Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

horrorWell, it’s been a long haul. Been dealing with some stuff. (See last blog entry.) But somewhere in there, the Oct. 31 release date for my short story collection, “The Devil’s Kazoo Band Don’t Take Requests,” crept up on me. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to blow the dust off this blog and post something. A while back, I found some two-sentence horror stories on the web. Here’s an example:

“The last thing I saw was my alarm clock flashing 12:07 before she pushed her long rotting nails through my chest, her other hand muffling my screams. I sat bolt upright, relieved it was only a dream, but as I saw my alarm clock read 12:06, I heard my closet door creak open.”

Here are some more.

Since then, I’ve made kind of a Halloween tradition of posting my own two-sentence horror stories every year. This is the 2016 edition. Be forewarned. Bone-chilling terror awaits:

  • “Don’t apologize to me for your foul mouth,” my new cubicle-mate says. “Apologize to Jesus.”
  • A new congressman is elected in your district. InfoWars endorsed him.
  • “I’ll be here for the next four weeks,” the contractor says. “Have you heard the one about the two blacks and a Jew in the gay bar?”
  • Your daughter says things are getting serious with her boyfriend. He has a “9/11 Was an Inside Job” bumper sticker on his car.
  • “We’ll get started in just a minute,” the woman at the front of the room says. “But first, we have a fun team-building exercise for you.”
  • I hand her my phone to show her the picture I just took. She starts scrolling through the rest of my pictures.
  • “Welcome to ’90s night!” the DJ says. “Who remembers the Macarena?”

 

Advertisements

cheesesteak 2“Naked Came the Cheesesteak.” Weird fetish site? No. At least … I hope not.

Actually, it’s a “serial novel” mystery, with each chapter written by a different Philadelphia-area writer. And it’s happening right now at Philadelphia Stories, where a new chapter is being released each month.

So how do nakedness and cheesesteaks tie in? Here’s a little bit of background.

Back in 1969, a bunch of journalists played a literary practical joke by releasing a deliberately bad book titled “Naked Came the Stranger,” in which each of them wrote a different chapter and released it under a pseudonym. Their intent was to show that any book could be a success, as long as it featured lots of sex. Turns out they were right. The book became a best-seller.

In 1996, a bunch of South Florida-area writers — including the legendary Carl Hiaasen and the beyond-legendary Elmore Leonard — did something similar by crafting a mystery/thriller parody in which a different author wrote each chapter. Unlike “Stranger,” this one wasn’t a hoax. But the title, “Naked Came the Manatee,” paid tribute to its literary forebear. Or, should I say … foreBARE?

Sorry. I kind of hate myself now. Anyway.

Some of the folks over at the wonderful Philadelphia Stories decided to do something similar with a bunch of Philadelphia-area writers.

I don’t want to talk about it too much. I’ll let co-editor Mitchell Sommers take care of that in the following interview.

But I will say this. I recently attended the launch party for “Naked Came the Cheesesteak,” at which a number of the authors gave readings from their contributions. I can tell you already that it’s very different from “Naked Came the Stranger,” which the writers intentionally made bad. Because “Cheesesteak” features some amazing writing.

The writers themselves, who didn’t see the chapters that came after their contributions, have no idea if it’s going to hold together as a story. But hold together or not, it will definitely be worth reading for the quality of the prose, if nothing else.

That’s why I wanted to feature it here. That, and the fact that it gives me an excuse to use the word “naked” a lot, which I figure will boost my Google search rankings.

By the way, the writers associated with the project are: Kelly Simmons, Nathaniel Popkin, Kelly McQuain, Warren Longmire, Don Lafferty, Tony Knighton, Merry Jones, Victoria Janssen, Shaun Haurin, Gregory Frost, Mary Anna Evans, Randall Brown and Diane Ayres.

The co-editors are Mitchell Sommers and Tori Bond.

So here are the questions that co-editor Mitchell Sommers graciously agreed to answer for me:

Q: Can you give us some background on how “Naked Came the Cheesesteak” happened, and your involvement with it?

A: The idea of a serial novel has been something I’ve thought about ever since reading the Dave Barry/Elmore Leonard creation “Naked Came the Manatee,” which was also a serial novel/ murder mystery set in Miami using South FL writers. It’s a crazy book (and totally worth reading). And when I finally had a forum to try something like this in Philly, I decided to try it. I’m fiction editor for “Philadelphia Stories,” and the two co-editors and founders, Christine Weiser and Carla Spataro, were totally on board. They may have thought I was nuts, but they were on board. I very quickly realized that I was not even going to come close to organizing this thing myself, and I asked Tori Bond, who is also with “Philadelphia Stories,” and who is a recent MFA graduate from Rosemont College, to become co-editor. She has an important quality I lack, that being anything involving even rudimentary organization skills. (Note to my law clients: Please ignore what I just said.)

 

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish with this?

A: Two things: First, I wanted to see what a bunch of writers, with different styles, writing in different genres, could do on a project like this. The story very quickly became a murder mystery–that format worked well with the concept, and it was a way of paying homage to Naked Came the Manatee. And it really did take on on a life and shape of its own. Getting several member of the Liars Club (Kelly SImmons, Merrey Deedee Jones, Gregory Frost and Don Lafferty) was a big help. We also had two poets (Warren Longmire and Kelly McQuain), which I thought added some interesting shape and texture to the project. But really, every writer brought something cool to the project.

Second, I wanted to bring attention to “Philadelphia Stories.” Our mission is fostering a community of writers in the Greater Philadelphia Area, and this fit perfectly. I wanted people to read us, to stick with us, to come to our readings and our yearly Push to Publish one day writers’ conference. And, hopefully, give us money. Our on-line auction is up right now.

 

Q: Do you think there’s any particular literary quality that tends to characterize work from the Philadelphia area?

A: I don’t think pretense is a quality you’re going to find in Philly writers. They, like the place, are a tough bunch, without a lot of fake sentimentality. Funny and poignancy exist pretty much side by side.

 

Q: Obviously, everyone involved is having some fun with this. But do you think it reveals anything about the storytelling process?

A: That it’s mysterious, lively, capable of taking inspiration from all kinds of places and if I knew more, I’d use it to finish my own novel.

 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Philadelphia Stories?

A: We’ve been around since 2004. That’s 11 years. We publish quarterly, featuring poetry, fiction, non-fiction and artwork. We are completely, totally free, and are distributed across the Delaware Valley, including every branch of the Philadelphia Library. We also publish PS Jr., twice a year, featuring the work of children up to 12th grade. And the aforementioned Push to Publish writers workshop, in which more and more agents (the magic word to a writer) show up every year. It’s a great magazine. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Nobody else would have let me do this.

horrorA couple of years ago, I found some truly terrifying two-sentence horror stories on the Internet. I decided to try writing a few of my own. Now, for Halloween, I present another batch. And once again, you may want to avoid reading them if you have a heart condition.

The meeting starts in five minutes. The office copier says “CALIBRATE COLLATION DENSITY PARAMETERS.”

I accept my father-in-law’s friend request. Five minutes later, he posts his first racist joke on my timeline.

“You thought this was a date?” she says. “Oh gosh.”

“I like to think of my poetry as ‘anarcho-conceptualist,'” he said. “Let me explain.”

“You have a choice,” the wedding reception bartender says. “Coors or Coors Light.”

Your new supervisor likes playing music at work. He’s into rap metal.

You accidentally make eye contact with the loud, drunk guy at the bar. He smiles and begins approaching you.

You turn on the light in the Motel 6 bathroom. There are short, curly hairs in the sink.

“Let me tell you about our rewards program,” the cashier says. You take a frantic look at your watch and try to tell her you aren’t interested, but she presses on anyway.

I look across the restaurant and spot a fat, older guy. I realize it’s a mirror.

You complete the 20-page online form and hit “SEND.” Your screen locks up.

“First of all, I apologize that we’re running so much longer than we anticipated,” the guy at the front of the room says. “Now we have a Powerpoint presentation for you.”

 

reel roy 2I’ve been reading movie reviews since I was a kid. Every Friday, I’d go for the reviews in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s weekend section before I hit the funnies. Even now, I’ve been known to guiltily flip past the front section of the paper to check out the movie reviews before going back to read about more weighty matters.

And Roy Sexton is the first movie reviewer to ever make me laugh out loud.

Not just once either. I made the mistake of bringing his latest book — “Reel Roy Reviews, Vol. 2: Keep ’Em Coming” — as reading material on Philadelphia’s PATCO High Speed Line. Spent the entire trip giggling like a stoner in study hall. I think I scared some people. It would be worth getting the book just for his side-splitting evisceration of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Here’s the great thing about Sexton’s humor, though. Even when he’s trashing a film, he’s got a rare knack for being sharply funny without coming across as snide.

You can tell Sexton is one of those guys who just really enjoys the experience of going to the movies. Reading his reviews is like heading to the cineplex with an affable, really-freakin-funny friend. For a sparsely attended afternoon matinee, maybe, where you can put your feet up on the seats and do a “Mystery Science Theater” without feeling like a jerk.

If you and your friend like the movie, great. If not, you can still have a blast ripping on it, and laughing about how bad it was over beers later.

In his second volume of reviews (see my review of the first volume here), Sexton expands the scope a bit. He includes more reviews from concerts and regional community theater productions from his home turf of Michigan. He even has a few pieces about the local theater scene. Even if you don’t have any inherent interest in Michigan community theater, the latter have a pleasant local-newspaper-columnist feel that you don’t see enough of since this whole digital age thing happened. Besides, Sexton is the kind of guy who could write a septic tank installation manual, and still be fun to read.

What I enjoyed most in the book, weirdly enough, were the reviews of movies I wouldn’t have any natural inclination to watch. Not because he artfully lambasted them, but because he made them sound like fun.

His innovative approach as a reviewer is to evaluate the overall experience of watching a movie, rather than judging it as good or bad according to some film scholarly criteria that — let’s be honest — most film viewers don’t particularly care about in the first place.

It brought me back to those pre-Netflix days when I’d sometimes watch movies not because I’d specifically chosen them, but just because they were on.

I don’t do that anymore. When I’m watching a movie now, it’s one I’ve read about and determined will likely be worth the time I’m investing in it. Something critics have praised, or else a less revered but still cinematically significant film watched out of obligation to shore up cracks in my cultural literacy.

Nothing wrong with that. Still, Sexton’s book reminded me of the half-forgotten pleasures of accidental viewing. Discovering a glorious piece of cheese like “Roadhouse.” Or watching Jean Claude Van Damme now being acknowledged as a gifted comic actor, and knowing you picked up on that the first time you saw “Kickboxer.” Or maybe the fifth time. Or maybe … what is this … the 15th viewing? Hell, I don’t even remember. Hey! “Big Trouble in Little China” is on next! BOOyah!

Ah, those were the days.

Sexton is a welcome reminder that movies like “300 — Rise of an Empire” can still be a hell of a lot of fun. Especially if you’ve got a hilarious guide along with you.

Oh yeah. Be sure to check out more of Sexton’s stuff at his Website, Reel Roy Reviews.

colour of magicInterrupting my feature on woman speculative fiction writers to acknowledge the passing of Terry Pratchett — one of the great ones.

I was a fan. Not a huge one, I must admit. In general, I don’t go in for obsessive fandom about any writer or cultural phenomenon. There’s just so much good stuff out there, and it’s always struck me as a shame to limit your focus to one book series, TV show, music group, etc. But I’ve read a number of his books over the years, and was always impressed. In fact, I like to think he shaped my sensibilities as a writer.

Here’s the deal.

I  love jokes. The sharp one-liner. The meandering anecdote filled with hilarious asides. The witty off-hand remark. Even groan-inducing puns and standard-issue “a guy walks into a bar” fare when presented in a certain context. I greatly enjoy exchanges among funny people, where the jokes are flying left and right.

Yet for all that, I find few things more tedious than one of these “joke-off” (phonetic similarity intended) situations. That’s when somebody brings the conversation to a thudding halt by abruptly saying something along the lines of: “Alright, a giraffe walks into a proctologist’s office …”

Everyone else is obliged to sit there silently until the joke-teller brings it in for a landing, probably via a punchline you saw coming a mile away. You do the fake laugh thing out of politeness. Ha. Funny. Can we get back to the conversation now?

Nope. Somebody else says: “I got one! This guy’s on golf course. And a leprechaun comes up and says ‘I’ll give you three wishes.'”

And so it goes. On and on. Labored set-up. Obvious punchline. No organic connection to anything else going on. Just an inherent demand for exclusive attention to some verbal entertainment that isn’t particularly entertaining. And all the while, I’m silently pleading that we can put an end to this and get on with our lives.

I have a similar reaction to humor that’s nothing but a series of disconnected jokes strung together. The “Scary Movie” series is a prime example. Or — sorry, fans — much of “Family Guy.” To me, the jokes have to be in service of something. A solid narrative, like “The Simpsons” at its best. A character arc, like “Community” or “This is Spinal Tap.” Social commentary, like “South Park.” Even well-done absurdism, like “The Kids in the Hall” or “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

Terry Pratchett was a master at that.

In good humorous stories, the jokes have a solid narrative foundation to back them up and give them structure. Even without the humor, the story would ideally be able to stand on its own. Pratchett took it beyond that. In the best of his work, the humor, characterization and narrative were all inextricably intertwined. Each an essential component.

I first encountered Pratchett when I was a geeky and fantasy-fiction-obsessed teenager. “The Colour of Magic” from 1983, the first book of his Discworld series, was available as a selection from the Science Fiction Book Club. The concept sounded like a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” for high fantasy, and I was intrigued.

I ordered it and found it … good. Full of funny lines and situations. Well-drawn characters. Plenty of in-jokes and riffs on fantasy tropes for fans like myself. And a decent adventure story to back it all up.

I didn’t read any more Pratchett for the next couple of decades. My interest in fantasy fiction waned when I hit college age, and I felt no particular inclination to check out his stuff.

I was in my mid-thirties when I was at my local library, searching for a book on CD to listen to during a car trip. I saw one of his books, and was a little surprised to discover that Pratchett was still writing about Discworld. I’d thought of “The Colour of Magic” as an amusing novelty that might merit a sequel or two, but no more.

I checked it out of the library, expecting a diverting if lightweight read for the car trip.

Wow!

I was astonished at how far he’d come as a writer. It was one of the books dealing with the Ankh-Morpork City Watch — essentially an urban police thriller set in a fantasy universe with dwarves, werewolves, orcs and centaurs. And it worked beautifully. It wasn’t just some exercise in winking, arch humor based on police thriller cliches enacted by elves and trolls. It was a genuinely good story with a complex, gripping narrative, engaging characters, and something substantive to say about the nature of racial tolerance. For all that, it was still really freakin funny.

I picked up a number of his books after that, and was impressed each time. One of the elements I most admired was his propensity for taking fantasy creatures such as vampires and golems, and making them actual characters. Not abstract representations of evil, or enigmatically magical beings. Just regular folks trying to get through the day (or night) and make a living. (Or … you know.)

In doing so, Pratchett gave his works a warm-hearted humanism that (for the most part) didn’t descend into preachiness or cloying sentimentality. Maybe that neighbor who seems so mysterious, threatening and different from you isn’t such a bad guy after all. At least give him a chance.

And he managed to thoroughly entertain his readers in the course of delivering that message.

As far as literary legacies go, you could do a lot worse.

Mr. PeabodyNote from Tom Joyce: This is a piece from writer C.I. Kemp that ran in a recent issue of “The Speculator,” the newsletter for the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, which I am re-posting here with Kemp’s permission. In retrospect, the connection between Mr. Peabody and H.P. Lovecraft seems obvious, in light of the fact … in light of the fact … Ah hell. I give up. There is no rational explanation for this. C.I. Kemp is freakin insane. Enjoy.

 

Peabody’s Improbable History: H.P. Lovecraft

by C. I. Kemp

LovecraftIt’s common knowledge among horror aficionados that H.P. Lovecraft was strongly influenced by the works of Lord Dunsany and Edgar Allan Poe. There was, however, another individual without whose assistance Lovecraft would never have achieved the fame he did. Now at last, it can be told:

Note: If you’re one of the few who had a deprived childhood and grew up without ever seeing an episode of “Peabody’s Improbable History,” please check it out on You Tube before reading further. That way, you can appreciate the deathless prose that follows with all the seriousness and respect it deserves.

FADE IN
Opening animation to PEABODY’S IMPROBABLE HISTORY accompanied by theme music.
DISSOLVE TO:

1. INTERIOR: Peabody’s lab.
Peabody is standing in front of the the WABAC Machine, Sherman by his side.
PEABODY
Hello there. Peabody here. (Gesturing) Sherman and WABAC there. Sherman is a boy. The WABAC – a time machine.
SHERMAN
Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY
Set the WABAC for the year 1926.
SHERMAN
And the place?
PEABODY
Providence, Rhode Island, where we’ll meet that illustrious horror writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

2. EXTERIOR. A street scene in Providence, RI.
PEABODY (voice-over)
In less time than it takes to tell, the WABAC Machine transported us to Lovecraft’s doorstep.
An angry mob is gathered outside a house. They’re throwing rotten fruit through the windows and shouting in anger. From inside the house comes a loud discordant singing:
LOVECRAFT (voice-over)
Lullaby and good night! La la la la la la la…
SHERMAN
Golly! What’s going on, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY
I think it’s time we found out.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Sherman and I entered the house and found…

3. INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s bathroom.
Lovecraft is standing before a large bathtub, holding a piece of sheet music and singing off-key. In the tub is Cthulhu, happily splashing about, playing with a decapitated rubber duck, making unintelligible gurgling sounds. The walls are plastered with the remains of thrown fruit as are Lovecraft’s face and lapels.
PEABODY (voice-over continues)
…Lovecraft singing to a many-tentacled, winged, big-footed sea monster.
LOVECRAFT (to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby)
Go to sleep, go to sleep… Oh, it’s no use, I’m ruined!
PEABODY
Why the long face, Mr. Lovecraft?
LOVECRAFT (gesturing at his gaunt face)
Why, I was born with it.
PEABODY
No, no, I mean, why so unhappy?
LOVECRAFT
Oh, it’s because of him (gesturing at Cthulhu)
PEABODY
I don’t understand.
LOVECRAFT
Well, listen to this. (Clears throat). “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
SHERMAN
Why, that’s wonderful!
LOVECRAFT
Yes, but I can’t use it.
PEABODY
And why is that?
LOVECRAFT
Well, one can’t dream unless one is asleep, right?
PEABODY
Right.
LOVECRAFT
And one can’t sleep if one won’t go to sleep, right?
PEABODY
Also right.
LOVECRAFT
Well, I can’t get him to go to sleep!
Camera shifts to Cthulhu who is squeezing the rubber duck. The duck flies out of his tentacles…
Camera shifts back to Lovecraft.
…and hits LOVECRAFT in the head before bouncing off-screen.
PEABODY
Well, your singing doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit.
LOVECRAFT
Oh, I wouldn’t say that. (He picks a remnant of fruit from his lapel and starts chomping.) May I offer you an apple?
PEABODY
No thank you. What I mean is your lullaby doesn’t seem to be making him sleepy.
LOVECRAFT
You’re right. Perhaps some Nelson Eddy show tunes? When I’m calling youuuuuuu…
PEABODY and SHERMAN are wincing, covering their ears. CTHULHU is holding his tentacles to where his ears might be and is making some very unhappy gurgling sounds.
PEABODY
I think not. Might I recommend some more traditional methods?
LOVECRAFT
Such as?
PEABODY
Warm milk has been shown to be an effective sleep inducer. Why not try that?
LOVECRAFT
Excellent idea!

4  EXTERIOR – A nearby farm
PEABODY, SHERMAN, LOVECRAFT, and CTHULHU are standing outside of a barn.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I directed Lovecraft to a nearby dairy farm. Naturally, a simple glass of warm milk could hardly have any effect on a creature Cthulhu’s size…

5  INTERIOR – Barn
An assembly line of cows goes past Lovecraft, seated on a stool, as he milks each one.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…so Lovecraft proceeded to milk a barn full of cows.

6  EXTERIOR – Barn.
PEABODY and SHERMAN are standing outside of the barn. Suddenly, there is a loud THUD, a yell, and a dazed and battered Lovecraft comes crashing through the wall of the barn and landing on his butt before PEABODY and SHERMAN.
SHERMAN
Mr. Lovecraft, what happened?
LOVECRAFT
That last one was a bull.

7  INTERIOR – Barn
CTHULHU is downing bucket after bucket.
PEABODY (voice-over)
Cthulhu proceeded to swallow bucket after bucket of the milk. The result, however, was not what we had hoped for.
CTHULHU
(Loud) Moo! (Louder) BUUURRRRP!
CTHULHU leaps off-screen…

8  EXTERIOR – A water trough outside the barn.
…and onscreen again into the water trough where he begins splashing and making happy gurgling sounds, much as we saw him in the earlier bathtub scene. PEABODY, SHERMAN, and LOVECRAFT are standing by.
SHERMAN
What do we do now, Mr. Peabody?
PEABODY (stroking his chin)
Hmmmmm. I think a more scientific approach is called for.

9  INTERIOR – A local pharmacy
All four are standing in the pharmacy in front of an aisle with a sign reading “Sleep Aids.”
Scene shifts to CTHULHU proceeding down the aisle devouring everything off the shelves.
PEABODY (voice-over)
We then proceeded to a local pharmacy where Cthulhu availed himself not only of the various sleep aids, but everything else in the store.
Once again, Cthulhu makes a grand leap off-screen.

10  EXTERIOR – A street scene
Several little kids are playing at an open fire hydrant. They look up and flee in terror as Cthulhu lands in the puddle and resumes his splashing and gurgling.
PEABODY (voice over)
Unfortunately, Cthulhu remained as animated as ever.

11  EXTERIOR – Outside the pharmacy, which now has an “Out Of Business” sign in the window.
LOVECRAFT
Oh, it’s no use! I’ll never be able to write at this rate! I may as well go into some other line of work.
SHERMAN
Like what, Mr. Lovecraft?
LOVECRAFT
I don’t know. Tuba Instructor? Yogurt Taster? (Shudders) Insurance Salesman?
PEABODY (voice-over)
Lovecraft’s suggestions gave me an idea.
PEABODY
Mr. Lovecraft, if you follow my instructions, I can not only get Cthulhu to go to sleep, but I can guarantee to keep him asleep for a very long time.
LOVECRAFT
You can? How?

12  EXTERIOR – A different street scene.
PEABODY and LOVECRAFT enter a storefront office whose sign reads “Justin Cayce, Insurance.” After a few seconds, they leave with LOVECRAFT carrying a brief case.
PEABODY (voice-over)
I got Lovecraft to apply for a job with the local insurance agent. In no time, Lovecraft was conferring with his first client…

13  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT and CTHULHU are sitting at a table across from each other. LOVECRAFT’S briefcase is open and he is chattering at high speed to CTHULHU while riffling through a voluminous sheaf of papers. As LOVECRAFT speaks, CTHULHU’s yawns become progressively longer and deeper. At the end of PEABODY’S voice-over, CTHULHU’S head plunks down on the table and he emits loud snores,.
PEABODY (voice-over)
…Cthulhu. As Lovecraft explained the subtleties of Liabilities and Deductibles, Cthulhu’s eyelids began to droop. By the time Lovecraft was elaborating on the differences between Term and Whole Life, Cthulhu was dead to the world.

14  EXTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
A large crate labeled “To R’lyeh” is being loaded onto a UPS (Ulthar Package Senders) truck.
PEABODY (voice-over)
From there, it was a simple matter to ship Cthulhu to R’lyeh.

15  INTERIOR – Lovecraft’s house.
LOVECRAFT is sitting at a table, pounding away at a typewriter with a beatific (and somewhat silly) smile.
PEABODY (voice-over)
As for Lovecraft, he was able to go back to his writing.

16    INTERIOR – PEABODY’S lab.
PEABODY and SHERMAN are sitting in easy chairs across from each other.
SHERMAN
Boy, it’s sure lucky Mr. Lovecraft got that insurance job.
PEABODY
Indeed it is. Lovecraft proved quite successful at it, too. So much so, in fact, that he was transferred to the Innsmouth office where he was assigned to shadow people as an investigator for the company.

17  EXTERIOR – A low aerial view of Innsmouth buildings.
LOVECRAFT is seen skulking along rooftops.

18  INTERIOR – PEABODY’S lab.
PEABODY
In fact, he became so skilled that he became known…
SHERMAN
Mr. Peabody! It can’t be!
PEABODY
Oh, but it is. Lovecraft became known as (slight pause) the Shadower Over Innsmouth.
SHERMAN winces. A discordant trumpet blat sounds. Closing theme.
FADE OUT.

muppetsI’ve been thinking lately about Jim Henson’s early involvement with “Saturday Night Live.” Though it was ostensibly a failure, it’s something that I actually find quite inspiring.

I didn’t see the recent 40th anniversary special for Saturday Night Live, and I don’t know if the special mentioned it. But Jim Henson’s Muppets were a regular feature on Saturday Night Live’s first season in 1975.

But it wasn’t the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live that got me thinking about it, so much as this great write-up on The Dissolve, which recently made 1979’s “The Muppet Movie” its “Movie of the Week.” Particularly the idea of Kermit the Frog as a surrogate for Jim Henson, with his unfailing optimism and his ability to get other people to share his vision. Not through arm-twisting, so much as an ability to convey his child-like sense of wonder and fun, and have others want to be a part of it.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I consider Jim Henson to be a genius.

And I’m still in awe of what Saturday Night Live did in its first seasons, with the original cast.

I was nine when the first season premiered, and I remember what a big impact it had over the next few years until the original cast left in 1980. I’d compare it to “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” or the early days of “The Simpsons.” It wasn’t just brilliant, but a game changer. (more…)