For the benefit of enquiring minds, the Roundup would like to offer some little-known information, facts and bits of tid about its newest staff writer, Mike Burkett.
In his reckless youth, Burkett was almost arrested in Salzburg, Austria -- the birthplace of Mozart and the music capital of the world -- for playing his rather rousing kazoo version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" in a residential neighborhood at 2 in the morning.
Best interview quote of career
Burkett is officially recorded in journalism history books as the very last writer to interview the infamous transvestite actor Divine before he died of complications resulting from eating a sandwich. As for the quote, well, he can't repeat it in a family newspaper. But if you take him to a reasonably nice bar and buy him a few drinks, he'll be happy to whisper the quote in your ear.
Second best interview quote of career
While attending Santa Cruz High School in coastal California, Burkett worked as a busboy in a local seafood restaurant. One day, in walked actress Jessica Tandy and her actor husband, Hume Cronyn, who at that time worked primarily on the stage and were recognized only by hopelessly star-struck types like young Mr. Burkett -- who was so awed by his celebrity encounter that he stole the knives and forks they'd used. (He still has them to this day.)
Twenty-five years later, Burkett found himself interviewing Ms. Tandy about her role in the just-released film "Driving Miss Daisy," for which she later won the Best Actress Oscar. During this conversation, Burkett informed Tandy of their first thrilling (for him) encounter, and admitted his theft of her used silverware.
"Well," the ultra-classy acting diva answered, "if you had brought the fork along, I'd have licked it for you."
Burkett's entry into journalism was as a contributor to his high school newspaper, The Santa Cruz High Trident. Unfortunately, the editors of that publication regularly destroyed the highly artistic content of his contributions with their highly unartistic rewrites.
He would like all Roundup readers to know that, if they ever dislike one of his stories, it will surely be the fault of his editors.
Most insightful critique of his work
As a child, Burkett dreamed of becoming a cartoonist. But after deciding to try his hand at prose, he turned over his very first writing effort (about a wart hog with super powers) to his mother for critical evaluation. Her perusal of the tale was followed by a long, silent pause.
Finally she said: "Ummm ... Maybe you should stick with cartooning."
Best career moment
When Burkett's mother and high-school journalism teacher both attended his first hometown reading/signing of his book "The Dad Zone." It was at this event that his mom first started denying that she made the cartooning remark. However, Burkett continues to sense that she hasn't much changed her mind.
Behind the scenes
Mike Burkett and his wife of 16 years, Deborah, have a 14-year-old son, Matthew, and a 9-year-old daughter, Jessica.
His writing career spans 29 years and his credits include:
• Author of the book, "The Dad Zone," published by Simon & Schuster in 1994 and based on his nationally syndicated humor column of the same name, distributed to newspapers across North America by Universal Press Syndicate from 1992 to 1996.
• Published in publications as diverse as The Los Angeles Times, Premiere Magazine, Reader's Digest and The Mini-Storage Messenger.
• Author of seven theatrical plays, all produced professionally. His newest, the musical-comedy "Melody of Frankenstein," will premiere next year.