In a town where people dress up to frighten other people for a living, I'll never understand why Halloween is such a popular holiday; but just like Christmas, it seems to start earlier every year. So, in keeping with the spirit of the season, I dedicate this issue of PP to the upcoming celebration with the following collection of amusing musings:
MUSIC HATH CHARMS. . .
From our very own Kerry Millerick, who is unusually familiar with "Weird News" after working as talent on "Real People" and producer/director on "America's Funniest People," not to mention being a news reporter for KCBS (but he told us not to mention that), we got the following contribution. Kerry says, "I don't know if it's ‘true.’ I got it from a Laugh Of The Day newslist I belong to."
Well, I don't care if it's "true." It's funny, so here is the "slightly abridged but otherwise unchanged article" by Kenneth Langbell, purportedly from the Bangkok Post, Saturday 27 May, 1967:
"The recital last evening in the Chamber Music Room of the Erawan Hotel by US pianist Myron Kropp can only be described by this reviewer as one of the most interesting experiences in a very long time. Mr. Kropp had chosen the title "An Evening with Bach" and the evening opened with the Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
"As I have mentioned on several other occasions, the Baldwin concert grand needs constant attention because in this humidity the felts tend to swell, causing the occasional key to stick, which apparently was the case last evening with the D in the second octave.
"(Some who attended the performance later questioned whether the awkward key justified some of the language which was heard coming from the stage during softer passages of the fugue. However, one member of the audience, who had sent his children out of the room by the midway point, commented that the workman who greased the stool might have done better to use some of the grease on the second octave D key.)
"Indeed, Mr. Kropp's stool had more than enough grease, and during one passage in which the music was particularly violent he was turned completely around so that whereas before his remarks had been largely aimed at the piano and were therefore somewhat muted, to his surprise -- and that of those in the Chamber Music Room -- he found himself addressing the audience directly.
"By the time they had regained their composure, Mr. Kropp appeared to be somewhat shaken. Nevertheless he swiveled himself back into position and leaving the D major fugue unfinished, commenced on the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor. Why the G key in the third octave chose that particular time to begin sticking I hesitate to guess.
"However Mr Kropp himself did nothing to help matters when he began using his feet to kick the lower portion of the piano instead of operate the pedals. Possibly it was this jarring (or the un-Bach-like hammering to which the sticking keyboard was being subjected) but something caused the right front leg of the piano to buckle slightly forward, leaving the entire instrument listing at approximately a 35-degree angle. A gasp went up from the audience, for if the piano had actually fallen several of Mr. Kropp's toes, if not both his feet, would surely have been broken.
"It was with a sigh of relief, therefore, that the audience saw Mr. Kropp slowly rise from his stool and leave the stage. A few men in the back of the room began clapping, and when Mr. Kropp reappeared a moment later it seemed he was responding to the ovation. Apparently, however, he had left to get the red-handled fire axe which was hung backstage in case of fire, for when he returned that was what he had in his hand.
"My first reaction at seeing Mr. Kropp begin to chop at the left leg of the grand piano was that he was attempting to make it tilt at the same angle as the right leg. However, when the weakened legs finally collapsed altogether with a great crash and Mr. Kropp continued to chop, it became obvious to all that he had no intention of going on with the concert.
"The ushers, who had heard the snapping of piano wires and splintering of sounding board from the dining room, came rushing in and, with the help of the hotel manager, two Indian watchmen and a passing police corporal, finally succeeded in disarming Mr. Kropp and dragging him off the stage."
AND THE WINNER IS ...
From Eugene Volokh, our Comrade in Comedy at UCLA Law, who with his brother operates the "Occasional Screenful" poetry site, comes these goodies from a newspaper contest where entrants were asked to imitate Saturday Night Live's "DeepThoughts by Jack Handy." The winning entrants are at the end:
"My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth-- that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally-- but I didn't want to upset him."
"It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the president's birthday, like they do for the queen. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3 or December 26, just for the long weekends."
"Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote."
"For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out."
"Think of the biggest number you can. Now add five. Then, imagine if you had that many Twinkies. Wow, that's five more than the biggest number you could come up with!"
"I like to go down to the dog pound and pretend that I've found my dog. Then I tell them to kill it anyway because I already gave away all his stuff. Dog people sure don't have a sense of humor."
"Once, I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came upon a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it's not like he really needed them, right?"
(By the way -- I think I wrote this same gag many years ago myself. Anyone else ?)
[IMPERTINENT EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Eugene Volokh’s "Occasional Screenful" is actually a Listserv. To subscribe to it, send an email to LISTSERV@NETCOM.COM and in the body of the message, type SUBSCRIBE OCCASIONAL-SCREENFUL. If you want to submit any short, formal (rhymed and/or metered) poetry to "Occasional Screenful" send it to VOLOKH@LAW.UCLA.EDU. They are always looking for submissions. By the way, there is an archive of past "Occasional Screenful" submissions at http://www.ssc.upenn.edu/~lszyrmer/scrnsub.html. Sorry for the insurrection, and now back to our Foxhall Feature…RA]
YOU KILL ME
From Hugh R. Heinsohn' son, David (who's done this to us before), comes the story of 1994's most bizarre suicide delivered by the American Association for Forensic Science's President Don Harper Mills at their annual awards dinner in San Diego:
"On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. The decedent, who left a note indicating his despondency, had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide, but as he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window which killed him instantly.
"Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this.
"Ordinarily," Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended. That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.
"The room on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the a window striking Opus.
"When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B.
"When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun but that he had no intention to murder her - therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident because the gun had been accidentally loaded.
"The continuing investigation turned up a witness affirming this supposition since he saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.
"The case now became one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus, and in an exquisite twist, further investigation revealed that the son, becoming increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder, jumped off a ten-story building on March 23.
"The son's name? The aforementioned Ronald Opus -- killed by his own father as he fell past that ninth story window, by a shotgun he had loaded himself."
(But did the gloves fit?)
GIVE ME SOME SKULL
In the latest issue of the West Hollywood Indepenent is a front page article by David Lupin (obviously a werewolf) who writes about 36-year-old Nancy Smith who moved there six years ago to open a store for objects associated with death and dying called -- "Necromance."
"I've had people screaming and running out of here," she says, and more than a few visits from the local constabulary to check out the human skulls she displays alongside the sparkling craniums of monkeys, alligators, woodpeckers, bats and seagulls. She also has a personal collection of baby coffins, but she keeps them in her own home. "I get fascinating people in here. Scholars, naturalists -- doctors with emergency stories to die for!"
The only thing she's afraid of, however, is keeping her door ajar.
Well, it is a strange neighborhood . . .
Our dear friend and RFO Firesign player, Edie McClurg, went to a pre-Halloween party the other day dressed as herself and was cornered by a bug-eyed fan who said:
"Hey -- you're YOU!"
Then, our pal and fellow Firehead Mark "Call Me Luke" Hamill, told me at a recent recording session for "The Blues Brothers" that he was accosted in the South by a similarly overstimulated fan with the following -- which must be delivered with an obnoxious nasal twang:
"Hey! Do you know who YOU are?!"
May the farce be with us. . .
CALLING ALL LOBSTERS
I'm so sorry I missed the Redondo Beach Lobster Festival last weekend, because it included a "Flying Lobster Race" between a Rockland, Maine and a Redondo Beach crustacean, and a "Lobster Calling Contest."
The word "lobster" comes from the root word "lopster" or "jumper" and actually refers to the genus "flea" who is a GREAT jumper, but much harder to eat.
EVERYTHING I KNOW IS WRONG
Also last week, I learned that a mutated version of an ordinary cold virus known as the altered Adenovirus, can kill cancer tumors when injected into moribund mice; that the nicotine in cigarettes may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease; and that according to Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, "Tragedy is comedy plus blood."
WHAT IS REALITY?
Gary "Dark Side" Larson, interviewed recently in the Calendar Section of the L.A. Times, responded as follows when asked if he considered himself a normal person:
"Who's normal? I have some friends that make me feel pretty normal. I guess everybody's normal and nobody is at the same time. Yeah, I guess I am pretty normal."
Guess that makes me normal. And I'm pretty, too.
Phil "Mr. Ortega" Proctor
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor