Friday, June 09, 2017

Perhaps "The World is a Circus."

 If Shakespeare was alive today instead of writing the line "The world is a stage and all of us are players," he would have written "The world is a Circus and all of us are clowns."  
It is impossible to crawl inside the mind of THIS President, although there is apparently a lot of room in there, but I shall try just to imagine what his narcissistic logic might look like concerning the firing of Comey. 
But first let's see what has been happening "outside" of that "mind". 
During a campaign he seemed to be losing last year, Trump's mantra was "Lock her up".  He insisted that we shouldn't  have a President who might become involved in a criminal investigation regarding her emails.  In July of last year James Comey gave a press conference saying that Mrs. Clinton was "careless" but not to the level of criminal charges.  It was seen as a great boost to the Clinton campaign and potentially the end of several years of intense Congressional investigation into her actions.
Then came the election.  Russia was even then being investigated for election hacking and voting influence.  During the Presidential transition period there were Trump associates ( and family) still  having questionable contact with Russians.  The investigation continued until Sally Yates (Acting Attorney General) came to inform Mr. Trump that Michael Flynn was a big target of investigation.  Flynn resigned (was fired) under pressure and then Sally Yates was fired.  Jeff Sessions was confirmed and appointed AG, now incharge of the DOJ.  The Russian inquiry continued and it was determined that Sessions omitted or lied about contacts he had with Russian agents during his confirmation.  He did not resign, he recused himself from all Russian matters.  
Now back inside the spacious mind of 45.  He is thinking, everyone is talking about this "Russian thing".  There is a cloud of suspicion all around me and the investigation of Flynn continues in the background.  He decided that a loyalty oath from Comey was needed.  He didn't get it.  He continues to attempt "grooming" Comey and asks him if HE, Trump himself is part of the investigation?  This is key to the Trumpeirian narcissistic world.  How is this Russian Thing affecting ME.  According to Trump, his Attourney and confirmed by Comey, three times (a Biblical number) Trump got assurance he was not currently part of an investigation.  Then Trump says to Comey he wishes Comey would announce that fact to the world. This desire to be "vindicated" was expressed several times.
Back outside in the light of day,  Comey is rudely and ham fistedly fired.  The reason stated, in a letter, says he was fired because of his handeling of the Clinton investigation.  But there are contemporaneous notes of the Presidential conversations taken specifically because Comey believed Trump would lie about the conversation. The Clinton investigation was never mentioned in these conversations, only the Russian probe.  A day later Trump tells the world in a television interview that Comey was really fired over "this Russia thing".  The Comey notes are made public and Comey testifies before and open hearing in Congress, yesterday.  
Now everyone is concentrating on the more juicy sections of the conversations between Comey and Trump.  Looming big is  "obstruction of justice" that might haven occurred when he asked Comey to "Let the Flynn thing go".  
News pundits believe that Comey was fired because he wouldn't walk back his Flynn/Russia investigation.  Obstruction of justice? or the actions of an inexperienced numbskull.  Either one prove to be the actions of a man not qualified nor fit to be President.

But there is a more narcissistic explanation for the Comey firing and it does not involve Flynn.  As we have seen,  Trump does not hesitate to throw any associate under the bus if it makes Trump look better.  He has no loyalty to Flynn. He is not concerned that Flynn might be a traitor as long as Trump enjoys big ratings and large crowds.  Like his reality show experience, Flynn has been fired... written out, gone,  no longer a part of the Trump circus.  One contestant is gone, no big deal. 
So, why did the he fire Comey?  You have to think in the most personal of terms when dealing with a narcissist.  It wasn't about Flynn it was about Trump. Comey was fired because he would not publicly state that TRUMP was not under investigation.  Comey did it for Hillary, he would certainly do it for the man who beat her in the election, wouldn't he?  Why wouldn't he call News Conference to say that Trump is not under investigation?  He wouldn't, he didn't, he's fired.  Simple as that.  

Never assume there is obstruction, or incompetence involved in a decision when you can explain it by pure ego-centric narcissism, especially in the case of Trump.

In a circus the clowns perform until the Ringmaster blows a whistle signaling that the next act is ready.  When will someone finally blow that whistle and get these clowns out of the ring?

As you were,
Jay
 

 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Goldilock Zone

I guess climate is a big issue for me. I have always enjoyed breathing safe air and drinking non-contaminated water. In fact, of all the things I would give up, breathing and drinking would be the last to go.  I also enjoy living in a place that is not too hot and not too cold, not too wet and not too dry.. but for me, just right.
In Astrophysisist- speak,  Goldilock Zone is the distance from any given sun or star that is temperate enough for liquid water. The Goldilocks reference implies this zone is neither too hot nor too cold for water to flow. Of course our Earth is uniquely positioned in one of those perfect Goldilock zones in orbit around our Sun. It doesn't matter if you try to calculate the odds or give homage to divinity; our Earth experience is a uniquely fragile existence compared to the eternity of  the vast universe.  
As we understand our unique position of delicate balance in space,  the Earth becomes extremely important for our existence. In fact it is the only planet so far that would support our existence. And Mother Ship Earth has no life boats.  If she hits an iceberg even first class, like the rest, goes down with the ship.  But if the Earth is like the Titanic I am less afraid of hitting an iceberg than I am about a coal boiler explosion. 
Some people think  humans have had no effect on the world's climate.  Is it ignorance, arrogance or disregard that supports this opinion? Does anyone remember the Dust Bowl days?  It was a man made climate disaster that affected the lives of millions. We acknowledged it was human error and corrected our mistake, but forgot the lesson learned.  The American Bison was almost hunted out of existence.  We realized it almost too late to save a species of animal.  Don't we understand how humans and each individual affects the rest of the world?  Obviously not. 
Local case in point: 
 All over the park, where I sometimes walk my dog, are signs that say do not feed the wildlife specifically the birds.  This "Did You Know" sign which is also well displayed explains why.  It is not because they don't want the park critters to be happy, they want things to be normal. One of the more disgusting reasons that affects my enjoyment  of the park is because:  if you feed a duck human baked food like say, "bread" they do not process that food well. It is twice the mess when the ducks decide to give the favor back.  It is like taking a walk in a mine field. 
  
Here is the cycle when humans interfere with the natural pecking order of the Balboa Park of Encino. Feeding the ducks keeps them from migrating which causes over population, which causes disease, which increases rodents, which bring the coyotes which eat the children who come to the park to FEED the ducks.  Because no one really understands how they are affecting the coyote population, yet another sign has to be posted. 
 
But in spite of the warning of posted signs here is the reality of the world.  
 I snapped this picture only days ago.  Directly beneath the sign that says "don't feed the birds" a young mother is teaching her daughter that signs don't matter. It appears that her child's interaction with the ducks is much more important than the opinion of  naturalists who went to the trouble and the expense of posting a sign.  And note that she is feeding a flock of ducks  not just the scrap of a hot dog bun uneaten from a picnic; this is a new loaf of white bread crumbled for this very purpose.  
If we disregard the posted signs of scientists trying to keep the experience of wild life pure for future generations in our own back yard, why would we care about our contribution to the melting of the polar ice cap? And there is the conundrum. 
For me, protecting the environment is not a political issue. Is is not a national issue. It's a global responsibility.  We only have one Earth and one atmosphere.  Climate knows no national borders.  We are all on this Earth together and moving to a cleaner planet is not an option. Ultimately it is an issue that each one of us can affect regardless of national or even a global policy.  
The Paris Accord was just that, an accord. Not a law, not a decree but an acknowledgment that we all must participate in the health of the planet... all of us.  It circumvents politics, economy, or even belief.  It is the truth about mans stewardship of the Earth.  The tipping point is here, there is no more time to wonder, the time for action is now.  
As you were,
Jay

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dogs Life

I am currently sitting in a McDonalds across the street from the Doggie Dental Clinic. I am waiting for Boo to have her teeth cleaned.  With Pet care a $60 billion dollar industry in America (that is with a B - billion) it was only a matter of time before veterinarian specialist would be open up. They have made it as much like a human doctors office as possible.   I could have waited in their lovely waiting room but it reminded me too much of being in a hospital.  
 Nurses in uniform greet you to fill out forms just like the last time you changed doctors.  It was all very professional. Boo is an extremely healthy dog (partly because we have her teeth cleaned on a regular basis) so the questions were mostly answered in the negative.  At one point Boo was being very friendly to the nurse, who said,
"My you are a very sweet boy".  To which I replied,
"Sweet yes and she's a girl". The nurse craned her neck down to look between Boo's hind legs and said,
"Well of course she is".  This would have been the same scientific method I would have used to make that determination.  Who knew I had a natural talent for veterinary medicine.  


It did, however, make me think of the whole issue of transgender identity and states like Texas which are struggling to understand.  Boo is a great example of how much it really doesn't matter.  It happens quite often.  She is a cute dog,  her gender is not really a major factor in her existence. I don't know what gender her inner canine identifies with but I have the feeling she doesn't care.  Her thinking is probably no more complicated than: "Do trick, get treat."  The point is, it doesn't bother her to be identified as a male, even when a trained nurse has to glance at her genitals to affirm she is a biological female.  No one has ever said, "You know Jay's dog Boo? He is really a she." 
So why is it an issue when humans look different than their biological equipment that identifies them.  Unless reproduction is the goal, a human is just a human. 
This has always been an interesting statement to me.  Jesus was asked a question about marriage in heaven.  It seems a man had remarried after his first wife had passed. It was asked, which wife would he be with in heaven. https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Matt%2022.30  He said, "They neither marry nor or given in marriage, all are like angels in heaven".  Some other translations say "they are neither male nor female but are like angels in heaven." So.... it would appear that there are no genders in heaven.  Why do we get so concerned here on Earth about gender since for the rest of eternity it doesn't matter?
And I am sure, if there are also dogs in heaven they look exactly like Boo - angels.

As you were,
Jay

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweeney Trump

Every morning when I wake up I check my email.  Most of my business communication revolves around this process. It is the "self employed" way of checking in with the office now-a-days.  That in itself would not be a problem.  I actually like addressing business issues in my bath robe, but this enjoyment has been grossly interrupted by something called "push notices" on my computer.  Like most of us I get headlines for stories of the day in this manner.  They just pop up. Before I have had time to even think about the news of the day, they require that I see them if only to dismiss them. This has proved to be a terrible distraction to my creativity.  

The headlines for the last 110 days have mostly been about the incredible ineptitude of the current government.  I get pissed off and that sour feeling seems to cramp any humor that might be ready to come out later in the day.  I end up writing, not some new show or routine, but a missive tainted by my utter disbelief and anger.  I really thought by now the distraction would settle down, but it hasn't.  Every Presidential tweet, that is reported, inflames my senses.  Each time I see one of those tweets I realize, instead of addressing the Nations needs, the Korean threat, the war in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, the extreme division in the country, filling governmental appointment jobs or just doing the job of the President, Donald Trump is ignoring those duties to craft some 4th grade 140 character snipe. 
Saturday my routine was altered.  I got up early to go participate in the reading of a new play directed by a friend of mine. I didn't have time to even check my emails that morning. No push notices to know what was going on. I didn't turn on any news. By one o'clock I was so energized with the creativity I participated in that my whole day felt, enlightened.  The Muse of art resurfaced and briefly held the "anger demons" at bay.  Suddenly a song became an ear worm and would not go away until I wrote it down.  This is the result of that worm.  I share it with you giving apologies to Steven Sondheim and in homage to Randy Rainbow:
 

Donald Trump – the Demon in charge of the Whitehouse 
(To the tune of "Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" opening song.)

Attend the tale of Donald Trump
He can’t distinguish his head from his rump
He wanted America great again
But now it’s clear he’ll never begin,
That’s Donald…. Donald Trump.
The dodo in charge of the Whitehouse.

His hair is long and his temper short
He has no income that he’ll report.
He changes his mind in the blink of a eye,
It doesn’t matter, it’s always a lie,
That’s Donald … Donald Trump.
The one that’s ruining the Whitehouse

Bridge:
Swing you golf club high, Donald
Tweet to make them cry, Donald.
If you get into a bind, bomb Syria.


Donalds bitch is that Putin Red
The ones who know are currently dead.
He only wants to be admired,
Disagree and your suddenly fired,
That’s Donald…. That’s Donald Trump. 
The asshat in charge of the Whitehouse. 


It’s off to Mar-a-Lago again.
He’s there to work, on his Cheeto tan.
He surrounds himself with billionaires,
And Congress tells us that nobody cares, 
That’s Donald… Donald Trump
The Cheeto that lives in the Whitehouse. 


Donald can’t keep his story straight,
He should be studying Watergate.
Everyone knows the reason why,
You never should piss on the FBI
That’s Donald… that’s Donald Trump
The con-man in charge of the Whitehouse.

What will we do with this piece of shit?
We’re all just waiting for the fan to hit.
How will America ever survive,
If he does manage to stay alive,
That’s Donald That’s Donald Trump.
The looser in charge of the Whitehouse. 

Before he even ties his shoes
He tweets out hatred for all of the news.
At this job he certainly sucks
But he’s just in it for all of the bucks,
That’s Donald Trump
The demon in charge of the Whitehouse. 


As you were,
Jay

















Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dear Mr. Trump:

I know you are not a politician. I know you are not a traditional leader. I know you aren't bothered by integrity nor personal honor, and I know you lie.  I know your vocabulary and tweeting skills are on par with a fourth grader. I know you are mentally unfit for the job, based upon your own actions and words.   I know you are not a scholar, nor a historian, nor a student of civics nor a believer in the Constitution. I know you said this job of President was a lot harder than you thought, almost as complicated as health care, but  then as you said, "who knew".
Until now I also thought you were a pretty good Con-man. Now I "bigly" realize that you are not even an adequate con-man, Mr. Trump.

I'm no expert but I know one of the "con-man ten commandments" is: "Don't run when no one is chasing you."

Let me try to explain that in fourth grade English.

Don't act guilty if you are innocent, and if you are guilty, try your best to look innocent.  Every action you have taken has a veil over it like you are a bad magician trying to provide distraction for an ill rehearsed trick.  Your timing sucks.  A real con-man would know when the time is right.  A good con-man would not be so ham fisted with his manipulations.
Mr. Trump,  you have no grace, even for a con-man thug.  If your action toward Mr. Comey was completely justified and without hint of a Russian cover-up why was it handled in such a humiliating way?  In front of his peers and FBI employees at a meeting in Los Angeles, a media capital, Mr. Comey sees the announcement of his firing on television.  The meeting is cancelled.  It is not even certain that he has the authority to fly home in the FBI plane.  His "perp walk" to the airplane was broadcast by television helicopter for all to see. Do you understand that humiliation was not called for nor necessary? Perhaps you thought this was better than brining him into the oval office as you sat between Ivanka and Steve Bannon, telling him"you're fired" on camera.
Mr. Trump, I know your American history is fuzzy but Nixon was eventually brought down by a source named "deep throat".  Now there has been an immediate comparison of the Comey firing to Nixon's time in 1972 when he also fired someone investigating him.  Here is the historic part you should have thought about before you sent your body guard over to the J.Edgar Hoover Building to deliver your letter.  Forty years after Nixon's resignation, and before his own death, it was reveled that "Deep Throat" - the whistle blower who brought down Nixon... was a high ranking FBI agent at the time.  I know,  who knew?
What I am saying Mr. Trump, is this: A good con-man would have known all that.  And of all the things I thought I knew about you, I thought for sure you were a better crook than Richard Nixon.  But you are not.
Mr. Trump, I did not know Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon was not a friend of mine, but I can tell you sir, "You are no Richard Nixon."   You are just another crooked Dick.

With the saddest of thoughts toward you and your family,
Jay Johnson





 

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Vive la France

France has just announced that the Trump loving, immigrate hating, compromise fearing, Putin loving candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen has lost "bigly" in the election for President. Early reports suggest that Russia employed the same covert game with Emanuel Marcon (the centrist candidate) as they did with Hillary Clinton last year, hacking documents and releasing them at literally the last hour of the campaign.  Unlike here in America the French did not fall for it.  Why?
The French are not smarter than Americans, the French are not governed better than Americans, but in an election that had similar over tones to ours they chose the more moderate and centrist leader.  Why?
I have a theory that may or may not be a factor, those more politically astute can correct the thesis if they wish.
Unlike Americans the French know what fascism is.  They were conquered and ruled by the poster boy of fascism, racism and idiocracy in the 40's.  Even now they can see the wolf in sheep's clothing who might be parading as a contemporary choice for leader.  
Americans have no experience in this area.  We dream along in the belief that we were the ones who conquered fascism.  We believe that we are too smart, too strong, and too Godly to become the serfs of fascism.  Those who believe it "can never happen here" are the very ones who are ripe for the jingoism that fascism spouts.  In fact believing a country is better than, smarter than and superior in attitude to others is the very germ of fascism.  
Oh Americans like to shout about fascism, and call every leader they don't like Hitlerish and claim they know how to spot it.  In reality we Americans have no idea what it is like to be ruled by fascism.  Here is an instructing quote from Benito Mussolini:

With court rulings like Citizens United, orders to roll back environmental regulations,  ease up the banking regulations, and give higher tax breaks to the wealthiest, we are goose stepping into fascism carrying the flag of a free market.  What politicians tell us is: the rules restricting "big business" is hurting our capitalistic society, which is Un American.  The truth is government restrictions on corporations and big business is not hurting America it is America.  America is the land of the free, where everyone has the same chance to become anything they want given their own hard work to accomplish it.  Fascism is business in partnership with the government unfettered by any restrictions that might lower the bottom line.  
I am always amused by people who vote against progressive public policy because, "No government is going to tell me what I can and can't do."  Right. Let's make sure that Goldman Saks, Enron and Monsanto tell us what we can and can't do.  Let's solve the opioid addiction problem by getting the government totally out of the drug regulation business. The drug companies will see the error of their ways and voluntarily give up the billions of dollars they make off selling the opioids they manufacture. 
The government should be the referee in the corporate world, not the team owner. The government should make rules and establish rulings that are not bias for one side or the other, but make the game safe and equal for all the players.  Right now we have a President who knows nothing else but corporatism and his similarity to Benito Mussolini in style and look are frighteningly obvious.  Unfortunately until America understands what fascism is, and what it looks like, we will be lead by big money.  Perhaps before this "Era" is over we will know how easily a country can become corrupted and never again elect a liar, cheater, narcissist and complete fool for the job of President.  Until then.... join the "resistance".
As you were,
Jay

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The National Mob Museum - Las Vegas

It was back in the middle 70's, coincidentally only a few days before my first appearance on "SOAP", when I flew with a very prestigious group to perform in Pennsylvania at a banquet honoring this man.  It was a weekend I will never forget.  I drop a name or two just because, well, they were there too. 
I was told by my manager at the time, who also handeled Andy Griffith and Frankie Avalon, that this was a banquet of "made men".  The manager told me to "shut up, keep my eyes open and don't ask any questions." We were honoring a man named, Russell Bufalino. So when I visited the National Mob Museum I wondered if they would have any information about Russ, so I went looking for his name.  I found it along with his picture. It reminded me of that interesting week-end in Pennsylvania. There are so many stories that came from that show weekend but one is shorter than the others. I feel the need to write about it.

The banquet was over and Andy Griffith and I stood in line to say thank you to the Honoree. Russ could not have been a nicer person.  He graciously invited Andy and I out for a night cap at a little pizza place at the edge of town.  It seems out of the group of performers doing the show that night, Andy and I were the only ones who had never met or worked for Russ.  
It was almost a scene out of a 1930's movie as we enjoyed a beer or two with "the guys". They loved the show, loved Andy, and if I was with him, I must be okay too.  They would give us big bear hugs and call us friendly names in Italian.  Once in a while the uncomfortable outline of a hand gun would press itself into my side as I was getting one of those hugs.  
It became obvious there was a pecking order in this group. The closer a person sat to Russell the higher up in the pecking order he was, with the exception of a few guys who were obviously drivers and body guards.  After a time Russell said he wanted to call it a night.  Andy and I got up thinking he party was over and Russell said, "No, No.  You guys don't have to leave. Stay. Enjoy." He turned to a big man who was one of the driver/bodyguards and said, "Stay with them and take them anywhere they want to go." It was more of an order than a request.  From that moment on this big guy was never more that an arms length away from us but never said a word.  
After a few more beers, Andy and I decided it was time to go back to the hotel.  The driver showed us to a standard black Limo parked in front of the "joint".  He  said,  "Gentlemen, where too."  Andy and I became two little kids.  Andy thickened his North Carolina accent and delivered the line as if it was straight out of Andy of Mayberry, "Well, let's see... I know this nice little place at 5th and 55th street in Manhattan, how about that, Jaaay".  I just giggled. We starting comparing notes on what we had experienced during the evening like we were the country mice in the big city, laughing and rolling our eyes.  
I'm not sure when we realized that the trip back to the Hotel seemed to be taking much longer than it should.  We were not seeing anything along the road  but Pennsylvanian country side.  There wasn't a city light to be seen for miles.   I think it crossed my mind that perhaps we had not done that good of a show and we were being taken out to a "special place" never to return.  Andy finally said to the driver, "Where is it that we are going?"  
The driver said "Fifth and fifty-fifth in Manhattan."  We both realized that the driver had taken Russell's admonition of  "take them anyplace they want to go" seriously.  We were off to New York City.  Andy finally said, "No I was just kidding we need to go back to the hotel."  Without a word the driver made a U turn on the highway and we headed back into town.  Had we not noticed, we would have been to New York around dawn.
We had chosen the wrong time and the wrong person to joke with. 
With my fascination for the "Mob" I would occationally see Russell's name came up.   I could not resolve the idea that the nice man who had been so gracious to me and Andy would also be so ruthless.  Russell is gone now.  I never saw him after that, but I will never forget him.  Some day when we are sitting around having a drink I will tell you the more juicy stories of that weekend. 
As you were, 
Jay

  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If you knew Sushi... like I know Sushi.....

 The drawing muse has come to visit for the last few days and this is the result. I titled it "Sushi". The meaning has a cautionary tale. "Becareful what you wish for."  Most of the time we go through life never realizing that we bait our own hook, which means we are mostly responsible for what we get.  I think a wiser philosopher than I said it better, "What you sow you reap." Duck hunters don't use a moose call to catch ducks.  The call you put out is the answer you will get back. But that has little to do with the rest of this blog.

Although I have not lived in Texas for the last 40 plus years, it is hard not to think of a thick juicy steak and baked potato as my favorited dinner.  However, an evening out for Sushi may be giving that traditional dinner some competition to my dining desires. This is quite a pivot for me, although I do miss going to Sushi the way it used to be.
I was introduced to Sushi by Ted Wass and Billy Crystal.  It was when we were doing SOAP on the ABC lot in Hollywood for a half season.  One day Ted and Billy decided to go to lunch "off Campus" and invited me to go along.  I did not know they planned to make a lunch of raw fish until we got to a small out of the way Sushi Bar 10 minutes from the studio.  It was located in Chinatown and at that time one of the few Sushi bars in the city.  It was only after my second time there that I was able to find my way back.  It was traditional in every way.  There was low hanging cloths on the door way, and traditional Japanese music playing.  The Sushi Chefs were all decked out in traditional white with scarves rolled and tied around their foreheads.  They were welding sharp knives with Ninja precision.   A very calm and inviting place that was like no other restaurant I had ever been too. There were no tables only the long bar with personalized wooden sake cups on wall shelves. As we walked in the entire staff yelled something in Japanese.  Since we were the only "non-Asian's" there I thought they were yelling at us to leave.  There were no menus just a glass counter in front of us with various kinds of raw fish.   I remember thinking it looked like a butcher shop more than a restaurant.  
Billy and Ted began to utter a different language to the chef. They ordered things like Magura,  Neghihama, Yellow Tail and sea ell.  When I found out that one of those items was tuna, I decided to give it a try.  I didn't jump off into the deep end, Ted, however, ordered Sea Urchin with a quail egg.  It looked like something that was ready to be prepared not yet ready to eat, but Teddy gulped it down.  After I got past the idea that a "hot" lunch was out of the question I settled in.  Every thing I ordered, most of the time not knowing what it really was, tasted great. It was a new adventure and an unrealized turn in my eating habits.  
Back then there were so few Sushi places that it became an event to have a Sushi dinner.  To introduce Sandi to my new passion we had to drive over to Hollywood, there were no Sushi places I knew of in the Valley.  But, before long Sushi places starting springing up like Starbucks.  It was not long before  LA had a glut of Sushi bars. We didn't have to travel to Hollywood any longer to get our fix.  TerraSushi opened on Ventura boulevard not far from the Radford CBS lot and it became the "in" place for the young Turks of Hollywood to hang.  If you wanted to see celebrities and be seen by those looking for celebrities TerraSushi became the place to be.  We used to joke that to get a good table or preferred place at the bar you needed to be wearing a satin production jacket from a hit show. Satin production jackets were also the rage at the time and I will admit to wearing my SOAP jacket there more than a few times.  In those evenings of just hanging out with friends, I learned that a fine compliment to any Sushi is Kirin beer and hot sake.  I salivate now just thinking of that combination. 
It was at a Sushi bar in New York during that time that I had an unforgettable "fan" experience.  I was in town doing some promo for ABC and had gone out to Sushi on Columbus Ave. with a friend.  
As we were ordering our second round a very nice asian woman came up to me.  In very broken English she explained she was a reporter/writer from Japan.  She knew that I was a "television man" and wondered if I would have time to do an interview with her.  In anticipation of just such an occurrence the publicist at ABC had given me a dozen of her business cards.  She told me that if someone wanted to set up an interview, give the person her card and they would set up something at a convenient time.  Being a good network employee, I said, "Sure we can do an interview" and I reached for one of the cards.  Before I could say, "Give ABC a call and they will set something up..." The woman retrieved a small tape recorder and a very large professional microphone from her bag and said, "Good... we do it now?"  It was a rhetorical question, she immediately launched into it tuning on the recorder, clearing her throat and checking the level. It went exactly like this:
She held the mic to her face and started speaking in Japanese.  It was very lyrical in sound but the only thing I understood was my name.  She sprinkled it into the monologue occasionally saying, Mr. Jay Johnson San.  After what seemed like a long time she paused looked me in th eye and said very seriously, "Mr. Johnson San..... what you eating?"  In all my years of being interviewed it was the first time and perhaps the only time that question had been asked.  I said, "I am eating Tuna sushi."  
She seemed delighted at that response and moved the microphone back to her face and said, "Ahhhhh, Mr. Johnson San, yadda yadda, yadda, Tuna Sushi.... yadda yadda." This Japanese monologue went on for some time until once again she paused, looked at me and said, "Mr. Johnson San..... what you order next?"  
I hadn't really decided until that moment but I boldly went out on a limb and said, "I think next I will have California Roll." 
Same reaction..... "Ahhhhhh,   Mr. Johnson San, yadda yadda yadda, California Roll.... yadda yadda yadda."  The yadda's continued in the same manner as I had become accustomed to.  Once again she paused getting ready to ask me another question.  I was prepared with all the answers about my career on SOAP, our new season, what happened at the end of last season, and what it was like to be on a show like SOAP.  So, she looked at me with all seriousness, took in a deep breath as if this is the question she had been waiting to ask.  It was a little slower and more deliberate in the delivery, she paused a longer time between my name and the question.  
"Mr. Johnson San...... what you order after that?"  
Now I am set on improv mode. One of the great things about eating at a Sushi bar ordering a selection at a time and waiting until you are ready for the next taste.  I was not sure at all what I would order after the California Roll, but I usually ended my Sushi dinners at the time with Sea Ell Sushi.  As if I was considering the question longer than the first two I finally said, "I guess I will have my favorite dessert, Sea Ell."  
"Ahhh.... Mr. Johnson San, yadda yadda, Sea Ell yadda yadda yadda.  She giggled as she yaddaed some more.  Finally it was back to me as she said, 
"Mr. Johnson San......... thank you very much."  
The interview was over. The mic and the recorder went back into the bag, she bowed and returned to her table.  Noting more needed to be said.  I have spent years reliving that interview wondering what was really said.  I decided she was probably a food critic rather than an entertainment writer but I will never know.  To date it is still one of the strangest interviews I have ever done.  
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Left Coast Easter

This is Bruce. He sits guard on the brick column by the pool.  He scares evil spirits away from coming near our orange tree.  He seems to be very effective except in the case of squirrels. I have seen those furry tailed rats standing on Bruce's head to get the advantage on a particular orange.    I think it was my oldest son who named the gargoyle Bruce when he was young, my son, not Bruce. This gargoyle has been around a long time and has refused to state his actual age. He is the old friend, always looking out, always guarding my back.
Today Bruce is my secretary, my receptionist and my collaborator.  I have moved the main office of Jaysons Imagination, Inc. out doors today.  It's one of those perfect California days, Spring has sprung.  From the few rain showers everything brown has turned green.  Unfortunately my collaborator does not seem to be inspired at the moment and has assumed his "thinking" position.  I totally understand because the perfumed air, the gentle breeze and song of the wind chimes makes it impossible to think clearly enough to write. At my desk the smell is of orange blossoms.  If you walk around the neighborhood you find the orange blossom scent mixed with some sort of jazmine.  It is a distinctively California Spring smell unlike any other place except perhaps Hawaii.   
So Easter is this weekend.  Funny that Easter always lands on a Sunday.  Unfortunately no little kids to hide eggs for and no old people to attend a sunrise ceremony with this year.  We will have a brunch for the extended California family but no Easter egg hunts.  
I remember one Easter when the boys were 8 and 5 years old and their Asbury Grandparents were here to celebrate with them.  My mother-in-Law, Grammy, found some plastic Easter eggs at the store and meticulously spend the night before Easter Sunday stuffing dozen's of them with candies and small change.  She placed them carefully around the dwarf peach tree in the back yard..  
The next day after Church the boys were very excited to start their egg hunting.  We gave them their baskets and set them to the task.  Grammy was particularly interested in their hunt and "steered" them to the peach tree.
Excitedly the boys ran to the tree and gathered the plastic eggs.  My oldest son quickly opened the first egg, and to everyone's surprise it was empty.  His little brother did the same thing and his plastic Easter Egg was empty as well.  We watched as they progressively got more excited that the next egg would not be empty only to be disappointed by more empty eggs.
Grammy was totally baffled. We all watched her prepare the plastic eggs but we were not seeing the results.  Grammy wondered if squirrels had eaten the candy.  I was not sure that was the reason.  First squirrels don't eat chocolate and I was certain they would not cover their theft by re-assembling the egg halves.  
The boys were filled with such hope for the next egg they opened to be anything but empty.  They seemed so very disappointed when there was, once again, nothing inside.  It was a panic for grandparents and new parents who wanted Easter to be a perfect memory for the kids. Grammy replaced all the candy in every egg that was opened and empty.   The grown ups were all baffled.
I am not sure exactly how we solved the mystery, perhaps it was the five year old who cracked.  Turns out, that while the "grown ups" were getting ready for the big hunt, the boys covertly invaded the backyard.  They took all the candy and coins out of the plastic eggs, reassembled them and placed them back in their spot.  The whole disappointment and bewilderment at the missing candy, was only a completely realized scam.  They were able to get double the candy treats with this ploy.  
I realized then that the apples do not fall from the tree.  I was secretly proud of the guys for coming up with that plan on their own.  However it was a harbinger of things to come as they later approached puberty.  Knowing what they were capable of as kids helped me stay only half a step behind them as they grew up.
Easter is a time to renew, recommit and remember that the future is beautifully unfolding after a long gloomy winter.  I understand the symbolism that has been co-opted by the Christian Religion to renew faith and love.  I have no trouble in seeing how both the secular and the religious come together in one celebration of renewal and rebirth at Easter.  Enjoy every aspect of this season.
As you were,
Jay


Friday, April 07, 2017

My Day in Court

 California statute requires one day or one trial every 12 months as far as jury duty goes. So on Sunday night I call in to see if I am needed... No... Yea.. Monday I make the same evening call... Not needed on Tuesday. I repeat this process the next two nights. Thursday I call in.... I am told to report at 7:45 am on Friday. Damn. One more day and I would have served my time without leaving my phone.
So Friday... frikin' FRIDAY at 8:00 am, in the jury assembly room at the Van Nuys Superior Court building in Van Nuys, we unfortunate participants, have jury duty orientation. This consists of a video telling me what a wonderful service I am about to perform for the State of California.  I am not swayed.
At the end of the video, a nice young Woman comes to a podium with a  wireless microphone.  She repeats this same speech every morning, 5 days a week as a career. It is a pleasant "reading" but the freshness of the script has run its course. She will say the words, "Any questions" every few seconds for the rest of the orientation. 
She starts repeating most of the information we just had to sit through.  I am thinking that if we have to be reminded of what we just heard moments before, maybe we do not have the brain capacity to serve on a jury.  None the less we listen to her "sort of".  I see several people texting covertly, and one old man continues to glance at his LA Times, or he was nodding off it was hard to tell.  
The nice woman gets to the part about "postponements and excuses not to serve". I was not listening very closely. None of this section applies to me, because if I could come up with an excuse that worked I wouldn't be sitting here this time of the morning. 
The woman says, "If you are over 70 and have a medical condition, you must state the condition on line 7 of the form...".  At that moment some man  in the middle of the room almost shrieks, "Wow. Unbelievable"
This stops the process in its tracks.  The lady turns to the man as if she had not understood the questions.  
He says, "Possum"
She repeats, "Possum"
Now the jury room of the Van Nuys Superior court house is located on the ground floor with plenty of windows. It is not a bad view of old trees and official buildings. It is not however, a place that seems to inspire creativity.  I guess I would call it an institutional environment.  It is easy to get distracted by the people walking on the sidewalk through the trees. No one is just enjoying the stroll. Everyone on this property has some legal reason to be there.  As I watched people make their way past the window I played a game in my mind.  The game is called "Lawyer, Planiff, Defendant".  As quickly as the people passed by was all the time I had to cast them (the movie in my head) as a lawyer, planiff or defendant in some Superior Court drama to come. 
I am sure that is exactly what the man was doing when he said, "Possum." For indeed now everyone in the jury room is looking at a very large possum peering into our window.  As an indicator of the boredom factor people began to act like they had never seen an animal off -leash and ungroomed.
No one is listening to the jury Woman, everyone is giggling at a possum like it was a giraffe giving birth.  In fact the jury woman herself has moved closer to the window to see the possum. She is able to continue repeating the speech while clearly expressing more interest in the possum. Just as everyone in the room had taken their seats convinced the possum show was over, the jury woman says, "I think that is security trying to get the possum."
Indeed the cops had shown up to arrest the possum. Perhaps for trespassing, I suppose. Or maybe for being out after possum curfew.  Whatever the charge it became difficult to subdue the possum. The possum refused to obey verbal commands, and was already down on the ground.  I am sure their Smith and Wesson handcuffs do not ratchet down to possum size.  
Before too long the possum decided to take it on the lam and took off to parts unknown. It was back to the boredom of civic duty.
Soon we were called to various courts and the process began.  Since we were admonished not to talk about the case, and we were not allowed to take any photos, you'll have to take my word for all of this.  However, I can tell you with complete candor that the Possum was the highlight of my day in court.
As you were,
Jay

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Swarms of Spring


The Orange Beetle - genis -Trumperius Irritateus 
With Spring comes an infestation of a rare and destructive beetle. The Trumperius Irritateus Beetle is swarming the country and seems out of anyone's control. Like killer bees the Trumperius Irritateus is an experiment gone bad, a genetically engineered bug was released to do a specific job.  The DNA of two bugs was mixed to creat a more aggressive insect breed. The Trumperius is a cross between a New York cock roach (Slimis Bagus) and a Russian louse (Putinus Dic). 
In an attempt to stem the pestilence of the common DC stink bug (Politicus Ignoramus), the Trumperius was introduced to the insect hives of Washington hoping create a new line of beetles.  Unfortunately too much of the Russian louse was reproduced in the hybrid. The engineered insect had more problems than the breeders thought.  Rather than mixing well with its new environment  the Trumperius was angry and provocative to other bugs, ineffective at leadership, and very destructive to the environment.  The Trumperius surrounds itself with other cockroaches and shows  affection for all kinds of Russian louses. Most alarming, however, the Trumperius Beetle has spread up and down the east coast.  Rather than staying in one spot it has established nests from New York to Florida.  
The Trumperius is irritating in actions and expressions.  It attempts to dominate females of all kinds but prefers to stay close to it's own off spring, especially the oldest female Irritateus.  It seems to disdain all other non-native species except itself.  The species is obsessively self aware  puffing up its orange antenna in an opulent manner for attention. The Trumperius is know by its "Tweeting" sounds often trying to imitate fox howls or the shrieks of the alternative white jackal. The tweets are loudest in the early morning hours and annoy most every other species on the planet.  
Exterminators disagree about how best to rid the country of this infestation. It would appear that the mutant bug is immune to most normal forms of elimination. It is not known how much damage the Trumperius will do before it can be neutralized.  In fact there is not a consensus on who should be in charge of the beetle problem. The governmental agency which looks after the environment has been eliminated by the current administration. However, everyone agrees that it will cost a lot of money, time and resistance to keep this infestation from spreading.  

As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

You Stole my cart...


As I was walking Boo, or rather as Boo was walking me, we got to the corner of Ventura and Woodley this afternoon.   As we passed by Encino Plaza a mini mall at the corner, a lady almost ran into me and Boo and  said, "Where is my cart?"  She seemed a little panicked and concerned. I said, "I haven't seen any carts, Ma'm" and continued my journey. That did not seem to be the correct response on my part. She ran across the street to the entrance of an office building garage and started yelling at the attendants... "YOU Stole my cart." I could still hear her screaming as I got to the traffic signal to cross a busy Ventura Blvd.  

I happen to be standing next to a very well dressed man who obviously worked in one of the buildings near.  I was just waiting for the light to change as he was also doing when the lady made her way to the corner where we were standing.  She stepped off the curb and faced the two of us.  She backed into traffic as she confronted us. 
She looked at the man next to me and said, "YOU, you stole my cart."  He had the good sense not to answer. She looked at me and screamed "YOU, you also stole my cart where is it." I followed the business man's lead and remainded silent.  She continued,
"You both stole my cart where is it? Where is it you thieving bastards? You murdering sumbags what did you do with my cart." A car has to swerve to avoid hitting her and honks. She throws the car a finger and continues to berate the both of us.  "I know who you are.... both of you... you kill you cheat you steal... you bastards are all alike. You stole my cart." 
The signal finally says walk and we cross the busy boulevard.  I am afraid she will follow us but she stays on her side of the street continuing to yell obscenities our way.  
"You thieving bastards.. They stole my cart.  Those two guys stole my cart. Murderers.. Murderers... cart stealing  bastards both of them." She ran back into one of the business of Encino Place as if to make a full report.
We safely got across the street and continued in different directions. Before we parted we make eye contact and I said, "Okay. What did you do with the cart." 
He didn't miss a beat
He said, "Behind the Coffee Bean. We'll meet up later and split up the goods."  Then he brushed his nose with his finger in a very deliberate way.  I immediately knew this as the "con-man's signal" from the movie "The Sting".  I laughed and returned the nose signal.  He laughed and we parted ways.  I love someone who will go with the situation and Improv an ending.  I will probably never see that guy again, and hopefully I will never encounter the cart lady again either.  Just one more scene in the continuous drama of life proving that "The World is a Stage". 


As you were,
Jay

Monday, March 20, 2017

How I found time for Happiness in Trumpland...

From the Jay Johnson Mickey Mouse Watch Collection
I remember it was an ad in the Houston Chronicle in the late 1960's. I was living in Houston at the time working at Astroworld. The Advertisement was from Neiman-Marcus located in the Galleria and it was a full page.  They announced sale of "Imported" Mickey Mouse Wrist Watches ... imported from Disneyland for a limited time.  The only place you could get this watch was Disneyland, and now for a short time Neiman- Marcus.

I wasn't looking for a new watch.  I wasn't a customer of Neiman-Marcus, I have never seen an ad like that before or since. But, I had to have one of those watches before they were all gone.  The ad said limited time. I assumed a limited number of watches.

I drove to Galleria immediately, and made my way to the watch counter.  Neiman -Marcus hires only top notch salespeople and this guy tried to interest me in a more "mature" watch, but my mind was set.  It was the first watch I ever bought for myself and it replaced a Christmas gift watch my parents gave me 10 years earlier.

I loved this new Mickey Mouse watch. I wore it out after replacing three crystals, and having several major repairs.  Each jeweler who repaired it over the years said the same thing, "The repair will probably cost more than a new watch..." I didn't care.  The minute by minute show that Mickey performed on my wrist daily was worth any price to me.

Wrist watches in the 70's and 80's were fashion statements, and status symbols.  While my television friends displayed new Cartier's or Rolexes, I continued to sport Mickey.  I was known for wearing that watch; it was my personal statement.  I even wrote a ventriloquist act around a "talking Mickey Mouse watch" and performed it on stage over the years. When asked why I wore a Mickey Mouse watch I would always say.. "It puts my daily life in perspective... running late for an important meeting.... you glance a Mickey and when he tells you the time... nothing seems to be so serious." Years later I was completely vindicated when Dan Brown wrote his best selling novel, the Da Vinci Code. His hero Robert Langdon the Harvard professor, wore a Mickey Mouse wrist watch.  I was way ahead of that fashion curve.

After Sandi and I settled in Southern California I discovered that the Clock Shop at Disneyland always had the latest model of Mickey Mouse Watch for sale. It was easy to find a cheap kids version of the Mickey Watch, but the Clock Shop at Disneyland had good watches that happened to have a Mickey on the Face.  Visiting the park over the years I gathered a big collection of Mickey Mouse wrist watches and I still have them.

Sandi would often gift me with more "age appropriate watches", as she put it, in keeping with the style and level of my showbiz career at the time.  Once while on tour with Julie Andrews, she gave me an expensive watch engraved with "Love Julie" on the back. I would wear it to "functions" on occasion when we had to dress formally, but I was never as comfortable nor happy if I wasn't relying on Mickey to tell me the time of day.  Eventually I bought a very expensive 14k gold Mickey Mouse watch from the Clock Shop at Disneyland. It was a  themed out "gold watch" they used to give retiring executives of the Disney corporation.  As a regular customer at the Disneyland Clock shop, I was able to talk the shop keeper into selling me the display model.  As the price of gold began to sore through the years I could only wear the watch to extra special occasions.

So eventually cell phones began to dominate our culture.  No need for a wrist watch you had to manually change for each time zone, and replace a battery at the worst possible time.  The cell phone kept perfect time.  Eventually the battery ran down on my Mickey and by the time I got around to replacing it, I was used to digging in my pocket for my phone to get the current time of day. A wrist watch was one less thing to put on in the morning so... eventually I quit wearing a watch at all. This would be a horrible decision looking back on it.

So now here we are in March of 2017.  We have a complete idiot for President who daily makes news with one statement after the next which turns my blood to acid.  His mere presence in the oval office offends my Patriotism and depresses my entire countenance of good feelings.  Unfortunately he is not going away soon enough for me. He is not getting better, and since I can only be responsible for myself, I have to ignore the orange faced fascist.  This becomes harder to do than I thought.

I have given up watching the news.  I have purged my Facebook friends of those who might be inclined to normalize him or god forbid like him.  I try to avoid speaking his name or engaging in any discussions of his existence.  Unfortunately his kind of "stupid" seems to be epidemic and is infecting everything.

Here is how it happens.  I think to myself "What time is it anyway?" I am currently not wearing a watch, so,  I reach for my iPhone and hit the button. At the same moment I see the time, there, on the same screen, is a push notice, or flash announcement of some ignorant Tweet or other news worthy obnoxious action by the President. My blood boils, my eyes narrow, my teeth begin to sharpen and I'm livid that he is still alive in the White house.  It is not healthy, and all because I wondered what time it was.

Recently I saw one of my favorite Mickey's in a drawer.  I wondered if it still worked so I took it to my watch repair guy at the Fashion Square.  All it needed was a battery.  I placed Mickey back on my wrist and have had a much better attitude toward life in Trumpland since.  Now if I want to know what time it is I look to where Mickey is pointing;  no hint of POS 45 nor any of his lunacy.  Mickey, who four times a day spreads his arms out wide to say, "I love you this much"  Four more times a day, At ten minutes till 2:00 and ten minutes after 10:00 he shrugs a WTF pose and at 6:30 he plays with himself.  I feel like a kid again.  I am not reminded of any election PTSD that pollutes the news these days.  I can pretend that life is caricature of itself and the orange President is just so much ink on a page.  It keeps everything in perspective.... why... because we like you.
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Right, this way... see the Orange-Haired ape....

 A carnival is a very interesting group.  Oh it may look like a band of performers and tricksters who are just traveling together, but they aren't.  They are one mechanism bound together all for one and one for all and everyone against the Rubes.  The Rubes are the unsuspecting audience of this traveling carnival. It is a carefully orchestrated experience  to "take" the Rubes for as much money as you can get without getting caught.  The moto is, "you can shear a sheep a lot of times, but you can only skin it once."  As you go down the midway you see all kinds of games of chance and skill.  It would be easy to cheat the Rube out of all his money at one booth,  that would be skinning the Rube.  You let the Rube win a little, lose a little and send him on his way to the next game. By the end of the evening the Rube has lost more than he has gained in prizes but feels like he had a good time.
If you have any money left by the end of your carnival visit you would come upon the Big Tent. 
Outside is a pitchman.  He was usually surrounded by beautiful women, dressed in flashy clothes and promises an experience inside the tent that will be, Amazing, Great, Stupendous.  The canvas banners are vague promises of what is inside.  Most of what the Pitchman is saying is a lie.  All they want is to get the Rubes into the tent.  
Of course there will be Rubes who won't foolishly spend their money on games you can't win. The pitchman wants some of that fresh money so he employs a trick that has been used by every con man who ever gathered a crowd.  It is so simple so effective and is based on the idea that the Pitchman has your best interest at heart.  Here is the scam.... 
Once the crowd is gathered inside the tent the Pitchman starts his pitch.  He is very good at telling tales.  But at one point the Pitch will stop and the Pitchman will say,
"Ladies and Gentlemen. You know the world has turned into a dangerous place. I have been told that there might be a band of pick-pockets in the area.  They could be in this very crowd tonight, so please make sure you still have your valuables on your person in a safe place." 
Sounds like an honest man just looking out for the crowds interests.   

It is more devious than you can ever imagine.  The human instinct when one hears a phrase like that is to check your valuables, to make sure they are there. I do it almost every time I walk out of the house. I pat the wallet in my back pocket to make sure I have it and then check the other pocket for my phone. Professional pickpockets call that the touch. I have just made a gesture that tells someone who is watching two things:  1) what I think is most valuable and 2) exactly where those valuables are.  

As the Rubes in the crowd check their wallets... they have actually told the Pickpockets where the goods are.  Oh and by the way there are pickpockets in the area, and they are in the crowd and most importantly... they work for the Carnival.  The Pitchman shares in the loot they steal. 

I have heard people say we have a Pitchman in the White house. Pitchmen and con-men usually travel with a carnival. With that metaphor in mind remember that the Carnival does not exist for the good of the community, a carnival is there to grab every cent it can before it moves on to the next unsuspecting community.  
I think  the present administration's involvement with Russia is alarming for our National security.  And is does seem that even statements under oath can't be assumed true when it comes to this Russian connection.  I am concerned that while we are trying to figure out just how far up the chain of command the corruption goes our pockets are being picked by the rest of the carnival.

Case in point, while all of this stuff about wiretaps and purgery is being talked about 24/7 here are some of the bills that have been introduced. 

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran
mental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran
If you have not exercised your right to express your opinion to your representative you are being played.  If you don't know who your reps. are,  text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You'll get a text back with every one's contact info, both Federal and State.


As you were,
Jay

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Final Chain Reaction


If you do not remember how the NBC show "Chain Reaction" was played here is an example. 
 
I worked with  Bob Stewart and Sandy Stewart on several of their game shows.  I was a semi-regular on the various versions of  "Pryamid" and they considered me a good player.  "Chain Reaction" was also their show and I enjoyed doing that one too. I remember the game very well, and  this particular episode specifically. Here is what I remember about that very day in the summer of 1980. 

 "Chain Reation" was only on for a cycle of 13 weeks but I got to do several weeks  during that short time.  We knew before we started taping this would be the last one. As you will see the "end game" was played by the "civilian" player in the middle with the two "stars" on either side of a desk.  The stars could see a word on a screen that was hidden to the civilian.  The idea was this: the stars would construct a question one word at a time that would be answered by the civilian with the word that was hidden from them.  It is more complicated to explain that it is to comprehend when you see it.  But back to the story.

So, it is the last show.  I say to Sandy Stewart it would be funny if we put my puppet partner Bob in the hot seat for the final end game between Betty White and me and he would get every word wrong.  We would give the money made to charity.  He loved the idea and even improved on it.  Sandy suggested that Bob miss the correct answer because of his interpretations.  For example if the word on the screen was "chair", Betty and I would construct a question one word at a time like: "What do you sit on?" And Bob would answer "A ventriloquists knee".  The other one I remember was for the word "scalpel": Queston: "What does a doctor use to cut you open?"  Bob would answer "A saw".  We wrote enough of these gag answers to fill the end game. It was going to be great fun and a great way to end the run of the show.

The time comes for Sandy Stewart to explain to the network what we were planning.  He had to run it by "Practices and Standards" which is the office that makes sure game shows are legitimate and there is no cheating.  Sandy made his way into the office of the "suit" who was in charge of  "Chain Reaction". He explained that Jay and Betty would be the clue givers and puppet Bob would be the contestant in the middle.  Before Sandy could even get to the jokes we wrote the suit said, "You mean Bob... Jay Johnson's dummy."
Sandy said yes and started explaining how the jokes would work from Bob's wooden point of view. It would be funny and the money made will go to charity. 
 The suit said, "Wait a minute if Jay is seeing the clue won't Bob know the answer?"
"Of course", said Sandy, "And he will get them all wrong as a joke."  
"If Bob knows the answer then that would be cheating."  Says the suit. 
"It is the last show... you cancelled us... there will be no more so this is just a gag as a going away bit."
"Well, cheating is cheating, Sandy, even for charity... you can't do it." Said the suit.

What we eventually did was lampoon the ruling by writing a bit about Bob trying to cheat.  You can see how that worked in the final round. The end game was played round robin style with all the celebrities.  I think Bob in the Hot seat would have been much funnier, but hey....there will be no ventriloquist cheating on NBC. 
As you were,
Jay