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by Cory Siansky



Yuckapuck, With Gratitude to Google, IMDB and Netflix

A few weeks ago during a visit to South Florida, I spent the afternoon with my Aunt and her mother, my 85-year-old grandmother. Grandma lives in an assisted living facility, one that specializes in handling patients suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.

Grandma was having a good day, which is to say she was in good spirits, knew her own name and where she was. She recognizes me, usually, which specifically means she knows we’re related, but like on most visits it is rare that she can immediately recall my first name on demand or connect the dots that I’m the son of her eldest daughter. But she knew immediately that the photo of the three little girls in her basket—her great-grandchildren—are my kids.

It was great to see her and spend time with her.

Growing up she shared her love of jigsaw puzzles with me. Now, the tables are turned, in a sense, but we’re assembling jigsaw puzzles all the same.

She fits one piece into its mate: “Yuckapuck!” she exclaims.

Several grouped pieces are moved into position next to another large group.

"Yuckapuck, Yuckapuck!" she incants with glee.

And so it goes for three winter/snow-themed jigsaw puzzles, and at least a dozen more Yuckapucks to come. Made all the more ironic that we’re in South Florida in February on a 70 degree day.

For the life of me, I have no idea what Yuckapuck means, but the word has been rattling my cage for almost three weeks now.

Enter technology, and Google, and 0.18 seconds. The first two links answer this mystery connected to the late, great comedian, Morey Amsterdam, best known by the 50-and-under set as a supporting character in the Dick van Dyke Show now immortalized by Nick-at-Nite.

Amsterdam was one of the great comedians of his day. In the 1966 comedy, "Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title," which Morey Amsterdam starred and produced, he plays lead character Charlie Yuckapuck, who accidentally finds himself in the midst of Eastern Bloc spy intrigue.

Grandma doesn’t know about Netflix, the Internet, or much else that’s new in the last ten or 15 years. But she apparently does remember an oddly named character from a 45-year-old B-movie.

Tonight I will watch this IMDB 4.9 out-of-10-rated movie on Netflix streaming. I hope I’ll better understand what joy it brings to Grandma to connect Charlie Yuckapuck to our puzzles.

My sincere thanks to Google, the Internet Movie Database, and Netflix for making tonight’s entertainment possible.

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