Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sitting by the Stream of Consciousness

The entertainments at The Cabin have always been 'old school.'

In my youth, it was the radio (mostly AM, and limited to old WJR and it's affiliates out of Detroit and the surrounding area...and mostly the voice of Ernie Harwell calling the Tiger games), and board games.  If you were truly bored, there were books.

And there were campfires, where the summer community of the River Road would gather, burn wood, and sing and tell stories.  The adults imbibed; the children s'mored.

But these are different days from the obviously gilded memories of my youth.

Books are still available, and I've been through a couple that have been sitting on the shelf for a bit:  a collection of stories by Stephen King published in 2015; and the latest from Michael Crichton, who continues to write great stories even while being dead since 2008.

But there are also DVDs.  My Father caved in the late part of the last decade, and introduced a television to the main room; simple, plain, and with the use of the antenna, he gets a couple of stations and he was fine with that.

I provided a small, no-frills DVD player.

And when I travel to this place, I bring a collection of things that I have purchased sometime in the past, or old favorites that will play into my feelings of nostalgia.

Among some of the choices on this trip.....some episodes of NIGHT GALLERY and FATHER TED, the HORATIO HORNBLOWER miniseries from A&E, Several BBC SHAKESPEARE comedies, and the ENTIRE run of SCTV NETWORK 90.

I'm watching some the last one now.

And mixed in with all the laughs (it holds up pretty well over the decades), and all the memories of sitting in a living room in the early 80's, with a pizza and a couple of friends, laughing our assess off and not missing Saturday Night Live AT ALL....there was a bit of sadness and anger.....

Twenty three years since John Candy's passing.

We have been deprived of that particular joy for over a generation.

Yes, by now, he'd be pushing 70; and who knows what kind of movies he'd have made....hopefully, they would have been better than CANADIAN BACON and WAGON'S EAST.

But I miss the John Candy from that old television program from the CBC and then, from NBC.  I miss Johnny LaRue and Dr. Tongue and The Guy With The Snake On His Face.  And all those spot-on impressions.  The brilliant quality of the scripts, at the time eclipsing that of the SNL.


I may actually miss the watching the program, rather than the program itself.  Those halcyon days of college with two guys named Michael and Pete, laughing our asses off over pizza and liquids...late into the night.

I miss those guys.

And I'll miss this place, this old cabin in the woods, when I pack up and leave.  But I'll be back; nothing ever keeps me away for very long from the cedars and the river and the silence.

But there are promises to keep.

And miles to go.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

See Any Resemblance?

A week or so ago, I was partaking in some concession at the ballpark (I have these really cool half-season tickets, that provide free food for the first five innings of the game) and I wound up riffing on a theme with one of the attendants, who was apparently impressed with my gift for the random gab.

"You remind me of Robin Williams, but I bet you've heard that before.  You kinda look like him."

I thanked him for the compliment; for it was a good one.  And I smiled, took my edible swag and headed to my seat behind home plate to watch the Bird Boys play host.

The thing is...the minute he said it, a wave of melancholy washed over me, and I was tossed upon the Sad Reflection Beach.

Aside from the apparent similarities in our delivery, which for the normal folk of the Capitol City of the Northern State must seem a bit wired-and-weird, there is one thing Robin Williams and I shared.

Our Birthdate.  His in 1951 and mine....several years after that.

I enjoyed his work immensely, even the stuff that didn't work for him.  Yes, I liked POPEYE, and I like GARP.  And I even liked BICENTENNIAL MAN.  The suspense stuff, I could take or leave....and some of my favorite moments of BARON MUNCHAUSEN were in his uncredited turn as the King of the Moon.

But I am haunted by BEING HUMAN.

It's a movie of slow moving vignettes; Williams plays a man in five different time periods, and as you continue to watch, you realize it's the same soul, moving through time, making the same mistakes as he tries to grow.  He once said that, "What's right is what's left after you doing everything else wrong."  I'm certain that is the prevailing theme of BEING HUMAN.

The guy could go on a frantic riff about anything you could name; his first album, REALITY.  WHAT A CONCEPT, made me laugh out loud when I was in college, and continues to do so to this day.  His mind worked differently than anybody I have ever seen or met, and he could make a stone laugh.

But the portrayal of a man who tries so hard to be brave, to do the right thing, and falls short each time is heartbreaking; and you see it in his performance.  It seeps from every pore.

To quote Shakespeare, specifically from JULIUS CAESAR,

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man."

I was sorry to see him go.

I believe that my actual online response to the news was, and I quote, "AHH, GODDAMN IT!"

So, let me take this opportunity, on the day after, so say, "Happy Birthday, Robin Williams."

You are missed.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Let us talk of uniformed men, and leather gloves, and straight white lines in brown dirt...and green grass under a yellow sun.

Before the world turned upside down back in December, and provided me with a few great stories but few good opportunities, my Brother-In-Law and one of my Nephews and I spoke of the new baseball team that was taking up residence here in the Capitol City of the Northern State.

The newest member of the Northwoods League; a conglomeration of teams from around an area stretching from Iowa to Michigan and up into the Great White North, which was named by contest as the Larks.

And of course, their playing field known as The Nest.

The three of us decided to participate in the form of Season Tickets; actually, Half-Season Tickets.  The season begins in late May, and runs until the middle of August....the teams are made up of college students, the crème de la crème of the Collegiate Baseball World, and based upon the schedule (the Larks, for example, have one day off in June) they must feel that they died and went to baseball heaven.

So...we bought five seats for seventeen games (half the home games) behind home plate; and in that deal comes all the food we can eat.  So, the Larks serve me dinner seventeen times this summer.

The first game was May 30, here at The Nest.  It was a pitcher's battle, with each one playing well into the late innings; the Larks pitcher (ironically named Byrd), gave up two hits, no runs and fanned 10 before they pulled him in the 7th Inning....they have a very strict pitch-count rule, apparently.

The Larks tied the game 1-1 in the late innings, and in the bottom of the 9th, a line shot just down the left field line, just out of the reach of the diving fielder, gave the Larks the win, 2-1.

The joy that erupted out of that dugout was infectious; the crowd stood and roared, clapping and stamping their feet, voices going hoarse as the final ray of sunlight disappeared into the western prairie.  Fireworks followed, filling the night sky with color and the crowd headed to the parking lot, in expectation of a successful summer.

They dropped the second game, and won the third.  We attended the third game, and it was back and forth, finally decided in the 7th inning by wonderful heads-up base-running; two runs score on a wild pitch, allowing the bullpen to throw enough smoke to seal the deal.

As of today, the team is 2-2, and playing tonight in a small town in Minnesota.  We attend again on Monday, and I may sending out more than is coming in, but by GOD I love this game.

And I especially love this game when it is played by young men that play simply for the love of it.  'Small-Ball' is the word:  Dying Quails, Ground Balls With Eyes, the Hit and Run and the Stolen Base.  And WOODEN BATS.

Runners on First and Third, One Out, One Run Down.....the infield is in and the count is full.  The pitcher kicks; the world turns and the ball flies. 

And the world holds its breath for the sound; the glorious sound.

Play Ball.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Taking on the Red Eye.

So, the temperature has been up and down, and that usually means one thing for me....

A person can develop a cold.

And when I say cold, I mean a stupefying, fill every cavity of your head and chest with crap, dizziness inducing monster that turns me into a freakin' baby.

So, I've been downing all manner of stuff in order to kill it.  No luck.

And yesterday, I arose to my right eye as red as the devil.

Now, for those of you who haven't been keeping up, six months ago I had a couple of surgeries on my eyes.  Cataracts had made it impossible for any prescription to work effectively, and with the really good government health care, I took advantage and had the lenses in both eyes replaced.  The first one, the right eye, was completed in early October, and in late October, the left eye was completed.

It's not a bad surgery, as they go....I was a bit leery of people putting needles and scalpels near my eyes, but I had a good surgeon and the surgeries went very well.

But the day after they completed the left eye, the right eye took a turn for the worse; I developed a staph infection in my eye, and it was dangerously close to the incision that they made to replace the lens, and if it had gotten in to that cut.....all sorts of bad could've happened.  Worst case.....I coulda done a remake of Columbo.

But my surgeon stepped up, and after a huge amount of antibiotic and several eye drops every hour of every day, the infection was defeated.

But I have nightmares of the morning I woke up with an eye as red as the devil, and the inability to see out of it...and the trip to the emergency room and all the gloom and doom that accompanied that early morning...before salvation was achieved.

So, waking up yesterday and seeing that eye like that again....well, it as all I could do not to vomit.

All is's a cold.  And the resulting stuff in the sinus cavities behind the eyes made for one seriously bloodshot eye.  But a liberal dose of eye drops and things are well.  And everything is functioning normally.

Well, my lungs are coughing up gunk.  And my nose is Rudolphian.  And I'm acting like a baby.

But other than that, things are cool.

How's your day going?

Monday, April 24, 2017

I have supped full of theatre, and theatre-like things.

I enjoy the weekends when I can involve myself with some theatre.

As I've mentioned on several occasions, there is theatre art in this Capitol city of the Northern State; mostly of the amateur variety, and I mean that in the specific definition of the word.  No money is changing hands, just a love for being in front of an audience.

Yeah, they do have a 'Broadway' season; touring programs.  I can't for the life of me figure out who's making the choices, of course....I would rather see a touring version of SOMETHING ROTTEN than another tired old re-run of ANNIE.  And I would prefer to see LA BOHEME than another tired re-run of RENT.

That aside, there is a lot of interesting things to see in the City-Squared, and though it's a bit of a drive, this past weekend was worth it.

I sat through a matinee performance of THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE WATSON INTELLINGENCE, performed at a very lovely space; in the same neighborhood as the famous Fitzgerald Theatre, home of the famous Prairie Home Companion.  The play is....well, it's a interesting piece; it transcends time, the line between fiction and reality, and just when you think it's going to fall flat, it comes together to make a kind of sense that doesn't necessarily resound, but haunts.

Also got a chance to sit in on an evening at ComedySportz; a fun little improv theatre.  Good house, some decent performers....laughed out loud a lot, which I rarely do when I'm alone.

I also got a chance to sit in on a performance from The Red Throated League, an off-shoot of the Sherlockian Society to which I belong; they do radio theatre with all the bells and whistles.  They do it regularly....once a year or so.  It was fun to watch the audience engage completely with this reader's theatre thing; the true visual entertainment is to watch the sound effects table.  Marvelous work.

And in an incredible lack of foresight, I neglected to check the Tigers' schedule, and failed to notice that they were playing in town this past weekend....I really need to keep my eyes more open to that kind of thing.

And I walked around a huge Mall, which is pretty interesting...from an overwhelming mercantile perspective.

And now, back to the work at hand....

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And when something is remembered, and you have nothing better to write about....

I remember this guy I worked with one summer at an outdoor drama in Kentucky.

Don't look for it; it's been gone for awhile now.

The outdoor drama; not Kentucky.  Kentucky is still there.  It's that lovely place you get to see after you leave Ohio.

That has to be the earliest digression in my history.  Moving on.

This was one of those guys...nice enough fellow, of course, but his level of friendliness walked right up to the sincerity line, and often he inadvertently stepped across the line, into creepyville.  He was a binary in the company; you liked him, or you didn't. 

He was, by far, the worst understudy I have ever seen in my life.

Understudies in the non-union, outdoor drama world are a reasonable necessity; every lead role had one, made up of one of the actors playing the supporting roles.  And usually, those minor roles are well prepared to take over on short notice, and look hopefully forward to the opportunity.

Well, a couple of times I had an understudy that would literally look stricken at the idea of going on for me...I've had my share of injuries, and if I ever twisted an ankle or accidently set my head on fire, that understudy was there to make sure I was alive, coherent, and ready to go back on the stage.

This guy I'm talking about?  He was understudy to the lead.  The lead was the guy who's freakin' NAME was in the freakin' TITLE of the freakin' PLAY.  Historical figure.  Big as life.  Absolutely necessary to the movement of the plot.

I don't think the guy could've found his understudy script for a regular rehearsal, let alone a last minute fill-in.

Last minute fill-ins are...exhilarating.

I was playing one of those minor roles, in the early days of my career, and earning extra money doing interpretation for the tourists in the fort that was right next to the theatre; a replica of the original fort, with all sorts of historical relevance...and I was in-between tourist groups when I heard a voice from over the wall between the fort and the theatre.

It was the stage manager.  There'd been an small accident, and I was going on.  That night.

And after that little bombshell, a copy of script came sailing over the wall.  Just to make sure.

I knew the role; I'd studied.  I was a professional.  Didn't covet the role, of course; I don't like actors to get hurt, or quit, or get fired.  But it was part of the job and I did it.  And when it's a one-shot, it's fun...for everybody.  The actors you're playing with get a different interpretation to play off of, and the other company members find places around the set and stage to watch, to see what you're gonna do. evening, as the sun is sinking, and Act I is closing with a battle-to-the-death between the good guy and the villain, a slight slip of the knee and good guy goes down with a very large cut in his forehead.  Pretty big.  You could see it from space.

He was a pro: he finished up, got off stage, came into the dressing room, all the time saying that it was nothing, it was a scratch, get him a butterfly bandage and he'll be fine....and then he looked in the mirror.  And immediately requested a ride to the hospital.

Head wounds realllllly bleed.

Anyway, he went off to the hospital, and the understudy was thrown into the costume, and anybody who had words with him went to quickly run them so that there would be a comfort level.

No comfort to be found; this guy knew almost nothing in the script.  I'll give him credit, he gave it the old college try, but pages of dialogue were being dropped.  He knew some of the pivotal stuff; the solo stuff...but there was very little of that.

So.  A bunch of actors, willing to murder this guy because they just made their jobs that much harder because they have to carry the lazy bastard through the second act....and we did.  Barely. 

We did a forty minute second act in 25.  I was the narrator character for that one, and I was doing a LOT of improvising dialogue to cover all the things that the lazy bastard dropped.

The crowning glory?  I remember this guy saying, 'well, that went pretty well, all things considered!'

I lost track of the guy after that summer; but I still have some very good friends from that cast, from those times.  I don't miss him at all, but wish him well.  I'm sure he's working some cool gig, teaching the up-and-coming actors the craft.

Which explains the occasionally sorry state of the American Theatre.

The weather is warmer now, the sun is setting later, summer is right around the corner, and my mind imagination returns to those halcyon days in the outdoor amphitheaters.

And I miss them.  Very much.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I'm not sure if it's flying, or just a respite before the controlled crashing.

I remember hearing a story, may have been a story on a television show, it may have been one of the late night bar-ramblings...or it may have been at one of the many airports I've found myself in, from time to time.

The story is about pilots who are new to flying on instruments alone; and how, when they fly into the clouds, they have to rely upon that one instrument that will tell him/her that they are flying level.  And they make an adjustment.  And another adjustment.  Just a tweak here.  And a tweak there.

The number of pilots that come out the clouds completely upside down is astonishing, apparently.

I know how they feel.

I've written things in the past...I mean, besides here.  Little sketches, here and there.  The occasional radio script.  Usually adaptations of some other medium, which is like getting a push as you begin to roll.

This was different. 

Of course, the character is well established.  But putting that character into a new situation, and using all of the original material in that new seemed difficult.  It felt like I was juggling cats; you need to keep them all in the air, not hurt them, and not get hurt yourself.  Or, keep the story straight, do not destroy the integrity of the original character, and don't beat your head against the table so as to cause concussion.

At any rate, I finished a rough draft on the first of April.

And now, I feel a little like that first-time pilot on instruments.


And upside down.

I gotta get this thing outta my hands for a while.

But in the midst of all the crap in the last four months....there's a victory in actually finishing it.  Good or bad, it's done.

I will rest for a bit, and start the DB Cooper thing.

And by the way, my admiration of the friends who have made a living doing this just exponentially grows.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Random Stuff....

Three months of unemployment.

A dozen applications; a couple of interviews; and a lot of....shall we say....skeptical glances.

I realize that my outside doesn't match my inside; my brain tells me that I'm still running with the wolves; but my outside reads like I'm sitting with the doughnuts.  And I can't get anybody to see that I'm not interested in what I've done; I'm trying to find something that I would find interesting to do; and that includes making coffee or sandwiches.

For those of you that know me, you know that I'm not overly proud in that regard; I do what comes up, without judgement and at the top of my game.  Doesn't matter if it's protecting the flying public or making a foot long meatball sub.

So....thing on hold there, temporarily. 

And yeah, I've come a long way from laying on the couch, bouncing back and forth between relief and terror.

By the way, speaking of terror:  we really need to stop using the word "Terrorism," or any of the variations; because in the words of Indigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Terrorism is violent, and seeks to coerce a group of people or a government to change a position.  But we as Americans tend to expand that definition to 'anybody that does something that we disagree with.' And, at the same time, we contract the definition to only include groups that don't look like a majority of the GOP (think in terms of a ream of copy paper).

A Pakistani shoots up a bar in Orlando and it's terrorism.
A white guy shoots up his place of employment, and it's a social tragedy.

And all it takes is somebody to say that somebody said, "Allahu Ackbar" and we're off to the races.

And just because ISIS claims responsibility doesn't make it true, or terrorism.  ISIS will claim responsibility for anything that gets them in the media; they're basically an Evil E Network.

ISIS makes shit up.  I always thought there was a guy sitting in Syria, with a cell phone that he knew was bugged by every security network in the free world, making up stories and calling people to share them, like some awful 21st Century Crank Call....basically to impress his buddies who are in the room, hanging out.....

This would be the only explanation for the idea of the 'body bomb.'  I'm pretty sure Ahmed watched a DVD of THE DARK KNIGHT, and called up a friend.  And then laughed and laughed and laughed as the Intelligence community and the media ate it up.

In other news...

BASEBALL.  It's hard to get fired up when snow is still falling, and I haven't had my taste of the live action this year as I've had in the past, but it all rolls out tomorrow and there's always something magical about it.  The sound of the bat on the ball....the rise of the sound from the crowd...the yells of the concession people......the organ music (I'm old school).....and the memories of the old Gods...

Kaline.  Cash.  McLain.  Lolich.  Horton.  And a manager named Mayo.

'Cuz I'm a Tiger fan.



Oh, and just remember....there is nothing that terrifies a political figure so much as a group of people chanting, "Your Last Term!"

It makes them start to see clowns in the sewer drains.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blighter's Wrock

There's a line from a song by one of my favorite Folk singers, Stan Rogers; it's off of an album called TURNAROUND, and the title of the tune is called Try Like The Devil......

....demons on my shoulder,
Smiling to show me the way.....

There's one for ambition,
And another for greed;
Here's a big one,
He's a drunkard,
But the easiest to feed;
It takes a strong man to ignore them,
And a rich man to drive them away.....

We all have these, right?

Mine have been screaming at me, the closer I get to finishing a particular project.  I write, I edit, I rewrite, and I log off thinking that it's not bad, and a long back in the next day thinking it's a load of badly written crap.

I've never been able to wrangle the demon into silence; and I've never finished this project.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dreaming of Baker Street on a drive to Minneapolis.

A year or so back, I found myself a member of a group in Minneapolis called The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota.

No, it doesn't really have anything to do with exploring; and you don't have to be Norwegian.  But their meetings take place in Minnesota; usually in St. Paul.

It's a Sherlockian Society.

As most of you know, I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  And have been since I was about 14.  The same year that Benadryl Cumbersmash was born.  And Johnny Lee Miller was only 4.

In the summer of 1976, my Father decided that I was going to do some reading*, and he assigned me a book, TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, by John Steinbeck#.  I hated it as only a 14 year old boy could.  And so, after berating me a bit for my lack of patience, he assigned A STUDY IN SCARLET.

Cue the trumpets; I was hooked.

Of course, it had to a fandom kept mostly to myself; 14 year old boys that I knew had no interest in fictional characters, unless, of course, they were named Starsky or Hutch.  But that was okay; I had this thing to occupy my time, for here were more stories to read.

As I discovered as I moved on, there were movies with a guy named Basil, and a television series with a guy named Jeremy Brett, and eventually, pastiches written by everybody under the sun, and plays, from every time period you could name.....

Here was a guy who used his BRAIN.  Who could, simply by looking at someone, discern details that seemed like magic.  And he used these gifts to do right.

It's no wonder that a 14 year old geek, who had no physical gifts but a top-notch brain, become a life long fan.

I got to play the character in '00, in a theatre in California; it was a kind of heaven.  One review stated that I was, "embodying the character, rather than playing him."  I should have quit right then, called the career a success, and moved on to washing cars for a living.  Or something.  Because it was never going to get better than that for me, ever.

I have a large collection now, of books, and dvds and memorabilia; a signed photo of Jeremy Brett, a pipe inherited from my Father, a hat purchased in London at the only Museum dedicated to a fictional Character...and yes, I spent a glorious afternoon there......

But some people spend their afternoons as LEGOLAND and nobody bats an eyelash, so don't stare at me, buddy.

And my fandom of the Great Detective was like a gateway to others.....Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, J J Marric's Inspector Gideon, Ellery Queen, Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael (as well as Umberto Eco's Friar William of Baskerville in THE NAME OF THE ROSE), and all the 'detective fiction' from Wilkie Collins (THE MOONSTONE) and Poe (RUE MORGUE) to Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.

So, every so often, I go over to Minneapolis on a weekend and sit in a room and talk for several hours about a specific story with a group of like-minded individuals, and they marvel at the fact that I travel a long distance to do so.

I do it so I feel that sense of belonging that has long been missing.

Well, and the Mall of America.

And the Park Square Theatre.

But mostly the Norwegian Explorers.

*My Father insisted that he assigned me THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, but I'm sure it was SCARLET; he also assigned me Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER, though he swore it was HUCKLEBERRY FINN. 

#STILL haven't read this one yet.  But I did inherit it, so there's hope.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spinning like a Random Top...ic.....

I cannot bring myself to write anything about the industrial strength swamp that is the current political situation.  I just can't.  I'd like to say that it is just too easy; the fact of the matter is, there's just too much on the social networking sites that to add to it seems redundant.

And I'm not all that interested in Awards shows, so that topic is out; except to say this:

Nate Parker, writer, director and star of BIRTH OF A NATION, was accused, arrested and acquitted of a sexual assault that allegedly took place in 1999.  He and his movie were vilified in the press, and social media, and a fine film disappeared.

Casey Affleck settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, where he physically coerced a woman to sleep with him, and when he didn't, verbally assaulted her and generally behaved like a privileged asshole, and was given an Oscar.

I don't see much of a difference between the two; except that one got hosed. 

And I didn't see any of the films nominated; I did notice that most of the films nominated were released after October.  And mostly in LA and NY.

 Baseball started this week.

I think fondly of those vacations I took to visit my old man down in Sarasota; and the arguments we would have about who's turn it was to buy the tickets, and who was supposed to supply the dogs and suds.  I would like to thank the Tigers, the Pirates, the Orioles, the Twins, the Braves, the Red Sox  and the Rays for the enormous fun.

Also, both the Pirates and the Orioles have top-notch Grapefruit League facilities.

I'm not going this year.

Still no job.  And no prospects.  It's been 69 days.  The longest I've ever been unemployed.

It was easier to find a job when I was forty.

It's hard now.

Apparently, I'm overqualified to make coffee.

And, that's about it.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I wasn't meant for......

There's an old story about a man who goes to a doctor, claiming that he couldn't feel anything.

He found no joy in his life, his job was unfulfilling, and each day just plodded along.

The doctor said, "I've got just the thing for you!  The Greatest Show on Earth is in town, and they have this clown, Grimaldi...and Grimaldi could make a statue laugh!  If you're tired of Grimaldi, you are tired of life!

The man smiled a sad smile.

"You see doctor," he said, sadly, "I am Grimaldi."

I heard that story when I was fourteen.

And there have been, in my life, several quintessential moments that felt like the proverbial punch in the stomach.  Times when it seems like everything around you shifts suddenly to twelve inches left, and every single cell in your body screams.

I can actually remember the first time it happened.  The death of Charlotte, in E.B. White's terrific novel of friendship and acceptance.  My third grade teacher read it to the class through the winter into the spring.  That moment jarred me.  I felt it, keenly.

Standing in the middle of the Ripley's Museum, the world changed.  Or, more importantly, my perception of it changed.

And that's how my self-assessment as a Court Jester with a broken heart began.

I have served an important purpose, I think.  I learned from everything, I saw deeply, spoke passionately, cheered the world around me, tried to see all sides of a story, to get to the real story.

Became an alcoholic, became more introverted, and more often than not, went home alone.

Diogenes would be proud, I think.

Sun will come up in the morning, though, I bet.......

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sometimes, You Just Cannot.

A few months ago, a single three word sentence came across to me via a social media account.

Hello, (my name).

And it was kind of like that Hitchcockian special effect, where he pans the camera back, but zooms the camera in....everything is moving, but the focus is stationary.  I always thought that time travel would look like that.

I also thought that time travel would cause the traveler to spend the first five or ten minutes after completing the journey to throw up, and drink copious amounts of water....because it HAS to be like drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (which is defined by the great Douglas Adams as: "having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.")

That's what it felt like....running full speed backwards to the Fall of 1984.

Things had gone horribly wrong about that time....and it really took me about eight years to right the ship.  I was drinking a lot.  I was ignoring responsibilities.  I was desperate for something to grasp on to; something to give me the focus I needed to find True North again.

Yeah.  I know what you're thinking, and you're right.  I know that.  NOW.

And everybody has to go through an idiot phase, and this was my time.

And the person who sent the three word message to me was something I tried to hold on to.

Have you ever been in a relationship that you thought was a Relationship, but it turns out it was not so much a ship as it was an inflatable boat, and you were alone in it and the person you thought was in it with you was actually removing the air from the inflatable boat, and chumming the water?

And I kept going back.  Time and again; through all the broken promises and half-hearted vows and hollow flattery.

I'm shaking my head just thinking about all of the wrong, wrong, wrong things I did to myself and others, based upon this, tunnel-visioned, self-destructive....mistake.

I have tried since the moment I woke up on my front porch in January of 1993 (temperature below freezing) with the last taste of vodka on my tongue and the first taste of "I actually DO want to live" running through the little gray cells, to be a better person.

I strive to look at all sides of an issue, reserving the right to knee-jerk first before settling into analysis.

I strive NOT to define people by the worst thing they ever did.

I try to forgive the real-or-perceived wrongs done to me.  And like an organ transplant, sometimes it doesn't take.

So.  The person who sent me that three word message, in a significant way, made me a better person.  Of course, not right away....I still went through nine years of self-destructive self-loathing, and I carry that with me as a reminder (in a little jar on my desk, marked: Ashes of My Former Self.)

And, as biology tells us, every cell in our body is basically renewed every seven years, so by the time my sobriety came along for good, I was a totally different person, physically, than the one I was when the damage was done.

So.  Person who sent me the three word message, I say thank you.

And don't ever contact me again.

I can forgive myself for the foolish things I have done; and I intend to do that, one of these days.

And I don't forget them.

And I'll never forget you.

And I will never forgive you.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I went down to the Crossroads, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

I often wondered, and often heard in my head (in the voice of Morgan Freeman), "Oh, Lord, when's gonna be our time?"

I don't really wonder about that so much anymore.

Because I've had my time; and I spent it the way it was to be spent, based upon circumstance, and need, and courage.

I was a teacher, and an actor, and an ice cream maker.  And for nine soul-sucking months, I was a retail guy at the Mart.  I was always running into Wal's.

I often wonder why I spent a certain amount of time (not an inordinate amount, mind, you, but the standard, average-human-being type amount) wonder if I had more courage, would I have gone to the Big City and thrown the dice?  If I had more forward thinking, would I have paid more attention to the things I did as a teacher, in order to write a better resume?  If I had the right words, would those that left stayed?

It's a nice bit of nostalgia, I guess.  A bit of time walking down Amnesia Avenue.

But in my youth, I took it very hard.  I blamed everybody and everything but myself.

I'm much better now.

The truth is, it hasn't been a failure, by any measurement.  I have a bank account, and retirement savings (as if), and a home and a family.  I've had a job, in one form or another, for my entire adult life, with the exception of the last.....let's see.....57 days.  I've kept the family fed and clothed and insured.

I don't do the acting thing anymore.

Not professionally, and not in the amateur, either.

It's interesting; when I worked professionally, it was tiring and I thought on occasion that it was a stupid f***ing way to make a living.  I loved the rehearsal process, putting it together and making it work...the collaboration....and, the performances were good, too; you sleep late, you show up, you work for several hours, you go home.  It's a pretty cool living.

But it's for the younger, apparently.  One day I turned around and I didn't know anybody in the world anymore; the phone wasn't ringing as much; and the callbacks that at one time took all evening into the early morning were done by the 10 O'clock news.

I found myself doing more and more coaching in the hallways outside of hotel rooms, for the youngers who were just starting out, flailing and full of life and energy. 

And I was running on empty.  Full of memories, but low on fuel.

Your talent level is always dependent upon other people's opinions, but I always considered myself on the high side of average.  Think of it as not being able to set the world on fire, but knowing where people keep the matches......

And I tried the community theatre thing, I did.  The timeline was short; I was on hiatus when my career ended in the fall of '03, and did not step onto a stage until about 2010.  I met a couple of like-minded souls and enjoyed both the process and the product.  So, I did a couple of things, until I could no longer sustain the attention, and I retired again in 2015.

I don't really feel welcome in the community here.  I don't think I ever did feel all that welcome; and it's understandable; for example, the last audition I walked into, I watched every man in the room literally deflate.  One actually made a sound that I interpreted as, "well, there goes THAT."  And it wasn't the first time I saw that happen.

On the flip side, I was told, flat out, after my 'debut' in 2010, that I could have any role I wanted.

I hated that.  If people know that, they won't want to work with you, they'll resent you.  And hell yes, I feel the resentment every time I walk into an audition space.

I'm halfway home.  There are more days behind me than there are in front of me.  I'm not going to spend the time dealing with anybody else's resentment.  I would rather be unemployed than under that particular vessel of crap.

Or, in the words of the Jive Lady in Airplane, "Chump don't want da hep, Chump don't git da hep."

If I work again, it'll be under my own flag.

Pretty sure it's a skull and crossbones.

Just as soon as my time comes.......  :)

Monday, February 13, 2017


This explains SO MUCH.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Random Thoughts.

Some things that I've been pondering.......

Steve Bannon is NOT the Anti-Christ.  I expect my Anti-Christ to look like Steve Valentine, not a badly-shorn Peter Griffin.

If the Secretary of Eddimacation (Newspeak spelling) is the head of the Department of Eddimacation, and the GOP is intent on eliminating the Department of Eddimacation, then how long does it take the 5:09 train from Scranton heading east to crash into the hopes and dream of all Americans, leaving Common Sense station at high speeds?

Nordstrom's made a business decision; I'm pretty sure that the Resident of the United States has robbed plenty of less-well-off people of their livelihood by making a business decision.  Does his core constituency know that he's a whiny cry-baby?

And, I think that attempting to make a buck off of the Residency is one of those, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" that can lead to impeachment.

Some people would actually consider it worse that a blowjob.

I realize how that previous sentence read; I mean, THAT blowjob.  Not just a random blowjob.

I need to stop using the word "blowjob".  I have relatives that read this.

I really didn't need to write any of that out.

Still no word from the Court of Appeals; but it's going to the Supreme Court, anyway, so what the hell.

People have been posting art on their Facebook page.  I joined in.

Dogs Playing Poker won over Elvis On Black Velvet.  But it was close.

And now. Black Velvet is running through my head.

I'm going to stop now, before the Hamilton Soundtrack starts up again in my noggin'.....

Damn it.

(and I'm not throwin' away my...SHOT....)

Exit, pursued by a bear.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Pin for The Balloon.

I woke up this morning.  I didn't want to, but there is a certain young feline that requires the services of opposable thumbs at a time of morning she has deemed appropriate. 

And she's pointy on five ends.  So, I'm a butler, or I'm bloody.

She'll grow out of it.  OR ELSE.

My rituals haven't changed since I left my previous employment; I still rise early, make coffee, take a walk if I can (-15 this morning, so NFW), and read the various news feeds.  I used to read the paper, and I used to watch the news shows, but five years of being force-fed Faux News and I rely upon my devices to pick my choices.

CNN, REUTERS, and the Capital City Tribune.

And then on to the Facebook to read the reactions to the news.

Vicious.  Cycle.

There are two stories I take away today.....the fact that cronyism is alive and well in DC, and this isn't the first time a donor was given a job...and DeVos has decided to put her education background to good use.

Oh, wait.

Yes, all of my educationally-connected friends, and all the people I know that have children are upset, and rightly so.  Our education system is screwed up, and not because there are liberals at the universities.  And as one without children, and no axe to grind, it seems to me that in a country where we seem to want our teachers to serve as parents, as well.....maybe this is a wake up call that the parents actually have to take an active and positive hand in the education of their children.

I doubt this was the guiding factor in the Republican-leaning Congressional vote.  But wouldn't it be great if it happened?  That children actually learned their morality and social awareness and manners from home?

So, in one story, we get the horror show that education should become.

And in the other story...,.,.

Lainy Fredrickson of Norman OK made a free throw in a basketball game, and the crowd chants her name and the game ends.

I encourage you to look it up.

I will tell you this:  You can have all the stories in the world about how this country is going to hell in a handcart, and I won't argue with you.

But I will take all of the stories like the ones about Lainy Fredrickson; because this is where our hope lies.  This is where you'll find our joy, and our compassion.

And they cannot legislate Joy.  Or Compassion.

And I will take that smile.  Anytime.  Twice on Election Day.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Weekend to Exhale. A Little. NOT TOO MUCH.

I don't watch Saturday Night Live anymore.

It used to be because of what I felt was the quality; but then it became about it being too freakin' long a day to stay up and watch.

I catch the clips now.  And I notice that with the current administration, it gave them a brand new breath of air; oh, the fodder for comedy our current President provides.

It would be funnier if it weren't so.......unnerving.

I am not scared; as long as we have the jesters, we'll be okay.

I think the Presidential sketches are becoming what SNL was originally; a loosely structured satirical look at the country.  Back then, there was also a ton of political fodder for the jesters to feed upon.  Ford, Carter......the remains of Watergate.....

I did notice in last Saturday's sketch, an almost Trudeau-ian, Doonesbury-like quality; largely because of the personification of the "Key Advisor" to the President, Lord Voldemort.  Reminded me of what Trudeau does with Presidents......Bush one was invisible; Bush 2 wore a Centurion Helmet or was an asterisk (get it?).  And Bannon is Death.

And of course, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer......isn't wasn't just the impersonation.  It was the writing.  Spot on, classic.  Straight from the comedy factories of Chicago.

The real world has been a bit.....hiccup-y as of late; it is gratifying that the Judicial has risen up to deal with it; I wish that the Legislative Branch would be less Boot-licky and more of a check and balance to the fellow in the Oval Office, who bounces checks and is unbalanced.

I do suppose that if you allow coal mines to pollute the streams that are people's drinking water, you don't have to worry about finding jobs for the downriver people; although they are going to need long-term health care.

But they're GOP.  They don't care if they make you sick, and they're not going to make you well.  Unless you're in utero.  Then you're pretty safe.

The Super Bowl was fun to watch, until the last three minutes of the third quarter.

Apparently, Mr. Applegate has moved on to Football.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Morning Coffee......

I have had a few.....unfortunate.....moments of weakness, as of late, in regards to commenting and sharing things on certain social media sites.

Although, I did enjoy all of the interesting tributes to those we lost during the Bowling Green Massacre.

I think, in future, we need to jerk our knees a little less quickly, and do some research in order to be accurate.  I am finding that accuracy is the key; too many times, those that seek to disagree tend to use one tried-and-true method of refutation; that being, "'re guy did it FIRST!"

Case in point......when caught in what only can be deemed an out and out lie, the bottle-blonde Satan stated, "well.....Hillary claimed to have landed in a warn zone during a sniper attack, and that wasn't true....soooooo....."

(if you imagine her talking in a voice like the pothole in an old insurance commercial, it's much funnier..)

And you can be accurate; you just need to find two sources that say the same thing:  I prefer
CNN and REUTERS.  One domestic and one international.  Covers all bases.....

The most inaccurate thing that bothered me yesterday was a post stating that the Quebecois who attacked a mosque did not shoot six people.  He KILLED six people.  He SHOT fourteen people.  And 59 people were PRAYING at the time of his attack.

By the way, the winner of 'most clever' posting was the crowd funding link for the survivors of the Bowling Green Massacre; it was a link directly to the donation page of the ACLU.

Also by the way, if you add the Countable app to your phone, it will save you a LOT of time.  It tells you what's being voted on, how your representatives are voting, and gives you the phone numbers of said representatives.

Where was I?  Oh yes.....I was a bit....angry, several times in responding to some social media messages.  I believe I told one person that he was desperately in need of a tall, frosty mug of SHUTTHEFUCKUP.

I think the thing I need to remember is that there is a whole, big world out there.  And they are watching.  And they are friends not of our Government, but of our people.  And I believe that there is some crap up with which they will not put.

In other news.....

I finally watched the reboot of GHOSTBUSTERS last night.

I love Kristen Wiig. 

And there was SO much wrong with the movie; even without the inevitable comparison with the original.

And I loved the original; I can tell you exactly when I saw it, who I was with, and how I fell into the aisle laughing when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man came lumbering around the corner.....

I liked the cameos of everybody, and especially loved what HAD TO HAVE BEEN Bill Murray's suggestion that his character get brutally murdered by a ghost.  And yes, I even admired that they brought John Belushi back for a cameo as Slimer.

But there was just so many.......holes.  The backstory on the villain, Rowan North, is so weak as to be invisible; you can only pick up on some things as they go along, and it's only after they open the book and see the various drawings do we get any idea as to the wherefores.....jeepers, even Vigo in GBII got a backstory.

I wasn't sure why the battle against the ghosts had to take place in an amalgam of Times Square from many decades.....but I did have some grudging admiration of the battle itself; so many new ways to dispatch the spirits......

When you see SO MUCH material during the credits, you know that the film has been badly this case, there was an entire dance sequence led by Rowan, making the various military figures do what looks a bit like the sequence from THRILLER.  Which, in the film itself, was reduced to all the military figures doing the Saturday Night Fever gesture.


I think they relied too much on the connections to the old film; and not enough time creating a new legend, in an apparently new universe.

They should take a lesson from DC Comics; they re-do their universe every decade or so, and it seems to work.....well, except Supergirl......she's alive, she's dead, she's alive, she's somebody else, she's an escapee from Kandor.........and she's dead again....and now she's on the CW.

I stopped watching when they made the Red Tornado a villain.

Well......I seem to have strayed, YET AGAIN.  But I'm going to leave it unedited.

Because I'm free of Governmental regulations!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


A friend of mine, whom I have never actually met face-to-face, asked me recently about why I stopped writing regularly.

I tend to answer written questions quickly and honestly; when I'm face-to-face, I think, I ponder, I reflect, and I obfuscate. 

I answered:  "I found that the sound of my own voice to be tedious to mine own ears."

Still true; and combine it with the fact that, as one of the temporarily unemployed, I have nothing but household chores, re-runs of BURN NOTICE, and the sound of my own voice.

I have been writing; working on a couple of projects, but those are limited to the OneDrive on my computer and my Surface...and let me tell's been like slogging through molasses.  In January.  Uphill.  Both ways.

Some of it may see the light of day; I make jokes that I have about 70 pages, and I haven't begun to make my point yet.  The truth is, I've made my point, and am now beating it to death with a garden hose filled with sand.

I was in Minneapolis recently; I decided to attend a study group that the scion society I belong to runs every month; they are called The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, and they follow the career of a fellow formerly known as Sigerson, whose former address is now a museum in Baker Street in London.

It was interesting to sit in a room full of strangers, discussing a short story written over a century ago; a few fully aware of Conan Doyle's contribution to detective fiction, a few smirking at the thought of a 'literary agent' taking credit for Dr. John Watson's genius.  The conversation was lively and they didn't stare at me when I offered my two cents.

Okay, they DID stare.  Apparently, it was a very closed circle, and I was from way, far away.  But after a while, they softened, and invited me back.

It's six hours from the Capitol City of the Northern State to Minneapolis.  I'm not going to make it a regular jaunt.

But I did get to spend an hour or so at the Mall of America.  Which was fun.  I hadn't been in a mall that big since I spent two days at the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, back in the mid-80's.

I spent two days because, quite frankly, it was easy to lose your car.

The Mall of America has everything.

They had a place called, simply, "SUGAR!"  Guess what they sold?

I looked at other places as I walked around the multiple levels, but frankly, they had me at SUGAR.

And...well.....I got nothing else going on right now.

Except for breakfast.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

While you were busy doing other stuff.....other stuff happened.

You have all heard the story of the frog in a pan of water.

You place the frog in the pan of water onto a heating element, and you gradually apply heat to the frog and the pan of water.

Gradually is the key.

As the story goes, if you throw a frog into a pan of boiling water, the frog will go into survival mode, and do everything he can do to escape the death pan.

But, if you put the frog in water, and gradually apply the heat, the frog won't notice the gradual change until he is....well....dead.

As with all stories.....I told you that to tell you this:

At 0730 on December 20, 2016, I resigned by position with the Federal Government.

I had been on the job since March 17 of 2007. I was about 90 days from my ten year anniversary, which would have provided me absolutely no additional perks to the job, whatsoever. For my five year anniversary, I received a non-insulated, metal water bottle, emblazoned with my name and the logo of that institution to which I apparently gave everything.

And for that duty, I gave my eyesight (two cataract surgeries with really fun complications), my relationship with time (I know longer can sleep for than four hours at a time), and my sense of safety, and in return I received what seems to be a permanent sense of paranoia, a contempt for the entire organization's management, and a loss of innocence I would have liked to have kept.

The whys and wherefores of the sudden decision are immaterial; suffice it to say that my integrity was questioned in a way that was impossible for me to refute (the governmental equivalent of "have you stopped beating your wife?") and since they questioned it, they no longer held it in esteem, and it was time for me to leave.

I always thought that this was not a job I retire from, it was a job I quit; and I always fantasized that my resignation letter was a doozy. In fact, I once suggested to a really terrible manager that my resignation letter would consist of two words; and one of them would be, "you." I left him to guess what the other word would be. Instead, it was one line, twenty two words, a comma and a period.

Make no mistake; I spent the first three days curled up in a ball on the couch, watching my psyche go from terror to relief like some masochistic Wimbledon match. Add the usual Holiday stress and a blizzard, and I find it comforting that I was taking pretty good care of myself, otherwise I would have been a prime candidate for an embolism.

A couple of things helped.

The fact that nobody I have known who has quit this job has ever, EVER, stated their regret has been a big help.

The fact that everybody that I talked to about this situation has specifically mentioned that they missed the old me, and are glad I was finally free of that oppressive malady has also been a big help.

My Older Brother offered some advice that was very comforting.

I just deleted a whole paragraph that went off on the way the organization is managed, but it's immaterial, truly. Suffice it to say that in my opinion, the worst thing that ever happened to the three-lettered organization that you run into every time you enter an airport happened in its first days.....the idea that former Military and Law Enforcement were essential to head an organization that would be dealing with the General Public....well....what you often see is the result of mixing passengers that want to know why you're running your hand up their inner thigh with the Officers that don't feel the need to answer those questions because it's none of their business.......I'm glad to be done with it.

So. Bottom line is that I have not found another job yet. But there is a kind of safety net available and I'm still owed some money by the organization.....and I need to detox just a bit more before venturing. I don't know.

But I can tell you that Walmart sounds like a vacation compared to what I just left.

Stay tuned.