Thursday, March 29, 2012

The continuing story of the need for more light.

"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement."-Patricia Graynamore, Joe Versus The Volcano

I thought I understood that quote when I first heard it, all those years ago.  Come to find out, I had no idea that there was so much more to learn; so much more to be embarrassed by; so much farther we could slide down the hill as a society.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, with the full knowledge that my job entitles me to a bit more than the average knowledge of the ill-workings of the world, and the fact I am forced, almost Clockwork Orange-like, to watch dual news networks, battling for the hearts and minds of people who are either war-weary of the name calling, or the hopped up, ready-to-draw-blood types.

I swear to God, I shake my head sadly so often, people think I have Parkinson's Disease. 

Now, the last time I tried something like this, they were literally cheering in the streets.....I would like to think it was because I called for an International Day of Breath, so that we could all take a deep cleansing breath...but it was more because we went over to Pakistan and killed a guy.  But this time, I would like to propose something similar, and that's NOT a reason to go someplace and kill some other guy.

Can we please, PLEASE, stop justifying bad behavior by saying that the guy over THERE did it FIRST?

Could we PLEASE listen to the voice of our own conscience, and tell the video talking heads to go F*CK THEMSELVES?

Everybody...just go out today and do ONE THING....ONE FREAKIN' THING that doesn't involve your own self interest.

I've done mine.

Go thou.....and do likewise.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

See That Building?

When I was on tour the first time, back in the halcyon days of the mid-eighties, I lived for a couple of things; of course, you wanted a good audience, but we never seemed to lack for those...but what I really liked was when we had time to walk about any bookstore; new, used, didn't matter.

Did I mention it was the mid-eighties?  No smart phones, no CD, no the words of the late, great Peter Falk, "Television was called books!"

Because there was a LOT of time to read, my tastes became quite varied, and they remain so to this day...and by the way, you'll NEVER see me using one of those tablets.  The smell of the book and the sound of the page turning...and the bookmark.....they are things that can never be replaced.

One of the books I greatly remember was WORKING by Studs Terkel.  He spent a decade interviewing people about their jobs, and then he transcribed them.  And it was quite an education for a young man who knew nothing but believed the contrary.  And by the way, I still have the book.

And then they made a musical of it.  It actually works.  Kind of.  It was on Broadway for about fifteen minutes.  The music is good.  Solid.  There are several written by James Taylor, which he recorded himself on an album called FLAG, back in the late seventies. 

I recently came across the soundtrack on CD.  And I was fascinated to discover that Joe Montegna (from Criminal Minds) was in it.  And while there seem to be some ups (such as "Brother Trucker") and some real fun things, ("Neat to be a Newsboy"...just for the idea of holding out the word, "boiiiing."), there are some...well.....("I'm Just Moving").

But the finale......"Something to Point To."

I went looking for a version to put here....but they all lacked a certain quality of size.  Of pride.

And that got me to thinking.....

I'm sure I could go off for several pages on the necessity for the music in a musical to be finely acted, and that for the most part, I, personally, would sacrifice the quality of singing voice in favor of somebody who can act the sh*t out of the number.  And when it doesn't happen, I just want to kill the director.  But that's for another time, friends.

No.  Tonight, it's about Something To Point To.

I really NEED something to point to. 

Like a monument.

A testament.


Actually, I would like to have somebody point me to a corned beef sandwich.

All this writing and thinking and thinking and writing has made me hungry.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dancing in the ghost light.

I have developed a love of the audition ever since the food on my table did not depend upon the success of the audition.

I'll admit, it's been a while since I stepped on a stage for a gen-u-wine cattle-call, but the last time I DID do one, it was a lot of fun.....I think I've already told the whole, 'f**k it' story, so if you're interested you can look it up.

I did an audition last night, on the spur of the moment and a little by invitation....and it was quite fun.  The students up at the college are doing a festival of short plays, and my invitation came by text as I was leaving work and preparing for what can only be described as the longest, most deserved nap in the history of unconsciousness.

But most of those same students I have worked with in the past, and I like them.  And it satisfies both my long lost loves.....the stage, and the classroom.

I have a call-back audition tonight, and so I'll have a little more fun and see what happens.  Another thing that comes with the passing of time, and the acting thing becoming less of a vocation and more of a don't measure your value by the success and failure of it.  And you CERTAINLY don't put yourself in head-to-head comparison with others.

But it reminded me of one of those meme things....which I will play out to the end with the use of visual aids.....

Who I think I look like.....

Who I actually look like.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


An old correspondent of mine, a playwright from the Great Northwest, reminded me recently (via email) about a line he had written in one of my favorite plays......

"We become what we hate."

When I was younger, back when I first met the venerated playwright from the Great Northwest, I smiled at the line as it was read out loud.  Nice touch; good line.  But youth doesn't recognize actual truth, sometimes. 

The truth of the line has hit home with me, lately, as I fight a daily battle against becoming what I hate.  And the thought keeps ringing through my head......

Darkness cannot be fought WITH darkness.

Only light can win that particular battle.

But the war between the darkness and the light will always end in a draw.

Because you cannot have a light without a dark in which to shine it.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sometimes my life is Poco song.

I remember the Summer of 1988.

God, it was hot.

Northeast Missouri during the worst drought in 75 years, where the temps ran high as the sun was up and continued to scorch well into the night.  It rained on Memorial Day.....and didn't rain again until September.  The Mississippi went from the Mighty Miss to a stream you could walk across with five steps.  And the theatre housing I was living in did not have the air conditioning.

A few of us took to sleeping out on the deck at night.

I should mention I worked on a showboat.  But you can read about that in previous posts.

One day, during a break, the Artistic Director called me aside and asked if I had any teaching experience.  And, of course, I lied about how much experience I actually had, relying upon my experiences as a theatre director and a class or two I TA'd during undergrad.  But I DID have a Master's Degree, and everybody knows that such a degree is suggestive of the substantial amount of information you have contained in the cranium.

Well, to make a long story short, I culled together a resume, I met with the Dean of this small college in Northeast Missouri, and in as much time as it takes to tell it, I was an Adjunct Instructor.

And on a particular day in August, when the sun was not as brutal as it had been all summer, and with the hope that soon it would rain, I entered a classroom and faced my first classroom.

There is a kind of terror that comes with the moment when you realize that you don't know everything.  And that there are some things you cannot fake.  And sometimes, it's best to tell the truth.

So, I made it clear that I was new to the front of the classroom, and while they were getting something from me, I was going to get something from them, as well.

It worked reasonably well.  But it took me two more years before I actually started to feel comfortable in front of a classroom.  And another year after that to truly feel worthy of the assignment.

I've given my current profession five years.  It will be five years on Sunday.  Half of what I gave my initial teaching assignment.  And while I get by, and keep ahead of the seemingly endless wave of crap that reaches the shore every day, I don't feel comfortable in my own shoes.  Yet.

But I keep trying, because it's all you have, sometimes.

Of course......if another teaching position comes along......I'd be on it like a penguin on a herring.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The really fun thing about vacations when you work in my kind of employment is that when I do go on vacation, I shed the job like an ill-fitting shirt.  I don't watch television news programs; I only read the funny papers, and I don't answer my phone.

The drawback is that coming back is like walking into a buzzsaw.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hit The Ball and Touch 'Em All.......

Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL  Home of the Tampa Bay Rays (Spring Training)
The Game Starts at 1 PM.

"I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring... which makes it like sex. There's never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn't have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I'd never sleep with a player hitting under .250... not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there's a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I've got a ballplayer alone, I'll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. 'Course, a guy'll listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball - now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake? It's a long season and you gotta trust it. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball."-Annie Savoy, BULL DURHAM (1988)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Universe speaks in a whisper....

And I need a SHOUT!

I apologize for my intermittent silences; my "give a sh*t" meter has not been registering anything at all, lately.  I work, I sleep, I work, I sleep.

I was rejected for two jobs last month.

I didn't get rejected this much when I was an actor, where you usually eat rejection for breakfast.

But I honestly can't believe that I'm supposed to be doing this for the rest of my waking life.

But the Universe is surprisingly MUM on this subject.

Stoopid Universe.

So, I'm heading South for my annual trip to Florida; the Royal Request for company has been answered again....and it will include a portion of the meat that I loved in my youth that I can barely tolerate in my age (if ya know what I mean...), and a preview of what is to come from those Bengal Boys from Detroit.  Yup....this year, I get to see the Tigers play the Rays.

The Voice of Ernie Harwell will be echoing in my head, as it does at this time of year.

I shall be in touch as the spirit moves.  Perhaps I'll have pictures.

And if somebody hears from the darned Universe, write down the freakin' message and give it to me.