An old friend used to do an impersonation of her mother reciting a handy coming-of-age proverb: “Smart man, crazy man: piece of paper.” Embellished with the proper inflections and gestures — smart and crazy form opposite halves separated only by paper — the proverb‘s gist was clear: Smartman is as much almost Crazyman as Crazyman is almost Smartman. Piece of Paper foils the metaphysical fissure hell-bent on keeping them apart. Zany antics ensue. Tune in for laughs every Monday night at 9 as Sam Waterston and Barbra Streisand’s husband star in Piece of Paper. This fall.

My friend and I had been discussing origami. She‘d been telling childhood stories of paper cranes at Christmastime, which had gotten me thinking about paper in general — densities and textures and uses. I had time to think (unemployment), so I decided to imagine what sort of paper, if any, my friend’s mother had in mind when she imparted the piece-of-paper story. (Remember, I was unemployed.) A smart man barred from madness by a hefty sheet of watercolor paper must, I reasoned, have the potential to become a very different sort of Hyde than one kept Jekyll by Hammermill Copy Plus.

Or maybe when she said paper she meant money. Damn. I took a break with a small sandwich and a glass of lemonade, and continued. Smart man, crazy man: ten thousand dollars. Smart man, crazy man: cheesecloth. Cheesecloth isn‘t paper, but it’s paper-thin; maybe that‘s all she meant. Smart man, crazy man: prescription for Zoloft™. Now we’re getting somewhere.

#A Smart Man‘s Guide to Buying Diamonds (www.wilsondiamond.comgroup.htm), presented by Wilson Diamonds of Orem, Utah, makes it easy for those of us on the good side of the paper to spend a lot of money on something truly shiny that lasts real, real long. As if to weed out crazy men who might stumble onto their site for no good reason, the Wilson family has divided their guide into six shrewdly titled sections: Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5 and Section 6, respectively, with no indication as to what each section is or might be about. However, the home page’s 473-by-332-pixel portrait of nine smartly dressed Wilson family members (www.wilsondiamond.comgroup_new.jpg) is a keeper.

#Crazy_Man (www.win4edu.comminds-eyewebmakerpages181crazyman.181.html), a.k.a. Greg, describes, as we all someday must, his monster: black neck, very short, oval spots on otherwise green torso, squiggles on long and otherwise purple legs, 13 antennae and one bunny ear on blue head, straight mouth, square nose, two arms, one without fingers. And Greg has apparently created images of his monster which, unfortunately, refuse to load into the page as we go to press. Crazy_Man‘s monster is part of MindsEye Monster Exchange (www.win4edu.comminds-eyemonster), a collaborative online language-arts project in which “students try to communicate an original monster image into another child’s mind using writing skills and technology.” Teachers: Sign up by October 4 for a project ending November 30.

#“Trust me,” says Rod Barnett, proprietor of 10K4AWIFE.COM (, “if you do this for me you will have saved me a lot of trouble, and I can assure you that you will receive the reward.” The buffering paper of overwhelming choice among smart and crazy men alike is currency. Rod‘s offering $10,000 — enough to separate 500 pairs of crazy men and smart men with 20s — to anyone who’ll introduce him to a woman to whom he‘ll propose marriage. But not just any woman: “You should be a very attractive brunette or blonde . . . NON SMOKER, 24–35, 5’4”–6‘, 110–140 lbs. For example, 5’4“ 110 lbs, 5‘8” 130 lbs., etc. Please respect the fact that I know what type of build I’m attracted to and wish it was not so restricted. I did not make that perception, it‘s just what came about within me. At least I’m being honest with myself and you! Proceed to My Beliefs Page.“ If, as he claims, Rod is not a crazy man but ”a white-collar entrepreneur, very health-conscious, psychology-oriented, analytical, optimistic, very logical, tastefully bold, secure, open-minded, nonjudgmental, down-to-earth, environmentally conscious, heavy conversationalist, family-oriented, outgoing, tenacious, intrigued by new technologies, like to dress in fashion but not stuffy“ and so on, surely there must be something wrong with him. Just one tiny little random something? ”No,“ says Rod, ”there is nothing wrong with me and I can assure you that I am not desperate.“ Be nice to Rod, for Rod has no priors, nor does he show any signs of more expensive disturbances.

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