Friday, March 26, 2010



Recently, I saw Tim Burton’s through-a-looking-glass-darkly interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which even the dimmest single-celled organism knows has raked in about a gajillion dollars since it opened in theaters on March 5.

Though a bit more brightly landscaped than much of his previous work and shot in 2D-converted-to-3D, “Alice” is typical Burton fare: Surreal, whimsically absurdist, artfully cartoonish, and featuring the nepotistic casting of wife Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp, godfather of the Carter-Burtons’ son. (Personal opinion: Adding a third dimension did little to enhance an already visually spectacular film, and I’m not just saying that because my poor depth perception makes 3D movies look like the fuzz on a hookah-smoking caterpillar.)

Some literary purists are all in a dither about Burton taking liberties with the original fairy tale – Corporate negotiations! An action scene with Alice in chain mail! – but many are becoming curiouser and curiouser about the director’s wonky re-imagining.

Most people know the story of Alice falling down the rabbit hole, but how many stop to ponder just HOW twisted a tale this is transmit to tots? “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,” while written to entertain a preteen friend of Carroll’s, is a strange and hostile-bordering-on-sadistic narrative that’s just as appealing to adults as it is with children.

Adults’ fascination with “Alice,” proven by countless analyses of the story’s psychological underpinnings, prompted me to wonder why Hollywood doesn’t simply make fairy tales for the NC-17 crowd?

To that end, here are some suggestions for fairy tales and nursery rhymes I’d like to see adapted for the big and/or small screen:

* “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Study in Polygamy”

* “Narcoleptic Beauty”

* “Free-Range Chicken Little”

* “Addicted to Rogaine: The Rapunzel Story”

* “The Incontinent Duckling”

* “Mrs. Pumpkin Eater, Desperate Housewife”

* “The Tortoise and the Hare's Not-So-Amazing Race”

* “How I Met Your Mother Hubbard”

* “Two and a Half Men in a Tub”

* “Simple Simon Cowell”

* “The Emperor's New Clothes, Portrait of a Metrosexual”

* “Ring Around the Rosie O'Donnell”

* “Jack and Jill Plus Eight”

* “Beauty and the Beast 3: She’s REALLY Out of My League”

* “The Three Little Pigs in a Blanket with a Side of Hash Browns”

Friday, March 12, 2010



In the decade or so since Al Gore invented the Internet (just kidding – everyone knows it’s a surveillance device created by a superior alien species to observe us earthlings), it seems like the same 50 emails have been making the rounds. You know the ones – heart-tugging tales of missing/sick children; virus alerts, occasionally real but usually hoaxes; horror stories of people contracting the latest epidemic from a gas pump or pay phone – and so on and so on.

I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve gotten notifying me that it’s National Friendship Day/Week/Month, but apparently, this “holiday” falls numerous times a year. And if there were any truth to the one about Microsoft sending x-number of dollars to everyone who forwards a particular email, Bill Gates would owe me $8,274.28.

But occasionally, I receive recycled email I don’t mind reading for the 923rd time, particularly “Questions That Make You Go ‘Hmmm.’” These oft-reprised lists feature thought-provoking inquiries like, “If the No. 2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still No. 2?” and “If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?”

In an effort to start a new email circulation craze, I’m submitting this selection of speculative stumpers. Feel free to pay ‘em forward:

* Why does bottled water have an expiration date?

* If a book about failure is bought by a million people, does that make it a success?

* Why don't we ever hear about people being gruntled or combobulated?

* If my car’s out of whack, is it “in whack” once it’s fixed?

* Why are coffin lids nailed shut?

* Why is it you never hear good-looking people say that beauty is only skin-deep?

* Can poisonous snakes poison each other?

* Why doesn't “added bonus” mean you get two bonuses?

* Why does Allstate insurance's disclaimer say “not available in all states”?

* Why does the LONE Ranger have a sidekick?

* If Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his hat and called in “macaroni,” what did he call actual macaroni?

* If the Easter Bunny brings eggs, why don't chickens lay Peeps?

* Why do we tell kids not to take candy from strangers, but take them trick-or-treating?

* How come we say, “Heads up!” when we're warning someone to duck?

* Do English people eat American muffins?

* Why do “uphill battle” and “it was all downhill from there” both mean things are tough?

* Why doesn't Winnie the Pooh just get a “hunny” jar with a bigger opening?

* Speaking of honey, why does it come in plastic bears instead of plastic bees?

* Why aren't male ballet dancers called ballerinos?

* How can a mail-order item be labeled “free” if you have to pay shipping and handling?

* Is there an exception to the rule that there's an exception to every rule?

And finally, a conjectural query from the late George Carlin that would render this list non-existent if it had an answer: “What if there were no hypothetical questions?”