The Usual Gang of Idiots

 

No, this post is not about Congress. (rim shot)

Many of you will recognize the above phrase as the description of the contributing artists and writers in each month’s issue of a favorite indulgence of mine in my youth, MAD Magazine.

I loved MAD Magazine. The satire found in its pages was consistently brilliant. Comedian George Carlin once acknowledged its influence on the development of his own satirical worldview. Though its humor was decidedly less acerbic and adult than the other classic humor magazine of its time, National Lampoon, MAD still landed plenty of hard punches to politicians, show biz types, business big shots, the media, doctors, lawyers, preachers, you name it.

With the ubiquitous, gap-toothed smile of Mr. “What, Me Worry?”, himself, Alfred E. Neuman, greeting you on the cover of every issue, MAD reliably brought the laughs, along with the relevant social commentary. It was an original.

Some of my favorite regular features from MAD were:

  • “The Lighter Side Of (something different every month),” by Dave Berg.
  • “The Shadow Knows,” by Sergio Aragones. (also his clever drawings in the margins)
  • The movie spoof, usually drawn my Mort Drucker.
  • The TV show spoof, usually drawn by Angelo Torres.
  • TV commercial spoofs, by various artists and writers.
  • “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and the always brilliant “MAD Fold-In,” by Al Jaffee.
  • The classic, wordless “Spy vs. Spy,” by Antonio Prohias.
  • Frank Jacobs’ hilarious poems and song lyrics.
  • And my personal favorite, “MAD’s MADdest artist,” Don Martin. Hysterical. (Fact: The hardest I ever saw either of my brothers laugh was at a Don Martin cartoon.)

These great talents, along with many others, like Bob Clarke, Dick DeBartolo, Paul Coker, Jr. and Jack Davis, were far from idiots; they were smart, razor-sharp and, above all, consistently funny. Every issue had something in it to crack me up, and I greatly enjoyed reading them.

MAD Magazine is 64 years old this year, and while it doesn’t boast the readership it had back in its heyday, it still delivers on humor that is fresh, relevant and incisive.

(And Jaffee, Aragones and six other longtime veterans are still at it! They must be MAD)

But, make no mistake, before there was Spy magazine, before there was Saturday Night Live, before there was Second City Television, or National Lampoon, there was MAD, the granddaddy of satire.

The original “Up yours, the Establishment!” publication.

Happy Birthday, MAD Magazine. A toast to all you idiots.

Hey, I Was Just Thinking…

 

This is how my mind works. You have been warned.

 

Whoever made up the rule that we have to say, “Bless you”, to anyone who sneezes? I’m no priest; I’m not qualified to bless anybody. Besides, are sneezers any more worthy of blessings than the rest of us? I guess people with severe allergies must be the most blessed folks on Earth.

Instead of “Bless you”, can’t I just say, “Good job,” or “Nice distance on that spray,” or “Next time, look away from my lunch, if you don’t mind”?

 

Okay, you’re in a restaurant, you’ve placed your order, and just before your waiter/waitress walks away, you hear, “All right, then, my name’s Jody/Buffy, if you need anything.” At that moment, are you ever tempted to ask:

“What’s your name if I don’t need anything?”

Because, why else would they even say that?

I don’t know, maybe each waiter/waitress/wait thing has a secret identity, which will only be revealed to you if you don’t need anything. So, next time, tell him/her/it you don’t need anything, and see if you find out the Secret Identity. Wouldn’t that be cool?

 

Or, how about when you pick up some food at the drive-thru of your favorite fast food joint? (By the way, why do we drive through a drive-thru? Someone needs Spell Check, I think.) You place your order, and the cashier mumbles back something that sounds like, “Okay, your total is gonna be $25.97 at the first window.”

At that point, do you try to negotiate? “So, how much is it at the second window? How much if I come inside? How much if I tell you my girlfriend’s paying for it? Wait, baby, where you going, I was just…come on, sweetie, get back in the car, I didn’t mean…HEY! COME BACK HERE!!!”

Side note: I have some relatives that are perfectly suited for working a drive-thru, because I can never understand them, either.

 

What is the deal with all the commercials on TV now for prescription drugs? As often as I see them, I can’t help but think, man, we must be in terrible shape in this country. I especially like the ones that help with ED, when they talk about men with erectile dysfunction or premature…..issues.

Are you kidding? All the other things you just freely come out and say on television, but you can’t bring yourselves to say…you know, that?

What really disturbs me, though, is when they start listing the side effects of taking the prescriptions. I mean, I know it’s a CYA kind of thing, but Jiminy Cricket… I always end up thinking, you know, I’ll just take my chances with the illness. Of course, at the bottom of the list is always…death.

I’m sorry, but personally, I don’t consider death a side effect. More like an end effect, you know? I mean, if you experience that, there ain’t much anyone can do for you at that point.

 

Other important issues:

Is it true that the distance to the next roadside rest stop is inversely proportional to the need to go?

Shouldn’t the times when traffic is heaviest be called Crawl Hour?

Can we put a stop to the madness of using redundant phrases like tuna fish sandwich and hot water heater?

How is it, a fitness machine can help you get totally ripped, but then again, so can a joint? Which way sounds easier to you?

I’m developing a new TV series about a University of Texas graduate who becomes a police detective in Hawaii. His catchphrase will be, “Hook ’em, Dano!”

That one was for you, J.

True story: Driving in Dallas one day, my wife and I passed a business with the intriguing name, “CONDOMS TO GO.”

My wife looked at me, and said, I swear to you, “Well, I hope they’re to go!”

Good one, dear.

I tried to imagine what a store named, “CONDOMS FOR HERE” would look like. It gives a whole new meaning to, “Cleanup on Aisle 5!” (Premature issues, and all…)  I mean, do you have to step over people as you browse the store? (Oops, sorry, don’t mind me, carry on…) Do the store personnel ever get in trouble for asking,”May I help you?” And, how late would they stay at work, sitting in the office and watching security footage?

And, would the store sell both “New” and “Gently Used”?

 

Please do not encourage this behavior. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

57: It’s Not Just a Steak Sauce Anymore

 

So I’m 57 this month.

Actually, every month for the next year. (rim shot) But seriously, folks…

What I want to know is, how did I get here so freaking fast? It really is amazing. It’s like grabbing ahold of a rocket just as it launches, then hanging on for dear life.

I remember Dad taking me out to lunch on my 30th birthday, and him asking me if I ever thought I would be “this old.” I said I never thought I would be this old this fast.

And that was 27 years ago!!

Now, I’m at the age where my friends and I compare medications. (What’re you taking for your high blood pressure/cholesterol/diabetes/yadayadayada?) With all the stuff I take, I’m a walking chemistry set. I worry, one of these days, they’re all going to interact with each other, and I’ll spontaneously combust.

I can no longer sit down or get up quietly anymore. The action has to be accompanied by this groaning noise, like I’m putting down or picking up some huge, tremendous weight. Which, of course, I am. Gravity is a terrible thing, sometimes.

Speaking of which, I seem to be getting shorter, as well. I’m pretty sure I used to be just a shade over six feet tall but, according to my last few doctor visits, I’ve been measured at five-ten to five-eleven. If I live into my nineties, I might end up as a dwarf.

I have reading glasses scattered all over the house, in an effort to reduce the number of times I’m caught in a room without any when I need them. It’s bad enough being caught in a room with no idea at all why I went in there! Then, I have to play detective, searching for clues, retracing my steps, interrogating myself, roughing myself up when I don’t give the right answers…it’s just terrible, I tell you. I should know by now, if I just leave the room, then I’ll remember why I went in there.

Then, you know, there’s the cosmetic stuff. I don’t look too wrinkled, I think; the fat mostly conceals that. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Also, I don’t know how this happened, but the hair that’s missing on my head has evidently relocated to my ears and nose. I guess it’s more fertile there, because it sure seems to grow faster there. I think someone should open a chain of ear and nose barbershops; that is a seriously untapped market, if you ask me.

Fortunately, though, I haven’t become a geezer, yet. I haven’t taken to wearing Bermuda shorts with knee socks, and I don’t go around knocking kids over the head with my cane, although that part actually sounds kinda cool.

And, by the way, kids, you may not want to take naps now but, trust me, the day will come when you will absolutely live for them. Really.

Bottom line, despite my whining and complaining, it’s been a pretty dang good life, so far. I’m glad to still be here, with the people I have in my life. (and the pets!) Done lots of things I shouldn’t, avoided doing lots of things I should, got more than a few regrets, but many blessings, as well. Getting old is a pretty scary thing to me, but I won’t dwell on that here. Some other post, perhaps. Right now, I’ll just be happy with where I am.

Since the only wisdom I can pass along is what I can borrow from someone else, I’ll leave you with some lyrics from my all-time favorite lyricist, fellow Texan Don Henley. Hope I get to stay around awhile longer.

Later, y’all. Nap time.

I look in the mirror now
I see that time can be unkind
But I know every wrinkle
And I earned every line
So, wear it like a royal crown
When you get old and gray
It’s the cost of living
And everyone pays
It’s the cost of living
And everyone pays

“The Cost of Living”, Don Henley

Songwriters
DON HENLEY, STANLEY LYNCH

Published By
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

For every moment of joy, every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my thanksgiving

“My Thanksgiving”, Don Henley

Songwriters
HENLEY, DON / WINDING, JAI L. / LYNCH, STANLEY

Published By Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.