Subject: My Dream

Actual Email
A Bob Walker writes:


I dreamt last night I came to visit your estate. The only thing I remember is your house had a public restroom. A huge room with tons of toilets. I ate a Sonic burger before beddy bye. I don't know. I don't know...

Oh, those are the display cases for our vast collection of My SweetPees and minty urinal cakes. Bus drivers eat free.


I Brake for Clorox

Photo: Car Wash Coin Laundry

At the Car Wash Coin Laundry:

"Yeah, I need some quarters ... no starch in the undercarriage, press the accelerator, put pleats in the mud flaps...

"And how much to get a Hummer fluff, Wisk, and wipe?"


Blubber Blogger

It's nice to get noticed, so thanks to eBusinessJournal.net for designating my mumblings Blog of the Day, March 26. Proprietor Nick commented on a previous cinematic confession:

"It takes a real man to cry and be proud of it. I have seen "Eight Below" as well and It was a tearjerker."

Get that, he thinks I'm "a real man." I knew purchasing Ricardo Montalban's fake chest from "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" would work wonders for my image.

I do have to be careful I don't wear it when I'm asleep on my back, though, or I'm startled to wake up with neighborhood kids Putt-Putting on my massive pec ripples.

The tots tee off from my nostril whereby their golf balls plop into my cavernous navel.

Fortunately, due to superior muscle control and acoustical baffling, I manage nary an echo.

I wish I could say the same for divots.

Actually, I don't know that I'm proud of crying at sad movies. It's kind of embarrassing and just gives the wife another reason to call me "Rusty."

I don’t even know this guy but from reading his first blog entry, I can tell he is completely honest...


But, if you happen to see me at the theatre, please do say "Hi." I'll be the fella sobbing on the back row against the wall. I sit there so I can plug into an electrical outlet for my dehumidifier.


Eight Below, One Blown Away

I went to a theatre to see "Eight Below." Inspired by true events, it's the gripping saga of a pack of domestic sled dogs left behind to fend for themselves in an oppressive, bitter Antarctica.

I've always agonized over motion pictures concerning animals, such as "Old Yeller," "The Yearling," "Born Free," "Bambi," and "Brokeback Flipper."

But never have I undergone the emotional distress I experienced watching "Eight Below" -- not in a pets film and quite possibly not in any other movie. That's saying a lot because I do cry regularly in the darkness, but usually that's over the fleecing for the Raisinets.

Here's the actual conversation I had with my wife, as we were the last to exit "Eight Below."

Mike: I made a mistake.

Donna: What?

Mike: I should have never watched this movie with an audience. I thought I was going to explode.

Donna: Really?

Mike: Literally, it was all I could do to keep from wailing. Not just once, but there were at least three times I was torn up.

Donna: I know. I know.

Mike: Look at me, I'm wet and gooey. My shirt's wet!

I detoured into the restroom for some quality time with tissues.

Five minutes later, I returned to the lobby, composed, less damp, and only slightly mildewy.

Donna: Feel better?

Mike: Yeah. I lost a pound of snot.


Subject: What Have I Done? What Have I Done?

Clara, a Jack Russell terrier, stays with us on occasion, much to the chagrin of our cats, Morty and Kelp. We stock Clara's food in the cupboard in case of another pajama party.

With that in mind, here's an actual panic email I sent to my wife when we ran out of -- *gasp* -- cat food!

Kelp was driving me crazy, so I gave him some Mighty Dog. Is that okay?

I hope I haven't created a monster. If I'm not around when you get home, look to see if I've been buried in the backyard.

The Husband


The Cat in the Hot

Mr. and Mrs. Michael Durrett
proudly announce the engagement of their son
to his space heater


DVD Burner

I connected our television to a new DVD recorder and pressed the Power button. The mechanism whirred into action. Within the first six seconds of life, here's exactly what I saw on the DVD display screen:


The machine called me a load!

So, I'm a load, am I?

I loaded the player into the car and went to get my money back.


Clean Bills of Health

Looking to lower my blood pressure and stress, a doctor sent me for a series of medical tests. After bracing with considerable anxiety and non-stop pizzas (just in case I'd be told "no more pizzas"), I received the medical results.

I had the treadmill stress test, heart echo test, and a holter heart monitor hotwired to me for a day. All reported normal, but, after dealing with the insurance company, my heart beats Louis Prima arrangements from off the B-sides.

My MRI brain scan was stunningly accurate. It showed I'd be $2100 out-of-pocket poorer.

Otherwise, nothing of concern, except my blood pressure and stress are higher due to annoyance over these tests.


Kids' Jerry

This excellent photo is shared by home viewer Astroray! Thank you, Mr. Man.

Ray may be even more insane about Jerry Lewis than I am.

We schlep among you.

Today in Paris, Jerry was recognized again by the government with his induction as Commander in the French Legion of Honor. I had planned to jot a short blurb to commemorate his 80th birthday, but this distinguished award sent me into one of my long-stifled rants. It's on my About.com site as "Happy Birthday, Jerry Lewis."


100 Things About Me #54

Hide and Sleek

I saw this Thing about me and had to have it to remind me to use a really good moisturizer.

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A Rare Occasion

Rare historical artifact: Mike Durrett newspaper clipping from The Atlanta JournalThat's my very first big time article clipping. (#1 of 1, collect the whole series.)

The source: "The Atlanta Journal," Feb. 24, 1968. I was scarcely out of Huggies.

(Nevertheless, I was undefeated on the junior high wrestling team, leading the league in collected forfeits.)

(And collected Air Wicks.)

I've always taken pleasure in the fact that the paper's Dick Gray treated me as an adult. I'm sharing the piece, which appeared on the front page of the television section, since it ties into my previous post concerning Atlanta celebrity Freddie Miller and the atrocious state of our city's supposedly major market broadcasters during the '60s.

'A Rare Occasion'
Journal Television-Radio Editor

Every so often a letter drifts in here that I just hate to put in the TV Mail Bag. In fact, there are some that I hate to put anywhere except the trash can -- but that's not the kind I mean now.

I mean the kind that are so well done that it seems a shame to stick them back there with a bunch of other letters -- not that they aren't well done, too. But some letters just cry out for special treatment. You ever notice that? Sometimes I even hear them in my sleep.

Today I have a good one -- in which an Atlanta gentleman named Mike Durrett takes WAII-TV to task on several matters, including the station's corny, new newscasting style. Mr. Durrett writes well, with his tongue far out in his cheek. Here's what he says:

"I WOULD LIKE to say that I have found an excellent program for children on television. The show is Channel 11's wonderful INSTANT NEWS. If you don't pay any attention to the news, the show can be very entertaining. It is full of laughs and sight gags.

"The reporters look like they have been hard at work all day with their shirts unbuttoned, faces sweating, and cigarettes smoking, but in reality they were probably late to work from a poker game.

"One day a recorded news story was made to look like it was being phoned in at the last minute by using a phone that wasn't even connected (must be magic). The men use earphones to hear the latest "you heard it here first" news flashes; maybe some day they will put them on their ears.

"Another program that is truly one of the greatest thrills to appear on the horizon in many years is "Dialing for Dollars Movie." The fabulous Freddie Miller is the master of ceremonies of another great program, equal in quality to "Stars of Tomorrow" (the show that discovered Boppo and his Magic Plate).

"NOT ONE ounce of Freddie's talents has been spared to make this show a tremendous success. Many of the show's followers know him not as Freddie Miller, but as MR. FORTUNE, crusader of fun. Mr. Fortune's companion on this TV spectacular is a girl named Dolly, isn't that clever?

"Dolly's job is to walk over to the golden treasure chest (actually a spray-painted egg crate) and select a telephone number. The winner's number is handed to Mr. Fortune; the number is then dialed with his skilled and talented fingers.

"The phone is permitted to ring five times and if the contestant knows the answers to two specially selected questions (created by an ex-writer of Woody Woodpecker cartoons) he is awarded $111 and three green stamps from the store of his choice.

"I'm sorry my letter is so long, but it is a rare occasion when such fine outstanding programs like these come our way."


Host Town

Mike's Mailbag
Re: Bestoink Dooley
Re: Bob and Bestoink and Tubby and Lester
My Atlanta TV confessions, the George Ellis and "World's Worst Movie" tales, generated email. I'm glad to see this correspondence, so I know I didn't make that stuff up.

Excellent story, I, too, went to [George Ellis'] Ansley Mall [Cinema] to see "Minnie's Boys" and all the rest at midnight. I even laughed at Harpo's solos, and I didn't do any drugs!

About "Tubby & Lester," Tubby always pronounced Lester's name "Lestra." Very unfunny, but I watched!

Can't wait to you riff on Freddie Miller!

A big Tubby and Lester fan,

Chatsworth Osborne Jr.

O, Lestra!

That explains the cramping and loose stools.

Yipes, Freddie Miller, the infamous host of "Stars of Tomorrow" on Channel 11. This is the show Bialystock and Bloom should have produced.

Passing itself off as a local talent event, "Stars of Tomorrow" was simply loco and numbingly crummy. Not so much "American Idol" or "Star Search," it was more "Atlanta Idle" and "Start Searching What Else Is On."

Freddie was the quintessential Atlanta TV personality with no discernable appeal. His qualifications for the job were two-fold. He was jovial and he could gush his way through tsunamis of crap™, a Channel 11 trademark.

I had a theory Mr. Miller's purpose was to make tomorrow's stars, from the indecisive asthmatic tap dancers to the triple-thumbed piano punchers, look better by comparison to his fawning.

As a young girl, my wife was on track to appear on "The Little Miss Sunbeam Show," another of Freddie's dynasty of die-nutsy series. A promotional broadcast for a bread company, five-year-old Donna competed in their Little Miss Sunbeam Lookalike Contest. She had the goods and the costume, but she was voted off the muffin.

My Big Ms. Sunbeam is still bitter by raisins of insanity.

During the '70s, Freddie Miller appeared on a slapdash Channel 17 sports chat with co-host Skinny Bobby Harper, a radio disc jockey who was -- gasp -- actually talented.

I didn't see this particular moment, but it's been repeated to me numerous times. One night, Bobby said something which infuriated Freddie, who was more than chubby. Freddie went into a tirade on the air, hollering at Bobby for his comment.

When he finished, Bobby looked him in the eye and said, "Go eat a hotdog, Freddie."

My earliest success as a writer came courtesy of Freddie Miller. Around 1967, Channel 11, unfettered on their berserk programming bent, created the daily "Dialing for Dollars Movie" with Miller calling people at random from the phone book for a chance to win ELEVEN DOLLARS!!

I was inspired to craft a snarky letter to "The Atlanta Journal." On Saturdays, the television section of their paper was called "The Green Sheet," printed on green newsprint. There was a regular "TV Mailbag" feature on Page 3. I had yearned to be published in "TV Mailbag." Well, let me tell you, Dick Gray, the TV Editor, ran my dispatch as his front page lead article on "The Green Sheet." He wrote that he dreamt of receiving letters like mine. His words.

What a rush!

Also in the mailbag:

Oh yeah, the director's name of the world's worst movie, Seymore Trash, how clever!

I first saw Louis Prima and Keely Smith in "Hey Boy, Hey Girl" on that great movie series!

Now back to our show,

John (I'm not Gomez) Astin

Yes! Yes! Yes! Seymore Trash! I was trying to remember his name. I love it. Thanks for alerting me. That more than makes up for the hours I've spent dredging up this garbage.

Now, please, no one ask me about "Let's Go to the Races," "Live Atlanta Wrestling," or "Snooky Lanson's Club 11."


Bob and Bestoink and Tubby and Lester

Writing on Bestoink Dooley, Atlanta TV's chiller movie host of the '60s, I mentioned his own celluloid opus, "The Legend of Blood Mountain," aka "Demon Hunter," aka "Monster Mountain." The 1965 horror is padded with dull, uneventful chase and inconsequential footage, which I can verify from my age 13 viewing.

Dave Sindelar at SciFilm reviews the Bestoink blockblister:

He eats cookies and drinks milk in bed while listening to an Easy Listening radio station. We have an extended sequence in this movie where he does this....

We see lots of scenes of Bestoink walking. We see lots of scenes of Bestoink driving....

The legend of Blood Mountain is that when a bloodstain appears on the mountain, the monster is loose. He tears the hearts out of his victims and drinks their blood. Bestoink is too fast for him, though....

I lost 65 minutes of my life today.

Lacking even lackluster, the film is credited to writer Bob Corley. If my memory remains the sparkly marvel we all cherish, Corley was also the frontman of the short-lived "World's Worst Movie" series, which was broadcast in the Atlanta market, Saturday late nights on Channel 11, circa 1966.

After scripting "The Legend of Blood Mountain," he was a certifiable expert on sorry cinema, no doubt.

Corley shared a schlock flick with the viewers each week, presenting himself (unknowingly) as a bad motion picture director, complete with the obligatory directorial accoutrements of jodhpurs and beret and megaphone.

The premise of this series had him searching high and low for the "World's Worst Movie." So, where better to look than in Channel 11's library?

That's the truth! I've laughed at that dig at the station for 40 years. Channel 11 was textbook awful in those days. I'm amazed Corley's putdowns were allowed on their air.

In wrap-arounds and interstitial segments during the feature attractions, Corley insulted the movies. As ramshackle as the dozen or so episodes were, the concept made a major impression on me. I always thought "World's Worst Movie" was a terrific idea, long before "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" came along.

I believe this series unspooled my first viewing of Roger Corman's "A Bucket of Blood," a guilty pleasure, with The Great Dick Miller. In fact, I know it is, because there's a shot in a nightclub where over-the-hill fat cats are chatting up young party babes sitting much too close. Corley recapped the scene and mentioned how heartwarming it was to see the loving fathers escort their young daughters out for an evening on the town.

Corley remains notorious in some Atlanta circles (mainly mine) for a third project. He was the creative genius behind "The Tubby and Lester Show," a massive rip-off of the Laurel and Hardy personas, down to their costumes and weighty extremes. Tubby and Lester anchored a weekday morning children's series on Channel 11 from 7 to 8 (maybe longer). Between cartoons, they would (dis)grace us with their slipshod slapstick comedy.

Almost always, the Tubby and Lester sketches were mangled to a recording of Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk," from "Hatari!" Since the sketches stretched far too long, the "Baby Elephant Walk" music would finish and fade to silence mid-scenes. So, after some dead air, the TV control room routinely restarted the same recording as T & L bumbled on.

During my first year or two in high school, I manned -- um, boy-ed the Audio-Visual Room in the student library each morning before classes. There, I watched "Tubby and Lester" religiously.

I was praying I was funnier.

The team brought a new dimension to "lame."

To this day, I cannot watch "Hatari!" without thinking of Tubby and Lester.

Thanks to them, I am scarred for life.

I suffer chronic whiplash at the sight of pie.

You'll never see my necktie and a large scissors in the same glimpse.

When my wife strolls aimlessly with a 12-foot plank and a can of paint, I flee.


100 Things About Me #53

Coffee, Tea, or Sleep
I must have caffeine. Without, I'm dimmer than a bug light covered in slugs.

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Trpe Wyiteys

I sent a follow-up note about the irregular double R keyboard mentioned in the previous post.


I published your keyboard photo today. Thanks a bunch.


Rob R wrote:

Hahahaha! Thats gyeat! I'm actuallr stayting to get used to it as long as I don't look down while I'm trping.




I always enjoy hearing from my elders. Lifelong friend Rob, who is six days older than me, writes:

"Psst - I returned the ... kerboard that had a stuck shift ker and ther sent another that has 2 'R' kers - yes, a 2nd R ker is where the 'Y' key should be. Otherwise it woyks great! So I'm tryin to get 'em to send just a Y key that I can put on it after I rank off the R key!!"


Bestoink Dooley

Here's a promotional herald that brings back happy memories from my youth. The man is actor George Ellis as the comical character Bestoink Dooley.

He was a beloved Atlanta television fixture during the 1960s. Each Friday night after the late news, Bestoink hosted the "Big Movie Shocker," which would often include a classic from the original Universal Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolfman monster franchises of the '30s and '40s.

The series was a local hit, especially with us brave elementary school kids and the teenagers. Eyewitness recaps of the frightful events became regular conversation topics in classrooms on Mondays. Bleedin', writhin', and a ripper's tic.

A concurrent "Big Movie Shocker" spin-off series followed, Saturday afternoons on the same channel, WAGA-TV5. I want to say the title was "Chiller Theatre," but I'm not positive because I was off chillin' in an actual theatre, the Emory, where I spent every weekend.

For awhile, circa 1966, there was an additional 30-minute weekday program called "Dooley and Co." Bestoink presented a 3 Stooges comedy short and acted a bit sillier than he did on the spooky shows. The festivities contained a pre-taped humorous weather sketch and forecast, syndicated from Detroit with oddball Morgus the Weatherman.

Morgus was also a schlock TV host, who specialized in lunatic shtick. Today, we have Bryant Gumbel.

Bestoink Dooley made an extremely low budget movie in 1965 to capitalize on his regional fame. "The Legend of Blood Mountain" (a k a "Demon Hunter") is a grade Z-zZzZzzz *comedy* horror yarn / yawn, shot primarily at Stone Mountain State Park near Atlanta and, probably, in the Channel 5 studios. That would have been inside their original building on W. Peachtree St., which later housed Ted Turner's Channel 17 (the future Superstation WTBS).

The Bestoink Dooley flyer reveals the movie played at the Starlight Drive-in. I remember the hoopla well. It premiered on a Wednesday and closed on Saturday. That was a good booking in those days. By then, I was working at the Emory Theatre. We were awarded the film second run. It opened on that Sunday and closed Tuesday, very possibly utilizing the Starlight's show print. The single week of engagements in a few neighborhood hardtops and drive-ins was the bulk of the metro area exposure.

George Ellis left TV near the end of the decade. He began a new career, operating several arty movie venues in the city.

A friend of mine was Mr. Ellis' projectionist at the Ansley Mall Cinema during the 1970s. He told me George was embarrassed by his career as Bestoink Dooley. A keepsake 35mm print of "The Legend of Blood Mountain," nevertheless, resided in the booth. I understand it would be screened after hours for the curious, when George was away.

I worked only one shift as the relief projectionist in the Ansley. Although I had been a regular patron of his struggling theatres, this was the occasion when I became formally introduced to George Ellis. He was as polite and gentle a man as I have ever met.

When I returned on payday for my earnings, he was polite and gentle and warm and apologetic as he stiffed me.

Compensation surfaced eventually, but the real rewards were those many TV and too few close encounters I shared in the company of Bestoink Dooley.

Photo: Thanks to Lesley Pike.
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