Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Day after Christmas.....
As we left Europe I handed the Dutch officer my passport for inspection. He looked at it and with a Dutch accent said, "How Yea'll doink?" He looked through the pages to find a blank space to stamp, which is not easy given the number of times I have traveled out of the country in the last five years.  After stamping the page he said, "Howdy"which came out more like *Whoody* and he said it like it was the expression for goodbye. It took me a minute to realize that the passport correctly lists Texas as my birth place.  The immigration officer was doing his best Cowboy for me, and I almost missed it.
This is a picture I took of the Brandenburg Gate from what used to be the East side of Berlin. It was very pretty lit up with the Christmas tree in front and snow all around.  It looks like the picture was taken in the early evening, but it was actually about 3:00pm.  The sun doesn't come up in Berlin until 9:30am and starts setting about 4:00pm and by 5:30 it is full blown darkness.  It makes all the Christmas lights of the city more enjoyable.
As for our luggage, no word since the German delivery man called my son to tell him the bags were on the way to his apartment, while we were on the way to the airport. The fact that the bags made it to Berlin and had been found is not in the record that the magic tracking number was supposed to log.  In fact we are getting forms emailed from the Airline to fill out so we can file a claim.  According to the records the bags are still missing and have been since Dec 16th. I suppose on Monday I will have to make my rounds calling to see what news there is.  Sandi and I leave for a New Years Eve Cruise on Wednesday and I doubt we will know anything definitive about the bags before then.  
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know the New Year will be full of surprises and opportunities.
As you were,

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Life has a sense of humor that can not be denied. Most of the time we are too close to see that what happens to us is a cosmic joke, a prank to make us smile, or to show us that the events of our lives are not so serious or tragic as we think, or maybe just to help us evaluate what is really important.
After seven days without our luggage Sandi and I have gotten used to the idea of never seeing those "things" it contained again. We were most upset that the Christmas gifts we brought to our son did not arrive. One of his German friends suggested, in broken English, that the "Christmas Man" - his translation of Santa Claus- had stolen the luggage to keep us from usurping his duty to deliver the presents on Christmas Eve.
But, the lack of personal effects did not keep us from experiencing the sites of Berlin or impede the joy of seeing our son. His grasp of the language, culture and mythology, that is Berlin, becomes infectious and, for his father and mother, lovingly overwhelming at times. In fact the lack of personal property was freeing in some ways. We had everything we needed. We had what we came for, time with our son in his adopted city.
So there was sadness when the time came this morning for us to go to the airport for our third and last time. The snow was melting a little causing the walk to the bus to become more slick and treacherous than usual. Even the streets of Berlin were trying to keep us from going away. Our son's cell phone rang and he answered it with his German hello. After a brief conversation he ended the call. I am accustomed to waiting his German conversation is over to get the English translation. The call was from Tegel Airport calling to say that our bags had been found and they were ready to be delivered. If they had kept them at the airport we could have picked them up when we arrived a few minutes later, but the bags were on a truck headed for the apartment we had just left. Our Son told them to deliver the bags to our home in California. The man said it would take a couple of days.
There won't be an end to this story until our bags arrive in LA and the belated gifts arrive in Berlin, but the moral is clear: important things can not be lost in travel nor delayed by weather and certainly can not be contained in a suitcase.
Merry night before the night before Christmas,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day six of trying to cope with the coldest winter in German on record and doing it without any luggage. My advice to any traveler is avoid KLM Dutch Airlines if at all possible, especially traveling through Amsterdam. Now suddenly everyone seems to know that KLM is notorious for being hard to contact, and Amsterdam is a notorious for canceling flights and losing luggage, especially in the winter. Where was this information in the weeks before when we were booking this trip. While KLM's in flight service was very nice, once on the ground they become invisible. As flights were cancelled and we became separated from our luggage, we were told to "simply" call Customer Service and they would deliver our bags anywhere we needed them. Unfortunately, the phone numbers do not ring through, or are constantly busy, and not open 24 hours, nor weekends. When we finally did get through, on day five, the automated system instructed us to consult the website and disconnected. The website crashed and then we were told to contact the airlines through Facebook or Twitter. I am not joking, Twitter.
I finally resorted to calling American Express Global services to get some help. They could not get through to KLM either, but did find out that we needed to go to the Berlin Airport in person to file a report. We traveled the hour to the airport. After an hour wait and with our son there to translate we were given a form to fill out and told to fax it. Then we would be given a tracking number for our case. How would we get the number? We would have to call.
After several days of the same phone treatment we decided to go back out to the airport and actually find a human.
Another hour trip and we were directed to the Global Berlin Baggage service down stairs in the airport, where there was a line with a two hour wait to see a human. After an hour we discover that the line we were instructed to wait in was for Luftansa not KML. We switched lines to start the two hour wait clock all over again.
Hours of waiting time later we were allowed to meet with a human who substituted the Z sound for an S when she spoke. She said they had never received the fax and we needed to start all over. We finally got a tracking number, no luggage and no idea on when we would get it but we got the magic number. The only thing that was determined was that when we leave Berlin in two days, they would stop trying to get the luggage to our address here and send it to California.
Here is the bottom line. The inconvenience of not having our luggage is nothing compared to the stress, inconvenience and anxiety of trying to get KLM to look for our luggage. My wife and I both wanted a holiday we would never forget, well, be careful what you wish for.... We will certainly never forget this one. The saga continues.
As you were,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter in Europe
We are here in Berlin with my son. We do not have our luggage and were were two days late after being stuck in the Amsterdam airport for about a day and a half due to a snow storm. I'm glad I like the shirt I am wearing I've had it on for four days now. The airlines were not good at giving out information in any language. The forms to fill out were in Dutch, and the Information lines were jammed. No flights, we finally had to take a train to Berlin and were lucky to get it. More later as the saga continues.

On a totally different subject. Here is a comment that I got from my last post. The one with the vent movie poster painting:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "As you were, Jay":

there is a signature and Copyright mark so jay please post the info about where this came from... illustrators work very hard - hopefully no future bookings will use part of this for posters/press/website etc.

Posted by Anonymous to THE WORLD IS A STAGE at 2:01 PM

I don't know who anonymous is but they are not up to the usual intelligence of my average blog readers, and the fact that they would snipe with invisibility is not appreciated. Two things:
If "they" had actually seen the copyright they would have known that the signature is mine as is then copyright. The illustration is mine, I drew it, it is from my own art files and I will use it in whatever way I want to. What hurts the most is that whomever "they" are assumes that I would not credit another artist's work or would not be capable of creating that art myself. Next time Anonymous, get your facts straight, and be brave enough to leave your name.

As you were,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Traffic Event
There are several routes to get through the mountains from the Valley to the West Side in LA.  One is the 405 Freeway which needs to be avoided for short trips.  The other routes are canyon roads, two lane paths that wind through the hills to the other side.  The roads twist and turn and with the right car it is a very exciting drive at just a little over the 35 mph speed limit, say 50. It is better than a roller coaster ride at Magic Mountain.
Today I found the need to make that trip over Coldwater Canyon to Beverly Hills. Tis the season after all. I am in a BMW so I have the right car, and the morning drive traffic is gone.  Just me and the road, for a moment, I feel like an Indy driver on Memorial day. That is until I come upon an old model Volvo creeping along at 20 mph.   The ancient driver is driving way under the speed limit, breaking for every turn and wiggle in the road and yielding to imaginary wild life crossings.  To let him know that I am behind him, as is the custom in LA, I crowd him a little.  It is the signal we all agree on that says, share the road and at least drive the speed limit.  This driver obviously does not speak auto.  He continues to coast and break and yield to the frustration of anyone behind him.
Soon I am not the only driver who is frustrated.  There are six cars behind me that are thinking the same thing I am... why is this guy driving like he is from Florida?  Once again I crowd his back bumper.  (Honking is a NYC tradition that is rarely use on this coast).  The rule is once five cars are being blocked by a very slow driver, that slow driver should pull over and let the traffic by.  Again, this driver, "no speaka" nor "knowa the rules".
The parade slows to a funeral march. Lined up behind me is another BMW, a Lamborghini, a Porche, and three cars I can't put a make on.  The Lamborghini is having trouble going 20 mph, it idles faster than that.  The driver guns the engine just to keep it running.  It is a loud sound but the Volvo is unfazed.
 I give the driver the benefit of the doubt, one more time, thinking that he is just unaware of the commuter crises he is causing us.  I politely ride his back bumper again,  he shoots me the finger and hits his breaks.  I am able to stop in plenty of time as are all the others in the long line.  That is when I realize that this guy knows that he is leading a long line of pissed off drivers through the Canyon and doesn't care.  As he creeps ahead of me his personalized licence plates read,  "STA BAC"
As you were,

Monday, December 06, 2010

Building a stone henge are we?

Eddie Izzard does a routine on stone henge that is very funny to me. As some ancient Druids are carving on stone a couple of neighbors pass by. Looking up at the activity they say, "Building a stone henge are we?...It's very nice."
Eddie Izzard would be one of my favorite performers even if he wasn't the one who gave me a Tony on stage at Radio City Music Hall. Thanks Eddie.
I was thinking of you when I painted this.
As you were,

Friday, December 03, 2010

Very different from what I usually paint... not a drop of blood in the entire piece.

As you were,
More Mind Fertilizer
I think that it represents more an example of obsessive compulsive disorder than actual talent, here is my new submission into the world of: "What did you do last week?"

There is one interesting thing involving my trip back from Acapulco. There are two things that are "given" in this story. As the lawyers would say we stipulate to these pertinent facts.
First, I don't like the TSA in general. I think they are the lowest level of Rent-a-Cop and now with the new groping procedures they are allowed to administer I feel more invaded and like the TSA even less. And... I don't feel safer because of the intrusion.
Second, I don't like to fly in Mexico. Since there is less Xray equipment and technology in most of the airports they rely on manual inspections. It is not always Manuel sometimes Manuellita. The point is, airport inspections are much more personally invasive in Mexico it is up close and personal: "Meester, cwould jew stan like thees with jour harms hup." On the street it is a robbery, at the airport it is security.
With those two facts in mind here is my saga.
I was searched at the dock by the Manuel at customs. My luggage was searched at the ticket counter when I arrived at the airport. I had to go through the metal detector and xray before getting to the gate. At the gate three more Manuels looked in my carry on bags and did a pat down.
Changing plans in Mexico City meant I had to go back through security, and was frisked by two different sets of TSAitos before boarding my final flight home to LA. Just part of the job, and the excitement of going home got me through it.
After 6 hours we landed at LAX Airport, and as I step into the jet way there is a Homeland security agent watching people get off the plane. He stops my egress and culls me out of the herd, "Could you step over here for just one second sir.... just put you bag down."
I can't tell you what I was thinking because the vocabulary of curses in my head is not a language that any one understands but me. Just know I was thinking words so derogatory they couldn't even be vocalized. But in my truly dysfunctional passive aggressive way what came out was, "Certainly officer."
The man looked me in the eye and said, "Just around the corner we have a drug dog." (My Inner dialogue: "Okay jack wad, what has that got to do with me.") He continues,
"And I wonder if you would mind giving us a hand." (Inner dialogue: "Why don't you go cavity search a baboon, Dick Tracy." ---- Outer dialogue: "Why, certainly officer."
He continues, "I would like to hide some drugs on you and see if the dog can find them? He is new and being trained to work crowds." How many times do they tell you not to take things from strangers at the airport. Here is a guy actually asking me to mule drugs and instead of yelling for the cops, he is a government cop. I said, "As long as the next officer knows that the drugs are yours not mine... okay." He really didn't answer that statement directly, but by that time several witnesses have seen me talking to the guy, he has a uniform...and I am so tired from flying I'm stupid.
He takes what looks like a chamois pouch out of a baggie and stuffs it in my sock. He takes my carry on saying, "I don't want this to get in the dogs way." and then the blow-off, "Don't stop until an officer tells you to stop." Those last words are the ones that hang in my rational brain as I continue on what is now not a normal journey for me.
At the terminal before immigration there is an officer with a black lab on a chain. I am figuring the dog will bark like crazy when I approach. But he doesn't. In fact he doesn't move. I go right past. Thinking that the dog has perhaps flunked his final, I am 30 or 40 yards away when I hear an officer say, "Will you stop right there sir. And do not turn around." I stop. I hear the officer say, "Good boy," and I assume it is praise for the dog, not me. I am thinking like a game show contestant now and expect to hear, "Thank you for playing, drug mule madness, here are a couple of parting gifts... Don Pardo what do we have for this gullible contestant?" But alas that is not the drill. I stand there for another five minutes waiting for the officer who planted the drugs on me to show up. It could have been less than five minutes, but it seemed like a couple of hours, because until the officer arrives, with my carry on, I am a drug suspect.
They retrieve the stash from my sock, thank me for my participation saying the dog needed the live drill and I was helping the cause. Of course for the next hour...the entire time I am at immigration and customs I feel like a drug smuggler. People who saw me being pulled out of line by the officer are avoiding my direct look. I am paranoid that the smell will stay with me and before I get out of the airport a more experienced dog will really bust me.
So I have now been the subject of a TSA "Gun Test" and a Homeland Security "drug test" during my airline commuting career. Feel safer when you fly this holiday, kids, Jay the security crash dummy is here to help.
As you were,

Sunday, November 28, 2010


It is a beautiful day in Costa Rica wondering if I have figured out this buggy Internet on the ship. I'm not sure if it is the actual hot spot or my operation of the iPad. Either way it is a very frustrating experience.
As you were,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Panama City

This is about all I got to see of Panama City after an all night flight following a turkey dinner Thursday. The ship had just gone through the canal so I missed that experience. I am looking forward to it some day.
The airport was empty except for my flight which had a line almost out the door. We were the last flight out of that terminal at one in the morning. The TSA was complaining that they had to stay because the ticket counter agents were so slow. No one was happy to be working on Thanksgiving, and I was not elated to have to fly either.
The TSA is screening everyone with the nude photography machine at LAX. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be radiated or groped but it happened so fast I didn't get a chance to decide. The machine has taken the place of the metal detector and I was walking through it before I knew it. I am not sure if I want to be xrayed everytime I fly but it was fairly simple this time.
When I was a kid they had xray machines in the Sears shoe department to see how a childs foot fit in the shoe. It was a great idea until it was found to be extremely dangerous and all of them were removed. I have the feeling that we will discover that the TSA machines are more deadly than they are telling us. We are always behind the curve in these cases.
Easy gig this trip. I am doing half the shows I normally do at full price. Need more of these gigs even with the all night travel schedule.
Missing my family more than usual but wl be home soon.
As you were,

Friday, November 26, 2010

A continuation of the series. This one is called "Jack".
As you were,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More silly stuff
Just more stuff to prove that I probably have more time on my hands than I should.

I hope you enjoy it.
As you were,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time to Share

Here is my new favorite painting. iPad is getting more friendly to my art muse. She seems to have come to stay for a while, I always hope she doesn't leave soon. This picture is called
"The Ripper". It suits my gothic nature.
As you were,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Need More Time
So here is my first attempt at animation with the Ipad. I have blogged before about my adventures into animation.  A 20 second full color cell 8mm back in the 1970's took me about three months to finish.
This took me literally minutes, and there is more to come now that I know the ropes a little.
Okay so the Pixar and Disney animators are not worried, but if I can do that on an Ipad with about and hour of time... think what can be done from now on?
As you were,

Friday, November 19, 2010

It was Andy Warhol who thought it up and created the art but Lilly Tomlin is the one who said it. As she held his famous picture of a Campbell's Soup can in one hand and an actual can of Campbell's soup in the other.

In the case of the coke can, it was the only model I had on the plane. I have found that staring at people on an airplane with the intensity to draw them no matter how interesting they are can get you "labeled".
As you were,

Auto Pilot
Here we are at the coffee bean and tea leaf. Since I rarely travel with a laptop I am getting an introduction to the world of hot spots and Wifi with this Ipad. I still get the thrill of a hacker when I successfully navigate through an introduction screen. It just seems like a covert accomplishment every time.
Funny now that I am home there is nothing to really write about. I think I turn my observational skills off or at least they seem to relax or disappear when I get back from a trip.
One thing I am noticing is the distinctive absence of typing sounds. As in look around there are at least four people keyboarding computers in addition to me and my screen typing. But there is no noise. Old typerwiters used to be very noisy. I remember a high school typing class that could be deafening during an exam. The major sound for background noise of a 60's/ 70's office was always the distinctive sound of typewriters. News rooms were filled with the sounds of a teletype machine. Now days there is keyboarding all around and never a sound to give it away.
The CBTL got very busy all of a sudden, the morning rush like a bus stopped and everyone got off to get coffee.
It has started to drizzle. Okay that is the end. When I start talking about the weather, unless it is some far away place, I officially have nothing to write about.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iPad Madness

Back home for a week or so and have the freedom of my own internet. This pretty well sums up my experience on the Grand for two weeks. They say Art is just thought expressed.
As you were,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Four Star

In this picture if you notice the second window from the bow, the square port hole just above the N in Grand, you will see my humble abode. It is indeed the phone booth size closet that they call a cabin. It wasn't too bad since most of the time my world was the screen of an 8x10 Ipad. The problem was not the space as much as the placement. You will also notice that the cabin is less than 20 feet to the bow line portal. Every time the winches were engaged, which was every time we docked or left a port, my small cabin would shake with the force of a 4.5 earth quake and the thunder of metal on metal gears grinding. Not the way one would like to be awaken at six AM especially after a late night performance. It would always wake me but after a few mornings I was able to go back to sleep but did have several dreams reliving the Northridge Quake of 94.
I will be home in about 18 hours most of which will be spent on an airplane. There will be a whole new set of adjustments I will need to make to fly. I will be glad to be home for a little over a week.
I never did meet the cruise director. I did watch him do "his show". It is posed as an impromptu second thought when the lounge pianist sees him in the audience and casually asks him if he wants to sing a couple of numbers. He reluctantly gets up and graces the audience with a tune or two or five. Getting to know Ray the pianist I find that it is highly rehearsed and set up for him a couple of times a cruise. Ray is not thrilled to have to do it. After working with Frank Sinatra this Cruise director is not thrilling.
It is perhaps the most self involved narcissistic performance I have ever seen. The superior, almost condescending, manner he works the crowd is a cliché Bill Murray imitation. He is so full of himself he doesn't leave room for the audience. Where is Simon Cowell when he could really do some good?
After his "set" would have been the perfect time to introduce myself and finally meet him. I couldn't do it. My green room perjury can only go so far. I walked away as he was taking his bow. I figure this guy goes through his day not realizing there is anyone else on the ship. As you were,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rain in the Caribbean

Curaçao has intermittent showers which makes for some unbearable humidity. It is Jungle hot. You are drier when it rains. Some of the old folks scooters are getting vapor locked and need to be towed back to the ship. I saw one old lady pushing a rolling walker with a bucket of iced beer on the seat. She may be old but not stupid.
Ray Cousins plays the devil out of the lounge piano. I am blown away that ten fingers can produce that much sound. At one point in his set he wiped his brow and I swear the music never stopped as his left hand came above the keyboard. Clearly one elderly gentleman was not sure what was going on and was not sitting where he could see Ray's hands. In slow small steps he started from the back of the lounge with a mission. It took a long time for him to reach the stage but was finally next to the piano. I thought he was going to make a request, instead he craned his stiff neck down and around the piano to glare at the keyboard for a minute. He looked at Ray, then back to the keyboard as if to be certain he was actually playing. He straightened up as best he could and gave a positive nod to his wife sitting in the back. Satisfied it was legit; he began the long slow journey back to his seat.
At the bar (my office after five on a non performing day) some men were talking about the missile/con trail that was spotted and filmed this week off the California coast. One of the men was retired from the Apollo project for NASA and worked for Northrop Grummon in the weapons division. He gave all the educated reasons why it could not have been a con trail from an aircraft. He was sure it was a mistake missile firing or secret test of a submarine rocket. Damn what could be the start of a conspiracy in my own back yard and I was out of town? I have to time my trips better.
Counting the days till I can get back is now my daily task. I go back to work tonight so it should go faster. Still have not met the Cruise director. I am trying to make it all the way through this contract never speaking to him. Everybody needs a goal to keep them sane. That has become mine.
As you were,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Human Cargo
I have seen all the movies on board, found every part of the ship of interest, participated in an organized game of darts and tried to be a passenger as much as I can. The small cabin is closing in on me and I am getting ready to go home. I won't work for another three days and then I will do four shows in three days. It would be nice to so spread them out over the time, but this is the gig. Hard to complain about being forced to be a passenger on a cruise ship, but it is no vacation to me. I guess I can be grateful we are not being towed to San Diego by tug boats and we have hot food and hot water unlike the Carnival Splendor that caught fire this week. Even more I am glad on this Veterans day that I am not doing a job that could get me shot and killed in the deserts of Afghanistan or Iraq. I hope that we can bring everyone home soon and stop this war once and for all. I really thought we had learned a lesson in Nam. But here we are stuck in a war that has now gone on longer.
In thinking about Veterans day,here is a shout out to Lt. Arthur Noel Johnson,Jr.a naval officer who served in World War II and was called back for service in the Korean "conflict". That is when we decided not to call them wars because it scared people. Lt. Johnson served as a radar officer on several Air Craft Carriers including the USS Blueridge. I am sure he was a tough and caring officer, because that is the kind of Dad he is. I think of you every time I look at what seems to be an endless ocean, form all of us who live in the USA, Thanks Dad.
Jeff the juggler tells me that tomorrow in Aruba there is a Starbucks near the dock that has free wifi. He plans to be there for the day. I will check it out because I need to have more practice logging on to hotspots with the new Ipad. But mostly it will be great to have a sense of normalcy sitting in a Starbucks with a laptop. I have found that no matter where you are all Starbucks are the same. I can for the moment pretend that I am blocks away from my house rather than twelve hours flight away. The free Internet is just a bonus.
Ray Cousins is playing piano in the Lounge. Ray used to be musical director for Frank Sinatra, and has great stories about those days. He is turning sixty in a few days. Some lady came up to him the other evening and ask if he was the piano player on the Titanic. Turned out she meant the movie with Leonardo De Caprio a few years ago, but the initial shock was not taken well by a man who will soon join the sexagenarians. Ray swears we have know each other for years. I only performed once with Sinatra years ago,probably when he was conducting, but all I remember is Sinatra. I figure everything else associated with that gig has been eclipsed by the memory of being with the chairman of the board. Sorry Ray.
...---...---...---...---...--- Time has stopped and I have trouble remembering what my sleep number is for my bed at home.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Safe at Sea
I am on the Grand and not the stranded Carnival Splendor which is being towed to Baja California. The news said that there was no hot food or hot water for the passengers. Given the average cruise passenger faced with a lack of food, I would hope they will do a complete manifest check to make sure none of the weaker sailors have been eaten. It was a big ship and I really feel for all of them. Surely they will still be playing bingo as the ship limps to the dock.
Jeff the juggler and I were talking about weird acts we have seen. He won the round. He said there was a woman who worked with a baboon. She placed a candle on top of his head and lit it. She then took a hand gun and walked several paces away in a "duleing fashion" in an attempt to shoot the flame out. Before she can turn around the monkey eats the candle which is actually made from a banana. When she turns around to see the candle gone the monkey does a head stand and spreads his legs. His pants are rigged so a small flame comes out his butt. Disgusted she walks over,blows out the flame. And....curtain. You just can't top that. Isn't show biz great.?
As you were,

Monday, November 08, 2010

So my friend Jeff the Juggler, who knows about the survival technics of living on a
Ship, shared the secret with me about the internet here on board. It seems that the crew has a whole different wifi than the passengers. It is much faster and with a card you can only get in the crew library, much cheaper. The scam is the ship wants the passengers using the slower network simply because it will cost more, they make more so they can afford to hire expensive acts like me to entertain them. However, the network does not show up when your computer searches for the signal, only the passenger channel is visible. However, if you type in the right name, and it is even case sensitive, a stronger faster signal appears.
Isn't capitalism wonderful? The crew keeps this secret tight to the vest. Until Jeff told me I never heard of this before.
So here I am connected to a moderately priced Internet with my new Ipad.
Life is good and I do not feel so out of touch. In celebration of that fact I am uploading my next installment of Ipad art. I will eventually get tired of
Drawing eyes.... But for now it is my own personal joke on the name.
Thanks Jeff. Glad you are my next door neighbor.
As you were,

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Horror on the Seas

I should have known when a German couple walked out toward the first of the revue show. It is called the British Invasion, billed as a revue of 60's music. Not the usual nostalgic Broadway tunes or peppy standards that is the usual shipboard fest. But like the Germans I was hoping for a better outcome although not the revisionist history lesson they might have hoped for.
The music was good although Amy Weinhouse's "Rehab" following a Rolling Stones song was out of place. Okay, Amy is British and it was all about British music but to see it done as a production number with dancers in psychedelic pasliey outfits will never work.
My real problem was the choreography. I'm married to a dancer and my standards are higher than most, but in this era of "So You Think You can Dance" the bar has been set pretty high for even the average observer.
This "ographer" thought every note and every word should be accompanied with a movement usually a hand gesture. Think Petula Clark's "Downtown" done in sign language for the deaf and you will be close, way too much and it was awkward.
I also have a problem with designers who take an era of clothing style and make the extreme even bigger. Think Cirque de Sole doing the wardrobe for the Mamas and the Papas. They actually did Queen's music as a pastel jump suit clad marching band. No kidding band hats and dancers fake playing trombones.
It was half way through the show that they did music from the Beatles. How can you screw that up? Well, here is one way. How about the whole section done as a turn of the century Currier and Ives vaudeville show? Not a style that might be reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper. It was a garish spectacle of lime green and hot pink sports coats with black piping outlining the lapels and straw hats to match. Penny Lane was done with a quartet of two couples on a Sunday afternoon park bench. Lucy in the Sky was a girl on a flowered swing doing acrobatics. At some point during this exhibition the boat moved significantly and I was certain it was John Lennon rolling in his grave.
The best was yet to come. Regal music plays and a dimly lit throne is rolled out from the center of the set. It is a King with red velvet cape crown, scepter and full regalia. The Royal fanfare morphs into a contemporary sound and in full kingly drag a guy begins to sing Phil Collin's music. I figure by now the German couple has found a better way to weather the storm and I wish I was there with them.
The kids on stage worked their asses off in an attempt to bring some logic to theater of th absurd. They are all talented and deserve a better vehicle. Perhaps it was just not the show for me. To my amazement after only polite applause throughout, they stood for a final ovation. Go figure.
Captain Ego, the Cruise director stepped on stage to accept the accolades saying he was so proud to be British.
I am going to bed to be rocked to sleep by the sea. From now on I will listen to that part of me that wanted to stay in bed in the first place.
As you were,

Rough seas

We have avoided the Hurricane but we are still feeling his affects. Fairly large swells are all around and the ride is rough. We are rocking steadily. I find it very relaxing like being in a massive cradle... A cradle with restaurants and bars.
It is formal night and there is a new show that just went in and it is supposed to be good. I am trying to convince myself to make the effort to get dressed up and attend. There is a major part of me that wants to simply lie in my bunk and be cradled to sleep. However it will be interesting to see how some of the over weight passengers deal with the moving decks. Okay that is a little mean spirited. it is motivated by the observation that these massive mammals on board don't deal well with any kind of new situation. They are always complaining that it it too hot outside, the ship is too cold inside, the ice cream station is not open long enough, the seats are not large enough, and the shows are too crowded when they arrive five minutes before the start.
I heard my Dad tell a navy story of going through a typhoon on his aircraft carrier in WWII. I can't imagine how scary and rough that experience was. My Duad surely did not describe it as cradling.
I still haven't met the cruise director. From watching him on stage and how he struts around the ship I am not in a hurry. He hosts the stage for all the other shows, but sent his deputy to MC the juggler and me. This poor guy has the presents on stage of melting butter. Trys to tell jokes with no sense of story or timing. When I asked him to introduce me as Tony Award winner... He said to the audience,"You are going to like this guy. He has won some awards." It was like I won the certificate of appreciation from High school. Oh well, ego aside the Introduction, no matter how good, only gives you a minute or so credibility with the audience. You still have to prove yourself. Still I have the feeling that the Cruise director believes it is beneath him to be on stage with a novelty act. His loss if that is the case. He could be a good guy with more shows than he can do a night. I still don't like the arrogance that oozes off of him. I have rarely felt that way toward a CD. Usually I find them to be over anxious insurance salesman types.
I think I have covers my need to be judgmental for a while. I will be anxious to prove myself wrong, if I ever get a chance to meet him.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Coming Soon

I have limited access to the net here on the Grand. My new Ipad took ten minutes to load the sign in screen for the ship's Wifi so it only of "off line" value to me here. This satellite connection is way too slow. But I have compiled a movie of my accommodations on this ship which I will share with you as soon as I get the band width. I think it is interesting and I hope you do too.
The shows are going fine, second show more responive than the first but that is to be expected on a two show night. This is a two week run which is a new venture for me.
Hurricane Thomas has played havoc with the schedule for this trip. We will miss a couple of ports of call on this run to avoid it. More later.
As you were,

Saturday, October 30, 2010


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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Operator Error

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

Almost Virtual

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Farewell

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nineteen Again

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Goodbye to History

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010


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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rude Awakening

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Small World

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


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

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Moment

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

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

Saturday, October 09, 2010

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

Sunday, October 03, 2010

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

Saturday, October 02, 2010

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

Friday, October 01, 2010

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brookledge Theatre
The most exclusive theatre in Los Angeles happens to be the most famous address in Magic.  You can read more about the famous Brookledge theatre in an LA Times article which ran a couple weeks ago.
I was asked to perform at this month's presentation, of the Brookledge Follies last Friday,  September 24th. This happened to coincide with the birthday party of Irene Larson (Princess and landlord of the property) as well. There was no mention of age and no candles on the cake for the senior blond who speaks with Marlene Dietrich's accent.  
This is a picture of me and Mike Caveney on stage setting some props before the audience arrived.  Mike, friend and fellow member of the Left-Handed League, lent his talents to play Bill Toob the Master of Ceremonies.  Mike pointed out a couch in the back of the room where Orson Wells used to hold court and do slight of hand. 
Brookledge Theatre was the inspiration to the creation of the Magic Castle started by Irene Larson's husband Bill and his brother Milt who grew up in this magical mansion. Milt was in attendance and provided the champagne for the evening.  I wish I had recorded the stories he told about his memories of the old house.
Originally it was the demonstration studio of Floyd Thayer, famous magician and builder of magical effects and props. When a client wanted to see what the effect would look like on stage they merely had to look up to see Thayer perform it.  That was back in the 1910 and 20's. Today the theatre has been designated a State Historical site and was rarely used until Erika Larsen, grand daughter Bill Larsen senior who acquired the house from Thayer, decided to produce shows again once a month.
The Sept. Brookledge Follies show was great fun.  It was a vaudeville show in all its glory with magic, singing, comedy and ventriloquism. The "by invitation only" audience was a noted group of new performers like Brett.... the youngest sword swallower in the world, to veterans like Sigfried, the Sigfried half of Sigfried and Roy. Mike Lacey, owner of the Comedy and Magic Club, and wife Kathy were there.  Magic Castle board members and luminaries dotted the audience.The rumor is that Steve Martin wasn't there because the guest list was full by the time he expressed interest in coming.  I thought there was room for one more, but it really is an exclusive show and the theatre has less than 70 seats in its intimacy.
Outside the theatre the grounds include several levels of steps and bridges, with stone work, trees and lots of Gnomes and witches in effigy. A virgin section of the LA river runs through the grounds and literally under the theatre which gives the whole area an other worldly patina.  The river is the reason for the name.. Bookledge, since it does indeed occupy the ledge of the brook.  
All theatres are haunted and the older they are the more visceral the ghostly feelings.  This one is spook central and one day I hope to commune with these shades when there are no other humans around.
What a great honor and excitement to do this show and perform on this stage.
As you were,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Information:  Several people have asked about the red case I wrote about last week. It is a hard case built by Victorinox... the Swiss Army Knife company ~ JKJ
A Thousand Words 
I figure my average blog entry averages about 500 words on any given day. So the quote goes "a picture is worth a thousand words".  If that is true then here is a picture what will make up for two days worth of blogging.  Often I just draw, sketch and paint "objects", but once in a while a piece says exactly what I want it to say.  I wish that would happen more but I am excited when it does.  This picture was inspired by John McClean's lecture on Sunday.  I call it "The Road to Why".  I sit looking at it wondering how many words it would take to explain it.
As you were,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ode to the Unknown Photo
I have my computer screen saver set to randomly select pictures I have taken and show them in a montage. When I return to the computer from a break it is great to see a screen full of memories. 
There are times when one picture is partially hidden behind another and I want to click on it to see it better, but of course that disengages the screen saver and that random set of pictures disappears.  It could be a long time before I see a particular picture again if I don't hunt for it in the file.
Then there is the occasional shot that appears for which I have no memory nor explanation. (Like the one above). It looks like it could have been an accidental shot, but I do not recognize this wall, fence or whatever it is. I don't know when I was there.  I guess I can make up any story I want.  I just wish it was a little more compelling than a concrete wall.
As you were,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Taylor

Happy birthday Sonny

Harvest Moon
On Monday when we were having dinner on the ship,  we had a lovely table that looked over the ocean. The waitress looked out the window and said, "Oh look it is a full moon."  Sandi laughed and then gave me a look which I have come to know means... "leave it alone".  That is because I am a "moon phase dilettante".  It was not a full moon, and in fact several days away from it. Normally I would have corrected anyone who tries to claim a full moon when it is simply waxing.
I was born in the middle of July on the night of a full moon,  so I am a moon child by birth.  I didn't always know my astronomical connection to the moon, but I was fascinated by the moon from the moment I knew what it was.  
It was no accident for me that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in the month of July the week of my birthday.  It all seemed to make sense to me.  When I was working clubs the excuse for a really good crowd, or a really bad crowd, or a really rowdy crowd was "Full moon".  There are more babies born during a full moon than most other times of the month. There is more crime, more accidents and more suicides during a full moon. 
Since the moon phase and orbit affects the tides, the moon controls the cycle of many different types of sea life.  The grunion run on a full moon, certain clams only open during a full moon.  The more you look at it more the moon seems to affect a lot on the earth.  
Last night was a rare Harvest Moon.  According to Wikipedia here is some information on the Harvest moon:
The Harvest Moon comes soon before or soon after the autumnal equinox. It is simply the full moon closest to that equinox. About once every four years it occurs in October (in the northern hemisphere), depending on the cycles of the moon. Currently, the latest the Harvest Moon can occur is on October 7.
In 2010, in the United States, the Harvest Moon happens in the early morning hours of Sept 23, only 5 1/2 hours after the autumnal equinox.
The emphasis is mine. This year, for the first time since the 50's the Harvest Moon was actually on autumnal equinox. I'm not sure what that means symbolically but since it doesn't happen that often I like to think that it is a very good omen, especially for us moon children.
The reason it is called a Harvest moon is because a full moon during the harvest time of the year allowed farmers to extend the hours of their harvest until after dark because it lit up the field.
This is a picture I took of the Harvest moon as it crested above the trees across the street.  No picture really does the moon justice, and especially this one.  However, I wanted to document the phenomenon. To have seen this site in person, the moon would have seemed ten times bigger and much more orange. The next full moon will occur in the United States on Friday, October 22, 2010.  I'll be waiting.
As you were,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Self Portrait 
I think I have several photos like this.  Me taken by me at some memorable place. However, that will change soon.  
Friends Shane and Scott happened to be traveling on the same ship I performed on over the Weekend.  It was just one of those fateful bookings. They had planned the trip for a long time and I was booked last minute to fill in for a couple of days.  Sandi went with me and we had a great time actually being passengers with our friends. 
Scott had a really cool table top tripod for his camera and took several timer shots of the four of us.  It folded up to a size not much longer than the digital camera itself and was very discreet.  Sandi and I both thought it was a great idea, and lusted openly for it. 
The next day we met Scott and Shane for dinner and they gave us one of those cool tripods.  I guess they had two on the trip and just needed one.  So now I will be able to be in some of the pictures I take from now on.  Thanks to TheBoyce for a very early Christmas gift.  It was a pleasure to hang with you on the "Radiance of the Rhapsody"...

As you were,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Love for the TSA
So this is a new" head case" I just got to carry Bob, Darwin and the other boys on. It replaces a pelican case that was great but just a few inched too small to fit everything comfortably. Although I often got hassled at the TSA with the old case usually an explosive test was all that was needed. Suddenly with this case at San Francisco airport they wanted take everything out, test each puppet and then run them back through the Xray individually. When I made a move to unpack the case this over weight woman in a security uniform meant for a much smaller human told me I couldn't touch the case. I backed off knowing that it was locked. She struggled for a moment. I told her it was locked with a TSA friendly lock. I thought that meant that the TSA had a master key to open it. They may but she was clueless. She allowed me to enter the combination but still could not get it open. Finally I sort of pushed past her and opened it. As I am taking things out carefully she is telling me I can't touch anything. As she starts to grab puppets to throw on the moving beltway I objected. I said," Mam the reason they are in a case is so they won't get damaged. You can't just throw them around." She said, "do I need to call a supervisor?" I said you bet.

He and I worked it out so that I could pad them in a tub and they could go though correctly. They kept me there about a half hour which is an eternity dealing with the mentally challenged. Finally when it was determined that I was not a threat the supervisor made a weak apology. The fat lady said almost as justification, "I never saw a bag like that before, sir." It was the bag that concerned her more than the contents.
Sorry, I know they are trying to do their job, but do I feel safer because these Bozos are on duty. Not at all. 
As you were,