Why You Should Never Mock Macaulay Culkin: A Cautionary Tale

Macaulay Culkin has managed to create minor buzz recently, mostly related to pizza. Here he eats a slice of pizza for four-and-a-half minutes, struggling with oregano, digestion and purpose. Turns out he was paying homage to Andy Warhol eating a Burger King hamburger in similar fashion in 1981. Also, just because, someone fused them side by side.

Mila Kunis will break up with me one day!

All of this apparently promotes Culkin’s new music venture, a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground cover band that mumble-sings parody lyrics about pizza.

You might deride this as the cynical stoned nonsense of a former child actor clamoring for a morsel of attention. You might question why Time Magazine devoted extensive analysis to Culkin’s pizza consumption. You might reasonably ask, “Who gives one tiny sliver of a fuck?”

But I will not ask that. Mock Macaulay Culkin at your peril. I learned this lesson years ago in a personal and traumatic way.

Once in my early 20s, my girlfriend and I went to the movies. Our first movie choice, which I don’t recall now, was sold out. So my girlfriend suggested My Girl, starring Macaulay Culkin.

I’d have as soon watched a documentary about the history of bonnets. If you’re not familiar with the movie, My Girl came out in 1991 on the heels of Macaulay mania from the Home Alone juggernaut. My Girl is a coming-of-age nostalgia film set in the 60s, most notable for the fact that Culkin’s character dies. Some controversy surrounded the release of the film. Many worried that his young fans wouldn’t be able to process seeing the precious, wide-eyed burglar tormentor meet the reaper onscreen. As an avid reader of movie reviews and entertainment news, I knew well the details of his demise going into the theater: His character, allergic to bees, succumbs to a swarm.

Culkin today, at age 74

Culkin today, at age 74

So I was whining about having to watch this movie from the flicker of the first preview. My girlfriend alternated between amused and annoyed as I leaned in and whispered my relentless running commentary. (Mostly annoyed.) Every time Culkin appeared, I would pinch her arm and “bzzzzzt” to helpfully foreshadow his imminent expiry. I groaned. I rolled my eyes. I snickered inappropriately. I sighed and looked at my watch. But mostly, I cracked an ongoing stream of jokes about the treacly chick flick I had regretfully agreed to sit through.

Culkin’s death scene, as I recall it, was comical. I laughed aloud as the obviously phony swarm overtook the poor boy in the woods. Really? This was going to destroy the psyches of a generation of vulnerable young Home Alone fans?

My girlfriend was already feeling the sadness, though. After the death scene and leading up to the funeral scene, she sniffled and wiped away real tears, so I backed off the snark. I figured at this point I could ride out the closing 10 minutes or so and we could make our way to a bar somewhere.

Then it began.

I did not just cry a little. Desperate unchecked emotion consumed me. Nor was it gradual, like a twitching watery eye that I could dab away unseen in the dark of the theater. Oh, no, that’s not what happened next.

The girl in My Girl is Anna Chlumsky, her character the death-obsessed daughter of funeral home director Dan Aykroyd and best friend of Culkin’s character. If I remember correctly, her character chose to skip the funeral service for her dead friend because she said it was no different than any of the other services in the funeral home.

I was entirely unprepared when Chlumsky got up and walked out of her bedroom during the service. She listened to the dry, impersonal words of the preacher who delivered the eulogy in the room below.

She listened more intently and solemnly as she descended the stairs. She stopped and hunched down behind the railing, her grief and sorrow escalating. I swallowed hard and pinched my eyes tightly and realized there was no turning back. I choked out an audible whimper of despair that my girlfriend noted.

“Are you OK?” my girlfriend asked with much more genuine concern than I deserved.

“I’m fine.” Except my incomplete, gargling yelp betrayed my emotions. My face filled with heat and tears. The bundle was set to unravel.

And then Chlumsky walked down the stairs and into the service and did the worst thing she could possibly do to my dignity. She raced up to the open coffin and made desperate pleas for her departed companion. “His face is hurt!” she said as she observed the welts from his bee stings. And the clincher, “Where are his glasses? He can’t see without his glasses!”

I bellowed out the heaving sobs of a grieving widow. I hyperventilated with the uncontrollable hopeless sadness of a child whose dog had died. “Guh-HUHHK! Guh-HUHHHK! HYUUUUGHT-unh!” My girlfriend realized that I was losing control and sweetly held and stroked my arm and then I did the only thing I could. I got up and ran out of the theater. I bolted up the aisle with my tear-streamed face and retreated to the sanctuary of the men’s room to regain my composure.

I leaned over the sink, still crying through deep, calming breaths, fists gripping the bevel of the bathroom counter, oblivious to the comings and goings of other more emotionally stable moviegoers. I clung to one note of solace: This absurdity was, without question, funny as hell. I knew through the tears that I would eventually laugh really hard at the entire shameful episode. I’d spent 90 minutes mocking the movie, buzzing whenever Culkin entered stage right, and all the while a karma spider quietly crawled up my pant leg and bit me right on the ass. I had just made a humiliating evacuation from the theater because I could not stop my frenzied sobbing. Over My Girl. With Macaulay Culkin.

I waited in the lobby for my girlfriend as the credits rolled. We drove wordlessly home, and went to bed soon thereafter. She made the unlikely decision to stay in the relationship for a couple more years afterward. Fortunately we are still friends and can recall this incident with reliable hilarity.

So anyway, here it is. If you dare.

Abe Lincoln Sells Two Tickets to the Musket Show

Sometimes moderately funny things become impossibly hilarious to me. So is the case with Ab Lincoln, an errant typographical moniker assigned to our 16th president by a colleague in a recent email. The author intended to inspire and energize the corporate troops with a quote from Abe Lincoln, but the clumsy motivational metaphor fell flat, in no small part because he attributed the day’s wisdom to “Ab” Lincoln.

Typos are funny in a way similar to videos of people obliviously stumbling into fountains at the mall while texting. It’s the kind of unintentional, non-malicious, disproportionately embarrassing act that we quietly laugh at when others do it and simmer in frustrated shame when we do it ourselves.

And Abe Lincoln is our most consistently comedic historical figure (although I rally for Rasputin). Saturday Night Live recognized this years ago when Abe Lincoln showed up to call Tom Hanks “an incredible pussy” during the opening monologue. And Conan O’Brien (who likely wrote the Hanks skit back in his SNL days) has long appreciated the comedy versatility of Abe.

So, yes, “Ab” Lincoln made me laugh. It conjured images of Honest Ab, with a glistening washboard torso usually only seen in magazine shoots of Twilight stars and favorable imaginations of a super-lightweight division boxing champion Jesus Christ. And what would a ripped cabin builder and super-motivational orator do? Open Ab Lincoln’s Fitness Emporium, that’s what! Fortunately, I work with a talented designer who helped realize this vision.

Why is Fonzi doing reverse mortgage commercials? He didn’t even kill Natalie Wood.

I must admit, we were kinda bummed to see Henry Winkler recently debut as the celebrity spokesperson for One Reverse Mortgage. First of all, when did the Fonz age into the role of Comforting Familiar Trustworthy Senior? Isn’t that the territory of folksy oat peddler and diligent diabeetus warrior Wilford Brimley? Or the surprisingly inept and possibly inebriated teleprompter reader Tommy Lee Jones? I mean, the fucking Fonz improbably mastered Russian dance, sent bullies scurrying in a whimpering panic by busting doors off their hinges, mixed toughness with wisdom to defuse a violent situation with a karate-crazed Tom Hanks (!), and ended racial segregation.

So forgive us if we can’t help but feel that shilling for reverse mortgages is beneath Winkler’s station, better suited for Hart to Hart actor and marital yacht assassin Robert Wagner. (Insert tasteless Natalie Driftwood joke here.)

We’ve decided to celebrate some of Winkler’s finest work, as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development. Here, in one of our favorite scenes of all time, Winkler lampoons overt TV product placements, punctuating the point by jumping the shark for the second time in his career:

 

And the original, as Fonzie, which launched a passionate cultural fixation on pinpointing the moment good things start to suck:

 

And finally, one last sublime Zuckerkorn moment. Those are balls:

A ContainsEggs Cry for Help

There are two things I need you to help me find:

(1) In the early 1980s, there was a TV public service announcement by the Department of Labor that educated viewers about their minimum wage entitlements. I know this one existed; I recall the song, a punchy, uplifting soundtrack for a 30 second inspirational montage of happy people celebrating minimum wage employment. Some sample lyrics:

“Three-ten, three-ten an hour is federal minimum wage / For most jobs your hired to do / You’ve got three-ten coming to you”

The spot ended with a flourish: A race runner joyously broke through the finish tape, victorious in his quest for stifling poverty. As he pumped his fist with unbridled delight, the song punctuated our shared exhilaration: “You’ve got three-ten . . . YEAH! coming to you.”

I have searched online to no avail, and even my friends with encyclopedic pop culture knowledge don’t remember it. It would comfort me if someone acknowledged remembering it. It would thrill me to the point of Kelly Ripaesque giddiness if someone has or can point to a clip.

(2) In the sixth grade (1982), we had to watch a drug scare film in science class. I recall a scene with a young man, maybe 20 or so, who had suffered a psychotic break after taking PCP. Institutionalized, he was dancing atop his bed singing “Shadow Dancing,” apparently now under the delusion that he was Andy Gibb. I laughed aloud and the teacher asked me if I thought something was funny. I replied, “Are you watching the same thing I am?” Then she made me leave the classroom.

Now, I challenge my own memory of this incident. First of all, you’d think a school anti-drug filmstrip with PCP Andy Gibb singing “Shadow Dancing” would’ve found its way to the Internet by now. Google comes up empty, at least for me.

Secondly, my memory seems to have made me an impossibly clever and quick-witted 11-year-old.

But the details of the film seem unusually specific for my mind to have simply invented over the years, and I’ve been recounting some version of this incident for as long as I can remember. So I cling to hope that this cautionary educational gem did indeed exist. Please, someone out there, deliver me this humble Christmas wish.

Surely, someone among the double-digit daily readership here at ContainsEggs can help solve these mysteries.

UPDATE 2/3: An exciting breakthrough! It looks like someone else remembers the school drug-scare film, and that perhaps my memory failed me on the particular song. This person recalls the PCP kid singing Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want to Be Your Everything,” which in retrospect seems more appropriate for an angel dust overdose. But the other details were the same. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081121144317AAblDO9