Monday, January 30, 2012

What Ever Happened To . . . Little Red Riding Hood?

Jessica Hood was a child of the streets.  They were dirt streets, since she lived in the forest, but these mean streets couldn't have been any meaner if they'd been located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York City.  From the time she was just a baby, Jessica lived on the periphery of the criminal underworld.  Her father Robin was a local outlaw, burglarizing the homes of the upper class citizens in and around Nottingham County.  Robin Hood claimed he was a benevolent crusader for the underprivileged, simply "robbing from the rich to give to the poor," but that didn't fly with his victims or the local sheriff.  Mr. Hood was finally apprehended in 1983, convicted on 129 counts of burglary, and sentenced to death by hanging.  The sentence was carried out publicly in early 1984.

But back to Jessica.  Devastated by her father's death and unable to get along with her mother Marian who upon being widowed became a raging alcoholic and, to be honest, a bit of a whore, Jessica spent a lot of time at her grandmother's house.  Most mornings, Jessica could be seen pedaling her bicycle through the woods toting a basket of goodies, sporting her trademark crimson bonnet and cape.  This snappy outfit earned her the nickname "Little Red Riding Hood."

One morning in April of 1986, while en route to Granny's, Little Red Riding Hood was confronted by Oliver James Wolfe, or as he was known in law enforcement circles, The Big Bad Wolfe.  Through an amazing zoological coincidence, Mr. Wolfe was in fact an actual wolf and as such, he approached the sprightly Miss Hood with bad intentions in his heart.  Seeking at minimum to pilfer the girl's basket of goodies, which contained a dozen snickerdoodles, three cake donuts, a two-liter bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper and a strudel, Wolfe bared his teeth and snarled, "Hey, little girl, what's in the basket?"

To which young Jessica replied, "Ah, just some stuff for my grandmother.  I'm in kind of a hurry, though, so if you'll get out of my way, maybe I'll bring you a few cookies if there are any left over, 'kay?"

Wolfe was somewhat taken aback by Jessica's cool demeanor in the face of his intimidation tactics (not to mention her offer of leftover snickerdoodles), so he mumbled something like, "Um, okay, sure.  I'll be waiting over by the lake if you happen to come by later."  Jessica smiled kindly and pedaled off to Granny's.

A short while later, while sitting by the lake skipping stones, Wolfe was struck with a "what the hell just happened here?" moment.  Regaining his sense of entitlement and overwhelming thirst for the kill, he took off down the road and headed for the cottage of Darla Hood, former co-star of The Little Rascals [1] and Jessica Hood's grandmother.

Wolfe managed to arrive at Granny's before Jessica showed up, locked the old woman in the basement [2], threw on a nightgown and cap, and curled up in the bed.  When Jessica arrived, she entered the bedroom and noticed a certain inconsistency in the eyes, ears, and teeth of what she was slowly beginning to realize was an impostor.  A wolf in senior citizen's clothing, if you will.

Jessica managed to escape and contact the Nottingham County Sheriff who, after dragging his feet a bit when he found out the victim was related to his lifelong nemesis Robin Hood, arrested Wolfe on charges of trespassing and kidnapping.  Oliver James Wolfe was convicted and served two years in county prison. [3]

In 2002, at the age of 23, Jessica Hood opened a bakery called "Hood's Goodies" and for a while, her business thrived. She was known for her business savvy and firm control over her employees. As she told Good Housekeeping magazine in 2003, "Quality control and customer service are essential in the goodie industry.  Customers expect fresh, delicious baked goods served with a smile.  Every one of my employees is expected to maintain a high standard of professionalism and if they don't, well, they won't last long.  Just last year I had to fire the head of my pastry department for continually sticking his thumbs in the pies, if you can believe that.  There's just no room for that kind of behavior at Hood's Goodies."

The employee in question, Mr. Jack Horner, could not be reached for comment.

Despite the popularity and financial success of Hood's Goodies, Jessica became the subject of controversy in 2005. On September 23 of that year, the five-year old Dumpty Quintuplets (Bumpty, Frumpty, Lumpty, Mumpty, and Phil) stopped by the bakery to grab a few cupcakes to snack on before school.  Running low on supplies and behind schedule for a birthday cake order, the stressed-out Jessica cracked the five youngsters over the head, disemboweled them, and used their innards as ingredients in the cake batter. In a frenzy, Jessica beat them and whipped them and marked them with a B, and tossed them in the oven with no remorse whatsoever.

The distraught father of the quintuplets, who chooses to remain anonymous, released a statement through the family's attorney:

"My wife and I are devastated by the murder of our five children. What kind of a world do we live in, if kids can't go into a bakery without being scrambled to death? We're asking the citizens of Nottingham County to join us in the fight to protect children everywhere by making a donation to our foundation Five Good Eggs, which we've established in memory of our wonderful quintuplets."

Jessica "Red Riding" Hood was convicted of assault and bakery, and is currently serving a life sentence in Nottingham County Prison. She's occupying cell number B213 which, on a sentimental note, was daddy's old room.

 [1] Okay, Darla Hood died in 1979 at the age of 47, which kills my timeline, but you must admit you didn't see that one coming. 

[2] Some history books claim that Wolfe actually murdered and consumed Red Riding Hood's grandmother, but that account is pure fiction. As Wolfe would testify during the trial (Nottingham County. v. Wolfe, 1988) "I' ain't never ate a human in my life. Pigs, chickens, the occasional sheep?  Hell yeah, that's the food chain and I ain't gonna apologize for it.  But eat a human?  Man, you gotta be kiddin' me."

[3] A few years after his release, Oliver James Wolfe was back in court facing civil charges of destruction of property (Winchester L. Pigg, v. Oliver James Wolfe, 1992).  He lost, and was ordered to pay three million dollars in damages.  Since then, he's turned over a new leaf and is on the straight and narrow.  No one is afraid of him.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Brady Mob

Here's the story, of a man named ... Tony?
Throughout television history there've been many examples of model fathers.  Some, like Andy Taylor and Ward Cleaver, were models of kindness and understanding while others, such as Homer Simpson and Al Bundy, would better serve as an example of parenting "strategies" you should avoid.  Generally speaking, though, every TV dad was more or less a perfect match for his particular family.  Sure, Al Bundy was an idiot, but so were his wife and kids.  Ward Cleaver was a great father, and his family reflected that.

So whaddaya say we have a little fun here, and perform a parent transplant?  What if we took one of our favorite TV families and replaced their father with the dad from a different show?  I mean, how would the Brady kids have turned out if their father was, say, Tony Soprano?

Remember the episode of the Brady Bunch where a bully named Buddy Hinton picked on Cindy for talking with a lisp?  "Baby talk, baby talk, it's a wonder you can walk," he'd say, sending poor Cindy home in tears.  One afternoon, on their way home from Clinton Avenue Elementary School, Peter decided to stand up for his little sister, telling Buddy to knock it off.  Buddy then said to Peter, "why don't you make me?" and ended up kicking Peter's ass.  Peter and Cindy went home with their tails between their legs, and told their father what had happened.  Being an unrealistically optimistic pacifist, Mike Brady tried to reason with Buddy's father, with no success.

But how would Tony Brady (formerly Soprano) have handled the situation?


Here's the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls
All of them had hair of gold
Like their mother
The youngest one in curls.

Here's the story, of a man named Tony
Who was busy with three punks of his own
They were four thugs 
Living all together
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this goombah
And she knew he was the right guy for the job
So her girls were brought in to "the family"
That's the way that they became the Brady Mob.

The Brady Mob, the Brady Mob.  That's the way they became the Brady Mob.

We pick up the scene in the Brady family room, with Peter and Cindy talking to their father. 

TONY: Whoa, what the fuck happened to your face, Pete?

PETER: I got in a fight with Buddy Hinton.

TONY: A fight over what?

PETER: He was making fun of Cindy.

TONY: Is that right.

Never pick on a girl with mob connections, Buddy.
CINDY: Yeth, Daddy.  He wath making fun of my lithp.  He thaid I thound like a baby.

TONY: That's why I told your mother to take you to the fuckin' speech therapist.  Haven't ya been going?

CINDY: Mommy thaid not to tell you we've been going to the mall inthtead of the thpeech clatheth.  That would be tattling.

TONY: I'll deal wit' your mother later.  So Peter, dis Hinton character, I might wanna have a word wit' his fuckin' father.  You happen to know where he lives?

PETER: The Hintons live over on Sherwood Avenue, it's the blue house with the cobblestone driveway.  I can show you if you want.

CINDY: Can I go too, Daddy?  I want to thee you talk to Mithter Hinton.

TONY: No, Cindy, you better stay here wit' Alice.  Let's go, Pete, we gotta stop by and pick up Silvio and Christopher and then we'll have a little chat wit' dat douchebag's old man.

Tony and Peter make a quick stop at Brady Bing, the strip club Tony owns and manages.  Peter repeats the whole story to Tony's consiglieri Silvio Dante and lower-level associate Christopher Moltisanti.  They drive over to the Hintons' place and Tony rings the doorbell. 

MR. HINTON (opening the door): Who the hell are you greaseballs?
Mom always says, "Don't break balls in the house."

Silvio busts Mr. Hinton in the temple with the butt-end of his .44-caliber pistol, and then unleashes a knee to the stugots (that's mob talk for "nuts").  Hinton crumples to the ground, where Christopher and Sil proceed to kick him repeatedly in the ribs. 

TONY: Get the fuck up, ya fuckin' fanook.  Chris, Sil, help him out.

Christopher and Sil lift the semi-conscious Hinton to his feet and hold him upright. 

TONY: Where's your kid?

HINTON: Humph?

TONY: Your son Buddy.  Get him out here.  He should see this.

HINTON (groaning): Buddy!  Come down here for a minute!

Buddy hustles down the stairs. 

BUDDY: What is it Da - aaaaah!  What's going on?

TONY: Hi Buddy.  So I hear youse been makin' fun of my little girl Cindy.  Is that right?


Tony pulls out his own pistol and fires a bullet into Mr. Hinton's thigh.  Christopher punctuates this with an elbow to Hinton's mouth. 

TONY (to Mr. Hinton, who is moaning in pain): You might wanna explain to your kid dat he should probably tell da truth in dis situation.

HINTON (pulling out what's left of his broken front teeth): Buthy . . . jutht tell Mither Brady duh trooth . . .

"I think I see a leg bone popping out!"

PETER: Gee, Mr. Hinton, you sure talk funny!

Christopher and Sil chuckle softly, and drop Mr. Hinton who curls up in a fetal position on the living room floor. 

BUDDY: Okay, okay, I've been teasing Cindy, but I was only playing around.  I didn't mean to hurt her feelings.  I'll never do it again, I promise.

TONY: Whaddaya tink, Peter?  Does Buddy sound like he's sorry?  Or do you tink he might need a little more, how should we say dis, um, encouragement?

PETER: He's been doing it for a while, Dad, and remember he did punch me in the face.

TONY: Right, I almost forgot about dat.  Christopher, go get da baseball bat from da trunk.

CHRISTOPHER: You got it, T.

Christopher exits, then returns a moment later wielding a 33-ounce Louisville Slugger, Derek Jeter model. 

CHRISTOPHER: T, you're not gonna ask me to beat up a kid, are ya? 

TONY: No, of course not.  Give da bat to Peter.

Peter takes the bat and without a word, rams it knob-first into Buddy's mouth.  Then, in one swift motion, he swings low, dislocating the younger Hinton's right knee.  Buddy falls to the ground next to his father, crying. 

BUDDY: I'm thorry!  I'm thorry!  I'm thorry!

PETER (to Buddy): Baby talk, baby talk, it'll be a while till you can walk.  C'mon Dad, let's get the fuck outta here.

TONY: Dat's my boy.

Tony, Peter, Silvio, and Christopher leave the house, leaving Buddy and his dad lying on the floor bleeding.

We're not even going to discuss what would happen to Mike Brady if he had to take over the Soprano family.  Somehow, I don't think his "family" would respond well to settling their disputes with calm, cool reasoning.


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Monday, January 16, 2012

Is World Peace Really Necessary?

Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." The Bard's philosophy has been put to the test recently by the Los Angeles Lakers' controversial forward Ron Artest. For reasons understood only by him, Ron has legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. Perhaps he did this to protect his self-esteem. I'd imagine it would be uncomfortable for 18,000 fans at the Boston Garden (or whatever they're calling it these days) to chant "World Peace Sucks! World Peace Sucks!" On the other hand, it might be interesting to hear his teammates support him by imploring coach Mike Brown to "give World Peace a chance."

Dennis "Tina Turner" Rodman
Mr. World Peace is hardly the first athlete to change his name. In many cases, the change has been made for religious reasons such as Lew Alcindor becoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bobby Moore becoming Ahmad Rashad, and most famously, Tina Turner becoming Dennis Rodman.

Other guys have tried to be more whimsical about it. Middleweight boxer Marvin Hagler went to court to fight for the right to be called "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson ridiculously took on his uniform number as his last name, converting to Chad Ochocinco. The fact that he erroneously translated "eighty-five" into Spanish did not dissuade him one bit. This of course makes me wonder if there's some Portuguese soccer player running around with the name Juan Carlos Fourseven.

Artest isn't even the first NBA player to try to spread a political message on his drivers' license. Back in 1981, Lloyd Free changed his name to World B. Free.

Clever, huh? He didn't even have to do anything with his last name.

Here's my problem.

Ron Artest is just about the last guy on the planet (certainly in the NBA) to take up the mantle for world peace. If Gandhi chose to go by Mahatma World Peace, sure, I think we could all buy that. Even John Lennon would've had a bit of credibility if he recorded Imagine under the name John World Peace.

But Ron Artest? As I'm about to explain, Artest calling himself Metta World Peace is a lot like Charlie Sheen calling himself Drug Free McSoberman.

"All we are saying . . . "
As you may recall, in 2004, Artest was the central figure in one of the ugliest displays of unsportsmanlike conduct and mayhem the sports world has ever seen, an incident that has affectionately come to be known as "Malice at the Palace." Late in a game that was already well out-of-hand, Artest -- then with the Indiana Pacers -- committed an egregiously flagrant foul against Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace (not exactly Mr. Softie himself). Mr. Wallace took exception to this and politely expressed his displeasure by violently shoving Artest. Predictably, fights broke out, a melee ensued, and eventually Artest decided to take a break and lay down on the scorer's table. The Detroit fans, somewhat irked at Artest's behavior, began throwing various concession-related items onto the court and at one point Artest was pelted with a half-full (or half-empty, depending on one's perspective) cup of soda. Some witnesses say it was Diet Coke, others claim it was Dr. Pepper. Artest, none too pleased with his new-found fizzy beverage predicament, charged into the stands and confronted the man he incorrectly believed was responsible. This, of course, inspired the surrounding fans to go -- and here I use the clinical psychiatric term -- totally friggin' berzerk. Regaining his senses (to a point), Artest returned to the now-chaotic basketball court where he was called a rude name by yet another pissed-off Piston fan. As you'd expect by now, Artest punched the guy in the face. As a result of his actions, Ron Artest was suspended for the remainder of the NBA season, including playoffs. This is still the longest suspension for an on-court incident in NBA history.

But wait, there's more.

In 2007, Artest -- who had moved on to the Sacramento Kings -- was involved in a domestic incident and was charged with corporal injury to a spouse, battery, false imprisonment and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime, all misdemeanors. He pleaded no contest.

While researching this piece, I spoke with at least three individuals who asked, "Hey, isn't Artest the guy who choked out his coach a few years back?" Actually, that was Latrell Sprewell (who has since changed his name to Butterfly Placid Tranquility), but the fact that three separate people connected Artest's name with the choking incident tells you all you need to know about the guy's reputation.

Doesn't exactly scream "World Peace," does it?

And here's another thing. There are a lot of completely normal and even, dare I say, admirable ways to support meaningful causes. Bumper stickers, for example. I don't see why Ron couldn't have just slapped a WORK FOR WORLD PEACE sticker on the back of his Lamborghini. Start a foundation, build a website, write a weekly column for War Haters Illustrated, whatever. No need to get all "I think I'll give myself a stupid name" about it. After all, Bob Barker has done a lot of great things in the arena of animal rights activism, but he never once asked to be called Puppy Spay Chihuahua.

As a Laker fan, I would like to suggest that Mr. World Peace spend less time worrying about his name and a bit more time on other issues.

Like his jump shot.

To view the video of "Malice at the Palace," click here.


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Monday, January 9, 2012


Apparently this is the kind of story one writes when one is sleep-deprived.

Just last week, I was taking a stroll in the park when I stumbled upon a grumpy woodchuck.  When I say "stumbled upon," I don't mean that I noticed him sitting by a tree, or we crossed paths in front of the flower garden.  I mean that I literally stumbled over him as he was plopped down in the middle of the sidewalk.

"Hey, watch where you're going, dumbass," he said.  Like I said, grumpy.

"Oh, sorry," I replied.  "Didn't see you there.  You're a woodchuck, right?"

"No, I'm a friggin' water buffalo.  Yes, I'm a woodchuck.  Name's Carl."

"Hi Carl.  I'm Chris."

"I don't give a shit."

"Can I ask you a question, Carl?"

"Would it matter if I said no you can't?"

"Probably not.  Don't know if you know this, but we humans have always wondered something about you guys."

"No kidding.  What's that?  What we taste like if we're barbecued and slathered in A-1 sauce?"

"Uh, no.  Actually, we'd like to know how much wood you could chuck.  I mean, if you could chuck wood.  What's the story?"

"You can't be serious.  You're the most advanced species on the entire friggin' planet, and that's the sort of shit you spend time thinking about?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

"Pathetic.  But I'll see what I can do.  First, I guess it all depends what you mean by 'chuck,' man.  Do you mean 'to toss or throw with a quick motion,' 'pat or tap lightly, as in under the chin,' or to eject from a public place, like, 'Sully was being such an obnoxious asshole that he got chucked from Fenway Park without receiving a refund?'"

I thought about that for a minute.  This guy sure had a keen grasp of the English language, not to mention Bostonians.  After determining that wood would not attend Red Sox games at Fenway, nor did it have a chin to lightly tap, I said, "Throw with a quick motion.  How much wood do you think you could throw?"

"What kind of wood?  I'm sure that I could chuck pine farther than say, mahogany."   I could tell Carl was warming up to this.


"How big a piece?"

"Twelve inch lengths of two-by-four."

"What's the time frame?  Are we asking how much wood could I chuck in ten minutes?  An hour?  Or how much could I chuck until I simply collapse from exhaustion?"

"Let's say fifteen minutes."

Carl said, "Well, I guess there's only one way to find out, man.  Let's go get some wood!"

I helped my new rodent-like buddy into the bed of my Ford F-150 and we took a quick trip to Home Depot.  I bought 500 foot-long cuts of two-by-four and loaded them in the truck.  Carl rode shotgun as we headed back to the park.  Along the way we hit a McDonald's drive thru and I quickly found out how many fries a woodchuck could eat if a woodchuck could eat fries.  Answer: a lot.

We got back to the park where I unloaded the wood with no help whatsoever from Carl, who sat in the shade polishing off the last of his strawberry shake.  When I had all the two-by-fours arranged in a neat pile, I told him that it was showtime.  He did a few quick stretching exercises, picked up a piece of wood, and chucked it.

"Shit, Carl!  What the hell?"  He'd hit me right in the forehead.

"Sorry, man," he said, giggling.  "My bad."

He didn't look sorry.

"All right, let's do this," I said.  "You've got fifteen minutes, time to start chucking."

In a maelstrom of woodchuck fur and lumber, Carl sent the two-by-fours flying all over the park.  A Boy Scout on a Razor scooter took one off the left hip.  Another landed at the feet of a stray German shepherd, who picked it up in his mouth and bolted.  Several more boards ended up in the fountain, scattering a flock of pigeons who were mostly minding their own business.  Fifteen minutes later, it was all over.

"TIME!" I called.

As I counted the two-by-fours that remained on the original stack, Carl walked over to the lake, took a quick drink, scratched his personal area and crapped on the grass.

"Okay, Carl," I said, "we have the results.  There are 218 boards left, which means that you successfully chucked 282.  Not bad!"

"Whatever.  Now piss off, would ya?"

And with that, Carl and I parted ways.  But I'd learned two things that day.  First, a woodchuck would chuck 18.8 twelve-inch lengths of two-by-four per minute, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.  And I learned that Carl the Woodchuck is a furry little asshole.

Now where can I find that damn owl with the Tootsie Pop?


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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My New Year's Unresolutions

So here we are in the future. It's 2012 which, according to fifty years' worth of science fiction movies, means we should all be piloting flying saucers, zipping around in jet packs, and spending our summers relaxing on the beaches of Mars. Do you realize that we're only three short years away from 2015, which was the "future" in Back to the Future, Part II?

Scary, isn't it?

As we turn the calendar page yet again, most folks cheerfully delude themselves into thinking this year's going to be different and make all sorts of resolutions designed to make them happier, or to make them better people. This year, I'm going to stick to a diet. This year, I'm going to get regular checkups and take care of myself. This year, I'm going to quit smoking. Normally these resolutions last until somewhere around Martin Luther King Day, and then it's back to business as usual.

So this year, I'm going to do something different. Realizing that I'm probably not going to take any drastic steps to improve myself, instead I'm going to make a list of New Year's Unresolutions -- things that I will strive to NOT do in 2012.

We'll start with an easy one. I will not, under any circumstances, hit Betty White in the face with a water balloon. My chances of even running into Ms. White are very slim, since I don't think we frequent the same establishments. I spend very little time in Hollywood, she (apparently) doesn't hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings. And on the off-chance I do bump into her, I most likely won't be carrying a water balloon. I'm pretty confident I'll be able to stick to this unresolution.

In the coming year I will also not shove habanera peppers up my nose and whistle the second movement of Mozart's Symphony #29. Easy enough, because I do not know Mozart's 29th symphony, and I cannot whistle.

During 2012, I will not cheer for the Boston Red Sox. By way of comparison, this is even less likely than my shoving peppers up my nose and whistling Mozart while chucking water balloons at Betty White. Not gonna happen.

I will not sit on Oprah Winfrey's shoulders as she runs the New York City Marathon. I placed a call to her agent, who explained to me that Ms. Winfrey will not be participating in this year's event. Also, I'm working that week.

I will not walk up to Will Ferrell and scream in his face, "YOU ARE AN UNTALENTED, VULGAR BUFFOON AND YOUR MOVIES SUCK!" I will instead send it to him in an e-mail.

Furthermore, I won't mow the lawn of the White House while wearing a rainbow wig and a Speedo. I think our nation's leaders will thank me for this.

I won't write blog posts while under the influence of pretty strong pain medication I received from my doctor. After this one, I mean.

And I will try not to be too disappointed that I do not yet own a flying car. After all, according to Doc Brown, that's not due to happen for a few years yet.


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