It’s Organ Man’s World Now. We Just Live In It.

When I was a kid, there was a store in the mall that sold organs.

And whenever you walked by it, there was this cheesy guy in a tuxedo playing one of the organs.

Since his goal was to sell you the organ, he made sure to use every pre-set beat the organ provided:  disco, mambo, swing, etc.

The result was a cacophonous assault on anyone dumb enough to keep walking by the organ store, many of whom heaped their subtle scorn on organ man in the form of laughter.

When the organ store went out of business, everyone was happy.

Little did I know that thirty years later, the horrible sound that organ man used to make would stage a revival.  And it has a new name.

It’s called a ringtone.

You know the tone.  Every idiot you’ve ever seen in Starbucks with a cell volume set at “max” uses it.

It’s that upbeat bossa nova swing hip hop clangy thing that makes you want to pull your ears off.

And it’s always at the loudest volume possible, for it appears that the same “asshole” threshold you must pass to choose that ringtone also mandates that you alert everyone in Starbucks to your incoming call.

It is the revenge of organ man.

We never should have laughed at him.

Not Everything in the Magic Kingdom is Magical

A few summers ago, I took my kids to Disneyland.

Nearing Cinderella’s castle, my daughter Julia (four-years-old at the time) spotted Cinderella emerging from wherever it is the character actors hide at Disneyland.

Julia ran toward her like she had found the Messiah.  Eyes wide, arms wider, jaw dropped.

She crashed into Cinderella’s leg like a human missile.

Cinderella was knocked off stride.

Recovering her balance, Cinderella looked down at Julia, who was now hugging her leg.  Holding on to it for dear life, really.

Cinderella reached down and hugged Julia with both arms.

It was one of the sweetest things I had ever seen. And judging by the hushed “awww” that swept through the crowd, it was one of the sweetest things they had  ever seen too.

Then I did something I still can’t explain.

I tried to hug Cinderella.

A whole bunch of things then happened in quick succession that did not happen when my four-year-old tried to hug her.

First, there was the look of pain on Cinderella’s face, like the one on Oswald when he was shot by Ruby.  Then there were Cinderella’s lightning-quick reflexes, which ensured my “hug” consisted of nothing more than my right hand grazing her back.  And then there was her handler, who the best I can figure dropped from a tree to put himself between me and the princess.

All I can say about my actions that day is that I was caught up in the magic of Disneyland.

But from the looks on the faces in the crowd, the moment was anything but magical.  You’d have thought I had wrestled Mickey Mouse to the ground and pulled off his mouse head.

Julia herself said nothing.  We just continued on our day together.

And later that day, we spotted Pocahontas.  Julia ran toward her even faster than she had Cinderella, which I thought was a little strange because I knew Cinderella meant more to her.

It was so fast, in fact, I couldn’t keep up.

Which I then realized was the point.

Four-year-olds can be very smart.

Tattoo You

Just got this photo from a Pearls reader who got a tattoo of Danny Donkey.

I don’t know why, but I always feel strangely bonded with anyone who is willing to put one of my characters on their body for life.

Like if I ever see them in a bar, I have to buy them a beer.

Speaking of which, do any of you know any great bars I should go to while in Miami or Key West?  Price is no object, as I’ll be making my buddy Emilio pay for all the rounds.

UPDATE:

Just got this photo of a Rat-as-the-devil tattoo…This is an image from the very first year of the strip….Shows how much Rat has changed.

FURTHER UPDATE:

And two more, one of Pig and one of Guard Duck:

Mushing Mom’s Myths, One Pea at a Time

Most of my mom’s dinners involved peas and mashed potatoes.

And when the two mixed, I refused to eat them.

I did not like the mushy potatoes clinging to my peas and I did not like the surprise of a crunchy pea in my potatoes.

To which my mom always said the same thing:

“Eat it.  It all goes to the same place.”

Being four, I had no comeback.

Until now.

And that is this:

When we as a family all drove somewhere on vacation, we did not pick up homeless hitchhikers.

Even if we were all headed to the same place.

So take that, mom.

Thirty-eight years later.

Stephan in the Land of the Beautiful People

I’m going to Miami in a couple weeks.  I’m going with my friend Emilio.

We’re gonna drink a lot and go to the beach.

Most wives would have trouble with their husbands going on drinking trips with their degenerate friends, but not Staci.  She loves when I leave.

That’s troubling.

More troubling is the fact that she gave me a pack of Crest teeth-whitening strips to use before the trip.

I’m not sure what that means.

The only thing I can figure out is that she has a boyfriend and wants to leave me for him.  But for that to happen without her feeling guilty, she needs me to find a girlfriend.  But she doesn’t think that can happen.

Unless my teeth are whiter.

The box of whitening strips promises white teeth in ten days.  I’ve been wearing them for five.

Here’s where we stand:

So in just five more days I should be one of the Beautiful People.

Wish me luck.

For Staci’s sake.

On the Importance of Good Sportsmanship

Staci makes me go to her cousins’ house for most holidays.

While most people talk, my twelve-year-old son Thomas and I play video games against Staci’s cousins, Ken and Joe.  Ken and Joe are my age.

Ken and Joe always beat us, not because they’re good, but because it’s their games we’re playing.

So last year I brought a brand new game, NBA Live, figuring that if we were all starting from scratch, it would be a fairer game.  Ken unwrapped the cellophane from the game package and we started playing.

At first, all four of us were equally bad, struggling to make passes and shoot the ball.  But by the end of the first quarter Thomas and I had rapidly improved.  And by the end of the second quarter, we had a twenty-point lead.

In the second half, Thomas and I got even better.  We were throwing down mammoth dunks, doing behind-the-back passes and blocking shot after shot.  Ken and Joe could barely dribble the ball.

By the end of the third quarter, our lead was 43.  Thomas and I were high-fiving and congratulating each other on our mad skills.

When our lead stretched to 84 in the fourth quarter, Joe paused the game.  He walked over to the trash can and pulled out the cellophane.

“This isn’t the kind of cellophane they wrap video games in.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“And this price tag says $9.95.  You can’t get this game for ten bucks.”

“You can’t?” I lamely asked.

“You just grabbed one of your own games from home and wrapped it in Saran Wrap and put a price sticker on it.”

I looked from side to side.  Then I looked down.

“You did, didn’t you?” Joe asked.

I didn’t have the heart to add that we’d be playing it almost every day for the last three years.

Ken and Joe tossed their controllers on the couch and left the room.

I figured that would be as good a time as any to teach my son a lesson.  So I did:

“Never be a sore loser like Ken and Joe.”