Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Tribute to the American Storyteller on his 176th Birthday.....

I encourage you to watch the whole thing. It's a bit long, but what lovely words. Even in the midst of the trial and tragedies of the last years of his life; even as he fought the cynicism that comes with what we would now diagnose as clinical depression; he could sum up the whole of a life with a TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST reference.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Clemens!  Genius lives forever.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Take these chances......

This song always reminds me of a smoky bar in the middle of the mitten, and a very long cross-country drive from Michigan to California done in two and half days......

And now, it's a celebration of the new venture of a friend who promised me a corned beef sandwich.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Holidays, Oceano!

In the magic days between Thanksgiving and Christmas (and right up until the stroke of the New Year), were the hardest working days I ever had as an actor.

Yeah, I know; it you've ever toured in a Children's Theatre van with a load of scenery and a two-show-a-day in who-knows-where, usually starting that first show before most people actually had their second cup of coffee....well.....yeah, that's pretty harrowing as far as work schedules go.....but......

Okay, maybe it's not so bad, after all.

The Great American Melodrama in Oceano CA does a Holiday show every year; it opens just before Thanksgiving, and runs six days a week for awhile, and then runs two shows a day six days a week, and then sometimes seven.....and you're also working the bar and the crowd.....and there are children in the cast, lovingly referred to as 'human petri dishes', and it's not a question of 'what will you catch?', but 'when?'

Three acts:  The first act, an adaptation of Christmas Carol (where I played Scrooge from 1999-2002), a half act 'opera', which was just a very funny fractured fairy tale set to music (my favorite continues to be The Three Pigs Opera....always laughed out loud, even after seeing it sixty or so times) and a Vaudeville Review.  Two and a half hours of constant movement, thirty minutes of turnaround, and do it again.

It was sometimes painful, most times tiring, one or two times damned near impossible, and all the time memorable.

Painful:  The first year I did Scrooge, the director wanted an effect where the ghost of Jacob Marley would levitate Scrooge.  They built this contraption hidden behind a curtain that I could back into; it would create a kind of saddle between my legs and two burly guys would haul on block and tackle and slowly raise me off of my feet.  It got a heckuva reaction from the audience.

And I felt like I was getting a twice-a-day 2x4 enema.   and yes, they dropped me once, and it felt like they drove my tailbone into my throat.

Painful:  The Ghost of Christmas Past jumping the gun on a cue, and pulling me off of my feet so I could faceplant center stage.

Almost Impossible:  Caught a bug from one of the kids one year, and it hit fully on the 22nd of December.  Two shows with a fever of 101 and unable to really project without attempting to eject a lung.  I can recall standing on stage left, watching Young Scrooge get dumped by his Young Fiancee, and bursting into tears...and then realizing that I couldn't.....stop.....weeping.  Felt like it went on forever.  Then, once I got it reasonably in control, and managed to justify this overblown emotional display within the characterization, I turned to the Ghost of Christmas Past, and she was crying, too. 

'Twas an interesting night.

But something amazing happened through all of that.  The laughter in the dressing room was easier; the smiles infectious; the work at the bar became less stressful and more festive.  The lights on the decorations made life a bit brighter.  The spirit really came alive during those stressful halcyon days.......


I miss it.  I miss the piano, and the people.  I miss the smell of the air coming off of the Pacific and the smell of the cramped backstage; I miss the people, every single one.

Another memory, trapped in amber.

And I say Thank God.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The lull between leftovers and napping....

As I wrote on my Facebook page yesterday, it IS nice when family holidays only have intermittent David Lynch moments.  I will not go into detail (modesty and a court order prevents elaboration) but suffice it to say that there is nothing quite like a Thanksgiving.  I wouldn't trade it for ALL the ones I spent by myself.

Turkey and stuffing and all the other fixin's are infinitely better in the middle of a friendly crowd of people.

I made two cheesecakes for the occasion; a pumpkin cheesecake and a chocolate/peanut butter cheesecake.  Both received good reviews, and I was a little leery going in; I made my own crusts this year.  But I was particularly fond of the pumpkin; it had just the right spice.

The football games were all disappointing.  I had hoped the Lions would look better, and in fact, they did; through most of the game, they were leading in every stat but the score.  The first quarter looked very good, but Stafford (Bless his heart) couldn't find a receiver with both hands and a flashlight.  And don't get me started on SUH.

Memo to NFL football players:  if you team is firmly in the playoff hunt, then it would be wise to put your testosterone-fueled ego in your pocket, turn around and run to the sidelines, you f***ing moron.

Sorry; that last part was aimed at SUH.

I just finished my Christmas shopping.  The interhighway has Black Friday deals, too.

Love to all.....30 days until Christmas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Thoughts. Twelve of 'em. You don't have to count; I numbered 'em for ya.....

1.  You can Boo the President of the United States all you want.  But Booing his wife is just plain tacky.  Take that, NASCAR fans.  You're tacky. 

2.  Yeah, that's a revelation.

3.  After hearing the umpteenth story about a child or a woman or a tourist or an elderly dementia patient going missing in Florida, I've decided that it is, in fact, the worst place to raise a child, have a vagina, visit, or get old in.

4.  And yes, Florida DOES make it look like the United States is pissing on Cuba.

5.  My congratulations to the NYPD for their grab of another monster-in-waiting in this never ending war on my right to sleep peacefully at night.  It proves a number of things:  first off, the NYPD is an excellent investigative body; secondly, those that seek to do us harm are American, too; and thirdly, the FBI, who refused to get involved in the investigation, can kiss my DHASS.

6.  Doesn't let the NYPD off the hook for the whole OWS f**kup, though.

7.  I just made a Pumpkin Cheesecake that looks and smells like what Thanksgiving in HEAVEN should be like.

8.  Once again, as I walked out of my house to go to work this morning at 2 AM, I shook my head at my willingness, back in '06, to move to a state that had the word NORTH in it's name. 

9.  Yesterday was eleven years.  We've been together twelve.  I went over to her house for a pizza and a movie one night in August of 1999, and never left.  Longest first date in history.

10.  Justin Verlander is the AL Cy Young Award Winner, and apparently the AL MVP.  And rightly so; he tore it up this season. 

11.  The Lions actually came from behind AGAIN yesterday.  But it was against a non-contender.  Green Bay on Thanksgiving.  Can you smell UPSET?

12.  No, I can't either.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Reason Why.

Over the past few years, since I began writing, I've had a few people ask about the Genesis of the title.

Well....the fact of the matter is, I began this under the premise that I would be telling stories to my Mother, who was, at the time of the beginning, in the mid-stages of Alzheimer's Disease.  When she and I were both well and hearty, we would talk once a week by telephone.  When it became too difficult to do that, I began writing things down.  And here we are.

For those of you that don't follow regularly, I lost my Mother back in February of 2010.  I used one of my entries in this blog as a part of her eulogy.  I haven't been back to re-read that part since.

But there is a further, underlying story of the title, and that comes from a song by Stan Rogers.

I've written about Stan before, of course; he is one of my favorite Folk artists, and one of the greatest tragedies of my life is that I never got to see him live; he lost his life in an airline fire in Cincinnati back in the 1990's.  I have every recording he made, and he's gotten me through some tough times, and some good times, as well.  One day, I will attend the Stan Rogers Music Festival in Nova Scotia, which was one of his favorite venues to play.

The song was called, It All Fades Away, and it was finally released back in 2000, on what was supposed to be final release of Stan's unreleased material.  The song spoke to me the first time I heard it.

And that's why this is named as it is named.

IT ALL FADES AWAY by Stan Rogers
An Unfinished Conversation
And a picture of the past,
Like the one that I just found of you,
Among many that I had.
I remember I saw you laughing
With my camera close at hand;
We were minutes from a quarrel,
And forever from understanding.
 You were just a bit excited
and a little more displeased,
How you hated candid pictures
When I took them just to tease.
Then you told me I was crazy,
I said I was born that way,
And we must have said those same two lines
Twenty times a day.

Now, I'd swear you don't remember why we parted,
Just like I cannot remember why we loved.
Ain't it funny how the past
Makes the better memories last
'Cause the pain fades away, it all fades away.

An Unfinished Conversation
That I'd somehow like to end,
If I just knew where to find you
Or where a letter could be sent.
But I know I'd not be welcome,
I know you'd nearly die;
All conversations fade away
When the love-light leaves the eye.
Now, I'd swear you don't remember why we parted,
Just like I cannot remember why we loved.
Ain't it funny how the past
Makes the better memories last
'Cause the pain fades away, it all fades away.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a Chronilogic Illusion. Like an Optical Illusion, but with Time.

I'm not quite certain that I can justify this logically....but this schedule is killing me.

Prior to my brief vacation a few weeks ago, I worked in this tiny office on the Sixth Floor in the building that looks like a stack of pancakes from 0000 until 1000.  Now, I work from 0200 until 1200.  It's the same amount of time....but starting two hours later and going two hours longer is driving me to distraction.

There seems to be some kind of stigma to waking up at midnight to get to work at 2 AM.  This morning, as I was walking up the stairs (for the exercise), I ran into another intrepid explorer who works on the fourth floor who has the same Godawful schedule as I.

Scared the crap out of us both.

My stomach is all messed up; my arthritis is flaring; and my mood is as sour as Grandma's Rhubarb Pie.

Is it too early to take another vacation?  And, right after that?

Thank GOD these windows don't open.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I miss him.

All morning long, I have felt the need for a good, old fashioned Belushi RANT.

The kind he used to do on Weekend Update, back when Saturday Night Live was cool.  He did one about voting on Election Day that made me laugh out loud.....but, I couldn't find it anywhere online.

So, I have to settle for his most famous rant, from ANIMAL HOUSE.

Enjoy the fun; and say a little prayer of thanks for the talents of John Belushi, and Doug Kenney, and his famous, "what the hell we supposed to do, ya moron?"

May they both rest peacefully......

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wow. I think I can see Montana from here.

Harry Truman was once quoted as saying to the press, "Remember, boys...always do the right thing.  It'll gratify some people, and astonish the rest."

Harry never really said, specifically, what the 'right thing' is, or was, or can, or will be.  It's probably not a concrete thing.

For example....shaving bananas could be 'the right thing.'  but I'm doubting it.

I think, at this point in our continuing evolution as a society, we should concentrate on civil discourse.  Talking, AND listening.  Finding common ground.  And within the common ground, finding out 'the right thing.'

I do have some suggestions.  And if you're a regular reader, that should come as no surprise.

To start with, don't shave bananas.

But more importantly, let's all just stop watching anything put before us that rewards uncivilized behavior.  I'm not suggesting that every ending be a happy one, and I'm pretty sure that there will always be a fictional character that has bad behavior to emulate, but can we eliminate it from our 'reality?'  Can we please stop rewarding questionable behavior by giving people television programs because we confuse 'contemptable' with 'colorful?'

Can we possibly be happy with the direction of our own lives without indulging in schadenfreude?

And if we thank The Almighty for the Blessings, then we should also thank him/her/it for the Challenges?

F**k blame; let's find the 'right thing'.

Finally, if one more person comes to me and tells me it takes 16 muscles to smile and 22 to frown, I'm going to tell them it only takes 14 to ball up my fist and punch them in the crotch.

Yeah, I know.  I'm still looking for the right thing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We either need more drugs, or less.*

About forty years ago, a fellow who gave his name as Cooper hijacked an airplane, and escaped with two hundred thousand dollars by parachuting out the back of the plane.  He has not been seen from that day to this, although lately, there have been more than a couple of people stepping forward to claim that their dead husband, or their crazy cousin, or even their transgender best friend did the deed.

There's a kind of romantic quality to the crime, of course; a mystery for the ages, even though the sure bet is on this Cooper person going into the ground like a tent peg following his night jump into the wilds of Washington State, and two hundred thousand smackers nothing more now than wet pulp.


Since then, of course, 'crazy' has become something more foul.  Crazy has gone from extorting money from corporations to shooting each other for athletic shoes.  Or knifing each other because the voices said they were evil.  Or, simply killing somebody in the aisle of a Walmart with an aluminum bat because they the aisle of the Walmart.

As far as hijacking goes...well, we've seen how bad it can turn out....airplanes make dandy weapons when all you want is to make a misguided point.  But I don't believe I have stepped onto an airplane in the years since that fateful morning thinking that this was going to be my last day on earth.

But I'm beginning to wonder about walking into a Walmart.

*For the word 'drugs', you may substitute 'hope.'