Wednesday, August 13, 2014

1369 Robin Williams

Robin Williams was crazy-funny.  And he never did anything half way. Until now. Now we get to see a part of him we either never saw before or -- if we did -- never wanted to think of as real.  He’s still funny.

Early on, he was a lonely little boy playing mostly alone in a spare room of the Michigan mansion in which he was raised.

On stage and sometimes on film, he still was that lonely little boy.  He was still playing by himself.  And we all benefitted just because we could see or hear him do it.

Now come the questions:  How far back do you remember him.  About the furthest back anyone can think of is 1978, when “Mork and Mindy” burst onto ABC and into all of our heads.

We never had seen anything like that program before.  And we were riveted.  And our sides ached by the time each episode ended.

So, 36 years of memories.  And they’ll go on for awhile. Williams had some films ready for release.

They’ll have film festivals with him at theaters and on Netflix and on HBO.  There will be re-released posters of Mork and “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”  There will be suddenly discovered lost or never released footage.

There have been crazy-funny quip masters before.  Groucho, Roger Miller, Oscar Levant.   And there will be quip masters in the future.  People who just seem to spout funny things and make you laugh and make you wonder how anyone can think that stuff up.

And you will remember Williamsisms but you won’t quote them because you’re smart enough to realize that Williams wasn’t just talking.  There was more to his standup and his films than that.  But it’s a more that defies analysis or definition.

Can we watch “Garp” or “World’s Greatest Dad” or “Man of the Year” again without a tear falling from our eye?  Yes, but not yet.

Williams’ suicide may have shocked or alarmed you: “how could this nice man who ‘had it all’ do something like that to himself?”

You can blame the celebrity culture.  You can blame the price of fame. You can blame hanging out with bad company.  You can blame the drug lords. But ultimately, blame may not be appropriate.

Great artists -- and he most certainly was a great artist -- often fight demons and often the demons win.


I have heard from several people who work at call centers taking me to task for my rail earlier this week against profession. I’ve picked two from facebook to reproduce here. And don’t forget...This call may be monitored or recorded for quality and training purposes.

Hello. Live call center person here. It's been done by people, to me, only they don't know I fight back. I tell them " You know why we have to say that? So you don't sue us. You what we do with calls like yours. We use them in training all right, under " Calls that are different". That category features people calling to threaten us ( we actually had one Texan show up at the NY site with a gun looking to kill us...he didn't get past the parking lot) , call us names that would make a stevedore blush and...jokers. No, we can't play back so nicely, but we will do it with a cheery voice lest we get scored off for not being so., It won't throw the people who toil with me off script, there isn't a script to be had.”


I'm with (name redacted) on this one. Since I work in insurance, any time I make an outbound call to a ... business or patient I specifically say it so they know not to lie. The real reason is quality assurance in case of a lawsuit. However, you'd be surprised how many times I was lied too (sic erat scriptum) and could have launched an investigation into insurance fraud.

A few years ago when we had a semi-earthquake I was a brand new agent and completely panicked before I had a chance to say we were experiencing an emergency. I threw my headset down and ran for it. You could hear the caller saying, "I think something just happened at (the insurance company.)" Needless to say they use my call during training to show the new agents how to handle the situation calmly and appropriately.”

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them ®
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© WJR 2014

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