All My Best
Country singer Slim Whitman, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 90. Anyone young enough to know how to use the Internet probably won't remember Whitman, but he achieved brief notoriety in in the U.S. during the late 1970s for an album called All My Best in which he mixed high-pitched falsetto singing and yodeling on standards like Indian Love Call and Red River Valley. The album itself wasn't as remarkable as the manner in which it was sold: via mail order and advertised through cheaply made commercials that played on channel 157 (this was in the pre-cable days, when channel 157 broadcast farm reports and syndicated episodes of The Mothers in Law and not HBO East) which claimed that he was the most beloved recording star in history who had sold more records than Elvis and The Beatles combined. The truth is that Mr. Whitman enjoyed some popularity in Britain but no one had ever heard of him in America until those commercials gave him a brief moment of fame as a camp classic which peaked when his rendition of Indian Love Call was used as the secret weapon against the Martians in the movie Mars Attacks!
My own connection with Mr. Whitman took place when I made an appearance on the TLC program A Dating Story, which depicted half hour docudramas of dates between men and women arranged by mutual friends. A college chum of mine was a field producer on the show, which was just starting out and was desperate for participants so I agreed to take part in an episode about a date supposedly set up for me by Bro Joe with a friend of his then-girlfriend. My "date" detested me from the beginning, especially after the show arranged for us to go to an estate sale and I played a Jonathan Winters-type prop comic with all the crap laid out for buyers (I had such a blast that my college buddy sidled over to me during a break in shooting and told me to quit playing to the cameras, not realizing that that was how big a blowhard I am naturally). I didn't buy anything until we got to the garage and saw hundreds of old record albums for sale and my companion rolled her eyes in irritation as I excitedly asked if they had any Slim Whitman albums. To my astonishment, a bored soul behind the counter (who I later realized was actually my college chum) glumly handed me a pristine copy of All My Best. I never saw my date again after that but the album is framed and hangs over the door in the walk-in closet in my bedroom. Sometimes I'll even break it out if I've got a lady friend over who's riding the fence about submitting to my various perversions and I need a soulful rendition of Indian Love Call to put her in the mood. Rest in peace, Mr. Whitman. I don't know if you sold more records than Elvis, but then again Jail House Rock never played a part in my contracting Chlamydia.
My buddy Monica Royal, who is still living down the shame of attempting to cook up a batch of brownies a couple of years ago and accidentally replacing the canola oil listed in the ingredients with Lemon Pine-Sol. The resulting taunting by her circle of friends over the ensuing years has proved so traumatic to Ms. Royal that she tried to settle the matter once and for all by posting a photo on her Facebook page to show how similar in appearance the Pine-Sol is to the brand of canola oil that she favors. In truth, they do kind of look alike but what Ms. Royal fails to appreciate is it's not such a great idea to store cooking sundries on the same shelf as highly toxic cleaning products for that very reason. While it's true that I could make excuses to guests waiting for paramedics to arrive that it's not my fault that their intestines are rapidly melting away because, hey, the eight ounces of water that my recipe for cupcakes requires looks just like the sulfuric acid that I store right next to it and the manufacturers of the acid really should put red dye #12 or something in it so that I can't mistake the two, I find it just a tad more efficient to store my bottled water in the kitchen and my sulfuric acid in my laboratory across town. Maybe you want the Pine-Sol a little more accessible than that but that's what the cupboard underneath the sink is for, to hide crap like that along with the Mop-N-Glo and Lysol. What I lose in convenience I make up for by not poisoning my friends. I have also learned from experience that Lemon Pledge does a much better job of cleaning accumulated dust than Pam Cooking Spray does.
My beloved Pug Winston, with whom on Tuesday I celebrated our two-year anniversary of his moving in by posting on Facebook a touching remembrance of how we first met and my discovery of his magic powers for regenerating the human spirit. The thing got a more positive response than anything I've written since I was cranking out BDSM stories for sex.com; so much so that I reposted it on these pages. The story was absolutely true but it failed to point out what a pain in the ass it's been for me to be Winston's magician assistant. For example, to commemorate our anniversary (romantic that I am) I took Winston to the park where we first met and I was approached by no less than three separate small children who wanted to meet him. In my pre-pug days, I would have responded to a little kid coming up to me in a park by drop-kicking him to the monkey bars. But since I now must act as advance man for the most adorable member of the animal kingdom since Thumper of Bambi, I have to treat the little ragamuffins with the gentle warmth of Mr. Rogers. It's not my personality but that's the price I pay for being sidekick to somebody who oozes magic. Thank God I look so good in tights and fishnet stockings.
My mono-ped buddy Kiki Wistone, who introduced me to Chinese-made hairy stockings which are designed to keep sexual predators at bay by giving provocative young ladies the appearance of not having shaved their legs for several months; or perhaps looking like they were attacked by Bela Lugosi during the last full moon. The idea is that Chinese perverts will get one gander at the hirsute gams and be so revolted that they'll look for some other lucky girl to rape. Not only that, but the fuzzy pantyhose send an electric charge to attackers that also transmits a message including GPS coordinates to friends, family members and law enforcement officials alerting them to the assault. It's an interesting notion but I don't think it would work in the U.S. because the kind of deviants the stockings target spend their off hours cruising the Internet paying thirty dollar monthly membership fees to see women with exactly the kind of body hair offered up by the Chinese. Add an electric shock to your `nads if they make contact and I can see the things being sold at every sex shop in the country. Now if you REALLY want to ward off sexual predators, get yourself one of those stopwatches you can wear around your neck and tell the men you meet that it's your biological clock ticking while making nervous inquiries about their marital status. That will send them running like hell in the opposite direction and you won't have to spend your Saturday nights looking like Sasquatch. On the other hand, it could save you a fortune in waxing.
The American Medical Association, which has decreed that obesity should be classified as a disease. I was made aware of this update in medical philosophy from a shared Facebook post by my nemesis Misty LaRue which included the obligatory photo of a chubbo walking down the street with her head cropped out to protect her identity. This prompted Ms. LaRue to muse "I'm not sure if I agree or disagree with this, but all I keep thinking is how horrific it would be to turn on the news or see a news story about obesity only to realize that it's your headless body being featured ...UGH."A fair point, but I was more intrigued by the AMA's proclamation. I am not a physician myself (my doctorates are all honorary and awarded to me by discredited online colleges based in the Cayman Islands) but it seems to me that obesity is symptomatic of numerous factors (including bad lifestyle choices) and it struck me as odd that it should be called a disease in of itself; especially since it might inspire some obese folks to give up on any attempts to alter their lifestyle since it's a disease that they feel powerless over. Bro Joe countered "A lot of diseases are the result of bad lifestyle choices - heart disease, diabetes, cancer, fatty liver disease, acid reflux, among them. Where I would disagree with you is the notion that you are powerless over a disease. Exercise, diet and other healthy practices can prevent, ameliorate and reverse many diseases." That's a well-articulated position (and it kills me to have to admit that when it comes to Joe) but massive weight gain can be caused by conditions as diverse as Hypothyroidism, Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency, food sensitivity, kidney, heart or liver disease and blood sugar imbalance in addition to a weakness for too many Krispy Cream donuts so I wonder why (in my admittedly uneducated way) obesity isn't considered a symptom of these conditions as opposed to a condition in itself. As for me, my weight has fluctuated over the last five years from a Rubenesque 215 lbs. (which was entirely the result of my fondness for Krispy Cream donuts) to a svelte 165 lbs. (when I panicked at weighing in at 215 and lost so much weight that everybody thought I had some kind of disease). I'm not saying that obesity isn't a serious medical risk or that advocates for overweight people don't have a point when they complain that those who suffer from it are often treated with less dignity and compassion than they deserve. I'm just glad that I recognized myself in a picture when I was at my heaviest in an article about weight gain that they cropped my face out of. It was a real wake-up call.