Saturday, July 31, 2010

The fragrance of fresh bread, and the Bunny Dance.

Good morning.

As most of you know, I do most of my living in the dark. Some people could realistically argue that I've lived MOST of my life in the dark, and who would I be to disagree, but that's not my point.

Sometimes I feel like James Michener, who starts all of his books at the beginning of the universe. Blah blah blah.

It's amazing, when you live in the early morning hours of the day, where your mind will go and what stories will emerge from the calcified remains of your memory...the kind of memory that hits so hard that it literally stops you in your tracks.

It began with the scent of doughnuts. I had stopped by the local 24 hour market, and they start the baking process around that time, and the parking lot was overwhelmed with the scent of doughnuts. And that took me warping back to my dear old college days.

In Marquette, Michigan, in the days of my youth, there was a bread bakery for a regional bread maker called Bunny Bread. And, in the early morning hours, if the atmosphere was just right, the comforting fragrance of baking bread would waft lovingly over the city....but the really cool part of the whole Bunny Bread experience was the HUGE neon sign on the side of the building.

Now, the memories segue a bit right a night of debauchery at a local watering hole called The's gone now, as well, but it was basically a bar with a dance floor and a DJ booth in the corner....and the drinks were cheap and they almost never checked the ID's so, DRINK ON!

Well, one night, after a marathon session, we closed the place was Ed, and Marty, and I. And Marty was....well, happy would be putting it mildly; he was more like Bambi when Thumper makes his observation, "He's a little wobbly, ain't he?" Marty was....wobbly. And happy. And Ed and I had him by the arms as we dragged him out, singing the old songs and laughing like idiots.

Now, the street outside of the bar was one way, and we were crossing that street when a car came toward us. So, Ed went forward and I went back.

And there we were, going in opposite directions, still holding Marty's arms, so it looked to the driver as if we were sacrificing our friend to the Gods of Chrysler.

Well, needless to say, that image tickled us greatly as we unwisely got into the car, and headed home. And as we headed down the road, we rolled down the windows and inhaled the wonder of freshly baked bread from the Bunny Bread factory, and at that moment, Marty, semi-conscious in the back seat of Ed's black Pinto (which we lovingly referred to as the Ford Fireball) invented the dance that we forever referred to as The Bunny.

You can do it sitting, or standing, or dancing, if you have a mind to.

You put your hands in the air above your head. Those are your Bunny Ears. And, in a rhythm, you move them from above your head to the side of your head, mimicking the movement of the sign.

Yeah, I'm not sure what brought it up. Maybe I'm missing Ed a bit. We lost him four years ago last week.

But I gots the memories. And I'll fight anybody who tries to take them away.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rumours have been greatly exaggerated.

My friend, the baker and keeper of all things cake (hence, my secret crush), has brought to my attention that I seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth...

Au Contraire, Ma Petite Frommage.

(Yes, I know I called you "my little cheese.")

The time, it kind of got away from me.

And, at this point...I'm much to tired to go into detail.




Thursday, July 15, 2010

Starts with a Classic, and ends with....well....Me.

I remember fondly the works of Vonnegut.

I especially liked the catch phrases he would write into his books; usually so absolutely antithetical that they were like a frying pan to the face, the kind that makes a very satisfying "KaFLANG" sound upon impact.

Some of my favorites are:

"Heigh ho."

"See the Cat? See the cradle?"

and, or course,

"Why don't you take a flying f**k at a rolling doughnut? Why don't you take a flying f**k at the mooooooon?"

Finely crafted madness. I like that.


Rehearsals proceed apace, which means that they continue to improve (much to my satisfaction; last week, I was afraid that it was going to spiral down into a kind of "every man for himself/who can steal the most focus/and let's all f**k Shakespeare" kind of thing. But it's leveled off, and it's going to be good....if everybody remembers what they're supposed to do, and they don't take an audience reaction as a license to kill.

I've learned a lot from the experience; first and foremost, I can still shake a stick at it.....I still have some skills under all that iodized metal, and it has been a kind of rare gift to be able to exercise those muscles again. I hope it's not the last time, but if it is, I'm glad for the experience.

I am well aware of my shortcomings. I am not overly good with people with which I have limited knowledge or experience, and I am also very bad at interacting with people that have jumped up and down on my last nerve, or have exhausted my (albeit limited) patience. For many years, all I had to keep me company was the collection of knowledge, of the history of the craft, the history of the stage, the workings of the human brain, and the motivations that we have as individuals, as a society...etc. Algebra didn't stick in the this brain; but all that other stuff did.

As a younger man, it was considered uncool to have any knowledge whatsoever, beyond that which was universal within the peer group. I was always apologizing for knowing more. I won't do that anymore. In any given situation, I am one of the three smartest people in the room, and you can damn betcha that I ALWAYS WANT to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am, so I can learn.

I've done that. I'm just not sure that anybody around me has ever known it. But you are all smarter than me, and I thank you for allowing me into the conversation.

I don't know how much sleep I'm going to get in the next week or so, but I will be glad when this rehearsal process is done....because I've pretty much rung out as much as I can get from it....but am still looking.

Okay. Done.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's the late night/early morning realizations that are like a pie in the face....that's right, I said PIE.

I woke up this morning at 5pm.

And, by the time I was through with my day (riiiiiight....NOW!), I had learned so many new and interesting things.

Primarily, that I'm a M-O-R-O-N.

I continue to get frustrated at the day-to-day activities around me that I have no control over, and truth to tell, would loathe to have the control even if it were offered to me. I let that little raspberry seed of middle-aged angst get between my metaphorical teeth, got it.

I can make myself crazy, I swear to whatever God would accept me as a member.

And all I can do is remind myself...well....not to make myself crazy.

By the way, if you see my self assurance under your couch, could you bring it back to me? Oh, and I seem to be missing the file marked, "syntax."

Could it be that even though I am dead set against it, I will age another full year come NEXT Wednesday?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Memory Vision! Stories in 4D!

Driving to work tonight, with the Ipod plugged into the car. I decided that I would just put it on shuffle and see what happens. The odds of something interesting is very good, mind you, because I have 64 gigs on the old Touch, and a sizable collection of eclecticism.

So, right about the time I got to the overpass on I94, on comes the smile inducing melody I first heard in Harrodsburg KY, during a sound check at the late, lamented LEGEND OF DANIEL BOONE outdoor drammer...

Well, the mystery masked man was smart,
He got himself a Tonto;
'Cuz Tonto did the dirty work for free...
Well Tonto, he was smarter,
And one day said, "Keemosabee.."
"Kiss my ass, I bought a boat, I'm goin' off to sea..."

I love that song.

My knee is recovering from the rehearsal nightmare yesterday, but as I think about things past, I wonder what I was like; I mean, REALLY like. Back then. When I was a young actorlet.

Was I egocentric, wanting the spotlight for myself alone, or was I interested in the concept of ensemble? Did I long for my moment to "star", or did I want to work with people who gave and took with equal abandon?

When did I really develop this appreciation of creativity and cleverness in others? When did I begin to starve for it?

As I was rehearsing last night, and came across a moment I hadn't seen before, but should have because there it was, buried within the given circumstances. And I can remember this time when I was in college: and it was the first time I can actually remember letting go and allowing the creativity to come.

A lovely lady named Barb Legler directed this little fluffball piece about a dancing worm named Curly, and how a down-on-his-luck agent began to represent him, making him an international superstar.....and in the early part of that little piece, two kids (myself and my dear Maureen played multiple roles in that one) are showing off the worm, who dances on a leaf inside a cigar box. I became, in this one moment, the mercenary kid, closing the lid and asking holding out my hand for money each time the agent asks to see it again.

I just did it on the spur of the moment; it was there, I just didn't see it until that very moment...but in that moment of flipping the cigar box closed and holding my hand out to the actor playing the agent (who, to my infinite joy, didn't miss a beat and played off of it, creating a series of moments based upon that one) I discovered that the secret to this whole thing was the secret to success in any endeavor, any relationship, any....single...experience...on the face of this rock:

Be Open To Every Thing.

It's not something I can say that I've lived by all of these years; in fact, I can only say that within my career as an actor was the only real time I ever fully lived by that motto....but my life isn't over yet, and it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

We've all been in moments that coalesce into that idea, that one thing can lead to another, and what started as a living room full of people watching Law And Order turns into a room full of semi comatose people who have begun an improvisation that can STILL bring tears to my eyes as I recall it in vivid Memory-Vision (patent pending).

And how is it that you don't realize that you've been starving for years until you again taste the cake?

Okay, quick many of you SAW the cake reference coming?

My love to those that did....and to those that didn't. I feeling very love-like this morning.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Thursdays suck, right into Friday morning.

Sucks beyond the telling of it.

And this week, even more so.

Okay, so I'm doing a rehearsal, and I step onto the stage for the beginning of Act III, scene ii, the wedding of Kate and Petruchio, and it's an innocuous entrance; I walk onto the stage. Simple, right?

Right up until the right knee goes pop. Like the weasel. Without the fun song.

I stumble a bit, move to my mark, and put my hand on the shoulder of the actor beside me, who is so much in character at that point, that he brushes me off, allowing me to put undo pressure on the knee again, and again, pop goes the weasel.

To my credit (and I give myself some) I did not fall down. I did hobble about in obvious discomfort (and I hate that because I prefer my discomfort to be inobvious) and by the end of the evening, I was in enough pain to be a raving pain in the ass.

I have lessons learned, but I'm going to save them for when I'll enjoy writing them, instead of being in an office at four AM, wishing I could just die.

More later, as it happens.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Put the old songs on the radio, and drive, buddy, DRIVE.

I follow a few blogs; and through those blogs, I follow a few others, and so on and so on....

I usually find either great wisdom, great stories, or great wisdom subtly embedded in a great story. Most of the people I read, I have known for some time; at least a decade, and in some cases, more. But I find as I read that the gulf between what we were and what we are has gotten large enough that...well, I long for the days of the true connection, and at the same time bathe in the idea that there is more to learn.

Ah, we must believe that there is always more to learn.

I will admit, that sometimes I learn more than my own tiny world can handle, but even the uncomfortable information is important.

Yeah, I told you that to tell you this:

Recently, I read one of my friends, and she is suffering pretty much the same malady that I'm suffering; the lack of any fundamental world outside of our responsibilities. I find it appalling, in my life at least (I cannot speak for her) that I don't have any outlet from my work and my home life.

I've lost touch with so many parts of myself that I wonder if any of them can be gathered in one place again. I'm enjoying (as you know if you've read any of my previous missives) the sojourn back into the world of the make-believe, and I'm going to try and keep that one on the front burner.....but I miss the old friends, scattered around the country, and in fact, the wide world.....and I long to get into the car and drive.

Places I would like to revisit:

Lexington Kentucky. I would like to eat and be merry with some old friends down there, visit the bookstores and the small interesting theatres, and put to rest the unrest that my original stay provoked.

Arroyo Grande California. My ego craves this one, actually, particularly since the theatre I worked at out there is re-working the reviews I created, and this summer they are doing the first show I ever did there. Oh, and Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab is celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the Lab Show that I wrote and created. Or, created and wrote.

Sarasota Florida. Spent a week down there last spring, and the white sand beach haunts me still with the image of sunset. I hope it survives the current calamity. I think I'm going back next Father commands, and I obey. Twist my arm, Pop.

Various theatres in Evansville, Indiana; Harrodsburg, Kentucky; Norfolk, Virginia; Chillicothe, Ohio; just to relive some youthful exploits. Or try.

I have a ton of people in NYC that frequently request a visit.

Home. I have dreams of a certain Coney Island place. Lipumas, I long for thee.

The TRI STATE AREA! No, not the land of Phineas and Ferb, but Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. I would like to see people in Des Moines, Canton, the Quad Cities, Quincy, Macomb, St, Louis, Hannibal, and Sedalia. I would go to Branson, but I'm afraid Andy Williams would make good his threat to punch me in the face and have me arrested. It's a long story.

I think it all comes down to the old faces, connected to the old places. Old friends, as the old Chapin song goes, mean much more than new friends...'cuz they can see where you are and they know where you've been.

I long to be seen by the old eyes for awhile. I'm finding it hard to breathe.