Friday, April 27, 2012

Fuzzy clarity.

I woke up recently.  It was scheduled.  I always wake up a few minutes before the alarm clock; when I don't, it's a sure sign that something is very wrong and I take OTC medication and go back to bed until the Dreaded Lurgi vanishes.

It usually happens on days where I have no responsibility.  Dang it.

I used to take waking up for granted, really.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn't.  I'm never quite sure where the suggestion of immortality in youth becomes the wretched realization that the road does not, in fact, stretch into infinity.

As of late, I've been having some trouble with sleeping.  It may have been the diet of silly food at silly hours of the day and night.  It may have been that I wasn't taking the opportunity to exercise at all.  I was sloth-like and gluttonous, cursing the dark instead of lighting a freakin' candle.

One morning, early, on one of those days where I actually could sleep through the night, I woke up unable to breathe.

I mean, all the mechanics were working, nothing was blocked, but I was getting no air at all.  My throat was on fire and my lungs were expanding to max and collapsing to min and I was getting nothing but a strange kind of helpless wheezing.

I couldn't speak.  But I could think. 

They say that Air Force pilots are so well trained that in the event of an accident and the rapid decent of their vehicle, they will literally go into the ground at the controls, trying everything to fix the problem, at the risk of their own lives, with no thought of escape.  That's what I was doing.  I was trying everything to get air into my lungs and out again.

Eventually, it passed; but I had the rest of the dark morning to sit and think and wonder what the hell it was and how the hell to fix it.

Well, it was a kind of reflux; acid moving up and scorching the throat and vocal chords, leaving them temporarily paralyzed.  It passed, but it was a wake up call and I am now eating right and exercising and sleeping pretty well.

Living beats all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Putting the feet up.

I love used bookstores.  If you're a regular reader, you know that.

I love the way the bell tinkles when you enter the place; seriously, every used bookstore worth it's salt has a tinkly bell on the front door.  I like the way the floorboards creak as you walk through the hand-made stacks; the really fun bookstores have unique and want-able prints hanging on the walls.

And I love the smell of those places  They remind me of a big chair, a cuppa, and a soft rain falling on an early fall day.

I like them, because with rare exception, they are family owned businesses and there is a knowledge of all things biblio that each owner, clerk and cashier has.  You can talk at great length on all manner of subjects; I've always learned something.....

Of course, I paid for the knowledge; in the form of used tomes that now sit with honor upon my shelves.  The downside of these great places is that they know what they have; and they price things according to their worth.

Yes, I would like to own a hardcover edition of John D. MacDonald's THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY, which introduces Travis McGee.  But I don't want to pay 190 bucks for the privilege.

(That's where Salvation Army stores and Library sales come in handy; oh, the things I've found at Library sales......for a dollar a pound.)

There's nothing quite like finding that rare book you've always wanted to read, or own; and while I do not abhor paperbacks, I prefer the solidity of the hard cover, and the lovely dust jacket.  An old autobiography, written with purple prose and occasional embellishment of memory by some early American actor; the introduction of a standard character, like Cussler's Dirk Pitt, or Ian Flemming's Bond; the end of the run of a beloved character, such as Hercule Poirot.

And occasionally, if you're lucky, you find one autographed.  I have a collection of Murray Schisgal plays autographed by the author.

In the final analysis, it's true that men, for the most part, are not fond of shopping; we are "get in/get out" types (keep it out of the gutter, people!).  But I could spend hours upon hours perusing the stacks.....

So, a special thanks to the following bookstores for putting up with me:

John K. King's Books in Detroit, MI.
Joseph Beth's Bookstore in Lexington, KY.
Leon's Quality Books in San Luis Obispo, CA.
The late, lamented Border's chain.
The Exchange in Siesta Key, FL
Snowbound Books in Marquette, MI.
The late, lamented Copperfield and Co.'s chain.
221 Books in Los Angeles, CA.
WH Smith's in London.
The Book Rack in Mesa, AZ.

And the library sales all over the country.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thinking about riding the rails.

The traveling Jones is upon me again.

I have a hankering, as I approach the half-century milestone, to see some of the older places; the places I haven't been to in many years.

Of course, some of those places, those theatres, are long gone.

And when I think about it, I've outlived a LOT of theatres; which says something about my talent for choosing theatres with longevity.

But there are a few out there that still survive, and I would like to visit them again, breathe in the smells and see the sights of people walking on a stage I once trod, long before they were born.

Yes.  I said it.

And I think I popped something in admitting it.

I'm off for some ice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There is, of course, a subtle difference between "a bail out" and "BAIL OUT!"

I've had a series of days that can only be described as, "can't see past the end of your nose" days.

You know the kind of day I'm talking about; the kind of day when you're so wrapped up in the things that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to do, you barely have time for the things you NEED to do, and of course, you can't see far enough away from your own head to see the things you WANT to do.

I've had people say that such myopia is a sign of adulthood.

Forty percent of my psyche agrees with those doomsayers; the other sixty percent wants to punch-a dem in-a da crotch.

So, the child is still alive, still in the majority in my cerebral Senatorial Chamber, but sees the necessity for belt tightening until the adulthood crisis has passed.

And a thought occurred to me as I sat here, putting the thoughts together, that I wanted to share with you.

Back in the 80's, in those glorious days of Reagan, he did a speech for a group of high school students.  As I recall, he told the story that sometime in the Presidency of William McKinley, the head of the United States Patent Office suggested to the President that he shut the office down; in his opinion, everything that could be invented by man HAD been invented by man.

The story is apocryphal, of course, although I seem to recall that there was an idea floated in those early days of the last century, that eventually, our creativity and consequently our improvement as human beings must, as all things, end.

On days like today, and yesterday, and the day before that and for the rememberable past, I can understand that the treadmill that we invariably create for ourselves tax the reasonable parts of our brains so much that we inadvertently allow the creative parts of our brain to atrophy to the point that the only thing we can think is that favorite mantra of mine...."fire bad, tree pretty."

And when I get to stop and think about it, as I have today, it ENRAGES me.

Just because I've gotten older doesn't necessarily make it mandatory that I grow up.  Just because there are more days behind than ahead doesn't mean I have to throw all of my spare cash into a retirement account I'm not even sure (at this point) that I'll live to use.  Just because I live in beautiful, diverse, but largely hard-workng agricultural community doesn't mean there isn't room for something more than pseduo-professional creative arts.

Just because I have this small little soap box in the midst of a wide world of soap boxes doesn't mean I can whine and moan and bore you all to death with it.

Ooooh!  Half price Jelly Beans! you were.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pausing for Station Identification with thanks to Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In the quiet between the long night and the bright morning.

In the dark of the morning, the television news programs focus on some fascinating stuff.

I am curious about this film, BULLY.

Apparently, bullying amongst the young in this country has reached alarming levels.  But this is a topic that's never been easy to discuss.  I know I have a hard time discussing it.

I was bullied.  I'm sure, on some level, at some time in their lives, everybody has been bullied.

I can still remember the worst of it.  Dreading the walk home from school; knowing that no matter which route I took, they would be waiting.

Yes.  THEY.  Multiple HE.

The least of it was being spit on.  The worst of it was.....well.  And resistance simply prolonged the abuse.  And for some reason, children are creative in their abuse.  And tireless.  But eventually, they would go.  They would leave me.

And I would tell nobody.

Because you get two kinds of advice in this situation; you get fight, or flight.  One group telling you that you need to cultivate the spirit of defiance; learn to fight.  Ball up your fist.  Know where to hit and how hard.  Give as good as you get.  And the other group telling you that running is not cowardly.

I defied once.  They broke my nose with a solid right hook to my face.  I don't remember the punch being thrown, but I can still, to this day.....thirty six years later.....feel it.

But I lived through it.  Because there was more to me than they could take away.  And I was lucky in that regard.

But times have changed.  The bullies now have experience in Mixed Martial Arts.  The bullied have access to firearms.  And that mixture never ends well.  And when the dust settles, and the media gnaws the nine-day wonder to the bone, and moves on to the next thing......nothing has changed.

Because until everybody agrees on some basic rules of behavior, there will always be those that bully and those that get bullied.

The only thing that can possibly change is this:  If you sees something, DO something.  Take it upon yourself.  Insist on the set of rules.  Do right.

That's all I'm sayin'.

Yours Truly,

A Bullying survivor.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Historiclemo goes to Hollywood....if by "Hollywood" you mean Mandan, ND....

Last week, I received an email, a phone call, and a text message, all from different sources, and all telling me that I was wanted for a film.  A crew from Chicago was coming to this area to film a short, silent film on the last night in the the life of Meriwether Lewis, of the famed Corps of Discovery Expedition.

(They were the OTHER guys you saw in the Chris Farley film, "Almost Heroes.")

I answered the email, the phone call and the text, not necessarily in that order; and in no time at all, I was committed to the project, playing Lewis.

We began filming on Thursday morning.  I drove over to the local historical site (Fort Abraham Lincoln, famed for being the last outpost of George Custer before he went up the river and met his fate.)  There were eight of them; they looked tired from the drive from Chicago, and I looked tired from working all night.  They were young looking, which fit well because they were young.

Working on a film if you've never done it before is different from anything else in my experience.  Everything you were trained to bring from truth remains; but the things you were trained to tranmit at a certain volume now has to be very quiet.  One moment does not necessarily lead to the NEXT moment; the NEXT moment may come two days later.  And you need to be patient; they set it up, you get blocked, you run a rehearsal, you re-block and then you sit for an hour while all the lights and such get put into place.

I have a few observations on the experience.

This crew that came over from Chicago were some of the nicest people I've ever worked with.  They never referred to me directly as 'the talent'; they always used my first name.  They said 'please' and 'thank you' for everything.  They were incredibly civil to each other, even in times of great stress (as when they were scrambling around the roof of a fort in order to get a shot before the sun set behind a hill they hadn't counted on, or when a boat went by as they filmed the lovely Missouri.).  They laughed a lot.  And each of them were so good at their individual assignments it was like watching a ballet.

I think I got better as the days progressed.  The thinking processes were different, and it takes a bit of time to work the muscles into a kind of 'second nature' but it seemed to work.  The director and the cinematographer were complimentary, but they could lack from a fundamental pool from which to compare...or, they were too tired to tell me that I sucked.

I do prefer the stage.  But I do have a new-found respect for those that do that for a living.  But I do think they get far too much money for it.

Now, I'm back at the desk, for another twenty-four-plus hour day, and then to bed.

I am hopeful that the finished product is what they want.  I am not quite sure, however, if I wish to see it.  I don't trust my image on the screen.


How was YOUR weekend?