Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lessons learned this week.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Elvis Nugent

Quantum theorists assert that all possibilities for all outcomes in any situation exist at the same time.  I suppose it is the ultimate cosmic "what if" game.  With the current political division in America right now,  it is open to quantum speculation as to how celebrities might or might not be or have been involved in the controversy. Let's just say for sake of a quantum discussion that Ted Nugent died on August 16, 1977 and Elvis Presley didn't. (Note: this is exactly why quantum theory gets "quarky,"  it allows for this very speculation).
Since Elvis died at the age of 42 we really don't know what kind of a middle age man he would have become. Rock stars can't all age as well as Keith Richards, so we don't know who "old man citizen" Elvis would have become if he had lived. I speculate he would have been the NRA poster boy, and I am guessing more charming than Ted Nugent and less dramatic than Charlton Heston, but nonetheless controversial.  

Col. Parker, Elvis's control freak personal manager, kept him from a lot of controversy, but was 20+ years older than Elvis and might not have been able to completely control him in later life. The Col.'s control over Elvis's personal life did not seem to be as complete as it was for his professional life even in 1977.  I wonder if Elvis would have vocalized his support for gun owners's rights in the same way  that Charlton Heston did and Ted Nugent currently does?
There is no doubt that Elvis was an avid gun owner. Las Vegas stories connecting Elvis and guns are very common.  He once pulled a hand gun on a Las Vegas Hilton Security guard who didn't slow the golf cart  down enough when Elvis was a passenger. It is also legendary that televisions needed to be replaced regularly in the Elvis suite of the International Hilton hotel. Elvis did not like Robert Goulet and would shoot out the television screen when Goulet appeared.  Once after visiting a gun shop in Las Vegas the King said, "I'll take it." The owner of the store asked which gun he was talking about and Elvis replied, "All of them.. I'll take all of them."  Elvis bought every gun in the shop, which had to close it's doors for a week just to do the necessary paper work to transfer the arsenal. 
Elvis could have become the Charlton Heston of today's NRA. Heston retired from the presidency of the organization at 75 years old.  Today Elvis would be 78 with enough money to do most anything he wanted to do.  He was never very political when he was younger, but we all change when we get older (except Keith Richards). Had Elvis decided to be vocal on that subject it would have decidedly changed his image. No matter which side of the debate he embraced it would have cost him a lot of his current regal status.  
Since every possibility exists in the quantum field here is the way I think it happened. Elvis didn't die of an overdose, he became a recluse and lost his grasp on reality when the Col. died. All the controversy he avoided in his youth became very important in his old age. He recorded a controversial remake of one of his old hits, entitled, "Iran.. don't you step on my blue sued Jews."  He went on to become president of the NRA and suggest that every American be given a gun with their social security card. He would have held a musket above his head and said, "When they take it from my cold dead hands" while he swiveled his hips and said "Thank you... Thank you very much, Uh Huh."
He retired at 75 from the NRA like his friend "Teddy Bear" Heston; the abuse of drugs in his younger days caused him to become a little delusional and paranoid in the twilight of his life. He died in the shower from a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head because he momentarily thought he sounded like Robert Goulet.  He was eulogised not as the King of Rock and Roll but the King of Lock and Load. 
It could be... have been... or is, or not.  Get a clarification from Stephen Hawkins.
As you were,
Jay

Friday, April 26, 2013

Post - Depression

I thought I would feel better after I got yesterdays post off my chest and wrote it down.  Obviously something about that review struck a nerve and it opened up a wound I thought had healed. I've had that bile bottled up inside for so long, it has been making me sick. It finally hit critical mass. At times like that you think throwing up will make you feel better.  It doesn't really,  cause you still have a bad taste in your mouth.  That is where I am today. Bad taste.
I thought about taking the post down but as we all know that doesn't do anything but eliminate it locally.  It is still out there. Besides, it would be disingenuous to deny what are truly my opinions and feelings. I am not trying to hide who I am and what I think about anything.
Out of Bounds! 
I guess I was not looking hard enough for something better to write about.
The real problem between reviewers and actors is the inability of an actor to separate his product from his person.  A salesman can talk about his product as an object; he sells licorice for example. Some people like licorice others don't. It has nothing to do with the salesman. You could love the salesman and have a very strong dislike for licorice. I suppose a reviewer could write a very negative opinion about licorice, and a licorice salesman would have no feeling toward it one way or the other.
Not so with theatrical reviews and critics.  The product they are talking about is personal. You are the product and it becomes very difficult to see that the opinion is about what you're selling not you personally. I know I can't separate me from my show, emotionally, that is why I stopped reading reviews. They just became too upsetting.
I was rough on Mr. Mc yesterday, and he may understand that I was reviewing his "product" not his "person" but I am still having trouble with it. If he were to read it and become upset by it... well that would not make me feel better. Besides when I agreed to contribute these blogs to broadwayshowbiz.com I said I was not going to engage in that sort of rhetoric. Unfortunately a simple review in the LA Times blinded me to that elevated thinking.  Well, consider this a retraction or rededication or just a new emphasis on the mission statement. I want to write about things that make me feel better than the stuff I wrote yesterday. 
I know one thing for sure, I do not want to be theatre critic for the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps it is impossible to work in a coal mine without getting dirty, and either way no one is forcing me to read anyone's work.  Hell, I might not even read this post.
As you were,
Jay


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review of Charles McNulty- Theatre Critic

UPDATE: 8/9/13
I was reminded by my mother today, "If you can't say something nice about someone don't say anything at all."

Original blog removed August 9, 2013 - 5:22 PM
If you really want to read it... it's out there somewhere.
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What does a teacher really do?

This isn't my story, I heard it on the radio yesterday.  I can't stop thinking about it. 
It's a story about a third grader, a self described "black Irish" kid of immigrant parents. He was never a very good student because he was a thinker and observer, often in his own world instead of the world that included school. 
He loved to draw, but his Father would have none of it. To a struggling Irish immigrant "head of household", drawing pictures was not productive and an absolute waste of time. So, the boy did his drawing in secret. 
It was the third grade teacher who noticed the blond boy in the back of the class. He never participated much. He was obviously not paying attention to the lessons even now and instead was doodling on a piece of paper on his lap, hidden by his desk. 
She called his name and the boy realized he had been caught. His world of imagination suddenly collided with the real world of third grade as the teacher made him the center of attention. When she asked what he was doing he was honest and said he was drawing a picture. The teacher said, "Then why don't you come up here and show the class what is so important that you do not have to listen like everyone else." 
He knew what this was about.  The teacher had chosen to get his attention by humiliating him in front of the class. It was a long walk to the front of the room and every eye was on him. He prepared to suffer the laughing and teasing of the class as he held up his picture, Dead kid walkin' as he made it to the front.
Without fanfare he held up his pencil drawing.  It was more complicated than the teacher expected and instead of laughter it solicited confusion from the class. But the punishment didn't end there.
The teacher said, "Why don't you tell us what that picture is all about?" He took in a deep breath and for the first time standing in front of his peers he told the story of the picture.
"These are the cowboys on their horses who are shooting at the indians. The indians, on their horses,  are shooting back at the cowboys with bows and arrows. What the indians don't know is that the cowboys are pushing them toward the edge of a canyon. The cowboys plan to force the tribe off the edge and kill them because they want the land where the indians live."  The boy paused for a moment to realize that there was no laughing or teasing and even the teacher seemed to be enjoying the story. Then he said, "These things in the sky are B-52 bombers coming to join in the battle... what the cowboys don't know is... they are on the side of the Indians."  There was laughter at that point and spattered applause from the class.  The teacher sat silently for a moment. The boy thought that he had only delayed the humiliation that was certain to come.
She finally spoke. "Okay here is the deal. I will get an easel with large pad of paper and put it right here at the front of the class, and I'll bring some colored pencils and crayons.  Every Wednesday you draw a picture and explain it to the class.  And... for the rest of the time you keep up with the class and study." 
The boy agreed and kept his end of the bargain as did the teacher. Instead of a moment of defeat it was the defining moment in a boy's life.
Even now, at the age of 76, he still recalls that moment in a radio interview. That teacher turned an otherwise destructive moment into the pivotal turn in the life of a man who would become an actor, director, producer, artist,writer and free thinker.  The teacher knew him as Bobby.  We know him as Robert Redford.
Exceptional teachers nurture the talents of exceptional people. It is never about the test scores... it is about figuring out the game of life. 
As you were,
Jay

Monday, April 22, 2013

What's so Funny?

It used to be I would daily observe or become aware of something I thought was funny. Usually it meant that I would have something to blog about.  Some peculiarity of the human species or odd circumstance of social interaction.  While I was living in Manhattan one would only have to walk to work or stroll around the block for a coffee to find inspiration of that kind.
Lately it has required actually seeking out a situation that might be funny, or blogable and even then the search is not always successful. I don't think it is because my geographic inspiration has changed. No matter where you are you always deal with humans. There just seems to be a change in the entire human race over the last year or so. I could make the case that it has been even longer. Things are so heavy, so divided, so polarized so serious right now.  Nobody seems to be laughing.   Especially when you have a week like last week.  From a terrorist bombing to an accidental industrial explosion to a shoot out, massive urban man hunt that stopped mo
st of Boston and ultimate arrest of America's Most wanted fugitive.  A fugitive who's friends seemed to think was a really great guy until Monday's Marathon.
The topics I just mentioned are so ubiquitous on television, in the papers and on the Internet, I can't see the fun that could possibly come by inserting myself into that debate.  Besides, John Stuart has that job. And I think that even he and his staff are having trouble with this current humor quotient.  More than just commenting on quirky situations most of the Daily Show humor now comes from exposing the sheer stupidity and hypocrisy of our government.
There seems to be a polar disconnect between reality and results these days. So much media so little actual information... so many pictures and videos, with not much of value to look at. So many people doing "funny" things but nothing to laugh at.  It recently came to light that many of the Twitter followers of Justin Bebier are fake... bought and paid for "followers". Imaginary or sycophantic employees hanging on his every Tweet. I can't make sense of that on any human level... and more importantly where is the joke here.  Bebier's audience as phony as his talent?  The whole digital interaction sort of feeds on itself devouring anything of quality or humor. What is a writer to do?
I don't know... I just regret that the search for something positive and or humorous to write about has become such a lonely and depressing journey.  There has got to me a better way to stalk happiness.  Anybody got the answer? 

As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eye of the Beholder

Over the weekend I had a panic with my left eye.  I was seeing a flash of light in the corner of my vision and there were a couple of floaters that were not there before. After speaking with a couple of eye specialists it was determined that it was not an immediate emergency but I was encouraged to come into the office the next day to "check it out".  
Any one who is nearsighted like me is familiar with floaters. Unless you have experienced them they are a little hard to explain. Usually they are just dark spots that zip around just outside your field of sight.  However, the floaters that suddenly showed up in this eye had different shapes.  They were definitely not just spots but designs. 
I knew the doctor would ask me a lot of questions about it and I was not sure how to describe what I was seeing.  So... I decided to draw them. This drawing is not it. The floater drawing was more technical and from the inside looking out. There is a reason why I could not publish the actual drawing, that will be clear later.
First thing that I noticed is floaters are hard to focus on, and even more difficult to keep in your line of vision long enough to draw.  And, when your focus changes from the floater to the pencil and page you have to chase the floater down again to compare to the drawing, requiring several more glances back and forth. 
It became a challenge.  The technique was to focus my eyes on an object that was not in front of me. That would cause the floater to appear more to the center of my vision, study it for a long time and then attempt to draw what I had just seen before it floated away again.  Of course that is almost impossible to concentrate and focus on a floater. The minute you see them your eye tries to center them which causes them to move. Concentrating on something without moving your eyes toward that which you are concentrating on was more difficult that I could ever imagine.
It took me much longer to complete this drawing than my average sketch, but eventually I had all the elements in their various transparent shapes on the page.  Then I annotated them and described how they acted since some would actually change shape after a blink like some horny ameba doing his fertility dance before it splits in two. 
So I go into the doctors office with my sketch pad.  The doctor says, "Tell me what is happening with your eye." I said, "Well, this is basically what I am seeing that I didn't see a few days ago." and showed him the sketch. The doctor studied it for a minute and said, "Where did you get this?"
I told him that I drew it. "Really?" he said, "How can you draw something that won't say long enough to see it?" 
"It is not as easy as I thought it would be." I said.  He proceeded to dilate my eye, turn off the lights, dawn  a miner's head lite and crawl into my eye.  At one point he said, "Yep there's that one."
After the exam he looked at my sketch again. He said, "That is pretty much what they look like in there. Good job.. I have never had anyone draw the inside of their eye before."
"What can be done about them." I said.  
"Nothing... there is no tear of hole in your retnia which would be a very serious emergency,  it is just the gel in your eye getting old and shrinking a little like aging jello. Eventually they go away... we think the brain eventually just tunes them out and they don't bother you any more."
I reached for my drawing but he pulled it away. "This is going in your file.. you just saved me some paper work... thanks." He thought for a moment and said, "Here is a pen... sign it at the bottom."  I signed it "Jay Johnson... consulting art doctor".
Unfortunately there was no discount on the fee because I had done some of the paper work for him.
Other than being very annoying I am glad the problem was no more serious than it was. 
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston on my Mind

A few years ago I was hired to perform for the John Hancock Insurance company. They are a major sponsor of the Boston Marathon and my performance was part of a banquet the night before the race.  I remember how much of an event it was and how everyone was excited about the next day's activities.
I was offered a chance to stay over and see the race from the sponsors area but chose to return home instead.  The airport was totally empty that day and it was an easy flight home.
Now this act of terrorism has inserted itself into the collective consciousness of the race. I have been nursing a sore throat and cold over the last couple of days so I was taking it easy all day yesterday.  Suddenly several alerts on my wireless devices sounded. The ABC news notification and the CNN notifications went off on my smart phone and my tablet. I realized that we are in an era when bad news travels immediately and wirelessly. I turned on the television to see actual pictures of the finish line bombs going off and a 78 year old man crumbling to the ground. Like the black horse on a merry go round that image would repeat itself on most every station over and over for the next 24 hours.  
There is really no concrete information so the same images and sound bites are repeated over and over.  I became irritated with several of the anchor pundits who had nothing to add but kept trying to make it a story about themselves and what they saw. 
Of course some networks skewed the story to fit their own agenda. Several over zealous reporters were postulating that it was a "False Flag" operation by the shadow government to gain some advantage over the gun lobby to take away our firearms.   I finally turned off the television figuring that if there was a break in the case... all my wireless devices would once again sound the alarm. 
Since there are no leads at this point and no one has claimed responsibility... I would suggest that as awful as it is, it is not a massive conspiracy foreign or domestic.  If it was,  the pre-planned story would have already been fed to the shocked public. 
Case in point.  After John Kennedy was shot in Dallas, with no actual eye witnesses nor video surveillance pictures, police had a suspect in custody in less than an hour. Although most people do not believe the suspect acted alone and he was killed before he could even be charged with the crime Lee Harvey Oswald is officially sanctioned as the "lone gunman" 50 years later. Somewhat similar to the picture of Mohammad Atta and his gang of terrorist that was plastered all over the television hours after the plane attack on the World Trade Center twin towers. 
In contrast, Richard Jewel was taken into custody and given a national perp walk for the Atlanta Olympics bombing within a few hours of the blast.  He wasn't involved and it took seven years to catch the actual killer. The actual bomber turned out to be a disturbed idiot with a political agenda. Like Aurora and Sandy Hook the Boston Bombing probably will be found to be the work of a disturbed idiot trying to make a statement.
One hopes that this bomber or bombers are as stupid as Timothy McVey who was caught driving without a license plate on his "get away" car. In the mean time the media has the opportunity to speculate on this crime before they get back to making us afraid of attack from North Korea. It seems that someone wants us to be continually afraid of something and the media is following that lead.
The only way you win is to turn off your "weapons of mass communication" and look around. 
As you were,
Jay

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Free,Tax Weekend

I hope the title of this blog did not confuse you. There is no such thing as a free tax week end,  and most certainly not this weekend. This is the mother of tax weekends. If we were Mary and Joseph we would be heading to Bethlehem, it is such a tax week end.  April 15th falls on a Monday?  There goes the weekend for any person who deals with or pays taxes.  That pretty much sums us all up in one of the categories.
The meaning of the title is that I need to be free of writing a blog.. because it is tax weekend. I am not going to write a blog this week end while I get the envelops ready for the sprint to the end on Monday. 
But I realize now that it took as long to explain why I did not write a blog today as it would have taken to actually write one.

As you were, 
Jay


Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Artist's Palette

I attended an exhibition years ago about the palette of various artists.  It was sort of a behind the scenes look at where art comes from.  Since not every artist uses the traditional kidney shaped palette board with a hole on the side it was also a presentation of the artist's working space.
In some cases the exhibition recreated the work space next to the painting that it produced. Other times it was just a picture of the palette or studio of the artist. What I came away with was the idea that no two artists work the same way... and usually their creative space is rather messy and disorganized. To me it seems very obvious that out of chaos comes creativity.
I always cross my fingers when I call myself an artist.  I can't get past the idea that "artist" is a term bestowed on a person by others rather than a title he gives to himself.  That is not a dominate idea among the creative community, but it weighs on me. So I am uncomfortable when calling myself an artist. 
Nonetheless, it was time to give my partner Bob a face lift and since I have some time I decided that I would attempt the process myself. In keeping with the idea that a work space sometimes defines the project, here is a picture of my makeshift puppet studio which is actually a corner of my office.
Doctors Office
I have restored, repaired and created my own characters for many years. After studying the work of my mentor Art Sieving and Ren√©, the maestro, I felt fine about tackling the work. I find that it is really a therapeutic and bonding experience. Not with out frustration and unexpected complications but having a hands on experience painting and superficially repairing your instrument is a process I would recommend to any puppeteer or ventriloquist. 
My biggest challenge is waiting.  I have a hard time with this thing called drying time. My control freak nature does not make me comfortable with the idea letting something take its own time without my constant dabbling. A few missteps were made just because I messed with a coat of paint before it was ready to be messed with.  The temporal intervention necessitates a re-coat and the whole process time resets so it becomes even more of a wait. This frustrates the over active AADS qualities in my personality. I have been forced into routine of working a couple of hours in the morning... and the rest of the 24 hour period is drying time.  
Dermatological treatment for
Wooden Americans
FaceBook is full of these kinds of pictures... vents and puppet makers posting progress shots of their work. I understand why. The lessons you learn by having a hands on experience with your partner/instrument are esoteric. You kinda want the world to know that you have had this almost religious experience.  It is either that or it is the effect of breathing paint fumes while I am typing this blog. Either way it is rather pleasant. 
Thanks for the teaching, Bob.... but this time... take better care of your yourself. You have to do your part. I am doing all I can to protect you from the TSA monkeys at the airport.

As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday's child....


On good days I find the muse to either write  or draw. On great days both. Guess what kind of day it was for me today?
Wednesday's Child is full of woe....
As you were,
Jay

Monday, April 08, 2013

I will Survive....

Some look on the disco era as a blight on the music industry.  I know a really wonderful guitarist who moved to Los Angeles during that time to seek his fame and fortune.  He quickly was one of the most sought after studio musicians in town, but after three years packed up and moved back to Texas.  He said he could not play one more note of a disco beat and that was all that was being recorded in LA at the time. 
Gaynor Ave
Gloria Ave.
I have no feelings toward the era myself. It was fun when there were disco's crowded with young people having a good time. Of course I was one of those young people back then... they may still be crowding some sort of club but I am no longer of the age nor the desire to find out.
However, once in a while I have a "saturday night fever flash back".  It usually occurs when I am not even thinking of music or dance or even show biz.
Here is a case in point.  Walking Boo on an absolutely beautiful day over the week end,  I suddenly began to sing the disco song "I Will Survive".  At the time I thought it was just wishful thinking as the pressures of the Two and Only -  DVD have taken over even my dog walking time. It has come to that point in this production where the cash flow drain to finish it up over writes the mental possibility of any successful out come.  There are times I think I have produced the worlds most expensive home movie. When I reach a panic I can usually find peace on a walk with Boo.
Nonetheless this time there was no peace as that disco song "I Will Survive" kept invading my attempt to enjoy my walk. Like some sort of viral audio I could not keep it out of my mind and it was beginning to bug me. What bugged me the most is why THAT song was on a subliminal loop, why couldn't I have a great jazz song stuck in my head on the walk? Why this was the sound track illustrating my life at this moment was baffling. It is not even a song that I like very much.
Using the inductive reasoning I have learned on several CSI Television show episodes I finally figured it out. There are two streets a block apart in my neighborhood that sent me into my musical madness.  I circled back and documented them with pictures. I have noticed them before but did not get past the fact that two streets a block away start with the same letter of the alphabet.  It was not until I circled walked the opposite direction that I realized the streets are named Gloria and Gaynor.  That happens to be the name of the famous disco singer who recorded "I Will Survive." The reality that this fact resides in my mind and can be summoned with unconscious will is scary.  The streets were named when the dominate music was swing, I think.  Although it is just a coincidence that they would mean anything together today, this cosmic accident was strong enough to ignite the disco fuse in my mind. 
If the World is a Stage then even the street signs are billboards. I will have to find a dog walking route that includes the street names Eric and Clapton if I ever again want to have a "disco free" stroll.
As you were,
Jay  

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Down in Front

Recently on a ship I was doing my show. Two seats in the middle of the first row were unoccupied. There is a rule about holding seats for friends so I could not understand why theses primo places were not taken since the rest of the row was filled.  It came the moment when I was ready to call the cue for Darwin's closing number.  It also happens to be the closing number to my 55 minute set.
It was then that I saw a middle aged lady walking down the asile and making her way to one of those unoccupied front seats.  It was impossible for anyone NOT to see her especially me, but she was unfazed. Instead of sitting down immediately she continued to stand. Turning her back to the stage,  she began to wave her arms feverishly to someone or something in the back of the theatre. She would wave her arms and point to the empty seat next to her, continue to look backwards and repeat the motion. I believe she was trying to signal to her companion that she had found two good seats down front.  The problem was... everyone could see her, *except* the one person she was trying to signal. 
Here is a show biz hint.... never do that when there is a performer on stage with a talking monkey. Darwin ripped into her with all his simian fury and to the delight of the audience who had been watching the show from the first. Like any good comedian when the audience starts laughing, the one liners start coming, Darwin is no exception.  It was what we call a roll, the perfect storm.  The audience laughter feeds on itself and almost anything becomes funny.  Darwin milked it as long as theatrically possible and when I thought the audience and the late arriving lady had experienced enough, I called for the final sound cue.
The song lasts two minutes, which was exactly the time needed for the woman's companion to see her and make his way to the front seat beside her. He, too, was oblivious to anything happening on the stage three feet above him and without regard to the performance reached the seat on Darwin's final note. He had the best seat in the house for a show that was now over. 
Like it was a silent movie bit, he sat down just as the audience was rising to give me a standing ovation. I took the final bow. He was the only one sitting. Like the eunuch at a whore house he looked around wondering what was going on. 
In a world where most of our entertainment is passively delivered on a screen ranging in size from IMAX to iPhone, people can forget that there is still an art form called theatre. That's where real people perform in real time.  No rewinds, no pause button and more importantly to late arrivals no hiding from the action. So.. if your desire is to watch a show from the first row and it it open seating get there early. If you can't do that prepare to be skewered by a monkey who does not take hostages. 
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Hello New York

I am proud to be a new stringer on www. broadwayshowbiz.com. This blog will appear from time to time at that address as well as here. I feel like a 40's syndicated columnist covering the show biz beat in the Hearst newspaper empire. Seems like I should write a John Foster Cain manifesto to let my readers know what they can expect. Nah. All you regulars had to figure it out for yourselves, let the newbies do the same.
To anyone who has just found us.... I started this blog a few months before I opened my Broadway show at the Helen Hayes Theatre. My goal was to share the insiders story of what it was like to open and run a show on Broadway. That was seven years ago. I found out there was more to write about in my life of show biz than just what happens backstage.
The journey has included not just the opening of my show, but the closing, the Tony nominations, the Tony Awards, opening in London, the abrupt closing in London and the tour that continues now. Currently we are in the process of finishing the DVD of the stage show for distribution. Much more on that in later posts.
Mostly this semi-daily epistle is my personal journey through the mine field we call Show Biz.  If you are expecting a Perez Hilton approach to the biz... stop reading now. I have no hidden agenda, I'm just a story teller and writing the stories down doesn't strain my voice.
I have no control over what Broadwayshowbiz.com choses to post from here. I doubt that the editors will share the stories about my dog Boo, but you never know. I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words and I like to paint and draw so often my drawings end up here with only a few words.  I will just continue to write whatever comes to mind... which is scary enough, if you know my mind.  Bob, Darwin, Amigo, Long John LaFeat, Spaulding, Squeaky and Arthur Drew will remain as contributors, not only to my blog but my life as well.
In the oft quoted words of my hero Spaulding Gray, "I cannot write the lie that tells the truth" so I will just write about what I see and feel until Sandi and the kids have me committed. I think I have a few good years left. I hope you will stay tuned...
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Joke is on Me

One of my very best friends is Harry Anderson.  We share a rather gothic sense of humor with a taste for mystery and the dramatic. To Harry, April Fools day is a religious occasion. For the years he lived here in LA we annually performed an April Fools show at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.  It was one of those special event shows where this story takes place.
Magicians are tricksters so it is only natural that a good magician, like Harry, would love a practical joke. Early in our friendship when I was opening act at Harrah's Reno it dawned on me that Harry would be occupying the same dressing room several weeks later when he was opening act for Kenny Rogers. One evening between shows I decided to leave him a note to say "hi" when he came later.  
I looked around the huge dressing room for some places to hide the note and I found several good ones.  In fact there were so many great hiding places I decided to leave several notes and turn it into a puzzle/scavenger hunt.  Each hand written note was a clue to the hiding place of the next note, and the next until the last one just said "This is how I passed the time between shows...what do you do?" I hid the first note behind the clock in the sitting room/bar, the note implied there would be a surprise at the end of the trail. 
A few weeks later I waited until I knew he would be in that dressing room between shows and called the number.  Harry answered and I said.... "Time is running out... look behind the clock." and hung up. He knew it was me and for a couple of hours followed the clues looking for the "treasure" at the end of the hunt. But, indeed there was no treasure, nor was there a surprise other than a lame time consuming exercise. When Harry realized he had been tricked into a game of hide and seek with no reward... he vowed revenge. 
That is not the story.. that is just back ground. 
A few years later it was one of the April Fools shows with Harry and in the audience was then talent coordinator and Johnny Carson Tonight Show gate keeper Jim Mcally.  I had met Jim several times. He  watched me perform on many occasions and although he seemed to like me and my act, he would never book me on the Tonight Show.  There was a rumor that the Tonight Show did not want "novelty acts" on the show and ventriloquism was in that category. I had come to realization that I probably would never do the Tonight Show.
So... it was a surprise when after my set one of the waitresses said that a guy named Jim Mcally wanted to talk to me in the office. There he was and he was all business. He said,  "I have been watching you for a while now and I believe it is time for you to do the Tonight Show."
Wow, just like in the movies. I was immediately thrilled at the prospect. But my next thought was more sobering.  Jim worked for NBC.. I was working with Harry who was now a star on NBC... Jim and Harry knew each other...... it was April Fools day... Harry vowed he would "get me back"... I smelled a rat. I began to add my own twist to this April Fools trick. I basically said that the Tonight Show was getting a little tired... "How long has that Carson Guy been hosting? Decades right". I shined him on and told him that I was probably too busy to do a show for AFTRA/SAG minimum. He was stunned, only mega stars turned down a chance to do the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He gave me his card and said... "I would like to book you...here is my card...think about it... call me tomorrow." I left with a dismissive sort of attitude.
I walked straight into the dressing room and right up to Harry.  I said, "Nice try... nice touch with Jim Mcally."  Harry played the part and said he didn't know what I was talking about. I told him the story and how I had basically flipped off Mcally, but it was a nice joke.  Harry said he didn't set up Mcally.  I could see it in his eyes.... he didn't have anything to do with this.  I had pretty much told Jim Mcally to go F- himself and his Tonight Show and Harry had nothing to do with it. Mcally was gone and I spent a rather tortured evening waiting to call him the next day.
Fortunately, he realized that something was going on at the club and that is why he had me call. I explained the entire saga of Harry getting revenge and we had a big laugh.  It became the first of a dozen shots I would do on the Tonight Show, and friendship with Jim Mcally.
Harry has yet to get me back for the Reno prank.... but he will.  I will probably spend the rest of my life waiting for that next shoe to drop.
As you were,
Jay

Monday, April 01, 2013

So Long Readers....Retiring the Blog....

I have been writing this blog for seven years. I have tried to keep a daily schedule of posts, which at times has been difficult for several reasons. Often it is because I am out of the country and my Internet connection is not sufficient.  Other times I have had to censor myself and not write what was honestly on my mind. The freedom of self expression is also an unfiltered one, and not always appreciated by those who have walked into the cross hairs of my literary attention.
Official Time Out Called
But all in all I have enjoyed this almost decade of being a blog writer. I appreciate all of you who have commented over the years.  It was a validation that someone was reading out there, and to be honest I have become online friends with several regular readers of this blog.      But flowers eventually fade and leaves fall as time marches on. I have decided to stop writing the blog and dedicate my attentions to another cause. I have accepted a writing job at the Instruction Settlement Corporation. Tomorrow I start my job writing the instructions for government required packaging of products. At first it will just be the nutritional content of various snack food labels, but I hope to move up in the company so that I can eventually write the warning labels for cigarette packages. Thank you all so much for reading this eclectic and random form that I have been participating in since the late summer of 2006. I wish you the best. 
In the absence of my blog here are some other addresses that you might check out as a reader.

Until we meet again, Thank you for all your help and encouragement for me to continue.
As you were,
Jay

PS... I'm not going anywhere. Happy April Fools Day.....