Politics in America 15: Podunkitis

The reporters descended on Weazel Sneeze in the fives. In the tens. In the fifteens. Geraldo Geraldo. That woman on Fox. The CNN guy. MSNBC’s liberal in residence. They all showed up. And they all showed up looking for rooms. But there was no room in the inn. Now they knew what Joseph and Mary felt like. Unwelcome. Considering the stars in the sky were not the stars. The news folks were the stars.

Depending on your point of view, it was either awful. For the reporters. Or wonderful. For the people of Weazel Sneeze. This was the perfect opportunity for the country rubes to turn the tables on the big city folks. When the yokels of Weazel Sneeze saw an opportunity, they were not about to turn tail and run. They were smart enough to know these city folk would eat their offerings up hook, line and sinker.

Corncob Jones, former mayor, and now City Councilman in charge while the Mayor was out of town, called a meeting.

The first point of business was the Biannual Washing of the Clyde. That was going to have to wait. Clyde would just have to stink. His stink’em would add a bit of charm to the old home place.

Betty Ann Butt’s offered up a free fix-’em-me-up at the Twirl-and-Kurl to all the natives. Oh, sorry. Indigenous people. In other words, if you were a Weazel Sneezer, you got a makeover free. Like Betty Ann said, “We all want to look good, don’t we?”

Ella of Sam’N’Ella’s All You Can Eat Buffet offered to fix up a a special menu of deep Southern delicacies like hog jowls mixed with a ton of grits, possum innards, fried green ‘maters, and polk salad with fatback as an appetizer. “We’ll throw in some chit’lin’s for good measure.”

“Ella, sweet Ella,” Corncob asked, “why y’all fixin’ all those specialties for them ‘porters? Why don’t y’all do that for us’ens?”

“You never ask,” Ella sprang out.

The piece d’resistance the Weazel Sneezers came up with was a Genuine Weazel Sneeze Moonshine. ‘Course there was no such thing. But Clyde Perkalater had an old timey recipe from his great-great-great grandpappy. It had half-kilt most of that generation. The survivors ended up being tough as nails. Nothing would kill them.

Since the town had so much manure, they figured why not bottle it and sell it. Call the P F Sneeze Cure-all for your aches and pains. The suckers, I mean, the reporters ate it up. The Weazel Sneezers were floating in a landslide of cash. Yes, I realize that’s a mixed metaphor. But this is America. We’re well known for mixing our metaphors.

There was one final question on the agenda. Where we gonna put all these Yankees?

Sam of Sam’N’Ella had the perfect answer. “Over on Slop Hill.” Slop Hill was the local garbage dump. Since the folks in Weazel Sneeze just about kept and used everything, Slop Hill got only the worst of the worst. It was one purgatory of a place. As one reporter put it later, “Gollee gee. I gotta tell you visiting Weazel Sneeze is enough to scare the Episcopalian out of a person.”

The way the localeers felt was the ‘porters deserved what they got. This would teach ‘em to leave well enough alone.

Little did the locals know that Weazel Sneeze was down as the old home place of a future president. There was no such thing as leaving well enough alone anymore. Weazel Sneeze was now a tourist destination. The small isolated community was about to become a World Heritage Site. How ‘bout that for a kick in the rump.

Next Week Campaigning to Beat All

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Two Teenagers and a Pianist

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The World of Henry Orient” (1964).

Before “A Shot in the Dark”, before “The Party”, before “The Magic Christian”, before “Being There”, there was 1964. It was the year that was, the year that made Peter Sellers. Before that year, he was peter sellers. After that year, he was Peter Sellers. In 1964, he defined himself with three movies: “The Pink Panther”, “Doctor Strangelove” and “The World of Henry Orient”.

If you are a director, looking for a comic genius to play Henry Orient, it is obvious you get Peter Sellers for the job. That’s exactly what director George Roy Hill did. Henry is a womanizing New York City concert pianist who can’t keep his hands off of Paula Prentiss. Being Peter Sellers, Henry Orient brings a panache to his womanizing. Oh heck, let’s just say it. Peter Sellers’ panaching panaches.

It’s 1964, the Year the Beatles conquers the United States. There are Beatlemaniacs everywhere, but nary a one anywhere in this movie. Henry Orient has his fans too. Two teenage girls from well-off families. And they dream of nothing else but Henry Orient.  At least, Val does. Gil not so much. Just the mention of his name makes Val swoon.

For the girls, George Roy Hill chose newcomers, Merrie Spaeth as Gil and Tippy Walker as Val. Their characters are the kind of teenagers who put the fan in fanatic. And Val really knows how to swoon. Elvis would be proud to have such fans.They have some of the best dialogue in any movie around. At least for teenagers. It’s crisp. It is intelligent. It is funny. Val is the witty one, Gil the smart one.

Upon their first meeting, they discover they are the newbies at their private school. Val is the one who was thrown out of her last school for being “unmanageable”. Since Saturdays are good for adventuring, they agree to meet in Central Park. They discover Henry Orient making out with Paula Prentiss in the Park. Paula is a married woman who wants two things: not to get caught and to continue her friendship with Henry Orient. Henry Orient wants one thing.

The rest of the day the girls continue their adventuring through the streets of New York, having a good old time as only teenage girls can have, performing their shenanigans, getting themselves into jams. But not jams they can’t get themselves out of.

The next we see Henry Orient he is having his hair trimmed. His manager reminds Henry that he is not Van Cliburn. He has to rehearse. He keeps missing the rehearsals for a very good reason: Paula Prentiss.

The cross cutting from the girls’ world to Henry Orient, then back to the girls, then back to Henry builds the story.  Val runs smack dab into Henry Orient as he is getting out of a cab. He is trying to persuade Paula to come up to his apartment. Val ruins everything. This is twice in one day that the girls run into Henry Orient. To Henry, this is becoming a fate worse than death.

The girls attend a classical concert. Guess who’s performing? Henry Orient playing really bad avant garde classical music. The women in the audience think it’s genius they’re hearing. The men, for lack of a better word, know it stinks. You can just hear the wives telling their husbands, “It’s good for you.”

Val is transformed by the music. When Gil suggests that the pianist needs practice, Val says, “Of course, he needs practice. Especially on the scales. But this is love.”

With love this deep, Val must show how much she loves her “Oriental Henry”. Of course, Gil is going to help. This is serious, so serious the two girls make a blood pact and take a solemn oath.

Poor Henry, he hasn’t got a chance. This could be considered a search for the Holy Grail movie. Val’s Holy Grail is Henry Orient. Henry’s Holy Grail is Paula Prentiss. Both Holy Grails elude their pursuers. Unfortunately for the pursuers, the Holy Grails don’t want to be caught. You know what they say in show business? “That’s comedy.”

With “The World of Henry Orient”, the viewer gets two for the price of one. The brilliant comedy of Peter Sellers. Nobody gets out of town as fast as Peter Sellers. Most of all, this is the story of two adolescent girls transforming into young women.

Peter Sellers, Paula Prentiss, the girls, the script, Elmer Bernstein’s score all add up to a minor classic. The whip cream and cherry on top of the shake are Tom Bosley and Angela Landsbury as Val’s parents. When they say they don’t make them like they used to, they, of course, are referring to “The World of Henry Orient”.


One of my favorite words is fermenting. It’s such a fine word. Letting something sit on the brain and allowing the subconscious to work on it. That’s fermenting for you. I get a line like: “I am a horse, have always been a horse, would always be a horse. Until the witch turned me into a boy.”

The first thing that happens: I am startled. Where did a line like that come from? I don’t know but I am ready to follow wherever it leads. Whatever dance it chooses to perform.

Now some may think I should whip it into shape, make it become what my little pea-sized brain wants.

But that’s not the way of the tao, as Laotse let us know over twenty-five centuries ago. I let it go fermenting. I stick it in the back of my mind, check in every so often. Used to think I was the only one who did this. Then I heard the playwright Edward Albee talk. He said that he will get an idea, stick it away to allow the subconscious to work on it. Check in six months later and see where the idea has flown. Then back into the subconscious again. He does this over a two-year period. Eventually it is full-grown, and a work of art.

After a bit of fermenting, I pull it out for the old look-see. Just so you know, a bit may be six months, sometimes shorter, sometimes more. Nope, it’s not ripened and back into the old subby-conscious it goes, tucked away in the cool, dark places where it gets a chance to grow healthy. From time to time, I pull it out for some nourishment.

Once the idea is ready for the garden, I take it out into the warm sunlight of consciousness. Water it some. Feed it some plant food. And off it sprouts. Soon I have a full-blown work.

It takes a lot of patience for fermenting. It is well worth the time I give it. Look at what it did for Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen. What a lot of writers blame on writer’s block, I call fermenting, giving a work time to sprout muscles and spread its roots.

So be patient. Do some fermenting.

Do you have a favorite word?

Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick: One Candle

It’s Thursday again. You know what that means. Uncle Bardie’s Weekly Music Pick. Uncle Bardiie gives a double thumbs up to this week’s selection. “One Candle” by Sam Brown:

It was late at night. The house was empty except for me and the cats. It was quiet. Only that occasionally sound that gets all your attention. I was really bummed out. All alone, I was in one of those poor me moods.

Then I chanced upon this song. I was on You tube doing all the sad songs and then there was this song. Sometimes it takes only a song for me to wake up.

Politics in America 14: Resumé-ing All Over the Place

Big Al Fresco and Betty Sue Pudding put their heads together. Everything they could say about P F Sneeze they could say in one minute and three seconds. Pig Farmer from Weazel Sneeze, husband of Betty Sue Pudding and daddy to Bessie Mae Hogg, his future blue ribbon pig, Mayor of Weazel Sneeze, and a man who’ll ignore you anytime you want. And most of the time you don’t want. That was it. So Al and Betty Sue went to work, thunking. Soon they had their plan. They’d lie.

It was a Friday afternoon when they started in on a brand new history for P F Sneeze, the Do Naughty nominee for President.

What about his birth?

Don’t think it was a virgin birth. But there was a star and three, no make that four wise men came over from Snort Holler. They drove over in a red Chevy pickup, bearing gifts for P F’s daddy and mama. On top of that he was born in a log cabin just like Abe Lincoln. ‘Course they wouldn’t tell anybody but everybody in Weazel Sneeze was born in a log cabin.

It was the craziest thing. Immediately P F was put in his mama’s arms, he tawked. He tawked good. Had an English accent. The first words out of his mouth, “I say, I say, rahther.” He spent the next two hours commenting on the weather. Until that moment nobody in Podunk County ever tawked about the weather. It was such a miracle that the Podunkies have been tawking about the weather ever since. Because he tawked so much as a child, he got all that tawking out of his system. That’s why he don’t tawk much anymore.

Well, that set Big Al and Betty Sue’s imagination a-going. They were on a streak and they were not about to stop there.

It was then they had a realization. Why was P F so darned presidential. It must be that he was a direct descendant of George Washington. It didn’t matter that G W and Martha never had any kids. P F Sneeze was a direct descendant. Why else did he take to cherry trees when he was a young’un? He took out every gosh darned cherry tree in three counties before the authorities in Snort Holler stopped him. They told him that it wasn’t nice. P F was all surprised and all. He thought he was doing what any kid was sposed to do.

Then there was the part about the war. P F Sneeze was a war hero. They weren’t saying which war. But he was definitely a hero. Took out a squad of bad guys single-handed. Because he was so modest, he wouldn’t accept all them other medals from the generals. Even the President wanted to give him a medal but P F right out refused.

Not only was he a war hero, he served four years as a buck private. That really made him a man of the peeps.

Of course, none of this was true. That didn’t matter. He looked like a President. That was all there was to it.

Next week A Return to the Scene of the Crime