theCriticalThought.com May 2017          Tom Ersin, Managing Editor
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The Thinker

Milestones


Births, deaths, and in-between



DIED: Mollie "Mrs. Slocombe" Sugden (July 1, 2009)

Captain Peacock, I do not respond to any man's finger!

Before we go any further, Mr. Rumbold, Miss Brahms and I would like to complain about the state of our drawers. They're a positive disgrace.

And so went a typical day of back-and-forth between the Ladies Separates and Underwear Department and management. It all took place at the fictional London department store Grace Brothers in the British sitcom "Are You Being Served?"  The show involved "heavy double entendre and jokes that could be seen advancing over the horizon from several miles away" ("Mollie Sugden," 2009).

The original episode was an overlooked "Comedy Playhouse" pilot gathering dust in the studio archives until 1972 when terrorists struck the Munich Olympics. Scrambling to fill empty airspace (previously reserved for the games), the BBC aired the obscure pilot. Nineteen million viewers gave it a huge thumbs-up, and five more episodes were immediately filmed. The BBC broadcast a total of 74 original episodes from 1973 to 1985. In the 1990s, PBS began airing reruns, which resulted in a popularity resurgence and an entirely new (U.S.) audience ("Mollie Sugden," 2009).

Mrs. Slocombe has gone home to her "little pussy" in the sky. "And I am unanimous in that." Ms. Sugden was 86 years old. ■


DIED: John F. Mitchell, Inventor of Cellphone Prototype (June 11, 2009)

You (or your grandfather) may remember Michael Douglas walking along a private beach in the 1987 film Wall Street. He was conducting some sinister business on a wireless contraption introduced by Motorola in 1983 called the DynaTAC. It weighed nearly three pounds and listed for $3995. This first commercial version of today’s cellphone was as big as Michael’s head, but it was very cool. Lovingly nicknamed the "Brick," Mitchell’s invention changed life as we knew it (Romero, 2009).

No more standing in serene lines at the grocery store. No more uninterrupted dinners at Denny’s. Those times when we could get lost in reverie are now constantly punctuated by the inane blather of meaningless wireless conversations. Now we have two idiots sitting next to us at the movie theater: the guy on his cellphone and the virtual idiot he’s talking to. Thanks a lot, John F. Mitchell. Just kidding. How could you have known? Mr. Mitchell was 81 years old. ■


LIP-SYNCHED: Yo-Yo Ma et al Pull an Ashley Simpson (January 20, 2009)

Four world-class musicians lip-synched their way together through a piece (specially written by John Williams for the inauguration festivities) entitled "Air and Simple Gifts." It turns out all of the inauguration day musicians made just-in-case backup recordings ahead of time. But the classical all-stars were the only ones to actually use theirs at their "performance." As a further precaution, the four virtuosos had also rehearsed a ho-down, to be danced in case of any technical glitch during playback; mercifully, the ho-down was not necessary.

Oh yeah, a new president was sworn in today. And he’s the first non-Caucasian chief exec in history, yada, yada. But the real news is still the lip-synching scandal. Instead of "Air and Simple Gifts," the group delivered hot air and short shrift. Even the (Internet) Dancing Baby was indignant: "Their performance was a fake!" And on what better authority ... yada, yada. A $17 million congressional investigation is underway. ■


DIED: Music Business (November 9, 2008)

After six years in a persistent vegetative state, Music Business died a few hours after being taken off life-support. His final resting place is hidden somewhere on the "American Idol" soundstage. Karaoke, the nearest surviving relative, has fought since 2002 for the right to withhold extraordinary means to keep him alive. She has maintained that Music Business told her he never wanted to live this way. She stated, "M.B. always said it was time to check out when he no longer had the strength to keep up with his grandchildren, iTunes and Wii." In a bold move, Karaoke actually pulled the plug herself.

Through large aquatic reptilian drops of clear saline fluid, Karaoke urged calm and restraint during this time of uncertainty. Per Music Business’ request, there will be no funeral. But friends, family, and former employees will gather at the Iddi Biddi MIDI Lounge in Los Angeles for reminiscing and fake live music. Vocal lessons are requested in lieu of flowers. ■


RETIRED: Herschel "Hersch" Krustofski Hangs up Vocal Cords
(November 8, 2008)

The legendary wedding-band guitarist Herschel S. Krustofski played his last dinner set tonight at a swanky metro area country club. In his honor, hoity-toity guests ignored the band a little less than usual. Thus was capped a 30-year career filled with similarly scintillating highlights, like that house party that paid about enough to order an Iced Skinny Venti Upside-down Caramel Macchiato at BuckStars. Hersch lamented that the local music business is not the same anymore: "The industry has turned into a morass of emperors, all proudly showing off their new clothes." He added, "There’s also a dark side" ( —  thanks to Hunter S. Thompson).

Krustofski has spent the last decade in a little combo called "I’m OK, You’re an Idiot" (IOYI). The final nail in the coffin was finding out that minimum wage doesn’t apply in southern states. The debacle below the Mason-Dixon Line turned out to be a $37.50 per day sunshine bonanza. Under the IOYI corporate policy of, "don’t ask, don’t know," Hersch accepted his last dose of mature male, bovinely exquisite excrement and went softly into the night. He paraphrased F. Scott Fitzgerald as he thought: "The very inept, petty, and irrelevant are different from you and me." In his head, Hersch heard Hemingway retort, "Yes, they have more ineptitude, more pettiness, and less (expletive deleted) relevance." ■


NO NEWS: Is Good News (March 32, 2008)

In 2003 Vice President Cheney elevated the Department of Information Paucity (DIP) to Cabinet-level status (in preparation for the Iraq invasion). It has remained subordinate to the embattled U.S. Office of Deficient Communications and Media Sciences (whose overlapping existence critics call a pork-barrel abuse of bureaucratic pork-barrel dimensions). In an effort to justify its budget, DIP released the results today of its five-year, $94 billion Redundant Repetition of Services Study. The long-awaited findings: No news is usually good news, but there can be exceptions. ■ 


CD RELEASE: Herschel, A Brave New One-Name Artist (June 25, 2005)

The long awaited, self-titled music CD by singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Herschel, has finally been released, to polite approval from family and friends. He's the latest in a rich tradition of one-name artists who have bravely forsaken self-serving marketing ploys. They're the strong, the rebels; THEY USE ONLY THEIR FIRST NAMES! ■ 


WORLD: Nicer Place (March 18, 1968)

Today, the world became a little bit nicer place. ■


BIRTH: Herschel Shmoikel Krustofski (March 18, 1968)

To Sunflower and Tree Krustofski, Highland Park, MI. ■


BIRTH: Of The Cool (June 1950)

Miles Davis Nonet. Capitol Records. Miles Davis (trumpet), Mike Zwerin (trombone), Bill Barber (tuba), Junior Collins (French horn), Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Lee Konitz (alto saxophone), John Lewis (piano), Al McKibbon (bass), Max Roach (drums). ■



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An Internet magazine sharpening the satiric edge of critically thoughtful communication while exploring media, culture, and cellphone etiquette.

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Mrs. Slocombe

"Captain Peacock, I do not respond to any man's finger!"

 

 

Motorola cellphone prototype: "The Brick"

You (or your grandfather) may remember Michael Douglas walking along a private beach in the 1987 film Wall Street. He was talking on a wireless contraption introduced by Motorola in 1983 called the DynaTAC. It weighed nearly three pounds and listed for $3995. This first commercial cellphone was as big as Michael's head, but it was very cool.

 

 

Broken record

After six years in a persistent vegetative state, Music Business died a few hours after being taken off life-support. His final resting place is hidden somewhere on the "American Idol" soundstage. Karaoke, the nearest surviving relative, has fought since 2002 for the right to withhold extraordinary means to keep him alive. She has maintained that Music Business told her he never wanted to live this way.

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