Season 4, Episode 21: Teacher’s Pest

We open at the Chronicle, where Harriette’s just hanging out. And hey, you know what? I can put a psychology sidebar in the first paragraph. It’s my dream and my blog, so deal with it. A couple of years ago, some researchers found that people would turn into liars and cheats when presented with ample opportunity, so long as they thought their choices were coming at the end of a series (here, it was reporting coin flips; read the study if you want, but keep in mind psychology papers are supposed to be boring).  But you know how it is when you’re about to leave a job, or a school, or a relationship.  You hang out talking with your colleagues more. You go off your SO’s diet, or start literally cheating on them. You moon the audience at your graduation.

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Or maybe Harriette’s got the Itis? That’s a black thing, right? I saw it on Boondocks.

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RT (Rank Taskboy) Wainwright comes in to give Larry another assignment from Mario & Wario (or whatever their names are).  This time they’ve volunteered Cousin Larry to teach a journalism class at Chicago Community College.

And holy psychological contract, Batman! Sufferin’ scholastics!  Leapin’, um, liberal arts! Teach a whole course to people with a lower socioeconomic status–people who are paying for the ability to even have a lesser-valued chance at the American Dream–when you didn’t study the field, nor do you even truly do the job yet!  I’ll admit I have zero idea how newspapers were actually run in the late 1980s, but I’m sure I know even less now after watching this episode.

Larry started out as a gofer, and so did Balki, because there was just too much work to be done and not enough nephews Gorpley to do it. Larry was still hoping to do photography for the newspaper.  But one day, Harry Burns comes down the stairs and picks the first guy he sees to write an article. Larry lucked out because his desk is closest to the stairs. Just think if PaulAndre had passed by at that moment, or that other guy, or the woman?* Larry continues to write articles of greater length, and then gets notions above his station. He sneaks into a party and tries to sell Bumbles and Mumbles on the idea of an investigative reporting team.  Bauble Sr. forces his son Bauble Jr. to create one, but we know that he (Jr.) saw it as a way to get sued and lose money.  So what does Bimba do? He puts Marshall and Walpole at the top of the whole damn foodchain.  And now Larry is being asked to do something that can’t possibly be in his job description, and that I’m damn sure he wasn’t told about when he initially took on the job of running errands, or when he got promoted to the job of running errands for fewer people.

Larry expresses gratitude at the assignment and Wainwright acts like Larry’s a tiresome asshole.  Since I take this show to task pretty often for all the characters forgetting every week the kind of shenanigans the cousins get up to, I will credit it here with having Wainwright fairly openly say he thinks Larry’s a giant screwup. This man sure does love the new pecking order!  Larry asks whether he’ll also receive pay from the community college, whether he will be allowed to park in faculty parking, whether he’ll get his mileage reimbursed, and most importantly, whether he’ll need to receive any training, or at least an orientation.

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Nah, j/k, Larry doesn’t do any of that shit. He starts running over to Harriette but then realizes if he does he’ll stand there in front of her for most of his line and kind of runs slowly.

Harriette is about as impressed as most women are when I tell them about my job, which involves “bibliographic instruction” and “resource selection” and “telling students where the restrooms are”. Sister has checked out.

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Larry starts throwing out syllabus ideas, such as having the students create their own newspaper.  Harriette says if he does that, I’ll make this week’s review into a bunch of Mormon jokes where Larry’s, like, becoming a god over his own planet and, like, the sports section will be called the “telestial section”, all the coupons are in the “outer darkness” and crap like that. Harriette says it will be really dumb and to not do that.

Balki comes in singing reason #31 that you’re never…

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ah shit

The show rickrolled me.

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Upon hearing that his Cousin Larry will be a journalism teacher, Balki also acts like it’s a horrible idea.  He dials it back once the distinction between television news and newspapers is made, but can no one on voice any confidence in Larry?  Larry wants to lead everybody out of the woods so they don’t starve; everybody tells Larry he’ll fuck it up; he fucks it up.  Everybody gets together to talk about the cousins’ past and four out of five people say that Larry has never done anything for Balki.

Stay tuned, folks, Larry’s going to fuck this up!

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Later, at the Chicago Community College’s Adult Evening Classes High School Satellite Campus (aka Dial College)**, Larry comes in and introduces himself to the nine people there for Journalism 101.

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Then he falls down because not only did nothing important happen in the United States between November 1988 and April 1989, there’s really not humor to be derived from news, or from teaching, in general.  I’d give you a bingo card, but it would be a 2×2 grid.

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Then he breaks the chalk and misspells his own name. OH, I get it, it’s funny if he embarrasses himself when he’s trying to appear competent.  Heidi Grant Halvorson, in her book No One Understands You and What to Do About It, offers a piece of advice for those who try to make a first impression solely on the basis of competence:

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It must also be balanced with warmth.

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Balki tries to do the Dance of Joy but Larry tells him there are strict rules about professor/student relationships.

Guess what, everybody, Balki’s taking the class.  I wanted to see what college life is like for Balki. But not like this.

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Student #1: Do you guys fuck?

Larry tries to introduce himself to the class. Since Balki is only here to make Larry seem less competent, he basically starts in making the same jokes I do about Larry’s job.

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Larry tells Balki that this is strictly a lecture-based class, and that “group work”, “flipped classroom”, and “think/pair/share” will stay in the bedroom where they belong.***

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Student #1: No seriously, though, you were really touching his face a lot there.

Larry gives the students their first assignment: reading a 47-page document he wrote for them to help them write an article.

*facepalms*

Dude. There’s another real moment for you: this is a completely believable way that someone could get on a class’s bad side.  There are better ways of phrasing that information to students, and I’m sure you can come up with ones that are just as good as mine.

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The next day, at the apartment, Balki runs in proposing that his article be about how sometimes clouds look like animals.  I actually like that joke!

Balki: How about one that looks like Cybil Sheepherder?

*rips an entire Sunday newspaper in half*

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Balki then asks for help along the lines of a “hint” and oh my Lord have I seen that behavior before.  With some students, you give them an assignment that requires their interpretation, their own thinking at all, and they’ll try to find out what the “correct” answer is.  I don’t see this in the classroom because I never spend more than a couple of hours with any class during an entire semester, but I’ve seen it when I’ve tutored people.  That one line of dialogue is the realest this episode has felt.

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God damn it, everytime I look away for a paragraph one of you is touching the other’s face.  Balki, if you want some grade inflation (heh), it’s going to take more than this.

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Then Jennifer and Mary Anne (Summa Cum Laude) come by, having just arrived home from their flight.  They tell the cousins about a fight that happened on the plane.

Mary Anne: And food was flying everywhere!

Cousin Larry is shocked that such a thing could ever

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even once

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happen in such a setting.

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Larry tries for a whole minute to get Balki to realize that this is a story he could use, and then puts him down when he gets it.  Jennifer and Larry bond for a moment over insulting their best friends.

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Later, we’re shown the exterior of the building again, and I’m confused. Am I supposed to be paying attention to the cars? Or–

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OH I get it, there’s people inside the building. Nevermind. Nevermind!

The cousins have returned from class, and Balki begs to have his paper graded.  Larry accedes.

Here I go again with another psychology sidebar: Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Erik Erikson identified eight stages that children progress through (or, should progress through, if adults don’t screw ‘em up).  I won’t get into all of them here, but I’ll talk about the first four.  You’ve got trust vs. mistrust (will mom feed me? will I be protected?); autonomy vs. shame (how much can I do? am I doing it right?); initiative vs. guilt (can I try this new thing I came up with? or will I get whupped for it?).  We see that Cousin Larry has done a decent job as a surrogate parent, because Balki is now in the midst of stage four: industry vs. inferiority (am I good at a thing the adults like? or do they demand things I cannot do?).

Sorry, I get lost in theory sometimes. The joke is that Balki’s eight years old.

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Balki’s assignment is wearing coin belts and tassels. Ooh la la!  I’ve seen women wearing that same outfit that haven’t looked half as sexy!****

Balki hints that it ought to get him some extra credit and Larry tells him to buzz off. Also, while we’re here, most of the time I either ridicule or just ignore the stuff that comes out of Balki’s mouth.  But he says here that Larry doesn’t “have to paint him a photograph”.  It’s as funny as anything else he says, but I have the benefit (disadvantage?) of remembering that Mypos has a capable artist who serves as their camera sometimes. So, to me, that reads more like a cultural hiccup than a linguistic one. Balki starts dusting.

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Boy, this sure is an episode about Larry teaching a class full of students about journalism!

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Did they really have extendo-dusters back then or was this prop specially-made?

Balki says he really wants an A+. He doesn’t get an A+, or an A; he doesn’t even get the D (heh).  Balki gets an F.

Gee, I wonder why? Is it because he can’t read? Is it because he can’t write?  Who knows, Larry just says there are “fundamental problems” with Balki’s article and that he has “high standards”.

That scene took forever!

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At the school, Larry tells everyone that semicolons are crucial to making it big as a journalist. I could tie Larry’s use of an extending pointer to Balki’s use of the extending duster to make some point about how neither is doing what they say they’re doing, but the show has set me up for a joke about Larry’s bowel health.

*ahem*

Larry has bowel problems to the point where a joke hinging on a dual meaning of semi-colon would be funny here. Thank you, show.

Larry has Balki hand back the papers because

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and Larry knows this will boost Balki’s spirits.

Larry: I see a lot of potential in these papers; I also see a lot of room for improvement.

…isn’t that the same damn thing?

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This big boy got an F. She got an F! You get an F!  Everybody gets an F!

Larry takes the time to go over some of the common mistakes he sees in the students’ papers, such as run-on sentences, purple prose, writing at a reading level well above that of the Average Joe, and encourages them to not only look over the comments he’s made on their papers and to see him individually if they have questions about what to do on their next assignment.

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Nah, j/k, Larry doesn’t do that. He tells them failure will put hair on their chests and they all leave, insulting him on their way out.

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Then, Larry gives Balki another paper back, one that he found on the kitchen table and graded.  And because this is an episode all about Larry’s interactions with a class full of students, it turns out that it’s a paper Mr. Wainwright himself wrote in college back in the day.  He got an A on it then from Edward R. Murrow, which is a journalism name you recognize. Balki asks what grade Larry gave it.

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They fight over the paper.

So Cousin Larry gave his boss a C-. Did, uh, did all the references to the early 1960s–not to mention the full grasp of the English language–not tip him off?

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Larry, finally realizing that there is no power but of God, and that the powers that be are ordained of God, begs forgiveness for his sin against the hierarchy. Exit Balki.

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Larry makes to leave, but–UH-OH–sleeveless malcontent #13 is there, threatening violence.  The knife fight scene from Blackboard Jungle’s got nothing on this! Knowing that he’ll have to continue a teacher-student relationship with this youth over the course of the semester, Larry invites him in, using some de-escalation strategies, and proceeds to find out what the student’s goals are for his academic career, finally explaining how the skills acquired in this class will transfer to other domains in his career and, moreover, his whole life.

Nah, j/k, Larry locks the door, letting the student know he’s an absolute spineless weenie.*****

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Four hours later, Larry comes home. The security guards let him out (thank God Jennifer wasn’t there to see it!). He says he’s learned his lesson, so Balki takes the opportunity to teach him this week’s lesson.

Evidently there’s a Great Wall of Mypos and shepherds teach sheep to jump over fences by teaching them to first jump over feet.  Blah blah zone of proximal development blah blah scaffolding blah blah education just isn’t funny, okay?

Anyway, Larry took the time to re-grade the papers (that’s right, you heard right, all the papers that he already handed back to the class) and Balki got an A-.

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Come back next week for the season finale “Wedding Belle Blues”.

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Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (1)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

*fuck you, Walt, keep scrubbing caked shit from the johns

**Family Matters High School during the day

***see, what did I tell you? Jokes about teaching just aren’t funny.

****please recommend me some better porn sites

*****I always did get points off for mixing metaphors

Season 4, Episode 20: Seven Card Studs

Hey!

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Here we are at the Caldwell Hotel, with a panning shot and bold, energetic music. It’s a new day in Chicago!

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Larry calmly sips his brown liquid, from which we can infer that he’s had time to floss, chose an outfit all by himself, knows where his keys are, and will no doubt be prepared for his work day with a sharp mind.

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Bakli sneaks into the well-lit living room and tries to tiptoe back to his bedroom.

Cousin Larry drags it out of Balki that he was playing poker all night, and it’s obvious that Balki is embarrassed about it. I may have to try to sneak out of this review later on when this turns to shit and the cousins start a tug-of-war over a poker chip and Balki says “one-eyed bandit”, but right now, this is a good start to the episode.  When have we ever seen Balki embarrassed? He’s doing something he knows goes against his Myposian values but just can’t stop because he’s enjoying it so much.

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Here I thought that only Larry ever called in Balki as a pinch hitter any time he couldn’t touch a boob, but that now seems to be a refrain in Balki’s life: Gorpley asked him to sit in on the poker game at the last minute. But doing so lost Balki $100, completely reversing the cousins’ newfound fortune they won in at the beginning of the season.

Larry, who has evidently never once looked up from the desk in the room where he works with Balki and Mr. Gorpley, is shocked and appalled that Gorpley would take advantage of Balki in such a way.

Larry says that they have to beat Gorpley at his own game, not, you know, just never play poker with him and let the $100 loss be a lesson to Balki

But Balki’s been sucked into a den of vice which, according to him, includes “male bondage”.

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Cousin Larry decides then and there that he must win back Balki’s $100 no matter what the *ahem* personal cost.

That night, still at their apartment, Balki comes out of his room wearing a hat and cape, because, hey, after all, this is an episode about playing poker with Gorpley at the Chronicle.

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After the audience laughs at the funny hat for a couple of minutes, Larry gets the best line of the episode: “did I catch you at a bad time?”.

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Balki wants to take a job as a human cannonball to make up the money. That’s some deep guilt there! The Reverend Dimmesdale flagellating himself to atone for the sin of adultery got nothing on this!

Larry offers his thesis: they’re going to play poker that night to win the $100 back from Gorpley.

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But Balki offers a subtle counter-thesis to this, exaggerating his linguistic shortcomings, hoping that it will give Larry pause to think about his own competitive limitations:

Balki: You’ve got to be careful; Mr. Gorpley is quite the aardvark.

Larry, seeing Balki’s meaning, reminds his cousin that taking on a new persona can bring untold benefits to performance. And I’m not just talking about when the cousins roleplay as “Immigration Officer” and “Boy Who Lost His Papers on the Train”. Unlike disappearing into an alter, adopting a persona is a much healthier and proactive way to handle uncomfortable situations. You’re modeling behavior, you’re practicing a mode. You become “Date Mike” when you put on the Kangol hat; you don’t step into a negotiation without wearing your leopard print speedos.

Nah, j/k, Larry just says he was known as “Smooth Larry Appleton” in the poker world. Also, Balki was known as “Cool Hand Balki” in the goat-milking world.

You know what? Make your own jokes about those names. There’s simply too many.

Then Balki squeezes some imaginary teats for awhile.

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You know, this show has changed a lot over its first four years: Balki graduated, they both got new jobs, Larry’s all but stopped wearing sweaters. But it’s heartening to see that some things are unchanging, like this show padding the hell out of its first act.  We’ve spent five minutes now discussing people who aren’t there and activities that no one is seen doing. The show makes a subtle pun about pads:

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Larry has written down all possible poker hands for Balki’s convenience.

Balki says that learning the actual rules of a game he needs to play well is just too confusing, so Larry shows him how to do a pokerface*

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Larry tells Balki to look at his face and Balki gets hungry for it, mentioning food as an excuse to put his tongue on his cousin.

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Then Balki makes some joke about pokerfaces that rests on understanding multiple meanings for some goddam reason because Balki is funny when he’s smart because he’s dumb I don’t care anymore. He makes the same face I do when my foot cramps in the middle of the night and wakes me up.

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Larry yells at Balki to pay attention, and to look at his cards, but not give away anything about what he has.  Shouldn’t they have spent a lot more time on what the different winning hands were, and how to weigh your options regarding discarding and replacing? The misunderstanding Balki should be making is that he shouldn’t specifically let his cousin know the face values of the cards, right?

Instead, Balki makes a face like he’s had a stroke.**

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To his credit, Balki does pull the notepad with the winning hands closer to him, and then has increasing difficulty in hiding his excitement.

Dining room table chairs aided in the discovery of orgasms for both me and Balki, it seems.

Larry does that whole reverse psychology thing again and Balki starts crying that he wants to play Smooth Appleton Pokejob.

Now Larry has a plan. They’ll play badly to begin with, and then win all the money back after Gorpley’s guard is down. This plan rests fully on the assumption that Gorpley has never once paid attention to the fact that Larry does this kind of shit almost weekly after having worked near him for a year and a half.

Balki, for some goddam reason, is completely down with this snowjob plan.

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Then Larry sprays the cards everywhere, because it’s the end of the scene and I really can’t come up with a better joke either, so.

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The poker game happens at the Chronicle, since Gorpley’s house burned down for the 20th Christmas in a row while he was celebrating with the cousins.

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Hey, wait!  I only count five card studs!

Hey, it’s Paul! Hey Paul!

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But… they refer to Paul as Andre, because hey, honestly, Andre’s a much blacker name no one was paying attention to their shirts in the bowling episode.

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Also this guy is named Walt. Who the hell are you, Walt, and why do you get to talk when my boy PaulAndre doesn’t?

There’s a scene in one of the later Sherlock Holmes stories where Holmes criticizes Watson’s writing for making it look like Holmes was a genius. Holmes accuses Watson of withholding all of the important details from the reader until Holmes himself mentions them; the audience could figure the crimes out at the same pace if such details were made available to them.  I say this to explain that what you see as my cutting sense of humor is simply my selection of what to show you. Here, when Gorpley asks if Balki’s in, Balki looks at the hand dealt him and starts gasping and yelling “Am I in???”. If you were actually watching these episodes you really wouldn’t need me here to tell you about the constant homoerotic undertones.

Larry plays a pair of threes and Gorpley beats him.  Also Gorpley has a better hand.

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Okay, credit where credit’s due: Bronson starts delivering a line about how he and Cousin Larry are the worst card players in the world, and it actually reads as the TV version of someone doing a bad job of lying. I mean, it’s nothing you won’t find on some other show, but I do like to mention when Bronson actually does something that doesn’t make me hate him.

Larry offers his plan to play for both of them, and I’ll credit Linn-Baker with sounding ever-so-slightly less fake.  When you get right down to it, though, if Gorpley’s been paying any attention, he already knows that they sound like this half the time anyway.

Walt tries to defend the cousins, but Gorpley shuts him down fast.

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Gorpley: You want fair, go coach little league.

Sam Gorpley, as always, knows exactly where everyone’s scars are. Gorpley had spent his life collecting miseries as one might collect bubble gum cards, or stories, or, yes, even placemats.  His serially-ruined Christmasses were notable simply by virtue of having happened on the same day of the year.  By the time he was 13, little Sam Gorpley had lost everything from pets (two dogs, a cat, countless goldfish) to friends to grandparents (all four) to his birth home (and with it, all his possessions).  He had learned to befriend trauma, or, if not befriend, to respect it, the kind of respect one has for a surgeon, or an interest rate. Gorpley knew that misery was a punishing god, but even the meanest gods need priesthoods, and he knew that if you can’t beat ‘em, worship ‘em, and he knew about Walt.  About how Walt used to be alcoholic. Gorpley could read scars like roadmaps, which are no help when the away game’s called on account of rain but the coach started celebrating the win too early.

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And even though they did fuckall to plan this thing, the cousins babble over each other while they pretend to pick which of them will play.  Bronson again does well by continuing to talk after Larry does, and it’s obvious he was in the middle of some entirely unrelated story about cupping a dog’s balls.

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Looks like Larry got his spring form back!

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God do I love when they zoom in on the wrong part of the building.

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You can see by everyone’s body language that it’s been a tough night. PaulAndre’s given up, Walt’s trying not to sit on a hemorrhoid, and Balki is distraught because Larry’s been losing.

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Gorpley wins another hand, so the cousins walk three feet away and talk loudly about their secret plan.

Larry says that he’s in total control and asks for Balki’s money. And we see that the roles have now been completely reversed since the beginning of the season. Balki, having in the end successfully negotiated his way through a new relationship with money in “The King and I”, now understands that the (assigned or, if you will, face) value of a $20 bill is higher than that of the yellow pad of paper on which Larry wrote poker hands.  One can buy you four trips to the top of the Sears Tower; the other is only buying him a lousy night.

The cousins return to the table, where Gorpley gives us a good capper to an actual running joke: he used to be known as “Slick Sam Gorpley”.

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Jennifer comes in and

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okay, I’m sorry, before I make a joke about how Larry wants to play his bottom pair, or how she’s going to help him limp-reraise, or even how this daughter of the Earth is going to (heh) play the river card, I’ve got to ask: how the hell is every part of this building so easy to get into in the middle of the night?

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Anyway, Jennifer comes in and Walt wants to know who she is.  Fuck you Walt, we’re never going to see you again. Make like a Tina and leave!

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They step right behind Gorpley and whisper loudly about Larry having gotten the “fever”, but that it was all for Balki.

Larry, after betting his last 20, then bets Jennifer, driving Balki to take swift action.

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Walt makes a joke about fucking Jennifer, but not every joke can be sexist, and luckily the next one isn’t. Larry demands that Balki put him down, and I don’t have to you tell you the punchline.  It works, mostly because Balki cries.

The stakes are further raised: Larry bets his next paycheck and his car.

Balki: Cousin, you don’t have a pair of anything!

I swear I had a joke written for that line, but now I can’t find it. Sorry.

Gorpley bets his car and calls.

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Gorpley has a Full House, Friday nights on ABC!

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Balki begs Larry to stop talking in metaphors, and I absolutely love that line. I think I’ll frame this screenshot and hang it over my bed.

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Walt talks about fucking Jennifer again. Shut up, Walt.

Turns out that Jennifer was in on it! Suddenly Larry sounding not-so-fake earlier makes sense, because he was playing a snowjob on both Balki and Gorpley.  But here’s another doubly impressive thing.  Jennifer had to come in and fool Balki into thinking that Larry was struggling against *ahem* never-before mentioned gambling problems. Whenever someone on TV lies, but it’s supposed to be funny, you can always hear the fakeness in their voices.  Jennifer, as a character, was able to carry this out.  The second part here is that they finally gave Melanie Wilson something to do that impacted the plot!  It’s a surprise to me on two levels!

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Gorpley knows scars, but Larry knows toilets: he wins with a royal flush.

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And then Larry accidentally gives Gorpley his own car keys because that’s the end of the scene and, hell, you try to come up with a better joke to end the scene (actually, please do).

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Finally, at the apartment, Balki wonders why Larry didn’t let him in on the whole plan.  Larry admits that it’s because Balki isn’t good at deception and–

oh my lord

–we’ve achieved harmony with the top of the episode where Balki failed to come home late in secret!

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Larry gives Balki his $100 back (but not the rest of the money he just lost and won back that evening…?).

Balki realizes that he’s easily fooled. And, uh, you think?  With the exception of “Dog Gone Blues”, “The Defiant Guys”, and “Bye Bye Biki”, every episode where–

oh, wait, hold on, almost forgot that

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About half the times that Balki has learned a lesson, it’s about people fooling him.  Twinkacetti, Carol, Vince, Leon, and now three people in one episode. Can we have other lessons for Balki to learn?  What would it take for a story about Balki learning about employee’s rights? About him learning that sharing his earnings with anyone else in their building is not reciprocated like it would have been in a lower socioeconomic setting like Mypos?  That the blackface comedy routines*** popular on Mypos don’t play well at the office?

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*sigh*  I guess if Cousin Larry the show is able to pull the “what’s that on your shirt” gag five times in a row, I shouldn’t expect too much.

Overall, though, I feel like this was a decent episode. It’s actually the type of setup that the show should be doing more often. Balki gets into trouble, Larry knows better and tries to help, but his incomplete view gets them into further trouble, and they both learn lessons from each other and/or the world. If that were the general formula, it would be a surprising thing every once in a while if either one of them out-and-out solved the whole problem.  On the other hand, the fact that Larry was actually “right”, not to mention thoroughly smart, comes across that much stronger because usually the pre-credits scene involves Balki changing his diapers.

See you next week for “Teacher’s Pest”!

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Catchphrase count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); Walt (1); Gorpley (lost his penis in a Christmas boating accident when he was 14)

*pokerface? I hardly know ‘er face!

**strokerface

***ochreface

Season 4, Episode 19: Just a Gigolo

Found half-buried in the abandoned lot that once was home to the Chicago Chronicle, I present to you what remains of the diary of Lydia Markham aka Edwina Twinkacetti.

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November 15, 1987

Vinnie finally stopped dragging his feet, and I finally got in at the newspaper!  It only took me, what, three months?? He kept complaining about how much money and effort it takes to lean on people for fake job references, how careful they have to be when they’re burning down newspaper buildings (just throw some water on it when it’s done, Vinnie!), how he’s giving up his two best girls for this

if those are his best… I shudder to think…

The setup here is good for monitoring.  You can only get to the parking garage through the basement, which is where they work.  I can see the recognition in their eyes… but it fades a little every day. I am beginning to believe Superman got away with just glasses.  I make sure to throw them off a little… insulting the sad-looking one (Larry), making up stories about my past for the dumb one (Balky).

Turns out my biggest worry was for nothing: nobody here knows anything about psychology! From the top down there is not a single person here who thinks like a human being! I write whatever advice I want, and they eat it up! I have even started playing a little game with myself, acting like I have different mental problems. God help me, they buy it.

I’ll have to keep my eye on the Afro-American, Harriet. She’s sharp.

November 21, 1987

Met a suicide-in-waiting who does the crime beat. Told him he had to face his fears… and that the occasional drink never hurt anybody. I’m so respected here! I want to laugh, but also to cry.

November 22, 1987

god I want to cry

November 30, 1987

Sent $200 to mom and the kids this morning. There is a letter from her sitting on the nightstand next to the photo of Donald (the one from the contest). I haven’t opened it.

December 2, 1987

Balki has developed an addiction!!!! All it took was a few conversations about the “fancy” programs I watch. He started talking a bunch of nonsense. Father gave me my first car… and old 1962 Galaxie… it pissed oil. According to Father, that’s how you could be sure it was working.

December 10, 1987

Frank was here this morning! And happy! I was livid.  I stalked around my office screaming for a good 15 minutes.  Susan (my assistant) came in… asked if I was okay… told her I was just relapsing into an “acute paranoid hypomanic episode”. “Oh,” she said.

Found out from Harriette that the cousins “saved” Frank by telling him how good he had it. I wondered briefly if they knew… why were they there that night anyway?? But then I had lunch (chicken salad and water) and felt a lot better. Most likely they get off doing their inversion thing on the mail table.

December 12 13, 1987

crying

December 15, 1987

god the screams

December 19, 1987

Was prescribed this hot new “miracle drug” called fluoxetine… doc says it’s just short term… just to help me sleep… just to take the edge off…

December 23

Office Christmas party. Pretended to get drunk and have daddy issues.  Kissed Harry under the mistletoe and he bolted. I am surprised to find that I do not feel insulted by this. Feels more like a challenge, really!

December 31, 1987

Snet some $$$ to that BITCH even thoug she’s a BTCH tells me Im not a good momther sends me me a damn picture of whats their names

shit whats their nanmes???????? denny and the girl one okay marcie

fuck

January 1, 1988

woke up and he was screaming SCREAMING not even muffled by the glass screaming directly into my head from the nightstand

January 2, 1988

oh god

January, sure

i have

January 5, 1988

Note to self: let’s not get so drunk we forget to take our pills for a week!

January 9, 1988

Note to self: never sleep with a film director… even one who does commercials… they’re always telling you what to do…

January 28, 1988

Vinnie… okay, fine he’s “Vince” now… thought it would be fun to try to scare the cousins. I told him I was happy with the results, but to consult with ME first in the future.  I could never trust him. Donald should have known Vince would get caught the way he did. I mean… the guy only parked his big black limousine one block from the discount store!

January 31, 1988

Sent $150 to mom and the kids this morning.

(2 pages torn out)

March 28, 1988

Harry was loaded! Emphasis on “was”! Emphasis on “loaded”!!! The poor bastard… keeping all his keys together… I actually find it kind of sweet that he changed his office safe combination to my measurements. Vinnie didn’t know about that safe.

March 31, 1988

Sent $400 to mom and the kids.

April 17, 1988

Found the most gorgeous apartment in downtown!  Thanks, Harry!!

April 30, 1988

Balki had a stupid little “graduation ceremony” yesterday.  The idiot can barely speak correctly! I ended up having to stand next to one of Vinnie’s girls… the tall one… there’s barely a brain between the two of them, and it’s all in the other’s head (Mary?). I would have pegged the tall one as a match for Balki.  But who understands attraction, really?

Sent $150 to mom and the kids.

May 6, 1988

Balki’s grandmother is dead! Thanks, Vinnie!

May 7, 1988

She’s still dead! HAHAHAHA!

May 9, 1988

The doctor did say the pills were just for a few months, and I certainly

(7, perhaps 8, pages ripped out here)

lovely… but said he could never leave his wife. YECCCH

October 15, 1988

I put the picture of Donald away and replaced it with one of the kids. No idea why the bottom right corner is cut off.

Larry had the gall this morning to call me an idiot! ME! The guy who can’t go 15 minutes without crying.  I guess that means my plan is working. Balki is as dumb as ever. I think he may have gotten worse?

Also, whoopty doo, I won a measly $100 playing the lottery.

October 28, 1988

HARRIETTE KNOWS

THAT BITCH KNOWS

October 29, 1988

screams from the closet… took two pills to make up for yesterday…

October 31, 1988

Sent $170 to mom and the kids.

November 5, 1988

Yesterday night was beautiful.  I gave the cousins a piano to bring to a party at my apartment. I picked one that was slightly too big for the elevator, put some extra weight inside it (bags of sand left over from Ritz), oiled the wheels a little too well.  They even managed to let the piano fall out of a window! I came downstairs briefly to see them and they were so demoralized!!!

Also, that’s the end of Chuck “Micropenis” Panama.

November 6

HER HUSBAND IS A COP

(3 pages missing)

November 27, 1988

Just got back from an office camping trip. I forgot to bring my meds with me on this trip, but you know what? I feel okay!  And I’ve got these cousins figured out, and I barely have to put forth any effort. A little backhanded compliment here, a little threat to his manhood there, and Larry decides to take his cousin and those bimbos away from the group.

I’d hoped they’d die but NO for some goddam reason everything THEY do works out GREAT

who would choose blonde as a hair color for fuck’s sake

November 28, 1988

I woke up to screams and looked at the nightstand… the children were the same but they weren’t mine, they never were… I turned over and there was the picture of Donald on the other pillow. I must have been drunk last night and gotten it out of the closet…

I must have thrown the bottle in the garbage can outside…

December 9, 1988

Spent the evening at the cousin’s apartment. Couldn’t believe the smell.  Saw some psychology books on their shelves. Is this as bad as I think it is?

December 31, 1989

Sent $250 to mom and the kids.

January 31, 1989

Sent $160 to mom and the kids.

February 15, 1989

Spent the night with Bink. He barely makes 30K! Butt like boiled potatoes. YECCCH!

February 18, 1989

Showed Balki a mop and he asked me “what this?” Think I might buy myself some

(pages missing)

for a loop that all I could do was make a bedwetting remark. As soon as he said “used car” it hit me… I never got rid of Donald’s car… they must have seen it at Tony’s Mambo Room…

…the psychology books…

…Balki likes to hang out with Harriette’s husband…

…we have an investigative team now…

No. Don’t let it overtake you, Lydia.

February 24, 1989

You know… you spend so much time coming up with new neuroses to show off… and everyone just focuses on how much sex you’re having. I swear, Western views on sexuality are the real neurosis…

March 31, 1989

001

I had the newspaper’s basement–and, thanks to Vinnie, the apartment–bugged a long time ago.  But I’ve really given up on it by now. Balki has three or four phrases that he says everyday… he HAS to say them… “well of course not” he thinks he’s being so damn CUTE.

002

Other times he just talks nonsense, worse than he did in the store for certain now… far worse… TOO far worse… is he speaking in code? is he taunting me? Doth Balki protest too much?

But then things pick up later when Balki tells me about a guy he “found” for me.

003

That suit, that hair… I tell you, I’m a sucker for receding hairlines… and *sigh!* he actually reads my column… his name is Jack Colby… he’s taking me to JAMAICA!!!

004

Oh this dumb stranger is perfect!!!

Note to self: send $$ to mom when you get back.

April 2, 1989

Can you believe it? Jack’s been running the same scam as me! He’s so obviously trying to find out my net worth. “Ah, this is certainly a Lanvin” He knew it was a Gucci! Who doesn’t know a Gucci shoe??? Of course I’d done research on him before we came here (something I DO unlike those Marshall and Walpole greasestains) so I knew he’d been married a few times. But here’s the thing–and I love this–he keeps his formers alive around! He’s got it so they pay him alimony. HOW???

I called him out on it over dinner (we had escoveitch… it’s like escabeche but SO much tastier… I need to get back down there soon!). He wasn’t even phased! But what’s more, he didn’t try to run.  He’s not smart (he kept embarrassing me in front of the waiter by saying “tamarack” instead of “tamarind”, like, really, guy?) but he can see opportunity… I appreciate that.  We schemed over the weekend.  I’ve been a short-term investment, short-term payout kind of gal myself… but then I think you have to do that at first… luxury apartments don’t pay for themselves. Jack’s style is long-term investment, but with long-term returns. I think I may keep him around awhile.

What’s that Gaddis quote? When someone tells you to make your money work for you, that’s wrong. You make somebody else’s money work for you.

Also… he’s HUGE…

April 3, 1989

Came back to work today.  I woke up pleasantly sore this morning (let them laugh) and had my usual espresso. During cup #6 I glanced over at the medication bottles (? jars? capsules?) and I realized: I don’t need those anymore.  It’s been almost two years since my time with “The Donald” was over… I swear that sobriquet was a third of why he had to go…

(written out to the side on this page in another color: “VIALS!!”)

005

I was so happy this morning that those two idiots in the basement didn’t even sour my mood. I came in singing Day-O!  I didn’t care about Balki’s malapropisms, or how he called me Miss Lydia… that kind of linguistic mangling is for daycares and Southern churches… either you’re formal or informal with someone I mean, God, PICK ONE!!!  Actually, seeing them improved my mood.  I completely unnerved them with my marriage announcement. Sure, Larry looks that scared on any day that ends in “y”, but telling them about my marriage even threw Balki off! Things are looking up!

006

On the other hand, Larry was mumbling under his breath… I swear I heard the words “reason #30”…

007

What does that mean?

What could he know?

April 4, 1989

008

Jack and I had our engagement party last night.

Donald was on my nightstand this morning.

009

I invited everyone from work back to my apartment, even that letch Wainwright (the women at the Chronicle don’t call him “Roving Touch” for nothing). Thank God I hired a butler to announce everyone’s names because heaven knows I won’t remember the names of the black ones when I introduce them to Jack.  At least I did that… nothing else went right.

Friends close, enemies closer, right?

010

It helps if you know which they think they are.

Larry was wearing a dress and a wig! What the hell were they trying? And who picked out that dress for him? His “girlfriend” certainly doesn’t have that kind of fashion sense

WHAT DO THEY KNOW?

I learned years ago–from Donald,

SCREAMING

of all people… he was in his prime then… not to give away anything more than I have to unless I’m getting something good in return. I smiled and nodded when Larry was introduced as “Desiree”…  he starts talking about how his “late husband” was some kind of multimillionaire businessman…

Well har dee har I’ll be snookered

011

Alarm bells were going off in my head!  Certainly this was some kind of charade meant to shake me up. It took wearing a dress for that Midwestern runt to show some balls! Mocking ME, mocking MY cover story.  I tried to keep myself calm, remind myself that Larry and Balki were off in their own little world of two most of the time. Worst case scenario they’d knock over my potted plants, throw food around, grab each others’ asses, cry, and then loudly proclaim that they’d “learned their lesson”. Like some Saturday-morning cartoon version of the Kipper Kids. Most everyone ignores it at this point. Right?

Balki’s still talking like the Family Circus brats… but he’s started throwing in actual puns… not good puns… but his English wasn’t this good on Friday…

HAR DEE HAR where DOES he come up with them???

Jack and I were having a good time… joking about which of the women at the party he’d pick for his next wife.  Of course, I’d never let him marry any of that gutter trash. I’ve always known not to shit where I eat, even before I met Donald… he certainly never realized that one…  I think we’ll find Jack some nice Jewish Princess in Skokie next.

012

At one point I saw Harriette and Larry talking.  It was only for a few seconds, but that BITCH has to GO. Maybe some food poisoning will keep her off her feet for a day or two… long enough for that idiot Wainwright to realize he can press buttons too…

HARRIETTE HARRIETTE HARRIETTE

(these are almost entirely crossed out and a pen has torn through the paper in places)

I’m being rational about it now, but I was on the verge of a major freak-out.

013

I saw Larry and Jack talking and decided it was time for me to go… like, Splitsville, population Lydia

I disappeared into my bedroom to make sure my bug-out bag was in order… the water was there the bus tokens were there the sunglasses and the housewife clothes were there but where were the WIGS what good are the DRIVERS LICENSES without the damn WIGS???? and I looked up and I saw Donald and I threw him in the closet

014

Francine, my maid, came in at one point to tell me that she walked in on Jack making the moves on a blonde woman in the coat room and I yelled at her WHERE ARE THE WIGS can you believe it? I yelled at my maid of two years WHERE ARE THE WIGS I cried and then I really did cry and Francine and I cried together… Francine told me she wanted to follow no matter where I went… and I realized how much I’d be giving up here… I’m no spring chicken… but I don’t want to start all this over again in a new city…

015

Francine gave me the strength I needed… I knew I could regain control… all I needed to do was walk out there and announce the marriage proposal right away… before anyone else could say anything… I had planned to rip off Larry’s wig and claim that it was a joke we were playing on Jack… but I realized in that moment that Larry’s wig was MY wig it was my country music singer wig it was MY WIG that I BOUGHT from SEARS OF COURSE IT WAS LYDIA DON’T BE RIDICULOUS

(“GET OUT OF THE CITY” and “FUCK YOU JACK” fill the left and right margins of this page)

016

it threw me off just long enough that I hesitated, and then Jack, that pituitary gland in a Perry Ellis, dumped ME he fucking dumped ME

and Balki… he pulls MY WIG off of Larry and I see it now… I thought I had them right where I wanted them… Larry was just genetic detritus Balki couldn’t even remember what mail bags were half the time but WHY DOES EVERYTHING WORK OUT FOR THEM WHY

FUCK WHY

I see it now… Balki pretending to be a hypnotized Elvis… Balki pretending to grab a bowling ball while touching my face, a coded message that even a blind man would know who I am how long had they planned this?… how long had it taken them to rub my face in the fact that my disguise consisted of different hair… and whose plan was it??? What are they going to do?? this was supposed to be MY MY WIG (violently crossed out) MY YOU DO I DO YOU DO I DO YOU DO I DO Y (scribbles for the rest of the page)

this was supposed to announce MY WEDDING and its a horror version of Dirty rotten Scoundrels because JACK IS IN ON IT I KNOW

I KNOW HE KNOWS

in front of EVERYBODY jack says he wants to boff Lary… I could barely hear anything… blame it on whatever the hell Blaki Bkli Bbla GOD DAMMIT

(page is crumpled and torn, but still complete)

Balki was yelling god only knows what… but I could only hear my own blood HIS BLOOD rushing in my ears and I grab whatever the black guy was holding (i was hoping it was a GUN do you udnerstand it was) MINE THE SUCCESS WAS MINE

THESE FUCKUPS SHOULD BE THANKING ME FOR THEIR JOBS AND THEIR WOMEN

it wasnt a gun it was a PASTRY but it was MINE it was AMERiCAN okay it was FRANCINES but FRANCINES MINE OKAY

017

and I make jack EAT IT and I wish I could say the rest was a blur but MY WIG I know i was cry again and the dirty inbredscoundrels were closing in on me and Balki leans in close and sayd right in my face: “your move, ex-lax”

018

like i said kind a blur but I hit my redial button this mornign and it was for ennifer

(the “J” in “Jennifer” was written, then erased)

i hope that tramp saw her demasculated boyfriend waering that dress and just destroyed his emotional state emotionally

019020

April 30, 1989

Sent $200 to mom and the kids.

June 5, 1989

Met Marshall at Pierre’s… a new French café down the street from my apartment… and what a romantic… can you believe he

(the remainder of the book appears to have been burned)

________________________________________