Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Normal or Change?

Brought to you by "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" on pay-per-view starting 
Saturday August 9th.
DVD  available December 16th. 
A large portion of the revenue from this show goes to "The Home for Wooden Children"  Help support wooden children everywhere by purchasing and enjoying this show. 

For the last couple of days I have been contemplating the idea of Normal.  I got  a new computer and worked all weekend to restore the back ups and files from the old one to the new one. No matter how good your backup or the cloud or Time Machine there are still plenty of loose ends to match up. So after 90 plus hours of getting things back the way they were, this morning I turned on a computer that looks exactly like my old one, it was back to Normal.
The fact is nothing is really the same. Normal only exists in my perception, everything else has changed. It is my comfort level that has become normalized. Normal is actually getting comfortable with change.
Change is the nature of the Universe.
Change is the fundamental process of the Universe. There is nothing in a physical world that is not in a continual state of change. Some of the changes are slow enough that we don't see them, we perceive it as normal.  Other things change so quickly that we get over the change just as fast and believe things are back to normal. 
The cells in my body reproduce themselves every 21 days.  In reality I am not the same physical unit from month to month. Although I think I look "normal" I can see some photographs from my younger days and realize I am not the same looking person. So what is normal? Just the comfort of familiarity. 
Mackintosh computers ushered in the era of making computers normal.  When the window based operating system of the 1984 Mac was introduced only a few realized that the computer was now imitating normality while completely changing everything.  
One of the members of the Xerox group that developed the icon based operating system said that the genius of the system was the trash can. Before this, to delete a file on a computer you had to execute a line of code that was complicated and if any single character in the line of code was wrong it would not execute the delete. The idea that now one could virtually drag a file into the icon of a trash can to execute the command. was pure genius according to that engineer. It is normal to throw something you don't want into a trash can, that is normal.  It makes us comfortable. After 30 odd years of that conditioning the virtual act of doing this on every computer has become normal.  
Slowly we accept change as "normal" after we have had time to morn the passing of the same. The seniors who did not participate in the computer revolution find the entire process to be intimidating. Clicking, dragging, copying and rebooting are just part of the "modern normal" for todays generation, but an older generation had not grown up with the digital metaphor. They find the process confusing and intimidating.  
To embrace change is the only way to really stay alive and vital.  Old people are sometimes described as being "set in their ways".  It only means that they want to do the same things they have always done in the same way in the same time, this is their normal.  But the world does not stay the same and soon their normal gets harder and harder to accomplish.  It makes them more and more isolated which means they want to hang on to the way it always was which limits their opportunities, isolating them even more.  
If one embraces change there will never be a time of stagnation. If one embraces change there will be more opportunity for growth. But mostly if one comes to see change as the normal, they will be in harmony with the entire universe. The earth is spinning constantly as it goes around the sun which is part of a galaxy that is expanding and moving very quickly to the next place.  We are not the same cellular animals that we were 21 days before. How can we cling to our normal in direct conflict with the nature of everything? 
The answer for me is holding tightly to the idea of Now. If one can come to the idea that being in the now is Normal, the past is gone and the future will be some now to come. With the idea that now is my normal, and actually is the only reality I can comprehend then I am comfortable.  And after all the idea of normal is just the idea of being comfortable.
As you were,

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I am a Mac guy. Always have been. The iMac that I have had for 7 years and two hard drives finally decided to retire.  The thrill of upgrading  to a new computer is the yen to the yang of reintalling all the files.  With Mac's past the process of installing a new system, and re-installing all the old apps and files was frustrating, very time consuming and humbling. There is a standing rule at the Johnson house to leave the area when I am "installing" a new computer.  My time honored process is to curse and scream at a blank screen, followed by throwing non breakable objects and walking away to calm down.  That process would be repeated several times until the job was finished. But that was the old days when the "fast Mac was 512k".
Today there is a wonderful thing called the Time Machine. Having to reinstall two hard drives on the old machine I thought my cursing, screaming, throwing, days were past.  Time Machine operations are simply a matter of signing on to my network and clicking the reinstall back up.  24 hours later you have your stuff back. That is certainly the way the day started yesterday.
At the point when the dialogue screen said that the estimated time was 93 hours to completion I realized there would be no work on that computer for a couple of days. Having found a herd of dust bunnies  behind the old Mac it was cleaning time. That prompted me to clean and dust everything in the office.
I took everything from the counter and desk top and put it on  the floor.  I sorted it and threw out anything that I could not recognize as important. I took breaks but was at it for about six hours. It was very satisfying when the desk and counter to the office was neat and clean.  In fact it was now so well organized the tangle of electrical cords under the desk looked exceptionally un tidy.  So I decided to "stow up the lines" as they say on a sail boat. 
It was going well, looking good, but there was a cord so tangled around the rest that the only way to free it was to unplug it. I made sure it was not the computer, that would have been a stupid mistake. In fact this was an outlet on the other side of the room from the new computer.  I was particulary proud of the way the cord looked once I had finished it.  At this point my Son walked into the office, he had been doing some work on line and he said, "Did the network go down?" Oops.
I had unplugged the wireless router. The router went down, the network went down and of course the 6 hours of Time Machine back up went down.  
With the help of a very nice lady named Penny at Apple Support we had to erase the drive and reinstall the system which took three hours. 
So I started over this morning.  
Jay Johnson:The Two and Only on pay-per-view demand August 9th.  DVD release on December 16th.  By that time I might have a computer I can use again.
As you were,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just Like the Wizard of Oz

All of my attention is on August 9th when "Jay Johnson:The Two and Only" opens OnDemand pay-per-view.  It is a journey full of continuing wonder.  
There are so many people and so many things that have to come together to make a show like "The Two and Only" happen. It's about the journey more than the destination and not unlike Dorothy's adventures to OZ. Here is how the the characters line up in my story. 

Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel (The Tornado and the Ruby Slippers) more like guiding forces than mere human characters. Caught in their vortex I am whisk from the safety of Kansas and dropped in the middle of Times Square munchkin land. They are the motivating force (the Tornado) and the magic protection (Ruby slippers).  Their protection fostered a beautiful friendship as well as a working relationship that means more to me than any American Theater Wing trophy. You know how much you "forces of nature" mean to me, Paul and Murphy.  
Roger Gindi  (Glenda the good Witch) was the first "New York Theatrical Producer" to show us the yellow brick road to Oz. He got the team of investors and designers (Munchkins all) to accompany us as far as they could along the yellow brick road to the Atlantic Theatre and the Helen Hayes. Thank you, Roger, for being the first to believe. 
Broadway was like being in Munchkinland.  There were celebrations and awards from the locals but too soon it was time to get on the road.  Alone and wondering which way to go... I meet:
John Ivy (The Scarecrow). He has no idea how smart he is.  He can do anything including spinning gold from the straw which makes up his very being. Together we continued down the road.  John you are a blessing and an incredibly talented friend.  
In a dark part of the journey we meet Bryan Simon and Marge Engesser (collectively the Tin Man). They have a constitution of steel, a chest full of love and an axe to cut through the over growth of film production. Marge and Bryan, if you had not lovingly pushed and insisted on continuing the journey, we would still be wondering how  to get "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" to those who have not seen it.  Onward and upward, my friends.
Witches and evil apple trees try to keep us from moving forward. We are stopped from continuing, trying to pick up the apples that were thrown at us.  There are always last minute obstacles that seem to be make the path impossible to continue.  Just like Dorothy I was in need of one last bit of help to make it to Emerald City.
Cowardly Lion to the rescue. (Collectively they are Tom Ladshaw and Jeff Dunham). Just like the lion they are not aware of how courageous and important their contribution is in getting me to OZ. They are also the guys behind the curtain working in secret, because they want it that way. Tom, Jeff to both of you I say, Thank you. You are the Kings of the Forrest.
We arrive in Oz on August 9th.  I am hoping the citizens of Emerald city (YOU - the ones reading this) will "demand" to see the show and I will be able to make it back home. (read pay my mortgage)
August 9th for a couple of months on Demand, and December 16 for the DVD. 
Thank you to everyone who has taken me by the hand to walk the Yellow Bricks. I am truly blessed.
As you were,

Monday, July 21, 2014


Back to reality after visiting the realm of Ventriloquism at the 2014 Vent Convention.  It was great to see friends and fellow peers as well as meet some new ones.

Almost from the first moment I became a ventriloquist people were telling me it was a dying art.  From what I could see last weekend it is far from drawing its last breath, in fact there is a new generation of "voice tossers" that seem ready to carry the torch.

I gave a rather detailed lecture on the physiology of ventriloquism and the voice during the week. I ended it with part of a talk I give on Imagination.  I got a lot of nice compliments on the lecture and everyone seemed to agree they enjoyed the Imagination talk as much as the "how does it work" section.

I am an evangelist for the idea of Imagination. It seems to me that with all the advancements of technology we have forgotten the importance of imagination.  Apps on an iPhone seem to do the impossible, so you rarely see a kid without one.  But because we have access to the product of someone elses imagination does that exercise our own?  I don't think so. After all, the very app or toy that kids enjoy today was first created from someone's imagination. 

I grew up in a time when I could spend hours watching rain drops in a puddle.  Admittedly I did not have the extensive availability to toys that kids do today, but I was not impoverished.  I distinctly remember a time in Abernathy, Texas when, as a five year old, watching rain drops hit a puddle just outside my bedroom window one morning.  At the impact of a droplet,  the puddle seemed to rise from a level surface and expose a small explosion on the watery stage.  To me it looked like small members of a choir standing to deliver their musical contribution to an unheard song.  I could envision the refracted drop as a conical choir robe with the round head of a small singer rising up from the water's surface in random order to deliver a musical solo.  I can still remember that moment and these jumping choir members standing for their individual solos.

I am not saying we should go back to the Stone Age and make children play with rocks but we need to encourage them to use the greatest force on earth... Imagination.  Nothing has been done that was not imagined first.  

I am blessed from having a Mother who had  incredible imagination.  She did not know at the time she was not only preparing me for my ultimate career, but a life time of excitement and joy.

Albert Einstein said, "imagination is more important than knowledge".  Can't we teach that important ability along with math and science in our schools.  But it seems like the first thing that is cut from a school budget are programs for the arts. When will we acknowledge that Albert Einstein was right.

As you were,


Monday, July 07, 2014

One of my Favorite Scenes

Although Chuck and Bob were not dialogue heavy in this scene, it is still one of my favorite memories. I know it was submitted for Emmy Consideration. The producers choose individual scenes from the show to submit and this is the one they chose for that season. Although the show itself never won an Emmy several members of the cast did receive individual Emmys.
I remember clearly that the tag line was mine.  During a rehearsal I threw in a line as we were going out the door.  I yelled to the Bartender, "Bob will pick up the check".  The crew laughed.
The next day there were re-writes. This time at the end of the scene the Bartender comes up to us with the check.  Burt says, "He'll pay." Indicating Bob who is passed out on the table and we walk out.
Richard makes it funny but it was my line. I wrote it for me to say.
It doesn't matter now but at the time I felt really slighted by the producers. They never even acknowledged it was anything but their original line. If they weren't going to give the line to me, at least say "Good job, good line, way to go, may we give it to Burt" something... but I got no pat on the back of any kind.
In my one person show, "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" I tell some of the funnier stories from the SOAP days. How I got to work with Bob and what happened to SQUEAKY.  That show will be available on iNDemand starting August 1st.  Please continue to spread the word.
As you know a major part of the money from the sale of the DVD of this show goes to support the
Home For Wooden Children.  

As you were,

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Vegas Ventriloquism

A lot of people know who Jeff Dunham is, Terry Fator is also well known, but who is Jason Scavone?  By the tone of his article "Welcome to Puppet Land" in an on line publication called Vegas Seven, it is obvious he suffers from ventrilophobia!  Mr. Scavone believes that Las Vegas has "jumped the Shark" with double headliner Ventriloquist shows running at the same time in Las Vegas. To quote his review/opinion "America, what is your deal? Why do you have an insatiable lust for cheap puns delivered through 80 bucks worth of felt?"

 Really? In a town built on ketchie excess of everything from neon lights to artificial breasts, having two ventriloquists headline shows in town is too much?  Seems to me there are more than two magicians working the strip. There are also several "singers" headlining shows (doing mostly the same songs) and you can't throw a rock without hitting a Cirque du Soleil show.  In fact I think Vegas "jumped the shark" when the last Cirque show opened.  Now the entertainment venues in Vegas are choices between the same balancing and acrobatic acts with different costumes and music. 
 "Doris, what Vegas show do you want to see tonight? Do you want to see circus acts set to Beatles music or circus acts with weird music set in a swimming pool?" 

Sharing a position on the advisory board of Vent Haven Museum with both Terry and Jeff I may not be the most objective observer when it comes to ventriloquist shows. But, it seems that the art form itself provokes naysayers who continually question its entertainment value.  One critic of my show in New York wondered if ventriloquism belonged on Broadway. The American Theatre Wing thought it did and awarded my show the Tony® Award for "best special theatrical event" in 2007.  

What is it that this guy is worried about? 

To quote Mr. Scavone
"What we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends."

Two vents in town and it is  the beginning of a "puppetpocalypse"?  If 150 Elvis impersonators have not caused an Elvispocalypse what impact will two of the hardest working- best known Vents in the business have on the city? 

Here is his answer: 
"If one more guy turns up with a trunk full of dead-eyed characters, we’re getting the hell out of here....We’ll be in San Diego." 

Mr. Scavone,  I am willing to be that guy with the trunk if you will promise to really "get the hell out of" Las Vegas. I can be there in a few hours so start packing. But let me tell you something. The only entertainment San Diego offers is SeaWorld, an entire theme park of performing fish.  It is definitely a Whalepocalypse! 

To Terry and Jeff.  I remember when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were in town at the same time. Two Italian singers know for singing the same kind of songs. No one screamed "Wopocalypse" and they both did really well.  Best wishes to both of you. 
As you were,

What we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends. - See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpufWhat we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends. - See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpufWhat we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends. - See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpufWhat we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends. - See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpuf
America, what is your deal? Why do you have an insatiable lust for cheap puns delivered through 80 bucks worth of felt?

- See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpuf
What we’re really worried about is the Puppetpocalypse this portends. - See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpuf
America, what is your deal? Why do you have an insatiable lust for cheap puns delivered through 80 bucks worth of felt?

- See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpuf

- See more at: http://vegasseven.com/2014/07/01/jeff-dunham-terry-fator-welcome-to-puppetland/#sthash.eOxBu8Gw.dpuf