Monday, July 19, 2010

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From ALF

There is a place in my heart that you cannot touch. No -- shhhh; no! No one can touch that place in my heart. No one...but Gordon Shumway.

For, Gordon Shumway - that lovable, fuzzy, sardonic, cat-eating, Gilligan's Island obsessed, pro-green-movement-even-before-your-mom-wrote-Facebook-posts-about-how-hot-her-carbon-footprint-is-right-now, gambling addict, Alien Life Form covered in little brown curlies - taught me so much about life and truth and all that is, you know, real in this cold, cold world, that since he abandoned me, leaving me frigid and alone, my life has never been the same. (feel free to let your spawn borrow that Little Runon That Could for his thirty second dramatic monologue for his middle school's big Spring production of Jesus Christ, Superstar tryout. It'll kill, I tell you. Kill!)

Well, before he left me frigid and alone, ALF left me with a lot of lessons about life, and now, on National Lollipop Day 2010, I will share some of those lessons with you. Other lessons - not now. Not yet. But some lessons, from me to you, are as follows.

1) First and foremost: You can walk around with a distractingly wanglike phallus snout and never even get called out on it if you come equipped with biting sarcasm and a winning smile. Before ALF came along, proboscis-donged Gonzo, the Snorks (well, more phallus-headed, but phallied, nonetheless), and old Schlongy McSchnozerson Q-Bert just walked along, morning wood, afternoon wood, and evening wood on their countenances like it was nobody's (or everybody's) business. And, boy howdy, if that isn't all you could see looking into those animated faces: johnsons akimbo. Well, besides being glaringly rod-faced, what else do we really know about Gonzo, the Snorks, and Q to the Bert? Nada. Maybe if they coulda brought it Shumway style, we woulda looked past their little chubby -um - cheeks. But, no. They couldn't, and we didn't. But ALF? Barely noticed the oldsniffer, phallically speaking.

2) Speaking of all things phallic, apparently the patriarch of the Tanner family (appropriately named) Willie was a total peen in real life. Supposedly Max Wright was completely jealous (duh) of ALF being the hilarious stud of the sitcom (obviously). My BFF Wikipedia tells me that after the final take of the beloved classic sitcom: "there was one take and Max walked off the set, went to his dressing room, got his bags, went to his car and disappeared. [...] There were no goodbyes." Sweet. But what lesson did I learn from this, you ask? Well, I thought this was abundantly clear, but, if I need to spell it out for you: sometimes, a wonderful, loving and patently uninteresting in appearance sitcom dad who always has either an appropriately stern glance or a fittingly warm hug on the ready is actually a real life a-hole. Apparently sometimes books with really boring covers do actually suck in real life. Lesson learned.

3) Lesson Numero Tres: Throw in some Jim J. Bullock to the equation, hilarity ensues. Which brings me to my next point: Where in the hell is Jim J. Bullock? I only throw it out there because I realize it's the elephant in the room that you've been wondering about all these years, too. As Monroe Ficus in Too Close For Comfort, he was the glue that held the show together. When Jim J. joined the ALF cast in Season 4 as Big Willie's lonely brother Neal, the comic chemistry between Bullock and Shumway was instant classic television. So where in God's name is Jim J. Bullock? Just curious.

4) Today's fourth and final lesson still stings. I practically know why the caged bird sings. For, through ALF, I came to realize that there are no happy endings. Case in point? The series finale. Yeah. When last we saw ALF in 1990's Season 4, Episode 24, Consider Me Gone, ALF was on his way to a glorious, long-awaited reunion with his fellow Melmacians ready to pick him up and take him to Alien Life Form Utopia on a new planet. Well, not so fast, my friends, for, in an allegorical life lesson that still spreads chillbumps over every inch of my epidermis, ALF is captured by the United States military's Alien Task Force. Will they expose him to the world? We are left to believe that they will. Will ALF ever join his friends and loved ones who also managed to escape the nuclear explosion that destroyed his home planet, Melmac? We are left to believe that he will not. This was supposed to be a season cliffhanger. Instead, ALF was cancelled. Millions of hearts wept, dreams shattered. Sure, ALF made a few appearances on Hollywood Squares years later, and yes, he had a seven episode hosting gig opposite Ed McMahon on the channel formerly known as Nick at Nite. And, okay, in 1996 NBC tried to kiss my ass with some Whatever Happened to ALF very special special. (Didn't watch it. Too little, too late, Warren Littlefield!) But, I'll never forget that when I was eleven, I was left to think that poor ALF's body was being alien-autopsied by our government, just so he could end up in one of those creepy Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown commercials that kept me up all night. (Oh my Good God - do you remember these?) I shed many a tear for our Gordon Shumway. Many a tear, indeed.

These lessons have at times helped me through some serious rough patches in life and at other times shat all over my bitter soul. That is both here and there. I hope that you can take these lessons and use them as you may. From me and (I like to presume) from Gordon Shumway: Namaste.


Anonymous said...

I would like to believe that great minds think alike Mrs. Eggs-A-Lady. I too have noticed the diminishing effect that biting sarcasam and a winning smile has on the face of someone who is, shall we say, well endowed. However, I had only thought of this as a recent phenomenon. I had attributed the origin of this condition to Seth MacFarlane’s ballsy patriarch, Peter Griffin in Family Guy. The show’s longevity serves as proof of the existence of a “junk-cloaking” effect. I mean really, how long can a person watch a sit com where one of the main characters has balls for a chin! There had to be something that allowed the audience to forget about Peter’s bejeweled chin and relate to him as a person.

I postulated my theory back in 2005 after watching episode 86, “Peter’s Got Woods.” Ever since the epiphany, I’ve been conducting extensive research and working towards publishing my work. After dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on my latest grant proposal, I took a siesta to puruze internet. It was a google search that included the words: Smirnoff, lollipop, and Florence Henderson which brought me to your blog (don’t judge me). My world will never be the same.

Your work is ground breaking! I am simultaneously overjoyed and heartbroken. I thought I was a pioneer, discovering a new world heretofore hidden from untrained eye. I felt like Christopher Columbus. And you, you are my Amerigo Vespucci (or perhaps it’s the other way around). Anyway, I think you and I have the same vision, only you saw it a decade ealier in Alf. Your contributions to this area of research will far surpass what I have to offer. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before you discover a mathematical formula that describes the PAR (Phallic Acceptance Ratio) for any actor, given the size of the phallic facial feature you can accurately predict the size of their smile and the degree to which their sarcasam is biting.

I no longer have the desire to continue this race, realizing that you will cross the finish line and get your t-shirt before I could even make it to the halfway mark. Please take this baton from me and don’t look back! Don’t worry about me, I’ll be just fine. In my spare time I’d been throwing around the idea of branching out into untrodden territory. Perhaps something about the 98 missing parables of Jesus that are missing from the New Testament that have come to us through the vessel of Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith and the A-Team (one in each episode). I love it when a plan comes together!

C. Cocksedge said...

For me, the story was REALLY about Q*bert. As phallus talk goes, how could you get past the little orange titular protagonist that shoots 'projectiles' at characters named 'slick' and 'coily'? I mean really?

what's a donzer said...

OMG, Anon. You and I are kindred spirits, we. Never could I even fashion a response comment to your response comment that would say enough. You said so much in one comment that I laughed and cried and laughed and cried, got up to pee, laughed, sneezed, and then exhaled. You are long-winded (but precisely the right amount of wind, in my opinion) just like me. Get up on it, my friend. Normally, I ain't gettin on no plane, but I'm climbing aboard this one. Hannibal's on the jazz, and, frankly, so are you.

And, C.: With a name like Cocksedge, you are the coily professional. I was always too busy with Ugg and Wrong Way, I guess, to concentrate on the implications Coily and Slick were bringing to the table. Touche'.