Augh: too many fine people breathing their last. All these guys I grew up watching are dying off. It’s like shipping off for Europe and hearing about the first wave hitting the beach. I don’t know what you say about Harvey Korman; he came across a big solid mass of wit and delight. You could note that he hailed from the mythical Simpler Time when we really wondered if he was faking it when Tim Conway cracked him up on Carol Burnett, or you could cite “Blazing Saddles” as a role only he could have prissified with such skill. I always watched “The Carol Burnett Show” with my Mom, even though she complained that it sometimes got a bit “raw,” and she loved Harvey Korman. He seemed like a nice fellow; that was one of her standards for TV types. (She loved Monty Hall, and thought he would be a fun fellow at a party. I’m sure she was right.) I’ll say this: he was one of those TV people about whom you didn’t have any particular curiosity concerning his offscreen life. He seemed to be what he seemed to be, and made you laugh.

Then there’s Dick Martin. I don’t blame Rowan and Martin for “Laugh-In.” It was a sweet gig, a straight shot to the top, and if the jokes were lame and the laughter canned, who cared? I’d rather read that both wandered late onto the set and joked with the crew and had a cocktail of legendary potency before taping than read a long tell-all tale about their relentless perfectionism and desire to capture the loose, anything-goes, paradigm-twisting mood of the counterculture in the confines of a network variety show. I’m guessing that the former is the case, since no one has spent much time defending “Laugh-In” as a means of subverting the system from within. With a few exceptions – some good skits, a few fine comics – “Laugh-In” was dreck.

This isn’t aged brittle memory speaking here; while driving around I often listen to the XM radio comedy channel (the clean one on 151, not the angrier, profane, and generally funnier uncensored channel) runs lots of “Laugh-In” news segments, and the suck so hard that cracks form on the rear-view window. I’m pretty sure Dick Martin knew it, and didn’t care.

Sidney Pollack: I was slated, as usual for Thursdays, to do the Hugh Hewitt show at 6:40. Before my segment someone named “Basil” called to say he’d done a movie with Sidney Pollack, “Electric Cowboy.” The magic of the internets called him up in a trice: this guy. Ten miles of credits. During my segment he called back to discuss Pollack, and hey presto, I’m on the air with the fellow, talking about this and that and his upcoming projects. What a world: imagine you’re just googling around, come across an actor’s bio page, then find yourself SHAZAM talking to him a few minutes later on a national radio show. All from the comfort of your desk, with your dog wandering in and out of the room. It’s an odd life.

I hung up the phone and banged out a Diner, because it’s been a while and I cannot slacken. If you’re curious: I did the first part wearing my big plastic periodontal mouthguards, which is why I sound like I’m talking around a mouthful of soup.

This has been a long, long week. No idea why, but four-day weeks drag and grate. I had a low-blog day on Thursday, thanks to Job Creep. No complaints: if you’d told me a year ago I would not only be doing video pieces for the paper but filing columns for the print version, I would have been heelclickingly delighted. Now, of course, I gripe and huff, because what do we lack? All together now: perspective and gratitude! But only for a bit, and then I remember I’m lucky.

I mean, get this. Today we shot the first GB of footage for the Strib’s new online media venture. It will be a rich series of entertaining shows that add value and information to your daily media diet, and there will be also be my show. As noted yesterday, it’s a frank swipe of homage to other jokey media shows, with that shaky-cam documentary style that proves without question that I’ve watched “The Office,” and feel no shame in lifting some techniques. The first thing we shot was the opening sequence, which is simply my character walking purposefully into the building. Six different set-ups, each shot four times with and without the prop. (The videographer / editrix of the project is Jenny Pinkley, who’s just great, and got the idea off the bat.) The second sequence –

Well. I decided to put in a scene where my character is reassigned due to budget problems, busted from his investigative beat to online entertainment. (Mostly because he’s not very good, and turns in 80-inch pieces on sewer board meetings.) It was just going to be a one-take thing – roll tape, and I’ll rant unhappily. We were going to use Will, Boss of Online, as the guy who breaks the bad news, but at the last minute –

Well. Just wait.

Does any of that sound like something you’d do at a newspaper? No. Things change. He said, with confidence in the banality of the cliché.

Not crazy about this week’s column, since it’s more serious than previous efforts, but there wasn’t much local news that inspired risibility. Say, how about that deadly tornado? Didn’t see that coming!  New Diner; the version with embedded art (okay, just a little, but it’s a punchline) is here, and the MP3 version is here. Have a grand weekend, and I’ll see you at

Speaking of Shazam: yes, I know, the composer of the Gomer Pyle theme also died this week. Another loss in May: Bebe Baron, electronic music pioneer. With her husband she composed the music for "Forbidden Planet." Spooky then. Spooky now.