Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Just a short note. John Ivy and I were out returning trucks and getting some food. We found ourselves on an elevator. Now, Halloween in Los Angeles is a religious holiday that is usually celebrated in costume for at least the week before. So, when the elevator stops on the second floor and we see a fully dressed red devil with cape and pitch fork waiting to get on. We were only momentarily taken back, after all "tis the season". As the devil stepped into the elevator I said, "I assume you are going down?"
I thought it was funny, John thought it was funny but the devil didn't get it at all. Instead he answered as if he was a salesman going about his day, which he probably was. If you are going to dress like a devil for Halloween at least pretend to have a sense of humor.
I heard about some one going to a Halloween party dressed as Jeff Dunham. They will take a costume that someone else made, and claim it is original; take all the candy, not share and when asked why they are being so selfish, will claim it is management who is looking out for the health of everyone else.
Me, I am going to a Halloween party as Jimmy Hoffa and never show up.
As you were,
Magic.... pure Magic
If I live to be a hundred and I am lucky enough to continue to work on stage I will never get tired of the magic that is the theatre. Tonight we performed the Two and Only at the Performing Arts Center in Santa Clarita. I say we because John Ivy my "man behind the curtain" put the show together with the the same perfection he usually brings to work. I could not do the show without John. Sure I could do the voices and the story, but not the show. He is a multi-talented guy who is uniquely qualified to mount this show. And without his talents and brilliance it would not be the show. But I digress.
There were many friends who made the short trip to PAC and I was late getting back from the green room to the strike on stage. By the time I got there the set had been struck and they were taking down the lights. It was a blank stage once again. Moments before the lights, the set and the sound created the show that I love to do so much; then in a matter of minutes it was back to a blank canvas ready for the next artist to create. Magic. Absolute Magic. It is all smoke and mirrors and illusion. Nothing is real or permanent, just a meeting of the imagination of me, John and the audience. For a few hours it is as real as it gets for those watching, but it is happening mainly in their minds. In less time than it takes to set it up it is back to neutral, a space for the next illusion to take place. That is special to me. The idea that it is organic, not static nor set in stone.
I told someone tonight that this is my fix. I do all the cruises and industrial shows and corporate show to get the money to do this. It is true, I am addicted to theater.
As you were,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Operator Error

For some reason this picture did not travel with the post.

Almost Virtual

The best thing about the Ipad is the ability to draw on it.  I am training myself to just point my finger instead of a pen. It would seem more difficult to use a pen but is not. The one thing that makes it harder is you can't see where the point is.....because your finger is in the way! 
It will take some getting used to. But here is the first drawing that I have done on the Ipad..I use it as my wallpaper. It is after all an eye pad. When I took it back to the store to have them probe my email connection one of the young guys saw it. I said "Eye pad....!" if he got it he didn't let his expression know. He just nodded.
So tomorrow I teach a master class at Canyon of the Colleges where we will be performing on Friday night. The class is on doing a solo show, which each student has to do before they can graduate. Not sure what I am going to tell them, just wait and see what the common wires are. By the way the fee for the class will cover my Ipad cost....why am I telling you that...are you the IRS?
In San Luis Obispo I got a really a really nice compliment from the local sound guy.  I have been dressing my microphone since Broadway.  I have perfected the technique so that it is completely hidden and yet gives good coverage. I think I blogged about that before. It used to be an hour set up , now I can do it in a matter of minutes. 
The theatre sound man came into my dressing room to get the mic after the show. He asked politely if he could examine my method.  He said he usually dresses it for most acts and I seem to have a secret way, of good sound with out being obvious. It was nice that he noticed. 
On to Santa Clarita Friday and then back on a ship, this time armed with a time compressor know as the new electronic toy IPAD.
As you were,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This is the first blog, that has blogged on my new IPad. It is really a steep curve to work in this virtual keyboard. That is enough for now.
As you were,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Farewell

As we sail into the port of Costa Rica we bid a fond farewell to the Coral Princess. I think I have been on this ship longer than any I have ever sailed. Perhaps the Grandeur of the Seas would come a close second, but that was over a couple of years. I was on this ship over a matter of months.
I know waiters and bartenders by name and the say hello to me as I walk the decks. Tonight as I was doing my last sound check the stage staff broke into a chorus of monkey sounds. It really is great to be part of a group of artists.
Normally I am on and off a ship so quickly is as if I was never there. This time I became a part of the crew. It is a good feeling and Amigo's Broadway pin will always be here.
I am facing a three hour drive a two hour wait and a ten hour flight to get home tomorrow, seems insurmountable but it is part of the gig. I am after all a " fly on".
As you were,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It dawned on me this morning how incredible technology is and how spoiled we become to some unbelievable tools. I have heard that wrist watches aren't the necessity they once were to my generation. I had a wrist watch from the time I was in Junior high. It was the only way to keep up with any sort of schedule. How often today do you hear someone say "Let's synchronize our watches" so every one would be together? Today a cell phone is your time keeper. It up dates itself between time zones and is always accurate even switching to day light savings time when needed. Why keep up with a watch when it can't possibly be as accurate as the network on your cell phone.
I use my cell phone as an alarm clock as well a watch. It is usually the last thing I touch at night and the first in the morning.
As I wake the smart phone immediately let's me know what emails I have waiting and what I need to attend to.
Like this morning. The alarm went off on my cell phone and when I went to turn it off I noticed there was an email from my agent. It was an offer for a job. I immediately wrote back with my take on the deal. She is in Miami and was at her desk and emailed me right back offering her thoughts. We went back and forth for about twenty minutes. She called the client, emailed me a PDF of the contract for me to look over and I confirmed the gig. We booked a five figure deal and I never got out of bed. That would be impressive any where but I am in the middle of the ocean and can't even see land.
Makes you wonder what my grandkids will be taking for granted. Sure wish they would hurry up with that time travel thing so I could see it for myself.
As you were,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nineteen Again

I wrote this in an email to my friend Christine and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it with the blogsphere.
First about my friend Christine. We met when we were both in the cast of an American Airlines touring show. Both in college, excited to be getting paid to tour around the county singing and doing ventriloquism. It was a great summer and our friendship has endured for the decades since. She is also good friends with Sandi- don't go there.
So with that back story here it is. I will only use first names and I will call myself Jay.
There are two worlds on a ship. The guest entertainers called "fly ons" because we come and go, and the cast of the production shows who are crew and sign much longer contracts. The two worlds don't mix much. We share the stage at different times and live in different sections of the ship. Plus they are younger with more energy and stronger livers.
The cruise director needed me to fill a few minutes in the Welcome Aboard show, and asked me to perform. It is not something I usually have to do but they were stuck. This meant for a night my world would intersect with the young singers and dancers on stage.
One of the singers caught my attention, which is odd. Being married to a dancer it is usually the dancers that catch my eye. But as I watched her I realized what it was about her that was so compelling. (don't go there either). She was a double for my friend Christine. She had the same beautiful grey eyes, same voice and same way of moving on stage. It was like watching Christine *¤/$¥&€ years ago.
I immediately wrote Christine to tell her of her clone/ Doppleganger. Christine wrote back to ask if she could "tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue". I responded by saying I didn't know and had zero chance of ever finding out.
Back stage there was a list of the performers full names. I noticed that this singer's middle name was POODLE. It registered as an interesting choice for a mother to pick for a daughters name.
Later I ran into some of the production show cast at the crew bar. They were partying in a way that recalled my own youth. The Christine clone was there as well and her resemblance to my friend was remarkable even off stage.
I walked up to her and said, "Poodle. That is a very interesting middle name. Is there a story behind that?" She looked at me with Christine's eyes and said, "It's Poole. A family name." Damn my dyslexia it always betrays me at the worst times. I quickly dawned my Harry Potter cloak of invisibility and scurried to my cabin cell.
Here I was thinking I was Sean Connery when all the time I was really Mickey Rooney.
As you were,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goodbye to History

Long before I thought I would ever be on Broadway or win a Tony for a show I wrote and performed, I was doing Comedy Clubs. Amigo the Snake was the opening character for those shows.
As part of his routine I would stick his tail with a pin to prove the lack of nerve ending in his skin.(it's funny when you see it). For that bit of business I used a real hat pin, borrowed from my Mom's sewing kit. I used the same pin when Amigo was called out of retirement for "The Two and Only".
That pin was with me for every performance of the show from workshop to off Broadway and on... Until tonight.
Tonight Amigo and I were performing the same routine with that pin. As I exited the stage the pin fell to the stage and rolled into the crack outlining the trap door lift, dropped through and it was gone.
The stage hands helped me look for it for about an hour in the bowels of the pit. It was literally like looking for a needle in the abyss.
It could be any where among the magic props and set pieces under the Princess Theater stage but was not to be found.
I had a stand by pin that has been waiting its turn for at least twenty years that performed admirably for the second show. But it wasn't the same.
I have written about my superstitious nature regarding talismans so you know that it was more of an event than should have been.
That pin will forever be a part of the Coral Princess as a testimonial to my time here. Some one may find it one day and cast it aside as nothing. They will never know nor care that it is a rare and authentic Broadway prop.
Goodbye to the history of that object which is important only in my life story.
Have I over thought this event?
As you were,

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This is the fort on the hill which guards Acapulco bay. In 1513 the local Spanish ruler and land owner El Capulto established una Lata de sanitoria at this location. Today we would call it a sanitarium or spa.
It became very popular with the traders and seamen who would come here to sell their crafts.
Soon however it was discovered by the Baja Jollitos, which were rich families from the hills of what would become southern California.
The bay was quickly over run with aliens relaxing in the sun and drinking, taking the spots on the beach that the locals did not use. In an attempt to keep these illegal immigrants out of their territory laws were passed and a fort was constructed to defend the areas of the beach that the locals wanted for them selves.
The conflict continued for many years and as the word of this beautiful bay spread, more and more outsiders flocked to the Resotá.
Finally Lotso Comerciallito, a local restaurant owner came up with a plan to end the conflict in the middle 1800's. He convinced the locals to sell goods to the Bajalittos as they relaxed on the beach. He even suggested that they could charge much more than the goods were worth and they would pay. The plan worked and soon the fort was turned into a cantina with a cover charge and waitresses with large Maracas and the entire area was renamed after the original owner Acapulco.
I made all of that up.
As you were,

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rude Awakening

Being an actor/entertainer all my life I have never had to keep early hours. For most of my life mornings were only something that appeared when I stayed out all night. In fact until the arrival of our first son Brandon I didn't even start the day before 10:30 am.
That changed radically. Since Sandi is an early riser she would get up with him in the morning. There was a period of time when he would crawl into my room, pull himself up on the night stand and "adjust" my clock radio.
He would make the same motions every time. He would turn the tuning dial all the way clockwise until it stopped. Then he would turn the volume dial clockwise until it stopped. Then he would press the "on" button. The station on the far right hand side of the dial was a Mexican music station and the volume was max-ed out. I would be blown out of bed with the over energetic, deafening sounds of a traditional mariachi band, heart racing and clawing the bedroom wall to escape. It probably happened for a couple of weeks as Brandon thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen in his short life.
Today we are in Hautolco, Mx. I was having trouble going to sleep last night so I slept through the docking process which usually wakes me up. However, as the Mariachi band struck up their frenetic overture on the dock right outside my cabin, I grabbed for a nonexistent clock radio as I bumped my knoggin on a bulkhead wall. Old memories die hard but that Mariachi music won't die at all.
As you were,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Small World

My shows were last night and I finally got to meet the cruise director. He is not the CD that was on duty when I was here for the Alaska runs.
It turns out he is married to a lady that grew up taking dance at my Mother-in-law's dance studio in Houston and I have met him before.
I remember his wife Cindy very well. She was just a teenager at the time. Later she stayed with us for a few days when she moved to Los Angeles.
Cindy's kids eventually went to the same school as our kids and I met Billy her CD husband at a school function years ago. I'm not sure I totally remember it, but do recall the occasion. I was hosting one of the schools infamous Dad's Club Variety Shows.
I guess it goes to show you that one never knows who they will be deal with on any given occasion. The rule is try and treat everyone as someone you know.
As you were,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Cruising the Mexican Rivera. Quite a change from Alaska. However, I have been glued to CNN like most of the world watching 33 miners come up from the depths of the San Jose mine. I can't imagine the ordeal they have lived for the past 69 days. My claustrophobia would never allow me to become a copper miner and the ride in the Phoenix capsule, even to safety, would scar me for a long time. I did not do well with an MRI under clinical conditions. I think this feat of engineering to save these men is nothing short of miraculous. Being closer to the action has heightened my sense of awe and identification with the event.
I hope the sudden global celebrity does not hurt the miners more than the cave in itself. To go from the bowels of the Earth to the world stage could be a major adjustment even for the prepared. There will be the normal rush of producers who will want to capitalize on their stories. For a while they will be on the A list of every day celebrities at least until the next story to grab global attention. It will be interesting to see how many of these men return to that dangerous occupation when they have returned to normal life. For me, if I were to dodge a bullet I would leave the firing range as soon as possible. Nonetheless it is great that people can work together for the ultimate good of a few labors who generally work in a vacuum of publicity, doing a deadly job few would choose given better choices.
My posts from the sea will be more delayed here in the Mex Riv due to the logistics of network connections. There is no 3G connection while in ports, and I find that the BlackBerry operating system will not support the hotspot WiFi of the ship. Just as well, since that service can cost as much as 75 cents a minute and is painfully slow. I will have to wait until we have sailed in the evenings to grab a Verizon link and post.
Not much to report from this part of the Pacific. Same ship same cabin, mostly the same crew. Billy Vader and his great stories are painfully absent. I miss the glaciers, Skagway and Juneau.
Mexican and Caribbean ports have the same " flea market" feel and look to them. I can't remember one from another, same tours of zip lines and parasails, same crafts for sale and most have a "made in China" stamp on the back.
The minute I return it will be a quick sprint to put The Two and Only back on its feet for a couple of theatre hit and runs. I am very excited about that.
I did learn a new phrase on the two hour drive from the hotel to the ship. I shared the trip with three of the new art dealers coming on board. The phrase is "compliment sandwich". That is a slap in the face between two compliments, i.e. "that is a lovely tie you are wearing, your suit is terrible, but you wear it well." I never knew it had a name before now.
As you were,

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Moment

Yesterday at church, yes I do attend church. I attend the first Church of Frizbee. As Frizbeetarians we believe when you die you don't go to heaven, your soul ends up on a roof somewhere and you can't get it down. Any way..
At church yesterday the minister looked at his watch and said.... "The date is ten, ten, ten and at this moment it is ten minutes after ten." That evening, twelve hours later, I noted the same phenomenon to some guests at the house. I know it is only a mathematical occurrence with no more significance than you wish to give it, but for me it seemed to make the whole day better. I suppose I have to wait until November eleventh of next year to experience that feeling again. Since it only lasts for two minutes I hope I am ready for it.
Off to sea again
As you were,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lovesick Rabbits  
My Goddaughter went to China last month.  Her father is a slightly off kilter magician so she was intrigued by the wealth of magic in China.  They perform it, watch it and sell small tricks almost everywhere.  She bought this trick in Shanghai and gave it to me as a belated birthday gift.
It is a standard trick that even I perform occasionally.  The stock name here is "The Love Sick Rabbits".
Basically it is a story trick about two rabbits that are so in love you can't keep them apart.  To prove it a spectator takes one rabbit in their hand and the magician places the other one in his own hand.  After a magic word the the rabbit the magician is holding is gone and the spectator is suddenly holding both.
It is a good trick and kids love it because it happens right in their own hand.
This is a picture of the box the trick came in. You can make out the image of a hand holding two red rabbits. It is a good thing I knew how to do the trick because the instructions are in Chinese. The only concession to English they made was the word Magic on the front of the box and an attempt to translate the stock name of the trick.
If you look closely you will see they call the trick  "RADDIT OF LOVESICKNESS". If the instructions were translated with equal care I doubt  any English speaker could perform the trick.
Thank you Eva... you are the best.
As you were,

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Home grown archaeological digs...
In the multiplying sea of paper work I call my office/desk there is often a find that is akin to discovering ancient fossils.  A script or picture or article will suddenly be uncovered unexpectedly. The evidence leads me on a trek to find the story behind it.
Here is a case in point.  This is a clipping that  surfaced this week from some publication. It was included without a date in a file of essays unrelated to this story.
In an attempt to find some other documents this one jumped at me.  I remember the incident but not exactly how long ago it happened.  I certainly don't remember writing about it or telling any reporters.  In fact, I can't recall actually seeing this clipping before now.
Truly an historical enigma.  If you click on the article it will become big enough to read, if you so desire.
As you were, 

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Calling all Shrinks... 
One picture is worth a thousand therapy sessions.
What does it reveal about a person's inner mind when after a week's work with pen and ink this is the result? What I love about painting and drawing is that at some point I can look at a piece with total disconnection. I see the picture now but when I was drawing it,  all I saw were ink stains on a page. I have no idea what  thoughts fathered this, nor am I exactly sure what it is.  Some how I don't think I was contemplating kittens and care bears.
As you were,

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I realized today that no one has ever morned the loss of the Jam Shade series. I for one miss the wrong way solutions of America's greatest dectiective Dyslexic on National Visual Radio. When you coming back Jam?
As you were,

Friday, October 01, 2010

World Premier
This is Sandi walking down the red carpet at the World Premier of  Disney's "Secretariat" last night at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.  No one does movie premier's like Disney and there is no place like downtown Hollywood for a movie premier. I am not often invited to these sort of events but I am always dazzled by the spectacle when I do get the chance.
We entered the theatre through an actual racetrack starting gate with the scoreboard depicting Secretariat's win at Belmonte reproduced in full scale.  The premier and the party afterwards can sometimes be better than the movie.  Not in this case.  I thought the movie was great.  Directed by Randall Wallace it is a true life story of the greatest athlete in history, the last Triple Crown winner, Secretariat.  It is also the story of his owner, the woman who smashed the male dominated glass ceiling of horse racing. 
I think Wallace and Disney were a good fit for this story.  Randy with a sense of honor and heart working for the studio that lends its name only to those ideas worthy enough for the Disney name above the title.  
There are some shots of this beautiful Big Red horse that are glamorous enough to even get the attention of a non-horse person like myself.  And even though the outcome of some of Secretariat's races are well known, Randy was able to create the tension of pulling for the horse who always came from behind like you were actually there.  In one case Randall decided to show the actual television footage of one of Secretariat's wins, which is great.  It lends to the legitimacy of the entire story. 
There are great performances by Diane Lane and John Malkovich the owner and trainer of the horse respectively, but for me the stand out was the performance of Nelsan Ellis who plays Eddie Sweat the handler/groomsman of Big Red. His love for this horse lights every second of the film as he becomes the personified consciousness of the Champ. 
I really have no objectivity since I am a Randall Wallace friend and fan, and a premier audience is stacked to be positive, but I liked it and hope is does really well for everyone involved.  I had a great time, so did Sandi and the Boys. A rare family outing to a traditional Hollywood event.
As you were,