Saturday, September 28, 2013

Best in Show

Today is the luncheon to benefit Actors and Others for Animals.  It is a fund raiser so proper time will be  devoted to helping fund animal interests in Hollywood.  However, the festivities will be crowned with the  Celebrity Pet Best in Show competition.  Instead of having the actual dogs invade the Hilton Hotel the promoters opted for videos of the celebrity dogs for the judging.
I am writing this ahead of time so I don't know who's dog won, but no matter how the judges score the event... I do have the Best Dog in she Show. Since it was a live event here is the only time you will see one of the entries...my Dog Boo.   Enjoy... We went for the sympathy vote.

As you were,
Jay 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Identity Crisis

Here is a little YouTube film about the frustration of trying to become something you're not. 

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this moving set of pictures is equal to the text of Moby Dick.  And this classic only takes you 33seconds to get through... 


IDENTITY

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Astrological Day....

This is the final day of a two day experiment, and you are the test audience. Here are your questions based upon the last two days of this blog. 
Did yesterday's fortune follow your feelings? Did todays fortune follow with the same advise? Does anyone even read astrological forecasts anymore? Did you read more than your own sign?


Medium Rare Signs
Small predictions from the medium at large.

Astrological forecasts are provided for entertainment only. Please no wagering or gambling based on the information contained here in.

Thursday, September 26, 20013


Capricorn - Start looking to the future. Try to find the thing you like to do so much you would do for nothing and make that a career. It is okay if you only do one thing in a day. Relax and let someone else take the rein. Take yourself out to dinner and let the other one pay.

Aquarius - There has been a sea of trouble for you, but there are calm waters ahead. Don't let indulgence dull your senses to what is coming. You need a clear head so you don't get over confident in the calm. Make the sale you are thinking about.

Pisces - In spite of others thinking it is the end of the world, you believe differently. Things are looking up for you. There is no reason to be happy except to be happy. Be strong and work hard for someone else in your life.

Aries- You are mad and ready to strike, but the reason is all gone now. It is time to cool off. You don't have to fight or hide under a rock, there are more options opening up. Enjoy the sunshine.

Taurus - Just decide what you want to do. You really can't make a mistake, both paths are leading to the same destination. Each will be its own journey. Enjoy the ride. Do it now.

Gemini - The coming year looks to be getting even better. Your birthday season is very exciting for you now. Enjoy it and know that more is coming even if there is a turn in the road. Take some time to be a friend to your pet.

Cancer - That one o'clock appointment is very important. Go for it and you will hit the mark. It is the Zen like approach that you need most. Think through the target. Wear something with feathers.

Leo - Try to be yourself and not what you think others want you to be. It may be that you have to be more truthful to yourself and admit that you are no angel. It is okay, no one is perfect and if you think others see you that way you are probably wrong. Let go.

Virgo -Stop trying to beat the legal system. You must find the balance within yourself, because established systems will always let you down. Just pay the fine and get on with your life. Keep a clear head.

Libra -You have had some incredible insights and your communication skills are very acute right now. Forget about being in charge. Just be. Know the now that you are. Adopt a cat.

Scorpio -The thing you need most is sunshine. Recharge you batteries. Get out of the house. Have some fun. The shell you have built up around your life is too thick. Meet some friends for crab cakes.


Sagittarius -  Although it seems you are between a rock and a hard place it is not the case. That is not a wall you are butting up against but your own limitations. Try a more gentle approach and see if there is an easier way through.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Astrological Forecast...

It was dismissed by some as pagan ritual and occultism but for others it was the truth from the center of the galaxy.  For all who remember and those who forgot and mostly for those who can't tell the difference, The Weakly Forecast by Medium Rare has returned to this blog for a short time.
After you have consulted your astrological forecast vote in the survey to the section to the right.
make sure you cast your vote in the blog poll ---------------------------------> 
Medium Rare Signs
Small signs from the medium at large.

Astrological forecasts are provided for entertainment only. Please no wagering or gambling based on the information contained here in.

Wednesday, September 25, 20013


Capricorn - The coming year looks to be getting even better. Your birthday season is very exciting for you now. Enjoy it and know that more is coming even if there is a turn in the road. Take some time to be a friend to your pet.

Aquarius - There has been a sea of trouble for you, but there are calm waters ahead. Don't let indulgence dull your senses to what is coming. You need a clear head so you don't get over confident in the calm. Make the sale you are thinking about.

Pisces - Just decide what you want to do. You really can't make a mistake, both paths are leading to the same destination. Each will be its own journey. Enjoy the ride. Do it now.

Aries- Although it seems you are between a rock and a hard place it is not the case. That is not a wall you are butting up against but your own limitations. Try a more gentle approach and see if there is an easier way through.

Taurus - In spite of others thinking it is the end of the world, you believe differently. Things are looking up for you. There is no reason to be happy except to be happy. Be strong and work hard for someone else in your life.

Gemini - Start looking to the future. Try to find the thing you like to do so much you would do for nothing and make that a career. It is okay if you only do one thing in a day. Relax and let someone else take the rein. Take yourself out to dinner and let the other one pay.

Cancer - The thing you need most is sunshine. Recharge you batteries. Get out of the house. Have some fun. The shell you have built up around your life is too thick. Meet some friends for crab cakes.

Leo - You have had some incredible insights and your communication skills are very acute right now. Forget about being in charge. Just be. Know the now that you are. Adopt a cat.

Virgo -Stop trying to beat the legal system. You must find the balance within yourself, because established systems will always let you down. Just pay the fine and get on with your life. Keep a clear head.

Libra -Try to be yourself and not what you think others want you to be. It may be that you have to be more truthful to yourself and admit that you are no angel. It is okay, no one is perfect and if you think others see you that way you are probably wrong. Let go.

Scorpio - That one o'clock appointment is very important. Go for it and you will hit the mark. It is the Zen like approach that you need most. Think through the target. Wear something with feathers.

Sagittarius - You are mad and ready to strike, but the reason is all gone now. It is time to cool off. You don't have to fight or hide under a rock, there are more options opening up. Enjoy the sunshine.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jay K. Johnson is...

Hoping you will vote in the blog poll------------>
and
is
On Creative Assignment.
irregular blog service will continue soon:  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thought of the Day

Weekly Apologies

I am very sorry that I have NOT yet learned what NOT to write  in a blog.
Apologies especially for misunderstandings that lead to quick responses, and I realize censoring names is still gossip.  Mostly though, why use the miracle of instantly publishable Blog space for anything negative. About anything or anyone. 
In the old days a writer would have a chance to think about an essay before it was published.
Before anyone could read it an editor looked at it and would approve or not.  There was a filter. Today there is no social filter.  
Writing is instantly published, so we must become self Editors. Proof it clearly not just for facts of truth but the intent of truth. Perhaps the quickest response is not always the best.  Every word thrown into the Internet should be of the highest quality for good, befitting the technology capable of beaming this message to masses. And just because you can get a laugh, doesn't mean you should, always, go for that laugh. Make sure the readers are laughing from within themselves not at someone else. 
Most of All remember the Krepple Creed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why I Hate FACEBOOK

I went to a high school with a graduating class of 673 students.. more or less. It was a great class and I have such great memories of those days and those people.  FaceBook makes it possible to re-connect with my class mates, unfortunately some of those fine seniors grew up to be total A-holes.  Here is an example that caused me to "defriend" an old classmate as fast as I could respond to a comment she posted. (Obviously the names have been blurred) but here is the exchange.

















The article says:
 Dinwiddie High School forced Hunter Spain to remove his shirt that pictured Si Robertson with the words “I Will Hurt You Physically and Metaphysically” because it was deemed too “threatening.”
If it had been a picture of Donald Duck on the shirt it would have raised the same red flag.  I made a jokey comment about the show, which she did not  "get".  She then decided that I was way to Hollywood and was putting down the rural population of Louisianna and suggested that I was offended by "happy happy people".  Along with a " like icon "there should be a BullSHIT icon to click when someone responds like this.
The fact is, I might agree that making an issue of a Si Roberson Duck shirt might have been an over reaction by school officials.  However, with everyone wondering why a the Navy Yard shooter couldn't have been stopped because of earlier behaviors... you can't blame a school for being over cautious.
But back to my exFACEBOOK friend. It was my fault for thinking that someone I went to high school with decades ago has anything in common with me ... particularly my kind of humor.  FaceBook comments do not allow for subtle delivery or ironic tone.. so most humor doesn't work anyway.  I know that.  Why I responded in the first place beats me. I looked at some of the other things she posted and wondered who is this person.
I liked everyone in High School. Why should I not friend a person from those days?  Well, before you do... take a look at what they are posting and see if you want to be part THAT.
As you were,
Jay

  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And the Emmy goes to....

This weekend is the national telecast of the Emmy awards.  Like every other actor in town I have my acceptance speech ready and rehearsed.  No matter if I did nothing this year to warrant a nomination, the fact is one must always have your acceptance speech prepared.   I have to admit that I used my best acceptance speech for my Tony win. However with a little creativity you can recycle acceptance speeches.   For example.....












"And the 2013 Emmy for best supporting actor who was not cast this year....(envelope) goes to... Jay Johnson."                              "Thank you very much.... As I said when I won the Tony...( repeat original winners speech.)"  This accomplishes two things...it allows for repetition of your A material and it also reminds the masses that you won another prestigious award. 

At a restaurant last week I ran into Neil Patrick Harris and wished him the best on his hosting duties this week end.  I am a huge fan of his abilities to host these massively introspective awards shows. His performance as host of the Tony Awards this year deserves a Tony. His skill sets are perfect for this job, he knows what he can do and he doesn't take himself seriously. Having hosted many shows myself where the pressure to succeed was not so critical, I know how hard the job is. Neil is that rare breed of performer who was evidently just born to host an awards show.
Here is to you my friend... I will be watching and rooting for you .. And... you know if you need an accomplished "acceptance speech giver",  I will have my tuxedo on and you can skype me during the telecast. Just know that I have your back NPH.
As you were,
Jay 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Answering The Call

This is the picture of an article about Edgar Bergen, on the inside cover page of SAG/AFTRA Magazine written by Valerie Yaros.  It is a very interesting article.  I learned something new about someone I thought I knew a lot about.  
I am not a fan of the lead line "Edgar Bergen was NO DUMMY". Hackneyed and Lame. Given that elegant evening wear picture of Edgar and Charlie I would have called it:
"Edgar Bergen Answers the Call"
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
In the mid thirties several movie actors risk their careers to form the Screen Actors Guild to negotiate better conditions at the studios.  The studios resisted but a year after Irving Thalberg, who was squarely against the union, died the Studios recognized SAG. 
In that same year of 1937 Edgar Bergen, radio's most popular actor at the time became Member #11 in the newly formed American Federation of Radio Artist.  He was immediately appointed  to the first national board of directors.  
To encourage new membership in AFRA the first issue of the bulletin contained articles and letters from Charlie McCarthy refusing to join the union.  Bergen eventually persuades him through open letters to Charlie expounding the virtues of AFRA membership. Charlie finally accepts the offer of an Honorary Membership.   Edgar Bergen was a major force behind the union that Sandi and I have worked with for our entire California career. 
Twenty years after Bergen's recruitment campaign,  AFRA accepted television actors and it became AFTRA and 2012...yep just last year... SAG and AFTRA merged to become SAG/AFTRA.
In October of 1978 AFTRA was set to give Edgar Bergen the "Life Time Acheivement" Award at their fall ceremony.  Edgar Bergen passed away on September 30, 1978 at Ceasears Palace where he was performing.  The award was postponed until it could be received by Frances Bergen and son Christopher Bergen in 1979.
So there you have it. 
The creator and star of the the most popular radio show of the day was there to help the union and missed out on the celebration to say thanks years later. 
Thank you Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy when my union needed you - You guys "Answered the Call".
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Today is Visual Tuesday

Visual Tuesday...or VT Day.
In honor of this occasion, rather than write a blog, today I have decided to celebrate  by presenting an art film.

Editors note: due to a technical difficulty, disputed content and lack of interest, the film has been removed from this post.

Synopsis:  This piece is  an new work called "Wisdom for Today" by Anonymous. This film is an unapologetic homage to advertising, product placement and the capitalistic commercial branding of Art. It tells the tale of a writer's work being abused by voice over talent and poor directing. He struggles with notion of images over words. Is a picture worth a thousand words?  Which will hold the publics attention more... the writers words or the producers images subjectively chosen to fit between commercials.
While the concept of "Wisdom for Today" assumes we will understand it as metaphor for the environment of creativity, the delivery lands with a thump. One look at the "desk" and we can not believe that the environment was anything but staged. The office and the computer screen are much to cluttered to represent a place where real word smithing can be done. It makes the audience wonder how anyone could write in the state of confusion the film represents.
Not even a pandering sound track and Asian influences on the production design can save this other wise modest attempt. Although it is categorized as a comedy it does not seem to be funny in the laughter sense of the word.
This film has not yet been rated and parental supervision is recommended.  And of course there is no wagering or betting allowed based on the outcome.
As  you were,
Jay

Monday, September 16, 2013

How You doin'?

It has been said before but it still remains true that the question, "How you doin'? has a whole other meaning in the limits of Los Angeles County.  It is a signal to give "the one sentence" of your resum√©. Typical conversation in said boundries:
"How you doin'?" 
"I just wrapped an episode of (fill in this blank with an impressive show/movie/ or series title - avoid saying Duck Dynasty-it has no cashe in LA.) with (in this blank say name of the star  in said series, movie or show even if you had no scenes with them nor ever met them on set)

Or if it has not been your year:
"How you doin'?" 
"My (pilot, screenplay, novel, career) is in turn around.  My (agent, lawyer, producer, network executive, business manager or ex-wife) screwed me."
The point is: In the Motion Picture & Television business "How you doin'?" is never a question about your health.

So when you go to the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital for a physical and the doctor asks,
"How you doin'?" ... An (actor, ventriloquist, writer) has a career flashback before the thought of health comes to mind. 
It is the way we have been trained here in Hollywood. Everyone you meet could be a possible acting job, so you want to get some credits out there quickly.  Just something we do like piggy back parking at the Hollywood bowl.  
Once there was an actress, whom will remain nameless, said, "How you doin'?"  to a fellow actor on the street.  The actor responded with "I'm doing a one man show.." 
To which the actress replied, "Is there a part in it for me?" 
And they do not make it easy to stop thinking about your career at the MPTF Hospital.  You check in at the Jack Skirball Center. You walk down the Jack Oakie hallway and turn at the Natilie Sheaffer wing. You get on the Lou Wasserman elevator and go to the Cary Grant waiting room. (look them up - they were all famous actors and producers once) 
In the waiting room  you are surrounded by black and white photos of celebrities and movie stars in their prime. There is a loop video on the television of Ronald Reagan as governor of the state of California flanked by 60's movie stars cutting the ribbon of the Skirballl Hospital more than forty years before.  It dawns on me that everyone in the pictures on the walls and video on the screen is dead. 
So.. Here I was just waiting... waiting to get my picture on the wall?
 I began to meditate on my career. The doctor was running late and I must have dosed for a while. Out of a dead sleep I hear someone say, "Jay" 
I jump awake and blurt out ,"Beavers and Ducks" as I stand.  An old man is standing and walks to the nurse. She says, "Jay?" The man says "Yes". She begins to escort him out of the room. I am trying to figure out if I am still dreaming and why I said...Beavers and ducks. 
The nurse says, "Jay Johnson?"  The old man is irritated at her and says "Yes... uh no.. my name is not Johnson."  I say to her "that is my name." She confirms this by verifying my birthdate.  The old man shoots me a look.  He thinks I have jumped ahead of him in line, but the room was empty when I arrived. He must have come in when I was asleep.  He is upset with me but he doesn't know why so he sits back down.  
I don a beautiful piece of wardrobe call an examination "robe"and sit on the table as instructed. The doctor enters, fires up a laptop and starts asking me health questions. I get prodded and stuck, measured and weighed.  There is a pause in the procedure and I hear a question I have already answered. The doctor catches the mistake and apologizes.  Says I am the 8th physical of the day. 
I say. "Wow you're busy." 
The doctor says, "Very busy... you're lucky I don't try to take a Pap smear." Ha Ha Ha Ha... 
It was a doctor joke that didn't seem so funny to me.  The exam was over rather quickly but I passed out when they took blood so it might have just seemed short to me.  
Before I left the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital, I went back to the Cary Grant waiting room and googled every celebrity who's picture was on the wall. There were a couple of questions I needed answered.  1) How did they die and  B) who was their doctor.

As you were,
Jay

Sunday, September 15, 2013

UnSeen Influence..

My friend Christine had this video link on her FaceBook page and it totally captivates me. Thank you so much CR for the new mind toy. It is inspirational...

Before you click on the link to watch the video, I have a statement that is relative to the message of this experiment. If you are like me you probably won't read the article you will just watch it.
The reason these random beats sync up is because they are on a base that is free floating. These metronomes create their own rhythm out of the chaos of the universe by eventually working together.
Draw your own conclusions and have a great Sunday.



The Singularization  of the Universe.

As you were,
Jay

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Radio Theatre of the Imagination

This blog is still closed for poetic license review, by the order of the LGEC-UPWOL -  Literary Guidelines and Ethics Committee for unedited pretend writers on line. Until a new license is obtained I thought you might enjoy this:

I have been interviewed by some of the greatest, Larry King to Johnny Carson.  I always feel best about that interview when the host makes me feel comfortable.  This is one of those interviews.  It was just published on the Ventriloquist Weekly podcast with host Matt Bailey. (Click on the link to eavesdrop on our conversation.)

As you were,
Jay

Friday, September 13, 2013

Luck be a Lady

Today is Friday 13th.  Don't cross the path of a crack in the sidewalk or step on a black cat. Don't open a black umbrella in the house or throw your hat on the bed.  And for God's sake if you get one of those emails that says... "share this with 12 friends or you will have bad luck..." by all means share.
The reason that Friday13th is considered unlucky is because of the King of France in the 16th Century.
It was Friday, October 13th when the King sent his troupes to round up and arrest the Knights Templar.  The King was threatened by the Knights wealth, power and influence.  The raid only netted a few of the Templars and none of the gold they were supposed to possess.  Conspiracy theorist believe they were tipped off about the raid and the hierarchy fled with the treasure before the Kings men showed up.  Most people haven't even heard of the Knights Templar and don't even know that Friday 13th is considered bad luck because of them.  Templars and Kings fade from memory but a good superstition is evergreen.
So should it be an unlucky omen?  The Knights got away, went underground and are believed to have formed an even more secrete society that still controls world politics today in some form.  That would seem to be a pretty lucky day for them.
In modern times, if Friday, 13th became the starting point for Dan Brown to speculate on the Opus Dei subculture of the Knights Templar in his books the DiVincci Code and Angels and Demons.  Since both books have become best sellers and were made into feature films, I would say Friday 13th was a very lucky day for Mr. Brown.
Jamie Lee Curtis became a star from her performances in several sequels to the movie Friday the 13th.
One would think that she might be celebrating today. Not so unlucky for her.
In broader terms Friday 13th has become a marketing tool for the studios.  Since Friday is a good day of the week to open a movie, and Friday 13th is a date that sticks in our universal consciousness, many films will debut on a Friday 13th.  If that date is anywhere near a logical release date they will gage their marketing to coincide.  So the 13th would seem to be a day of potential rather than a day of disaster for the film industry.
Shakespeare said it best when he said, "Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so."  That would seem to be true when we think of a certain day as unlucky. According to Wikipedia "Every year has at least 1 and at most 3 Fridays the 13th, with 688 occurrences during each 400-year Gregorian cycle." So the odds on something unusual happening to you on a Friday 13th is a mathematical certainty. The odds on that experience being considered lucky or unlucky is 50/50.  So... if you are a person who sees a glass half full you will tend to believe that today is a lucky day.  If you are person who sees your life as a paper cup blown by the wind, you will tend to believe today is unlucky. 
Today is just another day.  An arbitrary number assigned to the calendar for this week day. And it is just that, a number.  Nothing has power over your day today but you.  Make it the best you can.
As for me... I'm not leaving the house unless I hear that the King of France is sending thugs over to arrest me. The odds on that happening are smaller than the odds that Friday 13th will be unlucky. I will however be carrying that lucky coin in my pocket, why risk it.
As you were,
Jay  



Thursday, September 12, 2013

What are we Talking about...?

I have heard it said that a common thinker talks about people,  that's called "gossip".  An elevated thinker talks about events, that's called "discussion".  The great thinkers talk about ideas, that's called "intelligence".
This does not mean that a common thinker is less intelligent than a great thinker, it is just a matter of what subject he chooses to voice.  Once again it is individual choice not genes, degrees or IQ.
Here is the way it appears to me.  Gossip is just a matter of telling tales about others, mostly things that make a judgement for or against their actions.  Discussions are two ways of looking at some event that took place. There is still an element of judgment to that way of thinking.  Intelligence talks about ideas that can change or elevate the human mind and condition. It is not a judgment of what was, just an attempt to find a better way.
This is not a political blog but what is the level of our conversations right now about Syria?  There is plenty of conversation about "what to do" by media personalities.  They range between "gossip" and
"discussion."
Some want to talk about the evil dictator of Syria.  Some have compared him to Hitler, although I find that metaphor way over used, it is being expressed.  A lot of the media conversation wants to simply judge him as evil and destroy his power.  That is gossip.
Other pundits talk on and on about the events taking place, the armed resistance, the use of force and what group is fighting which group. If you listen carefully this supposed "red line" on the use of chemical weapons doesn't make much sense.  It appears to be a technical issue on the method of killing, not killing in general. In fact many more people (including children) have been killed with conventional weapons during this conflict than for the use of chemical weapons.  Some think a strong military action is a good plan, others think it is not.  Same event, different judgments about what it means. That is "discussion".
What I don't hear too much is "Intelligent" talk. I don't mean what our spies know or think tank facts about the complicated relationships of the world. I don't hear people talking about ideas that could raise the human mind and human condition.  Where are the ideas that would make the world a better place not just in Syria but everywhere for everyone. Syria is only the next conflict that occupies our attention. Solving Syria is not the answer, that  is short term thinking.  What can we do to make the entire world a better place in the long run.  Try to float that idea to your peers and it is met with gossip and discussion.
People are just more comfortable with a quick action of force to temporarily solve a problem rather finding ways of ending gossip and discussion to find an intelligent solution.  Intelligence is inclusive and involves long term thinking, gossip and discussion are exclusive, judgmental and very short term thinking.
I have no intellectual solutions to offer but I know they are out there. The only way we can find them is to elevate the discourse of what we are talking about to the level of "ideas" not "infantry".
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11 Remembered...

Reprints from the past:

Those of us who did live past this day in 2001 we will never forget those who didn't.  They were all of us.  There were no blogs, no tweets, no texts, no smart phones connected to social media back then,  but it was seared into my consciousness nonetheless. It was seven years before I thought I could write about it here.

Written on: 
Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. No one of this generation will forget where they were when they heard the news about a plane hitting the World Trade Center that morning. Most of us were watching CNN by the time the second plane hit. I was in Boston, which immediately became part of the crime scene.

I was performing for an Insurance company. A week earlier they called and asked if I could move my performance/presentation to Tuesday morning instead of Monday afternoon. They had a scheduling problem and that would help. I had no problem with coming in and leaving a day later. I didn't think much about it until after the events of 9/11. My manager at the time just switched my flights around and adjusted everything by 24 hours. That change in schedule saved my life.

My traveling MO is to catch the first nonstop home to Los Angeles the morning after my performance. In most major cities American Airlines is my carrier of choice. I am a two and and a half million mile American Airlines AAvantage member and in 2001 had Executive Platinum status. It was of no help when all air travel stopped for a week after the towers fell.

Until the company delayed my performance by 24 hours I was booked on the first non stop home after my Monday afternoon show. I was booked in seat 4E non stop from Boston to Los Angeles, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, American Airlines #11. I remember at the time thinking that flight #11 on the 11th of the month seemed lucky. That plane hit the north Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 am. Because the show date changed I wasn't on that flight, I was waiting to go on stage.

Even with that graphic and life changing example, I sometimes forget that everything happens for a reason. One small decision is sometimes the one that changes your life. Only with perspective do we understand that it as either good or bad, and ultimately even good and bad are human judgments.

It would seem natural to thank God for saving my life, but doesn't that make him responsible for the 3000 souls he didn't save that day? There were people on flight #11 much more "deserving" to live than me, or at the least equally deserving. They prayed for protection and deliverance that morning.

I would have been sitting on the plane next to David Angel who was the very talented writer/creator of the television show "Frazier" had my show date remained as contracted. He was deserving to have another day in his life, but he rode the plane into the tower. Who did God love more, me or him? It is a stupid question.

That event does not define me. I do not count the days since I was saved. I have not used it as a testimony in Church. I don't think I was given a celestial "do over". I rarely even remember it unless prompted by some event. All I know is I am here to write briefly about it and David Angel is not. I wrestle with the name Angel trying to make it some sort of metaphor. It is as fruitless as thinking flight #11 on the 11th was lucky. It was what it was. Those who have moved on are not looking back, but here's to all of us who are left behind to try and figure it out.

We will never quite be as we were,
Jay

Friday, September 11, 2009


Sept. 11

I guess 9/11 emotions trump most any others. As the years go by I always feel blessed when this anniversary comes around again.

I've written in the blog about it before but I was booked on American Flight 11 that morning in 2001. Due to a last minute change of my show schedule I wasn't traveling when the flight hit the tower.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Not Forgotten

I got this wonderful comment on my blog yesterday.
Jay, I just wanted to say 'thank you'. On 9/11, and for many days after, you and I were both stranded at the Hartford Airport hotel. Evacuated by M-16 wielding National Guardsmen and taken by van to another hotel and then back again to Hartford. We saw each other each day, talked while we ate at the bar, walked around to try and ease the monotony, spoke to people about their circumstances and tried to figure out ways to get 'home'. Or, in your case, to a gig in Utah, if I remember correctly. It was comforting to have a 'familiar' face during those difficult days. You were so humble and friendly. It made the 3000 mile separation from my family a bit more bearable. I'm always proud to say 'I was stranded during 9/11 with Jay Johnson'. 
 This brought it all back to memory like a movie re-run - that 9/11 week at the Hartford Airport Hotel. The airport was closed and there were several flight crews for different airlines stranded with all of us. I remember this young lady very well. She had small kids at home. Her husband expected her to be gone only a day or two. She was even attending the same conference that I was performing for. Her husband was dealing with the kids. She and I were dealing with how the world had just changed. It is perhaps a bonding moment when armed National Guardsmen escorted us from the hotel. This was the closest airport to Boston Logan/departure point of the hijacked planes. There was a rumor on the news of the hijackers using Hartford as a staging area for other strikes. They evacuated us by van to a downtown hotel, searched all the rooms and moved all the parked cars away from the terminal before they would let us come back. A day later.

Jay

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CLOSED FOR REPAIRS

Once a year pretend writers have to re-apply for their poetic license. The process involves evaluation of past posts published on this blog. The sampling of posts will be scored in three categories; appropriateness, artistic voice and attempted humor. Each category has a possible score of 1.0 for a total of 3.0. Humor is scored as a ratio of those who laughed divided by those offended. Bloggists  and pretend writers must receive a score of 1.5 or 50% to be granted a new poetic license. Posts to be evaluated will be chosen at random. Therefore this blog will be closed for the duration of that literary evaluation.  "The world is a stage and I need to go study my part." 

Coming soon:  Ventriloquist Performance Tips -
Practicing in front of a mirror....
By
Jay Johnson

Monday, September 09, 2013

“Too weird to live, too rare to die!” *

When our friends invited us to visit them at their home in Aspen, Colorado, Paul Kreppel, Murphy Cross, Sandi and I decided to mount a road trip and call their bluff.  When you've created, produced, mounted and filmed a Tony Award winning Broadway show, a 26 hour round trip cooped up in a car together is easy, and every bit as exciting as standing together on the Radio City Music Hall stage receiving that Tony from Eddie Izzard. 
The View from living room
Even after all that history together it's amazing what new things you can discover about your friends while traveling cross country.  For example, Paul Kreppel's multitasking ability.  Paul can read emails, respond to texts, film iPhone video, post the video to a his Vine account, select and stream blue tooth music from his iTunes, navigate the twisting cliff side roads of Zion National Park and scare the shit out of his acrophobic friend, at the same time, while driving my car. At one point he was so thrilled by the beauty of Zion I had to remind him to keep his eye on the road.  Unfortunately, the only way I could get his attention was to text the request from the back seat.  

But with the same angel guidance that led us to Broadway we eventually arrive safely at our friends "hotel and nature preserve" in Aspen. Our host had Murphy and Sandi choose which wing of the house we would occupy by flipping a coin.  Sandi won the toss and chose the Blue room suite with the sitting room, two bathrooms and the door that opened onto the meadow. Murphy chose the green room two floors above us with the incredible view of the mountain and steam shower for herself and Paul. (Note to young people going into show business: choose to become a film and television director). 
I love great stories and I love to laugh so for the next three days all we did was laugh at great stories while basking in the the beauty of the Aspen covered Rockies.  To know our Aspen friends is to love them, perfect hosts, talented artists and incredible raconteurs. We delivered the first screener DVD of the "Two And Only" Film for his collection. Giving him that DVD was the equivalent of handing Mozart some sheet music and saying, "Here is a little ditty I wrote, Wolfgang." 
Although we might have been able to hide in the recesses of the Chateau for several weeks before being discovered, we eventually had to leave to make room for Russians who were due to arrive soon. 
On the drive back we decided to go as far as we could before stopping for the night.  Las Vegas seemed to be a good place, for several reasons. As we saw Vegas on the horizon a voice inside my head repeated the phrase, "We can't stop here, this is bat country!” ― * Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Besides everyone was still laughing from the oxygen depravation of the Aspen altitude so we decided to drive on. 
As we sped past the Vegas exit a giant billboard flashed a photo of Jack Jones on the Marquee. "Jack Jones" screamed Paul who's turn it was to drive, "I love Jack Jones." He stopped texting long enough to make a phone call... to Jack Jones. "We were just passing by on Interstate 15 and saw your picture."
"Well turn around and come to my show... I go on in 20 minutes." Said Jack over the speaker phone. 
Once again I hear the voice of Hunter Thompson in my mind, "Beware of enthusiasm and of love, both are temporary and quick to sway."Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Fortunately the girls refused to participate because of wardrobe issues.
By midnight we were home and sleeping in our own beds.
This morning I can not get my mind around the idea that yesterday we woke up in Aspen and had coffee with our friends while inspecting Black Bear scat deposited too close to the the passenger side of my car. 
might be convinced it was a dream if not for the incredible pictures I found on my iPhone. 
Great friends.... does life get any better than that?  Thank you Aspenites for a most spectacular visit. We could not love you guys more. Sandi and Murphy... you are both arch angels in my life. Paul, put down the God Damn iPhone. 
As you were,
Jay


Saturday, September 07, 2013

Mr. Science... because I know more than you....

If you are old as me you will remember that Don Herbert had a television show called, "Ask Mr. Wizard". It was my favorite show growing up. Don Herbert was a teacher come scientist who was able to create an electric motor out of a couple of forks and a spoon, or a fire extinguisher out of things you find in the kitchen.  He inspired me to become a home laboratory scientist when I was young.  However, not endowed with the same expertise nor materials as Mr. Wizard my experiments were not so successful. 
I remember  my mother was baffled by the half cooked egg she attempted to crack for my Father's breakfast one morning.  My sister  confessed that it was my attempt to hatch a chick from the egg by heating it in a frying pan. After 10 minutes in the frying pan and no chick hatching I placed the egg back in the carton.  Ten minutes seemed to be a reasonable time to make a chicken to my grade school consciousness.  
Okay, so I was not destined to become a scientist like my hero Mr. Wizard. However, I am still fascinated by the wonders of science. This brings me to this latest wonder.
Our covert hosts live at an altitude of over 8000 feet.  Our hostess was explaining the procedure to make single cups of coffee in the capsule machine.  It required a step that is not needed at sea level. 
Before inserting the capsule into the machine a hole must be punched in the top with a straightened paper clip.  
At this altitude the internal pressure of the sealed capsule causes it to "puff". If the pressure is not released before the machine pokes a hole in the top for the water, the pressure will send coffee grounds into the line and clog it up.  No where in the operating instructions does it mention that altitude might be an issue. My friend Linda said she discovered it by trial and error after exchanging three machines that didn't work.
There is another experiment you can try the next time you are on an airplane. Drink the water from one of those plastic bottles while you are in the air and seal it back up tight.  Don't let the flight attendant take it away before the plane lands.  You will have fun watching the plastic bottle implode from the pressure as the plane gets lower to the ground, it usually happens at the same time your ears pop.  
Thank you Mr. Wizard.
As you were,
Jay 

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Covert Operation

In agreement with our host (name withheld), and his lovely wife (censored) there will be no blogging about this experience here in (town and state redacted). Enjoy a visual representation of the trip for this Friday's post. Have a great weekend... I certainly will here in (not allowed to say)
As you were,
Jay

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Ventriloquism Tip of the Day

Most ventriloquist will watch other ventriloquists to learn the art.  Certainly watching artists in any disciple will help elevate your own performance. But think outside the box.  Here is an exercise to try.
Watch some of the great comedy teams work.  There are not many around today, but there have been some great teams in the past.  YouTube is full of their performances.
Abbot and Costello
Laurel and Hardy
Burns and Allen
Rowan and Martin
Martin and Lewis

The Smothers Brothers
Mack and Jamie (more contemporary)
There are many more who are not so famous as to know their name.  What is important to notice, as a student of ventriloquism, is the interaction of the two characters.  You will notice that the comic does not stare into space when the straight man is talking, neither is the straight man "zombied" out when the comic is delivering a line.  It is a team and they are both performing the entire time, not just when they are speaking.
What I see in most amateur vents is not a team but alternate people talking. The vent stares intently at the puppet concentrating on nothing but his control when the puppet is talking, and the puppet becomes lifeless when the vent is speaking. 
Remember ventriloquism is the illusion of two characters interacting together... not one personality at a time.  Figure out how to react physically to what your puppet is saying. It means you have to listen to what is being said and react like you are hearing it for the first time.  
Watch how actors in a movie react physically when they are not talking.  They don't just stare at the other person. They are always alive, thinking.. at least the great actors are. The rule in film acting is "think it". The camera is a microscope and it will catch the subtle non-verbal communications of those thoughts. If you are thinking the right thoughts for the scene, the right actions will follow. Doing some action without the proper though process on film looks totally wrong.  Even if you are not speaking you are thinking and on stage... thinking is living.
In a vent act the audience is reading the emotion of the comedy from the vents reaction.  For the same reasons a puppet character has to react physically to what the vent is saying. 
I didn't say it was easy. It is a totally un-natural activity. You are performing action and reaction to a line at the same moment. And for puppet reactions, you may have to "invent" and practice ways that communicate a puppet's thoughts and feelings. It is difficult for a puppet since it does not have the subtle range of facial movements as a human. 
Don't hide behind your puppet.  You are a team and you both have to "be there" in the moment at the same time. 
As you were,


Jay

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Re-Run Relative-Review Release

Since WE* are on the road today documenting a journey that is of more than ordinary significance, I re-print the release of a great review I received from my sister-in-Lust, Donna Marie Asbury*... and I am not sure exactly what I did to deserve this accolade... but I will take beautiful words from beautiful and talented ladies  every chance I can.   In fact I am not opposed to re-running those words here on the blog even though it was a FaceBook transaction.


As you were,
Jay

           *The three and only plus one.
           * Nightly breaking records, working on Broadway in the record breaking Chicago.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Books.... still relevant?

Have things changed that much since 1940?  In most every way yes, except it would seem that the movie business is either stagnate  or moving backwards.  In 1939 there was a big news story about the search to find the perfect actress to play Scarlett O'Hara in the movie of "Gone With the Wind". To get a news story out of the casting process today seems to be an "old school" studio system trick.  But here we are 2013 and even without the steam roller organization of powerful movie studios, the big story is the announcement of the actor and actress who have been cast in the movie of  best selling book, "50 Shades of Grey".  
Since I didn't read the book, this news is only interesting from an historical perspective to me.  Being dyslexic I rarely read for pleasure, and being a macho hombre I probably would not pick "50 Shade of Grey" to read either way.  Although I am told that this book transcends the normal pleasures of reading (wink wink).  With that added "interest" I will definitely see the movie. 
As I contemplate this show biz "news" it points to, not the power of movies, but the power of books. In every case from Gone with the Wind to Harry Potter, to Dragon Tattoo, it is the power of the book that drives this interest. I see this as a real contradiction to these modern times.  In this picture/video culture when every restaurant and bar has at least one television screen, and everyone is smart phoned equipped to the max, and written communication consists of a emoticons, you would think that books would lose some of their power.  This announcement today would prove the opposite.  
King writer it would seem.  And one of the quickest ways to become a millionaire even in these Silicon Valley days, is to write a best seller. J K Rawlins and E L James were both British house wives who rocketed to international fame with their books.  Of course the competition for attention for any single book is astronomical, that is perhaps why the great stories rise to the top. Interesting to me is the fact that J K Rawlins and E L James both chose to disguise their gender as writers by using their initials instead of first names.  You would think that gender bias toward writers would be a thing of the past.
At a dinner/birthday party last night our hostess said I should write a book. "Cash in on your writing." she said. It was a huge compliment since she is a writer herself.   Nothing would be more exciting, but my short attention span might get in the way of completing a book. I just write what is on my mind.  That changes day to day. I'm not sure I could focus enough for the long form.
That is not to say I haven't thought about it seriously. I've started a book on Ventriloquism about 100 times.  Perhaps if I gathered all those pages together it would be a book. Unfortunately it would be an entire book of opening chapters.  In this competition for attention in a world of distractions perhaps that would be perfect.  
If that ever happens it will be announced here, and probably this semi-daily blog will have to be shelved during the process.  
Even though this week may not be the most prolific week for blogs due to another activity,  it is not because I am finishing that vent book.  I will however be writing about the  stories from this weeks "activity".  Stay tuned..
As you were,
Jay

Monday, September 02, 2013

Twenty Feet From Stardom

If you get a chance to see the movie, "Twenty Feet from Stardom" run don't walk.  It is a heartfelt documentary on the art and artistry of "backup singers".  It showcases the back bone of the music industry, the singers who make the "headliner" look and sound good.  A few made their way to the center spotlight to become headliners of their own.  And others with equal talent, backing and opportunities were not able to sustain a solo career. This is NOT a spoiler alert,  after you see the music industry from one backup singers eyes you will be very glad that Phil Specter is in jail. 

There seems to be no reason why some make it and some don't, some backup singers try for a solo career and others are happiest when they are in the supportive role. Although that phenomenon is discussed with heavy weight music stars from "The Boss" to Mick Jagger and Sting, no one can explain why some singers don't make the transition.
I attended the movie with two of my friends who were backup singers in their early careers. It was an emotional and enlightening film for them.  It is as much about the inner workings of show biz careers as an insight into the music industry. The struggles we all face when we fall in love with the stage produce the same fickle results with any art or craft one pursues and not just singing.
The saddest part of the movie, for me, was a statement by one of the current top music producers that there is now a line item in any recording budget for "tuning".  Digitally changing the recorded pitch to the proper note.  Before this digital ability, a singer had to actually sing on pitch and in key.  It becomes a strange statement on success and popularity... why do some singers become famous with digital tuning while other singers who actually can sing never become famous.
With social media and the Internet everyone will become famous for 10 minutes... I know that Andy Worhol said 15 minutes but that was back in the 60's when the attention span was longer.  I think the fact that talent is no longer part of the equation to celebrity upsets me. I come from a place where, hard work, commitment to an art, practice and more practice makes one successful in any venture.  That connection seems to have been severed by quick access to a fickle audience.  Social media sensations are gone and forgotten quickly as new sensations are "shared" all over the network. 
Go see the film before it goes away.  We may never see the likes of these lady singers again as real backup singers are replaced with the automatically tuned voice of the drummers' girlfriend. 
As you were,
Jay

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Duh..!

I jump at the chance to go to the Hollywood Bowl with friends, especially if we can snag a box. As luck would have it our friend Monica was singing in a tribute to her dad Henry Mancini last night and she was able get a couple of boxes for us. It was sold out, at 18 thousand or so. And it was a great evening.
Now for those who do not know the bowl, a box seat is a small cubical for four people with a little table to dine on with either waiter service or, as most people do, a picnic brought from home.
The program was a tribute to Henry Mancini and Blake Edwards, good friends and collaborators on many many films. Monica sang the "days of wine and roses" and Mrs. Blake Edwards, Julie Andrews, narrated with the back stories she personally knew about the two honorees. The 88 piece orchestra was conducted by John Williams.
As we made our way through grounds to get to our box there were lots of vendors but instead of the usual tour tee shirts for sale, they were selling light up toy swords. I would have thought this merchandise was meant more for a younger crowd than would come to honor Henry Mancini and Blake Edwards but they seemed to enjoy brisk sales.
The Tribute was the first act, and the second act was the music of John Williams films. Toward the end of this section it all came clear to me. In that moment I grabbed my video to document my revelation.  .
 I was there to see Julie and Monica and pay tribute to two men I actually had met and worked with, But ...of course John Williams wrote the theme music to Star Wars.  A Crowd of 18 thousand people turned into kids waving light sabers in the air.  I looked at Sandi who wondered  as I had about the light up toys for sale when we walked in... we both said... "Well.. Duh... of course" 
As you were,
Jay