Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hum-able. Sing-able. Do-able.

I was having a bad day, recently.
And just when I was sure that I would never again see anything past the end of my nose, up jumps the better angels.....
I feel that God can sometimes control the radio.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Elevation of Memory begins in five...four....three....

I was driving home from Minneapolis.

If you've ever driven anywhere from Minneapolis, you would know that there is MINNEAPOLIS, followed by NOTHING. Lots of road. Lovely scenery at this time of the year, with the soybean green and whatnot. Some lovely small towns rise up on the horizon, get closer, and fall gently behind. Steeples currently outweighing the Golden Arches, as it should be in this grandest of all Lutheran worlds.

I was listening to the old voices on the radio. Voices of men done and gone, the first on the eighteenth anniversary of my birth; the next quietly a two decades later, and the last just about half a decade ago.

The Goons.

I chose to listen to those old British radio programs, because there has always been a comfort to the voices of manic idiocy that I first discovered by accident when I was but a wee bairn of 13. It was my treasure chest, that discovery; it was a kind of humor that I alone among all of my friends understood, appreciated, and I fell like Lucifer to the ground at the sound of those ancient music hall gags told over long dead wires; spent with the sound and feeling of laughter unlike I'd known before, and to tell the truth, not felt but a few time since.

The voices still make me laugh. Thirty seven years after the last time they were all together. And with that knowledge, I can't feel too much grief at the most recent passings. Some, yes. As you know, I'm not made of stone. I'm more of the consistency of Silly Putty.

Thanks to magnetic tape, and digitization, nobody can be truly gone.
And my memory is filled; and easily downloadable.

Peter. Spike. Harry.
If you're listening out there in the great beyond, accept the thanks of a late coming acolyte, for the laughter and the knowledge that it's permissible to be a loon, even in this day and age of rank and file, eyes front, do-what-everybody-else-does, complicity.

And a story before I go.

When my nephew was but a toddler, he had the unfortunate experience to witness a broadcast of the THRILLER video. And of course, you all remember it; zombies and werewolves and such.

Well, my nephew FREAKED OUT. Crying, wailing, running in circles until colliding with something and then getting up and running again, all the time screaming, "NO MONSTERS! NO MONSTERS!"

He's twenty eight now, and I still torture him with this image. He's a good natured kid, which is fortunate for me; I'm pretty sure he could take me. Easily.

Well, some time passed after this meltdown, and I was babysitting him while his parents and his grandparents went out for a night on the town; and we were watching television, when a commercial comes on for an album of the Greatest Hits of Motown.

And they show a clip of the Jackson Five.

And Michael is like eight years old.

And my nephew looks, listens, and turns to me.

Eyes HUGE.

And it starts as a whisper.

"no monsters."

And in seconds, it's a tidal wave of sound and movement.


And I'm scooping the child into my arms and walking him around the house, turning on all the lights and quickly changing channels, simultaneously attempting to be comforting and trying not to choke back the laughter....

How did he know?

And repeat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Memo from Minneapolis.

To: The outside world

From: An idiot

RE: Additional training.

Message: I'm bored. And I'm tired. And I don't want to be here. I want to be at the Mall of America.

PS: If I've sent you an email in the last 48 hours, please answer. I need input that isn't business related.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Time in thy flight.

I was cruising around the 'net (and I really shouldn't, because it's a waste of time, but at three am I've got nothing BUT time) and seeing many things that touch my heart; not necessarily in a good way.....

The Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre in Wichita KS is closing today, after thirty some-odd years of bringing live professional theatre to the masses of Kansses. As always, I'm sad to hear of another theatre biting the dust in this economy. Yes, I feel badly about another opportunity lost for the professional actor, but more than that, I'm sad because these are the places that are supposed to be keeping the live theatre ALIVE. These are the places where people go because they can't or don't want to go to NY, or LA or CHI or MSP. We, as a society, NEED these places, as palaces against the societal worries of our times.

However, I'm gratified the a new endeavor has begun in Lincoln City, IN, with a new play about Father Abraham. I spent a few summers down there, toiling in the outdoor drama YOUNG ABE LINCOLN, and I knew many good people and had myself a ball. I was sad to see the old story go, but am glad that there is finally something to take it's place, especially since this is the Bicentennial of Lincoln's Birth, I believe.

It's at this time of year that I feel the pang of not doing. There was something special (the benefit of hindsight allows for some romanticism of the past) about those days in the summer theatre circuit. There were new opportunities with every endeavor; new faces, new levels of talent to play to, new audiences, new experiences. The people I met along the way defined the time; and continue to define me in many and various ways.

Sleeping on the deck of the Showboat, because it was far too hot indoors.

The sound of the crickets as the show begins in an outdoor drama in IN, or OH, or KY.

One of my favorite quotes, after being crushed nearly to death by a piece of scenery during a late night dress rehearsal: "You know, there isn't a single part of this play that I like."

Playing cards until dawn, only to be awakened shortly after falling asleep by a bagpipe convention.

Sabrina. Kevin. Eric. Barbara. Angela. Casey. Ben. Todd. Dave at the piano. The denizens of Eddy St. Shakespeare's Daughter. Chris and I taking hostages for cookies. The smell of a bonfire. The sound of applause.

I don't get a chance to hear that sound very often anymore. I rarely get applauded for my analysis. Miss it terribly.

Oh, if I could only halt the time in it's flight.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I tend to ramble at 3 AM. A little.

I got some thoughts I should get out of my head before they start to either ferment or decay, which, scientifically, is the same thing......

In other words, I'm looking forward to "ferment" but am prepared for "decay."


The President of the United States killed a fly. PETA released a statement. And it reminds me of a story: Recently, I was talking with my friend Claudia, who has access to a large NY radio audience, and I asked her if she would ascertain why there's a statue of Willie Horton in Center Field of Comerica Park in Detroit, and just a plaque of the name of Hank Greenberg, who was, in his time, known as the "Jewish Babe Ruth.", while Horton was pretty well known as "Mr. Choke".

Claudia considered it for about a half a second. And then, she said that she "needed to keep her powder dry for the big fight, whatever that was."

PETA needs to learn that lesson.

Because their response was something out of a Vonnegut novel.


I have to listen to all these various opinion-heads, shouting out at the top of their lungs the difference between the GOP and the DEMS, and it reminded me of a joke....How many actors does it take to change a light bulb? Eleven: One to change the light bulb, and ten to stand around and mutter, "I could do that so much better."

That aside, I wonder.....everybody is trying to sell me things. And some of those things are very shiny. And I've always been fond of the shiny things....and a little scared. Because the shiny things have let me down more often than not, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and they're all carrying shiny things.

It's just so hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.
I miss the news.
Infotainment sucks.

Similarly, I'm curious about the elements of evolution.

I've always joked that if we evolved from monkeys, they why are there still monkeys? But now, I've evolved a bit, into the idea that when a monkey sees the evolution of the species actually happening, what is the usual response?

Well, if human beings began to see fellow human beings evolving (and hopefully, evolving into something better), their response would probably be the usual response to the unknown: we would either ignore it, pretend it doesn't exist, or attempt to kill it.

So, what happens when a country begins an evolutionary process? What would be the usual response?
Look around.
Look familiar?


I think everybody is entitled to six thousand, two hundred and twenty seven mistakes. And I think if you make a mistake, you should be able to apologize, mend your ways, and move on. It's called rehabilitation. But I really don't think we should turn people's mistakes into national news.

Especially since we have a crazy dictator in the East with explosives and missiles. And another country rising to civil war that will make the world shake a bit.

So, Lindsey Lohan's world of crazy can just be put back into the filing cabinet until, well.....hell freezes over.

And I don't think that those programs that wallow in the shallow end of the gene pool that is Hollywood should condemn the "cult of the celebrity", unless they intend to stop feeding the "cult."

Stupid Bastards.

So, to sum up.
I used to be frustrated.
Now, I'm just a little scared.

Rome fell, you know.
And it wasn't pretty.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Non-Caloric Filler.

It's been raining forever up here in ND. It started on Monday night with a thunderstorm unlike any I've ever been through; not terrifying, just relentless. According to the newspaper, it dumped 6.5 inches on us in just about as many hours. It took me an extra twenty minutes to get to work, and if it wasn't for my reasonably new car (Mercury Mariner), I would have floated away down 7th street and they never would hear from me again. Ironic that a Mariner would keep me grounded.

I haven't written too much recently; largely because I've spent too much time in the village of Redundant. I have spent too much time commenting on the fact that news programs aren't, and the opinions expressed on the various programs are as full of ca-ca as anybody else's, but the fact that they are nationally televised give them a kind of KarlRovian quality to them that annoys me at best, and angers me at worst.

So, I've chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. And lying dogs sleep. And Istanbul is Constantinople, as the lovely Kizz reminded me of just this morning.

I tell you people: a morning without 117 Hudson is like a day without sunshine.

I wish I had the energy to commit to more this morning, but the schedule I'm currently is not becoming easy; my acclimation skills have atrophied a bit in my age. So, I'm off to bed for a few hours before meeting the day.

Love to you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In weak defense of my past creativity; and a hearty F*** YOU to those that besmirch it.

It's amazing what will break your heart.

Yes, the Red Wings played poorly and lost last night; but to put it another way, the Penguins played well, got good goals, and it was a hellava game and a hellava series. So, no, that didn't break my heart.

What broke my heart tonight was something so simple, and so inconsequential in the overall scheme of things that I'm embarrassed to be so affected.

It was an offhand comment over something I created years ago.

I worked for this theatre back in the late nineties, and the early years of this century. It was a small theatre, specializing in melodrama and such; and every show was followed by a "vaudeville"-style review. And part of the joy of working at this place was creating something like that. And I was allowed and honored to create a few in the four years I worked there.

I did one on Baseball I was very proud of.
And one about the old school days that nearly killed me, but turned out very well. An Emmy winning choreographer called it "genius."
And I did one that focused on an Country Western radio station that was weak.

But I did this one I was very proud of: It defined description. In fact, while all the others had names, this one absolutely refused to accept a name. Officially, it was called The Silliest Vaud, Ever. But they called it all sorts of names, including Our Tribute to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

It was series of song and sketches that I gleaned from the history of the theatre; I picked the funniest things I could find. And it brought down the house; I can still remember sitting outside with the owner of the theatre and listening to the laughter.

A very gratifying moment.
That was completely destroyed by an off-hand comment from somebody who was in it, that has been deleted from my friendslist.
Because they are no friend of mine.

Like I said.
Very silly to get your heart broken over something so stupid.

It's kind of like insulting my kid.

Make no mistake.
I'll kick your ass if you insult my kid.

But the best I can do in this case is delete the b***h that called it terrible.

My heart is broken at the thought that this person, whom I liked, was so dissatisfied with the material.

But then, I remember the sound of the audience.
And the b***h can go straight to hell.

And with that, I bid you good evening.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's all about a cup of one kind or another.

I was in Detroit recently, cruising the various bookstores (and if you're EVER in Detroit, don't miss John K Kings Books on Lafayette Blvd downtown. It's the Holy Land of bookstores, I guarantee) and such, and I came across a little kiosk selling various and sundry Detroit sports teams paraphernalia. You know the kind; you can get a game worn Gordie Howe jersey, or a set of original seats from Tiger Stadium. That kind of thing.

Well, all I really wanted was a Tigers coffee mug; I have a Red Wings, and a Lions mug. The Pistons can kiss my ass, truly; until the NBA starts actually playing BASKETBALL, and not some handsy-push-off, four-steps-to-the-basket-is-legal schoolyard CRAP, I want nothing to do with them.

Wow. Sorry about that.

I really just wanted a coffee mug. But then, this thing caught my eye.
It was about eighteen inches tall, silvery.
A Stanley Cup replica.
Angels sang. I recorded them on my cel phone, if you're interested in hearing; but be warned: they sound like Motown.

I really wanted that Stanley Cup; it was reasonably priced, and I could drink coffee out of it, although it would not be as fulfilling as drinking my Folgers out of a Tigers mug. But then something happened.

I worried about the jinx.

I was worried that if I bought the Stanley Cup, the Wings wouldn't win it.

Now, before you think that's crazy (and it's a legitimate thought), be aware that I spent a decade growing up with a hockey team that couldn't make the playoffs if the rest of the NHL was in a huge plane that went into the Triangle. And now, after so many disappointments, so many near misses (the aforementioned Pistons, who couldn't get it done six out of seven years in a row, or the Tigers that laid down and died against the Cardinals a few years back, and DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE LIONS), you begin to think that the very next game will be the one that breaks your heart.

Game five was great.
Game six broke my heart.
And tomorrow. Game seven.
All the marbles in sixty minutes.

Well, I found my mug.
And I didn't buy the Cup replica.
And the Tiger Stadium seats were $5000.

Let the Octopi Fly, my friends.

Oh, and by the way......coffee tastes infinitely better in a Tiger mug, especially when they're four games up.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Returned from the past, and slung into the present.

I've just returned from what felt like a whirlwind trip to the Mitten. The occasion was once in a lifetime, truly; for my parents were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

They were married on the 15th Anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy, and in my youth, I made many jokes about how their relationship was not unlike a battle to decide the fate of the human race. But age tempers that view. Age and fate.

As most of you know, my Mother is in the near-coma that comes with the progression of Alzheimer's Disease. This monstrous affliction is worse than any kind of sudden loss; it's a prolonged loss, which manifests itself every day, and the truly evil thing about it is that you, as the victim, have a front row seat to your own downward spiral.

My Father survives; but I was mostly unaware of how badly he's been suffering until this weekend.

We're a stoic bunch, we Historiclemo men. And apparently, we can withstand oodles of pain in a kind of whimpering silence.

The whimper became a scream on Saturday night, and I have to tell you that there are some things that defy explanation: one is how a baseball manager can let a starting pitcher walk in THREE RUNS before getting the hook; and the other is how a reasonably intelligent Deity can rely upon the likes of me to hold my Father together as he falls apart in an apocalyptic come-apart as I've ever seen.

Did a hellava job, people.

But I tell you, and only you; it was as close as I've come in fifteen years to reaching for the loving embrace of my Russian friend, Stoli.

Hellava job, Johnny.

In other news: Got to see a Tiger game. Such as it was. HE WALKED IN THREE RUNS before they pulled him. I asked my Father if it was bad luck to pull a pitcher when he was in the middle of a no-hitter. Dad didn't laugh. He did boo, though. I think he was booing D Train, though.

As of yesterday, The remnants of Tiger Stadium were still standing, thanks to a last minute rush to the mound with a cease-and-desist order. Hope.

The Red Wings stunk it up in Pittsburgh, but kicked Penguin ass in Detroit. One more win, one more cup, and a the continuing dynasty. The best team money can buy.

Oh, and I forgot to put sunscreen on the backs of my hands, so I look like I was boiling my hands.

I wish I could have gotten to the cabin. I could use a little cabin right now.

Love to you, gentle reader.