The Man Behind the Curtain

Mar 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm

There's a line from the movie The Wizard of Oz that birthed one of my favorite quips.

It's the scene where Dorothy, et al., have returned from snuffing out the Wicked Witch and are looking to get what was promised to them by the Wizard. To the best of my recollection, the Wizard responds by saying something that essentially means "pound sand." Naturally, bedlam ensues upon their realizing that they just got hosed by some nebulas douche bag -- and there's nary a thing they can do about it.

Amidst the chaos, Dorothy's co-star, the scene-stealing Toto, sees commotion behind a red velvet curtain and investigates. Then, as only a four-legged actor could execute, Toto grabs the curtain in his mouth, draws it back, to expose an impish-looking man operating a panoply of buttons and levers that are generating the spook-fest known as Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Befuddled by the exposure, the man speaks into a heavily synth'd microphone and says, wait for it: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." Or, at least that's how I remember it from whence I saw the movie last (it is quite possible that 30 years have passed!).

I co-opted the line because it's written so perfectly for so many of life's quirky little awkward moments when nothing but a witty quip can help extricate you from an otherwise awkward moment. Plus, the outward image we project versus the man behind the curtain, who is busy turning wheels, pulling knobs and pressing buttons, sometimes don't align perfectly. If you're lucky there's little offset. More times than not, they somewhat askew. Of course, while not a universal truth, it seems to work for the majority of people.

As the new guy, and one who hopes to enjoy a long life in the job, I thought it might be interesting to pull back the editorial curtain and just opine on the stuff life throws at me and, on occasion (with the blessing of my colleagues), the editorial department.

This is not, I say not a vanity project. (A few blog posts in and the handful of people who actually might have read this will surely agree). Rather, I think a good way to engage with readers is show that I can identify with them through my own shit.

So, over the course of the next several months, you will be introduced to the cast of characters who have come to define my world: wife, children, boss, et al. I know you'll grow to love them as much (if not more) than I do.