Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dub and Mary Frances



 Edward Albee said, "I write to know what I'm thinking about."  Today I am thinking about Dub and Mary Frances Crain.
If I had godparents growing up they would be Dub and Mary Frances, MF to most of her friends. They were my parents best friends and lived next door to us in Abernathy, Texas. Dub was the band director of Abernathy Public school where my Dad was Superintendent.  I remember many times going to sleep in the back of the house with the smell of cigarettes and brewed coffee supporting the conversation between my parents and  Dub and MF in the kitchen.  I loved clandestinely monitoring their stories and laughter. Dub was a Navy guy like my Dad and there were plenty of "Sea Stories" when they got together.  I was too young to understand all the things they talked about, but Dub made my Dad laugh more than anyone else could.  Dub taught me my very first note of music, a love that stays with me even today as I play the very piano that Dub arranged for my parents to buy.   Every tuner that tweaks that piano tells me how great it is even today.  It wasn't just a piano that Dub found for the family, it was a really great piano.  

Mary Frances could not have children so my brother, sister and me became her children until they adopted their first child. Eventually Dub and MF adopted the same family of two boys and a girl. But before they moved away when I was in junior high school, I thought I was one of the Crain's kids. 

I remember with great joy the day that MF came over to the house with hoopla hoops for me and my sister.  It was the hottest toy of the day and on a school administrators salary it was financially out of reach for my family.  But my next door godmother bought them for us.  That hula hoop was only a symbol of the love that I felt for both the Crains.  

The families kept in touch for a long time after Dub left his job as band director and moved from Abernathy. But as geography would have it the connection faded over the years.  Their new family grew as ours did and eventually addresses became out of date and years went by. But for me, I never forgot the adults that loved me when I was a kid. 

Although I have not seen them for more than 60 years, and Dub passed away a couple of years before my own Dad. I found MF on Facebook and developed a FB connection with her over the last few years.  We corresponded with meme's and messages that reminded me of how much those two people meant to me when I was a kid.  It has been far too long since I got a message or a "like" from her. Today I heard that Mary Frances passed away.  

Although my destiny was not to be found in Abernathy, Texas, growing up in that tiny town gave me a sense of protection that I will always be grateful for. To know that living right next door was a couple who would not think twice to help and/or protect me and my family is a priceless gift for a child.  
I am sure I told her in my adulthood how much she and Dub meant to me, and she expressed the same love back in those FB posts, so I don't feel there are any missed chances or unresolved emotions.  And even though we had not been geographically close for a decades she will always have a special place in my heart. 

Today when I play my piano it will be in honor of the godparents/neighbors who introduced me to that gift of music.  Welcome home Mary Frances.  Give Dub and Ferrel Ray a kiss for all of us.
As you were,
Jay 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Politics will continue......

 

The Trump Drinking Game

 So who knew that the drinking game for the debate last night would be "take a drink every time Trump sniffs" and "chug a drink every time Trump takes a sip of water".  Back in the 80's if someone had been sniffing all the time, spouting rambling thoughts of self- absorbed importance and thirsty all the  time, I would have used the word cocaine to explain those actions. In fact the best explanation for his sometimes incoherent bull shit, total narcissism and complete disconnect from reality could very well be cocaine.  From my experience with coke heads it fits the pattern completely.  
His constant interruption with childish retorts, like "that makes me smart" when Ms. Clinton suggested that he pays no income tax is more evidence that he not only is an egotistic paranoid sociopath, but perhaps a cocaine user as well?  In Trumps favorite form of communication, the Tweet, Howard Dean suggested the same thing, Cocaine.  
There are so many things that made me yell out loud at the television last night but the most disturbing was a constant statement by Mr. Trump bragging about his "property".  No matter what country or city was mentioned Trump's knee jerk response was, "I have property there."  He said it so many times it struck me as quite dangerous.  If he became President and there was some necessary action to be taken toward a country where "he has property" would his first thought be the good of the country or the value of his "property" in that other country.  Since we will never see those tax returns of his we will never know for sure.  However, if he considers that paying no taxes while making a billion dollars makes him "smart" then I suppose he considers Al Capone a fricken genius.  
In fact as I listened to Trump last night he sounded more and more like a Mafia boss than a man who would be president. About NATO he said- we are protecting all these countries - they need to pay us for that. ( Mafia calls that protection money).  Regarding trade from other countries he said, they need to pay us. (Mafia skimming off the top of the profits).  On Iranian boats harassing our ships he would "blow them out of the water".  (Mafia allows no disrespect for a made member). 
Once again he sent hugs and kisses to Russia's Putin saying no one knows for sure who hacked into the Democratic computers. "Maybe it was the Russians, maybe it was a 400 pound guy sitting on a couch somewhere."  The FBI has determined it was most likely Russian hackers who accomplished the hack, but facts are not anything that a Mafia Boss need to be concerned with. 
Trump is an aged spoiled brat who has been able to buy anything he wanted, no matter who he had to stiff to get it.  Trump is the poster boy for the 1% who control most of the wealth in the country and his proposals of lowering those "job creators" tax rates is the old "trickle down theory".  Trickle down doesn't work, never will in this country.  He admitted he thought it was smart not to pay taxes, why would it be smart to pay any of his workers a decent wage, or in some cases even the wage he contracted to pay them for their work.  
The deal is... I am just wasting my time talking about how dangerous, stupid, ill-prepared, destructive and racist Donald Trump is.  Those who think that a person with his lack of intellectual curiosity is what America needs will never be smart enough to see through his bull shit.  If there are enough  sheep around for Donald to sheer and he actually wins the Presidency, I will get no pleasure in writing a plethora of  "I told you so" blogs.  That assumes he doesn't push us into a thermo-nuclear war before I get the chance to write them.

There are real issues about where the loyalties of a President Trump would lie. (I use the word "lie" in both its contexts). Often the interests of the Nation are greater than the biggest corporation in the Nation, and may even be at odds with corporate rationale.  I have no doubt he will think like a "business man" first and "president" second.  That is the very platform he is running on.  He is going to treat America like it was one of his casino's.  For those who think America needs a "business man" at the helm,  why don't you get a "business man" to perform your next surgery. America is more like a Non-profit Organization than a publicly held corporation. Based solely upon his ability to run his own non-profit, it is not something Trump is very good at.  

I have sworn off political posts, and will again after this one. I just can't get past the idea that the America I see every day is too kind, too intellectual, too progressive and too good to fall for the kind of hateful, uninformed, narcissistic rhetoric that Donald Trump spews.   I remain totally baffled.

As you were,
Jay 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fred Willard

Fred Willard had a birthday last week.  In the World Willard, keeping statistics like the number of years you've been alive is an insignificant activity.  The numbers that fill Fred's mind are baseball statistics and a God given sense of timing that must involve some genius level comedy algorithm.  They say a comedian "says funny things" and a comic "says things funny" so therefore - Fred Willard. 

I have been a fan of Fred Willard for longer than I can remember. In the Ace Trucking Company Fred stood out as a guy who didn't look like a comic. Fred looked like the weekday anchor on the news.  Fred's timing and delivery blurred the lines between straight man and comic,  Fred can be both, often at the same time. Many years later after crossing paths,  we became friends.  

Everyone knows Fred from their favorite character he has played in countless movie roles and television shows.  I only have to say, "No Eyelids Girl" to a friend of mine and he will not only laugh out loud but know I am talking about Fred Willard.  It would be hard for me to pick a favorite part from his resumé. I like all Willardisms. 

I told this story about Fred at his birthday party. Since I told it in front of him, I guess it is okay to write about it now.  I preface the story by admitting it can never be as funny "on paper" as it was in the moment it happened.  That having been stated:

It was a benefit performance for Actors and Others for Animals at the Grove theater in Upland.  It was an all star line up of talent and a full show.  The men were crowded into a small dressing room with a low ceiling.  Like boxers warming up for the fight the comics were throwing punch-lines around to test their timing.  Some of the lines get giggles others just smiles some get a real laugh like you would suspect with cell full of jokers.  
Fred has been sitting quietly on a chair smiling and or laughing at what is going on.   I notice he is wearing very brightly colored and oddly patterned socks on his feet. I figured there was a funny story behind the socks, I mean they are on the feet of Fred Willard. 
So, I say loud enough for the entire room of comics to hear, "Hey Fred, do those socks come in men's colors?" 
Remember the barroom scene in Western movies when the bad guy pushes open the swinging door? The piano player stops playing, gamblers stop gambling, drinkers stop drinking and every head turns toward that one guy.  That's what it was like in the dressing room at that moment. No one snickered at my line, they all  turned to Fred awaiting a Willard comeback. 
I am now rethinking my decision to bring up Fred's socks.  The silence in the room is deafening. Maybe everyone else knows something I don't know like, 
"Hey what ever you do don't tease Fred about his socks." 
I feel like I am hanging out to dry. No one is coming to my defense saying,
"It's okay Fred, Jay doesn't mean it, he didn't know."

There is nothing in the room but impending anticipation.

Fred slowly stands up from the chair wearing only boxer shorts, formal shirt and those socks. It's as though Fred didn't hear my smart ass remark, although everyone else in the room certainly did.  Silently he takes his pressed trousers from the chair and carefully drapes them over his left arm.  
He walks carefully and deliberately across the dressing room to an oversized utility closet. The only place with a door.  He gently opens the door and hangs his pants neatly on an overhead water pipe;  then pivots and slams the door as hard as he can.  
The room burst into laughter nearly drowning out the echo of the big bang.  It was the perfect Jack Benny take, not rushing into comedy but making it come to him, trusting in the exact moment to get the laugh. That is algorithmic comedy timing. It was the biggest laugh of the night and Fred never said a word. 

Several people ran to the small dressing room to see what had happened, the bang was so loud there was genuine concern.  The answer finally came when  someone caught their breath from laughing and said, 
"Jay made fun of Fred's socks". That also got a laugh.

Here's to you Fred. Still celebrating the day of your birth.

As you were,
Jay





Monday, September 19, 2016

Strange Seasonal Occurance

-Meme -
This is the first time in 37 years that Halloween falls on a Friday 13th. It will not happen again until 2029. Snopes has classified this statement as "questionable", but it is a simple task to prove the veracity.

 Halloween will fall on Friday the 13th this year, and here are the facts. 

First, you received this information through some sort of Internet. And... everything on the Internet is true.Why?  Because it is so easy to fact check  information on the Internet.  Why would you write something on social media that isn't true, when anyone can prove it false with a thumb stoke on a smart phone.
What are we? all stupid?*
  
More importantly this FACT comes in the form of a Meme, like the one above.

Just so we are all clear on the concept of a Meme, here is the definition: Meme - a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet 
and often altered in a creative or humorous way.

We didn't have Meme's when I was a kid. The closest thing we had was Grandmother's needlepoint Samplers framed on the wall.  It would be a well stitched phrase of homespun truth for all to see. Who would go to all that trouble to needlepoint a lie on a Sampler? Certainly not your Grandmother.

So there we have it. Halloween is on Friday 13th this year.  How cool is that?

I shall print, cut  out and attach this Meme to my refrigerator so that I don't forget to celebrate this rare occasion on one of my favorite holidays.

*I have a point to this. So much information is flashed to us daily and constantly it can be overwhelming. If you hear or see something enough it starts to ring true.  Some facts are not so easy to verify. The Truth is Out There. If we don't grab it for ourselves, then, Yes we are all stupid.

As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Something to hide?

I know you are as tired of this presidential election cycle as I am.  It's a good thing that ballots do not contain "none of the above" because at this point that is who's trending in my mind.
And just when you think things can't get any more absurd, to be transparent and open about his health, Donald Trump is going on the Dr. Oz show tomorrow.  I made the joke yesterday that I assumed Trump would release his tax returns on Jim Cramer's Mad Money show. The fact that Mr. Trump has made a mockery of the election process points to the fact that he will make a mockery of the Office of President if elected.

But let's get back to those tax returns.
When I apply for mortgage or refinance the first thing they ask me for is a copy of the last two years of my income tax return. I would love to say, "Proceed with the loan, I am being audited and as soon as that is over I will send them." The lenders would NOT say, "Oh sure... No problem". Rather the loan process would stop at that moment only to proceed (maybe) when I had sent the tax return.  
The mortgage banker wants that information so he/she can determine if I am able to handle a big loan.  That, along with a credit score will let them know if I am financially responsible. Now understand this is a loan that is secured with real property of equal value to the loan.  If I fall behind and really can't handle it, the people loaning me the money will take the property.  As a real estate investor and landlord I am sure that Trump never rented to someone unless they showed a copy of their tax returns. 

Okay, stay with me on this analogy.  Trump and Clinton are basically applying for the Presidency of the United States. We the people are loaning them the Presidency for a few years.  Now I have never been President, but it would seem to me that job takes a lot more responsibility than paying for a house in the suburbs. Yet one of the applicants has not shown me his tax returns so I can determine if he is fiscally responsible.  His bankruptcy's are well known, his losses publicized, which makes it more important that I determine if he is able to handle the job. Why is this not a deal breaker for the application of President? If I can't own a house without revealing my tax returns, how is it that an applicant to own the Presidency for four years is not held by the same standard.  Isn't being President a lot more important than being a home owner? 
My theory is this.  There is something in Trumps tax returns that is revealing and not flattering. There is the belief that, after four bankruptcy's, traditional financing on a large scale is not available to Mr. Trump, and he has resorted to using Russian Mob loans for his capital.  Who knows?  Trumps finances are like Schrödinger's cat in quantum theory of superposition.  Right now Trump is a billionaire business man who has the golden touch and he is also a con-man crook living off the money from Russian loan sharks.  Until the box (tax return) is opened both conditions are true. 

I think there is something very fishy about his finances and Trump has no intention of ever making them available to know for sure.  He is hedging his bet.  With 8 weeks to go before we vote he would be a fool to release them now.  It would be 8 weeks of explaining, defending or dismissing the information auditors might find. If he wins.... The issue will be buried.  If he loses, then the issue is moot.  The only way he loses is if he reveals his taxes and doesn't win the Presidency.  Then when he tries to go back into the private sector everyone will know "the cat is dead". 
So Tomorrow don't expect Dr. Oz to reveal anything but "amazing results" from Trumps phantom physical. And don't expect Trump to ever release his tax returns.  And especially don't expect a President Trump to be respectful of the office, the country or "We the People."

As you were,
Jay

Thursday, September 08, 2016

#Trending....

A couple of days ago I noticed that Ann Coulter was trending on a social media page.  I have never been a fan of hers on any level, but for some reason I was curious.  So I researched her "hash-tag".
It turned out that the trend was mostly YouTube out takes of comedians taking a shot at her on a Robb Lowe Comedy Central Roast.  The civility level of the "Roast" has sunk to a nasty name calling frenzy with the ability to say anything on cable television.  Even though I think she deserves all she gets, there were clips from the show that made me wince a little.  I couldn't tell from her reactions if she thought they were laughing with her or at her.  It would be hard to tell since the humor was so deeply buried in cruel remarks.  That said, why did she agree to do the show?  She had to know she would be a big target and no one would go easy on her.  It might not have been her worst decision of the evening.
Although the show openly admits the fact that a team of writers will write comedy material for non-comedy performers, Ann chose to write her own comedy material. Not unexpectedly, known for neither her comedy writing nor her ability to deliver a cleverly timed retort, her set bombed. This lack luster performance just gave fuel to those who followed her.  Case in point, one roaster said, "Ann's performance is the first bombing she can't blame on Muslims."
Again I ask, "Why would she agree to do this show?"  I certainly understand why the show would have wanted her to join the festivities.  One of the most hated women in politics with opinions that sound like she studied at the Sarah Palin school of Smarts, she is the perfect comedy target.  I think Ann Coulter is smart enough to know she would not be elected home coming Queen at this event, so why would she agree to stand down range?  
Of course I know the answer, but since it just doesn't compute with my sense of rationale I still don't understand.  Ann is one of those people who think that any publicity is good publicity. If your face is out there, it is always a good thing.  As long as you are #trending it is good.  I just don't agree with that marketing idea.  
In the art world it is not uncommon for someone to be "famous" for being a villain. There are those characters in Drama and Comedy plots where we love to hate the bad guy or gal. But we love to hate the character not the actor.
Ann Coulter is not an artist. She is not a performer. She is most definitely not a comedian.  She is a political pendant making living selling books that berate legislators and governmental philosophy.  She is a hateful person spouting hateful rhetoric to people who can’t think for themselves.  Ann is not playing a character; she is asserting herself as that hateful person.  To dislike what she says is to dislike her.
While other performers like Jewel proved to be more talented than we thought with a well-performed turn, Ann did nothing to increase her likability. In fact Ann Coulter proved how unlikable she is even more.  However, since I have never bothered to even think about her before, I guess she considers this blog good publicity for her. 

Fame is a drug. Like all drugs if you lose control over it and become addicted, it will eventually destroy you.  Fame doesn’t care if you are famous for being the one who discovered the cure for cancer or the very cancer itself.  Hitler enjoys the same level of historic fame, as does Louis Pasteur if name recognition and trending #hashtags are all you consider.  I just don’t understand the idea that any time someone is talking about you it is a good thing.

I don’t know what Ann Coulter got out of being a participant on the Robb Lowe Roast. Perhaps she has skin as thick as her skull and none of the extremely pointed jokes they threw bothered her.  She was called a whore, hell hound, Skinny Bitch, Transvestite and Kentucky Derby winner. One British comic even suggested to her that it was not too late to “kill yourself”. 
The universal rule and cautionary tale is obvious.  Whether it is a pursuit of fame or just trying to market your books, what you give out comes back to you heaped up, shaken down and over-flowing. She has made so many cruel remarks, and spouted so much partisan hatred toward others it was only a matter of time before that spotlight was turned on her.  Her particular payback was delivered by some of the best comedy minds, and performers in the business on a show divorced from FCC regulations.  If there was any question to the fact that Ann Coulter is an intelligent writer, or has any sort of interesting insight, her decision to participate with her own “humor” in a room full of comedy masters, proves she is just a low level egotistical fear monger.  
If this had happened to anyone else but “Coulter” I would be feeling very sorry for her right now.  As it is, I just see it as “social media” justice.
As you were,

Jay

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Word.


There is a clipping taped to my wall that says, "It all begins with your words." I  keep it where I can see it for inspiration.  It was on the cover of a Writers Guild magazine years ago.  Oddly enough they did not credit the writer of that sentence. 
Some say we are losing words because of social media.  It seems that a lot of communications are sent by cartoon emojis or abbreviations. Perhaps one day that will be the alphabet. A traditional sentence would be a string of drawings.  As weird as that might seem one only has to look at the Ancient Egyptians to see how that might work. They were intelligent and extremely advanced. Their written language was a line of drawings.
As you were,
Jay