Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

It does not feel like the end of the year,nor does it feel like the beginning of one. It doesn't even feel like Saturday. I guess I'm just not feeling myself today.
However, I find myself in Baltimore, MD. Not a city know for cruise ships but here we are loading passengers for seven day cruise. It is very odd to see passengers boarding a Caribbean cruise wearing heavy coats and ski jackets. I always remember that being on a cruise ship on New Years Eve was the setting for The Posiden Adventure, a famous disaster movie.
I would say that this year is already starting out much different from the past. I hope the new year is good to us all.
As you were,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More Joys of Show Biz
Okay so it could be worse. Sandi and I are waiting at the dock side straw market in Nassau waiting for the ship to arrive. It was supposed to be in an hour ago and there is no way to really know when it will get here. We are in a temporal warp called Bahamian time, even the locals admit that it is Island subjective. 
Most of the time I am a control freak over-checker who wants to know every detail before it happens.  This trip I never got a hotel confirmation for the over night stay here in Nassau.  I figured that the guy who picked us up would know, so it was not a big deal.  However, it is a big deal if the guy who is supposed to pick you up is not at the airport. This frustration is always amplified by the fact that we started our day in Los Angeles at 4:00am, have been on three airplanes with two layovers and my attitude has been stretched by the airport routine. It must be the stress of the season, during the trip I was witness to three heated verbal fights.  One between a lady and the bus driver who drove us to the American Eagle island hopper in Miami.  It continued as the bus driver followed the lady to her seat on the plane still sharing a piece of her mind. We never really know what the issue was about.
There is a problem landing in a foreign country during holiday season, with spotty cell phone reception and without the numbers of anyone who knows your information. After several attempts to find the number of the shipping agent, a fact I usually obsess about, we reached a man who had no clue what I was talking about.  He said that he would find someone who did and call me back in five minutes.  The Bahamian time equivalent to five minutes is approximately one hour and twenty minutes. But this was a person that was at least aware that entertainers joined the ship off and on in Nassau.  She said my name did not ring a bell.  There was a hotel that RCCL used for overnights and she said I should head there.  We did, and the hotel clerk was the first person that was expecting us, there was a reservation in our name and the room was nice.
The taxi driver called about 10:00 in the evening he was either drunk or I could not understand his accent either way I had to guess at what he was telling me.  He said that the office had given him the wrong flight information and he was sorry but would pick us up at 12:00 to join the ship.  He got us through town and dropped us off at the dock side straw market. We wrestled our luggage around people wanting to braid our hair and sell us pot pipes,  to meet a security guard who said our ship was not in and would not be for at least an hour...that is of course Bahamian time.... so here we are.  The good news it there is free Wifi, with several ships in port today the market is littered with various crew members sitting on the floor with their lap tops. At this time of year the weather is somewhat cooler and so we are not melting in the humidity.
It is always the case. Once I am on the ship it is a really easy gig.... but they pay me to go through the hassle of getting here.
I have said it before and I will say it again.  A job is a job and show business is no different. There are aspects  of every career that justify the salary.  If people are going into performing for any other reason than the love of performing, they might want to think twice about that decision.  
Thank for letting me vent here and pass some time till I am on board and can start to relax. Yesterday we boarded a plane before the sun came up on the west coast and landed after the sun had set in Nassau. It wasn't so much a physically demanding day, but mentally I feel like I was stuffed in a pressurized package and sent across country to be sold to cruel ship captain.
More later when I can find some more free wifi.... probably not on the ship.
As you were,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas
It is a beautiful day.
Santa was good to the Johnsons, and I trust he was to all of you as well.
More next year....
As you were,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Casa Vega

One of the oldest and most notorious Mexican food restaurants in the Valley. This is part of their traditional Christmas decorations. Feliz Navidad
As you were,
The Day before the Night before Christmas
It was the longest day of the year when I was a kid.  By now I would have visualized every aspect of the gift that Santa was sure to bring, and imagined every possible joy it would immediately satisfy.  After a month that seemed like a year it would finally be down to hours before the Man in the red suit would deliver on his mission. 
Of course I knew the rules from the song: "He sees you when your sleeping, he knows if you're awake... he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake...", but I would take a more pragmatic approach to these Santa rules. 

1) He sees you when your sleeping.  I figured since I fooled my parents several times into thinking that I was a sleep when I wasn't over my brief years, Santa could be just as easily fooled.
2) He knows if you're awake.  See the above.  If I could fool parents into thinking that I was asleep, then I have also fooled them that I am awake. Santa would not catch on either.  I was that good at it.
3) He knows if you've been bad or good.  A challenging problem to overcome, to say the least. My hope rested on the idea that Santa had a short memory. If I was good for the last few weeks before Christmas that would count for the entire year. Since it had worked in the past, I figured that it would work every time.
4) So be good for goodness sake.  Easy. Even at an early age I realized that absent an accurate lie detector test, no one would know if I was good for "goodness sake" or good for the "gift's sake". I could claim to be good for goodness sake knowing the real reward would be delivered on Dec. 25th.

Taking all this into consideration.  It was not unusual for me to cat nap for the whole of Christmas Eve listening for rustling of reindeer in the living room.  We had no chimney so I knew I would hear the door open when he came.  Occasionally I would wake up enough to sneak into the living room to see if Santa had arrived yet. With covert skills  in the dark of night I would try and determine if Santa had visited already.  If I decided he had been to my house already, it would be impossible to go back to sleep  till sunrise knowing my gift was already there waiting for me.
If I determined that Santa had not been there already it would be impossible to go back to sleep listening for him.  Either way sleep was out of the question.
When I was five years old I sneaked into the Living room and saw a large man in a red suit duck behind the Christmas tree so as not to be seen.  I remember that moment to this day.  It was dark and details were sketchy even then, but I knew who it was. I ran into my parents room and woke them up to tell them I had seen Santa Claus.  It was a mixture of excitement and fear hoping that seeing him was not a deal breaker which would immediately put my name on the bad list.
I don't remember my brother nor sister being quite so nocturnal on Christmas Eve. They were secure in the knowledge that when they woke up Christmas morning the celebrating could begin and they did not have to encourage it along through out the night.
I have been told through the years that my folks were very glad when that phase of my childhood gave way to others so they could get some sleep the night before Christmas.  Later in my life the Johnsons would celebrate Christmas Eve and open all presents the night before so that those who wanted to sleep in late on Christmas morning, my Dad, could do so with ease.

Whatever makes you happy tonight and tomorrow I hope you have a sleigh full of it.  There is not doubt that Christmas has been co-opted by commercialism.  Sure the religious aspects of the holiday have been merged with the pagan Solstice.  However all that happened a long time ago so get over it.  Just think of it as the ancients deciding to celebrate the birthday of Jesus at a time when everyone could attend.  A time when they were going to party anyway.  Besides it is not hard to open you heart once a year and count your blessings for whatever you give and receive.  It's not like you have to be good for the rest of the year.
Merry Christmas.
As you were,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy (Politically Correct Pronoun)
In California you know the season has turned not by the color of the leaves, but by the Valet parking in front of Fred  and Mary Willard's house.  It denotes their annual Christmas Party which is always a "to do", and for me the seasonal invitation I cherish receiving the most.
Sandi and I have the luxury of walking across the street to attend, and it is like walking into the Friars Club of the Valley. Not only is the house completely redecorated with more Christmas trimmings than the North Pole, the food is spectacular, drinks flowing and the guests are the most interesting people you would ever want to hang with. If you want to get a bead on what is happening in the world of comedy, on screen, on stage and on television, or if you just want to have a laugh, you have but to engage in conversation with a Willard's party guest.
Through the years I have crossed paths with the attendees and have worked with most of them in some way.  If their names don't ring a bell their faces and voices do. In fact the party itself rings with laughter from every table and every cocktail grouping.  It's not the usual frantic comedy feeding frenzy when everyone is trying to top everyone else. It is not an LA resumé recital when the question "How are you?" is always heard as, "What are you doing now?". At the Willard's Party it is just genuinely funny people who see the world from a humorous point of view. It is the perfect mix of comics, actors, writers, musicians, performers and one ventriloquist who have made a mark in their chosen career. I for one can not get enough of that kind of psychic stimulation.
Mary Willard is the catalysis. She writes and casts her parties like she would her scripts.  There is always an impromptu performance hosted by the hostess. Mary is the modern day, west coast-version of Elsa Maxwell.  Although I can't imagine a Maxwell party being as much fun. 
There has always been a "feast and famine", "boom and bust" quality to show business.  In this economy it is even more extreme. But the one perk that is not economically driven is joy and laughter.  The artists Mary embraces make her parties a recess from reality where the world is lighter and no one takes it seriously. I for one am grateful I get to be a small part of that world.  The rejection that every comedy artist must face vanishes with a glass of Mary's home made eggnog and her heart warming laugh. 
Agness Repplier said, "We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh." In this season, when we celebrate the coming of Love, the Willard's Christmas Party provides enough laughter to love the world, even in the craziness of 2011. 
Thanks Mary and Fred.  You are adored.
As you were,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Tattoo

This is the tattoo of the dragon with the girl tattoo.

You knew someone had to do it...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To the Bat Cave...

Yes Robin that is Sandi and me in front of the Batmobile. We look like two heads sticking out of the top of a tank.

This is due to the fact that we were dressed in our finest black cocktail attire to attend the Big Bang Theory's 100th show party. Sandi works on the hit show and neither of us been on a show that went 100 shows.  Soap only went for 94.

100 is that magic show number meaning a full syndication package, the producers bring a brinks truck up to the actors door and deliver gold bullion.

And it was a great party. Not only great food and great drinks and great music provided by the "Bare Naked Ladies" who wrote and sing the theme show for the BBT, but the party was at the Science Museum of Los Angeles.  All around the party were graduate students assisting with hands on science experiments.
I personally made some glow in the dark slime, a blinking light tie tack,  a glowing ring, and played with floating beach balls that seemed to defy gravity. There were the "pat on the back" speeches and executives from the network who took all the credit for knowing the show would be a hit. Chuck Lorre, creator and show runner,  even  sat in with the band on guitar and surprised everyone with his guitar chops. 
It was a very special party and ironically enough the 100th episode of the show happened just before Christmas.... so the producers were obligated to put a little extra in the stockings of the crew.  
There is one thing about show business, they do know how to throw a party and celebrate.  This show is a blessing to all who work on it. Wonderful cast, wonderful crew,  great AD and a great director.  When a TV show works like this it is truly the best job anyone can have.... but they are so rare.
Happy holidays,
As you were,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Over Saturation
Perhaps we are over saturated with media now a days. It wasn't that long ago when network television actually went off the air for the night. One could watch the news followed by Johnny Carson, but then it was time to turn off the television and go to sleep. The next program to be seen was a cheesy black and white film showing planes and ships in action while the national anthem played and flags waved. That lasted about two minutes. Afterwards there was nothing but the snowy static of the screen. There have been many times when that hiss of empty broadcast static woke me up after I had fallen asleep watching Johnny. The only thing to do was to detach the virtual IV from my brain and turn the television off.
Now however the television never stops broadcasting and there is never a logical conclusion to your viewing evening.  If you don't set the sleep timer you can find yourself awaken by an announcer yelling into the camera trying to sell you the only chopping device a kitchen will ever need... but wait there's more.
Not that the television is the major player anymore.  Cell phones, iPads, computers, social networking never stop and they never sleep.  Last night the iPad by my bed rang with an alert sound that woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me the Montebello freeway was closed.  It was great to know that at 3:00 in the morning.  However I was awake enough to see that my Blackberry was blinking with the arrival of an email.  Like a trained monkey I found myself opening up my email at that hour to see what I might be missing.  Here is what I almost missed while I slept.  Zazzle has a 24 hour sale on Christmas mugs,  Move On wants me to send money to fight the wrong ideas, Heifer International reminds me that last year we gave them Christmas money and Pajamagram had some wonderfully sexy sleep wear for me to purchase for my wife. To think these messages might have waited until the next day to be discovered. 

Right now, for me, the biggest over saturation of media is delivered via my email.  The junk mail outlined above is only a fraction of what I get every day.  If you have ever bought anything on line from anyone, they have your email and they get to remind you of their current economic condition with the stroke of a send button.  And for me that single message is delivered three times.  Once to my computer, once to my Blackberry and one more time to my iPad. Although I have not done a study, I could spend more time erasing email on three different devices than actually reading the mail I want.  Over saturation.

When do we say "break". When do we say for the next hour I will unplug the land line phone, turn off the television, the iPod, the iPhone, the xBox, the iPad, the computer, the satellite radio and just listen to my own internal sounds.  It could be the most important message you will receive all week, but it is being drowned out by 24 hours of useless information.
So to enjoy this holiday season that is exactly what I plan to do just as soon as I finish writing this blog... and after I check out the voice mail and  5 texts I have on the phone, it also looks like I have 8 emails waiting for me.  Wonder if there is something going on that I don't know about.... I better turn into CNN.
As you were,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking News.....
In my contemplation of the media, the phrase "Breaking News" is either over used or is incorrectly used. my day,  Breaking News was something like a president being shot or planes flying into buildings. Not so much anymore. Every episode of the "Nancy Grace finger-wagging show" has the phrase "Breaking News" ticker-taping across the bottom of the screen. It doesn't matter if the story is weeks old... it is still breaking news to Nancy. But Nancy just sees the world very differently.  Nancy wakes up every morning to a world full of people to be "holier than". 
Breaking news is something that is so important and news worthy it requires a network to Break into a current broadcast to air it.  I always assumed that is why it's called Breaking News... rather than just News. 
Certainly the correct use is not with Miss Grace who uses the words like an advertising promo followed by the audible phrase "Bomb shell, this just in...".   If it was only Nancy's misuse I could pass it off as just  her case of "OMLS"(Old Maid Lawyer Syndrome) . But it is not just Nancy Naysayer... most media outlets misuse it.
For example, according to the info push on my Google page, this is breaking news... a bomb shell... a story so important that it needs front page space on the Internet. I am sure the civil defense network is on stand by ready to go into action because of this "Breaking News" story. Here it is ripped from the instant media....
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt: Will They Have More Kids?
Details immediately on some of these same stations.  Because the story contains the word kids, Nancy Grace will go live with her opinion.
Last week the question was,  "Angelina Jolie & Brad Pit will they get married?" The question came up because one of their 6 children asked. When your own bastard children are begging to be legitimised, perhaps it is time to rethink your concept of commitment... but is that news?
It is my constant complaint about this instant media we now all carry around with us. We are capable of knowing things instantly. No matter where you are you can get a Breaking News alert... even while you are driving a car at 85mph. The possibility that an alert on an iPhone could cause a person driving a car to become distracted is real enough. We have traffic laws dealing with smart phones and driving. So what might be the Breaking News information that could send a car speeding out of control across several lanes of traffic causing massive damage?  Brad and Angelia's family planning strategy.  Now there is Breaking News to die for....
As you were,

Friday, December 09, 2011

Romance of the Sea
I love the television commercials for cruises. Picture what is waiting for you aboard a cruise ship. We see a beautiful romantic young couple in evening wear, drinking champagne, personally served by a four star waiter from a silver tray. They dance to the music of a tuxedo clad string quartet all alone on the empty deck at the magic moment of sunset. 
Right.... All the elements are there. They have a deck, couples, musicians to play for you, waiters to serve you and sunset happens every night, but that's where the similarity to the television version ends.

Here is the reality of a young couple trying to have a romantic sunset dance on the deck of the average cruise ship.
Just getting to the deck is an adventure. Three thousand other passengers are also trying to get there. They mass migrate in wheel chairs, walkers, motorized scooters, with canes and dragging reluctant children. Our romantic couple has to adopt the pace off a three legged turtle or risk stepping on the corrective foot wear of seniors moving at the pace of a glacial flow.
The optimum viewing position for sunset is a limited area of the deck, and filled with large men wearing ill fitting sleeveless tee shirts that say things like "It's not a beer belly... it is a love bundle" with  saggy old Bermuda shorts and flip flops. These unshaven patriarchs are staring at digital camera screens trying to get their family positioned in a way that will not cover the view of sunset. Of course the flash picture over exposes the sunset so they have to take several more. Just when our romantic couple thinks it might be their turn in the sunset, the wife trades places with the beer-belly husband to get him in the picture. 
Our young couple looks very much out of place as they try to find even a square foot of unoccupied deck they can dance on. There they are in beautiful evening dress standing next to a 60 year old guy in a speedo and his wife in a not so opaque thy length cover up of yellow daisies. Several intoxicated younger women show off biker tattoos and loudly brag about how loaded they were when they got nipple piercings. But nonetheless our beautiful couple embraces and waits for the music to set the mood. 
A Jamaican steel drum band blasts out a reggae version of Stardust slightly out of tune. The couple can not find the beat.... the perfect sunset is gone... the ship lists a'starboard knocking the girl off her high heels and into the hairy arms of a lecherous waiter in a caribbean flowered shirt, spilling a tray of  Cabo Wabos,  the special rum drink of the day.
This may be somewhat of an exaggeration.  However, my version of events is just as close to the reality as the television depiction. What they do not indicate in the ads is... the bigger the ship the more passengers, the more passengers the longer the lines, the longer the lines the less freedom and an increase in wasted time.  A seven day cruise on a mega ship.... two of those days will be spent waiting in lines to experience the privacy and isolation you wanted. One day each way will be spent getting on and off the ship. (You know what it's like to board 150 people onto an airplane, try waiting on 3000 people to board with 9000 pieces of luggage) 
It will take you one day to find your way around the mega ship to get your bearings on where to enjoy yourself. If you take an excursion off the ship for a day to see someplace other than the ship there is another day..... your seven day cruise actually lasts  for 24 hours of actual enjoyment of the mega facilities. 
But what do I know this is only my 175th cruise.
As you were,

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Cross Media Opportunity
If you have not seen this on my FaceBook Page.....

.....for every person who becomes a fan of
I'm No Dummy on FACEBOOK before December 3, 2011 a dollar will be donated to Vent Haven Museum.
Everyone should be a fan of  the doucmentary"I'm No Dummy", and if you haven't expressed that fan-dom on the Facebook page it doesn't count in the social ether.

What's So Funny?

I am a big fan of laughter. I love to laugh and so does Sandi. At the same time laughter baffles me. It is so personal it can't be quantified. I don't see the humor in things that others may find hysterical. We seem to surround ourselves with friends who have a similar sense of humor, and could be one of greatest connections to developing a friendship. In the rock and roll days of the 80's when Comedy Clubs were ubiquitous it was a great vehicle for dating. If two people laughed at the same things it was a good indication that there were legs to the relationship.  I often wonder how services like and other dating sites manage to determine a humor quotient with a written profile. 
So how can you determine a persons humor quotient besides observing the actual experience of laughter? There are certain social factors and lifestyles that might indicate a certain propensity for a certain kind of humor but only in a general sense. I am not a NASCAR fan and don't know anything about it. I would not be educated enough on the subtleties of the sport to understand the subtleties of jokes about it. It is like a different  language. Humor is always the last comprehension one comes to when learning a new language. 
When writing jokes for a corporate show if I can find out enough about their business I can find a joke that will only be funny to them. It is the relationship of timing, language and understanding. Every comic knows that the most important of the three is timing. 
Telling a joke the right way is the same as telling a story. You don't start with the surprise ending of the story, and you don't start with the punch line of a joke. It is the biggest rookie mistake. Since most people remember the punch line of a joke because it evokes the laugh, they will identify the joke by the punchline. How many times has this happened to a comic, "Hey Sheckie, tell that joke where the Nun says 'same as downtown'."
There is no way to get a laugh if they know where you are going.
I guess because it is such a personal and diverse phenomena humor will never be 100% the same for everyone. You can't make everyone laugh every time. Comics "go for it" hoping that the majority will see the joke knowing that some will be not laugh and others may be offended. But to be a comic, comedian, clown or humorist you have to take the risk.  The world is only changed by risk takers, you can't homogenize a joke so much that no one finds it funny. I am not advocating humor at any cost is a good thing. No one should use humor as a weapon or vehicle to bully. Getting a laugh by belittling some one or some group is wrong on a lot of levels, but if there are human qualities every one can laugh *with*, it is cathartic and enlightening. It helps us look at our failings in a gentle way. It lets us know that we have not yet reached perfection and shows us a path for improvement. If everyone is laughing and I'm not perhaps I am taking myself to seriously, at least it is worth a glance inward.
This process is important a mental level, but the very act of laughter is biologically curative. It clears out your lungs, oxygenates your blood, and exercises your core.  It is the easiest form of exercise you can do for yourself. Laugh it up some how today.
As you were,

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Yes it is. But not as much the 175th time you see it. Ten or more of those 175 cruises were to Alaska, and I have yet to become jaded to that view.
This one , however, never changes, never varies nor surprises me. At some point calming and relaxing turns into tedium and boredom. I long for a force 12 storm just to see the ocean show me an angrier face with an attitude that resents a floating hotel cutting through its majesty.
Yet I am not complaining, and am grateful for the chance to work such a beautiful venue. I could be working a comedy club in a show storm right now.
It just proves that familiarity sometimes diminishes your observation. We often forget the blessings that are continually present and all around us.
I'm leaving tomorrow trading this to touch the face of my beautiful wife and receive the unconditionally wet welcome of my dog, Boo. I never grow tired of that experince.
As you were,

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The View

With no reference to the ladies televised gripe fest on network TV, this is the view from the second floor lobby of the hotel in Cozumel where I stayed the night. That is not my ship. My ship, The Freedom of the Seas had to dock about a mile away from this site because it is so much bigger than this small dingy. This would qualify as a life boat on my ship. Size seems to matter for sailing as well.
I contend that the ships have to be bigger because the passengers are. I know that Americans are getting fatter and the poster people for the girth generation take cruises. The cliche that old people take cruises has been over taken by the portly. Why do you think they call the loading zone a PORT.
Just as a note I heard the Filipino guitar trio cover of the Doors "Light My Fire" in sort of a swing standard tempo. And sounded more like "Rite my frier". It was as wrong as it seems. If Jim Morrison was still alive this would kill him.
As you were,

Friday, December 02, 2011

In Search of a Connection

It's back on the road again... or should I say the water.  As always it is all about getting there. This time it is a red eye connection, and layover to get to Cozumel.  I know the port I know the Hotel and I know the drill. In fact they probably have not changed the sheets since I was last there. I will spend the rest of this week looking for cheap Internet or insecure wifi to up date my blogsphere. More later on that.

There were 15 cheerleaders all under 18 who were late for their flight here at LAX tonight. I am trying to think of what a group of cheerleaders would be called.  If it is a "bargain" of Jews, a "slut" of hookers, it must be a "pom pom" of cheerleaders.  At any rate I heard the teacher/sponsor of the group yelling behind me... "Cheerleaders... push your way through and get to the gate.  The plane leaves in 10 minutes."  It would be easy for a "pom pom" of cute girls to make their way to the head of the usual line... but this happens to be the security line of the TSA. One of the front runners says rather baffled, "We have to go through security?"  as if a cheering squad would be exempt from Homeland Security search.  
At first the all male TSA squad was drooling at the idea of so many cuties streaming through the body scan. Their hormone fed excitement began to fade the minute the group of girls began to over load the hand baggage Xray.  They must have said it a hundred times in five minutes. '"No water, put your computer in a separate bin, take your shoes off, makeup outside your carry on in a see through bag." It was an explosion of pink accesssories jamming he conveyor belt. None of the squad seemed to have the slightist clue what the portocol for airport security is. It was not pretty.

My niece and nephew have a dog named Charlie.  Any time a couple hugs each other in the dog's presence Charlie will hump one of the four legs.  It never fails. The minute he sees an embrace he tries to make it a Menage-a-dog. We tested it and a hand shake would not do it nor being close to each other...but once we started to hug it was a canine assault from Charlie.

Now you know why the title in Search of a connection. You put these two stories together!

Just as a post script, I did find the Internet connection at the hotel here in Mexico. Free and easy. As I went to post the above entry, the blogger instructions were in Spanish. My three years of high school Spanish gave me more confidence than backed up by real ability. I opened what I thought was the proper menu item to post, it was I the same position as my English version. But a dialogue box kept coming up that was past my grade level to translate. Fortunately I did not click the button. I repeated that step several times before I found the button to display In English. It was only then that I realized the button I thought was the one to publish, was actually a button that said, " delete this entire blog site?" I was one button away from erasing every blog entry I have written since 2006. There are some who would say that is not a great loss. In the scheme of the world that might be true, but for a guy who can't remember where I was yesterday, it is occasionally nice to go back and realize not only that I  am blessed but most of the time I was aware of it at the time and wrote about it.
If any one is keeping up on a daily basis I will try to publish when there is something to say and the great god Neptune allows a dock with free Internet. The great god of recreational cruising god Royal provides the opportunity but requires a great sacrifice.
As you were,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ahes to Ashes
There is a common consensus about the rituals and customs of a traditional funeral. It stems from the fact that you had better get the body in the ground rather quickly before it starts to (how can I say it delicately) decay. And there are rules about where you can dig that hole in the ground so a lot of things are just organic in a traditional...body in a casket funeral. It is a western idea clouded in Judaic /Christian philosophy that the body needs to be somewhere it can be found in tact on the last day, because the soul will need that vehicle for eternity. I'm not here to debate that... save it for the one of the next GOP debates. I would love to hear Perry and Cain's thoughts on the matter. (Perry and Cain... one of the best interacial comedy teams of the current era)
Cremation is not so clearly defined as to where the ashes shall reside for eternity.  My family has recently gone through those thoughts concerning my Dad's ashes.
There are many thoughts and ideas on that subject. I have been to the scattering of ashes at sea, at parks, at private property and public.  The wife of one of my actor friends even took teaspoon portions of Richard's ashes and scattered them under her seat at every theatre performace she attended for years after his death. That may be the coolest idea since I think of my friend every time I walk into one of those annointed theatres. It makes me smile.
Perhaps the funniest depiction of ashes being spread is in the movie "The Big Lebowski".  High on a hill near the Malibu coast, "Donny's ashes are tossed into the wind from a Folgers coffee can, only to blow back into the faces of the two friends in attendance of the ceremony. There is casual talk as Lebowski wipes the white ash from his sun glasses uncerimoniously. 
Around the Thanksgiving dinner table all our ashes-options were discussed. My friend Bryan told me of certain glass blowers who would mix human ashe into the formula of their glass. It created unique colors and when fashioned into a vase, bottle or jewelery it became a unique heirloom.  Being the smart ass that my family has come to accept, I said "That is exactly what I am going to do with Sandi.  I will have her ashes crafted into a necklace or bracelett."  My son Taylor immediately added, "Yes, it is Mom's greatest desire to return to this earth as BLING."
As you were,

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Here it is a Sunday. I was thinking about my Dad on this the first holiday season without him. I remember growing up in a fundamental evangelical church that my grandparents founded in Abernathy, Texas.  Althought you might think differently, a strict church in a small town is not the best way to find your true spiritual path. 
I was sure that this religion would not be mine to embrace when I became the buttt of a family joke. It was a misinterpretation of one of the staple hymns of the church. The words to the chorus of the song that repeated many times were, "Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning."  I was small enough that my Dad would lift me up and I could stand on the back of the pew in front of ours and see what was going on.  At some point in my young life Dad heard me joining my voice with the congregation singing..... "Give me oil in my lamp Giggle Birdie".  I logiically assumed that the stain glass representation of a dove assending on the newly baptised Jesus was the "holy giggle birdie".  For this reason I did not lift my voice in musical praise for a long time after that. 
A friend of my mine has a similar story when she was a small child.  The words to her misinterpreted hymn were "gladly the cross I'd bear." Of course she thought that it was a Hanna-Barberra cartoon character voiced by Daws Butler named.... "Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear".  Perhaps the Giggle Birdie and Gladly should team up for an inspriational cartoon on TBN. The plots just sort of write themselves don't they?  Gladly and Birdie are on the road to Damascus... well you know the rest.
The things I remember about that little Abernathy church are sketchy.  We left the fold soon after my giggle birdie moment and eventually moved away from the city when I was in high school.  Certain things stick clearly in my mind. One is the Baptism ritual of dunking the saved in a glass tank of water that was at the top of the alter, and the preacher talking more about the devil and satan than he did about God and Jesus. I tended to comee away from those services not so much inspired but scared.  That didn't seem right back then and  doesn't seem so today.  As I look back on my life, the worst decisions I ever made were made from a sense of fear.  I think we should teach less fear and more happiness. 
As you were,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

To the commercial providers who will attempt to bring you your hearts desire whatever that might be today. Happy capitalism
As you were,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I had to sit at Starbucks ith my iPad to get on line yesterday. Time Warner intenet cable was down the enire day at my house. As of this morning it was still not working. TO think that we got along very well for years before email and the internet did not sway my frustaions trying to figure out what was wrong. In fact it was a feeling of isolation yesterday. I still had a phone but it felt like I was not in communication with the real world. I called thee company so many times I felt like the iconic "complaining cable customer".
I knew this Thanksgiving week would be a difficult week to write, but I did not think that the connection would be the problem.
More later.
As you were,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jay Johnson's Blog
What would we do without a  Google/type search? I used the term google/type advisedly. In the past companies have lost there trade name when it became synonymous with the generic name. Examples are Cellophane, Band Aid, Kleenex and others I learned about in college... but never thought the information would be important until now.  At any rate there have been companies who pioneered a certain product or service only to see that name used as the generic name even by their competitors. Google is now a verb and it doesn't look like the company is any worse for such usage but just to be completely proper... google-type. But that has very little to do with what I have been thinking this morning, and yet everything to do with losing your brand name to a generic.
I wondered how people find my blog, and although Blooger has all kinds of diagnostic tools I decided to do the googling myself.  I am aware that there is a young actor by the name of Jay Kenneth Johnson.  IMDB and other data bases sometimes confuse us. Since my middle name begins also with a K, searching my AFTRA, SAG, and AEA name which is Jay K. Johnson is confusing.  The whole reason I am Jay K. Johnson is because when I joined AFTRA years ago there was another Jay Johnson as a  member.  So.... as I google-like searched for my blog, I was cautious not to be googled into following the Ethernet thread of some actor named Jay K. Johnson.
After a google-esque search for the phrase "Jay Johnson's Blog", third on the list in the search (after the Jay Johnson boot camp and Jay Johnson coach) was Jay Johnson's Blog. I clicked on that link to find an article on Lady GaGa and an out of focus picture that did not look like me at all, and the date of the last post which was March 12, 2010. 
Being the over active blog scribe that I am I was sure I had scribbled something since March of last year and more importantly I knew that I was not the guy in the picture.
Just to make sure that it was not me, I checked my blog and on 3/12/2010 and there was no mention of Lady GaGa as you can see for yourself....  The World is a Stage .  It is not that I have anything against the other Jay Johnson... or any other Jay Johnsons.... It's just I am not them and they are not me.  I don't want to get blamed for what they write about Lady GaGa, or the Grateful Dead. And you will not find a poster of Sarah Palin anywhere on MY blog. 
And.... I am sure that the other Jay Johnson does not want to get the blame for the stupid things that I write about, nor would he want to incur the wrath of those I offend with my words semi regularly. 
So don't be fooled by a generic Jay Johnson's Blog.... only settle for the original. "The World is a Stage" by Jay Johnson where you will find completely useless information and judgmental rants on anything that comes to mind. No Palin... No GaGa ....only Railin' and Do Do..
And..because the posts to this blog may be a little erratic this week due toThanksgiving... don't be fooled by posers.  Only accept the original blog ... The World is a Stage by Jay Johnson where you will find 1,212 Posts written over the span of 6 years covering a wide variety of topics from the self indulgent to the absolute banal. 
As you were, ®

®The name Jay and the phrase, "as you were" are protected under the "Oh no you didn't" Act of 2008. Any person assuming the identity of Jay Johnson by using these registered trade marks is subject to a very stern warning and vilification in these very posts. Not to mention, all less than flattering comments will to be sent directly to the imitator. To all potential Jay Johnson imitation bloggers...think before you use my name....  using the name Jeff Dunham's Blog will get you many more hits and readers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

WEAK End - Addition
One of the great traditions of Los Angeles social life is chatting with people who are waiting for the valet to deliver the cars.  This was the case last night as Sandi and I exited the Coronet Theatre. But, the valet set up was odd from the beginning.
As is the procedure, we pulled up in front of the theatre where a valet stood near an umbrella with a free standing box for car keys.  We got out ready to trade a 40k dollar car for a paper ticket to the guy in the red vest.  We LA types are very willing to make such a trade with a person who barely speaks english because parking a block away and walking that distance is unheard of.  That is so New York.  
The red vested valet told me to pull around the corner and another valet would take my car.  I did so but there was no one there.  I drove around the block and repeated my previous drill.  I said there was no one around the corner, he said...."No, no. The valet is in the alley behind the theatre." 
We drove to the back of the theatre to a darkened alley.  There was a homeless man making a bed near a parked car, there seemed to be no one else around... and this was definitely the alley where we were instructed to proceed. Had the transient made a move toward the car we would have assumed he was the guy.  He didn't but we saw a person making the paper ticket exchange with another man half way up the alley. Although he had no red vest, he did have a bluetooth cell phone head set and paper tickets.  I made sure he was the guy as best I could, ask were we would get the car back, and completed the trade. 
After the show it was back to the umbrella in the front to retrieve our ride. I was glad to see the same guy standing there and he said, "White car... right?" I gave him the ticket and he ran to get the car. 
Several people were cued up waiting as well. There was a man with a long walking staff and hair pulled back in a disheveled pony tail who seemed to be in a heavy conversation with a couple of women also waiting.  I really couldn't tell what he was saying, he was animated but not to extreme, and it was casual conversation not yelling.
The pony tailed man continued to talk, listen, and respond with perfect social grace as the ladies left him and got into their car and drove away.  Without even realizing they were gone he continued to listen and respond to the space where they were standing. When everyone realized the space he was engaged in was empty we made sure it stayed that way.  
He continued this mono conversation then turned and walked away a step or two.  Evidently the empty space made some remark that called him back.  He returned to say, "Yes, but if you can say that you must have known. How could you not know? Why, we all knew. How come you didn't know?" 
He was not talking to the air, nor looking around at anyone.  Even if you wanted to you could not block his gaze as he looked right through anything or anybody that stood between him and his unseen conversant. 
I'm not sure but he could have been the same man who was making a bed in the alley before the show.  However, I am certain that in HIS mind he was talking to some real, although unseen by the rest of us, person.
We got into our car leaving the pony tail and his invisible partner casually walking down the street still in conversation.  He was making sure that his walking stick did not trip his companion. They seemed to be as happy together as Elwood P and Harvey. 
It is great to know that even when a ventriloquist loses his puppet and is living on the street... he still has his friends to keep him company.  There is great hope for my retirement happiness.
As you were,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Sister-In-Lust
Sandi's bother Cleve was 12 years old when I married into the Asbury family.  We sort of grew up together. Cleve was the little brother that I never really wanted, but you can't have a better brother in law.
I was best man at his wedding to  Donna Marie Elio, at which time she became my Sister-in-lust.  It has been my pet name for her since we met. 

After their marriage they lived about 10 minutes from us.  They helped us move into our Encino house.  We shared box seats at the Hollywood Bowl, we celebrated every holiday and special moment together. Donna was out of town for the Northridge Earthquake, but Cleve huddled with my family at our house, the neighbors house and his house to ride out the frightening aftershocks for a week. 

We took their daughter Jacqueline to see Cleve and Donna perform Lumiere and Belle together in the Los Angeles production of "Beauty and the Beast". We eventually adopted their dog Smooch... So you get the picture: Cleve, Donna and Jacq are close close family, but my evaluation of my sister-in-lust as a performer is not blinded by mere love.
Donna is one of the most talented people I know. She acts, dances, sings and compels you, all in a beautiful package to look at.  I am delighted to be in her family and in her orbit.  She was my tour guide when I was on Broadway. She knows everyone and everyone loves her. We got to meet between shows and talk theatre. In fact a poster for Chicago with Donna's picture prominently  and sensually displayed graced the outside the artists entrance to my theatre. Her picture was the last thing I saw every night when I went to work on Broadway.  It was a wonderful time. 
Her career has spanned decades because she started on stage as a child.  Her resumé of shows is staggering, and she has done Chicago on Broadway for 12 years after touring in the show for a couple of years before that.  She has played every female lead in the show, the only actress to have ever done so, and she has raised a beautiful daughter with Cleve.  To make a living on Broadway, be in a long running hit and have a normal family life with a great marriage and great kid is an unbelievable accomplishment.
And now she is "Broadway's Gypsy of the Month.  Donna Marie Asbury: Gypsy of the Month.  It is not a surprise to me but it is certainly time that rest of Broadway acknowledged her.
So.....Here is a toast to my sister-in-lust. Congrats on this honor, we could not be prouder, nor love you more.  Have one of those Blood Orange Vodka drinks that Cleve makes so well and celebrate.  We will do the same together soon. 
As you were,

More Old School Pen and Ink
I enjoy keeping my pen moving across paper.  This is a drawing of some of the words I heard one night while watching/listening to television with a pen and paper in hand. The size and appearance of the word drawn could indicate volume or emphasised visual attention.   This was done before I got my iPad.  My television stream of consciousness drawings now take place digitally on the iPad.  It is better AND not as good. 
There are times when I really do long for ink on paper even though it is a waste of resources  in the green world. It is something that digital graphics and printers will never satisfy in an artist. It is the primordial thrill you get from taking black ink and staining paper. The pen is a controlled flood of blackness and the artist directs that chaos into imaginative forms. There are times when my iPad drawing app crashes.  I am never sure why. There is no pattern to it that I can find. Unless I have saved the image in the last ten minutes the screen goes black and I lose all current work.  The very drawing you have been working on is gone, the page is black for 10 seconds and then drops you back at the desk top screen.  It is a perfect metaphor, in my opinion;  the digital equivalent of spilling an ink bottle on the canvas. The controlled stain turns into a flood of blackness.  The picture is ruined, and indeed in the digital world it vanishes. It is just as creatively painful, but the clean up is worth it.
Random Words Heard
8x10 Pen and Ink by Jay Johnson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Words... Symbolic Art or Literature
The ART of Words
Pen and Ink by Jay Johnson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

About Michaelangelo Price
Mike Price is a long-time stand up comedian, newspaper columnist, talk show host, screenwriter, disk jockey, racehorse exercise rider, poker dealer, and Vegas pit supervisor. His book, "If You Can't Keep A Job, Become A Writer," should have been written by now.  - Mike's autobiographical quote.

Mike Price
Photo by Wayne Williams
My friend Mike Price died yesterday at the young age of 80.  To some that is a long life but Price was just getting started. 
I remember the moment I met Mike Price. My friend Marsha Posner Williams introduced us during the late 70's in Las Vegas at the tennis court of the Hilton International hotel. I was the opening act for the Osmonds that summer, Marsha brought her friend Mike to see the show. 
Marsha and Mike were already long time friends by then. Marsha was Mike's greatest supporter, friend, fan, and perhaps the only woman to remain so till the end of his life. 
Mike was an orphan who grew up quick and tough.  He knew all the street and carny cons but preferred to make his living with a joke and a laugh. I'm not sure how many times Mike was married, I lost count some where around the fourth wife.   He never knew his real family, Marsha was his *only* family. Before getting the job on SOAP and working her way up to "Emmy Award winning producer",  Marsha was the personal secretary for Price.  She could type as fast as he could talk even correcting the jokes as he dictated them. Till his death Marsha continued to correct Mike's mistakes and was always there for him with laughter and support.
Mike helped me develop my Darwin the Monkey act. I remember making some moves backstage at Harrah's with Darwin, showing Mike this new puppet.  Mike laughed with the high pitched whiskey cackle of a guy who has seen and heard it all and said, "That's it... that is it. That's funny." And he was right, Darwin was born at that moment attitude and all. Mike knew funny and would tell you if it was or wasn't with equal weight and observation. 
Mike was a great writer and great student of comedy. He loved to teach it, analyse it, write it and glamorize the best of it. His life was a divine comedy itself.  When people asked him what  television shows he had written for he never got past his Rocky and Bulwinkle credit. For my generation and anyone who still knows that show, it was one of the hippest comedies of its day.  To write for that show gave any writer an awesome pedigree.
Mike lived in a one bedroom apartment in the back of a bar called Chez Jay in Santa Monica before he moved to Reno.  There was only one chair in the living room servicing a small desk with a typewriter. He said he didn't want meetings to go on for very long so there was no place for anyone else to sit down.  Outside his front door, scrawled in the sidewalk when  the concrete was wet...  the phrase, "Life is like an unfinished......". It was Mike's handwriting and his credo.
Before computers and track fed paper printers, Price would type on telegraph paper fed through his IBM Selectric. This continuous roll of paper let him type and write without the need to replace a page. He said to me once that he should get paid by the inch. 
His last show was at a Reno Comedy club around his birthday in July of this year. He was still working on his act in search of the perfect line with the perfect timing.
He joked to Marsha a few years ago that after he died he wanted to be cremated. Then he wanted his ashes made into a Snow Globe. A few days later I designed this "Memorial Snow Globe" for Mike.  He liked it and laughed... that was Mike's greatest compliment.
Rest in Peace my friend. 
As you were,

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Second Coming
There is a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf a couple of blocks from our church. I rarely pass it by without stopping and ordering an Ice Blended Mocha, after an uplifting Sunday service. In fact it is so much a Sunday ritual for me, I will expect an  IB Mocha from St. Peter the moment of my arrival at the Pearly Gates.  Otherwise it might be hell.
Yesterday started out as any other post sermon Sunday as I entered the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  The Bean managers moved some of the free standing shelving around so it created more of a defined pathway to the cash register. I felt like I was waiting to board a ride at Disneyland.  As I rounded the corner of this new maze I saw him sitting alone at a small table with his back to the front glass window.  It was Jesus.
Like everyone else in the place I was trying not to overtly stare at the Messiah.  There was no doubt he was causing a silent frenzy. It was the 2000 year old Prophet in the room and the entire shop was trying to avoid eye contact with the good Shepard.  In hindsight it was a fruitless attempt since as the son of God he would be omniscient, I'm sure he knew he was being oggled.

Jesus Texting
At first glance I thought it was perhaps just someone with long brownish hair and beard.... LIKE Jesus.  A few blocks up the street you can find a person that is  LIKE Spiderman posing for pictures at Manns Theatre. But, with a second and third glance I realized that indeed this was no tourist poser, it actually was Jesus of Nazareth. (I tried in vain to snap a covert picture of him, but got only the bottom of his garment, and his hands texting. This is the result here to the right. Wish I had a photo that included his face, but you can take my word for it.)  
He wore an egg shell white, loose neck, coarse cloth robe like tunic tied with a leather strap and sandals.  He was sipping an iced coffee and sending a text message on his smart phone.  I assumed he had ordered only water and turned it into the beverage of his choice. 
It would be easy to dismiss him as just another Hollywood patron still in his Halloween costume, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense that Jesus would be here at this particular CBTL and on this very day. 
Sunset and Fairfax is the edge of the Fairfax district which is predominately Jewish. He would feel comfortable here. It was Sunday... not the Jewish Sabbath but God's day of rest... so he would probably have the day off just relaxing and sipping a quite coffee.  And it seems to me from the Biblical text Jesus liked to be around sinners and, well, Sunset Blvd is the gateway to any sin you would like to find. Again, he would feel comfortable here.  
The only thing that didn't make sense is this: I thought that when Jesus came back it was a big event.  You know lead story in all the papers, surely worth an alert on my iPad news app, you know, the rapture and all that apocalypse stuff. It is supposed to be a big deal. I hadn't heard about it and I am relatively informed.  
That very thought began to bother me.  Maybe I just wasn't on the Rapture list.  Or what if the rapture is actually some sort of "flash mob" event.  I don't follow Jesus on twitter; I don't even know his Twitter account name.  JC@, TheOne@, Suffer4U@, NoSin@ I really couldn't be sure.  So perhaps Jesus had set the rapture up with all the people who do follow him.  Suddenly the word "follower" took on a whole new meaning in this digital age of theology. Through Twitter Jesus could have arranged with all his followers to meet  him right here at the CBTL in Hollywood, after church.  Then at the exact right time Jesus would stand up and yell, "Hallelujah", and the entire patronage would disappear, leaving behind only steaming cups of lattés. 
I waited around for a while, and Jesus kept texting.  I figured if it was the rapture I would grab onto someone when they started sparking and stowaway to heaven.  But Jesus kept on texting, and Sandi was in the car waiting for me.  I didn't really want to go without her.  She will be one of the few people who might stick up for me if I make it to heaven.  So... I got my Ice Blended Mocha and left.  But fore-warned is fore-armed as they say.

I got out my Blackberry and I looked for Jesus on Twitter. He's there and this is what I found...

Do not be sorry my child. Urination is nothing compared to what Judas did to me.

It is obvious from this Tweet that Jesus is back logged with some bed wetting issues and has not been able to deal with the rapture yet.  I think my chances are better hanging out at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Hollywood than following him on Twitter.  Perhaps St. Peter will let me in with my own Ice Blended Mocha in hand.  I'll see all you true believers there.
As you were,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It depends on when you start in trying to figure out how long you have done something. Since I have never held any other job except for performing it is hard to say when my career in the business began.  I was performing as a kid, but $10 dollars for a show may not be considered a career.  Any way you figure it, I have been doing what I do for a long time and it gets longer each year.  If you start the clock during the summer I started working at Six Flags over Texas it is more than 45 years.
That said in those decades I have only had to cancel two shows because I didn't have the voice to perform because of illness.  The first time was a decade ago and the second will be tomorrow.  There have been times when I was not 100% in the chops department, and other times that I probably shouldn't have performed because of illness. I got through them but knew that I could have done better if healthier.

I have been nursing a cold since Halloween. It got better, moved from my nose to my chest and finally has settled in my throat.  Although it is taking longer to go through those stages it is a familiar pattern for me.  I thought I would be fine by tomorrow but knowing my chops as I do, it just isn't going to happen. I was scheduled to perform with Darwin and his voice is a real push for me on good days.
It is not a paid engagement.  In fact the only other show I had to cancel was a freebie as well. Not to say it was not an obligation that I made and wanted to fulfill. If it was a paid engagement with money on the line I probably would have pushed through it, and paid the price. Fortunately the show tomorrow was scheduled to be as my part a quick bit in a large show. My absence won't drastically effect the performance. 
Wednesday I had an on camera interview with Bob, but Bob was not able to make it. I coughed through the information without him and it was okay.  The interviewer suggested that I have Bob with me anyway even though he wasn't going to participate.  I told the interviewer he didn't know Bob.  If Bob was there physically, there is very little I could do to keep him from trying to express himself.  He wouldn't have sounded good. Again if it was a stage performance I might have pushed through, but certainly didn't want that experience filmed.  In a world where bad performances get more YouTube exposure than good there was little I could do to keep it from happening except refuse to let Bob be photographed. 
It is the new age problem, things get sent and uploaded and forwarded so fast the rule is, don't write it, photograph it or tape it if you don't want the world to see it.  Last night there was a news report on a 14 year old girl who photographed semi nude pictures of herself for her boyfriend. She posted them on the internet. The pictures got hacked and went viral, four years later they are still being circulated. She was really upset and felt violated, as well she should.  BUT she took the photos and put them on line.  If you don't want those pictures to be seen, don't take them. We are in a time when the expectation of privacy is not the expectation of our grandparents. 
The Supreme Court is hearing a case this week over that very issue of expectation of privacy.  The FBI placed a GPS tracking device on the car of a suspected drug lord.  The FBI did not get a warrant to "tap" the car in such a way and the case has gone to the highest in the country. The lawyers for the FBI argue that no one should expect privacy when they are driving on public roads.  It is a constitutional issue and will be a bench mark case for future rights for warrant less surveillance.  I believe if we allow this sort of spying with out some probably cause, we will become an Orwellian state of fear based living. 
The argument is... well if you are not doing anything wrong then why would you care if you are being spied on?  The problem is how do you define wrong, that is usually a power of the state.  In the middle east it is against the law for a woman to drive a car. 
I am a strick believer in absolute rights.  The original philosophy of the constitution was that every American had the right to do anything to him/her self they wanted to do as long as no one else was being harmed.  That has changed radically over the years and the government limits more and more the concept of telling you what you can do.  Remember how well prohibition worked out?
Do what you want to do without harming anyone or any thing else, but by all means whatever you do... don't take pictures of yourself doing it and posting it on the internet. 
As you were,

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

But wait there's more...
Why is it that everything you can buy through the mail from those television ads costs $19.95?  Whether it is a battery powered stirring unit, organizer, an egg poacher, food chopper or miracle cleaner it costs $19.95. From my days as a marketing major at the University of North Texas I learned that odd lot pricing is used all the time.  $19.95 is only a nickle less but sounds so much cheaper than $20 dollars. But, who decided that the top impulse budget for any television viewer is $20 dollars? I am thinking that there is a correlation between the minimum dispensing amount at ATMs ($20) and what we think of as cheap.
But the add goes on. You should not dial that phone till the end of the ad.  If the price alone for such a useful item was not enough to motivate you... "if you call now you will receive an additional chopper/poacher/organizer for just an additional shipping charge.... a $300 dollar value for only $19.95."
If a company can sell two of the items for the same price, why can't you just buy one for half that?
It seems to me that we consumers have gotten along very well with out this gimmick; do we suddenly need two?  And where do they get their starting prices.... "You would expect to pay $80 dollars for such a useful tool."  Again, marketing. If you think that such an item really would sell for that much then a quarter of that would be a steal. I remember an artist told me that her painting was worth $30,000.00 if any one would buy it from her.  Perhaps we need a crash course on the word worth.
But wait there's more.... the ad suggests that we can either keep the second item OR give it as a gift. Now there's a gift from the heart.  Who wouldn't want to receive an egg poacher for that special retirement gift, or celebration of any kind. "Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas... here is a cheap item that you don't really need. The best news is... it didn't cost me a thing... it was free, I was going to buy one for myself any way so really it was a win win for both of us. That is how much thought I put into your special day."
Not that you would write that on the card,  but the minute you see the same ad on television, the jig is up. 
Act three is even more interesting.  After they have sold all the current gimmick items they can at $19.95, a month later the very item will be thrown into the mix for FREE with the purchase of another revolutionary item.  Once again they quote the value at $80 dollars, so just imagine the savings there. Eventually if you wait long enough you can get all the items for free which is my suggestion.  "But wait if you call right now we will double your free offers and send two of everything you thought you ever wanted but could not afford."  Just think about it.... fill your whole Christmas list with one purchase.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Depression and Creativity
It is one of those Spaulding Gray moments: waiting for something to happen to me so that I can write about it.  It was not so satisfying ranting about the current events of they day in yesterday's blog. As I re-read it I could not distinguish it from any other missive to be found on the Internet. It was just the same old stories recycled through this address.  That was depressing to me.  Sometimes out of my depression there comes great clarity.... sometimes great dispare. 
I realize that I am about to be the same age as Spalding Gray was when he killed himself. It is both sobering and discouraging at the same time.  First I didn't think I could ever become as old as Spalding Gray.  Not old so much as mature.  Not that Spalding was textbook mature, he just had the wisdom of age experience. I'm not sure that is really the truth either. Perhaps since Spalding talked about and documented so much of his life it seemed like he had lived more of it than he really had. I worry about myself when I look at my inspiring influences. Like seeing the neurotic Spalding Gray as mature and stable.   
Second, I am freaked out that he was so young when he decided life was not worth continuing. As I approach that age it seems like there is still too much play left to call the game. I can't see myself contemplating suicide, yet. In my gothic youth I certainly toyed with suicide in a self-centered way.  Perhaps we all do when feeling sorry for ourselves, "they would be sorry they did that if I was to die suddenly." Other than trying to write the perfect suicide note, I never really thought the process through in detail.  Even then it was all about the writing. Evidently for Spalding it was genetic, since his mother went through the same sort of depression ending in her own suicide. 
Depression is really a misunderstood demon. Like Nancy Reagan's admonition to the youth regarding drugs, "Just say no" to the depressed she would say, "Just get happy".  If it was just that simple there would be no depression.  

Although we give lip service to the idea that we are all individuals with our own unique facet of life,  we also want these unique individuals to fit in the same slot.  We should all like the same things and be happy from the same stimuli.  If I am happy why isn't he or she happy. 
"Why can't those depressives just see the bright side of life.  Be happy for the things around them."  We are surrounded by things that cause an equal amount of happiness and unhappiness from exactly the same event.  Every Sunday this time of year one football team will win and one will lose.  Those who root for the winner will be happy and those who root for the loser will be sad.  If something so unimportant as a game can cause this much disparity in feelings,  why shouldn't other more important events do the same thing on a greater level.  They do and they are not so easy to analyze nor as simple as which team you root for of just saying "no to unhappiness".

So here I am just waiting for something to happen so I can write about it. Spalding Gray would measure the time between events with Vodka.  It's too early and not satisfying for me.... besides alcohol can be a depressant and that is exactly what I do not need right now.  I need a Raymond Chandler event.  He used to say to writers.... "if you are stuck in the plot have two guys burst in the room with guns."  Where are you Ray?
As you were,

Monday, November 07, 2011

You Kids get off my Lawn!
What dedication from a football coach who continues to drill his players on the proper linesman's stance even when they are in the shower.  No wonder Penn State has a great defensive football team, from an early age the players learned to cover their asses.  (Rim shot.... thank you very much. Tip your waiters and waitresses, I'll be here all week)
All I know is what is being said in the news but, when you see a coach having ANY interaction with a ten year old boy in the shower, it is time to blow the whistle. If the bosses don't do something immediately, they are just as guilty. It is not a sin to see an injustice, but it is a crime not to do something about it if you can.  Have we not learned enough from the Catholic Church that to cover up and conceal a crime like that is in some ways more of a crime?

Kim Kardashian... why? I thought it was ridiculous to follow Paris Hilton around and idealize her extravagant and disfunctional life style, but at least she had some cashé from being a hotel heiress.  Hilton was a name that everyone knew before there was a spoiled child named Paris.  Her Grandfather made headlines by marrying Zaa Zaa Gabor in his day. Even if it was a stretch the Hilton family is a legacy and wealthy heirs in this era of Capitalistic Fascism are to be admired.
But Kim Kardashian?  Why do we care? Is it  because we love the albums she has put out? Or maybe we love her in those movies? Or the way she dances, or plays the violin, or maybe it is because of the charity work she does? Maybe it is because she is just SO she can.... well she has an unusually large butt. So does Aretha Franklin, and Aretha can sing.

In the mean time Conrad Murray was found guilty an hour ago.  He will be sentenced in a couple of weeks. Perhaps he was more guilty of malpractice that involuntary murder, but that was the only charge that the jury had to consider. He certainly seemed guilty of something.  

As you were,

Friday, November 04, 2011

Houdini Admits setting Fire to the Magic Castle
I have been close to home nursing a cold for the last week. And I'm having trouble sleeping as well.  I thought the two problems might be related and have concluded that they are.  The hot tea and honey toddy that I prescribed for myself turned out not to be an herbal tea, but a regular caffeinated black tea. The box looks like it would be an herbal tea and it is full of cinnamon and other favorings that make it good for the throat. But the amount I have been drinking and the nearly illegal caffeine level of the concoction was not a healthy balance.  By the time I got to bed each night I was more wired than the animatronics at Disneyland. 
That to say,  last night I spent some of the early hours of the night browsing apps for my iPad.  Sometimes I find some obscure tool that does something interesting; Sometimes the browsing just puts me to sleep.  By the way, the number of clocks and calculators for sale as iPad/iPhone apps is staggering. I didn't realize so many programmers think it's important not just to know the time of day, but to be entertained by the information as well. What is time if it is not identified by flames burning through the display, or ice crystals forming on the inside of the screen? Some clocks even display the time in symbols that take a code book to decipher. 
As I was wading through a group of such  clocks, I stumbled on a Ghost Meter.  It was in the utilities category rather than games or entertainment and was released on Oct. 31st of this year. It suckered me right in. It was too new to have any ratings or comments. It was only a buck so I couldn't resist. 
The Haunted House at Corporate Beach, MS
It is themed out like an old style wooden radio.  It reminded me of something you might find as a prop in the game Myst. There is a dial that calculates the strength of the "ghost" and lights that illuminate when it encounters what the meter determines is a ghost.  I think I liked the retro look of the device as much as the supposed use which in the description and instructions is very vague.  I am not sure what it is actually registering. I do know that it will display a dialogue box when there is magnetic interference, like the compass app does, and there is no particular pattern to what ever it is registering. 
However, I down loaded it, and what is an app if you don't instantly find out how it works. So in the middle of the night, or early morning, in my wizard bath robe, I walked through the darkened house with a ghost meter, trying to determine exactly what I had just purchased.  Fortunately Sandi was asleep and Taylor was gone for the evening.  I looked like the very ghost I was tracking, with this long druidesque robe, my face lit only by the flickering light of an app driven iPad, wafted through the dark and silent house.
I suppose I should be encouraged by the fact that the house seemed relatively free of ghosts according to my new meter, until I got to the hallway.  There is an occasional cold chill that will come down this hallway and the lights will occasionally flicker at night. I still believe I encountered the essence of my Father in Law in that Hallway a few months after he died.  I guess if I thought my house was haunted this hallway would be grand central. 
The ghost meter went crazy in the middle of the hall. It lit up like a Christmas tree, the dial pegged at the top and the display counted a ghost. It also sounded an alarm that scared me and I panicked  trying to turn down the volume.
I walked out of the hallway and the meter went back to scanning, no other hits.  There were occasional spikes in the meter but nothing like the hallway. I was mostly trying to figure out what this app was reacting to.... if anything.  As I headed back to bed the meter lit up again when I walked the hallway. 
Back in bed I put on the headphones and turned up the volume.  It scans sounds too and sometimes through the static I would hear something I thought I recognized. 
It registered nothing while I was lying in bed. Then I decided to try and contact Houdini.  Why not? He has been on my mind recently with the Magic Castle fire and Halloween.  There was nothing at first, but just as I was about to give up the dial spiked. I whispered...."Houdini" and it spiked again. I did nothing for a minute thinking it was a coincidence.  It spiked again when I repeated the name.  I assumed that it was Mr. Houdini and we were in communication.  Finally I asked the spiking meter if the presence of Houdini had set the fire at the Magic Castle.  The dial pegged, the alarm sounded, it lit up again and counted ghost number two on the counter.  I jumped so much Boo the dog growled in her sleep. 
I did not give the ghost meter a chance to display again. Nor do I really know what the meter senses, just as I was turning it off the dialogue box appeared again and said there was magnetic interference.
I think this is as close to a confession that we will get from the specter arsonist.  As far as I am concerned Houdini confessed.  I don't think that the ghost meter is allowed as evidence in court, but to me the case is now solved.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Happy Day of the Dead
 For those who celebrate the festival of the Day of the Dead here is a graphic for you.   Jaysons Art - the Hallmark of obscure holiday cards.
This is the Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, 2011 and the mystery into why Houdini set fire to the Magic Castle continues.  So far no official cause of the fire has been determined.  I do not rule out the occult, and the paranormal activity that is continually encouraged and practiced at the Magic Castle as the real cause of the fire. And for me the ghost of Harry Houdini would be the hands on favorite as the perpetrator.  Although he was dead for many years before the property at Franklin in Hollywood became the Magic Castle, Houdini did live near the historic Magic Castle property while in Los Angeles.
So here is my accusation. I think the ghost of Houdini started the fire from beyond the grave for these reasons. 1) The timing of the day Halloween: Houdini's favorite holiday, and date of his death. 2) The numerologological associations with the number 11 surrounding the calendar date. Eleven was Houdini's lucky number and a superstition. 3)Houdini said he would try to communicate wth the living if he could after death. I doubt a stuborn control freak like Houdini would ever stop trying, even after 85 human years. 4) The symbolic implications of burning the Magic Castle on Inferno night.
If Houdini really wanted to communicate with the living world then what better place to do it than at the very clubhouse of conjourors, on their busiest night of the year. And do it in such a way that would make the evening news. The fire at the Magic Castle was a big story covered in somewhat the mystical and grand style of Houdini.
There is no doubt. The last few days research has born out the facts that Houdini has broken through and communicated to us from beyond the grave. The ghost of Houdini set fire to the Magic Castle.

As you were,