you get it right, you can add it to your score; if you get it wrong, it does not count against you.)
The first time Boris Badenov encountered Mr. Peabody he…
A: Ran away.
B: Tied a tin can to Peabody’s tail.
C: Attempted to put a leash on him.
D: Tried to swindle him out of $100.

OK, how did you do? Here are the meanings for the scores:


Pick up a copy of “Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends; Complete Season 1” and confirm for yourself that the correct answer to every question on this test is “A.”

Well, I hope that at the very least, youz all Fans Of Moose & Squirrel. If not, get on it!


~ Stephen T. McCarthy

“Now here’s something we hope you’ll REALLY like”:
EDJUCATION-R-US: "We B Edjucatin' U." [Issue #1: Polatics & Soshial Studies]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009



Do you remember where you were when you first heard that Kennedy had been shot and killed? (Either Kennedy?) Do you remember where you were when Neil Armstrong took mankind’s first fake step on the Moon? Or where you were when Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear? Do you know where you were when the major American events of the 20th Century's second half occurred? How about June 17, 1977? Do you know where you were on that day? I know where I was.

On the afternoon of June 17, 1977, 32 years ago this very day, I graduated from Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI). Ever see James Dean’s second movie “Rebel Without A Cause”? SAMOHI played the part of Dawson High in that famous film. (That seal Jim accidentally stepped on and caught hell for? It’s still there.)

A few hours after the graduation ceremony, I and a hundred or more SAMOHI graduates were riding buses to Disneyland for the Grad Nite ’77 celebration. I was with my buddy Eric and at one point in the evening, having just gotten off the Matterhorn ride, we heard a band playing the song “MOONLIGHT FEELS RIGHT” from a temporary stage set up between the Matterhorn and the It’s A Small World rides. I said to Eric, “Man, that sounds exactly like the real song; let’s go see.”

“Moonlight Feels Right” had gone to number three on the Billboard Top 40 chart in July of ’76 – America’s Bicentennial. It was a monster hit less than a year old which everyone had heard and even Lawrence Welk liked. The band on stage, STARBUCK, was playing the song so perfectly that I was sure they must be the original artist. Eric and I caught the last half of “Moonlight” and then Starbuck launched into their closing number “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rocket”, with its dual-drumming finale. I was so enthralled by what I’d seen that the next day – my first full day as a high school graduate – I went out and bought Starbuck’s two LPs, “Moonlight Feels Right” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rocket.” For the next couple of years, I nearly wore those licorice pizzas out.

In 1988, I sold off my turntable and record collection and began buying compact discs instead. Since those first two Starbuck albums have never been released on CD, I went 21 years without hearing those great old tunes… until last Monday.

To me, songs like “Moonlight…”, “…Rocket”, “One Of These Mornings”, and “Benny Bought The Big One” represent that borderland between my childhood and my adulthood. I discovered them while still a teenager, but in the last 24 hours of my total freedom; that blink before I was forced out into the world. Next up: find a job; become a responsible, contributing citizen in “this world.” Damn! Don’t you hate it when that happens?

So, I have as much sentimental attachment to these songs as I have to any music ever recorded. I’d been waiting since ’88 for someone to finally release this music in the CD format. There have been numerous bogus releases in the past, repackaged Starbuck demos and songs remixed beyond all recognition, and I was taken once - separated from my bucks by some pseudo-Starbuck product called “Backtracks.” Well, I finally got tired of waiting for someone to release the first two albums in their original entirety. So, recently, I surrendered and bought a kind of ‘Best Of’ compilation from Starbuck’s leader and principal songwriter Bruce Blackman.

I received the disc last Wednesday but I waited until Monday, my day off from work, to play it. I wanted to really reminisce; I wanted to do it right by digging those old songs in the old ways, like while drinking some Southern Comfort and cola, such as Eric and I did in our rebellious underaged drinking years. (Southern Comfort and cola: Yuck! Imagine 70 proof pancake syrup. Tiggers don’t like that icky sticky stuffs!) You know, I wanted to recreate the entire atmosphere - take a little trip in the Waybac Machine to 1977 and rediscover my lost youth. I even dragged out my high school yearbooks and viewed the old places and the young faces I once saw daily.

Awww, what happened to most of those boys and girls? I know what happened to a few of them: some died; some went to prison; and some, like me, are both dead AND in prison. (Oh, you didn’t know I’m incarcerated? Sure! I’m doing 40 To Life for impersonating a man who cares.)

Look here in these yearbooks: There’s a picture of Party Marty - killed in a car accident. There’s photos of Ty and Kelly - both death by suicide. There’s a picture of me - Sheesh! Look at that hair! Ahhh, and there’s a photo of Jean Gonzalez. AHHHhhhhh… Jean. I was so hot for her in 1975 that I was admitted to a hospital burn unit! But she was a senior the year I was a sophomore and I knew she was 20,000 Leagues out of my league. I occupied the desk right next to hers in Public Speaking class and I wasn’t going to give up that spot to ANYONE for ANY reason! Period! You want that seat? You’ll have to pry it off my cold, dead butt!

I’ll never forget the time Jean lip-synced to Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You” in front of the Public Speaking class. Gee, that was a bird-tweetingly bad song! But, oh my gosh, you shoulda seen the way her sexy body moved! Just swaying up there, slowly gyrating. Ooh, mama! I gave her two standing ovations. Future TV star Heather Thomas may have been one of the school’s Homecoming Princesses, but Jean was my queen. Of course, for all I know, Jean – wherever she is today - could be twice divorced with 2.5 grandkids and carrying 40.5 pounds of extra weight. (Hmmm… I’ll take her!) But no matter what she may or may not be today, let me tell ya, in her day, that girl was hotter’n a Phoenix Summer and cooler than a cold shower. (Hmmm… I’ll take one!)

Well, I knew the SoCo and cola was doing its thang real good-like when I dropped the track listing card that accompanied the Starbuck compact disc. The card fell out of my hand in slow motion and I went to catch it and missed… five times. Ha! And I’m ordinarily not very unathletic. (Yeah, try writing a sentence like that the next time you get the idea you’re a gifted athlete.) Eventually, the Starbuck songs, the high school yearbooks, and the SoCo combo had my mind floating and all my hair seemed dark and perfect! I haven’t felt that good since… since… well, since 1977. The crow’s feet were gone, the grey in my hair was gone, the arthritis in my joints was gone, my vision was 20/20, and my virginity was restored and… perfect! My gosh, if we can bottle that feeling we’ll make a trillion dollars! We’ll call it “Southern Comfort.” That’s taken? OK, then we’ll call it “Love Potion Number Nineteen Seventy-Seven.”

Listening to Starbuck and staring at those faces from the past was bittersweet; color me a shade of Melancholy. Life was so young then and everyone’s future was so full of promise. We were at the starting line of Life and we knew things would change for the better. So much for Hope and Change. How did I get here?

My 1977 yearbook records the answers to questions posed to graduating seniors that year. According to my answers, thirty-two years ago, my hobby was “Playing Sports”, my future plan was “Theatre”, and the animal I most identified with was a “Lion.” Now, my hobby is “Blogging”, my future plan is “Breathing”, and the animal I most identify with is a “Jackass.” How DID I get here?

If someone could have told me in 1977, while I was standing there at Disneyland watching Starbuck play, that 32 years later I’d be sitting in this Phoenix house, staring out the window at a palm tree and a saguaro cactus and remembering high school as “The Good Ol’ Days”, I would have replied, “Nah. That’s somebody else’s future, not mine.” Oh well, I still have most of my hair and virtually dozens of brain cells. In some ways I’m a very wealthy man.

At one point, while listening to these half-forgotten Starbuck songs and being lost in thoughts of the past, I saw a little bird fly over the saguaro and I cursed Bruce Blackman for leaving the song “Little Bird” off this compilation. And then, naturally, that made me think about how all the dogs and cats that were on this planet when I was watching Starbuck play at Disneyland in 1977 are now dead and gone. [I don’t explain if you don’t understand.]

One wish and one suggestion reappears over and over again in my students’ autograph books from the ‘70s: 1) Stephen, good luck with the girls! 2) Get over your shyness. Well, I finally gave up on girls, but I’m still working at overcoming my shyness. (How’m I doing?)

What about the songs? How do they sound to me now? Think of Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jimmy Buffett and Carmen Miranda versus the Monkees in a pineapple and coconut fight on Maui. In other words, I love them! God knows I love ‘em! To some ears these tunes may sound really dated with their heavy synthesizer use and even a couple appearances of the Framptonian talk box. But I may actually dig these songs more now than I did in ’77. Singer Bruce Blackman has remixed all but a couple of these songs (thankfully, he didn’t mess with “Moonlight…” or “One Of These Mornings”) and in some instances, he even inserted newly recorded sections into the old songs. Being a purist, this would have irritated me even more if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the additions actually improve the songs.

“Don’t You Know How To Love A Lady?” is an entirely new recording, however. Now a countrified piano lounge ballad, it was better in its original uptempo form. (Sorry, Bruce, you screwed that one up. You can’t sing “You tell me that all I am is a belly full of beer; a pile of bones wrapped up in masculine veneer” as a ballad! Sheesh!) That boo-boo aside, Bruce Blackman shows again that he has a unique knack for crafting a memorable pop song. It’s a wonder Starbuck didn’t score half a dozen major AM radio hits in the late ‘70s! Yeah, it’s pure pop cotton candy fluff, but it sho is sweet. (Try it with the SoCo and cola!)

A couple of the songs are painted a shade Saudade. And “One Of These Mornings” is just downright Goldenshadow. You know, sort of the way the Carpenters’ 1973 hit “Sing” is Goldenshadow? [I don’t explain if you don’t understand.]

Well, I’m sober again and living in the present again. Damn! Don’t you hate it when that happens? (How did I get here? No, REALLY?!) And I ain’t got nuthin’ else to say, so I’ll close now, but not before asking y’all the same question that Bruce Blackman asks just before the drum solo in the song “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rocket.” This is the question that changed my life:


~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Santa Monica High School, or Dawson High to James Dean:

My 1977 Grad Nite ticket stub:

Disneyland’s 1977 Grad Nite program:

Starbuck pictured inside the 1977 Grad Nite program:

An out-of-focus cell phone photo of the picture of Jean Gonzalez in my 1975 high school yearbook. [I don’t explain if you don’t understand!!!]:


Monday, June 1, 2009



Thomas Wolfe was half wrong. You CAN go home again, but everything’s gonna look much smaller.

Just got in Saturday night after nine days of W & W (West & Welaxation) in the Los Angeles area where I was waised. This was the first vacation that my brother Nappy and my sister Bonehead and I all took together since we were little kids and Ma and Pa were threatening to turn the car around and take us directly home. “This is the last vacation we’ll ever take you kids on!” Yeah, wight!

When Sis learned that Nappy and I were planning a trip to LaLaLand, she asked if she could tag along. All three of us kept remarking on how odd it was we should vacation together back “home.” We joked that perhaps California is about to drop into the sea (finally! It’s about time!) and God was giving us one last opportunity to visit our old haunts. On Interstate 10, heading East toward Phoenix, Airheadzona, at the conclusion of a mostly successful trip, we kept looking into the rear view mirror expecting to see a tidal wave gaining on us.

Well, Day 1 [Friday] went fine except we kept having to pull over so someone could pee-pee or poo-poo. Don’tcha hate it when that happens? Once the car’s engine turns over to begin a roadtrip, I don’t like to stop until we get “there.” Gotta go? Do it out the window at 83 mph. Sheesh! Anyway, we did make a worthwhile stop at Hadley’s in Cabazon where the dinosaurs roam. I wanted one of them banana/date shakes and Nappy wanted one of them ostrich burgers. Sis just wanted to pee-pee.

Day 2 [Saturday], we went to Topanga Canyon for their Topanga Days Fair because Kuzin J (our cousin) was performing with his band at the festival. Pooh picked us up at our hotel, then we stopped to get my sweet-hearted friend The Flying Aardvark who had found the courage to hang out with us for most of the day. Pooh went in to rob a bank but somewhere between the front door and the teller’s window, he forgot why he was there. This slowed us down some.

On the way to Topanga Canyon, I got Pooh to tune in my old favorite radio station: 88.1 FM - L.A.’s authentic Jazz and Blues station. This is the genuine article, no Kenny G or ZZ Top here. This is where you’ll hear Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. The Real Deal, cool Jazz and Hot Blues 24/7.

The organizers of the Topanga Fair situated the activities on the top of a steep hill in order to prevent the out-of-shape riffraff from entering. But we parked the car, and crawling on our bellies and pulling butt muscles we didn’t know we had, we reached the top and fell through the entrance in record time (1 hour, 14 minutes: the slowest time from car to fairgrounds – a new record!)

Here’s my Cousin, J, singing like a Rock star in Topanga Canyon:

At the Topanga Days Fair everything was rainbow this, hemp that, and magic the other thing. My Sis, Bonehead, my friend, Aard, and my cousin’s wife, Adrienne, were the only females with brassieres and clean-shaven underarms.

At one point, this Gypsy woman began calling out to Nappy to visit her table. I warned him not to look her in the eyes but it was too late and the Gypshe drew Nappy to her. Then she cleared his energy centers by giving them enemas with her magic, rainbow hippie cards. “What have you done to my brother and his clogged chakras?” Oh well, rainbow sh#t happens.

After Kuzin J’s Rock ‘N’ Roll gig, we all decided to cruise down to Venice Beach for lunch at The Sidewalk Café. Yeah, good luck with that! This was Memorial Day weekend and every street was packed. No parking to be had at ANY price. Plan B: El Coyote Mexican restaurant on Beverly Boulevard near Hollywood. And of course, you can’t go to El Coyote without having a couple of their absolutely perfect margaritas. Hands and heads down (on the bar) the best margaritas ANYWHERE, EVER! Well, Pooh and Aard didn’t have a margarita (the non-margarita-havin’ M.F.s) but Bonehead, Nappy and I did. In 1976, when Warren Zevon sang, “All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, I’m gonna drink ‘em up”, I have no doubt that it was El Coyote’s margaritas that Warren had in mind.

At the end of the meal, everyone just threw money onto the table and Pooh wound up with the thankless task of organizing the bread and checking it with the bill, making sure the waiter was getting an appropriate tip. So, while poor Pooh was struggling with that job – the job nobody else wanted - Nappy yelled, “Watch him! He’s fast with his hands!” I cracked up.

Day 3 [Sunday], First, Sis, Bro and I met Pooh again for B.C. (Breakfast Club) at Rae’s restaurant, a Santa Monica landmark on Pico Boulevard. A very 1950s diner with prices to match. Just about any weekend morning will find a line of people sometimes stretching almost a block long to get into Rae’s. The original diner style architecture has made Rae’s a favorite with photographers; it has been featured in numerous television shows and commercials and, unless memory fails me, even showed up prominently in the old Eddie Money music video for his song “Shakin’” (Aard, ya wanna check me on that?) Rae’s, a real blast from the past, and in the early ‘80s, one of our favorite hangover morning recovery sites. Recognize it?...

Later, Bonehead, Nappy and I spent the morning checking out our lost history: Grant, our old elementary school; Santa Monica high school (SAMOHI) which we all graduated from; the mall / business district; our Little League baseball fields; and the ol’ ‘Hood. The house we spent most of our formative years in was the only thing or place that was larger than we remembered. But that’s just because someone had razed the little box we were raised in and built an elaborate, yellow, two-story Spanish-styled house in its place.

Here’s a picture of Grant Elementary school, where I had a crush on a third grader named Yolanda, as I chronicled in “Dear Diarrhea”:

Sunday night, I got together with Aard for dinner at El Cholo, then we went to her West L.A. pad to watch Eddie Cochran in the movie Untamed Youth – a really bad 1957 movie that would have made Ed Wood proud. Afterwards, to cleanse our minds, we watched American Hot Wax, a movie about Alan Freed and the early days of Rock ‘N’ Roll, which I’d been wanting to see again for years.

On Monday, Memorial Day, We Two Kings And A Queen intended to do da Beach thang. We had visions of bodysurfing the Pacific Ocean and loafing all day long in the sand. I thought I’d check out the half-nekid babes on the beach, inquiring into availability and possible interest in an old and very white Old Schooler from the Lifeguard Station #26 ‘Hood. Unfortunately, there was no surf to speak of. Not a wave large enough to warrant suffering the cold water and the itchy post-surfing salt on back and shoulders agony. Poop!

So, we just soaked up the Venice Beach freak show and finally made it to The Sidewalk Café. Sis had the chorizo and cheese pizza while I had my usual, the Garcia Lorca omelette (green chiles and jack cheese). The Sidewalk Café offers the ultimate in Venice Beach atmosphere and it’s a must-visit for anyone vacationing in Los Angeles. All the omelettes at the Café are named after famous authors because the Café has an association with the Small World Books store next door.

After decades of eating the Garcia Lorca, I decided it was high time I read something the dude had written, so I bought myself a souvenir from Small World Books: “SELECTED VERSE (Revised Bilingual Edition) of Federico Garcia Lorca.” Lorca was a homosexual communist (a Homunist) whereas I am the opposite - a heterosexual Constitutionalist (a Heterocon), so I may not find Lorca’s poetry something I can relate to. So far, it’s not promising. Having now read a couple of Lorca’s shorter poems, I think I want my $16. back. His omelette may be better than his poetry, and hell, $16. is two or three El Coyote margaritas. Uhp! I’m an idiot!

Here’s a photo of a Venice Beach bum’s bum:

Perhaps you recognize Turban Boy, he’s Venice Beach’s most famous Zappazoid [I just made that word up]:

At my insistence, Nappy, Sis and I stopped in at The Townhouse saloon in the heart of Venice Beach for a drink. This is the bar I used as a principal location in the screenplay I wrote back in 1991. I told the bartender I wanted a margarita (still had the El Coyote margaritas melting my mind) and he replied, “Well, I don’t make anything that requires a blender. If you want a margarita, it’s going to come in a salted glass with no ice and no slush; straight up, the way God intended.” I gave him a big thumbs up and agreed that this is exactly the way God intended a margarita to be made and the only way I’ll drink ‘em (a la El Coyote style). Good bartender! Warren Zevon would have said, “You make ‘em that way, and I'm gonna drink 'em all up!”

Here’s what one internet reviewer has written about The Townhouse:

Have you ever walked into an establishment for the soul purpose of making a handful of bad decisions? Well if you ever get in that mood, I have the place! THE TOWNHOUSE/ Monday - Ladies Night!

We noticed that California’s Governator had the piggly wigglys out in full force over the Memorial Day weekend. Automobile drivers and bike riders were getting cited right and left. Everywhere we turned, someone else was getting a cheesy ticket for one thing or another. I guess the Governator is going to get that tax money for the state one way or another, and of course, piggly wigglys are always only too ready to spring into action “to protect and to serve.” Unless, of course, there’s a Rodney King Riot and things get a bit dangerous. That’s when the little Pigglys go into hiding and disappear from the L.A. streets. Yer on yer own then, folks. I think it’s past time that we as a society should at least be honest enough to stop calling cops “police officers” and begin referring to them as the more accurately descriptive “revenue officers.”

Heading back to the car, we walked past Aaardvark’s, a funky secondhand clothing store in Venice Beach. (No, not owned by my sweet-hearted friend The Flying Aardvark.) For a block and a half, nobody said anything until Sis eventually spoke up: “That was a pretty cool shirt hanging in the Aaardvark’s window back there.” It was like she had read my mind. “I know! I was thinking the exact same thing! Ya wanna go back?” Nappy didn’t want to retrace our steps (he’s like a shark that must always be moving forward or it will suffocate to death), but we insisted. There was some question as to who would get the shirt, but when I tried it on, she saw the fit and how “me” it was and Sis said it was meant for me. There was no price on the tag so the gal behind the counter asked, “How about five bucks?” I said “OK” calmly, hiding my pleasantly surprised pleasure with the price.

I asked Nappy if he liked the shirt and he said, “Yeah, just don’t wear it when you’re around me.” He has no aesthetic sense at all, but Sis and I do. The thing is styled like an old Hawaiian or Bowling team shirt with a 1950s hot rod theme, and yeah, it's loud but so am I. In fact, it looks sort of exactly like this because this is a picture of it:

Day 5 [Tuesday], I drove out to Lancaster to visit my old “Dummy Extra” friend Big Al. He’s got a great idea that’s going to make us a lot of money. Big Al owns a house on close to two acres of land in a place called Quartz Hill (which I call Nascarville). He had the idea of throwing a huge End Of The World party in December, 2012, and charging big bucks for people to attend. I told him if we get R.E.M. to play, we can call it the “It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) Party.” We’ll throw this Clam Bake on December 21/22 to celebrate the cataclysmic event that is going to destroy the world as we know it (hopefully), or not. We’ll run a shuttle up to Big Al’s compound and let people throw up all over the place. The booze and bands (and broads?) will come with the price of admission. If the world ends, we all went out partying, and if it doesn’t, well, Nascarville is going to be Hangoverville for many. Either way, me ‘n’ Big Al are going to be… IN THE MONEY and we’ll all have a real good time.

Day 6 [Wednesday] We Two Kings And A Queen checked out of our L.A. hotel. Before heading South, we paid a visit to the gravesite of my dear departed friend, Marty Brumer, at Hillside Memorial Park And Mortuary. You remember Party Marty, I wrote about him fairly extensively in “What I Imagine And What Imagines Me.”

Below is a photo of Marty’s headstone at Hillside. I left him some fresh squeezed orange juice in accordance with my tradition. It was either that or Evian bottled water, but since Marty was a California boy and this is the sunkist Golden State after all, I’ve always left him the O.J.

Afterwards, Nappy and Bonehead had a craving for a Tommy’s Burger, so we visited one of L.A.’s most famous and popular institutions. Tommy’s is a burger chain started in Los Angeles in 1946 (before my time) and it has spawned many formidable imitators. Their chili burger is the sort of stuffs we all ate after closing time and when the Jack Daniel’s at the homepad was dead. This is genuinely original Angeleno late night fare. If the Piggly Wigglys were smart, they’d just automatically arrest for the crime of public intoxication everyone ordering a Tommy’s Burger between the hours of 2 A.M. and 4 A.M. All the original Tommy’s and the Tom’s Number 1 through 666 imitators draw drunks like crap draws flies, and they could all be transformed into drunk tanks in those early morning hours. Drunks smell that chili and they gotz to have it. [Google: Tommy's Wikipedia]

Everything - the burgers, the dogs, the fries – EVERYTHING! - comes drowning in chili at Tommy’s. Here’s a picture of the Tommy’s Burger that Nappy downed. Just looking at it makes me feel simultaneously liquored up and hungover:

After Bro and Sis gobbled up their Tommy’s, we drove down to “The O.C.” But of course, when I was a little kid living in Orange County – from kindergarten (which I dropped out of) through 4th grade – the place didn’t have a posh nickname like “The O.C.”; at that time, it was thought of more as Trailertrashville.

We checked into this scuzzy little fleabag joint in Buena Park. The name of the place was a good clue: The Raid Motel. But we’re not stupid; it’s not like we didn’t know what we were checking into. But the other two places in the area with vacancies sounded even less appealing. I didn’t care for the disconcerting slogan of The California Hotel: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” And The Bates Motel was just out of the question.

On Thursday, Day number... Hmmm… I forget what day number we’re on now, but anyhow… on Thursday, the McCarthy Kids drove around The O.C., checking out our old neighborhoods and stuffs. Saw “The Magic School” and “The Bad School” and our own elementary school, Iva Meairs in Garden Grove. We saw what was once Mrs. Ruth Eckland’s Daycare Center where we were all corralled after school until Mommy got off work. Went by the house on Ward street and the one on Jennrich in Westminster. Good ol’ memories.

Early afternoon, we drove down to Huntington Beach hoping the surf was rideable but it wasn’t. There were a few surfers in wetsuits getting no more than three and occasionally four second rides on one and occasionally two foot swells. [See the photo at the top of this Blog Bit.] Not worth the sunblock bath. The lack of surf was the only real disappointment in the trip. But it was a major downer. All three McCarthy Kids spent the Summers bodysurfing, and spending a couple of days riding waves in the Pacific-O was one of the primary goals of the vacation for We Two Kings And A Queen. Fine, see if we ever go to California again!

We ate lunch at a cool little Huntington Beach joint called Sharkeez and then just dinked around the beach area. In one souvenir shop I found the advertisement card shown below. Now that’s what I call eye-catching advertising. Well, it caught my eye anyway and it made me as saxobuglebone as a longtime prison inmate. So, I called my doctor and he said I should take two of these semi-nekid Huntington Beach Beachez and call him in the morning. I like my doctor: he immediately - over the phone! - diagnosed my inflamed libido and prescribed the meds necessary to relieve my ossified osmanthus. Yeah, I got yer Pre-Sunburn Party RIGHT HERE! [*Ouch! That hurt.*]
Leaving Huntington Beach un-sunburned and disappointed, we decided to pick up some Deans Brothers Beer at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. Unfortunately, they were out of stock on the Deans Bro Brew but - Holy Inebriation! – Hi-Time Wine Cellars has the greatest selection of beer I’ve ever seen ANYWHERE! I mean, they had beers I couldn’t have pronounced even if I had heard of them before. A guy could set out with the goal of sampling one bottle of every brew they carry and never sober up, dying of old age with a bad liver long before completing the assignment. Sheesh! I never saw anything like this in my life. Well, I settled on a novelty beer instead: Monty Python’s HOLY GRAIL ALE, “Tempered Over Burning Witches.” I knew it wasn’t going to be especially good but my sense of humor wouldn’t allow me to pass on it. But if yer a Bud, Miller, or Coors drinker, you’ll think this is pretty good stuffs.

Didja notice the avocado in the lower left? I never travel to California without picking up some great Hass Avocados and some of that wonderful Knudsen’s Buttermilk. Stupendous stuffs and as authentically Southern California as a Tommy’s Burger.

On Friday, Day Number Who Knows, Nappy and I went to Knott’s Berry Farm while Bonehead went lunching and shopping with her Mom-In-Law. We selected the wrong time for Knott’s as it was Munchkin Day or something. Lots of little screamin’ kids everywhere. Oh well, Kids Happen. But I got a kick out of it when the ride operator on the Calico Mine Ride told us after the train had come to a stop that we could now stand up and open the doors, adding: “This isn’t Disneyland; those doors aren’t going to open themselves.”

Below is a statue of a Westerner at Knott’s Berry Farm panning for gold. Nappy once said, “I sure would like to get HIM in a game of Butts Up!" *
[*Postscript: Nappy is concerned that those unfamiliar with the game of Butts Up might come away from this Blog Bit thinking he's some kind of gay boy. A brief explanation is in order: Butts Up is a game we all played in grade school. Although the rules were somewhat complicated, in general, the game required the one-handed catching of a tennis ball thrown against a wall, and failure could result in an unfortunate player having to bend over at the wall giving his competitor a free shot to plunk him in the rear end with the ball. It was a great game and should be included in Olympic competition. And some folks wonder why today I'm such a calloused ass. Knott's Boy in this photo has a seat that is about three sizes too big for the rest of his body. Nappy figures he'd be a "can't-miss" target in a game of Butts Up.]
Below is a picture of Sad-Eye Joe, who’s been in jail at Knott's Berry Farm since before I was even born. I don’t know what crime he committed but it must have been a Big No!-No! He’s taking it pretty well though and the bottle of Redeye on a table next to him probably helps ease his mind. Ol’ Joe still talks to everyone who visits him - knows yer name and all sorts of stuffs about yer personal life! How do he do it? Joe’s been amazing little kids for, like, forever! But I’ll bet he’s pretty danged saxobuglebone by now. Jail will do that to man… uhm... I’ve heard it said. I should have slipped that Huntington Beach Pre-Sunburn Party advertisement between the bars just to be mean to Sad-Eye Joe, just to get his dander up and, well, you know... whatever.
Directly East of Knott’s Berry Farm, just across Beach Boulevard, Walter Knott had a replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall erected. [See photo below.] Mr. Knott was an outspoken anti-communist, pro-Constitution patriot. Which of course is why the federal government eventually attacked him with its criminal bully organization the I.R.S., as mentioned by W. Cleon Skousen in his excellent book “The Naked Capitalist.” So, the next time you’re at Knott’s Berry Farm, remember that Walter Knott was not just the man who named and popularized the boysenberry and who conceived of and created America’s first themed amusement park, but that he was also a stalwart patriot who NEVER would have voted for USAP.
Later that night, our last evening of the trip, Bonehead, Nappy and I all got together at the Claim Jumper to watch the Lakers beat up on the Nuggets, and Nappy and I finally had martinis together – a vacation tradition. Nappy had ordered one earlier on our trip at the Four Points Sheraton bar near LAX, but whatever that female bartender had made for him, it sure as hell wasn’t a martini. The two red cherries in the drink was the first tip-off. Never put a woman behind a bar to do a man’s job.

But even at the Claim Jumper (a restaurant I love) our waitress had to come back twice, first to ask if we wanted vermouth in the martinis (uh, huuullooooo!) and then to see if we wanted a lemon twist or olives. Ya know, when a guy can’t even order a simple Old School Martini (the drink that made America greater) without first filling out a questionnaire, there’s definitely a problem in this country. I think the Martini problem is the U.S.A.’s great illness in microcosm. Martini: a drink made with chilled gin and vermouth and two green olives. America, what’s so freakin’ hard to understand about that?! What part of gin, vermouth and green olives do you not get? Sheesh! It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

Anyway, we finally got the damned martinis and we were feeling much better, thank you.

On Saturday, we made that nasty drive East across the desert to Phoenix, Airheadzona, but making a worthwhile stop at Hadley’s in Cabazon where the dinosaurs roam, so I could get one of them date shakes, so Nappy could get one of them ostrich burgers, and so Sis could go pee-pee.

I think one of the best things that happened on this trip was that I finally finished the Blues song I started writing in early 1986. In my youth, I wrote a number of (what I call) “poems”, but only once did I write something I intended to be a song. This was inspired by the most revered Bluesman of all time, Robert Johnson, and his great devil tunes like “Cross Road Blues”, “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)” and “Me And The Devil Blues.” I titled mine “Devil On My Coattail Blues” only I never got around to adding a chorus to it in order to make it a legitimate song.

Well, driving back to L.A. from Big Al’s compound in Nascarville, I was listening to the Todd Snider Anthology that my buddy The Great L.C. had burned for me. Hearing Snider’s bluesy tunes “Doublewide Blues” and “Betty Was Black (And Willie Was White)” I was convinced I needed to put the final touches on my own song. So, on that long drive through the mountains, I came up with the decades-absent chorus. Here, I am publicly unveiling all the lyrics to “Devil On My Coattail Blues.” (Be kind!) Maybe I can get R.E.M. to play it at our “It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) Party.”

I wish I was a young man lyin’ in a riverbed
I wish I was a young man dead
Wish I wasn’t lonely, tired an’ sore
Wish there was something I could live for
I don’t fancy life, I guess it’s easy to see
I don’t talk with God ‘cause He don’t recognize me

I’m drinkin’ with the devil ‘cause I’ve little to lose
I’m drinkin’ with the devil ‘cause I’ve little to lose
I’m drinkin’ with the devil
Got the devil on my coattail blues

I Took a walk with satan up aroun’ the bend
He put his arm around me an’ called me his “friend”
We went to his apartment and sat down to tea
“Steve”, he said, “do a favor for me:
I’m one soul short of my quota for the year;
Perhaps we could strike a deal right here.”


I said, “I won’t sell today, but tomorrow I might;
I’m gonna try an’ make it through another night.”
Well, his eyes they danced like fire, his horns became uncurled
“Hell!” he said, “Choose your destiny in this world!”
So, we’re meetin’ again tomorrow, he’s buyin’ drinks ‘til I see double
And you know when I get drunk, I often get in trouble

[Repeat Chorus Twice:]

Well, finishing the song “Devil On My Coattail Blues” felt so good that I instantly got the idea to try my hand at another one eventually. Someday, I may write a second Blues song, this one retaining the theme of Robert Johnson’s classic “Hell Hound On My Trail.” Think I’ll call it “Man Bites Chili Dog (Chili Dog Bites Back).” Tommy’s might want to use it in a radio commercial. Yeah, wight!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy