The Funniest Thing I Have Ever Written

won't be appearing today, but good news! I just mugged a guy who saved a bundle on car insurance by switching to GEICO!


My Night With Elvis: Paradise, Drive-In Style

The Tender Continuation From My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip, My Night With Elvis: Clamfake? and My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream

ATLANTA, GA -- At dusk, the sky dimmed so we could watch the line-up promised for Elvis Presley Mondo Movie Night at the drive-in theatre.

The flickering images began with a color cartoon, followed by a reel of ancient "previews of coming attractions," mostly from those prehistoric times known to historians as the 1970s. The sights included the deadly evil, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," and the deadly Evel, "Viva Knievel."

The most shocking trailer was for an obscure 1967 documentary, "Mondo Teeno," also known as "Teenage Rebellion." Promising to reveal "the truth about 'The Now Generation,'" we saw wild youth from around the planet making out, taking drugs, and drinking big people beverages.

The trailer from Mondo Teeno warned about The Now Generation and turtleneck dickies.Some of the juveniles dared to wear garish clothes and dance to canned music so heinous that it lives on today inside the telephone company's "Your Call Is Important to Us" holding hell.

Since I endured high school throughout that frenetic era, I, too, am a member of "The Now Generation." Sworn to secrecy for decades, I can finally reveal I was on probation through the whole experience. I was a disciplinary problem for the Hoodlums in Charge. I didn't drink. I didn't make out. And the closest I came to drugs was broccoli.

When I was really tripping, I ate my weight in hollandaise sauce.

Mmm, that would've been a perfect delicacy on this evening, however I postponed my forage at the refreshment center for mustard and mayonnaise. The MGM lion roared across the screen. It was Elvis time!

I could tell. The lion had sideburns.

The title sequence of Viva Las Vegas. Ann-Margret is off camera, warming up those hips.As the classic "Viva Las Vegas" theme echoed throughout the terrain, Donna revived her Ann-Margret moves, metamorphosing into Rusty Martin, the role of the actress.

Stan assumed the persona of Young Elvis Contemplating a Doze in a Lawn Chair on an Asphalt Slab (which was also the working title of "Tickle Me").

And I, a versatile man and champion of supporting casts, slipped out of my pre-show Presley garb to transform into the dashing villain of the moment, Count Elmo Mancini. I looked exactly like actor Cesare Danova with my auto mechanic grease monkey coveralls unzipped to the waist, swarthy chest and tummy hairs glistening in the moonlight. I felt, oh, so very debonair and third-billed. I folded my tuxedo and ascot over the van bumper for later.

"Viva Las Vegas" was Elvis Presley's most financially popular film during its original release, earning somewhat less than $5,000,000. Ironically, I'm earning somewhat less than $5,000,000 for this article, which, when you consider inflation and I do my own stunts, that's not so impressive.

"Grrrrr," I grrrrred to the crowd with a phony Italian accent. I was Count Elmo.

I grabbed the cocktail shaker and administered rapid conga line wrist actions.

Although I've seen this picture on TV, two things became noticeable with the enlarged projection.

1. There are no fistfights, a rarity for Elvis. He usually maims someone into the hospital before "Directed by Norman Taurog."

2. There has never been anything in the annals of cinema to out hot-to-trot Ann-Margret in "Viva Las Vegas." She is a vision of horniness.

And I say that in only the nicest way and a quart of perspiration. Thank goodness, the cocktail shaker was empty.

The title card for Jailhouse Rock, the second stop of the Mayflower.At Intermission, I gave myself a full body squeegee, raking off the Rusty water. Then, it was a quick limbo under the hot air hands dryer in the men's room. I was completely refurbished for "Jailhouse Rock" -- and pleasingly fluffy.

This time around, Elvis kills a throwaway character with his bare hands and sneer. Attaboy, Elvis!

He goes to prison, where he faces a sentence of one-to-two production numbers.

During this film, I fashioned myself into stocky Mickey Shaughnessy, who plays the country and western singer, Hunk Houghton. I wore an enormous cowboy hat and sequin suit that wouldn't quit as I ambled through the car lot, serenading the remarkably silent onlookers with a guitar I couldn't play, just like Hunk.

Nothing but smoldering cigarette embers could be seen inside their darkness. Kinda creepy at 12:30 in the morning.

When Dean "The Love Bug" Jones appeared opposite Elvis, I became him, sneaking up to Volkswagens to whisper, "Pssst, is that you, Herbie? Need a lube job, Herbie? Would ya like a buff polish?"

The people over at the next field watching "Alien vs. Predator" were visibly shaken.

After the double feature, we packed our belongings and aimed for the exit.

"Did you enjoy yourself, husband?" Donna asked.

"Uhh huh, that I did, Baby, baby."

"Swell, because tomorrow you go on a diet."

"Now, I-- I-- I--" I stammered, like Flustered Elvis.

Oh, what was the use of arguing? Col. Parker had spoken.

Quietly, I placed my palms above my navel on 50 pounds of hunka hunka ambience, as we spun out onto the speedway home.

Rewind: My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip | My Night With Elvis: Clamfake? | My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream
Photos copyright ©2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream

The Tender Continuation From My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip and My Night With Elvis: Clamfake?

ATLANTA, GA -- Darkness dawdled. It would be awhile until "Viva Las Vegas" and "Jailhouse Rock" commenced at the drive-in. I mingled among the patrons, when, suddenly, the children, mistaking me for the King of Rock and Roll, forced this ol' boy to sit, so they could take turns climbing onto my lap.

"Elvis, for Christmas, will you bring me a Kid Galahad doll?"

"Sure, little girl," I said. "How 'bout a Fun in Acapulco Praline Sweet Potato Casserole for your baby brother, baby?"

"Yeth," she blushed, when, suddenly, an erotic fragrance wafted lovingly into my nostrils.

I leapt to my feet. The kid's pa caught her before the bounce.

North of my patented Pouty Elvis Lip Snarl, my patented Pouty Elvis Olfactory Snort went into overdrive.

I sniffed and hopped about like 1976 Stage Elvis in an effort to zero in on the source.

Mike sniffs and snarls, pinpointing something fragrant nearby. Photos copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

A-HA! P'nut butter 'n' nanner sammiches were on the premises.

And that's alright with me. My gut feeling was right on, mama.

I yanked a fella out of his '57 Chevy.

"I need to borrow your car!"

I floored it and was soaring pretty high off the eighth drive-in parking ramp when the fine ride returned to Earth. I grabbed the emergency brake, jumped from the sedan, and sprinted a few yards to the saintly lady serving the homemade delectables to the audience.

"Thank you. Thank you very much," I said, relieving her of her burden.

I, Michaelvis, and a fresh carton of sandwiches returned to the folding chairs to wait for the movies to start, TCBB.

Takin' Care of Business and Bananas.

Next: My Night With Elvis: Paradise, Drive-In Style
Rewind: My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip | My Night With Elvis: Clamfake?
Photos copyright ©2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


My Night With Elvis: Clamfake?

The Tender Continuation From My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip

ATLANTA, GA -- During the Elvis Presley Mondo Movie Night pre-show, our spur-of-the-moment, all-old Passion Fest in Songs and Hips was halted abruptly. Donna and I stopped the "Blue Hawaii" pineapple number mid-bump under outdoor Screen #2. We were dazed and without a paddle.

The Starlight Drive-in Theatre's management, it seems, had scheduled another "Tribute to Elvis!" Imagine such a thing. We were out of business, as the audience stampeded to the Snack Bar patio, where a band, Clambake, was tuning up.

I was a bit disappointed and bravely admit my pinched emotions at this juncture, but mostly I mourned for my partner in taps. She was crushed and sobby as she blotted dollops of facial cream to remove her specialty Arthur O'Connell stage makeup. She had been prepared to break in an all-new "Pappy Tatum" homage derived from "Kissin' Cousins" (1964).

We used to do a routine with Donna as Arthur O'Connell in "Follow That Dream" (1962). Her "Pop Kwimper" soliloquy kills with fanciful observations on homesteader spunkiness -- and assorted Kwimpers -- but, alas, she yearned to do something more recent for the young fry. Hipper, if I may.

Clambake, the Elvis band, performs at Mondo Movie Night. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

I had suspicions about those Clambake people. My expectations were lowered to my basement and subterranean fallout shelter when I learned there would be no Young Shelley Fabares impersonator during their concert.

Heretics. Had they even seen "Clambake"?

The real Elvis sings with the Clambake band. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.They did have an Elvis front man who claimed to be the actual Elvis. I had doubts. He sounded like Mr. Presley, for sure, and had the primo moves to punctuate. The jet black pompadour and the gray beard seemed right, blending seamlessly with panache, suitable accoutrement toppers for his jewel-encrusted belt buckle.

All the members of the band sported the exact same haircut and sunglasses. The kindly, real Elvis I know would be the type to recommend a good stylist and optometrist.

I was worried by what appeared to be a pillow or padding inside Elvis' white, high-collared, bell-bottom jumpsuit. It had sunk to his crotch, far below what looked to be jet black chest fur. It was a bit of showbiz trickery to create Vegas pudge.

Eat some chicken, man. Grow it back, King.

The merry men were very entertaining, I do admit, a polished ensemble. And it wouldn't take much to convince me that was the real Elvis at the microphone. After all, he did have "ELVIS" spelled in drums and he rambled touchingly and somewhat incoherently about Priscilla, dear ol' 'Cilla.

By the time he finished, I had a tear in my eye, which went away when I removed the pebble I had somehow acquired in my shoe.

I'll sign off on him being Elvis as soon as I have his sideburns carbon dated. It troubles me that one of them waved in the breeze like a dopey flap on Elmer Fudd's hunting hat.

I was about to shout, "Do Pop Kwimper!" when, suddenly--

Next: My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream | My Night With Elvis: Paradise, Drive-In Style
Rewind: My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip
Photos copyright ©2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


My Night With Elvis: Kitten With a Dip

The Starlight Drive-In Theatre marquee on Elvis Presley Mondo Movie Night. Bug spots on vehicle window glass, not the sign. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.ATLANTA, GA -- It happened at the Starlight Drive-in.

I had been looking forward to Elvis Presley Mondo Movie Night at the theatre for months, salivating over the prospect. A 40th anniversary presentation of "Viva Las Vegas," his popular musical comedy with Ann-Margret, plus the bopping "Jailhouse Rock" (1957) were to unspool across the big screen.

As we turned onto the property, I couldn't help but notice the Starlight's enormous marquee. It listed "Jailhouse" as two words and "Supremecy" is not correct. "Skeleton" appeared as "Skel Ton" and "Kumar" as "Kuma." I love this place, but, I am sorry, I had to deduct 8 points for spelling.

We arrived early to secure a good spot and set up our intricate array of lawn chairs and bug bombs.

My wife sorted through smuggled snacks, while I shook two ballooning Jiffy Pop pans vigorously atop the scalding van engine.

Since we parked up front and scores of entertainment starved patrons were already gawking our way in anticipation of showtime, Donna and I decided to entertain the troops with our "Tribute to Elvis!" featuring the "Roustabout Ballet."

Due to the realities of an impromptu rendition, there would be no Harum Scarum Strings at this show, nor the usual "Special Appearance by Barbara Stanwyck's Mean Broad Disposition and Cosmetics Trowel."

Our chauffeur, Stan, made an announcement to that effect before we took the "stage," adding, "Ladies and gentlemen, for the safety of the performers, please, no flash photography or igniting of the Hawaiian skirts."

Mike and Donna Durrett perform their famous Ann-Margret Sex Kitten Dance for an adoring crowd. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Mike and Donna Durrett perform close-up among shouts, cheers, and tossed posies. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

That is, of course, us doing our patented Ann-Margret Sex Kitten Dance for the enthusiastic fans and elderly Stella Stevens look-alikes and their jalopies.

We, of course, dedicated our tribute to Hurricane Charley relief efforts -- and, of course, to character actor William Demarest.

It was a theme night. He, of course, is TV's Uncle Charlie.

Demarest also plays, of course, Ann-Margret's father in "Viva Las Vegas."

I bought it. They both have the same nose.

And, of course, those fantabulous legs.

Mike shows the Pouty Elvis Lip Snarl of the young man in love. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Mike shows the Pouty Elvis Lip Snarl leading to fisticuffs. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Mike shows the Pouty Elvis Lip Snarl of a man in need of another bowl of bacon. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

That's me doing my patented Pouty Elvis Lip Snarl, a sampling of the many nuances. There are nine others, however I need my conductor for the musical cues.

City of Atlanta fire laws and riot control procedures demanded, of course, that I be photographed from the chest up. I was agreeable since we didn't bring a wide angle lens.

Just like Elvis ... Notice the cool me wearing the collar up on my shirt, connecting with the crowd....

Mike Durrett wears his collar up to show the youngsters how Elvis Presley changed American style. Photo copyright 2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

Next: My Night With Elvis: Clamfake? | My Night With Elvis: Swallow That Dream | My Night With Elvis: Paradise, Drive-In Style
Photos copyright ©2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Ghost Wreck

Have Gut -- Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 13
Alley off the main street at the Mescal movie location. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Store has broken railings and the faux brick facing, somewhat like fancy wallpaper, is torn in spots, such as the upper corners. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

MESCAL, AZ -- On location, walking between and around the grubby constructions of an illusory movie community, I couldn't help but contemplate the films yet to be crafted on this turf.

I'm available to star in and direct my script of "Lonesome Dove Bar," the bold tale of the first ice cream pony in the west. I'd look so gallant Panavisioned against the clouds, bells on my hat tinkling "You Naughty Naughty Men."

It's an Oldies hat.

I'd ride into town to peddle cold treats to the school chillun and barter a frontier Chipwich to their marm.

There'd be three songs, a meltdown, and sprinkles.

Prominent structures seen in ''Buffalo Soldiers'' are ragged with roof problems and what appears to be fire damage. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Disheveled business is on the main Mescal street, but set apart from the parallel rows of stores. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

Then, after my Oscar and the Baskin-Robbins endorsements, I'd return to the scene to make my signature oater, "Ocean's One."

It's a clever caper where I use state-of-the-art 1882 technology to crack the safe at Caesar's Flophouse with an electric flat iron and no outlets. (The bobby pin wouldn't be invented for another 40 years and I'm in no mood to wait. We won't have that much film.)

(Besides, my shiny sharkskin cowboy suit and racing-striped palomino would be out of style.)

But before the cameras roll, someone will have to slap some paint on this dump. The Mescal properties have deteriorated significantly over the years, penalized by weather, neglect, plot lines, and, perhaps, Willie Nelson ("Once Upon a Texas Train," 1988) left a few burn marks.

We recall these buildings as the ranch in ''Monte Walsh,'' making them among the oldest structures on the property. The barn is near collapse. The house is a heap. Lee Marvin would not be pleased. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.
Sitting to the side of the Tombstone Saloon, this fixer-upper appears to have lost two huge sections of its housing, seen on the ground. The sign next to the door reads, ''For Sale.'' Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

The production in residence immediately before our visit, "Ghost Rock" (2003), with Gary Busey, Jeff Fahey, and Adrienne Barbeau, required a ghost town backdrop. My recollection is our guide said the set decorators spent all of $15 to whip the town into shape, less than half what they spent on Miss Barbeau.

Several buildings at Mescal have collapsed. More are sagging. Most need significant repair. The thriving, beautiful boom city which gleams in "Tombstone" was nearly unrecognizable with the rotten boards and missing shingles seen by our roving eyes. Time is a bleak force. I could use a coat of paint myself.

To Be Continued | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photos copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Which Peanuts Character Are You?

I woke up wondering that today.

Yesterday, I woke up wondering Which Ankle Bracelet of Suzanne Pleshette Am I?

I could find nothing about her drumsticks on the Internet. The Internet stinks. Except for the naked pictures of dipping sauce.

And that Ask Jeeves butler. He's pretty cool, but when I asked him "What makes you jiggy, Jeevesy?" he asked me to "leave, milord, and never come back, mac daddy."

Charlie BrownI located a "Which Peanuts Character Are You?" examination over at Quizilla.

Good grief, I'm Charlie Brown. I was hoping to be Pigpen. He only did the strip once every three years and then he was an extra.

Sounds like my dates before I got married.

The quiz results tell me:
"You are a world weary person who just can't relax and have a good time."
There's some truth. There was that all-nite Twister party at the U.N. and I had heavy starch in my pajamas.
"You even hide your happiness beneath a mask of cynicism."
That's a Smuckers moustache and it spread.

We save a lot on flypaper.
"People like you a lot more than you realize..."
You haven't seen the stats for this Web site. The dang hit counter doesn't even come in to work anymore.
"So lighten up and enjoy life before it's too late!"
Actually, I lightened up this afternoon. Party animal that I am, I washed the baby blue flannel sheets we keep on the bed year round. I love those sheets. I look forward to snuggling in my warm, cozy--

Rats, I've turned into Linus.

But, after all, I guess I am Charlie Brown. I'm married to a little redheaded girl and I'm not very good at sports. I've also been wearing the same shirt for 50 years.



This Be the Week This Be

And now, the news...

Opening in theatres: "Alien vs. Predator." ... Original Title: "Unsuspecting Multiplex Boob With a Wallet vs. 20th-Century Fox."

Fay Wray, King Kong's girlfriend, has died at the age of 96. In addition to the classic 1933 film, "King Kong," she's remembered for her tune, "You Don't Bring Me Towers."

Researchers say cats have more than 100 vocal sounds. I have that many just for back pain.

And I'm up to 309 for broken ATM pieces of junk.

From "GQ":
"Ever since George W. Bush entered politics, he has been dogged by questions about his whereabouts during a twelve-month period from May 1972 to May 1973. It has been alleged that Bush, then a 26-year-old pilot in the Air National Guard, hardly ever reported for duty. ... That's because during the period in question, Bush was serving his country elsewhere, in a clandestine military unit: the Special Undercover Missions Service (SUMS), an elite air-force agency specializing in national security and acts of espionage."

"My name's Bush. George Bush. I'll have a Yoo-Hoo and Jack, shaken not spurred."

He was 007, a spy, working on hush-hush military missions in Vietnam, going undercover with The Rolling Stones, and unknowingly driving the getaway van at Watergate. That and Burt Bacharach sounds like the next Austin Powers movie, "On the President's Secret Service."

"I'm George W. Bush and I approved this massage, my dear Push-shee."

And now, getting up, and walking over to The Opinion Desk, here's an editorial....

Dairy Queen has a new coffee treat, but I don't much care for it. Oh, the drink is dandy tasty. I don't like the part where I have to corral someone to order it for me, since there's no way in hell I'm saying "MooLattè."

And now, getting up, and walking back to The News Desk, here's more news....

An Al Qaeda video tape made two years ago has surfaced. It's believed to be surveillance in preparation for attacks on Las Vegas. Details are sketchy, but the public should brace for a show tiger ambushing Roy.

Moreover, Las Vegas police have upped terror security, implementing border searches to prevent comebacks by Allen & Rossi and The Jordanaires.

Elderly "Playboy" playgramps Hugh Hefner, according to a report from Knight Ridder Newspapers, "keeps a dozen 'slave bunnies' who are ordered to have sex with him (for $2,000 a week)." Adding another wrinkle, Hef says it's no big thing.


Rubbernecking Deceit

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 12

I've been watching motion pictures a long time and it's true, all is not as it appears in the movies and never has been.

Julie Andrews, for example, tells a tale of making "The Sound of Music." As the charming Maria, she enters the Von Trapp mansion to meet the children. Seems simple enough, executed in seconds, but what we really see is Miss Andrews, on location in Austria, knock on the front door. She steps into the house, months later, on a soundstage in Hollywood.

From childhood, my first distinct movie memory is Gregory Peck's "Moby Dick" (1956). The whale: faked.

Jump to today. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." The whale faked.

Do you need more proof? Okay, opening in theatres this very week, the big action adventure, "Collateral." In it, Tom Cruise's hair: a wig.

Jamie Foxx's cab? A wig.

So, as I travel America, visiting movie locations like the one in Mescal, Arizona, I'm on alert, on the lookout, and on the prowl for more conspiracies. I report back with gravitas, squeezing another farthing of payback out of my journalism school tuition.

The Hanging Tree on the Mescal movie location property. Photo copyright Mike Durrett 2003-2004, all rights reserved.I found fresh deception: The Hanging Tree.

The gloomy sprout forebodes retribution to evildoers, a menace, collaring liars to murderers. The irony is this tree is itself a liar and murdered, having been cut down and brought to these parts for cinematic authenticity. Furthermore, The Hanging Tree is trucked all over the lot to oblige the bloodthirsty desires of visiting filmmakers.

Donna Durrett appears with The Hanging Tree at Mescal. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.My wife stood near The Hanging Tree, remarking its arms reminded her of mine.

"I'll buy the damn loofah," I said, clicking the shutter.

To my critical eye, which Donna's photo supports with a similar perspective, The Hanging Tree doesn't look tall enough to actually dangle a man.

I could've walked over to see, but I'm not that good of a reporter.

Next: Chapter 13 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photos copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.


Hocus Focus

Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 11

MESCAL, AZ -- All is not what it appears in the movies.

Take Popeye. His grotesque, ballooned arms must have made for lousy circulation, but in hundreds of films there is not one admission of his critical blood pressure and never is he shown pursuing a reduced salt regimen.

Frankly, I am surprised the guy isn't dead. He even defies the laws of ticks.

Every character in those comedies is beyond unhealthy, but due to Hollywood magic, make-up sorcery, ace lighting, and tailored clothes (uncredited to Miss Edith Head, costume designer and Olive Oyl's stunt double), the stars are visions of vitality.

This mirage was all accomplished long before the days of CGI computer effects, so that's the real Popeye and company up there pulling off the charade.

But those actors are true physical time bombs.

The aforesaid wafer thin Olive, studio publicity machine notwithstanding, is a binge and bail eater. She munches diuretic pills like popcorn and for a time she was in seclusion and recovery at the Betty Boop Clinic.

A conspiracy of sorts sent her away, allegedly pointing up the company ladder to Adolph Zukor, Paramount's founder, and, inexplicably, Mae Questel, an incessant stalker of the pretty star, believed to impersonate Olive in bar bets and her own acting career.

The public never knew of the troubled heroine's absence from the Popeye series. The cameras continued to roll, however, with "Olive" seen only from the rear or in long shots via the able mimicry and insouciance of sibling stand-in Mary-Kate Oyl.

On the flip side, as in obesity and, well, hamburger flipping, is sidekick Wimpy, who maintains a nonstop feeding frenzy of triple decker Big Macs, Big Boys, and Whoppers, sometimes gorging on all those delicacies at the same meal for which he will gladly pay you Tuesday. For dessert, there's Cool Whip and White Castles and a meatball shake.

The man's a gargantuan fatty grease clot with a derby.

Popeye-intolerant nemesis, Bluto is another bubble about to pop. His monstrous rage is not due to jealousy pangs for the fair lady O., as we are intended to believe. Instead, medical records reveal a lifelong blockage in his bodily caverns has made the lad a morsel hostile. Rebelling, after decades of agony, he changed his name to "Brutus," which, of course, is Latin for "Bluto," meaning "brooding cheese."

And then there's the sad "adoptid infink," Swee' Pea, already at risk. In diapered babydom, there's no such thing as swee' pea. Ever. That's a given. Ever.

Why the child would be burdened with such a name borders on abuse, certainly mental cruelty.

Furthermore, executive doctors report no cure for the swee' deficient. The kid is doomed.

So, as you can see, all is not what it appears in the movies. I've offered five examples without the necessity of mentioning old chestnuts Lassie, classically portrayed by a male.

That all brings us back to our travelogue. There's another deception on display among Mescal's recreated western scenery. The house "occupied" by Kurt Russell, alluded to in Chapter 10, belonged to his character in "Tombstone," Sheriff Wyatt Earp.

My wife reminds me of a scene where the audience visits the home of a second brother Earp, located a significant distance across town.

Earp houses in Tombstone. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.

Not so in reality, the two dwellings exist side by side on the same expanse, much like the old and new Kirstie Alley.

From the Earp houses, the view of the town. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.

Within the motion picture, there's a sense the Earp homes are situated on otherwise undeveloped real estate far from town, but as you can see in this reverse view, they are scarcely one block from the main street and the saloon.

From the town saloon, the view of the Earp buildings in the distance. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Donna Durrett, all rights reserved.

In this wide reversal of the reversal, photographed from the saloon entrance, one sees the dizzying view of the Earps' spreads in the suburbs, behind the stable and the pawn shop. What a country! Add Yakov Smirnov and move over Branson.

Next: Chapter 12 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photos copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett and Donna Durrett. All rights reserved.



Have Gut — Will Travel or Go West, Young Mike or Darth Vader, My Ass
Chapter 10

Kurt Russell house in Tombstone. Photo copyright 2003-2004 Mike Durrett, all rights reserved.MESCAL, AZ -- Viewers of "Tombstone" may recognize this cottage as the residence of Kurt Russell. My wife certainly did, posing behind the picket fence for a quaint, must-have photograph.

I know the rustic home was her favorite area of our visit to the movie location. She said as much. We've been married long enough for me to interpret her guttural "poxes upon Goldie Hawn" as "Golly, that was the swellest!"

I, however, take the opposite view. I've felt an affinity for Miss Hawn since high school, so when our guide mentioned she had visited the set, I perked up. I whipped out my emergency tin of pomade and nearly broke a tooth on the trusty GEM pocket comb while trenching a coiffure part in my newly and neatly paralleled flaxen locks.

I ran up onto the porch and posed myself in provocative moods in case Miss Hawn returned. I thought the styling with my back to the door, palms on the woodwork, and left leg bent at the knee, discount sneaker on the knob, was especially alluring.

When the flimsy door flung open, I flew through the house, landing light as a heifer with my head thrust inside the spring section of a moldy, threadbare sofa. Yet -- like all good men of the west -- I was still on my feet.

Although stooped and stuck, I kept my dignity, persuading myself Miss Hawn is a hiney woman.

I held this stance for a quarter hour, waiting for Goldie.

I spent the interval feeling a bit guilty for telling folks my hair is flaxen. True, it has grayish tones. The blondness disappeared in boyhood. I decided she'd never know the difference under all the goop, now festooned with chicken feathers and mites.

Fifteen minutes was also how long it took for the fireworks display to end inside my head and seat cushion.

I don't know what Donna sees in Kurt Russell. What is it with women and him? Donna, Goldie, and ... and ...

We met during my first real job, selling candy at a movie theatre. I was a natural for the business, eagerly grasping the trade. I was on my way. I was 14. Time for a spouse.

There was a pretty cashier my age who I yearned desperately to notice me. She adored Kurt Russell. He's all she talked about.

"Kurt. Kurt. Kurt. He's so cute. Cute Kurt. Cute Kurt. Cute Kurt."

Cute Kurt flirt. Cute Kurt flirt. Cute Kurt flirt.

That's all she was. It was very off-putting and took away from my valuable time learning how to water down Cokes.

Cute Kurt flirt hurt. Cute Kurt flirt hurt. Cute Kurt flirt hurt.

When we showed his picture, Walt Disney's "Follow Me, Boys," I think the girl simply melted away because there was someone else selling tickets by the end of the week. The replacement lady was older, droning on about Fred MacMurray this, Fred MacMurray that.

I wasn't so much bothered by her chatter, as I had, gallantly, moved on, busy mastering how to serve drinks with my thumb in the cup.

It's always fun to reminisce, but I HAD TO GO! Donna insisted I return to the tour, which I did, after jogging out to the car to grab the metal detector. Miss Hawn might have dropped an earring in the dirt. If and when she materialized, I aimed to please.

Sure, it had been 10 years since her visit to "Tombstone." I reckoned she was due.

I never did find any jewelry, but I did come up with a rivet used to weld Jack Palance's smirk together.

Alas, Goldie stood me up. Our group would be globetrotting to the highway shortly thereafter.

As I shuffled over the Mescal grounds, I cursed Kurt Russell for what he did to my girls. I even remembered the first time I saw him. I was in the front row at a 1963 flick, "It Happened at the World's Fair." He's the bratty kid who gives Elvis Presley's leg a swift boot.

And now, honest to goodness, just this moment, as I'm writing, I surfed over to The Internet Movie Database to check a date. There, in Kurt Russell's filmography for "It Happened at the World's Fair," he's listed in the role of "Boy Who Kicks Mike."

Some things never change.

Next: Chapter 11 | Rewind to Chapter 1
Photo copyright ©2003-2004 Mike Durrett. All rights reserved.
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