Classic Retro Kids’ TV On-the-Cheap by Jonathan Kieran: MR. DRESSUP

CLASSIC RETRO KIDS’ TV ON-THE-CHEAP! by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: MR. DRESSUP (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 1967-1996)

A single adult man who keeps a biologically unrelated little boy living in a tree in his backyard? Welcome to kids' TV from the CBC!

A single adult man who kept a biologically unrelated little boy living in a tree in his backyard? Welcome to kids’ TV from the CBC!

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Ernie Coombs (Canada’s answer to Mr. Rogers … only a lot more caffeinated and likely to bounce off the cardboard walls)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Nothing touches the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for producing tatty but creative kids’ shows that were built to last and rife with mangy-looking puppets suffering from Borderline Personality Disorders! As a bumpkin-child in the woods of upstate New York, I couldn’t wait to fill my impressionable mind with that one-of-a-kind brand of folksy Canadian Crazy that the CBC pumped into our living rooms on a daily basis via programming like The Friendly Giant and the legendary Mr. Dressup.

Mr. Dressup was probably the “King” of cheesy children’s TV, at least for youngsters in our region who depended upon the seemingly limitless pipeline of entertainment thrift utilized by producers just across the border — producers who had to stage a show with nothing but four or five Ping-Pong balls, construction paper, two asbestos oven-mits and maybe a ukulele. The brain-trusts in Toronto knew how to BRING IT! I only wish today’s bloated and shiftless TV execs could do in an hour with their $9 million budgets what Mr. Dressup’s team obviously did in 10 minutes for a few bucks and a six-pack of Carling-O’Keefe.

Mr. Dressup ran daily from 1967-1996, amassing over 4,000 episodes packed with wanton childishness. That was the whole point! Like most children’s TV programs since the days of Caesar and Cleopatra, the setting and context of the actual characters on Mr. Dressup lacked verisimilitude. Wait. Scratch that. The set-up made absolutely no freakin’ sense whatsoever. First of all, you had a loner-type adult person with no fashion-sense and no apparent prospects for marriage (Mr. Dressup) living in a tiny house crammed with semi-magical knick knacks and strange outfits that were kept in something called a “Tickle Trunk” while, out in the back yard, a child biologically unrelated to the adult lived in a tree.

Uh huh.

On the Mr. Dressup show, the treehouse-dwelling child was a freckled puppet named “Casey”. Casey looked like an unfinished Lady Elaine Fairchilde marionette stolen from the Mr. Rogers set, fitted with a blond page-boy wig and wrapped in a tea-cozy. A parade of disheveled, disoriented and equally unrelated puppet-people streamed constantly through the door of the little house to visit the adult loner and the boy he kept in the backyard tree. This highly unusual and improbable “family unit” was unexplained and therefore taken for granted by the viewing public at the time. We called it “the magic of children’s television.”

Today they call it “a particularly disturbing episode of Law and Order:SVU.”

But that’s how kids’ programming rolled in the days before unseen parents allowed their irritating real-life children to play in the park unsupervised with an obese purple dinosaur on Zoloft that taught them to chant endless verses of black magic composed by Lucifer, Lord of Hell.

In terms of plot, the Mr. Dressup show was rather formulaic and predictable, which was an attribute beneficial to a developing child’s mind, I believe. That whole dynamic has certainly changed. Mr. Dressup, ever-exuberant in his bow-tie and suspenders, would greet his friends in TV Land and prepare them for a morning of storytelling that always involved the retrieval of some indicative costume from the Tickle Trunk. The costume was usually made out of colored gauze, tinfoil and discarded candy wrappers, but we didn’t care, as kids. Sometimes, to our horror, the Tickle Trunk wouldn’t even open, forcing Mr. Dressup to actually “coochie-coo” the damn thing until it coughed-up the goods. That trunk was a coy little tramp.

Once Mr. Dressup donned the Kleenex cape or the fake beard made out of cotton yanked from a thousand Q-tips, he would tell some brief fairy tale that sent us all off to Imagination Town in our pea brains. After that it was time to head out into the backyard for a visit with Casey in the treehouse. The best part about Casey was actually his constant companion, Finnegan the Dog, who looked like an unlaundered sailor’s sock after a nine-month tour of duty. Finnegan the Dog was great because he was entirely mute. Couldn’t bark a note. Couldn’t growl. Couldn’t talk. He was the only silent creature of Irish extraction I ever saw. Mr. Dressup or Casey would talk to Finnegan or ask his opinion about something and the puppeteer would merely make Finnegan’s “mouth” move silently and he would whisper the answer in Casey’s ear. Casey would then translate/interpret Finnegan’s response. He was the original Dog-Whisperer, that Casey.

The entire, belovedly creepy Mr. Dressup crew -- l. to r. the clearly "out of it" and obviously overmedicated Aunt Bird, Alligator, Mr. Dressup, Casey, and Finnegan the Dog

The entire, belovedly creepy Mr. Dressup crew — l. to r. the clearly “out of it” and obviously overmedicated Aunt Bird, Alligator, Mr. Dressup, Casey, and Finnegan the Dog

An assortment of guests would soon follow. An alligator-puppet cleverly named “Alligator” might drop by to yammer-on about God-Knows-What and at least once a week you could count on a visit from Aunt Bird, who was the show’s requisite “dazed and confused” elderly puppet. Poor Aunt Bird never made much sense, always looked like she had possibly been mauled in an alley by Finnegan the Dog’s more aggressive canine relations, and she was a definite candidate for Lady Rogaine or whatever it is they recommend for women with unsightly bald patches. Sometimes in tow with Aunt Bird was her niece, Miss Biz, a bug-eyed specimen who was as neurotic and disconnected as Elaine Stritch. Miss Biz, with only about a dozen strands of pink, wispy boa-feathers protruding from her lumpy head as “hair” clearly inherited the Female-Pattern Baldness gene from her dizzy aunt. I always figured there must’ve been an ostrich or maybe a vulture in that follicle-challenged bird-family’s woodpile. Anyhow, after all of this pointless but riveting Goodness, Casey and Finnegan would go to sleep in the treehouse, Aunt Bird and Miss Biz would fly off to whatever sorry, hair-lined nest they called home and Mr. Dressup would conclude the show with a consultation of the Wise Old Owl, which was a framed picture of an owl that would magically come to life and open its cardboard eyes, roll them, say: “Who, who, to-wit, to-woo …” and then offer some word of encouragement to insecure children all over the world … or at least within a 150-mile radius of Toronto, Ontario.

It’s amazing how such low-budget yet creative and lovingly crafted productions had the power to mesmerize children, once upon a time. These characters became as familiar to us as friends when we were young and life was a bit simpler. It all went down not that long ago — as noted, the Mr. Dressup show racked-up 29 years of whimsical entertainment and over 4000 little episodes before the Tickle Trunk demanded a cut of the syndication profits or went on the fritz and refused to reveal its secrets for the unappreciative ADHD demographic of the burgeoning Cyber Age. That’s okay. When the asteroid hits and the Zombie Apocalypse is unleashed upon what precious little is left of civilization, we’ll all be forced to live in treehouses with pets rendered mute by radiation poisoning. I figure I’ll be one of the few who’s ready.

Thank you, Mr. Dressup.

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “Three little birdies, happy and gay. Three little birdies fly away.” (Classic chart-topping Mr. Dressup lyrics)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Ernie Coombs, who played Mr. Dressup for almost 30 years on the CBC, went on to become a popular figure on the college lecture circuit, especially for generations of students who had “grown up” with the beloved children’s program. Ernie Coombs passed away in 2001. RIP, Mr. D. As for the OTHERS …

Casey from the Treehouse

Perhaps scarred by a youth spent living in the backyard tree of an unrelated adult male, Casey found the transition to adulthood somewhat difficult. Between government checks and visits to his parole officer, he still finds time to audition for local children's theater and enjoys macaroni art. He lives in Winnipeg.

Perhaps scarred by a youth spent living in the backyard tree of an unrelated adult male, Casey found the transition to adulthood somewhat difficult. Between government checks and visits to his parole officer, he still finds time to audition for local children’s theater and enjoys macaroni art. He lives in Winnipeg.

The discombobulated “Aunt Bird”

WARNING GRAPHIC: This is a photo from the Ottawa Police Department's homicide unit, taken Thanksgiving Day 1996. It is the last known photograph of Aunt Bird. Her surviving family members refused to speak to Pop HazMat about the murder, which appears to have been related to the infamous "Savory Stuffer's" string of serial killings that terrorized Canada in the late 1990s.

WARNING! GRAPHIC: Above is a photo from the Ottawa Police Department’s homicide unit, taken Thanksgiving Day 1996. It is the last known photograph of Aunt Bird. Her surviving family members refused to speak to us about the murder, which appears to have been related to the infamous “Savory Stuffer’s” string of serial killings that terrorized Ontario in the late 1990s.

The Tickle Trunk

Of all the Mr. Dressup cast-members, the Tickle Trunk appears to have fared the best in private life. Tickle Trunk (pictured on the left) is now owned by Lance and Bartholomew,  a fabulous Greenwich Village couple who specialize in restoring worn-out receptacles of all shapes and sizes. "We needed a place to keep our collection of damask napkins and, well, we certainly love to tickle," said Lance. "It was really a no-brainer."

Of all the Mr. Dressup cast-members, the Tickle Trunk appears to have fared the best in private life. Tickle Trunk (pictured on the left) is now owned by Lance and Bartholomew, a fabulous Greenwich Village couple who specialize in restoring worn-out receptacles of all shapes and sizes. “We needed a place to keep our collection of damask napkins and, well, we certainly love to tickle,” said Lance. “It was really a no-brainer.”

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Casey and Finnegan … Classic Moments to Treasure.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder.

He-Man & She-Ra: Proudly Fostering Body Dysmorphia since 1983! by Jonathan Kieran

POP HAZMAT RETRO HALL OF FAME presents Wonderfully Warped Children’s Television!by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: He-Man (1983-1985) and She-Ra (1985-1986)

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, Battle Cat, Teela and all the elves working Mattel’s Everlasting Assembly-line of Dysfunctional Dreams.

He-Man and She-Ra ... Padding the bank accounts of psychologists specializing in Body Dysmorphic Disorders since the 1980s!

He-Man and She-Ra … Padding the bank accounts of psychologists specializing in Body Dysmorphic Disorders since the 1980s!

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: If you were a trendy child growing-up in the 1980s and early 1990s, there’s little chance you escaped the pop-culture gravitational pull of He-Man and She-Ra, who were basically two sword & sorcery action-figures with their own animated Saturday morning infomercials thinly disguised as kids’ TV shows. He-Man came first as you were spooning Cap’n Crunchies into your spellbound face and dripping sugar-saturated milk all over your jammies and onto Mother’s new JC Penney area-rug. But you could hardly look away when He-Man sauntered across the screen in all of his garish, stilted-animation glory. He-Man was essentially a warrior-type dragged from any garden-variety epic fantasy novel, stripped of every piece of clothing a warrior would need, except for a colorful jock-strap and boots, pumped with a regimen of steroids that’d make Lance Armstrong look like a dilettante and armed (of course) with a magic sword.

Or maybe the magic sword was the talisman of She-Ra, He-Man’s twin sister, who got her own spin-off show/infomercial so the little girls and the gays would have something to razzle their dazzle while masticating Cocoa Puffs and Pop Tarts from 9AM til Noon on weekends. She-Ra was as overblown as He-Man, for these were the days when slightly doughy or out-of-shape heroes (like TV’s Batman and Robin or the skinflint “Shaggy” from Scooby-Doo) just couldn’t cut the cartoon mustard any more, so kids were being presented with progressively exaggerated images of the human body and schooled in the importance of having Big-Gulp secondary sex characteristics when the time came to transform into one’s crime-fighting alter ego. Thus, She-Ra was stacked like a particularly earnest Hooters waitress working the Halloween shift in a costume she spent maybe ten minutes putting together out of a tablecloth and some ornamental napkin holders from the Pic-N-Save. Her boobs were honeydew-perfect and seemingly attached to her chin, which looked like the surgically sculpted masterpiece of some sought-after Beverly Hills body butcher. Those Power Ta-Tas did not flinch an inch when She-Ra was conquering the forces of evil! In fact, it was probably her chi-chis that poked Skeletor’s eyes out … though the series never addressed that likelihood, to my knowledge.

Skeletor ... Blinded by the Mighty Meemies of She-Ra or just a rip-off of Ghost Rider in Dungeons & Dragons drag?

Skeletor … Blinded by the Mighty Meemies of She-Ra or just a rip-off of Ghost Rider in Dungeons & Dragons drag?

She-Ra’s gargantuan hairdo was a thing of splendor in and of itself — daunting enough to make all 43 of the weaves and assorted clip-on wigs atop Beyoncé’s head writhe like Medusa-snakes in anger and envy. He-Man actually had even bigger and more ridiculous breasts than She-Ra. His torso looked like an airbrushed Smithfield ham balanced atop the legs of a Clydesdale draught-horse, with a baby watermelon stuffed in his red bikini.

For about fifteen minutes during the ’80s, we all loved these shows and couldn’t get enough of the ADHD-inducing drama, much less of the action figure tie-ins and “accessories sold separately.” Then we grew up, as well-adjusted children ought to do, and we moved on — thoroughly prepared for a culture of pervasive internet porn, rampant body dysmorphic disorders, obsessive workout regimens, bodacious breast augmentations, fake hair, fake names, fake intelligence, fake values, indiscriminate displays of physical violence and a vast gallery of narcissistic smartphone “selfies” taken in front of bathroom mirrors by the millions. It’s a lot easier to work for a set of ripped abs or buy a smokin’ hot rack than to fight the Forces of Darkness, these days. Fighting evil with magic swords? Nah, we didn’t bring that part of the show into the new millennium. We just brought the hotness and the Evil.

Thank you, Filmation!

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: Here’s 10 indispensable He-Man quotes steeped in the kind of wisdom that explains exactly why your kids turned out the way they did.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: The classic He-Man Intro. Note how the “pre-transformed” Adam (Prince of Eternia) appears to be voiced by a 59-year-old Presbyterian radio-announcer from Topanga with a deviated septum.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder.

 

Songs That Made Childhood Magical … #SesameStreet

Okay, so a hitherto planned “Ten Best Meals I Ever Ate” List is not going to appear today. I’m on the fourth day of a complete fast/cleanse, i.e. no solid food and only lemon-water, honey and cayenne pepper to sustain me. Thus, my long and illustrious history of gastronomic adventure is the last thing I want to expound-upon, at the moment. Instead, we’ll opt for some HazMat pop-culture profiling. Behold, the Alligator King and his brood of seven toothy tots.

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

Jonathan Kieran’s HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME 

TODAY’S HONOREE: “7” by the Alligator King of Sesame Street (Voiced by Bud Luckey)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Nothing warms the sweet cockles of wistful Kiddie Heart-Land like the memory of a Sesame Street “number song” that you couldn’t get out of your head at age five if you’d even tried. Forget about the fact that you used to you drive your poor mother bananas with endless repetitions of what you had learned. Forget about your mother’s desperate prayers that you would one day employ your knowledge of figures and digits to conquer Wall Street and put her in the most posh Park Avenue spread that money could buy. Irrelevant! These “number songs” were magical, and they were the top of the Toddler Hit Parade, back in the day, before Barney and Sponge-Bob and Ninja Turtles and Tellytubbies came around to rip the innocence of youth from our tender, fluttering souls with all manner of subtle-but-wanton devilry. Okay, so Barney wasn’t all that Evil. Still, none of the others could match Sesame Street’s penchant for producing cartoon ditties that made you want to COUNT until the cows came home! The plight of the Alligator King and his Seven Sons was one of the best, made all the more immortal by the swampy New Orleans ragtime inflections of the great Bud Luckey. What are you waiting for? 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 … SING IT!

DEFINITIVE LYRIC:Said the alligator king to his seventh son, “My son, you win the crown. You didn’t give me diamonds or rubies BUT you helped me up when I was down.”

SEMI-TWISTED “ADULT HUMOR” MOMENT: When the second son gives the Alligator King “seven statues of girls with clocks where their stomachs should be.” Surely this was some sort of perverted metaphor, but our beloved Jim Henson has taken the secret to his grave. Talk amongst yourselves about it, philosophers and sociologists.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: No one can swing like the ALLIGATOR KING!

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books, as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines. Click on the book covers to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles or spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race. Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new novel. Drop-in once in awhile for updates; he promises to provide them … once in awhile.

Because a Mind is a Terrible Thing to Warp … #Nostalgia

"Enjoy these wholesome moments now, Cindy. Because one day some doctor is going to hook electrodes to your skull and try to zap the memory of forcibly imposed religious guilt, repressed resentment of patriarchal subjugation, and ridiculous matching outfits right out of your precious brain ."

“Mommy’s done her best to craft this little illusion for you, Cindy, so do us a favor and try to live in the damn moment, okay? Trust me: one day some smug psychiatrist is going to erase every memory of imposed religious guilt, patriarchal resentment, and asinine matching outfits right out of your precious skull.”

"Enjoy these wholesome moments now, Cindy. Because one day some doctor is going to hook electrodes to your skull and try to zap the memory of forcibly imposed religious guilt, repressed resentment of patriarchal subjugation, and ridiculous matching outfits right out of your precious brain ."

“That sounds serious, Mommy! Will I still be cheerful enough to enjoy an ice-cold Coca Cola in the wonderful sunshine?”

"Enjoy these wholesome moments now, Cindy. Because one day some doctor is going to hook electrodes to your skull and try to zap the memory of forcibly imposed religious guilt, repressed resentment of patriarchal subjugation, and ridiculous matching outfits right out of your precious brain ."

“Honey, after another ten years with me –and the ensuing shock-treatments required to undo my handiwork– you’ll be lucky if you remember how to use a straw. Drink-up.”


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Jonathan Kieran is slowly withdrawing from contemporary human society in protest against a multitude of offenses against taste and decency, but that doesn’t mean you need to head for the hills. Stick around: some form of epic new work is slated for release in 2015. News in that regard is forthcoming.

Jonathan is currently the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize books and novels. Visit Mr. Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of works. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Don’t let the crocodile tears fool you. Little Karen plotted Frosty’s demise. #holidaycheer

I confess to undergoing a somewhat disturbing phase in my youth–one in which I imagined utterly cheerless “alternative plots” and dark, warped endings to various beloved Christmas cartoons (particularly ones featuring cherubic little girls who were really snow-murderesses in disguise). I’m getting the help I need, but admit to being thrilled when Frosty first met his Rankin & Bass doom. Frosty was such a putz. Below is a G-Rated excerpt from a poem I wrote to illustrate my preferred version of the so-called “Professor Hinkle Incident.” Thumpity-thump-thump.

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul ... but little Karen was a girl whose heart was black as coal. She lured him to a greenhouse with her dimpled, precious smile ... ... then watched with glee as Frosty turned into a slushy pile.

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul …
but little Karen was a girl whose heart was black as coal.
She lured him to a greenhouse with her dimpled, precious smile …
… then watched with glee as Frosty turned into a slushy pile.


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Jonathan Kieran’s (as-yet-untitled) new novel, an epic supernatural thriller, is now finished and slated for release in late Spring 2014. Look for news about the release here and at Amazon.com in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan is also the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize series of modern fairy-tales and novels. Visit Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like,” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile …

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Yeah, we know what those kindergarten books were really trying to say. #funwithdickandjane

POP HAZMAT “CAPTURED MOMENTS” presents EAVESDROPPING at the OUTSKIRTS of EXCESS by JONATHAN KIERAN

"Look, Dick! Look, Jane! Look, Sally! Mother is going inside to make several pretty pretty martinis and scratch the blue, blue wallpaper in anguish after the trip to town for extra Adderall tablets! Enjoy your tasty, tasty ice cream cones and feel free to play in the middle of the street! The door will be locked until sleepy, sleepy sundown!"

“Look, Dick! Look, Jane! Look, Sally! Mother is going inside to make several pretty, pretty martinis and scratch the blue, blue wallpaper in anguish after the trip to town for Valium tablets! Enjoy your tasty, tasty ice cream! Always play in the middle of the wide, wide highway! Doors and windows will be locked until sleepy, sleepy sundown!”


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While Jonathan works to complete his new novel (slated for release in Spring 2014) blogging will be swift, light, fun and generally of the “drive-by captioning” variety. Meanwhile, if you’re bored and don’t have any Japanese eyeballs to lick, hop on over to Jonathan Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a Like!

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below …

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

The things a star will do when denture ads just won’t pay the rent! #nostalgia

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CAMPY CARTOON VILLAIN-OF-THE-WEEK by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: “Benita Bizarre” (The Bugaloos, 1970-1971, NBC)

"I swear ... it was this or a commercial for denture tablets. Don't judge me, beeotches!"

“I swear to God … it was this or a commercial for denture tablets. Don’t judge me, beeotches!”

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Martha Raye

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Denture commercials were clearly not paying enough cold hard $$$ to keep an aging Hollywood train-wreck in the style to which she had become accustomed in the 1970s. All Martha Raye needed back then was enough nickel to buy Tanqueray, some ciggies and maybe a new speedo for the occasional escort, but Polident Green must’ve been giving Martha a case of the Poor-House Heebie Jeebies with the $125.00 they were probably offering to shell-out so she’d show America how to scour their big yellow falsies in a cup. I bet Martha even had to soak her own fake choppers in her super chlorinated flesh-melting backyard pool overnight in Bel Air. Polident Green kept their budget LEAN … and probably didn’t even give their National Spokeswoman a lifetime supply of tablets that could sizzle the rotting bits of gristle from betwixt the cracks of her Take-Out Teefs.

dentures

Drastic measures were required and Martha Raye, being a rough-and-tumble survivor of the Big Studio System of the 1940s, took the most drastic measures ever known in the world of entertainment: She got fitted for a costume on one of Sid & Marty Krofft’s abominable kiddie-show productions. Yes, Martha Raye hopped right into economy-class on the Bullet Train to Embarrassment-Land when she took the role of “Benita Bizarre” on the Bugaloos — a masterful piece of Pure Televised Glory in which several British “fairies” in bellbottoms and psychedelic tee-shirts dwelt in a magical forest, seeking a record company dumb enough to pay them actual dollars for the Offensive Musical Slop-Sounds emanating from their obscene orifices.

bugaloos

Martha Ray’s character, Benita, was sort of a cartoon-land cross between Phyllis Diller and Pia Zadora: a repulsive, untalented bag who cracked jokes, wore low-rent versions of the ridiculous crap Lady Gaga later became famous for and surrounded herself with sleazy morons who convinced her she was the greatest singer the world had ever known. Martha Raye’s shrewd essay of the “Benita Bizarre” role featured a lot of disorientation: staggering; stumbling; mugging and mumbling, as well as gratuitous displays of Martha’s spindly legs sprawled-out like some diseased chicken’s getaway-sticks beneath skirts trimmed with ostrich feathers. The plot of every Bugaloos episode was the same: Benita was jealous of the Bugaloos (who always looked as if they hadn’t bathed or brushed their gnarly English teeth in weeks) and she plotted ways to thwart their dreams of recording hit after unspeakable hit, employing henchmen named “Tweeter” and “RatFink” in her Evil Campaign.

I’d like to have been a fly-on-the-wall the day Martha Raye’s Greyhound racetrack bookie agent (probably a guy named “Morty”) first presented her with the Bugaloos script. You know the meeting took place in Martha’s bedroom and you know she knocked back a whole tumbler of gin and then threw the glass at poor Morty, who wasn’t nearly swift enough to duck in time to avoid lacerations to the forehead. Then, after Martha fished her dentures out of the tingly Polident bubbles on the bedside table and inserted her fangs, she let Morty really have it:

mrtha in bedMARTHA RAYE: “What’s this two-bit hippy fairy garbage you’re asking me to play, huh Morty? Saturday morning kiddie shows about Bugs? Bugs? This is all you can do for the great Martha Raye? I’m supposed to play in a show about British insects? I can barely keep the roaches out of this cracker-box on the salary those Polident bastards are offering to give me, Morty!

bookieMORTY: “But Martha, these Krofft boys have a great track record with the public, and this Benita Bizarre person … well, she could be the start of a huge comeback for you. Sump’n big. America’s starting to get a little tired of looking at the inside of your mug in them falsie-scrubbing ads, I gotta tell ya, Martha. Focus groups have been saying that your tongue looks furry and some people even claim they can smell your halitosis through the television screen.”

martha madMARTHA RAYE: “That’s outrageous, Morty! I make sure to suck on five or six of those wintergreen Polident tabs before every shoot. Damn things burn like battery acid and now I got a big infected hole in the roof of my mouth, but those white tabs get rid of the gin-breath in five minutes flat. I swear, Morty! Besides, people can’t smell anything through a television screen.”

bookieMORTY: “You know that and I know that, Martha, but what was it Louis B. Mayer used to tell you? ‘Perception is everything,’ especially in the entertainment racket.”

martha aghastMARTHA RAYE: “God, Morty, you’re right. He did say that, right after I fell off the soundstage and passed out in a pool of my own puke while filming Four Jills in a Jeep. Oh, that was one helluva week, I can tell you, Morty. Say, what are they gonna pay for this Boogerloos gig?”

bookieMORTY: “It’s Buggerloos, honey, and now we’re getting to the good part. They pay $175 an episode, which is twenty-five clams more than you’re making for them denture spots, and best of all you get to keep the entire wardrobe from each show. They also say you can smoke and drink all you want on the set.”

martha askingMARTHA RAYE: “I can?!”

bookieMORTY: “Yes. In fact, the Krofft boys told me they’d actually prefer it if you came in as shitfaced as possible.”

martha drunkMARTHA RAYE: “Say, that sounds like a sweet deal, Morty!”

bookieMORTY: “What can I say, Sugar? They want the Martha Raye that all of America has come to know and loathe …er … love. Yeah.”

mrtha in bedMARTHA RAYE: “I’m in, Morty. Here. Help me out of this puddle of bile around the pillows and kick those empty Seagram’s bottles over to the door. Consuela will pick ’em up when she comes next month to clean. I’m going down to NBC to sign that deal on the dotted line. Today! Wait’ll those wiseguys over at Polident get a load of me on this hot new show. We’ll be able to milk at least another C-note, per commercial, out of those stingy turds. Bring my limo around while I hunt for a clean turban, Morty. We’ve got a deal to strike.”

bookieMORTY: “I … uh … I had to pawn the limo last week, Martha. Your dog hasn’t doin’ so good down to the track and you owed a lot of dough. I asked the Polident people to maybe give you a little advance and, boy oh boy, their wallets suddenly got tighter than a nun’s ass.”

mrtha in bedMARTHA: “You don’t say. A nun’s ass, eh? Well, screw that. I’ll get the last laugh with those high and mighty bigshots when Benita Bizarre becomes the most beloved character among the children of the United States of America. Don’t just stand there, Morty. Call me a cab and pour me a fresh one while we wait! Hey … have you seen my upper set lying around anywhere? Damn that Polident!”
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The Bugaloos ran for one excruciating season on NBC (17 episodes) but found a cult-following in syndicated reruns. Martha Raye (a tirelessly dedicated –even decorated– performer for World War II Troops and genuinely beloved comic icon from Hollywood’s Golden Era who did later make bank schlepping denture tabs) lived out the rest of her tempestuous personal life in Bel Air until 1994, seven times married and (sadly) legless. She generated some controversy toward the end of her days by marrying a bisexual man three decades her junior, suing Bette Midler for allegedly “stealing her life story” and disowning her only child, Melodye, to leave a $3 Million legacy to boy-toy/husband, Mark Harris, who has since made the rounds of shock-programs like The Howard Stern Show to regale people with personal details from the life of Benita Bizarre. Sounds like the work of British fairies with a grudge. Still, you just know those Brits are all wearing dentures now and scrubbing them with Polident, so maybe Martha had the last laugh, after all. One can only dream.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: The Intro of Infamy …
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