Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
                                                       William Shakespeare

Shakespeare was saying names are not important to the truth.  Who would argue with the wisdom of the Bard.  I do. I believe names are important. What you choose to call things is both subjective and explicit.

Here is a cautionary tale of how names can go wrong: (the names have been changes to protect the rights of the innocent)

My dog is named Bambu, but my wife does not like that name.  I don’t know why. She is the perfect wife except for that one point on which we disagree. I do not mind the name, so we compromise. The dog’s name is Boo. It’s my dog. This is truly MY first dog of all the dogs in my life.  There is a pecking order. If I am out of town she is Sandi’s dog… and we are both out of town she is Taylors dog. At any rate she is a great dog.

I can take Boo anywhere because she is so well mannered.  And I actually like doing that. On a walk down Ventura Blvd. today there was a mother pushing her sleeping baby in a stroller.  The dog was curious and wanted to see inside the stroller. My well behaved dog got too close and did not respond to the snap of the leash. I tried again but she was still not responding to the leash. I yelled her name in an authoritative tone.
This scares the lady in front of me who screams. This wakes the baby who immediately begins to cry.  I really was not trying to scare anyone. Sometimes you have to yell at your dog no matter how well behaved. 
And that is the point.  If I had named the dog “Excuse me” the lady would have turned around politely and said, “Yes”.  But I sneak up behind her and yell… BOO she naturally starts a domino effect that cannot end well.
Names are important.
As you were

Monday, January 30, 2012

Three Cheers of JOY
Joey ( pronounced JOY) came home last night, or tonight as I write this.  Specifically 1/30/2012
at 21:15. To those who know it is a great JOY, to those who don't .... JOY can always be celebrated for its own sake.
A long time coming, a long journey ended, a mission of great courage fulfilled. Now moving on to day one. Time has started running forward finally.

Welcome back.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Costa Concordia 
Has everyone said all they want to say about the Costa Concordia running aground in Italy? Oh, Yeah, I haven't talked about it in my blog. So if it is not a subject that you are interested in, here an archived blog that might be more fun for you to read.  Laffs Vegas.

I have lost count of how may cruise ships I have been on in the last two decades.  More than I care to recall, but the gig is easy, for the most part, and does pay the mortgage. I have never worked for the Costa line so all my knowledge is based on the policy of other Cruise Companies. But most rules are mandated by the Coast Guard and are the same.

The one thing that I know is that on the lines I work for a Captain will be overly cautious and err to the side of safety over tourism every time. On a recent trip to the Caribbean a wind storm was determined to be too strong for our ship to anchor and tender into Coco Cay. The Captain cancelled the day on the beach because of the danger to the passengers and the ship.  There was much decent from some travelers mad because one of their destinations was not visited. 
Because the Captain made that decision there was no chance to evaluate his conduct in an emergency.  He was over cautious and avoided the emergency.  Had he anchored in bad weather and a tender boat hit the rocks or swamped in the wind harming passengers would they still complain? Even more.

Here is my take on the Costa Concordia event.  The minute the ship hit a rock hard enough to break off and stick in the hull of a ship twice the size of the Titanic, the Captain should have declared an emergency. (Not some hour and a half later like the Costa Captain). There is no doubt that they knew instantly it was not a generator problem as was announced to the passengers.  Generators don't rock the ship and knock things off the shelves. Within minutes an inspection would have discovered the real problem.  On modern ships with video everywhere, they probably had a nice VHS of the actual collision with the rock.  As to the excuse that the rock was not carted on the Costa Captains maps, I say Bull shit. Those waters and that coastline have been sailed for thousands of years.  Today with depth finders and radar even if the rock wasn't charted it would be visible to the sensors. The Captain should have declared a General emergency immediately. 
Every crew member knows what to do in a General emergency.... Seven short and one long blast of the ships horn and ringing emergency alarms.  Even if the passengers did not know where to go they would have been directed to the correct life boat station by crew assigned to that duty way in advance. The crew rehearses this procedure on every ship at least once a week. 
If it was just a generator problem the life boats would not have been lowered and everyone would be instructed to go back to the bar and enjoy the evening.  If it was anything more the life boats would have been filled and lowered into the water.  Since the ship was still up right they could evacuate from both sides. Everyone would be sailing away from the sinking ship to safety. The Captain would have steered the ship onto a beach or shelf so it would not sink completely if he could. (This requires the Captain to be on board... by the way)
Even if the life boats are launched and it is determined that the ship is still safe, the Captain would call the boats back in, they would be hauled up and everyone would go to the bar and have a good time telling the story. 
This captain, now stuck with the nickname, Chicken of the Seas, lied to the passengers, finished his dinner, and waited, until half-an-hour later when the starboard side lifeboats were useless, to abandon ship.  Then fate stepped in. He "Slipped" and fell from the deck into a life boat with his lap top and radio in tack, as the boat was sailing away.  He said it was dark and he couldn't get back on board.  Interesting since there were rescue teams from the Italian Coast Guard that easily boarded the boat to help in the rescue.
Now it is learned that the Captain steered out of the known shipping lane and sailed a course 400 meters closer to the island. Rumor is that there was a party on the island and The Captain wanted to get his ship close enough to be see clearly by the partiers.  
As for me, I want my pilots, my ship Captains and even my bus drivers to err on the side of caution, not grandstand for an audience.  I want them to realize they have stewardship of a lot of lives and take that job seriously.  For the most part they do. It is rare that we hear of such a human disaster like this that was directly caused by the carelessness of the person in charge. 
Smooth sailing.  Clear flying... responsible people in charge.
As you were,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thing that Almost Made it Big...
Coming up with a product that catches on is a crap shoot.  It will never be fully understood why one thing makes it and another just misses.  Sometimes you are just a number or a color off from making it.
Here are a few examples from the Jayson Art Files.

They just had one thing wrong.
As you were,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


#Wondering: What do you think of all the politics going on right now?

#RiteJay: I think Rick Santorum looks like Jerry Seinfeld.

#Wondering: Only not so funny, right?

#RiteJay: No, He does make me laugh. He calls it his policy, sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch to me. I think that sweater vest is actually bullet proof, just in case he happens to be walking down a street in West Hollywood.

#Wondering: LOL. What about Newt?

#RiteJay: He looks like the evil Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man in the movie "Ghost Busters". In the old days weren't witches always turning people into Newts? That was a bad thing, right?

#Wondering: Yeah, what's a Newt anyway?

#RiteJay: A Newt is a cold blooded slimy water lizard. They will mate with any other lizard, and doesn't do anything but make it difficult on the other creatures in the scum pond. A Newt's best defense against predators is leaving a bad taste in their mouth.

#Wondering: So no on Newt?

#RiteJay: I think he should get out of politics. Corner the market on the stuff that holds his third wife's hair in place and sell it to shield Nuclear reactors. He could make a fortune.

#Wondering: And Mitt?

#RiteJay: A Mitt and a Newt? That's the choice? Somehow neither one sounds very presidential.

#Wondering: You can't judge a politician by his funny name.

#RiteJay:  Really? Spiro Agnew? Now there is a funny name.  Nixon's vice president, forced to resign on a Criminal conviction of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy.  He was convicted of accepting bribes totaling more than $100,000, while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President of the United States. But like you say... what's in a name.

#Wondering: Then how about Ron Paul. That's a good presidential name.

#RiteJay: He is the old man next door, running out of his house screaming at the kids to get off his lawn. If he becomes president he will install a new cabinet position. Secretary of Curmudgeon.

#Wondering: So in your opinion, what is the solution?

#RiteJay:  Oh, I'm not opinionated...  I am independent. I have an open mind.

#Wondering:  Right, Jay.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Performing High

I enjoy performing too much to let anything cloud that experience, knowingly.  There are artists  I know well who believe they are better connected to their art, whatever it might be, if they are chemically altered in some way. Although I can't imagine that would be so, they do seem to at least be able to work in that condition. Are they better because of it or do they convince  themselves that it is better is the question? I am surely not the one that can answer that query. 

But that is not the subject of this blog, "other people performing high" it is about me.... "performing high. " Here is how it all went down: It was just another corporate show for a very exclusive group on Friday night.  I am not even sure what they did, but I knew based upon the venue and the speakers on the roster that this small group was important.  The driver who took me to the venue said the day before a Brinks truck had arrived with a solid gold artifact from the Mel Fisher salvage of the Atochia wreck. I think the subject of the day was gold, so they decided to bring in the ultimate in valuable gold bling. 

Things like this don't intimidate me. I decided it was just another version of the Bohemian Club, and I have no trouble entertaining those rich buggers, so how was this group different. Besides, I don't care what kind of business they are in.. or how much gold they can afford to buy, unless they perform ventriloquism, I can do something they can't so we are even at the starting line.

The booze was flowing freely to all. And based upon the sound check I knew that I would be working close to the audience in cramped conditions. That was a little concerning but not unique to my performing experience. As I did my usual warm up in the holding area I didn't think that my voice was responding very well. The producer kept plying me with water which I gulped down, but it was not helping my "chops". I just figured that Dr. Greasepaint would have to take over once I was introduced. It was finally time for me to go on. Even after a few sentences I knew something was different about this performance. My timing was off.  It was an immediate struggle, one that I had never experienced before on stage. I forgot the opening joke that I had planned to do. It was like climbing a mountain.  I just couldn't catch my breath and didn't seem to have enough air to even finish the next joke. I had to slow way down on stage but my mind was racing to find an answer to my current conditions. There was a side of my brain that was going through everything that I had done that day to help make sense of my situation.  I had not done anything different than I had done for thousands of corporate shows in the past. I wasn't stressed I wasn't overwhelmed, I wasn't doing anything different than I have always done. Here I was in Vail, Colorado entertaining a small but receptive group and I was struggling.  That is when it hit me.... VAIL, Colorado.... what is the altitude here? Much higher than I am used to and I have been here less than 24 hours. 

It was the altitude that was intefering with my performance.  I have always been extremely proud of the breath control I have worked on for all my career.  I rely in that control for the timing of my act and the projection of my voices. I have even lectured on the importance of breath control in ventriloquism.  If it is off then your entire act is off. That is when I figured it all out.  It doesn't matter how good your breath control is, if you are not getting the amount of oxygen you are used to getting with each breath, you are screwed. My problem was... I was performing high... higher in altitude than my usual performances. There is nothing quite like the feeling when you thing you have 30 more seconds of air....and you don't .  

I will remember this if they ever offer me the "ski resort" tour.

As you were,


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Judy Houghton

Judy was the first choreographer that I ever worked for.  It was a challenge for a 15 year old ventriloquist who had never been in a show like the Campus Review at Six Flags Over Texas. It was probably a challenge for her as well. Not only was I not a dancer, I was holding a puppet the entire show. But we got through it together, because we had one big thing in common:  It was Judy's first year to work for Charles R. Meeker, Jr. too. A man who would become very important in both our lives.

I continued to work for Mr. Meeker off and on for the next 10 years, which meant I was working with Judy as well. Judy was always there during the Meeker days. Mr. Meeker wrote, cast and produced the shows and Judy set the movement. She was the live show manager at Six Flags Over Georgia the summer I did 918 shows for the season.  We never knew the arrangement between them other than business partners, I never heard her call him anything but Mr. Meeker.  Ultimately it didn't matter and no one really cared. To those of us who worked for him Mr. Meeker was bigger than life and couldn't be defined by normal rules. 

Judy was there when Mr. Meeker passed away. He did it his way... left a rehearsal, went to the hotel and died. Judy continued to produce shows and plan meetings in the tradition of Mr. Meeker. It wasn't always easy because of his bigger than life legacy and the fact that it was still "boys club" at the time.  Judy and I stayed in touch but by this time I was in Los Angeles trying to ply the experience that Judy and Mr. Meeker had given me.  Our time together became mainly reunions with casts members she had taught.

Years later Judy would influence my career again in a very direct way. We had occasion to talk about my one man show.  She knew I was trying to complete the funding for a shot at  Broadway. She decided that Dallas Summer Musicals should get involved and began to lobby our mutual friend Mike Jenkins. With the tenacity of Mr. Meeker she convinced Michael to come to the Colony Theatre to see the show. His participation was the tipping point and we were on our way to Broadway with the Two and Only.  It was perfect to have Judy there at my Broadway opening, she had been so much a part of my journey.

A couple of weeks ago she called me to say that she had not answered my email because her computer was up stairs.  She had been in the hospital and she was too weak to walk up the stairs. We talked, we reminisced, we said we would talk more. I looked forward to that. Last Monday my friend David Sinkler told me she was back in the hospital, Thursday our friend Judy passed away. 

Her family is large, it includes kids from Six Flags, Cedar Point, Desert Fiesta, Charlie's Place, Incredible Charlie's, the Miss Universe Pageant, the Miss Teen Age America Pageant, Dr Pepper Bottlers Tours, and those are only the family members I know about.  There are many more. 

Judy crossed over too young, but I swear I can hear the voice of Charles R. Meeker, Jr. saying "Chop, Chop Judy.... we got work to do.".

Goodbye sweet friend,


Friday, January 20, 2012

And..... Action...
I thought the neighbors across the street were moving out, but it didn't look like your standard movers that pulled up last week. Huge wooden crates filled the yard. They put every piece of furniture into the crates and with a fork lift placed them on logo-less trucks.  The next day two other trucks pulled up and reversed the procedure with different furnishings.  It was the opening salvo of a movie crew.
By then the curbs on either side of my street were blocked off with orange cones and temporary tow away no parking signs posted. 
There is a sameness to every movie crew. Unshaven guys with baseball caps, shorts and hoodies, tools dangling from their belts, hauling lights and cables paraded in front of my house. My dog Boo did not find them attractive and barked constantly. Then there are the actors that sit in high folding chairs with tissues protecting their collars. Type A personality directors who seem to be under stress and over stimulated.  There is a flurry of activity to set up a scene and then long periods of time when those same worker bees smoke cigarettes, and toss wrenches at each other in the street. Motor-cycle cops stand guard letting only the neighbors through. Unfortunately they don't know the neighbors so getting in and out of my driveway is like going through a border check. 
Last night till midnight the front yard across the street was lit with huge lights on century stands and cherry pickers.  That house looked like it was still high noon with the rest of the neighborhood in evening darkness.
My next door neighbor has rented his front yard to the crew for their lunch.  Shade tents and long tables and chairs flank a food truck.  It smells great, and I am wondering if I can show my SAG card and get a free meal.
There is no signage that would indicate what this production is.  I am guessing by the number of days that they have been here that it is a film, rather than a television commercial or TV series.  They are not shooting the exterior of the house, so I may never know if I actually see the scenes they are shooting in a film someday.  It would be nice to say... "You know that scene where they kill the zombie in the living room... that is my next door neighbor's house."  
LA is a company town and for the most part we put up with these minor inconveniences. They could have cast the entire film with actors living in a two block radius.  I have done my share of tramping through someone's residence turned into a film set. There is one thing for sure, there is no amount of money that would lure me into offering my residence for such a project. In the contract to use the house is the clause that it will be put back to its original state perfectly so they treat it like a studio set. I have seen camera dollies scrape across maple wood floors and mud tracked across wall to wal carpeting. On one location, shooting Broken Badges in Canada, the owner had a very large fish tank full of exotic tropical fish.  The sound man did not like the noise of the air pump and turned it off for the two days we shot.  The fish died a slow death.  It cost the production company more money to restock the tank than I got for a salary that week.  It is not the glamorous part of the business that the PR people document.
I have never known a home owner who rented his house to a production crew more than once.  I guess that is why you never know where the trucks will be next time. There is a sucker born every minute.
As you were,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hit the Rat
If you didn't know, "The Two and Only" has a singing rat as its mascot. It has been so since our first performance at the Atlantic Theatre in New York. The Rat was an opening night gift from my friend Chris Wallace on our maiden run in New York. A Sinatraesque  rodent singing New York, New York was the perfect symbol of my burgeoning Broadway journey. Here is a former blog that I wrote on the subject.  The Rat
At the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, Florida, the booth was not easily accessible from back stage. This meant that John had to be in the booth for the 15 minute and 5 minute call to the "actors". Normally he will come into my dressing room to give me those calls and "hit the rat" who sings the appropriate phrase for the time.
His official name is Rando the Rat Bastard. It is a stuffed toy rat that has a voice chip inside. Cradling a cigarette in one hand and the other in his tuxedo pocket, he sings the song in three phrases on three separate "hits". At half hour to show time, with the first hit, the rat belts out "If I can make it there..."At 15 minutes before show time on the second hit he croons, "I'm gonna make it anywhere its up to you New York..."  And finally with five minutes until the curtain goes up on the third hit he sings with great falsetto gusto, "NEW YORKKK," holding the note with great pride.  That means to me.... show time.
This has been the routine with every show we have ever done at every theatre. Before John took over the show, from being the sound man, all my other stage managers performed the same routine.   If the rat is punched inadvertently in transit he is reset to the top of the song so the tradition can be maintained.  He even travels in his own small case inside the other cases. When we accidentally lost the rat a few years ago his identical "rat stand by" twin continued the tradition. 
But now there is a break in tradition at the Crest. John can not "punch" the rat in conjunction with the show calls. I could have "squeezed the rat" myself, but that is not the way it has always been done. There is a rule in Show business that if it is working don't change it. 
On the tour of "My Fair Lady" years ago a general manager discovered that they were transporting a large chandelier from theatre to theatre at great expense that was only used for a quick ball room scene.  He told the producers that if they didn't travel with that chandelier they could save $100,000.00 during the span of the tour.  The producer thought for a minute and said, "You know... we don't know why that scene works... it could be the chandelier... don't cut it."
So it is.  I really could not activate the rat myself.  
John asked the theatre stage manager who was working stage left to "hit the rat" when he gave me the calls for show time. Dave walked in the first night and said," Half-hour... and I am supposed to do something with your rat?"  He seemed a little concerned about what this duty might entail. I pointed to the rat who was hung over one of the make up table lights. He looked back at me with a nervous glance. I said, "Squeeze his stomach",which he did. We were off to a great start.
As the run progressed Dave got into the routine, but always with a different phrase. "Five minutes, time to choke the rat.... 15 minutes time to express the rodent.... Half hour time to molest the mouse." He would laugh, I would laugh and the show was off to a good start. 
They say if you find a job that you like to do you will never work a day in your life.  How true.
As you were,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Yen and Yang of  TTAO
The logistics of doing a theatrical show like "The Two and Only" (TTAO) are much more complicated than just doing my club act somewhere. There is the small set, the lighting cues, the sound, the props and all of it has to come together at the same time to make it happen.  To hamper this feat is the fact that the production can only afford to hire John Ivy and me to do it, so we must use a local theatre crew that is as different as the theatres we perform in. 
It is always a compromise since no two theatres have exactly the same equipment or experience level.  The locals come into the whole thing clueless about our show, so there is a lot of time spent figuring out how to motivate them or in some cases how to deal with them. Usually, we know what we are getting into, but sometimes we don't.  
The contract rider is supposed to alert the crew and theatre about what we need in the way of equipment to produce the show long before we arrive.  That includes things like the right number and right kind of lights hung in the correct plot. It also included the number of channels and the minimum size lighting and sound boards to make it happen.  If we know ahead of time that they do not have exactly what we need we can adjust pretty well. John Ivy is a master at making a silk purse out of a sows ear.  He and I both come from "poor theatre" where you have to make magic with what you have. The alternative is to travel with a semi truck of all the stuff we need, and that is just not economically feasible with this show. Besides 90% of the time we would be duplicating what the theatre already has anyway. 
Sometimes the person John speaks to in advance is not straight forward on what they have or don't and we get surprised when we arrive.  That does not make for an easy set up and rehearsal.  Although contractually they are supposed to have or rent exactly what we need, that is rarely the case when we arrive.  It sometimes seems that tech directors don't want to be honest before hand figuring once we are there we will have to make it work with what they've got.  On this last run one of the theaters did not have the correct microphone so I could hide it in my hair. Fortunately in my prop case I had a mic and cable that fit the transmitter and it worked. It is the first time I have had to use this backup and it is rare that it matches the transmitter. 
We ship and FedEx as much as we can so we don't have to travel with a lot, but sometimes there is not enough time between theatres to ship the stuff and we have to haul it ourselves.  That is when we rent a small truck and become a traveling circus, which was the case last week in Florida. It is the yen and yang of show business.  Minutes after I am taking a bow in front of an audience standing and cheering, I am climbing into a rented UHaul truck with questionable comfort for a ride back to a motel.
At the end of this run the big stuff was scheduled to be shipped back. We drove the empty truck back to Miami to turn it in before our flights home.  The UHaul return was a gas station in a shady part of Miami near the Airport. Even in the middle of the day I felt I had to keep one eye on my briefcase while we were settling up. 
There was a bilingual discussion over two gallons of gas that we still owed once we filled it up at the station, and whether we got our deposit back.  They finally applied the deposit to the rental and charged the difference to my credit card. This took more time than it should of because the customers wanting to pump gas came first.  Although we had allowed plenty of time to make our flights we needed every moment to deal with the unexpected.  We had been told that someone could take us from the rental place to the airport, that proved not to be the case. They were not even willing to call a cab, that was up to us. They had their truck and were done with us.
We sat on our luggage, breathing gasoline fumes to the side of a dirty drive way, waiting 30 minutes for a cab and wondering if it would actually show up in time to get us to the gate on time.  We were close enough to hear the planes land but might as well have been in New Jersey. I turned to John and said, "Is this the way you pictured a Tony Award winning show touring the south?" We laughed because it was the only thing we could do. 
I guess I had another version of this scene in mind when we opened on Broadway. I know it could be worse.  We would still be hanging out at a gas station even if the audience had not cheered and stood up the night before. That might have made this moment a little more difficult to get through.
We are making plans to film the show for DVD release this fall.  It will certainly make delivering the show to the out lands a lot easier.  But even with the leveling factor of Uhaul rental places,  I will miss the thrill of  performing the show.  That hour and 45 minutes on the stage is magical, and worth a lot more adversity than I have to endure to get it there. 
As you were,

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Road House

I posted this before I realized it is Friday the 13th. Now I will be looking for all the reasons they call it Friday the 13th. but just for you history buffs, it was a Friday 13th of October when the King of France ordered all the Knights Templar arrested. I suppose that unless you are a closet Tempelar this is just another Friday.
It was in the middle of the show as I am recreating a phone conversation with my mentor Art Seiving, that the sound began to squeal. At first I thought it was a hearing aide in the audience, but it was indeed my microphone that was feeding back a very high pitched sound. John was not running the sound, and the sound board and operator were up in the rafters booth with the lighting operator.  I will never understand why you would put a sound board in a booth where you can not hear what is sounds like in the audience.  It is like trying to thread a needle in the dark. But that was the case on this stop.  I think if we had been there more than one night John, the perfectionist, would have tuned the sound and tweaked the room.  It needed to be done. But we do what we can do with what we have and John is able to do some amazing things with smoke and mirrors. 

By the time I realized it was my mic making the noise, John dashed for the board to fix it. I sensed that the audience was so aware of the sound that they were not listening to the words.  At that point my Art Sieving character says... "Jay you must be calling long distance on AT&T." It got a bigger laugh than I thought it might and the laugh covered the time it took to correct the ringing.  We were back on script and so was the audience.The writer in me was a little upset that the actor in me had ad-libbed a joke not in the script.  But the performer in me agreed with the actor.  Such is the schizophrenic nature of my solo performance.

Some times you have to put yourself in place of the audience and if they are so distracted that they are not getting the text, something must be done to acknowledge that distraction.  In my opinion to do other wise creates a disconnect between the performer and the audience. Live theatre is not film.  In a film the actors would never be aware of what is going on in the audience. Stage Actors must take that into account when performing live.  Not to say that shooting from the hip and going with the flow is always the best idea. It takes developed instinct to know when to break that fourth wall and when you do not.  I will say that it is much easier for a solo performer to do that than a bigger cast. 

I guess that is what keeps it fresh for me on stage.  It is always a matter of trying to connect with the audience. Since no two audiences are ever the same it is a unique and wonderful challenge each night to walk that tight rope. I feel completely blessed that I have been granted the opportunity to explore those mental acrobatics in my career.

Tonight we open in another town and another theatre. This one is a beautiful 1920's jewel box that seems like it will be perfect for my show. And we are here for a few days.  I am really looking forward to it. In the past I would have stated the name of the theatre, but I have found that is not the best idea.  I was once chastised by a promoter who didn't like the way I talked about his obnoxious sound man in my blog.  On the one hand I think, freedom of expression, and the guy really was a jerk to us, but on the other hand.... who really cares.  Turns out the only ones who would care are the promoter and the sound guy. As the blog becomes easier to google for specifics, it is just not worth my "freedom" to name names anymore.  

As you were,


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don't Forget the Party Hats
Most of the time I have a pen and paper at the ready to write down things I hear. After all no one can  remember all the important things you hear or experience.  I suppose with the abilities of modern technology one could record their conversations and play them back for recall.  However, who wants to hear the 20 minutes of social intercourse for the 3 seconds of brilliance worth remembering.
The problem is, out of context I sometimes have no idea what my notes mean. At the transcription time I think what I have written will stimulate my memory, that is not always a safe bet.
This morning I came across a torn piece of a cocktail napkin scrawled on with a dry erase marker. Obviously I was not prepared for life changing messages where cocktails were being served, and did not have my usual pen and paper.  The blurred writing said, "Party hats in the emergency bag."
I am trying to recall the context or the intent but since I am not sure how old this wisdom is, the actual meaning has been lost... not unlike the Easter Island statues.
However, I believe that the conversation had come out of a discussion about making earthquake preparations, specifically the emergency kit that all us Californians are supposed to have ready.
My friend Lynn said that she wanted to make sure that the emergency bag contained party hats. For my friend Lynn everything can be the reason to celebrate.
I remember years ago I was waiting to hear about a job I wanted.  Lynn said "Let's celebrate."  I reminded her that I had not gotten the job yet.  She said, "If you get the job we can celebrate again... and if you don't get the job.... at least you got to celebrate before you heard." 
You gotta love that philosophy. 
As you were,

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Never Never Nassau

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Nassau airport, more flies swarm the ointment. I wish that was a metaphor but there are flies buzzing about the Nassau terminal............

That is all that is left of a 1200 word blog I wrote to be published in this slot. It was the story of a very long day spent trying to get out of Nassau. The sea was so angry it caused the captain to miss his first approach to the Nassau dock.  We had to circle and try again to slide the ship between two others against a vicious wind. The operation was frought with peril and at one point a question whether we would actually be able to make it in to Nassau. Although the captain finally treaded a 130,000 ton floating needle into a dock slip, it caused an hour and a half delay in the scheduled.
This event scuttled our plans for getting back to Los Angeles on our original itenerary, setting in motion a day of frustration and dissapointment. This shit storm was followed by moments of pure magic and miracles to make the last flight available to Los Angeles. It had all the elements of stories I love to tell. It had moments of sheer failure followed by impossible success in spite of all the odds against it.
It was a long essay born of six hours of down time at the Nassau airport and 6 hours flying home. I was proud of the work and it was purification of all negativity the day seemed to be full of.  A confession, if you will, of my own lack of hope and my wife's insistence that things would work out.  I thought it had the humor and the self effacing life lessons that were at the same time a cautionary tale and a comedy of errors. I was so proud of the piece I wanted Sandi to read it the moment I had corrected all the mistakes.  
As she read it my iPad froze instead of scrolling to the last paragraph.  Lack of response to my repeated finger jabs to the screen was followed by a complete black out.  It was as if someone had poured black ink on the entire page or that moment when the film frame burns in the projector.  It was gone. 
After a reboot only the title and the first two sentences above remained. 
It was the tragic end to a perfectly horrible day of travel. It was the final straw that broke my will to continue. Like the one that got away I will probably consider in hindsight that the essay was some of my best work. Sandi seemed to think that it was, at least until the last paragraph.  In actuality it was just another blog. Perhaps if today had gone better I would not think twice about it... but for a moment in time I thought frustration and disappointment was the muse to something better.  It was naught but the continuation of "one of those days".
As you were,

Monday, January 02, 2012

Gators and Airboats

My wife is the original activities elf. If she is not traveling with me I turn into a recluse- hermit who never leaves the ship. In fact I rarely leave the cabin except for food and drink. Drink being the operative necessity during a boring voyage.
But my road elf is with me. This the second day of the New Year we are off on a shore excursion into the Everglades of Florida.
Last year when John and I traveled the "Florida Two and Only Tour" we saw plenty of Gators by the side of the road. Sandi missed that thrill and so we are off today to see some wild life.
Of the excursion choices we decided on the airboat gator tour. It seemed to be straight forward with manageable expectations. There was a tour that included watching Alligators and a lunch of Alligator meat; some how that seemed wrong in so many ways.
"Let's save the gators cause they are goood eatin'"
I have to say that the airboat ride was a real thrill. We didn't see that many gators in the wild, since it was somewhat overcast. We did come across a wild herd of free ranging cattle. Cattle in a swamp with cowboys on wave riders? Get along little dolphin!
And now it is time to say good bye to our New Years naval adventure and return tomorrow to LA, where they seem to be burning automobiles. What is that all about? They have not covered the story very much on the international channels of ship board TV... I haven't been home since last year.
As you were,