Archive - July 2004
July 30th, 2004
Just when I think there's nothing more I could possibly add to my ever expanding Links page, I'm proven wrong. So, I've uploaded a dozen more, all easily recognizable due to the ** next to their shiny new entries.
This time around, it's all bloggers, or artists, or—in several cases—artists who ARE bloggers!?! Take the dauntingly titled and self explanatory Mike Wieringo's Daily Sketch Blog—that's right, “DAILY”!! It's not enough that this guy is tremendously talented, oh no; it's not enough that he's fast enough to shoulder the monthly task of beautifully delineating Marvel's prestigious FANTASTIC FOUR comic, uh uh; but in his spare time,
he's also dropping in a drawing a day for us Internet folks—AND including
snappy patter to accompany it as well!?! Hey Mike, you're making the rest
of us look bad!! Geez! Luckily, your stuff is such an absolutely pure delight
that, well, I'm inclined to forgive you, okay? I can be big that way...
Then there's Scott Saavedra. Now, I've never met Scott, but I don't imagine any of you familiar with the way I happen to look at things will be at all surprised to learn that I've long felt a kinship with the man responsible for that wonderful mixture of history and hilarity known as Comic Book Heaven. Luckily for us all, Scott is now bringing his deliciously skewed take on funnybook foibles to a computer near you. Hey Scott, how
about that Mort Weisnger, huh? What'd you, me, and that OTHER Scott do without
him, I wonder?...
Okay, you've probably never heard of Tom Jackson—I know I hadn't, at least not before he wrote me a note the other day, commenting at length on my Al Wiseman tribute from last year. Turns out Tom was a good buddy of the famed Dennis The Menace artist—and a cartoonist himself as well. Oh, he didn't do comics, or newspaper strips, but in his 72 years so far, has managed to dream up some swell single panel gags, goofy greeting card illos, and similar laugh-inducing line drawings. Factor in some nifty stories, told by someone with a lifetime of experience and served up with a lively helping of wackiness, the sort you'd expect from an artist long obsessed with drawing silly pitchurs, well, you've got yourself one folksy, fun, and friendly Internet destination, believe you me!
There's also a fine tribute to Lois Lane artist supreme, Kurt Schaffenberger to be found, and ones spotlighting several newer artists as well. Go. Look. But, um, don't be confused by what may appear to be some poor alphabetizing on my part. For reasons neither Lynn nor I fully understand (okay, okay--let's be honest, I don't understand AT ALL), when I try to insert fresh names onto my list, there are certain places that, try as I might, as I type new inductees into the Hembeck Hall Of Hits, the link from either above or below stubbornly take over, not allowing the new link to take hold. So, in several case, I've had to...approximate the proper location of said name. At the very least, I do my very best to keep that all important first letter in its proper place.
Speaking, by the way, of relocations, let me make note that I've moved Heidi MacDonalds The Beat blog up from amongst the Comics Bloggers and into the rarefied air of Daily Destinations. It only made sense—after being around for only a very short time, it's become blatantly obvious that this is THE place for breaking news. And when no big bombshells are being dropped, well sir, the amusingly idiosyncratic tone of the information as dispensed is well worth the price of admission (such as it is). Fact is, about the only flaw I can find in Heidi's weblog is the rather, shall we say, sparse listing of creator links to be found running down alongside her always golden prose. There are, it turns out, several key omissions that come immediately to mind, one in..ahem.. particular...
Lastly, there was a fellow I saw on TV last night. He was talking and talking
and talking, and then, midway through, he mentioned something about a website.
He seemed like a nice enough guy, so I thought, gee, I might just add his
site to my links, too. I figure, hey, maybe he'll notice and do the same
for me, y'know?
(And Heidi, if good ol' John Kerry decides to swap links, maybe you might consider it as well, hmm? ...)
|July 29th, 2004
|As promised, you can read all about the rest of FLASH#122--as well as view what we laughingly like to refer to around here as my Classic Cover Redo of this swell Infantino illustration--by clicking here. Hey, you think ol' Anton was a trip? Well, wait'll you see some of the crazy things the Top tries to pull. Folks, meet the original spin doctor...
July 27th, 2004
I hear tell the Dibny's have been having a rough time of it lately.
Huh. Funny thing, I've just recently been reading the third volume of DC's
Silver Age FLASH ARCHIVES, and while today's readers have borne witness
to the unspeakable acts that have torn the Elongated Man's marriage to
his beloved Sue asunder for now and (presumably) all time, I'VE been blissfully
wallowing in their more romantic beginnings, reading about the exciting—and,
ahem, decidedly G-rated—events surrounding their now long-ago honeymoon
way, way back in 1961's FLASH #119.
So don't look for me to complain about the tawdry goings on in IDENTITY
CRISIS, not when I can so happily bury my head, ostrich-like, in a deluxe,
over-priced reprint volume! And believe me, the thrill of rediscovering
comics I first read over (gulp...) four decades ago can be quite the rush--especially
as this compendium features the very first issue of FLASH that I ever picked
up off of the newstand, number 122 , also from 1961.
Turns out I did one of my Classic Cover Redos of this very issue several
years ago, and reading this issue again prompted me to do one of my snazzy
little write-ups about it. I'm gonna post it over in that recently all
too moribund area of this site in the next day or so, and I'll be sure
and tip you off to its appearence so that you can zap your way on over
to learn a smidgen more about the debut of one of the more minor members
of the Flash's famed Rogue's Gallery, the Top. But right now, there IS
one particular—and peculiar--aspect of the lead story that I'd like to
deal with here.
Specifically, Anton Previn, who had the distinction of being the very first
gay character I'd ever encountered in the pages of a comic book.
Okay, okay—so I never realized he was gay until my most recent rereading lifted a veil off of my no-longer eight year old eyes. And, frankly, there's no telling indication in John Broome's script that this character—the world's foremost designer of women's fashions, don'tcha know—is anything other than a talented French man, one who Barry (Flash) Allen met and befriended five years preceding the events that play out in this tale. But, oh, those not-so-subtle Carmine Infantino drawings! His rendition of Anton stands out in much the same way Richard Simmons might at a Hooters!...
Given that tell-tale sway, does Barry
REALLY believe his old pal, Anton, is looking for some ladies,
With a name liberally borrowed from the
then-popular composer, Andre Previn, clueless police scientist Allen
introduces his steady sweetie, Iris West, to the continental
clothier, polka dot ascot and all. Or maybe he wasn't so clueless
after all, as Barry sure didn't seem worried one bit about leaving
the lovely girl reporter in the company of the famed French
|WHOA! “The Flash has to GET BUSY”??
Oh, wait—that phrase didn't quite mean the same thing back in 1961, did
Well, anyway, now that the Flash is off on the trail of the Top, let's look in on Anton and Iris, shall we?...
|Oh my golly gosh—do my eyes deceive me, or are the panels above clear evidence
that editor Julie Schwartz presided over the very first comics version
of “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (or, in this case, Gal)”? Who'da thot?...
And how goes that transformation
Magnifique, apparently! My initial
thought was, now wasn't that a mighty clever plot device utilized by
the FLASH crew, all to give the hero's love interest a four color
makeover? Neat. All hopes of this seeming logic is dashed, however,
by the next two—and LAST two—panels of the story...
Go to all this trouble, and then the entire situation is—whoosh--reversed
in a single panel? And all because, illogically, Barry found himself tongue-tied,
and Iris couldn't just come right out and ASK him what he thought? No,
that'd be too easy, far, far too easy. Sigh...
And that, friends, was the very last we readers ever saw of Barry's old
friend, Anton—AND it was the last time I saw any vaguely homosexual characters
in the pages of a DC Comic for many a year.
But it wasn't all that long after that Little Freddy picked up a copy of
SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE#26, and had his first encounter with
the joys of cross-dressing!
But that's a story for ANOTHER time...
July 26th, 2004
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the comics medium. And one of the ways I've chosen to share my affection for the field is with my ever-expanding Comic Arts Links page.
Then, in months past, we learned of my undying allegiance to those four
lovable mop tops, and in an effort to spread the word, I subsequently posted a semi-comprehensive page spotlighting the crème de la crème of Beatles Links.
But you know what else I like?
Stand-ups, sitcoms, silent era clowns, and modern day rep companies—I love 'em all! If they make me laugh, well, then they're all right in my book! And, as it turns out, they're on my website as well. That's right, lazies and gents, boys and churls, allow me to introduce you to Hembeck.com's all new, chucklicious Comedy Links page!
chock fulla yocks Internet destinations to start with, with more to
surely follow! Stand-up comics from Woody Allen to Bob Zany, sitcoms
spanning Addams Family to Zorro! (...Okay, okay—there are no “Z's”
and it actually only goes up to WKRP In Cincinnati—I just got
carried away in an alphabetical frenzy, okay? Hey, it happens...)
Jack, Lucy, and Bob—together again. But besides that trio of bona fide
legends, you'll find some new favorites as well, such as the hilarious
Jim Gaffigan, the passionate Lewis Black, and fellow comics' geek Patton
Oswalt. Fact is, I tried to include as many comedians—or sitcom personalities
(like the Professor and Mary Ann)--who boast their own sites as humorously
Turns out most of the individual sites are officially sanctioned, while
a majority of the ones devoted to the various television shows are, conversely,
fan-run. My initial plan was to indicate which was which, but I ultimately
decided to just let you find out for yourselves! More fun for you? Maybe.
But easier for me, definitely! Hey, YOU try posting 256 links at a time
and see if you're not looking for a little break, okay?...
Some comics or shows merited two or more entries, and some have none at
all. Milton Berle, Garry Shandling, Jimmy Durante, Chevy Chase, and Chris
Guest are just a few notables who aren't represented with their own little
corner of the net. Most egregiously, there isn't a single webpage focused
on Soupy Sales! Hard to fathom...
As for the sitcoms, well, I relied a bit more on my own personal tastes in this particular category, listing almost exclusively programs I myself have followed over the years. Thus, since I never quite developed the habit of watching Friends or Everybody Loves Raymond—or Mr. Belvedere, The Brady Bunch, or Full House, for that matter—those otherwise popular programs don't (currently) appear in my listings. Who knows, though—maybe someday. Besides, you can always go to Sitcoms Online and find a link to Charles In Charge if you're desperate! (And if you're searching around for Scott Baio laff-fests, well, YOU finish the punchline—it'd be too cruel if I did!...)
And now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go get to work compiling that eternally
upcoming Pop Music Links page. (Do I list the vocalist of “Woolly
Bully” under “Sam”, or under “ Sham”, I wonder, hmm?...)
July 23rd, 2004
|Fred's flashback de jour, featuring a delightful drawing most likely unseen
by most of you and done by arguably the most famous artist to emerge the legendary EC Comics bullpen, and set into motion by one of the world famous Web-head's current scribes, more properly belongs over on my companion Beatles blog, but you comics fans can check it out utilizing the link above to satisfy your own curiosity.
But you already knew that, didn't you?...
|July 21st, 2004
Yeah, that's right--we went to go see "Spider-Man 2" last week.
I made a concerted effort to walk into the theater totally oblivious of
what was about to unspool up there on the big screen after I'd paid my—ouch--$8.50.
Oh, sure, I knew Dr. Octopus was the villain de jour, but beyond that,
I conscientiously avoided reading any and all
previews and reviews of the film, watching any of the commercials
that permeated the tube in recent weeks, or checking out any of the
tantalizing clips the primary cast members brought along with them
whilst on their inevitable tour of the talk show circuit.
(The single breach of my “ignorance is bliss” approach came unexpectedly when, after promoing his co-starring gig in that new Robert Redford vehicle, Regis turned to Willem Dafoe and said, “Glad to see you turn up in the new Spider-Man movie, Willem”, to which the chagrined star smiled nervously, raised his finger quickly to his lips, and mock-pleaded, “Shh—it's supposed to be a surprise.” Sigh. Not any more. Thanks, Reege...)
Since we didn't get out to the theater until about ten days after the much
ballyhooed opening, avoiding all the hype certainly wasn't easy, but for me, it was downright imperative. Y'see, I find that I enjoy a movie—or a TV show, or a comic, or a book—a whole lot more if I haven't been exposed to the Cliff Notes version right beforehand. And “Spider-Man 2” was one movie I wanted to enjoy. (I WAS, however, aware of the overwhelmingly positive critical reaction the film elicited, both from professional critics and long-time comics fans alike, a fact I garnered from review headlines and opening sentences alone, as I dared venture no further, justifiably fearful that important details would indeed be revealed...)
Don't misunderstand me. Despite what you may think, I'm not someone that gets all excited at the prospect of running out to see the latest comic book movie. If such was ever the case—and yeah, admittedly, maybe there was a time--well, the third Batman movie surely cured me of THAT! In fact, there's a whole handful of funnybook based films, both big and small, that I've never got around to seeing quite yet. Some—like the second X-Men and the Hulk ones--will in all likelihood eventually get the once over. Others—like the FOURTH Batman one, the two (soon to be three) Blades, LXG, and “Hellboy”--most likely never will. Hey look, as a rule, they usually don't come close to capturing their pulp paper source material with any true degree of heart--AND are often lousy movies in and of themselves, anyway. So, until Spidey 2 became imminent, I hadn't looked forward to taking in a specific super-hero film in years.
Heck, I didn't even look forward to Spidey 1! After it was out about a
month or so, and hearing surprisingly decent word-of-mouth, I cautiously
went in with only the lowest of expectations, and came out delighted with
witnessing what I then considered—after the initial Chris
Reeve Superman flick—the best cinematic interpretation of a costumed character in the annals of the silver screen.
And now the consensus seems to be that the second one is significantly BETTER? Could such a thing actually be possible? Or would I then go in, full of unrealistic and unattainable expectations, only to have them dashed, not unlike the way I did midway through that second Batman movie, round abouts when I began to get more than my fill of Danny DeVito's tedious squawking?...
Incredibly—or perhaps, more fittingly, amazingly--”Spider-Man 2” WAS better than its precursor! I'd even be willing to state for the record that it's superior to my long-time sentimental favorite, the aforementioned “Superman The Movie”! And why not? The filmmakers had the richest source material in all of super-herodom to draw upon, very intelligently cherry-picking some of the most memorable moments from the immortal first hundred Lee/Ditko/Romita issues, spotting them judiciously throughout an exciting yet emotionally charged scenario.
But wait—this isn't Ebert.com that you've stumbled into. So, no, this isn't gonna be any sort of traditional review, just some random impressions from someone who—yes—bought HIS copy of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN#1 fresh off the stands when it was first issued. Okay then, now that we've established that I'm old, let's proceed, shall we?...
Perhaps most importantly, the villain was, simply stated, better. WAY better! In the original, I was dually disappointed in the cheesy looking costume and the over-the-top portrayal Willem Dafoe utilized as the Green Goblin. In contrast, Alfred Molina made his characterization of Octavius's startling metamorphosis into the marauding Dr. Octopus a believable one, at least in context. And oh, who would've ever thought that the once-seemingly impossible to realize visual presentation of an adversary sporting such a complicated set of abilities would be brought to life so convincingly and vividly? I've never been a big special effects guy, but I couldn't take my eyes off of Doc Ock, particularly during the magnificently staged fight scenes. More often than not, even in the best the genre has to offer, I find the battle sequences ultimately tiring, and usually generic, regardless of the hero. Not this time. Uh uh. There were no “cheats”—we saw EVERYTHING! No quick cuts, no tussles hidden under the cloak of darkness. All the action was shown clearly and without relying on any shadows to hide technical shortcomings. Honestly, I'm far from being any sort of expert on CGI, but it appears to my unschooled peepers that the computer generated material was more smoothly integrated with the live action sequences than in the first film.
Another plus: a more effective and extensive use of Spider-Man's rich supporting cast. J. Jonah Jameson—who essentially cameoed in the first go-round—got to show his stuff, to hilarious results (“Miss Brant—get me a violin!”). Betty Brant herself got name-checked, Robbie Robertson was able to plant a seed, silently hinting at his suspicions of Peter's double life (even if he was, by movie's end, one of the few cast members NOT to see Tobey Mcguire unmasked...), Aunt May got herself a substantial upgrade of her screen time, making the best of it to portray a surprisingly strong, dignified woman, not the tiresome one-note clueless old biddy the character has devolved into over the years in the comics. Why, even dead ol' Uncle Ben showed up! (And is it just me, or does the present day Cliff Robertson look uncannily like the previously mentioned loose lipped Regis Philbin? Your final answer should be forthcoming...)
Why, even Dr. Curt Conners is spotted, armless lab-coat sleeve pinned up
appropriately! Only the young John Jameson comes across as a totally blank
slate, but the pair do offer some intriguing options for the third installment: with Harry—who had less to do this episode than last but who'll no doubt more than make up for it next outing—set to assume the mantle of the Green Goblin, one suspects he'll call upon yet another member of Spidey's classic rogue's gallery to serve as his accomplice. Could it be the Lizard? Maybe. Man-Wolf? Frankly, I doubt it, but hey, the possibility at least exists...
And all those classic moments—Spider-Man no more, lifting the massive chunk of debris heroically off his back, even reviving that somewhat specious Aunt May-Doc Ock connection! Well, at least there was no marriage proposal involved! And the term “tiger” slipping out of the lovely lips of Mary Jane, and those wonderfully Stan-like moments such as Spidey on the elevator and Peter at the laundromat—they were all there, along with a plethora of iconic Ditko/Romita poses that seemed to magically spring to life right up there on the big screen! Wow! It was almost enough to bring a tear to this ol' fanboys..sniff..eyes!
All this would've meant next to nothing if the story, the acting, and the
direction weren't all so accomplished in their own right—and so clearly
heart felt. But they were. Kudos to all involved !(...and unlimited Mars
bars to boot...) Running nearly two hours, I distinctly recall thinking
during the breathtaking climactic sequence on the elevated train that,
wow, of all the many comics inspired films I'd seen over the years, this
was the only one that not once did either my mind wander off during a dull
action sequence, I didn't groan over a piece of misplaced or inappropriate humor, or recoil at some obviously unnecessary bloodshed. (Outside of the doomed group of doctors vainly attempting to operate on the Dr. Octopus's newly fused mechanical tentacles, I don't recall any out and out bloodletting—and thankfully, there was no gratuitous swearing or sexual asides. Not that I'm against either, mind you, but not here, not now...)
Yeah, I loved “Spider-Man 2”, absolutely loved it. From the exquisitely realized opening pizza delivery sequence and on through such minor but nonetheless inspired touches as a street musician's unique rendition of the hokey but hallowed cartoon theme song, it all worked for me.
Julie liked it. Lynn, too. I sometimes get complaints from the family that I only ever drag them out to see comic book movies, but I counter that not totally unjust accusation by saying, yeah, but only the really, really good ones!
So yup, you guessed it--no way I'm killing the good buzz of Spidey 2 by even CONSIDERING a trip to the multi-plex to witness the abomination that is sure to be “Catwoman”! That's one I'll be sure to give a miss—AND a hiss!
Or, more to the point, to Halle with it...
|July 18th, 2004
Hi. I'm not dead.
Just got a raging case of the mid-summer blahs. Happens every year around
this time. Don't feel much liking writing, is all. Even about the greatest
comic-book movie ever (and since "Catwoman" hasn't been released
yet, you probably have a pretty good idea which flick I'm talking about...)--maybe
in a few days, okay?
Got some other nifty things planned for the site coming in the immediate
future, so stay tuned.
|July 14th, 2004
Now, I realize that the rest of you are making your preperations to celebrate
Bastille Day--sending out those last-minute Bastille Day cards, wrapping
your loved ones' Bastille Day gifts, cooking that Bastille Day goose--but
over here at Hembeck.com, July 14th has a more personal significence. Specifically...
(Hey, if I didn't make note of my lovely wife's special day, I'd get MOI
head chopped off, dig?...)
Viva la Lynn!
|July 9th, 2004
The following strikes me as an inspirational story of sorts. Read it and
see if you don't agree...
I've talked a lot about our daughter Julie in the past. The kid's a very
outgoing and gregarious individual, no doubt about it. She's constantly
surrounded by a core group of loyal friends, and she has a fair amount
of friendly acquaintences as well . Her academic record to date has been
mostly exemplary—even if, in truth, her study methods have not—and she
perpetually evinces a generally upbeat, sometimes even giddy, manner. Which
is not to say life is perfect for our girl. She'd be the first to tell
you that she's not one of the quote unquote popular people in her school.
While there are any number of your standard societal reasons for this—i.e.,
the smarter kids never seem to be the ones basking in their peers admiration
(unless they also happen to be either the head cheerleader or captain of
the football team, neither of which is applicable in this case), there
might be another more specious reason in Julie's case, one she has no real
As I explained in more detail a while back, when our darlin' daughter was born, there were some unexpected complications. Thankfully, she's been able to outgrow many of the initial deficincies brought on by her traumatic birth, but her voice still betrays some residual effects, varying in pitch and wavering somewhat tremulously, especially times when she's tired or not concentrating fully. It clearly catches some folks by surprise, but once you've known her for, oh, a half an hour or so, people pretty much just take it for granted. Well, at least, MOST people do...
Did I mention that she's a happy kid? That she never complains? (Well,
that's not true—she complains all the time! About homework, about what
we're not doing for her ("You never bought me a Barbie car!!..."),
about George W. Bush—but she DOESN'T make it a practice to whine about
how some kids treat her, no matter how rotten that happens to be.) So,
we can go through a whole school year with nary a peep regarding any problems
of that sort. Now, Lynn and I certainly realize that not everyone is an
angel out there, and based on past history, we can only grit our teeth
and imagine some of the nastier situations she's had to endure, but, honestly,
between September and June, we never seem to hear about them. Only after
it's all said and done does the truth leak out...
Call it Julie's Summertime Pool Confessional. It's happened before, and just a few days ago, it happened again: a hot summer day, none of her buddies available to participate in her never-ending party, so instead, she drags good ol' dad out back. After several rounds of “Sharks and Minnows” and maybe a game or two of “Marco Polo” (or, as she's rechristened it, “Micheal Jackson”), the aquatic activities wind on down to merely floating languidly on the water. Since neither of us ever stops talking for very long—surprise!—eventually, the subject of her classmates comes up. It sorta happens that I might ask about a girl she knew back in the 5th grade, one that I saw at the
recent 8th Grade Orchestra Recital, and her answer, taking various twists and turns,
ultimately leads into a whole 'nother direction. Like, say, all the enemies
Julie believed she made the previous semester...
“Enemies?”, I ask, almost incredously? How could my oh-so-sweet—if occasionally
annoying, it must be said—daughter ammass any amount of enemies of note?
Dumb question--when there are bullies around, ever eager to exploit another
person's preceived weakness for their own putrid purposes, she was bound
to make enemies. Turned out there were a handful of kids that hassled her
during the past year. Most of 'em were kids she'd only met in Junior High,
ones she didn't go to Elementary School with--and NONE of 'em were classmates
with her in Honors Math and Science. Familiarity—and a certain level of
intelligence—precluded those kids from acting in such a base manner towards
Julie. Instead, she was left to fend off these boors in her Spanish, Technology,
and Music classes. The schedule did her no favors, in fact, as there was
one particularly mean boy she was unlucky enough to have gotten stuck with
in all three of those courses...
According to Julie, as obnoxious as this knucklehead may've been to her
while they were in class, he saved his most egregiously venomous moments
for the hallways. Seems that whenever he saw Julie near her locker, he'd
delight in cruelly calling her “retard”, and spewing out every swear word
from "A" on up to "F" in her direction. Not one to
take this sort of treatment quietly, upon occasion, she'd misguidely attempt
to put an end to his taunts by utilizing logic, such as the time he called
her "stupid". She defiantly pointed out she was in two Honors
classes, and that was two more than he was in, but he wasn't listening—he
just called her a liar, and said, "Y'know what--they were really just
Special Ed classes", and walked away laughing.
Well, hearing all this is sure to get a parents' ire up, and it certainly
did mine, I assure you, but like I said, it was all over and done with
by the time I learned of this sorry situation. If it had truly bothered
her overmuch, believe me, you'd never have detected it from her blissful
demeanor arriving home afternoons from school over the past year. Luckily,
it appears Julie possesses the ability to let such blatant hostility run
right off her back in a decidely duck-like manner. But that's not to say
turning the other cheek is always the ONLY solution...
Julie's story wasn't quite over, you see. She continued on, recounting
events that occurred on the very last day of school—the very last day she'd
likely ever walk the halls of Wappingers Junior High, and in fact, any
of our local school district's academic institutions (as reported here
a while back, we've already enrolled Julie in a private school for next
year, though our decision was precipitated mostly by scholarly concerns,
not personality clashes such as this, depressing as they might be to digest).
It'd been a severely shortened schedule that late June morning, students
called in to the hallowed halls to submit to one last final exam. Now,
having finished her test, Julie was heading out to the parking lot where
I was waiting to drive her home one last time. And speaking of one last
She turned the corner, casually heading towards the exit, and just who
do you suppose she saw standing in her path? Uh huh. Her mean-spirited
serial tormentor. He was just standing there, near the now-emptied bank
of lockers, presumably waiting for someone or something. Without breaking
her purposeful stride, Julie soon approached him, and when she found herself
near enough, she looked him straight in the eye, smiled, and said ever
“F#*% you, a$$h*#!!”,
..and then just kept right on walking, only taking the time to glance over
her shoulder briefly to witness the now speechless creep, his jaw figuratively
dropped all the way to the floor.
Now, please understand, friends, I'm not one generally enamored with the
noxious notion of such crude bon mots emanating from the mouths of today's
youth—where ever could she have heard such tawdry terminology, I wonder?
WHERE? Shocked! I tell you, I am absolutely and positively SHOCKED!!—but
sometimes, let's face it, to get through to certain people, you've got
to get down and dirty and speak to them in the only language they understand.
And getting in the last word—no matter how salacious--has GOT to be tremendously
satisfying, turning an experience that might otherwise haunt one for years
and years instead into a moment of triumph! Huh--I never imagined I'd one
day be so very proud of my daughter for using words that, during MY school
days, would've gotten Lenny Bruce thrown right in the slammer! Way to go,
Hey, look--I said this was an inspirational story—I never said it was a PRETTY one, okay?...
|July 6, 2004
I added 17 new links today--5 creator sites, 4 character oriented pages,
4 comics bloggers, 1 wildly popular webtoon, and 3 miscellaneous comics
resources. There's some good stuff here, people--I'm particularly impressed
by a Superman site that offers over 75--yes, 75!--complete stories from
the Man of Steel's classic backlog, including some of his most celebrated
Silver Age adventures. You might also want to investigate Heidi MacDonald's
brand new news blog. (And if you want the links to 'em, just go to the
top of the page--I'm not gonna link to 'em HERE folks!! Sorry...)
I probably SHOULD provide a link to Mark Evanier and Steven Wintle, though. After all, they're the guys who found most of these nifty sites in the first place!! You all know about Mark, I'm sure, but let me once again go on record heaping praise onto Steve's Flat Earth page. He not only covers a wide variety of cartooning topics with a fine combination of intelligence and enthusiasm, but he has the amazing ability to haunt the nooks and crannies of the net, discovering all sorts of hidden gems! Like, yup, those aforementioned Superman stories--AND legendary Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Calvin and Hobbes newspaper strips as well! Wow! I don't know how the heck he does it, but I'm sure glad does!
So, after you check out all the links I stole from him, you might want
to go visit his site proper and pay homage. Hey, I know I will. After all,
doesn't the thief ALWAYS return to the site of the crime?...
|July 5th, 2004
||Best wishes for a belated 74th to George Steinbrenner, who spent his July
4th birthday watching that OTHER baseball team in town put the finishing
touches onto a weekend sweep of his beloved New York Yankees! Talk about
fireworks exhibitions--proximity to the Boss yesterday HAD to be decidedly
dangerous to your health!...
|Yes, yes, Yankee loyalists--I know all about the 26 World Championships,
about the team currently having the best record in baseball, and the biggest
lead over their second-place runner-ups. And yeah, I know that while this
is the first time Piazza and company have taken the season's series from
their crosstown rivals, it was merely by a 4-2 margin, and not the clean
six game sweep engineered by the Bronx bombers last year.
I don't care.
I don't care that the team is but a paltry two games over the .500 mark. The important thing is that they're only 2 games behind the division leaders, the Phillies, a team they'll be squaring off against tonight. (How? Simple--location, location, location!...)
One can only hope that the momentum gained from FINALLY beating George's
boys--particularly the pair of exhilerating seesaw contests on the weekend
that saw my Metsies emerge triumphant 10-9 and 6-5--will carry over and,
in a matter of nights, propel them amazingly into first place.
As the man once said, "Ya Gotta Believe!"
(...and as Steinbrenner no doubt shouted yesterday, "@#$%ing Mets!!"...)
|July 4th, 2004
|HAPPY 228th AMERICA!!
...from Mr. Rogers and me!
| July 3rd, 2004
Would you label me a hopeless geek if I
told you that my favorite film of all the many classics that the late
Marlon Brando appeared in was, um, “Superman The Movie”? (You
WILL believe the greatest actor of his generation can convincingly
wear a white spit-curl!...)
Okay, okay—I never said it was my favorite Brando flick. Fact is, I love
that movie in SPITE of the producers misguided insistence on such dubious
stunt-casting, lining up the erstwhile Stanley Kowalski to play Jor-El,
Superman's doomed Kryptonian daddy. My favorite Brando flicks would have
to be the two standards, “On The Waterfront” and, of course, “The Godfather”,
both undisputed cinematic gems, and far better showcases for the revolutionary
thespian's talents--even if the impending destruction of an entire planet
WOULD generally seem to serve as ripe ghrist for heavy-duty dramatics.
Funny thing—looking back, I can only recall seeing a handful of other Brando
films. There was the disappointing “Missouri Breaks”, and three other of
his most legendary performances :” Apocalypse Now”, “A Streetcar Named
Desire”, and “Last Tango in Paris”. I saw those pair of seventies releases
when they first came out, and the film version of the Tennessee Williams
play during the late sixties. Being as young and naïve as I was at
the time, I don't think I fully understood or appreciated the high-level
emotional content included in those decidedly adult stories, especially
the latter two. But, at the very least, I had a better handle on what exactly
was behind all those butter jokes Johnny Carson was incessantly peppering
his monologs with...
But the FIRST Marlon Brando movie that I ever saw—maybe not the best, but
in some ways the most iconic—was “The Wild One”. I still have a vivid memory
of casually walking into the room where my mom was watching it—I was probably
8 or 9 at the time--and being quickly sucked into its provocative scenario
of a gang of rebellious motorcycle thugs invading a generic , stiflingly
quiet, all-Americn fifties burg. And the scene where the leather-clad cyclists
surround the painfully wholesome Mary Murphy with their bikes, circling
with an ever building frenzy, only to have Brando swoop in and rescue her
before things get irrevitably out of hand—WHOA!! That little tableu made
quite the impression on me, lemme tell ya!...
And if that weren't enough, just to bring this all back around to comics—yes, like most everything ELSE that happened to me growing up in the sixties—my very first exposure to MAD magazine came in the form of the paperback collection, “Son Of MAD”, which I picked up not long following my wide-eyed viewing of “The Wild One”. After all this time, who's to say if it was either a motivation, or merely a coincidence, but included within was their parody of the film, suitably retitled “The Wild 1/2”. To say that I was mesmerized by Wally Wood's spot-on art would've been an understatement. Wood's definitive interpetation of the young Marlon, cap and all, lives on strongly in my mind's eye. In fact, his caricature seemed to turn up in much of the artist's work for the satiric publication as the decade drew to a close, and as a result, I've always associated MAD's anti-authoritarian bent with the actor's similar leanings . Why, Wood's imagry effected me so strongly, that there were times I found myself seeing it in other, totally unexpected places....
Y'know, Wood was still alive—if far from being in top form—when “SupremanThe
Movie” was initially released. Sadly, the film never received a proper
comics' adaptation, but man, couldn't you just picture the one-time EC
whiz bringing it to life on the printed page? Seeing him do Super Brando
would've been worth the price of admission alone!
Didn't happen. Wood died before contract squabbles edited Brando out of
the sequel. And now Brando himself has left us. Can't say I was ever a
great admirer of the man, though I certainly recognized his talent. As
the years went on, he became known as much for his odd behavior and family
travails as he did for his early triumphs on the big screen, but when a
true legend passes, you're pretty much obligated to stop for a moment,
consider why he had that rare appellation bestowed upon him, and—if you're
me—figure a way to somehow tie him into the four-color world.
Well, I guess THAT mission's accomplished, eh?
|July 2nd, 2004
My not-so-brilliant career as a girl's
intra-mural soccer coach came to an end last week, not with a bang,
but with—wouldn'tcha know it--the proverbial whimper.
For those who came in late, a quick
recap. Five seasons ago, my daughter Julie convinced me to heed Coach
Pat's pleas for an assistant to help with his team of nine year old
girls. Since no other parent stepped forward, and I was most likely
going to be attending all the practices and games anyway, I
volunteered at her urging, if somewhat warily. I'd never played
soccer on an organized team myself, y'see, just messed around with
the game in various friend's backyards when I was a kid. And—stop
the presses--I'm far from being your typical jock, but y'know, once I
got involved, I found the whole experience to be fairly enjoyable.
My technique was to pretty much stay
quietly out of the way, and just do as Coach Pat asked of me. This
guy really knew his stuff, people, so all I had to do was follow his
simple instructions during practice, and things were swell. More
dauntingly, though, he had to go out of town two or three times that
season, leaving the squad in my care on game days, and lemme tell ya,
it made for a couple of highly nerve-wracking Saturday mornings,
particularly that first one. But—Hallelujeah!--we all made it
through, and I pretty much thought that'd be that. Much to my
surprise, however, Pat announced after the last game in June that the
NEXT season, he was planning to switch gears and coach his younger
son's team. That left an opening on the girls' side, and despite some
early protestations, yup, I wound up filling it.
And as hard as that may've been to
believe—and to folks who actually knew me, it WAS—even more
amazingly, my group of now-ten-year olds lost but a mere single
contest that first year. Oh, sure, we had our share of games ending
in a tie, but only a single, solitary loss. One. All of a sudden, I
was REALLY having fun!...
It wouldn't last. The teams are
reconfigured regularly in the Fall--though I managed to hold onto a
core group of players each time. Years two and three saw our
records—which, in the non-competitive league we played in, weren't
officially kept, please understand—fall to about .500 or slightly
below for each season. Then came this year, and the news that Coach
Pat was rejoining our ranks—AND taking back his daughter (natch)
and her pals, the twins, perenially the three best players on our
team. Still, I was able to assemble a decent group under my
tutelage—I think it was my tutelage, in the final analysis, that'd
leave something to be desired. The kids were getting older, but
despite my best efforts, my limited expertise wasn't keeping pace.
The end result? My first year, we had
only one game we lost. My last year, we had only one game we DIDN'T
lose—and that one, we tied! 0-0. (Oh, during the recent tournament,
we also had a pair of 0-0 ties, one of which ended in a 2-1 victory,
but only due to a post-game, sudden death kick-off--but those were
severely shortened contests, and the win didn't come via the
traditional method.) In fact, let's take a look at the scores of this
Spring's eight regular games (and four tournament contests), and see
if you can detect any sort of pattern emerging, okay?"...
0-0 tie, 1-0 loss. 1-0 loss, 0-0 tie
(decided by a shoot-out, won by us, 2-1).
...and finally, a 4-0 loss.
Notice anything in casually perusing
those stats? Such as the fact that, over the entire nine week Spring
portion of our schedule, we managed to score but two measley goals
the traditional way in all that time. Two. Dos. And, as fate would
have it, BOTH in the same game! A game, I should additionally note,
in which our opponents scored—that's right—THREE goals! Add 'em
all up, and it was 27-2 for 2004—and, oddly enough, that was an
improvement of sorts over the Fall of 2003! Aside from that one 10-0
blowout (in which our star goalie was home sick), we stayed close in
more games than we did in the earlier half. But, for the life of us,
we just couldn't score, and it wasn't because the kids were anywhere
near as bad as this record would have you believe. Nah, it was me.
Me, and the fact that more often than not, we were perpetually
Let me tell you about the last three
games. That'll pretty much sum up the sorry situation we were
8:30, Saturday morning. We're facing
off against the team that captured first place in the previous week's
tournament. And at game time, 9 players have shown up. That's 9 of
15, and two less than the 11 generally required to field a team at
this age level. But, the way it goes is, we have 9, they play 9, all
in an effort to keep things even-handed. All fine, as far as that
goes, but usually it also means the other team has several kids
luxuriating on the sidelines, just waiting to go in, as subsitutes
for tired players, a perk we rarely if ever enjoyed the latter half
of the schedule.
They beat us 3-0, but considering they
probably took close to thirty shots at our goal—and we took maybe
three at theirs—I considered it to be a moral victory that we
weren't thoroughly embarrassed by what was probably the most polished
team we encountered this Spring. All credit to Kelly, our goalie—a
newcomer this year, but the best I'd ever had playing the
position—who even had the rival Coach gushing with praise. Without
her? Brrr—I don't even want to THINK about it...
But then things started to get
It was three days later, early Monday
evening, when the phone rang. The Coach whose team we were supposed
to play the last game of the season against, a week from the upcoming
Saturday, was calling. Turns out, his home field where we were
supposed to play his squad was going to be unavailable for soccer
usage starting THIS Saturday. A Football Camp was reconfiguring the
area for their own purposes, since when the town of Poughkeepsie
leased the series of fields to them, they surely never imagined the
soccer season dragging on as long as it did (Why? Getting a late
start due to weather considerations was the primary reason...). So,
we had to play this Thursday, or not play at all...
Now, the good news here is, our
practice time also fell on Thursday evenings, so you'd figure it
wouldn't be an awfully difficult task to redirect the girls over to
the out of town field to play an actual game that night rather than
just messing around with too-little, too-late drills on our own home
greenery. So I told him, okay, I'd call everyone in a little while,
and get back to him later. I was just sitting down to dinner,
Not ten minutes later, the phone rang
again. Julie answered it, and quickly realizing it wasn't one of her
buddies, soon handed it over to me. My first thought was that the
Poughkeepsie Coach was calling me back, but that wasn't QUITE the
case. It was the Coach of the East Fishkill team we were pencilled in
to match up with THAT Saturday, the second-to-last game of the
season. A whole slew of his team was going to be unavailable this
upcoming weekend, it turned out, so he wanted to know if we could
possibly reschedule the game for the night they had their regular
Yup, you guessed it--he wanted to play
us that upcoming Thursday evening, too...
Well, I explained the situation to him, and after several phone calls back
and forth between the three of us, we ultimately agreed to play his team
the FOLLOWING Thursday, and the Poughkeepsie team this week. I'd just deep-sixed
our last pair of practices, but that was a far better choice than dumping
the last two games. Or, so I hoped...
I shovelled down the rest of my ever
cooling dinner, my head spinning at the prospect of the chore that I
knew awaited me. Sure enough, I spent nearly the next two hours
trying to track down all my players, explaining the intricacies of
the various scenarios before us, all the while attempting to
determine if we'd indeed be able to assemble enough girls to put a
proper team on the field (7 is the official minimum allowed). After I
was confident—however falsely, as it turned out—that we'd have 11
or 12 available for each game, I called back the two Coaches, and
told 'em things were a go. THEN I went and poured myself a nice hot
cup of tea. What for? Folks, by now, I had me one throbbing headache,
And for all that trouble, what do you
think happened the following Thursday? It rained. Oh, not right away.
We actually played the first 30 minutes under threatening, but dry,
skies. 9 girls showed up—well, 8 plus Julie. See, she had this
big, big Earth Science Regents exam early the next morning—her
first ever Regents—and she'd gotten a sudden and debilitating case
of nerves minutes before the game, and pleaded illness. But I knew
I'd surely need her—someone ALWAYS disappointed me by not showing
up, and this was certain to be no exception—so I dragged her along,
despite her protests. Once there, she reluctantly shlepped out on the
field, but her mind was elsewhere. She performed the role of ballast,
and all things considered, I was happy—no, lucky--to have her.
The rain began during halftime, a light
drizzle at first, but that wasn't nearly enough to halt the
proceedings. It was that bolt of lightning 6 minutes into the second
half that put the kibosh on matters, leaving us with a truncated 1-0
loss. Walking off the field, a thought occurred to me:
"And Kelly, now that you and your
sister have been made to suffer ANOTHER loss overseen by hapless ol'
Coach Fred, just what are you going to do?"
"Why, go to DisneyWorld, of
Yup, the girl's whole family would soon
be off on an early vacation. Great for them, but for me? Well, we'd
then need someone else to take on the always undesirable goalie
duties next week for what would turn out to be the final game of my
questionable Coaching career. Uh oh...
(Though I'd long made up my mind to
quit following the dismal Fall showing, I hadn't told anybody
associated with the Wappingers Soccer Club until just after the
recent tournament. I was graciously thanked for my time,
commisserated with for my problems, but tellingly, NO attempt was
made to persuade me to change my mind. Oh, my Assistant Coach,
Janice, was disappointed. She'd hoped to team up with me again next
year, but since she was never quite able to attend more than half of
either the games or practices (in four years, I didn't miss a single
one—meaning, either I'm really, really responsible, or my life is
really, really dull. Truth to tell, it's probably a little bit of
both...), she wisely knew that an assistant's slot was all she'd
realistically be capable of. But next year, I'm sure she'll find
someone else she can share her not-insignificent expertise with—at
So finally, it was June 24th. The day before had been Julie's 8th Grade class trip.
School was now done. Over and out. Earlier that very day, Lynn had
lined up the annual End of the Year Girl Scout activity for her
troop--in this instance, a visit to a local horse farm for some
riding lessons. That was scheduled to go from 12:30 until 2:30. After
which, Julie's pal Courtney—also a member of our soccer team—came
home with us, and I chaperoned them as they swam in our pool for most
of the time between 3 and 5 (this seemingly mundane fact becomes
important later). After they dried off, they hastily donned their red
and black uniforms one last time, and we all headed over to the field
where we'd participated in the tournament just weeks earlier.
Originally, we were told the game would
start at 5:30 (meaning, folks should arrive around 5:15), but just
the night before, in confirming matters, the coach called to let me
know that he himself couldn't make it so his assistant was going to
take over, and, oh yeah, the game might not start until closer to 6,
since that was when the referees were available. This too is an
important fact, as was my decision NOT to call everybody with this
updated information. My noggin ached at the very thought. Just show
up early and wait, I figured. Most of our girls arrive late anyway...
My first miscalculation became evident
when two of my girls—including one I felt confident could handle
the goal for us during part of the game—informed me that, due the
change of starting time and later plans they'd already made, they'd
have to leave after the first half! Yikes! So, supplied with this
latest bit of information, I trundled up our equipment and dragged it
over to the bleachers, there to wait for the rest of my girls to show
up. I expected 11. (Of the original 15, the 4 I DIDN'T expect
included one who had broken a finger earlier in the month, one who
was having some personal issues that had essentially shut her down
most of the Spring, and two who were—remember?--frolicking with
Mickey and friends in the Florida sunshine).
What I GOT was 8. Two of which had to
leave midway. Our opponents? 15 girls (out of, I later heard, a
possible 22, making me wonder just how THIS team came to conclude
that they'd lack enough girls to play us the past Saturday. Probably
only had, say, 8 or 9 available, I'd guess. Hardly enough...)
We'd do okay to start, but I was really
hoping for one more, so we'd have the minimum 7 to get us through the
second portion. Among the most blatantly missing— Assistant Coach
Janice's daughter (and, natch, the Assistant Coach herself). One of
the moms tried calling her on her cell phone, and we were assured by
a third party that they were on their way even as we spoke, so that
made me feel somewhat better.
Except, they never showed. Sigh...
My eight girls played the first half
tough, and as we approached the 30 minute mark, there was still no
scoring. Our less experienced yet gutsy goalie was doing great, but
noticing our girls were starting to get demonstrably tired—no subs,
remember?--I called out to the ref, asking how much time was left. A
minute, she said. So I waited, and waited, and waited. And then, just
as the other team snuck past our defense and scored a goal, the
whistle was blown to end the half. Huh. Seemed like a bit MORE than a
minute to me, but what are ya gonna do? That's just the way our luck
went all year.
Well, our two early departees were soon
on their way, leaving us with but six players. While we could've
always borrowed several players from the other team, it had always
seemed the less desirable way to go, the two times I'd been forced to
avail myself of our opponents help in the past. After all, if we were
all of a sudden to do well—hey, it COULD happen!--was it us, or was
it the reinforcements? Win or lose—okay, lose—the prevailing mood
amongst my players remained, let's do it on our own. So, casting
aside that option, we had to get REALLY creative.
And that's how I ended my alternately
illustrious AND ill-fated soccer career with the 16 year old brother
of one of my players manning—yes, actually MANning—the goal for
the second half! He volunteered, y'see, having plenty experience
playing on several organized teams previously. The other Coach didn't
object, so the two refs agreed to pretend it never happened, and were
even willing to waive the shin-guard requirements—and maybe most
importantly, Brianna, who hadn't played goalie in almost two years,
but was going to be my last possible alternative (the other two
hadn't shown) sure didn't seem to mind these unique turn of events
either! Yup, we went out breaking all sorts of rules!!
And despite his best efforts—and he
WAS good--the other team scored 3 times on him. His defense—including
sis--was clearly exhausted, leaving him out to dry time and time
again. We fielded 7, y'see, but I told the other team to stay with
8—I felt I was making them jump through enough hoops as it was. (I
later found out that they hadn't won a single game all season either,
so at least SOMEONE went home happy ...)
Finally, it was over. I gave out the
standard year end medallions to the remaining players, plus some cute
little soccer ball piggy banks I'd bought for the girls at a dollar
store earlier that day. Any notions of delivering a heart-felt and
long-winded valedictory speech as my coaching career irrevitably
slipped away had sensibly been scuttled by common sense, as most
folks seemed anxious to get out of there. I spoke a few moments with
Brianna and her friend Christina—as well as their folks--though.
They'd been with me all four years, so I half-jokingly gave them the
old Dorothy/Scarecrow speech. Y'know, “I'm gonna miss you most of
Brianna's mom chuckled, but suddenly,
her daughter ripped off her jersey—this ain't the pros; she had a
shirt on underneath, please be advised—and then, in frustration,
threw it on the ground and began stomping up and down on it! I had to
laugh. It wasn't meant as anything personal, but who could really
blame her? It was that kind of year...
Soon everyone had left, with only one
mystery left to be solved: what exactly had happened to my Assistant
and her girl?...
The answer awaited me (ironically) on
my answering machine when we arrived home! She'd gone to the wrong
field, y'see. Actually, she'd gone to THREE wrong fields. And she
didn't sound particularly happy...
Now, I'm reasonably certain that I told
her the right venue, really I am. In fact, just to make sure folks
didn't get the various town fields mixed up, I specifically
instructed people to go to where we'd had the tournament, since we'd
only played there the one time all year, and just a few weeks back at
that. But whether she'd been responsible for the mix-up or not, the
thing that made me feel rotten was discovering that she'd called to
confirm the time earlier in the day while I was out with the
horse-riding Girl Scouts! Had I noticed the blinking machine while
I'd stopped home during the afternoon, I could've steered her in the
right direction, and she—and her daughter—wouldn't've been denied
the chance to see the team one last time.
Color me shamefaced.
Well, we spoke the next day. Luckily,
she was understanding, and she came by later to pick up the
medallion (and piggy bank, AND box o' candy, chosen 'specially for
her). And except for getting the medallions out to a few other
stragglers—including the Disney twins—that's it. I turned in my
player ratings yesterday, and soon I'll drop off the all the excess
equipment—cones, first aid kit, goalie shirt, and assorted whatnot.
Am I glad I did it? Yeah, you bet. But
maybe, just maybe, I should've quit a year earlier, y'know? That's
easy to say now, I suppose. All I know is that NEXT year, I'll be the
one receiving a phone call, not the one making a dozen of them
everytime things needed rearranging, and I'll be the one having to
worry about getting just one player to a game, not the one wondering
when—and if—another dozen or so are going to show up before the
whistle is blown. Ah, bliss.
So, while this may mark the end of the
Adventures of Coach Fred, join me right back here in September for
the all-new, all-true exploits of Soccer Dad Fred!
I bet you all just can't wait...
|July 1st, 2004
Have you ever felt like hauling off and smacking a particularly disliked teacher right in the head? Well, leave it to my Julie to figure a way to safely manage such an audacious task, in a manner of speaking...
It all began last President's Day. Three of Julie's friends and classmates—Lisa,
Melissa, and Ellen—were over the house working on a group project for one
of their classes. For reasons I never quite fully grasped, the instructor
in this class had earned the burning emnity of all four, far surpassing
any comparatively inconsequential distaste they may've had for any of their
other teachers. As they worked diligently away, a plan was hatched—at the
end of the school year, they'd all gather here again, and take this very
project—as well as any and all other evidence that would establish a paper
trail back to this sour course—and malevolently stuff them in our wood-burning
stove for a ritualistic cleansing! Aw, kids today...
Well, the semester wrapped up not long ago, and you can bet Julie hadn't forgotten her intended course of action. She organized a party, invited nearly a dozen girls (several of whom were unable to attend due to late-June vacation plans), and began charting out a timetable of events for the assemblege. Lynn and I stepped in, however, and poured cold water on her arsonistic tendencies, figuring too many cooks in this particular instance might very well burn down the house. Disappointed, but undaunted, our crafty progeny came up with an ingenious alternative:
Home made ones, that is. Eight girls were ultimately scheduled to attend,
so, accomplice though it may've made me, I blew up eight balloons, and
along with my wife and dastardly daughter, applied several coats of gloppy
paper mache to each, papering each with torn strips of the Poughkeepsie
Journal. We let them set for close to 48 hours before the party's participants
arrived, insuring a good solid casing for the equally divided candy favors
that Julie had purchased to store inside each one. But the REAL treats
wouldn't be on the inside, but rather on the OUTside...
It was all very simple, really. The kids all showed up between noon and
one, they snacked, swam in the pool, competed in a DDR contest (Dance Dance
Revolution, for those of you not in the know—just about the only electronic
game that keeps you moving and up on your feet, defying the standard image
of couch-bound video games), swam again, and THEN assembled at the dining
room table, and were each given their own personal head-shaped paper mache
Water based paint was slopped on, streamers were attached, and pipe cleaners were twisted as necessary, all added to each girl's pinata at their own discretion. For nearly an hour, great concentration—and cutting quips—was afforded this monumentral artistic process. Finally, with all work completed, the moment of truth had arrived. Yes, it was time to get out the bat...
Naturally, Julie went first.
Having secured her creation to a branch of a tree smack dab in the middle
of our front yard, she happily declared the swinging object to be the effigy
of her far-far-less-than-favorite teacher, and as the rest of the girls
giddily chanted a countdown in unison, Julie reared back, and prepared
to get a year's worth of academic aggression out with one mighty swing.
I'm telling you, it was like a scene straight out of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook
Farm Meets The Lord of the Flies”!...
Each girl subsequently took her turn at bat, some more hostile to their personal pinatas than others. The object of their scorn wasn't all directed at Julie's poor, beleagured teacher, either. Some partygoers didn't even have her as an instuctor. So, other teachers were used, as was one widely derided classmate, one who'd easily qualify as “witchy”--and pretty much everything that ryhmes with it. I'm delighted to report that, happily, no parents, guardians, or siblings were taken to task. So rest easy tonight, mom and dad—not need to hide junior's baseball bat from sis. You're safe...
Soon after, the party broke up, but everyone seemed to have a genuinely
good time exorcising eighth grade demons. All acts were performed in the
spirit of good—okay, maybe just MOSTLY good—fun. Remember, no actual teachers
or despised classmates were hurt in the execution of this event, and really,
folks, isn't that the most important thing?
And for all we know, at the very same time, there might well've been a
group of teachers gathered in the Faculty Lounge, sticking sharp pins in
makeshift Julie and Lisa dolls! Hey, Julie DID complain about a shooting
pain in her calf late that afternoon, but at the time, we just figured
it was a cramp from swimming in the cold water!
Say, you don't suppose?...