Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

Hair today…

Okay, this is getting a little scary. I have two things in common with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. You might remember, we’re both Fletch aficionados.

Much has been made of Congressman Ryan’s facial likeness to classic TV character Eddie Munster. I’ve heard their shared trait described a number of ways, including “that Little Hair Triangle-thing That Drops Down In the Middle of His Forehead.”

Does no one remember the correct term for such a feature?

It’s called a widow’s peak.

Unlike most people, whose hairlines run straight across their foreheads, fewer others have a V-shaped point in the hairline in the center of the forehead. Unfortunately, these others include me.

I say unfortunately for two reasons – one, the belief, going back to the mid 1800s, that a downward point in one’s hairline, which resembles peak of a widow’s hood, portends early widowhood; and two, I have always considered mine an ugly genetic deformity.

When I was an adolescent in the 1970s, the fashion was for girls to wear their hair parted in the middle. My role model at the time was actress Susan Dey, whose hair cascaded in perfect symmetry from the center of her hairline. My widow’s peak—and several other traits—stood in the way of looking like Susan Dey or any of the girls in my school. If I tried to part my hair in the middle, it curled at the hairline, each side bending in its own rebellious pattern.

I tried a number of things to tame my freakish triangle.

At bedtime, I’d take the hair on both sides and tape it down to my face, believing I could somehow train it to fall uniformly. But alas, I’d wake up covered in masking tape, which had by morning gotten all tangled up in my hair–and quite likely my orthodontic headgear.

One day I got the bright idea to take that whole darn triangle and rip it out by the roots. I drew a nice neat line where I wanted my hairline to be, twisted the widow’s peak into a tightly wound rope and yanked it right out of my head.

My parents were none too pleased with this self-mutilation; I might even have been punished for it. But punishment came anyway as it started to grow out – into a stiff vertical geyser, much like Martin Short’s Ed Grimley.

Isn’t it every young girl’s dream to look like Ed Grimley? Or every middle-aged woman’s to look like Paul Ryan?

Well, they’re no Susan Dey.

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Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Foibles and Faux Pas, Politics

The Entertainer

I was well into my sixes or sevens before I noticed my Dad was different from other fathers.

It wasn’t until the fourth grade that it more meaningfully got my attention. We were asked to write down what our fathers did for a living. (They didn’t ask about our mothers.)

We were allowed to take this assignment home, even though it called for only a word or two. I took mine to my father, asking him how to spell “comedian.” He said he preferred “entertainer.”

The next day at school, we read our responses aloud. There were a lot of businessmen and government employees and several fathers working at the Pentagon. One girl reported that her father told her what he did was nobody’s business. Years later, I realized that her father worked for The Washington Post, when I noticed his byline as an overseas correspondent, then later as chief of the London Bureau and, before retiring, the paper’s ombudsman.

But I assure you, there were no other entertainers.

I’ve written plenty in this space about both of my parents, so if you’ve been around here for a while you have a sense of how my folks differ from yours.

My father turns a big number ending in zero today, so it gives me occasion to reflect on what makes him stand out. Not as an entertainer; most people already know that.

How My Father Is Different From Yours
by Monica Russell; oops, Welch

  1. My father has never worked in an office.
  2. My father went to work at night, usually around 8:30 p.m., after an extremely early dinner and a nap. For much of his career, he did two shows a night, six nights a week, including holidays.
  3. My father often wore a tuxedo to work.
  4. My father worked at a keyboard before yours did.
  5. My father couldn’t write a straight absence excuse after I had stayed home sick from school.
  6. My father took me on a cross-country train trip when I was 9; but he made me use the time to learn all 50 state capitals. Ask me any…
  7. My father took me to church ‘most every Sunday. He often tested me afterward on the homily. Ask me any…
  8. My father has been parodied on The Simpsons, Mad About You, Murphy Brown and Saturday Night Live.
  9. My father hasn’t really retired yet, though he tried. Just this week he said, “You may recall the vow that I made two years ago that I would come out of retirement on the day that congressmen would skinny dip in the Sea of Galilee. I have kept this solemn promise.”
  10. My father could probably make a list just like this one about his father.

Happy x0th birthday, Dad. You’re one of a kind.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio

Super heroine

I’m a little ashamed to admit, I recently watched cartoons in the middle of the afternoon.

Even as a child, I never had any interest in cartoons or comics about superheroes. I always found them boring and unable to relate to. Maybe there just weren’t any particular superpowers that inspired me.

Yesterday I checked into a hotel, switched on the television and flipped through a few channels. I stopped at PBS, where Word Girl was just coming on. Does anyone know Word Girl?

Sure, it’s a little hokey, as something that might be spoofed on Saturday Night Live. But the premise was enough to draw me in.

Word Girl is a 10-year-old super-powered alien who apprehends villains in her quest to educate her following of 6-to 12-year olds to “power up with power words.” From what I gather, she also likes to ask kids what their favorite words are. What’s not to like?

Perhaps it’s because I’ve become out of touch with children’s programming that I’m unfamiliar, so I apologize for crawling out from under a rock. Apparently, World Girl has been on the world scene for about five years, launched as a spinoff of another children’s program. Each episode features a couple of 11-minute segments, each focused on two words. Yesterday’s words were “tangent,” “imitate,” “confident” and “zest.” Then there’s a little game show style quiz at the end that reinforces that day’s vocab.

There’s a lot of action in this show, as is normal when heroes face villains, which might explain why parents in some countries reject Word Girl as violent. She is syndicated, dubbed and, in some cases, re-named in many countries around the world.

What I like is that the dialogue is very adult. In addition to the featured vocabulary words, lots of big words are thrown around, in context but without explanation. So if your kid isn’t watching Washington Week, she’ll still pick up some heady language from PBS, without the monosyllables and child-centered tones of Barney and Mister Rogers. I wish the wee heroine didn’t have such a piercingly high voice. If I’d invented Word Girl, I’d have cast a more sophisticated voice into the animated role.

Another tidbit I learned while researching my new superhero is that a Halloween costume is available. I wonder if it comes in Big Word Girl sizes.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio

The laugh’s on me

I spoke too soon—about a few things.

In a February post I pined for the old American Comedy Awards, but took solace in the fact that Comedy Central would be starting a new comedy award program in April.

Then a few weeks ago, I gloated about having finished my taxes three weeks early.

As these sentiments came back to me yesterday, I ended up eating my words.

First, I suddenly remembered that, in addition to federal and state income taxes, I had to file state personal property taxes for my business. The form is only six pages long, but it causes me more heartburn than anything I do all year. I do this one myself, rather than rely on a tax preparer, because it should be relatively simple. I work in an eight-by-ten-foot home office, with very few assets and, but for a few printer cartridges, purchased nothing in the past year.

Still, factoring in dread and recovery on either end, filling out the form takes me several hours, and I had put it off until the last weekend day before April 15.

I got psyched up by promising myself that, if I finished filling out the ugly tax form Sunday afternoon, I would treat myself to an evening enjoying Comedy Central’s first annual Comedy Awards.

So I plowed through several pages of instructions, and tackled the analysis of the original cost of my assets by year of acquisition, a balance sheet breakdown of the value of furniture, fixtures and equipment, accumulated depreciation, depreciation per year for the last five years and the net book value. I filled out a form for the disposal of machinery (a deceased computer). I wrote a check for $300, a “filing fee” that is charged simply for the privilege of being sent a tax bill. Then I took two Extra Strength Tums.

The process was tedious and gut-wrenching.  I sweated, groaned, clenched, cramped and did a year’s worth of cursing, but I got it done. It was time to curl up in front of the Comedy Awards.

I was beyond psyched. After all, the nation’s great comedic pioneers and geniuses were behind the creation of this new event:  Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth MacFarlane, Conan O’Brien, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Phil Rosenthal, George Schlatter, Jon Stewart and Lily Tomlin, among others.

The joke was on me. It was the worst awards program I’d ever seen, bar none, and this includes the TV Land Awards, the Teen Choice Awards and every other low budget, low talent competition in modern television.

I had more fun doing my taxes.

One bright spot – Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig won Best Actress. It almost made the misery worth enduring. Almost.

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Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, Rants and Raves

The skinny on pants

Ladies and gentlemen, have you bought your skimmers yet?

For the uninitiated, as I was until yesterday, skimmers are the new pants length. Translation:  too short.

Ladies, skimmers are the spring sequel to jeggings. They’re much longer than last decade’s Capris and slightly longer than last year’s crops, but awkwardly shorter than full length pants.

Gentlemen, a fashion expert on one of the morning news programs did say recently that even men would be wearing the new length this season. I can’t wait to see how you adapt to this.

This early in the season, the new styles look utterly ridiculous. I bought three pairs.

For the benefit of readers who haven’t yet ventured into stores for their spring fashions, I thought it might be helpful to provide a little overview of this year’s pants scene, or at least my observations anyway, so you can approach the stores with a reasonable expectation.

First, the lingo. GAP is pushing something called the Broken-in Skimmer. This means intentionally wrinkled and too short. The first thing I did when I got mine home was iron the dickens out of them.

The pants-centric GAP is also featuring the Skinny Cargo, the Skinny Camo and the Skinny Twill, as well as the Pure Body Foldover Drawstring Pant and the Tapered Boyfriend Pant. (For an early Nymph musing on the boyfriend craze and other fashion nonsense, see Fashion Nonsense.)

J. Crew is pushing us to show off our ankles as well, with the Cammy Pant, the Day-tripper Pant, the Pipette Cargo Pant, the Canteen Pant, the Bistro Pant, the Café Capri and my favorite, the Broken-in Boyfriend Pant. I trust this means last year’s boyfriend is now fully broken in; translation: wrinkled.

Now allow me to desensitize you to a frightening fashion comeback, just so you aren’t visibly shocked when you walk in the store. As I feared would one day happen, Mom pants are back. Remember these?

Well, they’re alive and well at H&M, complete with the nine-inch zipper, ample front pleats and elastic waist, ready to be given a good home on your backside. What’s next, the perm?

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Beauty and Fashion, Movies, Television and Radio

Toy commercials

It seems to me that, the older we get, with all the life experiences we’ve accumulated, the less easily shocked we should be, when, in reality, the more easily shocked we actually are.

I was puttering around the house yesterday afternoon and had the television on in the background. The channel was Comedy Central and the movie Coneheads was playing. Fun little film, based on the 1970s Saturday Night Live skit. Star-studded. Light-hearted. PG-rated. My son saw and enjoyed it when he was five. It provided a sweet backdrop for the chores I was doing on my lunch hour.

Then, all of a sudden, thwack. It could have been one of SNL’s commercial parodies. But it was real. It was shocking. It was noon, for heaven’s sake.

The commercial was advertising the Tri-Phoria Massager. “Tri” because it’s three massagers in one. “Massager” because, if you look online, you will see the product name that isn’t permitted on television. I’ll give you two clues that reveal what it is. One, it’s manufactured by Trojan. Two, it’s shaped like a, well, like a Conehead.

I won’t be inserting, uh, er, placing any links in this post to product websites or video commercials because I’m already embarrassed and paranoid about where my research has taken me. You can find these on your own.

Just a word of advice: if Coneheads comes back on over the weekend, don’t watch it with your kids. And, if you do, plan ahead to explain why the Tri-Phoria is different from other toys they see advertised on TV.

Tri-Phoria, Transformer. Could be a frightening mistake.

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Filed under Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Uncategorized

Power to the people

Please excuse Monica’s absence on Saturday, as she was unable to produce a blog update.

If you’ll also excuse the excuse, I’ll tell you where I really was on Saturday. I was stuck in the 1970s and couldn’t get out. 

Saturday morning I woke to a world without Internet. Something struck an electrical transformer in our area and we were without power for most of the day. One of my friends from college was staying with me and two more college chums were expected at my house for dinner, one of whom I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years.

I tried to shake off the guilt of not delivering a blog by adopting my 1970s work ethic: “I’ll worry about it later.” My friend and I then walked into town, strolled through the farmers market and stopped to listen to some live folk music.

When we got back to the house and discovered that power was still not restored, and guests were expected within hours, I looked again to the ’70s for inspiration. Friends coming for dinner + no electricity = fondue.

Fortunately, power came on, my friends came shortly thereafter. Until the clock struck twelve, we relived our time in college during the ’70s. We looked at old photos, listened to Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Marshall Tucker, Southside Johnny, Steely Dan, The Outlaws and Little Feat, and, over fondue, we shared the memories that each song conjured. We turned on Saturday Night Live and reminisced about the casts and skits of old, which we had watched together more than 30 years ago on a 13-inch black-and-white TV, in Room 109 of the since-demolished Zimmerman Hall.

I confess, for just those few hours, I pretended the blog hadn’t yet been invented.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Technology and Social Media