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,

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

We go now to.... Hugh Bodsillean...
Thank you Jay... Hugh Bodsillean reporting from Hollywood.
One of the busiest nights at the Magic Castle is Halloween, as you might imagine. Over the years they have planned for all kinds of themes and shows to promote the event.  Last nights theme was.. "INFERNO...The Castle will be on fire for Halloween".  The evening was cancelled because, you guessed it, the Magic Castle caught fire, an irony, which I am sure, is not lost on those of the Magical persuasion.  As far as I know this is the first Halloween night the Magic Castle has been closed since it opened in 1963.  
I still maintain that it was the ghost of Harry Houdini who did it in an attempt to communicate from the "other side".  He said he would try to send a message to the living if he could.  There were annual Houdini Seances on Halloween night for many years after his death, but even his wife gave up after ten years. The last Houdini Seance was broadcast live on the radio from the roof of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  Bess Houdini was there along with 12 other guests including a noted medium of the time. After an uneventful seance, Bess Houdini rose from the circle and said, "Houdini did not come through. My last hope is gone. I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me, or to anyone...The Houdini Shrine has burned for ten years. I now, reverently... turn out the light. It is finished. Good night, Harry!"
Perhaps it took the 85 years since his death to come up with the best way to communicate. After all why would a legendary conjurer known for his spectacular and dangerous stunts be satisfied by ringing bells or rattling tambourines in a darkened seance when he could make headlines setting fire to the Magic Castle on the anniversary of his death? Also, with my basic knowledge of eternity it seems to me that ten years is not even a nano second to a ghost.  Eighty-five seems to be time enough for him to come up with this trick. 
But here is the most convincing evidence of Houdini's involvement in the fire.  You will notice on the left that Houdini underlines his signature atop the number... 11.   Houdini would have been 137 years old last night. If you take those numbers and add them up with numerology you get 11. He died at the age of 52 on Oct. 31.  If you add 52 and 31 you come up with 83 which reduces to 11. Today is 11/01/11 and it was Halloween 2011 last night.  Smoke was noticed by some employees at was 11:11 AM, the fire alarm was sounded at 12:35 PM.  Again using numerology 12:35 adds to 11.  Both of his professional names started with  H which is made from two vertical lines that look like 11. If you add the number of the letters in Houdini's name they come to 12,  take the number of those letters as they appear in the alphabet ( A is one, B is two etc.) and add them up you get the number 69 for Harry and the number 70 for Houdini. Subtract those numbers from each other you are left with 1, and one from twelve is... don't freak out... 11.
So there  you have it... proof of life after death and all thanks to Harry Houdini setting fire to the Magic Castle.  This is Hugh Bodsillean.... back to you Jay.
Thanks Hugh.... interesting and persuasive evidence.
As you were,