Monday, September 11, 2017

The memory is still vivid

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11 Remembered...

Reprints from the past:

Those of us who did live past this day in 2001 we will never forget those who didn't.  They were all of us.  There were no blogs, no tweets, no texts, no smart phones connected to social media back then,  but it was seared into my consciousness nonetheless. It was seven years before I thought I could write about it here.

Written on: 
Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. No one of this generation will forget where they were when they heard the news about a plane hitting the World Trade Center that morning. Most of us were watching CNN by the time the second plane hit. I was in Boston, which immediately became part of the crime scene.

I was performing for an Insurance company. A week earlier they called and asked if I could move my performance/presentation to Tuesday morning instead of Monday afternoon. They had a scheduling problem and that would help. I had no problem with coming in and leaving a day later. I didn't think much about it until after the events of 9/11. My manager at the time just switched my flights around and adjusted everything by 24 hours. That change in schedule saved my life.

My traveling MO is to catch the first nonstop home to Los Angeles the morning after my performance. In most major cities American Airlines is my carrier of choice. I am a two and and a half million mile American Airlines AAvantage member and in 2001 had Executive Platinum status. It was of no help when all air travel stopped for a week after the towers fell.

Until the company delayed my performance by 24 hours I was booked on the first non stop home after my Monday afternoon show. I was booked in seat 4E non stop from Boston to Los Angeles, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, American Airlines #11. I remember at the time thinking that flight #11 on the 11th of the month seemed lucky. That plane hit the north Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 am. Because the show date changed I wasn't on that flight, I was waiting to go on stage.

Even with that graphic and life changing example, I sometimes forget that everything happens for a reason. One small decision is sometimes the one that changes your life. Only with perspective do we understand that it as either good or bad, and ultimately even good and bad are human judgments.

It would seem natural to thank God for saving my life, but doesn't that make him responsible for the 3000 souls he didn't save that day? There were people on flight #11 much more "deserving" to live than me, or at the least equally deserving. They prayed for protection and deliverance that morning.

I would have been sitting on the plane next to David Angel who was the very talented writer/creator of the television show "Frazier" had my show date remained as contracted. He was deserving to have another day in his life, but he rode the plane into the tower. Who did God love more, me or him? It is a stupid question.

That event does not define me. I do not count the days since I was saved. I have not used it as a testimony in Church. I don't think I was given a celestial "do over". I rarely even remember it unless prompted by some event. All I know is I am here to write briefly about it and David Angel is not. I wrestle with the name Angel trying to make it some sort of metaphor. It is as fruitless as thinking flight #11 on the 11th was lucky. It was what it was. Those who have moved on are not looking back, but here's to all of us who are left behind to try and figure it out.

We will never quite be as we were,
Jay

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sept. 11

I guess 9/11 emotions trump most any others. As the years go by I always feel blessed when this anniversary comes around again.

I've written in the blog about it before but I was booked on American Flight 11 that morning in 2001. Due to a last minute change of my show schedule I wasn't traveling when the flight hit the tower.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Not Forgotten

I got this wonderful comment on my blog yesterday.
Jay, I just wanted to say 'thank you'. On 9/11, and for many days after, you and I were both stranded at the Hartford Airport hotel. Evacuated by M-16 wielding National Guardsmen and taken by van to another hotel and then back again to Hartford. We saw each other each day, talked while we ate at the bar, walked around to try and ease the monotony, spoke to people about their circumstances and tried to figure out ways to get 'home'. Or, in your case, to a gig in Utah, if I remember correctly. It was comforting to have a 'familiar' face during those difficult days. You were so humble and friendly. It made the 3000 mile separation from my family a bit more bearable. I'm always proud to say 'I was stranded during 9/11 with Jay Johnson'. 
 This brought it all back to memory like a movie re-run - that 9/11 week at the Hartford Airport Hotel. The airport was closed and there were several flight crews for different airlines stranded with all of us. I remember this young lady very well. She had small kids at home. Her husband expected her to be gone only a day or two. She was even attending the same conference that I was performing for. Her husband was dealing with the kids. She and I were dealing with how the world had just changed. It is perhaps a bonding moment when armed National Guardsmen escorted us from the hotel. This was the closest airport to Boston Logan/departure point of the hijacked planes. There was a rumor on the news of the hijackers using Hartford as a staging area for other strikes. They evacuated us by van to a downtown hotel, searched all the rooms and moved all the parked cars away from the terminal before they would let us come back. A day later.

Jay

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricanes from Heaven


Here is an article that disturbs me.  I'm not sure how it came into my digital consciousness but this is it copied and pasted.  I assume these are real people with real congregations or radio audiences. 
http://deadstate.org/and-now-heres-the-evangelicals-blaming-hurricanes-on-the-gays/

If you don't have time to read it I will give you the "Cliffs notes".  This piece quotes several media evangelists who claim that Hurricane Harvey was punishment from God for Houston electing a homosexual mayor. Several others link life style to the wrath of God, particularly Hurricanes.  With the attention now on Irma, it still seems to be happening.   These are the same "anointed teachers" who claimed that 9/11 was punishment from God for America's liberal stance on abortion, and God sent Katrina to New Orleans, because, well, New Orleans.  

It seems like we should have risen above this idea that God is Zeus.  Do we still pray to a physical God who controls a physical earth.  If that is the case,  according to the evangelist quoted in the article above, God seems to prefer punishing the violations of his children with water, now-a-days via Hurricanes.  If I worship a God who sent the Hurricane then, why would I pray to the same God to help me get through it?   That enigma has never been logically explained to me. 

God is the source of all knowledge and power. I have always assumed that is absolute truth. No matter what you call that truth, God,  IT,  HIM or I am that I am. That source in me that connects to the infinite consciousness knowledge of existence, is too long to write much less to say.  God is a three letter word, easy to type and say.  From now on the letters GOD will represent Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omniscient and all other gender and non-gender specific relative synonyms. 

It would seem to me that God, the Being of absolute Intelligence,  would also be perfectly logical. However, we attribute "acts of God" to the most illogical  of circumstances.  This misconception seems to go further than just natural disasters.

It is not logical that death is the price for Life. It has been a long time since we sacrificed a virgin to keep the volcano from erupting.  If  Knowledge and Power wanted to teach humans a lesson it would not "hurricane" an area of Earth. That's inefficient and wasteful.  Life lessons from Intelligence are individually crafted and specifically targeted, passed on from one to another.   Why send a Hurricane when Infinite Intelligence has the power to alter individual consciousness.  Of course great wealthy religions find it difficult to make money teaching higher consciousness, people are more willing to pay for a ticket to heaven or a pass from going to hell than paying for self enlightenment.  We still want someone, some thing, some circumstance to be responsible for our bad behavior.  The Truth that we might be responsible for our own lessons and challenges is hard to accept. 

So let's take God out of the punishment business and put God back into the education business.  Perhaps Intelligence is teaching us that we need to pay more attention to how we are treating the planet, and less attention to our punishing homosexuals.  

Either way, as I write this the news is predicting IRMA to hit South Florida with a force greater than HARVEY.   May our combined consciousness assist the consciousness that is in the path.  May we care more about assisting with their safety and their rescue, than wasting time assuming who might be to blame.  
As you were,
Jay


Friday, September 01, 2017

Part Two - Bubba and the Death Tiki

 Some facts are deduced, some are acknowledged,  some are accepted and some are assumed. This is all I know about Bubba.  I deduced that Bubba was not the man's real name, he acknowledged he was 7 years older than me, I assumed he had the run of the beach for Kona Village, and I accepted that every story he told me was true.

Bubba's official title was "Beach Manager".  If you were going in, near or around the Kona Village Beach you had to check in with Bubba. He functioned more as a concierge of the beach than a life guard. If you want to snorkel, fish, scuba, surf board, boogie board, sit under an umbrella, take a boat ride and probably many many more things you might want, Bubba is your guy. 

Kona Village opened in 1965 and two years later Bubba arrived.  There was something about the "vegetation" that compelled Bubba to come to Kona. A love child of the 60's, Bubba was in search of that natural high.  He came from a southern city on the main land, but after 30 years of living on Kona, it didn't matter any more. Although he would never be considered a true islander, he was as local and native as you could be with, a hip,  slightly southern accent.  

Hawaii is a mystic place, and although missionaries converted the willing many years ago, the tribal customs and superstitions are still revered.  Kona Village had on staff a local woman who not only helped guests with Hawaian arts and crafts, but functioned as the spiritual leader for the Village.  Her name was "Mama", it was her title as well as nickname.  She made sure that Kona Village was blessed by the appropriate rituals.  

As it was told to me by Bubba here is how it all started.  Part of Bubba's job is to keep the beach groomed and free of things that wash ashore.  One day it looked as though a large log had beached itself near his activities shack.  As he approached close enough he saw that it was an old carved wooden Tiki Statue.  It looked to be an authentic carving, not something that would be sold to tourists.  It was weathered from being in the ocean for some time, and very heavy.  Thinking that it was a sign of good luck, Bubba managed to drag it up near the shack.  He propped it up in the sand facing the Village and leaned his surfboard against it.  Bubba thought the Tiki made the activities shack look authentic and decorated.  It seemed the perfect local decoration to the beach, just in time for the summer season.  It might be there to this day except for what happened next.  

For Kona Village it was not a good season. Check ins for some reason were the slowest they had been since opening.  With a slow summer the staff could prepare for the Weddings that keep them busy during the "off season".  Weddings on the beach at this authentic venue were very popular with the locals.  They made way for a busy wedding season.

That did not go well for Kona Village either.  Wedding parties and ceremonies were way off.  In fact the few weddings that did book the Village were mainly couples from the main land.  Kona Village was hurting while the rest of the touristy places were doing their usually brisk business, no one knew why. One day Bubba saw Mama waiting for him at his beach shack.  She was upset.
"What have you brought into our Village?"  She was making reference to the Tiki.  Bubba explained that the Tiki had washed ashore and he decided to display it properly.  
"Don't you know what that is?" She asked.  Other than the obvious, that it was a Tiki Statue, Bubba didn't know much about it.  Mama said something in Hawaian that Bubba had heard before.  Loosely translated it meant, "You are not of this island." 
"Notice that this Tiki has frown.  That is the evil smile. This is not a good Tiki god this is what we call a death Tiki. When a Village experiences bad luck, the Death Tiki is carved so it will absorb all the evil in the Village so the people will be free of problems."  By inviting the Death Tiki into the Village it was now spewing all of the bad things it had absorbed and infecting Kona Village with bad luck.  There was not a villager on the Island that would get married with a Death Tiki looking on.  It had to be removed. 

Bubba was enough of a believer to understand, and there was no doubt that Kona Village was going through a stretch of bad luck since the Tiki arrived.  He knew that if for no other reason than to make Mama happy, Bubba had to get rid of the Tiki.  But Mama said that the ritual of removal must be observered very carefully so that the bad luck would not stay after the Tiki was gone. 
The Tiki must be buried at sea.  The Tiki must be taken to the ocean far away from any shore and dumped, head first, into the sea.  Head first so its power would be neutralized, and far enough away that it couldn't find its way back to Kona Village.  Since Bubba had "invited it to the village" he is the one who had to get rid of it.  Mama would not even go near the Death Tiki much less touch the evil effigy.  Bubba had his instructions, and Mama was not going to leave the beach until he accomplished the quest.  
By now the Tiki was well grounded in the sand by the shack.  With no help from Mama, Bubba struggled with the Tiki until he got it to the water line.  Bubba commandeered a fast ski boat and anchored it as close as he could to the shore with the Tiki.  The Tiki was definitely bottom heavy so it would stand erect, so getting it into a moving boat was not easy.  By inflating a rubber raft around the statue he was able to float it out to the boat and get it on board.  The weight of it almost swamped the speed boat, but with Bubba at the front for ballast it was sea worthy.  
As Bubba and the Tiki sailed away, Mama never left her position on the shore. Her last words to him were, 
"Don't look back at the Tiki." Soon he was too far out at sea to notice if  Mama was still there and wondered how far was far enough. As the waves pummeled the craft the wet wood rubbing against the Fiberglas of the boat made a groaning sound that was unsettling to Bubba.  He didn't look back in case it really was the death rattle of the Tiki. 

What had been a beautiful day on the beach turned dark and windy on the ocean.  A storm was on the horizon and heading to his position fast.  The waves were getting too large to go much further so Bubba idled the motor and prepared to assault the Death Tiki.  It was clearly apparent that dumping the Tiki into the ocean head first was a problem, given the massive weight at the base.  As Bubba struggled the boat would list and water would splash over the edge.  This wrestling match became much more difficult as the clouds moved in and the ocean began to grow angry.  It was now or never, although Bubba thought that the boat might swamp and sink if he didn't get it over the side quickly enough. Using the side of the boat as a pivot, Bubba got the head of the Tiki into the water, but it fought to right itself.  Bubba gave the base a heavy push with his legs almost falling out of the boat, but it was enough to send the Tiki head first to the depths.  

The wind is a problem now and the rain is arriving with dark clouds.  Bubba throttles the boat to full speed attempting to out run the approaching storm.  With that there is a huge lighting strike which seemed to hit the very place where he had just dumped the Tiki. Not thinking about Mama's admonition, Bubba turned to look back to see how close the strike had come.  As he did the Tiki suddenly breached the water head first and bobbed up to the darkened sky as lightening flashed with a deafening thunder.  The Tiki was angry and trying to fight back.  

Bubba arrived back at Kona Village where the sun was still shining and Mama was still on the beach waiting.  
"Did you dump it head first?"
"Yes.... it was difficult."
"Death Tikis don't go easily. But now we will be fine."

And so they were until March of 2011when the tsunami caused by a Japanese earthquake hit the property and destroyed it.  Now there have been reports that Japanese trash continues to wash up on that shore of what was Kona Village. Bubba is not around anymore to keep the beach groomed.  If I were writing the story among the flotsam beached on that sand would also be an old wooden tiki with a downward smile who found his way back.   I will be anxious to see how they build Kona Village back, but I doubt I will ever see Bubba again.
As you were,
Jay





Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Part One -Bubba and the Death Tiki

The coverage of Hurricane Harvey has me thinking about another climate invasion, the one that destroyed Kona Village on the Big Island.  It was the tsunami that hit Hawaii in March of 2011. Kona Village was originally built in 1965 and there are plans to rebuild and open once more, for the 2019 season.  But:
Before that disaster Kona Village was one of my favorited places to vacation. Everyone got their own hut surrounding either a small shaded lake or one that had a beach front.  There was no television, no radio nor a telephone in any of the huts and only the open windows and a ceiling fan for any sort of air conditioning. All you really needed, outside of just having fun, was taken care of with just a signature and hut number.  If you really needed to contact the outside world for an emergency, there was one land line telephone at the caretaker/receptionists desk at the dining hall.  It was great for the kids, a protected place to rough it old Hawaian style.  
One morning I made my way down to the pool - which has a bar. (It was not totally without creature comforts).  The family was off doing activities so I decided to purposefully pursue my relaxation.  I settled into a nice lounge chair in the shade of a palm tree and ordered a Bloody Mary. The great thing about Hawaii and its climate, if you are just out of the sun in any sort of shade, there is a trade wind breeze that fans you like a celestial concubine.  When the bartender came back with my drink he said, 
"Do you want to just keep that on the tab open, or do you want to close it."
"Tab?" I said.  I just arrived and this was my first time to order anything from this bar.  The bartender said, 
"You have an open tab at the bar."
"I don't think so. It must be the wrong hut number, because I just got here.  This is the first thing I have ordered from this Bar." 
The bartender was very nice and said he would check on it, as I enjoyed the Bloody Mary and the beautiful Hawaian morning.  Another great thing is the perfumed air that is Hawaii.  I am not sure what the scent is, Sandi says Plumeria, I don't know about things like that.  To me it just smells like a wonderful morning on the shores of a Hawaian beach.  It is, as the poets say,  intoxicating. 
A few minutes later the bar-keep brought me one of those receipt forms with the drink orders recorded.  Sure enough, there was a charge for three Pina Coladas at 9 bucks a piece with my hut number at the top.  They were all from earlier that day.
"Gee, I don't know what these charges are. Like I said, I just got here and this is my first order."  
Again the Bartender was very non-invasive and said he would see what happened.  
It gave me time to think about the experience I had the morning before.  Kona Village was built on the edge of an old lava flow.  These ubiquitous rock formations look like gigantic frozen cow patties covering the country side.  But the lava flows just on the edge of the Kona Village property were even more special. Carved  into these lava rocks were petroglyphs from hundreds of years ago.  Ancient graffiti scratched into the surface of the lava by people who sat exactly where I currently sat, centuries before.  There were hundreds of these ancient art projects.   Some of the drawings have worn away to near invisibility, but the idea that I was connected with the art of ancient artists was a religious experience.
Now Hawaii is a Mother Earth experience to me.  I am fascinated by the culture and traditions of the Island people and always appreciate it when I'm there.  I got the idea that I would commune with the spirits of thoses artists from long ago and celebrate sunrise over the petroglyphs.  I was so excited to have this adventure that I woke up in time for sunrise even without an alarm clock.  
It was twighlight and there was just enough light to easily negotiate the lava flows. I found a place to sit in the middle of the petroglyph field.  The sun was not yet up but as the sky became brighter by the second, I could see the markings more clearly.  I sat there in contemplation of this incredible artistic time warp tracing my finger along one of the figures that had been scratched into stone.  That is when the first rays of the sun beamed across the edge of this sea of lava.  Suddenly and for only about a minute or less, the entire lava field lit up with the intense light of the sun's first rays.  All around me and even where I was sitting I suddenly witnessed not hundreds but thousands of petroglyphs.  The sun was casting very low angle shadows so that even the most subtle scratch in a rock became clearly visible.  Petroglyphs which had eroded too far down to actually see in full sun light flashed back alive with new beauty.  I don't know how long it was before the sun moved from this perfect angle, but as quickly as the old drawings appeared they were gone again.  It was a cosmic gift to me for getting up so early on a vacation morning.

Sitting by the pool looking out at the morning ocean waves, I had forgotten about the real world for a moment.  Just in time for my second Bloody Mary the bartender appears in my own personal paradise.  He has with him the signed bar receipts for the Pina Colada's that were on my tab.  Sure enough, my hut number and my signature were prominently inscribed on the tickets....but something was just not right.  I took off my sunglasses to examine the signature more closely.  It wasn't my writing.  It wasn't Sandi's writing, but it was familiar.  It only took a few extra seconds to realize it was the hand writing of my youngest son.  
"Did my son order these?" I said to the bartender.
"The little red haired kid? Yeah that was him." 
"He's eight years old...." I said with a little bit of an edge.
"Oh, they were virgin Pina Coladas... just the mix not the rum."  Naturally the price difference between a high octane Pina and the virgin Pina was only 50 cents so it was just another sale for his shift.  
My young son had figures out that anything he might want was just a "signature" away.  
I said, "Well, in that case put another Bloody Mary on my son's tab."

Then came  the day when a wooden Tiki Statue washed up on shore of Kona Village....  To be continued.... 
Part 2 - Bubba's Death Tiki... tomorrow.  

For now,
Jay



Monday, August 28, 2017

Fly American


My friend Harry Anderson came in town over the weekend for the day to attend a funeral.  I picked him up at the airport and was amazed that he was traveling so light even for just a day's visit.  Literally he had come cross country with two small briefcases.  Both bags together were not as big as a single roll aboard and when he arrived on American Airlines he was carrying both the bags in one hand.  In fact they were of a size that both would fit easily under the seat.  But that is only the preamble to the story.
After the funeral service we headed to the airport.  On the way we stopped at Creature Features in Burbank. It is Harry's favorite store and he is arguably their biggest customer.  Of course while we were there we run into a mutual friend who is sharing the store with his friend from England.  It was serendipity, which we celebrated by continuing the conversation at the nearest pub.  Turns out it was only around the block from Creature Features. There was much conversation and since everyone is a magician but me, I heard secrets that I can't reveal lest they throw me off the Magic Castle roster of members.  So instead of commenting on that part of the trip, I will move on. 
I dropped Harry off at the airport in plenty of time to get to the gate.  But before I got home he called me to tell me what happened.  To get one of the best internet travel deals, Harry booked an arrival on American and a departure on United.  At the counter they asked how many bags he wished to check.  He held up the two small breifcases and said, "This is all I have."  That is when "traveling light" became an issue. 
It seems that this particular ticket on United did not allow for any carry-on bags. Yes you have heard that this might happen, well United has instituted this weird class of ticket.  Harry said he would pay the fee but that was not acceptable.  Even paying a checked baggage fee would not indemnify the cheap price. They said, "There is nothing we can do but check your luggage." 
When faced with rules that make no sense I too have been known to attempt use of the celebrity card. For Harry it went something like this:  "I am a magician and in these bags are part of my act.  I purposefully packed them in bags that would carry on easily. The last time I was here in LA I checked a bag and it was lost for two days. I had been inspected by TSA who did not pack it up the way it was and some of my stuff was broken."  When that fell on deaf ears he said, "Did you ever watch Night Court?"  No response, "How about the other show I did called Dave's World?"  Blank look.  "Maybe you saw one of the Saturday Night Live shows I did... maybe when I hosted?"  
The truth is these counter agents for United have not see a video screen that didn't have a reservation code and seat assignments on it in decades.  There was no way the bags would be carry on.  This conversation with these agents was a non starter. Suddenly, Harry's fairy godmother shows up.  She is a supervisor, older, more in the demographic that would have been a fan of Night Court.  Harry took a shot.  "Hi, I wonder if you can help me?"  
"OMG you are Harry Anderson. I've seen you on TV."  Selfie's came next with Harry and the supervisor.  Harry explained his delimna.  The agents countered with this logic: "Well, even if we let you go to the gate with those bags, TSA will not let you through. That ticket doesn't allow you to carry on.  They will make you check the bags and that is a bigger hassle."
Now let me say that in all my miles of traveling by air before and after the installation of the TSA, I have never heard this could happen.  The only thing TSA is looking for on your ticket is the TSA cleared stamp and if the name, day and time of the ticket is all correct. I can't imagine they know every code for every discounted ticket and what that means.  But that is the excuse the gate agents used to tell Harry he had to check his stuff.  
Harry once again explained the events of his last experience with checked baggage and once again held up the tiny carry ons.  
The supervisor looked at Harry, looked at the bags and then the agents who were holding firm on a draconian regulation. Then she said to the agents,
"Don't you guys know medical equipment when you see it" and stamped his ticket with red stamp.  She said, "You have a nice trip Mr. Anderson. " 
And that was that.  
Harry told me he thanked her and asked what would be the best thing to do if this ever comes up again.  She said, "Fly American". 
It was great to see Harry, we are like kids at camp every time we have the chance to get together.  However, I was glad this time he was flying and not me. 
As you were,
Jay

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Theatrical Post Mortem


This is a picture from last night.  It was a confusing Marquee to say the least.  It appears that a show called "Jay Johnson- One Night Only" closed a week ago after running since June 30.  It was actually a black box acoustical version of my show "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" entitled "Excess Baggage" and it played for  one night only August 19th.  Evidently they changed the name of the show and not the date/dates. To all my friends who came in spite of a dyslexic marquee, thank you.  I didn't get to visit much with anyone for very long at the post show gala.  But I knew you were there and appreciate your attendance even if I could only give you a quick hug after wards.

The one thing that I know after performing "one night only" at the Group Repertory Theater last night is this: I don't know how I did 8 of those shows a week at the Helen Hayes in New York. If anyone says, "you were younger then" they risk a verbal smack down from some wooden actors.  In those Hayes  days I would come home and write about the experience before I went to bed.  Last night I was too exhausted to sleep, much less to use my fingers for typing. But with the perspective of the "morning after" I have come to some conclusions about my show and performing it.

It's not a big theater and the sound system is mostly used as background sound effects for their productions.  I knew it was going to be a nakedly acoustic show but I also knew I could be heard clearly, even un-amplified. After all,  aren't we actors supposed to be able to do that?   I found the lack of amplification was not an issue when delivering the text of the show,  but performing the delicacies of ventriloquism was a challenge.   Being a ventriloquial purist I was shocked at how much I have become accustomed to amplification.  Not so much for the audience as for me.   More than anything, I missed stage monitors. So as not to get too technical and bore readers who are not ventriloquists here is the easy explanation. 

A distant voice requires the vent to "recreate" a sound as if it is coming from another place.  This is done by manipulating the epiglottis to change the amplitude of the sound. (See the Jay Johnson book on ventriloquism to come out soon).  It is basically a balance between diaphragm pressure and the controlled resistance of the vocal chords.  If you push too much with your diaphragm or do not have the correct tension on your chords the "distant voice" is pushed out of the sweet spot you're going for.  

For years, and certainly every time I have ever done my theatrical show, I have relied on hearing what the audience is hearing to adjust that distant voice sweet spot.  It is like singing off pitch, and if you can't hear the pitch you can't correct it.  I have to hear what the audience is hearing, not the sound  I hear in my head.  In a perfect situation I have stage monitors, second best is performing with a house audio system that allows me to adjust my hearing to the "bounce back" sound.  In this case I had neither.  I found that my training to project my voice to be heard without a mic was in direct conflict to finding that sweet spot of the distance voice.  Since I could not hear what the audience was hearing it was easy to lose the balance.  

I am sure that if I were to have more than one night in a "mic-less" theatre my ears and technique would adjust to find the sweet spot. However,  when opening night is closing night there is no chance to learn those corrections. Maybe that's what I love about performing. It doesn't matter how long you have done something or how good you try to be; there is always more to learn because every audience and every theater is different. 

The audience was wonderful and followed the journey and my story with sublimely supportive energy. They did not seem to know  my ears were continually trying to decipher what they were hearing.  I was glad to help raise some money for the theater. Perhaps an updated sound system can go into the budget.

I was lucky to have one of my co-directors in town for this show.  Murphy Cross is not only a wonderfully creative soul, she knows this show better than I do and always has the perfect perspective.  I was treading water until she stepped in and brought her incredible vision to not only the space but to my performance last night.  Her gentleness and angelic qualities are unique in the ego driven world of show business, and I will always be grateful for the Muse that brought us together.  I probably better stop my effusiveness at this point, in case Sandi is reading my blog.  However, if anyone could think more of my friend and partner Murphy Cross than me and Paul Kreppel,  it would be my wife Sandi.  
The task of repacking the show. 

I didn't make a curtain speech last night but if I had , on top of the list of people to thank would be Sandi and Murphy.  Followed by Stan Mazin, Mr. Kent, Rishie, Steve, Larry and all the people who make the Group Rep Theater function. 


For me it will be a day of trying to repack the show for the next performance. That is of course after I catch up on some rest.
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

High Crimes and Stupidism

 This is not a meme, nor is it a photoshopped picture.  I actually saw this sign at a new construction site in Rancho Cugcamonga.  To me it symbolizes the unrest this country is experiencing, we know something is wrong and we know conflict is coming, we just don't know what it yet might be.
The country is in a leadership crisis.  We are like chickens with our heads chopped off, running around with no direction.  The country needs someone who will "stand" for America and unite us like a leader is supposed to do. 
The founders of our country and the creators of the Constitution addressed the possibility that we could accidently elect a crook as President.  Crooks are usually clever enough to pull the wool over the public's eyes to get in office.  They created Impeachment so that we could get rid of the crook before destroying our Government.  
The founding Fathers assumed we might elect a person  we didn't always agree with but at least had the character and integrity to lead America.  That is why the threshold is so high for Impeachment.  We can't just Impeach a person because we don't like them.  We are a country of laws and the President has to break one of those laws for us to use the process to remove him or punish his behavior.  That is supposed to be true for EVERY American citizen.
  
None of the Constitional framers thought we might some day elect a narcissistic, racist, moron who wanted to be the Emperor rather than public servant. They never thought we would have a President who is so ignorant of what the country is and how it works.  They never imagined we would elect a liar who would threaten, bully and berate the very people he is supposed to be leading.  They never imagined we could elect a person who would praise dictators but scold Gold Star parents.  

Unfortunately, being an asshole is not a crime.  Being a lousy human example and worthless leader with no principles or agenda is also not a crime. Until a duly elected President commits an indictable crime, he stays in office.  Unless the investigation now underway finds some definite law that 45 has broken, we are stuck with him.  In light of this, unless convicted or forced to resign,  he is the de facto leader.  

Without a leader who can lead we are like a study hall class with a bad substitute teacher.  With no one to give us an example of what good behavior is supposed to look like, those students who feel emboldened by a lack of direction will attempt to take over.  They will fill the leadership gap with their own bad acts. With no one to tell them to sit down and shut up, they will continue to disrupt the rest of the class.  
Allowing and, yes, even participating in bad behavior does not clear the bar for High Crimes of a President, but it is just as destructive.  By turning your head, waiting days to condemn bad acts and bad behavior,  you are basically sanctioning it.  If you don't inoculate a virus early, it will spread, grow and destroy its host.  

Doing Corporate shows I learned something that is very true for the country today.  I noticed that if a joke was on the edge of what might be acceptable for that specific group, the crowd would look to the CEO to see if they think the joke is funny before they will laugh.  A captive audience will look to their leader to see if something is acceptable to the group.  They will follow his lead.  The country is looking to the President to see if this current behavior is acceptable. If it doesn't seem to bother the one in charge, it must be okay.

If we do not stand for something we will fall for everything. How can we combat a rogue Nuclear threat when we are not even united on who is an enemy? Ultimately this cancer on Constitution leadership is much more dangerous than North Korean nukes. 

We expect a President to be the highest example of Freedom, Liberty and Tolerance 24 hours a day 7 days a week while occupying the office. We expect them to be their absolute best, much better than they were as an average citizen.  While it is no crime to be the laziest example of the entitled American while holding the office of President, it is just as destructive to our Country.  The country is waiting for this man who occupies our executive office to "man" up and be the person the office requires.  If he will not do that then we can only hope that his behavior sinks to the level of crimes.  I personally think that is too long to wait.  

As you were,
Jay