Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dreaming of Baker Street on a drive to Minneapolis.

A year or so back, I found myself a member of a group in Minneapolis called The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota.

No, it doesn't really have anything to do with exploring; and you don't have to be Norwegian.  But their meetings take place in Minnesota; usually in St. Paul.

It's a Sherlockian Society.

As most of you know, I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  And have been since I was about 14.  The same year that Benadryl Cumbersmash was born.  And Johnny Lee Miller was only 4.

In the summer of 1976, my Father decided that I was going to do some reading*, and he assigned me a book, TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck#.  I hated it as only a 14 year old boy could.  And so, after berating me a bit for my lack of patience, he assigned A STUDY IN SCARLET.

Cue the trumpets; I was hooked.

Of course, it had to a fandom kept mostly to myself; 14 year old boys that I knew had no interest in fictional characters, unless, of course, they were named Starsky or Hutch.  But that was okay; I had this thing to occupy my time, for here were more stories to read.

As I discovered as I moved on, there were movies with a guy named Basil, and a television series with a guy named Jeremy Brett, and eventually, pastiches written by everybody under the sun, and plays, from every time period you could name.....

Here was a guy who used his BRAIN.  Who could, simply by looking at someone, discern details that seemed like magic.  And he used these gifts to do right.

It's no wonder that a 14 year old geek, who had no physical gifts but a top-notch brain, become a life long fan.

I got to play the character in '00, in a theatre in California; it was a kind of heaven.  One review stated that I was, "embodying the character, rather than playing him."  I should have quit right then, called the career a success, and moved on to washing cars for a living.  Or something.  Because it was never going to get better than that for me, ever.

I have a large collection now, of books, and dvds and memorabilia; a signed photo of Jeremy Brett, a pipe inherited from my Father, a hat purchased in London at the only Museum dedicated to a fictional Character...and yes, I spent a glorious afternoon there......

But some people spend their afternoons as LEGOLAND and nobody bats an eyelash, so don't stare at me, buddy.

And my fandom of the Great Detective was like a gateway to others.....Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, J J Marric's Inspector Gideon, Ellery Queen, Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael (as well as Umberto Eco's Friar William of Baskerville in THE NAME OF THE ROSE), and all the 'detective fiction' from Wilkie Collins (THE MOONSTONE) and Poe (RUE MORGUE) to Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.

So, every so often, I go over to Minneapolis on a weekend and sit in a room and talk for several hours about a specific story with a group of like-minded individuals, and they marvel at the fact that I travel a long distance to do so.

I do it so I feel that sense of belonging that has long been missing.

Well, and the Mall of America.

And the Park Square Theatre.

But mostly the Norwegian Explorers.




*My Father insisted that he assigned me THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, but I'm sure it was SCARLET; he also assigned me Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER, though he swore it was HUCKLEBERRY FINN. 

#STILL haven't read this one yet.  But I did inherit it, so there's hope.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spinning like a Random Top...ic.....

I cannot bring myself to write anything about the industrial strength swamp that is the current political situation.  I just can't.  I'd like to say that it is just too easy; the fact of the matter is, there's just too much on the social networking sites that to add to it seems redundant.

And I'm not all that interested in Awards shows, so that topic is out; except to say this:

Nate Parker, writer, director and star of BIRTH OF A NATION, was accused, arrested and acquitted of a sexual assault that allegedly took place in 1999.  He and his movie were vilified in the press, and social media, and a fine film disappeared.

Casey Affleck settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, where he physically coerced a woman to sleep with him, and when he didn't, verbally assaulted her and generally behaved like a privileged asshole, and was given an Oscar.

I don't see much of a difference between the two; except that one got hosed. 

And I didn't see any of the films nominated; I did notice that most of the films nominated were released after October.  And mostly in LA and NY.

 Baseball started this week.

I think fondly of those vacations I took to visit my old man down in Sarasota; and the arguments we would have about who's turn it was to buy the tickets, and who was supposed to supply the dogs and suds.  I would like to thank the Tigers, the Pirates, the Orioles, the Twins, the Braves, the Red Sox  and the Rays for the enormous fun.

Also, both the Pirates and the Orioles have top-notch Grapefruit League facilities.

I'm not going this year.

Still no job.  And no prospects.  It's been 69 days.  The longest I've ever been unemployed.

It was easier to find a job when I was forty.

It's hard now.

Apparently, I'm overqualified to make coffee.

And, that's about it.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

I wasn't meant for......

There's an old story about a man who goes to a doctor, claiming that he couldn't feel anything.

He found no joy in his life, his job was unfulfilling, and each day just plodded along.

The doctor said, "I've got just the thing for you!  The Greatest Show on Earth is in town, and they have this clown, Grimaldi...and Grimaldi could make a statue laugh!  If you're tired of Grimaldi, you are tired of life!

The man smiled a sad smile.

"You see doctor," he said, sadly, "I am Grimaldi."

I heard that story when I was fourteen.

And there have been, in my life, several quintessential moments that felt like the proverbial punch in the stomach.  Times when it seems like everything around you shifts suddenly to twelve inches left, and every single cell in your body screams.

I can actually remember the first time it happened.  The death of Charlotte, in E.B. White's terrific novel of friendship and acceptance.  My third grade teacher read it to the class through the winter into the spring.  That moment jarred me.  I felt it, keenly.

Standing in the middle of the Ripley's Museum, the world changed.  Or, more importantly, my perception of it changed.

And that's how my self-assessment as a Court Jester with a broken heart began.

I have served an important purpose, I think.  I learned from everything, I saw deeply, spoke passionately, cheered the world around me, tried to see all sides of a story, to get to the real story.

Became an alcoholic, became more introverted, and more often than not, went home alone.

Diogenes would be proud, I think.

Sun will come up in the morning, though, I bet.......

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sometimes, You Just Cannot.

A few months ago, a single three word sentence came across to me via a social media account.

Hello, (my name).

And it was kind of like that Hitchcockian special effect, where he pans the camera back, but zooms the camera in....everything is moving, but the focus is stationary.  I always thought that time travel would look like that.

I also thought that time travel would cause the traveler to spend the first five or ten minutes after completing the journey to throw up, and drink copious amounts of water....because it HAS to be like drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (which is defined by the great Douglas Adams as: "having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.")

That's what it felt like....running full speed backwards to the Fall of 1984.

Things had gone horribly wrong about that time....and it really took me about eight years to right the ship.  I was drinking a lot.  I was ignoring responsibilities.  I was desperate for something to grasp on to; something to give me the focus I needed to find True North again.

Yeah.  I know what you're thinking, and you're right.  I know that.  NOW.

And everybody has to go through an idiot phase, and this was my time.

And the person who sent the three word message to me was something I tried to hold on to.

Have you ever been in a relationship that you thought was a Relationship, but it turns out it was not so much a ship as it was an inflatable boat, and you were alone in it and the person you thought was in it with you was actually removing the air from the inflatable boat, and chumming the water?

And I kept going back.  Time and again; through all the broken promises and half-hearted vows and hollow flattery.

I'm shaking my head just thinking about all of the wrong, wrong, wrong things I did to myself and others, based upon this one......one-sided, tunnel-visioned, self-destructive....mistake.

I have tried since the moment I woke up on my front porch in January of 1993 (temperature below freezing) with the last taste of vodka on my tongue and the first taste of "I actually DO want to live" running through the little gray cells, to be a better person.

I strive to look at all sides of an issue, reserving the right to knee-jerk first before settling into analysis.

I strive NOT to define people by the worst thing they ever did.

I try to forgive the real-or-perceived wrongs done to me.  And like an organ transplant, sometimes it doesn't take.

So.  The person who sent me that three word message, in a significant way, made me a better person.  Of course, not right away....I still went through nine years of self-destructive self-loathing, and I carry that with me as a reminder (in a little jar on my desk, marked: Ashes of My Former Self.)

And, as biology tells us, every cell in our body is basically renewed every seven years, so by the time my sobriety came along for good, I was a totally different person, physically, than the one I was when the damage was done.

So.  Person who sent me the three word message, I say thank you.

And don't ever contact me again.

I can forgive myself for the foolish things I have done; and I intend to do that, one of these days.

And I don't forget them.

And I'll never forget you.

And I will never forgive you.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

I went down to the Crossroads, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

I often wondered, and often heard in my head (in the voice of Morgan Freeman), "Oh, Lord, when's gonna be our time?"

I don't really wonder about that so much anymore.

Because I've had my time; and I spent it the way it was to be spent, based upon circumstance, and need, and courage.

I was a teacher, and an actor, and an ice cream maker.  And for nine soul-sucking months, I was a retail guy at the Mart.  I was always running into Wal's.

I often wonder why I spent a certain amount of time (not an inordinate amount, mind, you, but the standard, average-human-being type amount) wonder if I had more courage, would I have gone to the Big City and thrown the dice?  If I had more forward thinking, would I have paid more attention to the things I did as a teacher, in order to write a better resume?  If I had the right words, would those that left stayed?

It's a nice bit of nostalgia, I guess.  A bit of time walking down Amnesia Avenue.

But in my youth, I took it very hard.  I blamed everybody and everything but myself.

I'm much better now.

The truth is, it hasn't been a failure, by any measurement.  I have a bank account, and retirement savings (as if), and a home and a family.  I've had a job, in one form or another, for my entire adult life, with the exception of the last.....let's see.....57 days.  I've kept the family fed and clothed and insured.

I don't do the acting thing anymore.

Not professionally, and not in the amateur, either.

It's interesting; when I worked professionally, it was tiring and I thought on occasion that it was a stupid f***ing way to make a living.  I loved the rehearsal process, putting it together and making it work...the collaboration....and, the performances were good, too; you sleep late, you show up, you work for several hours, you go home.  It's a pretty cool living.

But it's for the younger, apparently.  One day I turned around and I didn't know anybody in the world anymore; the phone wasn't ringing as much; and the callbacks that at one time took all evening into the early morning were done by the 10 O'clock news.

I found myself doing more and more coaching in the hallways outside of hotel rooms, for the youngers who were just starting out, flailing and full of life and energy. 

And I was running on empty.  Full of memories, but low on fuel.

Your talent level is always dependent upon other people's opinions, but I always considered myself on the high side of average.  Think of it as not being able to set the world on fire, but knowing where people keep the matches......

And I tried the community theatre thing, I did.  The timeline was short; I was on hiatus when my career ended in the fall of '03, and did not step onto a stage until about 2010.  I met a couple of like-minded souls and enjoyed both the process and the product.  So, I did a couple of things, until I could no longer sustain the attention, and I retired again in 2015.

I don't really feel welcome in the community here.  I don't think I ever did feel all that welcome; and it's understandable; for example, the last audition I walked into, I watched every man in the room literally deflate.  One actually made a sound that I interpreted as, "well, there goes THAT."  And it wasn't the first time I saw that happen.

On the flip side, I was told, flat out, after my 'debut' in 2010, that I could have any role I wanted.

I hated that.  If people know that, they won't want to work with you, they'll resent you.  And hell yes, I feel the resentment every time I walk into an audition space.

I'm halfway home.  There are more days behind me than there are in front of me.  I'm not going to spend the time dealing with anybody else's resentment.  I would rather be unemployed than under that particular vessel of crap.

Or, in the words of the Jive Lady in Airplane, "Chump don't want da hep, Chump don't git da hep."

If I work again, it'll be under my own flag.

Pretty sure it's a skull and crossbones.

Just as soon as my time comes.......  :)


Monday, February 13, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Random Thoughts.

Some things that I've been pondering.......

Steve Bannon is NOT the Anti-Christ.  I expect my Anti-Christ to look like Steve Valentine, not a badly-shorn Peter Griffin.

If the Secretary of Eddimacation (Newspeak spelling) is the head of the Department of Eddimacation, and the GOP is intent on eliminating the Department of Eddimacation, then how long does it take the 5:09 train from Scranton heading east to crash into the hopes and dream of all Americans, leaving Common Sense station at high speeds?

Nordstrom's made a business decision; I'm pretty sure that the Resident of the United States has robbed plenty of less-well-off people of their livelihood by making a business decision.  Does his core constituency know that he's a whiny cry-baby?

And, I think that attempting to make a buck off of the Residency is one of those, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" that can lead to impeachment.

Some people would actually consider it worse that a blowjob.

I realize how that previous sentence read; I mean, THAT blowjob.  Not just a random blowjob.

I need to stop using the word "blowjob".  I have relatives that read this.

I really didn't need to write any of that out.

Still no word from the Court of Appeals; but it's going to the Supreme Court, anyway, so what the hell.

People have been posting art on their Facebook page.  I joined in.

Dogs Playing Poker won over Elvis On Black Velvet.  But it was close.

And now. Black Velvet is running through my head.

I'm going to stop now, before the Hamilton Soundtrack starts up again in my noggin'.....

Damn it.

(and I'm not throwin' away my...SHOT....)

Exit, pursued by a bear.