As a tribute to my late friend Caroll Spinney — the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch — I am telling the backstory of my Grouch-inspired character Gothic Diana Ross.
Oscar the Grouch is not a bad person, despite what millions of kids big and small may think. Oscar just wants to be left alone. Like Oscar, Gothic Diana Ross just wants her solitude. Just like Maria knocking on Oscar’s can just to ask him nosey questions, Diana’s neighbor Bernadette keeps knocking on the door of the slate Victorian house which she and The Midnight Supremes share.
Can you blame them for getting mad?
A lifelong Diana Ross fan, I appreciate the diva singers most. Back in 2017, a few months after I left a toxic marriage with a communal narcissist, I met another diva online. Because my post-traumatic stress disorder was so raw, I would lash out at people whom triggered me so easily. I had felt like everyone was a narcissist after leaving one. Sadly, I had gotten very upset at a certain gothic diva and I feel bad about it.
Combining my love for music, all things gothic and my friend Caroll Spinney, I created Gothic Diana Ross and The Midnight Supremes as a nod to some of my favourite performers.
Eventually I got to apologize to the gothic singer and felt a lot better.
Writing the conflict scenes between Gothic Diana Ross and her annoying neighbours Peppi and Bernadette “Bern” Moran Cacca feels very cathartic for me. Sonia Manzano (“Maria”) is quoted as having said Caroll playing Oscar “saved a lot on therapy” in the book “Jim Henson: The Works.”
Hopefully my stories will help bring the world a little joy, and I get to leave the world a little better someday far from now when I am gone.
Rest in peace, dearest Caroll Spinney. I miss you.
A thump is heard, likely from the bird deflecting against Mrs. Cacca’s Albion, Indiana home. The buzzard has landed.
“Are we going out stalking?” shapeshifting humanoid buzzard Sonya asks her family as she transfigures from vulture into subhuman.
“I need to cut down on my stalking bill,” Carla tells her sister-in-law and bird-of-a-feather, Sonya.
“I’m walking away from you now. This is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Sonya berates Carla and flies off, doing donuts in the sky over a body of water and its surrounding structures.
Sonya eggs a guy on to throw a cat in the river, literally. She had been laying eggs by the water because she was bored and began chucking them, demanding the male stranger go murder the poor animal. Poor kitty was living at the bar on the river, surviving on the food in the trash there and the odd chicken tender or bit of burger the customers were giving him. Seriously, who the heck hates cats, let alone wants them dead?
A medium-skinned trio stroll along, new to Albion. “It smells like warm milk and trauma.” Gothic Flo deadpans.
Gothic Diana Ross scoops up the fluffy munchkin after having witnessed Mrs. Moran’s histrionic menacing.
“Sonya, the Indiana Attorney General is prosecuting animal abuse cases to the fullest extent of the law so I will be turning you in.”
“It’s just a rotten cat, ya stupid nincompoop!” Sonya screeches, mad because caught. Then she poops.
“Fee Fi Fo Fum. I smell the turds of a big moron!” Gothic Diana Ross and the Midnight Supremes chant, enjoying their mockery of the apathetic fool who tried connive a kid to murder that adorable little fluffball. Gothic Diana Ross takes the kitten to the vet clinic where she had just interviewed to get him some help. She names him Kevin.
Shapeshiftin’ Sonya flaps her wings in frustration and anger, squawking like a parakeet. Then she flies away.
“Another one of these? What is Sonya on, anyway? There is no cat pee smell outside my door!” the young lady thinks aloud as she grabs the lunacy letter her landlord left on her door. “Why always Friday? I had a long day at work and am too tired for this codswallop. She needs to get a hobby!”
Gothic Diana Ross sees a familiar face.
“It’s Kitty Bee from Kankakee!” Diana cracks a smile and the two exchange some dap.
Scary Barry Reynolds gets fired from his job as a road-test proctor for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and starts his own college called “Dr. Mathew B. Johnson School of Intrepid Arts” in Albion, Indiana, teaching martial arts and telekinesis, a school he named after his favorite academic leader and best friend.
“Become as powerful as the Dragonball Y characters you see on TV! Develop your real life martial-arts skills, and when you get to your senior year, you’ll become a PSI-ball master!”
“Not this ad again…” Gothic Diana Ross says across the Indiana border in Manteno, Illinois at the slate Victorian home where she and her bandmates reside. “Who wants to go to Indiana anyway?”
“Indiana wants us, but we can’t go back there.” Gothic Flo retorts and The Midnight Supremes all giggle.
Classes begin at the School of Intrepid Arts in Albion. Students practice basic self-defense, mixed martial arts and fencing.
“A new life awaits you at the School of Intrepid Arts” a flashing, talking blimp advertises as it flies over Northern Indiana and Illinois, spending a rather long time over Chicago, until someone begins to fire at it.
“Pop! Pop!” is heard as the floating advertisement-machine is gunned down somewhere on the Southside.
A scholar gets harassed in his dorm, racial remarks litter his marker board. One moron, Pat Splatt, writes “KKK” on an empty pizza box and drops it outside his dorm room.
Protests are held by multiple school groups which make the local news.
“I will answer that later. Come back.” President Reynolds tells the news, and does not return their calls.
The scholar tries to learn to make “PSI Balls” on the internet and learns that it is fake. Meanwhile President Reynolds uses school money to pay for pet construction projects so he can hire his wife Terry’s company to do all the work.
Barry and Terry make the classes so hard, it is impossible to pass. Barry and Terry love seeing the disappointed faces of aspiring martial-arts students receive their report cards littered with Fs.
President Barry Reynolds sends out a memo to his wife Terry using negative humor, snarking she should bulldoze “trash and idiots who live on minimum wage.” Barry accidentally copies the entire college on the email.
Students start creating memes and Fakebook groups. President Barry reports them to Fakebook owner Emperor Zucc who shuts them all down.
Students take to the news to expose the corruption.
The scholar is interviewed, and talks about his brother — also a student — who died when trying to defend a bully using “PSI Balls.”
“If President Reynolds wants to create chaos and censor those who rise up against his regime, then maybe he should move to North Korea. I bet he would feel right at home.”
Barry and Terry visit Bern Cacca bathing in the bog near Manteno, Illinois, for public-relations advice hoping to clean up their image, since Bern is so good at maintaining her squeaky clean image while doing dirty those closest to her. Oh, and she burns poopies.
“Bern Cacca? We have an important message. We need your help.”
Bog Witch Bern keeps on swimming.
“Bern? We have something to tell you.”
Bern continues to ignore the looming Terry and Barry.
“Bern? We want to know how you keep your image so clean while you do others dirty.”
“Can’t you see I am taking a bath?” an angered Bern yells back, hoping to be left alone.
“Oh you are so…RUDE!” Terry snarks at Bern.
“I am busy. Go away.”
“God hates ugly people! I am calling the manager!” Terry says out of desperation and fear.
“I am the manager.” Bern replies as she shoos away Terry and Barry.
“I wish my hearing aids were broken.” Peppi Cacca says to his wife Bern and the Reynolds couple leaves.
The Indiana Attorney General investigates and shuts the school down, and the story makes television headlines.
“Oh good, we no longer have to see those annoying ads.” Gothic Flo says to Gothic Diana and then turns off her TV.
“Why are people up here in Albion so anti-Reynolds? I have done nothing but help this community. The other day, I told an obese lady about the new gym I wanted to build. I wanted to help her. But, noooo, people are so rude and mean. They do not appreciate my help! After all, they shut down The Mathew B. Johnson School of Intrepid Arts — The Best Martial Arts School around I could have taught them kiddos how to make PSI Balls!!”
“Those are fake.”
“I know. But but makes us money, and I want to teach ’em! This whole state needs a good schoolin’! This whole world!”
“Hey Barry, why don’t you call that Bernadette moron, the bog witch who sings opera for charity?”
“How about we drive down to Manteno. Maybe we can try their porto potty business since their number always goes to voicemail. I can only listen to that recording of them polka-rapping about porto potties so many times.”
“We have nothing better to do. I am bored. Let’s go!”
“Take that ugly desk with you. Maybe you can give it to her to pay for our public-relations clean-up act.”
Barry and Terry Reynolds run to Manteno.
“Turn left. Then turn left. Then turn left. Recalculating.”
“That dang GPS, why does it screw up so much? It has one job!” Terry exclaims.
Terry and Barry arrive at Peppi’s Portapotties.
“Dang! Just missed ‘em. They closed ten minutes ago. Let’s do a drive-by past their house.”
The bumbling idiots drive past the Caccas’ run-down shack. Nobody’s home. Spotting the beautiful slate, Victorian Gothic home next door, their curiosity draws them in.
The Westminster Chimes are played as they ring the doorbell. A 5’10”, slender, medium-skinned Gothic beauty answers the door, wearing an all-black dress and fishnet stockings.
“Yeah?” Gothic Diana Ross answers.
Barry’s stoic face turns a slight smile.
“Umm, hi Miss. We will not take up much of your time.”
“You’ve already taken up too much.” Diana quips.
“What’s the deal with your neighbors? The Caccas?”
‘Oh man. Just don’t.”
Diana inches away and begins to close the door.
“Wait? Miss! We have this $1000 desk we can give you, if you just talk to us!”
“I’ll tell you where to put that desk.”
Diana slams the door and goes back to singing rehearsal with the Midnight Supremes.
“Barry, I gotta whizz.”
“Yup. You’re the boss.”
“No Diana is. Let’s go.”
Barry and Terry pull into the nearest corner Wally Green’s. While Terry is emptying her bladder in the washroom, Barry finally answers the sales clerk who asked him six times if he needed help finding something.
“Yeah, do you sell those SpamMaster 2000 CD-ROMs?”
“No, sorry. Are you looking to send unsolicited emails? I got a guy.” Drugstore clerk, covert narcissist and Elvis impersonator Robbie Hurlbutt slips Barry the number for Pat Splatt, petty criminal and junk emailer.
Barry and Terry meet Pat Splatt at midnight on the street, not far from the interchange bridge under which Kankakee troll Leona Krabalsky is sawing wood. The three shadowy figures shake hands and part ways. The Reynolds drive onto Interstate Route 57 North, toward Chicago-O’Hare Airport, and board a plane for their monthly vacation.
“We’re headed to Australia and we’re so stoked!” reads the craption below Terry’s Fakebook post, loaded with the hashtag #RichPeopleProblems. Terry cannot wait to take photos of her legs and feet.
Pat Splatt hopes to buy an overly lifted truck to compensate for his lousy personality with all the money he makes spamming on behalf of the dysfunctional former leaders of the Mathew B Johnson School of Intrepid Arts. Brandon Dixon’s imbecile machine lot is booming with their end of year sales and Pat hopes to wheel-and-deal himself one.
While Scary Barry and Terry Reynolds spend loads of money they got from who-knows-where, seeing the sites of Australia, email junker Pat Splatt is busy sliding unwanted emails into the inboxes of college students all over the USA. Pat spams on behalf of disbarred college president Reynolds about the wonders of PSI Balls and how Barry Reynolds can teach them to defend themselves from psychic attacks. A second wave of spam stinks up the computer mailboxes of students at UCLA, Yale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Colgate, Boston University, Loyola, Olivet Nazarene, Baylor, Kent State, Oregon State, Nebraska and Iowa City, spewing propaganda to try and connive random students into taking Barry’s online martial arts courses “because he is a nice guy who does a lot for the community.”
A sleeping Barry is awakened by an unexpected phone call.
“This is the Albion Health Department. We have received multiple complaints about a cockroach infestation at your compound.”
“It’s 3AM. Who the heck is this?”
“Huh? I don’t know where you are or what you’re talking about. We need you to rectify the infestation or we are going to have to condemn your property.”
“I’m in Australia on vacation with my wife.”
“Must be nice. I have not had a vacation in 21 years.”
Barry hangs up the phone and goes back to sleep. The Reynolds spend the day at their exclusive resort on Australia’s Gold Coast taking pictures of themselves and braggity-boasting on their Fakebook pages.
A month later, the relaxed, but tired couple heads home to their Albion McMansion. Several “Condemned” signs are seen posted all over their estate.
“What the heck now? After all we do for this county? This state? The entire Universe?”
Beep-Beep-Beep goes the Avelli Truck, lowering a shipping container on the grass outside the massive, now-condemned Reynolds residence.
“What’s this?” a stern Barry asks.
“Your new home. There’s even room for your desk.”
A truck from Peppi’s Portapotties pulls up, “King and Queen of the Throne” its lettering reads below a smiling cartoon depicting owners Bern and Peppi Cacca.
“His and Hers,” Peppi says to the Department of Health worker overseeing the Reynolds property seized by the City of Albion, Indiana as he sets up the two portable toilets.
“We are NOT going to sleep in there.” Barry says with his nose to the air, walking away from the metal shipping container.
“You can live in a dumpster. We won’t judge.”
Barry checks his bank account, hoping to stay in a swanky hotel. The robobank announces “Negative Forty-Nine Thousand, two-hundred twenty-four dollars.”
“Paaaaaaaaat!” Barry and Terry exclaim as they fall to their knees in unison, mad because their goose is cooked.
Poor Gothic Diana Ross. All she wants to do is lie down in her silky black sheets and take a nap after a long day practicing with her bandmates, Gothic Mary and Gothic Flo in her Manteno home. Nope. Next-door neighbors Bernadette “Bern” Cacca and her husband Peppi are burning port-a-poop again in a backyard bonfire after a job as Bern claps and sings, interspersed by random kazoo sounds. They sure love to farty.
Manteno communal narcadoodle, port-o-dump proprietor and charity-kazoo-cover-queen Bernadette Cacca wishes she could figure out why her biggest fan, Greg Schneissder, can blast blue flame from his bum when hers always come out yellow and orange. Bern plots revenge on Greg, because, you know she has nothing better to do with her time. Bernadette needs to get a life. Bern gets out her sparkly EyePhone 28 and dials him up. Nobody’s home.
“Why is he so good at farting?” Manteno pretend do-gooder and entramanure Bernadette Cacca asks her husband Peppi upon his return from the half-way house.
“Oh not now, I just showered…” Bog witch Bernadette answers Peppi’s mating call, that same one which had attracted her years ago, while Manteno’s queen of the porcelain throne was bathing in the swamp.
“I dunno…Why don’t you go over and ask him?”
“Just like the last time…” Peppi responds to Bern’s superlative, giving her the stinkeye as he takes his first puff of a skunky joint, one of many to follow, not the first by any means. The Caccas love anything that stinks.
“Oh no, that’s Bernadette. Don’t let her in, she’ll never leave!” The Midnight Supremes shout out the arched window of their dark stone Gothic Victorian home. All Gothic Diana Ross wants to do is cut the grass. Bern peels out the driveway, around the corner and back by the Midnight Supremes house again.
As Bernadette rolls by she, shouts all mockingly “take the pictures” at the Midnight Supremes who are minding their own business taking video of the weather.
“Grow up, you child!” Gothic Flo defends herself against the abuse spewed by spoiled-brat Bernadette.
“Methinks the trolls are crawling out from under their collective bridges and mothers’ basements again,” Gothic Diana Ross addresses her bandmates, The Midnight Supremes.
“Peppi and Bernadette gang up on me like a bunch of schoolyard children. I am 42. I am starting to think that Bern harassed us out of fear that maybe I was videotaping her, because it’s all about her you know? The funny thing is my video was of the rain; it was raining in one spot only. But those spoiled entitled brats it’s all about them you know? Because nobody else deals with the weather here on Earth right?”
“Yes. The rain is there to annoy those morons.” Gothic Flo deadpans.
Bern Cacca peels into her driveway, runs into the bathroom with her smell-phone and replies to a Fakebook post looking for “10 models” to “type yes in the comments.”
“I’m a plus sized model is that okay?” Bern asks Leona Krabalsky.
“Oh yes, we have a special bonus for you,” sister Doris Krabalsky answers Mrs. Cacca’s query.
“Robert Roy Gary Hurlbutt. I never want to see him, again. However, here I am. Mamma and I unload the van containing the remaining items from our broken marriage he demanded back: pooped-on record albums, Elvis dolls, countless cardboard tubes formerly holding paper of the wrapping and toilet kind.” Robbie’s former girlfriend dictates into her phone.
Back at his unit again, Kay feels bad for Robbie’s new source of narcissistic supply.
“I am sorry” Kay whispers into the young lady’s ear, her eyes’ micro-expression meeting in agreement.
“Just put that over there” Robbie says to her mother carrying a heavy box of ratty blankets.
“Where is Heidi?”
“I gave her away,” Robbie speaks of the cat Kay wanted to keep, the poor lil tortie Robbie speaks about as if she were part of the furniture, mere chattel. Robbie walks over to the washroom and leaves the door a-crack. “Don’t lock me in.”
“Ann. I go by Annie.”
“Yeah. I work over at the taco place. I am getting promoted.”
“Congratulations! I am happy for you.”
“It is not much. I got this new name badge which reads “King.”
“I catch your drift. I am thankful for you retail workers.”
Bernadette is running behind to meet The Krabalskys under the I57 underpass for her “modeling.” Extremely impatient, Bern throws a hissy-fit at the Krow-Grrr self-checkout whinging because it doesn’t take CraptoCoin.
“You guys are too woke! I am too good for this! I play all these songs for the Manteno Optimal Club and raise money for them and Ukraine. I wanna talk to the manager! My aunt Sonya knows the owner of this entire plaza!”
“Karen! Karen! Karen!” emerges from the crowd of customers wishing to shop just once sans harassment from the activity-impaired crowd and their ensuing ennui.
“What a dope!” Store clerk Annie King says as she yeets Bern out the door.
“Oh good, I got it! Ha!” Gothic Diana thinks to herself of the exposure captured of her narcissistic neighbor Bernadette Moran Cacca throwing a childish tantrum at the supermarket.
Bernadette meets Kankakee County trolls Doris and Leona Krabalsky under the bridge.
“You need to remove your twitter post about my friend Undead Greg. Especially when you were selfish enough to do what you did and then block him. Because he is the only person who ever farts and that’s all that matters! Look at me, I’m a troll who crawled out from under my bridge because I need to get a hobby and I hate myself. I don’t appreciate the way you treated him about his farts looking prettier than yours. Yeah.”
Gobsmacked, B. M. Cacca’s jaw drops to the floor, realizing she has been duped by people almost as narcissistic as she.
“But if you would like to try our product, we can still get you our special deal.”
“Product? I thought this was a modeling gig.”
“Oh yes, I have these lovely magic beans just for you. They will clean your colon FAST!”
“Will they make me farts turn blue when I light them?”
“Oh yes, they will alright.”
“Sign me up!” Bernadette says to her sisters-in-narcissism as they sell her the overpriced coffee beans. The Krabalskys will do anything for a sale and Bernadette will do anything to brag about her precious farts.
In this corner: The Manteno Wonder, Communal Narcadoodle and Portapotty Entamanure Bernadette Cacca! In the other corner: a useless real-estate scammer! It’s a battle of nitwits to try and scam each other!
Backside: When communal #narc and #Manteno Optimal Club president #Bernadette Moran Cacca graduated high school she wanted to be a wrestler. When her wrestling career as the Manteno Wonder failed, she joined the army. She kept getting put on poop burning duty and got a dishonorable discharge…from her butt.
Bernadette was in such a hurry to become a regular that she tried to run over one of the regulars at the coffeehouse. She wanted to get the runs. Gotta mine that #craptocoin and NFTs: newly-formed turds for her charity singing and kazoo playing which she does only for the photo opportunity. Looks are deceiving because she makes a good dog-and-pony poop show pretending she cares. She only loves poop.
Much to the dismay of their narcissistic neighbors – entramanures and poopyburners Peppi and Bernadette Cacca – the beautiful dark ladies Gothic Diana Ross & The Midnight Supremes debut their new tune, “Upside Down.” This Manteno, Illinois cover group is happy to drown out the brown notes emanating from Bern’s kazoo, mouth and accordion.
Happy June from The Moroniverse! The Midwest lunch bunch carries the weight of the world’s largest carrot on their shoulders. We would like to thank the Universe for all the story-fodder, all that moronic inspiration, and Sybil’s mom JoAnn Kibble.