What the Heck Was I Thinking?

Actual Messages I Wrote, Forgot, Then Found While Cleaning Out My Email Folders

"I was looking at the beginning of 'Splendor in the Grass.' Phyllis Diller is listed in that movie. I think she plays the mulch."


"I saw a painting of an old guy talking to has-beens and newsmakers. He's wearing suspenders and big glasses. He's got a loud tie and a blue shirt with a white collar. His bald spot--

"Uh, that's the Larry King show on CNN. It's not a painting. Somebody needs to check his pulse. I thought TV was supposed to be moving pictures. Larry, get a wild pony or a fire pole! Something! Inhale for us ... roll over ... fetch! Turn your peptic ulcer into a musical! Do something! The man is static! He makes dead gnats seem hyper. Larry King should be in a walnut frame. He should be hanging over a tattered bedspread with a smoldering Marlboro butt burn."


"Larry King, the only man who dresses in used Smurf shirts. Mr. Blackwell ought to have him boarded up."


100 Things About Me #141

Separated at Life:
Before and After
While rummaging through my third birthday photographs, I recalled a recent snapshot with unintentional similarities, proving some things never change -- certainly not the studly wardrobe choices.

Full Disclosure: Unattended, my bangs would have been dangling by their natural proclivities in both eras. Mother tried to package me in a specific way, so she routinely wet a comb and styled my hair into Sunday School mode before formal picture sessions.

More than likely, she'd also put some spit on a creepy, crumply tissue from her purse and turbo-rub a smudge or three from my face.

Yuck. I am still bummed by that. I was always moist -- and it wasn't mine.

I'm emotionally scarred, I tell ya.

100 Things: #1 | Previous | Next


Cartoon Carnival: Droopy

"Hello, all you happy taxpayers."

Animator Tex Avery could have rested on his creation of rascally Bugs Bunny, yet he doodled onward.

Love Mr. Bunny, but, sorting through my druthers, I prefer Avery's often overlooked doggy, Droopy.

He's short, folks.

Droopy made two dozen solid, off-the-wall theatrical cartoons for MGM in the 1940s and '50s, from westerns to capers to leprechauns, topped by the revered "Deputy Droopy" (1955). (His later TV pictures, unfortunately, are abysmal and not housebroken. I think Col. Parker was his agent.)

Collected below, three loopy Droopy adventures, including his ensemble effort ("The Shooting of Dan McGoo") with Red and The Wolf.

"You know what? I'm happy."

"Drag-a-Long Droopy" (1954) - Watch at YouTube

"Dumb-Hounded" (1943)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.

"The Shooting of Dan McGoo" (1945)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.


100 Things About Me #140

Gort & Ted's Excellent Adventure?
When word leaked out of a remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," starring Keanu Reeves, my friend Randy said:

"Klaatu Barada Nikto, Dude!"

Yeah. I kind of dread it, also. Gort, the intergalactic robot, goes California, surfing waves, strawing Smoothies, straining Pilates, streaking highlights.

I first saw the original 1951 film on "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies" during its TV premiere, probably around 1962. The broadcast was a big deal, this story of outer space aliens come a-calling. I have vivid memories of the night the Mike sat still.

Earlier, I had made one of those periscopes with small mirrors taped into each end of a long cardboard tube. It was in my hand when the motion picture began. I found the experience to be so intense, I watched the show through the periscope to distance myself from the action.

Hey, I was a kid. I haven't done that since my wedding night.

100 Things: #1 | Previous | Next


With a Sarong in My Heart and Other Hollywood Moments

Not too long ago, the television was on in the background, tuned to Turner Classic Movies, a regular haunt. I looked over at that there "THEM!"

"Golly, Pops! Where's my camera?"

(There was no Pops. I can be dramatic. I've got the Mamet in me. I am the "me" in "Mamet.")

I couldn't believe my eyes. This 1954 black-and-white extravaganza about garganttuan mutant ants was being televised with a color title card! I've enjoyed the "THEM!" several times, as recently as a few years ago at a drive-in theatre, and I've never seen the film with a color title!

I sprayed the TV with RAID and that fixed "'EM!"

Seeing David O. Selznick's "Since You Went Away" (1944) reminded me of my first trip to the Hollywood area, back in '95.

Pal Burbank's Frank stopped his car at a traffic light. As an afterthought, he directed me to look out the window to our left. Sitting on the corner was the old Selznick office mansion. My view was at the same angle as observed in the famous Selznick International Studios movie logo.

That was surreal, even more so when you consider this one-time home to RKO and DesiLu, now known as The Culver Studios, is where "Gone With the Wind," "Citizen Kane," "King Kong," "E.T.," and "The Andy Griffith Show" were filmed. As Gomer Pyle said right there, every time, "Shazam!"

A 1938 publicity photo of Dorothy Lamour on the Paramount studio lot. Bob Hope looks really bad here.

Snapshot via Jerry Beck



My wife showed me the Cluckers at a store, explaining that her brother had given her one for Easter.

Donna: You wind up the chicken and it hops around and poops. I wouldn't eat it. Gross.

Mike: It's not poop. Read this.

Donna: "Lays bubble gum eggs."


Well, I'm still not eating it.

The next morning for breakfast, she served us hardboiled eggs. You know, the ungross kind.


100 Things About Me #139: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Is there any greater pressure...

...or anything more challenging...

...or exhilarating...

...than an Easter egg hunt?

100 Things: #1 | Previous | Next


Cartoon Carnival: Screwy Squirrel

I have followed Screwball "Screwy" Squirrel for 20 years. I consider Reverend Screwy to be my moral compass and spiritual leader. I've sat at his feet with my wife and cats. He brought us closer to Tex Avery, the creator -- and Tex blessed America.

Outside the church, a typical bright person doesn't always understand Pastor Screwball. They say his teachings are nuts. I agree some of his statements and calls for violence are over the top and I deplore them.

However, he is a fine rodent, retired now, and I won't disown him.

Take to heart Reverend Screwy's videos, available in the lobby.

"Screwball Squirrel" (1944)
Can't see the video? Try here.

"The Screwy Truant" (1945)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.

"Lonesome Lenny" (1946)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.


100 Things About Me #138

Third Time Mikey
And now, for all you youngsters, I've consented to share these action-packed photographs of my Third Birthday Commemoration Ball and Nap Delay.

The scene is Washington, D.C., our republic's capital. The powdered wigs are on hiatus. It is March 20th in a gentler century. The time: 2:30 p.m. Fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit. I don't have the lake levels. Next high tide: 6:47 on your ride home. A hush falls over the crowd. The curtain goes up. Nature withholds all bleats until intermission. Miklos Rozsa cues the frenetic piccolos....

An ugly incident, my first run-in with the paparazzi. Big brothers Billy and Bobby hold me back.

"Look at me, I'm diaperless!"

Working it.

Helping the poor people of Holland.

100 Things: #1 | Previous | Next


My Thoughts on My Birthday

1. Dumb-ass kids.

2. Time whooshes by. It seems like only yesterday I was two.

Wait a minute. Yesterday was Peep-Eye Day.

Let's move on.

3. I'm reassessing my stance of no cosmetic surgery. I gaze into the mirror and hanker for a nip here and a tuck there, staple gun hither, even though the CoverBoy cream and Lost Cause Fathead by Estée Lauder are improvements.

4. Maybe I should update my cologne from Bill Cullen: The Fragrance to something modern, like Forever Tom Bosley.

5. To save for retirement, I need to downsize my dreams of a ShamWow! and buy a ShamSoSo.

6. I'm told losing weight is harder as we age. All I know is my cheeks have beer guts. And my dimples are now navels.

7. I am not old enough to ask for the Senior Citizen Discount, but businesses keep giving it to me anyway. I'm caught in a disturbing place between being highly insulted and keeping their money.

I keep their money.

But with a scowl!

8. The senior citizen ticket at the movie theatre is eight dollars. That's the reduced price.

The reduced price I paid on the other end of full admissions, as a child, was 25 cents.

Twenty-five cents are now eight dollars?

Dumb-ass kids.


What the Heck Was I Thinking?

Actual Messages I Wrote, Forgot, Then Found While Cleaning Out My Email Folders

I want my ashes spreading to be tasteful. Yes, so very tasteful.


Well, I've always wanted to wreak havoc at a Nesquik factory. Toss me in the chocolate vat, add milk, serves 100 people ... Tasty, too!

What the heck was I thinking?


Put on the bumblebee suit, Bob, and go hover.

This next one, some lady may have written she felt fresh as a daisy.


Oh, you're Dagwood Bumstead's dog? ... Daisy, go fetch daddy's slippers. Daisy, go nip Blondie. Daisy, go wet Herb Woodley's hammock. Nice girl, nice girl! I hope Mr. Dithers chases you with a rolled-up newspaper.


'Titanic in 5 Seconds'

Can't see the video? Try here.

Frank Thompson is an authority on the Titanic, so I sent him the "Titanic in 5 Seconds" movie with a note.

"I think this is the cut version. I timed it as 'Titanic' in two seconds."

Frank says:

"Trust me, the other three seconds were just padding."


Monsters vs. Aliens vs. Mike

©1964-2008 Mike Durrett
Remember this little guy? He's my trademark avatar I first doodled during sixth grade, 1964. Incredible similarities have popped up over the years, as discussed before.

Now, DreamWorks Animation has sent me a press photo from their 3-D extravaganza, "Monsters vs. Aliens," with Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Seth Rogan, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, and Kiefer Sutherland, coming to theatres in March 2009.

Lookee here...

I'm going to run out to the mailbox and get my big fat check....


Cartoon Carnival: Seeing Red

I've never courted a cartoon character, but I would if I could.

My wife won't let me. (I'm her little Marmaduke.)

I've long had my eyes on Miss Olive Oyl. She's sweet and fun, but probably too fickle. She'd be off smooching Bluto as soon as I turned my back and let the air out of my forearms.

Jessica Rabbit is way too much woman for me and I get nervous just tyyyyyping about her.

Ariel, the little mermaid? Oh, my, what a cutie -- and high maintenance. Have you priced cocktail sauce recently?

She's also too young and, as I'm a vegetarian, it's immoral for me to date sushi.

So, the hands down winner to steal my heart and make me be willing to give up art gum erasers is "Red," Tex Avery's exquisite leading lady. I just happen to have her pictures....

"Red Hot Riding Hood" (1943) via YouTube

"Swing Shift Cinderella" (1945) via DailyMotion

"Little Rural Riding Hood" (1949) via YouTube


It's the Bass Bass Bass Bass Words

Continued From: "Catch Some Bass"

Here's my favorite motion picture title sequence of them all, from "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" -- and it happens to have been designed by Saul Bass.

I have watched this animation more than 100 times since that initial Saturday matinee at Martin's Cinerama in 1964 Atlanta, partially as a perk of my working in movie theatres, and partially because I am mad quadrupled.

It should be noted, the original color palette has been altered in this version, apparently for the home video release. Otherwise, the design is intact.

"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963)
Can't see the video? Try here.

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatOur cat enjoys the "Mad World" title sequence, too. In fact, this photo is him watching the very same.

And now, Morty shares his favorite movie title sequence, perfect since it's designed by Saul Bass.

"Walk on the Wild Side" (1962)
Can't see the video? Try here.


Catch Some Bass

I refuse to watch a movie if I'm too late for the opening credits (or the opening of the Milk Duds).

I have been known to turn around at the theatre door and go home because I missed the 20th Century-Fox logo and little else. Motion pictures should be seen from the first frame until the last. That is the proper experience and I don't care to settle for less, so don't even think about nibbling my Duds.

The top moments in many films are the title sequences, a specialized visual art form which can encompass all of the imagery beyond the lettering -- and make an unknown, like the Pink Panther, a star!

Among the finest of the title designers was Saul Bass ("Psycho," "Vertigo," "West Side Story," "Around the World in Eighty Days," "North by Northwest"), who became an A-lister in the 1950s with stylish, jazzy credits like these.

"Anatomy of a Murder" (1959)
Can't see the video? Try here or watch at TCM.com.

"The Man With the Golden Arm" (1955)
Can't see the video? Try here.

"Star Wars: A New Hope" (1957)
Can't see the video? Try here.

Inspired by Neatorama


Am I Boo?

Continued From: "Am I Blu?"

Next, indeed, "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo."

There I was with a sweet new Blu-ray high definition entertainment paradise at my fingertips and nothing to watch on it. Then, along came this obscure 1966 movie I'd been curious to view for 42 years. I dropped everything to go gawk.

Can't see the trailer? Try here.

"Rat Pfink a Boo Boo" is definitely not Blu-ray. It's more Phew-Ray, thanks to writer-director Ray Dennis Steckler.

According to Internet Movie Database:

"Steckler attempted to make a straight crime drama. After approximately 40 minutes of footage was shot, he decided that the film was simply not working. Since he could not afford to ... scrap the footage, and since portions of the film were unintentionally funny, [Steckler] had two of the characters go into a room and then burst forth in makeshift costumes as Rat Pfink and Boo Boo (an ersatz Batman and Robin). [Steckler] padded out the rest of the film with shots of the pair in chase scenes, fight scenes and even an encounter with a gorilla named Kogar (Bob Burns in a gorilla suit). He ... had footage of the duo appearing in a genuine parade as if it were being held in their honor."

And those are the high points.

"Rat Pfink a Boo Boo" was, perhaps, the longest 66 minutes of my life. If you should learn you have only an hour to live, see "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo." You'll feel like it won't ever end.

Boredom has never been so fascinating. I couldn't help but like the film and dread its continuation and curse its existence.

The published running time is 72 minutes, but the version I watched clocked in six minutes less in length. Ordinarily, I'd be irate, hollering about such an injustice. I lit a candle and knelt for a prayer of thanks.

"The final disaster came when the main title was being animated and the 'n' and 'd' were left out so the title appears as 'Rat Pfink a Boo Boo.'"

How does anyone miss a typo in the word "and"? It's printed in large block letters! (Screenshot pictured above.)

I guess I could be overcritical. Who doesn't get exhausted after proofreading two entire words?

Say, what's going on here? I spot another typo on the DVD packaging, spelling "Phink," instead of "Pfink."

What a catastrophe. Why, this is a job for Rat Pfink and Boo Boo!

Rat Pfink: Remember, Boo Boo, we only have one weakness.

Boo Boo: What's that, Rat Pfink?

Rat Pfink: Bullets!

[Music stinger!]


Am I Blu?

It's been a long haul from the fuzzy, rolling, snowy, tiny, black-and-white television images of my papoosehood, but I've finally acquired state-of-the-art 1080p high definition video equipment. With the HD format war concluded, we adopted a waif Blu-ray disc player into the good home.

I couldn't bring myself to hook up the machine immediately. I let it remain in the box until I could handle the excitement.

The sharpest, crispest-looking box in the universe!

The screen resolution is nothing short of spectacular. I'm not kidding when I say most of the visuals are better than real life. (I purposely left out the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and the 1976 Jacqueline Bisset in a wet t-shirt.)

A major, desperate goal of mine has been accomplished, after years of saving and doing without.

So, I turn around and all there is to watch is a Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson flick?

What's next? "Rat Pfink a Boo Boo?"

Your pal,

Mike "The Schnook" Durrett


Mort Tashman's Wonderful World of White

We don't get much snow here in the south, so it was fun to see Morty's reaction when he jumped up onto the windowsill for the day's first assessment of his kingdom. He executed a perfect surprised double take at the bright whiteness which had blown in at dawn, blanketing the outdoors.

"Good Gleason there," I remarked.

Nothing. He didn't get the reference. I offered to show him "The Honey-Mousers" with those cartoon mice, but, nope, he wanted to venture into the wilderness.

In the seven years I've been Morty's Personal Assistant, he's only indicated a desire to touch snow on a couple of occasions. I asked if a paparazzo could tag along. He provided nary a sound bite, zipping by me into the icy unknown.

"Hmmph. Celebrities," I dared to think.

I braved forward, too, praying the camera wouldn't freeze, which reminded me I had forgotten the trail mix, Tender Vittles with freeze-dried crickets.

The cold, wintry ordeal, as the relentless Morty trudged through high grass and forest without the aid of snow chains on his paws, finally, mercifully concluded around the four-minute mark.

I staggered behind, puffing, slipping, and curious-ing.

See "The Honey-Mousers" in

Morty had stopped in his tracks.

Cat. He smelled the strong odor of cat.

"Um, Morty," I said, "that's our house. That's the bedroom. Your spot is exactly on the other side of the wall."

Obviously, I was white noise to him. A clump of snow fell off the roof onto my head.

Morty, Cat of Adventure, went inside, hopped on his comforter and began a grueling eight-hour nap.

It was all I could do to keep pace with him.



Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Due to circumstances beyond our control, "Where's Morty?" will not be seen. Morty's off, enjoying a Snow Day!

"Where's Morty?" will return in its regular time slot. Check local listings. And remember to spade or neuter your Bob Barker.


Cattoon Carnival

Morty at the Movies with Morty the CatContinuing the 100th birthday tribute to animator Fred "Tex" Avery, Morty has emerged from a single kitty caucus with his top three list of fave Tex toons.

Grab some popcorn, douse it in hot melted whitefish sauce with hairball control, and enjoy.

"Bad Luck Blackie" (Tex Avery, 1949) via YouTube

"The Cat That Hated People" (Tex Avery, 1948) via YouTube (unavoidably misformatted)

"King-Size Canary" (Tex Avery, 1947) via YouTube

Hmm, I'm detecting a theme.


What the Heck Was I Thinking?

Actual Messages I Wrote, Forgot, Then Found While Cleaning Out My Email Folders

I've just read your Playboy Data Sheet. I've learned about you at Hardee's, being Boss Bad Bob and his pal Paddlefoot, and taping bees to your head for the massaging temple larvaes and fashionable stripes. How I yearn to hear of the long walks in the rain, romantic sunrises, toffee drinks made from scratch, and the pinatas filled with meaty by-products.

Nice tie. Ringling Bros. need a barker? Or Conjugal Visit Day at the Pratt County Pen? Oh, but it looks good on you. How was the free bowl of soup?

I recognize the soup reference from "Caddyshack," but what the heck was I thinking?


Are you kidding? With my luck with girls, I couldn't even enter gynecology school.

I know what I was thinking, but what the heck was I writing?


We get a wide array of "afternoon delights" and weekend foul-mouthed drunks. It's more convenient than driving to the zoo, but there's no cotton candy.

We have a standing offer from Festus the Blue Ridge Smirking Goon to rent.


Twizzle Fizzle

Hurts to type... wrenched my back.

That's what I get for doing up-all-night "The Twizzle."

I'm forever wild. How I survived the '60s, I shall never know.

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1962)
Can't see the video? Try YouTube.


Onward Christian Handymen

Yes. Please pray you'll come over and clean out my gutters for free.


Turkey Pilgrim

I happened to be gazing out the kitchen window when this short, dark, handsome stranger lumbered up the lane and down our driveway, passing through for a look-see and an occasional peck.

It is my understanding that turkeys are incredibly stupid, but I'm not certain. I'll ask the cranberry farmer next door.


Becoming Mike

On a whim, about a dozen years ago, I picked up Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" in the library. It was a fine, impressive read, enriching my Earthly experience. The novel has crossed the mind many times since and Miss Austen has emerged into a personal hero.

I watched a good film over the weekend, "Becoming Jane," with Anne Hathaway as the young scribe. The biography brought up a bit of a sore point, a situation I've noticed in other movies and literature.

In several scenes, requests are made to Jane Austen to perform verbal excerpts of her compositions. Here, I jotted down one of the direct quotes:

"Miss Austen, I understand you'll be favoring us with a reading?"


I have outlived Jane Austen by 15 years! I have been a writer since childhood -- a full-time, professional, published author for a decade -- and not once, not once has anyone ever asked me to favor him or her or us with a reading. Not once!

This is the honest truth. The closest I have ever come-- Here, I jotted it down:

"Mr. Durrett, will you be leaving us a urine sample?"

Oh, sure, the (mostly) medical staffs love me, but it's not the same, except for the dribbling.


In the Interest of Fairness

Periodically, as a public service, we pause to give all of the other blogs a chance to catch up....

Ah, that should be enough.


Screwy Tex

It's been awhile since I shared a "Cartoon Carnival" program on these pages, but with the 100th anniversary of Tex Avery's birth dropping in, Feb. 26, like a grand piano out of the sky, today's a good time to resume.

Avery is generally considered THE giant of animated gag cartoons (especially at my house), having worked at Warner Bros., MGM, and Universal as a key director during the '30s through the middle '50s. He was one of the principal artists mining the treasures in the golden age of animation, creating and/or crafting the stardoms of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Droopy, Screwy Squirrel, Chilly Willy, and others. More important and most delightfully, he was the primary force making American animation skew wilder and move faster.

The mind and pencils of Tex Avery spurred dozens of undisputed cartoon classics. Here are three favorites. Get the Visine. Eyes popping ahead.

Owl Jolson in "I Love to Singa" (1936)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.

"Crazy Mixed Up Pup" (1954)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.

Droopy in "Northwest Hounded Police" (1946)
Can't see the cartoon? Try here.

More Tex Avery Cartoons: "Bad Luck Blackie" (1948)
"Rock-A-Bye Bear" (1952) | "Deputy Droopy" (1955)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...