Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I try to choose my words carefully.  That's what writing is all about. Word juggling, phrase painting, mental imaging, writing is intellectual concept construction.   Unlike conversation, when you write a word you can take it back, think about it, rewrite it or delete it.  Not so in conversation; perhaps one day the digital age will catch up to actual conversation. It would be nice to have a 10 second delay. You could hear what you just said and change the potentially offensive phrase. You would have a chance to take it back, think about, say it again or delete it.
This is not to say that written words always come out right.  Trying to write funny is even more difficult because proper timing and delivery is impossible to control.  I get it when I write something out of line, even if I thought it was funny. The evil twin of funny is offending someone. It is a razors edge you walk when you try to be funny and not offend someone, sometime, somewhere. If you slip you lick your wounds and keep trying.   When I am wrong I will admit it.
With the idea of retractions and do overs, Here are some thoughts:
An anonymous commenter thought I stooped to name calling yesterday.  I'm not sure I understand and there was no way to get a clarification from anonymous.  I guess it was when I called Rick Santorum
"Recationary Rick".  I did not think that was name calling but rather political identification.  I could have written Republican Rick or Candidate Rick but I searched for a word that more accurately describes his political leanings.  Reactionary was the word I carefully chose. From the dictionary it means:
adj. Characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative.
  1. n. An opponent of progress or liberalism; an extreme conservative.
It makes no difference if I used the word as an adjective or a noun. Even Mr. Santorum  describes his position as "extremely conservative" and  "an opponent of liberalism''.  He is by definition a political Reactionary. So, I do not consider writing "Reactionary Rick" to be stooping " to petty name-calling like any elementary school student would do.".. anonymous.
My name is Jay Johnson and I approved this message. 
As you were, 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gasoline Enigma....
I have a marketing degree from NTU, a BBA if you will. (I suppose I am a snob by the Rick Santorum definition.  Oh by the way, Reactionary Rick has a BA, MBA and JD, which means with three degrees, by his own definition, he is three times the snob I am.)   But I digress.
Required for my snobbish degree was a year of basic accounting.  Accounting is not my forte, and I generally hated every minute of the class. There was a lot of scribbling on lined column paper and math.  I tried to get through the class with the least effort to pass, and that worked.
However, there were things that I learned just by being in attendance.  One of the things I absorbed was the concept of "Cost of Goods Sold".  They used widgets as the product in every example so I will too.  Lets say over the last 30 days the wholesale price of Widgets had fluctuated between $2.45 and $1.95 in price. Suppose your business had bought a lot of widgets at the lower price than then some more at the higher price.  Your profit is the difference between what you paid for the widget and what you sold the widget for minus expenses because what you have in inventory is made up of different wholesale costs. Obviously you would make more money on the widgets you purchased at the lower price even if the selling price was the same. To figure what the widgets actually cost you had to average the fluctuation of the wholesale costs. (I told you the class was boring...)
Here is my point.  Gas Stations get gasoline to sell no more than once a week. That means they have an inventory in their storage tanks that is made up of gas they bought at least a week ago.  Technically a jump in the price of gasoline on the production (wholesale) level would not be felt at the retail level until at least a week later when they have to buy gasoline at the higher price.   What we are buying at the pump is wholesale gasoline purchases at the lower price so the retail price should remain constant for a week
That is not the case in reality.  The minute the price of a gallon of crude oil goes up, they change the price at the pump immediately. The price here in California has gone up daily, ever increasing so that we are knocking on $5.00 a gallon right now. But as we pay higher prices, the gas we are buying was purchased at a lower price.  The retailers make a wind fall profit immediately.  
Transversely, when the price of gasoline drops at the wholesale level, it is a week before the lower prices are reflected at the pump.  I know this not just bad accounting this is a fleecing of the American public. I have no suggestions on how to avoid getting fleeced when you have to drive a vehicle. All I know is that we should be aware of it and know that it is greed and fraud, and that we are being blackmailed at the pump.  Those Bastards.
As you were,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daily Word

Post Dictions - the opposite of Pre 
Two observations from last nights Telecast.   The auto mix for Billy Crystal's Oscar, Oscar song was terrible. It might have been funny if we could have heard it.  (The winner of the pool was correct on 16 out of 24. It was not my personal best with only 10 out of 24)

1. Best Picture: "The Artist."
2. Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist."
3. Actress: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady."
4. Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners."
5. Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, "The Help."
6. Directing: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist."
7. Foreign Language Film: "A Separation," Iran.
8. Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants."
9. Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris."
10. Animated Feature Film: "Rango."
11. Art Direction: "Hugo."
12. Cinematography: "Hugo."
13. Sound Mixing: "Hugo."
14. Sound Editing: "Hugo."
15. Original Score: "The Artist."
16. Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets."
17. Costume Design: "The Artist."
18. Documentary Feature: "Undefeated."
19. Documentary Short: "Saving Face."
20. Film Editing: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
21. Makeup: "The Iron Lady."
22. Animated Short Film: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."
23. Live Action Short Film: "The Shore."
24. Visual Effects: "Hugo."

As you were,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy....

In the years that Sandi was dancing she performed on more than a dozen Academy Awards broadcasts.She even danced for Ron Field one year on the Academy Awards show when she was 4 months pregnant with our second son, Taylor.   It was always a time when I was required to play Mr. Mom while she was in rehearsal. It seems like they rehearsed for weeks.  The build up to the actual show was perceived on a totally different level for me during those years.  I counted down, not to the show itself, but to the prospect of getting our home back to normal.  

One particular year I remember watching the telecast with Brandon in a high chair eating mushed carrots. Actually it was only Brandon who was eating the carrots, I have forgotten what I was having. But since I was sitting in a directors chair while I was feeding him, I technically was in a high chair too.  As Sandi would dance by the camera I would say, "There's Mommy".  Soon Brandon was calling every female dancer Mommy. 
On a year when Sandi was not working the show we baby sat the kids of our friends who were there to receive the Best Picture of the year. 
So, through the years of having a vested interest in the Academy Awards Presentation I have gotten good at predicting winners. We have even had a betting pool at our Academy Awards parties in the past. We will not do that at the low key party this year since I usually win anyway. I was trounced by Brandon a couple of years, but my track record remains high.
I will be publishing my predictions tomorrow, Monday, at 7:00 in the morning.
As you were,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good Dog 
In a blog several days ago I made reference to Wok Dog.  I suggested that it was a delicacy in some Asian cultures. I made that up. I have no idea if dog is ever prepared in a Wok.  I meant no disrespect to any dog owner or Asian chef. 
I know that some may have taken offense at this passage and even been repulsed by the thought.  Some of my vegan friends are offended at the consumption of any animal. They honor all animals and would not harm them especially to slaughter as food. (Carrots, however, should run in abject fear).
Sometimes for the sake of comedy one will lose their internal social filter and inadvertently offend. I feel that is what happened earlier in the week.  I was going for a silly joke and Wok dog seemed to fit that moment. I should have rewritten and reconsidered.
So for the record let me say for a fact that no one should ever prepare dog in a Wok.  The best way to serve a dog is by slow roasting in the oven, 450 degrees on a baking sheet for 45 minutes.
As you were,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Visual Rebuttal 
Here is to the "nay saysers" who said I couldn't draw a fly...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jay: Hello Siri.. can you tell me what kind of day it is today?
Siri: The time is 8:51AM
Jay: Not the time of day, that's displayed on my phone... I want to know the kind of day it is.
Siri: Definition of kind:. A group of individuals or instances sharing common traits; a category or sort: different kinds of furniture; a new kind of politics.n. A doubtful or borderline member of a given category: fashioned a kind of shelter; a kind of bluish color.

Jay: No, ~beep~Not the definition of kind....
Siri: Definition of Unkind:
  1. adj. Lacking kindness; inconsiderate or unsympathetic.
  2. adj. Harsh; severe: unkind winters.

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. Not natural; unnatural.
  2. Not sympathetic; lacking in or not springing from or exhibiting kindness, benevolence, or affection; not kind; harsh; cruel.
Jay: No, no... I just want to know if it is going to be a good day.
Siri: Good Day to you as well.
Jay: Not good bye.  Good day...Will it be a good day?
Siri: What is good to some is not good for others. If you are experiencing a drought a rainy day is a good day, if you are in a flood it would be a bad day. Would you like me to contact a therapist office in your area, or would you like me to locate the doctors/ hospitals and nurses closest to your current position?
Jay: I get it. Let me rephrase. ~beep~ What is the weather today?
Siri:  It will be snowy and cold with a wind chill factor of -23 Celsius for most of the day in Lucern, Switzerland.
Jay: Siri, I don't live in Lucern, I live in Los Angeles.
Siri: I would like permission to use your current location information.
Jay: Okay... so?
Siri: Sew, "A needle pulling thread" one lyric to the song "Do Re Me" from  "The Sound of Music" by Rogers and Hammerstein. Original cast recording of the Broadway cast can be found at the following locations.
Jay: All I want to know is, if it is a good day to walk the dog?
Siri: Wok Dog is a delicacy in some cultures in Asia. Would you like me to locate the best recipe?
Jay: No, cancel.  ~beep~  What is the weather forecast?
Siri: Would you like me to use your current location?
Jay: Yes...
Siri: I would like permission to use your current location information.
Jay: I already gave you permission. I said Okay
Siri: OK, the abbreviation for Oklahoma, a state best known for the Musical of the same name by Rogers and Hammerstein the prototype for all musical theater of the modern era. You seem to be a fan of Rogers and Hammerstein.  Would you like me to list the current performance schedule of "Oklahoma" playing nearest your current location? Would you also like me to locate the the costume shops closest to where you are now?
Jay: No, All I want to know is what kind of day it will be and is it a good day to take my.... pet on a stroll.
Siri: "Pet on a roll",  slang for a cat meat served on flat bread, a delicacy in some Asian cultures. You seem to like Asian food so I have found several Asian restaurants in your area of Lucern... none of them serve Wok Dog.
Jay: Los Angeles... I live in Los Angeles.
Siri: Checking Los Angeles... I can find no restaurants that serve dog. There is a Pinks that serves Hot Dog. Will that be acceptable?
Jay: Forget the whole thing. I'll just go outside and see what the weather is for myself. Good Bye Siri.
Siri: Good bye. Have a great day. It will be perfect for a walk.  Perhaps if you have a pet you can take him/her/it out on an adventure. Have fun in Lucern.... wear a heavy coat.
Jay: Bite me.
Siri: Bite me" was a low budget movie about vampires produced in the exploitation movie era of the American 60's
Jay:  ~CLICK~

As you were,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Slower Consciousness
My hero Spalding Gray said in one of his monologues that people born in Los Angeles have "a 25 mile an hour consciousness".  He reasoned that from birth they view the world on wheels.  First, it is the baby carriage, stroller then the tricycle, bicycle, skate board, the automobile and finally wheel chair, or to be more politically correct a senior stroller. Spaulding surmised it was just evolution of the west coast human retina.  Their retinas could neither register, see nor become conscious of any image going past them slower than 25 miles an hour because they have never experienced it.
I think Professor Gray has observed correctly, however, I believe it is an environmental and not an evolutionary change. West coast people don't observe their surroundings because our surroundings were designed to drive through and not walk through.  Although I am not a native Californian I can attest to the fact that this power of slower observation can be retrained. 
For the first time in my life I have a dog.  Oh, I've had plenty of pets in my life and some of them were dogs, but this is the fist dog that sees me as the alpha.  If I am around she stays with me and follows me around the house.  Even if I get up in the middle of the night she will follow me around until I go back to bed.  She likes to explore the neighborhood and I get to go with her.  It has been a real eye opener.
You don't really comprehend things when you are driving just as Spalding observed.  I have discovered many things about the houses and business in the area on these long walks with Boo. I have passed them many times but never really saw them before now.  One of the houses in my neighborhood has a putting green in the front yard.  The house is on a small hill rising from the street. You wouldn't know the artificial turf was there unless you were walking by. It looks like a resort installation, very professional. In some cases what I thought was a drive way from the street was really a tennis court. There are homes with gates closed when you drive by, but walking you can see the hidden castles behind the shrubbery.  I am coming to a whole new idea of  where I live.  Since I have lived here for almost two decades you would think it would not come as such a surprise. 
I have found that when I am walking the dog, older people are friendlier. If you say hello, they will greet you in return.  Younger people try not to get involved and won't always offer back a greeting. Most of the time they are engrossed in listening to something with earbuds; Or they are talking on the phone as they walk. There is a chance that they can't hear my greeting, but there is still a distance.  I think the older folks have grown up with a world that doesn't come at them so fast.  They have a slower consciousness and absorb more of the moment than these young digital denizens. 
Thanks to a dog named Boo I have learned that slower is better.  You really do have to stop and smell the roses even if you are picking up dog crap at the same time. I look forward to our walks together almost as much as she does. 
Boo is very much in the moment. She senses a trail and follows that sent until it either ends or no longer interests her. Then she looks around to see if there is some other adventure in the moment.  I have always heard the phrase "a dogs life" used as a negative. Based upon the other dogs we meet on our walks, dogs seems to be living quite well. They have a better way of experiencing their world. They are only concerned with the squirrel of the moment. They don't spend much time on the one that got away, because in the next moment they find a new excitement.
Although Boo looks to me as the alpha of the pack, I am learning more from her than she knows.  She helps me stave off evolution of a "25 mile and hour consciousness" at least for awhile.  I highly recommend this therapy. You really don't know where you are unless you stop and really look around. 
As you were,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The American Dream?
I am not sure that every one's definition of the American dream is the same. Or maybe it is just something that can't be defined. Perhaps that's why in this overly political environment we are having trouble deciding if we are losing the American dream, or even straying from it.

When I was growing up my Government told me that the biggest threat to my way of life, if not my life itself, was the USSR.  Those Red bastards were set on taking over the world and converting everyone to Communism.  Nikita Kruschev even said, "We will bury you", meaning me and my generation.  I remember sitting in a grade school class during the Cuba missile crisis just waiting for World War III to start. Even before the day of 24 hour news cycles and in your face live broadcasts it was excessively frightening to us kids. 

I may not have known exactly what was going on politically but I knew the stakes.  What the Communists would do to us was drilled into Cold War kids.  In a Communist world I would be told what job I could have. I would be told who my leaders would be. Religion would be outlawed and the churches would be closed. I would be told what to buy, and I would simply be a mindless cog in the wheel of a communism. I knew that in Nikita's world I probably would not be allowed to pursue my dream career of performing as a ventriloquist.  I would become a worker bee in the mindless hive of an oppressed people. If we were taken over by Communist I would have no choice, no freedom.

Given that background,  to me the American dream can be distilled down to one simple concept- freedom of choice. The American dream is the freedom to choose.  Here in America we have choice. I can pursue any career I want, any religion I want, any friends I want, vote for any person I want and choose to buy anything I want, if I can afford it. My life and happiness are bound only by my ability to accomplish it or  I can choose to accomplish nothing.  I can choose to be unhappy. The point is this decision is my choice. That is freedom of individuality; I am unlike any other individual in the world so I am free to choose who I  am.

We no longer fear the Communist, the cold war is over.  But, we are still being bombarded by fear that we will lose this freedom of choice.  Now we are told it is the specter of Islamic terrorists, a particular political party or even individual politicians that threaten to take away our freedom of choice. One of the presidential hopefuls has even proposed that there is an outright attack on America's religion. He said the President may be a Christian, but he is the wrong kind of Christian.  Conformance to one particular idea when it is seen as right and all others wrong is not just a communistic idea, it is fascism. It contradicts the very nature of individual freedom to choose. It is definitely not the American dream.

The idea that we were founded as a Christian nation and that foundation is being attacked is ridiculous.  The fundamental principle in America is freedom which includes freedom of religion among others.  That is freedom to practice any religion without America telling you which religion you must freely choose. We are not an atheistic nation, but a nation that believes all religious roads lead to God.  You get to choose which road you want to take... or choose not to choose, that is true freedom. 

In the name of religion the freedom of women is being attacked from the extreme right. The Supreme court concluded that women have the right to choose to have an abortion many years ago.  There are those who want to turn back the clock and over turn that decision. It is not a mandate that all women have to have an abortion, it is simply the American freedom of choice.  Those women who do, or do not make that choice, are not punished for their decision either way by the government.  That is America.  That freedom of choice is being challenged and now even birth control is under attack in the name of religion. To make birth control available to every woman, even those who can not afford it is freedom of choice. Once again it is not a requirement that women use, purchase or even believe in birth control, it is just freedom of choice.  America should not be a nation that allows freedom of choice only for the rich.

Until the early 70's  the women of Iran had freedom, not to the extent American women have freedom, but the were definitely not oppressed.  The Islamic revolution deposed the Shaw and a national religion took over politics and the country.  In less than ten years women were relegated to the dark ages of sharia law with all the freedoms they had in 1970 taken away.  It is a cautionary tale.  If religion is allowed to take over politics, freedom of choice will be the first victim. If history has anything to teach us it is the women who will be oppressed first. Don't believe it can not happen here.

The moral to this blog is simple.  Choose Freedom. Err on the side of the ability to choose.  Don't let any religion or political system restrict your choices. Defend choices like, who you can marry, when you want to have a baby, what church, mosque or synagog you attend but, mostly defend your choice to decide what is right and wrong for yourself. The American Dream is this: as long as your freedom of choice does not restrict anyone else's freedom to choose differently, your life, your world and your path, is only up to you.
As you were,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Day Promo

In Los Angeles every holiday is ripe for the promotion of a film. Why should Presidents day be any different? You would think it might be a stretch to find a connection, but not so today. In the Calendar section of the LA Times the front page article shows a picture of an actor gripping an axe playing in the role of Abe Lincoln. The actor is better looking that the real Lincoln with a soap operaesque look of seriousness. Normally you would think of George Washington with his cherry tree axe, but George was just a misguided tree surgeon, Abe is a Vampire Killer. Or at least that is what the movie tells us by its very title: Abraham Lincoln,Vampire Killer.
Before you giggle, it really is a soon to be released movie based on a book by the same title. Over the last 9 months my nephew worked on this production in New Orleans as a production coordinator. What was to be a couple of weeks work getting them back on track turned into months eventually taking over his department. Jeffery is low key and humble about the projects he takes on, but even at his youthful age he has a very impressive resumé. Depending on the budget of the movie, his job coordinating is no less stressful if the movie is an Academy Award contender or a straight to DVD production. There is no way to tell if the movie will eventually be great or just good, but it is easy to sense if it is going to be a real stinker. In spite of the rough edges Jeffery had to smooth out, he has a feeling this movie will be better than its pandering title. I will definitely see it so I can put perspective on the stories he has told us about the shoot. According to him I might actually enjoy it as well. That is a good thing because the title alone would not encourage me to attend if it was not all in the family.
As for me I am glad that it is a holiday. I gives me one more day to recover from the long trip. I figured yesterday was the last day I could use "jet lag" as an excuse to avoid getting back in the swing. Being slower than a usual Monday, I can jog back into the rat race rather than start off like a sprinter.
Thank you Mr. President,
As you were,

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Sailors Godmother
I really wanted to publish this blog upside down in honor of my return from Australia. The idea was not good enough to justify the time spent trying to figure out how to accomplish it. Besides, I would still have to write something to publish upside down and I do not have the energy to accomplish both.
The information is not as important as the process today. After 24 hours of travel I am trying to do anything that will keep me awake in this time zone. I do not want to spend several days with a reversed body clock.  So here goes a stream of semi-consciousness.
In seafaring tradition every ship has a godmother. The godmother of the Crystal Serenity is Julie Andrews. A beautiful portrait of her hangs in the main lobby outside the dining room. This fact brings me to a great memory. 
There are some things you never forget in your life. For me one of those moments was my 40th birthday party in Columbus, Ohio.  As shocked as some of you may be by the fact that I am older than 40, that is not the story.  The story is about the party. A select group of musicians and singers celebrated my birthday in the suite of a hotel downtown Columbus, adjacent to the Ohio Theatre. I was on the road and not able to be with my family. So my road family filled in.  With Bob Florence playing a beautiful white grand piano the hostess sang a song for me. It wasn't the traditional "Happy Birthday" song it was "Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious".  She did it exactly like Mary Poppins because it was Julie Andrews singing it. She sang the song for me because in one of my early acts with SQUEAKY I performed a back and forth routine to "Supercal...". 
At the time of my 40th birthday I was the opening act for "Julie Andrews in Concert" playing the beautiful theatre next door.  Julie traveled with her conductor Ian Frazier, her accompianist/arranger Bob Florence, Bass player Tom Warrington, trumpet player Larry Ford and drummer Sol Guben.  There were also wardrobe girls, road managers, hairdressers, sound men and "me" the opening act. Sometimes even  Blake Edwards would be around. It was an extremely talented group of people and I was fortunate enough to be able to hang around them for two 8 week tours.  
Sol Guben, for example, was the drummer on the theme song to the "Dick Van Dyke Show". His drumming is a stand out and memorable part of that song. It happens that Sol and I share the same birthdate.  So, Julie gave us a party in her suite. It became a jam session for some guys who are consumate musicians who loved to play together.  It was perfect. At at time when I was beginning to feel older, Mary Poppins herself made me feel like a kid again.
This is a picture from that tour. I think this was Minneapolis not Columbus. I am the grinning fool to Julie's right.
So every time Sandi and I went to dinner on the Crystal Serenity I would pass by Julie's picture and mentally blow her a kiss. There are memories and associations that stay with you, even on the Tasmainian Sea.
As you were,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What time is it really?

 As I write this I have no concept of time.I have reached a point of complete fatigue that can no longer comprehend time. At home it is yesterday evening.  Locally it is 6:45am on Feb 17th in Sydney, Australia, but my body clock is still on Perth time after a red-eye plane trip. It will be a 6 hour lay over here in Sydney and then a 12-14 hour flight home.  After 24 hours we will land in Los Angeles at 6:25am on Feb 17th, my current time.  If my body clock is screwed up now, I can't imagine how dysfunctional it will be in 24 hours, when I will once again repeat this day. 

Before we caught our late night plane in Perth we walked around Fremantle. At one o'clock in the afternoon they shoot off a canon at the "round house". That is a stone building on the coast that was the first settlement. It looks like a fort but was actually a jail. I think the distinction is functional rather than structural.  The docent told us that they built the jail first and then the church.  He said you can tell the locals from the tourist in Fremantle at 1:00. The canon is very loud when it goes off and a tourist will duck and flinch... a local will simply look at his watch.

One of the world travelers on the ship said that dealing with Australians is very easy. He said you simply think of them as Texans. I am not exactly sure what that means. Having been born in Texas perhaps I am too close to the metaphor to understand. It could explain why I feel very much at home down under. I really do love these people. They are a very friendly lot, ready with a quick "G'day"  and "No Worries".  Sort of like Brits without the cucumber up their arss. Or perhaps rednecks that talk funny.  I don't know what it is, really, but I feel like I could live here fairly comfortably. 

Their economy seems to be doing rather well.  The American dollar has lost a lot to the Australian dollar since the last time I was here. In Sydney construction cranes are at work everywhere, and the city is bustling.  The locals are defensive about the image Paul Hogan created for Australians with his Crocodile Dundee character. I guess it would be the equivalent of thinking that all Americans are like Larry the Cable Guy, although I think there may be more of him around than I want to admit.

So now we only have five and a half hours till we board the flight home. Must close my eyes for a minute and see if I can pass the time in suspended animation.  More later.

As you were,





Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Art at Sea

Instead of writing blogs I have bee drawing here sea. It is entitled "Crack Pot".
There is an iPad class on board taught by a friend we did not know was on the ship. He wrangled me into going to the class and "helping" out. It meant running around the auditorium showing newbies how to tap a screen or in some cases turn it on. It required none of my Mac skills but was fun.
As you were

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gone with the Wind.

I have  written two blogs over the last three days that have vanished into the ether.  One was published and never showed up.  The other one just vanished on my screen. I don't know why this has happened but I blame it on the recent rise in popularity of Rick Santorum. 

I will try again later in the day but doubt that this problem will be solved until I reach dry land, or the Republican Primary which ever comes first.

As you were,


Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Tazman Sea

It has been difficult to post blogs sailing here on the Tazman sea. The ship's wifi has been unreliable and not always available in our cabin.  Cell phone reception is non existent on this ship. I find a hot spot only to discover the satellite is down. The computer tech on board claims that the solar storms are affecting the receiption because we are sailing so close to the south pole. Evidently there is nothing that can be done about it until we sail closer to the equator. He suggested that because of the angle of the sun, the best time to grab a signal was 7:30 in the morning.  

I love to post the blog, but I have to tell you that I love to sleep in even more. So if I miss a post or two in the next 12 days, you will know why. 

The sea was choppy today, which they say is typical of these waters this time of year. We sail through rain and patches of clearing so the weather changes almost hourly.  

A Discovery Channel film crew is on board doing a doumentary on the Great Sailing ships of the world. They seem to be very efficient.  Leaving Sydney harbor they had a camera man on the pilot boat, one in a helicopter and several time lapse cameras rolling on the bow.  It was a beautiful sail out by the Harbor bridge and the Sydney opera house. The film crew will be sailing with various ships for the next year before the doc. is finished. 

It will be several more days before I perform.  This is a great schedule for me since I am just another passenger until after my show.  After my performance it is difficult to be on a ship occupied by the audience I just performed for.  There is rarely a case when anyone is rude, Normally they are just fans who want to engage in conversation. I just have to be on guard and know that anytime I am out of the cabin I am really performing again. It is much easier with Sandi along.  Even a fan will respect your privacy if you are involved in a family conversation. Of course Sandi is more than a convenient shill, it is great to have her along. She finds out all the cool stuff to do in the ports of call and gets me out of my shell to have some fun. More later.

As you were,


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

You say Potato I say Portobello

As a preamble to this story, I have to admit to one of my most embarrassing moments in High School.  As senior president of the Radio club it was my job to make the announcements over the PA system every Monday afternoon. It was 10 minutes of announcements for up coming events or club meetings at the school  I was doing fine until one day I said, "Those who made the Honor Society this semester should come to room 320 in C Hall, during home room, and sign the ROOSTER."  The word was ROSTER. I heard the laugh start from one end of the school and blow past me like the shock wave of an earthquake.  Unfortunately you don't out grow dyslexia. 

Corporate show business is different from other forms of "the business".  Most obviously the venue. It is usually a performance in a banquet hall or a hotel ballroom.  Dressing rooms, green rooms or just holding areas are usually impromptu and sometimes the unused room next to the banquet event.  Such was the case over the week end when I performed for a fund raising gala. They needed to find some space for my "staging area/dressing room".  In the emails back and forth it was determined I could use "Birdie's Room" for this function.

The names of ballrooms are mostly themed out in line with the decor of the hotel, but it is also not unusual to name them after people. So Birdie's Room did not sound unusual to me.

I arrived at the venue and asked directions to Birdie's Room. I received a blank look from the bellman. Thinking that he was new I went up to the desk clerk and asked the same question. He asked if Birdie was a guest at the hotel because they didn't have a room with that name.   

I explained that Birdie was not a guest, but the name of the room I was instructed to go to and wait for my show. I mentioned the name of the organization I was performing for which rang a bell to the clerk. He told me where that show would be. I mentioned Birdie's room was to be my holding area near that ballroom.  He said once again that they did not have a Birdie's room but understood I would need some where to  be before my performance.  He would find a space for me to use.

He signaled the clueless Bellman over and told him to take me to room 729 on the convention level. He said it would be right across from the place where I would be performing. I am confused why they had sent me an email to go to Birdie's Room if there was no such room at the place when obviously this other room would be perfect.

The bellman opens the door of 729,  a conference size room with a comfortable couch, mirrors and frilly wall paper. The bellman says, "It is a little girlie colored I'm afraid.  Normally we use this for weddings, we call it the BRIDES Room". 

It was at this moment that my mistake came clear. There was no shock wave of laughter this time only unrequited humiliation. Dyslexia is the gift that keeps on giving.  It is not so much that I get words wrong, it's the fact that once I have miss read it, I will keep making the same mistake over and over unless it is specifically pointed out to me. It is just something that I have to look out for and try to manage.

As you 


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Robert Mandan
It's GroundHog Day
On my top ten list of movies "GroundHog" day is near the top.   And here it is in real life, Groundhog day 2012.  But I think the Punxsutawney rodent gets too much attention today.  It is a special day for other reasons.

Robert Mandan, Bob Campbell, Jay Johnson, Jay Sandrich
Opening night of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only"
It is also the birthday of my friend Robert Mandan: "Better Dressed!" 
Only a true SOAPY will get that reference, but it is how I know my friend Mandan. He is better known to some as Chester Tate on SOAP. 

I remember when I moved to Los Angeles I was with my vacationing folks having dinner at the  Toulca Lake Marie Callendars. Although I didn't know his name at the time Robert Mandan was also waiting for a table.  Mandan is one of those actors I had seen in many staring roles. Bob was my first "celebrity siting" in my new home town.  Bob received the ultimate compliment my Father had for working actors when he whispered to me, "That guy has been in a gillion films." Indeed my friend has been in a "gillion" things. Take a look at his IMDB - Robert Mandan. That impressive list is only the film and television roles. There is an even more impressive list of stage productions that Bob has done, including an Ovation Award for "The CareTaker" and a critically acclaimed portrail of "King Lear", not to mention three Broadway shows. 
 I had no clue that soon I would be working with that "guy who has done a gillion films". We became friends almost immediately.  For a time we had the same personal manager, the same publicist and hung out with the same group of television actors.  We were known as the "terrible ten" because of fun we used to have at various Los Angeles restaurants. The members of the social group changed but Bob and I have remained friends all this time. 
Bob and his wife Sherry have been impromptu godparents to both my sons.  My oldest son will say, "How is Mandan?" even today.
Robert Mandan in "Barney Miller"
Chester Tate and Benson
Bob is an actors actor.  He never stops studying and learning how to better deliver his gift. He is funny and smart and yes, as piss elegant as Chester Tate sometimes. If you're lucky a working relationship turns into a real friendship in this town of huge openings and quiet closings. I am grateful to have friends like Bob and Sherry in my life. On a day like GroundHogs day when the talk is about the weather, I will be thinking about my friend Bob Mandan, certainly not a "fair weather friend".  
Note to Mandan: You are not getting older, like wine you are getting more valuable.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandan. We shall celebrate with a bottle of "HOOP DE HAH".

As you were,
Bob Mandan on "Three's a Crowd"
Bob Mandan on "Star Trek,The Next Generation"

Robert Mandan Movie of the Week