Friday, November 30, 2012

Be The Change.

Recently, a very good friend of mine put forth a question.  I will paraphrase.

"Why do we spend so much time focused on the things of earth, and not enough time with the things of heaven?"

And I was going to be snarky; but she is a good friend of mine, and I have a great affection for her.  And she's asked a serious question, and it deserves serious thought.

I think my original thought put me in the mind of my Grandfather, who is fondly quoted thusly:  "It is hard to remember that your job is to clear out the swamp when you're up to your ass in alligators."

My Grandmother had a different idea:  That this was Hell.  And we needed to live through this to get to that.

Does anybody wonder how I go to be like this?

Human history suggests (and yes, human history is as varied as the eyes that look upon and interpret it) that in that period of time where the Church was the ruling body of society, the idea was validated that our job on this earth was to prepare ourselves for Heaven.

And that included attending Church several times a day, working hard for just enough to sustain you and yours, and give generously to the Church.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Hard work and piety got you into Heaven.  Work hard here and your rest will come.

And that made the Church the moral center, the governmental center, and the educational center of the world.

And there was corruption.  Because power does that.
And imagination and creativity was frowned upon.....which would explain how Galileo wound up under house arrest for daring to state that the Earth was NOT the center of the universe.
And medicine was limited to fervent prayer, or leeches.
And women had three choices:  wife.  nun.  whore.

We've advanced past those days; and we've lost some things in the process.  But to my mind (as unbalanced as that may or may not be) the best thing we lost was the idea that God was a vengeful bastard.  That we didn't have to work ourselves to death in order to get to Heaven.  That the story of the Christ became more important than the story of Job.

And we have Art....for the Artist is touched by God.
And we have music....for music is the voice of God.
We have physics and medicine and sciences....and in those things, we better understand the mind of God, and our place in the universe created.

It is true that we are on this third rock from the sun for a very short time; and there have been many who have come before, and more importantly, many who come after.  And I would like to believe, that in my own small way I've touched lives that will extend past the end of my own.  And the stories of the way I lived....the laughs I provoked; the deep thoughts I shared; the gifts I gave as humble as they are...will comfort, or inspire, or serve as some kind of WARNING to those that survive me.

I have no idea if I'll make it to Heaven; but I know that not the end of the story.

But how we live HERE and NOW is the important part.

Because.....for all its tedious redundancy, for all its frustrating speed, for all of its loud, polarizing arguments......

There is beauty everywhere you look.

And even with its warts, I'll fight to stick around, even with the surety of Heaven.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is what we do.

We're winding down rehearsals now; a few to go before we put the thing before the payin' public.  It's coming in fits and starts...some are better prepared than others, and while in the early days of long silences between the words where the struggle to find the cue and the connection held sway, now people are picking things up that had been dropped, adjusting, taking the piece of the puzzle and cutting a new shape to get it to fit.

You know...the usual stuff.

I tell stories in the breaks of the great moments, and the great disasters of my previous career; and in the telling, the feeling returns.....

That feeling of belonging to a place.  Belonging to a group.

(And no, Audra, not a PACK.  A family...of which you are a part...)

But that group is long ago and far away....or, in some cases, simply far away.  I still have those connections created in the past....the family pieced together by necessity and location, bonded by something bigger...something a nod, or a smile at the right time.  Or a drunken dance in a kitchen at 2 AM.

I don't have that here, and I've been struggling to figure out why. 

I think a part of it is my nature...the people that are still hanging around, far away and still connected, put in some work to get close to me.  I am not, by nature, outgoing.  But they made the effort, and in giving, they made it easy for me to give back.  And for that mutual trust and honesty, they are still my memory, still drunkenly dancing in a kitchen at 2 AM.

Here.....I think I put on my intimidating shirt and do my job and people see that as a wall un-scale-able.  And I don't get a chance to open up, because I can't seem to make the time.

There are a few...and I'm grateful for those who have let me in, who let me share.

There is one I would give anything to have back, but I'm an idiot and I can't stop being one.

I'll close with a story....

I was recently doing a play with a group of talented young folk at the college.  They played around me, not quite sure to make of this aged doofus who answered questions with grace and intelligence and wit, but I was old enough to be their parents, and that's ALSO a wall un-scale-able.  But little by little we managed to find a field that we could both play in; sometimes together, sometimes not...but reasonable.

I am, in some cases, fond of structure.  I feel that since there's enough uncertainty when walking onto a stage where ANYTHING can go wrong, it's good to have as much on the ball as you can; and that's what rehearsals are for.  To plan for the inevitable misstep.  And I have a very low tolerance for people who are unprepared or who think that call times are just a suggestion.

Well, one of them pissed me off.  So, I did what I usually do; rather than rail and swear, I simply shut it out and said, "f**k it."

Well, during the opening night performance, there was an issue.  And I stepped in.  And I held a hand, and talked quietly and it got under control and all went back to normal.

That's to recognize and help to overcome the panic attack.

The person thanked me.  I nodded my head and said the only thing that ever made sense in situations like that....

"This is what we do."

We take care of each other.   Even when we're pissed at each other.  Like a family.

I could use a few more of those in the area.

But I need to be open to it.


Knowing where to step is the first step.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Have you seen THIS man?

Over this past weekend (Friday, as a matter of record), the crime buffs and conspiracy theorists celebrated the forty-first anniversary of the greatest unsolved crime in the history of American Rapscallionism.....

In the early evening hours of November 24, 1971, a fellow who called himself Dan Cooper jumped out of an Northwest Orient airplane with two parachutes and $200,000 in twenties.

He was never seen again.

There have been oodles of stories...people who have confessed on their death beds; copycats who teased at admission, but eventually took the secret to the grave; a stack or two of bills discovered buried in the sand in 1980; a parachute found deep in the woods.....and even a story about a man who used to money to become a Miss.

In its purest form, this is one of my favorite stories...and while I don't condone the behavior, you gots to admire the guys guts....jumping out of a jet on a rainy cold November night into the dark of the forest on the Washington/Oregon border takes a pair made out of brass.

Perhaps, one day, they will find those brass ones, and call an end to the speculation.

I have, in my files of unfinished works, a play about the skyjacking.  Every year at this time, I pull it out and look at the differences in style between the day I started it (1995) and the last time I added to it (2009).

I have a way with words; no so much with time management.

Maybe someday I'll finish it.....

In the meantime, I'll dream of a rainy night, and a lone individual staring up at the search lights and drinking a scotch rocks, smiling as only the devil himself can.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

From the Desk.

If you've never seen the Elia Kazan film, A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957), then you've been missing a truly excellent film, for two, it's a universal story of how our modern media corrupts absolutely, and two, it's sooooo cool to see Andy Griffith NOT be Andy Taylor.  Or Ben Matlock.

Instead, he's like a malevolent Will Rogers....or anybody currently on FOXNews.

I couldn't help thinking about that particular movie as I have witnessed the slow fade of that illustrious organization post-election.  The bloom is off the rose....actually, the bloom is off the carnation that is telling everybody over and over that it's a often, that people have actually begun to believe that it is, in fact, a rose.

I could go on and on (and have, in the past, referred to it) about the Theory of the Big Lie:  how you repeat a tremendous untruth over and over and often and often until the lie begins to appear as the truth, and pretty soon it's accepted as such.

Aside from the fact that a fairly recent study shows that regular viewers of FOXNews are not only uniformed, but in some cases ILL informed, another recent poll has shown a drop in their viewership akin to the Coyote falling off a cliff, leaving only that little puff of dust when he finally lands.

But the most telling statistic (from my limited research, mind you) is while they claim to be the number 1 news source in America....well.....they are, in fact, the number one CABLE news source...well, they have been regularly up until about two weeks ago.....but even their number one draw (O'Really) only garners about half of what the lowest rated news program on the networks garner.

It would seem to me that FOXNews began to believe their own hype, which as we all know is the death knell.....and that belief that they had the hearts and minds of the American people in their hip pocket made that very uncomfortable Election Night Coverage all the more painful to watch....

I think it's because the only truth of that night was the Mitt Romney DID win the election in the country he was campaigning in.  The mostly rich, mostly white, mostly male country.

I had hoped with a kind of schadenfreudan glee that this lesson would somehow be taken to heart; that FOXNews, as the Official Media Outlet of the GOP would turn that somewhat distorted mirror upon themselves and see just what Dorian Gray hath wrought.

But no.

The continued story remains that the 52.5% of the American people that didn't vote for them are STILL freeloadin', birth control demandin', free housin' and health care wantin' bums who probably want to take their guns 'cuz their homersectional.  Or sluts.  Or Lebanese sluts.

Or, they fell upon each other like the bottom feeding hyenas they are.

And of course, at the end of A FACE IN THE CROWD, with Lonesome Rhodes howling in the night for somebody to love him, the writer (played by Walter Matthau) states that he's down now, and there will be a temporary silence, and the usual amounts of mea culpa's, and he'll be back....though never at the level he was when he fell.

So.  The old saying is true.

You can catch the Devil, but you can't hold him long.

And in the end, you take a breath and hope that sanity trumps saber rattlin'.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I have random thoughts.

I am going out on a limb with the hope that the Hostess Bakeries aren't, in fact, dead.  I would miss some of their products.....I was fond of the Ding Dong and the Cupcakes.....not so much the Twinkie.  But I'm pretty sure that somebody will buy the manufacturing rights and we'll see them all again...perhaps with another name.

Hmn....what would be a good name for a golden tube of cake filled with cream?  Anybody wanna take a stab at it?

Sonny Elliot, a newscaster of great humor and excellent wit, and a mainstay in local television and radio news broadcasts through my childhood, passed away yesterday at the age of 91.  He was one of those guys who would draw on the weatherboard (old electronics at that point), and no matter WHAT, would always tell you the weather in Engadine, Michigan.

It wasn't until I read a bio of him recently that I discovered that he had survived the camps....because, as he often stated, "I was tougher than they were."

As we draw nearer to the Holiday season, I need to do some shopping, decorate the outside of the house in my traditional manner (I'm never ostentatious), and consider what kind of baked goods I will produce....I've already found places to procure the various candy elements....and I have, in fact, procured a box of Cadbury Flake and a sizable portion of Clotted Cream Fudge that became favorites of mine when I visited Cornwall back in '11.

Rehearsals continue on.  The book is down, for the most part, and I have three weeks until we open.  I'm cautiously optimistic that the lines will stay in my head, in the proper order and that I'll be able to decipher a cue when I hear it.  INSPECTING CAROL opens here in the Capitol City of the Northern State on December 6; it runs for two weekends.  You could come see it.  It's funny.

I don't talk specifics about politics, or my job.  I'm always worried that I'll: a) piss somebody off, which is never my intention, and: b) give something away that could actually get me charged with treason.  But I will say this......

I think, at this point, it LESS important to find out who said what or hid what, or who forgot to throw the security switch and place blame so we can force the people to believe that "The system works but the people fail" and spend MORE time tracking down and punishing the actual PEOPLE who killed our Ambassador.

I mean, it's simple.....stop trying to find the rock that fell out of the dam, and FIX THE LEAK.

The Tigers procured Torii Hunter.....if he stays healthy and thinks young, he may help out.  Victor Martinez should be back after missing all of '12 with an knee injury....and, it's about 93 days until Pitchers and Catchers show up in Florida....and 107 days until I walk the white beaches again....

Perhaps this year, I should see the Pirates play.....I don't have a Pirates jersey yet...and it would be way cool if I could find one of those flat-topped caps they wore back in the 70's.

No hockey yet.  Probably not this season.  Sigh.

I'm out....Peace!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Going to Pittsburgh.

It's Jim Rapport's Birthday today; Daddy Bear would have been 84 today if he had not been drafted into the Society of Harp And Halo.....but he is fondly remembered and sorely missed.

I was in rehearsal on Monday, making my way through a run of the middle of Act II of INSPECTING CAROL, pretending I knew my lines as well as miming getting the obligatory nut shot from Scrooge's tombstone......and my mind was wondering a bit.

And up popped a Daddy Bear story.

There are moments when the mind wanders; it can't really be called distraction, but it's just that the gray cells get ahold of an idea and that leads to something else and the next thing you know, several seconds, and in some cases SIGNIFICANT amounts of time have passed.

I'm reminded of a guy I worked with in an outdoor drama who was playing one of the Native Americans; and on one particular day, the guys decided they were going commando beneath the loincloth.

They were rebels.

Well.....this particular drama was a long run, and this particular guy was unused to a run longer than a couple of weekends.  He was sitting on the stage, in front of a fire pit, and there was dialogue going on around him, and his mind began to wander.....and it wandered to the night before, when he and a friend engaged in a particular event.....and one thing led to another....

I'll only remind you of the lack of covering beneath the loincloth, and leave it at that.

I think that particular story illustrates the point, but is not necessarily the point of my story.  I told you THAT to tell you THIS.

Daddy Bear used to call that momentary loss of concentration, "Going To Pittsburgh."  Of his actual opinion of that great Pennsylvanian city, I know not, but it is what it is.

And a small group of friends embellished upon the idea; that there was, in fact, a little bar outside of Pittsburgh...and THAT'S where you went.

The bartender was very open minded about the clientele, seeing as they were popping in and popping out, seemingly at random.  It was "Come As You Are"; meaning, whatever you were wearing is what you were, it was not surprising to see guys dressed as Centurions sitting next to Cross Country Truckers....and of course a few Hookers.

The drinks were cheap; and most of the time you didn't pay for them.

It was like most places that you really enjoy; it was comfortable and warm, but you didn't get to stay long so you really cherished the moment.

So, a few times today, as a tribute to the Great Man, I went to Pittsburgh.

I'm pretty sure that the security of the country did not, in fact, suffer.

Happy Birthday, Daddy Bear.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Naps. They're not just for mid-afternoon anymore...


It does seem like forever since I've been here.  The truth is, I haven't had all that much to say; and my philosophy has always been, "don't live out loud if you don't have anything to say."

Which explains my absence on Twitter.  Nobody wants to know what I had for lunch.

I'm currently in rehearsals for INSPECTING CAROL at the Dakota Stage here in the Capitol City of the Northern State.  It's a very funny piece.

I hope we can get more people to show up for rehearsals regularly.  I don't like rehearsing with ghosts.

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come notwithstanding.

I was gratified to see that the world did not end last Tuesday.

Now, hopefully, Ted Nugent can go back to singing, or hunting.  Kid Rock can continue to Rock.  Donald Trump can go back to Bankruptcy Court, and Victoria Jackson can continue living in her timeshare in the Land of Irrelevance.

These are serious times and we need serious people and your fifteen minutes are up.  His name is Barack Obama and he is the President.

I'll say no more on the subject, except this:  Bring me a candidate that speaks for the people, and I'll vote for him, her or it.  Party membership be damned.

Cuz any student of history can tell you what blind allegiance to a Party will get you.

Now, if you don't mind, we have a winter storm coming and I need a long winter's nap.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is it over yet?

The first snowfall up here in the Northern State has come and gone.

That first snowfall has always caused a kind of chemical change in my system; the end of times, so to speak.  The long days are now turning to long nights; and in the words of the House of Stark, "Winter is Coming."

But at the same time, the snow covering provides a fresh coat of paint to the landscape.

And we can advance our technology in directions unthought, but a snowman is still fun to build.

Rehearsals for INSPECTING CAROL continue; it's a fun little play, and honestly, I would've paid them to do this role, where I get to basically skewer the whole Scrooge thing......the second act of this play (if you haven't seen it) is giving the NOISES OFF treatment to A CHRISTMAS CAROL.  I couldn't help laughing through the blocking rehearsal.

I need more sleep and less food; or at the very least, better food and deeper sleep.

And I need the campaign to be over.

Good luck to all, and to all a Good Grief.