Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Through some digging in the back cubby holes of Monte's mind (and Google), Monte was able to find the name of his south Florida version of my Cowboy Bob and Popeye and Janie. It was Skipper Chuck. He had a sidekick that was Gilliganesque that always got a pie in his face by the end of the show. Skipper Chuck (makes you seasick, just saying it, doesn't it?) was on for over 20 years! He introduced Popeye cartoons. No scandal has clouded his name that Monte could find. Perhaps he is fit to lead the support group for formal cartoon introducers in my head? HHmmmmm… If you have your own memories of like personalities--please send them to me. There's always room for more in the group!

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Monte and I were talking with our girls over breakfast last weekend. Trying to teach them a lesson. The phrase, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" came out of the deep recesses of my subconscious and out of my mouth before I knew it. I heard this phrase more than 47 billion times growing up--by my mom, my dad and Cowboy Bob. Cowboy Bob was a grown man dressed in a brown leather vest, brown belt with a huge buckle, a cowboy hat and boots that hosted "Cowboy Bob's Corral" on Channel 4 out of Indianapolis. He introduced Bugs Bunny cartoons in the afternoon when he wasn't talking with a puppet biscuit named Sourdough (that was always perched on a split rail fence), Cookie the chuckwagon chef that was never seen yet made quite a racket with the pots and pans or Tumbleweed his dog. You can talk with ANYONE my age that grew up in Indiana and they watched Cowboy Bob. There were only 4 stations. In the morning there was "Popeye and Janie". She introduced, you guessed it, Popeye cartoons. My brother Kyle, sent in a crayon created drawing and it got air time on "Popeye and Janie". He woke at 4:00 am to ensure he wouldn't miss it. Remember when there was literally NOTHING on at 4:00 am because TV actually went off the air?? My cousin, Natalie was on "Popeye and Janie" and got to say her name into a microphone. She was wearing one of my hand-me-down outfits and I somehow felt famous too because of it.

Monte and I happily skipped along this long forgotten memory lane. In Florida, Monte watched Captain somebody (I've tried but can't find his name online and Monte can't remember it). But the concept was the same: low budget in studio set with puppets and real kids who get to introduce themselves and show their art work from time to time. These people became very famous in the lives of children. They entertained us, dropped a few golden rules on us and introduced semi-violent, non-educational and politically incorrect cartoons. We watched them before school and after.

McDaniel and Ellie didn't get it. "You mean, you couldn't watch cartoons whenever you wanted?"


"There wasn't a channel with just cartoons?"


"You got to watch cartoons BEFORE you went to school?"

"Umm, yeah, but don't even ask, we know better now."

Monte and I laughed. What a culturally different world of cartoons our children are growing up with. They actually are LEARNING something when they watch. Other than a few catch phrases and sassy remarks that sent us to our room--Monte and I got nothing. Wait, eating spinach makes you strong--that's something.

When I went to college, I met a girl who actually had Cowboy Bob at her prom (it was a western theme). He showed up drunk and pinched her on the bottom as he whispered a proposition in her ear while she was posing for a picture. Shocked, I called home to tell my mom the sad, disappointing news. As it turns out, Janie had been fighting alcohol-induced charges as well. WHAT?!

Telling Monte of my gruesome discoveries made him nervous of his own beloved Captain (somebody). What if there was a support group somewhere of ex-1970s cartoon introducer personalities? I envisioned a circle of Janies and Cowboy Bobs, Captain (somebodies), Peggys, Bozos, Ranger Rons and possibly a Willy. Academy award hopes were revealed during share time--dreams collectively stifled in a local independently owned station environment. Sidekick grievances were aired through angry tears: "Biscuits don't talk man, they don't talk!"

Quickly the conversation turned and the cartoons themselves became targets: "Seriously, Olive has GOT to move on! Like Popeye and Bluto are the only men in the world?"

"Sometimes I wish I could be like the Road Runner and just run away--far, far away."

"I will go insane if I have to hear Woody Woodpecker's laugh one more time! I swear it!"

So they all in some way or another as cartoon introducer personalities felt the need to medicate themselves which brought them to the imaginary support group in my head. I wonder what they think of the introducerless cartoons of today? Entire networks dedicated to 24 hours a day everyday cartoon viewing? And what of Boomerang? They show some of the very cartoons these personalities once built a career around. I can feel the tension. I can almost hear the dialogue…"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Darn you, Cowboy Bob!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Yesterday at 5:00 WRFD 880 am announced that Karmen and Monte were the winners of the best worst disaster date story. It was great since Monte was home (snowed in) to hear it with us and also because it was Valentine's Day. The host announced that they would be opening the lines for people to wish their significant other a Happy Valentine's Day so Monte called. They made a big deal about him being a "celebrity" and wanted to know how the marriage was going since that disaster date happened so early in. It was weird listening to his voice in the living room and hearing his footsteps pacing upstairs. He wished the girls a Happy Valentine's Day and mentioned them by name. They felt famous! It was a great highlight to a day where I felt sick, Monte got the car stuck in the driveway and me in my feverish fog, put the car in 2nd instead of reverse and slammed on the the accelerator. Thank God in heaven that the car was REALLY stuck or I would've taken Monte out (who was in front of the car pushing). His eyes got really wide when he saw the direction the wheels were turning. Happy Valentine's Day, honey! There is never a dull moment at the Hartranft house!

Monday, February 12, 2007



I was listening to talk radio the other night when I heard an advertisement for a contest describing a disastrous date. The winners will receive various books and flowers hoping to help the unlucky couple have better dates in the future. Immediately I had a date in mind. I went to the computer and found the radio's web site and banged out my calamitous story. While trying to submit it I got an error message that said no more than 600 characters were allowed. Not 600 words (which I was WAY over). 600 characters! It took me 2 days of editing and frankly, the scaled down version just wasn't funny anymore. I need background, build-up and characters--lots and lots of characters! So, I need to tell this story in its entirety--I REALLY, REALLY do. No limitations, no counting.

Monte and I had been married less than two months when he turned the big 3-0. I really wanted to do something special for the first birthday as man and wife. With all the expense of the wedding and honeymoon and apartment in Buckhead (Atlanta), money was tight. I turned to the big fat entertainment coupon book that Monte's brother had given us as a wedding present. Sneaking it to work with me in my brief case, I felt it was the ticket to a fabulous, albeit affordable evening out.

Flipping through its pages, I found coupons for a small theater in mid-town not far from my office. I found the theater's schedule online and perused the options. I found a play title that struck me: P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. Now that sounded interesting. The summary explained it was about a man that on New Year's Eve gets dumped by his girlfriend, his apartment is burglarized and his cat dies. It was a comedy. I immediately booked the tickets--I got a two-for-one deal with my handy coupon and was on to the dinner portion of the entertainment book.

Monte loves seafood. But how was I going to satisfy his lobster taste with a burger budget? A half-off coupon for a seafood restaurant downtown! And it wasn't far from the theater. The night was shaping up quite nicely.

The evening of his birthday I drove a surprised Monte into the parking lot of what looked like a small abandoned warehouse. Artsy, I thought to myself staying positive. We walked into the small lobby and decided to stop off at the restrooms before finding our seats. Oddly, their was a long line outside of the men's restroom yet I walked right in the women's. After primping a little, I found Monte STILL in line for the restroom. Shooting looks of "what's up with this?" back and forth between us, I pushed back any thoughts that the night would be less than magical.

The theater had a small stage with seats around three sides only four rows deep. We were thrilled to find our spot on the second row, right smack dab in front of the stage. Monte was impressed, I was elated and thanked God for giving Monte's brother the brilliant idea of gifting us that entertainment book.

We flipped open our programs and Monte pointed to a warning that there would be nudity in the play. WHAT?! That was not on the coupon in the entertainment book, the tickets or the website summary of the play! "What should we do?" I asked as the theater darkened and the play began. I guessed we were staying.

The play was funny with well delivered lines by a decent lead actor. I almost completely forgot all about that nudity warning when I was reminded in a BIG way. A-6"5"-drag-queen-wearing-little-more-than-a-leather-thong-bright-red-lipstick-and-false-eyelashes-way. He had a similarly dressed posse with him that grabbed the lead character, tied him up and promptly removed his pants. Remember: we were on the 2nd row and could see all too well what was unfolding on stage. Jaw droppingly aghast, I turned to Monte to find him anxiously scratching his chest and arm pits with both hands (we later discovered he had broken out in nervous hives).

Hastily, we left the theater exiting out a side door which dumped us out onto a VERY busy street. With no sidewalk, no shoulder and no real option of re-entering that theater in our lifetimes, we had to carefully scoot along a tiny curb with our backs and arms tightly pressed against the building wall to get to the parking lot. I had on a wide-legged pant suit and as each car zoomed by, my pant legs blew around wildly.

Monte itched like a mad man until we got to the restaurant. I was desperate to salvage the evening.

I had to sweet talk the maitre'd (is that how you spell it??) into seating us well before our much later reservation. We were appointed a lovely little man named Lamar as our waiter--very soft-spoken and attentive. Monte enjoyed my dining choice and devoured a 2-pound lobster (thank goodness for that half-off coupon!). Considering the nice ending to a disastrous beginning, I was about to sigh in relief for a pleasing birthday…when…Lamar brought out a complimentary cake complete with a lighted candle for Monte. He got the attention of everyone in the restaurant (surprising for such a slight little guy) and began singing a rendition of Happy Birthday that could only be described as breathy and suggestive. Think Marilyn Monroe's version to President Kennedy but with clapping. All eyes were on Monte, still wearing his plastic lobster bib, melted butter dripping from his dropped chin.

Needless to say, Monte itched uncontrollably the entire way home and I NEVER used that entertainment book again.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


At the risk of negating everything I just wrote about in my latest post, I have decided to update the look of my blog a bit. A new look for a new year. Also, I hope to add a side bar of links (once I figure that out). I have been able to fix the problem of no one being able to make a comment that wasn't a blogger member. Now, anyone can make a comment and I encourage you to--good and bad. My goal is to get back into practice so that someone will actually hire me to do this again. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 29, 2007


I can't turn on the TV or radio without being bombarded by false truths. Absolutes that "experts" claim in every subject imaginable. They usually are quite snippy and condescending about it. What happened to humble opinions?

Isn't it amazing how many people claim to know the absolute "truth" in some way or another? It could be in a very big, loud way like an actor who suddenly claims to have reached "Christhood" in a self-centered religion. Or a talk show host who denounces many public opinions as discrimination by being publicly discriminating herself.

These fake "truths" can be quiet, a whispering message we hear inside that is actually a lie. A big fat lie we buy to make ourselves feel better. Isn't that why all those people stand in line for hours to try out for American Idol only to sing like a toad and run, totally shocked, bawling into the arms of their mother who reassures them there is always next year? Okay, Monte and I have discussed this. We are all for encouraging our daughters to pursue their hearts desire--even when the odds are against them. I loved the movie Hoosiers as much as anyone, but as a parent, you pretty much know the ugly truth that your child sings like a toad, don't you? Isn't it our responsibility to support their strengths and steer them into a non-vocally musical career path? Isn't honesty ALWAYS the best policy?

That's the tricky part about truth and lies. The truth can be so painful and ugly and stinky. Lies are so easy and pretty and delicious smelling. And why not? They are wrapped up in shiny paper, dipped in chocolate and sold to us with leather interior, German engineering, hardwood floors, granite countertops, Italian sling-backs, control tops, non-fat half-caff lattes, mango martinis, golf memberships and 52 inches of high definition satellite-beamed entertainment. They are well-read, well-educated, politically correct, environmentally aware, organic lies. Oh, I'm guilty. I've been seduced by the sweet aroma of things I thought would make my life easier or improved in some way. But they always turn out to be an unfulfilled lie. No doubt I am listening intently to some nagging untruth right now and will fall for something, sometime again…and again…and again. That's our plight. We are only human.

Fashion is one of those culprits. I've rejected fashion most of my life (big surprise). It's not the least bit interesting to me (except for shoes). I know it's the career path of some and good for them. I just don't buy the shows on TV or articles in magazines that tell you what you shouldn't and must never wear. Skinny jeans aside (seriously, no one over a size 0 should EVER wear them), why can't people wear what's comfortable for them? As long as they are appropriate, why should we care if we are--gasp--wearing something from last year's winter line? I have sweaters older than my children--wait--older than my marriage. Isn't that what classics are--things that stand the test of time?

My grandfather had a very specific way of dressing. He always wore these light colored jeans and shirts with bands around the waist. He had a few favorites that we could always count on him wearing. They were as comfortable to him as his hugs were to me. When he died, my grandmother took some of his clothes to a woman who wonderfully sewed them into memory bears. My bear sports one of his favorite shirts and those great, light-colored jeans. That bear is so him that I smelled it when I first got it expecting it to fill my nose with the nostalgic smell of PaPa's hair cream and cinnamon. But it didn't. Some things just can't be copied.

Can you imagine if my grandfather tried to "copy" every latest fashion trend? What if every time I visited him he sported a new trouser style: cuffs, no cuffs, pleats, flat front? What if his hair was always in a different style or (ugh!) color? What if (fighting growing older) he got his ear pierced? (that thought freaks me out!) How do you make a memory bear out of a fad? Where's the truth in something that's temporary? He was a constant for me. Neverending, non-changing love. I knew what he believed and believed in how he lived. He wasn't starry-eyed or driven to climb ladders to success. He lived in this world not of it. A farmer that simply cultivated the seeds he planted. And it brought him such joy. It shaped me.

But I still get so confused! You can find false truths in so many things like food: is organic really better? What's up with artificial sweeteners? And baby products: will certain name brand car seats really kill your kids? Are generic diapers any different than their more expensive competitors? And raising children: will spanking actually scar them for life? Will setting enforceable boundaries suffocate their spirit? And the news: are they telling us the real story--or the one they have chosen to believe?

The dictionary defines truth as the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact; honesty and integrity.

It's hard to find the truth when we think we are hearing it on every channel. I like the phrases INDISPUTABLE FACT and HONESTY and INTEGRITY in truth's definition. Apply those to your life and see where you end up. Finding indisputable truth with integrity is what we're here for. It's bowing your head and asking for help when you have no idea what to do and especially at those times when you believe you do. It's seeking Godly truth versus worldly truth. That's what my grandpa did. And it's worth turning off the TV and radio to find. But that's just my humble opinion.

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

If I could, I wouldn't be so surprised when crazy things happen. And they do. All the time. Much to my surprise. We went o...