Friday, May 30, 2008

Nutbush City Limits.

It's getting late in my evening, and the bi-polar weather is at it again....sunny and warm for the first eight hours, and then Zeus cranks it up and it's "build your ark" time. But we needed the smaller doses over a longer period of time, mind you, but I ain't gonna look a gift squall in the mouth.

For those of you interested (And why would you be? Seriously, I know some of you, and I'm not one to poke fun at your literary choices, but dear friends: I find the minutiae of my own life as boring as listening to a McCain speech after dropping three cups of NyQuil, so I can't imagine how you could find me that interesting...) I did NOT audition for the local Shakespeare extravaganza....for the performance dates fall on the one weekend in the WHOLE FREAKIN' SUMMER that I'll be unavailable.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I kept a stiff upper lip so my wife wouldn't see. She blames herself for my sabbatical; and I can't quite get it through to her that she is more important than my ego.

And that's going some, because my ego is as big as Hell and half of Texas.

I could go off on the whole, "and besides" thing, but the fact is I would like to do something.....but I want it on my conditions. And if I can't get that feeling of genuine collaboration, with people on or above my level, then I'm content to be discontent.

I may get a chance to teach a little more often for the government agency I currently serve. Maybe that won't make me crazy.

HAH!, said the shit house rat.


A fond farewell to funny fellow.

Good bye Harvey.

"A world without Harvey Korman is a more serious world." -Mel Brooks

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Woke up this morning, feeling like somebody hit me with a rock.

Actually, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, I feel like I've been hit by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.

So, it looks like I'll be fighting off the various maladies today.

Hooray for me.

Here I am, fighting off the maladies.

I'm the guy on the left.
With the eye patch.

Ever done any sword work with only one eye?
It reaaaalllly messes with your depth perception.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The voice of Mo.

Today, I heard a voice from beyond. And the memories came flooding back.

I went to college in the northern part of Michigan, and in those romantic days of youth, there were many more people in my life than there are now. I find it difficult to imagine now, that given my self-abusive nature, I've survived so many people.

My ghosts.
And I remember them; they all seem to pass right around my birthday; lending my aging an even larger kick in the crotch.

I just deleted an entire list of the people I carry in my heart, because it became far too morose, so I'll just tell you about one of my tragic near-misses.

Her name was Maureen. She was a year ahead of me, and the only things we had in common were theatre, a sarcastic sense of humor, and the fact that our downstate homes were only about 15 minutes from each other.

Secretly, she was a lovely girl; tall, just a little more than thin, with a lovely voice that sparkled with self-knowledge, and eyes that danced just before she made a point.

But did I think of her as romantic material? Naaaaah. My roommate at the time had a crush on her, and although in my later life I did him great wrongs on that front, in this case, I stayed clear.

We did share one date. We decided since it was just before Christmas and we had nothing to do, I would take her to a movie. And I did.

Can't remember the movie.

But I do remember that we wound up at a Denny's afterwards, for dessert and coffee. I think we were playing some kind of honesty game, which consisted of her asking pointed questions and demanding instant honesty from me, when another couple came up to our table.

"How long have you two been married?" They asked.
Mo and I just kind of stared at each other from across the table.
"We're not married." I said.
"Oh," said the woman.
"From the way you react to each other, perhaps you should consider it."
We laughed.
The couple left.
We stared at each other over the table.
"Well." I said.
"That's interesting." Mo proclaimed.
"Should we consider it?" said I.
"Well, I think we should at least make out a little before we come to a conclusion on that." she said.

And we did.
Just a little.
And we stayed friends without benefits, because the cost would have been too high.

Maureen had an auto accident two days before my birthday in 2001. Complications set in, and she didn't make it. I was informed by a mutual friend in Detroit, and I kept the obit for several years before my computer stole it from me. She had become a pretty successful actress/voice over talent in the city.

Her voice is still on the talent website.
I found it today.
And I listened.
Because I just needed to hear her again.
Because you don't get that kind of chance every day.

Another one, trapped in amber.
My Last Duchess, painted on the wall.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Gold Star Hero

During this weekend, I would like to pay tribute to John Lawrence Dawber.

He was a Private, First Class in Company C, 1st Batallion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division that served in Korea.

He was killed in action on May 29, 1951 by a land mine.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

He was my Mother's eldest brother.
He was my uncle, and I was named for him, as was my younger brother Lawrence.

To all who have served, to all who presently serve, and to all those that wait at home, I thank you for your service.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday. Named for Saturn.

The long awaited rain finally arrived, in the form of thunderstorms. There's something about a thunderstorm, I think; the rolling of the thunder puts me in mind of some of the great storms on Lake Superior during my green and salad days.

Of course, another benefit is that I can put off the lawn work for another day, and watch televised sporting programs, or all the episodes of HOUSE I have on my dvr. Or both.

The last couple of days have been very windy; the kind of wind that not only blows, but also whips and swirls. Being outside for ten minutes felt a little like getting your ass kicked in a pillow fight: it isn't going to leave a mark, but it can put a hurtin' on ya.

I'm considering auditioning for a play here in Bismarck. Twelfth Night. Apparently, somebody has taken the plunge and started something. I'm just not sure I can do it anymore. I'm not sure I can work at the leisurely pace a community project demands, and my attitude toward humanity as a whole has been quite bitter as of late. But, I have a few days to decide, and perhaps my lethargy will lift and I'll give it a shot. The worst thing that could happen is that my beliefs are founded, and I CAN'T do it anymore. It's not like the theatrical world would be dimming the lights or anything.

Have a good afternoon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

You'll actually be dumber for having read this.


I fall in love easily and forever. I don't expect reciprocation; but I do expect understanding. My love is like the mob, people....once you're in, you're in. Only death gets you out. And not even then. Apparently.


Alan Beaman, falsely accused and convicted of the murder of Jennifer Lockmiller in 1993, has had his conviction overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court. I have followed this case since I first heard about it from a lovely girl that shared some time with me in 1997. She and Mr. Beaman had been very close. The more I read, the more I felt he'd been hosed. And now, after 13 years, he'll be able to finally get some justice.


The world is made for people who are not cursed with self awareness.


Some bi-sexual modelthing by the name of Tila Tequila has stated in the media that the reason her original relationship fell apart was because of the media. The stupidity lies in the fact that if you actually let the media help you find a date, then you can't ACTUALLY blame them for destroying it.


The only truly interesting thing to watch on E are the commercials. The programming itself seems to be designed to give bulimics a jump start on their vomiting.


Most of what I say, half of what I believe, and about one-third of the things I think are unmitigated crapola. The rest is comedy gold, people.

Educational Statement:

I think that the sound of a man hitting his head with a piece of wood should be pronounced GERGACK. If he hits his head on something metal, it should be DINK.

Go thou, and do likewise.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Walter Miller got me thinking.....

"Blessed St. Leibowitz, keep them dreaming down there."

I have often wondered why this particular line from this particular book has stayed in my memory since I first read it back in 1985. It's from a James Michener novel titled SPACE, and the character speaking it is a fictional astronaut that is about to die on the moon. Leibowitz is another story altogether.

St. Leibowitz is a character from a novel titled A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, by Walter Miller. Sometime in the future, we're going to blow ourselves to hell, and those that remain will create a religion based upon old artifacts and a grocery list from a scientist named Leibowitz.

One story led me to another story.
And both stories led me to a conclusion.
And that conclusion was that those things that we consider truths are often random labels.

Imagine the day when all the people disappear, and THEN the aliens come. And they look around our planet. And what conclusions will they draw?

The people in the middle of the country seemed to have worshiped at a large steel altar shaped like a parabolic arch. Placed next to a large river, we must conclude that the indigenous people were aware of their mortality, in that the river AND the arch have a distinctive beginning and ending. Special significance should be placed upon the two saints often mentioned at the arch, St. Lewis and St. Clark, and the fact that they named the city after only one of them, and changed the spelling of the name should be explored.

On the eastern shore of the continent stands a large statue of a lady with a torch and a tablet, alone on an island. We believe that the symbol of fire emanating from her uplifted hand could be counted as a threat to all possible invaders coming from the large sea, so this could be a Goddess of War for these people. However, the significance of the writings on the base, i.e. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" could indicate that the lady is a symbol of death; that the tired and poor who have reached the end of their usefulness are brought before the lady for judgement. More research is required.

On the western edge of the continent we have discovered nothing of merit, although there is a small area inland worth mentioning. In our research, we stumbled upon a tome of ancient wisdom, telling of a piece of wood that was turned into a boy. We believe that in this barren area of the west, we have discovered what the book described as "Pleasure Island." We have yet to find any traces of the books mentioned hybrid of human/jackass, but we believe that it's just a matter of time.

All hail St. Pinocchio.
In the name of Geppetto, Pinnochio, and the truthful nose. Amen.

You can never truly KNOW anything.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This post is kind of like watching a soap in midweek; it doesn't add anything to the story, but there might be a gem in there someplace....

Bestest Ice Cream!

If you seek the best ice cream in the world, then head west. I gotta hankering for the Doc's Java....the ice cream that sits up and barks at you.

Tell 'em John sent you, and you'll get absolutely nothing.

Bestest Place to Go to Decompress!

Mackinac Island. No cars, no bars, lots of bikes, trees, lake breezes, scenery, a big honkin' bridge in the distance, and oh, the FUDGE!

Bestest Place to Vacation if you don't care how much it costs!

This is my wife's birthday present to me. A couple of days at Bally's. Can you say, "Room Service?" I KNEW you could.

Bestest Hamburger EVER!

You know that a Quarter Pounder at McDonalds is 1/4 lb BEFORE cooking, right? Well, here at Red Knapps, it's a HALF pound AFTER. Forget your diet, get onion rings, and a hand-made chocolate malted, and then forget about eating for the next couple of days!

And finally....

Who I want to be when I grow up.

I have deliberately wasted your time today. Apologies all around.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One thing leads to another....

I've been re-reading THE NINE TAILORS by Dorothy L. Sayers, and if you're not familiar with her works, shame on you and pick one up. Her protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey, is one of the best detectives ever written, and her mysteries are well written, and frustratingly twisty.

The book is about bells.

And that's pretty much my lead in. I'm going to ignore the book from now on.

I've been thinking of the tolling of the bells lately. I'm not sure why; perhaps because it was a lovely November day yesterday, with brisk temperatures and a smattering of snow; pity it's May. But whenever the weather turns that way, my mind wanders to the college campus in the little town in Missouri, and the sounds of the bells that came from Henderson Hall, at nine, at noon, at five, and at nine pm.

I especially liked them at five.
Because in the fall, with the sun almost down, it signaled the end of the day, and the beginning of my walk home.

But there was one moment in particular; Just after Christmas of 1992. The holiday hadn't gone very well, and instead of wallowing in my holiday tradition of laying on the couch in my apartment, with a shrinking stack of newly-gifted books, and a growing stack of empty pizza boxes, I decided to venture out into the night air, to gain some perspective, and of course to walk off the constant diet of pizza and soda.

The college was on a hill, and from that hill you can see every star in the sky; at least, you could back then. The world changed shortly thereafter, and many many halogen lights were put up around the small campus, turning night into day. But on that particular evening, with the campus devoid of studential distractions, it was a nice place to sit, smoke a cigarette, and muse upon my place in the universe.

Trust me; you don't want to know your place in the universe. You want to know your place in the line at the Golden Corral, but not in the universe. It's too big; it's JOE VS. THE VOLCANO huge-moon big.

Anyway, I'm sitting, musing, and I look up into a clear night sky, and wonder of wonders.....

The Aurora Borealis.
And no, that's not the male lead on BONES.

The northern lights, filling the northern portion of the sky in a masterful display of movement and color that will make you believe in the presence of a divine artist. I have to admit, it's a little unnerving, sitting and musing and wondering about your place, and looking for some kind of sign that the game is still going and BOOM! There's Aurora Borealis.

And that's when the bells began to play.

Did I mention that they usually played some kind of melody?
They did.
Happy Days Are Here Again.

Okay, sometime the divine is subtle, and sometimes the divine is not.

I'm not sure if they ever replaced the bells in Henderson Hall. A few years back, a tornado took the top of the building off; it was a domed building, and from all accounts it looked like a UFO as it sailed into the air. I went back there a year or so ago; it became important to me to show my wife the places I'd been before we met. She thought it was a charming little campus, and wondered why I would be so short sighted as to leave.

I just stared.

"Oh!" she said, "So you could meet me!"

Who am I to argue with the Divine, Mother Nature, or My Wife?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Forgotten Lore

I was trodding through these old disks this morning......remember computer disks? I'm not sure they even make a 3.5 standard on computers anymore, but before cdroms, there were something called, "Floppy disks."

'Course, they weren't really floppy. As far as I know. What they did in on their own time was their business, as far as I was concerned.

What I was actually looking for was a file of quotations I had managed to write down in the year between August of 1998 and May of 1999. It was a time of great upheaval, there was a tremendous trembling within the force, and some pretty funny stuff was said, remembered, and transcribed.....

To make a long story short; didn't find it.
I did find a half dozen dead disks, though.

And something very peculiar.

Apparently, sometime during this period, I had begun to write a play about an event taking place in central Kentucky, involving a court-appointed attorney and a client who may or may not be as bad as they say. Five pages.

I'm not usually a very good critic of my own work. But it wasn't half bad.

And I can't, for the LIFE of me, remember when I started it, or what my eventual point was supposed to be.

I should work from an outline.

I also found a sonnet that apparently I wrote about the same time. I have not recollection of it, though.

Oh, shall we part upon the coming wisp
Of morning's light, and ne'er to see again
The glory of our blessed comradeship?
And who among our company would fain
Relief at such a breaking of our bands,
And be untouched by what has gone upon?
We kindred spirits take within our hands
The masks of simple men, and nightly don
The simple rags, to please the ear and eye
Of those who long to sit within the night,
And slip within our pleasant, harmless lie;
So as to give their earthbound spirits flight.
Players are the bridges 'twixt what seems,
What is, and what is found in merry dreams.

But there was scarcely little else.

It's strange to come across this stuff; like it was written by another person, in another time. I wonder to whom I wrote it, and why.

What a strange, mixed up time it must have been.

Glad I survived it, though.

And there was one other thing; some kind of Irish Prayer.

Let those that love us, love us.
And for those who do not love us,
Let God turn their hearts;
And if He cannot turn their hearts,
Let Him turn their ankles;
So we can tell them by their limping.

Goodnight, Seattle, we love you!

Rites and Privledges

It's beginning to look like spring. Finally. The temperature is up, the grass is beginning to green (although more slowly than the wife would like) and the flowers that have been dormant have begun to sprout.

I have some favorite rites of spring.

For many years when I was younger, one of these rites was that on the first day of spring (which I designated March 21) I would listen to a recording of a radio program called SARATOGA SPRINGS. All ninety one, four minute episodes. It was originally produced by a group called ZBS, and was broadcast on NPR in the early
90's. I loved it, and listened to it until the tapes wore out. By that time, they had ceased releasing the entire chronicle, and put of a cd of "THE BEST OF.." which wasn't as interesting.

For some reason, spring makes me think of the movie ROXANNE. Steve Martin's ode to Cyrano. I thought the movie was terrific; I especially love the bit in the bar, concocting insults on his nose. "Laugh and the world laughs with you; sneeze, and it's goodbye, Seattle!"

Of course, baseball. There is nothing on this earth as exciting to hear as the sound of a wooden bat striking a baseball. And how I long for the old days of the small know what I mean; lead runner beats out an infield hit.....hit and run gets him to third....single up the middle to score the run. And I really miss the squeeze bunt. If you've got a hot runner on third with one out and a left hander at the plate, send that f*cker home!

The smell of freshly mowed grass. Not so much if I have to mow it, mind you, but I do enjoy the fragrance. And I suppose I like the therapy of mowing the lawn; turning chaos into order, straight lines......I have Monkish tendencies when it comes to the lawn.

Charcoal. With anything cooking. I married my wife for her barbecue acumen.

There are many things to do; the fence and the deck could use a new coat of stain, I still need to sort out the storage room downstairs, the garage looks like Dresden, and there is a lot of yard work yet to accomplish.

Perhaps I'll just pop in that cd of SARATOGA SPRINGS, and get to it.

Ah, the joys of spring.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Further Adventures of Younger Me.

"They've sold my seat!"

Going along the previous posting, I was in deep reminiscence about my humble beginnings in the world of the theatre.

I had done a play in middle school, and nothing much after that, until I got to high school, and was cast in this very funny comedy by Woody Allen, called DON'T DRINK THE WATER. It's not important that you know the plot, but you can still find copies of the script, and there was a movie version done of it, starring Jackie Gleason, and it still holds up well for being an "iron curtain" comedy.

The director of this play, and the director for pretty much everything that the high school did, was a woman named Beverly Gibson. To say I was fond of the woman would be a bit of an overstatement; she could be abrasive at the best of times, and enigmatic most of the other times. She had her favorites, and I, alas, wasn't one of them. But she didn't really know me then, and I got cast in a small but very funny role, and rehearsals began....

And she pretty much hated everything I did.
Not that I did much, mind you....what was I, fifteen? Sixteen?
But there wasn't a rehearsal that went by that I wasn't given very cryptic notes (remember, now, they could have been very clear but I have to repeat, "fifteen? Sixteen?") about how to play the character.

It wouldn't be the last time I didn't understand a director.

Well, opening night. And the place was packed. And in came Ms. Gibson, with a smile on her face and the proclamation:

"They've sold my seat!"

Friends and neighbors, if you've never felt it, I must tell you, there is nothing to make you feel so godlike as getting that first laugh. Double it by being young. Triple it with the knowledge that thanks to her decidedly bi-polar directions, I was fairly sure I was going to bomb.

And that was my introduction to the theatre.

There was one other educational event in there somewhere. Since then, whenever I'm around a group of actors, I tend to have a permanent quizzical look upon my mug; largely because most of the time, I'm completely stupefied by what they consider important. I've had that since high school, as well.

But Ms. Gibson was a wonder, when it came right down to it; it a decade when the arts were considered somewhat less important than everything else, she managed to produce two plays a year; teach acting, Shakespeare, Dramatic Lit, Costuming and Makeup, and a boatload of other courses; create and maintain a chapter of that strange entity called The International Thespian Society, and found a summer musical class that still runs today, and should be named after her.

But more importantly, and despite the faults I perceived in her, she taught that the art was about joy, and not job.

A Farewell to Art Populi.

I have just learned of the demise of the California Cabaret Theatre, a two year old project that did not suffer from bad reviews or weak houses, but in fact suffered from terminal theatiruim businessitis. In short, the folks involved were talented, creative, and wonderful people......but standing on both sides of the business made them wonder why anybody would do it in the first place.

Truly, the business of the business made them begin to hate to project. And so, they pulled the plug.

It's a shame, really.....the cast they put together were all friends of mine, and they all shared equally in the success or failure of the endeavor. It was truly communal theatre, and I would have killed to be a part of it.

We all had the dream, didn't we? That belief that our lives would be good if we could just run a company the way we wanted to; that we would bring something new to the carnival that is the American Theatre. We would do classic plays; we would do original works; and we would attempt to shun a production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL until it became imperative in order to survive. And the knowledge that we would never net dime ONE didn't deter us.

They did it; and found that Pandora's box contained frustration and tedium as well as evil.

Still, for two years, the central coast of California had this jewel: a jewel that no pretension to grandiose production, but in fact did charming little productions for the audience in which they were given....and it worked. And it will be missed by everybody with a kind of artistic awareness.

And it sure beat the hell out of community theatre Shakespeare.