Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Artist and the Vent

 "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only", Is the story of my connection to Art Sieving, ventriloquist, artist, mentor and creator of my first vent figure "SQUEAKY". But Art is not the only person who has created puppets for me.
Kirk Thatcher
Long John LaFeat
Created by Kirk Thatcher
My act consists of puppets made by various artists, puppeteers and craftsman.  I believe each puppet character is as unique as the artists who created it. Recently I have been thinking about that relationship between ventriloquists and puppet maker. Like my connection to Art Sieving, I have a cosmic relationship with each one of those artists. For every "body" in my stage show there is an artist's saga to go with them. Here is one.

I was introduced to Kirk Thatcher by Brian Wright, a mutual artist friend. Kirk was still in high school, and I hired him to draw storyboards for a show I was pitching.  Artistically and creatively Kirk was three decades ahead of me even then.  Kirk was a wonderkin who could paint, draw, sculpt and animate just about anything his other worldly mind could conceive. He became my "go to guy" when I had some outrageous idea that could be visualized by Kirk's talents. He eventually would create three distinctive puppet characters for me.
The first was Log Chainey, a seven foot wooden monster and deranged psychopathic killer. Log Chainey was star of the Bubonic Players annual Halloween show presented at The Comedy and Magic Club. (I am looking for the pictures of Log Chainey and will publish them when I do.) To explain the illusion, Log Chainey is a body switch puppet that looks like a 7 foot tree monster in hospital scrubs and lab coat dragging me around stage like a rag doll.  The tree monster hates ventriloquists because they do wood jokes and breaks out of an asylum for the criminally insane each Halloween to terrorize me and the audience.
My second Thatcher creation was also constructed for a Bubonic Players Halloween Show, Long John LaFeat. Originally Long John was part of a beheading effect on stage with a very frightening guillotine. Long John was resurrected as a cast member of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" on Broadway. Although the execution is imagined in "The Two and Only" for the Bubonic show we actually did it. Kirk played the "Torso" of Long John for this performance and became an honorary member of the Bubonic players.  I have always thought Long John bears a striking resemblance to his creator.
Lastly Kirk created Ruben "Hick" Hickory, who is again a very large vent puppet. Hick was featured in an NBC special called "Harry Anderson's Sideshow" as an obnoxious rube sitting next to me in the bleachers of the mythical sideshow. As executive producer and co-writer of that show Hick became mine at the end of the production. 

I have been fortunate to work with a lot of wonderful artists in my life and career. Kirk has gone on to become a producer/writer of wonderful projects some with the Henson group. I am continually amazed at how his talents have not just grown as he grew up, but have excelled in an exponential way.
I asked Kirk if I could publish this and he was gracious enough to let me.
Thanks Kirk for your talents and your friendship. A puppet maker and the ventriloquist will always have a bond that is unlike any other friendship.
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Compelling or Comical?

I get tired of the "News". In fact I think the concept of a "news cast" like I grew up with has vanished.
It used to be events of the day would be gathered, researched and ultimately reported on the 6:00 news cast. The first thirty minutes was devoted to stories of local interest and then at 6:30 the local station would network to the National News, which was also 30 minutes long. 
No more. 24 hour news cycles and instant availability to video all over the world makes it a voyeuristic "peeping Tom" experience to poorly researched, over editorialized transmissions.  I just get tired of having current events manipulated as a bate and switch for prescription drug commercials.   
This is why I prefer to watch programs on the Discovery or History Channel.  I used to call the History Channel the "Hitler station" because there were so many stories of WWII, but those programs have now moved to the Military Channel.
Now the History Channel is full of Ancient Alien stories. I have to admit that the evidence is compelling to consider that ancient astronauts might have landed on Earth and been mis-interpreted by humans as gods or deities.  There are cave drawings that seem to depict strange creatures in the crude art.  And in fact the Aztec people thought that Coronado was an alien god when he arrive in South America.
So, given that an artist draws what he sees and had no reference for things that were out of his scope of knowledge, it would be easy to confuse an airplane with a bird.  A train was the iron horse to native Americans.  The idea that crude drawings of humans depicted on stone walls with strange animal heads could just be the interpretation of ancient artists fascinates me. Case in point.
The Hindu God Ganesha is a human creature with an elephants head.  Here is another artists drawing of that deity. 
Of course the godly image and myth has been refined, stylized and symbolized through the ages.  And the original drawings made with crude tools could not provide a lot of details from the original observer.

I wondered if an astronaut could be confused with this Hindu god.  I looked up several images of astronauts on line and found a couple that were interesting.  I drew my interpretation of what I saw and came up with my drawing on the right. I had modern pen and modern paper to work with while ancients had rock and stone, so my detail is more specific. But there could be an argument that they are similar.

I don't know. No one does. It isn't news.  It isn't a story on the latest global crisis to run in fear of. But I would rather spend my time wondering about this than what Justin Beiber is drinking or what Richard Sherman is saying. And most importantly, not once while I was creating my drawing did someone try to sell me a prescription drug to improve my life. 
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's the Problem?

Philosopher/Teacher Jack Bolen once said, "Good is sometimes the enemy of the better." There can be nothing more true in my experience. I have a tendency to stop paddling when I am in calm water.  But when I'm not paddling, even in calm water, there is a current pushing me in its direction. Sometimes that is not the direction I want to go. When I am not working to make a good life better, I can unconsciously drift out of that good life.
When things are going well why "fix it when it ain't broke?" Why change it when it still works. It's okay, meets my needs it's good. When it stops working then l change it.
Fixing things only when they break is crisis management. Life is a continuum not a series of stops and starts. The nature of life is to keep moving forward. Like a bicycle, when it stops is falls over.  It is the momentum itself that keeps it moving. How ever you visualize it, pedaling a bike or paddling a canoe there is a constant force of effort needing to be continually delivered to life so we can keep moving toward the better. The manifestation of a problem is the quickest way to get motivated to find the "Better". So settling for good and trying to coast in that experience is "enemy of the better". 
It would seem then that problems are creativity's best friend. Most inventions come out of an attempt to solve a problem. Our creativity is hard wired to create better, building toward the best. Why would we ever settle for good when there is better and ultimately the Best.
The Best is good striving for better but even the best is not a flat path. Once I settle into what I think is the best it becomes the good and more energy needs to be spent on finding better again. 
Another metaphor would be an airplane. When an airplane reaches its altitude it can cut back on the power it needs to reach that height but the pilot does not turn off the engines. The pilot merely cuts back a little on the throttle.  If there are no problems and the engines are stopped things seem to be okay for a while.  The plane continues to glide but slowly looses altitude and if no more power is applied it will eventually hit the ground.  The higher the altitude when the engines stop the longer before you hit the ground but it is just a matter of time if no other power is applied. Crisis management,  "not fixing it till it is broken", would be like waiting till the plane is about to crash before the pilot turns the engines back on.  It is obvious that if a pilot wants to maintain a continuous altitude there must be energy that continues to push the plane forward.
So if there is a problem in my life right now it is just an opportunity to look at the map again and get back on track.  If there isn't a problem that is causing issues right now, it does not mean that I can turn off the engine and coast.  I need to keep working at that good to make it better.
At least that is the way I see it. Learned Philosopher/Teachers might believe other wise.
As you were,
Jay

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sea Sickness...

Over the weekend there was a report of several Royal Caribbean ships experiencing an outbreak of sickness.  I have performed  many times on all the ships that were "infected".  Until now Royal Caribbean has not had those problems like other cruise lines. 
Today on FaceBook there was a post from a comic friend who just disembarked one of the "infected" ships.  He complimented the Cruise Director and Activities staff for all the things they did during what was a very difficult sail. 
I can't imagine what it must have been like with more than 300 people throwing up and experiencing the "runs"aboard the confined space of a ship.  The cruise lines pride themselves on the size of their ships, but no matter how big a ship is, when it is out at sea, it becomes a very small place.
Placing myself in the shoes of the Cruise Director during this event I came up with some great activities.  
Here is a suggested calendar of events.

8:oo am.. Deck 4 Promenade.  The morning jog will be replaced with a sprint to the toilet. Participants are urged to wear loose clothing.


10:00 am..  Schooner Lounge.  Drink special.. the "Heave HO". 


11:00 am..  Lunch in the Windjammer Buffet.  The chef has prepared several dishes that are just as good on the way up as they were on the way down.


1:00 pm ..  Pool Deck.  Projectile vomiting contest.  Winner will receive a free visit to the ships Medical deck. 


1:30 pm..  Pool Deck aft.  "How pale are you?" Staff from the Spa will evaluate the color of your face and what it means.  Is that green pallor on your mug better than a total lack of color? Find out there. 


2:00 - 4:00 pm..  Relaxation time.  On deck 5 scuba gear will be issued to all those who want to breath uninfected air for a while.  As a special note, all the hot tubs have been filled with Purell.  No need for a towel it will evaporate soon after you get out. 


5:00 pm..  Movie Time in the Movie Theatre deck 3.  Today a double feature. "Out Break" starring Dustin Hoffman and "Contagion" starring Gweneth Paltro. 


7:00.. Dinner in the Main Dining Room - Tonight's menu:  Oysters on the Half Shell and boiled asparagus with Clam Chowder. 


9:00 and 11:45..  Showtime in the Orpheum Theatre.  Sitting will be open and remember to keep the aisle's and pathways to deck 7 toilets completely clear. 

As you were,
Jay

Friday, January 24, 2014

What If...

I am taking a continuing education class on how humans make decisions. Since we all make decisions you would think we humans would be better at it.  I made a decision to attend the class on decisions so I could learn how to make better decisions; it's easy to get lost in circular thinking. Finding a way to make better decisions moving  forward in our lives is the goal of this class.  After all if everyone made the right decision life would be different and arguably better. As I have been listening, reading and thinking about this process of deciding, I have become aware of some things. 
One, I spend a lot of wasted time in "decision preparation". That is the time spent imagining what I will decide dependent on future events.  Events that have not happened, and most of the time will not happen, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what I will decide if they do. The odds are at least even that none of the things I have planned on will happen, therefore the time anticipating what decision will come out of the event is wasted. I could have put that mental energy to better use in hindsight.
Second, how is it that computers "decide" things? Do computers make better decisions than humans or are they just faster.  My money is on "faster" and although computers are given credit for complex conclusions, it is all based on millions of tiny immediate decisions.
Since the computer brain is a binary system it can only choose between a 1 and a 0. The entire decision making process of a computer can be distilled to one line of code.  It is called the  "If Then/ Else Loop". Every programmer learns this line of code before anything else is accomplished.  The code basically tells the computer to look at the information or the situation presented.  "If" it corresponds to the condition the computer program is looking for, the computer makes a decision to "Then" proceed with some action.  "If" the condition is something "Else" a different action is taken.  "If then ... else" is one simple decision that leads to more simple decisions and eventually to a complex conclusion.
The computer does not spend its time wondering what the condition or situation will be before it is presented. When presented with a condition or situation the computer never says, "I've seen that before and it turned out bad so this time I will not make that mistake again." There is no preconceived action.  The computer only takes action when the decision is made. 
Only humans make decisions with a "What if loop"  "What if that happens? Then I will do this."  It is a waste of time since "What if" is future fantasy. A computer waits until it comes to a cross road (decision) and goes one direction or the other.  It never anticipates options, it goes with the option based on the immediate information.  A computer does not solve a problem by asking the other bits and bites what they would do. The computer never asks for advice or direction, it only taps its memory for information when it is needed to solve the first "if".
The difference between the human brain and the computer brain is this:  The computer does not know that it has all the information it needs to solve a problem until the problem is posed as a decision. But it does. A computer can be connected to the Internet and have billions of facts to use the second it needs it, but it doesn't know that until the moment. 
Unlike a computer, the human brain is conscious of itself, and its connection to the universe.  We are aware that we can know and rely on that awareness with greater confidence.  We seem to forget that the interface of the entire Internet is human.  The computer did not spontaneously generate, humans made the decision to create it. As each human adds a little bit of programing to the web it becomes the foundation for more and more. Ultimately the entire wealth of the Internet is just the gathering of human knowledge.
Here is my goal.  With the consciousness of knowing that I am connected to a vast universe of ideas, I will start to make decisions like a computer.  I'll wait for the crossroad and continue forward with a "If Then" decision and stop worrying before hand in a "What if" exercise.
As you were,
Jay



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things you can't do on an iPAD

I really like to draw on my iPAD. It's like having a drafting table and a studio in an 8x10 tablet and it's clean. I like the ability to do airbrushing without a compressor and gas mask.  There are times when that high tech expression is very satisfying.  But...  
Sometimes you can only express yourself with analog tools and methods. You have to go back to basics. Controlling how ink stains paper. The simplicity of pen and ink belies the complications of the detail. Black and white, yen and yang light and darkness, positive and negative, good and bad, the medium is the metaphor for our digital binary world. 

Pilot Rolling Ball Precise V7 fine point black ink pen
on
 8x10 Strathmore Series 400 Drawing paper. 
Created 1/21/14
Skull and Bottle

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#Richard Sherman

I'm not a Twitter person.  I have an account and this blog feeds to it, and once in a while I can construct a complete thought in 140 characters, but I am generally a long form writer. 
This week our friend went into the hospital to have surgery and her son set up a twitter account to keep all her friends up to the moment on what was happening. I thought that was a great idea, she has a lot of friends.  I started checking Twitter every hour or so to keep up with the progress of the operation.  
I don't know when the pound sign became a "hash tag" and I am not really sure what code that sends to the universe of Twitter.  I do know that "trending topics" are represented by this # symbol so I am not totally 19th Century when it comes to tweets.
Richard Sherman- Composer
So this week under the trending topics section there was this: #Richard Sherman. I became very excited.
Richard Sherman is a friend. He is the last surviving member of the Sherman Brothers. Richard and his brother Robert wrote music for Walt Disney. They wrote the music for, among other things: Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Slipper and the Rose, and the song played more times than any other song in history "It's a Small World".  With all the great music Richard and Robert wrote they can be forgiven for "It's a Small World".  But I digress...
Richard and Robert also wrote the theme song to "Harry Anderson's SideShow" a special I co-wrote and co-produced with Mr. Anderson for NBC.  That is how I got to know the Sherman Brothers. 
After hearing Richard tell stories about his career at the Disney Studio it was very interesting to see some of those stories acted out on the big screen in the movie "Saving Mr. Banks". There it was, an actor playing the role of a much younger version of the man I know.  Some how I felt like my Kevin Bacon number to that film was one relative to that story.
And so there it was #Richard Sherman as a trending topic on Twitter this week. Since it is Academy Award season I was excited to think that my friend was being discussed on the web.  There was a moment when I wanted to call him and tell him he was a social media hit since I am pretty sure Richard is not a tweeter. After reading a few of the tweets it became clear that my excitement was misguided.
Of course they were talking about the Seattle Sea-Hack, "Dick"  who made the game ending play to take his team to the SuperBowl. The tweets were not so much about the incredible play he made but they were lambasting his "rant".
I actually watched it live when it happened on Sunday but pretty much dismissed it.  I was rooting for the 49ers and not interested in the adrenaline fueled steroid driven self-aggrandizing  post game interview of the spoiler. 
Only because of the confusion with my friend Richard Sherman do I have and opinion about Richard Sherman - the other. 
Richard Sherman- the other
What do we expect? We ask a football player to entertain us by hitting, slamming, tackling and brawling over possession an oblong ball. We watch some of them taken off the field on carts like the wounded gladiators where they are to be patched up and put back into game. Most of these mutant tough guys have a muscular neck bigger than my waist. Then in a post game interview we want them to have the wit of Mark Twain and the intelligence of Albert Einstein. We are shocked to hear an ego filled smack talking incoherent dumb-bell speak. #what did you expect?
Long after this next SuperBowl is just the recap on NFL Films and the next generation of hooligans take to the field, Richard Sherman - the other will be little remembered. But even then someone will be humming a tune that Richard Sherman the composer wrote. 
Here is to the real Richard Sherman, my modest, witty friend and talented artist who deserves his own "hash tag" not for a rant, but for the beautiful music he has written.
As you were,
Jay

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

SOAP

Will anyone ever know the truth about 70's television? What was television like before HBO and Cable? Was Billy Crystal's character on SOAP the first openly gay television sitcom character?  Was it economics or the religious right that finally ended SOAP? How many times did the producers recast the part of Mary Campbell?  What is the connection between SOAP, Broadway and the Tony Award? Who really killed Peter Campbell? How did a show like SOAP get on the air in the first place? CONFUSED... you won't be after reading this:
The Unauthorized Inside story of the sitcom that broke all the rules.... SOAP  by A.S. Berman *
A new book with a new perspective on the controversy of a decade.

This book catalogues all the SOAP episodes complete with plot synopsis, laugh lines, air dates, cast list and credits. It also tells the story of how SOAP came to be in the words of the people who were there. But most importantly the book reminds us of the what was happening  off camera in the world of the late 70's.
No show is created in a vacuum; every attempt at art is the product of its time.  To understand how SOAP broke the rules and pushed the envelope, one must also understand the envelope. The connection of SOAP scripts and air dates to news headlines of the day, shows art and life imitating each other.
This book is a candid look at television show business without make up.  It says unauthorized on the cover and it is most certainly not a fan magazine treatment of the SOAP story, nor is it a tabloid hatchet job. It doesn't pull punches but there are no round house sucker punches either. It is the story of people just trying to do their job never realizing that 40 years later someone would be asking questions about it.  
Perhaps it took forty years and an independent outsider like A.S. Berman to realistically look at the tempest that surrounded SOAP as the 1970's came to an end.  It is a familiar tale of how things change but remain the same as attitudes and mor├ęs are the last to update themselves. 
Thanks Aaron Berman. For me this was like finding a high school year book hidden away for almost half a century.  With the perspective of looking back I got to experience those years all over again with the assurance that everything would turn out all right a half century later. 
Buy the book... this one is mine.
As you were,
Jay

*I can't read this paragraph without hearing the voice of Rod Roddy, the announcer on SOAP.  He was a Dallas radio personality when I was going to college at the University of North Texas. I would listen to him on KLIF while commuting to school. 
Years later Rod and I met on the set of SOAP and became friends.  Before he went on to be the voice of "The Price is Right" he was my Ed McMahan on a show called "So You Think You Got Troubles". The last time I saw Rod we did the SOAPesque tag to an episode of "That 70's Show".  He was recreating those iconic voice overs and I was once again Chuck and Bob. For a moment we were thirty years younger but much wiser. Rod passed away soon after. I wish he could have stayed around to read this book.   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Guilty Until Proven

Right now as I sit in my jacuzzi tub writing this blog it seems yesterday was a lifetime ago. My chest cold is breaking up and I have more voice than I did yesterday. In hinesight as irritating as it was and as stressfull as it seemed, here I am safe and warm at home.  Like most things in life I spent a lot of wasted time being upset over something that never happens. 
I woke up yesterday thinking of Shari Lewis as a "charlie horse" in my leg sent me shooting out of bed. I couldn't tell if I was just exhausted from the shows the day before or sick.  Turned out I was both. Coughing and foggy headed,  it wasn't until I tried to order breakfast that I realized I had almost no voice.  I was facing a long day of travel after a long day of performances, proceeded by a difficult load in and set up of "The Two and Only" at a theatre just outside Boston. 
To "help" the theatre I rode with John to the airport so they only had  to pay for one limo ride not two. It meant sitting at the airport three hours more than necessary, but I knew there would be a bar with the football games on TV somewhere at the terminal. 
Finally it is time to go through security; I proceed to my gate so I can finally go home. I notice on my boarding pass I have been pre-screened by the TSA.  Because I agreed to share certain travel information with the TSA I am what they call a "trusted flier".  Although you can always be randomly chosen to go through a complete check, I am usually allowed to go through security with my shoes and jacket on and do not have to take my computer out of its case.  Like the old days before 9/11.  In most airports the Pre screening is an entirely different line of machines.  
I get in the only security line that leads to my gate and ask if this is where they do the pre-screening. The checker is a little irritated at the question. He fumbles for a laminated 5x7 card under his podium and hands it to me. "Give this to the agent". On the card it says that I am a trusted flier and I don't have to take off my shoes etc.. etc.  But wait there's more.
As my carry on case goes through the xray, I walk through the metal detector to have the TSA agent sharply tell me to remove my shoes. I hold up my card like one would a cross to a vampire, she hisses and looks away as I walk through. 
Of course my carry-on, the one with "three heads" inside is stopped by the xray gorilla. This is Boston, I get it. They have seen their share of terrorism, and I would expect they would want to check carefully.  It happens most of the time I travel. So like most times, I go into my travel routine. 
When the x-ray gorilla looks up to see who is waiting on that case, I catch his eye. "Puppets" I say to him.  He responds by calling over another officer to look at the screen.  They whisper, and point at the screen tracing outlines on the monitor. They look over at me.  "Puppets, gentlemen, Puppets...I am a ventriloquist." Of course as I hear the raspy morning voice of Tom Waits come out of my mouth, I wonder if anyone would believe that I make a living with that sound.  Then I say something I might not have said given another take at this scene.  I said, "I'm on the trusted flier list if that makes a difference." Obviously it did....but not in a positive way. 
Monkey number 2 walks over to me and says "Hold out your hands palms up."  I comply to the request and realize it is perfect body language for "What the Fuck?" 
He proceeds to swab my palms with the wand detector and jam the swab into a machine that beeps and says, "You know that pre-screening only applies to your person not your luggage. We are going to have to do some more tests on that case." He hauls it out of the side door of the x-ray machine with the same care a wrecking ball might have for an old building.  
None of this is unfamiliar to me, I must go through it 35% of the time I travel.  I start my speech about how they are fagile and vauable insturments as he bangs the case on the metal surface of the chemical inspection machine. He begins to open the case lid side down which will cause the puppets to fall out. I say, "It opens the other side up."  He virtually slaps my hands away when I instinctively try to help him turn it right side up.
"Do not touch that case till I have cleared it. Do you understand?" Okay... now I sense a little attitude. 
He opens the case and jams his hands down the side.  "There are some delicated controls on these puppets, I would appreciate it if you would be carefull." There is no response as he pulls the black cloth off Bob's face. TImes past this would be the end of it.  Like the guy said recently in a similar encounter with the TSA "What are you screening for, Puppets?" 
Instead, the agent grabs the wand and scrapes it across Bob's face.  Since he has been newly painted I cringe at that sight. 
He sticks the swab into the machine and I hear the sound of a dot matix printer on crack. A 6 inch strip of rolled paper is spit out the front of the machine.  
This isn't the first time that has happened.  Once in Miami the TSA agent swabbed the handel of my case and the machine did the same thing. Back then the guy looked at the read out and said, "Do you have a heart condition or take blood pressure medicine" I said no and asked why. It sounded like the set up to a joke,  "Do you have a heart condition? No... good cause what I am about to tell you would kill you if you did." Seems that nitrates in heart medicene will set off the machine even if very small amounts are detected.  That TSA agent said the amount was not enough to worry with and he said that if a sky cap touched that handel just after he had taken a pill then it would be enough to show up.  He let me go on my way a little more informed than before.
So having been in this situation before I was not concerned. That case and that face had not been touched by anyone but me. I was not hiding anything and just wondered what they had detected. When the lady supervisor was called over I said, "What did it hit on?" She got very third grade teacher on me, "It could have been many things. Things that are a threat and things that are not a threat, we are going make that determination." It meant they would have to take everything out of that case and have a look. I said once again that it was delicate stuff and please be careful.  I felt I was already a terrorist in their eyes and a consideration of gentleness was not in the cards. 
They took all the guys and out ran them through the x-ray individually and while they were starring like zombies to the sky I was searched and frisk.  I had to take off my shoes, my belt, my sweater. They took a swab of my foot. 
After huddling around the x-ray machine for a few minutes the guy comes up and says, "Can't let you on the plane with this case."  When I asked why they wouldn't tell me. The options were to go back to the counter and check the case, leave the case at security where it would be disposed of or... not fly today.  Obvioulsy none of the options were acceptable to me.  When I explained once again how these insturments might be damaged if they were checked they had no other solution that would allow me to continue my day with the possiblity of seeing that case again.  I played my final card.  
"Look I know that even blood pressure medicene will set off that machine.  That puppet was recently painted and you probably got a hit on something in the oil based paint.  It is really a large enough amount that could cause any danger?"
There is another huddle.  They pass the read out to each other, glance at Bob looking very much like the decapatated head that he was.  Then the original guy came back and tossed one of the black towels into my case. I said, "If I can't fly today, at lease let me pack the case back up myself." He walked away.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do I just wanted out of that area and away from the Guest-stop-O TSA. Once I finished packing up the supervisor came up and said, "You're free to fly with your "intruments" today." There was a tinge of irony in the word.  After all that...just a dismissive, be on your way. I got to the gate and FaceBooked a status that suggested that the Boston TSA could kiss my ass.  I doubt they will, but they sure inspected my ass enough. 
I might have yelled and screamed if my voice was 100%.  I doubt it would have ended as positively as it did had I made a scene.  
So TSA I get it.  You are there for my protection.  I know it is a boring and menial job, but I am glad you are there on the front line.  But...The fact is if you swab a Rembrant oil painting with that wand of yours it would probably make the chemical trace machine go crazy.  I suspect that the varnish on the surface of a violin would do the same thing. But...would you consider even for a moment that these things would be a threat to anyone's safety.  We are all humans here... you can make a common sense decision and perhaps that is what you finally did.  But I feel like if I had not spoken out, I would have been turned away. 
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Looking Back..looking forward

So ordered by the Pasadena Rose Parade committee, it is a stunningly beautiful day in Southern California.  It makes one believe that this year will be the best and brightest of all.  If tarot card predictions are correct it will be.
We spent the evening at a small dinner party.  My sister gave me a new set of tarot cards for Christmas and I gave readings from the new deck to the friends who were interested.  I can't say that I am a psychic or even an average mit reader but the nature of the tarot cards always gives way to some startling revelations.  The future looks very bright for all who were there last night. 
I always say that these "ventriloquial" card readings are just snap shots of how the universe looks at that moment.  Obviously the picture changes to the same degree that the information has been revealed.  The entire picture can change with the next decision or intention one makes.  Which is to say that predictions of the future do not determine the path of anyone's life. It is just the opposite. Our path determines our life.  We all have the power to find in life what we seek and what we need.  We are visualizing our own destiny and have the ability to shape it. 
If we think our life is like a paper cup in the wind being blown toward an unseen destination we will experience that journey. But if we think our life is like a sailboat using the wind to take us in the direction we wish to go the we are the captain of our experience. 
2014 is just another road sign in this life adventure. Every minute of everyday we can plot our own course and take the cruise we want to take. Like the sailboat that must tack, and ziz zag in a continuously changing wind, the journey will not always be the shortest distance nor always a straight line to our goal.  However, if the course corrections are made with the destination and goal always in mind, the boat will arrive at the safe harbor and bring the bounty of that journey to a new place.  
In 365 days we will look back on 2014 and try to understand.  If we make the necessary course adjustments moment by moment we will find ourselves where we want to be as we see the sign up ahead that saya 2015.  Make this year the one you want.
As you were,
Jay