Monday, June 30, 2008

I wish I didn't have to think these things.....but I'm cursed with a need to know.

I was recently watching a television program that dealt with the rise of the Party that dare not speak it's name in Germany in the late thirties; and in this particular program, I began to see a pattern emerging that I thought curious.


At this point, I would also like to point out that I am not an expert in Geopolitics. I only know what I hear and read and such.

But it continues to astonish me that most people I deal with on a daily basis don't see that one thing invariably leads to another.

Case in point: At my place of business, there is a controversy surrounding the use of identification to achieve entrance. Based upon our decade of experience, it wouldn't seem outrageous. But some people object, on the basis that it violates a constitutional right. One passenger referred to that right as "the pursuit of happiness."

I didn't want to waste the time to explain that the phrase actually appears in the Declaration of Independence, but that's a subject for another time. Truth is, I can't recall an Amendment that relates to access to secure areas. I DO recall an act passed by Congress in 2002 that states that there are rules about access to the secure areas.....

My point is convoluted, but here it is: We have this "Constitutional Violation" because of an act of Congress in 2002, which was predicated upon the fear and anger from an attack in 2001, which was based upon the perceived bias caused by the association we had with a peacekeeping force in the area in 1990, which was based upon the invasion of an allied nation that same year, which was based upon the perceived interference of a sovereign countries internal workings in 1978, which was based upon the documented interference of the succession of a monarch in the middle part of the last century, which circumvented a cycle that had existed since before the last time the ancestors of us tried to interfere with the ancestors of them.....

Yes, some of this material predates other material, but perhaps you see my point.

Back to my original statement about Germany in the thirties: If the winners of The War to End All Wars had taken a slightly different approach (other than revenge and such) upon the country that started it (and they didn't start it alone. I encourage you to read THE GUNS OF AUGUST), it is possible they wouldn't need that strong leader to bring them out of economic chaos, thus giving over to him the power to do whatever he liked....and the world would have been greatly different.

And the fear and anger that we've felt in the early part of this decade made us do a great many things.......

And the animosity continues, at home and abroad.

And the really sad part is, the people who advocated conversation over carpet bombing are the ones that were asked, "Why do you hate America?" or, "Why do you side with our enemies in this time of war?"

When all I was really asking was, "Where is my country's memory? It's conscience? It's tolerance? It's hope?"

And that's when I woke up.

Tune in next time for another episode......

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where's the 2 X 4 of Self Knowledge when you need it?

Well, I'm back.

Nothing much happened, all the rest of last week.

I thought maybe I had something to say about knowledge, and my use of it as a tool to keep people away from me.

But I don't.

Because the last three attempts to articulate it made me sound like a braying jackass.

So, let's just say, "nice to see you, missed you bunches" and leave it at that.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday is all right for Writing....

I love it when I get a thousand things done before noon. It gives me incentive and permission to let the rest of the day fall where it may....

It's getting warm up here, so I told my wife I would put the pool together. Again, she chides me about the lateness of the construction. In my defense....okay, I don't have any defense other than I'm lazy and I know what kind of shape the pool was when I put it away last fall, so I'm not really in the mood for it.

Pool is filling even as I write.

Grass needs the mowing. Wife has again chided me about the earliness of my mowing. I remind her that it's not my fault she didn't get in until three this morning, and if she's going to be out all night saving the world she's just going to have to put up with a little Briggs and Stratton action.

Swelling is going down even as I write.

Went into the bank early, got a home equity loan, and filled the cars with gasoline.
Went to the store and bought stuff.
Still have to do laundry.

Going off on a business trip tomorrow, should be gone for about a week, so I don't know if I'll be writing about my experiences. I'm off to Tulsa.

Why Tulsa?
Seriously, there were four of these seminars going on around the country, and I knew people in three of the places. Detroit: family and friends. Boston: friends. Memphis: Barbecue and Elvis' ghost. And then there's Tulsa.

At least it'll be hot.
And I'll be busy 8-5 everyday.
Learning stuff.

So, if you don't hear from me, think good thoughts of airplanes staying aloft and temperatures staying relatively cool.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A picture is worth a, wait...a HUNDRED....nooo.....THIRTY dollars and twenty nine cents.....

I can remember when I looked like that.

I still kinda look like that, but they brown has turned a bit to the grey, the beard has been trimmed back to a Van Dyke, and the hair is shorter because I'm older and less hippie.

I still have the hoodie, though.

Funny thing is, I can't really remember when that photo was taken. I can remember, however, that I was laughing when it WAS taken.

And, I just realized that this is the first time I've put up a picture of myself.

So, for those of you who have NEVER seen me before....


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lying in a Hammock in the Pouring Rain: The Musings of a Loveable Idiot....

We, the unwilling,
Led by the unknowing,
Are doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.

We have been doing so much
With so little
For so long
That we are now qualified to do anything
With nothing.

Sometimes, my life seems like a dance.
One step up, two steps back.
I think I've said this before,
But apparently, it bears repeating.

When I teach, I feel as whole as I did when I was alone on a stage,
The palm of my hand filled with the hearts of the invisible masses
Who are with me, with me, right down the line.

Some of my favorite lines:

The answer is, I don't know who I am and if I did I would be the most miserable man on earth, for my greatest happiness lies in the fact that I occupy a most unique position-that of not having been cast for a part in the great world drama of life. I am a lonely, single-handed spectator sitting back, looking on and laughing at the monkey-shines of the great all-star company of several billions of men and women who are unknowingly playing the piece for me-they're playing the piece for me. I am the audience, but a good audience, withal, for I laugh---I am the audience, and if I may say so, a highly intellectual audience, for in all the changing scenes of this ever-beginning, never-ending plotless plot, I recognize the spiritual hand of a great director, a master director, who has so skillfully staged this tightly woven, disconnected, tightly knitted spectacle of tragic nonsense, and so I am amused, and I laugh, and I applaud. And if I'm any critic, it's a bully good show, and I hope some day to meet the author, and compliment him upon his marvelous entertainment.
-The Vagabond
The Tavern by George M. Cohan

Some of my favorite lyrics:

I met a German girl in England
Who was goin' to school in France
And we danced in Mississippi
At an Alpha Kappa Dance....
-It Wasn't Me by George Thoroughgood

Books I should always recommend, but don't:

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King
The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault
The Only Game in Town by Fay Vincent
Trinity by Leon Uris
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
The Civil War by Shelby Foote
Kovacsland by Diana Rico
The Cartoon History of the United States by Larry Gonick

My middle name is Wesley.

I prefer Next Generation to the Original Series.
But I prefer Kirk to Picard.
And Voyager grows on you.

If you play MMMBop backwards, it sounds pretty much the same.

Oh, the random thoughts of the exhaustipated individual.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Indecision, Philosophy, The Week Ahead, and the Joker, all in one post.

I'm trying to decide what to do today.

I DID take a long walk today, in the hopes that some physical exertion would, in fact, stir my creative side. All I got was, "why do we yawn at creation, and revel in destruction?", which is something somebody ELSE must have said once upon a time.

I also got, "mmmmmm......cracker barrel." But that was just my stomach, pleading for a breakfast that doesn't look or taste like twigs.

And that was, in fact, "twigs," not "twix." Although Twix for breakfast doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Let's see....

My week is a crap storm, for the most part. Or, a crap storm in the making. I do believe that I need to be teaching a course in Jamestown on Wednesday, but since we scheduled it at the end of May, I haven't heard any more about it. But, I'm assuming I'll be in a car driving two hours early Wednesday morning. I do believe I'll also be spending a whole week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starting NEXT week, and I'm not sure exactly what I'll be learning down there, and I haven't gotten confirmation on the class, or even bought plane tickets or made reservations. But it's the government, and they don't care whether they pay 200 or 2000 dollars for a ticket. Apparently.

You know something? I don't like what they've done to the Joker in the new Batman film. I've seen the trailers, and I have to tell you; I'm a purist. I like the idea of the Joker being crazy, but kind of manic-depressive crazy. You never know whether it's going to be water or acid in the ol' squirt gun....but it could be either. The whole "psychotic for the sake of being psychotic" has been done to death.

One of the things that made the Joker such an interesting villain in the comic books was that he often got the Batman's goat; the dark, brooding hero knows how to deal with the guy who uses a flame thrower on the orphanage, but doesn't know how to deal with the guy who brings the gun with the flag that goes, "bang!"

Ah, what the hell do I know?

And with that, I'm going to sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and watch the robins dance on the fence.

I think it's the Tarantella.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Wit and Wisdom of Douglas Adams.....

What I hope people will say about me, one day....
"He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which."

What I often say, at any given moment.....
"I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

What I throw into my occasional theological discussions, just to see it anybody is listening.....
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."

I love this quote...
"It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'As pretty as an Airport' appear."

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

And finally, words to live by....
"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

Where's my towel?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fragments of a Stormy June Afternoon.....

It was a perfect day for a funeral.

A cold wind out of the south, and the rain falling heavily.

We dodged at least three severe thunderstorm warnings on our way north to say goodbye to Terry. We had done it the day before at the funeral home, and it was just poor planning to drive up and back twice; but Patti has a cold and I think she would rather have slept in her own bed, then a rented or borrowed one.

It's rained everyday since; I always thought that it was nature, grieving.

Come to find out, it's just a lot of rain.

The service was lovely. The entire town of Makoti, North Dakota showed up. The church was full, and the basement as well. And they were standing outside, in the rain, a field of umbrellas to say goodbye to this man; this local farmer, former mayor, proud member of the American Legion, and recent inductee in the North Dakota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.

They told lovely stories about the things he did.
The ball park. The boys showed up in their uniforms.
The hunting parties. The strange story of Terry shooting a buck with his pants in the southerly position.
Laughter is good at funerals. There should be more.

The procession to the cemetery was a sight to behold. In the early darkness that comes with the storm, the headlights stretched back for almost two miles.

The twenty one gun salute from the men of the Legion, who stood proudly in the rain as the graveside service finished.

And then, it was done.

One other thing I would like to add, take it as you will....

Terry was a prankster, and a good one. This was well known, and frequently mentioned in all the tributes. And as I sat in the service, listening to the various tales and fables and biblical references, a semi-large spider made it's way from the ceiling to my head.

I didn't yell. I simply grabbed it, showed it to my wife, and let it go onto the floor which I assume was it's original destination.

Thanks for the spider, Terry.

See ya when I see ya.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let us sit upon the ground.....

It's been a very bad couple of weeks, kids.

I've never been very good at goodbyes, and I've had to say it far too many times in the last couple of weeks.

I'm grateful, at least, that the weather is dull and cloudy, and that the rain mimics the tears, because if it was sunny it would be too hard to bear.

The first time I met my brother-in-law Terry was at a threshing festival in the little town of Makoti, North Dakota. He was carrying a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette and it was a bit chilly that morning, so we were all dressed for it.

He treated me as if he'd known me all my life.

The best party I think I ever attended was a July 4th party at the family farm. Terry was a fourth generation farmer in a land where you could see from horizon to horizon. There was lots of food, plenty of relatives to me and re-meet, a bounce house for the kids, and fireworks at the end of the night. And the day moved at it's own pace, which was terrific.

One of the quintessential moments that I remember about that was when they brought out the guns. I've never been fond of guns, and when asked to give it a whirl, I declined. Terry gave me a look, but before he could ask why, I put on my best John Wayne and said, "Ever since I shot that man in Lubbock, I swore I'd never pick up a gun again."

He laughed. And I think we connected in that moment.

And that moment I'll remember forever.

Terry passed away on Sunday afternoon, after a long battle with Cancer. We'll say the words and perform the rites and such tomorrow. I'll keep my wife's chin up as best as I can, and I'll play the clown to lighten the mood, because that's what's expected of me.

It's been a very bad couple of weeks.

Thank God for the rain.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Farewell...

It's Sunday in the Northern Plains, and I'm sitting at my desk, surrounded by old pictures of days gone by.


Years ago (and have you noticed that all my explanations start with, "years ago"? I feel very eld just now) I worked the Outdoor Drama circuit, and it's not a bad living if you don't mind climate changes. Yes, it can be very hard to concentrate when it's 101 degrees on the stage and you're wearing leather and flannel. And yes, it can be reaaaalllly hard to concentrate when you can see lightning in the distance and you're wearing electrical equipment on your person.

But the people that work, REALLY work the outdoor stages are the hardest working people in show business.

Plug over.

Story begin.

Macon Ray was an Abraham Lincoln impersonator from Corydon Indiana. When I started working for the YOUNG ABE LINCOLN outdoor historical drama back in '93, he was there. When I stopped working there at the end of '96, he was still there. And when I went back to see it again in '99....still there.

He worked for about five minutes a night and brought down the house just be making an appearance. His job was to come out at the end of the show, to remind the audience of who the young protagonist of the play was to become. He'd quote a few passages from famous Lincoln speeches, take the last bow, and get this HUGE standing ovation.

He had the easiest damned job in the place.
And he was the easiest man to like.

Unpretentious, a veritable fountain of Lincoln knowledge, a great person with which to have a conversation about the Civil War era in American history, a risque sense of humor that you occasionally had to lightly censor to avoid lawsuits, an artist, a painter, and a man who made it a point to know everybody in the company by their first name.

My wife has placed a framed portrait of me over the fireplace in the basement of our house. She found it in my theatrical archive; it's one of those huge Tupperware containers in the storage room. It's a portrait of me as the character I played in YOUNG ABE LINCOLN. It was drawn by Macon Ray.

Macon passed earlier this week, after an illness. He will be missed by everybody who worked with him; everybody who ever talked to him for a few minutes; and everybody who saw him in his suit and stovepipe.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Look Out Any Window.

The sky is blue and the sun is out this morning. It hasn't been that way for awhile, and mind you, I'm not complaining. We needed water from the sky like Paris needs the paparazzi. But there's the look of the sun in the morning (not looking straight into it, mind you, that's something that makes you scream); the way it shines down on the green grass of the backyard.

The sound of the "chizz chizz chizz" of the next door neighbors sprinklers.

The sound of a lawn mower. What's the stupid bastard doing out so early? Doesn't he realize that people are trying to SLEEP?!

The lilac came late, but the fragrance is wonderful.

Somewhere, an old Creedence number is playing....

"down on the corner, out here in the street,
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin'
bring a nickel, grab a seat..."

Soon, the sun will move closer to the earth, and the temperature will begin to climb, and the manic part of Mother's Nature's Bi-Polarism will rear it's ugly, toaster-oven head. And I'll complain on how hot it is.

Not so much the heat, but the humidity.

But for now, the sun is out, the sky is blue, there's the "chizz chizz chizz" and Creedence, and maybe the Monkees, and for this brief interlude, everything is okay.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's the Jive Talking......

I have a great many friends who read this semi-daily stuff that comes out of my head....friends I've known for years, and through this venue, "speak" to often. I even get to see them from time to time, when I'm in the neighborhood, because let's face it....nobody comes here. Ever. For ANY reason.

Kizz and Zelda.

I have to tell you, these are grand women. I say that with the greatest platonic love a man can have. They can make me laugh and cry simulteanously. And they have both saved my sanity, on one or more occasions.

And then, there's Gertrude.

She writes pleasant things to me, flatters my ego, and gives me glimpses into her world. If it were possible for me to have a crush, I certainly would on her. Sight unseen and none necessary.

But y'know.......

I see on this weird sitemeter that there are people all over the country and in some cases, all over the world, who are reading this stuff.

Drop me a line, you people, so I can apologize to you personally.


ps: it is possible I will not remember writing this; from time to time, the headache becomes so palpable that it actually takes over, like that episode of FUTURAMA where Fry drinks the Emperor......or that one where he eats the sandwich, and the worms take over.....and they're better at it than he is.....are you seeing my point?

It's right the top of my head.
Right next to the headache.

I've GOT TO STOP.......

Random Thought Thursday

After a heart breaking loss in Detroit on Monday, the Red Wings pulled it off on Wednesday. It was a great game, well played on both sides, with the last two minutes of the third period the most exciting hockey I've seen in a good long time.

Overheard at the airport:

Worker #1: It's too nice a day to be working.

Worker #2: I could be standing in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, and it still would be too nice a day to be working.

I've just begun reading THE CHRIS FARLEY SHOW. It's a hard read, folks. Especially since you know the ending.

All the precipitation we didn't get in the winter we're getting now. I don't mind it, I just wish it would be a little more......drawn out.

I think we can do without the whole, "What's good for the candidate is good for the party" line of thinking. The opposite should be true. The candidate should reflect the party, not the other way around.

It's tough to be a Democrat.

By the way, where's my incentive check?

I miss Mayberry.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A wise man knows himself to be a fool.....

Paul Sills, one of the founders of the renowned Second City company in Chicago, passed away yesterday.

Anybody who has never seen or heard of the Second City company, or the names Paul Sills or Del Close, wouldn't know comedy if it came up and bit them on the ass.

The world has gotten far too serious in the last week.

Fair travels, Mr. Sills.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hoo R U?

Who am I?

There are some philosophers who believe I am the sum of all my experiences, and there are some that state quite clearly that I can't really know myself at all, and that my only clue as to my identity would be caught in the reflection of those around me. And then, there are the ones that simply tell me to shut up and keep walking, because when you stop, it's over, thanks for playing, and on to the next contestant....

If the first philosopher is accurate, then I am a man who is still in search of himself; for even though I've tried many things, I'm still in flux. I've been many things in this life so far; a student, an actor, a director, a writer, a teacher, an ice cream maker, and a guy who lived for a couple of weeks in a bandstand with three interesting veterans. I like to laugh, I've learned to accept crying, I love deeply and longly, my friends are friends for life and in some cases even after that. I speak the truth when I can; but I do lie occasionally, and I hope to be forgiven for that. I believe in God, but don't believe in organized religion. I ask for forgiveness for my sins, and try to do it even when I'm not about to spoon up a crap sundae. I've spent a lot of time trying to get noticed; so much time, in fact, that the idea of getting noticed now makes me cringe. For a long time, I was a private person in the public view. Now I'm a private person in hiding.

If the second philosopher is true, then I'm invisible. I cannot for the life of me see my reflection in the people around me. I make them laugh occasionally. I piss them off occasionally. It's hard to see, because the flaw in this philosophy is that the reflection must, in fact, be interpreted by me, and in doing that, I have to bring to bear all of those things touted by the first philosopher. So, it's confusing.

The third philosophy (keep walking) is just so much bullshit. Obviously, whosoever came up with that one really needs to sit down, shut up, and watch the world go by for awhile.

So, in essence......I think people have the enviable ability to re-invent themselves every day. Today, I'm philosophical; tomorrow, I might just want to be Jonathan Winters; and the day after that, Winston Churchill. And after that, Charlie McCarthy. The windows and doors are open, and who's to say which one it the right entrance or exit?

Or maybe Robert Benchley was right; maybe it all has to do with bone dust.