Friday, June 1, 2007

Good News/Sad News

Hi. It’s been one of those weeks, so please bear with me.

Let me start with the good news: The new Times episode, “Servant Problem,” is now online! You can access it via Ye Website here. I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Please excuse me if I’m not more enthused about the debut of a new episode. I’m really quite proud of it, writing-wise. But the release comes on the heels of the sad news, a tragedy that struck our circle of friends earlier this week.

A very dear friend, Jim Childs -- that's him in the photo above -- died suddenly early on Tuesday morning, and we said goodbye to him tonight.

Jim was a big, friendly bear of a guy, a true sweetheart. He and his wife, Betsy (my wife’s best friend since childhood), were a perfect match. They both loved movies, comic books and all the other geeky things that are shared by… well, practically anyone who associates with our ilk. And he, like Betsy, loved dogs, especially Dalmatians. But he was just as good with our two mongrels, and they clearly enjoyed his company, too. Just like we all did.

I have a lot of memories of Jim, but my fondest one is of the time he backhanded my wife, Cindy.

I guess I should explain.

A couple of years ago, for a Superman-themed show at a convention, we made a video spoof of the classic ‘50s Superman series. Jim – a passionate Supes fan – played Clark Kent, and it’s hard to imagine anyone having such a good time not taking himself seriously in the least. Whether he was in the gray suit or the baggy Superman costume, he took his lines and ran with them. It shows in his performance. And his “flying” was superb. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d bet that his energy helped all of us enjoy those few days of shooting in mid-autumn a lot more. (I hope Steve Wilson, who wrote it, and Lew Aide, the video director, will load the thing on YouTube. If they do, I’ll post the link. DC and Viacom legal be damned; it’s a parody, and a great one.)

Anyway, I believe I was talking about how cool it was when Jim belted my wife.

There’s a scene in which Clark (Jim) and Lois (played by Cindy) are arguing over the fact that she’s reported in the Daily Planet that Superman can be killed by Kryptonite. (At least that’s how I recall it, but screw my memory, I’m in mourning.) Clark ain’t happy about it. Lois contends it’s factual, so it’s news. At this point, Clark tells her, “News, huh? I’ll show you news,” and SWACK-O!, knocks her out of the frame, accompanied by the sound effect of bowling pins going down.

I never laughed so hard at anything in one of our shows in my life. Neither had Cindy. The very idea of Clark – much less Jim -- ever doing something like that made the gag work beautifully. To her credit, Cindy took the hit like a pro, too. (No, I haven’t tried this at home.) It was just one of many elements that made the whole video one of the coolest things to work on. But without Jim as our jovial anchor, it simply wouldn’t have been as good, or as much fun.

Here's another photo of Jim in costume from the video. If you think it looks ridiculous, he'd be proud. But aside from his warm handshakes and big, big hugs, I think this is how I will always remember him. This is the friend I will miss. I guess that makes me Superman’s Pal -- one of many during his time among us.

Be sure to tell George Reeves the backhand story, Jim. He’ll love it -- and you, I’m sure -- as much as we do.

-- L.