Tuesday, August 30, 2011

If it's Tuesday, I must be soul sick.

Introspection should always begin with a soul-shaking sigh.  And, Goo Goo Dolls lyrics.

And I don't want the world to see me;
'Cuz I don't think that they'd understand....
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.

I suppose the best way to describe what's going on is by analogy, or allegory, or some other such bullshit that scholars and saviors use to mask a personal truth with a universal one.

I went through a period of time when I had to contort this sorry excuse for a body into the fictional proportions of John Merrick.  I would warm up, of course, get the muscles all pliable and stretchy, and slowly work my way into the posture.  And then, I'd walk.  And talk.  Sometimes, a lovely but sadistic director would dress me in hat and cloak and send me on a forced march, to experience being shunned by normals.

As if I needed any help with that.  Have we met?

And after a while, this posture became, in my mind and in the muscle memory of the aforementioned 'poor excuse for a body', normal.  And proper posture became abnormal.

I can remember the first time I pulled up to my full height, and felt every...single...muscle in my back to *pop!*

And then, in adjusting to that mess, it became a different kind of thing, and pretty soon, every picture I have had my head doing some weird ducking thing.  And I became old before I was supposed to.

Are you ahead of me now?  Do you see where I'm heading?

In truth, my soul is suffering from the same thing as my body did; it's been twisted up for so long, it now longer recognizes 'True North."

So, exercise is in order.  Introspection necessary.

Maybe not so much with The Goo Goo Dolls, though.

Perhaps Wang Chung instead.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hail and Farewell to a Legend.

In the summer of 1980, I was a young alcoholic-to-be artist just about to start the adventure of a lifetime.....University education in the Great White North of the Mitten.
I have a few distinct memories of the summer's introduction to the campus of the Northern University; I can remember it was damned hot that July; I can remember some instant friendships formed, some that exist to this day; I can remember a fairly good 50's band playing in the parking lot, and a girl in a poodle skirt that haunted my dreams for several years.
And I remember Daddy Bear.
My first introduction to the Great Man was sitting in his office as he gave me the spiel about the theatre program and which classes I should take my first semester.  I can say that the man wasn't intimidating, but he could fill a room.  But, he had this way about him.....you only needed to be in his presence for a minute or two, and you wanted to be his friend.  You wanted to know him.
He directed me in several things, as I recall; a very memorable production of TAMING OF THE SHREW where I first discovered that I could be creative if I just stopped thinking.  And I also learned that directing sometimes means sitting back and letting the actors do the thing they do.  He cast me as Applegate in DAMN YANKEES, even though the day of my audition, I could hardly speak due to a throat infection. 
When he taught Intro to Theatre, he convinced generation after generation that ROMEO AND JULIET is a comedy.  And yes, if you look at it in its entirety, it IS.  Cuz he said so.
But the thing I remember most is after a production of a student-directed one act called LOU GEHRIG DID NOT DIE OF CANCER.  He took me aside for a moment, after I was cleaned of make up and running around to catch the next production in this evening of one acts.
He took me outside the room, and looked me in the eye.  If you knew the man, you knew that when he looked you in the eye, he LOOKED you in the EYE.
"You're a hell of an actor."
He went on for a few minutes, supporting his thesis, but I didn't really hear it.  All I heard was his confident assessment in my abilities.  The rest was a warning about not f***ing it up with da booze.  Then he put his arm around my shoulder and we went back in.  He probably never knew that I was six inches off of the ground.
And after I graduated, when I came through the Northern Town, I always had a table to sit at and a bed to lie on. 
And a man to admire.
James Rapport, known forever to all that knew him as Daddy Bear, exited this stage on August 28, after what seemed to be a very short illness.  I will cry for a short time today, and smile for awhile after that.  And I hope to see him again when the time is right.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come in, she said........

It's been awhile, I know.  And it will be awhile longer, I'm afraid.  But in the meantime, in honor of those hunkered down on the East Coast for the rarity of Irene, I give you one of my favorite Dylan tunes, appropriate to the occasion.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Carnival ramblings.

I remember fondly the novel, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, by Ray Bradbury. 

My uncle, highly adored but somewhat estranged due to a strange family dynamic, sent me a few Bradbury titles during one of the periods of my early high school days when I suffered from something that could have led to a failed convalescence; it was the days before cable, of course, so the pickins were slim on the television after the Today Show went away....so, I fell back on what Peter Falk in THE PRINCESS BRIDE called, "In my day, Television was called Books!"

It was the beginning of a love affair with the imagery of Bradbury that lives on today.  I ate his work up with a spoon.

THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. (I wept when they made an abysmal mini-series based upon this book.  Wept.)

But the story of two friends at odds with the owners of Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, the last, late carnival of the year lives on and on.  (And yes, they made a movie of this, as well, back in the 80's, and I dragged some poor date to see it with me, and it was good, but not great.  Date ended with a whimper and not a bang, as I remember....but I was a notorious failure at such things.)

I've never been able to go to a Carnival or a State Fair since then without needing to see it at nightfall, with the lights and the colors and the sounds.

I even worked at a theme park in the late 90's, and really enjoyed the nights.....the lights and the sounds of the rollercoaster riders, a wave of screaming people, the nearly invisible coaster streaking by above your head.....but also the look of the people as they carried their prizes and their balloons and their funnel cakes and their memories off to their homes.

I never did see a Bearded Lady, or the Rubber Man, or the Strong Man.  I dated a clown, once upon a time.  And a girl who made a living in a dinosaur suit.

But the clown wasn't really funny after awhile (not that I blame her; it was the late nineties and I was hip deep in sobriety and sorely in need of anti-depressants), and as far as the girl in the dinosaur suit...it would have been easier and quicker just to be consumed by at T-Rex.  My luck.  Sheesh.

I still like the Carnivals, when I can get them; and I dream of the Carnival that comes into town in the Fall of the year, bringing secrets and dreams and yes, even the occasional nightmare.

Even the sound of the Calliope on the foredeck of the steamboat as it travelled up and down the river would bring me to the shore.

And I dreamed of running away.

Still do.


Sometimes, I dream of doing BARNUM, too.

Or writing like Bradbury.

But that's juuuuuust crazy talk.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The mind is a terrible thing to treat as a pinball machine.

If you haven't been following the winding road with the surprising lack of scenery that is my life, I now work four days a week, ten hours a day.  From 0000 until 1000.  I haven't seen a weekend off since...uh...2008.  But having three days off in a row almost makes up for the fact that most of my very important work is mind-numbing.

Believe me; for somebody who has striven, for most of his adult life, towards mostly cerebral endeavors, 'mind-numbing' is like the kiss of death.

(Temporary change of subject, on the subject of Death:  I do not care for the Final Destination film franchise.  First of all, to have six of these films produced makes the term 'Final' somewhat silly...and I don't think that we should ever consider Death to be vindictive or egocentric.  Death is Death.  It simply exists.)

I've mowed the lawn, done some laundry, and now I'm settled upon the couch and watching a Syfi* Channel marathon of the hour-long episodes of The Twilight Zone.  They are wonderfully elongated half-hour episodes.  Yeah, it was a bad choice to go from a half-hour to an hour, but I love Rod Serling.

(Temporary shift in subject, on the subject of the Anthology Series on Television:  I miss them.  They were classics; The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.....I even liked the crazy ones like Love, American Style.  I don't know how we can get into endless patterns of Doctor shows, Lawyer shows, Cop shows, etc....but the Anthology series has gone the way of the Dodo.)

It's August in the Northern State; summer nearly gone now.  The river has slowly receded, but is still above flood stage, but we are assured by the Corps of Engineers that it will be down below flood stage just in time for the whole thing to start again in the Spring.  Let us hope that whatever missed signals went into this near-calamity will be sorted out and we can avoid such things in the future.

Football is just around the corner.  The Lions look like they'll field a team this year.
The Tigers are currently 3 games up, but they lost in 14 innings last night against second place Cleveland.  I am reminded  constantly that the only consistent sound that comes out of Comerica Park in August and September is usually the sound of choking.
What if the NBA had a lockout and nobody gave a crap?

I've rambled enough for one day.  Perhaps even two.

*Two further observations:  First of all....how stupid is it to change the name of the SCIFI Channel to SYFI?  Remember when Science Fiction was considered cerebral?  And remember when you could go to the Science Fiction section of the Barnes and Noble and NOT see freakin' VAMPIRE s**t?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Junk Food Junkie

In lieu of any actual information, I present a little song and dance..... Preach on, Larry Groce!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm sad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it... until next Thursday.....

Good morning.

I spent my weekend playing a game of "Much Ado About Nothing"; we in this particular branch tend to make mountains out of molehills, treat everybody as a suspect, and generally turn a small thing into a big thing at the drop of a hat, just to show off our little bit of power.

I work in a kind of evil Twilight Zone.  And those that know me have often commented on the fact that it's tainted me on a basic level.

But it's all about the mountain and the molehill, isn't it?

Case in point:  This country has been in debt, more or less, since 1791.  The only President that DIDN'T raise the debt ceiling was Harry Truman.  The people screaming about debt now are the same ones who were shouting DOWN the people screaming about the debt when the Republican was in office, spending billions of dollars of day fighting his Daddy's war.

Yes, I'm being superficial.  The specifics of things make my head ache.

I wonder, though, from a strictly fantastical point of view.....if the Tea Party Conservatives are sure in their belief that we are a Christian Nation, and at the same time are willing to sacrifice the poor and elderly in this country by cutting funding to welfare, and medicaid, and are willing to risk the health of women everywhere by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood....then they need to either re-think their label, or they need to re-read the NEW TESTAMENT, and leave the OLD TESTAMENT alone for awhile.

Four hundred years ago, a playwright wrote, "he jests at scars that never felt a wound."  How true, and how sadly consistent is the human race.  Those that are well fed and well housed and healthy seem to hate those that truly need assistance.  And those that truly need assistance are often lumped in with those liars and thieves that are twice damned for their machinations, taking the bread from those that truly need it.

And the government seems to be capable of nothing more than 'dumb show and noise.'

Watching CNN is liking taking a knife in the heart.
Watching FOX is like a sledgehammer to the head.

Watching PBS is like sitting a tasteless banquet.

I've managed to depress myself.

Which isn't hard these days.

Did I start this with, "Good Morning?"

I meant to say, "At least the sun came up.  THIS time."