For those of you who’ve never heard it (if you really do exist):
A group of timber men had to maintain a flock of sheep so that they wouldn’t starve. In order to protect the mutton while off on their day gig, the axe men hired some kid to look after them. If the boy saw a wolf, coyote or other predator, the child had instructions to take out his cell and dial the Head Lumberjack In Charge (HLIC).
Well, one day, the HLIC gets a call from the kid, who screams at the top of his lungs that a wolf is attacking one of the sheep. The woodcutters immediately stop their work, pile into their Ford pickup, and haul serious tail back to the meadow, where they find the little boy laughing his ass off at the sight of them, with nary a wolf in sight.
“Fooled you,” howled the kid. “Boy, you’re stupid.”
On the one hand, the lumberjacks were relieved to find no real crisis or mishap. On the other hand, they felt sorta, well, sheepish.
The next week, the HLIC gets another call on his cell. “It’s a wol-lof,” cries the kid in panic. “Help me, please help me!”
“Yeah right,” grouses the HLIC. “Do us a favor. Just watch the sheep. We got work to do.”
“But I’m telling the truth this time,” protests the lad. To prove it, he shoots them a photograph of the scene that he’s taken with his telephone. Sure enough, there are a whole pack of wolves filling up on lamb chops and other cuts. The lumber men again race to the scene to find the kid beside himself with laughter.
“You guys never heard of Photochop?” he roars. “You’re even bigger morons than I thought!”
Once again the lumberjacks leave, although now they feel really stupid.
The HLIC’s phone rang the following week. The caller ID showed the number of the kid. The foreman simply turned off his cell.
When the woodcutters came home that night, they saw the remains of the kid all over the meadow, an area of about seven acres. From the bite mark patterns, the police determined that he was eaten by a pack of wolves, who pretty much picked his corpse clean.
Curious thing: the canines didn’t seem to have a taste for sheep. They left the flock alone.
All right, all right. So you’ve heard the story before. You also know the moral--liars aren’t believed even when the tell the truth.
But that’s not quite what we’re after here. Obviously, the kid believed that he was smarter than the lumberjacks. But I want to know your opinion. Was he? Were the lumberjacks really stupid? If so, to what degree? For doing what, exactly?
1. Bunty Bailey (1961- )--Take an unknown Norwegian band with a soupy pop song, and try to become a success in the English-speaking world, namely the US and UK. No dice. Re-record the song to make it edgier. Nothing doing. Overdub a hip synth track, and you still have squat to show for your efforts.
Now if your label gambles on a really glitzy video, with a (then) high-tech animation technique known as rotoscope, and adds a storyline starring one Bunty Baily as a young woman into comics and coffee, you then have not only a monster hit, but one of the most iconic videos of the 1980s--arguably one of the most famous videos of all time.
2. Jane Barbe (1928-2003)--You’ve never spoken to her. But if you’ve ever made a call to or from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, or Australia she’s certainly spoken to you. Sometimes known simply as “The Telephone Lady” Barbe told us for decades, “The number you have dialed….has been disconnected. The new number is….” She also recorded thousands of customized messages for businesses around the world. Towards the end of her life, she split more of her AT&T telephone work with voice actress Pat Fleet.
Y, my ex(?)-spy friend, met Barbe about fifteen years ago, when she put in the message system for his creepy mega corporation. He absolutely adored her. Apparently, Barbe had that effect on many people.
3. Frank Brown ( ? - ? ; fl. 1940s)--Gordon Harwell, owner of Converted Rice Incorporated, supplied the grain for the US Army. In 1943, he sold it to candy maker M&M Mars (or, as it’s known today, Mars Inc.).
Marketers decided to name it after a legendary 19th Century rice cultivator, an old African-American man known as Uncle Ben. Although details of Ben’s life are sketchy, he appears to have been an actual person. The problem for Mars was that Uncle Ben, whether he existed or not, wasn’t available to promote the product, or pose for the picture on the box. That duty fell to Frank Brown, a Chicago-based maitre d’.
Brown’s face has adorned boxes of Uncle Ben’s Rice for years. Currently, Mars has named the persona of Uncle Ben as the fictional president of its rice division.
4. Elwood Edwards (1949-)--Quantum Computer Services arose from the ashes of a failed venture, the Control Video Corporation. Founded in 1983, CVC was a company many years ahead of its time. Among other things, it wanted to sell video games and music over the Internet. Problem was, there weren’t a whole lot of people online in 1983.
By 1989, Quantum decided to concentrate on making the ‘Net accessible to more people. To do that, they needed a person to serve as the voice of Quantum, a “human interface” to make the task of venturing into cyberspace seem less scary, and more “user-friendly.” Edwards’ wife, a Quantum employee, recommended her husband to her superiors, in large part because of his previous work as a radio and television announcer. Elwood recorded a few messages, and left it at that. He didn’t even get paid for his contribution.
Later in 1989, Quantum changed its name to America Online (AOL). AOL has used Edwards’ messages ever since to say, “Welcome,” “You’ve got mail,” “File’s done,” and “Goodbye.” As he has now appeared in movies and television shows, his voice is now familiar to those who don’t even have AOL. Only years later did the company pay him a reportedly handsome sum for his efforts.
5. Nancy Green (1834-1923)--At the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, ex-slave Nancy Green mesmerized attendees as a spokesperson for the Davis Milling Company of St. Joseph, MO. In housedress and scarf, she whipped up batch after batch of homemade griddlecakes (made from scratch with Davis Flour) while telling stories, singing songs, and offering baking tips. Because of her success in drawing crowds, Davis hired Nancy to promote a specially formulated pancake flour as Aunt Jemima, a name derived from an old minstrel song she often sang while baking. In 1914, the company re-christened itself the Aunt Jemima Mills.
Green actively promoted Aunt Jemima, making as much as $25,000 per year until her sudden death in an automobile accident. Her face has adorned the Aunt Jemima product line since the 1890s, although the company has updated her image over the decades.
6. Jenny Joseph (c.1965?- )--Since 1924, Columbia Pictures has started most of its pictures with an image of Columbia (an archaic personification of the US; kinda like Uncle Sam, but in drag) standing on her pedestal. Five different models have posed for this image, very few known for sure.
After retiring the logo in 1976, the company brought it back five years later, using a different model. In 1993, they hired artist Michael Deas to redesign it. He chose Jenny Joseph, his neighbor, as his model.
So, you’ve seen her every time you’ve watched a Columbia movie.
7. Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (c.1998- )--Appearing in commercials since the age of four, Khedekar became an overnight sensation co-starring as the young Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire. Currently, he’s attending high school as he finishes Shyam’s Secret, a flick due out next year.
8. Rudy Martinez (c.1940?- )--When you sing one of the top hits of a decade, people tend to remember your name. But in Martinez’ case, no one did. That’s because he used punctuation (namely a question mark) for an alias.
? and the Mysterians first came together in Saginaw, Michigan in 1962. They struck gold with their 1966 single “96 Tears.”
Martinez has repeatedly denied that he and ? are one and the same. But copyright forms and eyewitness testimony prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Martinez is ?. A colorful figure, Martinez claims, among other things, that he is an alien from outer-space. Currently, the group has reunited and is going on tour.
9. Deborah McKee (c.1956- )--In 1960, when O.D. McKee wanted a name for his new line of snack cakes, an employee suggested he name it after a relative. McKee did just that, calling the product line Little Debbie after his granddaughter.
McKee's son, Ellsworth, and his daughter-in-law, Sharon, both objected to the use of their child as a company logo. So, O.D. went ahead as planned without telling them. Mom and Dad didn’t know that Little Debbie had become an icon until the first shipments arrived at the store.
Ellsworth and Sharon worried about their daughter growing up in the limelight. When you read about the fate of a lot of famous children, that kind of makes sense. But according to the company’s official website, Debbie survived childhood fame just fine, and is doing well.
10. Alan Reed (1907-1977)--A versatile character actor, Alan Reed played countless roles on radio and television. He made a few movies too. Despite all of the parts he’s played, his depiction of modhistoric caveman Fred Flintstone is hands down the most famous.
11. Phan Thi Kim Phuc (1963- )--Most people have bad days. Little Miss Phan had one remembered by millions.
On June 8, 1972, the South Vietnam Air Force, assisted by US Armed Forces, accidentally (?) napalmed the little village of Trang Bang. Phuc, who was taking a bath when the bombing started, suffered burns on most of her body. She had no time to think about her injuries, or get dressed for that matter, because she realized that if she didn’t flee right that instant, she’d die.
Phuc fled with family members, other villagers, and South Vietnamese troops. On the road leading to that hallowed land known as Outta Here, Associated Press photographer Nick Ut snapped her photograph. The pic wound up winning the Pulitzer Prize. Later on, she found out that two of her cousins died in the attack. She herself had to undergo a fourteen-month hospital stay and seventeen surgeries. Doctors did not expect her to survive.
But, survive she did. Phuc and her husband, Toan, defected to Canada in 1992, and received citizenship a few years later. She has been awarded numerous awards, including honorary doctorates. In 1997, UNESCO named her a Goodwill Ambassador.
12. Mary Ann Vecchio (c.1956- )--On May 4, 1970, fourteen-year-old runaway Mary Ann Vecchio (pictured in 2009 with James Filo) found herself in Ohio, on the campus of Kent State University, when all hell broke loose. National Guardsmen arrived a couple days earlier, after a couple of pop bottles slammed into a police car during an otherwise uneventful anti-war protest on May 1. The day they got there, someone set fire to the campus Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) building--whether the culprits were students, Guardsmen or “outside agitators” has become a source of ongoing debate. Governor James Rhodes banned a planned protest on May 4, but many students demonstrated anyway in defiance.
For reasons no one has ever explained, The National Guard fired into the crowd for an estimated thirteen seconds, wounding thirteen students, four mortally. Allison Krause, one of the demonstrators, died in the attack. Sandy Schreuer and William Schroeder were slain in the Prentice Hall parking lot, over one hundred yards away from the shooters. Schreuer was on her way to class. Schroeder caught a bullet in his back.
Jeffrey Miller, was about 270 feet from the firing line when a bullet fell him right in front of the underaged Vecchio. She kneeled over his dying body pleading for help, while Kent State photography major James Filo snapped a Pulitzer Prize winning image of the scene.
Vecchio immediately sold her story for a bus ticket to California. However, authorities, reading that she had run away, intercepted her before she could leave Ohio. The famous photograph would cause her more trouble over the years, as she attributes various scrapes with the law on what that image symbolized to police officers. She also had a distaste for all the attention. Nevertheless, she sometimes speaks publicly about the events of that day, most recently in May of this year at Kent State.
The National Guard settled with the victims and their families in 1979 for $675,000. They admitted no wrongdoing, but did issue a statement of regret:
In retrospect, the tragedy of May 4, 1970 should not have occurred. The students may have believed that they were right in continuing their mass protest in response to the Cambodian invasion, even though this protest followed the posting and reading by the university of an order to ban rallies and an order to disperse. These orders have since been determined by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to have been lawful.
Some of the Guardsmen on Blanket Hill, fearful and anxious from prior events, may have believed in their own minds that their lives were in danger. Hindsight suggests that another method would have resolved the confrontation. Better ways must be found to deal with such a confrontation.
We devoutly wish that a means had been found to avoid the May 4th events culminating in the Guard shootings and the irreversible deaths and injuries. We deeply regret those events and are profoundly saddened by the deaths of four students and the wounding of nine others which resulted. We hope that the agreement to end the litigation will help to assuage the tragic memories regarding that sad day.
Sometimes a person’s name leaves you in the dark. Yet, he or she might have done something memorable with their lives. Can you tell me who these people are, or what they’re (kinda) famous for (no Googling, please)?
1. Bunty Bailey 2. Jane Barbe 3. Frank Brown 4. Elwood Edwards 5. Nancy Green 6. Jenny Joseph 7. Ayush Mahesh Khedekar 8. Rudy Martinez 9. Deborah McKee 10. Alan Reed 11. Phan Thi Kim Phuc 12. Mary Ann Vecchio
Last year, I read my first novel by Charles Gramlich, The Swords of Telera. Set on an artificial world replete with the exotic alien humanoids, inter-dimensional portals and action it is in some ways characteristic of other novels of the fantasy genre.
To be honest, the fantasy genre isn’t my cup of tea. Yet Swords of Talera kept me turning pages until the very end. It’s masterful in its descriptions and in its pacing. The characters are psychologically complex and interesting, most notably Jask—who kinda strikes me as an intergalactic biker type with an odd, yet consistent morality. In short, it’s a fun novel for those who just like good reads, whether they like the genre or not.
The second Gramlich book I read, Cold in the Light, was very much my cup of tea, dealing as it did with government conspiracies and cryptozoology—with allusions to various ufology issues as a bonus. Needless to say, I gobbled that one up in several sittings. The same writing strengths that made the fantasy Swords of Talera surprisingly enjoyable for me made Cold in the Light quite special.
If you’re into these types of stories, I recommend both books very highly. If you’re not, I still recommend them.
Now Gramlich has come out with another book that’s going to the top of my reading list: Write with Fire, which offers his insights on the craft of writing. I am familiar with the author’s writing style from his books, his blog, and a couple of short stories. He indeed writes with fire. I’m therefore eager to listen to anything he says about the subject.
You see, some days I fancy myself as a bit of a writer. I know some of you do too. For those of you who, like me, want to improve your game, it can’t hurt to read the thoughts of someone who’s really good at it. And like me, you might want to move this up to the top of your reading list.
Cast: Ricardo Lori (Detective) Lauren (Dee von Zelle) John B. (Detective Bob Toricello) Jeannie-Girl (Lynn) K9 (Felicity & Homeless Woman) Foam (Diane) Holy Cannoli (Jenny) Rayke (Franklin & Sgt. MacBrian) SJ (Criminologist/Futon Cop) Boneman (Judge Ewing, the Mounted Cop & Smythe’s Answering Machine) Crushed by Ingsoc (Lt. Fisher and the Angry Driver) Pjazzypar (the Captain, the Caterer, the Hostess, Felicity’s old Professor, & FBI Agent) Malcolm (Essex County Deputy) Pamela Ringgold (Machine Dialer & Rude Cop) Yinyang (FBI Demolitions Expert & Lynn’s Old Friend) Foam Jr. (the Music Student) Mr. Foam (Homeless Man 2) X. Dell (Mr. Johnson & Homeless Man 1) Pinetop Swamp (Announcer)
Special guest stars: Ravi Khanna as Indra, Paul as Mountie Smythe, and Amy as Col. Smith.
Written and produced by X-Dell.
Directed by Committee.
Dedications and Special Thanks to Monique Caddy, David Caddy, and the rest of our friends at Middle Ditch.
Music by Da Palm & Nurykabe
Additional sound effects by c97059890 of the Free Sound Project (www.freesound.org)
My thanks, congratulations and praise for all the actors who made this project a reality. Special thanks to SJ for his promotional savvy and for the groovy widget. Additional thanks to him, JohnB, Holy Cannoli, Pjazzypar, Boneman, Foam, Ricardo, Foam and Yinyang for posting the series in whole or part, and Ravi Khanna for posting the widget. No matter what, no one can say we couldn't do this. Now, what if we were to make a movie....? Just kidding.