what happens, we will never stop doing what is wrong"
Richard Paul, dear friend and longtime Firesign Theatre playster, left the stage from his home early Christmas morning, his wife Patty by his side, at the age of 58 after losing a long battle with cancer -- exactly one year to the day that his mother passed away.
As Patty says, "Special people die on holy days."
I went to his service at St. Dominic's in Eagle Rock, where Rich had schooled and been an altar boy. In the eulogies -- one of which was movingly delivered by Jay Johnson of "Soap" fame -- it was recounted how Rich, who had studied to become a mental health practitioner and met his wife in a sanitarium (where she was working!) had once said about becoming an actor:
"It's a decision I'll never regret. Well, maybe only twice a week."
At the reception in their cozy valley home afterwards, I ran into Firesign friend Richard Schulenberg, who recounted that the first time Phil Austin and he met Rich was at a college hangout after a Shakespeare Festival. Paul had his table in stitches as he performed all the parts from Kubrick's then newly released "Dr. Strangelove." His incredible vocal talents were immediately incorporated into the Firesign's radio shows at KPFK, where we all met him, worked with him and fell in love with him.
His first professional role was as W.C. Fields in a two-man tour of "Eighty Percent" and his last in Steve Kessler's "The Independant" starring Jerry Stiller, in which ironically, Melinda and I also appear. Previously, in keeping with his lifelong fascination with media evangelists, he portrayed Jerry Falwell with devastating accuracy in "The People Vs. Larry Flynt."
I ran into Richard at several voice-over readings last month before his disease took a tragic turn, and he seemed fine; but I had a sudden psychic flash several hours before Patty called with the news of his death, in which I reminisced on his showbiz career, sensing his spirit, hearing his sweet singing voice and basking in the warmth of his generous personality.
Richard Paul left me, and all of us -- smiling.
announced today that the official release date
PRAY FOR US -- AND OUR CARS
As observed recently in Steve Harvey's "Only in L.A." column, my favorite Xmas gift this year was a "Parking Space Goddess" from our Key West friends Bruce and Kelly. It's a plastic dashboard-mountable silver angel that when wound, flaps it's heaveny wings. Along with it comes the following mantra:
(Accoutrements, PO Box 30811, Seattle WA 98103)
"One More Whore And We Get Gore"
Robert Spina noticed the following: "While unwrapping my news this Christmas morning, a look at the lower left corner of [the] Los Angeles Times Valley Edition brings the headline: "Don't Touch That Elf, Hand Me the Handcuffs."
Gee Robert, was it something we said?
"Good news is just life's way of keeping you off balance."
FUNNY, I DON'T LOOK JEWISH
Dear Darling Son and That Person You Married,
Happy Chanukah to you, and please don't worry. I'm just fine considering I can't breathe or eat. The important thing is that you have a nice holiday, thousands of miles away from your ailing mother. I've sent along my last ten dollars in this card, which I hope you'll spend on my grandchildren. God knows their mother never buys them anything nice. They look so thin in their pictures, poor babies.
Thank you so much for the birthday flowers, dear boy. I put them in the freezer so they'll stay fresh for my grave. Which reminds me -- we buried Grandma last week. I know she died years ago, but I got to yearning for a good funeral so Aunt Bertha and I dug her up and had the services all over again. I would have invited you, but I know that woman you live with would have never let you come. I bet she's never even watched that videotape of my hemorrhoid surgery, has she?
Well son, it's time for me to crawl off to bed now. I lost my cane beating off muggers last week, but don't you worry about me. I'm also getting used to the cold since they turned my heat off and am grateful because the frost on my bed numbs the constant pain. Now don't you even think about sending any more money, because I know you need it for those expensive family vacations you take every year. Give my love to my darling grandbabies and my regards to whatever-her-name-is -- the one with the black roots who stole you screaming from my bosom.
(Thanks, Garry. Is that you?)
[Go to next column to continue reading.]
"HONK! If You've Had Sex with the President!"
KEEP IT ZIPPED
According to a story making its rounds in cyberspace, Aussie curators at Sydney's Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum -- do you think they have a Sydney's Ruth's Chris Steak House? -- have had to take some unusual precautions in their Presidential Hall of Fame.
Apparently, so many people were posing for snaps on their knees in front of Bill Clinton that they were forced to sew shut his zipper. But were any of the tourists wearing wax lips?
Kinda like closing the barn door after the wax cows have melted, ain't it...
"A man knows a sure thing when he sees it.
BLOW IT OUT YOUR SHORTSKIES
One of space travel's most pressing but least known problems -- what to do with dirty underwear -- could soon be solved. Russian scientists are designing a "cocktail" of special bacteria to digest astronauts' cotton and paper underpants. The resulting methane gas could then be used to power spacecraft, they claim.
(Or so claims recent Proctor house guest, Janet Friedman!)
"What common everyday occurrence is composed of
TIS THE SNEEZIN'
'Tis the season to feel nasty
(And a Merry Sickness to Wayne "Gezundheit" Newitt)
"There are three sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth"
UNCLE DAVEY'S FIFTEEN MINUTES
(Wireless Flash) Looks like doing the voices for cartoons can be a real pain -- literally. That's according to voiceover actor David Ossman, who provides the voice of a bug named Cornelius for the new Disney movie, "A Bug's Life".
Ossman -- a member of the comedy troupe Firesign Theater -- says the cartoon's producers wanted him to make his cranky character sound like an old man. Unfortunately, to do the bug's voice right, Ossman had to keep his body stiff and rigid, and he wound up with an intense backache.
On the bright side, Ossman says the producers liked the way he played Cornelius so much that they kept giving him more lines -- which made his back hurt even more but his wallet feel even better.
(So from his FST partners, here's wishing David a slooow recovery!)
"What's the last thing that runs through a bug's mind
Since a few of you know that I had to rewrite and re-piece together this final year-end installment (stall is the key word, here) of the Planet, and lost irretrievably a funny topfive list of "Cats favorite Christmas songs" including my personal fave, "I Saw Mommie Hiss at Santa Claws," as well as a very funny piece from "The Onion" about a boy crushed to death from wearing too many corporate logos (PLEASE RE-SEND THESE IF YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!); and which I can't find on the net because my Netscape program has gone sudden dumb, I've decided to "end it all" -- with more of "Murphy's Laws of Computing":
READ IT AND WEEP
And finally, a "Happy New Fear" to you all! Y2K? Because it's there.
© 1996/2002 by Phil Proctor