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the flake with the flickering porch light

February 2, 2011

Made it.  Today, we above the equator celebrate the more or less middle

of winter with Groundhog Day, one of our silliest rituals.  Everyone but

the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Chamber of Commerce knows that a

large ground squirrel can no more affect weather than Al Roker can.  Or

Al Gore, for that matter.

Speaking of big mammals (the groundhog, not the Als), I searched my

photo vault for some artwork to illustrate this post.  This is the closest

to the topic I could find:

This is even less relevant, but it has some metaphorical value, Ill bet:

Anyway, we are now on the downside of winter.  If it takes a groundhog

to symbolize it, so be it.  That’s easier to remember than earlier versions

of this day: Imbolc, Candlemas, Meeting of the Lord, the Feast of the

Purification of the Virgin, La Fete de la Chandeleur, and the Feast of

the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

Would the 1993 Bill Murray/Andie MacDowall movie have grossed $71

mil domestic if it had been titled any of those others?  We’ll never know.

But I digress.  I wanted to celebrate the continuing return of the light

with a light topic: who is/was your favorite flaky TV character?  The

flake is clueless, guileless, harmless, typically endearing, and sometimes

makes observations of startling clarity.  Phoebe, the folk singer on

“Friends”, whose magnum opus was “Smelly Cat”, was a flake.  Howard,

Bob’s neighbour on “The Bob Newhart Show”, was a flake.  We were

alerted that he had his head in the clouds by his profession, airline


Woody on “Cheers” was one.  He once contended that Darth Vader and

Luke Skywalker couldn’t be father and son because they didn’t have the

same last name.  Dale of “King of the Hill”, who saw conspiracies every-

where but didn’t notice his wife’s infidelity, was a flake as well.

My favorite is Reverend Jim from “Taxi”.  Head cabbie Alex described Jim

as having a flickering porch light.  He was an unrepentant hippie.  Another

character on the show once told him “the only reason guys like you got to

smoke dope and protest the war is because guys like me were over there

fighting for you.  What do you say to that?”  Without thinking, Jim said

“thank you”.  And he was sincere.

That episode, in which Jim gets his driver’s license and a job as a cabbie, is a

classic.  In another one he was at a costume party and saw another person

dressed as a multi-colored lobster.  “You again!”, he yelled.  So he gets my

vote.  Who gets yours?

  1. February 2, 2011 6:18 am

    “What does the yellow light mean?”

    “Slow down!”

    “What” “Does” “The” “Yellow” “Light” “Mean?”

    “Slow down!!!”


    I love that episode!

    My favorite flaky television character are all of the sidekicks from Rhoda: Brenda, Carlton the Doorman, Johnny Venture, Nick Lobo, Gary, Lenny.

    • February 2, 2011 5:30 pm

      I guess I’ll have to rent some “Rhoda”. I thought Johnny Venture was a cartoon character.

  2. February 2, 2011 7:39 am

    I loved Howard on Bob Newhart. Total flake, total funny. I also liked Don Knotts as Barney Fife and Ted Knight on Mary Tyler Moore. I think my favorite will always be Howard.

    • February 2, 2011 5:29 pm

      Knight expanded his blusteriness and unchecked ego as Judge Smails in “Caddyshack”. Rodney Dangerfield continually punctured his bubble.

  3. February 2, 2011 10:54 am

    I love The Office:

    Dwight Schrute: As a farmer, I know that when an animal is sick, sometimes the right thing to do, is to put it out of its misery. With the electricity we’re keeping Meredith alive, we could power a small fan for two days. You tell me what’s unethical.

    If we are talking movies it would be Peter Sellers hands down.

    • February 2, 2011 5:25 pm

      Dwight actually makes his co-workers seem nearly normal, even uberputz Michael. Has there ever been a creepier character on a comedy?

      • February 3, 2011 4:20 pm

        I’m going to have to go with Creed, from The Office, being even creepier than Dwight Schrute. Followed by Dwight’s cousin, Mose.

        I think I watch a lot of t.v. Some would call it “too much”. I do not.

      • February 3, 2011 5:27 pm

        I guess I’ll have to rent some “Office”, too. I’ve yet to see Creed or Mose. Did you know that Will Ferrell will do a four-episode arc when Steve Carell leaves the series later this season?

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