Beryl Reid, popular British comedienne and actor (PC) best known in the States for her work on Broadway in "The Killing of Sister George," died last Sunday in London. In the L.A. Times obit she is quoted as saying, "Comedy is the longest apprenticeship in the world."

Sorry that her "ship" has sailed.



Our friend and relative-by-proxy, Gail Brice, was kind enough to forward the following piece from Tom O'Hare, Professor of Barbaric Languages at the University of Texas, Austin:

"The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates. Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

"Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then?

"Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

"So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

"Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United State standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specs and Bureaucracies live forever!

"So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses."



Several mailings have ended up in my cyberbox regarding "Deep, Deep Thoughts of Supermodels" and I've culled out a few to share with you all:

ON COURAGE: "They were doing a full back shot of me in a swimsuit and I thought, Oh my God, I have to be so brave. See, every woman hates herself from behind." -- Cindy Crawford

ON SELF-KNOWLEDGE: "Everywhere I went, my cleavage followed. But I learned I am not my cleavage." -- Carole Mallory

ON POVERTY: "Everyone should have enough money to get plastic surgery." -- Beverly Johnson

ON FATE: "I wish my butt did not go sideways, but I guess I have to face that." -- Christie Brinkley

ON PRIORITIES: "I would rather exercise than read a newspaper." -- Kim Alexis

ON BREAKTHROUGHS: "Once I got past my anger toward my mother, I began to excel in volleyball and modeling." -- Gabrielle Reece

ON HEREDITY: "My husband was just OK looking. I was in labor and I said to him, 'What if she's ugly? You're ugly.'" -- Beverly Johnson

ON COURTSHIP: "The soundtrack to ‘Indecent Exposure’ is a romantic mix of music that I know most women love to hear, so I never keep it far from me when women are nearby." -- Fabio

ON PARADOX: "Sometimes I get lonely, but it's nice to be alone." -- Tatjana Patitz

ON INNER STRENGTH: "I love the confidence that makeup gives me."-- Tyra Banks

ON INTRODUCTIONS: "I think most people are curious about what it would be like to be able to meet yourself -- it's eerie." -- Christy Turlington



A cyberpal (known as "Occupant" to his really closet friends) has published the virgin volume of a spurious collection of "personal letters and business correspondence by and about everyone, from the rich and famous to the criminally insane." I think the following hand-written note reproduced in the first edition fits into the last cate -"gory":

"To Survival Research Labs: Two years ago in San Jose I was able to orchestrate a procedure with corpses as marionettes in a hospital morgue. I want no strings attached.

"I own a preserved human head and upper torso which was used for medical study (photo enclosed). Would like to mechanically animate it. Have an idea of what is could look like, though this could be changed. I haven't any experience in the mechanical or robotic fields, nor do I know how to technically accomplish this. Am hoping you will want to undertake (sic!) such a project.

"Maybe you'd like to integrate it with something you're doing. My concern is not to make a political or moral demand, but only to animate the dead. I am not concerned with the power to do so as like an orlock ("Warlock??" sic), but am interested in the differences within the isolated comparison between the mechanically animated dead and the mechanically animated living. This is done in creating an oasis for the animated so called inanimate.

"My interests are adaptable within your plans. Would like to do this whenever possible. I would travel to aid in its completion and its destruction."

Your contributions can be sent to: "Nothing's Personal," c/o Occupant, 2809 Rio Grande M, Austin, TX 78705. (Hmmm, Austin again. Makes you wonder. . .)



And speaking of animation, our cyberspondant in London, Larry "Electronic Library" Belling, saw an unusual performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer which sounds like it comes from Austin as well:

"We did see the most amazing act - a ventriloquist named David Strassman. A few minutes into the act, the dummy Chuck starts heckling a guy in the audience. He takes a real hate to this guy for not applauding loudly enough on his entrance. He gets so pissed off at the guy he SPITS ON HIM!!

"A little later he starts feeling sick and vomits on the stage. Later he decides to go solo and fires Strassman. Strassman leaves the stage. There is a long pause with the dummy just sitting there. Then his eyes dart to the right. Then to the left. He lifts his arm. He goes into a SOLO ROUTINE! It's the greatest thing I've seen on a stage in ages!!

"And that's not all. There's a teddy bear puppet with a secret sexual problem. And three dinosaurs lip sinking to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Phil, this is the most original thing I've seen since Harriet Werfel took off her underpants and showed me hers in the cloak room at Redwood Heights school in 1951!!"

Now that's an enthusiastic, almost orgiastic, review!

(Anyone else ever see this guy? I think I caught him once at the Magic Castle, but he got away.)



Headlines collected in the weekend Vancouver Sun, assembled by CyberCat from Canada: "It's A Canadian Mix-Up Code!" (Hemlock Stones.)

  1. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
  2. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  3. Safety Experts Say Schoolbus Passengers Should Be Belted
  4. Drunk Gets 9 Months in Violin Case
  5. Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
  6. Farmer Bill Dies in House
  7. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  8. Is There a Ring of Debris Around Uranus?
  9. Stud Tires Out
  10. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
  11. Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over
  12. Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again
  13. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
  14. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
  15. Eye Drops off Shelf
  16. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
  17. Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
  18. Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
  19. Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
  20. Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax
  21. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
  22. Miners Refuse to Work after Death
  23. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
  24. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
  25. Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
  26. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
  27. Killer Sentenced to Death for Second Time in 10 Years
  28. Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
  29. Drunken Drivers Paid $1,000 in 1984
  30. War Dims Hope for Peace
  31. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
  32. Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
  33. Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
  34. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
  35. Deer Kill 17,000
  36. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery, Hundreds Dead
  37. Man Struck by Lightening Faces Battery Charge
  38. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
  39. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
  40. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
  41. Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
  42. Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire
  43. British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply
  44. Ban on Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
  45. Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees
  46. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
  47. New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
  48. Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing



(For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal the origin of the following piece, but IT IS REAL:)

"Independent Contract Confidentiality Agreement (Regarding Michael Jackson): ‘Confidential Information’ includes but is not limited to, any and all information related to the Company, Neverland Valley Ranch, MJJ Ventures or any other venture (‘Jackson Entities’) in which Jackson had an interest... operations and/or personal life of Jackson… any and all photographs, films, videos or other recordings... relating to Jackson and/or his likeness. Confidential Information may be contained in written materials, in written or verbal communications and/or in the unwritten knowledge of Contractor.

"Making Derogatory Remarks Concerning Jackson:

"(I) Private remarks, Ten thousand Dollars ($10,000) for each person to whom the remark is made.

"(II) Causing, participating in, aiding or abetting publication or other public disclosure of repetition of derogatory remarks about Jackson:

"(i) In a newspaper or magazine, Twenty Dollars ($20) for each copy printed, with a minimum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) per publication.

"(ii) In a book, Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250) for each copy printed, with a minimum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) for publication in the United States, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000) per territory for publication in each of the major territories and Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) per country for publication in other territories.

"(iii) In a U.S. network television broadcast, One Million Dollars ($1,000,000), per broadcast.

"(iv) In a U.S. non-network broadcast, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000) per broadcast.

"(v) In a foreign television broadcast in major territories, Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000) per broadcast. (vi) In a foreign television broadcast in countries, other than major territories, One Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($125,000) per broadcast.

"(vii) Other public disclosures or repetition, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars per occurrence." (Sic? Slick? Sick?)

And just for the record -- "I LOVE Michael Jackson and/or any and all photographs, films, videos or other recordings relating to Jackson and/or his likeness!"


See you on the Radio -- PP


Published 10/19/96


© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor