YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING – RICH PASCHALL

R.I.P. DON RICKLES!

With the presidential campaign going strong there are plenty of news items for late night comedians to poke fun at, but no one today could possibly be as biting as the King of the Insult Comics.  Not only has he been doing this for many decades, he is still at it.  From Johnny Carson to Jimmy Fallon as well as all the other late night hosts, this comedian has brought a brand of humor like no other.

NO JOKING AROUND, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Imagine a comedian who insults everyone by race, gender, ethnic background and every other quality you can poke fun at. The audience loves it. No one walks out.  No one calls for him to be banned or fired.  Social media do not go ablaze with attacks. No Facebook postings, hash tags, capital letter tweets, re-tweets, shares, or re-blogs.

Everyone loves it. That probably would not happen today.  A comedian can’t walk into a room, insult everyone, including the President of the United States, yet leave everyone calling for more.  We seem to have lost our ability to poke fun at ourselves and our eccentricities.  We certainly can’t laugh at stereotypes that grow up around our religion, our ethnic group, or our town.

Today, everything has to be politically correct.  Any comedian who forgets that may be in for a short career. There was a time when a serious actor but outrageous comedian was able to take off after just about everyone.  No one in the room was safe from his barbs, whether you had a front row seat or were anywhere in his line of sight, because that would also be his line of fire.

With a television career that began in the 1950’s, Don Rickles appeared in both comedies and dramas.  He appeared in the classic 1958 Clark Gable movie, “Run Silent, Run Deep.”  Other dramatic roles would come in the future but he gained his greatest fame as an “insult comedian.”

That’s right.  He came out and insulted everyone and went home.  I saw him at the old Mill Run Theater outside of Chicago.  The in-the-round theater was perfect for the non-stop rapid fire comedian. By the time Frank Sinatra told Ronald Reagan’s people that Don Rickles, a Democrat, would play the Inauguration or they could get someone else to line up the talent, Rickles was already known as “Mr. Warmth,” because he was anything but that.

The resulting show was classic.  By the way, he had the “mic drop” down pat long before today’s comedian (and others) used it.

You may say, and perhaps rightly, that a comedian can’t get away with stuff like that today.  Rickles has had a long, illustrious career as an actor and “The Merchant of Venom.”  He ruled the late night talk shows and concert halls.  We have lost the sense of humor that can allow comedians to act this way.

Rickles is the only one left of the acerbic comedians of old who can get us to laugh at ourselves by insulting us and our foibles.  Just a few months ago, Rickles stopped in by Jimmy Fallon just as he has done often with Tonight show hosts since Johnny Carson.

Don Rickles still performs his stand up act and is booked out to late in the year.


Don Rickles recently passed away. See him at Sunday Night Blog!

THE BEAVER AT BOSTON WHARF: TRACES OF THE PAST

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: TRACES OF THE PAST Y3-04


The Beaver


The original brig Beaver, like the Dartmouth, was built and owned by the Rotch’s, an affluent Nantucket Quaker family. The Beaver was a whaling vessel built in 1772 by Ichabod Thomas at the Brick Kiln Yard on the banks of the North River near Situate, Massachusetts. Similar to other merchant vessels of the time, the Beaver was about 85 feet long with a beam of nearly 24 feet. The draft of the Beaver could not exceed nine feet because Nantucket Harbor had a sand bar across its mouth, which as a result, set the maximum size for vessels of that port.

From “The History of the Beaver”

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OVER AND OUT

A short story by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


It was not like Billy’s dad to just walk into his room. At 17 years old he really expected his parents to knock first. He quickly closed out of his chat and turned around to see what his father wanted.

“What’s up, dad?” Billy began.

“Son, I think there is something you should tell me.” Billy’s father paused and waited for a response. Billy was clueless. He could not think of a thing he should say, so there was this long awkward silence as the two of them shot puzzled looks at one another.

Billy’s father had noticed over the last two month’s the nature of his son’s friendship with a handsome young classmate named Josh. They went everywhere together. They studied together and they spent hours on the phone together. Going to the movies on a Saturday night was just like the dates Billy’s dad had with his wife when they were teenagers. Billy would spend a lot of time getting ready. He picked out his best date-night type clothes and he absolutely lit up when Josh appeared at the door. Dad felt he could not be mistaken.

empty chairs

“No, dad, I can’t think of anything,” Billy finally said in his best “I’m innocent” voice.

“Are you gay?” his father shot back. All of a sudden something heavy fell on Billy’s chest. It must have been the weight of reality hitting him. He was unprepared.

“Yes dad,” Billy responded as boldly as he could after the truth was already out there anyway.

“And this Josh fellow, is he your boyfriend?” Billy did not want to out Josh to his father but he figured that he somehow knew so he gave up that truth too.

“Yes, dad.” Once again they stared at one another until Billy could finally throw that weight off himself and speak up.

“So, it’s OK then?” Billy asked. His dad did not want to say “yes” because it was not alright with him, but he did not want to say “no” because he recalled how difficult teenage love could be and just figured that gay teenage love was even harder. After a few moments deep in thought, Billy’s dad had a course of action in mind.

“Son, I want you to tell your mother this week. Am I clear about that?”

“No dad, please,” the boy replied in horror. “Can’t you tell her?” If his dad was not all “open-arms” about this he could not imagine his mother’s reaction. She was far more right of center than dad.

“Billy, if you think you are old enough to be making out with another boy, you are certainly old enough to man-up and tell your mother exactly who you are.” At that, Billy’s dad left the room and quietly closed the door on the way out.

For the rest of the week, Billy was a nervous wreck. Every time he saw his mother he could feel a knot in his stomach. His father started shooting him angry glances for failing to tell his story. Billy did tell two people though, Josh and his sister, Mary. The latter was a tactical error, to be sure.

One night when they all happened to be at the dinner table at once, a rare occurrence for two busy parents and two teenagers, Mary could not hold her brother’s secret any longer.  “So, little Billy, did you tell mom yet that you’ve been kissing boys?”

Billy’s mom immediately looked like she had seen the ghost of her dear departed mother glaring at her. “Robert, did you know about this?” Billy’s mom shouted across the room at her husband. He did not respond but she could tell after twenty-three years of marriage what the response would be. “How dare you!” she screamed at either Billy or her husband, neither was quite sure, and then she stormed out of the room.

Over the next few weeks Billy parents argued often about why the boy was gay. Each thought the other had a hand in it, but only mom was mortified and angry beyond reason.

“If you had been a stronger father,” she took to telling him almost daily, “This would not have happened.”

To which he frequently responded, “I tried to discipline the boy but every time I did he would run to you and get off the hook. I would say you are the reason he’s a mamma’s boy.” From there it only got worse.

After one particularly stormy session, Billy’s mom finally declared she was through. “I want a divorce.  We can not continue these fights in front of the children.” Robert agreed and went to their room. A stunned Billy, eavesdropping in the next room, began to cry.

Robert called his brother and asked to stay a few days. He packed a bag and prepared to leave when Billy ran into his room. “No dad, please don’t leave. I am sorry, it’s all my fault.  I’ll change, I promise. I won’t be gay any more. Please.” Billy buckled at the knees and went down to the floor. His dad helped him up and sat him on the edge of the bed.

“Look son, my marriage was over years ago. It took something like this to point that out.  You can not change this anymore than I can change who you are.” At that he reached over to hug the boy. He planted a kiss on his forehead, got up, grabbed his bag and walked out the door.

ANTI-FASHIONABLE FOREVER

Through the ups, downs, and sideways’ of fashion, I have remained tenaciously, solidly, anti-fashion.

Even during those periods when I had a body that might — in theory — be a fashionable shape, the clothing was never me. Too tight. Too pointy. Too bright. Too striped. Just too too too.

So, I never tried to be fashionable. When young, I wanted to look like Joan Baez. If I think about it, she was stylish in her own way. Hippyish, which was my general style too. I never went with crazy patterns, but I did go with loose and comfortable. I found a couple of places in Greenwich Village where they made my idea of fashion. I continued to buy the same clothing from the same places until I became a mommy and didn’t have time (or money) to go into the city. After that, I replicated the same styles via various mall stores.

As I got older, there was always L.L. Bean and Land’s End. Their catalogs were my fallback position. I could usually count on finding A-line skirts and round-toed shoes. And turtlenecks. In black, taupe, gray, navy, and occasionally, mauve. Jeans were always good for between work and later, at work because eventually, you could wear anything to work and no one cared.

I still wear the same stuff, though yoga pants have taken over for jeans. Once you go stretchy, you’ll never go back. Long, loose dresses because I have a stupid itchy rash and often can’t wear elastic.

Fashion statement? Me? I visit “Chicos” for special occasions. Three sizes fit all. No matter how hard I try, there is always a wedding, funeral, or some kind of reunion to attend. Sometimes I have to go … and I need a dress.

On the upside of unfashionable, unless I get much fatter or a lot thinner, I can wear the same unfashionable clothing forever. It was out-of-date when I bought it and it will be no more out-of-date five years from now. Even better, periodically my lack of fashion becomes in fashion. Long skirts, blocky shoes, loose tops. I wear what I wear, but fashion sometimes changes in my direction. So every now and then, I’m “IN.”

This is not one of those years.