"No matter how high or great the throne, what sits on it is the same as your own"
(E.Y. Harburg, "Rhymes for the Irreverent")


On Feb one, Melinda and I participated in the sold-out Mark Taper Yip Harburg tribute, "Over the Rainbow" to fund the free ticket program of the Center Theater Group. The show and dinner reception was exquisitely conceived by Susan Clines and smoothly directed by fellow "Dilbertian," Gordon Hunt. What a night! The warmth, intelligence and ease of our host (Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein), the impeccable jazz stylings of fellow nominee Maureen McGovern singing "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead," the show-stopping power of Michael Paul Smith's "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," Jennifer Leigh Warren, Jane Carr, Chic Street Man and Malcolm Gets, (who's Og left me green with envy), not to mention Tim Curry and the Yip-ettes (Nike Doukas, Anna Mathias, Eydie Alyson, Melinda Peterson) and the Antaeus Quartet whose comic antics opened the audience up like a flower... it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Too bad it's not up for a Grammy.

"You've nothing to fear from love if you're smart.
Just play it by ear and never by heart"
(The Yipper)


When Quasimodo's passed away the bishop of the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bell ringer was needed. After observing several applicants demonstrate their skills, an armless man approached him. The bishop was incredulous. "You have no arms!"

"No matter," said the man. "Observe!" He then began striking the bells with his face, producing a beautiful melody on the carillon. But suddenly the armless man tripped and plunged headlong out of the belfry window to his death in the street below.

The stunned bishop rushed down to where a crowd, drawn by the beautiful music they had heard only moments before, had gathered around the fallen figure. As they silently parted to let the bishop through, one of them asked, "Bishop, who was this man?"

"I don't know his name," he sadly replied, "but his face rings a bell."

"For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off."
(Johnny Carson)


(AP) Retracing Jesus' footsteps on Holy Land pilgrimages is nothing new but the tours have not extended onto water until now. Israel's National Parks Authority announced that it had authorized a private contractor to build a submerged bridge into the Sea of Galilee, actually a freshwater lake, at Capernaum that would allow tourists to simulate Jesus' miraculous walk on water. The 13-foot wide, 28-foot long crescent-shaped floating bridge will be submerged two inches below water, and will be able to accommodate up to 50 of the anticipated four million pilgrims. It will not be railed in order to enhance the "walking on water" effect, and lifeguards and boats will be in attendance in case someone slips off. Hmm. "Slips off..." See you in Heavenworld.

"Religion is for people afraid of going to hell.
Spirituality is for those of us who've already been there"


David Wallis wrote in "The Nation" about the Kingsport, Tennessee speech by the Irreverant Jerry ("I look like Richard Paul") Falwell in which he predicted that the Antichrist "will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish." He later allowed that "he, or it, was teaching at Harvard", prompting fundamentalist dittoheads to send hate mail to Law professor Alan Dershowitz.

But Wallis proposes several others for the Anti-role such as Michael Eisner for "producing PG porn and satanic rock and allowing 'Gay Day' at Disneyland... what better way to disguise those horns than mouse ears?

Adam Sandler: "It is said that the Antichrist comes from the East. Sandler was born in Brooklyn, which is close enough... The real giveaway: The smirking star of The Waterboy engenders huge following for no apparent reason."

William Shatner: "What do you think Captain Kirk meant by 'the final frontier' -- heaven? Play Shatner's 1968 album The Transformed Man backwards and you'll likely hear 'Beam me up, Beelzebub' repeated over and over."

And even Sandy Koufax because he's "a Jew who pitched three no-hitters and a perfect game must have had help."

"Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans"
(Letter-to-the-editor, Sydney Morning Herald)


And now, he's really torn it. Fallwell states that one of the popular TeleTubbies, Pinkie Dickie, or something* -- the purple, magic purse-toting one -- is gay! To which April "Radio Savant" Winchell adds: "Laa-Laa, the yellow Tubby, is an alcoholic. This is evidenced by the 'lemon' yellow twist atop his head; the garnish of choice for gin and vodka drinkers everywhere. Further, the character is only known by his first name, a practice widely used by AA in protecting the anonymity of its members.

Dipsy, who sports an oversized erect prong atop its head, is a racist. The green prong is a reference to the Green Bay Packers, many of whom are black, and 'pack' larger than average penises in their uniforms. This plays into the racial stereotype that black men are more endowed than white... [and] Po, who is perhaps the most insidious of the characters, is a pedophile. This is clearly evidenced by the small round opening atop his head. The enticement of this tiny red hole to the pederast is obvious. Depending upon the orientation of the sexual offender, 'Po' may stand for 'Poop Orifice' or 'Peepee opening'..."

Well, I happen to know that the actors who portray the Tubbies are actually six-footers who could kick Jer's ass.

[*The actual name is "Tinky Winky" -- RJA, ed.]

[Go to next column to continue reading]

"Television: a medium.
So called because it is neither rare nor well-done"
(Ernie Kovacs)


An older man wearing a stovepipe hat, a waistcoat and a phony beard sat down at a bar and ordered a drink. As the bartender set it down, he asked, "Going to a party?"

"Yeah," the man answered, "I'm supposed to come dressed as my love life."

"But you look like Abe Lincoln," opined the barkeep.

"That's right. My last four scores were seven years ago."

"What do you think Lincoln would be doing if he were alive today:
Writing his memoirs of the Civil War? Advising the President?
Or desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin?"
(David Letterman)


An atmosphere close to panic prevails today here in Canterbury, England as the millennia year 1000 approaches, bringing with it the so-called "Y1K Bug." Every formulaic hymn, prayer, ceremony and incantation dealing with dated events will have to be rewritten to accommodate three extra syllables. All tabular chronologies with three-space year columns -- maintained for generations by scribes using carefully hand-ruled lines on vellum sheets -- will now have to be converted to four-space columns, at enormous cost; and the validity of every official event, from baptisms to burials, from confirmations to coronations, may be called into question.

"What worries me most," says Brother Cedric of St. Michael's Abbey, "is that 'thousand' contains the word 'thou,' which of course always refers to 'God'. Using it now 'in the name of the year' will seem almost blasphemous, and is bound to cause terrible confusion. What's worse, the Latin word for 'thousand' is 'mille' which is the same as the Latin for 'mile.' We won't know whether we're talking about time or distance!"

Stonemasons are already reported threatening a proportional pay increase for having to carve an extra numeral in all dates on tombstones, cornerstones and monuments; and many families, in expectation of the worst, are stocking up on holy water and indulgences. We should have forseen it: 999 is 666 upside down.

"Most people would welcome change as long as
things remain the same"
(Dr. David Walker, pastor, Church of Religious Science)


The following week, despite the sadness that weighed heavily on his heart, the bishop continued his interviews for a replacement to Quasimodo. The first man to approach him said," Your Excellency, I am the brother of the poor armless wretch that fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday. I pray that you honor his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty."

The bishop agreed to an audition, but as the armless man's brother stooped to pick up a mallet, he groaned, clutched at his chest and died on the spot. Two monks, hearing the bishop's cries of grief at this second tragedy, rushed up the stairs. "What has happened?" the first breathlessly asked, "Who is this man?"

"I don't know his name," sighed the distraught bishop, "but he's a deadringer for his brother."

"When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep.
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.
So, let's all get drunk, and go to heaven"
(Brian O'Rourke)


For at least the last two decades a shadow cast by a Canadian albino rodent named Wiarton Willy meant six more weeks of winter for our neighbors up North, but 200 people were horrified to find that Willy was wasted when they gathered recently for Groundhog Day. "He died from old age. He hasn't been well," said Tara Wilson, a spokeswoman for the 2,600 people in Wiarton, a town north of Toronto. Wilson added that the earthrat "had left a letter calling for an early spring" as his last willy and testament.

But the real horror is that the widely distributed foto of Wee White Willy, laid out paws up on his back in a little casket, was apparently that of -- an imposter! Rumors are flying like squirrels that the real hog was so badly decomposed that they had to find another and then -- well, 'snuff said.

"If they outlaw teaching evolution, only outlaws will evolve"


Human cannonball Mario Zacchini, who survived over 5,000 cannon shots at speeds of 100 mph, flew over the rainbow at the age of 87. He was the last of five brothers who pioneered the gag in the 20s and refined it in the Ringling Bros. Circus, by soaring over a ferris wheel. "Flying isn't the hard part. Landing in the net is. The net is very small up in the air." He was once a stuntman but says, "...movies were no good. All we did was sit and wait."

His last words on the subject were, "I was like a cat, with nine lives... this is the ninth. After this one I'm gone." Badaboom.

Also farewell to Huntz Hall, a "Dead End" kid who's, well, dead. And happy 40th birthday to Barbie, whose last name, by the way, is Roberts.

"Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know"
(Joseph Roux)



(C) 1999 by Phil Proctor

Published 2/10/99