Monday, June 30, 2003

You know what I like? Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Jim Henson. If anyone doesn't know it, it's the story of Emmett, a young otter who is raised by his single mom after his Pa dies. He tries to earn money to help his poor starving mother who works several jobs yet still finds time to have fun and serenade her son with her bitchin' otter voice. One day Emmett finds out there's a local talent contest and if he can win it, he can buy Ma a christmas present, so he takes her only washtub (and only source of income) and drills a hole through it to make a bass for his jug-band. Then they lose the talent contest to The Riverbottom Nightmare Band, a gang of local hooligan so-and-so's who demonstrate their bad behavior early on in the show by stealing Kemit the frog's (the story's narrator) scarf and throwing him violently from his bicycle.

The best part about this movie by far, is the scene in which Ma and Emmett play on the slide that Pa built. The slide leads to the now frozen lake, and Ma and Emmett go slippin' and a-slidin' on the ice, leading to much joy and merriment. This scene was done by just basically tossing the limp, lifeless puppets down the slide, and dubbing their voices over the scene, saying things like,"Wheeee!" and "Now watch me, MA!!!". Hilarious. But there is one part in particular, where the two Otter puppets collide, and Emmett clearly kicks his Ma in the poo-nannie. This blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene was definitely overlooked in the editing room, but I gotta say, nothing says Joyeux Noel like throwing your mom down a slide onto the ice and kicking her in the crotch. Can you feel the presence of Jesus? Unto you, a child is born.

The other reason I like this movie so much is I can really relate to the main character's plight. I, too, was raised by a talking, old-timey widowed Otter surviving on a very fixed income.

Okay, that's a lie.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

I don't know if anyone's reading this thing, but sorry I missed yesterday. I had a lousy day and didn't have anything to write that wouldn't be all negative. But today is different, because at the end of today, me and Lisa have TAP DANCING class!! Nothing can getcha down when your shoes make cool noises. We are doing pretty well too, I have to say, since it was about 15 years ago that we last tapped. The only trouble is there are full-length mirrors across one enitre wall, and I'll be doing great, tapping my heart out, unti I look up at myself and start laughing. Or make eye contact with Lisa and start laughing. Or think about Butters on South Park and start laughing.
The next class I want to take is a German class at the community college by my apartment. Everything sounds funny in German class. I took it for two years in high school and had a ball watching german television shows and listening to Herbert Groenmeier, "Germany's answer to Kurt Cobain" according to my teacher, Herr Wolf. Apparently Germany's answer to Kurt Cobain means a guy with a synthesizer singing songs like "Geld Oder Leben", some of the lyrics of which translate to "I eat the spaghetti/Your money or your life".

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I have never liked Haley Joel Osment. He just bothers me. Granted, some of his movies are really good, like "The Sixth Sense" and "A.I.", but it's just him that drives me up a wall. My boyfriend Kane sent me a link to see the trailor of a new movie H.J.O. is in, called "Secondhand Lion". From what I gather, he goes to a farm to live with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall and a cute french bulldog. Then there's a Lion in a crate and money thrown all over someone's basment and then they eat BBQ ribs and do some yard work. Oscar is written all over this motherfucker. But watching Haley Joel, it seems that he is getting uglier the older he gets. Not only that, but he also seems to be trying to talk like a child when obviously his voice is changing. Very much like Urkel towards the end of "Family Matters" when he tried so hard to hold onto his funny little nasal voice, but it actually came out sounding like a retarded Eunich with a head cold. But I digress, back to Osment.

If Madame Tussaud ever plans on making a wax statue of our boy Osment, I think the best way to do it would be to make a good model of a generic looking little boy. Then drive it out here to Phoenix and leave it in the sun for a day or two. After the face has melted and began sliding off of the head, feel around for where the glass eyeballs have been covered over when the wax melted. Take a really dull box cutter and jaggedly cut two slits over the eyeballs, pushing the wax down and dragging out the corners. Then pull the mouth open slightly and drip some elmers glue from it, letting it harden into makeshift drool. Then, you know, rough his hair up a bit, and give him a teddy bear or something.

I can't wait to see his E! True Hollywood Story five years from now. Wow. That kid sucks.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Alright, I'm here, fresh from my jump onto the band wagon. "Everybody's doin' it!", they said, as the group simultaneously wiped the cake batter from their mouths, laughing maniacally. Following in the grand tradition of Lisa and her friend Mike Toole, I think I want to try some blogging too.
My main inspiration is Lisa's first posting, about the man in the chicken head on the street corner. This struck a chord with me, as I, too, was once earning a living in an animal suit. I have a special bond with these street-people, whether it be Santa, drunkly waving at traffic outside the Wal-mart in December, or a giant squirrel wearing a Blimpie's t-shirt and balancing on a divider in the middle of a very busy street, teetering dangerously. I understand these people. Sometimes it's not their fault, it's just the cards that life has dealt them that has lead to their sorry state. When I drive past someone in a fake-fur suit, all I can do is give a sympathetic smile and a knowing nod, as if to say "Hang in there, pal. Fight the good fight."
For almost two years I was better known to the children of Middletown, NJ as Chuck E. Cheese. It was a rough time, with many ups and even more downs. Almost all of my friends worked at Chuck E.'s then, and they helped me get the job. At first I was a birthday party hostess, the most thankless of jobs, next to, well, dressing up as Chuck. The shittiest thing about being a hostess was that parents would drop their kids off, usually in groups of 20 or more, and the hostess (me!) would be responsible for keeping them fed, watered and entertained. And it's not like the kids really feel like sitting at a long table and behaving when there's games and sky tubes and ball pits to play in. So you try to keep the kids there by "decorating" their cake while waiting for their pizza to come out of the oven. You give them tubes of writing gel and shakers full of sprinkles and let them loose on the b-day kids' cake. This is when they decide to decorate the hostess instead of the cake, and you end up with icing all over your ass and sprinkles down your shirt. Then out comes the pizza and while the kids throw it all over the place and smush it into the carpet, they are serenaded by Chuck E. and Pals. All of Chuck's bandmates (Helen Henny-vocals, Jasper T. Jowels-guitar, and Luigi-drums) are animatronic so the only one who actually comes out is Chuck E. Cheese himself. And WOW what a SHOW!! The giant rodent comes out into the audience and dances to the "Mexican Hat dance" or "Strike it Up" , then there's a brief "intermission" before birthday song, cake, presents and then time to pay the check. The biggest travesty and what make this job reall awful, is that right at the top of the check given to the parents, it says in big, bold letters: "TIPPING NOT REQUIRED". These harsh words always seemed to mock me as I reluctantly delivered the check to Mom or Dad. Sure every once in a while you'd get a family who takes pity on you and gives you a tip, but you'd be surprised how many people are all too willing leave you with nothing but a bad mood and a mess to clean up, which you rush to get done before your next birthday party arrives.
Sounds fun right? Even better is the job of dressing up as Chuck E. Cheese. The best thing about it is you don't have to wear your lame-ass uniform to work, and when you aren't dressed up, you can make cotton candy in the kitchen. AWESOME!! I loved that part. But then, you get word that a show is about to go down, so you have to suit up. Alright. Lesson one: Chuck E. is not a mouse, he's a rat. A rat from Brooklyn, and don't you forget it. I made this mistake once and literally got yelled at by my manager and two other employees like I had just set the place on fire or something. Lesson two: before putting on the rat suit, you must strap on a vest made of ice packs that freezes the hell out of your chest, back and shoulders. Does nothing to keep your legs, feet, arms and head cool, so your body is all screwed up. After putting on the vest you go to the dressing room next to the stage and that's where the magic happens. First you put on the legs and torso, which is all sewn onto a hoola hoop with suspenders and velcro to hold it on. Then you step into the feet, which are ill-fitting boots with old velcro so full of lint that the shit doesn't really close anymore. Then the top half of the body which is like a scary jacket made of a skinned muppet. After that it's the big 4-fingered gloves, followed by the giant head. While you are doing this a party hostess is loading a tape into the machine of the song you are about to "perform". Get up on the stage behind the curtain and when the music starts and curtain goes up, you stand on a rotating platform and magically come to life for the enjoyment of younsters and adults with down's syndrome. You can only imagine the mishaps that could have and did take place. The stage is about 2 feet high, and you have to jump down from it so you can dance with the kiddies. Sometimes the boots came off or head came off, which scares the kids and means you have to start over again since the kids want to see Chuck E. Cheese, not Chuck E. Leper. The other thing is whoever made the mask didn't think about periferral vision, so as kids are coming at you from all sides, you knock them over with your huge rat ass and backhand them often. Children also get inexplicably violent when meeting a giant rat from Brooklyn, so get ready to get your ass kicked by a gang of vicious kids as you can't move too well, can't see too well, get overheated and dizzy, get frostbite on your chest and back, and get nauseous from the stank of the costume. You get a five minute break and then you do it all over again for the birthday song. If the kids were really rough to me and I wasn't in the mood for their crap, I'd mess with them by smacking a few kids down, or stepping on presents. Also, when wearing four-fingered gloves, you can give everyone the finger and it just looks like a John Travolta dance move. Once the song is over you have to take pictures with the birthday boy or girl, who usually screams and cries or punches you in the knees. Being in this situation, you can only imagine the horror you feel when people try to hand you a tiny baby to hold while they snap a picture. You can't exactly hold onto anything, let alone a fragile infant, but just try to scream loud enough so the parents can hear you object through the mask and all the noise!
I left this job and never looked back, although I have a million stories to tell. And on the way out I drove my car through the building, causing them to completely remodel the place. No hard feelings though guys, nothing personal. But thanks for the memories.
So I say good luck to all those who wear character suits. Godspeed. It is a rough job but as long as there are kid's themed restaurants and new Arby's opening up, somone's got to do it.
Hang in there, Pal. Fight the good fight.