Do-It-Yourself Success (Diet for Dreamers)


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!”


The Nose KNOWS! (Angel in the Kitchen)


During the 1980s there was a cool commercial for a leading brand of plastic food wrap. We say “cool” because it featured a Bengal tiger. Hey, ya gotta respect a tiger! Tigers outrank every other mammal. After all, just
look at all their stripes! (Sorry. 😬)

In the commercial, two thick, juicy steaks are completely covered in plastic wrap: one in the big-name brand, and one in their competitor’s product. Both steaks are then tossed into a cage with a ferocious, starving (and quite handsome) tiger.

The big cat pays no attention to the meat covered in the advertiser’s plastic wrap — because the tiger can’t smell it. However, he devours the steak covered in cheap food wrap in record time, because he could smell the meat through the plastic. The advertiser’s point was that their wrap didn’t allow any air (and hence, aroma) to pass through, so it kept food fresher. As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.” But that’s not the most interesting aspect of the commercial.

Taste and smell work together. Have you ever walked into someone’s kitchen and smelled a cake baking. You probably weren’t hungry until the aroma from the oven smacked you right in the kisser! And yet, after getting one whiff of cake, you start salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs for a thick slice of dessert. What happened! Well, the aroma gave you an appetite for what you were smelling.

Our sense of smell actually works together with our sense of taste. God in His wisdom gave us both senses, and here’s why: people are like tigers; we usually won’t try a new food unless it appeals to our sense of smell. Hey, the nose knows. Which is also why we usually smell food for freshness, well before committing ourselves to the first sip of milk or bite of cheese.

We can tell you that a certain food –one you’ve never tried before — is absolutely delicious. But if you can’t smell that it’s good, then you essentially have to take our word for it. We can even serve it to you on a tray with a fresh daisy beside it; but if there’s no aroma to help trigger your appetite, there’s a good chance you won’t try it! On the other hand, if something smells delicious to you, then you’ll probably go out of your way to ask us to share it with you!

Throw a steak on the grill. Once it starts to sizzle, and that smoky barbecue aroma fills the air, your neighbor will suddenly remember it’s time to return the weed-eater he borrowed last month. He’ll be leaning over the fence, hypnotized by the smell of the A1 sauce, and hoping he gets an invite. Of course, we’ve all been on both sides of the fence — not hungry until we encounter some intoxicating aroma!

So, where are we going with this? Well, faith and works go together the same way taste and smell do. Our faith in God, along with the joy and abundant life He brings when we trust in Him, are something we’d love to serve to our neighbors. One huge problem, though: they don’t know just how good the things of God are! They’ve never tasted them before. Perhaps, they’re not even “hungry” for the things of God. Although we can continuously tell them just how “tasty” a believer’s life is, unless there’s a delicious aroma to entice them, to alert them to something delicious, there’s a good chance they won’t try it! Sad, but true!

That’s where the aroma of our faith kicks in. Just as good food emits a wonderful fragrance, so too should our faith — and our lives as believers. The Bible states, “…We are the aroma of the Messiah … the sweet smell of life leading to more life.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 CJB) This pleasing aroma is emitted when we demonstrate what we believe in. When we love others, when we give, serve, and encourage those around us, the pleasing aroma of godliness attracts our neighbors just like the smell of the backyard grill. Whether we call it “good works” or “faith in action,” demonstrating what we believe in will always make others hungry for what we can share.

“…Through us, [God] brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17 MSG)

Jesus commanded us not to hide our light (the light of truth) under a basket, where no one can see it. In the same way, don’t “store your beliefs with plastic food wrap!” Instead, allow the world to smell the sweet aroma of Godliness — by living out what you believe! When you do, the aroma of
your good works will help create a genuine appetite for the good things of God; and your friends, family and coworkers will come around asking, “That smells delicious! Can I please have a taste!”

“Taste and see that the LORD is good! How blessed is the person who trusts in him!” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)