Bring on 2012 (tf)

Ok. A few words about writing. And writers. And the weird stuff we think and do.

Stevens is a writer, although I have to keep reminding him of this. When his adoring public sees him out and about, he’s got no choice but to think of himself as a TV star. Which he is as well of course, having been doing his “On the PA Road” bits since Milton Berle was around 40 years old. When I think of WNEP-TV, I think of the dialing for dollars 4pm movies, usually consisting of “Elvis Week”, followed by “Planet of the Apes Week”, and then “Elvis Week” again. This was classy TV, made more so by the live rodent races. I think of Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School, which kicked off with ‘ol Ted rising from his coffin amidst way too much dry ice to introduce some sort of late-night zombie movie. I think of “Hatchy Milatchy”, a bizarrely named kids show hosted by “Miss Judy”, a woman so perpetually cheerful that as I got older (and cynicism kicked in) I assumed had to be on something. Nobody could possibly be this ebullient this early in the morning without some of what Jagger called “Mother’s Little Helper”.

And of course, there was Stevens. Wearing the same clothes he wears now. On some back road somewhere, finding a village that nobody ever heard of way out in Sullivan County, and tracking down the local eccentric who builds functioning outhouses with nothing but beer cans and cereal boxes. In 2 minutes Stevens would wax poetic about his latest discovery, and it was all quite riveting. Just where did he find these people? In our house, the voice of Mike Stevens became as well-known as Uncle Walter’s. And my Dad knew the guy. Stevens I mean. Not Cronkite. Surely my father was an important man. He knew TV stars. He’d say….”see how Stevens nails it all down in just a few words? Now that’s writing son. No wasted words. Clean. Concise. Kids today……(grumble grumble)…..”

Writing? You mean this guy wrote this stuff himself? I figured TV stars had flunkies for such things.

But no. Turns out Stevens was a TV star and a control freak, and wouldn’t let anybody within 100 yards of his copy, which might be why his bits are still, all these years later, the jewel of WNEP’s newcasts. Of course, I’m not going to tell him this, least he lord his years over me. But still, he’s a pretty talented guy.

He’s a writer who whines incessantly about having nothing to write about. Which makes him pretty normal. We all live in mortal fear of the well going dry, and sometimes we can wake up, pick up a pen, and be barely able to sign our own names. It’s creepy really. It’s just…gone. Inspiration. Confidence. Brain cells. All gone. And so we contact other writers and sing the blues and to plot what we can possibly do now to be useful since we’ve turned into Jack Nicholson sitting in front of his typewriter at the Overlook Hotel.

Stevens does this to me all the time. “Oh woe is me….you horrible little person….forcing me to come up with 1000 words a week….I am a professional and you have roped me into blogging with all you amateur wretches….and for no remuneration? How did you get past my agent anyway….you cheeky little cur!”

You get the idea. Don’t be fooled by his “Father Knows Best” TV persona. The man can by a tyrant to work with. I’ve had to change my phone number 4 times, and when we meet I insist it’s in a public place.

Of course when he hits his stride he can do 1000 words with his eyes closed…..and people love to read his bucolic ramblings….even though I think he spends too much of his time in never-never land. To be fair, he thinks I am a misanthropic troglodyte who should take more walks. But still.

We’re a good match I think. Each convinced that the other is crazy. Or at least slightly cracked.

And so, bring on 2012. And 1000 words a week without acting like such a burden is like carrying a backpack of rocks while traipsing hilly terrain.

We are, after all, award winners. Ask Stevens. He took all the credit of course.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on December 30, 2011.

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