Saturday, June 29, 2013

NSA Listening to a Random Brain on Idle

My sister and I have been texting back and forth talking.  It would be "dinner table" discussions if we were close enough geographically to have that kind of time together.  Texting seems to be the next best way to have some sort of a "live" conversation between siblings in Dallas and Los Angeles.
Last night late I sent her an email picking up on our discussions. She responded this morning.  When it came through as a push notice on my iPhone, I assumed it was a text.  Trying to keep up with the immediacy of the digital conversation, I quickly texted her back. The message wouldn't make much sense if not tied to the previous discussion, but I ended it with... Love you Sis.
Moments later, I got a rather confused text in response from Monique, who is scheduled to clean my dog Boo's teeth on Monday. The "Love you Sis" text was sent to Monique's cell number instead of my Sister's.  It didn't take much more than an embarrassed opps to explain it to Monique, and my Sister thought it was hysterical, but there may be a bigger issue involved here. 
I am sure this is really vexing the NSA as they monitor my communications. Right now they are trying to figure out who Monique is and why do I have such a personal relationship with a dog dentist. Is Monique an Americanized version of a Pakastani name?  They check Monique's records now to see if she has more of these "cryptic" relationships with other voice tossing dog owners. They will need to break the code. What does "Boo's teeth cleaning" really mean?  What are these two planning on Monday? And what terrorist organization is named Boo.
Boo could stand for the "Bombing Of Ohio"..."Teeth cleaning" could be name of the operation. I don't know Monique that well, perhaps she is already on some watch list.  Now I have been identified as her sleeper agent hiding in Encino.  Ventriloquist.... of course it makes sense. How can he really make a living doing that? He must be on the payroll of a subversive organization.  
Perhaps at this very minute the NSA is reading my blog as well, thinking that I am giving them a "red herring" of dis-information explaining the message as a mistake.
I'm in too deep now. There was just a glitch across my computer screen... it's them... they are monitoring me in real time now.  The only thing for me to do is stop writing this post and try to sound more like everyone else posting to Face Book.  Here goes:

LOL BFF that video of puppies falling asleep is awesome!!! 
Here is a picture of what I had for lunch..
I don't know, North seems like a fine first name...
WTF Clarence Thomas?
I agree with your status ;) 
OMG i am just sitting here. right here.where r u

No thanks... I don't play Farmville with friends...
You clicked "like" when I posted that my Dad passed away?
Binginton Wilson suggests you like the page "Repeal the entire Constitution"
Refuse the friend request from Edward Snowden....
ACLU ?  I thought that I was liking a college page.
Looking forward to my trip to Orlando on Monday.... opps....

Are they gone? Whew that was a close one.
As you were,

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cross it off the Bucket List

If you know me,  you know that I grew up with Warner Brothers Cartoons. I loved to do voices and loved to draw,  so animation was of double interest to me.  I always appreciated early Disney animation but I was obsessed with what the WB was turning out at the same time.  Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson and Bob Clampett are my heros. Mel Blanc was a saint and Yosemite Sam a role model.  I still quote Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny lines on a regular basis.  Some say that even my philosophy of life is "Looney Tunes theology".   
Yesterday I fulfilled a fantasy.  I did some voices on a Warner Brothers Cartoon.  Let me say that again because it feels great to type it... I did some voices on a Warner Bros. Cartoon. 
Standing in the  virtual living room of  Bugs  Bunny
(I took this self portrait in the lobby of the WB animation studio. I am standing in front of a mural celebrating their animation stars and a few executives.)
It was way too much fun.  I flashed back to myself as a seven year old kid with my first tape recorder trying to imagine what it would be like to be in the studio of Warners.  It was nothing like I had imagined... it was better. There I was sitting in a sound proof studio with four other voice actors hiding behind music stands, scripts and impressively expensive microphones. It was a Merry melodies wet dream for me. As an added bonus I  got the chance to work with director Andrea Romano who joins the ranks of Jones, McKimson and Clampett as my modern day hero. 
Years ago, to get a small role in the animated movie "Annabell's Wish" I had to write myself in.   I was called in on that project to "punch up" the script and ended up doing a page one re-write.  I got to do the voice of a dog I created named Ears.  Since that project was a tale about animals who talk only on Christmas Day  the animal parts were not the bulk of the story. As much fun as that was to be writer and voice actor, it was not a Warner Bros. cartoon.

I think a bucket list includes  things you want to do ONCE before you die. For me voicing cartoons especially at legendary studios with the hottest director in town is something I would like to do a lot more than once.
Thank you Andrea for inviting me into your world.
As you were,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two Comics exchange Comments on Facebook

That seems like the opening line to a new joke. "A comedy writer makes a comment on your status." Turned out it did make me laugh. 
My friend Steve Bluestein is a funny man.  We have been friends for a very long time which is both wonderful and terrifying.  Wonderful to have long time friends, but terrifying to know that the number of years we have been friends is directly proportional to the length of time we have been alive.
At our first introduction we had a wealth of friends in common from the Comedy Club circuit. However, the caribeaner that kept us in touch was our mutual friend Lynn.
I share this Facebook run with you.  From this you can see that Steve is a witty guy. But he is a great writer with heart felt memories that make me laugh.  There is no doubt that his family has put the "Funk" in dysfunctional, but through his filtered memory we can laugh and not cry.  He is a brutally honest writer who reminds me of Spaulding Gray in his ability to admit things that normally one keeps to themselves, all for our amusement.
His book is entitled "It's So Hard to Type with a Gun in my Mouth". (Click on the title to go to Amazon and buy it).  It is a compilation of his thoughts, stories and memories.  The stories are easy funny reading and stand alone.  You can pick up the book and get a laugh any time you have a moment. That is the way I read it being an ADD Dyslexic.  (As a matter of fact so is my friend Steve).
Everyone needs a good laugh. With Steve's book you can get the laughs you get from a visit to the comedy club without risking the DUI. 
Everyone should have friends like I do.  I am very blessed.
As you were,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Europe where History comes from.

My friend John recently returned from his first visit to Scotland. He was in search of his roots. Sometimes a visitor to a country, city or area knows more about the environment than the locals.  Everything is new to the visitor who is motivated by curiosity.  The locals take most of what they see on a regular basis for granted.
So it was with my friend John.  He was able to find so many more things of interest in places that would have seemed mundane by local standards. He was most fascinated by the ancient monuments, some nothing more than carvings on a rock.  It seems that civilization has been in the area of Scotland for a very long time.  There were carved rocks and stone henge's that date back to 4000 BC.
We have a tendency to think that there was nothing going on when Egypt ruled the world outside of the Middle East. In reality there was a thriving culture in China and Scotland 2000 years before the Egyptians were considered the center of the universe.  There could be even more cultures around the world that thrived but left no trace of their own existence.  
I suppose to out live the mortality that we all face as humans we try to leave behind something that says "I was here." It is why people leave money to organizations in their own name or build buildings and monuments with their name attached. Headstones are made of granite which stands the test of time.
John took pictures of some of the stone carvings he found, some no more than stick figures etched on the side of a rock. They were very interesting.
The ancient Ventura Monument

However,  I found yesterday that such archaeologically fascinations are not restricted to Europe where history comes from. These monuments are all around us.  We just have to keep our eyes open and pay attention.  Take for example this monument I found recently in the San Fernando Valley.

Located near the corner of Firmament and Ventura Blvd, in Sherman Oaks/Encino, CA, you can see that this monument has been carved in stone.  It is decades old left by pioneers who were first to define the path across this fertile inland desert.
We know there tools were not as sophisticated as they are today, and we are unsure of their methods. It can not be determined who actually caved this monument but it is most certainly not Malcolm himself. Other carvings in the same area were more crudely drawn with less sophisticated tools. It is obvious that these early monument makers were aware of mathematics using the " + " sign between the names of Bill and Susan. 
While they may not be as old as the stone carving my friend found in Scotland, the stone carvings I found were no more than a dog walk away from my house.  
As you were,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Now What?

It happens that the two projects I have been working on for the last two years are coming to an apex at the same time.  The film of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" is in the final-final stages.  Should have the final-final long version film done next week. 
My partner Zan and I also finished our screenplay. It is very satisfying to hold a script in your hands and see it in printed form. God bless the digital age, but until I can have a story in the form of a book or a script, it really doesn't exist.
Art is thought (dreams) expressed in Form.
Now comes the time in any artist career when he jumps head first into an area where he is least comfortable, delivering work to the audience. 
An artist is a creator. Creation is not Capitalism. Capitalism is often the exploitation of creativity for money.  I know very few artists that make art simply for the money. Most are driven to the process. So marketing the work is never as satisfying to an artist.  There have been so many projects in my past that have stalled at this level.  Mainly because the act of creating is so addictive; the desire is to start a new one is more appealing than promoting one that is finished. 
I have determined that these projects will not ripen on the vine for lack of harvest.  That said I am totally out of my element. 
I have always had a cross between admiration and envy for artists who can easily capitalize on their work. Peter Max and Andy Worhol come to mind. Wayland with his whales and Kinkade with his lit houses even found niche markets that were profitable. Writers like, J K Rawling, Stephen King, Anne Rice and Sandra Brown have been able to get their work to pay for itself many times over. They have managed to capitalize on their artistic creativity.
Of course, the artist who isn't selling as well will imply that these successful artists are only creating "commercial" stuff. Commercialism and Capitalism are sides of the same coin. To be commercial you must reach the masses. Their work must appeal to an audience with less sophisticated appreciation.  Logic being - "my" stuff is not selling because it is just too good for the common person.  
Capitalism assumes that everything of value has a price. History testifies to this idea of value. Van Gough and Mozart did not see the income from their art, they died poor.  They were not commercial in their own time. Today capitalism considers their work extremely valuable, hence,  commercial and pricy.
What Now?  What value do my two projects have?  The one thing for sure is I can not use a monetary gage for their worth or artfulness.  As an artist what value do I give them regardless of bottom line return?  Tough questions for any artist.
There are two ways I can look at entertainment projects. The capitalistic way is this: What can I do that the MOST people will be willing to pay the most money to experience?
Or the artistic way:  What would I like to see, hear or experience. I want to make physical the dreams that I see in my mind.  How can I get the money to create that show going on in my imagination. 
I am proud of the work on both these projects.  They are entirely different and completely unrelated. At this point they are first graders sent to school for the first time.  Will they get along with others or will people dislike them?  Both outcomes are quantum possibilities at this moment. 
Therefore in the quantum moment I am really excited and really terrified.  Perhaps the quantum universe is Bi-Polar. My kind of place.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Mouth of Babes...

Over the weekend we had dinner with a friend of ours. She lives in the Palisades and we decided we would walk to a restaurant at the Palisades village on Sunset.  Our friend is an actress we have known since college. Names are not used to protect the innocent, but she has had an incredible career that even included being a Gold Digger on the Dean Martin Show.  In fact she was referred to as a MILF by one of my sons who knew her in one of her later cult status movies.  
The other three girls I was with, including my wife had long careers as dancers in film and television.  Perhaps less known than our Palisades friend but not necessarily less recognizable. I thought to myself, "I am in great company with three ladies I have always had crushes on... I even married one of them."  
As we walked down the tree lined sidewalks talking about the good times we had working theme parks, a group of four little girls on scooters approached.  None was older than 7 or so.  A couple of drive ways ahead of us three of the little girls stopped their vehicles and stepped to the side for us to pass on the sidewalk.  The fourth and youngest of the girls zoomed past.  They were cute girls and I said, "Thank you Ladies." for making way for us.  When the little one realized that the others had stopped she did the same a few yards away. We could hear the conversation as the others caught up with her.
One of the three began to chastise the youngest for not yielding the side walk right of way. She said,
"That was rude to ride past them like that."  The youngest said, "There was room".
"Yeah." she replied, "but they looked OLD."
Unknown Man 31 years of age. He
looks old. 
To quote Sinatra,  "You're riding high in April... shot down in May."   My hip began to hurt and I wondered why I had not remembered to bring my cane. We began to laugh as only good "old" friends can do.  Had the girls been older we might have taken exceptions to the category of Old.  To keep face we decided that even a 40 year old hottie would be old to these little Palisades girls. 
The thing is, I don't feel my age.  I am told I don't look my age and neither does my wife. At some point I realized that I am not 24 any longer, but I'm not sure I would want to go back and live that decade over again. I like where I am and proud of what I have done, regardless of how old I was when it happened.  There is one wish that, if I could, I would bestow on those scooter driving girls. I would hope that when they get my age, they have friends that are as wonderful as mine. 
As you were,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

THIS is the Answer?

I am not big on beauty pageants, but I grew up in Texas where the study of Miss America 101 is mandatory. There is no escape for a Texas lad.  Texas controlled the Miss America Pageant for years. Phyllis George (Miss America... 19-Something year)  was even a fellow student at my Alma Mater - North Texas State University. But, had it not been for YouTube I would have missed this moment of clarity.
Miss Utah with this mistaken idea:  if a girl is beautiful enough she doesn't need to make sense or even give a coherent answer to a question.  Show your tits and flash a porcelain smile and, shallow theory says, no one will listen to your answer. Probably only a few diehards saw the original gaff, but with Youtube,  another half million got to enjoy it.
Okay,  so this is not a game of Jeopardy nor a medical exam, and we were not looking for a journalistic break through. It was  just a way to cull down the beauties for processing later. And the bar for beauty queen intelligence is very low. Think Honey Boo Boo at 20 years old and half the weight she is now. Miss America's have NOT gone on to discover vaccines after their reign.
Even my class mate Phyllis George was not immune to brain damage caused by too much hair spray. She was eventually hired at Good Morning America as an anchor woman.  It didn't last long.  She was fired when she suggested that a rapist and his victim "hug and make up" as a way to reconcile.  Duh....
Because of Miss Utah's brainless regurgitation of jingoisms unrelated to the question, we are blinded to other forms of intelligence lowering television. Case in point (which no one is talking about): The "celebrity" judge asking the unanswered question is Ne Ne Leakes. Ne Ne, a celebrity? a beauty contest judge? I hear the Sesame Street song playing in my head "Some of these things will go together, some of these things are sort of the same... But one of these things..."  You know the song.
Ne Ne is a 15 minute "Real Housewife from Atlanta" reality show poser. It was miraculous that she could read the question, which she most probably did not did not write.
When will come the day when we expect women to be intelligent and beautiful at the same time.  I know there are some out there. In fact the two traits are not mutually exclusive, for any reason. I think intelligence in a woman is a big turn on. Sexy which does not rub off on the pillow when she sleeps.  However, I think that until we teach our girls to think as well as they are taught to put on eye shadow, the gap may always exist. In this case the question became its own answer in the most ironic way.
As you were,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Phun with FotoShop

 "A Dancer" with two Busts. 
 According to the "World is a Stage" Statistics not a lot of people saw the picture I posted from the Getty. I don't blame them because the blog was riddled with the F (PH) word. I claim fair use of the obscenity in context of the story. Poetic/Artistic License...I will use that permit once again.

Here is what I have to say as an artist. You have to have good models. To do artistic(?) things in FhotoShop like the picture above, I had to actually pose for the picture below.
Just after this picture was taken a Getty guard told me to move away from the art work. I was told that same thing by several guards at several exhibits during that afternoon.  So much for helping us struggling artists. By the embarrassed giggles of the high school tour the  guard should have known I was an artist at work taking a model shot. Maxfield Parish used pictures of himself as a model, as did Norman Rockwell. However it did make me wonder
how close is too close if we are talking about art? I was certainly being respectful as you can clearly see and would have never jeopardized the physical integrity of the piece. I did not think I was too close.
In the "Pshopped" picture there is a canvas on the wall. In reality it is not there. It is one of my "digital paintings. I call it "A Dancer" and it hangs in this virtual art gallery created in the ether. Having the ability to manipulate images is a quantum leap for artists.
My interpretation of "A Dancer" was inspired by and drawn after my visit to the Getty.  It's not how close you are allowed get to the art, it's how close you allow the art to get to you.
As you were,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Always My Dad

Noel Johnson - Daddy of the Outfit 
Today is Father's Day. Today would also be my Father's 90th birthday.This is a picture of him in 2008 on his 85th celebrated at my home in California.  It is the last time he was here.
The hat says, "Daddy of the Outfit" which was a name he gave himself to describe his duty as family patriarch. It was the perfect combination of Daddy love and military nomenclature. That could also be an apt description of my Father.
Daddy blowing out the candles on his Birthday cake. 
Sandi (mother of my children) not aware I wasn't 
counting to three before taking the picture.
After his passing I wrote a more detailed blog about my Daddy.

I can't do the math as well as my Dad could but every few years, according to the calendar,  Dad's June 16th Birthday falls on Fathers Day Sunday.  I don't recall how many times this happend when I was growing up in his house.  I always remember the two events were close together.  We called that third Sunday in June FarBir's Day, the contraction of Birthday and Father's day for my Dad. It was always a family Sunday-celebration of Daddy.
So, here it is Sunday, June 16, 2013 - FarBir's Day. I would like to propose the perfect toast to my Dad. I want to thank him for being a great Dad on Fathers day, and I want to celebrate the birth of an incredible man. Is that possible? The perfect toast has rules and one of them is brevity. It should be poetic, insightful, inclusive and clever but no more than a sentence long.  How do you include a life's worth of memories into one phrase? There just seems to be too much to say in a short toast.  
However, priding myself on writing good toasts and book forwards here is my attempt to toast my Dad. He will toast with Baileys Irish Cream. A tea-toddler most his life he developed a taste for Irish Cream Coffee in later years. A tea-toddler myself until I was 21,  I will raise a double of good bourbon, in my mind wishing I was at the "Smoking Dragon Pub". We all raise a glass to my Father, and since a toast is always spoken extemporaneously and not read, I say aloud:

"Happy FarBir's Day to Noel Johnson-Daddy of the Outfit - emeritus." 

As you were,

Friday, June 14, 2013

Today's Tongue Twister

I had to hear it a couple of times to comprehend what the announcer said. Even then I had to verify with my son to be sure of what I heard. My dyslexic brain could not be trusted after hearing it only twice.
It is a commercial that plays on Public Radio locally. The commercial consists of a velvet toned announcer touting treatment for sinus problems at the Cedar- Sinai Medical Center. The clinic offers sinus suffers rhinoplasty balloon therapy.
Let's stop right there. A rhinoplasty balloon sound like some thing a clown would bring to your kid's birthday party. I guess that's the name of the procedure. It may be a fine term to use in at Cedar-Sinai Clinic, But, I'm not sure that a Public Radio ad is the right place to use that phrase. Most people will think clown before they think doctor when hearing the word "balloon." But that is not at issue.
The name of the clinic for these sinus headache sufferers is:
The Cedar-Sinai Sinus Center. Seriously...
If I thought they got the joke I would offer this copy for the next ad.
Serious Sinus Suffers See Significant Cessation of Sore Sinuses central to their strife at the Cedar-Sinai Sinus Center.
As you were,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

At the Getty...

On a trip to the Getty Museum recently I was reminded of an Eric Idle song entitled "You Can't say Fuck at the Getty. It was written after he performed there and was specifically told he could not say the F word on the  Getty stage. The result was a Carlinesque song about all the words you can say with the chorus featuring the forbidden word. It is a very funny song even funnier when you know how it came about. 
In my time spent with comics there is one rule that is universal.  Never tell a comic he can't do something. It is the equivalent of throwing lighter fluid on a fire. Comics  just can't help themselves. It is a comic's duty to find some way around all rules and push the envelope.  Since every time the envelope is pushed there is a new position to push from, this rule will be constant as long as there are comedians.  
I remember once at a Comedy Club the manager came back stage to tell us that there was a 12 year old kid in the front row. The manager was the stereo-type of a mobster club owner.  In a raspy voice  he said "Go easy on the kid". We all knew what he meant "watch the language and references."  We all got it. 
However,  one of the comics had a different opinion about the situation. This performer felt like the kid was out of place in an adult nightclub, so why should he pull back.  He not only refused to go easy on the younger audience member, he "went" for it.  His opening line was, "Hey kid, you're a cute little fucker where are you from."  We stopped counting the number of F words at 73. The number of dick jokes and penis references went much higher in the 20 minute set.  
I was sure the mobster manager would shoot him, but he didn't.  He thought the guy had balls to take it to that extreme.  The parents were not too pleased but did not want to complain to the tough manager.
As you were,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Should a Family Worry?

 Illustration 2B -   "The Krampus"
Recently my sister was in town for a few days.  She has not been here in a decade. As I state in "The Two and Only!" my little sister was my captive audience growing up.  As kids she was required to hear material, watch routines and pass judgement on acts I had just written and totally under rehearsed. Although we are no longer kids and she is no longer captive, I do continue to seek her approval.  That is especially true in all things artistic.
There was much to do together as tourists in LA after a decade of absence. We did not stay around the house much. However, there was a moment late in her visit when we ended up conversing in my office.  Technically I think this was a maid's bedroom when the house was built, nonetheless it is my office now. A functional man cave of sorts. It is where I like to think, write and draw.
As we were remembering stories my sister looked upon the shelf above my computer. On that shelf is a skull framed drawing. (See illustration 2B)
It is one of my concept drawings of a Krampus.  My son introduced me to this mythical character.  He is not fully human and not fully animal. He las a long tongue, sharp teeth, goat horns, hooves for feet and pointed ears.  Most people just think he is the devil, but he has a different purpose in some European cultures.  He is the anti-Santa.  While Santa will bring all the good little boys and girls the toys of their dreams, the Krampus brings sticks and coal to the bad ones. He is the tormentor of misbehaved children.  He is usually depicted holding sticks and chains. I have done many studies of the Krampus this is one of my favorites. 
So, my sister breaks off the conversation and carefully examines the framed drawing on my shelf. She absolutely recognises it as my work.   I am wondering what artistic comment my First Best Friend Forever will have to say. 

As I remember,  it went something like this:
"Jay, I don't know what disturbs me more, the fact that you actually drew this demon, that you framed it in a skull frame or that you display it right above where you write." 

I say, "That's my favorite picture frame, what else would you put in a frame like that?"
She replied, "And.... it disturbs me that it is one of your favorite frames." 
It is great to have a sister.
As you were,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm Here?

I still get a few autograph requests in the twilight of my career. However, nothing says "What have you done lately" like this Canadian request. I have blurred the sensitive information like they do on crime shows, but look closely at the return address.
Where are they Now? I find this envelope to be an absolute contradiction of purpose. While it implies that someone is lost, it came to me at my home address. I assume I was not that hard to find. And where should I be if not exactly where they found me.
The last time I thought to check, an eBay autograph of mine was going for 20 bucks. If Canadians really didn't know "where I am now", perhaps the autograph would go for 30.
As you were,

Sunday, June 09, 2013


Tonight is the Tony Awards and although they may have already begun in New York they have not come on in LA yet. Lori Ann "the Wiz" Zepp wished me a happy Tony-versary today. She caused me to think
This very afternoon in 2007 my niece gave me this braided lanyard for luck. That night Sandi and I attended out first and so far only Tony Awards Show, red carpet and all.
Here is how it worked out for me.
Jackie's lanyard has been on my keychain since. I hope it brings luck to the winners this year. But I know from experience lucky or not it will be a night they will never forget.
As you were....
and the American Theatre Wing Tony goes to:

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Parent of the Year...

A friend told me recently, "I love your blog.... the pictures... not so much." It would be easy to dismiss except I know him to be a man of schooled artistic tastes. I began to wonder if there are other readers "out there" who feel the same way. 
I have always heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. I assumed one of my drawings would be worth at least half that. I also assumed that one of my drawings could substitute for a blog post from time to time.  According to my artistic friend... I could be wrong. However, I will not be deterred from publishing my art.  So... here is +/- 0.5k words fo today, the picture is entitled  "Fascism Wears Ears". It has nothing to to do  with the rest of this blog.
If you are a parent of grown children, like me, you probably continue to evaluate your parenting skills based upon the child rearing one observes being done in public.  
Take today for example at the CBTL.  Ahead of me in line is a mother and her 2 and a half year old little girl.  The mother is trying to figure out what pastry the little girl wanted.  She had limited vocabulary skills, the little girl had even less. (Rim Shot)
The little girl was pointing to something in the display case.
"The Chocolate one?" Said the mother. 
"Chokocolat, " the child replied because she couldn't spell yet.  
"The chocolate cake or the chocolate chip cookie?" 
"Chokocolat ches Chokocolat" said the toddler.
"Chocolate Chip?"
"Chess Chockolat"
"Chocolate chip?" By now both the child and the people in line are becoming frustrated.  The child has less control over her emotions and screams "Chokocolate! Chess."  The child was trying to say "Yes, I just want chocolate", but her "yes" sounded like Chess or Chips. A quick decision is made for the chocolate cake with the creamy chocolate frosting. They sit down at a table, Mother with her, Half caf, soy latte with two sugars, and the little girl with Chess Chockolat.
I could not see the mother but as I waited for my drink I could see the child. In seconds little girl had smeared her face completely with the chocolate filling in what looked like a modern attempt to do a black face minstrel show.  The chocolate was in her curly blond hair and all over the front of her cute dress. 
I flashed back to when I was in a similar parenting situation.  I detested cleaning up a chocolate mess, especially a mess in a public place.  I thought to myself.  "There went the mother's nice relaxing half-caf, soy latte with two sugar break."  I still cannot see the mother,  but she is doing nothing to stem the spread of chocolate.  Then I hear her.  In a playful and somewhat giddy tone she let out a comic gasp then burst out laughing. 
Instead of being horrified at the child's mess she was laughing?  Here I thought she would be upset but instead she was in full belly laugh. I thought... "Why couldn't I have been like her as a parent?  Find the joy and laughter in the moment.  Life is too short to be worried about a chocolate disaster."  
I needed to get a better look at this modern day parent.  I was humbled by this super-Mom who had some uncanny ability to remain joyful. I turned to admire this amazing woman who could laugh in the face  of chocolate adversity. 
It took a moment to realize what was happening.  There was the little girl who  had covered herself, her clothes, the chair, the table top and her diaper bag in thick chocolate frosting.  There was the Mother still laughing... NOT at the chocolate fiasco but at the text conversation she was having on her iPhone 5. "The Mother of the year" was looking down at her  screen totally unaware of the disaster looming in front of her. 
As I walked out of  CBTL the Mother finally stopped texting, and saw the mess, I think.  I didn't see it happen but I heard the Mother yell in a loud tone, more familiar to my parenting experience, "Oh My God, Kindra!"
Smugly I walked to the car. I am suddenly very glad that we did not have smart phones when my boys were 3 years old. 
As you were,

Monday, June 03, 2013

A Show about Show Business

Last night I attended a discussion at the Writers Guild Theater.  They announced the 101 best written television shows of all time.  SOAP was on the list.  Certainly not as high on the appreciation list as I thought it should be.  However, there were a lot of wonderful shows from the beginning of television to consider.  And it was all about writing, not popularity although most of the shows on the list were very popular. 
James L Brooks, Steven Bochco, Carl Reiner, Norman Lear and
Moderator Merrill Markoe at the Writers Guild Theatre.
A list is a list but the highlight of the evening was a panel discussion with some of the legends who created some of the shows on the list.  In some cases several shows on the list. 
Consider the first four on the panel. From left to right... James L. Brooks, Steven Bochco, Carl Reiner and Norman Lear.  Merrill Markoe on the far right, a multiple Emmy winner in her own right, was the moderator. There were 7 other writer/creators that joined the group later but as would be expected from just these panelist, the repartee was hysterical. 
Of these four Steven Bochco is the only writer known for his more dramatic series (he has won 93 Emmy's the most of anyone there that evening). At one point Bochco said, "I don't know what I'm doing up here with three comedy geniuses?"  
Carl Reiner didn't miss a beat and said, "What do you mean you don't know what you're doing.... you're sitting on a panel with three comedy geniuses...that's what you are doing"
James L. Brooks (Simpsons, Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore Show) was asked about the pitch he made to the network for Mary's Show. 
He said at the time they thought Mary might be a divorcee seeking a new career.  The networks execs said she couldn't be divorced.  Brooks said, "The Executive had a rule, No divorce, no shows about show business, and no guys with moustaches. " Mary's show was an easy fix to accommodate. 
Carl Reiner said after a year of success for the "Dick Van Dyke Show" a new network executive requested a meeting.  He came to Carl's office on the second floor of the studio, put his feet up on the coffee table and said, "This show is funny... but I think I know how to make it funnier."  He proceeded to take a hand written note from his jacket pocket to read  some "funny" things for Carl and Sheldon Leonard.  At the end of the list no one had even cracked a smile. The Exec. looked at them and said, "Don't you think that's funny?"  Reiner walked up to the executive and grabbed his foot. Carl said, "I'll tell you what is funny..."  He removed the guys expensive shoe and threw it out the second floor window, "Now THAT's funny". Sheldon Leonard burst out laughing. 
Now that IS funny.
As you were,