Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
One has no perspective of how big this ship is until we dock next to another boat. We dwarf it. Truly is amazing sailing experience until we hit a tender port like Cayman. Getting four thousand people into tender boats, seventy five at a time, is a logistical challenge.
That's all I got.
As you were,
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Oh and forget the idea that a cruise is full of old people on the "see Jamaica and die" tour. The average age is no longer that old perhaps as low as mid- forties. However, the average weight has increased to about 600 pounds. It is now the "eat Jamaica and die" tour.
Ultimately this is a mortgage payment for me, not a vacation. I love performing, that is what I do, it is my job and I'm blessed to get the opportunity to ply my art. It brings me great joy and I never get bored entertaining a crowd. But those brief moments on stage are book ended by long hours of solitude away from home. I say it over and over, "I do the show for free, but you have to pay me a lot to get me to board another plane."
I got an email from performing ventriloquist friend who shares my distrust of the TSA. It seems his puppet case arrived completely repacked by the screeners in a way that could have damaged his instrument. They had not sealed the latches nor attempted to leave the case in the same manner it was when they effectively vandalized it with and inspection.
As I told him, they are just doing their job keeping us safe. They will quickly point out that there has never been a plane high jacked by a ventriloquist dummy since the TSA has been in charge.
As you were,
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It all started when I decided to secure my wifi network at the house with a pass word. A year ago when I set up the network it was at least a day of frustration . To reach the back of the house, which includes the master bedroom, the signal has to go around a large triple fireplace brick structure which renders it too weak to be affective. I extended the network with another wireless router at the back of the house to boost the signal. If that sounds like I know what I am doing it's a sham. I know more than the average person about Macintosh because it is dyslexic friendly and doesn't mind a trial and error learning curve; but once it is up and running I promptly forget the steps needed to repeat the operation without the same trial and error frustration.
For a few moments it seemed to be going fine. I set the new pass word, updated the base station, and clicked continue. However, when it restarted it showed only the one station in the office and not the one in the back. What followed was hours of cursing, calming, correcting and coercing the entire system, continuing until late into the night. In trying to connect to the back of the house, I rendered the entire system inoperable. I was left trying to solve the problem of a blinking yellow light on my base station rather than the necessary non-blinking green light. I had no internet, on any computer, I couldn't get online, check my email, write this blog... at midnight it seemed hopeless. I thought to my self, "Don't panic, I am sure there is help for this situation on line....(panic) Wait, I can't get on line....". With that I accepted the fact that I would be Internetless at least until the next day, when I could call my friend Andrew, an actual Mac Genius. So, I turned the entire system off, thinking that after it had a chance to rest over night it would start to operate properly.
It is easy to turn off the mechanical machinery, but the human worry machine is not so accomodating. I finally drifted off to sleep. The next morning with a fresh perspective and the knowledge that my Mac genius friend was just a call away, I began the process again. The rest had not changed the attitude of the machinery. I was exactly where I was the night before.
Over the phone, Andrew gave me a new method to try and after an hour the base station was back on line, but the network still did not work. Two hours later after resetting the factory defaults it was back and all working again.
I was thrilled to be back on line, back in communication with the world after being denied for 24 hours. I was now able to do anything I wanted to online. I breathed a sigh of relief, poured a cup of coffee, and read the morning newspaper. It wasn't the fact that I needed to actually do anything that required the online network, it was the frustration that "it" wouldn't let me if I did.
A great lesson was learned. I learned I have much more determined energy to overcome the idea of being refused something than the need to use it when it is allowed. They say computers are great learning tools, this was an unexpected and more esoteric course.
As you were,
Monday, February 22, 2010
Yang: Hello. Who is this?
Yen: I am the voice inside your head. How are you doing? You seem a little depressed.
Yang: Who wants to know ?
Yen: I guess you do. Why else would I ask you?
Yang: Wait a minute, are you the voice inside "your" head or the voice inside "my" head? I mean your exact words were "voice inside your head", but that would be me. Am I wrong?
Yen: Not wrong. I am me, which makes me you. It's complicated. It's only pronouns let's just say we are both I.
Yang: But I is a singular pronoun, how can you and me be two I's?
Yen: I knew you were going to ask that question.
Yang: If you knew already why did I have to ask?
Yen: You're the one who brought it up. Let's just say you are me and I am myself. We are an individual.
Yang: Does that make sense?
Yen: Why all the questions?
Yang: You're the one who started with the questions. You said, "How are you doing?"
Yen: I just wanted to know. Personally I'm doing fine.
Yang: But who are you?
Yen: I told you it's complicated. Can't you just accept me as the you who wants to know how I am doing.
Yang: How am I doing? Well to tell you the truth I've not been feeling myself lately.
Yen: What's wrong?
Yang: I think I'm hearing voices.
Yen: You want to talk about it?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
In addition to his "Uncertainty Theory" he also came up with what is known as the "Heisenberg Principle". He stated that an experiment is changed to the degree that we observe it. That is to say, by watching something happen we change the outcome in ways we can't even perceive.
At my CBC meeting Wednesday this idea came up and I can't stop thinking about it. (CBC is an exclusive organization of gentlemen who ponder life and it's meta-narratives on a weekly basis... or is that weakly basis? Nonetheless, it would take too long to explain the CBC so I will leave that for some other time. All I can tell you is that one of the members at the CBC meeting Wednesday wanted to make sure that the conversation was not being covertly recorded. Since I picked the meeting place I can be fairly certain there were no bugs.)
Anyway, all paranoia aside..... Here is what I can't stop thinking about.
If Heisenberg is correct and humans do change the experiment to the degree we observe it, what does that say about the 24 hour news cycle and current government? Aren't our politicians under almost 24 hour scrutiny? Haven't there been times when we have recorded our civic leaders saying one thing, only to contradict that same statement at a later date. Aren't we constantly observing, through mass media, our leaders and this experiment called government? Then I suggest, to that degree we are changing the experiment. The problem is... we can't know if we are influencing the experiment in a good way or a bad way.
In our effort to insure freedom of the press and stay informed, are we changing the course of the discussion to special interests rather than what is good for the country as a whole? Perhaps government was better when we had to wait for the weekly newspaper to come out to give us the facts of what really happened. Now we get to instantly speculate on what a our leaders MIGHT be thinking. Before they make a decision we are already against it or in support of it. No doubt we have instant news.
Instant coffee is not as good as brewed. Instant oatmeal is not as good as the kind that takes 15 minutes to actually make. Why is instant news coverage any different? There is no doubt that you sacrifice quality for quickness.
Give me the news that took a day to prepare, 24 hours to research, several rewrites to correct and an editor to re read it and make sure it is the truth. That can't be done in a "breaking story". News should be prepared and valued for its thoroughness, not glorified for its instantaneous-ness.
As you were,
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
2010 Winter Olympic Games
Justin Tyme - Reporter
Isn't that a human definition of the fastest measure of time "quick as a wink or "the blink of an eye?" Blinking is the quickest voluntary and involuntary reaction the body controls. It is our quickest reflex. So how long is that really?
Well I looked it up and the best answer for the length of time it takes to blink is .1 to .15 of a second. If that's the case then, you can do the math, .09 of a second is a lot shorter than a blink?
If a race for speed is determined by half the time it takes to blink, then the human body can move faster than it has time to biologically react. Driving 80 mph on the freeway in my car yesterday I was seven miles slower than the average speed of the men's Olympic luge runs. I can't imagine going that fast laying directly on the ground, my back supported only by two large butter knives.
The question is: just because we can propel the human body down solid ice at those speeds, should we?
You tell me,
Monday, February 15, 2010
Before my friend Larry Imes died four years ago he used funny fake names every time he wrote me an email. I got messages from Anna Ceptic... registered nurse, Sir Wran Rapp... Arab sheik, Shomeeda Kash... hooker, Nita Fixx... drug addict. Not only were the names clever, they were also relevant to the message or to his feelings at the time. I started keeping a list so I wouldn't forget them; now I have forgotten what I did with the list.
This is for you Larry.
There was a nice Italian family with the nice Italian last name of Cianci. They had a little girl and they named her Nancy Ann. So... her name was Nancy Ann Cianci, which rhymes with the tattle tail song of "neener neener, neeener".
The Hogg's were a very wealthy family in Texas. Mr. Hogg made lots of money and donated enough to build Hogg Auditorium at the University of Texas. Mr. Hogg's oldest daughter, a debutant, rose to the apex of Texas society. Her name, Ima. Ima Hogg ... wealthy Texas socialite.
In honor of Presidents Day this one is new on the list. A man named Lloyd Friedus (pronounced "Freed Us") had a son. He wanted name his son after President Abraham Lincoln, but the name Abraham seemed dated and too ethnic. So, he decided to name the boy, Lincoln. His name would be...
Happy President's Day
Haywood U. Blome, Congressman... District 9
As you were,
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Others say Valentine was a prisoner who fell in love with the jailer's daughter and sent her a romantic note before his death and signed it.. "From your Valentine."Other stories tell of a hero named Valentine who helped innocent men escape from Roman prisons. Valentine's day occurs around the time of other pagan celebrations and precedes lent and spring solstice. February 14th is either the day Valentine died, the day he was executed, the day he was born or the day he was baptised. Those are just facts.
If you are a male of the human species, none of that matters. Here is what it really means. If you have a relationship with another human still living and you wish to keep, foster, improve or begin sharing "benefits" from that relationship... you better not let Valentine's Day go by without planning and preparation. Both planning and preparation conclude with appropriate gifts to the one you expect "benefits" from.
Valentine's Day is a female celebration of manipulation over males. The celebration has been carefully crafted for centuries, if you are a male don't try to fight it.
Remember in grade school when you had to bring Valentine's cards for everyone in the class? Who made that a class assignment? Your teacher. Your female teacher! For years Mothers, sisters, girlfriends, lovers and wives have drilled us men with yearly, Valentine's day training exercises until, like Pavlov's's dogs, we think slobbering on cue is *our* idea.
Gay, straight, young, old, beautiful or OMG ugly -it makes no difference, all males have been conditioned to subliminally respond to Valentine's Day stimuli and marketing.
Flowers, candy, cards, poems and something red in the shape of a heart is mandatory. Gifts for the bedroom are encouraged because it sends the proper signals for the desired result of your gift giving efforts.
Here is a suggestion for all you last minute lovers. It is a great gift for the bedroom. Very clever, inventive and thought provoking, and exactly the WRONG thing to get for your Valentine on Sunday. In case the image is too blurry, it is a decapitated horse head pillow. (I didn't make this up.... you can find it at HorseHead Pillow.com)
I love the "Godfather" and a pillow depicting one of the more famous scenes in that movie is great, but it will probably send the wrong message to your lover. I suggest you "make an offer they can't refuse" on another level.
That's all. Now that you know what not to get you're lover, you're on your own to find the perfect gift that symbolizes your love.
I will be giving my lady a small gift, a personally designed Valentine card and an original poem written just for her. I have been making cards and writing poems to her on this day for over 30 years. Yeah it's work, but I have been married to the same lovely woman all that time and she hasn't signed the form for the authorization of my accidental death and dismemberment.... YET.
By the time you read this you have less than 48 hours to come up with something romantic for your relationship.... your love life is on the clock... GO
As you were,
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I remember Harry telling me about the girl from the moving company in New Orleans who came to submit an estimate. She said to Harry, "What's in that crate?" He replied, "A guillotine." She paused and said, "That would be the first guillotine we have ever moved.... what is in the case next to it?" Harry again replied, "That's my other guillotine." With out missing the beat she said, "That would be the second guillotine we have ever moved." You get the picture....
So... Harry, being snowed in, is going through unopened boxes and comes across some vinyl 33 1/3 record albums of ventriloquism that he didn't know he had. There was some Bergen, and a couple of Jimmy Nelson albums, and a Ricky Lane album that I didn't know even existed. He called me to say he is sending me the records, for my birthday... which is 6 months away. Then he said, "You have a turn table to play them, right?"
I have three mini-disc recorders, four audio cassette player/recorders, six different models of ipods, CD, DVD, VCR - VHS and BETA player/recorders, two micro-cassette player/recorders, a laser-disc player and a 1972 reel to reel quarter inch video tape player/recorder, BUT, the last time I saw my turn table it was sitting next to my large reel to reel audio tape recorder which I know I sold.
I told Harry I would figure a way to transfer the vinyls somehow. Harry said, "You don't transfer recordings, you listen to them... get a turntable and listen to them..." He was right, but I still figured I would have to do a transfer before I could listen to them.
Yesterday a package arrives with a cute little 16" x 12" x 6" camel brown retro-looking suitcase inside. It looks like a small vintage puppet case, which for me is captivating enough on its own. I open the case and discover it is a self contained record player with amp and side speakers. Just like the ones every kid used to have in the 50's and 60's to play 45's. (This may be a reference entirely lost on anyone under 30...yipes). This record player is the modern day version of that antique unit with a note from Harry which says, "Now you will be able to listen to the records when they arrive." I have said it before and I will say it again, *... that's the kind of guy my friend Harry is.*
Our kids sold most of our vinyl collection, which was extensive at the time, to Ameoba many years ago for their allowance money. I kept a few records that were autographed to me or irreplaceable.
I still have a set of four 78rpms that were air checks of the Edgar Bergen radio show, released in 1947. It was a Top Ten label which, according to the cover notes, released a lot of radio show recordings of the time. They list Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Eddie Cantor and Amos n' Andy as stars in their roster.
The first thing I did was fire up the new "record player" with the old Bergen 78's. I had not heard these routines for at least 20 years, and then only once to check the condition of the records. I had to figure out how the new player worked and remember my technique for placing a needle on the groove of a record. It has been a decade or so since I had to do it. But after all these retro-unique preparations were accomplished, I sat back and enjoyed. It is amazing listening to a vinyl recording of a sixty-two year old radio show. There is something almost mystical about the experience.
It's now normal to plug your stereo earphones into an mp3 player smaller than a pack of gum and hear crystal clear sounds equal in number to thousands of vinyl records. There are no moving parts, no real interaction with the process, only a passive acceptance of the delivery.
Watching an eleven inch disc revolve past a tone arm at 78rpm and hearing the warm hiss of a needle scratching plastic is a time warp. You get to watch the sound being created on this revolving plate right there in front of you . The magic is the fact that it doesn't seem magical. It is logical, this plate spins, the needle rides the grooves. If you slow the spinning down with your finger it slows the sound to the same degree. If you look close enough you can even see that the grooves are little tiny sound waves. Loud sounds are bigger wiggles than the soft smaller sound wiggles. In the near future demonstrating this kind of sound could become the technical equivalent of a live performance.
I can't wait for the other records to arrive. I may have to invite friends over and make a party out of listening to them, as they were meant to be heard. I like having all my audio and video needs on a silicon chip that will fit in my pocket. It surely is easier to travel with. This is the first time in history that the media is smaller than the player that decodes it and that is no doubt a convenience. But I wonder if we have sacrificed the excitement of participating in the process in the name of ease. I guess there should be room in our world for both.
As you were,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
For the most part she uses the office pays the bills, writes the checks and make sure the corporation is running smoothly. Me? Well, I use the office to store puppets, write, draw and rehearse. Sandi has a stack of "to do" papers on the desk that I affectionately call "the rats nest", and I have my stack of important correspondence on the other side that she refers to as "the mess." Several times a month I go through "the mess" and shred the papers that are no longer relevant in my life.
I know better than to pass judgment on "the rat's nest" having made that mistake before. Assuming I could shred what seems like pure trash has caused me problems in the past; as I am clearing my "mess" I try not to bother "the nest". But in some cases I feel the need to at least re-stack the papers of the "rat's nest" in a more orderly fashion.
That is exactly what I was doing when the paper below hidden in the rat's nest caught my eye.
It has my name, address and birth date on the form; I have circled the interesting part in red circle. It is a form, waiting for her signature to "Authorize my accidental death and dismemberment". I guess the mob has gone legit and requires authorization for punitive action. I notice that it is not yet signed by my lovely wife so I may have some time left.
Thank goodness I found this before Valentine's Day. There is a chance I can make up for whatever wrong I have done before I get dismembered. Experts say get her something that is expensive that she doesn't really need. The only thing I can think of really expensive that she really doesn't really need it a root canal.
I have some time, and now, since I know the consequences.... I better use it wisely.
As you were,
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
And here is an alternate treatment of the movie "The Shining". Thanks to my Goddaughter Eva Faye for finding this one:
"Film is like a box of chocolates... you never know what your gonna git"
As you were,
Monday, February 08, 2010
A: Who performed at half time at the SuperBowl yesterday?
C: That's right.
A: I'm asking the name of the performers on the half time show.
A: The guys that performed at the half time show.
A: The half time performers.
C: Who performed at half time of the Super Bowl.
A: That's what I asking.
C: That's what I telling you.
A: Yeah, if you told me their name.... Who dat?
A: No, Who dat was the nick name for the Saints.
C: I'm not talking about the name of the football team... I want to know the name of the group.
C: The performers that did the half time show.
A: Who performed the half time show.
C: That is what I am asking you.
A: I've been trying to tell you.
A: But Who performed?
C: Yes for at least 15 minutes.
A: Who did?
A: Okay, I get it...... So, Absolutely performed the half time show...
C: No... Who performed...
C: That's right...
A: So, as Absolutely is performing the show at half time....
C: Absolutely didn't perform at half time, Who did...
A: Absolutely.... so Absolutely performed the show...
C: No no you have to say it the right way...
A: I don't even know what I'm talking about.....
Nor do I... thanks for that mental time bomb, Connie.
As you were,
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
They clocked everyone on an off stage with a stop watch and that report went to the casino manager. There was no doubt what act went over their time. It you did go over they would walk into your dressing room and have it all typed out. They would lay the paper in front of you and say.. "Here is 20 grand we are paying you.... your show went over 2 minutes so the casino lost 200k, we deduct that from your salary and we have a loss of 180k. How can we expect payment?" Based upon the neck size alone of the guys who delivered the paper, It was an effective deterrent.
They even installed a countdown clock flush with the stage at Harrahs, Reno. Only the act could see it. It would start to run backwards when you walked on stage. At five minutes left a red light would go on, and at zero the red light would stay on. I jokingly asked what happened if you didn't get off then? The stage manager told me that a trap door would open and I would fall into the pit with the other comics that were never heard from again.
The names are not mentioned here to protect the innocent...Me. This is a true story. The casino manager is telling the opening comic or maybe a ventriloquist not to go over his assigned time on stage. He says (think a broken nose), "Now when I tell ya ta do fifteen minutes... I mean fifteen minutes... not fifteen minutes and one second.... not fourteen minutes and ninety-nine seconds..... ya do fifteen."
You know, he must have given that speech to hundreds of opening comics... no one ever laughed or corrected his math.
Have a good week end.
As you were,
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
He returned with this:
That's also the kind of guy he is.
Now that he is not doing a regular television series I think he has way too much time on his hands. For more on the Anderson/Johnson saga you can refer to a former blog.
As you were,
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
So yesterday I slowly wake up, throw on an old bathrobe that looks a little like a bad ceremonial cape Gandolf wouldn't wear and head out to get the Times. I haven't had my coffee yet and my appearance would scare small dogs and children.
The street in front of our house is one of the only streets that goes straight through from Magnolia to Ventrua Blvd. It's a short cut that saves a lot of time for those who know about it. It doesn't get excessive traffic but enough to have speed bumps installed. One of those bumps is right in front of my drive which means most cars slow way down just at that point.
I bend over to pick up the paper when a Hollywood Star Tours bus slows down for the bump, it almost comes to a complete stop right in front of my house. I am at that moment effectively mooning the bus that takes "out of towners" to see where the stars live.
Now, my street is not a tourist destination and it is too early for an actual tour. Although I can't see through the windows I assume it is empty. Most probably the bus driver was just cutting through to get to his destination to start his day. But it made me laugh. I stand up straighten my medevial garb and waved like I was Miss America on the pagent run way.
I thought about my appearance out there in the drive and it reminded me of a line from the act of my comic friend Ralph Achilles. It goes like this: "Do you know why old men have their pants hiked way up high and wear house shoes to the hardware store? (Insert... dress like a bad wizard) Because they aren't trying to get lucky, they're just trying to be comfortable and keep their pants up."
Well, I guess that's me... I'm not trying to get lucky... I'm just going to get the paper. I hate to think it has anything to do with my age. I'm still 32 in my mind.
I have to go to the Home Depot now, so I need to find those comfortable house shoes.
As you were,
Monday, February 01, 2010
I am old enough to remember Ed Sullivan. He was no comic or even a pleasant entertainer. He looked very much like a talking cadaver that they propped up to fill the space between the acts. I couldn't see that he had any discernible skills except that he had and eye for talent. But I would never miss the show because I got to see great performers. He included jugglers, magicians, circus acts, Opera singers and yes even several ventriloquists were regulars.
I am tired of the parade of authors and actors that are only there to promote the sale of their books or movies. One of David Letterman's best weeks, a couple of years ago, was ventriloquist week. That opinion is based not on the fact that I was a part of it, the ratings were really good. As it turned out Jeff Dunham and I were the only ones of the group with anything to promote other than our acts. It was just entertainment not part of a promotional tour.
When studios send an actor or publishers send an author on a promo tour they do any show that will put them on the air, and any magazine that will give them space. They say the same things about the same movie and show the same clips. You see the same questions asked by different hosts, local and national with the same stock actor answers.
Johnny Carson used to have guests that were just great guests with nothing to promote. Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, George Burns, Jimmy Stewart to name a few. They used to book talk shows like they were trying to entertain the audience not just sell the next movie. When was the last time you saw a celebrity on a talk show who wasn't pushing some new project? There is a great wealth of variety acts and entertainers that are great but don't have a movie to promote. When was the last time anybody had Jonathan Winters on their show just because he is a fascinating guy?
The reason? The current stock of talk show hosts can't carry on a conversation with an actor or entertainer without 20 questions prepared by the movie studio publicist. Here is a shout out to the network suits, the talk show producers and all the "late night funny guys" trying to jockey for a late night rating. Book some performers on the show, not just stand up comedians. Keep the comedians but how about a really funny magician, or plate spinner, ventriloquist or some of the great acts you can only see now on YouTube. There is a wealth of talent out there waiting for a the call and the chance.
I don't care who's the host if it's a really great show. It seems pretty simple to me... but what do I know... I just like to be entertained.
As you were,