Planet Proctor 2002 Volume 25

 "Italy is a Third World country with good makeup." - Novella Baroni, Castello di Gargonza


        Si, abbiamo ritornato! And my Italian is still in it's early stages, although because of my ability to "sound" Italian, everyone over there seems to think I speak "fluente"; but that honor has to go to mia bella moglia, Melinda, who really impressed us all with her mastery, or is it "miss-tery" of the language.  Brava!

        Our stay in the 29-house Castello-Hotel of Gargonza near Monte San Savino in Tuscany was a veritable dream. We shared two apartments, attic meditation rooms, kitchen and common room with fireplace, with our dear silly friends Phyllis Katz and Rob Lewine; and although the driving in our small rented macchina was sometimes arduous, due mainly to Italian signage, or the lack thereof, we had so many laughs together it was worth every extra kilometer we drove to find that yet another restaurant was CLOSED.

        Rob figured that the owners would say, "I no open on Tuesday, ok? -Wait!  I said I want to no open on Tuesday, you no open on Wednesday, ok? -Oh, Ok, then -- I no open on Thursday. Va bene!"

        He also figured out that the reason the barbarians had such a hard time conquering Italy was because it's impossible to find the right exit off the freeway. "But commander, I can see the village. There, on the hilltop! - Yes, Bogar, but we can't get there from here..."

        Anyway, it was a great retreat into the past, especially staying in a 13th century castle that had once sheltered Dante and houses Tuscany's first son, Roberto Benigni, when he writes his screenplays! Our one regret was not finding time to see "Pinocchio", which was breaking records all over the country. No multiplexes nearby and few screenings before 19:30 (after dinner, of course!)

        I shall miss being awakened every morning by the echoing sounds of guns and the howl of dogs as wild boar hunters bagged our meal for later that evening.

 "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of discussion." - Plato (427-347 BCE)


        Before our Italian escape, we spent some quality time with our country friends, George and Sue White, in their cozy home in March, Cambridgeshire, where we we're treated this time to a home-style Sunday family dinner with Sue's parents and George's sons and daughter-in-law. La Vita E Bella!  (Oh, sorry; wrong country)

        We also reconnected with Jeremy Clyde in London who whisked us to his flat in no time flat in his Morris Minor without major injuries and baked a chicken for us, having just stepped hot off the boards from a production of Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" at the Bristol Old Vic -where, incidentally, he says, the rolling cannonball thunder effect was introduced for a production of "King Lear."

        When the inventor heard his effect being used later in a London production, he's said to have stood up and bellowed: "You've stolen my thunder!"

 "After a theatre run, it took me a long time to start drinking again during the day," - Irish Actor Morgan Jones


        Then, it was over the drink to Dublin and smack into rehearsals for "The Ghost Behind The Black Door", a half-hour comic horror romp written, produced and erected by Roger (I was Once A Yank) Gregg for RTE' - Irish National Radio.

        Melinda played Colleen O'Neill, famed romance writer, and I her tongue-tied, hen-pecked hubby, Herbert. Thanks to the fame of "Rugrats", I was asked to promote our live performance by appearing on Pat Kenney's morning drive-time show and on "The Den" - the most popular kiddie show on Irish TV, for 12 years!

        Performed live in a studio no bigger than a one-car garage, Desmond and his puppet pals (a Turkey and a puppet named "Sockie") improvise 15-minute breaks between cartoons which include Rugrats, Taz and Power Rangers - all of which I've done.  We played around with my Howard character and made a pitch for the radio show - which must've had a positive effect because come Saturday morn, every seat was full!

        The live event was a smash - funny and chilling for both young and old - and afterwards, I and Melinda -- who was brilliant in the larger role -- signed autographs for a half an hour.

        We dearly hope that Roger, his producer Eithne Hand, with their fabulous actors Mikel Murfi, Anne Byrne and Morgan Jones, et al will be mounting another season of "Crazy Dog Live", because we're both panting  to do it again!

        And before we leave the Emerald Isle, I must tip our collective hat to our buddy Charles Moed, who volunteered to join us in our adventure and "managed" to help us with the niggling details to make our workload easier.

 To Prince Charles we say: "Go raibh maith agat!" And we really mean it...

 "Excuse me, but there's a hare in my Rabbit Paperdelle." - Proctor thinks this is funny


        The population of this country is 237 million and 104 million are retired. That leaves 133 million to do the work. There are 85 million in school, which leaves 48 million to do the work. Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government, leaving 19 million to do the work. 2.8 million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 16.2 million to do the work.

        Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Governments and that leaves 1.4 million to do the work. At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals, leaving 1,212,000 to do the work. Now, there are also 1,211,998 people in prisons.

        That leaves just two people to do the work. You and me.

        And you're sitting at your computer reading jokes...(Says David Prince)

 "If men had babies, they would not create bombs." - Andrea Shearman, mother of Bali blast victim, London Daily Telegram


        Trains between Cardiff and London were delayed last week when high winds liberated a giant inflated Ronald McDonald which bounced down the track and disappeared, never to be seen again, despite a nice reward. Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Leader of the Lords, who earlier this year was named peer of the year, was pleased to learn that his Jack Russel, Bippy, "came top" at the Westminster Dog Competition.

        Back home, Native American artist Fortunate Eagle Nordwall, claims to have put a curse on the sewer system of Livermore, California, according to "Skeptical Briefs" because the town fathers had chopped several feet off his dedicated totem pole and planted it in concrete. A week later, the system backed up; and the mayor has agreed to apologize, hoping to reverse the curse.

        Montana's Libertarian Senate candidate Stan Jones turned blue after imbibing a colloidal silver solution in 1999 to offset a shortage of antibiotics he feared would result after Y2K. The condition, called "argyria" is irreversible, though not life-threatening.  Perhaps he can run as "Senator Smurf."

        In Nong Khai province in Thailand, an annual phenomenon in the Mekong River is called "the Naga fireballs." Hundreds of red, orange or pink luminous spheres appear to rise and disappear with nary a whisp of smoke for about a week during the October full moon. They range in size from egg to beach ball-shape every few minutes in groups and separately. There is no explanation for this event.

        More than 70,000 Australians have identified their religion in the annual census as "Jedi". Some admitted that they did it "just to give the government a bit of curry."

        And speaking of curs, a hunting dog in the U.S. posing for a photo with a rifle on his back, shot his owner in the knee while another puppy in Kelso, Washington, caused a fire by playing with matches. Somehow, a 5-month-old German Shepherd chewed through the box "just right and didn't slobber."

        And saddest news of all - VH1 has cancelled plans to shoot a reality TV show with Liza Minnelli because her husband, David Guest, proved impossible to work with.  He's a "neat freak", put severe restrictions on access to Liza, and forced the crew to wear "surgical booties" in their apartment.

"This was a very nice neighborhood until the monkeys got out of control." - Terence McKenne in The Archaic Revival


        Zobo Bongo Davis reminds us that we spend the first two years of a kid's life teaching them to walk and talk. Then we spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up. And we all know that grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children, but mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.

        We can childproof our homes, but they still get in.

        The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own. And remember --children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

        Still, it pays to be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home. And if you still suffer, just take the advice on an aspirin bottle: "Take two", and  --  "Keep away from children"

"An anagram of 'Washington, USA' is 'A town's anguish'." - Mick Tully (and 'Washington, D.C.'is 'Shit can g' down...') - PP


        As you now know, I just returned from a two-week holiday in Europe, and for the first time, I traveled with a digital camera.

        What a joy! No film to pack, no extra lenses, just a pocket-sized silverized marvel to capture over a thousand snaps on a chip no bigger than a postage stamp, instantly ready to cyber-send to friends without a stamp! I reveled as I reviewed our trips each day by editing imperfect angles, anticipating the sharing of our voyage with friends upon our return to the States.

        After snapping the last shot, the camera announced: "Memory chip full" and I closed the miraculous machine confident that I had captured a once-in-a-lifetime adventure forever!

        But when I next activated the device to review and delete my latest master-shots, I was stunned to see a new message, boldly imprinted in small white letters against a cold black background: "No Image." What?!

        In vain, I tried to retrieve my glorious, painstakingly recorded memories of our unforgettable sojourn, but to no avail. They were gone. Lost irretrievably in the unforgiving cosmos of digital indifference.

        No memories of our bike ride in Lucca on an impossibly clear, cloud-strewn day.  No startling vistas of the tempestuous Tuscan landscape from the 2000-foot majesty of ancient Montepulciano. No proud pictures of ludicrous stone lions with their tongues stuck out to add to our endless collection of Leos which sign my wife and I share. Gone, all gone; a digital dream; a modern nightmare.

        Oh, well. Or, as they say in Italian, "Tutto fa"  -- That's the way it goes...

        This is Phil Proctor, Prisoner of the 21st Century.

 "I had no toys as a child; so I began playing with words." Sheila Winston


        It's all over but the screaming, but here in Hollywood, Hallowe'en can be a really big deal; especially when the professionals get involved.

        A company called "Distortions Unlimited" and another at offers blood-squirting guillotines for $7,500, autopsied aliens for $1,130 and other theme-park quality props like The Living Wall, where hands and a head reach out to get you for $3,000; T-Rex - a snapping lizard head that tries to eat you for only $9,999; a $2,000 Haunted Mirror; the Fake Crash, where  for $5,000  you can watch a brick wall crumble to reveal a dented, blaring car front; 13-foot-tall Demons ($8,000); Angry Gators ($14,000); a "Deep Fryer" electric chair with writhing, drooling screaming mannequin; an "Explode Commode" geyser toilet; and a $3,400 "Vomit Barrel" - vomit not included.

        Or you could cut eyeholes in an old sheet. The cost?  Priceless.

 "We were men of steel! We decided our own destinies." - Late Irish actor, Richard Harris

2002 by Phil Proctor
Published OCTOBER 31, 2002