1. Reflections on the End of The Dick Van Dyke Show! Part I!

    LAST NIGHT I finally finished my entire one-episode-each-night viewing of The Dick Van Dyke Show. It took me many more nights than there were episodes, however, because the show disappeared from Netflix for about two months when I was about forty episodes in! What the hell?! I’m the one person who, like an idiot, still thinks Netflix is a good deal and this is how they repay me?!

    But they brought it back, so I resumed watching exactly one episode per night, precisely at 8:00 to 8:30 (episodes 1 through 18), 9:30 to 10:00 (episodes  19 – 87), 9:00 to 9:30 (episodes 88 to 114), and then, 9:30 to 10:00 again (episodes 115 through 158). I figured to truly understand the show, I needed to watch each episode in its original time slot.

    And now that it’s all over, you know who I’m going to miss the most?  No, you don’t and don’t bother guessing. I’ll tell you.

    The one I’m going to miss the most is Millie.

    Yes!  Ann Morgan Guilbert as Laura’s best friend and next-door neighbor Millie Helper! No I’m not drinking!

    She was funny. Hell, she was better than funny, she was very funny.

    I became such a Millie-booster that it got to the point around here that Denise would check synopses of upcoming episodes in advance and as I’d sit down in my easy chair with my large vanilla Frosty and my bag of Green V green peas snack

    (The Filipino market is just across the street from Wendy’s), she’d be like, “Oh, I think you’re going to liiiiike tonight’s episode. It’s a Milllllllie!” and I’d be all like, “Um, spoiler alert!”

    But how can you be mad when you just found out you’re getting a Millie?

    Anyway, if I knew I was getting a Millie that night, she’d know to leave the room and keep the goddamn kids quiet for the next 25 minutes.

    I was always thrilled when I was getting a Millie. If someone told you you were about to see an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show and it’s a Millie, you knew you were in for a good time – I don’t care if Millie only has one lousy line in one lousy scene.  That woman made the most of it.

    Forget the silly, overrated “It May Look Like A Walnut” episode. The one where Laura meets Rob’s parents for the first time and Millie runs in with the vegetables is the one to watch.

    Yes, all because of Millie. Sure, Mary Tyler Moore got plenty of laughs for her loopy performance of a nervous new wife on uppers, but it was Ann Morgan Guilbert who got the applause after exiting her frantic scene.

    Or take the pen-penultimate episode, where Laura is alone in the house while Rob and Richie join the Helpers on a camping trip. Millie shows up back at the Petrie household and explains, “Going up there it suddenly dawned on me: Where was I going? I mean, I hate camping and I hate fishing and I can just about tolerate the kids and I’m not that wild about Jerry.”

    Her shrugging honesty is in stark contrast to the sophisticated Petries with their perfect marriage and ideal home – a contrast that is further underscored when Millie matter-of-factly tells her best friend how she got in their locked home, Laura goes rigid with shocked indignation, demanding “You have a key to this house?!” 

    Of course she does, Laura – you and Rob are her best friends. Lighten up already! Sheesh!

    It makes sense the writers would give the Petries average, middle-class neighbors – the show would have become a little predictable and stale if everyone on the show is witty and urbane. Still in an exchange like that about the house key, suddenly Laura comes off as a cold snotty bitch, like the character Moore played in real li Ordinary People.

    Many fans of classic TV and just as many writers have said how he’d love to have been – or at least been friends with – Rob Petrie – great job, beautiful wife, Eichler-inspired home, for Christ sake.

    Not me, brother! Me, I’d be next door with the Helpers. Sure, Jerry’s an obnoxious ass, the kids are brats, the house is probably a mess, there’s always a lot of yelling, and let’s face it, Millie isn’t exactly a swimsuit model…but somehow it’s just more comfortable over there.

    …Oh who am I kidding – after ten minutes amid that chaos, I’ll be back over at the Petries’ place with the rest of you wannabes.

    Anyway, now that I’ve now that I’ve seen the entire run of The Dick Van Dyke Show in order, I can cross that off my bucket list and move on to more important things.

    Like watching every episode, in order, of its spinoff, Rhoda.

    Oh man – that Nancy Walker and her zingers, right?! That’s my girl!

    Posted by on May 9, 2012, 12:45 AM.

  2. ¡Es Más Cheaper Que Una Flu Shot En Riteaid!

    Posted by on May 7, 2012, 2:16 PM.

  3. A Disturbing New Trend At Thrift Stores! Or At One Thrift Store, Anyway!

    FOR YEARS NOW, you and I have been frustrated and annoyed by this:

    The abhorrent practice thrift stores have adopted of tossing a preposterous hodgepodge of various small toys into bags, stapling said bags shut, and pricing each monstrous mishmash outrageously.  And then if all you want is, say, the Sandworm/Beetlejuice-as-Snake-Charmer toy from the 1990 Burger King Kids Club meal to finally complete your set, you have to wander around the store endlessly with the bag and then, when no one’s looking, lean into a rack of clothes with it, tear the damn thing open, make sure you grab the right one and let the rest of the contents  fall to the floor – and then you’ve got to sneak it into your pocket without Socorro (who’s always eyeing you suspiciously over her half-glasses from the front register like you’re some kind of thief) seeing what you’re doing.

    Or if you’re a real jackass, you actually pay the $4.99 for the whole bag. And then what are you going to do with a dog-slobbered tennis ball, a half-pound of loose Legos with either food or human waste caked into the bottoms of a third of them, five small generic My Little Pony knockoffs, a couple of chewed-on Nerf darts, thirteen checkers (from two different sets yet), three absurd, unswallowable Fisher-Price Little People, a few soap-scum encrusted bath toys (with filthy bathwater still sloshing around in them), a bent View-Master reel, a bald Barbie head, five miniature Troll dolls with matted, knotted hair, a Yoda Pez dispenser, Woody’s cowboy hat, a ratty, nicotine-stained Beanie Baby cat (that somehow escaped the fate of being sent to the glass case up front and priced $19.95), a handful of plastic dinosaurs and whatever this worthless thing is?

    Thrift stores have been bagging up little toys for years, so we’re used to it by now. And really, despite our complaining – yours and mine – despite our complaining, who can really blame them? Sure, it would make sense in a perfect world to just dump all these little toys in a big bin, allow us root around and charge us a quarter a piece for whichever ones we want, but we don’t live in a perfect world.

    Because besides you and me, who shops at thrift stores?  That’s right – poor people. And what do poor people all seem to have too many of?  Right again – poor children. And poor children are notoriously sticky-fingered when it comes to toys. They’d think nothing of taking these toys – playing with them, openly, right there in the store!, and then taking them home with them – without paying for them! Oh, and don’t give me any nonsense about the innocence of babes – the youngest ones are the most crooked of all! Plus you just know they can’t possibly appreciate a 2001 Diva Starz “Talk-Diva” McDonald’s Happy Meal toy on the same level as would, say, a middle-aged man who collects such things. (I don’t, but I know my, what, six readers!)

    My point is, just as we’ve all made peace with the stupid custom of thrift stores amassing a couple dozen little toys and selling them in bulk, they figure since they’ve got us trained there, they’ll try to get us to accept it in other areas of our lives, or, rather, in their stores.  To wit:

    No, your eyes do not deceive you! At my local Salvation Army, they’re now gathering dissimilar coffee mugs, lashing them together with cheap packing tape, and trying to get us to buy them in lots!

    Does that above grouping make any sense to anyone, anywhere?  A yellow mug that reads “Fat Daddy,” a blue mug with two godawful 3-D owls on that would disgust even those idiot owl collectors, and an Area 51 pencil cup that’s not even a mug?!

    And then they have the nerve to charge us $2.95 for all three, and if there’s someone who would specifically want all three of these things – and I doubt there is, but if there is – I don’t want to meet him!

    Now look at this grouping!

    Renoir’s Dance at Bougival and…

    Dr. Teddy Bear!

    Or these two:

    Awful minimalist cartoon drawings of food by someone who has no artistic talent whatsoever but still evidently carved art a career as a graphic artist…and the Union Jack!

    What’s next – Different articles of clothing all tied together in a Chickahominy knot, and if we want any of them, we have to buy the whole wad?  I sincerely hope not.

    The day Salvation Army makes me buy eight random pairs of boxers, boxer briefs, briefs, and bikinis when all I want is that one 2Xist Sculpted Lifting MaXimizer thong is the day that the lost & found box in the men’s locker room at the gym starts getting all my used underwear business again.

    Posted by on May 5, 2012, 1:04 AM.

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