Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of radio. I don’t mean my own shows, I mean as a guest. When my book “Stuff Happens” came out in 2003 I did the usual book tour and was asked to appear on many radio shows. Because I am somewhat of an “oldie” myself, I can safely say that most of my appearances (Can it be called “appearances” on radio?) were on Oldies stations. It was a lot of fun to get back on the airwaves.

It was also kind of a revelation of sorts. In the process I discovered a brand new genre of radio broadcasting: “Internet Radio.” Anyone with a computer can now enjoy a whole new world of radio listening. I wonder if it is even correct to call it radio listening. There is no radio involved. You just click your mouse onto an Internet site and the programs come streaming right at you. Kind of reminds you of that other kind of radio, right? Turn the dial, hear the “click” and the programs come streaming right at you.

So what ‘s the difference?

I’ve recently given three interviews on Internet radio

(1) Rockit Radio’s The Memory Lane Show with Lane Quigley

(3) Dave the Rave.

Over the years I’ve been the subject of hundreds of other radio interviews, but nothing I've done previously compares to the fun I’ve had doing these Internet radio shows. As the late Steve Allen might have said, “This could be the start of something big.”

So far all the Internet DJs I’ve met can be compared to those sports show experts that keep amazing you with their knowledge of the game, i.e., give a sports maven the name of a baseball player and like a savant, he/she will give you the player's batting averages and other statistics down to the amount of spikes on their shoes.

The Internet DJs are equally as uncanny in their knowledge of recorded music minutia. They are avid record collectors and can actually tell you the exact amount of grooves on any 45 rpm that has ever been recorded. Most important; they truly LOVE the MUSIC. They have to love it. They get paid zilch for equipment, studios, record collections and their time.

So what’s the difference?

It is the hours of great ENTERTAINMENT sans weather reports, newsbreaks, traffic warnings, or COMMERCIALS. It doesn’t sound like some producer in the back is pushing to keep the show on time in order to get all the ads in. And what is more important to me, the chatter is always all about THE MUSIC! Their selection of records is not chosen from corporate lists and allows the listener to hear tunes they had forgotten how much they liked.

In one of my past critiques on today’s Oldies Radio, I had suggested that a station try a Music/Talk format with call-ins from listeners to discuss the music being played and the artist being interviewed. The show I did with Dave the Rave was just that. We did four and a half hours of Music/Talk Radio LIVE!

Callers-in included Howard Kaylan of The Turtles, Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las, Diane Renay (Navy Blue), Johnny Mirada of the Spokesmen, Tommy James of the Shondells, and Bob Miranda of The Happenings, plus fans from all over the United States. Dave the Rave was the perfect show host with a very loyal fan and record artist base. This is Oldies Radio at its most entertaining best.

Do you think there might possibly be something here that today’s tabletop stations (as apposed to desktop) can learn from all this? I hope so.

By the way; the answer to the “How many grooves are there on a 45 record” question is always the same, “1.” Just ONE groove that keeps going round and round until it reaches the end of the record (RIM SHOT - CYMBAL CRASH).

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


On April 11, 2003 Donald Rumsfeld, when ask about the widespread looting in Baghdad, said, “STUFF HAPPENS. It’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”

But, did you ever ask yourself what inspired Donald Rumsfeld to use the phrase, “Stuff happens” in the first place? I must make the point that the book “STUFF HAPPENS,” written by motivational speaker John Alston and myself was published and released to book stores February 14, 2003 almost two months before Rumsfeld made his “Stuff happens” remark.

Consequently, we like to think that he made the remark because he had read our book. We did send him a copy. Maybe if he hadn’t read the book, he would have said, “Shit happens” instead. We all know “Shit happens” is what he meant. And, you have to admit, at the time it would have been much more effective. Our book gave him a better idea. You think?

John and I actually finished writing the book just before 9/11 happened. Our literary agents didn’t want to take it to New York and present it to the many publishing houses at that time because they didn’t want to give the impression we had written it BECAUSE of 9/11. We held it back for almost a year. Perhaps if the title had been “SHIT HAPPENS” it would have been more apropos for what was actually happening.

Rumsfeld's comment also inspired David Hare to write his hit play about the war in Iraq. He named it “STUFF HAPPENS.” It stars Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and, yes, Donald Rumsfeld.

So, why did we name our book “STUFF HAPPENS” when everyone knew we meant “SHIT HAPPENS?”

Fact: at first we did name it “SHIT HAPPENS.” But people laughed every time we mentioned the title and we started to lose our nerve. Someone said that it sounded like a bumper sticker. After all, this is a serious “self-help” book. “STUFF HAPPENS” gives the reader 9 reality rules to live by in order to prepare them for bad stuff happening in their lives so they will be able to “Fix it.”

Reluctantly, we changed the title to “$#&@* Happens,” thinking the use of cartoon symbols for the objectionable S-word would soften the blow and convey the same message. Our first cover design also used a fertilizer bag with the suggestion, “Use It To Grow.”

The idea here was that $#&@* makes things grow. So if $#&@* happens to you, take advantage of it. Use it to make yourself grow and rid yourself of all that bad $#&@*. Very clever - if I do say so myself.

However, we ran into a snag right away (shit happened). Our publisher, the prestigious John Wiley and Sons in New York, had a problem with that approach. Matt Holt, our editor and wonderful mentor at Wiley, posed the question “How is a book store going to sell your book if the salesperson can’t even say the title, “$#&@* Happens?” How will you be able to promote it on radio using Asterisks? You can’t use the word “SHIT.” The station could possibly be fined.” Good points all around.

Even though lists thousands of books with “Shit” in the title, i.e., “How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art,” by Kathleen Meyer, and “Up Shit Creek: A Collection of Horrifyingly True Wilderness Toilet Misadventures” by Joe Lindsay, we decided that Matt was right and we finally agreed to, “STUFF HAPPENS – and then you fix it.” After all, everybody knew exactly what we were saying anyway. Their design department came up with a winning cover and we were off and running.

Good stuff was happening. Jack Canfield, coauthor of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” (over 70 million copies sold) wrote the introduction in which he said “Every once in a while a book comes along that is both simple in its presentation and profound in its impact. This is such a book.”

“STUFF HAPPENS – and then you fix it” was indorsed by Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark, Film Director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever), James Brown (The Godfather of Soul), Mark Victor Hansen (“Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “The One Minute Millionaire”), and many other prominent and thoughtful people. They most likely would not have done the same for some little book titled “SHIT HAPPENS.”

Right after publication, and shortly after the war on terror began; we sent a first edition of “STUFF HAPPENS – and then you fix it” to George W. Bush. I don’t think he read it. At least, not the “and then you fix it” part. If he had, who knows what might have happened?

"STUFF HAPPENS - and then you fix it" is a damn (sorry) darn good book. According to testimonials, it has changed many lives for the better.

However, I can’t help but think that it might have changed history if we had not changed our original title.

With Rumsfeld now out, we will probably never know.

History, as always, will be the judge.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Monday night the Golden Globes Award Show held the winning hand. A full house with two Queens on top.

I liked this Show. Why? Because it was so honest. It never claimed to be a show. There was no comedian host with a lot of “in” jokes. There were no dance numbers, singers or dramatized interruptions. The purpose wasn’t to entertain the home audience. The purpose was to give out awards. And, let you watch.

It was in actuality a TV reality show; a bunch of people announcing and handing out awards to a bunch of other people. Followed by people thanking everyone for announcing and handing out awards. It showed you what really happens when you get a lot of movie and TV stars in the same room saying good things about each other. Being thankful that they were so lucky.

And, that’s why I liked it so much. This is why I tune into an awards show; to see who wins and how they handle it. Do they cry, gloat, joke, lose their memory or stumble and fall down the stairs? It’s live and anything can happen. Not a script in sight except, of course, for those little thank-you notes held so tightly in each winner’s hands. You can’t help but think of all the notes, still clutched in hands that never got read.

I liked this show because there were so many REAL celebrities. Hard working show folks having a good time. No celebrity wanabes. Paris Hilton was a noticeable no-show.

I also liked Helen Mirren winning for “The Queen.” What a class act she is. I wanted Kiefer Sutherland to win for “24,” but I was glad for “Ugly Betty.” She was so beautiful.

Warren Beatty went on a little too long but his expertise has never been public speaking. I liked him because he made great films and I liked his attitude. There are too many smooth talkers around anyway.

I was extremely happy when it was over. Not because it was over, but because it showed how nice show people can be.

Everyone was having a great time and I was there to see it.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Alert the media. The secret is out. I love Oscar. But, before you get all in a tither and start examining my sexual persuasion, I’m talking about Oscar, as in “The Oscar.”

Actually, I LOVE MOVIES. And, The Oscar is a symbol for the many people like me who enjoy sitting in dark theaters commingling among noisy people with coke and popcorn sticking to their shoes.

About a hundred years or so ago when I was just a little kid in Toledo, Ohio, there was a 200-hard-wooden-seat movie theater called the “Park.’ Even for a kid with short legs, it was just a hop, skip, and jump from my house on Berkley Drive to that wonderful lighted marquee (with most of the bulbs burned out). After viewing a cartoon, a newsreel (yesterday’s version of today’s TV news), a Flash Gordon serial, coming attractions, and two (count ‘em) features, I danced all the way home. Especially after seeing a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie.

If you are old enough to remember, they had those huge beautifully colored posters displayed in glass cases on each side of the entrance with the names of the currant movie’s luminaries (persons of eminence or brilliant achievement).

There was many a night that I dreamed of walking out of the Park Theater, turning and seeing my name on one of those posters. A kid from Toledo with his name on a Hollywood movie poster? Wow! I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was to awaken and find my sudden fame was only the impossible dream.

But, hark all you non-believers. Dreams do come true. They can happen to you. It happened to ME! It was the year 1964 and the movie was “The Patsy,” directed by, and starring Jerry Lewis.

It was the very first appearance I ever made in a movie. It was also the LAST appearance I ever made in a movie, but, to coin a popular phrase, “So What?” It was my dream and it came true. My acting ability was never ever considered for any kind of an award, but I shall always be beholden to Jerry for creating the part just for me. I was “Movie Star for a Day!”

That said, let’s get back to Oscar. This is the time of year when movie critics, and most of the movie-going nation, make their yearly predictions as to who is going to take home the big golden guy. That includes me, and I could safely guess, most of you Mouse Cliquers.

Here is my pick:

(1) Best Actress: Helen Mirren for “The Queen.”

Damn! She was good. Did you notice that, like the real Queen, she never went anywhere without her purse? Like a Queen needs a purse?

(2) Best Actor? Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Departed.”

Considering that almost everyone in the film was killed, the fact that Leonardo’s acting ability helped him survive long enough to star in “Blood Diamond” should give him a big leg up in the final vote.

(3) Best Picture: “The Queen”

That’s it for me. Though there are many deserving Oscars to be handed out, my feeling is that most people don’t really sit up straight until the Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Movie awards are announced.

Two caveats regarding my choices:

As for “Borat,” the main character, as we all know, is not an actor but is the press representative for The Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. That makes him ineligible for an Oscar. Don’t you agree?

I was disappointed that “Dream Girls,” supposedly based on what the 60s groups were all about, did not feature any music from the 60s. Perhaps I’m just too big a “Diana Ross and the Supremes” fan and was looking for a little “Baby Love.”

I do have one more award I would like to recommend. It’s too late for this year’s ceremony, but think about next year. Jerry Lewis should get a special Oscar. Not because he has written, directed or starred in over 50 feature films in his long and funny career, but the fact that he invented a device that totally revolutionized the way movies are made.

He came up with the idea of strapping a video camera to the side of the film camera so he could watch it on a monitor and not have to wait for the film to be developed in order to see what was being shot.

This is now known as “Video Assist.” No longer “strapped” to the side of the camera, the video feed goes directly through the film camera lens and is used by every director who makes films.

This suggestion of a special Oscar for Jerry’s contribution to films is my way of thanking him for making my little-kid starry-eyed Hollywood dream come true. Just last month, 43 years after the fact, I received a sort of thank you and recognition for my superior acting in “The Patsy.” It was a residual check from Paramount Pictures for $6.27. What do you say to that Toledo?

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


You can’t have missed reading about incoming house speaker Nancy Pelosi, who this month became the highest ranking elected woman in U.S. history. The Los Angeles Times did several front page stories on the celebrations in Washington designed to introduce Ms. Pelosi to the nation.

Because Nancy Pelosi is not as well known to the nation as she is in her representative state, California, the Times published her Bio.

“Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi
Age: 66
Birthplace: Baltimore
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Trinity College in Washington D.C. 1962

The bio went on and on until it got to some really interesting stuff:

Favorite TV show: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Favorite culinary specialty: Chocolate mousse,
Google hits: More than 2 million,”


And there it is. Proof positive that Google is now the Mother of all Who’s Who’s. You want to know how important someone is? Google them. You want to know how important you are? Google you!

Just in case you have been on another planet for the last 10 years and don’t know what “Google” is, here’s a quick overview. When a person’s name is used in a book, a movie, a newspaper, a blog, a congressional record, any written source that is mentioned on the Internet, it is stored in Google. All you have to do is Google that person’s name and Google will give you a list of their accomplishments. Common belief is that the longer the list, the more popular the person. It’s a kind of celebrity thermometer. A constantly changing gauge of who's hot and who’s not. Google is so popular today, I’m considering having a calling card printed with no web or email address, no street or phone numbers. Just the name, “Lloyd Thaxton” and the words, “Google me.”

I couldn’t help but Google Ms. Pelosi to double-check her “More than 2 million hits” claim. Actually it turned out to be 2,170,000. That information got me rolling. To see how our own Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi stacked up to the competition, I started checking out other heavyweights for comparison..

I started with Paris Hilton. For some reason unknown to me, she seems to be the “Celebrity de Jour.” I found it awed (pun intended) that Ms. Hilton scored an incredible 52,300,000. But wait. This figure comes with a caveat. Paris Hilton, the celebrity, is lumped in with the Paris Hilton, the hotel. Having a hotel named after you (or vice-versa in her case) can help your score considerably.

Then I Googled another celeb in the news, Donald Trump. He came in with 2,090,000. With that figure he can really gloat over Rosie O’Donnell. She only got 1,670,000. However, take out the two major Trump real estate holdings and Donald drops to 1,745,000. That’s less than a difference of 100,000. With the Google numbers constantly changing every day, I wouldn’t bet on either one at a Donald Trump Casino.

Republicans will be glad to hear that President George W. Bush racked up a healthy 54,700, 000 to Hillary Clinton’s 4,240,000. However, Saddam Hussein wasn’t far behind Bush with 42,600,000. It remains to be seen if the news reports on his recent demise will keep him alive (Googly speaking, that is).

Being on a roll, I decided to check on the Father of our country, George Washington. As expected, he was the big winner so far with 229,000,000. But you have to consider how long he’s been doing his thing, getting a lot of parks, schools, bridges, libraries, streets, books, monuments and major athletes named after him.

Just as I was about to close my poll, I had an epiphany. I Googled … “GOOGLE!”

How about just under ONE BILLION???.

And you wondered why they gave themselves that silly name.

Before you ask, Britney Spears got 15,900,000.

And counting.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Hey Mouse Cliquers. Want a treat? D. J. Blast, the Oldies Time Traveler is NOW PLAYING two hours of Lloyd Thaxton (that's me) on The Oldies Super Highway. I say, “Want a treat” because if you’ve never listened to the sound of the oldies on the Internet, you have a treat coming. You’ll hear stuff you remember from the past but NEVER hear on land-locked oldies radio.

I do a lot of talking, but it’s the music D. J. plays that’s the “Blast.” The real treat.

D. J. Blast, who in another life is the dashing Blas Vallejo (Zorro unmasked), has a collection of 60's hits that will astound everyone around. He spent two hours draining every bit of information from my soul until I finally had to say, “Stop! That’s it. Come back in another 40 years.”

If you want to hear "The Birds,” D. J. Blast!
The “Beach Boys?” D. J. Blast!
The “Rivingtons?” Yah! D. J. Blast!
The Beatles? Elvis Presley? The Angels? The Drifters? The Supremes? Gene Pitney? Peter Paul and Mary? The Mamas & the Papas, Johnny Rivers, and many more?