January: Tommy & The Rocky Horror Picture Show

An occasional Report Night comer, Hannah, was recently nominated for a Zoni (the AZ equivalent to a Tony) for her role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  This was probably why the topic came to mind in our white elephant topic exchange last month, and Tommy was the lucky recipient.

Tommy was the perfect man for the job, because he was one of the few in the room who had ever been to a midnight showing! Rocky Horror is the longest running movie in theaters because of the midnight showings that occur in much of the world. Apparently Rocky Horror is by no means the pioneer of midnight movie culture–wherein the audience participation takes precedence over the actual film. (There’s definitely no “shhhing” at a midnight showing.) Staying true to those cultural norms, Rocky Horror viewers show up in costume, bring props, shout at the screen when the time is right, and naturally, dance the Time Warp. 

Tommy’s report was filled with quirky facts and history, but the real action came when he insisted we all learn to dance The Time Warp.  And just to ensure no one can forget this moment (even if they want to), I took photos.

...bring your knees in tight, it's the pelvic thrust that drives you insane...

(Fun Fact: When Tommy went to see Rocky Horror, he dressed up as Brad. )

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January: Mike & The History of TP

(REMINDER: The White House Report Night has a Christmas party tradition: white elephant topics.  In other words, instead of exchanging  gifts in the white elephant fashion during our Christmas party, we all write topics on slips of paper and exchange those instead.  “The history of Toilet Paper” was the topic Mike received at the 2010 Christmas party.)

Mike’s report was as entertaining and educational as it was disgusting and shameless.  Going as far back in documented history as possible (589 AD), Mike belabored the point that using toilet paper has been repeatedly proven ineffective and unsanitary.  Many “tests” over the years have attempted to decide the best way to clean a dirty backside. (Surprisingly a  “well-downed goose neck” made the cut. Who knew?)

Besides the many “colorful” images in his power point presentation, Mike used a demonstration for a visual aid.  (And no….it isn’t as bad as it sounds.) He elected Ross to cover his hand with peanut butter and then remove the PB with toilet paper. He was given as much TP as needed as well as ample time. Tommy, then, was asked to both smell Ross’ hand for PB odor & touch it for any oily residue.  The TP left behind both. Then Ross was given a wet wipe, which completely removed any proof of peanut butter. 

As Mike’s wife, the one who is probably more sensitive to his “crossing-the-line” antics than any other, I still think this was his best work. (Horrific images, but a quality report nonetheless.)

I will leave you with a quote from Francois Rabelais that left us laughing, “Who his foul tail with paper wipes, Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.”

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June: Lariate & Sock Monkeys

Aren’t sock monkeys adorable?  That’s what we thought when Lariate brought her son’s toy as her visual aid.  But before I go on, there’s something you need to know.

June’s Report Night was not at the White House.  The White’s were out-of-town, so everyone hopped on over to our family pad.  But unlike the White’s, we don’t have the ability (or at least the know-how) to connect our laptop to our tv screen.  So we declared June Low Tech Report Night.  This is where Lariate’s mad teaching skills came in.

Using her sons’ easel and giant roll of paper, she taught us the history of the sock monkey the “old school” way.  Red Heel socks were standard workman’s socks for years, and during the Depression mothers began sewing toys for their children using Dad’s old socks.  When Nelson Knitting Mills got wind of this, they soon bought the copyright to the monkey pattern and began including it with each pair of their Red Heel socks.  Lariate’s report was complete with the pattern, but we saved the sewing for our own time.

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June: Rikki & Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is a shameful thing that I have not reported reports in four months.  Please forgive me.  In the meantime….  Chocolate chip cookies!!

Not to brag, but...we actually got to eat them. (Sorry.)

This was Rikki’s second time at Report Night and her topic brought delight all weekend long.  In her giant box of props, she pulled out the Nestle Toll House bag of chocolate chips and referred to the famous recipe on the back.  But then she explained that we need not always follow the recipe exactly.  By simply changing up a few ingredients, you can make the cookies more crispy, fluffy, or chewy.  She brought all the switch-er-oo ingredients in her box, but it was what was hidden behind those ingredients that made the report stellar: she made three different batches of cookies to prove the principles.  Needless to say, we want Rikki to keep coming back!

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February: John, as told by a (talented and good-looking) guest blogger

John White dazzled us with brilliance while the Supreme Court baffled us with bullshit.  John’s report was on the anatomy of a United States Supreme Court opinion.  Specifically United v. Federal Election Commission in which our betters on the bench decided that 135 years of case law do not really apply today and that we are actually better off when corporations are free to spend unfettered amounts of cash to influence elections at every level.  He told us how the court found that the plaintiff’s had standing, the court ignored stare decicis, and refused to decide the case on narrow grounds.  Rather, the Court found that corporations are actually people with First Amendment rights.  This would raise an interesting question for Aquinas who reasoned that animals have no souls – Can a corporation attain salvation?  Answer – Only in America.

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February: Denise & Fred McFeely Rogers

Those in attendance will know I am getting ahead of myself.  What about John?  I have enlisted a guest blogger to do justice on John’s report.  And said guest blogger is busy doing justice in other ways at the moment.  But grab on to your gavels, because it will come!

Those who know me know that I adore Mister Rogers.  I tend to avoid topics I already know a lot about.  But when I thought about the fact that there are people out there who don’t know the legacy of this man, I realized a report was in order.  As fate would have it, my report “coincidentally” fell on the anniversary of his death, which was February 27, 2003.  This fueled my passion to give my best and honor him well. 

I began by retelling the parable of The Good Samaritan.  In short, a well-studied Jewish man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”  Or rather, “Who am I required to love at this deep level?”  After answering his question with the famous parable and saying, “Which of these men was the good neighbor?”–Jesus was really saying, “Don’t ask, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Instead ask, ‘How can I be the good neighbor?'”  And what better way to encapsulate the legacy of Fred Rogers than to say he was a man who knew what it meant to be the good neighbor.  (“Won’t you be my neighbor?” ) 

I touched on how he was a good neighbor (primarily his Little Prince-adopted perspective that “what is essential is invisible to the eyes”) as well as his habits and accomplishments (such as swimming daily and attending seminary during his lunch hour).  We viewed his famous battle to receive funding for his work, and I quoted this excerpt from Tim Madigan’s  book I’m Proud of You:

 “Something was at the heart of his greatness.  It was his unique capacity for relationship, what Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod once called ‘a fearlessness, an unashamed insistence on intimacy.’  That was true with almost every person he met, be it television’s Katie Couric or a New York City cabdriver; the Dalai Lama or the fellow handing out towels at the health club where Fred went to swim.  Fred wanted to know the truth of your life, the nature of your insides, and had room enough in his own spirit to embrace without judgment whatever that truth might be.”

I closed the power-point presentation with this touching video:

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Filed under Biographical, Religion, TV

December: Melissa

**ATTENTION OCD READERS: Please have your ritualized hand-sanitizer comforts nearby, because you are about to read a December report in the middle of our February runs. I realize this is out of order, but to be fair, Melissa deserves her post. Also, these sort of things don’t bother me very much and I make the rules. (Well, these rules.)  So take a deep breath and pretend it is December…**

This is her second report, but to say Melissa gives “reports” is such a mundane, inadequate word for what she does.  Melissa’s reports are more like performance art.  Our very first Report Night she came and gave a dramatic lesson on giant squid.

From the squid’s perspective.

With the light’s out.

With a flashlight under her chin.

Frankly, everyone needs a little Melissa-flair in their lives.  But enough about squid!  Melissa began her report…in the bathroom.  We were not with her.  So across the distance of the White’s foyer (seriously, they have a foyer), we saw the light shining from the open doorway of the bathroom that kept Melissa out of view.  “YOU ALL ARE PROBABLY WONDERING WHY I’M BEGINNING MY REPORT FROM THE BATHROOM,” she yelled.  “AT OUR HOUSE WE HAVE A CHRISTMAS TRADITION OF PLAYING GAMES AND EATING FOOD ALL DAY LONG.  CONSEQUENTLY, WE ALSO SPEND MUCH OF OUR TIME IN HERE, AS WELL: THE BATHROOM.”  Then Melissa returned to the living room wearing a tweed jacket, a pair of glasses, and a British accent.  The bathroom had transformed her into Thomas Crapper, the supposed inventor of the toilet.

We learned soon enough, however, that Thomas Crapper really did not invent the toilet, he merely made it popular.   We also learned that the word “crap” is not a derivative of the name Crapper, but instead from the Dutch word “krappe.”  I am a fan of giving credit where credit is due (see our “Welcome!” tab), so for a comprehensive look at who deserves credit for inventing our modern and convenient flush-toilet, take a look at this.  Better yet, copy and paste the entry so you can print it and read it on your next friendly visit to the commode. 

*Next time we hear from Melissa, it will be on her white elephant topic “The Worst of 2009.”

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