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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Alice's Restaurant on XM

For those of you who are interested in listening to "Alice's Restaurant" and reliving the Thanksgiving Massacree, it will be played on The Sixties on Six on XM Radio at about 2pm this afternoon. If you don't subscribe to XM, you can still join in the fun by signing up for a free trial.

Don't miss out!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Holidays--Beware!

Well, I just received my first holiday crime memos, so it seems that it's time to post the one set of Christmas carol lyrics I've ever written. They are as follows:

(To the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Christmas is the time for stealing.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Take it if it seems appealing.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Pick it up; it's in your pocket.
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Leave your desk, you've got to lock it.
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Happy holidays to all and don't forget the pepper spray!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Vision Thing

A couple of months ago, back when I was down in the dumps and also in the basement, I wrote a post in which I said something about being addicted to grandiose schemes. Now, the first thing to keep in mind when considering this post is that it was written by a middle-aged guy who had just started working in a mailroom. Regardless of one's choice of careers, winding up in a mailroom as you approach your 47th birthday is a bit depressing. After all, the mailroom is traditionally the place where one starts one's work life, not finishes it. And if you don't believe me, just consult the collected works of Horatio Alger or the agent roster at CAA.

Now, however, from the Parnassus of the English Department, I am looking at life a little differently. It seems to me that I am not a person addicted to grandiose schemes, but a visionary. I have the habit of thinking--as the saying goes--outside the box, and as a result, can see possibilities that remain hidden to most people.

As a creative type, this can come in handy, especially when I find myself knee-deep in a story or script and there are clumps of bad writing, plotting, and characterization hiding behind the bushes just ahead. It can also be of use in real life, since I can often come up with creative solutions that never occur to most others.

However, the downside to this ability is that most people have a hard time understanding my vision, including--perhaps especially--the people who dole out the money. Money people, with exceptions, tend to look about a foot ahead of themselves and a foot behind at all times and confuse walking in circles with dancing a minuet.

That doesn't mean, though, that you give up, that you stop trolling the waters. You never know when the person you need to meet is right around the next corner.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

According to Len

I am a TV snob. There have been many shows that have been popular and critical favorites that I have turned up my nose at. I didn't care for Cheers. ER left me cold. I didn't watch The Sopranos, and I don't watch House.

There have been shows that critics raved about that I couldn't stomach. However, there is currently one show that I love that makes all critics wretch. And that's According to Jim.

I'm sorry. I like this show. It makes me laugh. Out loud. Numerous times during each half hour. Larry Joe Campbell, who plays Jim's brother-in-law, is an enormously gifted comic actor. Courtney Thorne-Smith is very good as Jim's wife, and Kimberley Williams-Paisley gives a sly and winning performance week-in-and-week-out. Even the kids are good, which is quite unusual. There are funny jokes, and true ones, too. For example, in one episode, Andy--the brother-in-law--reveals that he has concocted a dessert in which he rolls sticks of butter in white sugar. He tells, with a wonderful mixture of shame, self-loathing, and pride, that he calls the "Shame Sticks."

We refer to Shame Sticks around our house the same way that we quote Felix Unger saying, "You're my eyes, Gloria!" It's part of our private code.

I'm always astounded at the amount of hostility that this show engenders, but I think I know the cause. It's Jim Belushi. And it's not because of the value of his performance, because he's really very good in it. There have been moments--and I'm talking as a fellow actor here--in which he has been about as good as an actor can be. And yet, he gets scorn instead of praise.

Why? Well, I would guess it's because nobody has ever forgiven him for being John's brother. He was always seen as being a hanger-on and a no-talent, and neither of those judgments is true.

Now, I liked John Belushi. I must've. I even went to see Continental Divide. However, Jim is not his imitator. His performance style is more controlled and more crafted. He's gotten a bad rap--partially because of the movie with the police dog--and he has not deserved it.

And one thing I know for sure: Both he and his show make me laugh.