Saturday, January 29, 2011

From exhaustion comes clarity; or, maybe that's just hallucination....

The last couple of days have been a test of endurance.

I'm not exactly sure how I wound up, at my ripening old age, in another one of these stupid tests of endurance.

Okay, I DO know......the fact is that my employment is at odds with my hobbies. And I really like my hobbies; far more and far better than I like my employment.

My employment makes me bitter; my employment makes me sad and mad and paranoid; my employment constantly reports the worst that mankind has to offer; the worst kind of inhumanity, the worst kind of zealotry and idolatry and colonialism......and while I firmly believe in the intent, I am almost constantly disappointed at the application.

My hobbies play to the better angels of my nature.

My hobbies encourage me to meet new people; to flex muscles too long dormant, but thankfully not atrophied past all repair. To hear the sound of an audience, even in those times of silence, is a kind of balm to a sorry soul.

My employment can make me feel inadequate at the best of times; and stupid at the worst of times. I am offered instruction I may require but don't desire. I am forced into a position of becoming something that I either don't recognize, or want to punch in the throat.

My hobbies remind me that there is a small piece of the world that I reasonably understand, can positively contribute to, and get much out of.

If only I could make a living doing my hobbies.

That would encourage me to do a dance.

A little dance.

With perhaps some nudity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Musings on a day before another first night.

Well, the show opens tonight, and for some reason, my mind has drifted back not to my days as a professional, but my days as a young amateur.

Not even college.

High school.

I don't actually drift back to high school very often; my memories of it are vague after all these years (I missed my 30th reunion last July, but that may be going a little far....I didn't really miss it. I didn't go; and I didn't miss it), and although they say true when it comes to those friendships (they DO last forever), the individual friendships last, while the community relationships tend to fade.

But.....there are some memories that are as clear as the Bells of St. Mary's.

I can remember the first line I said on a stage when I was a sophomore: "God, look at all those Communists!" from Don't Drink The Water by Woody Allen. I can remember the miserable set for Look Homeward, Angel. And I can remember cast parties.

Later in life, it was said that if you can remember it, it wasn't that good...but it was High School in a different age....B.A: Before Alcoholism.

I think in high school, you did plays so you could attend cast parties. They were good parties that lasted long into the night following the final performance. And there were memorable moments associated with cast parties.....

I can remember that I watched my first episode of Saturday Night Live at a cast party, in the fall of 1977. Couldn't tell you who the host was at this point, but the musical guest was Leon Redbone. I can even tell you who suggested I watch; it was a guy named Joe Henry, who is now a very successful recording artist/producer.

Another brush with greatness.

Oh, and I had a HUGE crush on his sister, Cathy....she sat with me in Biology. But that's another post, entirely.

I can remember one specific was for a production of Anne of the Thousand Days; I played Anne's Father, and he wasn't a very good one, if you know the story.

It was a tradition to give gag gifts, and I got a book called How To Father. It was a book I've never needed, of course, but it sat on my bookshelf for many years, until my Brother required the knowledge.

And then, there was a crush I had on one of the crew. Her name was Elizabeth, and she had short hair, a long lovely neck, and freckles. I had known her for quite some time; in this particular school district, if you lived in the same vicinity, you went to school together from Elementary on up....and I think I knew Elizabeth from Elementary school.

Well, it didn't go anywhere, at all. I could never admit to the feelings to anybody but my own heart; and I was far too insecure to engage in any kind of conversation without falling all over myself; and, I was the Jester, not the Knight; and Jesters never won Lady Fair. So, I nursed the feeling, quietly.

But for some reason that completely amazes me to this day...she kissed me. I was leaving the party, and she met me at the door and she gave me a hug, and then she leaned in and she kissed me. And that was it. There was never an advance upon the moment, and I cannot recall another connection of any kind with Elizabeth with the short hair and the long neck and the freckles.

I was never sure if she had heard of my crush, but that's the only explanation I can come up with for her sweet generosity. But, over thirty years have passed, and I still remember that moment, and what it meant at that moment.

How lovely to have had that one moment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You cannot have a light, without a dark to stick it into.

Okay, kids....the koolaid has been consumed.

There are now four steps to the development of character in a production:

1. Book in hand; homework.

2. Book out of hand, but seeing it in your head; more homework.

3. No longer seeing the script; homework and book together in head; integration complete.

4. Knowledge.

The last one always comes; in this particular production, it comes in fits and starts, and one of my favorite cast members pokes fun at the face that I make when the lesson hits home, or the revelation comes to light: I look like a small child who just got the BEST present on Christmas Day.

But the best revelations are always the ones that rock my perception of my own self.

So...the things I've learned thus far:

Fear and Cowardice lead to anxiety, which blocks the light.

It takes Courage; and Courage is active.

Revelations come when they come; they cannot be forced, or coerced.

and finally,

Talking about C.S. Lewis and Good/Evil and all that, to an invisible audience of radio listeners at 0830, without the benefit of a stronger cup of coffee than I had, is HARD.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let Us Begin.

"So, let us not be blind to our differences -- but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Commencement Address, American University June 10, 1963.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pause and Reflect. Again.

I recently posted number 500. I began on this journey in the first months of 2008, and I have mixed emotions about having written, periodically, for three years. There is a vulnerability in writing down those things that come to you immediately; each of those moments now cast in a kind of cyber-amber, I wonder if perhaps the rashness of those passing years is deserving of such...permanent....tribute.

I have written more about failures than I have successes; either a personal failure, like my occasional lacking of grace, or the perceived failure of my surroundings, my circle, my government.....

I've written about friends.

I've written about adversaries.

And how both categories have affected me.

I've written about my Parents; one passage served as the basis for my Mother's eulogy; one served as a Birthday card.

I've written about Baseball and Hockey and oh, those wonderfully disappointing Lions.

I've written about travels, and I've dropped advice on books and music. I've dropped in video of The Frantics (BOOT TO THE HEAD!) and Gomez (SEE THE WORLD) and Josh Ritter (GOOD MAN).

I've even written a love letter or two.

The longest continuous spell of writing came in November of 2008, when I wrote every day just to see if I could. The definition of success in this endeavor is open to interpretation.

I go long periods of time without writing at all. Sometimes, it's best to remain silent and be thought the fool, then to speak and remove all doubt.

The enjoyment comes in the process.

And, in this trivial reminicence of the past 500, let me add just two new things, to launch me into the NEXT 500....

Goodbye, Mr. Olbermann. I'll miss you; but I will be watching to see where you land next. You made me laugh and you made me think. And occasionally, you royally pissed me off.....but you were one of the first to claim that the Emperor Had No Clothes, and for that, I salute you.

And, farewell, Connor Knighton. Current TV's INFOMANIA won't be as sardonic without you.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Enough of the Night.

It's a little before 5 AM, Central Time, on a Friday morning.

When I was a younger man (and I think I managed to shock a new friend with my age; she seemed to think I was younger than my almost HALF A FREAKIN' CENTURY), I used to dance on the tables and I used to shoot out the lights. And, to finish the Jackson Browne lyric, I used to hang with the the kind of girl that could stop traffic on I-19, in her blue leopard tights......

Five AM was nothin'. It was the third cup of coffee after a 2 dollar breakfast at the Lamoine Hotel, or a theoretical theatrical conversation over coffee, cigs and perhaps a hot fudge sundae at the Big Boy at the end of Washington Street.

We solved a hellava lot of quandaries at Five AM.

And we downed a lot of doughnuts.

Which would explain that part of my life where I was a blossoming alcoholic that looked like an ill-kempt Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

I feel MUUUUUCH better now.

My point (and I have one) is that I always thought that as I got older, Five AM would be a thing of the past.

In the words of my dear friend Sandeen, "oh, F**K NO!"

Nowadays, if you don't know, I rehearse a very tiring play until a certain time, I go home, have a quick shower, talk to the wife who sometimes recognizes me as her husband, and it's off to work in an office on the sixth floor.

No significant conversation.
No cigarettes.
No hot fudge sundaes or two buck breakfasts.

I think I would actually enjoy it if there was hot fudge.

And no sleep, either.

But, I have to tell you, I had this really GREAT break-through yesterday; I finally got the pages out of my head and began to play. And it was liberating.

Tiring, but liberating.

Yeah. This time of day is for the young, and scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blandom Thoughts.

Okay, let's just give you an update upon my progress.

Tired most of the time. I sleep regularly on Tuesday and Wednesday, and don't sleep at all, usually, on Thursdays going into Fridays or Mondays going into Tuesday. The 'regular' sleep usually requires an OTC pill.

Am looking forward to three things: My vacation in FL with my Father and lovely wife soon, and the ensuing walks along the white beaches of Siesta Key, and perhaps a Grapefruit game...hoping to see the Twins play the Orioles, even though I'm ambivalent about the Orioles and HATE the f***ing Twins.

Yeah..still bitter about losing the division in a playoff game back in '09.

Am also looking forward to going to England sometime in the summer; my first trip out of the country since early in the 90's and my first trip to England (I do not call the brief layover at Heathrow to count). I am going to spend some time in London and a majority of it in Cornwall.

I'll be looking into the life of Reginald John Clemo, a Cornish poet of some renown. And, am thinking of changing my first name to Reggie.

I open a play called SCREWTAPE in less than two weeks. Sure hope I know the lines by then. I also hope this strange ringing in my ears goes away.

Unless the ringing begins to play something I recognize.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Contradictions and the Dance.

Yes, my friends, life is a series of contradictions.

Ever since our species came into what could be referred to as "self-awareness", and tried to either explain or justify the behavior of said species, we have been inundated with the concepts of God and The Devil.

I'm currently playing a fiend on the stage, so my mind wanders.....

Did mankind create the physical manifestations of the deities, to justify our yearnings for Utopia where Thag wishes for everyone to be as warm as he, while explaining the lengths we would go to get Thag's firestick? Up to, and including a well-placed rock upside old Thag's bean?

Or, have they always been there, the Lord and his Fallen Favorite? One, basking in the light, while the other hides in the shadows?

I enjoy the various legends:

How in one culture, the two polar opposites struggle, until the light tosses the dark to the earth....but in binding the dark to the earth, the light can no longer directly influence what happens upon the earth....

How one Fantasy writer suggests that all the Incarnations of Immortality (Fate, Time, Death, War, Good, Evil, etc) are drafted and serve until they are too old to continue....and that Evil is the oldest active member, because Good has been so smitten with his own visage, he's ceased to be interested.

How there are angels around us.

How there are fiends around us.

But I sometimes wonder, if such things are just a way to avoid taking responsibility, much like they probably did in Salem, to avoid punishment for wicked deeds...."I saw HistoriClemo with the Devil!"

My favorite quote from the Witch Trials? "More Weight." Look it up, it's a good story.

My feelings on the subject change with every new discovery in this loooooong road that is life. I used to think one thing, now I think another.

When I was a younger man, and lost a loved one, I thought God was a perverse m*****f***er.

As I grew older, I realized that it was far easier to lean toward the earth than it was to reach toward Heaven.

Then, I understood that conscience is where God lies....and that sent me down one exit ramp onto another highway....because I started listening to it.

Now, I'm as old as I have ever been, and I think that there is no scale; there is no universal truth; there are pieces of a puzzle that changes with every tick of the clock, and we have to strive to make the pieces fit....even for a while. We need to understand that between what I think and what you think is a vast gulf of wiggle-room, and in that space, there can be dancing.

But dancing is best when two people are working together.

Okay, that started one place, and ended in another.

Eh. It's my party and I'll write what I want to.....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finding the Light.

I've been in contemplation. Or hibernation. Perhaps a bit of both.

Listening to the old songs, trying to find a new meaning. Or, a new feeling. Or, maybe an old feeling that provides new meaning.

This show.....well, it opens in two weeks or so.....and I have to admit, it's badly written. C.S. Lewis would not approve, I don't believe, and if he DID approve in the first place...well, his manuscript has withstood the test of time, but this script....well, there is nothing wrong with it that a pair of scissors and an IED wouldn't cure.

Yeah. Kinda like the Edsel.

But little by little, your intrepid actor journeys....and he finds the transitions and he humor and hopefully, all the lines will be there, and in the right order, before the time of audience arrives.

I've met some interesting people. One or two to which I took an instantaneous liking to.

My costume makes me look like a character from a hellish Damon Runyon story. I feel like dancing across the stage singing, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat."

And I have an eight foot tail.

There's a kind of feeling of homecoming that comes with stepping on a stage; like a friend you haven't seen in a long time. Like an old pair of comfortable slippers; a favorite novel.

There is no place in this life where I've felt more at home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

There is DEFINITELY a reason the windows on the 6th floor DON'T OPEN!

As a New Year's Resolution, I decided to give myself two days a month, which I refer to as my "My Give-a S**t Is Broken" days.

I've used my January ones ALREADY.

But in my defense, there are those who don't give a s**t, there are those who are born without giving a s**t, and there are those that have the "don't give a s**t" thrust upon them. Today, it was thrust, like a very unpleasant.....physical...exam.

Let's just say that my well-noted self-awareness is flawed.

Hard to stay at this job, these days.

Which is a convincing argument to never step onto a stage again; it's like a siren's song, and eventually, I know it's going to take me right into the rocks of reality.

But, then you're tied to the mast, I'd probably be thinking, 'HOLY S**T! What A Ride!"

When I have the lines in my head, and I'm close to that, it's going to be more fun than it has been.....I'm meeting new people, and a couple in particular remind me of other people, and you know how you have that instant affection for those people, right?

Anyway, to recap:

Day sucked.

Want to retire.

Theatre=Pretty girls singing, crashing into rocks, not caring.

Have a better day than I did.......

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I'm beginning to understand why I sleep all day.

Largely, because I can no longer handle it.

It's not depression, my friends; it's just that I am inundated, eight hours a morning, while all of America sleeps, with threats, protests, innuendo, sorrow, fear and an abundance of 'Man's Inhumanity To Man' that would make Jesus want to slap us all, one after another, out the door, line on the left, one cross each.

But I am also far enough 'in the know' to understand that there is no single person, no single point-of-view, no single outlook or media beacon to blame for it.

In the words of Pogo The Possum, "we have met the Enemy, and they is us."

So, I wake up in the morning, and I kiss my wife and tell her that I love her. And I pet the kitties on the head and tell them that they are good boys; good good good good boys. And I go out and I try, in my official and non-official capacity, to make life easier and safer for people I've never met, or had a relationship with.

And I hope that if I can keep stress out of their lives, they will pass it along.

Years ago, when I was an Officer at a TSA Checkpoint at an airport in this Northern State, I came face to face with the kind of blind disdain (hatred is too hard a word, and this disdain was NOT hatred, but it had the road map and knew the way there) that will rock you back on your heels. And that disdain was brought on by the fact that this man and his family were traveling on passports from far away, and they were not Caucasian, and that they had previously had a very bad time at another place with another guy who looked just like me and wore a uniform just like mine.

I smiled in greeting. I was sincere when I asked how the day was going for them. The child smiled at me, but the parents were stone faced as they said, 'Fine, Thank you.'

I asked the usual questions, and asked their patience as we progressed. Still, stone faced.

I asked if there was anything I could do to make their process easier.

The man looked at me, in the eye. It was a hard look, but I was used to hard looks. My smile did not waver, and my sincerity didn't wane in the face of what was going to be an unpleasant jibe.

'Well, if you could just get us to the plane, that would be great.'

My response: 'I'm thinking you've had a bad experience before, and if that's the case, I'm sorry. There are some things we have to do, and if you have any questions about the procedures, I would be happy to answer them. And, I promise that if you give me another five minutes, I will personally escort you to your gate, and I swear you'll be on time.'

That drew a smile from the wife, so now I had two people smiling. The man relaxed a bit, and said, 'Very Well.' Which I thought was nice, because usually, I hear, 'okay', and I'm always fond of variation.

I completed the procedure, waited for them to collect their belongings, passed off my responsibility to another Officer, and escorted them to their gate, as I promised.

And as I bid them a good day and safe travels, the man put his hand out to me. And he said, 'Thank you for being polite.'

I took his hand. "You're welcome."

And he smiled. So, now I had all three of them smiling.

One at a time. One mountain. One river. One misunderstanding. At. A Time.

And in my world of dark cynicism, and sarcasm, and all sorts of ism's and asm's, that's as optimistic as I can be.

Tic is always going to trump Ism's and Asm's.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Am Here.

I'm doing this play......

It opens on the 27th of January, and runs two weekends, closing the first week of February.

Come see it.

I mean, if ya want.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My New Mantra.

I heard this song on an episode of HOUSE, and was struck by the chord pattern; and then I listened to the lyrics, and decided that it's my Mantra for the new Decade.

Yes, we all know that a decade begins with the number 1, because there was no year Zero.

Yes, there is Coke Zero, but no Year Zero.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Just re-watched this film. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it the first time I saw it; and am reminded how much I like the work of the Brothers Cohen.

Of course, nothing is as funny as RAISING ARIZONA.