Great Caesar’s Ghost!


I looked at my watch, I looked at my wrist,
I punched myself in the face with my fist!

Bob Dylan

I don’t indulge in too much Hollywood cliché reporter business. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink whiskey from a bottle in my desk drawer. Okay, do I wear the occasional fedora… And sometimes I talk a little switchyard, if you know what I mean.

It’s nothing too intense, mind you, but definitely not for publication. Think of it as Jimmy Olsen doing a PG-13 Perry White. I generally do it when I get off the phone with a particularly uncooperative flack or an obfuscating CEO. It’s alright, though. Really. I know how to do it. The trick, you see, is to always wait until two beats after the receiver hits the cradle before making with the Paulie Walnuts invective.

So. This morning, I’m on the phone with an uncooperative flack. I called him regarding a press release about his company closing some factories in the U.S. and expanding operations in Europe. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but I’m paid to ask questions. Which gets me this, and I quote:

“Listen. The press release is very detailed. You shouldn’t read anything into it.”

Well, I just can’t help myself. By mid afternoon, I’ve read quite a lot into it, and I give him a call to check facts and figures and discuss things other people say about his company. A courtesy call at very least. I get his voicemail several times, and I keep leaving messages. Finally, at about 5:00 p.m., he answers the phone. I get this:

“Oh…Hi Rick. Hey, I’m in an interview with my boss right now. Can I call you back in two minutes?”

“Yes, I’ll be here,” I say. “I do need to check some facts and figures tonight.”

He’s all assurances.

When he hasn’t called an hour later, I decide to try him again. I get his voicemail.

Now, you can imagine that I’m feeling a bit jerked around at this point. I’m thinking he’s at Happy Hour, if such a thing exists in the city where he works (oh, yes, I’m cranky). And, thanks to him, I’m nowhere near my hour-long drive home.

Well, here’s how it went:

Voicemail: Hi, this is X. I’m not in right now, but your call is important ,…etc..

Me: …Hi, X. It’s Rick. I will be around for another few minutes, if you could get back to me tonight, that would be great. Thanks a lot. Goodbye.

I drop the receiver into its cradle. And 1 and 2 and…

Me: %$@$&^%$#^& $%#@

…And 4 and 5 and…

My speakerphone (robot voice): If you would like to continue recording, please press one.

Yes, friends. When I hung up, I accidentally hit the speakerphone button, turning my workspace into an open mic. So, my voice message is likely to include the Paulie Walnuts bit!

Well. He shouldn’t read too much into that.

16 Responses to “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”

  1. colleen Says:

    Reminds me of the time I thought I was sending an email to my sister and instead was sending it to just about EVERYONE I know. I felt the blood rush to may face and my heart pound a bit worrying how some parts of it would be taken. We should always act like our mother in law is watching.

    I’m still feeling that smoke that Buckowski was blowing in that interviewers face! I’m glad you don’t do that!

  2. Rick Says:

    It occurred to me too late that if I played it cool, the robot might have offered me the option of re-recording my message. But I’d already thrown my entire body on the phone to make it stop. ~,:^0

  3. patia Says:

    I am LMAO right now. Truly!

  4. OldOldLady Of The Hills Says:

    LOL, LOL…Well, it serves him right for giving you the ‘run around’….I don’t understand people at all anymore…OR maybe they were always like this man and I just wasn’t paying attention! But this kind of thing would have me swearing like a sailor! And I hope he reads everything into it that is there! LOL!

    About Jennifer Hudson….I don’t think her being on American Idol, even as a so called ‘loser’ had anything to do with her getting this job…in fact, I think it could have gotten in the way if she had not been as talented as she is……My understanding is that they saw over 800 young women for the part of “Effie” and Ms. Hudson had to go back three times or more….The sticking point was…could she act! And, it turns out she could and can and does.

    The only two other people that I know of who have played the HELL out of this role were Jennifer Holiday, in the original Broadway production back in 1981 and a fantastrically talented Tony Award winning actress/singer named Lilius White, who played this part in the Staged Reading with costumes, etc. in 2001….(This particular production was so fantastic that there is a recording of that production, very much worth listening to and owning)….Audra MacDonald played ‘Deena’ in that special show….and was fabulous, too…..
    I think I said that Jennifer Hudson really didn’t fit into the “American Idol” mold, at all…but there was no way that the judges could not include her in their final 16 or whatever that number is…it would have been a travesty. But it was The American People who voted her off and she was gone pretty early on….I am not a fan of that show at all…so it doesn’t surprise me that this young woman was voted off early on….
    But, America will no doubt take her to their hearts now that she is in this film in the right niche for her…..
    Sorry to go on and on Rick….Forgive me.

  5. kenju Says:

    I hope it turned out okay in the end. I love the phrase “Obfuscating CEO”. Know many of those, do you?

  6. Carroll Says:



    Wrong (for so many reasons) to laugh at another’s expense. But oh, that made me laugh! Those flacks should know it’s in their own best interest to speak, and speak clearly and thoroughly, with reporters. I’d say you gave him ample warning as to what you were about. Not your problem if the resulting article fails to put him/his company in the most desirable light.

    But yes, I can very much relate to that full-body attempt to pull the words back out of the infernal machine.

  7. mrschili Says:


    THAT’S great! I mean, I’m sorry and all, but that’s just GREAT.

    I’d LOVE to know what you said to him – and what he says to YOU the next time you speak. Here’s hoping it motivates him to quit jerking you around….

  8. Rick Says:

    This episode comes to its grueling denouement in about two hours.

  9. Todd Says:

    I was on the other end of a situation like that once. Not the jerking around part, just the Paulie Walnuts not meant for my ears part. I took it for what is was, a nice guy blowing off steam. Made me laugh like hell though.

  10. Kizz Says:

    At least now when he doesn’t call you back you’ll know why. 🙂

    Perhaps you can spin it. Could it sound like you accidentally stubbed your toe or slammed your thumb under the receiver when you hung up?

    Can’t wait to hear how it all turns out.

  11. Rick Says:

    Denouement: X called back and left a message last night at 7:45 pm. He didn’t say anything about my message. If I read his tone of voice on my voicemail correctly, he was in the “well, you told me to call you back, and I’m calling you back–where are you?” space as opposed to the “who you callin’ %$@$&^%$#^& $%#@ you little %$@$&^%$#^& $%#@” space. It would be more like him. He’s not at work today, but his aforementioned boss took my questions and gave me my answers.

    Case closed. Probably.

  12. Patia Says:

    Oh. Well. That’s good, I suppose.

  13. Cassie Blaine Says:

    I was sent here by link love from Mrs. Chili.

    HILARIOUS! Gotta love those > moments in life. They keep you humble….and entertain the rest of us!


  14. Meg Says:


  15. colleen Says:

    Rick, I recently sent a story to the Floyd Press about Josh’s slide show event. I sent a photo with it, the wrong one. It was one of him holding a beer up with a bunch of his friends behind him doing the same, all in bathing suits, partying and tubing. Well, the editor must have been too polite to say anything. She emailed me back and said, “Colleen, what caption would you like to go with that picture?” I went back to look at it so that I could compose a few lines and almost died when saw what it was! It was supposed to be pots! I can’t imagine what she was thinking.

    I came back and gazed at the painting above for 5 minutes and then came down here to see how it turned out.

  16. keda Says:

    heeheeheeee glad to hear you do stuff like that too 🙂

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