Monday, November 27, 2006

What I Did On My Thanksgiving Vacation

Well, the obvious is that I cooked dinner and ate more than my fair share on Thanksgiving itself as well as since. Then I started writing about it here. The End.

But, Jim, what else did you do? Surely there must have been some other things that happened during the previous nine days that are worth the telling. There must be at least one incident that you can embellish with your usual élan (read: propensity for lying) that will make the reader spit coffee onto the screen.


The previous nine days were a glorious exercise in sloth, for the most part. Yes, I cleaned the house a bit and did lots of cooking for the annual feast, but when you spread that out over nine days? That leaves lots of time to watch football, Celtics basketball, Three Stooges, and taped episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

Yes, Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I don’t suppose there’s anyone else on the face of the earth – at least, over the age of ten – who would watch a week’s worth of taped episodes of Mister Rogers, except for MY WIFE and she was at work. I enjoyed it immensely. I sat back in our new rocker/recliner and let the Neighborhood of Make Believe transport me to a vegetative state. Since I (now) rarely drink or do drugs, it is a fair substitute; a marvelously relaxing experience to let the mind just lay there like a lump with the most pressing problem being whether or not Daniel Striped Tiger will be disappointed when Bob Dog tells him that the can of soup Daniel planted didn’t really grow into a soup tree, but that Bob Dog had tied cans of soup to a tree so that Daniel wouldn’t be disappointed.

(Daniel WAS disappointed, but he understood that Bob Dog had only done it because he liked Daniel and didn’t want Daniel to be disappointed, even though that’s how it turned out. Daniel understood, though, and then they ate some soup. So did I.)

(For further elucidation concerning why MY WIFE and I really liked and admired Fred Rogers, you might like to read this. It contains some detail about how Mister Rogers answered a fan letter I wrote to him.)

(And, before I leave the subject of Fred Rogers, let me tell you about something MY WIFE and I did once while on vacation. We were in Toronto for a couple of days and we had spent a fair amount of that time riding the wonderful Toronto public transportation system, which consists of a couple of somewhat short subway lines and many streetcars. We picked out a postcard that showed one of the Toronto trolleys on the front and we sent it to Mister Rogers. We figured that since the first place he had appeared on camera was for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he might like a postcard from his old stomping grounds, especially one with a trolley on it and on which we wrote, on the other side, “Hello from the Neighborhood of Maple Leaf!” True story. We have no idea if this horrible pun from a couple of people he didn’t really know just totally mystified Fred Rogers or if he got a laugh. We prefer to imagine it was the latter.)

In other exciting news from last week, I watched 6 or 7 Three Stooges episodes in a row. MY WIFE, if she were not at work, would tell you that I’ve seen every episode of The Three Stooges at least 25 times. She would be wrong, of course. I’ve seen every episode at least 50 - 60 times.

Now, some folks are bored to tears upon the first viewing of a Three Stooges short, let alone after seeing the same one 50 or 60 times. I was fortunate enough to be born with that particular male gene which allows for repeated viewings of The Boys without ever finding them boring. It is, of course, a guy thing. The female equivalent is, perhaps, the ability to watch basically the same movie over and over again on Lifetime (or, as my nephew calls it, The Pathetic Channel) which pretty much is as follows: Good Woman marries Evil Guy; Good Woman suffers many wrongs at hands of Evil Guy, but stays with him because of her all-encompassing pure-of-heart commitment; Evil Guy finally does something so hideous that even Good Woman can no longer forgive him; Evil Guy gets his, the bastard.

(My apologies to you if you’re a female who enjoys watching The Stooges. I don’t mean to exclude you by implying that The Stooges are a male-only pleasure. As a matter of fact, if you’re a female who enjoys The Stooges as much as any man, I applaud you and I encourage you to breed. And if you’re a guy who enjoys those Lifetime movies, ditto, except for the part about breeding. There’s probably nothing much to worry about in that regard, though.)

(By the way, I’ve watched The Stooges shorts over and over because I have a specific goal in mind. If I should ever go either deaf or blind, those shorts will be one thing I’ll still be able to enjoy just as much as I ever did. I’ll be able to fill in the dialogue (or actions) in my head because I’ll have them completely memorized. That’s what I tell MY WIFE, anyway. I don’t think she totally believes it, but it sounds about as plausible as most of the things I tell her on a regular basis, so the possibility does exist.)

One of the episodes was GOOF ON THE ROOF, which is perhaps my favorite of all of them. The plot, such as it is, is that Moe, Larry & Shemp are the housemates of another fellow who is absent at the moment. This fellow has just been married. He sends them a telegram informing them of this happy event. He also tells them that, as a wedding present for his wife, he has ordered a TV and antenna delivered. The Boys figure that they can install the antenna and TV as a wedding present, thus saving money.

Of course, if you’re at all familiar with the Stooges, you can easily imagine the rest without my help. There is one scene, however, which is the essence of the entire oeuvre of the trio. Shemp has entirely dismantled the television in an attempt to recover a cheap ring that fell into the set. Moe, upon seeing this, whacks him upside the head a few times and sends him on his way to do something else. As Moe tries to put the set back together, piling things one on top of the other inside the cabinet, one string of vacuum tubes frustrates him and he ends up smacking himself in the face when trying to untangle them. He then says, to the string of tubes, “Just for that, you don’t go in there!” and he furiously tosses them aside.

Upon viewing this scene, you will probably find it either laugh-out-loud hilarious or you will see no humor in it whatsoever. If you find it hilarious, you’ll be able to watch it over and over again without ever becoming bored. If you don’t find it funny to begin with, repeated viewings will not heighten your appreciation. Nor will it help if I tell you that, while all of this was going on, Larry was trying to straighten out a bent knob by placing it against a wall and pounding it with a hammer, thus turning the wall into something approximating a Swiss cheese.

I did other things during my vacation, such as visiting the eye doctor to be tested for new glasses, but I’m sure you’d rather hear the following short story:

“Hey, Grapehead, what time is it?”

“Oh, it’s about…” (Curley rolls up his sleeve, revealing three wristwatches.)

“Hey, what’s the idea of the three watches?”

“That’s how I tell the time!”

“How DO you tell the time?”

“Well, this watch runs twenty minutes fast every two hours. This one runs ten minutes slow every four hours. The one in the middle is broke; it’s stuck at two o’clock.”

“Then how do you tell the time?”

“I take the twenty minutes fast on this one, subtract the ten minutes slow on that one, and then divide by the two in the middle.”

“Well, what time is it?”

(Removes hat to reveal a very large pocket watch, which he reads.) “Oh, about 3:30.”

(Moe grabs the very large pocket watch and smashes him over the head with it.)

(Larry intervenes) “Hey, leave him alone!”

(Moe pokes him in the eyes with two outstretched fingers. BOINK!)

Larry: “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

Moe: “Oh, no! What’s the matter, kid?”

Larry breaks into a grin: “I’ve got my eyes closed!”

(Moe slaps him.)

Now, really, what could I possibly tell you about a trip to the optometrist that would be funnier than that?

I suppose the one nagging question you may be left with, if indeed you’re still with me, is this: How can someone who loves the gentility and warmth of Mister Rogers be so enamored with the brutality of The Three Stooges?

Just a victim of soicumstance, I guess.

Well, I’ve done a fairly good job of filling up this space, so my work here is done. I suppose I should let you know that my Thanksgiving was, once again, wonderful. Also, that I thank you, sincerely, for all of your well-wishes and that I surely do appreciate you being here after waiting so patiently for me to return. You make each day special by just your being you. There’s only one person in the whole world exactly like you, and everybody can like you just the way you are.

I’ll try to make the next thing you read here more worth your time. I probably won’t succeed, but you know the old saying: If at first you don’t succeed, keep on sucking ‘til you do suck seed (and then Moe grabs the grapefruit Curley had been eating and smooshes it into his face.)

Why, I oughta... Wait! Is that Mr. McFeely at the door? I’ve got to go.


Rebecca said...

I loved Mr Rogers......
and interestingly enough, USED to love the Stooges, until somewhere in my late twenties. Then I lost my tolerance for them. Weird huh?

Suldog said...

I would suggest that, in The Stooges case, it wasn't TRUE love, but who am I to judge?

Oh, wait, maybe you mean IGGY & THE STOOGES?

Unknown said...

Well, I'm glad you're going to be amused in your old age.

I like Mr. Rogers, he talks real slow. My husband and I had to talk like him after my son's speech teacher told us to. My son was three and had a bit of a stuttering problem. When we started talking like Mr. Rogers, it disappeared.

Anonymous said...

I still like to watch Mr. Rogers (in re-runs on our local PBS station) even now. My favorite part is when Mr. McFeely (can you imagine naming a character *that* in this day and age?) would deliver one of the "how they make..." movies or videos.

There are few years of my life that I have not watched that show.

And the Stooges. Yes, I'm a fan; I'm glad to say that Twinks is too. The Boys just make me laugh. It's pure comedy - rampant silliness.

What's not to like?

Glad your Thanksgiving was a good one. :)