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Monday, November 12, 2012

"My Best Friend" - Unusual Pets - The Skinny

I know, I know - "here goes Jerry again, bitching about animals..." But I simply can't help it when I see the bastards sneaking up on us from behind. They are out to get us and that's that. I saw a headline on Yahoo News about "Unusual Pets" and with a sense of impending doom, I clicked. Fortunately, there was not a lot of writing, just photos with brief descriptions - as horrific as they might have been. For example, the photo at left is a three year-old Cambodian boy curled up with his "best friend" - a thirteen foot-long python.

My first thought was "where are his parents?" and then my generally-flawless reasoning took over and I wondered "what kind of imbiciles let their three year-old cuddle with a 13 fucking foot-long python???" I can only hope that once this child has been crushed and devoured by his "best friend" that the folks do a good stint of hard-time in a Cambodian prison work-farm.

It has long been my opinion that we are only a toe-stub stumble on the sidewalk of life away from having our planet taken over by the beasts that surround us in wait. When people take animals from the wild and attempt to domesticate them and raise them in their homes, it is a clear-cut recipe for bloody, sharp-toothed disaster. I once watched back-to-back episodes of "Fatal Attractions", expecting to see Glenn Close naked and was instead treated to stories of hoarders of wild creatures being savaged and eaten by their lizards, snakes, lions, tigers and bears. I spent a long a week with a whip and light-weight, straight-backed chair by my bedside, lest I fall under attack by a wild lion as I slept. Speaking of wild lions, here is a potentially Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a questionable practice that will most certainly one day end in sheer misery:

Lion-Kissing - A very bad idea.
Regardless of the fact that by wearing that outfit and that big, ugly bow in her hair this lady undoubtedly deserves to be chewed to pieces by a ravenous beast, or that she was willing to lip-kiss an animal who eats nothing but raw meat (imagine the halitosis on that sonofabitch), we need to keep in mind that these animals are only our friends until their stomachs growl. After that, we are merely the slow-witted, low-hanging fruit that populates the "Food" portion of the "Food Chain".
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times - "LEAVE THEM CREATURES BE". Enjoy your cat or dog, but realize that if you happen to die on your kitchen floor, these animals will eat your carcass, even if you were the benevolent master that taught them to fetch, roll over or shit in a box and fed them delightful treats from the palm of your hand. Go ahead and glance at your pet now, if you can and see if you catch them with the steely, cold, dead eyes of the predator in-wait before they notice you looking and give you the "where's my ball?" look. And for God's sake, leave the wild ones in the wild - bringing them into your home will only hasten the takeover.
In the meantime, here's a monkey shitting on a toilet. If it weren't for their superhuman strength and propensity to eat people's faces, I might want to get a monkey and dress it up in a suit and teach it to crap on the people-john. That's a good time.
Monkey shitting on the toilet - good times.


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Music Duo - The Historical Evolution

In my opinion, the first of the great male musical duos was the Everly Brothers. Phil and Don took two minute pop-songs with close harmonies, catchy melodies and tight production to the top of the pops in the fifties and early sixties. I'm certain there were singing duos before the Everly Brothers, but I do not count any acts before the advent of rock and roll for ease of reference, Kay Kaiser and Ish Kabibble, for instance. I do not recognize Kaiser and Kabibble as a legitimate singing team, as Kaiser was a band leader and Ish was a coronetist. Big band singers are sometimes tough to call.

So, for the sake of argument, The Everlys, Phil and Don, set the template for all the rock and roll duos to follow. The sixties followed with its share of duos - Sam and Dave, Jan and Dean and Simon and Garfunkle come to mind. Sam and Dave and Jan and Dave moved away from the "close-harmony" thing, with S&D going the Motown route and J&D driving around the coast with the Beach Boys sound. Simon and Garfunkle went ethereal with Simon's deep-thinking lyrics and Artie's angelic vocals. Then there were the Righteous Brothers - who weren't really brothers and probably weren't that righteous.

The British Invasion in the mid-60's gave us Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy, two interchangeable duos - complete with horn-rimmed glasses, with P&G getting the edge with Lennon and McCartney songwriting winning over C&J's appearance on "The Dick Van Dyke Show".

Peter and Gordon - close British winners over Chad and Jeremy...

Flo and Eddie, once the leaders of the Turtles and members of Frank Zappa's "Mothers of Invention", brought their own special hippie magic to the musical duo genre in the late 60's. I'm certain there were more male duos of import in the sixties, but once one has played the Flo and Eddie card, it is wise to simply move along.
The Seventies brought a new breed of duo - I like to call it "The Bearded Age". With groups like Seals and Croft, Loggins and Messina and England Dan and John Ford Coley (England Dan was the brother of Jim Seals of "Seals and Croft. I always thought it would have made more sense to go with "Seals and Seals", or "The Seals Brothers", or simply "The Seals" and let John Ford Coley play with Dash Croft in "Coley and Croft", which has a much more western-era ring to it. Or "Dash and John Ford Coley". The possibilities are endless. Why the brothers Seals broke up, I'll never know, but I prefer to blame Flo and Eddie.). Times grew sensitive in the seventies and the duos harvested dozens of mellow pop and acoustic songs. It was a gentler time.
Hall and Oates shuffled their way onto the scene in the late 70's and further muddied the pop-duo waters by bringing pastel into the picture. Stepping on the wide-lapeled coattails of all the duos that had come before them, in the eighties, H&O became the biggest-selling duo in the history of recorded music - even bigger than Kay Kaiser and Ish Kabbible. And they weren't afraid of taking sassy photos. Or grow an 80's porn-mustache. Or roll their jacket sleeves up and get a delicately feathered pompadour haircut.
The 90's brought along Extreme, with their angsty, one-hit "More Than Words", which they sang into one microphone. Cute. The 90's also gave us pop-duo-scandal, when Fab and Rob of Milli Vanilli were accused of not singing a syllable on their records after they swept up the "Best New Artist" Grammy Award. Apparently, great abs, thigh-length dreadlocks and piercing gazes weren't enough to save the group and one of them eventually walked into the sea until the bubbles stopped and lives with Jesus now.

Milli Vanilli - also not afraid of a sassy photo.
In a splendid twist of serendipity, the great age of the pop duo came to an end in the 90's and the era was capped off with the duo "Nelson". The twin, tow-headed sons of Ricky Nelson formed their own pop band and had a hit. I think. They looked pretty, anyhow, with their long-flowing tow-headed locks and apparently played their own instruments and sang their own vocals. Take that, Millie Vanilli.
I say serendipitous because not only was their father a teen-idol in the fifties and early sixties, like his co-idol teammates, The Everly Brothers, Gunner and Matthew Nelson were also real-live brothers like the legendary Everlys. I can think of no more splendid manner with which to achieve closure to the subject and all other duos, including "The Jer and Tag Show" will simply have to wait until the update for the new millennium. 
Will simply have to wait...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Laugh Track - I want one!

I was pondering the "laugh track" the other day. The laugh track, also known as "canned laughter", is, pre-recorded snickers, titters, guffaws, groans and applause that for decades accompanied most every television show that graced our living room screens. So, I Googled "Laugh Track" and was amazed at how much information is on the World Wide Web about canned laughter. I was intrigued, so I began clicking... At left, you can see the original "Laff Box" invented in the late 40's by an early television sound engineer from CBS by the name of Charley Douglass. And yes, friends - there was only one Laff Box, which Charley would transport from studio to studio to plug in to their editing consoles and begin his sorcerer's magic. Douglass would sweeten a show's soundtrack by hitting any number of typewriter-like keys to invoke above-mentioned titters, guffaws, applause and the like from a number of interchangeable tape-loops inside the box. And like a concert violinist, Charley would combine tee-hees with chuckles and moderate the ebb and flow of each laugh and with a volume pedal he worked with his feet. A Laugh-Virtuoso, was Charley Douglass and his Laff Box was the only game in town for the next four decades. It's funny to think that the laughter we hear in episodes of "Cheers" may have included some of the same yuks from Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows"...
While I found all this very intriguing, I am not writing today to relay the fascinating history of the laugh track.
With all the polarizing presidential election character assassination, mud-slinging and shit-smearing that has been monopolizing the airwaves, social media and news outlets for the past few months, I began to think that the entire process might have been a whole lot more palatable had we perhaps utilized Charley Douglass's Laff Box to accompany the knee-deep, unconscionable cutthroat prattle. I, for one could have used a matronly groan from the soundtrack of "The Beverly Hillbillies" to dull the edge on the idea that someone could so viciously attack the character of the President of the United States in a public forum... Andy Jackson wouldn't have tolerated it, but might have loosened up a bit with one of Charley Douglass's titter tracks accompanying the attack. Duel averted. 
This led me to wonder where else the Laff Box might be utilized to make an aggressively bloodthirsty world a bit lighter:

Hitler - There is no doubt that Der Fuhrer's frenzied speeches might have been softened a bit by Charley Douglass's masterful manipulation of the volume pedal over a solid titter-track.
"I've got some bad news..." - This could always use a laugh track.
This windbag is a poster-child for the use of a laugh track. Could probably make this happen now that he's deaf.
"Hi, we met six to eight weeks ago at a party..." - Definitely in need of a laugh-track...
(A side-note: NEVER Google images of "Pregnant Wife" at work or around children - yikes.)
The Lord's Laugh Track
The possibilities are endless. And since I narrowly lost out in my bid for King in this election, I would like to humbly offer my services to be life's laugh track. I will purchase Charley Douglass's Laff Box and personally hire myself out (at an outrageously exorbitant fee) to come to your home, doctor's office, house of worship, Boy Scout Jamboree, Marriage Counselor, Attorney's office, National Disaster Area, hair salon, comedy club (sadly), political fund-raiser, free-clinic, pet-shelter, wedding, divorce, Hall of Fame induction, funeral or rehab to lighten up the proceedings.
You're welcome.
(Cue laugh track)