Do-It-Yourself Success (Diet for Dreamers)

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Can art be orchestrated? Can success be engineered? Apparently the answer is a resounding YES! Especially when you recruit all the right people to help. That’s exactly what Bob Rafelson did in the 1960s. Although, it was never what the aspiring filmmaker intended.

Rafelson developed an unusual concept for a TV series in 1962: the weekly misadventures of a rising rock and roll band. Rafelson had his eye on singer/songwriter John Sebastion and his Greenwich Village folk-rock group The Lovin’ Spoonful. Sebastion’s quartet would eventually top the charts with such hits as “Summer in the City” and “Do You Believe in Magic”; but at the time the four musicians were relatively unknown and looking for precisely the exposure Rafelson’s new series could afford them.

Producer/director Bob Rafelson

Rafelson pitched his idea to Universal Studio’s television section and
received the first of several rejections. So he shelved the project and went to work for Screen Gems, where he met his soon-to-be collaborator Bert Schneider. In 1965, after the phenomenal success of The Beatles’ movie, A Hard Day’s Night — about the misadventures of a rising rock and roll band — Rafelson realized that the television money men might now be open to his series concept. He and Schneider repackaged the idea and easily sold it to Screen Gems.

Unfortunately, during the time it took to sell the show,  a new wrinkle had developed: The Lovin’ Spoonful finally got its big break, when the four musicians were signed to a lucrative and very exclusive record contract. No problem, though.  When a wide door of opportunity suddenly shuts, just find yourself an open window to crawl through! Rafelson and Schneider decided they’d simply create their own pop group. After all, it shouldn’t be that hard to locate and assemble four young, attractive and talented guys who were also totally cool and musically inclined.

Rafelson already had his eye on British actor Davy Jones, who’d recently been nominated for a Tony Award for his supporting role in the Broadway musical Oliver! Jones could both sing and act, and he had teen-idol good looks to boot. Then came Micky Dolenz, a former child actor who’d starred in the TV show Circus Boy and then later played guitar for a dubious group called The Missing Links. Third and fourth up were Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.

Peter Tork played a fair guitar and had been working in various Greenwich Village clubs. He heard about the casting call from his pal Stephen Stills, who’d auditioned for a part but had been rejected. And yes, if you know your music history, you probably realize this is THE Stephen Stills of the legendary group Crosby, Stills and Nash — one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Michael Nesmith, who’d been seriously and actively pursuing a musical career, actually answered the ad he chanced upon in the Daily Variety, casting for “4 insane boys, age 17-21.” Nesmith got a part, and Rafelson got exactly what he advertised for: a quartet of four insane boys! Whenever the group was assembled in the recording studio, the youths would cut up and accomplish very little. In order to meet his schedule, Don Kirshner, who was orchestrating the “manufacturing” of the group’s music, had to bring in the “band” members one at a time, and lay down each of their tracks individually.

Kirshner also brought in solid backup musicians, as well as professional songwriters such as Neil Diamond — because initially Rafelson’s engineered rock band was far from being ready for prime time. But eventually the “4 insane boys” did get up to speed, enough to actually go on a successful music tour throughout North America and Europe … and The Monkees were born!

You knew we were discussing The Monkees, didn’t you? Rafelson’s made-for-TV rock band has sold more than 75 million records worldwide and had several international hits. At the height of their popularity in 1967, The Monkees outsold the Beatles and The Rolling Stones put together. Which definitely proves, if you have a dream, bring in the right people and work hard, you CAN make it happen!

“…I am doing a new thing! …Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness….” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Tune in Friday, when “A Monkees Mom Makes Millions in Manufacturing!”

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Dr. King’s Angelic Message!

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Today we commemorate the life of a great servant of God, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We also celebrate the fourth anniversary of our website AngelAtTheDoor.com and the first of our three ongoing series of inspirational articles, Diet for Dreamers.

We chose to launch our website and our first series on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for two big reasons, the most obvious one being that Dr. King had a great dream — and we intended our weekly articles in Diet for Dreamers (along with our Encouragement for Creators) to feed the spirits of dreamers everywhere. We genuinely wanted to encourage people to pursue the goals and visions with which God has inspired them, and we’ve stayed the course through hundreds of “adventures” that examine the origins of such cool and iconic things as Star Trek and slinky toys, cotton candy and Liquid Paper, Peter Rabbit and Edison’s lightbulb; and the success stories of dreamers and creators such as Stan Lee and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Orville Redenbacher and “Rocky Balboa,” Morgan Freeman and Agatha Christie, Irving Berlin and Satchel Paige.

We conceived AngelAtTheDoor.com to be our internet home, a base of operations for our mission as messengers of love, hope, truth, and hospitality. In Biblical times, God employed supernatural messengers called angels to deliver such truths. These angels had a habit of showing up on the doorsteps of some of the great heroes of the Bible, and a few times they looked exactly like normal people who were just passing by. We realized that in a manner of speaking, we all have the potential do be God’s “angels” — whenever we choose to be God’s hands extended, His messengers of love. Hence, the curious name of our website.

And in a way, every thing that God created, such as a blade of grass or a rain cloud, can take on an angelic role, teaching us important truths about the nature of life and relationships. And we discovered that even in the kitchen, working with food and kitchen tools and appliances, we could “see” examples of God’s wisdom. This inspired our third series of whimsical articles, Angel in the Kitchen, many of which were recently published as a book — along with another volume, a collection of our Diet for Dreamer articles. Which brings us to the other reason we chose to launch on January 18, 2015.

Dr. King was exactly the type of angelic messenger we had in mind when we conceived our website. He chose to be God’s emissary in a divided world, an “angel” of peace but with a steadfast message of equality. Dr. King had a dream that “one day [all people will] live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” His angelic message is one of unity and harmony, and as followers of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, we share both his dream and his message!

We pray for the destruction of every last “wall” that so easily divides us: age, gender, ethnicity, and religion, as well as social and economic status. We intentionally leave out the word race, because we feel it’s a misnomer. We are all members of a single race, the human race, created in God’s own image and descended from a single bloodline. Each of us, on this basis, has great worth, value and potential — and is deserving of respect and no small consideration.

Yes, we are all equal! But thank goodness we’re not all the same! We may have our differences, and come from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds, but that just keeps life and people interesting. God loves diversity — just take a look at nature and you’ll understand this — and when He created the human race He seasoned the world with a wide variety of “flavors” (sabor)!

The prophet Samuel wrote, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV) In other words, God determines who we are by looking inside; it’s the condition of our hearts that signifies the kind of people we are, not a set of external factors. So, as we reflect on Dr. King’s message and legacy, let’s also examine our own hearts — honestly. Once we do, we should ask ourselves if what we discover would be pleasing in the eyes of the God who is Love!

Let’s work together to root out any prejudice, hatred, or bigotry toward our fellow man. We don’t have to agree with another person on every single issue in order to accept them; and we don’t have to adopt their worldview in order to love them.

Please join us in this prayer from the Biblical King, David, whom God declared “a man after My own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22 NIV):

Search me, O God, and know heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 KJV) Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)

Most of us dream of a better world. If we’re going to pursue this dream, we’ll need to start by being better. With God’s grace we can do it — together! Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

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