Sunday, April 27, 2008

démarrer sur la tête

When I was in graduate school, Steve Gans, roommate extraordinaire, turned me on to a band of Canadian comics called THE FRANTICS. This was before THE KIDS IN THE HALL, mind you. And their signature piece was called, "Boot to the Head."

This is my Sunday gift to you.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


It's cold and windy.
And I don't really mind.
Sure, there are outdoor chores to be done. I still have the backyard to awaken from it's long winter's nap. There are plants that need to find their homes in the earth in that little corner of the backyard I lovingly refer to as "what the hell, we had the space."

Some painting.

But it's cold and windy, and that adds up to laundry, dishes, and whatever sporting event that the Gods of cable deem to show me today.

But my mind is rolling back again to the days when the sun shined, humidity was a thing you didn't care about, and grass stains on the knees of your jeans were a badge of honor.

Within these fragments, perfection.

Where a reasonable sized space between the hedges and the treeline became Wrigley Field, and we had all day to "play two." And we never counted the innings, and we barely kept the score, and if we didn't have enough players, the pitcher's hand was out at first. And if we didn't have enough space, we used the wiffle, and it was just as good.

There's nothing like the sound of a bat hitting a ball. A wooden bat.
And there's nothing like the sound of Ernie Harwell, calling a Tiger's game on the transistor radio.
In my dreams, I was Al Kaline.

Summers were longer in our youth. I'm sure of this. The sun rose early, and set late. The smell of freshly cut grass and charcoal smoke was perpetually in the air. When you could be reasonably sure that if you rode that Schwinn fast enough, you really could fly. And where, if you were lucky, you lived in a place where you could actually see the fireflies, and the stars from your front porch.

My memories sound like an episode of THE WALTONS.

So, sue me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Marching toward Oblivion.

Somewhere along the line, I went horribly, horribly wrong.

You see, friends and neighbors, for some reason I actually cared about what was going on around me. Even from my early days as a lay-about-wanna-be-Dylan-Thomas-alcoholic-poet, I was aware of the things going on around me; I wanted to know; I wanted to see.

I cared about politics, and history, and how they are intertwined. I cared about the trends on television and in film. I was interested on the ever changing tastes in music. I was all agog over the simple complexities of the English language, and even though I can't speak any OTHER language, I was curious on how our language is adapted from other languages. I read books without discrimination; no genre was left unturned, no author turned away into the dark night of apathy.

I travelled the great wide world; I slept in huge beds dressed up in the highest thread counts, and I slept in the bandstand with four homeless Vietnam veterans. I saw the sun rise in the desert and the sun set over the vast Pacific Ocean. I've eaten caviar from Russia, and Brown Trout from a mountain stream. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors, filling sandbags to keep the Mississippi from pushing it's way into town, and helped to rebuild houses in places that weren't so lucky. I listened to thousands of stories from hundreds of mouths, and if I concentrate I can still hear the voices; and I can DAMNED SURE repeat the stories.

In short, I read, watched, observed, wrote about, studied, researched, laughed over, cried about, and basked in the glory that was simply walking around the world with my eyes wide open.

And now, I find that I was horribly, horribly wrong.

For you see, friends and neighbors, it doesn't matter. Because the well versed, well read, and thoughtful individuals are the ones that society nails upon the cross of short sightedness, and just out and out stupidity.

I can't believe that all those cro-mags that pushed me around in high school were actually RIGHT. That the pursuit of knowledge is actually the world's largest joke. And it's all on me.

And all it took?
All it took was for somebody to look me straight in the eye and say the magic words:
"You're very weird."

It was enough to make a middle aged man cry.
But not in public.
Never in public.

There was a time when "marching to the beat of a different drummer" was considered a kind of compliment. That unique perspectives were not only welcome, but admired. Where creativity moved the stars in their flight, and the orbs in their celestial patterns. Now, it's lukewarm, leftover, line forms on the right, and you'd better tow the line, or it's a one way ticket to the city of Pariah.

And some people wonder why I became an alcoholic.
And some other people wonder why I even bothered with sobriety.

And how was your day, Bunky?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brief, and without a point.

It cannot decide whether it's raining or snowing....but there's thunder and lightning....and's white stuff falling.

Welcome to another edition of "BiPolar Weather."

I'm not exactly complaining, mind you. It's been damned dry here for the last...uh.....sixty weeks or so. So, we'll take it anyway we can get it. I'm just glad I did my yardwork yesterday.

And I have the PAIN to prove it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The title to be named later

I had intended today to do some yard work. Lately, the weather has been temperate, even with the traditional North Dakota breeze blowing at 30 miles and hour, and seemingly coming from all directions. There's work to be done; the lawn needs a good raking, there's the sprinkler system to revitalize, and the mower needs a good sharpening and such.

At present, the temperature is 31 degrees. And it's not snowing, but the rain is looking rather....large. They expect it to clear, and to get up to around 50 today, so I may do something outside before the sun goes down, but don't count on it, kids, because I'm pretty much blown by 2pm....largely, because I'm up at 5 every morning, even on my days off.

Damned internal alarm clock.

Well, there's interior stuff to do, as well....laundry, And such.

I like working the yard. I'm not a fan of manual labor, mind you, although I've done my fair share, but there's something about turning chaos into order that satisfies the very confused soul that inhabits the body. Put on the headphones, fire up the machinery, and off you go.....straight lines.

I could do without the raking.
Oh, and the leaves.

Changing subjects:

As some of you know, I'm from Detroit. It's not really something you brag about, because invariably, people look at you funny the minute you say you're from Detroit. Nobody bats and eye if you were to say, "I'm from prison", but the minute you claim Detroit as your hometown, you can see the wheels start turning. They're thinking, "Ah....a survivor." Or, "I wonder if he ever killed a guy."

So, to answer.
I've never killed a guy.
I killed a few relationships there. But back in the day, I was a serial relationship killer.

I'm just from Detroit.

And as such, people from Detroit have an almost genetically engineered trait that there is no other sporting teams but Detroit sporting teams.

ANY Detroit sporting teams.
I've attended Red Wing games (in both the old Olympia, the Joe, and two arenas in St. Louis, and one in Orlando), Lions games (at Tiger Stadium, the Silverdome, and Ford Field), Tiger games (Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park) and Piston games (in both Cobo and the Palace) well as Detroit Express games (Major League Soccer back in the seventies), The Detroit Wheels (World Football League), the Detroit Vipers (American Hockey League in the mid nineties) and what can I tell you, it's inherited.

And here's the kicker: I go, knowing that the teams are going to

The Tigers have broken my heart more times than I can name. They're doing it now. All I can say is, they had better have a sixteen game winning streak in their pocket, or it's gonna be a looooong summer. The Tigers broke my heart when they didn't win the world series two years ago. And they even broke my heart when they put together a three game winning streak at the end of the season to avoid being the losingest team EVER. And I had money on it that the WOULD be.

The Red Wings also break my heart on a regular basis, but they do it in a really interesting way: They play like Gods during the regular season, and suck in the playoffs. They won their most recent series, but the games they lost were awfully played, and the ones the one seemed to be given to them. I don't hold out hope. I never bet hockey.

The Pistons break my heart, but usually in the conference finals, NOT in game one of the playoffs. And yesterday they did it in fine style, blowing a thirteen point third quarter lead to lose by a handful. Sometimes, I bet basketball. But yesterday, I woulda lost parts of my anatomy.

And then there are the Lions.
I don't think a single thing needs to be added.
All they need to be a contender is a quarterback, someone consistent in the backfield, an injury free receiver, an offensive line that isn't offensive, and a defensive secondary that doesn't look like it's got more holes in it than your average colander.

I don't look forward to the next few weeks.
I hope I'm wrong.
But I'm not.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Plugging along.

Did you ever have a moment when you think you've found something really wonderful, and when you try to describe it to someone else, not only do they know about it, but YOU should have known about it two years previously to the point where you knew about it when you thought you discovered it in the first place?

If you followed that, immediately go to your kitchen and reward yourself with a cookie.

Recently, I have discovered a television series out of Canada that ceased production about three years ago, that in my opinion does justice to the story of a theatre company, it's actors, it's administrators, and it's audience. This series is entitled SLINGS AND ARROWS.

Now's the time when all my actor friends comment on the fact that they've known about this series for years and years and where have I been?

It's on the Sundance channel.
It's very funny.
And if you've been around the theatre block a time or two, you'll recognize every character in the place. Not the actors, but the CHARACTERS. I alternate between laughing and cringing as I watch each episode.

I believe you can find the dvd's on netflix.

Just my two cents.

Now, I'm off to find a cookie.....just doin' my part to keep the girl scouts solvent.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Bearable Lightness of Memory.

There are stars in the southern sky;
Southward as you go;
There is moonlight and moss in the trees
Down the Seven Bridges Road.

I heard this song tonight as I drove home from my daily chore, and I immediately flashed back to my days as a young man.

In those days, there were "the boys." We didn't actually call ourselves that, but when we went out, we were "the boys." Like, "The Boys Are Back In Town."

And the music references continue......largely because, our lives were surrounded by the music.

There was Karl, and Jim, and Dave, and Ted. And myself. But the greatest of these was Ted.

Ted and I met in high school. More to the point, we just sort of became friends in high school. It was pretty inauspicious, our first meeting; he beaned me in the head with a volleyball. And by head, I mean face. And by volleyball, I mean hard. He didn't draw blood, and he didn't draw anger. He seemed to realize that I pretty much accepted the rebuke, and with our own good natures, we became fast friends.

My entire cranial hard drive that contains my high school memories are filled with Ted, and the rest of the boys. We weren't outcasts. We weren't popular.

Well, Ted was.

I was a theatre geek.

And one of the defining moments of our friendship was when some other guy, a popular guy, asked Ted, "Why do you let Clemo hang around with you?"

Teds reply: "You don't get it. I don't let him hang around with me. He lets me hang around with him."

I was with him when he met the girl of his dreams. We were in a restaurant in Frankenmuth, Michigan....and he remembered that an old girlfriend of his worked at this place. And just as he said it, in she walked. She was our waitress. As she walked away, he said, quite plainly, "I'm going to marry that girl."

And in 1984, he did.

He pretty much did whatever he set his mind to.

But the song.......Dave and Ted and I were driving around one spring evening, much like the evening I'm living through today. The song came on the radio, and we began to sing. Beautiful three part harmony. The kind you feel in the pit of your stomach, reverberating like the last chords of a Beethoven Symphony. In that moment, we were together like nothing else; we were rockstars, balladeers, and we were to be envied, because without even trying, we were locked into a harmony that would remain in our memories for over twenty years.

I'm still in contact with Ted...sporadically. Those ties don't untie. Very few of my ties do. It's a gift and a curse, as Adrian Monk would say. But mostly a gift.

The sun is going down now....and I feel the need to sing. Or hum.

There is a taste of time sweetened honey,
Down the Seven Bridges Road.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trivial Thursday. Be the envy of your friends! Win bar bets left and right! Fill up all those empty spaces between synapses!

The skipper's name was Jonas Grumby. I watch WAY too much television.

The modern military salute comes from the tradition of a knight, opening his faceplate when approaching the King. And, the handshake was used to make sure there wasn't something up your enemy's sleeve.

The shortest war on record was fought between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes. I'm not sure, but I think England paid reparations for twelve minutes after that.

There are more statues of Sacajawea, Lewis & Clark's female Indian guide, in the United States than any other person.

Sacajawea is pronounced suh-cock-uh-way-uh. Create your own oral sex joke here.

In a typical season major league baseball will require 4,800 ash trees worth of Louisville sluggers. It's a pity Detroit doesn't use them to their advantage.

In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling. Now, don't you feel smarter?

"Kemo Sabe" means "soggy shrub" in Navajo. I don't know WHY I know this. Perhaps somebody told it to me when I was drunk, and I laughed so hard at the very THOUGHT of it.....

"Second string," meaning "replacement or backup," comes from the middle ages. An archer always carried a second string in case the one on his bow broke. The third string was originally referred to as, "oh, give it up, you're CONQUERED already."

The phrase "raining cats and dogs" originated in 17th Century England. During heavy downpours of rain, many of these poor animals unfortunately drowned and their bodies would be seen floating in the rain torrents that raced through the streets. The situation gave the appearance that it had literally rained "cats and dogs" and led to the current expression. Once again, given the choice between knowing this and knowing next week's lottery numbers.....but this is what I get. Thanks, BRAIN!

The term "honeymoon" is derived from the Babylonians who declared mead, a honey-flavored wine, the official wedding drink, stipulating that the bride's parents be required to keep the groom supplied with the drink for the month following the wedding. Does anybody want to speculate why the groom had to maintain his buzz for a month after the wedding?

The word "assassination" was invented by Shakespeare.

Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt. I learned this on a tour of the factory in 1971.

In M&M candies, the letters stand for Mars and Murrie, the developers of the candy in 1941. But, when asked by a friend of mine what I would write on a personalized M&M, I said, "You don't want me! You want SKITTLES!"

The first toy product ever advertised on television was Mr. Potato Head®. Introduced in 1952. Presently, I have a Star Wars Mr. Potato Head on my shelf. DARTH TATER.

The yo-yo was introduced in 1929 by Donald F. Duncan. The toy was based on a weapon used by 16th-century Filipino hunters. So you see, we've been giving our children weapons for almost eighty years...

A person will die from total lack of sleep sooner than from starvation. Death will occur about 10 days without sleep, while starvation takes a few weeks. And, I have nothing to add about this. The longest I went without sleep was 72 hours back in grad school.

The average human body contains enough: iron to make a 3 inch nail, sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make 7 bars of soap, phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten-gallon tank. Okay, I looked this one up. But it's still pretty cool.

The Ouija board is named for the French and German words for yes - oui and ja.

"The Mouse Trap," by Agatha Christie is the longest running play in history. It opened in 1952, and is still running in London. "The Fantasticks" ran forty two years off Broadway. "Phantom of the Opera" is the current Broadway leader, at 20 years.

Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind between 1926 and 1929. In her early drafts, the main character was named "Pansy O'Hara" and the O'Hara plantation we know as Tara was called "Fountenoy Hall." And it all started with a broken leg.

Influenza caused twenty and fifty million deaths, or about 5% of the world population, between 1918-1920. It is believed that 50 million people worldwide were affected.

Cockroaches can live for nine days without their heads, at which point they die of starvation. This entry can live for a nine days without a point, at which point the author dies of.....something.....he can't think of.....right now....because of all the useless trivia whipping about his poor noggin.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I truly intended to write something without ranting. You know, like a story or something.

I despair for my former profession.

Most of the time, I despair at not being a part of my former profession, but that's water under the bridge, sand through the hourglass, and these are the current days of my life. I'll get back to it when the world is ready for my one-man show that brings the brooding melancholy of HAMLET together with the simple joy that is GREEN EGGS AND HAM. I call it, "OMELETTE, or GREEN EGGS AND HAMLET!"

Just kidding.

Or, am I?

Back to despairing for my former profession.

As I have said oodles and oodles of times before, actors should NEVER NEVER NEVER do interviews about acting. I say this for the following reasons:

1. Half of the people interviewed during the so-called INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO program have never EVER set foot inside the ACTOR'S STUDIO. I mean, seriously: Dave Chappelle? Will Smith? Tom Cruise? Are these TRULY the finest examples of Strasberg's Method that we have in this country?

2. I recently heard an actress commenting on Heath Ledger's performances, to wit: "They were really brilliant, because they came from truth." THEY CAME FROM TRUTH. Insert "NO SHIT, SHERLOCK" here.

I will be the first to admit, and abhor, that what the world perceives as a brilliant performance is nothing more than re-heated crap fondue. In this day and age, in that fallen city known as Hollyweird, anybody with two percent body fat and the ability to get it right before the tape runs out can be an "actor." No training required. It's a natural ability.


We used to tell a joke about Tom Cruise. We used to say "I really liked that movie where he played that cocky young guy."

Being an actor doesn't mean you get to play yourself.
Being an actor means you put yourself aside and play Prospero....or Agammemnon.....or anybody out of your age, social, or psychological range. And STILL MAKE IT COME FROM TRUTH.

So, I guess we're going to be waiting patiently for one of the Olsen's to pick up Lady M.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rant. You've been warned.

Have you ever had a legitimate moment when you looked at something or someone and you made that very cartoonish, "whaaaaaaat?" sound?

That was me, yesterday, at the television.

Apparently, a group of girls got together and decided it would be a truly spectacular idea to invite another girl over to the house, and beat the crap out of her. Oh, and videotape it so they could put it on youtube.

Does this sound like a desperate plea for some mental help, or a desperate plea for attention, or both?

In any case, the "whaaaaat?" moment for me came when they broadcast a section of the tape on NATIONAL TELEVISION.

What better way of saying, "you have done a reprehensible, horrible, socially unacceptable thing" by giving them WHAT THEY WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Jesus wept.
And, in this case, began to vomit.

I'm very confused, a bit annoyed, and really disappointed in the human race. AND, I realize that I should have put confused AT the human race, annoyed BY the human race, and such, but it's a sentence and it's mine and Joyce didn't use punctuation so f**k off!

Seriously......when does the escalation stop? When does the silly childish game of "I'm not getting even, I'm getting ahead." stop?

Gandhi is quoted as saying, "an eye for an eye simply makes the whole world blind." But in this day and age, it makes us blind, deaf, and missing some fingers because somebody didn't know how to say "ENOUGH!"

Apparently, it's even worse in the schools, as evidenced by the previously mentioned tape. If you insult me in front of people, we no longer go out by the dumpsters after school for a couple of go-rounds, but we wait until after dark, and drive by with guns....

In colleges now, they have websites that encourage "juicy rumors" that have led people to actually leave school because they were called a whore or a drug dealer or a carrier of disease on a site that EVERYBODY can read. And that's the part about rumors...they don't have to be true to ruin lives.

And it becomes so common, it's now the status quo.

To quote Twain: "It is un-English. It is un-American. It is....French."

And Jesus continues to vomit.

And just when we need some little dutch boy to put his finger in the levee to save us all....well, somebody just called him a queer and he's gone to get his gun....

I......just.....don't......get it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I've fallen, and I can't seem to find my way back up, but it's rather nice down here....not Temperpedic nice, but....

Staring at this empty space, just below the empty space that suggests a title.

I can remember, years ago, writing a little note to a girl I was fond of, during a typing class I took in high school.

Side note: When I was in high school, we learned typing on something they called "a typewriter". These ancient artifacts to the formality of the scribble were unpowered, and when you made a mistake, it wasn't necessarily an easy fix. More than likely it was time to start over. And don't get me started on carbon paper....

Anyway, I was writing this note. And it got out of hand. It went from an innocuous note to a stream of consciousness monologue the likes that would make Groucho Marx green with envy. And when it was finished, I gave it to her.

And as she read it, she laughed.
Not a derisive laugh, mind you; not the kind of laugh you dreaded in high school, that kind of laugh that made you feel isolated; but the kind of laugh that showed a kind of appreciation.

The thing is, I didn't really have anything to say in the note.

Almost thirty years later, I am embarrassed by the fact that I have nothing of relevance to say.


In deference to the lee tide I seem to be living through, I give you more random thoughts.

I know what cottage cheese is. And I know what french fries are. I'm confused about something called "cottage fries." It would seem to me that this particular food group cannot exist, because cottage cheese is a liquid and french fries are a tortured potato.

When I was a child, I thought the church I went to accepted cannibalism, because in every service they would delicately hand out the body and blood of Christ, and people would consume it.

A couple of nights ago, I watched Lewis Black's THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. It was very funny. I encourage you to watch.

I took two IQ tests yesterday. One said my IQ was 49, which I believe means I shouldn't even be able to dress myself. I believe they referred to me as "profoundly retarded." The other said my IQ was 140. Now that I think about it, the fact that I wanted to show that I wasn't "profoundly retarded" makes me "somewhat retarded."

The taxes are done.
I can remember when I would have to pay taxes, I would send along a little note, saying, "none of this money is to be used for military purposes."
Think it worked?

I am hoping that this feeling of lethargy passes soon, and that writing becomes more of a pleasure and less of a burden.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


So, since I can't seem to find the time to both read AND write...I have snippets.

For example:

Possible quote for my tombstone: "Godot Arrived."

One of my favorite Twain quotes: "Man is the only animal that blushes...or needs to."

One attributed to Twain, but ain't: "Golf is a good walk spoiled."

Tigers 0-2.
Royals 2-0.
Is it too early to swear at your pitching staff?

Wisdom: Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

Further: No matter how hard you try, you can't bend a saltine. (I have edited this, in deference to my dear Kizz, who made some remark about a flexible fellow from the Carolinas. I blushed.)

I'm a forty something man who likes cartoons. My favorites? DANGER MOUSE, PINKY AND THE BRAIN (some kind of mouse theme, I think) and FOSTER'S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS.

The people that love me think I'm crazy.
But they still love me.
Just goes to show that for the people who get you, no explanation is necessary, and for those that don't, no explanation will suffice.

I love the people that make me laugh.
I tolerate everybody else.

Coke Zero rocks.

And, lastly, it's never too late to have a happy childhood.