"We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
(Marshall McCluhan)


Well, it's National Calendar Awareness Month; and if you already knew that, you're getting ready for Nuts Day in Belgium on the fifteenth, Eat What You Want Day on the sixteenth, the Feast of the Radishes in Mexico, veintitres, and Feed Yourself Day, the thirty-first. Oh yeah. And Christmas and Hanukah.


Another nod for "Patience," this time from Daily Variety, as critic Julio Martinez responds to our production's "thoroughly...theatrical pizzazz... [and] truly comical moments..." citing "a pair of dead-on portrayals...by Jeremy Lawrence's deliciously flamboyant Bunthorne... and Philip Proctor... whose wonderfully modulated voice and crispy articulation best serve the arched dialogue and patter rhythms of G&S. One of the production's... highlights," he continues, "occurs when Proctor, Macray and Danzinger spoof the aesthetic ideal with the comedy trio 'It's Clear That Medieval Art.'"

Only 2 weeks left, and to paraphrase the Duke, "We have a great gift to bestow." Call (323) TKTS and join our thoroughly silly audiences.

We're also staging readings at [Inside] the Ford for $5 a pop. On Monday, 12/14, "The Importance of Being Earnest;" and on Wednesday, 12/16, I'm appearing in "The Palace of Truth" offering a rare chance to see a prose play by W.S. Gilbert subtitled "A Fairy Comedy." Hmmmm. We'll see.

"Why is it that when we talk to God we're said to be praying,
but when God talks to us we're schizophrenic?"
(Lily Tomlin)


From the Hartford Courant by Frances Grandy Taylor comes a report on 1998's "Bottom Ten Warped Toy List" compiled by the Rev. Christopher L. Rose, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church. His list includes dolls that foam at the mouth or beg for abuse, toy pump-action rifles ("You could hold up a store with this gun"), a "Spawn" inspired crypt with a removable corpse, and an exotic-dancer doll with a removable bra and realistic nipples. (Grate gift ideas!)

Rose's choice of warped toys are "psychologically inappropriate" inspiring violent interactive play, dolls that bleed, vomit, or depict graphic mutilation, and toys in which "female characters are abused or depicted in an erotic manner." (No pushing! There's a line!)

First up: the Bashin' Brawlers "Macho Man Randy Savage," a plush wrestler doll that taunts: "Hey, you're bashin' my gut!" when punched in the chest (sick) or "Is that all you got?" when its arms or legs are twisted. Also on the list are the Toonsylvania "Crush Me Phil" and "Taunt Me Igor" dolls which scream and vibrate when pummeled (oooh), while Capcom's "Resident Evil" toys like "Maggot Zombie" have tear-away limbs, and "Dr. Vic's Electron Chair" lets tots zap a doll strapped in Old Sparky.

Then there's the Psycho-Screamer Collection -- "Spinal Tap Phil," (too many Phils on this list) "Rabid Ravin Melissa," "Gastro Intestinal Igor," and (my personal favorite), "Bad Gas Baby Human." "Silly Slammers" rate a place thanx to "bean bags with an attitude" like "Gutter Gal," that shriek when thrown to the ground.

Finally, female action figures for 8 and above (...way above) include Gywnn, an exotic dancer who can be stripped down to the sounds of Rock 'n' Barf musical instruments like "Snot a Lotter, Horror Harmonica, and Slime Whistle;" and Typhoid Mary, who can be dressed up -- in shackles and a straitjacket.

Rose said many of the objectionable toys are made in China by child laborers, so "what this is really about is legalized child abuse for profit." Beats me.


The Globe reported today that Monica Lewinsky recently went to a plastic surgeon. Stung by all the jokes about being overweight, she was thinking about having her love handles removed. However, she decided not to go through with it after the doctor told her that removing both ears would cause complete and total deafness. (Richard - or for poorer - Dubin)

"I used to think that life was unfair.
Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse, if life were fair,
and all the terrible things that happen to us
come because we actually deserve them."
(Babylon 5... through the mind of Cat Simril)


"In the psychedelic era, wild and wooly comedians Firesign Theatre injected their radical albums with multiple references to high and low culture in a high-speed, high-concept delivery. The Firesign wit remains sharp and all encompassing on 1998's 'Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death'; the group takes on talk radio, coffee addicts, and 'celebrazzis' while anarchists in eyeball-head masks run amok. Founding members Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman take time out from their busily comic lives to chat with Amazon.com contributor John Sulak about their first studio disc since 1985, and why their work is so necessary today." (This is a beautifully d-e-constructed tour of Fir-e-signia. B-e there or b-e nowhere.)



The news director WLKW-TV, Rhode Island, delivered this news bulletin live:

"From his emergency flood headquarters at City Hall, Mayor Friedman has just ordered all families living near or adjacent to the Mill River to ejaculate immediately." It is not known if this helped stem the tide. (Susie Kaufman)

"Work For World Peace - Or We'll Bomb You"
(Proposed bumper sticker)

[Go to next column to continue reading.]


Eye halve a spelling chequer, it came with my pee sea
It plainly marques four my revue, miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word and weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write and it shows me strait aweigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid, it nose bee fore two long,
And eye can put the error rite; its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it, and I am shore your pleased two no,
Its letter perfect awl the weigh! My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce Un none)

"This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog.
I'll kill 'em, and I'm gonna kill 'em before they kill me."
(Ray Kroc... founder of the "Rat In A Box" chain?)


According to Bernard T. Davidow in the Hartford Courant (time to subscribe?) there is now a Foul Language Filter in a plain black box called "TVGuardian" which reads close-captions and mutes out the naughty parts. And if you're reading the close-captioning, it replaces an offensive word with a kinder, gentler one -- like "cripes."

There were a few bugs to work out, admitted the inventor, Richard Bray of Principle Solutions in Rogers, Ark. Before the tweaks, "Dick Van Dyke" came out "Jerk Van Gay", so it was adjusted to censor phrases in context and given a "tolerant" setting that ignores words like "butt, sucks and crap."

Check it out at http://www.tvguardian.com -- or go muck yourself.


A new U.S.-launched privately-owned Russian satellite, BONUM-1, will soon bring 50 channels of news, films, sports and kid's programming into Western Russian and Siberian homes with receiving discs but without state censorship.

"It is an unusual moment," beamed Vladimir Goussinsky of Moscow's MediaMost company ("Most" means "bridge" in Russian). "I would call it a revolution." Proving Proctor's premise once again that the satellites were freed by the satellites...


"Ex-GOP Hopeful Huffington Says He Is a Homosexual...
He also says he may be a Democrat."
(L.A. Times, 12/6)


"I have very little desire to be a movie star...You make a lot of money, you have a lot of opportunities, you get to sleep with a lot of very beautiful women, you get free food in restaurants, but you service other people's visions. Your privacy is stripped from you. People perceive you as something you're not." So says "Very Bad Things" director Peter Berg in Movieline magazine. His film was summed up as follows in the L.A. Times:

"Before this miserable epic is finally over, everyone involved (including the audience) is either maimed or dead or wishing they were."

Don't think Berg has to worry about stardom.

"I have now gotten to the age when I must prove
that I'm just as good as I never was."
(Rex Harrison)


We lost two gentlemen actors recently -- Dick O'Neill and Michael Zaslow. I knew them both over their long, successful careers. I was Rolf, the singing Nazi, with Dick in a national tour of "The Sound of Music" when he met his wife-for-life, Jackie, who was then a pianist* in the orchestra at the Westbury Music Fair; and I ran into them several times recently, right before he posted his closing notice.

Zaslow's long career in Soaps was brought to national attention when he was struck with ALS and allowed to bravely play on in a wheelchair til the disease overtook him. As the villainous Thorpe on "The Guiding Light" he "had affairs with three married women, raped two others including his wife and accidentally killed a woman when he threw her down a flight of stairs." In real life he was smart, generous, greatly gifted and much loved.

[Editorial Footnote: the original version of this orbit stated that Jackie was a harpist. Jackie wrote to Phil and asked "If you don't mind, and it's not important, I'd just like to say that I'm a pianist, not a harpist....but I'm flattered, as I've always wished to be able to play harp. And I loved the 'wife-for-life.' I only wish it could have been for a longer amount of time." - I'm happy to oblige in this change. - RJA, Ed.]


The best memoriam I could leave them both comes from Robert Prosky's revealing Equity magazine article "on being an actor":

"I love actors and by extension, the theatre. I love the minutia that surrounds them both. I love listening and telling Green Room war stories. I love the onstage triumphs and yes, I love even the disasters. They make for better war stories. I love the adrenaline that shoots through every actor onstage when something goes wrong, and the relief that sweeps through when some heroic actor saves the day. I love performance -- that time when the human beings on stage interact with the human beings in the audience and together they create the event of performance. It's one of life's most civilized experiences."


Celeste Holm, back in prominence on a series called "Promised Land" tells a great "war story" herself in an article in the L.A. Times. It seems she was Ophelia's understudy and playing a lady-in-waiting on tour, one Christmas night 61 years ago in Leslie Howard's "Hamlet" in Chicago.

As she stood offstage in the wings, Howard suddenly swept her into his arms and kissed her "as beautifully as I have ever been kissed before or since." But then the nearsighted Howard pulled away, muttering "I beg your pardon" and walked into his scene on stage.

Later in the dressing room, the rattled young actress related the tale to her curious companions, one of whom burst into laughter. "He was having an affair with the girl in New York who wore your dress," she revealed. "He probably forgot where he was."

"It does make one realize," Holm says today, "just how interchangeable we all are."

Except, of course, for Zaslow and O'Neill...




Published 12/09/98

1996/2002 by Phil Proctor