Sunday, August 31, 2008

As My Whimsy Takes Me...


I could take a month of Sundays.

Every so often, the Gods smile down upon me, and re-arrange my schedule so that I can not only see my wife in person and awake, but also a few days in a row that I can do what I want to do.

Today is one of those days. Tomorrow is another. It's what passes for a weekend when you work for Homeland Security.

Now, don't get me wrong; I don't just sit around, meander through cyberspace, and read the stack of books that gets added to and subtracted from on a regular basis. I also enjoy the various chores that comes from being a homeowner guy.

I like mowing the lawn, for example; it's an "order from chaos" thing.

You might not know this, but it takes a decent amount of time to replace all the pull handles in your average kitchen. And then, when that's done, you realize that now the various kitchen doorknobs don't match now. So, it's back to Menards.....

No matter how hot it gets outside, the water is ALWAYS cold when you wash your car.


And now that all the chores are finished for today (yes, I KNOW there is some laundry, but I've got to have something to do on Labor Day) I can sit and watch re-runs of the NFL on the NFL Network.

By the way; the Lions went 4-0 in preseason. I'm depressingly optimistic that maybe they won't suck quite as much as I'm used to.


By the way, I'm writing this on my new laptop. This really cool doohickey just off to the right side of the keyboard makes the wireless really fast. I may never go down to my office again.


A young fellow appeared at my door yesterday, carrying what looked like a ton of literature, and wearing a candidates button. He asked me what I think is the most important thing to consider in the coming election.

My response: I'm tired of living in fear; I'm tired of living in a country that has been floating in a bubble of fear and paranoia since the early part of this decade. I'm tired of the world looking at my country as if we're unrepentant bullies. I'm tired just at looking at the tarnish that has overcome the shining beacon that was once my country. I want to be proud again, but for the right reasons; and those reasons are because my country is a leader in exploration, in invention, in compassionate care for our citizens, in diplomacy, in education.....

I didn't say all that to him. What I said was, "I'm tired of living in the barrel of the gun."

He smiled, handed me a ton of literature, and asked me to vote for his guy. I told him to come back after next week, because I haven't made up my mind yet.


God, if you're listening, please give the gulf coast a break.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ah, whatsthepoint.

So, here I'm sitting, wondering.

Today, I was passed over.
Once again, I'm no longer qualified to do a job I've been doing since January.

Apparently, my cover has been blown.

You see, I have all this experience; I've taught at THREE different colleges, have two degrees, can carry my weight in any conversation, and can make difficult things easy, and vice versa.

But.....that was outside.

Inside, all my previous experiences and talents add up to exactly.....dick.

So, I'm sitting here, wondering.


I allow myself the rest of the evening to slog around in my own self pity, and get up tomorrow with the whole, "fuchem" attitude.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Peter and Wendy had it so good.

Wow. Where did my summer go? It was creeping up just a little while ago, and I turned my back for one second and BOOM! All of a sudden, it's almost September, it's almost LABOR FREAKIN' DAY WEEKEND, and I'm wondering where the hell the summer went?

I guess there's still time for corn on the cob, and chicken crisped over charcoal. But the sun is setting earlier, and it's actually chilly in the morning....and I miss the river of my childhood.

Don't get me wrong, I do have an affinity for the frost on the pumpkin. The smell of the leaves burning in backyard alleyways....the sound of a live football college football game as the sun just begins to set and the lights come on.....the sound of the streets on any given Hallowe'en. It makes me want to bust out my favorite Ray Bradbury novels, and bury myself deep within them.

Oh, where the mind wanders to, free and unfettered.....

There was a girl of my youth; her name was Vicki. The sun was setting on a cool September evening, as we walked hand in hand through the campus, and on up Third Street for Pizza and a Movie. The cares of the week ahead and behind us, the warmth of her hand in mine....the crispness of the air.

The sound of a marching band. Nothing like the cacophony of sound of a marching band under the Friday Night Lights.

The wind off of Lake Superior on the night I laughed so hard I thought I'd die.
Star gazing.
James Taylor on the stereo.
September Grass....

And the babble that comes when the aged envy the young.
And that, my friends, is the most interesting surprise of all.

Short note on Current Event.

I have to admit, I've had my doubts.

But I watched one man tap into the hopes of an older generation; and I watched another man turn what is usually a staid gathering into a rock concert.

Both actions stirred a little hope in me; for I have one foot in the older generation, but I love to watch a staid gathering turn into a rock concert; I love the unexpected.

There seems to be a nice balance on that ticket.

Now, let's see what the other side has to say.

But still......damn fine speech, Mr. Biden.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nine years ago today, my wife and I had our first date.

We'd known each other for awhile; she was actually my boss. I was a lowly actor, newly arrived to this mecca of melodrama on the coast of California, and she was the production stage manager. I was taken by her attitude: she was very businesslike, goal oriented, organized and disciplined. Pretty much everything that I was not.

She was my biggest supporter, as well. I found out much later that after preliminary rehearsals, the director of the piece felt he had made a mistake in casting me. She simply told him to wait and see that all will be well, and she was right; it was a good performance. One of the best I've given.

But she didn't date actors.
Especially ones that had just landed from Michigan, and was going to Pennsylvania next.
ESPECIALLY ones that had hair down to their lower back, nothing to call their own but a car, and desperately close to bankruptcy.

And yet, on the evening of August 23, 1999, for some inexplicable reason, she invited me over for pizza and a movie.

It was very nice; we ate, we talked, we watched a movie about a robot from outer space that is befriended by a young man back in the 1950's, and eventually I fell asleep on the couch.

The thing is.....I never left after that. So, that first date is still kind of going on. The longest first date in history, leading to matrimony and a move from the western shore to two thirds of the way across the continent.

Somebody call Guinness.
The world record guys, not the ale guys. the record guys first, at any rate.

If you're lucky, exceedingly lucky, you come across a person that serves to complete you; They don't attempt to change you, but they re-arrange you a bit, like a software application that re-formats you to run faster. They give willingly and accept graciously.

Lightning strikes, y'all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clear-eyed in the midst of the minefield.

It has been my experience, walking about the big blue marble for a more than a couple of decades, that the cosmic baker took us out of the oven just a bit toooo early. Sometimes, that's a blessing; and sometimes, it's so obvious a curse that it's like a big parade, with curse marching bands, a couple of those big curse balloons, and lovely curse floats.

I call it "The Knee-Jerk Reaction Syndrome."

I'm not saying that it's crazy, or inappropriate, but it does demand some kind of attention. Because The Knee Jerk Reaction Syndrome flies in the face of logic and common sense, and as a society we should always to be logical and common sensical.

It usually begins with some kind of accident, some kind of tragedy, that incites the people to actually pay attention to their surroundings: Let's look at an absurd example:

A woman buys a cup of coffee at a well-known drive through, inexplicably puts it into her lap, and drives away. The coffee, which is of course HOT, spills onto her in a very uncomfortable place, and she sues. The general population hears of this, and begins a HUGE and expensive investigation that leads to restaurants having to put a label on their cups that say, WARNING: CONTENTS MAY BE HOT.

This "Knee Jerk Reaction Syndrome" has been well used this first decade of the millennium; our knee jerk reactions have toppled two foreign governments, killed many of our countrymen, and torn our constitution to very rags.

But here's my point: In the coming months, the people of this country have many difficult decisions to make, and from what I've been hearing and seeing many of my countrymen have a bad case of "The Knee Jerk Reaction Syndrome." And they are calling it "Change."

I am of the belief that we do need change in direction. But I'm not willing to believe that ANY change is a good one. We need to look deeply, see past what the televisions are telling us, forget the flashy ads and the celebrity endorsements, and look at the RECORDS.

It's important, I think VITALLY important to make an educated choice this fall. And I, for one, am tired of living in this paranoid paradise, this kingdom of bullies, this divided land.

It's time to sheathe the sword; it's time to dust off the book; it's time to find a unified voice; it's time to lead by example.

And that's just about as optimistic as you'll see me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vladimir and Estragon Go To White Castle.

For those of you that know me...well, you know I tend to lean away from optimism; and that's a polite way of saying that I can be one negative somnabitch.

I'm not sure how I wound up like that; but for the most part, and in the hindsight that age brings, I can say that it's been there a long time. Perhaps I learned early how short a season it is on this planet. Perhaps it was that moment when I realized that striving to be gentlemanly and intelligent was no substitute for being handsome. Perhaps it was the moment that when I needed help, the ground shook with the thousands of feet, running away. Or, it was the moment when I discovered, much to my chagrin at my own naivety, that it was more important to suck up than it was to do the job.

And that's how my character developed.
Ain't ya glad ya know me?

Which reminds me of something that used to hang in my office, which I applied to theatre, but can be applied to everything:

Thoughts become words; Words become deeds; Deeds become habits; Habits become character; Character is everything.

I believe it's paraphrased from Emerson.

So, what keeps me going is this almost irrational belief that the plans talked about over a cup or two of coffee at a little place on Branch Street about two thousand miles from here will reach fruition. Now, all I need is time, inclination, desire, dreams, financial backing, financial planning, financial security, a study of local demographics, a place, a time, something to write on and something to write with.

I am tired, Ladies and Gentlemen: I am TIRED of spending too much time doing what I've GOT to and not enough time doing what I WANT to. I've got to find some way of pulling the two ends together and tying the m****rf***er off!

It's time to circle the wagons. How does one do that when you only have one wagon?


(At that point, reality raised it's ugly head, and with a sharp exhale that carried the faint aroma of flop sweat and old books, blew our intrepid hero back into the doldrums, where he spent the rest of his days creating variations of chili and yelling at the kids in the neighborhood to stay the hell off his lawn....)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paradise belongs to those with the ability to make people laugh....

I have been an on-again, off-again fan of A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION since I first heard it on WCMU out of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, in the fall of '82. I've always been fond of radio; Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, The Goon Show...and PHC is a lovely blend of the past and the present.....

Last night, I had the opportunity to see the touring show, as it came through this little northern state capital.

Some observations:

1. Mr. Keillor is a wonderful writer, and his monologue at the end of the evening (which I recognized as a synopsis of all the good parts of his book, PONTOON) was delightful: Just this guy, walking up and down the stage, telling the story. I have a couple of cd's of him reading his own work, and I'll wear them out and get new ones.....

2. He should sing occasionally. But only that.

3. His band cooks. Could use more cowbell, though.

4. Lake Wobegon reminds me so very much of the little town of Harrison, Michigan, where I spent delightful summers as a boy. Summers lasted forever, the sun came up when I put my feet on the floor, and went down at half past never. There was always story telling around the fire in the evenings, the fireflies filled the night, and the Cedar River was there to sing you sweet lullabies until the morning.

Ah. I wonder if it's a good thing to be able to simultaneously warm and tear your heart.

I've added Garrison Keillor to my list of people I want to have dinner with. I think he and Mark Twain would have a wonderful time, telling Poe to lighten up.

In other news.....they're sending me to Washington. More on that as it develops.

And with that, I'm all dried up.....even the keys feel weird underneath my fingers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

That's not writing, that's just typing.....

Once again, in the throes of the dreaded block.

I like to think of it as one of those icing sleeves that confectioners use to decorate cakes. Except mine is, well, blocked. And I'm realllly squeeeezing the other end, in the hopes that there will be an explosion of delicious icing spilling out soon.

How about a list?


Icing. (oh, this is not going to go well, I can tell...)

I want people to stop sending me political endorsements. I've not made up my mind, and I'm not sure when I will.

I want to go to Alaska, just to say I did. I'd take pictures to prove it, because all my friends are skeptics.

A laptop computer would be nice, but I figure I'd just have the capacity to be blocked on two pieces of electronic equipment. Maybe I should try paper.

I want to be interested in the Olympics. I'm having a hard time with it. Don't know why. I think the last time I was really into it was '72.

I want to run through a sprinkler.

I want to find D. B. Cooper. And then, I want to put him back where I found him.

I want to find an ending to this that will not just taper off, but at the same time will leave the reader with a sense of completion.

The End.

Yeah, that works.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I have found myself, in this strange middle part of my life, in an almost voyeuristic position of communicating with friends and former lovers on various community pages, such as Myspace and Facebook.

And it's a cross between flattering and frightening how much they remember, how much they've forgotten, and how much they still care. Flattering, because I've never considered myself very much of a memorable person; and Frightening, because apparently I AM a memorable person, and with that awesome responsibility, I should have taken it more seriously.

But this evening, as I was perusing and pestering, I came across a photo of two of them, in a kind of reunion; both former students of mine, and both well cherished in my often hurt and seldom healed heart.

And it took me back......

During a certain fall of a certain year in the decade known as the 90's, I put together a little production of a play. And I cast it, much as I had cast any other show. I had a habit of casting a nice variety of people who are "anchors" within the program, as well as new faces; it was my way to prove diversity within my corner of the program, and it was gratifying that I could actually get 10 percent of the campus to come and audition because they figured they had just as much a shot as everybody else, and they saw that it could be fun.

Not a bad legacy. But I digress.

Little did I know that during that certain fall in that certain year, I would put together a show that would transcend everything I did with it; that the performances I would see on that stage would be, in my opinion, the best I had ever seen on that stage; and oh, the audience reaction.....

They were so. very. good.

There were other productions, each with their own personalities, each with their greatness and their flaws, but it was that ONE that sticks forever in my mind. And those people, those faces......forever young.

And with August making it's way to September, My heart soars at the memory.

Friday, August 8, 2008

From the tightly wound but quite exhausted mind of...

I've been reading a book that a lot of people have talked about, entitled INTO THE WILD. If you don't know, it's about a young man of good birth and education, who throws everything away, shuns society and family, and makes a go of it in the Alaskan Wilderness.

He dies, of course. If he didn't, nobody would have written a book about it. But the interesting thing about it is people's reactions to it.

Most people think he was an idiot.

Read the book; you'll discover that the young man lived his life. And I guess we should say LIVED. He met people; he felt deep affection, and great respect for those around him; he worked hard; and he saw something.....something that just seems to be a little left of where we all tend to look.

I'd pay good money to see it, just for a second.

The house is quiet now. My young relatives have moved now into their beautiful new home, and begin a new chapter in their lives. I hope they know, as I'm pretty sure you've all guessed already, that I stand as the safety net if ever things should begin to suck for them.

That's what you do.

Bernie Brillstein died today; for those of you who don't know it, he was an agent, producer, and major mover and shaker in Hollywood. If you watch television, watch for his name as a producer. He was the agent to most of the SNL original cast, and was instrumental in getting it off the ground.

Yes. He was Belushi's agent. And, I believe, Farley's.

The jury is out on which direction he'll be heading, because AFTER ALL, he was an agent. But I'll vote for heaven.

I swear to GOD that if I can't laugh my ass off in heaven, I'm not going.

In our youth, our hearts were touched by fire.

The readiness is all.

Goo Goo G'Joob.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I should work for the Chamber of Commerce.

I'm off to Fargo this afternoon, to spend a couple of days finishing up on the whole "statewide enlightenment". For those of you whose only image of Fargo comes from a movie that was actually filmed in Minneapolis,'s not the end of the world, but the end of the world is just a quick drive from there....

I've said it before, but the scenery here in North Dakota is varied; sure, you can see all the way to the horizon from my back porch, but if you travel north for a bit, you can see all the way to Canada; and if you travel west, you can see the glory that is the Badlands. Fargo is, in fact, the largest city in the state, but the tallest building (the capitol building) is in Bismarck. We also have the geographic center of the continent here, at a place called Rugby.

I don't know how this turned into a triptych, but there you go.

I would just like to add that while the economy is bleak in most of the country, ours is surprisingly strong; the housing market has not slumped, gas prices are fairly reasonable, and we are at present sitting on the largest deposits of oil in on this continent here in the Williston basin. It's GETTING to it that appears to be the sticking point.

But when they DO get to all that oil, all we'll need to do is build refineries, and we'll have enough oil to satisfy our needs for a century! A whole CENTURY! And who gives a crap about what happens after that, 'cause I'll be dead, dead, dead!

That's why I didn't have children; so that when people ask me what I'm leaving for my children I can say, "Not a garshdarn thing! HA!"

And when people say I'm being selfish, I poke them in the eye and run away, laughing maniacally.

I don't really have an ending for this, so if you could all just hearken back to the final episode of The Sopranos and wait for the

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I had the munchies, so I ate all my books.

Did you ever have those days where you just....can'

You can't read enough to satisfy some strange and magnificent craving for information of ANY kind. It's not exactly an itch you can't scratch, but a hunger that cannot, under any circumstances, be sated.

Even with chocolate cake.

I love chocolate cake.

Wow. Distracted for a minute. Back now.

Anyway.....yesterday, it was like that; my brain was saying, "Feed me, Krellborn, Feed me NOW...." and I was spooning it up like it was 1999.

"I'm just a mean green mother from outer space, and I'm bad....."

Oops. Another distraction. Come back to the point, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean....

MMMMM. Sausage.

Crap. This is getting me nowhere.

What was there to eat in the house? Well........

Nonfiction: Currently researching an airplane hijacking in 1971, reading up on things I didn't know about the Columbine shooting, a new biography of Daniel Boone, reading a bloody MANUAL on how to eliminate broad leaf weeds from a fescue lawn, and a great book about interviews with men in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fiction: Re-reading Working by Studs Turkel, The Revenge of Moriarty by John Gardner, and considering Rhett's People, but would rather re-read Gone With The Wind.

Magazines: Civil War Digest. Particularly the back issue with the great article about Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Catalogs: Seriously, the brain was just SCREAMIN' for it.

The sad part was that this went on into the night. My wife came in from work early this morning, and there I was....books scattered about, looking like a psychotic professor.

"I've read everything, man, I've read everything...."

There I go again....

"I've read Shakespeare, Thomas Kyd,
Marvelled at the things they did;
John Irving, James Clavell,
He's dead, but you can hardly tell;
Greek Myths in a pinch,
I can't put down the Bullfinch;
Halberstam and Mark Twain,
I'm telling you I'm half insane!

If you read that with a Johnny Cash accent, it sounds better, btw...

To sum up......I'm tired. But I know a lot more today than I did yesterday. And imagine what I'll know tomorrow.