Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Legoman Lives.

Every March, my Father invites me down to the Gulf Coast, to spend a week basking in the Florida sun.  We fill the days with Grapefruit League baseball (although it's usually the first week of the spring training season, so the baseball is good but not great), and the nights with food and drink that I will eventually pay for in spades.  It more than offsets the embarrassing stories my Father will eventually tell.  In my defense, he often exaggerates them to make me look especially silly, and to tell the truth, the truly embarrassing stories are deserved.  I was an idiot in my youth, and have not much improved in the ensuing thirty-plus years.

I like the mornings on Siesta Key the best.  The beach is white sand that never gets too hot, and in the cool of the Spring morning, the breeze has a scent, and the people are few.


Back in October, this fellow washed up on the white sand beach of Siesta Key....

I don't think that it was ever truly decided where he came from or what he was trying to actually say...there have been many theories, but none more accepted than others.  I do know one thing for certain, though...

Had I met him on my morning walk, he would never have made the newspaper.  I would have packed his ass up and shipped him back to the Northern State. 

He would make a lovely addition to my collection of oddities.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In lieu of forward, backward.

The first day of what is my 'weekend' is basically a wind-down.  My days are usually high energy things, multi-tasking, answering questions quickly and getting information from faraway places on sometimes stubborn computer networks. 

Decompression is mandatory; and you have to do it slowly, or you get the bends.  And that's not pleasant.  Unless you're Gumby.

Sometimes, friends and neighbors, I wish I could drink.  I always seemed to decompress easier and faster with a bourbon and branch in my hand.  And a cheeseburger.

But, instead, I find that simple chores tend to allow for the kind of decompression I desire.  Laundry, dishes, getting a haircut.....just walking around in a Best Buy, creatively avoiding the Blue Shirts that want to know if they can help me when all I want to is to look a the electronics and DVDs.

Found the John Adams series on DVD for twenty bucks.  Score.

Today, I went wading back through this very long conversation, looking back at what I was writing about at this time.

A year ago, I was writing about my experiences in preparing for a production at the local community theatre.  One of the great things about my life thus far is that I have never stopped learning new things.  And acknowledging that I don't know everything.

Two years ago, I was writing about an old tavern I used to inhabit; warm, happy conversations, and bread sticks.  And a dash of cocoa and schnapps.

Three years ago, I was writing about The Inauguration; standing on the threshold of Hope.

Four years ago, I was writing about a Christian bumper sticker on a very un-Christian car.

Five years ago, I was doing very little writing.

Now, I have clean laundry, a cleared kitchen, and a nice haircut.

And I still have hope.

And a love of bread sticks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And another thing.....

I'm sure I'm not the first to look at this, but.....

Of the nine films nominated by the Academy, EIGHT of them were released after the 1st of August, 2011.

ONE of them, technically, was released last week.

Are all the best movies released at the end of the year?

Or is the combined memory of the Academy realllllly short?

Monday, January 23, 2012

One ring to rule them all.....

I recently saw a theatrical production that got me thinking, and not in a good way.

(Before I continue, I should state for the record, and for anybody local to the Capital City of the Northern State that I am not referring to any local production.)

I traveled many miles, and paid hard-earned money.  I wish I could describe it to you in terms objective, but I cannot; it made me angry.  It made me very angry.

I enjoy watching live theatre for the same reason I like DOING live theatre; there's that sense of immediacy; there is the idea that no audience is going to react the same way, so you have to work to get where you need to go.  You have to listen and respond to the audience the same way they are listening and responding to you.

You have to be sincere.  You have to be truthful; or, you have to be truthful to whatever truth the play is projecting.  You need to suspend your disbelief so the audience can feel comfortable doing the same.

I also like the idea of working with a group of people for a common goal.  Listening and responding to the people around you.  Being in that moment.  Working together to turn this mass of words placed onto a page by a lonely writer into living, breathing, real people.....even the people that lived long ago, or far into the future.


What I saw was a group of actors who didn't seem to care about working together; although they DID seem to care about getting their laughs; even if they had to go over the top for it.  And that laughter was more in abject embarrassment for the performer than it was actual good humor.  It felt like ninety minutes of a kind of strange roller derby of performers attempting to elbow each other out of the spotlight to take their moments.  And any relating they were doing to each other was based upon some invisible, earlier performance; certainly not the performance I was watching.

This is a special art form, born of the caveman acting out the hunt around the campfire; tempered by the Greek and Roman, fine tuned though several millennium of additions, subtractions, theories, methods and whatnot. 

It's more than a pretty face.

Through all of that performance that will long linger in my memory, I was visited by the voice of one of my first instructors who boiled it down to the only bumper sticker philosophy I could ever truly get behind:

"Love the Art in Yourself; and Not Yourself in the Art."

I shall go now, and do likewise.

Go thou, and do the same.

Thus endeth the messin'.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"O kind missionary, O compassionate missionary, leave China! Come home and convert these Christians!"*

Professor Jamie Raskin said it best: "When you took your office, you put your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; you did NOT put your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

And George Washington said: "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."

And of course, Article VI of The Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust in the United States.” And everybody remembers the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …"

All of this stuff comes up as I read a headline about the Republican front-runner THIS WEEK is trying desperately to convince people he's a "Pro Life" candidate. 

As if, "Pro Choice" means, "Anti-Life."
In Luke, Chapter 18, it is written that Jesus spoke this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this:  ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying,:  ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
May God Bless you, Tim Tebow.  But I hope that the Patriots drive you into the ground like a Lawn Dart. 
 I have money on New England, and need to render unto Ceasar....  
 Forgive this poor free-thinking sinner, using the brain God gave him.  I'll be back soon with more TALES OF INTEREST!**
*A quote from Mark Twain, in an essay titled, "The United States of Lyncherdom

**If you use an echo effect on this, it sounds really....well...less lame.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

In other dreams, I'm a VIKING.

It was an odd dream, really.

A combination of multiple places from my present and past, and friends and influences both here and gone.

The gist of it was that I was attending a concert, and was stunned to learn that it was a Harry Chapin concert.  And Harry left us in July of 1981.

Apparently (you know how dreams are, sometimes....you suspend disbelief and learn as you go) Harry didn't die on the Long Island Expressway, but had been hiding out for thirty years, biding his time until his comeback.

He hadn't aged a day since I first saw him in person in the Fall of 1980.

He did a concert in the lounge called The Cat's Pause in the basement of the Student Union of Culver-Stockton College.  He played all my favorite songs, just him and his Six String Orchestra.  It was good to hear that voice again.

Afterwards, he was the host of a sort of get-together....he was simultaneously giving away gifts to the underprivileged, and accepting donations to World Hunger Year.

And in my dream, he said this to me....."In order to do good things in this world, it's important to be alive."

The last I saw of him before I woke up, he was passing out gifts and working the crowd that had gathered.

I woke up with music in my head, and a strange longing in my soul. 

I played a few albums in the early morning hours of work, singing along to the Ipod, and Harry, laughing and crying as I remembered the first time I heard each song.

And yes, I wrote a check.  You can too, if you want.

Thanks, Harry.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Random information contrived to astound.....or......at least waste your time.

If you watched every episode of Law and Order back to back, you would be sitting in front of your television for 19 straight days.

If you watched every episode of The Playboy Club back to back, you'd be sitting in front of your television for either six hours, or until you required hospitalization to repair the eyes you attempted to rip out of your head.

If you watched every episode of Emily's Reasons Why Not, you would have wasted thirty minutes of your life.

If you bet $100 on Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby in 2009, you would have won $10,300.

If you bet $100 on Secretariat in the Belmont in 1973, you would have won $120 dollars.

Mine That Bird was 50-1.  Secretariat was 1-5.

One of my favorites:  If I had bet $1000 in July of 2007 that the Detroit Tigers would lose the Division Title on the day after the season ended, I would have $100,000.  But I would STILL be pissed about it.

And the odds of me hitting my head repeatedly against something solid and wooden is 1:1.


Must be Tuesday.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Resolve to Hope. Or Something Similar.

Okay, aside from the Ken Burns documentary on BASEBALL that I got for Christmas (and by the way, I do look most handsome in my Toledo Mud Hens jersey, thankyouverymuch), and my recent purchases of the first three seasons of THE MUPPET SHOW, I really should come up with some kind of game plan for the year.

I have a lot of friends that do this; and I admire them for it.  And, this year I go past a decade milestone (and you either know it or you don't...I won't mention it again until it passes....and I'll pass it cursing) I need to think about what I want out of this coming year.

Besides, the Incas or the Mayans or the weirdo in California that continues to throw darts at the calendar in order to Rapturate us have decided that this is it....2012 is the end of days.  So, gotta make 'em count.

I would like to travel to several theatres of my past.  I'm looking at a ten day trip that will take me to Clinton, IA, Evansville IN, Lexington, KY and Chillicothe, OH.
If I can't do that, I would like to go to Stratford, Ontario for a few days of Shakespeare.
I would like to do a play or two this year; there is one at the community theatre that sounds intriguing, but I would like to finish one of my own.
There is a new restaurant in OK that has promised me a sandwich.  It's enough to fly a reunion of old friends, and finally meet some people I've been conversing with for many years.
Two words:  Spring Training.  I would like to see the Tigers play in Florida this year.  I will settle for the Orioles.
Vegas at Thanksgiving.
Christmas with the family in Michigan.  I have a hankering for my Sister's shortbread.

Aside from the selfish desires, I would also like health and happiness for those I hold dear in my heart and memory; and also for those that seem to limp around me.

That's an inside joke.

So.  Here it is, the SECOND of January.

Off I go.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

There was more said in the silence than in any dialogue.

Within the Ipod of my mind, there plays a song by Jim Croce.

"Don't you know I had a dream last night;
You were here with me......"

And, if you've been a regular reader, you know that some of my best stories come with holidays and other milestones.

There was this girl.

Well, that's an understatement.  She was a force of nature.  She probably still is.

Somewhere down her particular road, she had stumbled on the secret to life that worked for her, and I believe it kept her warm and happy and filled with the idea that there was always, ALWAYS, adventure in the world.  And you were always invited to the banquet. 

All you had to do is step up.

And you know something?  That was a very attractive thing for a boy who never really took a chance.

But there was an intensity of the flame that she followed and basked in that I couldn't match; and even though I wanted to, REALLY wanted to.......I was afraid that the flame that sustained and supported and fueled her life would simply burn me to ashes.

But I'm an addict.  You know that.  And an addict can learn not to indulge, ignore the siren call of the all the things enjoyed but destructive to himself.....but the siren song is strong.  And lovely.  And desired.

I really wanted to trail along.  I wanted to be there with her.  So very much.

But it became clear to me that while she LIKED me, she LOVED the adventure, and eventually I would become passe', and I would be alone, as she walked into the sun.  The secret to life that she had discovered was hers alone, and even if I could share it, it would only be temporary; she seemed to make it clear that what we had was a sprint, and not a marathon.

So, it was not a question of missing her; it was a question as to WHEN to begin missing her.

I simply stopped seeing her.  Stopped calling.  Stopped leaving little notes where she could find them.  Stopped going to the places she would go.

And I escaped the fire.

But I was colder for it.

Of course, time has passed.  The sun has waxed and waned and the leaves have changed and fallen and the snow flies and melts and the rivers rise and fall and life moves forward as memory moves backward.

And the little red haired girl is missed.