Planet Proctor 2004 Volume 11

"Stop Mad Cowboy Disease." ~ Sign at NYC Peace Protest 


        That would be Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, Phil Proctor and David Ossman - all front and center for the "Let's Eat!" Firesign Theatre tribute Thursday night at UCLA's Royce Hall. I must say that I have to agree with the L.A. Times review by Mark Swed, with whom I briefly chatted at intermission.

        The evening, produced by eclectic madman Hal Wilner, was a good-hearted attempt to capture our "batty, off-the-wall" album experiences but as Swed observes, "there is a real danger" (Not Nick!)"in trying to put the walls of a stage around it...They played Firesign as if it were straight stand-up comedy, pedestrian theater and a loud (loud! Loud!! Loud!!! Loud!!!) rock concert all rolled into one hopeless package." Well, you get the idea.

        And Mark is a fan who commented that he found himself "anticipating line after nutty line."

        Fact is, as John Goodman told us backstage later, the talented cast was rehearsing with clip-on microphones right up to curtain, when it was suddenly decided to go with a veritable forest of conventional mics. This led to a predictably unsatisfying audio experience as various players used, abused and misused the scattered instruments.

        The choice of material from our first four LPs was also scattershot and most startling of all, they didn't come back after the break with "Nick Danger" - one of our sure-fire, interactive audience pleasers, which would have constituted a pleasant break from the fragmented cacophony of the first act.

        Oh, well. It was nonetheless a great thrill to be so honored, and although we lost a good chunk of Wilner's subscription audience after the first half, the diehard fans who stayed had a unique experience.

        And finally, as Swed observed, "Never shy for attention, they merrily took to the stage for bows at the end."

         Well, we don't even have a publicist; and you can print that!

    "[April Fool's] is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other 364." ~ Mark Twain


        From my perspective, it was a fun evening, even if flawed. It was particularly thrilling to hear our bizarre musical pieces presented in rousing and satirical arrangements by the likes of Louden Wainwright III, the sparkling Chloe Webb, the imposing David Thomas, the streaky Todd Rundgren, Ralph Carney, and Stan Ridgeway.

        The assemblage of actors, popping up as various characters with scripts in hand, included our pals Goodman, Howard Hesseman, George Wendt and Rick Overton, as well as Bob Odenkirk, Nelson Lyon, Scott Waino and Mark McKinney. They told us they were nervous when they knew we were going to be present; but I thought they did a stellar job with our challenging, tongue-tangling material, and some of our more predictive bits were really mind-boggling to hear in this up-front and unabashed context, being furthermore oddly accurate throughout, even voicing oft-improvised background tracks.

        Yes, the sound design and mixing was disappointing, but hey - we know how challenging it's been to try and recreate the experience of our own unique mind-movies on tour. It requires draconian editing, selective costume choices, thoughtful music and effects editing, and the creation of special portable scenic and lighting designs. For those if you who've seen our shows, you know they've worked pretty well in spite of necessarily restricted production budgets.  

        And finally, let me say that one of the most satisfying benefits of this unforgettable night was re-meeting long-lost friends and fans -- still loving, witty and youthful-looking after the passage of so many decades. Could it be that smart comedy is the fountain of youth? Jump in at

      "The future spoils the present." ~ Harvard Psychologist Daniel Gilbert, on happiness


        Monty Python's film "The Life of Brian", oft condemned, though intended as a spoof of intolerance and Biblical epics instead of disorganized religion, is being re-released by Henry Jaglom's Rainbow Pictures  to  provide "an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie," on it's 25th anniversary.

        Mr. Jaglom's partner, John Goldstone, produced the original, not completed until former Beatle George Harrison threw money after EMI Films dropped out, fearing controversy. Trailers will start on Good Friday. And I'll be in mine.

  "I think you can still be elegant and an alcoholic." ~ Catherine Deneuve, on her role in "Place Vendome"


        ...but Ireland has just become the first nation to ban smoking from all enclosed public spaces, including pubs!  And Melinda and I are supposed to hike over to Dublin again for another Crazy Dog radio show in June!  How will we survive?  What will become of my smoky Irish tenor?

        It was also officially announced that as we all have known forever, that there is a demonstrable scientific basis for the butt bone being connected to the booze bone - nicotine apparently really does interact with alcohol "to light up the pleasure centers of the brain."

        And responding to "What's 'Up', Doc?" in the last orbit, H. Lee Kagan writes,  "From my residency training days back in New York, attempted suicide by jumping from a height is called Failure to Fly."

        And does anyone else find it stunning that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago right to the stall where she sleeps in Washington state, but is incapable of locating 11 million illegal aliens wandering around the U.S.?

        The solution, writes contributor antigravityray," is to give every illegal alien a cow."

  "I fear George Orwell was right, he just got the date wrong." ~ Writer/Producer Scott Winner


        I was sad to read about the new Santa Monica NO SMOKING on the beach ban going into effect in May.  Sad and nostalgic, for it brought back memories from thirty years ago when I used to sit on the shore just north of the pier building sand castles.

        My brother and sisters always used the small leftover cigarette butts they found to represent cars on the freeways that went around the castle. However I used the different-shaped butts for people because I didn't understand how a castle could have freeways.

        The City Council is robbing our imaginations, don't you see? Who are they to do this to the children of tomorrow!

                Now I ask you -- Henry Rosebudz, Ocean Park (aka Hank Rosenfeld)

    "Once you accept that most women are evil, that most men are predictable pigs, and that someone is always on a moral crusade, the world's not such a bad place." ~ From the TV movie "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss"


        "I'm Goin' Fishin'," really means, "I'm going to drink myself dangerously stupid, and stand by a stream with a stick in my hand, while the fish swim by in complete safety. "

        "It's a Guy Thing. (There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical.) It would take too long to explain..." (I have no idea how it works.)

        "Can I help with dinner? (Why isn't it already on the table?) Take a break, Honey, you're working too hard. (I can't hear the game over the vacuum cleaner.) We share the housework." (I make the messes; you clean them up.)

        "I was just thinking about you, and got you these roses. (The girl selling them on the corner was a real babe.) You look terrific. (Oh, God, please don't try on one more outfit. I'm starving.) You know I could never love anyone else." (I am used to the way you yell at me, and realize it could be worse.)

        "That's interesting, dear. (Are you still talking?) I heard you. (I haven't the foggiest clue what you just said, and am hoping desperately that I can fake it well enough so that you don't spend the next 3 days yelling at me.) And of couse,  "Uh-huh, sure, honey, yes, dear." Really means -- absolutely nothing. It's a conditioned response.

        "Oh, don't fuss. I just cut myself, it's no big deal. (I have actually severed a limb, but will bleed to death before I admit I'm hurt.) Hey, I've got my reasons for what I'm doing. (And I sure hope I think of some pretty soon.) I'm not lost; I know exactly where we are." (No one will ever see us alive again.)  

        "You know how bad my memory is." (I remember the theme song to 'F Troop', the address of the first girl I ever kissed and the Vehicle Identification Numbers of every car I've ever owned, but I forgot your birthday...)

   "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."  ~ Author Robert A. Heinlein


        The host of "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" on WKQX in Chicago, has sued listener David E. Smith and his organization "citizens for Community Values of Illinois" for harassment!

        Smith, who has filed over 60 separate complaints against the jock in the last 2 years, says "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito." To which Erich "Mancow" Muller responds, "If you don't like it, go to a different station...Don't try to dictate your morality to the entire country."

        NY  Fordham University communications guru, Paul Levinson, reacts to the flap by noting, "Who sues their listeners? It's as ridiculous as what Congress is trying to do to crack down on broadcasters."

        And look at this...

    "Content Filter has detected an email containing language that some might find offensive. This email has been blocked." ~ Received by Planet Proctor from


        Funny friend and "vent" Jay Johnson announces his new one-man show, after years of talking to himself in his garage!  For info go to

        And it bears repeating that our Antaeus Company production of "Chekhov X 4"  at the Newplace space, 4860 Vineland, has been extended and is currently alternating with the Andak production of Dakin Matthews' original play, "Prince of L.A."  

        Also, since I am now sharing weekends with fellow Antaean Ralph Drischell, you can see me at present on Sat., April 10 @ 8pm, Sun., April 11 @ 2 and 7pm, Sat., April 24 @ 8pm, and Sun., April 25 @ 2 and 7pm.

                Call 818/506-5436   or visit

    "Today's Celebrity Incarcerations" ~ New feature in L.A. Times' Calendar  "Quick Takes"

2004 by Phil Proctor
Published APRIL 3 2004