Medium Large

He’s the Man: On Accidentally Watching The Six Million Dollar Man

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 5, 2017

Every so often—whether because it’s been a hectic day, the news just continues to get worse with each tweet or simply because we just want to—Stacey and I will watch old Columbo episodes on Cozi TV. (Which can best be described as a rerun channel for aging Gen Xers who think those teens outside are up to no good.)

Sometimes we will tune in a few minutes early and accidentally catch the end of The Six Million Dollar Man. (A show I have previously mentioned I loved as a kid.) Now, I assumed the closing credits music to the show were always a simple replay/reworking of the opening theme music. But not so, as last night we caught the end to the 1973 television pilot movie Wine, Women & War: The Six Million Dollar Man Story, which is not only without a doubt the greatest worst alliterative title for anything everywhere—unless they are currently working on the script for Spongebob Squarepants Salò—but also an absolutely bizarre attempt at piggybacking on the success of James Bonds movies, especially for something that would turn into a series about slow-motion camerawork and turtleneck/blazer combos. (Editor/Writer/My Note: Yes, we watched an old Columbo episode—well two—on a Saturday night. But one of them starred Leonard Nimoy and the other Laurence Harvey. Plus, we went out Thursday and Friday night, though. Wow, this is oddly defensive.)

And that very not-quite Bond-feel carried over to end credit sequence, as we were fortunate enough to listen to of all people the great Dusty Springfield give a full-out 70s white funk as she belted out “He’s the Man,” a song penned by Glen A. Larson, known for creating a whole host of 70s TV programming including Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I., Quincy M.E., Knight Rider, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, starring Gil Gerard, who my friend Sean Lynch once described as “When you wanted Lee Majors at rockbottom prices.” Not only that, but during my research (that word had such nobility once) I learned it was also the opening credit music, which is a far more appropriate Bond homage/lift.

So enjoy and let the magic wash over you as Colonel Steve Austin runs towards in direct violation of the edict “Don’t accidentally parody your own hero.”

And since the closing credit version will remind you of it anyway…

Advertisements

It’s True! The Legends Are True!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on September 26, 2017

Yes, Virginia, there is a “Six Million Dollar Man Christmas Album.”

Now for anyone who never dropped the needle on this after sobbing through the “Puff the Magic Dragon” LP and before trying to determine the breed of an arrow-headed dog while listening to “The Point,” the “The Six Million Dollar Man” album is not uber-Gil Gerard Lee Majors as Steve Austin warbling “The 12 Days of Christmas” in dramatic slow motion as Oscar Goldman provides backup or at least occasionally shouts “He’s just talking about Santa!” Instead, these are stories that encompass such classic holiday tales as the one about a molecular toy duplicator, an ersatz Santa stealing fuel cells, a dying planet orbiting the Star of Bethlehem, and “Elves’ Revolt,” which is best left to The Bionic Wiki to describe:

Steve discovers that Santa’s elves are in a labor dispute with their boss. Complaining of low wages and bad working condiions, they go an strike. Their “picket line” is literally formed by a terrorist elf named Ramat, whose scheme to bring Santa to the bargaining table involves melting the polar ice cap.

Now upon seeing all this your first thought may be the very same one I had as a kid on a Sunday Night having just finished watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom (known to early Gen Xers as Marlin Perkins Once Again Sends Jim to Certain Death) and was getting ready to watch still one of the coolest opening credit sequences ever: “Shouldn’t this be called The Six-Million-Dollar Man? Aren’t the hyphens kinda necessary if the phrase ‘Six Million Dollar’ defines ‘Man’?”

That aside, I loved the show, even (okay, especially) when they introduced a robotic Bigfoot protecting cave-dwelling aliens and Maximillian, the bionic German Shepherd who, like Frankenstein and any company that has ever insured an Italian restaurant in New Jersey, is very leery of sudden fires. Of course, some may say this is just two of the many, many times the show jumped the shark, but if somehow they aired an episode featuring a bionic Great White protecting spelunking extraterrestrials when it’s not trying to kill them, I would have watched that show on first and summer-rerun airing.

To put it another way, I loved The Six Million Dollar Man/The Six-Million-Dollar Man, to the point that my friend Val and I would constantly play “The Six Million Dollar Man Board Game,” a time-killer best described by its own back copy: “Four bionic men each claim to have Steve Austin’s powers. Your job is to prove that you are the real Six Million Dollar Man. The computer spinner reads out your moves and gives you the power to handle assignments. You will take part in dangerous missions. Each assignment will make you stronger. The stronger you become the faster you will move around the board and back to the Bionic Research Lab where you will win the game.”
Then again, we also played the “Emergency! Board Game,” based on a show I remember almost entirely by the fact I played the board game based on it. There may even be the remote possibility I played board games based on Welcome Back, Kotter (in which one would imagine your goal would be to leave 70s-era New York, not re-enter it) or Good Times (in which every move belies the very title of the board game).

In other words, there was a considerable lag time before Atari finally showed up. But really, let’s finally get to the real reason we’re all here—those opening credits…

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ted Forth

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 19, 2014

Note: The following letter was originally printed in the Internet paper way back in 2007 and has been running annually ever since for the past 100 years. In the spirit of the season we reprint it on your screen today. Enjoy.
SF December 9 2012I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of this site:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Ted Forth. Papa says, “If you see it in Medium Large, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Ted Forth?–Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age what with all those skeptics who just skeptify all the time about this age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s or those Lego minifigs that have somehow been imbued with self-awareness and so silently scream in horror because their mouths do not move, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, a roach that you’ve never seen before in your apartment until you have guests over, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge and smartiness…smartness?…stuff.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Ted Forth. He exists as certainly as the original six-switch Atari VCS, the mighty yet perhaps culturally offensive Shogun Warriors, that Lord of the Flies commercial for Stay Alive and round after infuriating round of Mastermind, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ted Forth! It would be as dreary as if The Magic Garden never had a Chuckle Patch, if Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings had never appeared on Captain Kangaroo and one had not spent countless, countless years wondering if The Point was a real cartoon that ran on ABC one evening or if it had been a frightening fever dream we experienced at the age of four. There would be no childlike faith then, no crumbling igloo walls made of K-Tel Snow Bloc Makers, no crying over the sad saga of Jackie Paper and no memories of swinging hard at a Johnny Bench Batter-Up only to watch your aluminum bat sail across the driveway and into your dad’s 1977 Buick Riviera (complete with CB radio) to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood–and patiently waiting for the host on Romper Room to look at her viewers through her Magic Mirror and finally call out “Francesco” along with the other kids’ names only to realize the entire world was made up of Jennifers and Davids and then later to learn you actually had to send in your name to be mentioned, which showed what a spectacular fraud not only the so-called Magic Mirror really was but the FCC in general for allowing such deception on the air–fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Ted Forth! You might as well not believe in the horrifying six-fingered hand that rose from the swamp to announce a new episode of Chiller Theater. You might get your papa to hire men to watch the WPIX Yule Log to see if it ever burns out only to realize three hours later that the footage consists of nothing more than a seven-minute sequence looped repeatedly, leaving you and your brother Marcello feeling like the biggest idiots on planet Earth. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…or understand (like Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man). Were you ever able to make a reasonable nose cone for your Lego rocketship before the company finally started manufacturing those upside-down slanty pieces? Of course not, but that didn’t stop you from believing you could, even though your every spaceship looked like it sported the grill to a Greyhound bus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world, including that eight-loop Hot Wheels orange race track (with “death jump” over Don’t Break the Ice) you long imagined but never dared see to fruition.

You rip apart a piece of Bubble Yum to see if there are really spider eggs inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart, probably because the time in which the real Virginia letter was written even strong people had fatty diets and knew not of the importance of calcium supplements. Only faith, love or a G.I. Joe Mobile Support Vehicle can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and real working search light beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. Except maybe dragons. But not the scary type. I mean the type of dragon who befriends you in song.

No Ted Forth? Thank God he lives and lives forever (though probably many of those later years as a cryogenically frozen head). A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood…or recount us with tales of letting out a high-pitched scream every time the pieces popped in Perfection.SF December 25 2012Elf Hand Banner 720
icpot-nytimes-buttonIKMM Book Button 3iccot-cover-page-tmunbnail

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ted Forth

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on December 23, 2013

Note: The following letter was originally printed in the Internet paper way back in 2007 and has been running annually ever since for the past 100 years. In the spirit of the season we reprint it on your screen today. Enjoy.

SF December 9 2012I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of this site:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Ted Forth. Papa says, “If you see it in Medium Large, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Ted Forth?–Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age what with all those skeptics who just skeptify all the time about this age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s or those Lego minifigs that have somehow been imbued with self-awareness and so silently scream in horror because their mouths do not move, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, a roach that you’ve never seen before in your apartment until you have guests over, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge and smartiness…smartness?…stuff.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Ted Forth. He exists as certainly as the original six-switch Atari VCS, the mighty yet perhaps culturally offensive Shogun Warriors, that Lord of the Flies commercial for Stay Alive and round after infuriating round of Mastermind, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ted Forth! It would be as dreary as if The Magic Garden never had a Chuckle Patch, if Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings had never appeared on Captain Kangaroo and one had not spent countless, countless years wondering if The Point was a real cartoon that ran on ABC one evening or if it had been a frightening fever dream we experienced at the age of four. There would be no childlike faith then, no crumbling igloo walls made of K-Tel Snow Bloc Makers, no crying over the sad saga of Jackie Paper and no memories of swinging hard at a Johnny Bench Batter-Up only to watch your aluminum bat sail across the driveway and into your dad’s 1977 Buick Riviera (complete with CB radio) to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood–and patiently waiting for the host on Romper Room to look at her viewers through her Magic Mirror and finally call out “Francesco” along with the other kids’ names only to realize the entire world was made up of Jennifers and Davids and then later to learn you actually had to send in your name to be mentioned, which showed what a spectacular fraud not only the so-called Magic Mirror really was but the FCC in general for allowing such deception on the air–fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Ted Forth! You might as well not believe in the horrifying six-fingered hand that rose from the swamp to announce a new episode of Chiller Theater. You might get your papa to hire men to watch the WPIX Yule Log to see if it ever burns out only to realize three hours later that the footage consists of nothing more than a seven-minute sequence looped repeatedly, leaving you and your brother Marcello feeling like the biggest idiots on planet Earth. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…or understand (like Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man). Were you ever able to make a reasonable nose cone for your Lego rocketship before the company finally started manufacturing those upside-down slanty pieces? Of course not, but that didn’t stop you from believing you could, even though your every spaceship looked like it sported the grill to a Greyhound bus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world, including that eight-loop Hot Wheels orange race track (with “death jump” over Don’t Break the Ice) you long imagined but never dared see to fruition.

You rip apart a piece of Bubble Yum to see if there are really spider eggs inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart, probably because the time in which the real Virginia letter was written even strong people had fatty diets and knew not of the importance of calcium supplements. Only faith, love or a G.I. Joe Mobile Support Vehicle can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and real working search light beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. Except maybe dragons. But not the scary type. I mean the type of dragon who befriends you in song.

No Ted Forth? Thank God he lives and lives forever (though probably many of those later years as a cryogenically frozen head). A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood…or recount us with tales of letting out a high-pitched scream every time the pieces popped in Perfection.SF December 25 2012

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Ted Forth

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 25, 2012


I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of Medium Large:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Ted Forth. Papa says, “If you see it in Medium Large, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Ted Forth?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Ted Forth. He exists as certainly as an Atari VCS and SST Racers (with T-bar zip chords) and round after infuriating round of Mastermind, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ted Forth! It would be as dreary as if The Magic Garden never had a “Chuckle Patch,” Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings had never appeared on Captain Kangaroo and one had not spent countless, countless years wondering if The Point was a real cartoon that ran on ABC one evening or if it had been a frightening fever dream we experienced at the age of four. There would be no childlike faith then, no crumbling igloo walls made of K-Tel Snow Brick Makers, no crying over the sad saga of Jackie Paper and no memories of swinging hard at a Johnny Bench Batter-Up only to watch your aluminum bat sail across the driveway and into your dad’s 1977 Buick Riviera (complete with CB radio) to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood–and “Monster Week” on the 4:30 Movie–fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Ted Forth! You might as well not believe in the horrifying six-fingered hand that rose from the swamp to announce a new episode of Chiller Theater. You might get your papa to hire men to watch the WPIX Yule Log to see if it ever burns out only to realize three hours later that the footage consists of nothing more than a seven-minute sequence looped repeatedly, leaving you and your brother Marcello feeling like the biggest idiots on planet Earth. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…or understand (like Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man). Were you ever able to make a reasonable nose cone for your Lego rocketship before the company finally started manufacturing those upside-down slanty pieces? Of course not, but that didn’t stop you from believing you could, even though your every spaceship looked like it sported the grill to a Greyhound bus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world, including that eight-loop Hot Wheels orange race track (with “death jump” over Don’t Break the Ice) you long imagined but never dared see to fruition.

You rip apart a piece of Bubble Yum to see if there are really spider eggs inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, love or a Big Traxx can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and real working search light beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Ted Forth? Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood…or recount us with tales of letting out a high-pitched scream every time the pieces popped in Perfection.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Ted Forth

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 14, 2011

Note: The following letter was originally printed in the Internet paper way back in 2007 and has been running annually ever since for the past 100 years. In the spirit of the season we reprint it on your screen today. Enjoy.

Extra Note: In case of confusion, the following is based on a famous letter to The New York Sun, dated September 21, 1897 (thus letting us know people back then started freaking out about the holidays even earlier than we do).

I take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of this site:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Ted Forth. Papa says, “If you see it in Medium Large, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Ted Forth?–Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age what with all those skeptics who just skeptify all the time about this age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s or those Lego minifigs that have somehow been imbued with self-awareness and so silently scream in horror because their mouths do not move, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, a roach that you’ve never seen before in your apartment until you have guests over, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge and smartiness…smartness?…stuff.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Ted Forth. He exists as certainly as the original six-switch Atari VCS, the mighty yet perhaps culturally offensive Shogun Warriors, that Lord of the Flies commercial for Stay Alive and round after infuriating round of Mastermind, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Ted Forth! It would be as dreary as if The Magic Garden never had a Chuckle Patch, if Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings had never appeared on Captain Kangaroo and one had not spent countless, countless years wondering if The Point was a real cartoon that ran on ABC one evening or if it had been a frightening fever dream we experienced at the age of four. There would be no childlike faith then, no crumbling igloo walls made of K-Tel Snow Bloc Makers, no crying over the sad saga of Jackie Paper and no memories of swinging hard at a Johnny Bench Batter-Up only to watch your aluminum bat sail across the driveway and into your dad’s 1977 Buick Riviera (complete with CB radio) to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood–and patiently waiting for “Miss Louise” on Romper Room to look at her viewers through her Magic Mirror and finally call out “Francesco” along with the other kids’ names only to realize the entire world was made up of Jennifers and Davids and then later to learn you actually had to send in your name to be mentioned, which showed what a spectacular fraud not only the so-called Magic Mirror really was but the FCC in general for allowing such deception on the air–fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Ted Forth! You might as well not believe in the horrifying six-fingered hand that rose from the swamp to announce a new episode of Chiller Theater. You might get your papa to hire men to watch the WPIX Yule Log to see if it ever burns out only to realize three hours later that the footage consists of nothing more than a seven-minute sequence looped repeatedly, leaving you and your brother Marcello feeling like the biggest idiots on planet Earth. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see…or understand (like Bigfoot on The Six Million Dollar Man). Were you ever able to make a reasonable nose cone for your Lego rocketship before the company finally started manufacturing those upside-down slanty pieces? Of course not, but that didn’t stop you from believing you could, even though your every spaceship looked like it sported the grill to a Greyhound bus. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world, including that eight-loop Hot Wheels orange race track (with “death jump” over Don’t Break the Ice) you long imagined but never dared see to fruition.

You rip apart a piece of Bubble Yum to see if there are really spider eggs inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart, probably because the time in which the real Virginia letter was written even strong people had fatty diets and knew not of the importance of calcium supplements. Only faith, love or a G.I. Joe Mobile Support Vehicle can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and real working search light beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. Except maybe dragons. But not the scary type. I mean the type of dragon who befriends you in song.

No Ted Forth? Thank God he lives and lives forever (though probably many of those later years as a cryogenically frozen head). A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood…or recount us with tales of letting out a high-pitched scream every time the pieces popped in Perfection.

Celebrate and commiserate this holiday season with Angry Santa Elf on Twitter!

Follow on Twitter @fmarciuliano
Follow on Facebook

The Day Penthouse Shot on Our Dinner Table: A Childhood Memory (Part One)

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on March 1, 2011

Unlike typical crime capers there was no climactic shootout, no final explosion and no conclusive battle of wits. There wasn’t a last-minute double-cross, a final moment of ironic justice or a closing iconic farewell. There was just a fat, four-eyed kid stammering an inaudible, almost incomprehensible apology to a naked 19-year-old as she lay spread-eagle on the glass dining room table on which my family still eats Christmas dinner to this day.

That’s how it ended, not with a bang but a lot of mortified whimpering. But it began like any other crime caper—with a lone hero looking for that one last big score that would set him up for life.

Part One: The Hero
By the age of eleven I realized I was already a good 20 years behind my classmates sexually.

Not only had the word “play” apparently been redefined in my absence from “hanging out with friends” to “playing baseball, soccer, football or any team sport that did not involve Kenner’s Death Star Playset” but also girls had somehow gone from just “guys with barrettes” to “people of great interest.” Perhaps it happened the week I was out with the first known case of “hysterical flu”—or the day I passed out from fear in the middle of reading my book report and woke up in the nurse’s office with a bump on my head and a withering critique of Mouse on a Motorcycle still clutched in my hand—but when I returned the very social fabric of fifth grade had been irrevocably altered. Boys now saw themselves as “preteens,” with the emphasis on the second syllable, and comported themselves as such. They had agendas as they approached girls, hoping to come across as attractive, funny or at least capable of blowing up a party balloon without gasping for air halfway through and bursting into tears (a remarkably low bar that I had thoughtfully set for my classmates earlier in the year). And though they didn’t quite have the sexual parlance down yet (“I would so do her mouth”) the boys were at least making an attempt to learn the language. Even my five-year-old brother Marcello—who still occasionally spoke in a Jodie-Foster-as-Nell patois of his own devising in which plants were “kmms,” and pajamas “tash”—knew the word “vagina” and would use it in a sentence as often as possible. On the other hand, I was doomed to feel insecure being around or even pondering the opposite sex until a good ten years after you are currently reading this story.

About the same time, my best friend Val had started watching Star Wars over and over again in the theater with the scholarly intensity usually reserved for the Zapruder film for any sign of Princess Leia’s breasts jiggling as I stared sad-eyed up at the screen certain I would never possess the masculine self-confidence of C-3PO. Val had also just replaced his bedroom posters of soccer superstar Pelé with hundreds of photos of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, effectively turning what was once a shrine to the New York Cosmos into a full-fledged, NFL-endorsed masturbatorium.

Wherever I looked in school, on the bus, on my street it seemed as if every kid was getting older, wiser, more sexually confident and less likely to spend their afternoons doing very wide, slow donuts on a Big Wheel. Meanwhile, I was feeling less mature, less capable and highly likely to spend my approaching teen years collecting as many white Lego blocks as possible to construct the ultimate Ice Planet Hoth diorama. Already a favorite target of derision for being fat, painfully shy and famously incapable of inflating even the smallest party decoration, I was now being called “a baby,” “a sissy” and—by my own brother—“a vagina.” Things were getting worse for me socially, which up until that point I had found comfort in thinking wasn’t even possibile. My worst fears had been realized…and then trumped. Clearly it was time for drastic action.

And so like my friend Val—and no doubt countless red-blooded American boys before me—I decided it was high time to make some bold interior-decorating choices. At age 11 my bedroom was a veritable walk-in photo album of my toddler years. Wherever you looked there were pictures of me at three and younger, as if I were desperately trying to recapture my glory days of minimal motor skills and carefree incontinence. What I needed instead was something that said, “Here lies not a boy but a man!” Something that said, “This is the room of a mature, sexually curious individual!” Something that said, “Ignore his cherished childhood stuffed toy ‘Peanut Butters’ still lying on his bed and instead take in the wonders of this fortress of unbridled masculinity and sophistication!” I pondered the possibilities. I weighed my options. Then I walked into my father’s home art studio, looked him straight in the eye and said with supreme self-assurance, “Dad, I want a Miss Piggy poster.”

Back then I considered The Muppet Show to be the epitome of adult entertainment and peer confirmation. My parents loved the show. My friends (okay, friend) loved the show. My classmates loved the show. In the then heavily-fragmented, niche, multimedia 1970s programming world that was three networks and a Spanish-language station, The Muppet Show was one of the few TV series everyone could agree upon. To say you liked The Muppet Show was to say what everyone else was saying, and when you’re desperate for social acceptance that’s all that ever really needs to be said. Throw in that Miss Piggy had become the show’s breakout sex symbol—a conclusion that could only make sense to a boy who read his dad’s porn magazines strictly for the comics but understood none of them—and clearly I had taken my initial brave step towards true manhood.

Unfortunately, the fact that my desire for a Miss Piggy poster was the very first sign of interest I had shown in the opposite sex scared the living crap out of my dad. Years later I learned he’d slowly been prepping himself for the normal possibility of having fathered a gay son. (“Real men don’t cry halfway through a balloon.”) But poor dad possessed neither the psychological make-up nor willful ignorance to be the proud parent of a latent pigfucker. It was one black mark he could not bear and so sought to scour off the family name as soon as possible.

Thus my dad, fearing for his son’s sexual development and the Marciulianos’ acclaim for not mounting unsuspecting farm animals, dismissed my request and instead bought me the now-iconic Farrah Fawcett poster, bathing suit, gleaming smile and all. He then nailed to my bedroom wall with the determined solemnity of Martin Luther. That poster was his proclamation, one that read, “You shall look upon her protruding right nipple. You shall wish she had worn a bikini instead of a one-piece, stomach scar be damned. You shall have funny yet perfectly normal feelings when you stare up at it from your pillow late at night or when you think your mom and I aren’t home. And should some portions of this poster wear out faster than others due to the constant application of saliva, well then who is anyone to judge?” Then my dad left, secure in the knowledge that he had effectively steered me towards a sexually compatible species.

That poster remained on my bedroom wall, fooling no one including myself. It stayed there long after Farrah had left Charlie’s Angels, divorced Lee (Six Million Dollar Man) Majors and failed to set a nation’s imagination on fire with Saturn 3. Long after my classmates had moved on from Farrah to Madonna to actual girlfriends. Long after what was meant to be proof positive of my impending manhood eventually served as yet more evidence of my all-too-obvious immaturity.

I was now a child with a poster he didn’t want, a reputation he couldn’t rescue and a fear that he was always going to be a “vagina.” I now knew it would take more than a few cosmetic changes to salvage my preteen years and make me if not cool then at least not doomed to be only known as “The Half-Balloon Boy.” It was going to take truly phenomenal circumstances.

It was going to take an at-home photo shoot with Penthouse Magazine.

Next: Part Two–One Last Big Score

NEW: Cats Quote Charlie Sheen–The 20/20 Interview

Other Links:
The Original Cats Quote Charlie Sheen
Cats Quote Charlie Sheen: Morning Edition
Charlie Sheen Quotes Cats
Quotes from Lesser Transformers

Follow on Twitter @fmarciuliano
Follow on Facebook