Archive for December, 2009

Our first child, Matt Scullin was born December 10, 1989. A week later, on December 17, the most important show ever on TV was born– The Simpsons.

Our family (yes, even the babies) has always watched The Simpsons. We’ve had spirited debates on picking a favorite episode (mine is “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood” from season eight in which Bart joins the Junior Campers and hilarity ensues), we quote Simpsons lines chapter and verse (and recite favorites), discuss couch gags, and are torn when asked to pick our favorite characters (don’t ask, it hurts too much ).

If loving you is wrong, we don't wanna be right...

If loving you is wrong, we don't wanna be right...

While other families were shielding their precious children’s innocent eyes from this irreverent show, we were glued to it. For 20 years, it has been an animated encyclopedia of pop culture. Yes, it’s an educational cartoon, so there all you parents who refused your kiddies the intellectual stimulation of Springfield. Hope you’re happy with your dimwitted goody two-shoes.

The early episodes, like most sitcoms, were not that funny. The show’s executive producers, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Sam Simon were working to establish the characters, both their look and the sound of their voices. But soon the show hit its stride.

Great writers like John Swartzwelder, (who amazingly has written 60 episodes), George Meyer, Jon Vitti, Conan O’Brien, Dan Garth, Al Jean, Mike Reiss and many more brought The Simpson family and Springfield to life. A population of hilarious characters became the perfect canvas for social commentary, satire, wacky hijinks and laughs galore.

Has the show jumped the shark? Sure, some seasons more than others. Everything grows stale after 20 years (which is why we gave our 20-year old son Matt to a band of traveling gypsies).

But still, it’s been a hell of a run for Homer & Co., and our family is eternally thankful and grateful to theirs for two decades of fun.

Since it’s good for any essay to have a nicely rounded wrap-up, I’ll leave you with this– a letter written by Matt Scullin to Matt Groening, Simpsons creator, a few years back when Matt S. felt the show was seeing a shark in the rear view mirror.

February 19, 2006

Mr. Matt Groening
Executive Producer
The Simpsons
FOX Broadcasting Network
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213

Dear Matt Groening:

I am a huge fan of your show, “The Simpsons” and I have seen every episode. I am sixteen years old and I have been on your train ever since the show started. I am one week older than your show, to be exact. I have laughed to the point of no return over the early years and you are truly a god for creating these characters. When I say “characters” I don’t just mean the Simpsons; I am talking about Moe, Krusty, Ned Flanders, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, and the many other citizens of Springfield.

Man do I love a lot of your episodes. Seasons four, five, six, and seven are gold. Last Exit To Springfield, Homer The Heretic, Mr. Plow, Rosebud, Deep Space Homer, Homer Loves Flanders, Secrets Of A Successful Marriage, Homer The Great, Homer Badman, And Maggie Makes Three, A Star Is Burns, The Springfield Connection, and 22 Short Films About Springfield are all classic episodes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the next five seasons too. But you began to slip along the way of oh, season thirteen or so. I realized that the show would probably never be as good as it was, and I was right. The episodes lost its spark and even lost the laughs. The stories became too much involved with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. You buried the secondary characters alive in a cold dusty coffin. They slowly died and went to “forgotten characters heaven.” The stories became uninteresting and filled with too many unfunny 1-liner gags. I put up with these episodes and told my friends how the show was slowly fading into nothingness. I still gave you a chance on January 29, 2006. But this was simply the last straw.

This episode was terribly awful and my teeth cringed at the episode’s every attempt to make me laugh. I didn’t even come close to laughing once. I was disgusted at the fact that the animation was completely different. Everything looked too well drawn and had too much detail. It lost its once vibrant, warm, fuzzy animation of the earlier years. The episode was filled with a large surplus of unfunny 1-liner gags. The episode was lame, hateful, unfunny, and visually displeasing. While I watched it, I just repeated to myself, “This is not happening.” That episode single handedly crushed my hope for “The Simpsons”.

I beg of you: Fire all your writers, bring back the “old school” animation, and bring back the secondary characters. If you refuse, simply stop making episodes of the “The Simpsons” because I died a little inside on January 29, 2006.

Please write back or I will keep mailing you this letter.

Sincerely,
Matt Scullin

P.S. Take notes from “Family Guy”.

Cc: James L. Brooks, Mike Scully, Al Jean

In case you were wondering, Matt never heard from Mr. Groening, but the show has gotten better since then. Maybe he listened.

Dear Tig:

Heard you’re in a bit of a stew with the ol’ ball ‘n chain. Sorry, dude– stuff happens, you know?

One time my wife got angry with me because I had put a thin coat of Vaseline on the kitchen floor before this big party we were hosting. I did it because Vaseline makes hard woods shine like glass. Well, our clumsy friends slid all over the place and a couple of them fell and broke some bones and smacked their noggins on countertops.

Fortunately, Vaseline protects against blood spills and stains.

I had to haul people to the emergency room and everything– clumsy idiots! Long story short, I took the rap for what she called “the world’s stupidest idea” and my ZIP Code was the doghouse for a good stretch. Jeesh, louise!

All of this is to relate to you that marriage is sometimes tougher than ten year old Sugar Babies, and like a marital tussle, you might end up with a chipped tooth, or two.

I guess your wife got upset because you apparently were out of town and ‘forgot’ you were married and had relations with ‘temporary wives.’ Bad idea, buddy. Most wives don’t allow their hubbies to engage in hanky or panky. No wonder your wife went cattywonkers.

Now your high-paying sponsors are dropping like flies in a fog of Black Flag, you’re off the golf circuit and a different new Tiger scandal pops up in the press daily. You’ve gone from the world’s first billionaire athlete to King Cad-Schmuckyton.

It’s like some great Shakespeare tragedy. Sad. So sad, so very sad.

So, what I was wondering is since you’re not doing much of anything anyway, would you mind giving me some golf lessons for $5 an hour?

Let me know. Thanks, dude.

I could have the answer to your prayers...

I could have the answer to your prayers...

What’s it like to roam the earth in search of acceptance, love and the occasional bite?

Frankly, it sucks.

Confessions of a lonely fruitcake from Ames Scullin O'Haire on Vimeo.

Learn more of this tragic tale @ http://www.fruitcakediaries.com

They're cute doing most anything, except smoking!

Oh, they're cute doing just about anything, EXCEPT SMOKING!

Right now, millions of chimps and monkeys are smoking themselves to death.

Furry friends with bad cases of jangly nerves, dieting monkeys, post-coital chimps– they all need our help. They can’t resist the seductive allure of nicotine, but we can help give them a fighting chance by being strong when they are weak.

Working together, we can raise the funds necessary to supply these chimps and monkeys nicotine gum and nicotine patches. These are the tools they need to build a foundation of willpower and get the tobacco monkeys off their backs.

Won’t you help? Send money (a little more than you can afford) to me c/o The Lint Screen and together we’ll help monkeys and chimps evolve some healthier habits.

The mysterious couple who crashed my hip replacement surgery.

The mysterious couple who crashed my hip replacement surgery.

Although I thought I had put a bow on my total hip replacement series, I’ve had a flashback that I must report.

After I was wheeled into the operating room and transferred to the operating table, I noticed all the medical personnel in the room. Just before I was put under, I noticed two more people come into the operating room, they were all gussied-up. They galavanted about greeted all the medical people while posing for a small posse of paparazzi that appeared out of nowhere.

My very last memory was the couple leaning down to my face to pose for a picture. Then I was O.U.T.

If you know who these people are, please let me know. I assume they’re famous and I’d love to have a picture of them with me for my scrapbook. It might be worth something some day.

One month after my total hip replacement, the surgeon says I’m good to drive and begin easing my way back into life. I had my new hip X-rayed and everything is just where it needs to be. The doc came in and checked me for flexibility. He stretched my new hip leg straight out and flat on the table. It hurt.

It will be a long time before I'm able to do my Fab Four leaping exercises.

It will be a long time before I'm able to do my Fab Four leaping exercises.


He took my leg and bent it this way and that, inside and out, round and about like it was a strand of pretzel dough wishing to be twisted. It hurt, too. “You need some physical therapy,” he said (the unsaid meaning was clear: My job here is done.) “You need to stretch and work on your flexibility,” he said like a judge pronouncing his sentence.

So I do, and so I will. I remember that after my first hip replacement there was the getting over surgery stage, and then there was the getting over physical therapy stage. It takes lots of physical therapy to walk pain-free with the walking again.

My doc gave me a prescription for physical therapy (you don’t want to be buying your physical therapy on the streets). I asked him for more sleeping pills. “Why are you having trouble sleeping?” he asked with no trace of irony. “Pain and discomfort,” I said. The doc wrote me scripts for mild muscle relaxers and a small stash of sleeping pills. “Try the muscle relaxer to help you sleep,” he said, “if that doesn’t work, take Ambien.” My doc isn’t a fan of sleeping pills for pain management. I read the precaution sheet that came with the Ambien and he may be right. Here are some of the official precautions from the drug company that makes it:
– do not take Ambien if you are allergic to anything in it
– a common side effect is drowsiness
– After taking Ambien, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night. Reported activities include driving a car (“sleep-driving”), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex and sleep-walking

I don’t know if Ambien is a sleep wonder drug or the ultimate alibi pill. Last night I took a muscle relaxer and slept great. I’m getting this Ambien monkey off my back (goodness knows what he’s doing back there in the middle of the night– driving, eating, talking on the phone, having sex).

A portion of my medical trophies wall

A portion of my medical trophies wall

I will carry on, do what I’m told to do and slowly regain strength, stamina, a dash of flexibility and perhaps even a nice straight walking gait without a whisper of a limp.

I will continue my practice of keeping a trophy for every doctor visit. When I am kept waiting and waiting and waiting in the doctor’s office, I take a latex glove as a souvenir of my visit and post it in my office on the wall. I have quite a glove collection (I also have eyepatches from various glaucoma field of vision tests).

My wall of gloves and eyepatches are a constant reminder to work to stay healthy. I have enough souvenirs of medical visits, thank you, and I’ve unfortunately witnessed how fragile good health can be.

I’ve given two eulogies and seen two of my very best friends laid to rest way before their time. Some things we can avoid, others we cannot. Control what you can and appreciate what you have because when disease calls your number, there’s no debating. That’s the uncertainty of life– living with the certainty of our mortality.

My advice is simple: work to squeeze more years, enjoy all the days you have and spread some good cheer along the way.

I hope this 17-part total hip replacement journey has been informative and entertaining. If my pain has brought you some reading pleasure, I’ve done my job. If reading these entries makes you yearn to replace your healthy hip with a brand new titanium one, well, I may have done my job a little too well.

Thanks, and keep collecting Lint.