Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm somewhat concerned.

There appeared in the sky this morning a large ball of what looked like fire. It cast a huge, blinding light upon the ground, causing...well....causing shadow effects.

Like the ancestors of old, I am torn between worshipping the ball of fire in the sky, and running in fear toward the shadow effects.

And the last time I was in an uncertain position, I was specifically ordered NOT to go toward the light.


This chair is comfortable.

So, I think I'll stay here for a bit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


We inevitably discover as we get older (and in fact, continue to discover, sometimes to our chagrin at forgetting the original premise) that nothing is permanent.

Except for the mouse on the refrigerator.

Back in the 70's, on a whim that cannot be fully explained (for what explanation can be applied to the mind of a creative 10 year old?), during a family visit to a place called Frankenmuth, I saw this fridge magnet. It was in a box near the cash register in the gift shop of a restaurant named Zehnder's (home of the largest family style chicken dinners on the planet, but that's another story). It was one of those....impulse buys that they get you with, like Ring Pops and key chains.

It wasn't anything special was small, made out of pine wood with a wicked grain, and stained darker than it should probably have been....and it has little leather ears, a leather tail and a couple of pin heads for eyes. Oh, and the bottom was flat and had a magnet, of course.

Cuz it's a fridge magnet.

We were on our way up to the cabin (see previous postings for details), and it wound up on the fridge in the cabin for eight years. And then, on my way out the door heading to my Freshman year at the Northern University, I took it with me. Slipped it into my pocket. And it wound up on the dorm fridge.

And the fridge in my first apartment.

And every apartment and house afterwards.

And currently, it resides on the fridge here in the Capitol City of the Northern State.

Everybody needs some stability. Some find it in jobs; some in wives and husbands, children and pets.


Fridge magnet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who woulda thought?

I was raised in one of the homes of Rock and Roll.

There were other homes, of course; Memphis. Cleveland. Liverpool. And even though San Francisco seems to think They Built This City on Rock and Roll....well, that song sucks, and Jefferson Airplane sold out, so f**k them and their noise.

I was raised on Bob Seger, and Ted Nugent, but there was also the Holy Trinity of the Beatles, the Stones and the Who. Aerosmith and KISS.

That's what my peers listened to.

But I was also raised on a whole collection of 78's, and they contained Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey, and The Firehouse Five and Stan Kenton and Gene Krupa and
Bunny Berrigan, and every trumpet player that ever existed, including a cornet player named Red Nichols. And of course, Satchmo.

This confused my peers; every generation disbelieves the last one.

I was never a big fan of country music growing up, but it was a staple of the radio stations in Harrison; it was too twangy and depressing, really. I have since come around to some of the contemporary 'country' music.

But there was this thing, that came upon me suddenly one summer afternoon, late in the day. A weak signal from a radio station in Louisville, KY; a program about Ozark influences; and all of a sudden, it was there.

The Dillards.

The song was called, Let It Fly.

Been a fan every since.

I'm listening to it now, because it's been a hazy day and it doesn't look to improve. There is a trace of sadness and I miss a few people more than I wish I had to...

But Steve Martin was right, way back in the day: You can't play a sad song on a banjo.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meandering toward the net.....

I'm looking over some of the knick-knacks I keep on the hutch in the corner of my office; it used to be a closet, but a very creative fellow tuned it into an oak hutch that matches the book cases that surround three quarters of the room in the basement. The shelves will probably, one day soon, be overcome with books; but for now, it is peopled.....

By Bender Bending Rodriguez from Futurama: "bite my shiny metal ass!"
By Popeye and Olive Oyl: "I yam what I yam and that's all dat I yam!"
By Mr. Bill: "Oh Nooooooooo!"
By the B9 Robot: "Danger, Will Robinson!"
By Darth Tater, the Mr. Potatohead that's moved to the Dark Side.
And by a Dalek that screams, "Exterminate The Doctor!"

There are other things, as well: A hunk of the Berlin Wall that was given to me by Sabrina when we journeyed to visit her Mother in that wondrous city; A mini-sandbag filled with sand used during the Mississippi River Flood of 1993; and a mini-replica of the Stanley Cup.

That's one of my favorites, really. Shiny and silver and symbolic of the most difficult championship to win in the history of sports.

I could talk about my favorite moment in the Stanley Cup Finals: Detroit versus Pittsburgh, 2008. The 2009 version of the same two teams was also great, but I like 2008 because Detroit actually won it......

Detroit beat the crap out of them at home for the first two games.....outscoring them 7-0. But Pittsburgh fought back, winning game three. Detroit won game four, but didn't seem to play with the fire of the first two games....and an amazing game five that went into triple overtime....

Game six was the decider, and Pittsburgh came out with 1:30 left, pulled their goalie and put the pressure on; with just 3 seconds to go, Crosby let loose with a shot that caromed off the goal post, and slowly, achingly slowly moved parallel to the goal crease as time expired.

I love a good series.

But what I love the sound of the skate on the ice. Skating alone on a freshly Zamboni-ed, rink......just a few security lights to provide illumination...and slowly, moving clockwise around the ice, behind the nets, back and forth.


The sound of the wooden stick against the vulcanized rubber puck.

Tock....tock tock......

Moving toward the goal; skating through the imaginary defense toward the formidable imaginary goalie....move right, move left....

Skate right, but hold the puck off to the left, the shift. Move left, puck right....

Skate backwards toward the net; Backhand to the top shelf just off the glove side.

Red light.

Nothing like it.

In my imagination, I'm smooth as fresh ice.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Unless you're the lead dog, the scenery never changes.*

I can't seem to put anything together.

There was a little.....upheaval.....last week, and it's thrown off my balance, timing, wit, and sleep cycle just a bit.

I would like a new view, though. Bismarck by night through the west window of a circular building just isn't doing it for me anymore.

That reminds me a time when my Father took me to the roof of the Edison building in downtown Detroit; he was doing a little emergency surgery on something in the building, and I looked out over the great city in decline, lit up on an early summer's night.

I laughed a little. My Father asked why.

"Because from up here, you'd never know that it was a sh*thole."

Ah, memories. And perhaps an apt metaphor for life through another person's eyes. One man's beauty is another man's sh*thole.

Or, in another way, it could be proof that, "if ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Sometimes, NOT knowing is infinitely better than knowing.

Oh, boy......stop now. Too much to think about on that thread.


*Based upon my current mental state and the picture at the end of the post, I was going to call this post "Cochran Blocked", but juuust couldn't do it. But, because it IS funny, I had to mention it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I've come to see some theatre, eh?

The end of your average scholastic year was a melancholy time; you were losing a group of students that you had just spent four years getting used to, so there were some mixed emotions:

A nice blend of "I'm going to miss you guys terribly" to "How can I miss you if you don't go away?"

But the ensuing free time, between the graduation ceremony and the start date of whatever summer theatre gig I had managed to land, was a time for going back to the Mitten to see the folks, catch up with the sibs, and inevitably head into the land of Canada, to visit that Shakespearean theme park, Stratford Ontario.

I would go for about a six days every summer, see as many plays as I could stick into those days, eat good food, smoke exotic cigarettes, and spend cash like it was Monopoly money because, well...that's what it looked like.

Back in the day, I had an 'in' up there; a great actor named Nicholas who would come to the Northern University when I was a student to do some workshops. I would write him to let him know of my coming, and he would, at the very least, arrange his schedule to get a meal, or a cuppa coffee, and we would talk about everything but theatre.

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans; my life got more complex with my sabbatical (which, as the old joke goes, turned into a Mondacal and a Tuesdical) so the last time I was up there was the summer of '96.

And I fully intend to get there again, in the very near future. Right after I take up permanent residence along the Cedar River.

The first time I ever attended Stratford, I was a high school senior bussed up to see a matinee performance of Henry V. It was performed in the Festival theatre, which seats almost 2000 people, a thrust stage with not a bad seat to be had. I don't think I had ever seen anything like it.....and Stratford became a kind of sacred Shangri-La for the likes of me.

A place where nobody ages; where ancient texts are brought to life; where the streets are all tree-lined; where the swans are an almost blinding white; and where there isn't a shopping mall to be seen for miles.

Of course, it's harder now; you need a passport, and the currency exchange rate no longer favors the American dollar.

But I am impatiently waiting for the opportunity to hear the brass quartet announce the beginning of the play.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lessons, Suggestions, and Goodbyes: The Random Friday.

-I just ate far too many Oreos......

-I watched a local production on Wednesday evening; a production of 12 Angry Men. I am always reminded of a line from CHEERS, where Woody the Bartender has been cast in a production of this very play, but, "they could only get 6 actors, so we all have to be, like, twice as furious...."

-It was a good production; some decent performances. But it did remind me how much I miss teaching. My wife could tell as well; on the walk from the theatre to the car, she put up with my dissertation upon the need to maintain the given circumstances in order to acquire the necessary build to the climax; and, if an established character says something un-characteristic as the play moves forward, then there has to be some kind of upset that needs to be defined. And blah blah blah.

-I hate Friday mornings. And by mornings, I mean Midnight to 8AM. I hate them because I can't seem to sleep on Thursdays. So, I go from Thursday morning at 5AM (when I usually wake up) and I don't get to sleep again until about 2 PM Friday afternoon. I've built up the endurance, but to say I tolerate it is stretching a bit.

-I was casting about the television stations, and I found that one of these Food Network shows were trying to find the best Coney Island in Detroit. They whittled it down to two places....American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island, literally next door to each other in downtown Detroit. I can say from experience that if you've eaten a Coney from Lafayette, you know you've eaten. But my personal favorite has always been Lipuma's in my hometown of Rochester.

The making of Coneys is a delicate matter;
It isn't just simply a holiday breeze;
You may think at first that it's only a hot dog,
but I tell you it's more; it is chili, and cheese.

The topping is beanless, for that I am certain;
And mustard and onion is a fait accompli;
But my Coney Island must also have cheddar,
For Skyline is best from old Cincinnati.

-An old colleague of mine, Richard Holmes, passed last week after a short battle. He was a regular attendee to my directorial efforts at Culver-Stockton College, was generous with his praise and laser sharp in his critique, and was one of my favorite "Pie Day" conversations, because you never knew where it was going to go, but the ride was certainly going to be fun.

Take care Richard; Hopefully, I'll see you if I get there.

-And finally, the most important lesson I've learned this week comes from an old Jackson Browne song; one of my longest lasting friends, V, reminded me of this song, and the one line I should always remember but ALWAYS seem to forget:

The times when we were happy,
Were the times we never tried.

-Good Night and Glued Duck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, I've been out walking....

There is no medicine for melancholy better than Jackson Browne.
No matter how bad you feel, Jackson Browne has felt worse.
And has written about it.

In memory of a rainy drive from St. Louis to Richmond VA, with a goodbye in the rearview and hope on the edge of the headlights.

Well, I'll keep on moving, moving on....
Things are bound to be improving
These Days....
One of These Days.....
These Days I'll sit on cornerstones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten
My Friend;
Don't confront me with my failures;
I have not forgotten them.......

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh, just KILL me already.

Greetings from the Frozen Hell I call the Northern State.

On the second day of Spring, it began to blow, and snow, and sleet and this weird other thing that can only be described as snit. A whole crock of snit.

It began at shortly before 8 AM. It's still going....and if you're not looking at the clock, it's 10:05 PM. And it's supposed to stop sometime on Thursday, I think.

Yeah. I moved here. Shut up.

The only thing that makes it bearable is nothing. NOTHING MAKES IT BEARABLE. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH.

Moving on.

It's been a terribly sucky day, my friends.

I lost a friend today.

More to the point, I drove my friend away. And then systematically erased my friend from every piece of electronic memory bank I have, like a scorned lover.

I had to do it. But I didn't like it. But no matter how much I desperately needed a friend here, my distinctive crazy would not let it happen. I tried to shout down my crazy, but it's loud and been around a lot longer than my ex new friend.

So, I'm angry. Which isn't new.
And I'm broken in the heart. Which DEFINITELY isn't new.

But I'm resigned. And that's new.

F***ing snow........

Monday, March 21, 2011

Though we all return to dust.....

There's a lot of us
In a terrible rush.....

Some take the road to Damascus;
Some take the road to Hell.
I'll take Highway 10 to the Cedar trees,
And everything turns out well......

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Sometimes, I wonder if my life shouldn't be surrounded by yellow crime scene tape.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Late Night Catechism....or Non-Drunken 3 AM Rant? You Decide.....

I am a great believer.

In what, exactly, changes from day to day, hour to hour.

I have experienced a few quite un-explainable things in my life.

I am quite sure (and remember to whom you are talking, people.....) that I have been visited, on at least two occasions, by those gone on to the next experience.

Of course, did they give me ANY IDEA of the future? Did they drop a hint as to the lottery numbers, or who was going to win the Derby?


They appeared to just want to make sure that I was all right.

Like THAT was important, or something.

The first was a girl named Kristi, whom I knew and loved back when I didn't know or hadn't loved as much. The things I can remember were that she had long blonde hair, long fingers, and a laugh that you earned. She enjoyed playing the trumpet, and I enjoyed sitting next to her while she did. She also loved horses.

She died on a ride on July 21, 1979. My 17th birthday.

Pretty much ruined every birthday after that.

I took it very badly.

Until she appeared to tell me not to.

I believe her exact words were, "Oh, STOP IT!" But, they made me feel better. And I continued on the path, and helped a few others out, as well.

Yes, it's the story of my life: put my s**t aside, and help out the others. I probably was one of the pursers on the Titanic.

Oh, THERE'S a metaphor.

By the time I reached my late twenties, I was sure of a few things; I was sure that in the absence of true evidence, that belief will serve...until evidence presents itself.

I believe that Oswald acted alone.
I believe that man walked on the moon.
I believe that there is life out there, on other planets.

I believe that there is something after this.

And I believe that if you admit that evil exists, you must, by extension, believe in the existence of good.

I have been evil.
And now I seek good.

Who's with me?

Friday, March 18, 2011

How Sweet To Be An Idiot.

A long time ago, a friend of mine played this at a coffee-house jam, and dedicated it to me.

I joked and said that when the time came, he would have to play it at my funeral; for my friends would understand, and my family would agree.

Alas, his race was shorter than mine.

So, with a full heart, slightly moist eyeballs, and hoarse from the laughing fit, I give this to you......

My new friends, who have restored my faith.

And my old friends, who can see who I am, and knows where I've been.

And if you're reading this and wondering where you fit; you need look no further than my heart.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

May you be in Heaven an hour before the Devil knows you're dead....

Among the known members of my Clan, there are certain days of the years designated as "Amateur Night."

Today is one of them.

And at a certain time of my life, I was among the Amateurs; every year, down to The Office on Washington Street, to imbibe in rememberance of that Holy Saint that introduced the Holy Trinity to Ireland through the use of the Shamrock, and was influential in the extermination of the Druids, who are, in turn, responsible for providing all the holidays that the Christian Calendar have co-opted.

There were no snakes in Ireland.

Up in the UPper part of the Mitten, we also celebrated St. Urho's Day, which was traditionally March 16. St. Urho drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, thus saving the grape crop.

And, if Urho's landed on Thursday, and Patrick's on Friday...oh, it was a FOUR DAY WEEKEND!

St. Patrick's day is a Catholic holiday in Ireland, by the way....and for the Protestant's, Orangemen's Day is July 12. The celebrate King Billy's victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

This post fulfills my requirement to provide interesting but useless information to my friends, relatives, and strangers in the far reaches of Terra Incognita!

May Those That Love Us, Love Us.
And For Those Who Do Not Love Us,
May God Turn Their Hearts;
And If He Cannot Turn Their Hearts,
May He Turn Their Ankles;
So We Can Tell Them By Their Limpin'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just close your eyes and pretend, and maybe once again....

When I was a regular resident of the Mitten, on one of those long September weekends, I would get in my car and drive to the family cabin.

The steel trap that is this poor boy's mind would ease itself open with every mile from where I was to where I was going.

As the sun on a Friday night was fading, I would make a stop in town, pick up some supplies, and drive the 20 miles away from the things of man to the crossroads; take the left, drive for two miles, take the right, drive for four miles.

Full dark now. The occasional porch light peeking out from the forest that seems to come right to the roadside. I know that in the morning, as I walk these roads in the light chill of a September Mitten morning, the colors of the trees will be amazing, unforgettable.

Another crossroads. Take a left, but then, a quick left onto a two track road leading into the cedar forest.

Drive .6 miles into the dark.

As you exit the car, you are welcomed by the very best lullaby the human ear can hear; the sound of the Cedar River running it's way past the cabin. The fragrance of the cedar trees is like a time machine.....

I go into the cabin, turn on the lights, fire up the heat, light a fire in the fireplace, and open a window so that the lullaby will continue into the night. Turn on the radio to the local University station....ah, jazz.

No television. No telephone. Is this Iowa? No, it's Heaven.

Put the groceries away.

The furnishings are ancient; a conglomeration of my parents, my grandparents, and some things that were here when Mr. Groschel sold the place to my Father back in the 70's. Before this, we had the log cabin up the road a way...right next to the one owned by my Grandfather.

This road is full of my family. This road is my family tree.

I sit back in the rocking chair near the picture window. The stresses of the day, the week, the month...every hour up to this point since the last time I sat in this place...melt away.

The weekend will pass at its own pace. And for a few days in a year of many changes, I will gratefully become twelve years old again, singing songs around a campfire; listening to the voice of Harwell describing the play of the legendary Kaline as the Boys of Summer played a kids game at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull; playing endless games of Monopoly in the daylight and Ghosts in the Graveyard at night, under a shroud of a thousand thousand stars; Where the joy and tragedy of first crush plays out in glorious disaster; where the only important thing was getting to town just once to play miniature golf; sneaking off in the dark for a first kiss that came as an absolute surprise (and nothing has changed in all these years!); and as the rain fell on the windows and the Gods of Electricity withheld their bounty, finding that there was no place quite so comfortable as at that round kitchen table, and the Kerosene lamp, casting long shadows on the knotty pine walls.....

Backward, turn backward, O Time in thy flight. Make me a child again, just for tonight.....

Building a condo in the Dragon's Jaws.

I got an email this morning from a Northern State friend of mine, who wondered how I was adjusting to my return from the warmer climates of the Southern State to the other climate of the Capitol City of the Northern State.

I smiled.

Who thinks about their adjustment to new situations, or old situations, or old situations that are new situations because you went someplace and came back?

So, I thought about it.

I find that I'm not adjusting. I'm just moving through it.

Sometimes, a vacation can give you a new perspective on your situation. This can be a good thing; it can lead to new creativity, new ideas, new paths.

Alas, my Agency is not interested in new paths, new ideas, and certainly any creativity is welcomed much like Typhoid Mary was welcomed into the kitchen of a popular restaurant.

My work-a-day world would make Bob Cratchitt wince. There are days when you wonder how somebody can thrive in a position when chastisement comes at the simplest of errors; the equivalent of being chained to the back of a truck and driven up and down the railroad tracks because you misplaced the butter in the refrigerator.

The only thing that makes it bearable for someone who spent a majority of their life in creative pursuits to sit in the darkness and create paper, send electronic paper, and speak to bodiless voices is to live entirely in their heads.

To quote Ralph Wiggum, "In my dreams, I'm a VIKING!"

So, in the dark of the night, if you feel the need to have some kind of inspiring conversation, or you want to inspire such....come on up and see me.

I'm a theatrical encyclopedia. I'm very up-to-date on pop culture. I have a certain affinity for trivia.

And I like Oreos.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unread Chapters.

You may not believe this, but I have a hard time connecting with people.

I DO connect, eventually; but in most cases, it's a superficial connection. Those rare cases in which a genuine connection is made, well....those last forever.

Seriously, FOREVER. I'm still in contact with a lovely Celtic woman I met in a previous incarnation of this randomly f**ked up individual you see before you.

See? You didn't know THAT, did ya?

Let's see....what other things don't you know?


I have run into burning buildings. Okay, that may seem like a euphemism, and you'd be right on any other occasion; but I have literally run into a burning building, in order to help evacuate the building and save as many possessions as I could. I would not recommend this, by the way; there are professionals who do this with the proper equipment (i.e. oxygen tanks), and quite frankly, it's kind of like smoking several packs of the SAME TIME.

I was once scheduled for deportation from Canada. Yup, you really have to be a chump to get deported from the most forgiving country on earth. But I entered the country from Seattle to Vancouver, and completely forgot my work visa in the van that was currently crossing the border from Idaho. The smallest woman I ever met, in a uniform and accent that was decidedly.....Teutonic......berated me for several minutes before setting me a room with several small windows and what I can only refer to as the Group W bench. I wasn't ashamed, mind you....I spent the night pacing the floors of the Sea-Tac airport because the damned fog had canceled my flight the night before, and I was running on fumes...

Well, to make a long story short (Tooooo late!), they got in touch with my employer, who faxed them my visa, and I was off to Calgary.

Oh, wait. The nightmare continued with the cab ride. I got a Middle Eastern cab driver, who apparently liked to share his hatred of Americans WITH Americans. He berated me with all the sins of the Reagan administration (it was the mid eighties, by the way), and seemed really offended when I hit back with all the sins of the Trudeau Government. We pretty much shouted at each other for 45 minutes; but we shook hands at the end, and I gave him a good tip.

Did a show in a country club dining room to a full house with no sleep. The show was fresh and original. I met a waitress that night that still haunts my dreams sometimes. She showed me around town, and took away the roadliness for a while.

I have a picture of myself on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. Yes, the starship. No, I am NOT in uniform. But I DO own a teddy bear that's been assimilated by the Borg.

I have had a gun pointed in my direction, with intent. It was a misunderstanding. Thank all the Fates, the invisible Creator, and every single Guardian Angel that I have the gift of the Blarney, as well as the ability to look far more in control that I actually was.

I have run a five minute mile. It was shortly after the previous situation.

I have won the lottery. It was an instant ticket, which I bought as afterthought after buying a few munchies from a corner store not far from the campus of the Northern University. It was ten thousand dollars. I saved it until the end of my undergraduate studies....I celebrated by taking over a bar in the Northern University Town, and inviting 50 of my closest friends to drink themselves stupid. They did. And so did several people who wandered into the bar that night, as well. I still have the tab from that night. It was extraordinary.

The rest of the money went for a used car and Graduate School. The car didn't last through Graduate School. The education stuck, though.

All in all, a pretty interesting life.

I'll finish with a quote from MEN IN BLACK, which best sums up the whole post:

"Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."

Have a good day, y'all.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When you're listening to music as you walk a crooked path, it looks a lot like dancing.....

The clocks changed; later became earlier in the blink of an eye.

And it put me in mind of all the early mornings I have ever known, or cared to file away in this strange, swiss-cheesed memory file.

Flashback to 1983....sitting in the living room of my apartment, furiously trying to complete a scene design project; there is a late night nationally syndicated radio program on the stereo. I can't remember the hosts name, but he was probably sitting in some studio in Manhattan, smoking his Winstons and pouring himself another cup of coffee.

He had an 800 number. I called it. If you know me, you know how loopy I can get going into my 26th hour. I was better at it when I was younger...I didn't get truly loopy until around the 36th hour. But I digress.

I called the number...and the guy answered. We talked a little about what kept me awake this late, where I was (Northern Michigan) and what the weather was like (freakin' cold and snowing) and what I was doing (painting). He asked me if I had a request.

I did. Play 'America' by Simon and Garfunkel.

He did. I laughed until I got watery around the eyes. I went onto the front porch and had a smoke, singing, "it took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw...."

Finished the project just in time to shower and get to class. The sun came up for the first time in many days.

Sunshine provides hope.

Flash forward sixteen years.....I'm flying down the Interstate from MI to CA, smoking like a chimney and tapping my hands wildly upon the steering wheel because I heard that it helps to keep you focused when you're exhausted.

Ironically, I'm three days out of Saginaw.

It's four am, and I'm passing cars outside of Vegas. The lights of the city can been seen for a hundred miles on a clear night, and this night is incredibly clear. The moon is Joe-Versus-The-Volcano HUGE.

In Your Eyes plays on the radio, and I'm dancing in my head with a girl long gone.

Flashback two years....the long gone girl is sleeping in my arms for the last time. When the sun comes up a few hours from now, she'll go out to the car and my last memory will be tail lights rounding the bend. It's raining, which is good; my reputation as a cynical hardass would be compromised by the tears.

I go into the ground floor student apartment that was made available to me, and the tape in the machine is playing, Leave Her, Johnny by Stan Rogers. I close the door and stare at the wall for several minutes, savoring the good moments and dreading the fact that this is the moment that I'm going to remember most.

And now it's time to say goodbye;
Leave her Johnny, Leave her.....

Flash forward from there to four years later.....I'm standing on top of a mountain in central Colorado; the sun is coming up and the show is opened and the review was kind and generous. King of the World, for just a moment.

The song going through my head at that time...Never The Luck from DROOD. The underdog comin' out on top...just for one night.

And here I am. Eleven years after that.

What's playing right now?

Solsbury Hill.

Grab your things, I've come to take you home.


Friday, March 11, 2011

This one's for you.

Another one from the vaults......

There is a kind of creativity that is spawned by the simple act of pressing Shuffle on the IPod.

Songs about Courage; songs about being All We Are; Miss Turner struttin' to You Better Be Good To Me.

You can take the boy out of Motown, but you can't take Motown out of the boy.

And then, it comes. Harry Chapin. Legends of the Lost and Found.

My formative years (College, where I learned to drink like a sailor, swear like a drunk, and pick up women like a festering leper) were filled with the tunes of Harry. I knew of the artist; he had a few light hits during the 70's, and since Detroit was a cornucopia of musical tastes, I heard and enjoyed his music.

But it was a roommate of mine named Ralph who seemed to own all the albums. And yes, they were vinyl in those days. And he played them, and I listened. And I listened. And I've been listening for 30 years.

There was one song on the album I just mentioned, Legends of the Lost and was called Corey's Comin'. He had recorded it on a previous album, but Legends was a live album, so that performance added a few verses, and gave it a kind of fire that burned like the studio cut never could.

It is best described as "and old man with a dream, and a young man who buys it." John Joseph lives a seemingly lonely life, but always speaks of his love, a woman named Corey...the problem is, nobody has ever seen Corey. And the young man who is his friend gently chides him about it.....

But when the old John dies, there are four people at the funeral; the young man, the grave digger, the parson.....and a young woman named Corey.

Corey's comin'
No more sad stories comin';
My midnight, moonlight, morning glory's comin'
Aren't you, girl?
And like I told you
When she holds you
She enfolds you in her world.

The song is spring and first love and last love and comfort and joy.

Everybody should have a Corey. Just for a little while.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I am the Captain of my Soul....

The sun is out and the sky is blue, which belies the fact that the temperature is still not spring-like. Spring-like come very late here in the Northern State; in fact, anywhere that I have lived at this latitude can be deceptive.....

I can remember a day like this, back in the midsection of the 1980's. It was sunny and blue, and the temperature in the Northern College Town of my youth was a frostbite-inducing -60. And I'm not kidding about the frostbite. I'm hoping that's the LAST time I suffer from that strange and horrible malady.

Time marches on, toward the inevitable thawing, flooding, raining, flooding, thinking about moving, and the dawning of Summer.

We had a joke in another Northern State: What do you do hear in the summer? Well, if it doesn't rain that day, we have a picnic.

Eleven months of winter, and thirty days of rain.

I've pretty much worn out the weather as a topic, so I'll move on.

I start work again tonight. Well, technically, it would be tomorrow, because I go on at midnight, but my days in the sun are done for the time being. I do not relish this fact, although I've always been the little worker bee......

I've worked pretty much every day of my adult life (and I include those days of travelling from one job to the next as 'work'). In fact, upon moving to this Northern State, I found myself unemployed for the first time since...well, since the summer of 1982. And even though it was not imperative that I get a job, I lasted approximately 13 days before the cabin fever began to eat at me. And so, I went back to work. And I've been going ever since.

Two weeks of unemployment in 29 years.

I'll get back into the swing of it very soon, I suppose. But I've made myself a promise. Call it a Lenten Vow, if you will.

My job will not be my life. Ever again.

I'm going to enjoy the blue sky and the big ball of fire that sits in the sky.

I may even do a little dance, if I can persuade anybody to join me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Pitch

At 1:10 on March 3, 2011, baseball came back to me like an old friend.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing like a ball-park hotdog; there is nothing like a $4.50 Coca-Cola; and there is nothing like the sound of a wooden bat making good contact with a white ball with one man on, one man out, and the infield at double play depth.

Swing away.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ancora Imparo*, part III

I like to walk.

And when I come to this place, I like to get up early, when the world is just coming alive, and stroll along the white sand beaches, listening to the sound of the tide moving lightly to shore, to the sound of the local avian population arguing mightily over who gets to eat first, to the sound of absolutely no human sound at all.

The sand is very soft in the morning, and very hard to navigate with any decorum until you get a bit closer to the shore. A little further down the beach, where the above photo was taken, they have a tractor that rakes the beach into a kind of picture-perfect uniformity, making it easier to transverse....but everybody usually just walks either in the surf, or just above it.

I walk just above it. I have nothing against getting my feet wet; but I have nothing to favor it, either. I gotta be me......

There are people, of course...some getting in their early morning jog; some talking on their telephones; some simply sitting and watching the Gulf with a steaming cup of coffee and a cigarette.

I stroll the 1.6 miles down, and the 1.6 miles back, allowing all that has piled up in the 51 previous weeks to slide away.

Plato was concocted the idea that we can only know ourselves through our interaction with others; that like a shadow on a wall, we can never truly see ourselves, but only an outline of ourselves. We must rely upon others to fill in the gaps, fill out the shadow. We are, in essence, what other people and our interactions with those people make us.

It's an interesting concept, and not wholly to be dismissed as the ravings of a man who's been dust for several millennia.

But.....sometimes, you need to walk along a beach, listen to the surroundings, watch the sun come up from behind the lifeguard shack, and let the rest slide away.

And try to hold onto the concept when there's no beach, no sun, and no lifeguard shack.

*Atrributed to Michaelangelo, roughly translated into, "I am still learning."

Friday, March 4, 2011


A remarkable bird is the Pelican;
His beak can hold more than his Belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week
I'll be damned if I know how the Hellican!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The quality of Inertia at this latitude is delightful.

I'm currently sitting on a small, shaded deck outside my Father's rented apartment right around the corner from the Siesta Village, within sound of the ocean, and in the early morning hours, the sound of the large trucks collecting the loud recyclables from the many bars and restaurants that line the streets of the aforementioned Siesta Village.

I won't tell you the temperature, or the color of the sky, for fear that I will be assassinated upon my return to the Northern State.

It's 72 and blue.

Sue me.

The wind down takes a day or two, actually; I'm pretty sure when I was a pup, I could relax faster (but then again, when I was a pup, everything seemed to be able to happen faster). A few walks upon the beach, a dish of fish and chips, and a dish of Big Olaf's ice cream, and I can feel the stress start to melt away.

Yeah. I know. And so do you. It never completely goes away. But the Def Con level goes down considerably when I'm here.

I wish you could all be here. There are reasonable rentals all over the place down here; they have the Baltimore Orioles just across the bridge, the Pittsburgh Pirates a tad further North, the Tigers are about 90 minutes away, and we are far enough away from the world of Disney to not care. There's tons of food, a Ringling Brothers Museum, several local and regional theatres, and a place where we could all rent Sedgeways, and cruise the streets of the village like warped version of the Hell's Angels.

We could loll in hammocks in the daylight, and dance on the shore in the moonlight. We could look to the west and give the one fingered salute to Galveston (I HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN, GALVESTON! YOU MAY THINK YOU GOT AWAY WITH IT, BUT MY REVENGE WILL BE TERRIBLE.....BUT OBVIOUSLY NOT SWIFT!).

Today, it's a baseball game, hotdogs, crackerjack, lots of beer and your humble scribe as designated driver.

And who cares what tomorrow brings.......

Tuesday, March 1, 2011