Gifts Senior Moment Santa Forgot to Bring Me: Elvis Presley Wine

On the night before Christmas, all snuggled in bed, I had visions of Pop Kwimper dancing in my head.

Yeah. Pop Kwimper. Elvis' pappy in "Follow That Dream."

I was scared. Very scared.

I only have to mull over the prospects of Elvis wine and I get loopy.

Mmmmm. Jailhouse Rock Merlot and Stuck On You Shiraz.

I call these wales, 'cause Elvis didn't whine.

But it doesn't matter since Claus didn't give me any Presley bubbly after all, not even by the glass!

No Blue Suede Ooze.

No Bacon Soppings Cabernet Sauvignon.

No Mess-ah-'Nanas Zinfandel.

Dad-gum it, Pop, there goes New Year's Eve.

And here I am a-hankerin' for a midnight feast of nutty Extra Crunchy Skippy Super Chunk by the gravy ladle, topped off with a nice All Shook Up Pinot Grigio, the Tickle Me Chablis, and an agreeably stimulating Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog Pisco.

More: Gifts Senior Moment Santa Forgot to Bring Me

Related Mike and Mr. Presley Treasures: "My Night With Elvis" | "My Night With Elvis Redux" | "Star Sighting" | "Viva Jasper, Georgia" | "Love Me Chocolate or That's All Right (Nana)"


Gifts Senior Moment Santa Forgot to Bring Me: Lunch Lady Action Figure

Lunch Lady Action Figure, spatula cutie.
I've lusted for the Lunch Lady Action Figure. She's one hot mama on toast.

Oh, the many hours I've spent as her faithful boy sidekick, Russel Sprout.

And, of course, as her dastardly action villain, The Yellow Mayonnaise.

I so wish they had been around when I was a kid.

More: Gifts Senior Moment Santa Forgot to Bring Me


Gifts Senior Moment Santa Forgot to Bring Me: The Rotten Rodent!

I didn't get The Radio-Controlled Rat.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. It might have caused problems for my Steam Locomotive-Powered Velveeta.

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100 Things About Me #134

Wheels of Fortune
A belated "Happy Birthday" to my car ("100 Things About Me #105"), which turned 15 years of age on Christmas Eve. That's the day in 1992 when I drove it off the showroom floor.

I celebrated the trusty auto's milestone with a round of drinks -- SAE 5W-30 motor oil. Some periodic lubrication and a handful of quarters for a wash is about all I spent on my ride during the entire year.

Good car! Such a good car! Yes, she is! A good car!

I have a long history of upgrading my vehicles at Christmastime. Here's a picture of me abandoning my baby stroller ("100 Things About Me #104") for a factory-installed tricycle! It's a 1955! Manual transmission! Fully loaded! Santa endorsed! With that new trike smell!

My big brothers, Billy and Bobby, are assisting me on the showroom floor, which doubled the rest of the year as our living room.

Dig that horn. The shape is an exact replica of my shouting lips. The bulb in back is an exact replica of my -- well, let's just say, if you squeeze me now, I still honk.

For you action lovers, my road test photos...

These images tell me one of two things.

1. I'm speeding so fast you can see the g-forces vibrating me and the planet.

2. Mommy's working the camera.

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'Twas the Night Before Gift Bash

I may have snuck in an extra stocking or two for Santa.

It didn't work.


Mr. Bean's Christmas

I've referred to this holiday sketch from Rowan Atkinson's "Mr. Bean" television series and now is the ideal time to share it with you. Merry Christmas, I hope you have a heady day.

Can't see the video? Try here.

What a lovely Christmas tradition.

Although, being a vegetarian, in lieu of a turkey, might I suggest looking into an overly ambitious casaba melon?



Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty has gone into seclusion.

We are very upset and saddened. Usually, he is in full bounce-off-of-the-walls euphoria at this time of the year in anticipation of a visit from Santa Cat. Morty adores Santa Cat and the catnip toys he brings to all good boys and girls.

Morty has scarcely belly-flopped into the Christmas tree. He's not himself. He's despondent.

We think he's gotten wind of this:

Photo: Books about - gasp! - Santa Mouse!


100 Things About Me #132

Christmas Memories, 1958-Present
Five years before The Beatles exploded our way, another boy band reigned. Alvin and the Chipmunks topped the pop charts with their debut hit, "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)." The squirrelly crooners won two Grammy awards for what would become the only Christmas tune to score #1 on the
Billboard Hot 100. The recording was so beloved, the track was incorporated into their 1961 television series, "The Alvin Show."

This marvelous group, shepherded by agent / stepdad David Seville, was one of my major musical influences, although I have moved on to pistachios.

For Mikey, it just would not be Christmas without Alvin.



And, yes, I wanted a hula hoop.

I doubt I could fit into it now.

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Mel Tormé and 'The Christmas Song'

I stumbled across Mark Evanier's remembrance of his chance encounter with the great musical instrument Mel Tormé. I hope you'll read his story. It's one of those wonderful moments that only happen in the movies, or so we tend to believe.

Then, enjoy Mel singing "The Christmas Song" in a 1985 appearance with the 15th Air Force Band on "The Merv Griffin Show." He wrote this tune with Bob Wells in 1944 at the age of 19. "The Christmas Song" has forever been my favorite holiday selection (especially the sentimental recording by Nat "King" Cole) and it grows sweeter in each passing year -- as does Mel Tormé's 1963 duet with Judy Garland, which follows.

Can't see the video? Try here.

Can't see the video? Try here.

Okay, I am now officially in the Christmas spirit. Where's Santa's lap?...


Magic Fate Bee

For months, I've listened to Jerry Seinfeld tell us to put our trust in "Bee Movie." I didn't give it much thought until I passed this sign.

I looked over my shoulder. The back of the display was flashing:




"Don't count on it," I said. "My reply is no."


100 Things About Me #131

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #130," part of the "Back to School" sequence

And Now, for All You Youngsters, Right Here on Our Stage...
At the Fernbank Elementary open house, I revisited the site of my greatest bits -- live on stage in the cafetorium, ladies and gentlemen.

When I was 12, I performed two shows as Ed Sullivan on these boards, bringing entertainment to every student and teacher fighting in the trenches.

I wore a coat and tie and I was about as funny as Ed and I got about as many chicks as Ed. It was a really big "shoot."

Those appearances were more than a year after my triumph as the mixed-up elf in the rousing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" extravaganza during the sixth grade Christmas pageant, mentioned previously ("100 Things About Me #89").

Bob Hope was in the Far East with his USO troupe, so I was the closest thing our school had to Miss USA, 1963, Michele Metrinko.

And I mean that because, grotesquely defaced under rosy cheeks cosmetics, I was forced to wear stretch tights for the song and sway, all against my will and child cruelty statutes.

Plus, my feet were doomed into pointy slippers. I had to be careful. I could've poked someone's thigh out.

How embarrassing, pointy shoes with jingly toes, prancing hither. I couldn't remember the choreography. I hopped and skipped with a limp and a thrash. I sounded like Tinkerbell shuttlecocked by Liberace.

I believe it was at that moment history coined the word "precious."

I did not own any tights, so a classmate offered me a pair. I liked the girl, but I had to be sweet-talked into her pants--


Maybe I should revive the act....

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The "Back to School" thread continues with "Boys Will Be Boys: 100 Things About Me #137."


The Sprite Is a Fright

Not having children of my own, I was shocked to hear friends discuss "The Elf on the Shelf," apparently "a Christmas tradition" of mental torture.

Here's their gleeful revelation. An elf doll is introduced to the kiddies as Santa's private investigator, reporting to the old man if the brats misbehave. The stoolie magically appears in the home in late November and sits quietly, observing.



Youngsters are instructed to never touch the elf and, while the tots are asleep or misdirected, parents relocate the elf to another area of the house to scare the bejabbers out of their spawn upon discovery.

Personally, such a maneuver from my folks would have upset me. I was poisoned more than enough by "he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good or stomach ache."

Now that I've fully matured, I'm beyond the implied threats of Mr. Santa Claus. I give him nary a thought after Christmas morning when I comb the abode for bugs and surveillance cams.


Suxiest Man Alive

Once again, I failed to be named "People's" Sexiest Man Alive! I didn't even make their top ten.

This is where I sit with my mouth and chins agape for 20 minutes.

Later, That Same Night

Sure, I'll admit I'm getting a few miles on me, but the increased frequency of pebble dings and the vast assortment of pit stops are flattering.

I am a bit moth-gnawed. Some of my stitchwork has popped and I'm missing a button, a spine, and "Bee Movie" TV Juniors.

But, hey, there was no plastic surgery when I was born. They had Melmac surgery and home perms. And me without a Toni Twin.

Nevertheless, get real, "People!" I do have all of my gut and a fluent grasp of the English Leather.

The tat-eww was a mistake, granted. I didn't realize the day would come when I'd grow love handles or I never would have had those artist's renderings of love handles inked.

I checked the fine print of the Sexiest Man Alive list with a magnifying goblet. After the cross-eyed headache subsided and my windedness from the sobs, I saw I was designated as the 3,742,984,006th Sexiest Man Alive. It's an honor just to be nominated.


I'm sandwiched between #3,742,984,005, Aimee Mann, and just above a Keebler Elf suffering from a rare skin condition, the heartbreak of crumbs.

Oh, well, there's always next year. I'll be ready.

I'm going to floss after every yawn, splurge on BriteTrachea bleachings, pasteurize the cowlick, belch with reverb, and coach my Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria to win at Texas Hold'em.

Manly. Lively. Sexly.


Snail Male

Twenty-six years of marriage. Actual conversation, while walking along the curb to the car.

Donna: Eww. Here's a snail without a shell.

Mike: What? Was he evicted?


Behind the Scenes: 'A Coupla Black-and-White Cats Sitting Around Talking'

Continued From: "A Coupla Black-and-White Cats Sitting Around Talking"

"The Two Talking Cats" screening was a crowd pleaser. Morty was on his feet with delight and awe during the show. Plus, at one point, he went "backstage" to meet the stars!


A Coupla Black-and-White Cats Sitting Around Talking

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatOur Morty is celebrating his seventh birthday this month. We wanted to give him a little party, so we served up his most cherished cat food. He's on the sauce -- Morty loves gravy, even more than his taste for the cinema.

At seven years of age, a cat becomes an adult. We asked Morty what gift we could present him to mark his Bar Kitzvah.

He chose to see an "adult" movie, his first. He yearned for something challenging, not the usual mindless American action flicks with tabbies hopping off countertops or chasing a string. Morty's also tired of CGI.

That's my boy.

He mentioned one picture called "The Two Talking Cats." We weren't familiar, but he said Stina and Mossy were the greatest comedy team since Allen and Rossi.

Since then, there's been a cover-up.

Being that I always run the projector, I arranged a screening.

Can't see the video? Try here.

Morty adored "The Two Talking Cats." He's been quoting it for days in-between gravy.

Donna and I liked the movie, too, but we had trouble with the accents.

We located a translated version with the help of our local mouse.

I usually scoff at dubbed soundtracks, but no subtitled prints were available. At least, it's in Human....

Can't see the video? Try here.

Happy birthday, Mort. Welcome to us adults.

Next: Behind the Scenes: "A Coupla Black-and-White Cats Sitting Around Talking"


Subject: Alan Menken on The Little Mermaid Opening in New York

Twenty-six years of marriage. Actual email correspondence.

From: Broadway Across America (Atlanta)
To: Mike Durrett
Forwarded: Donna Durrett

...Alan Menken is an accomplished songwriter who has won more Academy Awards than any other living composer in Oscar history. He is perhaps best known for his work on Disney movies, including "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." Menken and his late writing partner, Howard Ashman, composed seven songs for "The Little Mermaid," the film that helped revitalize Disney animation and launch his career. Now the movie that audiences adore is making its debut on Broadway as a brand-new production....

From: Donna Durrett
To: Mike Durrett

Cool. I hope it does well and they find a way to get it on the ROAD so we can see it! An ocean may be difficult to move.

From: Mike Durrett
To: Donna Durrett

They're probably afraid it would be stolen in Atlanta with the drought and all...


Subject: Good Morning

Twenty-six years of marriage. Actual email correspondence.

From: Donna Durrett
To: Mike Durrett

Morty threw up a hairball this morn on the kitchen floor.

Hope your day is as productive!

Thinking of you.


From: Mike Durrett
To: Donna Durrett

"threw up" + "hairball" = "thinking of you"

I'm in heat.



Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Actually, we don't know where Morty is, but I have the oddest feeling he went north.

And hung a right.


100 Things About Me #130

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #129," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Faculty in the Dark
There was no audio-visual club at Fernbank Elementary.

I didn't let that stop me. I offered to manage the school's educational films and projection equipment. The librarian was hesitant to allow a child to force his way into her domain.

"What? And give up show business?" she wailed, palming her bouffant.

"S-H-H-H-H-H-H!" I stage-whispered, finger to lips. "Library."

Embarrassed, see listened to me. I outlined how I could make her job easier. She agreed, palming a box of Dewey decimals.

I already had professional credentials, training as a projectionist in the nearby Emory Theatre. At 12, I knew more about the clackety 16mm Bell and Howell Filmosound Projectors than anyone in the school, which tickled me and befuddled and irritated staff, which tickled me extra.

This was the era preceding videocassettes and DVDs, so the movies arrived on celluloid. I delivered the multitude of film cannisters to the correct rooms each day and made certain the movies were in the return mail on schedule.

The State Board of Education insisted the films be sent back to them "tails out," allowing their handling procedures to be conducted in a sensible manner. A few teachers ignored the policy and the boldly marked instructions on the materials. After their final showings, they rewound the reels to the beginning.

Mmm, nope. Sorry. Unprofessional.

I hunted down the offenders and saw to it that they complied to the rule. I made the errant adults run the films through the projector again in order to properly wind the footage to the end. There were several occasions where teachers had to stay late after work, as a single reel could take up to an hour to go through the machine.

Although I was polite and stunningly boylike, several teachers were hostile to me.

The nicer ones I rewarded by sharing technical tricks to finish the chore in a speedier manner, or I'd do the task for them. Be kind and Mike would un-rewind.

I was a learning lesson for those teachers and me, too. I learned the strengths of knowledge and being righteous and how to apply them to jerks -- and win!

Hee hee.

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Photo credits: film cans: Lorelei, Creative Commons license | 16mm: mconnors


100 Things About Me #129

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #128," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Birthplace of 'The Weekly Durrett'
All the Spews That Fit
Sixth grade made me a mogul of sorts. Carbon dating shows I may have been the only student in the history of Fernbank Elementary to helm his own campus newspaper, printed again and again on the school mimeograph machine, without permission.

A free press must be brazen and hijack a free press.

I was editor and reporter of "The Weekly Durrett," a daring entry in the genre of news satire.

The paper dedicated its one-handwritten-page issues to fake topics of interest for every student in the sixth grade, our vast circulation pool. I don't recall any specifics in the reportage, except I am confident that each and every article probably contained the word "vomit."

I learned quickly that there is no funnier word in the English language to 11 and 12-year-olds than "vomit." That baby is comedy gold, the Holy Grail. Use as directed.

Here's the recipe:

"Vomit." Swallow. Repeat.

"Vomit!" "Vomit!" "Vomit!"

I loved it. I basked in it.

Nevertheless, I was surprised to find my name incorporated into the title of "The Weekly Durrett," since my cartooning pals ("100 Things About Me #127") were partners in this venture, too. They awarded me the great honor -- plus, I think the lads feared somebody would get into trouble, so it might as well be me.

I do remember my friend Lewe referred to me in the paper as "Daddy Durrett," followed by the motto, "Our Hero."

I tell ya, when you possess the powerful secret and are willing to play the "vomit" card, you can rule the universe.

In the four year history of this Web site, a quick search reveals, I've only dispatched the magical utterance twice ("Pet Food Snafus," "Top 10 Reasons My Life Is Rated 'R'"). Such infrequent deployments should not be construed to mean I've abandoned an old nugget. That word is my secret weapon, always loaded and ready to hurl.

I practice restraint, which is not easy. Every day, when I sit at this keyboard, be assured, "vomit" is flowing through my brain.

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100 Things About Me #128

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #127," part of the "Back to Fernbank School" sequence

The Flab One Meets the Fab Four
The Beatles hit America and took over our minds during my sixth grade winter. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" arrived in a one-two punch, followed by that incredible debut appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," February, 1964.

Beatlemania was a pop culture orgasm.

That's exactly what it was, an orgasm, although I don't believe I became familiar with the term until I was much older, give or take, squeeze and giggle, pant and clutch chest.

Me like that term.

Term good!

Maybe me learn more?


Pretty please?

I'm much older next March?

I'll bring hors d'oeuvres?

Chocolate Frappuccinos?

A wide assortment of home decorator monthlies?

Hallmark cards?

I've ... got ... Binaca!

Have I mentioned I'm shy?

The Beatles changed our lives. It was the perfect time to be transitioning into adolescence.

Boldness took awhile, but most of us boys amassed the courage to comb our aching wannabe mop tops into Beatle bangs.

And hard-core shakers openly flaunted barbershops' official mandate to undergo a haircut every 10 days.

Yeah. We were rebels -- in a wondrous 11-year-old world, where the simple recitation of a phrase, "I wanna hold your gland," would guarantee everyone found you delightful gear.

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100 Things About Me #127

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #126," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Revisiting familiar sixth grade surroundings at Fernbank School brought back a torrent of memories, even the doodles.

My friends were accomplished pencil-and-paper artists. I was not, although I tried. We drew silly creatures to make each other laugh. We called our work "Crazy Collegiate Cartoons for Kids."

There was no money in it.

We decided each of us should have trademark character insignias.

©1964-2007 Mike Durrett

Who knows, but it seemed like a brilliant idea. I created this one, comprised of the few simple elements I could draw.

(At this point in my life, I was in an artistic rut. Whenever I sketched, I always defaulted to "a house on a hill" composition. My stock hill is right there in front of you. I am very pleased with myself that I resisted using my stock house and turning it into a jaunty hat.)

I've always imagined this fella as a space alien (legal), however most observers see him as a toadstool, a thumb, or a Fudgsicle (white chocolate).

He's got hands, except they're only apparent when he's inserting a contact lens the size of a Frisbee.

He has 20 vision.

I've seen variations of my figure materialize elsewhere, including the popular "Monsters, Inc." movie, but mine predates Pixar's animation geniuses by 37 years.

And don't think I haven't noticed their character is named Mike, too.

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100 Things About Me #126

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #125," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Welcome to the Mating Game
The main floor of Fernbank, my primary school in Atlanta, quartered the offices of the principal and nurse, library, and sixth grade classrooms. As mentioned previously, I was seated beyond the second door to the right when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, yet that's not all I recall on the hall.

There was Becky.

I may have been too young in the sixth grade for a true case of "puppy love," so what I experienced was more accurately "canine embryo like."

Or "pre-pimples dementia."

Becky and I had been veteran classmates, but all of a sudden we found ourselves or our official delegates running back and forth, asking, "Do you like me?" or "Do you like Becky/Mike?"

We'd answer, "Yessss" or "Noooo." And then we'd all run away from each other real quick.

I don't know about her, but I'd regroup and puff a candy cigarette.

This went on incessantly for several weeks and then it stopped. I was crushed, even though we had never held hands or had a date or a conversation.

I could never bring myself to speak to Becky again, not even in high school. I wasn't being a jerk. I'd been perpetually stunned.

I do not believe I've seen Becky since the night we graduated and headed for college. Donna, ignore this part when you proofread this entry. If Becky were to suddenly appear, I'm sure I'd want to know if she, well, likes me, but I'd probably be too busy spit-taking, hyperventilating, and hiding to ask.

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100 Things About Me #125

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #124," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Fernbank Elementary School sign
Touch of Evil
In 1962, while attending school at Fernbank, I survived the Cuban Missle Crisis. We could have been goners.

Even though the doomsday threat was frightening, I was also busy thwarting a deadlier killer which continues to plague our young people -- and, of course, that would include me.

Beware, lads. Be ever vigilant. Cooties can strike without warning.

--That's all. I'm done. Sorry, boys, I'm having a Cootie fit flashback. I'm going to check out of here early today and endure a full body shower with Pumice soap and a stern brass bristles brush.

I'll calm down eventually, probably during the delousing and the hot wax.

Watch this video. Learn more.

Can't see the video? Try here. | Via People's Improv Theater

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100 Things About Me #124

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #123," part of the "Back to Fernbank School" sequence

I Drank to That
Fernbank School is in remarkably good shape, considering the five decades of strain and stress inflicted upon it by prepubertal toughs, and dogs eating homework.

I was surprised to see what I believe to be one of the original 1958 water fountains in service. Imagine, if you're not opposable, my thumbprints under 50,000 others.

This is exciting for you ... Fernbank School water fountains!
I know of what it is you wonder. After 42 years of separation, did I have wistful longings of the stout heart and, perchance, partake of a cool, sweet, reuniting quench from this mechanical prodigy?

H-E-double-hockey-sticks NO! Grrrrr-oss!

Overall, I noted few changes in the building's decor since the antiquity of my youth.

1. Individual desks are out, group tables in. This communal seating trend must be stopped before it reaches the restrooms!

2. Computers are everywhere.

Won't you help?

Give a #2 pencil a hug.

Thank you. A message from the Fad Council.

3. The chalkboards are gone, replaced with markerboards.

When I think of all of the unemployed eraser clappers, I could cough.

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100 Things About Me #123

Continued From: "100 Things About Me #122," part of the "Back to School" sequence

Fernbank Elementary School, Atlanta, GA
Tree, Sun
My Fernbank Elementary School looks much the same after half a century, excepting the bricked addition built onto the facility in 2005. Connected at the main entrance, the structure has two floors with kindergarten accommodations and a gymnasium.

The school didn't offer kindergarten in my era. I was at home with a stick and some dirt.

Today, that dirt is worth a lot more than I am. I should have become real estate.

Even with an education, life sticks it to me.

The fact that we lacked a gym never crossed my mind. We played outdoors, or inside classrooms when it rained. We had our fun and got exercise and expertise with finger-paints and musical chairs.

Fernbank Elementary School gymnasium, Atlanta, GAI'm much happier I had fresh air and sunshine and windows than an oppressive gymnasium, where children circulate like weenies under bake lights.

Also, I'm concerned this new wing may have doomed a tree which our proud second grade class planted at a ceremony on the lawn in 1960. I forget why exactly, but the leafy gift was a present to the school and accepted by the principal as an eternal commemoration of a sentimental, life-affirming purpose. I hope the tree has been preserved, because not doing so would be a breach, slaps in the faces of a fine bunch of earnest, trusting little kids.

Grown-ups wouldn't do that, right?


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Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty will be out of the office until December 2, while he attends the annual Windy Falling Leaves Jubilee.
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