I Need Pa


I grab comfort wherever I can find it–

especially at the gym. To ease me through time on the treadmill, I rely heavily on my Ipod (having to hang onto the treadmill’s bar when I am thrust into a “Laugh at The Zany Mess That Is My Personal Taste” moment as my playlist cycles from the thrash of Norwegian punk to the surprising infectiousness of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.”)

Shut UP.

It’s a good song.

In addition to the music and the handbar, I also rely heavily on celebrity gossip magazines. One one hand, I love encountering stories about beauuuuuuuutiful people who share my birth year (I believe we’re referring to it as being “of a certain age,” ja?) because, by extension, that means I’m not a total loss; indeed, I am heartened by the loveliness and continuing appeal of stars who are my peers–thriving talents such as Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, and Anna Nicole Smith (hey. wait. a. minute.).

Even more, it’s amazing how the miles fly by as I read about Britney’s dress at the Teen Choice Awards, how that Bradley Cooper manages to break Jennifer Aniston’s heart without ever seeing or speaking to her, and how running burns off belly fat (them is BIG BELLY FAT LIARS, says A Flopping Bit of Firsthand Knowledge named Jocelyn).

The other day, as I inched up towards Mile 4 and kept my feet turning over in rhythm to “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction, I came to the end of my magazine (squawk not on my behalf, intrepid readers: I had an US Weekly back-up awaitin’ in the wings).

The last page of the magazine had a profile of legendary sculpted rapper L.L. Cool J.

Although, in my life, he’s never been a Particular Person of Note, I have always had the impression that he’s less of an idiot than most of ’em alls in Celebrityville, so I read on. “Well, whaddya know,” methought, panting, “L.L. is only 9 months younger than I! He’s part of my validation-that-I’m-still-viable-because-he’s-hot strategy!”

Three sentences later, he became even more def to me.

You see, the interviewer asked him, “When was the last time you cried?”

And his answer was off the hizzy–it showed undeniably that L.L. and I share points of identification in the world; even though he grew up creating tunes on a mixing table purchased by his grandfather at Sears while I grew up creating Tic Tac Toe games with a Mason jar of buttons saved by my grandmother during the Depression, we shared the same cultural touchstones.

Here’s the thing: his answer to the interviewer’s question was, “I cried when Michael Landon died. I was all broken up; you just don’t get an icon like that everyday.”

That’s ma boy, L.L.! That is what this pasty Rush-loving girl from Montana is talkin’ about to you, darkerish Hip-hop-loving boy from Queens: Mike-ay-el LanDONE!

As I trotted along spiritedly, it slayed me that L.L. clearly had loved those moments when Pa Ingalls would sit with Half-Pint next to the creek and, against the burbling auditory backdrop, give bucktoothed Laura a gentle lesson in pioneer values.

In fact, since L.L. and I grew up during the same decades, he probably even shared my earlier recollections of Michael Landon on Bonanza in his role as that rapscallion charmer Little Joe!! What’s more, L.L., seeming to be a man of sense, doubtlessly knew, with well-developed street instinct, that we don’t say aloud the words Highway to Heaven.

Dudes, nothing had ever made my treadmill time more fun than knowing Michael Landon’s death had caused L.L. Cool J to cry! That was an even chicer clash of tastes than my schizophrenic Norwegian punk vs. Cyrus Ipod battle!!!!!

I was so excited, to tell you true, that I neglected to wipe the sweat out of my eyes for a few minutes there, and I was bouncing around even more than usual due to the running coupled with chortling and savoring the rare awesomeness that was L.L. Cool J mourning Michael Landon.

Clearing my eyes and slowing the bounce, I finally glanced back down at the magazine profile of my newest hero, one Monsieur Le Cool J.

Huh? What the…?

Turns out the words “Michael Jackson” read as “Michael Landon” when a half-focused person is also kicking along to “Party in the USA” and–hahahahahaha–burning off belly fat.

What. a. downer.

At least, however, I have my answer ready for the celebrity gossip magazine interviewer when he comes a’knockin’:

the last time I cried, you ask?

On the treadmill at the YMCA.

Oh, L.L., you may have been born in 1968, but I hardly know ye. You’re all Billie Jean and PYT and moonwalking, and I’m all cornbread in a skillet and currying the horses and Sister Mary going blind.


Except. Wait.

THANKS TO YOU, ELL-ELL-IO, NOW I’M HUMMING “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,”


even if–actually, because–it’s not sung by that upstart pole-dancing Cyrus girl,

I suddenly feel twelve again (rendering you a mere eleven, young lad in Queens)…which means

I just might have the pep

to get to Mile 5.






23 responses to “I Need Pa”

  1. chelle Avatar

    hahaha I was in awe that he even knew who Micheal Landon was … HAHA!

    I love watching The Hour Podcasts on the treadmill. Not sure if Americans can download it … George (the host) is freaking awesome and hawt (it is a Canadian news/commentary show)


  2. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I was recently listening to Jason Bateman on Fresh Air reminiscing about Michael Landon directing him on Little House. I got a little sad. I hope that makes you feel better.

  3. kmkat Avatar

    Wait. You like Rush? Are you sure? I need to know.

  4. Jazz Avatar

    Michael Landon as Little Joe. Damn that takes me back…

  5. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    "and I'm all cornbread in a skillet and currying the horses and Sister Mary going blind."

    Hahahahaha! And a few more.

    I read one of those magazines at the beauty parlor the other day. I hardly knew anyone on the pages. I'm so behind on celebrity news.

    Enjoyed it.

  6. Vic Avatar

    I've always liked LL. I get that same feeling that he's no dummy. Even if he didn't actually cry over Michael Landon.
    But I did. I wanted him to be my pa, especially since I was the same age as Half Pint, so it would have worked out just right.

    I'm full of admiration for your treadmilling – mine is coated with dust at the moment.

  7. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right, it's all right (is that on your iPod, L.L. Cool Joce?)

    I love the way you write and wish you'd churn out a novel, already. (no pressure).

  8. Jeni Avatar

    Don't you just hate when the sweat -and all that salt from the damned sweat then too -gets in your eyes and blurs your vision? Maybe you should take the old tune "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" -revamp it a bit to "Sweat Gets in Your Eyes and You Can't Read". It might become a big hit for you -who knows!

  9. Hannah Avatar

    LOL. Ah well, I'm sure LL felt a bit sad about Landon's passing. He is probably a closet "Little House on the Prairie" fan. LOL

  10. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    Well, if it helps, *I* cried when Michael Landon died! But I'm not likely to be in any magazines and the odd chance that you'd pick one up that had a story about me in which I mentioned that are… well… odd. I'm a LHOTP fan from waaaay back – almost to the womb, actually, since we didn't have TV growin' up and read ALL the Wilder books many many times and then got TWO copies and my cousin and I read them SIMULTANEOUSLY (and I mean I couldn't turn my page until she was turning hers!).

    I even met Michael Landon once. Okay, I was just a stalker about a stone's throw away from him (not that I'd throw stones or anything) when they filmed the episode about Half-Pint going to college and they chose the college in my town as the setting! Fun memories. Michael was a LOT shorter than you think.

    I like Jason Bateman, too. Forgot he was in that show for a bit. Thanks, Jenn@!

  11. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Oh my God. Thank you for carcking me up. Michael Landon. snort

  12. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    Mile FIVE?!?! Wow.
    Too funny. I have similarly bad music on my ipod and I find myself wanting to like cool black men like LL, but there seems to be legions separating us. Namely the Michael difference.

  13. Pam Avatar

    Made me laugh so much! Especially remembering Bonanza. These days, those males of The Ponderosa would probably be looking on the internet for "women-folk' and neglecting the chores.Little Joe would probably be despairing of the ladies over 6-foot tall.And the dark broody one? Probably be visiting sites that Pa would give a moral lecture over!.

  14. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Well, thank the Midwestern gods you didn't marry the dude before discovering such important, one might even say deal breaking, differences.

    Most of us have learned such things the hard(er) way, you lucky gal.

  15. Michelle Wells Grant Avatar
    Michelle Wells Grant

    Oh my, that's an entertaining post if ever I saw one! And can I just say that I, like Becky Cazares, met Michael Landon once in the late 70s. I got to go on the set of Little House because I went to college with Dean Butler, who played Blind Mary's hubby for a while. Or did he marry Laura? I forget. In any case, Dean brought me on the set and it was really boring. They all sat around in their prairie costumes while Michael noodled around with direction. Aw, Pa.

  16. geewits Avatar

    I don't like any of those people, but I was inspired to try for 5 miles on my treadmill until I googled how long it would take.

  17. choochoo Avatar

    I started going to the gym to train circuit training. They play Tom Jones and Bee-Gees and such. It's completely bizarre…

  18. Yo is Me Avatar
    Yo is Me

    ohhhh,… michael landon! me eyes grow weepy thinking about him.

    LL is hot. have you met Mos Def? google him.

    now i have "don't stop till you get enough" in my head. his songs make me giggle.

  19. actonbell Avatar

    Hehehe. I so wish I could read on the deadmill. Running is so much more mental on a machine, it really is, as you've so expertly illustrated. Great post:)

  20. actonbell Avatar

    kmkat, I'm pretty sure Jocelyn is talking about the BAND Rush. Not to worry:)

  21. Logophile Avatar

    I love LL Cool J. In fact, Lime has given him to me as a birthday present a couple times,

    As for the Cyrus thing, I love you anyway 😉

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  23. Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings Avatar
    Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings

    Oh.my.word. I love you. Is that wrong? Because I do. It's true.

    Michael Landon is the champion crier. I kid you not. And when he cried I cried.

    "Half pint, baby, I'll always love you…"


    (On a side note: LL is HAWT. Always has been. I've always said he has the most kissable lips I have ever seen on a man — uh…with the exception of my husband, of course.)

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