Monday, March 31, 2014

Doc

Doc is the word written on the fronts of the black music stands on stage. It is the first time I have been to a performance at the Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of CSUN. It is a lovely theatre and I hope they continue to have great shows*.

(Advertisement) "Jay Johnson: the Two and Only"- Tony Award Winning Performance Piece would be a great show for that theatre. Hey Valley PAC make that call, "nobody beats our prices and we deliver"....

*I'm at the Valley Performing Arts Center with a group of long time friends watching our long time favorite trumpet player perform. Our group blends easily with the rest of the audience. We are all here to see Doc Severinsen and his Big Band.

If you are the kind of person who likes the tweeted version of life, here it is:
OMG Doc HAGN Friday IMHO  he wz  amazing. 
Tweeters can stop here and ignore the rest of the blog.  Thank you for sparing us a 144  characters of your digital life time. 

(Disclaimer:)
Before I continue let me provide full disclosure about my feelings for Doc Severinsen.   As far as I am concerned, there are only two kinds of people in this world, those who love Doc Severinsen's music and people you should not associate with. 
The fact that Doc Severinsen will forever be the musical face of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show is enough to give him Sainthood in my opinion. However, Doc is an extremely talented musician and also happens to be the Father of my friend Nancy. I am nonprejudicial when it comes to talent, I would say Doc is great even if I didn't adore his daughter.

*So here we are at the Valley Performing Arts Center watching Doc's show.  Doc has assembled a talented group of musicians. They perform the same Tonight Show arrangements, with the same instrumentation of Doc's NBC Band. These musicians are amazing. This fact is even more astounding because most of the members of this band weren't even born when Doc was on the Tonight Show. 
At 86 years old Doc is still the hippest guy in the room.  He wears orange leather pants a dark shirt and a light green and yellow paisley sequined jacket for the first act. If you think it odd to see an octogenarian bejeweled in such a way, you don't know Doc Severinsen.  Doc's outfit would have prompted Johnny Carson, upon his entrance, to pantomime some gesture acknowledging the eccentric nature of Doc's wardrobe. Watching Doc play and conduct the band is very familiar to me.  It takes me back to my days as a kid when performing on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was my dream...the dream had been to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, but they cancelled it before I got to take a shot.  So the Tonight Show was, for me, the Holy quest of show business.
I rarely missed a Johnny Carson Tonight Show and Doc was always the lead trumpet player and conductor of the Tonight Show Band. The Tonight Show was a comfortable companion  for me as I traveled around working. I watched The Tonight Show in many time zones on many hotel televisions around this country. I noticed that out of the local commercial breaks from the Tonight Show they would cut to a final note from the band and the audience would break into thunderous applause.  The camera would catch Johnny and the guests looking at the band clapping. Johnny would say something like, "How about that Band?" and the audience would clap again.  I knew something was going on in the studio that did not involve the Alpo Commercial I had just seen.  
Years later it was Nancy who got us tickets to actually watch a taping of the Tonight Show and  I understood what was happening while the Television world watches commercials.  Doc's Band would play the greatest music with the finest arrangements done by the best musicians in town for us in the studio audience, the people at home watched boring commercials. Doc's band caused an excitement in the studio that can't be explained.  I am certain Doc's music was a major factor in making the Tonight Show audiences so responsive. 
So Friday night seeing Doc Severinsen live, was an extraordinary experience. Doc channelled some younger version of himself for two and a half hours. His chops are still there changed only by the brilliant gold patina of practice and experience; in some way the music and the moment took me back to a younger version of myself as well.
I am suddenly sitting on the couch next to Johnny Carson listening to Doc and the band play across a small NBC Burbank studio. It is a commercial break and the band is playing just for us in the studio. The set is on the same angle as the band stand.  Johnny Carson's couch is the perfect seat to watch Doc Severinsen and his band. You never forget a moment of doing your first Tonight Show. 
With recordings we will be able to enjoy and appreciate Doc Severinsen the artist/musician for a long time. To see Doc live and in person, is to see an evergreen artist who defines his work as timeless and beautiful.  Here's to Doc Severinsen, an original.
As you were,
Jay

Friday, March 28, 2014

Multi- Writing AADHAS


A few days ago I felt very comfortable writing two blogs within the same post.  Or is that two posts within the same blog.  No matter,  however you say it, it is distracted thinking. I have spent a life time training myself to focus on one thing at a time,  maybe it is just time to let the mind go. After all it seems to be all about multi-tasking theses days.  So here goes. The italics will be one post and regular lettering is another story all together.   Or it could be the other way around.  Or contray-wise.

In the early 80's there was a movie with Burt Reynolds. The title is unimportant, it is just a scene that I am thinking of from that film. It is a comedy.  Reynolds character falls and hurts himself in a department store.  A sales clerk and several shoppers gather around him to help.  The clerk says, "This man needs a tranquillizer.  Does anyone have a Valium?" Every person in the area grabs for their purse or pocket to hand the clerk a Valium.  It was the upscale drug of the time and the movie played on that fact. I am amazed that the news is still so myopic and focused on the disappearance of MH370, even after all the speculation, theories and other filler stories, they still have not recovered anything that would confirm the flight truly crashed in the Indian Ocean. I was suddenlyYou see the joke here is that every one was holding drugs but no one was aware of it until there was an emergency and strangers were asked to help. It is a timing joke that takes several levels of linguistic sophistication to understand.  It is not a prat fall which is just an action that evokes a knee jerk reaction of laughter, it is laughter that requires more than what is given. It seems as though any quack theory no matter how far fetched, was taken as fact and all sides of the speculative scenario reported on until it reached a preposterous conclusion or more information inspiring more quack theories. It seems we have explored the gambit of possibilities from alien abduction to lithium battery fires and yet we have not recovered a single item from the plane.  Like in the disappearance of flight MH370 when the world said, "Does anyone have a spy satellite that could take a look at the ocean to see if we have a crashed airplane?"  At first it was just the countries we knew had satellites, like USA and China, even Russia. In fact China was the first one to publish a "debris" photo from space, only to retract it after a few days of searching in the photographed area.  It seems like every time a picture surfaces from some satellite they immediately make that the search area.  Another picture and the recovery effort switches to that place.  And now everyone has a spy satellite. France spotted some white specs on the ocean... send the planes... Commercial satellites see some floating debris and they send the planes.  Australia has a satellite, they see something... send the planes. Thailand even reported it saw some debris on its satellites photos.  Thailand has spy satellites?  Who knew Thailand had satellites? And of course every time they change the "search area" that is "breaking news".  I think if I knew some one on that plane I would destroy all mass media platforms and rely on more standard forms of communication. In the coverage of Flight MH370, like in the Burt Reynolds movie, when some one says, "Does any one have a satellite that could take a look?" every country said, "Yeah we are spying on the world."  Funny because, oops they just admitted to spying on us. I am never sure my metaphors are completely clear to anyone but me.  But it seems clear that, like in the Burt Reynolds movie, in a moment of trying to help, even little countries like Thailand admit they have satellites that can focus any place on Earth.  It also seems like a global game of CLUE. With every new satellite picture the search area moves, and some Prime Minister says, "I think it was Col Mustard, a fire in the cargo hold and it crashed in the Mediterranean." Seems to me we need to wait until there is some really credible evidence before we move the fleet to another area.  Maybe this is how we win the war on terrorism. We make up a crisis,  when everyone gathers around to help, some one says, "Does anyone harbor a terrorist organization? We need to borrow it." When the countries reach in their pockets to offer up a jihadist we go after them. Perhaps in the mean time we will just wait until we have solid information and speculate from there.  I am struck by the  cruel roller coaster ride this has been for the families of the missing passengers. The news media seems to take any rumor or innuendo as a fact worth of charts, pundits and prime time coverage. Hopes are raised and the search area changed for each new discovery. What an exhausting existence for those family members. 
As you were,
Oh would you look at that,
Jay

Monday, March 24, 2014

Historic Moments in Show Business

Historic Moments in Show Business for the Attention Span challenged.
or
The Secrets of Life and Ventriloquism intexted.

*A blog for people who multi-task, have Attention Defect Disorder, surf and watch more than one television channel at a time; people who forget what they are saying and repeat themselves, because they forgot what they were saying and people who need more focus, not to repeat themselves. 

Historic Moments in Show Business.  Is that an oxymoron? Are there historic moments in show business like there are in science? Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, is there an entertainment equivalent?  Did Jack Benny invent the slow take? Who wrote the first joke. What's the name of the juggler who spun the first plate on a stick?  
Who?  
The juggler that first put plate spinning in his act? 
Who?
The first plate spinner?
Who. Who's the guy that invented plate spinning. (Fill in the rest  of the routine at your leisure)
.....
The point is, moments of show business history are difficult to pinpoint because there is no patent date on inspiration. Intellectual ideas can lead to intellectual properties which can be dated and copy protected, but when was the first spark for that idea?    
That moment of instantaneous artistic inspiration  is compelling to think about.  I don't know how often it happens  but I have been witness to that flash point in the career of two very successful and completely different people.

In the event that someone is reading my blog only to learn ventriloquism. Skip to the (red lettered sections and complete those lessons ) 

(Writer's note) To continue this story I have to drop three names. The word "drop" is used to designate celebrity status. I could have changed their names, but the very point of the story is: they became successfully known.  I did not get permission from any of them to use their stories in my blog.  They may disavow any knowledge of having known me, worked with me or deny this moment ever happened. 

It was in an Atlanta, Georgia Comedy Club called "A- Comic Cafe".  
(repeat the phrase "Comedy Club called "A- Comic Cafe" 20 times, it will strengthen your gutturals. But don't strain your throat. Don't repeat the exercise more than 20 times in 24 hours 
I was the headliner for the week and the middle act was a local guy who had just gone into comedy full time.  He was editing jokes hand written on several pages of lined notebook paper in the green room.  The opening comic was on stage for 15 minutes. It was just the two of us waiting our turn to go on stage. The local comic turns to me and with a heavy Georgia accent says, "Do you think this is funny?" 
He then rattled off several very funny jokes that began, 'You Might be a Redneck, if..." It was the first week Jeff Foxworthy performed his now trademark material. I can't take all of the credit for Jeff's incredible career, but... at that flash point of his art form, when he asked me if I "thought it was funny"? I said. Yes.

In an entirely different world many years before performing in those Comedy Clubs I worked the summer between college at the Desert Fiesta Theatre in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  It was a "theme park show" musical extravaganza for the tourists heading to visit Carlsbad Caverns. The show featured a full orchestra and a cast of 30 college age performers in an original variety show conceived by producer/director Charles R. Meeker, Jr.  
Desert Fiesta Dressing Room -  July 1970
The Desert Fiesta theatre seated 1200 people  and for opening night we had 1210 in the audience. It was a spectacular opening and after party. There was Champagne in collectors glassware.
The next day there were 17 people total in the audience for a matinee. To make it seem even more empty the audience was not sitting together.  Only six people were in most expensive orchestra seats,  the rest were scattered around the back sections. That performance had more people back stage than in the audience.  We never did more than half capacity for the entire rest of the summer. The cast and crew became a very close fraternity/sorority, It was a great "summer away from college - job" for a bunch of really talented people from all over the country. I remember it well. 
The theatre manager's name was Mike Brown. 
(Phonetically the words "Mike Brown" are incredibly difficult to say with no lips. Don't try it. Change the name to something you can say and move on, get past it go forward with your life.) 
Mike was married to a beautiful Texas lady named Sandra, whom I think was a Six Flags alumni as well.
It was the end of the summer and most of us were going back to college.  Mike and Sandra had graduated and were moving back to Texas to seek their fame and fortune. I asked them what they planned to do.  
Mike said he wanted to be a television Anchorman. Years later I was on Mike Browns's television show  on WFAA the Dallas ABC affiliate.  It was a network publicity tour for SOAP. There are moments, like going back to your home town promoting your network television show, that you never forget. Mike Brown and I seemed to be doing exactly what we had both dreamed of doing. 

Mike's wife wanted to be a writer. Sandra knew she could write those Harlequin Romance Novels which were extremely popular at the time.  She began to write.  First under some pen names and then under her own name.  Sandra Brown. Yes, that Sandra Brown  the famous writer. To pass time I counted the number of Sandra Brown Novels on the New York Best Sellers shelf at Airport bookstore by the time I could remember one of her titles there were three more books to replace it at the top.  Soon it was hard to find the title below her name. Didn't matter what the title was... is was a Sandra Brown novel... it's all you needed to know.
There you have it,  two Historic Moments in show business,
(As a cool down gently say "Historic Moments in Show Business" in an FM radio tone of voice. Feel free to record yourself saying it several different ways. If you have learned the echo effect this would be a good time to practice it.)

The creative moment when someone had an idea to do
(Your echo should have stopped by now. Practice "Zentriloquism" completely silent ventriloquism. The Postman gave Corky the test of silence to prove his sanity. How long can you exists in silence?)
when someone has an idea to do something in their career and life and accomplish it. It happens all the time and to lots of people willing to do what it takes to see their ideas come into bloom.  
 But... Oops.... Time's up.  I only rented this soap box for an hour.  Oh yeah and:
Ventriloquists - This first session is free.
As you were,
 Jay

Friday, March 21, 2014

Teaching Hate?

Fred Phelps died yesterday. As you may know he was the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Fred and his church lead protests at military funerals with signs that said, "God Hates America" and "God Hates Fags". His belief:  God killed American soldiers because of America's tolerance toward homosexuals.  Although I am not sure I can make that logical connection to Deity, Mr. Phelps could, and became the poster boy for hate.
I did not particularly research him while he was alive and only read the stories of his passing because I was tired of the MH370 disappearance speculations that dominate the news right now.  One thing stood out to me about the Phelp's philosophy. It is a quote he gave to an interviewer, "You can't teach the Bible without teaching HATE." (emphasis by this writer).
Really? That is not the take away I get from the Bible. Seems to me the Bible is a document that teaches Love. I thought we stopped believing in a God that could hate when we gave up worshiping Zeus. 
Bill Maher has offended evangelistic Christians, again recently on his television show,  by going on a rant about the new Russel Crowe Movie "Noah"   He calls the Biblical God a mass murderer for sending the flood.  Obviously Fred Phelps felt the same way since he believed  God was mass murdering American soldiers. Phelps and Maher in agreement? Apparently so.
Bill Maher, however, went on to say that it wasn't so much a statement about God but a statement on the people who took the Bible literally.
A quick Google search will tell you that the word "hate" is used 76 times in the Old Testament and 18 times in the New Testament of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.  In the King James Version 71 times in the OT and 16 times in the NT.  
The word "love" is used 317 times in the OT and 221 times in the NT of the RSV.  The King James uses love 131 times in the OT and 179 in the NT.  
I am not sure why the numbers vary so much between translations, but they do. It would seem since translations don't agree on the words used; a literal interpretation of the Bible is almost impossible.  But even if you could come up with an absolute from the Biblical text, one would have to conclude that it is a document of love rather than hate since mathematically the word "Love" is used 176% more times than the word "hate." 
There is probably a passage in the Bible that Phelps did take literally, Mathew 5:10
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
It would seem that Phelps wanted to be persecuted and hated to get a deed to the kingdom of heaven. Of course it was  Phelps own interpretation of "righteousness" that he spewed and he was persecuted because he was a persecutor. But in his twisted theological interpretation that probably made sense.
The British Press called the Phelps family "The most hated family in America."  When asked about that Fred Phelps said, "I wish they would have called us the most hated family in the World." 
So... Fred is dead.  Unfortunately hate and intolerance are not. Let's hope that using God's name to exploit hate and intolerance has lost at least one evangelist.
As you were,
Jay 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shamrock Shaker...

The small earth quake we had on Monday jolted more than just the ground around Encino, it brought back some of my memories of the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. Mathematically I know that is 20 years ago, but I was never very good a math so it doesn't seem that long.
There are similarities.  Both happened on a Monday, holidays of sort.  Jan 17, 1994 was Martin Luther King Day and Monday was St. Patricks Day, and both happened in the darkness of early morning.  The Northridge was a 6.7 and  the Shamrock Shaker ( the media dubbed name)  was a 4.4. That means the Northridge was about 7 or 8 times stronger than the Shamrock Shaker.  The Northridge lasted 27 seconds and the Shamrock lasted about 4 seconds. Of course 27 is a little more than 6 times longer. So you get the picture.
Most every dish in our house was broken in 1994. The refridgerator fell over and the water heater lost its footing and broke through the closet where it was usually unseen.   The chimney of our Sherman Oaks home was one of the few in the area that did not fall.  Needless to say it was a huge mess to clean up.
I remember a story from the time.  Since that Monday in 1994 was a holiday a friend went out and partied very hard. In fact he was so well lubricated he slept through the actual quake. Very hung over he finally woke up to find everything in his apartment turned over and broken, and his dog cowering in the corner. He assumed the destruction was the dogs doing and punished him.
The other story involves a lady who did wake up in the shaking. Her elderly father was staying with her at the time. Of course the Northridge happened at 4:30 in the morning and all the electricity went out.  Exiting in the dark the lady bumped into a very disoriented man in the living room. She grabbed him by the arm and practically pushed him outside. She was thinking how muscular his arms were for a man his age. That is when she noticed her father slowly walking from the other side of the house where he had already exited.  She turned to the man she had escorted out.  He immediately ran away in the dark.  It was a thief who had been robbing the house at the moment the quake hit.
Ten down and over to you Dorothy Kilgallian. (Unless you are my age or older that Kilgallian reference will mean nothing to you.. )
As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Please Like Me

On FaceBook yesterday a "friend" posted that his mother was very ill and near death. I put "friend" in quotes because I have never met this person and certainly don't know his mother. However,  I lost my Dad a couple of years ago and I remember how difficult it was.  I wanted to reach out to this "friend", like you would anyone going through that difficult time.  But, I didn't  really know what to say in a comment. So,  I just clicked "like".  
Imagine that same conversation anywhere but on FaceBook.  
A guy is walking down the street and he says to everyone around him and no one in particular, "Hey, my mother is dying."  A complete stranger responds with a very enthusiastic   "Mother almost dead... I LIKE that!" and gives him a thumbs up. 
Although totally rude and completely uncalled for in the real world this was a natural exchange on FaceBook. In the FB world the guy even thanked me for liking the fact that his mother was dying. I could have then liked that he thanked me and he could have liked that I liked his thank you.  And none of it  would have any emotional content because I did not type :) or :( 
You would think with this incredible web of international, instantaneous communication we would be more connected. We are not.  In fact the electronic distance makes us less connected and less emotional.  Friend and Like are becoming meaningless words, because they have been franchised by a multi-million dollar business.
I don't know why we feel compelled or even comfortable exposing our personal lives to strangers. It is not just on the internet, Jerry Springer set the bar low enough for most anyone to slither under. I don't know why you would admit on television that you are cheating on your baby mother by having an affair with a giraffe, but what is more incredible is the fact that some sponsor thinks I will care.
So I will post this on Face Book..I hope you like it.  But since there is not a "Are you f'ing kidding me" button I will not know how you really feel.
As you were, 
Jay

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flight MH 370

Ten days and we are still wondering what happened to a Boeing 777 that disappeared.  My friend Steve Bluestein rightly stated that if they found the plane today, CNN would have nothing to talk about. It does seem like the news is "all Flight 370 all the time" of late.
This is a boon for CNN because they have to fill 24 hours of news. When nothing new is happening it gives them a chance to call in all the minor league pundits. For a missing airplane an anchorman can interview experts on: terrorism, aviation, aerodynamics, air traffic control, military, piloting, radar, international relations, tracking and even Chad Myers, the CNN weather man, who can draw red circles on the map of Malaysia and talk about the direction of the ocean currents.  It is a chance to see all the minor league pundit players in action and keep the story going. Sometimes these auditioning pundits get popular from a lingering story like this and use it to gain a following. It can be a career move.
Most of the fascination for this story is just a love affair the human mind has for mystery. Humans like to KNOW. If we can't know the truth we make up a story that seems like the truth, and go with that.
We are so accustomed to having all mysteries solved in the span of an hour on television or in the time it takes us to read a novel or see a movie. After 11 days we are still waiting for act three so we can solve this plot, but this is after all real life. When there is no hard evidence to help solve a mystery in real life,  and so far we can't seem to find any debris to indicated a crash of MH370, our minds won't let go.  It is the ultimate expression of human ego.  We are the smartest creatures on the planet and aviation is the most monitored form of transportation on earth, as narcissistic humans we can not comprehend the inability to solve this disappearance. This is not the 1930's we have come a long way since Amelia Earhart's plane went missing... or have we. 
Until we have even one physical clue we will continue to speculate and weave plots. Until we know for sure or we can agree on one story as the possible explanation or a version becomes folk lore,  there will be more and more salacious conspiratorial theories submitted.
Another very funny friend Ann Anderson says the only theory that has not been given for the disappearance of the plane is " the rapture". That could be one of my favorite explanations to date. I am surprised that Ken Hamm has not suggested this theory.
Here is a quick list of a few of the things , besides the rapture, that have been considered.
Terrorism,  hijacking, mechanical failure, electrical fire, pilot suicide, co-pilot suicide and lithium batteries exploding.
Terrorism is a tough sell because no terror organization has bragged about it nor claimed credit for it. That doesn't deter a born again conspiracy theorist like myself.  I have always thought there were several "tests" involving airplanes before 9/11. They have never been completely explained.
There was a Boeing 747-100 that exploded over the Atlantic Ocean a few minutes after take off  from JFK New York on July 17,1997. After three years of the most expensive and extensive investigation at the time there was no clear answer. It is "believed" the fuel tank exploded but they have never been able to recreate that scenario exactly. My take? Terrorism. No terrorist group took credit. Why? It was a test to see how much explosive power there was in a fully fueled airliner.  How much damage would it do to a tall building if used as a bomb.
Two years later, Egypt Air Flight 990 a Boeing 767 left JFK Airport on October 31, 1999. A few minutes later it slammed into the Atlantic Ocean at full speed. It is believed the Egyptian pilot committed suicide and took the plane with him.  In Arabic he screamed "God is Good" as the plane slammed into the Atlantic. My busy mind thinks that it was not the pilot, but a terrorist who was able to get into the cockpit take the controls and destroy the plane.  No terrorist organization took credit because it was a test to see how easily someone could enter a cockpit.
Two years after that,  terrorist were able to gain cockpit access and over power the pilots of four different planes (fully fueled) and use them as bombs. We know it as 9/11 and terrorists took credit for that spectacular event.  It required years of planning (and testing) to pull it off.
So "What IF" MH 370 was taken over... by the pilot or someone else who could fly. They make it disappear and quickly ascend to 45,000 feet and depressurize the cabin.  Everyone, except the pilots who are on oxygen, suffocates no cell phone calls this time. They then fly the plane to a covert terrorist air strip.  They repaint it, strip it inside for weight, fill it with nuclear waste and on a future date make it look like any other commercial or private aircraft. It becomes a very discreet nuclear missile. 
Oh, and Amelia Earhart was shot down my the Japanese because she was actually on a military recon mission for Roosevelt.
As Sherlock Holmes said, "When all other logical possibilities have been exhausted even the most improvable possibility, however impossible it might be, must be the truth."
As you were,
Jay  












Monday, March 17, 2014

Earthquake Encino Shaken and Stirred

My wife can sleep through most anything with two specific exceptions.  One is the movement of a baby within 50 yards of her.  When our boys were babies she could hear them take the breath before they started to cry in the middle of the night.  By the time I was aware the baby was awake, Sandi had already taken care of the issue.
The other thing Sandi is uber sensitive to is Earthquakes.  In the middle of the dark morning I became aware of being quickly engulfed in a strangling embrace, moments before the house responded like it had been hit by a truck.  I don't know how she did it but out of a sound sleep she knew an earthquake was about to happen, and had already taken defensive actions before I was even aware of my own existence.  
As a Californian I know that if you have to say, "Was that an earthquake?' you have never been in one before.  There is no doubt about what is happening at the time, the only question is "how long it will last and will it get stronger?" This one was very short in duration and relatively small, 4.4 to 4.7.  We rarely feel the ones that are 3.0 and below. I have an iPhone app that connects me to the US Geological Survey Earthquake center.  It will send me an alert with the strength of an earthquake within a 100 miles of  where I am at the time.
 I had to set it to only register 3.5 and above because it was going off several times a day with alerts on the ones that can hardly be felt.  To clarify the 4.7 we felt this morning is one hundred and twenty times more powerful than a 3.5.  
Once the shaking stops is gets very quiet except for car alarms going off and the tinkle of wind chimes. But the anxiety remains for another half an hour because a relatively small quake like this one can be the pre-quake to a bigger one. You tend to hold your breath a lot and contemplate your sins. And although they say the risk of a larger quake gets smaller with every hour that passes, there is still a chance it might happen for 24 hours. I have not heard if this was considered a "new quake" or an after shock from an older quake.  
So there you go. I intended to write about Flight MH370 this morning. Being the ultimate conspiracy hound this mystery is ripe with covert possibilities. Since no one can say for sure what happened, all theories are open for discussion now.  Tomorrow. I will write it tomorrow unless this morning was just the pre-quake for the "big one".  
As for me, I will spend the rest of St. Patrick's Day very close to Sandi.  If she flinches I will grab her and dive for cover.  
As you were,
Jay

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thank you for NOT reading this blog.

Yesterday I arrived early at a valley coffee shop for a breakfast meeting. As it turned out the person I was meeting had a last minute issue and was half an hour late.  I found myself with time to kill but, I had my iPad with me and there was a good wifi signal.  I have not been able to write a blog for most of this week so I thought this would be my chance. Unfortunately I had the opportunity but there was nothing I wanted to write about and I was drawing a blank.
I just starting typing in hopes that the muse would take over. I soon found out my muse was not in attendance at this early hour.  Quickly my writing turned into a stream of consciousness ramble about my fears, anxieties, hidden hostilities and other sides of my personality no one should ever see.
After a couple of hostile paragraphs I realized this blog would never be published nor seen. It became a diatribe of venom and bile. 

I am aware that there is a very dark  side to my personality that I keep well hidden for the most part.  When given freedom to become the "speaker of the psyche" this dark side gets even darker. It was good therapy to express these toxic ideas; they really needed to be cast out of my brain, and by writing them down I assumed I was transferring them to the trash. The waitress kept filling my cup with black coffee as I kept filling up my page with black rants. There was no one nor no thing spared from the wrath of my literary rage against the world. I was on such a fast ride to the depths of depression that the time flew by until my friend finally arrived.  
He was extremely apologetic. Thankfully my depressing journalism was interrupted and we had a great meeting.  I totally forgot about that rage against the world on my iPad until this morning.
I couldn't remember any of the things I wrote about except it was unprintable... and unsave-able. I would read it through one time and delete it.  
But what app was I using at the coffee shop and where was that file? After a moment I realized that I was writing on my iPad Blogsy app.  "Ha! I thought to myself, that was a pretty dumb thing to do.... write a very personal journal entry in a program designed to publish writings on the Internet?  Silly me...! "  With some sense of urgency I went to Blogsy to take that errant rant off the publishing runway, but it was not there.  At first there was no need to panic. I was planning on deleting anyway.
I tried to remember what I did with the rant when my friend showed up. I know I was working on it when he arrived.  Had I saved the file somewhere else? No... There really is no way to save a file like that to any other format. In Blogsy it is saved as a draft.  Unless it is deleted it stays there until it is published.  If your iPad is online, say at a coffee shop wifi, it is "live" to my blog. That is an advantage when writing something you want to publish quickly and easily, it is also very bad idea if you are writing things that should never be published quickly and easily. There was no draft in the app. And because of a free coffee shop wifi the app would have been "Live". 
"Ha... " I thought to myself, "How funny would it be if that rant was published on my blog by mistake? Gez if that got out, there sure would be egg on my face."  
With a tap of my iPad I realize my worse fears.... There it was, published on my blog.  Several mean spirited, unforgiving, extremely judgmental, unfinished paragraphs, raw and uncensored for all to see. 
Normally I publish a blog and then go online and proof read one more time before I feed the blog to my Facebook page. I had not done either for this piece of garbage.  
I didn't even take the time to read it agian, I just took down the post immediately.  It didn't get any comments or treats for the short time it was up, and it received less than a dozen hits overnight.  I am not sure it those were just pings on keywords or people actually reading it.  Either way...Lesson learned. I used to do all of my personal ranting in long hand, on paper, in disposable journals. That is still the best idea and this is the reason why.
If you read an incoherent, illiterate, judgemental essay on this blog yesterday.... I was hacked.... A demon took over the blog. I blame my muse who seems to have taken this week off.  After hearing what I did in her absence she may stay gone for a while.  
As you were,
Jay

Monday, March 10, 2014

Damn You Daylight Savings

I don't know what time it is, but I certainly know what time is should be and this isn't it.  All day long there has been something wrong with the day.  It is a beautiful day but the sync is off.  Everyone seemed to be in agreement, shop keepers and waitresses, this did not seem like a normal Monday. Some governmental ruling stole an hour from us this weekend. The clock says 6:12 PM but I know that is wrong. My body clock says it is 5:12 PM. The government has screwed me out of an hour of my life and they call it daylight savings.
I have to tell you, if this mandate is supposed to save something I am not sure what that might be. The time change saves me nothing but rather it confuses what little natural instinct humans have left. I know by July 4 we will have forgotten this assault to our internal clock and we will have adjusted. But three months later we pay a price for the hour that was stolen from us. An hour of darkness is forced upon us.   It is once again called daylight savings but is actually adding an hour of darkness to our clock.  It is the hour that was taken away in the spring.  It is not a fair trade. 
So if the authorities can take away an hour then I figure life's deadline has been artificially altered.  I get a buy, a pass, a get out of jail free for the duration of the infraction.  
Check Monday's blog tomorrow.
An Amber Alert was issued this afternoon in the Los Angeles area.  What a great stripper name... Amber Alert.*
As you were,
Jay  

*over heard from Brandon Johnson.                   

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The SOAP reunion

It became an hysterical game called TEAM THINKING. The opening round was relatively easy. Sal Viscuso asked, "How long has it been?" When no one had a quick answer he said, "Well what is 1981 from 2014?" Those more fluent in math than me said, "33." 
While I was contemplating my life three decades earlier with these people someone said, "But we started in 1977 so you have to add four more years".  It came clear that I have known the people at this dinner for almost four decades.  
I wasn't sure who would be there besides  me and Sandi, my friend Marsha Posner Williams, her husband Wayne,  Robert Mandan along with Jay and Linda Sandrich who conceived the event.  Over the past four decades I have seen those friends with reasonable regularity, but the rest of the guest list included people I have not spoken to nor seen since the day SOAP went off the air.
Most of the surviving cast members of SOAP came together for an evening.  It was like returning from a very long hiatus, sitting down at a studio table to read a new script.  However, this time they served food, wine, cocktails and our significant others were with us.
Everyone naturally looked older but it was a familiar table. Jay Sandrich, director, sat next to JD Lobue, director/assistant director on his left.  Marsha Posner Williams, producer/script supervisor and secret keeper sat to the right of Mr. Sandrich.  Going clockwise around the table was Bob Guillaume (Benson), Katherine Helmond (Jessica Tate) Ted Wass (Danny Dallas) Jennifer Salt (Eunice Tate) Sal Viscuso (Father Tim) Robert Mandan (Chester Tate) and me (Chuck without Bob).
Jay Sandrich welcomed everyone and explained that the evening had been inspired by the release of the Aaron Berman book about SOAP.  The book inspired him to watch the DVD's of the series again, especially the last year and a half that JD Lobue directed when Jay was off shooting a movie. In reliving the experience he realized how much fun he had during those days.  He decided to gather everyone, who was able to meet, for one more group hug.  
After we toasted the members of our cast who have passed away, the bonus round of "TEAM THINKING" began.  
"Remember the scene when Chester and Jessica were at the minister's office for marriage counseling?"
"Oh yeah. the minister said his wife ran off with the carpet installer.  Carpet guy must have gotten confused about what he was there to lay....."
"Who was the actor who played that part?" 
Metaphoric bats flew from the mental bell towers of those in attendance.  After several wrong names someone yells, "John Hillerman."  Score, and continue.  
"Who played Carol's mother?" 
"Who the hell was Carol?"
"The girlfriend who had Jodie's baby."
"The possessed baby?"
"No"
"The alien baby?"
"No"
"Wendy, Jodie's girlfriend's baby...."
"Rebecca Balding."  
"Yeah she was Carol...but who played her mother from Texas?"  Again the sound of brain cells trying to jump start around the room....
"Peggy Pope."  Came the answer followed by several people saying "of course I knew that."
We laughed, remembered and recounted memories of those days.  My big take away came from my sit-com step brother Ted Wass.  He was the one, not Billy Crystal, who figured out the 225 plus 10 game we used to play in the background shots. (that is subject for another blog) 
Most of us have gone on to other career milestones as SOAP becomes a mention in the bio/resum√©. Ted is a well respected television director, Jennifer has become a writer, producer and show runner, Sal is performing in a play currently in town to valentine personal reviews. Jay, Robert, Katherine and Bob represent a body of work that allows them senior celebrity status.  Billy and I went on to win Tony Awards on Broadway for our respective solo shows.  We discovered that some of us live near each other and we vowed to meet again.
Jay Sandrich is right.  It was a special time, a special show and amazingly creative people. Funny how it took an independent contemporary look at the show in the form of Aaron Berman's Book to make us realize how lucky we all were. Thank you Jay, thank you fellow cast and crew members and thank you Aaron.
As you were,
Jay
(the other)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Nothing is new...

My Quick Attempt
I saw this picture of Sarah Palin yesterday in the Phil Grecian Facebook Continuum. 
I don't like the new hair style. I thought Sarah Palin was looking more and more like Peggy Hill. Peggy, the long suffering substitute teacher at Arlen, Texas, Tom Landry Middle School, matron of the Hill household star of the animated television show "King of the Hill". (From the same people who brought you Beavis and Butthead) I grew up in Texas and the series is required watching. 
Wit and Will Poster 2008
I decided to make a composite of the two women to see if the theory held up. I posted the image on the left to the Grecian flow.
As I was looking for images of Peggy on the web I found a composite had already been done several years ago. It was the poster for a show performed on October 18, 2008 at the Wit and Will Theatre in Albany entitled "Peggy Hill and Sarah Palin separated at birth".  They actually got the pose and the hair right. Kudos to the creators of the composite. They obviously thought it through and did more image research than I. 
But I will take credit for recognising a good proof of concept.  To me the Peggy/Palin comparison connects in so many ways, where do you start? 


"One of these women is a two dimensional character that makes you laugh at what she says....other is Peggy Hill." 



Your turn and.... go. 


As you were,
Jay



Tuesday, March 04, 2014

And the Oscar goes...

Ellen on stage at the Oscars
Holding the now famous smart phone.
On the second day after the telecast, the Oscar circus has moved on.  The 40 foot Oscar statues that decorated Hollywood Blvd are gone.  The section of Hollywood Blvd in front of the Dolby Theatre is open again to automobile traffic. Everyone has tweeted and chatted and texted and Facebooked all the spicy gossip.  We all have taken a shot at Kim Novac, there is now an app that will tell you how John Travolta would screw up your name in an introduction, people wonder what happened to Goldie Hawn's face and lots of Academy members have admitted to voting for "12 Years A Slave" without actually having seen it.  And lest we forget: Twitter was crashed by Ellen's retweeted impromptu celebrity selfie. (Here is a picture from the LA times of Ellen holding the record breaking Samsung Galaxy that snapped the now famous picture tweet.)
Some how we thought Ellen just came up with that idea back stage. And knowing the fertile mind of Ellen, she is capable of doing just that.  Few of us connected the fact that Samsung was a paying sponsor for the Oscars. It was no accident that Ellen was seen holding that white Galaxy smart phone several different times during the show. And on her own talk show yesterday, in an Oprah like gesture, Ellen gave everyone in her audience a Galaxy Smart phone.
Now before the masses run out and demand that phone Ellen has, here is something to consider. Ellen doesn't own a white Samsung Galaxy smart phone.  Back stage at the Oscars and on her television show, she tweets and texts on an iPhone 5. That white Samsung phone?... just a stage prop. 
I'm not crying foul. The clothes she wears are not hers either, they are "sponsored" and all that celebrity bling on the red carpet... mostly on loan from jewelry stores hoping to cash in on the celebrity connection.  It's the way it is done in Hollywood. 
Get a celebrity to hold your beer, model your clothes, drive your car or tweet on your phone and it is a publicity grand slam.  There are masses who will run to the store demanding the phone that Ellen uses. I mean after all Ellen can afford any phone in the world... and she chose a white Samsung Galaxy. Or did Samsung chose her? 
Although I admit to being an Apple addict there is certainly nothing wrong with the Samsung smart phone.  I've never used one but how different can these communication devices really be? Besides a cheaper price, I am sure there are many things to recommend it, but none of them have to do with WHO is  holding it on television.
If this information is an awakening to you....  call me because... I have some 8 track tapes that were owned by Cher.
As you were,
Jay

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Writers Weather.

It was Spaulding Gray, a New Englander, who spent a winter in Los Angeles trying to write. He said he couldn't do it. The weather was always good and there were so many distractions to sitting down and trying to actually write something.  He postulated that he needed to be back East where there is weather. He screamed, "When will I feel corduroy on my body and be able to think again."  
For the last 48 hours it has been raining here in LA.  Rain in LA means flooding, mudslides and mandatory evacuations of homes in the path of a black water avalanche. We have not had a rain like this in several years so the drains and gutters have become clogged from lack of use. Streets far from the mudslides of the burn sites are flooded because of the back up.  All over the city motorist are avoiding the flooded areas, so traffic everywhere is impossible. In short there really is nothing to do but stay dry and safe inside your own home until Monday.  
Perfect day to write.  You would think so.  The legend is that Mary Shelly created Frankenstein as a story she told her husband and several other writers on vacation.  It was a summer when their vacation retreat became snowed in and there was nothing for the group of writers to do but stay indoors and tell stories.  For them that was writing rehearsal.  
So, here on this unusually dark and rainy California weekend, it is perfect weather to write the next great classic. 
Or is it? 
I have this romantic notion that writing is all about environment.  Like Spaulding Gray's lament, there seem to be physical places or situations that are better for writing than others. What is the perfect place and the perfect weather, and does it affect your writing?  Perhaps for those writers the caliber of Mr. Gray and Mrs. Shelly this is true, but for me, environment has nothing to do with it. 
I keep thinking how great it would be to go to the coffee house and write, or maybe the library or some secluded cabin in the woods where the ideas would just flow. As wonderfully adventurous as that is I know places do not inspire my ideas.  
NOT A MUSED
In reality the physical place disappears in the work.  The story/article/blog takes center attention and when the Muse is around the idea can be written anywhere. So far I have not found a place where my Muse likes to hang out, so I can find her when I am in need of her help. She shows up on a schedule of her own and departs without notice.  The one consistent quality to every Muse. When she arrives she demands all your attention.  If the writer's Muse is offended by lack of attention she sends Writers block. You can't write no matter where you are or what you do that's Writers Block.  
There is no other specific term for creative stagnation. If you are not inspired to paint you do not have painters block.  Lets just call it Artistic Block.  Artistic Block is the inability to participate in the creative activity of your soul.  Artistic Block is not just a barrier in the road to creativity, a thing like high water in the street to avoid, go around and get back on the path.  It is a complete lack of direction, the path is not just blocked it is gone. Whatever the stumbling block it must become your stepping stone. 
For me, I am blessed with a bevy of Muses. One of them is always around even if the rest are gone. When the writing Muse is absent it usually means that the drawing Muse is attending.  If I don't feel inspired to write then I am inspired to draw.  The drawing Muse has been around for a couple of weeks. Of course the Muse of ventriloquism is always stays but works much more than the other two and needs to have rest.
Outside is grey and over cast.  There are no shadows and rain comes in shifts.  My corduroy shirt maintains a perfect temperature as I watch the back yard enjoy a long shower. I have several electronic devices around me ready to record this experience in any way imaginable. My choice is to preserve the moment this way: What will we see from the vantage point of the next stepping stone?
As you were,
Jay