One of the most powerful functions a computer can perform is to manipulate a relational database. How are two or more seemingly non-connected things related?
Our brains work very much this way. You think of one thing, which reminds you of another thing, which… well, you get the idea.
I was on the phone today with my friend Paul. I’ve known him for 35 years and we’ve been friends all that time. Paul has been referred to as “Raider of the Lost Archives,” because he has found obscure and often unseen television programs and found a way to get them on the air and make money with them. Good skill to have.
Over the past few years Paul has produced DVD compilations of old TV series. His joy, and what makes these DVDs stand out, are his special features where the original stars come back to comment today on what went on decades ago. It’s Paul’s work on the Dick Van Dyke Show DVD series and many others that make them so special and worth collecting.
He’s working on The Twilight Zone now. It’s amazing how many big stars appeared on the original Twilight Zone before they were big stars.
We were talking today and the conversation got around to a Twilight Zone episode that no one who ever saw it will ever forget, It’s a Good Life. In this episode, a pre-teen Billy Mumy¹ is able to ‘punish’ people for their bad thoughts by ‘wishing them into the cornfield. I always felt it was incredibly creepy and judging by what I’ve read as I did a little research tonight, I am not alone.
Here’s where relational databases or at least their human equivalent come in.
As I was thinking of this episode, I thought of one of the actors, Max Showalter. Max played one of the neighbors,.. the man who played the piano. He’s in the credits as Casey Adams. I don’t know why.
Max was in a zillion movies and TV shows, He might be best known as the piano playing reverend who presides over Bo Derek’s wedding in “10.” He was also in Niagara, with Marilyn Monroe.
Max, who died a few years ago, was a Connecticut resident who came to the television station many times in the 80s and 90s. Other than being charming, Max was fun to be with because he had lived the ‘real’ Hollywood life when Hollywood was in its heyday and had stories about everyone.
Believe me, I’m not doing this on purpose, but this is how my pea brain is working today; finding relationships between unconnected names and events.
Anyway, Max came to the television station to promote an event. He was doing some sort of theater tribute in Chester, where he lived. He had convinced his long time friend, Debbie Reynolds to appear – and I believe there was even a retrospective of her films shown.
So, Debbie Reynolds, big time Hollywood star, is in our little TV station and she’s going to be interviewed on the news at 5:30. Diane Smith, who was anchoring that newscast at the time, wandered into the makeup room only to find Debbie there with a make-up kit the size of a large tool chest.
“Where’s the make-up man honey?” Debbie said to Diane.
I can tell you, though at the time Diane didn’t think she could tell Debbie, we don’t have a make-up man. Not knowing what to do, Diane said she’d get the news director. In this business everyone in the newsroom reports to the news director. He’s the chief. But Debbie was Hollywood.
“Forget the director,” she said, “bring me the producer.”
As it turned out, Diane ended up doing Debbie’s makeup – something she’ll never forget!
Anyway, this story came to me because of that Twilight Zone DVD talk. It’s funny how the mind associates.
One more Debbie Reynolds story before I go. It was 6-7 years ago at Paul’s son’s Bar Mitzvah. We were in Los Angeles for the reception at the Sofitel across from the Beverly Center.
Helaine and I were seated with… you guessed it – Debbie Reynolds. She’s a friend of Paul’s.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the affair we ran into people we hadn’t seen in years. So, I picked up the camera and motioned to Debbie. I’m sure she was ready to get into the picture, something I know she’s done graciously a zillion times. Except, now I have a picture taken by Debbie Reynolds!
¹ – Billy Mumy later became Bill Mumy. At separate times, he and I both hosted Inside Space on the SciFi Channel.