Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Politics and Religion
I believe the rules of polite society apply to writing blogs as well as dinner conversation.

Rule #1 - Never discuss religion or politics.

Neither will be discussed here, but I do have one thing to say. I will be so glad when this divisive, contentious, partisan slug fest is over on November 4th. I am done with it, over it, heard enough, let's stop deliberations and deliver the verdict. Even a hurricane eventually goes away so we could pick up the pieces and move on.

I am tired of the media pundit pulpit, where each issue has to be debated in the red and blue terms of a dogmatic two party system. Under the guise of exposing "both sides", a panel discussion usually includes a person to the extreme left and one to the extreme right of any issue. And after every event, every poll and every press release there is the mandatory panel of experts dissecting every nuance and word. Eventually the event is autopsied so completely with the bias of unwavering party lines that nothing of truthful substance remains. If you throw crap on everything, everything looks like crap, so how can you distinguish anything?

The first Presidential debate was of no solace. Jim Lerher was like the referee in a boxing ring telling the fighters they had to fight. He was actually encouraging the candidates to go after each other. Jim... we are trying to pick a President not chose the Godfather of our gang. Blood is not necessary. If both candidates exit the ring totally covered in blood, how do you know who won? Oh Yee from Public Television should know that, Jim.

Ask anyone "Who won the debate" and the answer will tell you what party they belong to. The truth is always in the compromise which these spinners are never willing to do. Last night I found myself yelling "Bull Shit" at the television trying to add my two cents to a discussion between immovable idiots self dubbed the "best political team on Television." Bull shit I screamed to an emotionless LED screen. That's when I knew it was time to turn off the television. The whole inane discussion was just an attempt to keep me watching so they could sneak in a commercial for erectile dysfunction medicene, which I thought at the time was interesting. Obviously they assumed the only people watching this trash is a bunch of macho posers who, in reality, can't get it up.

I know who I am going to vote for, I have made my decision. Like always it will be the lessor of two evils. It would take a major crisis or global event to change my mind. So why do I feel compelled to watch the pugilism? To blame the media is like blaming electricity for electrocution. The cable and network shows are just responding to what people are willing to watch. If the ratings dropped the more they whipped up a political fever all networks would quickly switch to reruns of Leave it to Beaver. They are just tying to sell ED medications not help inform the electorate.

So here it is. If after 18 months, countless primaries, two conventions and thousands of hours of "information" on every television station, YouTube and Internet outlet, you still don't know who you are voting for, the next few weeks are not going to help you. Just show up at the poles and flip a coin. I am more willing to believe in random chance than the actual intelligence of the average American voter. Let's just get on with it.

As you were,

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bergen Trunk
In Hollywood one of the ways you create value is by celebrity association. I once knew a guy who paid a little more for a car than he should because it once belonged to William Shatner. There was no way to prove it belonged to William Shatner, he didn't buy it from William Shatner, someone else had owned it after Captain Kirk. It seemed a rip off to me.

So a couple of years after Edgar Bergen died, when someone told me that Bergen's steamer trunk was for sale at a junk shop on Santa Monica Blvd., I was skeptical. Not so skeptical that I didn't follow through, however. I made my way over to the shop wondering how one could prove that an old piece of luggage belonged to anyone, much less Bergen. The most one could hope for was a name tag that could have been taken off anything. Or the junk store owner might say, "See that scratch? That was caused by Charlie McCarthy's monocle when they played the Palace. " Yeah right.

I am not a good haggler so I didn't want to go into the shop looking for a celebrity trunk. I wondered around the store for a while, but didn't see any old luggage. Finally the proprietor came up to me and asked if I needed help. I said I was sort of looking for old trunks. He said he had one steamer trunk in the back and he led me to it.

There were boxes stacked all over it and it was covered in dust. You really couldn't tell much about it because it was so dusty. It looked to have been in that corner for years. We moved the junk from off the top. It was definitely a steamer trunk like the one I had been told belonged to Edgar Bergen. It had black edges riveted onto dark burgundy panels and rounded corners. It was obviously built for a purpose and not just for wardrobe. It was rectangular not a camel back steamer trunk and opened from the top instead of the side. There was a panel that unlatched from the front and folded down to allow complete access to the bottom of the trunk. I was still wondering how it could be proven that it belonged to Bergen.

The owner was beside me but was taking no interest in helping me get the trunk out so I could really see it. I took the rag and wiped the top of the trunk. As I removed the dust, three inch high gold letters painted professionally on the top appeared. The letters spelled the name Edgar Bergen. As I wiped some more dust I found Bergen's logo professionally painted on the top with the address of his old office on Sunset Blvd. The logo is a profile of Charlie in silhouette inside a cameo circle. I knew that logo instantly from seeing it many times on other Bergen memorabilia. There was no doubt that this trunk belonged to Edgar Bergen and that it was a road case. As I dusted it some more there were railway shipping labels still attached.

I tried not to gasp, but kept my cool with the owner. I asked if he knew anything about this trunk? He said, "I got it at an estate sale a couple years ago. Used to belong to a radio actor named Bergreen." He actually mispronounced the name of Bergen and never said ventriloquist. I was sure he didn't know who Ber Green was. He went on to say that the trunk was filled with valuable papers about the actors life who was dead now. He said there was a contract, a receipt for a wig, and some pictures of a puppet inside. He told me that the papers were very valuable.

We opened the trunk and I looked at all the papers. What they appeared to be was an old cache of income tax related receipts. The kind of stuff we all keep for five years and then toss away when the IRS hasn't ask for them. There were a couple of places that Bergen had signed his name, the contact was interesting. It was for a one night engagement at some club in the early 40's.

The pictures of Charlie were not Charlie at all but a midget dressed up like Charlie, monocle and all. It looked to me like the pictures of either a double or stand in for a film shoot. All the time the man is telling me that the papers should be in a museum and were very valuable.

To me the papers were not valuable at all. Other than an autograph here and there it wasn't of much interest. I already had Bergen's signature on a picture he signed to me and a letter or two I had received from him. However, I agreed with the owner that the papers were indeed as valuable as he said.

"I guess the papers go with the trunk? Its a package deal?" I said. "What do you mean?", he replied. "Well," I said, "I don't think I can afford the papers, documents are really collectible these days. But I do have a use for an old trunk. Would you be willing to hang on to the papers and just sell me the old trunk." He thought about is for a second or two. I could see the words forming on his lips and he said, "Well, I might be willing to sell them separately." I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to seem too eager but cautiously said, "Well, how much do you want for the old trunk by itself then?" I had no idea what kind of a price he would ask. I was certain he thought he was keeping the most valuable part of the deal.

I had three hundred dollars in my pocket and that was my budget. He thought and thought and said, "Well, an old trunk like that is worth about $200 dollars." I remember at the time thinking he might say $500 and I would have to work him down. Before I could check my emotions I blurted out, "Two-hundred dollars?".

Quickly he said, "Okay, make it $150. It's got all those old stickers on it." It was the days before cell phones but I gave him cash and called a friend with a van, and we had the trunk out of that store in about 30 minutes before he could change his mind.

One of those old stickers is from a trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary in 1952, and Bergen signed it before it was stuck on, which actually documented the entire piece.

I never went back to that shop. I never knew if he made a killing with the documents, and never knew if he regretted selling the trunk. Sometime the cosmos just picks people to become stewards of items, to keep them safe and repeat the story that gives them value. I was picked that day.

As you were,

Tomorrow - "Politics and Religion"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chain E-Letters
What does it say about a writer when he forgets if he's written a rant about a certain subject before? It's a retorical question, but then it's a retorical blog. I may have "gone off" on this subject before, but since it keeps happening, it keeps upsetting me.

I just got another one today. One of those chain-letter emails and I must pass it on or incur "16 years of bad luck if you do not forward."

Are you kidding me? If I forward this crap to others who have the same hostile reaction I did, I may have good luck but no friends. I am not looking forward to 16 years of bad luck, but I opt for the friendship instead. I figure you need lots of friends if you are going to be down on your luck for a decade and a half.

There is an up side to passing on this mystical document. It seems that I can incur good luck based upon the number of people I am willing to piss off.

The letter states it this way:
1-3 people= 1 minute of luck
4-7 people= 1 hour of luck
8-12 people = 1 day of luck
13-17 People = 1 week of luck
18-22 people = 1 month of luck
23-27 people = 3 Months of luck
28-32 people = 7 months of luck
33-37 people = 1 year of luck

This is a bad deal. I am trading 16 years of bad luck for a maximum of one year of good luck if I annoy at least 33 people. This sounds like governmental math for the money market. I notice that these annoying letters never come from a people I would call friends. My friends know I don't like chain letters of any kind and don't send them to me. These are just people who happen to have my email address on file and are using me to accumulate good luck. Stop it. Stop it now. I don't like to be used. These messages are a waste of electrons on the Internet. It dumbs down the population and encourages people to believe that sending email affects your fortune, your luck or your future. In fact I send 20 years of bad luck to anyone who sends me a chain email. You can't just use me as a tool and think you're safe.

Here is a message to all my friends and those people in my email files. "I am taking the bullet for you." I'm not sending this piece of crap on to you. I will never forward a piece of junk to you. I will take the 16 years of bad luck just to keep you safe. You don't have to worry about chain letters coming from me. That's right I am doing it for you. Don't thank me, send money because if this thing is true I am in for some bad days ahead.

As you were,

Monday - "The Bergen Trunk"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ken Kragen is one of the most respected personal managers in Los Angeles. He has handled some of the biggest names in show business and made them successful. He is also the one who created and organized the "Hands Across America" event 22 years ago. He organized enough people to hold hands side by side and stretch across America. It was designed to raise money for the famine in Africa along with the song "We are the World" which he helped produce. It actually happened, which seems impossible today.

Recently I was in his office. Ken collects documents. They are beautifully framed all over the walls of his office. He has letters from Lincoln, Washington, Al Capone, Einstein, Hemingway, Thomas Edison, The Marks Brothers to name only a few that I ogled. There were far too many to comprehend.

However, one stood out. It is a letter addressed to Ken from Gerald Ford regarding the "Hands Across America" event. It was a formal and correctly typed letter on official Presidential letterhead stationery. I think by this time Mr. Ford was an ex-president but the stationery was still official. He said in the letter, "Betty and I would like to commend you on your "Hands across the Table" event. "
Who but Ford.

As you were,

Coming Monday---- "The Bergen Trunk"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Retrospective of the Future
Here are my Broadway Theatre seats. It really is hard to take a picture that puts them in context. The mantel with the Tony is on the other side of the room, but in direct eye line of anyone seated in the chairs. The pool table is in between so for my less than theatrical friends, the seats are front row center for a 9-Ball game.

As I was cleaning the chairs I found a piece of gum stuck to the back of one of the frames. You can only see it if you are lying on the floor looking up. Unless there is a party that turns into a complete drunken bacchanal no one will ever notice. I started to remove the gum but thought better. What is a real theatre seat without gum stuck to it? It is a DNA sample of an actual patron of the arts.

Some day eons from now when the archaeologist are digging through the site of the Great LA Earthquake they will find the iron support of this chair and analyze the DNA. They will be very excited to actually have a picture of what kind of person lived on this spot thousands of years before. By then they will be able to conclude all kinds of forensic information from the sample. They will be able to read the thoughts the person was thinking the moment the gum was removed from their mouth. They will conclude that some New Yorker with Broadway theater tickets was actually anxious to see a show about a ventriloquist. Or.... Not.

It points out something very profound about us humans. The only value anything has is the patina of our thought that we place there. Unless that thought is passed on from person to person there is no real value. To the uninformed observer this is just a couple of out dated audience seats. Museums are filled with objects that are quite ordinary except for the story told about them. So where is the value, certainly not in the object but in our mind. I guess what we think about ourselves and other things is the most valuable thing in the universe.

So the value of life and all its effects is up to us. If we endow what we are experiencing with value it is priceless.

As you were,

Monday - "The Bergen Trunk"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Road Case
It sounds like someone who is has a chronic tendency toward "road rage", but the term is much more benign. A road case is the box that equipment travels in from town to town. It is very much a part of show business. A road case can hold sound equipment, lighting instruments, props or in my case wooden people.

The standard in road cases used to be Anvil cases. Anvil being the name of the company. I have a few myself. When I used to say this is my Anvil case, people would assume I was traveling with anvils. Anvil cases are trunks that clasp with a heavy latches and are edged with aluminum strips and rounded corners. They have a very classic "trunk" look. They are built to take the abuse that would otherwise destroy what is inside.

Pelican Cases are now the standard, I have a few myself. They are lighter but they are just as strong as Anvil makes, a little cheaper and unlike Anvil they are water proof. There are claims that the case would float if a plane had to ditch in the ocean, and could provide you with a flotation device. My thought is, if you are counting on your luggage to save you in a plane accident, you are an pathological optimist. Pelican cases don't look like trunks, they look like huge camera cases. The only problem is, they are molded so you can not get a custom size built, you have to make do with the sizes they think you will need. Anvil will customize a size and shape for just exactly what you need.

I have always had a fondness for cases. Probably started when I played the Saxophone in high School band. I was fascinated by a case that was designed just to hold a Saxophone. to me nothing says show business like a backstage trunk. It is one of the reasons I loved the Broadway set of "The Two and Only" which was a bunch of cases. In fact one of my prized possessions is Edgar Bergen's road case/backstage trunk.

The Bergen trunk is as big as a custom designed steamer trunk. I have no idea what it carried but it is big enough to comfortably hold three puppets the size of Bob. In fact I can get in in and comfortably close the lid, and I have. (When I first got the trunk I was trying to get in touch with my "inner Charlie McCarthy".) Bergen's name and logo are painted in gold across the top of the trunk, and he inadvertently autographed it. There are a lot of travel stickers still attached. One sticker for passage on the Queen Mary he signed his signature and checked "Not needed in Voyage".

How I got possession of the Bergen Trunk is a story for a future blog. Perhaps on a "request" day.

So when my Helen Hayes chairs arrived last week they came inside another gift. It is a road case used by the Blue Man Group. It is about 5 feet long or tall. It stands on rollers when upright. It is about 28 inches square. Don't know what it would have carried, knowing the Blue Man Group it could have been marshmallows. But Steve managed to snag a road cases that fit my chairs. It is cool to have a trunk from the Blue Man. Probably more people know who they are and will be more impress than they would with the Bergen trunk. The Blue Man trunk will immediately be used as a coffin for a Johnson Halloween exhibit.

I don't know of many people who would get excited about a big trunk, but I was the kid who always played with the box the toy came in at Christmas. This is really a great case. Some day it will be on the road with the "Two and Only", I wish we had possession of it when we were touring last year.

As you were,

Wednesday - "Retrospective of the Future"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tomorrow "Road Case" today "Emmy's".

I don't know why television producers can't produce a decent television show honoring their own. The Emmy's telecast continues to be completely without imagination or even entertainment. Last night's show was no exception. The participation by the "five" hosts proved that none of them is up to the job they were Emmy nominated for. Just being pretty was not enough to keep Heidi Flum from goofing up. She introduced an actor form the show "The Bones" instead of "Bones", at least get the title right. (She was nominated for a "hosting" Emmy?)

I never liked Howie Mandel, used to work comedy clubs with him and never understood how he kept working. He never made me laugh, I never saw an inspired piece of material and think his style is childish and dumb. I think he shaved his head in an attempt to find a brain, which was obviously unsuccessful. He is perhaps best on Deal or No Deal since the job is for the most part just answering the phone.

The Emmy's like every award show insists on writing bits for celebrities that aren't funny, aren't rehearsed and only cause the show to run longer than it should. Most every celebrity pokes fun at the crap they are asked to read, which does not make it any funnier only sadder. Snappy dialogue between two narcissistic diva's talking about how good it is to see one another when they are reading off a teleprompter and NOT looking at each other is just insulting. And it is very bad acting.

Once in a while a creative actor will write his own stuff and it shines so brightly in the telecast sea of crap that it eclipses the rest. Last night Steve Martin and Ricky Gervis were the light house beacons. Give us more of that kind of television.

As far as the awards themselves go, I hate to hear, "Wining his seventh Emmy in a row is....." Let's say a good sitcom runs 8 years. Every year they nominate the same actor in the same role and if they are good at the role, they win the same Emmy eight times. Isn't that just giving an award to the same actor for the same part year after year. What has he or she done differently this year? Didn't we think that role and that actor in it was the best last year, and the year before?

The Tony's do it right. A Tony award is for work that is new that season. If the same actor in the same role is still in the show the next year, he or she doesn't get nominated again. With the Academy Awards it is clear that the Oscar is for a specific movie for a specific year. To win again you have to do an equally great job with another character in some other film. Lucky television actors who happen to fall into a part that runs for a long time end up with a room full of Emmy's. They might as well just be reproductions of the original, it is the same accolade for the same work.

I think once you win an Emmy you should be eliminated from the competition for the next year, maybe the next two years. If the show runs for two more years then the Academy acknowledges the fact that staying on the air with the same character and same show for more than three years is a real accomplishment, and they nominate that person again.

SOAP won a few Emmy's but we were always up against M*A*S*H and it always won... year after year. To nominate them was to give them the award. God bless Alan Alda he must have a garage full of Emmy statues, M*A*S*H ran 11 years. If he had been ineligible for a couple of those years he would still be a multiple award winner, but some other actors could have had a chance to grab the brass ring.

I think we are watching the end of network television. The Web will soon take over. How will they nominate Emmy's for a Youtube?

As you were,

Tomorrow - as promised "Road Case"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Broadway Chairs
Right after we closed "The Two and Only" (Tony Award winning Broadway solo show - I never get tired of hawking that line) they closed the Helen Hayes Theatre for renovations. It was mainly cosmetic but plan was to replace all the theatre seats. It is not that the seats were that decrepit, it had to do with the American Disabilities Act. It seems that Americans are getting larger, and the average American butt is now much wider than the standard size of a 1923 American ass. So to comply with the Disabilities Act the seats had to have more "square footage". (I suppose it would actually be "square buttage" to be precise." )

Paul Kreppel my producer/friend/director and Kreppel Syndrome sufferer, thought it would be nice to have a couple of the old seats out of the theatre as a keep sake. Having ownership of an actual Broadway theatre seat is pretty cool, but being as how the last audience to ever sit in these particular seats saw "The Two and Only" (Tony Award winning Broadway solo show - yeah, yeah, a second time in one blog is obnoxious). So the idea of "Broadway Chair" ownership was conceived. Paul went to Susan Meyerberg the lawyer for the theatre and asked if we could buy a few of the old seats. She said, "I'll give them to you." That was the easy part.

Now they didn't remove the seats the day after we closed, nor the week after we closed. In fact I had moved back to LA by the time the renovation started. Out of the blue I get a call that says, "If you want one of the Helen Hayes seats you have to pick it up by Friday. They are all being hauled away after that." I wasn't sure how I would get there but that is when Lori Ann, The Wiz, stepped up and saved the day. I was going to say "saved me by the seat of my pants" or "saved my ass" but there are already too many butt references in this blog.

The Wiz couldn't make it by the day they were hauled out, but contacted Hector- the facilities guy at the theatre and he hid a half dozen chairs in my dressing room until Lori could come by and snag them. (I still considered it my dressing room until Xanadu moved in months later - it will always be my theatre even though it was recently sold to Second Stage.)

Paul didn't have a place of his own in New York yet to put the chairs, and I was across the country. Where to keep the seats until we could sort out distribution was a real problem. Once again, the Wiz came up with the answer. Lori Ann is married to Steve Rosenberg one of the tech gurus of Blue Man Group, so the seats were taken from my dressing room and stored at the warehouse for Blue Man. There they sat for two years.

It was a difficult proposition as to how to ship the chairs to me. The Wiz is never not working and she has an 11 year old son, so chair distribution was not an easy thing to schedule in her life. I had resigned myself to the idea of visiting the chairs at the Blue Man warehouse or home of Steve and the Wiz in the future.

About three weeks ago, out of the "Blue" literally and figuratively, Blue Man Group needs to get the chairs out of the warehouse. The chairs are now homeless, miles from a safe harbor in my den. Steve found a road case that would fit the parts of the chairs, packed them up and sent them to me. The case with the chairs arrived the day I got back from Japan.

I am now in the middle of cleaning them, putting them back together and screwing them onto a base so one can actually sit in them. Sandi was against the idea of screwing them directly into the hard wood floor of the den. Even with a degree in Drama her sense of theatre only goes so far.

I am very excited. They are together and I can sit gingerly in them if I am careful not to tip them back. I have seats 8 and 12. I am contacting my friend Linda who is still an usher at the theatre to see if she can give me an idea of where they might have been in the audience.

I know exactly where they will go. It is a space by the window in the living room/den. When you sit in them you will be staring at the Tony Award across the room on the mantel. I know... that is a little too dramatic for a guy who isn't gay. It just happens to be the best place for them.

Phsycometry is the idea that all things absorb energy from their surroundings. I sit (literally) in awe of what energy these chairs have been exposed to since 1923. People in these seats have witnessed countless Broadway hits from Torch Song Trilogy to Bridge and Tunnel. Record setting runs like Rob Becker's Caveman and Golda's Balcony.

For awhile the theatre was a television studio. Johnny Carson did "Who do you Trust" and it was Merv Griffin's New York home for "The Merv Griffin Show". Paul Winchell even did his television show from that theatre. Who knows how many celebrities and actors have spent time in these chairs. It will be fun to research some more history to discover what other showbiz phenomenons these chairs have silently observed. Since I know the theatre is haunted, perhaps these chairs provide space for some specter even now. The coolest thing of all is, the last person to sit in these chairs saw my show. Somehow that connects me to theatre in ways I can't even express.

I will publish Broadway Chairs pictures soon. Now I am back to the garage to add another coat of varnish to the base. I will be meditating in that chair for a long time to come.

Thank you Wiz, Thank you Steve, Thank you Susan, Thank you Hector, Thank you Paul for thinking of it. Also thanks goes to The Blue Man Group for storing the chairs and giving me the road case to ship it. But to be honest, it never would have happened if I didn't have a friend like the Wiz. She saved them and eventually got them to me. The Wiz is and remains the BEST.

As you were,

Tuesday - "Road Case"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Things were fine until I started to go home.

Yokohama is two hours by bus from the Tokyo Narita Airport. From my hotel it was a 20 minute cab ride to YCATS, which is the Yokohama City Air Terminal Station. It runs buses every half hour or so to Narita.

My flight back to Los Angeles on Japan Airlines was leaving at 5:30 pm. So with back timing persicion I left the hotel about 12:00. That would give me time to get checked out, catch a cab to YCATS, spend two hours on the bus, spend the two hours you need to get through Japan immigration and get on the plane.

The cab is easy, the next bus is loading when I got to YCATS so there is no waiting at the City Terminal. It actually took a little less than two hours to get to Narita so I had more than enough time to cruise duty free.

Almost as soon as I arrive they announce a delayed take off by 40 minutes claiming a late arrival of the plane. That eventually turned into an hour and a half delay. Plenty more time to cruise duty free.

At 7:00 they change the gate and we take a bus to the plane. About a hundred yards from the plane the bus stops. They make an announcement in Japanese. The guy next to me takes pity and tells me that we are waiting for another bus before we can drive the rest of the way to the plane. Almost a half hour goes by with nothing happening, we can see the plane, and could walk easily. Finally another bus shows up and parks next to us. Another announcement in Japanese and people start getting off our bus to get on the other one.

I start to get up but my translator says, "That is just a bus for the people who are standing on this bus." They brought another bus to accommodate the people who didn't have a seat. We wait for all the standing people to find a seat on the other bus, wait for another ten minutes and drive to the plane.

I start to settle in immediately. I've got my drawing pad, my books, my Ipod and my ear plugs. I am ready to accept the long flight. But minutes turn into hours and we have not started to taxi yet.

There is an announcement in Japanese. As luck would have it my faithful translator is sitting in the row behind me. There is an electrical problem with the plane, they are going to fix it and we will take off.

Another hour goes by. There is another announcement. The problem is not fixed and it may be necessary to deplane so they can turn off all the electricity for a test. We are not at a gate, so they will find a gate for us to drive up to. Forty minutes go by.

We get to the gate and sit for a very long time. Nothing seems to be going on. I have been in situations like this before. I look at the time and add that to the long flight schedule. If we delay much longer, the crew can not take off. What most people don't realize is, if a plane is delayed so long that the crew will be in overtime before they land, they won't take off. I knew we were getting close to a cancellation.

An hour later my friend the translator tells me that the announcement just made says the flight is cancelled. If I had taken off when I left for the airport today, I would be landing in Los Angeles. That thought is not helpful.

I have been on cancelled flights before many times. In the States, I would get on my cell phone, call the airlines and start booking options. But my cell phone doesn't work here in Japan, and I am wondering how I will communicate with the ticket agents. I am feeling very blue at this moment.

As the events unfold I realize quite clearly that I am not in the United States. When we finally are allowed to exit the plane, there are literally hundreds of Japan Airlines Employees. Some are there just to say, "So Sorry for your inconvenience," as they bow deeply. Everything seems to have been taken care of. Arrangements for every person on the flight had been made before we even got off.

Each passenger is handed a printed page in both English and Japanese. It has the hotel we will be staying, the number of the bus that will take us there, the new flight, time, gate and seat of the flight we will be taking tomorrow. Since we had already cleared immigration we had to go back through customs, get our bags and head for the bus. All we need to do is show the stub to our boarding pass and it pays for everything. There were JAL employees every 50 yards to assist in anyway they could. Most spoke fluent English.

It was a very nice hotel where we were treated to dinner, breakfast the next morning, shuttle bus service back to the Airport and get this... a free phone call to anywhere in Japan or the United States. After a long, long day it was great to actually get some rest.

The plane took off without a problem at 1:30 pm the next day. Every JAL employee I met during the recheck in process expressed a personal apology. The pilot came on the intercom and apologized, each flight attendant apologized and the Purser came to everyone individually and with a very reverent bow to each person apologized again, "I am so sorry for your inconvenience." No one ever said, "WE" they said "I" am sorry." They had taken the burden on themselves personally. I have never had an easier flight cancellation, been treated better nor apologized to more than this experience. It was absolutely stress free. I couldn't believe it.

There were three or four people who decided to yell and complain loudly from the moment the plane was cancelled. They complained to the Ticket agents, they complained at immigration, they complained at the hotel. They complained to the bus driver. All of them were Americans. I was embarrassed and wanted to apologize to my hosts for there actions. I could not figure out what they were complaining about. JAL would not fly a plane until they knew it was safe, and everything else we needed to be comfortable was taken care of, before we even got off the plane.

I travel more than most, so I have been in every situation you can find yourself in at an airport. There are times to complain, there are times to be unhappy and there are times when throwing a fit is the only way to get an airline to listen. This was not one of those times. This was easy, generous, gracious and stress free. My suggestion to a few of my traveling companions is... lighten up. When people are helping you as fast as they can, shut up and enjoy. Save that drama for an American Airline Company when they don't take the responsibility personally. Save it for when they cancel your flight and say, "Good luck finding another way home."

I got home, a day late, but with the time change it was seven hours earlier the same morning that we took off. I just wish all my American travels could be so smooth.

As you were,

Monday - "Broadway Chairs ------"

Friday, September 19, 2008

 "Quick trip to Japan"
Four words that don't go together.
(Thanks for the line Barry)

You don't normally think of going to Asia for the weekend. However, when you have the chance to go to Japan on someone else's charge card, and the benefactor offers to pay your fee as well, you say "When do we leave?"

I spent 22 hours on airplanes, 7 hours waiting in airports and 5 hours riding on busses, to perform at the  Yokohama Triennale: Time Crevasse.   The show lasted about 35 minutes.  I figure that is about 1.5 hours traveling for every minute I was on the stage.  I have always joked that I get paid to travel, the show is free. That was never been more true than for this gig.  

Yokohama Triennale is an arts festival that happens every three years and is the real deal in the art world. It attracts the best contemporary artist the world has to offer.  There are venues all over Yokohama presenting installations, exhibits, showings and performance pieces. As with all art some is incomprehensible, some is childishly silly and some is moving or disturbing.

Long time blog readers, and art world aficionados will know my friend Philippe Parreno. He directed me in his show "Il Tempo del Postino" at the Manchester Arts Festival in 2007. There were many juicy blog stories from that experience. Although Philippe lives in Paris he travels all over the world making art.  I am intrigued by Philippe's talent and the world he lives in. I will always jump at the chance to work with him.  So, like Manchester, this was another occasion to hang out with Philippe and make art. 

Basically Philippe came to the Yokohama Triennale to  deliver a 10 page essay he had written about the way we communicate. He decided to turn it into a performance art piece and that is how I got to be involved.  I provided Philippe's voice for the "lecture".  I sat next to him at a desk, and ventriloquated as he mouthed the words.  Although you can't judge an art performance by the same standards as any other performance, it seemed to be received very well. There was a group of about 500 people there to see/hear it.  They tell me that it is typical of a Japanese audience to be very quiet during the performance and go crazy at the end.  That is what seemed to happen.  

I have never been to Japan before and can't say that in 72 hours I know it very well. However, there are certain first impressions that will stay with me. Everyone was very polite and civilized. The tradition of bowing is still pervasive, and I found it very calming and respectful. They don't handle money, it is always placed in a tray. If you try and hand a merchant or waiter money they will offer you a small tray to place it in. Likewise your change is placed in the tray and not into your hand.

The cab drivers do not accept tips. They wear white gloves, coat and tie and have a mechanism to open and close the door for you from their driver's seat. The passenger seats are covered with white, lace edged covers and are spotless.

About a block from my hotel was old town.  They actually called it Chinatown and it was about half again the size of old New Orleans French Quarter. The streets were very narrow and it was crowded with hundreds of people.  I couldn't tell if the architecture  was more Chinese or Japanese in design. It all looked Asian to me. 

Mostly restaurants and the Japanese equivalent of fast food take out stores, fortune tellers and an equal number of souvenir stores. In front of every restaurant was a display of the food items they served created in plastic. The entire menu was replicated in surreal sculpture, sitting on glass covered shelves.  Where there was not enough room for a full display they had a flat screen with a loop tape showing the menu, and occasionally the chef as he prepared the food.  

Most of food items involved noodles with some kind of topping.  The toppings were unidentifiable by me as any kind of animal or vegetable matter.   Most were not appealing to my Western pallet.  To my surprise there was not a sushi bar to be found among the 10 square blocks I surveyed.  

The rooms and lobby of the hotel I was staying were simple, spartan and calming in design. Very much that Zen fung shui idea.  The very opposite applied in the commercial section. As you can see from the picture it is an orgy of moving lights, competing patterns and clashing colors.  I was mostly in sensory over load as I walked the streets.  Like looking at one of those 3D posters, you had to stare a long time at a store to even tell what it was selling, or where it ended and the next store front began. 

There was always a hustle to get you into the store or restaurant. Most places had at least two people out front inviting you in.  They were not pushy, just invitational.  I found that if you didn't make eye contact, they did not approach you.

Everything seemed to go extremely well for the short trip, until I started to come back home.
Tomorrow.... Airport hell and flight cancellations............

As you were,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open Letter to:

J. Arthur Tildad, Editor at Large TWIAS

Walter Helmhurst of Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham

Trunion Tilt of Capra, Coppola, Kazan and Houston

Judge Gerald Thompson Hogart

Peter Collier - Concerned citizen

Dr. Manheim Gloster - the Shrink

Nancy Pasterson - Office nurse

Bill Durks - Specialist

Please take a bow.

Thank you for your help. I think I can take it from here.
I am much better now.

As you were,

PS- Tomorrow - Tales of the Yokohama Triennale: Time Crevasse - really!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From the Office of
Judge Gerald Thompson Hogart
1st District Court of Internet Appeals

J. Arthur Tildad
, Defendant
Editor at Large - The World is a Stage

Trunion Tilt
Capra, Copola, Kazan and Houston

Walter P. Helmhurst,
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham Law Firm

Jay Johnson, plaintiff
writer of "The World is a Stage"
It is the order of this court that there be a 30 day cooling off period starting this the 17th (seventeenth) day of September in the year 2008 (Two thousand and eight) beginning at 9:00 AM Eastern standard time, and continue in effect until the 17th day of October of the same year.

During this time Mr. Johnson, here after known as the plaintiff, will be allowed to publish his writings on the blog known as "The World is a Stage" without censorship, redaction, omission, revision or judgment on the part of any editors or their legal representatives.

It is also ordered that during this time J. Arthur Tildad, here after known as the defendant, attend a humor management class and some sort of weight watchers program.

Neither the plaintiff nor the defendant is to have any contact whatsoever with any attorney who represents the law firms of Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham or Capra, Copola, Kazan and Houston during this cooling off period.

The blog will continue with daily humor from Jay Johnson.

Judge Gerald Thompson Hogart
1st District Internet Court of Appeals

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From: Trunion Tilt
Senior Partner
Capra, Copala, Kazan and Houston Law firm

Mr. Johnson:

Allow me to introduce myself through this forum. I do not have your address only your attorney Mr. Helmhurst's address. Although I have contacted him, I find he is not only unresponsive but unpleasant as well.

I am legal representative for J. Arthur Tildad, editor at large, of "The World is a Stage" blog. I introduced myself here in an open letter a week ago, but I assume you were in Japan and not reading the blog. I am sure you had a great time, but truly no one wants to hear about some art show in Japan where you "performed". Rather than write about that experience why don't you go down to the Hallmark shop and find some inspiration among the "thinking of you " cards.

"At Large" is Mr. Tildad's title. It means "over all" or the "boss" of the other editors. It does NOT refer to his weight. At 312 pounds he is sensitive about his girth and hopes that you will be more considerate than to call him "fat" in the future. He does not like "large" jokes. It is comments like that which are at the core of your suspension. There is no rationale for name calling, you smarmy little voice tossing puppet working, Tony Award pretender.

Lastly, your agreement with this Internet provider includes a release that states we have the right to "Amend, edit, change, own, include, exclude, rearrange, reword, rephrase, assign, sell, paraphrase, translate, mutilate, create, explicate, exfoliate," and basically screw with anything you write and submit to us. If you do not like it, find another world wide web to publish on.

I am personally looking forward to your next essay which I understand is entitled: "George W. Bush the smart President, our greatest and most articulate leader". I am just about to submit it.

Trunion Tilt, esq.

Capra, Copala, Kazan and Houston Law firm

Monday, September 15, 2008

Are You Kidding me?

To: J. Arthur Tildad Editor at Large - The World is a Stage
From: Walter P. Helmhurst, HFLC Law Firm

Dear Numbnuts:

I have in my hand a printed copy of the blog published on Sept. 13th. I also have a letter from my client Jay Johnson, which I would like to quote below in red.

Dear Walter, I just saw the blog for Saturday, and I didn't write it. In fact I have been working in Japan and have not had a chance to submit a blog since Friday. I didn't write about puppies or kittys and I certainly would not praise the Republican convention nor its nominees. My salutation is not "And they lived happily ever after" my signature is "As you were" and my name is misspelled.

I don't know who is trying to write my blog, but it is not me nor do they apparently share any of my values. Is there anything that can be done to stop them from publishing these stupid essays and claiming they are mine?

I know that you have been in contact with Tildad since I have been in Japan. Who is this Trunion Tilt guy and what has he got to do with anything? I am afraid to submit anything now that I am back cause I don't know if they will publish, go dark, redact it or just let some ghost writer take over. I want to talk about the experience I had in Japan with my artist friend Philleppe. But now I am not sure I should submit.

Walt, I thought this was my blog? Who are these guys that claim to be editors? And what is an "Editor at Large?" Does that mean that Tildad is really fat? Until a couple of weeks ago I didn't even know we had editors. I thought the whole Rules of the Blog, thing was just a joke.

I am really confused.

How much will it cost me to actually serve these guys to let me take over my own blog? "

Mr. Tildad have you at long last no dignity? Have you no decency? Does freedom of expression and freedom of the press mean nothing to you. There is a Constitution that governs this country. This is not only a suppression of Mr. Johnson's civil rights it is also identity thief and copy right infringement. Cease and desist immediately. Let Mr. Johnson publish his own words. And you go back to the Karl Rove school of business ethics from which you came.

You are an idiot,

Walter P. Helmhurst, Esq.
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham
Attorneys at Law

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Editors Note to the only reader of this blog: Dear sir or madam - although we believe that Mr. Johnson is not writing what we think he is capable of, we can find no objectionable material in the submission for today, Saturday, 13th. As you know the editors are always trying to think of your good and your rights when we squash the liberal mind excretions of Mr. Johnson. Here then is his submission. The editorial staff thinks it meets the standards of family values and religious virtues.

Jaiy Johnston wrote:
Kittens and puppies are really soft and cute. I had a kitten once. She was fluffy and cute. I think it was a girl, I can't really tell with cats, and what does it matter anyway once you have them neutered. But I named her Midnight because she wasn't very bright. I don't mean she wasn't smart. I mean she didn't give off much light. It was impossible to play with her at night. I remember thinking, "Wow, I sure wish there was a way that I could play with my kitty at night. What could I do? How could I play with my kitty and light up the yard at the same time?"

That is when we got a puppy. He was fluffy and cute. I love puppies and pigs but for different reasons. I hope you can find a puppy, or kitty or pig that you like to play with. They are good holsom fun full of family values and religious virtues.

OBTW.... I still can't get over the excitement of the Republican Convention a few weeks ago. John McCain reminds me of my grandfather. My grandfather is in a home cause he forgets a lot like Senator McCain. Won't it be great to have a Grandfather in the Whitehouse and a down to earth, hottie, mother figure that looks like Tina Fey as VP. Isn't that Gov. Sarah something? I guess she will be a grandmother soon as well. What a great pair, an old man and a hot young grandmother running the country. That sounds great. She has done so well raising her five kids, think what she can do for the country when Sen. McCain dies. Wow... this country has never been in better hands than it is now. I sure hope the next Republican can find some more countries to help like we did in Iraq. And hasn't it been so much safer to walk to work at that second job now that the price of gas has taken so many cars off the road. Just the other day I was thinking how great it is for my friend Bernie. Bernie used to drive 45 minutes in traffic to his job. Last week they foreclosed on his house and now he and the kids live right across the street from his job, in a tent. He says it is just like camping.

They all lived happily ever after,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Open letter

To: Mr. Jay Johnson

From: Trunion Tilt
Senior Partner
Capra, Copala, Kazan and Houston Law firm

Mr. Johnson:

I represent J. Arthur Tildad, editor of "The World is a Stage" blog. I have been reviewing the actions and communications between Mr. Tildad and Mr. Helmhurst. All of us involved are sorry that a conflict of duties has caused such distress for you and your reader. (That's right reader, singular. We checked you have only one reader, the comments are being made by the same person using assumed names. How crazy it that?) At any rate, we hope to have an equitable solution to this problem soon. (the publication problem, not the reader problem)

I wish to thank you for providing a blog yesterday that was publishable. Not funny but publishable. Because it was a National anniversary of grave proportions, it was a timely essay. As you can see our client Mr. Tildad is trying to work with you, and truly will publish those essays that are up to standards. However, in the future I would suggest that you look to lighter subject matter for your contributions.

For example the essay submitted for publication today entitled: "Why do they call them apartments if they are all stuck together?" is not up to standards and will not be published. I found it neither humorous nor uplifting.

Can't you write about puppies and flowers or even cats (with out the candle references). Please meet us half way and write funnier stuff. And, by the way, you have been banned from making comments on your own blog.

Trunion Tilt, esq.

Capra, Copala, Kazan and Houston Law firm

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,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Punitive Response to:

J. Arthur Tildad Editor at Large - The World is a Stage

Dear Editor Jerk:

If you publish Mr. Johnson's blogs, you are required to run them in tact. Redactions will not be tolerated in the future. Although we disagree with your right not to run them at all, that is your only option. Any other attempt to change the material included in Mr. Johnson's essays will be viewed as "intellectual property defacement." Where was your editorial staff when Mr. Johnson published the word Digus instead of Dingus. Surely the job of editor includes major spelling mistakes as well as irrational censorship.

Consider yourself served.

Absolutely no regards,

Walter P. Helmhurst, Esq.
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham
Attorneys at Law

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Editors Note:
As our readers know, a battle between the editorial staff and writer of this blog has played out publicly on this site. The Law firm of Hunt, Lunt, Funt and Cunningham has filed an injunction at the ICA (Internet Court of Appeals) concerning the Editorial Staff's actions to go dark with the blog yesterday. The editors have been forced to retain services of Capra, Copala, Kazan and Houston Law firm to represent us in this action. Trunion Tilt, a senior partner of that firm has suggested that instead of continuing to publish an empty blog we publish some of Mr. Johnson's current work, redacted of course. So here is the redacted essay from Mr. Johnson submitted on September 3rd, entitled "Cats? Do they make good candles?" We now let you to decided in the court of public opinion.
J. Arthur Tildad, Editor at Large.

Written by Jay Johnson:
Don't get me wrong, I love cats. They aren't dogs but neither are pigs. When processed and prepared properly a pig is much tastier than a dog or a cat, so each have their function. But cats can have many more uses than even a pig. Consider a cat as illumination for you next out door barbecue. (sentence deleted - Ed.)...... If you think of the tail as the wick you can ( sentence deleted- Ed.)....... The only problem now is how to keep the "candles" from running away and setting your shrubby on fire. I have found that if you (paragraph deleted - Ed.)....... but make sure you use a non flammable tape.

The last major obstacle is the smell. A burning cat is not citronella by any means, but if you (paragraph deleted - Ed.)

And there you have it. An average sized house cat will burn for a couple of hours if you, ( six words deleted - Ed.)....... certainly not the same length of time as a wax candle, but much brighter and more exciting. You can always turn the music up higher to cover the (ending deleted - Ed.)

As (two words deleted - Ed.),

Monday, September 08, 2008

This Blog is Currently
By orders of the editorial staff of
"The World is a Stage"

J. Arthur Tildad,
Editor as Large

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Editors Final Note:
Mr. Helmhurst. We are awaiting an acceptable blog from your client. If an acceptable blog is received, we will certainly publish it as soon as it is received. So far the submissions of his so called stream of consciousness have been under whelming.

Here are just a few of the titles that have been submitted to our editorial staff this week from your client, Jay Johnson:

"Wintergreen LifeSavers explode when mixed with bleach ", "How long does it take a hamster to suffocate?" "Cats, do they make good candles?" "American Indians, Red and communist." "If there are jellyfish where is the jam?" and "How much do you have to take to feel like you are flying." None of these articles/essays were amusing or funny. In fact the "Cats verses candles" essay can only be classified as disturbing.

We are ready to publish, Is Jay Johnson ready to deliver? We are prepared to go dark with this publication as early as Monday, Sept. 8th unless there is a blog that is publishable and ready to go. We do not mean dark in the way that you have tried to couch his artistry, but dark in the notion that there will be no publication for that day.

We are ready. Please send us material, your legal posturing be damned we are on the right side of history on this topic.

Thank you,
J. Arthur Tildad
Editor at Large

Friday, September 05, 2008

Additional Open Response to:

J. Arthur Tildad

Editor at Large - The World is a Stage

Dear Inconsiderate Authority Figure:

Once more the editorial, or as we see it, censorship staff of "The World is a Stage", has failed to understand the complexities of the artist's mentality. Art does not just flow through the artist like a river, but rather ebbs in the Artist like the tide. Unlike a river that is continually moving, the true artist is always in a state of expansion or contraction like the ocean tide.

There will be periods of pause or even reversal as the tide of creativity is either coming in or going out. This is art, and why you have engaged an artist to deliver his art for your blog. You can not expect our client Mr. Johnson to flow like the river with continually funny essays. That is not the dynamic of true organic art. You must allow his creativity to express the profane as a balance to the rushing tide of hilarity.

We urge you to publish the works of Jay Johnson that you have received over the last week. Even though they may not be the laugh riot you think is necessary to hold the blogal audience, they truly reflect his stream of consciousness at the moment.

Is this not the blog that claims to be: Journalized rants and ramblings from a fragmented ventriloqual mind. (Some names will be changed, some will not. They know who they are.)

Our client is ventriloqual, ranting, rambling and fragmented. Let Jay Johnson continue to publish his "rants" on this blog or we will be forced to take all remedies that are due us under the law.

Walter P. Helmhurst, Esq.
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham
Attorneys at Law

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Editors Additional Note:
Once again, Mr. Helmhurst you have chosen to air this dispute in the public forum of this blog.

Once again I will answer it in the same public way. If you were a serious litigator I would think you could find a better means of negotiating a solution for your client than this open blog. Nonetheless, this is my response to your accusations.

There is no "censorship" exercised in the probationary suspension of Jay Johnson as writer of this this blog. We are simply waiting on him to fulfill his obligations to deliver a daily funny essay for publication. Although we have received several submissions since his suspension, we have yet to think any of them were funny enough to publish. What are we supposed to do? Should we fill the daily space with bickering and public negotiations?

All we have asked of Mr. Johnson is that he deliver a daily, amusing (to funny) essay on the stories that would be interesting to readers of "The World is a Stage." (quotation necessary). Until such time as we receive such an essay, he will continue to be on probationary suspension. If the we do not have an essay suitable for publication in three days we will consider him in breach of his contract.

Thank you,
J. Arthur Tildad
Editor at Large

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Open Response to:

J. Arthur Tildad

Editor at Large - The World is a Stage

Dear Tildad:

Let me say that if our law firm of Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham was not already engaged in seeking justice for our client Jay Johnson, I would personally file a grievance on you for using too many "quotation" marks. "This" was "Used" way too much in a "lame" defense of your reactionary suspension of Jay Johnson from writing this blog.

Jay's writing has made this blog what it is, a blog that is read semi regularly by three maybe four people. One of those readers is Jay himself wondering when he will ever see his writing published on this site once more.

We ask again that you lift the "censorship" (quotation used correctly) and let Jay Johnson publish his blog, or we here at HLFC will be forced to take strong and immediate actions.

Walter P. Helmhurst, Esq.
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham
Attorneys at Law

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Editors Response:
Mr. Helmhurst, since you have chosen this open forum to challenge my ruling on Mr. Johnson's probationary suspension, I will answer it here as well.

At "The World is a Stage" we have a standard of "information with a smile". We are dedicated to publishing interesting stories that are theatrical and yes... funny. Some of Mr. Johnson's stories have been just that. In fact some of the writing he did during his Broadway days was exemplary. However, his writing seems to have taken a much darker turn after his recent assignment in London. References to "Dickless Producers" and rants on the beloved users of FaceBook caused us to take actions we have never had to take before. We were forced to set guidelines for the blog. (Note, Rules for Blog July 30. 2008)

In the month that followed Mr. Johnson grew continually more serious and humorless in his blogs and often resorted to posting "videos" instead of writing. Although he was given Sunday's off to help his "creative flow" the quality did not improve. I have not laughed once since early August.

However, the blog he submitted for the August 30th publication was depressing, demeaning and de-worst. We will not let him exploit this blog to air his depressions even if they are a cry for help. There is too much competition for internet time to let him continue to write from this "dark side" as you put it.

The suspension will remain in effect until such time as we receive a funny, non offensive, clever and uplifting blog to publish.

J. Arthur Tildad,
Editor at Large - The World is a Stage.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Open letter to:

J. Arthur Tildad

Editor at Large - The World is a Stage

Dear Mr. Tildad:

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Walter Helmhurst, esq. partner in the law firm of Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham. At HFLC we specialize in protecting artist's rights, and we have been retained by Jay Johnson, your writer for this blog.

Mr. Johnson feels his rights of privacy and artistry have been compromised by your action of placing him on "suspended probation" for "an apparent attempt to flush himself down a self imposed emotional toilet." This statement is judgmental, detrimental and could not be further from the truth. Your actions have defamed Mr. Johnson personally and professionally.

Mr. Johnson is not the wind up monkey that you seem to think. He is not just a machine programed to be funny all the time. In fact some of the humor you seem to value comes out of his deep emotional feelings. You can not embrace the lighter side without accepting the dark roots that feed this humor.

We are here by informing you that unless Mr. Johnson is allowed to publish on this blog immediately and without artistic interference from the editor, we will seek immediate relief and take necessary actions.

Walter P. Helmhurst, Esq.
Hunt, Funt, Lunt and Cunningham
Attorneys at Law