Friday, April 25, 2014

I'll be back soon.

Until that time comes...
As you were,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quickly before it Rains

I'm in Fiji for 24 hours waiting to catch a ride on a cruise ship to Hawaii. I lost a day and all contact with my world during the eleven hour flight. I think this is Friday but it should be Thursday. Finally I was able to connect with the internet (such as it is here) when I got to the hotel.  It was slow expensive and buggy, then completely went out for 8 hours when the rain came.  For those here on vacation it didn't seem to matter that they were off the grid. For me I was trying to straighten out my transportation to the ship from the hotel.  There seemed to be some problems with my ride and how long of a drive it is from the hotel to the dock.
In my years of travel the one thing that will go wrong when everything else is perfect is ground transportation.  Don't know why that is but it is definitely a rule for me. Once I am in the ship I can vegetate before I have to work AND I can walk to the theatre. But until I am in my cabin and looking back on Fiji there will be some anxiety. 
Because it is important to me, over the years I have developed a relationship with several of the drivers on various Caribbean islands.  Jamacia George is my favorite. Obviously a driver in Jamaica.   He has been driving for RCCL for 20 years or more. I am always glad to see his face at the airport or the dock. I know he will get me to my next destination. 
Rory in St. Martin is the other driver that is always there for you, also driving for RCCL more than a decade. He had a Cadillac stretch which created a lot of attention on the island. It might have been the only one on St. Martin.  The last time we met he had an Escalade, still a lot of attention but a different kind.  In addition to being a driver he is also a personal body guard for celebrities who visit St. Martin.  
He is cut like a Greek statue and extremely strong.  You never worry when Rory is your driver.
The internet is about to turn off unless I pay for another day so I will publish and move on to my career as a sailor.
Probably not much availability to publish when I get on the ship. Here is a parting shot.  A picture of my view from my Villa on the beach. It is a shame I only get to enjoy it for 24 hours.
As you were,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writers Block

I guess it happens.  Going to the mental well the last few days it seems the water table has dropped. My bucket comes up empty.  This fills me with anxiety because, whether we will admit it or not, every artist believes that the last idea he or she had could very well be their last. In a profession that is judged by your NEXT successful project, it is extremely depressing not to have one. 

It is part of the "people pleasing" phenomenon that seems to dominate actors and performers.  Perhaps it is also true with non-performing careers, although I wouldn't know. All generalities are untrue, even this one but, in the career of the arts no matter how much you are loved by those who actually know you,  it becomes more important that strangers love you as well.  It is a struggle to find your own benchmark and extol your own uniqueness rather than become the vanilla flavor that is universally liked.  The number of artists that have become modern icons but were dismissed by their own generation is an unusually large number. In a world where even Facebook values "likes" and "thumbs up" it becomes important to be known by the unknown masses rather than have the admiration of those who actually are your friends and family. Are people valuable only when they are known by the greatest number of strangers? Do we all fear being unknown?  I really don't understand the value of celebrity. Fame seems a really cheap trade for privacy. 

Fame is also a double edged sword.  The public will embrace the negative aspects of your career with the same relish as your successes.  Fame is fickle and it does not care if you are famous for being a hero or a villain. It is the deal you make with fame. 
My friend Ann says that the rule of writing blogs and posts is: never discuss your depression because no one cares.  I totally agree.  Why should any one care? We are all trying to keep our own spirits up in these odd times. Besides what is more depressing than to be around someone who is depressed? Depression is not accepted as a disease but just a condition,  and one should "get over it." I have never heard of a Facebook prayer request for someone who is experiencing debilitating depression. Yet, daily someone is appealing to their Facebook list to intervene on behalf of a sick or dying relative.  To spin the prayer wheel one must have a "medical" not a "mental" condition.  The last time it was okay to pray for cure of a mental condition was when the world believed it was caused by demon possession. 
In the words of Spaulding Gray... "I cannot write the lie that tells the truth." I just have to wait until I see the truth and write about that. 
Until that moment comes.
As you were,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Won't Beileve Your Eyes

My Friend John Hardman, master puppeteer, posted this YouTube on Facebook. It is absolutely wonderful.  The skills of a mime, a puppeteer, a magician and a juggler in one seamless performance. I love the simplicity of art and beauty of talent driven performances like this.
As you were,

Monday, April 14, 2014

That Magical Face...

My Trophy Jerry -
I got him in an Ohio Antique shop
while on tour with Sheilds and Yarnell
 I remember the exact moment I first saw that face. He sat in the corner of the front window at Nichols Toy store, eyes cocked toward me as I walked by. If you were in downtown Abernathy it would be impossible not to pass this window. The entire Abernathy, Texas metropolis downtown was only a block long. Nichols was the only toy store in Abernathy and it regularly displayed games, dolls and the newest toys in that window, but there was never a toy like this one before. There was no doubt in my mind this little guy was waiting for me. 
I did not grow up watching the Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show. Lubbock had two television stations when TV finally came to the panhandle of Texas.  One station was a CBS affiliate and the other was NBC. Paul's show was on ABC.
I knew Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney from guest appearances on the other networks. Paul was not the first ventriloquist I ever saw on television.  I have racked my brain trying to remember who was and I can not.  It was likely a vent on the Ed Sullivan Show. My family never ever missed The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night.
I knew exactly what to do with that puppet in the window and I couldn't even pronounce the word ventriloquist at that age. I remember begging my Mom to buy this puppet for me. The request was never taken seriously.  I visited my new friend almost every day. The owner of the toy store demonstrated how the string at the back of the neck opened the mouth but he wouldn't let me play with the doll unless I bought it. Eventually Nichols got tired of demonstrating the doll for me and I had to be satisfied with just looking at him. 
One day when I came to visit, Jerry was gone. In his place in the corner of the window was a little girl's coloring book.  The only Toy store in town had only one Jerry and someone bought him. It would seem that my relationship with my first ventriloquist figure had abruptly come to an end.
A few days later I was invited to the Birthday party for a kid from down the block, Billy Bob Drace. I was very shy as a kid and parties were very intimidating for me.  My Mom insisted that I go and attempt to fit in.  It came time to open the presents. The third present opened contained MY Jerry Mahoney puppet. The rest of the party is a blur. Although "playing with the toys Billy Bob got" was not on the list of party activities that day, I knew eventually I would be back at his house and get to actually touch this magic doll. That time came about a week later when I went over to Billy Bob's house. I had to pretend I was interested in his new board game; we even had to play a round.  But I kept my eye peeled for Jerry. 
Finally I spied him face down, slumped over a small football near the toy chest. I didn't recognize him at first because his green suite was gone and he only had one shoe on.  The muslin fabric of his unclothed body made him look like a ghost in long underwear. 
Judy's Jerry on the shelf.
Same model but not the same puppet.
The original was destroyed in a flood.
I held him up and reached for the string at the back of his neck to open his mouth. Before I could, the mouth gaped open and the chin fell half way out of his head.  The rubber band which held the mouth closed was already broken. As I stared at Jerry in the face... he would not look at me. 
It would be five or six years later before I saw that face again.  This time it was at my cousin Judy's house. He was fully dressed, in perfect condition and it was the more advanced version of Jerry... this one had an independent moving head not just a string at the back of the neck.  Details of that story are chronicled in the play, "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" (SOON to be available on DVD for a select few.) Needless to say it was the beginning of a 50 year relationship with these magic creations called vent puppets.
Thank you Paul Winchell for the gift of Jerry Mahoney.  His face still lifts my spirits and reminds me of a day when the future was the un- manifested dream of a five year old. 

As you were,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekly Left Overs

The Oscar "Blade Runner"  Pistorius trial continues with Oscar on the stand.  I love a good high profile trial... however, I'm not sure I would call this one good.  He admitts he shot his girlfriend. Says he was trying to protect her.  He shot four times through a closed door because he felt threatened by what he thought was an intruder hiding in the closed toilet.  What if it was an intruder. How would he know that the intruder didn't have his girlfriend inside the stall as a hostage.
Oscar never called her name to see where she was, he just shot blindly through a closed door.  
The way I learned it from cop shows is,  you take a position, aim and yell, "Come out with your hands up I have a gun."  I think he is going down for this one.  Are there prison issue prosthetics? They didn't allow Michael Milkin to wear his hair piece in jail.  

Flight MH370 is still missing. And it is still "Breaking News" on CNN.  Malasia now says it knew the plane had turned, and dropped to 4,000 or 5,000 feet on the day it went missing.  Information that should have been known minutes after it was declared over due in Bejing.  Why is it just now coming out , 33 days later.  Something is very fishy about this story, that is probably why it has been such a compulsion with CNN. Some are saying the plane might me resting on the sea floor like the Titanic. In reality the sea floor where they are searching is thousands of feet deeper than the ocean where the Titanic lies.  At this point in the ocean they say the pressure is like having the weight of a Cadillac Escapade pressing down on a space the size of your finger nail. The structure of a ship is not the same as an airplane.  There is no way any part of it is "intact". The fuselage of the 777 would be crushed to the diameter of a garden hose long before it rested on the ocean floor.  I say we are years away from having any more information than we do now. 

Hillary Clinton had a shoe thrown at her while she was on stage in Las Vegas.  I was amazed by her composure and dignity in a situation that is very scary.  I once had a person throw an ashtray at me while I was on stage.  It was in Tahoe not Las Vegas, not that the venue is the issue.  I may have come back with a joke, but I don't remember, it was extremely stressful.  I had a hard time getting back to my act and I was shaking when I got off stage.  I wanted to go after the guy in my anger but Casino security had already thrown him out of Ceasars. There is not way to explain how frightening it is to have a object fly out of a darkened audience toward your face.  

Larry Nelson posted a text exchange from a guy and a girl in a relationship. Here is how it went.

"Hey... where are you and what are you doing?"

"I'm home. Long day and I think that I am just going to turn in... Where are you?

"Standing in line behind you at the bar."

Recently my friend Michael said his young daughters had a great idea. It seems when the cordless phone at the house rang it was always an "Easter Egg Hunt" to find where it had been left.  His youngest said, "They should tie a string to the phone and attach it to the wall so we could always find it."

It is Friday.  Have a great weekend.

As you were,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Is this the right App for an Argument?

There are a few things that Facebook does really well. 
How else would I know how delicious your lunch looks,  if you didn't post a picture. 
How would I know which Wizard of Oz character I am or what my "Blues Name" would be or how cute your dog or cat is without Facebook.  
I love those old photos on Thursday, can't get enough of them.  And who can resist informative posts that end with... "Send this to 20 of your friends or you will get crotch rot in three days."  If this was Facebook I would now publish a picture of me with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. 
However, high on my gratitude list of "things I like most about Facebook", is posts from my friend, Ann Anderson.  She is a wonderful person, excellent writer, one of the first stage managers for my Tony Award winning show, but mostly Ann is very funny.  I usually laugh out loud at her posts.  I don't mean LOL... I mean an actual laugh. I miss Miss Ann and wish she was geographically closer. That is another thing I like about Facebook, physical geography doesn't matter, we can all meet in this media middle. 
But, Facebook is NOT good at a lot of other things. The most egregious is substantive discussion of politics, religion or any emotional subject. Recently I wrote in this blog about my confusion when I "Liked" a post about someone's Mother passing away. Facebook makes that awkward social interaction instantly possible for millions.
If you are looking for facts and truthful information... you are looking in the wrong direction on Facebook. Unfortunately this is not general knowledge for the average FB user.  Political evangelist think they can sway the opposition with a paragraph.  Religious fanatics think they can convert a sinner with a quote from the Bible.  Facebook users seem to easily confuse debate with conversation or discussion with comment. A comment on a Facebook post is neither discussion, debate nor conversation.  It is simply a comment. Most people can't write a complete sentence so, intent, voice and innuendo are rarely present in the average comment. The odds of being misinterpreted in a Facebook post or comment are exponential.
Children are taught: count to ten before you say something that will make you sorry. I think we should count to more than ten before placing words on the Internet.  Why can't we dial down the tone of the Facebook discourse and celebrate our differences?  Let's not use the Internet to proselytize for exclusions but encourage inclusions. Let's celebrate our different views.
I am so glad that there are differences in the world.  Everybody can love a different color of rose, or have a different favorite song. We learn from our differences. And we can all agree that we may sometimes disagree. But if we continue to disagree on everything... that conversation stays the same and never grows. It becomes an argument:

Is this the right room for an argument?

I told you once.

No you didn't.

Yes, I did.  

No you didn't

Yes, I most certainly....Oh I'm sorry.... is this the full half hour argument or just five minutes.

Five minutes...

That's 20 dollars... Thank you...
Now, let's get one thing straight, I did tell you.

No you didn't.

Yes I did

No you didn't.


Wait a minute.. I'm paying for this session and this not an argument

Yes it is.

No- it's not..An argument is not the 
automatic game of saying Yes/NO  Yes/No

Yes it is

No it's not.  

Thank you, Cleese, Idle, Chapman, Guiliam, Jones  and Palin.
As you were,

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

May I Help You?

Here is something I dislike about retail sales people,  even the ones who are not walking around watching your every move. I like helpful sales people when I need help, but lots of times I am just making up my mind.  I have shopped, looked around and now I am weighing my options.  I am trying to get all the details sorted out so that this purchase will serve my needs and requirements.  This is an internal process and it is not aided by a person who works for the store.
Cherry Blossom's at Balboa Lake Park. It has
nothing to do with this Blog.  
The sales person is not really on my side. They want to make the sale.  I get it. If their product meets my requirements then I will buy it. If not... I don't want to hear their pitch.  They will obviously know more about the product than me.  They have been trained to counter all the objections that a novice like myself would come up with, but they are not me and they are not buying... they are selling.  So, leave me the F alone until I ask a question. Answer that question and then bugger off.
But just lurking around is not the most annoying thing.  After you have made up your mind, consulted your budget, looked at all the possibilities, decided on a product and begin the process of buying... that's when it happens.  It starts with "do you want to purchase the extended warranty?"  
Selling warranties is a profit margin for the store and the salesperson. If they can get another fifty to a hundred dollars from you that is a good thing for them. The problem is, to convince a customer they need the extended warranty it is necessary to explain all the problems your brand new purchase may encounter. Once you have arrived at a decision they question your judgement at the moment of purchase.
Let me at least have the thrill of a new purchase for the trip home.  Don't rain on my parade by telling me all the things that can go wrong with my new toy the minute I start to buy it.  Wait for the new to wear off before you sabotage my momentary happiness. 
What if before you could leave the hospital with your new child, the hospital staff tried the same technique.  "Who you like to buy some term life insurance on this new baby? Babies are fragile and very expensive to fix.  Did you know that babies develop learning disabilities  within several months of birth?  I just think it would be a good way to protect your investment." 
Perhaps this is why Internet shopping is increasing in popularity.  It is so much easier to click "no" to a computer prompt than it is to say "no" to a sales person who has a financial interest in selling something to you.

There was one exception to the "May I help you." dance.  At OHS as I was walking around the store looking for Sandi, the sales guy said, "Can I help you find something?" I said, "Yes, I'm looking for my wife."
He immediately got on his radio and said, "Code 20 on aisle 10" - I laughed very hard. That is the way to keep my business.  I always come to back to where I had a good time and laughed.
As you were,

Friday, April 04, 2014

Time Capsule

I don't remember the date.  Mid 80's most likely. I remember the show, the studio where it was shot, the audience seats we sat in and the very dialogue I was having with Dick Van Dyke the moment this picture with me and Bob was taken.  It hangs on my "important wall" at home. Seems like it was taken yesterday.

On the other hand this picture was taken yesterday.  Last Sunday at the PDS luncheon to be exact.  It was a similar feeling for me if not total recognition on the part of Mr. Van Dyke, but I didn't have Bob with me and it has been three decades between photos.

Caught in profile over Dick VanDyke's left shoulder is  Joe Tremaine. If you dance... yes that is the legendary Joe Tremaine.
As you were,

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Rich get richer and the poor get ?

It was forty years ago.
Bumbling thieves broke into the Democratic headquarters in Washington, D.C. at a place called Watergate. The investigation unveiled a corrupt operation run from the highest office of government and resulted in the first ever resignation of a United States President.
The Roberts Supreme Court
During the investigation we learned that Richard Nixon kept a million dollars cash in a safe at the White house. It was money donated by an unknown  campaign contributor. He used the contributed cash for graft and payoff to destroy his opposition and hold on to his absolute power.
After this major abuse of elected power, the legislature passed bipartisan campaign contribution laws. They were written to keep this kind of campaign cash from ever being used again for corruption and cover up. The legislature passed laws limiting the amounts that corporations and individuals could contribute. These laws worked fine for 40 years during which time we elected Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, The Bushes, and Barack Obama.
But, in just the last four years all those campaign protection laws have been struck down, by the same  Supreme Court. First was the idea that corporations were not limited in the amount of money they could give, and just this Tuesday the Roberts court struck down the limits that an individual can contribute.  Politics is again on the market, for sale to the highest bidder. Start looking for a Nostradamus quatrain that predicts the United States presidential election in 2016 will be the most expensive in history .  Koch brothers are now free to spend as much money as want to influence elections, politicians and policy. In fact the Roberts court has sanctioned the Koch brothers corrupt behavior as constitutionally patriotic.
I have no idea how bad it will have to get before we address campaign finance issues again.  But you know it has to get worse than it was in the Nixon administration. With no regulations on the amount
of money a rich person can give a candidate soon 1% of the worlds wealth will control the members of Congress.
"Mr. Congressman the poor are starving and they have no bread to eat."
"Then let them eat cake."
As you were,

"SoMed" - Social Media for the REST of Us.

FaceBook, Twitter, InstaGram, YouTube, Text, Instant Text,  Me, Vine, Circle, LinkedIn, 
These social apps are all designed to do the same thing, let's just cut to the chase and get right to the point. In one way or another these forms of media are designed for grabbing attention, mainly self-aggrandizing attention. Look at me and what I am doing. People, no matter their age, are hard wired for attention. We live in a time when it is possible to catch the attention of the entire world instantly. This has never before happened in recorded history. And it has happened exponentially in the generation of those born in the 80's.  The idea of instant constant communication is difficult for an older generation not born with it to comprehend. There is a generation of latter day 60 somethings who still crave attention in the digital world, but all those "new smart phones are scary" and the apps take time to learn. Just a waste of time to some and,  time is not a thing 60 somethings like to waste. So here's the next big thing, social media for a generation that came of age in the 60's.  Like the Macintosh of 1984.. this is the app "for the rest of us."

(Small print alert. Make sure you read and agree to the terms of agreement by clicking on the button below)
Terms of Agreement - 
 Here is the fine print: You must agree to the fine print by clicking the accept button. In the absurd case that this is actually an idea that is being done, registered, or  retired  from some other inspiration or has the potential to actually generate interest and cash flow t he clicker agrees to the following.   If this IMNYourFace is your idea you won't sue me, and if it is my idea, you won't sue me. Okay.. quid pro quo.  If this idea results in massive amounts of money, I mean like Gates kind of cash then I will find everyone who thinks they have an interest in the development of this idea and give them what they deserve. Please click the button.  

For those of us back from clicking the  "I totally agree" button: Yes I do wonder why. Why is a question that keeps leading us closer to the Truth.  It is easy to come up with the How if  you know Why.  And that is WHY this App could be exactly what you need.

Social Media like Grandma used to have
is a constant slide show of the selfies and vintage pictures uploaded to a cloud-stream. Every picture the "digital-age challenged" grandparent or great uncle takes on their camera/phone is up loaded, edited for quality, set to music and beautifully streamed in an annotated slide show for other subscribers to see.
With IMNYourFace  anyone can subscribe to "Proud New Dad" or GrandBabe and see all the pictures they are taking of their kids and grand kids. You follow them and browse the pictures they are taking when you have the time.
When that new Granddad tries to show iPhone pictures of his granddaughter  around the bar you say,  "No thanks, I already saw them, IMNYourFace."
You have just saved yourself some time. Life immediately goes back to normal without time spent looking at baby pictures. I've heard it said before but I'll say it again - for older people time is what it's all about.
IMNYourFace the social media "For the REST of us."

Keep up with your friends without ever having to interact.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Eternal conflict

April Fools Day After...

The problem with a joke is you can't repeat it to the same audience. So I pretty much have to come up with a new April Fools blog gag. I've milked yesterday's for a couple years now.  Time to move on.
Got no real story today, just a bunch of random mind trash. I have already taken out the recycling.

I read for a guest role on a television show yesterday. It was for the part of a Ventriloquist, I odd they would consider me for that role.  The very first line in the script for a puppet named Micky is: "someone had a breakfast burrito before bedtime." I laughed out loud, an alliteration of four 'b' words in a row? They have no clue these twenty- something writers.

Edited for confusion. 

CNN interrupted the news last night with a breaking story.  The story? Rescuers are changing the search area for Flight MH 370. That is not news, nor is it a breaking story.  The breaking story is the airplanes and ships searching in the same area two days in a row.  

Why is it that my lovely dancer wife never has a computer issue when I am in the same room? As she yells across the house, she assumes that I can yell back an answer to the problem. How would I not know how to fix a problem explained in a loud voice, "The thing won't do when I try."

Local NBC news was promoting their newscast in a ten second ad between commercials.  Their exact words, "It's the Big One.... Details at 11."

I had a great time at the PDS luncheon last Sunday. Held in the same room at the Beverly Hilton where they do the Golden Globes, it is always a wonderful afternoon. Professional Dancers Society is a subset of the Actors Fund.  PDS raises money for members of the dance community who are down on their luck.  No one has more fun than dancers. Glad I married one.
As you were,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

My Last Blog...

I have been writing this blog for eight years. I have tried to keep a daily schedule of posts, which at times has been difficult for many reasons.  Not the least of which is, I have to censor myself. The freedom of self expression is an unfiltered one for me, and not always appreciated by those on the receiving side. 
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 of effort and proof of concept. I have become online friends with several regular readers of this blog.                                But flowers eventually fade and leaves fall as time marches on. 
Doctors at the New Beginnings Reality Center tell me that I must change the stress level of my life to truly complete treatment. That means no more writing.  SO.. 
 So in the voice of Paul Harvey..."this is Jay Johnson  .(waiting).......................................(still waiting).. (waiting)......... (Almost )..........Good Day.
  If you are looking for other blogs to read after we are gone, here is my suggestion list   
National Psychic Services
Esoteric Visuals for the Blind
It's April 1st.