Thursday, May 29, 2008

everybody loves Philip

Everybody gets into a bad mood occasionally. I was having a particularly cranky day about a month ago. I wanted to take a nap before going downtown to the Dogwood Arts Festival Parade. As it turned out, I needed to take care of some family stuff that involved going to Loudon County, waiting for two hours and coming back. Right before we left, I grabbed a book off my nightstand that turned my day around.

Earlier that week, I had only just started "The Road." It was not the right day for me to dig into something that dark and heavy. Instead I picked up something light and frothy to read in the car while I waited. My mood improver was "You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom" by Phil Rosenthal. The book kept me entertained through my tiredness that day. It stayed on top of the stack until I finally finished it about a week ago.

Rosenthal describes many of the real-life anecdotes that got turned into episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond." There's some autobiographical stuff too. Phil doesn't name too many names as he mentions the bad shows he worked on before "Raymond." He has enough credits on his IMDB page to keep me guessing which show was which.

The term "sitcom" has gotten abused by half-hour comedies that are just a series of setups and punchlines. The great thing about "Raymond" is the way they put the emphasis on the situation part of a situation comedy. The characters are so well defined that the audience could get a laugh by knowing what Marie or Debra must be thinking as they walked in on Ray, Robert or Frank. Rosenthal's description of the process gave me a feeling of "oh that's what I thought he was doing" when I wrote a brief essay about characters back in the pre-blog days.

Reading the book was made all the more enjoyable by the bargain-basement price I paid for it. Back in March, I was ordering a Jane Austen-y DVD as a birthday gift for my wife. It cost about $20, which is five dollars under's free-shipping threshold. So I clicked over to my personal Wish List and sorted by price. Rosenthal's book rose to the top because it was on sale for just over $5. Bingo! If you are similarly stymied, Les Jones has posted about a site that will help you find super-cheap items to get to the $25 mark.

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Blogger Byron said...

Aw come on Frank, that Jane Austen DVD was for you, fess up!


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