MARK’S ARTICLE – May 27, 2010
Looking for “The Look”
Martin had the look, and it took me a bunch of years to figure that out. That’s the only reason he got the part. The guy genuinely looked like Farmer Brown.
Martin had the red hair and freckles going for him. You slap some overalls on that kid and he’d look like he belonged on the side of a can of cream corn. I never realized that at the time. I always thought Mrs. Smith, chose Martin to play Farmer Brown ‘cause she thought he had all the talent.
Martin is the kid hiding just left of Ms. Smith. I'm right in front of Ms. Smith. Whatta gentleman.
Seems the farmer was the only kid in our first grade play who had any lines. Everybody else was a farm animal, a vegetable or a farm implement. All non-farmers just made noise. No discernable dialog.
Normally, I’d let something like that pass, but the whole episode messed me up quite a bit. Fifty years ago and I’m still steamed. There’s Mrs. Smith assigning all the roles for the fall play. She’s already got the parts pretty well down, including the bale of hay, the tractor, goose, horse, cow, chickens and two pigs.
Martin and I are left. Poor sap. Martin’s not even getting a part. Then Old Lady Smith says, “Oh, and, Mark, you get to be the third pig?” -- I’m not joking. Like it was some kind of award. I get to be a pig. Not even the first pig.
That’s when it hit me. I was gonna be one of the Three Little Pigs. I never picked up on the stupid rhyme theme until that moment. Hey, I was six, okay?
Yeah, my first grade teacher took one look at me and decided I needed to be a pig. How do you tell your folks something like that? -- “Well, Mark, what part did you get in the school play? Oh, a pig? Dennis quit laughing at your brother. You’ll be a good li’l piggie.”
So, I ended up standing on stage, wearing a pair of pink cotton pajamas with a plastic mask over my face, standing next to two other jackasses… uh, swine, waiting for my cue, that couldn’t be delivered because Martin was an idiot.
I don’t know how long the pause was. Seems like about 20 minutes. I coulda helped, but I really wanted Martin to mess up. I had issues. Finally, Little Pig #1, Dumb ol’ Darrel, caught onto what was happening and whispered from the underside of a pig mask, “Martin, it’s ‘What are you pigs doing out of your pen?’”
Martin suddenly had an epiphany, delivered the line and The Three Little Pigs said, in unison, “Oink, oink,” and then walked off the stage. That was it. It was three bucks for the stupid pig outfit and all I get was an oink, oink. You couldn’t even tell it was me. I was in Loserville and had just been handed the key to the city.”
It was The Look. Mrs. Smith was looking for “The Look”, and, boy, she got it. He might’ve looked like a farmer, but Martin was really just a goober. It was the longest play in first grade history.
I hoped that would the end of my acting career. But, when you’re in elementary school, they keep dragging you back in. In the second grade I was a Martian standing around in green underwear. In the third grade, I feigned asthma and didn’t hafta be in a play. Fourth grade I played a weird Australian guy, a jolly swagman camped by a billabong… under the shade of some stupid tree. I think Marsha was the tree
When I escaped elementary, I wasn’t anything. Nobody made me act, so I didn’t… not until I turned 40. That’s when I volunteered to be in some Little Theatre productions. Of course, I drew the line at nursery rhymes and anything with dance numbers.
I’ve also been in a few low budget movies. I managed to get most of the parts because of my looks. Not The Look. Just my look. I’ve played an 88-year-old codger, a bumbling patsy, a guy who has a nervous breakdown, and an alcoholic uncle. But the role I’m most often called to do is that of an idio— uh, a mentally challenged guy.
Bottom line, I’ve never been asked to play the guy who gets the girl, or who rides off into the sunset, solves the murder case, or looks like he has more than two brain cells. – Until yesterday. Hey, that’s why I’m boring you with all this stuff.
You see, I got a call from a director who said he needed me to play an expert witness in a murder trial. An expert witness. Me. Pig #3. Expert. I actually got to play a senior medical examiner at a big city hospital.
And, I had a bunch of technical lines to memorize. I had to remember stuff like subdural hematoma and arterial bleeding in the skull cavity. And, get this; I had to act like I knew what I was talking about! And, did I mention that it wasn’t a comedy?
I suppose, in an attempt to make me feel at ease, the director told me that 85 percent of my particular role was “The Look.” I’m not joking. Don’t worry about the acting. Just try to look like a medical examiner. He was looking for The Look.
Turns out, Big Al played the defense attorney. That’s how I got the part. Pretty sure. Al can look like anything he wants to. He was even in a natural gas commercial where he had to say “And that was my eureka moment.” He had to smile and everything. And, he’s on national TV showing the “eureka” look.
I don’t have a eureka look. I’ve got the “guy-who-doesn’t-get-the-girl” look. It’s a gift. One that I’ve really nurtured.
Regardless, I must say that I’ve come a long way. It took me 50 years to go from “oink, oink” to “subdural hematoma.” If Mrs. Smith could only see me now… Right. She’d probably say, “No, I can’t see my li’l pig playing an expert witness. You weren’t even my first pig, were you?”-- Yep, I’ve got some serious issues here!
You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org. To listen to Brad Meyer and Mark’s latest restaurant review go to http://www.hcnonline.com/media/Flemings.mp3
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
MARK’S ARTICLE – May 22, 2010
To tuck or not
If I were invited to an event where I needed to look nice, I couldn’t attend. I can only go places where little is expected in the way of appearance.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Oh Mark, you’re being way too hard on yourself.” Maybe two of you are thinking that. But, I’ve looked in the mirror, and I’m telling you that the reverse image of me is not looking so good. I fear I’ve become the man I always feared I’d become.
I looked pretty good in my thirties, mid-forties. I’ve got a picture around here somewhere. Let’s see… oh, just take my word. Now I’m 60 and I look like people I used to make fun of. I’ve told so many friends to shoot me when I look like this that I’m halfway scared to be seen in public. -- “Officer, just look at his shorts and socks and that hair in his ears. He forced me to do it.”
I saw a guy in Kroger a week or so back. He was a bit older than I, but looked so cool. He was wearing knee-length plaid shorts, a T- shirt (untucked), and sandals with no socks. And, get this -- hair! Gray hair… and all over his head! Life fair? I don’t think so.
I told the cool haired guy that I hadn’t looked as good as he did in my whole life. He said, “Oh, I know better than that.” He doesn’t.
I feel so self-conscious wearing shorts in public. I don’t understand how long or how baggy they’re supposed to be. Michael Jordan ruined shorts for me. He came out with long baggy shorts and everyone had to have ‘em. If I wear something baggy, it accentuates my skinny legs. Shorts that are knee-length make me look like the guy that my friends are supposed to shoot.
And, speaking of shirts, let’s. I can certainly understand the popularity of the untucked shirt look. It not only camouflages your gut, but it creates the illusion that your pants may just be riding horizontally at the waist. They’re not, and they don’t and won’t! So, shoot me!
Fortunately, Kay tells me that I still have a butt. When you’ve got the slanted-waist-with-no-butt look, it’s time to rent movies by mail. My worry is that Kay may just be trying to make me feel good. She wouldn’t would she? Look at this? Tell me if I have a butt. I do, don’t I? Don’t I? Oh, boy.
When I walk around with my shirt untucked, I feel so sloppy. So, before going out I have to figure out which looks worse, the pants slanted at the waist or the sloppy untucked look. I’m sure some university is doing a study at this very moment.
Kay and I went to the mall last weekend. I forget what she was looking for. Me, I sat down on one of the benches at started looking at men. I don’t do that nearly enough. I’ll bet you only 20 percent of the men I saw were wearing socks.
How do they do it? If I go sockless, my feet feel all… unsocked. And, they get rubbed in weird places. No shoe rubs the same. Einstein proved that back in ’32. That’s why I can’t wear sandals. Sandals are cool as all get out. But, I have to wear socks with mine. Those straps don’t feel good on the top of my feet.
And flip flops! You put something between my toes and then make me scoot my feet to keep the sandal on and I’ll… well I’ll get arrested for silly walk. It’s only a Class C misdemeanor, but sheesh. Just shoot me.
So, I can’t wear sandals. Especially not around Big Al. Last time I tried, he told me that Nerd City called and I was late for the Mayor’s meeting.
Speaking of Big Al, that guy looks good all the time. And, he doesn’t even buy his own clothes. Marlena does all his shopping. She brings home a load of stuff and Al sorts through it. “Take this back, this back, and… oh, I’ll keep the shoes.”
Kay won’t do that for me. Oh, she’d try it once just to teach me a lesson. On my first day out after Kay’s pickings, Big Al would say, “Mark, paint your nose red, get yourself a horn, and kids will come up and ask you to make ‘em balloon hats.”
I can’t get too upset with Kay. A couple of days ago she showed me a page from one of her magazines that made me feel a little better. It was a set of pictures of movie stars… as they look today. Each of them was shirtless. I can’t remember all of ‘em, but I do remember Alec Baldwin, Russell Crowe and Clint Eastwood. The stuff their tucked or not shirts are hiding is scary.
And, while I hate to run down one of my on-screen heroes, I’ve got to say that Clint Eastwood doesn’t have a butt. Not the hint of one. I’d like you to take a look at him and then look over here at me. See? See that? There’s something back there. No, I’m askin’.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
MARK’S ARTICLE – May 19, 2010
"In need of TV theme songs"
One of my favorite TV theme songs goes something like this: (Are you ready?) "Texas John Slaughter made ‘em do what they oughtter, ‘cause if they didn’t they died. Oooooh, yeaaaah." I added that last part. Oooh, yeaaah. Cool.
A theme song like that wouldn’t make it on TV today. Oh, it might fit right into a Rick Perry commercial, but not on a TV series. There are no personal theme songs for programs produced nowadays. -- "South Park." I just thought of one. But, there are no others, so quit trying to think of any.
The less old among us are really missing out on a major music genre. Genre? Music thing. Back in the day, some of the most memorable music came at the beginning and end of TV shows. Take Westerns. "Sugarfoot, Sugarfoot, easy loping cattle roping, Sugarfoot." How about, "…he was panther quick and leather tough if he figured that he’d been pushed enough, the Rebel. Johnny Yuma was the Rebel…"
"Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave courageous and bold. Long live his fame and long live his glory and long may his story be told." Next to "Have Gun Will Travel," the greatest theme song in Westerndom has the unforgettable line "Ride ‘em in, ride ‘em out, let ‘em in, let ‘em out, RAWHIDE! Heeyah!" A second? I always get misty-eyed when I sing that one. Okay, I’m better.
If time permitted, I’d sing you some of the non-Western theme songs. Stuff like, "Na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na. Batman" and "I married Joan. Whatta girl, whatta world, whatta life!" But, there’s just no time for "Maude", "The Jetsons", "Mr. Ed", "Gilligan’s Island"…
There are dozens, maybe a bazillion near forgotten theme songs. And, no one is adding to ‘em… until now. Yes, theme song fans, you’re getting ready to hear some songs that would be perfect for some of today’s shows? -- Oh, yes you are. Hey, I don’t wanna hear it. I’m driving this team of mules, so you just sit there and listen.
The first song is for a show I’ve seen twice. Have trouble with the anatomy lessons. The song goes like this: "CSI, CSI, watch the bullet go in the eye, through the pancreas and out the thigh. We’re CSI! Ooooh, yeaaah." If that doesn’t make you wanna tune in, nothing will.
Try this one on for size: "Someone’s making fun of a guy who’s dead, and DiNozzo’s getting slapped on the back of the head. Few have heard of the organization, but law officers let ‘em handle all situations. They’re simply the best! They’re N C I S! Ooooh, yeaaah." See how an "oh, yeah" can work its way into every song. Maybe not "Chariots of Fire."
Sung to the tune of "On top of Ol’ Smokey" we have -- "Women think he’s hot and guys do too. He knows when you’re lyin’, and he’ll make you look stu……pid. He remembers everything, doesn’t need any list. This guy is super cool, he’s The Mentalist."
To the tune of Springsteen’s "Born in the U.S.A." we have, "Land him on a mountain, or the middle of the sea, he’ll survive if he has to drink his own pee. He’s the Survivor Man, he’s the Survivor Maaan now…"
I’m manly as all get out. You know that. So, I’m not ashamed to say that I like "Glee." Not real ashamed. Regardless, I’ve come up with a Glee song that is to be sung to the tune of "Ina Gadda Da Vida."
It starts out: "High school kids singing some pretty raunchy songs. Super talented group, but they’d get expelled for real long… uh, in most real school districts, oh baby."
Kay and I make it a point to watch "Castle." She likes Rick Castle and I like his mother. At least I did during my college days. Forget that. Sung to the tune of any rap song, we have "Rick’s a writer and Beckett’s a cop. They can’t get together or it’ll ruin the plot… suckah. I say kill that suckah! Make him dead till his eyes run red…" I’m sorry, I always get carried away while rapping.
And, to the tune of "Brown eyed Girl" we have -- "She’s got ten high ranking cops solving just one crime. She’s got a fake Southern accent that’ll really grates on your mind. She’s Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, and she takes no guff. That’s why it’s way stupid when suspects don’t lawyer up. The Closer. Oooh, yes, she’s the Closer."
Kay could qualify as president of the Dog Whisperer fan club. Hey, she may be, for all I know. Sung to the tune of "Somewhere over the rainbow." This song is for her. "Sometimes your dog will bite someone, even when you say it won’t. But Cesar Milan will make it stop, even if it’s as big as a pon…eee. He says, Psst! Stop that now. He say, Psst, I’m in charge heyah. The pack leader man, yes sir, he’s the Dog Whisperer. Ooooh, yeaaah."
Somebody stop me, okay? One more? No, seriously, let’s end this. Tell you what do. See my e-mail address down there? Come up with a theme song for a current show, send it to me and I’ll post it in my column. Maybe Assuming I get enough. If you never hear of this again, I didn’t… Oooooh, yeaaah! – Thank you. Thank you, everyone. -- Next time.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
MARK’S ARTICLE – May 8, 2010 “Great injuries of the past”
Only two people were injured at my place during the family get-together last weekend. I call that a success. During football season, we generally have several injuries. Bruises, pulled muscles, torn body parts… Few broken bones. Don’t know why that is.
Baseball was the sport of choice this time. Baseball and bubble blowing. We don’t try to knock people off their feet during baseball and bubble blowing. Not usually. Thus, fewer injuries. Something to do with physics.
On Saturday, Joe Bear was the first to take a direct hit. He’s my little nephew. Dennis’ grandson. J Bear got swacked on the back with a bat. Say that real fast and I think you’ve got a rap song.
The swack would’ve knocked the bear boy sillier had it been a wooden or metal bat. Fortunately, it was plastic. I think Jasmine swung it. Maybe Lauren. Never could hone in on the true story. I was too busy talking to Dennis.
You see, while the women consoled JB, Dennis and I started talking about handball. It follows perfectly, if stay with me. When my big brother and I played handball in college, we would occasionally get smacked (not swacked) right on the back by a fast moving handball. The sensation was much like getting hit with a golfball.
There is a place on your back that just hates getting slapped, swacked or smacked by anything… uh, I guess getting smacked by a raisin wouldn’t hurt that much. But everything else hurts like the dickens. If you had seen Joe Bear wincing, it’d bring it all back to you.
After the Bear tired of all the attention, play resumed. It didn’t resume long before J Bear’s mom, Kristy (the sweetest niece in the world) took a hit right in the face with the ball about a nanosecond after it left the bat. She just happened to be passing right by when Clint took a massive swing. He really clocked her.
Had it been a baseball or softball, Kristy would still be in intensive care. Fortunately, it was a whiffle ball. I had no idea a whiffle ball could leave a mark like that on somebody’s face. That’s ‘cause I have never seen anyone get hit that hard from that close. (So, people let’s take a lesson here. Whiffle balls, when batted in too close proximity can really smart.)
While the rest of the group checked on Kristy, Dennis and I started talking about getting hit with a ball. The most memorable time was when we were playing in softball tournament in Baytown. It was 106 degrees in Baytown on that Saturday afternoon. It was 103 during my last telling of the story. Global warming.
Freeman was on first base with Mark Allen at the plate. Mark always hits to right field. Right hander, hits to right. Weird. Freeman knew that. He just wasn’t thinking right. Mark Allen took a massive swing and sent a line drive just to the left of first base. Freeman took one step and got clocked right on the side of the face. Knocked him nuts.
He was bleeding through his nose while looking for his glasses. Freeman didn’t wear glasses at the time. Before he was hustled off to the doctor’s office, you could see the perfect indention of the laces of the softball branded on his face. Coolest thing. (I wouldn’t be talking so callously had my best bud not come out okay. Of course, he does have to wear glasses now.)
Freeman’s hit was scary as all get out. Nothing funny about it. But, when Dennis took a hit during batting practice before a high school game, it was a hoot.
During batting practice a pitcher is supposed to throw the ball right over plate. Hey, it’s practice. However the coach had a wannabe pitcher pitching. The guy was trying to impress the coach, so he was throwing hard… and wild.
At batting practice the last thing the batter is supposed to do is lay down a bunt. So, Dennis turned to bunt and hurled a wild pitch right at him. Dennis got the ol’ deer in the headlight look. Then he did the only thing he could think of… he jumped straight up. Timed his jump perfectly.
Had Dennis not jumped, the ball would’ve hit him right in the chest. It would’ve hurt big time. But, by jumping he got hurt so much worse. You see, Dennis jumped about 20 inches straight up. Do the math. That ball zinged him right in the privates.
I usually never laugh at a weird injury until I know the person is okay. In this case. I couldn’t help it. I tell you, it looked just like Dennis jumped in an attempt to get the ball to hit him right in the wallys (no need to consult a dictionary).
As Dennis rubbed his knees with his elbows, we all laughed till we about passed out. The injury had no lasting effect on Dennis, other than keeping him from squaring up during a bunt. Yeah, it hurt his bunting game pretty much. It was worth it, though, from where I was standing.
I really doubt the two injuries that occurred Saturday will be remembered at future family gatherings. Just not all that spectacular. However, they did provide ample time for Dennis and me to discuss the truly great injuries of the past. -- Like I say, the gathering was a success.
You can contact Mark at email@example.com
Saturday, May 1, 2010
MARK’S ARTICLE – May 1, 2010 ‘New Roof”
ROOFTOP -- No, no, I’m sorry. There will be no lawn chairs on the roof tonight. We’ll be placing our buns right up there on the peak. It’s not too comfortable, but it’s —Hey! I didn’t mean for you to toss your chair in the hedge. Bernie, sheesh!
Hey, stop! All of you, look at me! Look at me! The guy with the flashlight! Some of you are really pushin’ it. Now, just because Bernie threw his chair in the hedge doesn’t mean you all have to. If Bernie squawked like a-- Okay, cut it out!
Excuse me a second. – “No, Kay, it’s just the rooftoppers. I don’t know, but Bernie started it. It’ll be fine, Sweetpea. Go back to ‘Glee.’” Nothin’ gets by that girl.
Watch your step, people. This is my new metal roof. It’s slippery as eel snot. And, yes, I’m sorry, Sharon. I didn’t notice your niece was with you. Schenectady, you shouldn’t say “snot.” No, now quit saying it, sweetie. Atta girl.
Sharon, you’re gonna need to hold her, ‘cause the roof is slippery as—No, now, we don’t say that word. Remember? Can we get on with this?
The reason the roof is slipperier than usual is ‘cause it’s new. If I had made this a daytime roofsit, you would’ve noticed that. How I wish I’d made this a daytime roofsit.
A week or so ago, Kay and I finally bit the proverbial bullet and had local carpenter Brian Shelly take the old rusted roof off and put on this gorgeous tan-colored thing. Drive by tomorrow morning and you can get a better look. Of the roof. Brian won’t be here. And, you don’t hafta stop. Just cruise on by. Wave it you like.
Do any of you know how much a new metal roof costs? Yes, Schenectady, it costs a lot of that word you just said. But you need to quit saying that, darlin’.
Let’s just forget the cost. Who cares anyway? What say we enjoy the night on the new sleek and slippery roof? By the way, the old roof was slippery, too, when it was first installed. I assume it was. But, over the years it got corroded. Corrosion gives you traction. We could walk all over the old roof (when it was dry) with no fear. This one has yet to be corroded. Less traction.
That’s why we left our lawn chairs down there. Kay wanted to make sure that the chair legs wouldn’t scratch her new roof. I’m sure they won’t, but I can’t prove it to Kay’s satisfaction till daylight. For now, we’re in the dark, balanced on the ridge. Yes, it does hurt a bit, Schenectady. And, yes, it’s slippery as what you said.
By the way, kiddo, what were your parents drinking when they named you? – No, I’m just sayin’ why not Sacramento or Weleetka.—There is too. It’s in Oklahoma– Sharon your niece is ruining everything. – I know you are, but what am I?
I’m sorry, people. Felt like I was talkin’ with Big Al for a minute there. No, he’s fine. No, we’re not going to call him. What we are going to do is look for fireflies. I saw two before you showed up. One was to the left of the driveway and the other over by the Jungle Gym. I hope this is a good year for lighting bugs… or bubs. That’s what I call ‘em, Lightning bubs. Sounds better. – Does too. Don’t get me started, baby sister! I’ll knock a knot on your head.
That’s what my Mom used to say. “Mark Scott, I’m gonna knock a knot on your head!” When she was really mad, she’d say that she was going to wring our necks. Or, slap the snot out of—Oh, no. Forget that one.
Mom wasn’t mean or anything. That’s just the way the neighborhood Mom’s threatened. They even stole one another’s threats. Only the good ones. Like, “You’ll be walking at an angle the rest of your life!” I believe Steve’s mom came up with that one.
And, every house in the neighborhood had its windows opened ‘cause there was no air conditioning. You could hear threats and spankings four houses down. All Moms threatened to wring necks and knock knots. We all took it in stride. Were it to happen today, every Mom on the block would be behind bars.
You don’t have to actually hurt somebody to be charged with assault. Just the threat and the ability to do it is all you need. No question we were threatened, and no question every mom I knew could deliver. Of course, I never got a knot on my head or a wrung neck from a spanking. None of my friends did either… that I know of.
We sure got the spankings, though. Next day, we’d ask, “What you’d do, David?” Sometimes we didn’t wanna talk about it. Bestest friends knew when not to press.
And, yes, my rearend is beginning to develop a horizontal crease. Your’s too? No, Sharon, I don’t wanna hold your niece while you reposition your— Okay, now you like me. How does that work? No, it’s too dark to play on the Jungle Gym. Maybe tomorrow you can get Wichita to bring you over. Is that your Dad’s name? Well, it was just a guess.
Okay, yeah, Bernie, I imagine it is time for all of us to climb down. Didn’t accomplish much tonight, but that’s pretty much the point. Watch your step and don’t forget to pick up your lawn chairs. Next time we’ll bring ‘em up with us. So much more comfortable.
Hold my hand, Schenectady, I’ll help you down, bubbo. No, I just came up with that name. – Sharon did you hear what your niece called me? Rhymes with Big Lot. You’re something else, kiddo. You remind me of me.
You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark and Montgomery County restaurant critic Brad Meyer have posted their latest audio review at http://www.hcnonline.com/media/cheesecakefactory2.mp3