Friday, May 29, 2009

300. Good for bowling and batting averages.

I was poking around my previous posts, and came across a draft that I never finished. It goes thus:

A sustained note, while initially gratifying, quickly turns to noise; a kind of static that our twenty-first century ears and brains quickly shut out as quickly and easily as shutting a door; for the sustained note ceases to be music after a while. The changes from note to note; the relief of that change, is what fascinates us, stimulates us, causes us to sit up in wonder and astonishment, and in most cases with us creative types, makes us wish to bask in its glory and emulate it.

The changes are the color of the music.

It is not a far reach, as we used to say in the Lakes region of the North where I mis-spent my youth, to apply the same metaphor to the general day-to-day of existence.

The changes are the color of life.

Why is it, then, that the changes we seem to crave in art anger us in life?

There's an irony to finding this, of course....this is my 300th post. And with every anniversary, more notes, more changes, more craving, more anger.

The lines that appear more abundantly as the years pass by are like a trumpet call, a reveille, if you will, announcing that I had better do something now if I'm going to do something at all. A bugle call to action.

At least it's better than taps.

The memories of things past are like the violin; a phrasing that is hard to ignore, but easily lost in the cacophony of the other instruments. But, when it comes to the forefront, such beauty as to make a man weep.

The thousand aches and pains of the body are like the discordant notes of the bagpipe. It's very hard to hear anything else when the bagpipe is playing. But, in the defense of the bagpipe, it is strangely appealing to listen to, for a little while. So, I give the aches and pains their attention.

The comings and goings of old and new friends; like the blues progression on a good guitar. You feel the angst without actually experiencing it. But you yearn to help the player.

Its amazing just how much life is like music.

I wonder why I don't sing more often.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I wish, more than anything, more than life.....


How you been?

I'm good. But I'm rebelling against late night news programs. I'm currently watching infomercials. There's something called an AbCoaster that looks like something the Spanish Inquisition invented.

No pain, no problem. That's my motto.

I wonder about the guarantees that are given to these many and various late night gizmos and systems and whatnot. I'm not sure how somebody in good conscience can say "you can lose three inches before nightfall" and get away with it.

Recently, I understand that the FDA has told the Post Company that if they insist on claiming that Cheerios can lower cholesterol, then they need to be re-labeled as a drug, and must go through rigorous tests.

Perhaps the government should look into other things, and let Cheerios be Cheerios.

And perhaps people should read labels, and make up their own minds.

But a little knowledge of on the part of the cereal eater would probably help.

This is the issue: Too often in the early days of this century, we have fallen prey to the worst kind of ignorance; and that ignorance is never more visible than when we as a society begin to believe anything people "of authority" tell us.

Examples such as, "Obama is a Muslim", or "Torture is necessary", or "There is indisputable proof of weapons blah blah", or something as simple as the word, "pandemic" is enough to change the entire direction of country.

"Socialism" is another one of those words.

And the problem is there are too many people believing sight-unseen, and not enough actually looking behind the curtain.

This has happened before, my friends. Many times. If you tell a lie large enough, or if you fill the cracks around the truth with enough falsehood, and you keep telling it, soon it will be seen as the truth. And it takes years, decades, CENTURIES to undo.

If ever.

So, a little primer: movies that are based upon a true story only means that once upon a time there were people who had these names and that's about it.

Chocolate flavored means that there is no freakin' chocolate.

The President is NOT a Muslim.

If a thousand people do a stupid thing, IT'S STILL A STUPID THING TO DO.

Like every good journalist, you need to find corroboration in your story. You need MULTIPLE sources.

Let's see if we can't take a step in the right direction. Let's see if we can actually look at the info and make up our minds.

Rock beats scissors.
Paper beats rock.
Scissors beat paper.

Knowledge beats fear.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And all because of a photo on FB.

Another beautiful North Dakota sunrise. And I'm awake to see it.

I'm acclimating, for the most part. My eyes don't ache at the end of the day; the feeling that I'm gonna spew blood out of my sockets has diminished somewhat.

I spent a little time yesterday at the airport, doing my old doings. It felt a little stranger than it should have, I think, given the fact that I've only been gone for two weeks. But the energy seemed shifted somewhat, and I'm not sure if it's me, or if it is, in fact, the energy.

That feeling of being misplaced somehow is a feeling that I only expect after long absences; and it's one of the reasons I'm not fond of formal reunions. I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be in those situations.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go back to my old Alma Mater, and I walked around, basking in both the memories of what was, and the glory of what is. The area had changed so much; for the most part, my old stomping grounds were gone, or changed almost into unrecognizability by the passage of time, and the fingerprints of the other, youngers that have come after me. This wasn't really a source of pain for me, but a kind of temporary yearning. A desperate cry for the puzzle piece to fit into the different puzzle.

The people that I knew from long ago were still the people I knew; but it was not long ago anymore, and the passage of time has made us all different people, even though we frantically cling to the old moments as a kind of security blanket in the spinning top that is the movement from past to present to future. We had a common intersection point; but that point, like one of those new-fangled restore points on my trusty Dell, has been replaced by other intersection points in other venues and the bonds, though still there, have been.....faded....a bit.

After the inevitable walk down Memory Lane, or Amnesia Avenue....there's really not much to talk about. And perhaps it's because we go back, just for a minute, and be those people. Again. And bask in one of those early days; when the sun was out and the sky was blue.

But you can't be those people again. The best you can hope for it to find a common ground in the here, based upon the intersection you had in the then.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reendom, Rundom, Random, Roo.....

Random thoughts on another Thursday:

I was recently invited to do Coward by a friend of mine in New York. I was flattered to be considered, even more flattered to be remembered, and can remember a day when I would have packed the car on the basis of that invitation. I wish I would have gotten more of those invitations.

Reunions are coming out of the woodwork; so far, one for a Children's Theatre I once worked for, and another from one of the Universities I've attended. I'm considering attending, but it's a mighty long reach between now and then. That, and I'm not sure how I feel about large reunions. I've always been fond of the small, improptu get togethers, but I'm a control freak in that regard. I would love to see some of the people. I would hate to see some of the others.

It's been awhile since I heard from my friend from Granger. I hope it wasn't something I said. Or did.

When laundry comes, it comes not as single soldiers, but in battalions.

Thus also comes mail order catalogues.

My memory has been poked again by the Facebook. Once again, I'm flattered to be remembered, but seriously, I thought you didn't care for me; and if that's the case, why are you "friending" me? And if you DID care for me, why didn't you say something?

Years ago, I knew a stage manager who, every Memorial Day, would sit in the sun and read THE GREAT GATSBY from cover to cover; it was one of those strange traditions that people have for themselves, that make them either endearing, or annoying. For him, it was endearing.

I had a tradition similar to that; but mine would occur on the first day of Summer, which is around June 20. There was this radio program called SARATOGA SPRINGS, created by those wonderful folks at ZBS, and broadcast in four minute episodes on NPR in the 90's. In toto, there were about nine hours of episodes, and I would listen to them, one by one, from morning until night.

There was nothing like the sound of SARATOGA SPRINGS, the aroma of charcoal and chicken, and the feel of the combination of sun and shade that comes with the end of a Missouri day.

This puzzle is about my life.

There's this show on SPIKE called DEADLIEST WARRIOR, and they just announced that the next episode pits Shaka Zulu against William Wallace.


Wallace will kick his ass.

And who the HELL is reading me from Columbus, Ohio?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The ramble that comes at two am; it's not pretty, but you can't....stop....typing.

I'm not really sure what the rules are, here. I am pretty sure that I'm not supposed to be writing.....but it's just about two am, and I've really run out of things to do.

Rest easy, America. For tonight, the country is safe. As far as I know.

And by the way, Change is being delivered in a Tea Bag. I always thought that the term "tea bag" was a euphemism for....shall we way....something else?

Is it the GOP's contention that the American people are taking it to the face?

Can you tell I've been watching just a little too much MSNBC?

I love the idea that the Republicans in one sentence say that they are not looking backwards anymore...and three minutes later, bring up the ever present spectre of Ronald Reagan.

I laughed all the way to the coffee machine. It's an IV.

I am currently in a six story building. I'm on the six floor, by the way, and the windows looking out over the city of Bismarck are very small. If I turn just ever so, I can see the Capital Building. There is nobody else in the building at this point, although I suspect that there are some financiers down on three, manning computers with which to watch the Asian markets. I'm pretty sure they choose the third floor, because they can only maim and not die from the windows down there. And the fact that the windows are very small....well, I'm too tired to beat this horse.


I just saw this commercial about some kind of recovery/treatment center. They make it look like a kind of paradise. Makes me wish I hadn't stopped the drinking and the drugs when I did....seriously, I wonder why I put myself through hell by myself in rat trap apartments, surrounded by ghosts and so-called friends who really only wanted me to pick up the tab....I could've had a pretty comfortable bed, with gourmet meals....and is that a pool?

Oh, and by the way....when I was drying out, only the rich could afford that kind of thing.....for the rest of us, we were just weak-willed slackers who deserved everything we got for being so stupid as to drown our pain in vodka and coke.

I have to tell you, I hate this shift.

It makes me miss the vodka.

But not the coke. The coke was painful.

To conclude:

If you are using good vodka in that Screwdriver, it's a criminal waste of good vodka.
If you are using cheap vodka in that Screwdriver, it's a criminal waste of good Orange Juice.

I trust you all slept well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm stuck in the tower; and just my luck, no Rapunzel.

Greetings for the building that looks like a stack of pancakes. For those of you keeping track, it's about midnight on a Sunday evening/Monday morning, and I'm sitting in an empty office, on guard. Today, I decided to push the envelope; there is no moratorium on using your own laptop to make contact with the outside world, and it's not like I'm downloading porn.....I'm just bored with the book I'm currently reading (A new edition of BULLFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY), I cannot take another five minutes of the PelosiBashing on FAUXNEWS, and I've eaten all my pretzels.

If you haven't seen it, I would encourage you to see a pretty decent documentary titled THE LOSS OF NAMELESS THINGS. It deals with the interesting turn of events in the life of Oakley Hall III, from his breakout as a playwright/director, to his near fatal accident, to his re-birth. I was captivated by this. Since seeing it, I've been doing some research, and what I've found is depressing me to no end...

In a strange tale of two theatres, the Foothills Theatre in Massachusetts, and the Foothill Theatre in California, have been forced to close after more than two decades of work. They closed within a week of each other; unable due to financial constraints to even finish their current seasons.

The economy affects so many things. As a former artist, I find it especially sad that these organizations, dedicated to bringing new art and new points of view, and new voices to the American theatre scene are silenced because the American people have managed to boil their attention span down to just long enough to appreciate a Quizno's commercial, and the American Governing body sees the Arts in this country as just as important as....well.....a Quizno's commercial.

Truly, when you think that most of the arts budgets in America have been financed by....wait for it....the automobile industry, it makes the current situation even MORE sad than it was just a few paragraphs ago.

But I was talking about Oakley Hall III.....wasn't I?

In hearing his story for the first time, and from doing some research into the topic of his play (Meriwether Lewis, of "and Clark" fame) and the fact that the protagonist is mysteriously dead at the end of the play......I wonder about the nature of defining moments.

First of all, I think it rather rude of Fate to give us defining moments without telling us that they ARE defining moments.

Take, for example, Millvina Dean's defining moment was being on the TITANIC; alas, she was two months old at the time, but she is forever defined as TITANIC survivor. I don't know if I could live with being defined at two months old.

Oakley Hall was defined twice, and as much as Greek Tragedy would allow apparently; the son of a brilliant novelist, Oakley was reported to be even more brilliant than his father. And on the verge of great success, an accident off of bridge onto the unforgiving rocks below now defines him as a man who must literally re-invent himself after having EVERYTHING taken away from him.

Meriwether Lewis was defined by a trip up the Missouri River, and visiting the Pacific Ocean, and becoming the talk of the nation at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. And where do you go from there?

I surely wish I had a point to all of this, but I don't.

It's now just before 1am on a Monday morning in a building that looks like a stack of pancakes. My battery is slowly discharging, and my computer will soon fade to black. My mind races at the idea of "defining moments," and I wonder when my was, or will be.

I hope I get to slay the dragon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When your heart sings, what is the tune?

From time to time, I've searched for what I believe to be the perfect love song.

A song that says what I want to say, in a way that I would say it.

For those of you who know me, this should be pretty close.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Turning plowshares into swords, and then back into plowshares, and then maybe into some kind of folk-art lawn ornament, but not a jockey.

I believe I've passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage;
I've found that just surviving is a noble fight.
I once believed in causes, too;
I had my pointless point of view;
And life went on, no matter who was wrong or right.....

Last night, I had a chance to escape from the endless dreck of FAUXNEWS and I rebelled; I turned over to MSNBC, which apparently stands for MORE SAME NASTY BULLSHIT COMMENTARY, and was terribly disappointed to find that these two networks are now just making it a habit to snipe one another at every opportunity.

Ranting from what is considered the Right these days makes me want to scream; but I listen in the off chance that I'm wrong about everything; and these days, those are even odds.

Ranting from the Left reminds me of the kid from THE SIMPSONS; that high pitched "HA HA!" that comes from a lopsided victory and an ever pervading smugness that only the huge victor can pull off; and to hell with all the "nice nice" they were going to make when they came to town.

Things I never want to hear about again:

Nancy Pelosi. Seriously. Thank you for your service, could you PLEASE do it more quietly?

Carrie Prejean.

DICK Cheney.

The concept that torture is good if it gets us what we want. When did this argument actually start to make sense to people?

Whether or not he laughed at the joke. On a side note, did anybody NOT see that Wanda Sykes was going to be a trainwreck? Has nobody EVER SEEN her act?

To paraphrase The Joker, "This news cycle needs an enema."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is that ball of fire in the sky?

For those of you not following my life:

I presently sit in an office from somewhere around nine pm until somewhere around 5 am. I do this to keep my part of the world safe, or at the very least informed about things that could go from safe to unsafe faster than you can say "hello" into a telephone at four am without sounding like you've been up all night waiting for the phone to ring.

If that sounds rambly, it's only because the phone rang at 4 am. And when I'm sitting at my desk and the phone rings at 4 am, it's NEVER a good thing.

Come to think of it, it's been my experience that 4 am phone calls are never good, period.


Being up all night at the age in which I find myself feels roughly like having your brains dashed out by a slice of lemon surrounding a large gold brick.


The phone rings.

I quickly make sure I have something to write on, because chances are things are going to require notation.

I realize that I haven't actually spoken for around seven hours (yelling obscenities at Bill O'Reilly in my head doesn't count) and I quickly make sure that all systems are go for positive verbal communication.

I briefly panic, trying to remember how I'm supposed to answer the phone. Acronyms are not my friends.

I pick up the phone.

I try to say, "This is blah blah blah at blah blah."

It comes out all screwy.

There is a pause.

The caller says, not unkindly, "You want to try that again?"

My response is, "I'd better not."

And we laugh and go on from there.

And how was YOUR day?

Monday, May 11, 2009

If you're ticked before breakfast, you'll be really pissed before dinner.....

It's amazing what I choose to be ticked off about.

And, even as I write this down, I know intellectually that it's a waste of what valuable time I have left on the big blue marble to be ticked off about it....


I've been going to the gym lately, trying to put things back into place and perspective; it's not that I'm unhealthy, but I am not getting any younger, and if I want to get older I should take better care of myself. I'm not trying to impress anybody, truly. That would open a whole new can of "the things I choose to worry about at this point in my life."

But it's a small gym, and it has televisions just about every square inch of space not covered with exercise equipment. So, you really can't avoid looking into the images and seeing things that tick you off.

Now, I'll admit that there are a LOT of things out there to truly be ticked off about; a lot of talking heads out there on various channels, trying to convince us that they are actually talking out their heads and not their asses.....

But Rachel Ray ticked me off this morning.

She was interviewing Lauren Graham, a very nice looking and seemingly talented individual, who is, I'm assuming, starring in the most recent revival of GUYS AND DOLLS in NY.

Fawning all over, asking all sorts of questions, and marvelling at the fact that she's still alive after doing 8 shows a week on Broadway.


What ticks me off is that most of the people I know who are still working the business DREAM of ONLY doing EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK.

And they get paid crap wages. AND they have no understudy.


Told you.

Stupid thing to get ticked off about....somebody bragging about being a theatrical wimp.

In my day......

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where. Is. My. COFFEE!!?

Somebody recently asked me what I would like people to say about me when I've taken the curtain call and moved on to the next gig.

In a nutshell:

"He could make me laugh."


"He could realllllly piss me off sometimes; but never for very long."


"He was the smartest lunatic I ever encountered."


"I hope he took some ice; he's going to need it where he's going."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Facial Paralysis Brought On By Too Much Night; Or, You Do WHAT For A Living?

On the plus side, I've been getting to the gym after work.

On the opposite of plus side, I've been getting off of work at 0500.

On the plus side, the job plays to my misanthropic nature.

On the opposite of plus side...well, FAUXNEWS CHANNEL.

On the plus side, the sleep is deep.

On the opposite of plus side, I can't remember what day it is, and I can't seem to get anything accomplished until my system acclimates....


An old professor of mine retired last weekend, after 30 years of service. James Panowski would be considered by some to be the no-nonsense, black and white taskmaster that gave us the necessary dose of discipline that every wannabe performer type really needs. He didn't put up with the crap that comes with being an eighteen-to-twenty-one-I'm-just-a-misunderstood-genius-and-oh-can't-you-see-me-suffering-for-my-art? type. He spoke truth to ego. Often, in public. And his arrows more often than not hit home, and the lessons remain long after the glitter faded.

In private, however, he was a gregarious man; if you needed, he provided. I hope that everybody had a chance to see that side of him.

Or maybe, given the fact that I was one messed up pup at that particular signpost on the lifeway gave him a chance to stretch those empathy muscles....but I'm not here to analyze Caesar, I'm here to praise him.

I had a chance to see him at the beginning of February, and it had been over twenty years since I had seen him last. And he recognized me, and he shook my hand that turned into an embrace, and for just a minute I was nineteen again. And that in itself was awkward; but only for a moment.

After that, it was like home.


This morning, I had the opportunity to see a re-make of SLEUTH, with Jude Law and Michael Caine. I looked a bit forward to it, because it's a really good play (which I've had the pleasure of doing) and great in it's original film form (with Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine).

They managed to update it, take all the fun out of it, change the subtext of both the characters, and turn it into something it should never have been.

I realize that the "thumbs up" thing is trademarked, so I'm giving SLEUTH the finger.


I'm hungry and so I'm done here.

Thank you, and good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.....

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's like a trainwreck; I want to turn away, but I can't.

Things I think about after a night of being forced to watch FOXNEWS for nine...straight...hours.

And this should be #1 in a series, for alas, my new job requires monitoring FOXNEWS for nine....straight....hours.


First of all, let us consider that the population of the ENTIRE United States in 1780was a bit over 3 million people. The economy was agricultural. The food you got was the food you could take from the environment, so every family had a gun and it was the prized possession. The gun was necessary for food gathering and survival. The people who came to this continent originally were fleeing all sorts of religious intolerance. And the revolution itself was because the citizens of the colonies were tired of being used as a cash-cow by the English government.

That being said, you must realize that the Constitution was written with all of those things in mind, by gentlemen farmers who were, for the most part, flying blind. Creating a country out of whole cloth had never been done before.

So, it would seem that the Constitution is a great document to find the starting point; but I cannot actually see how you can apply the rules SPECIFICALLY to our day and age. The founding fathers NEVER EVER would have imagined guns that fire hundreds of rounds a second, a cannonball that can wipe out an entire country, or a land that spread from sea to sea.

The rules set down by the Constitution are good ones.
But they cannot be black and white.

Along those same lines: A Supreme Court judge interprets the Constitution; why not allow them to have sympathy and empathy and see beyond what was written over two hundred years ago by men whose laws WERE in FACT pliable?

It reminds me of a story from the court in Williamsburg, VA. It seems one neighbor had accused another neighbor of stealing a mule. A court was convened, and since the arguing parties were both farmers, the jury was all farmers from around the area. Both stories were heard by the court, and the jury deliberated.

The verdict? Not guilty, but he must return the mule.


The case of Same-Sex marriages in Iowa. Apparently, Huckabee doesn't like them, and apparently (though unmentioned) finds them offensive in the eyes of God. He asks that the voters of Iowa be free to vote upon the matter.

The court states: The Iowa Constitution states that all rights must be given equally to all Iowans. To do otherwise would be discrimination.

Huckabee's answer? Change the Constitution.

You'd think that a better answer would be "live and let live." Simply for the reason that, to paraphrase the well-known philosopher Joshua Ben-Joseph, "Love is Love."

Similarly: If a woman wants to stand before the world in an evening gown and answer a question honestly by saying she believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, people who oppose her viewpoint should be defending her right to say it, even if they disagree, and vice versa.

Because that's what the founding fathers wanted, too.