Simply 6 Minutes: Hot-cha-cha!

Unlike last week, when our prompt animal was one I wasn’t familiar with, this week’s is one that I know: a proboscis monkey! I know that because it makes him look like one of my favorite entertainers…

Jimmy Durante wasn’t the best looking actor, nor the best singer, nor the funniest comedian, but people loved him. Because everything he did came from the heart. (You’ll have to watch this on YouTube. It’s worth it.)

He reminded all of us to "Make Someone Happy."

Heaven knows, he made a lot of people happy. And that’s all I have to say.

Christine Bialczak runs Simply 6 Minutes.

Simply 6 Minutes: Separated At Birth?

When I saw this week’s picture, I thought "that little guy reminds me of someone." And I figured out who it was…

I was demonstrating how I could roll my tongue like that

If I don’t keep my mustache trimmed, it starts ending up like that. Here it’s more or less trimmed, but it still curls up quite a bit. My beard is really curly, too, and tends to do whatever it wants to do.

Still, it beats shaving. I’ve had the mustache since I was 19, but the beard is relatively new, only about seven years old. My gravatar picture shows me on my 59th birthday, after I had been letting it grow six months. Just woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to shave anymore. And that was that…

Christine Bialczak runs Simply 6 Minutes in her spare time.

Simply Six Minutes: Milton

Christine’s prompt this week is shown above. I’m not sure if it’ a dog, a cat, or some other animal, but he reminds me of our dear departed Milton.

Milton

Mary got in her mind once that she wanted a purebred cat, and started researching the different breeds. We immediately ruled out Persians, because they’re practically impossible to keep brushed to the level they need to be, and we could just picture one all matted up and miserable. So she looked at cats that have very little hair, and the Devon Rex popped up. They have very short and curly hair, and are practically hypoallergenic because they don’t have the guard hair that most people are allergic to. The breed was described as having the personality of a dog, a monkey, and a three-year-old child, and that sealed the deal.

There was a breeder in the Atlanta area, so we scheduled an appointment and went over and saw what she had. One in particular gave us a lot of attention, and the breeder told us she had been returned by a woman who couldn’t understand why you shouldn’t let a cat walk on a damp floor that had been washed with Pine-Sol, and that the woman had taken the cat to the emergency clinic several times to be treated for phenol poisoning. We got a weird vibe from the breeder (more so from her husband) and decided to take the cat, whose name was Connie (short for "Coconut Curl").

Connie was with us for a few months, and seemed to be especially fond of me. She would come and lie by me in bed. She was like a little furnace, but after a couple of months I noticed that she was no longer very warm. She seemed to be fading, and we took her to the vet, who did what she could to rehabilitate Connie, but she called one morning and told us that Connie had passed away in the night.

I contacted the breeder with the sad news (mostly because we had paid a lot of money), and she thanked us profusely for having taken her and said that we were moved to the top of the list for a kitten when someone had a litter. Within a month, we had a kitten, which we named Milton, after the economist Milton Friedman.

Milton was a very sweet boy, and as advertised was like a puppy who would come when Mary called. He had this habit of jumping on the back of whoever was scooping the litter box, which earned him the nickname "Doot." He spent most of his time snuggled up to Mary, at least until we brought another kitten named Max into the clowder. Milton and Max were fast friends and soon spent most of their time snuggled together in this storage crate we had.

Devon Rexes, because of their fur, are not especially susceptible to hairballs, so it was quite a surprise when he coughed up a huge hairball one day. It turns out that he had been grooming Max.

We had Milton for a good 12 years before he developed some sort of problem that made his face swell up. The vet couldn’t do anything, so we had to say goodbye and send him on his way to the Rainbow Bridge.

We were, of course, heartbroken, but we weren’t about to replace him. Not because of the expense, but because he was irreplaceable.

Simply Six Minutes: Zorak…

These two happy chappies remind me of Zorak, who was a character on the old Saturday morning Space Ghost cartoon show. The cartoon was produced by Hanna-Barbera Studios, which over the years ended up in the hands of Atlanta’s very own Ted Turner, thanks to his purchase of MGM. When he discovered he had all these cartoons, he decided to set up a whole network for them, Cartoon Network.

Anyway, the folks at Cartoon Network decided to turn Space Ghost, your typical comic book superhero, into a talk show host, and Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast was born. Two of SG’s enemies, Zorak and Moltar, were adapted for the show, Moltar being made the engineer, Zorak the bandleader. George Lowe, a local voice actor, voiced Space Ghost, while C. Martin Croker, one of the animators, voiced Zorak and Moltar. The show featured "interviews" with celebrities (who appeared in a cartoon video monitor in which the live video was embedded) and various arguments and riposte between the animate characters. When Space Ghost had enough of Zorak’s insults, he’d use his power bands to blow Zorak up…

Here’s a video showing Zorak in some of his more diabolical moments…

Christine Bialczak hosts Simply 6 Minutes.

Simply 6 Minutes: Dog & Koala

Two cute animals for us to deal with this week. On the right, a Dachshund, better known as a "wiener dog." They were originally bred to get badgers and other burrowing animals out of their burrows and to hunt mice and rabbits (their name literally means "badger dog"). A pretty tall order for a very short dog. I mean, badgers are tough bastards, so they have to be pretty scrappy little guys to put up that kind of a fight. They were brought here in part to deal with prairie dogs.

I worked with a guy who had a couple of long-haired Dachshunds. He really loved them. They come in short-haired, wire-haired, and long-haired varieties, and in three sizes, standard, miniature, and kaninchen, or "rabbit sized."

There was a bizarre cartoon developed in the ’50’s called Clutch Cargo. Clutch was a freelance writer and tough guy, who traveled around the world getting himself involved in other people’s lives and opening a can of whoop-ass on bad guys. He had two travel companions, Spinner (who might or might not be his son) and Paddlefoot, a Dachshund. There wasn’t a lot of movement in these cartoons, except the characters’ mouths, which were provided by live actors using a technique called Syncro-Vox. Observe…

They showed Clutch on the Garfield Goose & Friends afternoon TV show in Chicago. Garfield Goose was a delusional goose who believed he was King of the United States. There are a few episodes of the show on YouTube.

On to the koala, who looks like a bear but isn’t: it’s a marsupial. They come from Australia, which seems to have cornered the market in strange (and occasionally dangerous) animals. They live mostly in eucalyptus trees and hardly ever come down.

A year or two ago, Australia was beset with terrible wildfires that really threatened the koalas, many of whom were traumatized by the fires. They rescued as many as they could and gathered them into preserves, and as I understand it the firefighters, after a hard day of putting out fires, would go to the preserves and cuddle the koalas. Which isn’t that strange: I think lots of people would cuddle with a koala. I know I would.

The koala in the picture looks like a little one, or a joey, which seems to be the name given to all marsupials, like kangaroos, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils. Notice its paws: they all have five digits, two of which are opposable, like thumbs.

Australia’s national airline is Qantas. The name is an acronym for Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service. When they began international service to the US, they ran commercials that featured a talking koala. The voice was provided by Howard Morris, who was best known for playing Ernest T. Bass, a crazy mountain man on The Andy Griffith Show, but who was also a very talented comedian, actor, director, and voice actor. The koala was none too happy with the airline for bringing so many visitors to the Land Down Under, and ended every commercial by saying "I… HATE… QANTAS."

I spent a week in Australia a few years ago and thought it was a beautiful place. If I ever go again, I’m taking Mary and we ain’t coming back…

Christine Bialczak is the brains behind Simply 6 Minutes.