Tuesday, October 28, 2014


(to the tune of "Lola" by Ray Davies)

I met her at the Center for Disease Control
In a Haz-Mat suit, well bless my soul
She had Ebola
E-B-O-L-A, Ebola
She got in the shower, I got the Betadine
“Are you contaminated?” “No, I feel just fine.”
“I don’t have Ebola. E-B-O-L-A. Ebola.”
But she did now.

Well she’d left Liberia a week before
Purely symptom-free and ready to roar
The virus inside slept in incubation
And she said hey boy, here’s a new sensation

Well we drank champagne and danced all night
Under the disinfectant light
Then a pustule burst upon her knee

Well I'm not the world's most hypochondriac man
But I seen “The Stand,” and it scared me man
Like that Ebola
E-B-O-L-A Ebola
La, la, la Ebola

Germs will be germs and those are the terms



Monday, October 13, 2014

The Dead Munchkin Problem

According to persistent urban legend, one of the Munchkins hung himself and is supposedly visible in a scene in "The Wizard of Oz." How the hell would that play out? In practical terms?

1939. Big important Hollywood studio head at big important desk.

The intercom buzzes.

SECRETARY: (thick Brooklyn accent) Victor Fleming to see you, sir.

MAYER: Fleming, huh?

SECRETARY: The director, sir.

MAYER: Oh. I thought you meant the plumber. Tell him to get stuffed.

SECRETARY: He says it’s urgent, sir.

MAYER: Yeah? Well I say …

FLEMING walks in.

FLEMING: Hello Mr. Mayer.

MAYER: This is my private sanctuary. How dare you, sir! (stands up threateningly) I am the great and terrible Louis B. Mayer!

FLEMING: Ha-ha, very funny.

MAYER: I thought so. Now get out of here. Go back to Arkansas.

FLEMING: This can’t wait.

MAYER: Oh, it can’t?

FLEMING: We got a problem with the kiddy picture.

MAYER: (wincing) Problem. I hate that word.

MAYER sits back down.

MAYER: What kind of a problem?

FLEMING: A midget problem.

MAYER: As in?

FLEMING: A dead midget problem.

MAYER: One of the ... what do you call ‘em?

FLEMING: Munchkins.

MAYER: Dead?


MAYER: What’s the story? Bert Lahr sit on one of ‘em?

FLEMING: Uh-uh. Story is: One of the little shrimps was unlucky in love. He ended his sorrows with the help of a rope.

MAYER: Sad story. Boo-hoo. Send some flowers to the shrimp’s family. Midget problem solved.

FLEMING: It’s not that simple.

MAYER: Why not?

FLEMING: He did it on-camera.

MAYER: What?

FLEMING: It’s in the picture.

MAYER: You’re kidding me.


MAYER: Shit. What scene?

FLEMING: The big scene.

MAYER: Not the …

FLEMING: Yeah. The “We’re Off To See The Wizard” scene.

MAYER: The moneymaker? The dead shrimp’s in it?

FLEMING: Swinging from the trees. In Technicolor.

MAYER: And you. You didn’t happen to notice at the time?

FLEMING: I-I wasn’t there at the time. I gave it to the assistant director.

MAYER: What? You handed off your boffo production number to the goddamn AD?

FLEMING: I’m doing three pictures at once … sir.

MAYER: Sure, Fleming. You’re a goddamn suffering artist. It’s a case of capitalist exploitation, pure and simple. You weren’t there. So how do you know he did it?

FLEMING: I’ve seen it.

MAYER: You caught it in the dailies?

FLEMING: I caught it in editing.

MAYER: In editing?! And you call yourself a director. You’re a disgrace to your profession, Fleming! But something doesn’t add up.

FLEMING: I set it up in the screening room. If you want, we can –

MAYER cuts him off.

MAYER: You’re telling me: The pint-sized punk fitted himself out with a rope necktie, in full view of the actors, the assistant director, the cinematographer, the camera crew, the sound crew, the lighting guys, the best boy, the key grip, two dozen teamsters sitting on their fat asses and Judy Garland’s pill wrangler?

FLEMING: That's what I'm telling you.

MAYER: This vast assortment of motion picture professionals saw nothing unusual in the sight of a Munchkin piƱata?

FLEMING: No. The night before — he inserted the line, “Munchkin hangs self from tree,” in the shooting scripts. They all thought it was part of the picture.

MAYER: The little bastard — this is a goddamn joke, isn’t it, Fleming?


MAYER: Screening room. (snaps fingers) Now.


FLEMING and MAYER watch the scene.

Happy singing from the Oz refugees.

We’re off to see the Wizard!

MAYER: Fleming. Is it my imagination, or  ...


MAYER: Don’t shush me!

FLEMING: There he is.


FLEMING: You see him?

MAYER: Yeah, I see him. Background, not foreground. God is good.

FLEMING: But you can see him?

MAYER: Yeah, yeah.

If ever a wonderful Wiz there was
The wonderful Wiz is one …

MAYER: Shut that goddamn thing off!

The singing stops.

FLEMING: You see –

MAYER: Not here, Fleming.


FLEMING and MAYER enter. Shut door.

MAYER: OK. Now talk.

FLEMING: Nothing to talk about it. You saw it?

MAYER: Yeah, I saw it.

FLEMING: Then you see what we gotta do.

MAYER: Yeah. Ix-nay on the umours-ray. Anybody opens his yap gets a one-way ticket to neverworkagainland. Some moolah under the table to those two dykes with the gossip columns. We keep a lid on this goddamn thing.

FLEMING: No! We gotta reshoot the scene.

MAYER: Are you out of your mind? Your goddamn kiddy picture is ten days behind schedule as it is, Fleming! ‘Reshoot the scene.’ We struck that goddamn set two weeks ago! You know how much money that’d cost?

FLEMING: But the children …

MAYER: To hell with the children!

FLEMING: But they’ll see it. The poor little guy. The trauma to their psyches …

MAYER: Can the Freud shit.

FLEMING: He’s twitching.

MAYER: He’s a blur in the goddamn background.

FLEMING: But the children!

MAYER: The children, the children. Enough with the children! This is a motion picture studio, not a goddamn kindergarten. The show must go on, Fleming. We’ll tell ‘em it’s a goddamn bird or something.

SECRETARY: Shirley Temple to see you, sir.

MAYER: Tell her to get lost.

The door opens.

SHIRLEY TEMPLE tap-dances into the office in an adorable cowgirl outfit.

MAYER: (muttering) This isn’t an office. It’s goddamn Central Station.

TEMPLE: Hello, Mr. Fleming,

MAYER: Hello, Shirley.

TEMPLE: Hello, Mr. Mayer.

MAYER: Hello. Aren’t you adorable?

TEMPLE: Uh-huh. (pouting) You ask me, Judy Garland is real ugly.

MAYER: That’s not very nice.

TEMPLE: That picture was s’posed to be mine, y’know. (stamping her foot) You promised!

MAYER: That’s show biz, kid.

TEMPLE: I think you’re a bad man.

She pulls out an adorable pearl-handled revolver and shoots him.

FLEMING stands there. TEMPLE tap-dances away.