Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I remember my first commercial airplane ride. I was in the ninth grade traveling from Dallas to Lubbock, Texas to do a show. As I contemplate my AA Frequent Flyer account which has logged two and three quarter million miles not including the cross country trip I will complete tonight; I wonder how I did it starting my traveling so late in life.

Until I started performing and traveling by myself there was no reason to travel by air. All my trips were taken with the family via station wagon. I think if I could just jump in the back of a big Chevrolet wagon today with the back seat down and sleep till my folks said, "we're here," I would never complain about traveling again.

What I remember most about my early air travel days was wearing a coat and tie on the plane. Everyone dressed up. I'm not exactly sure why. It wasn't comfort. It was just the way it was done. I wore one suit on the plane and packed a separate one for my performance.

The Stewardess (only females and under 25 years of age were employed) wore a uniform with hat skirt and heels. They were hired for there beauty and personality. Although now they stress that the flight attendants are there for your safety, back then they were there most definitely for your pleasure.

This memory was brought back today as I "people" watch at the Miami Airport Admirals Club. Several guys are sitting at the bar in tee shirts, flip flops and shorts. There is no on, even the bar staff who is wearing a tie. At the computer are two American "Flight Attendants" waiting to catch their next plane. One is a man and the other is a woman. Both are gray headed and look to be in their early 60's. If there is an emergency on the flight they will be "attending" later tonight someone will have to help these elderly seniors evacuate. I don't see how they are going to save our lives.

I guess this is progress, I'm glad I am not choking on a neck tie, but it bothers me to see a guy sitting across from me in first class wearing a tank top gym shorts and flip flops. He has slipped off his shoes and has wedged his bare feet on the seat in front of his. I am hoping they disinfect it before someone puts their water bottle in that seat pocket.

For me the glamour is gone, or was it all just an illusion back then to an imaginative ninth grader.
As you were,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sick at sea

We are in St. Croix today and I seem to have a connection for my Blackberry for a few hours. I am so glad Sandi is with me on this trip but I'm not sure she would agree. She came down with stomach flu on the first night on the boat. Really bad stuff she was down for the count. About 24 hours later at 4:30 am I came down with the same symptoms. Fortunately they didn't hit me until after my shows. That fact was of little consolation to me as I was trying to fill the porcelain cave in my cabin.
It became so bad we had to call in the ships doctor. He was very much like Dr McCoy on Star Trek except he spoke with a Columbia accent and no one called him bones.
The Dr would not confirm that it was the Cruise ship grunge that seems to go around most ships, but they asked Sandi and I to stay in our cabin for 24 hours. That request was no problem since we could barely get out of bed, or be very far from the facilities.

The worst of it was over in a day but we have not been more than 30% since. We don't really feel like eating and are both really tired. I'm sure I will be fine by show time on Monday. But I can't remember being this sick for a long time. This has not been the working vacation that I had in mind.
As you were,

Monday, June 21, 2010

A little more than 24 hours after we closed the run at Laguna, I am on a plane flying to Miami. Ultimate destination is St Lucia to board the Serenade. I am hoping it will be a time to decompress for Sandi. We have all been stressed to the max recently but she has been the hardest hit.
Even though I have been away from home without a reliable Internet connection of late I still have not been keeping up with my writing very well. I seem to have lost the muse. I will try to post when I get a signal. It is always hit or miss in the Carribean, sort of like my writing recently.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Artistic Liberty
Laguna is home to a yearly show called Pageant of the Masters.  It's not as nationally famous as the Rose Parade, but it is certainly an anticipated event here in Southern California.  The concept is simple in explanation, but complicated in execution.  Great works of art are recreated with actors, live on stage.  I saw the show years ago and it is truly amazing.  You have to see it to understand it.

So the Laguna Playhouse, where we are doing my show, is right next door to the Pageant of the Master's theatre . The show opens in the next few weeks. When I leave at night they are usually beginning their rehearsals.  Bob made some comments on stage a couple of nights in a row about being perfect for a job at that theatre.  He can hold a pose longer than anyone, and he demonstrated it during an adlib section of the show. With that Laguna fact in mind,  John Ivy, my PSM and man behind the curtain created the picture below. It is my cast of the Two and Only recreating Da Vincci's Last Supper. John calls it the "Last Supper. Pizza".  You will notice that in the window over the right shoulder of Jaysus,  is John Ivy himself delivering Jackie and GaGa's  Pizza. The entire company is represented.  Left to right we have, Rev. Art Sieving, St. Murphy, Amigo,  Father Nethernore, Mother Lori, Squeaky (the beloved), Jaysus, St. Harry O'shea, Father Long John LaFeat, Spaulding, Bob the mute, Darwin (the carnal) and Paul Kreppel as Judas.

Double click on the picture to see it in detail. Excellent artwork John. Perfect Satire. I have printed it out to hang in the dressing room.
More evidence of the Tao of TAO.
As you were,

Monday, June 14, 2010

That's INTERtainment
The Two and Only is going well at The Laguna Playhouse.  One more week-end.  I tend to fall in love with theatres quickly and this one is no exception. The crew, the staff and everyone associated with the theatre is wonderful.  I love being there and I will be sad to close. I think Andrew Barnacle, the artistic director is still speaking to me even after I called his beautiful theatre the Pasadena Playhouse opening night.  I was immediately corrected on stage by Arthur Drew.

The show is in the capable hands of John Ivy, the PSM, LD, Sound designer, musician and techno geek. I have known John for six years.  He has been an integrial part of The Two and Only since it began in New York.  Even knowing many of his talents it was not until this production of The Two and Only that I became aware that he is also an animator. Here is a link to the New York Times on line which featured and article on his animation.

I refer to my show as TAO with no apologies for the intentional connection to the spiritual.  The Chinese word "Tao"  translates as the "way" or "path" but has become symbolic of a principle  or philosophy of life.  Tao  refers to the force  and intelligence of the universe which can't even be expressed in words.  I'm not sure I know that much about the actual philosophy of Taoism, but I grasp it on a level of spiritual familiarity.

My TAO (my show) has always been a spiritual journey for me, a way and a path. It is my Tao of Art. My greatest task is to observe the process on a higher level than just the physical construction of an evening's performance.  The more I can become the observer and less the observed the more Tao is expressed. As greater Tao is expressed higher awareness  creates more clarified returns of more Tao.  The beautiful ideas and exceptional people this play/performance attracts is a blessing beyond worth.  The Tao attracts art and artists who are drawn to that spiritual frequency. It  would be a spiritual mistake not to observe the unfolding of these beautiful people and ideas.   What a joy to  be the conduit of that spiritual vibration.

The Tony Awards Show was last night. It is a very interesting perspective watching  the show having actually been there and done that.  Every time the presenters would come to the microphone on stage right Sandi and I would turn to each other and say, "That's our side."  It was at that microphone  I received my Tony and gave my remarks and we sat five rows from that spot.  The entire show kept triggering such wonderful memories. I walked into the living room and gave my Tony a spin on its base just to remember it all again.

I thought the Tony Awards show was  good.  Lots of great  numbers and plays that made me want to spend a month in New York City to catch up. During the telecast a presenter pointed out that the Tony goes to performers who perform 8 times a week, and not for just moments in media.  This makes it a special "performers award". There is a difference in performing live from any other type of entertainment. There is possibly no greater  challenge to a performer than performing in live theatre. I have to face it, my drug of choice is theatre, performing live for a live audience.  Live, happening in the moment... a moment that will never be duplicated  in eternity. A moment in time when an audience is laughing, thinking or sobbing together as one. It is that moment of observing Tao.
As you were,

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Laguna Playhouse
The Two and Only!
Tonight is opening night. The theatre is really beautiful and the show looks great on this stage.  Unfortunately I don't get Internet at the apartment where I am staying, I only have access back stage at the theatre. Once we have the show up and running I won't be here except to actually do the show. However, we are only and hour drive away so on my days off I will have a chance to come home and blog.

The FaceBook page for Claudia continues to be a wonderful place to find out how many people were touched by Loddie.  Sandi and I tend to check it several times a day laughing and crying at various posts. Today there was some great news regarding our youngest son.  Sandra wanted to call her sister immediately and tell her.  It is in those off unforeseen moments that her departure becomes so terribly real.

Tonight is for Claudia and I know she is watching.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

An interesting story from the World Stage
(interesting to me, at least)
I'm not a sports fanatic but do love when any sport comes down to deciding a final winner. I enjoy watching the finals of most any contest like the Superbowl or Wimbledon or the NBA.  That affection does not apply to Soccer or I'm sorry to say Baseball. The game of baseball relies on too many numbers to be totally enjoyed by a dyslexic.  Just think about it, to even describe a game of baseball requires a degree in mathematics.
i.e.  "Here we are in the bottom of the sixth there are two balls and two strikes one out, two men on base with four hits seven errors and five runs which puts them five games out of third place in the Eastern division."  
Are you kidding me? I can't keep up.  I like timed sports. You play and score as many points as you can before the clock runs out. And the clock runs backwards which totally fits my dyslexic nature. 

So here we are at the NBA finals and my home team takes on its most disliked opponent for the championship, and I am totally involved. But one story has captured my imagination, and no one seems to be talking about it much. It was briefly mentioned at the first game of the Lakers vs Celtics finals, but I never heard anyone else mention it.  To understand the significance you have to know that the Lakers and Celtics rivalry goes back generations.   But the last time they met in a finals was in 2008 when the Celtics won the NBA finals against the top seeded Lakers, on their own home court, Staples Center. It was the first time the Celtics had even been in the finals since 1996. 

The 2010 Celtics team is basically the same group of coaches and players as the 2008 champs so as Yogi Berra said, "It's dejavu all over again."   All this to explain the story that caught my attention. The night of the win at Staples Center in 08, Doc Rivers, the coach of the Celtics, demanded one hundred dollars from every member of the coaching staff and players. He would not tell them what is was for he just made everyone pay.  He took the money and hide it in the visitors locker room at Staples.  He was the only one who knew the hiding place and told everyone, "If you want to get your money back, you have to come back here and get it at another NBA finals game."  Two years later they are back playing the first game of the NBA finals, at Staples Center.  Doc Rivers goes to the hiding place, gets the money and pays everyone back. 

He didn't say how much money it was or where he hid it but did say he was surprised that it was still there after two years, expressing shock that no one found it when they changed a light bulb or fixed something.  He humbly admitted that it was a great hiding place.

This is a great story. An even better story would be if someone *had* found the money as Doc Rivers thought might happen. Would they have turned it in? Cash in hundred dollar bills? The statistics were against the money being found by one of the rich basketball players and more likely to be discovered by a maintenance man earning an hourly wage. I'm thinking, cash stashed in a wall is really up for grabs.  Let's take a vote...(see the polling square, top of the right hand column)
As you were,

Monday, June 07, 2010

Claudia Asbury
When I married her sister Claudia was nineteen years old. You're supposed to love your wife's kid sister, but I found it easy to fall in love with Loddie. In the first place she was only three years younger than me and a red headed version of my  hot dancer wife.  I doubt I will ever have another female relationship quite like hers.

Even as a young woman I was drawn to the artist that was Loddie. We were both the "middle child" of our families. I felt close enough and safe enough to share my ideas with her. I always valued her opinions of my art or others. She could be stubborn about a point, but it never came from a place of "mean-spiritedness". 

We laughed mostly. Nothing was too serious to laugh at.  I loved to make Loddie laugh. But Sandi will tell you that I tend to never know when to stop going for the laugh.  One evening when Loddie had enough of my rhetoric she taped my mouth shut during the television broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors.

Loddie came to stay with us at our Studio City apartment when we first moved to Los Angeles.  Sandi was on a job out of town for a couple of days and Claudia was  working on a job. in town. I remember I was "between" jobs working mostly at the HORN.  Loddie and I were seriously into Backgammon at the time. It was the popular California pool side pastime of the idle actor.   We began to seriously play over the weekend Sandi was gone and played continuously for 18 hours with out stopping.   There were only breaks for quick runs to the convenience store for more Dr Pepper.  We had a lot of Dr Pepper together that evening and many others.  I used to be able to match Loddie can for can of DP. I think we ended up even on the the games as well.

There are almost 40 years of stories with Loddie playing the lead role. Like how Loddie got that nickname from Brandon. The snow castle with room for three we built at Lake Tahoe. Blowing off a ski run so we could stay in the lodge and talk. The road trip to watch Brandon's college graduation.

There should have been decades more memories and stories but, last Sunday Claudia Asbury the beautiful sister of my beautiful wife stepped away from her body and moved on.  

Trying to comprehend Loddies absence makes me remember what I will be missing for the rest of my life.  Why did she leave us so soon? There was much more laughter to share. This becomes too sad to think about so I just start remembering moments... again.. like in that picture above...Loddie and me together, laughing and clowning around during an opening night party....