Friday, May 29, 2015

Judgement Day...

I started writing this blog when I knew I was on my way to do "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" on Broadway. (Cheap plug: It is STILL available at - and iTunes- and even HULU... I will be hocking the DVD on the streets of Van Nuys soon.)  My blog was an attempt to take my friends and relatives on the same unique Broadway journey I was on at the time. It was all new to me and every day brought a new experience to write about.  In New York I felt like Ernest Hemingway journalizing about a foreign land.  I still find New York City the ultimate place for a writer to do research. 
Being semi retired in Encino, California rather than doing 8 shows a week on Broadway in New York makes unique experiences harder to stumble onto.  It's harder to find things to write about than it is to crank the blog posts out. I sometimes feel like the social events reporter for the Muleshoe Texas Weekly Journal.  So if  any reader is confused about the editorial direction this blog you are not alone. It is not my intention to become preachy nor political in these blogs.  I write what's on my mind and for the last year or so my thoughts have turned inward. Thus the blogs have less to do with the short picture than the long view.  But I digress..  
This blog is just to set the record straight about an essay on Pat Robertson I wrote a couple of days ago.  Although I do not agree with his politics nor his lifestyle I did come down hard on a man I have never met.  I called him judgemental and still hold to that opinion, but realize that by tagging him with that label I am being judgemental myself. I am now in a quandary; how to do call some one judgemental and not prove that you are as well?  
It's like that paradox "Can God create a rock too heavy for him to pick up?" For me that one is easier to deal with. The trick is in the question. If you assume an anthropomorphic God who magically makes things like rocks appear; and this superman God is all powerful you can not resolve the "heavy rock" paradox. 
Back to Pat Robertson for a moment. His philosophy is that of a humanlike God who creates rocks that impede your progress or stepping stones to guide your way depending on his mood. He judges and condemns creations, has favorite people that he loves more and tolerates demons that he hates. This is where Rev. Rob and I split paths. Anytime you attempt to explain God in terms of what a human would do or what a human would think, that explanation is profoundly wrong.  
Sometimes when I hear evangelicals explaining the wrath of God or how God has blessed the Friday night Football team with a win, I think they are talking about Zeus from ancient mythology not an Omnipotent, Omniscient Deity.  The synonym for "Supreme Being" is not "Super Man" although to hear some Christian Scholars talk you might not get that distinction.   
Any human concept of God is false. Any time we rationalize an event in terms of what God was thinking is blasphemy.  Human intelligence is not sufficient to comprehend God nor his power. God doesn't get mad, nor jealous, nor weary, nor vengeful nor is God defined by any human emotion or terminology.  God is not a He nor a She nor any other quality that a human understands. 
So back to the rock. God CAN'T create a rock that God can't pick up because God only creates ideas of himself. In metaphoric terms God can not be separated from the rock because the concept of a rock can not exist outside of the consciousness of God.  Therefore the human idea of being separated from something like a rock and the need to pick it up is a human delimna not a spiritual one. 

So rather than judge a guy on what he believes and become part of judgement itself, why not discuss the ways our thinking differs.  Explaining the process of our thinking will explain the results of our perceptions. In computer programing terms... "Shit in shit out".  
So Pat Robertson, sorry if I judged you. We just think differently that is all. I will keep attempting to explain my philosophy.  And I as hear the explanation of yours, I can't help but think you are simply restating the concept of Roman Paganism to a television generation. 
As you were,

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pat Robertson on Texas Weather

In the past, self proclaimed prophet of "Thou shalt nots" Pat Robertson has waisted no time in proclaiming God's punishment on sinners. He is very quick in equating a natural disaster with the wrath of God. Usually he takes the opportunity to say that God has sent a hurricane or a drought or a flood to an area of the country as a sign of his wrath toward their actions.  Hurricane Sandy hitting the north east coast was, in his Holy opinion, a sign that God did not like the idea that gays could marry. Katrina was sent to New Orleans because God hates sinners. He heard there were some hanging around Bourbon Street.  Drought on the west coast has been tagged as punishment for all our "Godless leanings" here in Los Angeles.
Flooded Six Flag Roller coster DFW.
Texas has just experienced some of the worst weather and floods in its history. Yet not one word from the good pundit Robertson. It seems that when weather comes to a place that holds with his limited thinking it is "just nature".  When natural disaster hits a place Pat doesn't agree with it is God sending a message. And of course the idea of climate change is never mentioned in his ministry. 
Come on Pat, where is your condemnation? Why are you not claiming that God is punishing Texas? Pick a reason Pat, Texas has been outspoken about so many social and political issues there are several to be condemned for.  If you think Texas is on the right side of immigration, abortion, and gay marriage then why is God sending Biblical floods?  Isn't a flood God's preferred way to thin the herd and start all over? Why wasn't Ted Cruz given the command to build a big boat?

The problem is, Pat, you think God was made in your image. When you are displeased or disgusted, God must be as well.  Your judgement is based on the idea that it is in agreement with your personal preferences and then you apply that same bias judgment to Deity.  You may have fooled your money contributing masses that you are a man of God, but if God is as judgmental, reactionary, condemning and unloving as you are, then that God is not for me. So far your dooms day predictions and righteous exclusionary warnings have not come to pass.

To all my friends and family in Texas.  I am sorry the weather has caused so many to suffer. Although your politics  have left me baffled and often disgusted for the last few years, I don't think God is punishing you.  This could very well have been the answer to lots of prayers asking God to end your drought.  I don't believe in the conditional love the Pat Robertson-God seems to practice.  I don't think he is pissed and just waiting for someone to break a commandment so he can strike them down.  As far as you Texans and your crazy ideas, at best I think this Jade Helm 15 rumor, which caused some to panic, is actually giving God a good laugh.

I am praying and hoping that our drought here in California will end soon.  When it does, it will probably cause some damage along with the water it brings very much like Texas. I am pretty sure that good old Pat will find some sinners among those affected if that happens in California.  As Shakespeare said, "There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so".  If you agree with the way Pat thinks, then that is your reward.  As for me I am trying to "think" in a completely different way than what Rev. Robertson is teaching.  That way I can feel love and compassion for those suffering from the weather and Floods in Texas without having to judge the reason it happened.

As always these are my views and they do not necessarily agree with the management or staff of Blogger or "The World is a Stage"
As you were,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Lilly Tomlin said one time, "I am afraid that the guy who thought up Muzak is sitting around trying to think up something else."
Where ever there is a place for music I prefer live music to canned. My one requirement about any music in public is this:
Unless it is a concert that is intended to be listened to as a singular performance, background music should be played very quietly.
Besides wanting to be a ventriloquist I also had a desire to play piano.  I ultimately devoted more time to ventriloquism than to music but at one time I wanted to be good enough on the piano to play background music at Furr's Cafeteria in Lubbock, Texas.
Furr's Cafeteria was the only place I had ever been as a kid living in Abernathy, Texas that had live music to dine by.  Our family did not eat out much and when we did it was Cafeteria or burger joints.
The Burger places had a juke box that was too loud and the "wrong" kind of music according to my Dad.  But Furr's had a guy playing piano unobtrusively in the corner of the dining room.  There was a large snifter full of cash on the top of the piano and he played from a thick book of music that seemed to have millions of songs.  For some reason this image was appealing to me. I didn't want it as a career but I did want to have the ability to do that whenever I wanted.  I probably had that goal in mind until I was 8 years old.
I found out the thick book he played from was called a Fake Book.  It was a book of lead sheets and chords for popular songs and the name came from the idea that you could "fake" your own arrangements to the songs.  I had to get me one of those fake books.
At the time they were considered illegal because the "publisher" paid no royalties on the songs.  You could not find one in a regular music store. Through some of my Dad's musician friends I finally got my wish and for Christmas one year received the Fake book.
This was the early 60's and the music in my Fake Book was mainly songs from the 30's and 40's.  There were only a few songs that I recognized and even those were not the kind of songs that would impress my peer group.  I leaned the basics of this technique but grew bored with the old music.  My interest in the piano wained a little.  It came down to a repertory of only a few songs I played over and over to the annoyance of anyone living with me.
Eventually my folks sent the family piano to me here in California so my kids could learn.  My oldest son plays piano well but prefers guitar, base and harmonica.  For years my piano became just a shelf for family pictures and very old music books.
More that a year and a half ago I decided to pick up where I left off on the piano.  Maturity, time and availability of more current "legal" fake books has expedited my playing and increased my repertory. I usually play for an hour or so before dinner. Sandi is encouraging and even suggests I play piano when I find myself in a depression.  It always seems to help.
Recently I was at the house of a really good friend.  They have a nice baby grand piano and I love to play it when I am there.  The lady of the house even put a tip jar on top of the piano for me.  The arrangement is:  every time I play it... I have to put in a dollar.
Recently the Man of the house said, "You know I think you are  getting good enough to play at the Airport Holiday Inn Happy hour." Wow... already a step up from Furr's Cafeteria in Lubbock, Texas.

An owner wants to put music into his club.  His friend plays piano and asks if he will fill in until a regular piano player is found.  The friend says to the owner, "Well I only know two songs."  The owner says, "Well maybe you can play those songs several times... what are the two songs you can play?"
The friend says, "I can play 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'Lush Life'."

That is my favorite musician joke... Not everyone gets it... but it always makes me laugh.
As you were,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Gimme Award goes to....

The Balforth Fennington Dalia Award
Hollywood, Calif (UPI)
by Walter Helmhurst  
Today the film version of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" was awarded the Balforth Fennington Dalia Award  better known as the "Gimme". The Balforth Fennington Dalia Foundation is dedicated to honoring all art which never really finds its audience nor becomes a commercial hit.
This award is given on an irregular basis for shows, plays and or movies for no reason other than to remind people that the movie, show or play still exists and is still available for sale or viewing.
The BFD Award is usually awarded to good shows that have trouble selling tickets. According to Velma Coopertonson, chairperson of the Balforth Fennington Dalia Foundation awards committee, "Never have we seen a show so qualified for this trophy as the Two and Only.." 
The Executive Producer of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" had this to say upon receiving the BFD.
"I am surprised by this award.  I was hoping for a royalty check. I do however need a paper weight for some unpaid production bills on my desk. This "Gimme" will work fine. " 
Actor and star of the film  Bob Campbell had this to say upon learning of the award, "What do you think we can get for it on E-Bay?"  Other actors from the production did not return our phone calls.
The committee for the BFD foundation will immediately start looking for next years honoree. According to Ms Coopertonson "Because shows like this are so hard for the audience to find, you can imagine how difficult is it for us." 

Friday, May 15, 2015


Three Kids...One of Each.
A Brother, A Sister and
A Middle Child
Last week my Mom moved to an assisted living facility.  I am the only child in the family who doesn't live in the area so I flew home to help. My sister and my niece were the operational commanders with my brother, my sister-in law, my nephew and me playing the part of the troupes. We all had assignments to do. The plan was to magically transfer Mom from her old place to her new place with a brief stay in the country at my niece's house while that move happened.
My niece and nephew took on the task of duplicating the new environment as close as possible to Mom's old place.  Both of them work as production coordinators for films so they treated the assignment like they were recreating a movie set.  In 14 hours they took a blank apartment and completely recreated Mom's world in detail.  It was amazing.

Above is a picture of old photographs of me, my brother and my sister, taken on the same day by the same photographer, mid-century. They are equal in size, background, matting, tone and frame. The pictures are a matched set.  They were displayed in this arrangement above my parents bed as long as any of us can remember.  My parents bedroom would not be complete without this birth order grouping of us kids in exactly this configuration.

My nephew used exact measurements from ceiling to floor, spacing above the head board of the bed and between each picture based upon the way it has always been.  Using a laser level and skilled precision he placed the individual wall hangers in the exact places they needed to be.  Then he carefully removed the pictures from the moving box and hung them up.

As you can see I am the middle child in our family.  There are many studies done on the significance of the birth order of siblings and how it shapes their personalities.  The archetype of the middle child would certainly be applicable to the way my life has turned out.  It would be pure ego to repeat those qualities of creativity, imagination, wisdom and joy that seem to define a middle child, so I won't. What I will say is, I have been dubbed "the golden boy" by my siblings and in spite of my career with puppets, I have definitely always been the "odd" one of the trio.  Ask around, my family is not shy about giving explicit factual examples of my oddites. I'm okay with being different. I wear my oddity like a new pair of clown shoes.

When my nephew stepped back to look at the picture arrangement hanging on the new wall, something was amiss. My picture frame (did I mention I am the one in the middle?) hung significantly higher than the other two picture frames. My nephew removed the pictures and checked the wall hangers with a level.  The three hangers were level as were the tops of the frames for of the other two pictures.  All his measurements were correct but it was still not right. It was my picture that disrupted the whole balance of the family arrangement,  my picture was elevated.

I have always looked for signs; communications from a higher vibration taking shape in physical form. I feel like these talisman-tic showings are trail markers to guide me in the right way.  They come most often as confirmation of decision when you are wondering if you made the correct turn. Their appearance is rarely note worthy, it could be things as simple as a feather on the grass, a Blue Jay flying past or a coin laying heads up on the ground.  Taking my Mother to an assisted living facility was the right move and in Mom's most lucid moments she would agree, but we were all looking for some sort of confirmation that we were indeed doing the right thing. The family was on uncharted ground.

As the set decoration team worked long into the evening recreating their Grandmother's home the reason for this activity was never far from every one's thoughts.  Placing a parent in the care of others is the painful passage of realizing you are no longer a child.  There are times the sadness of the situation causes what my niece calls "church laughter". The kind of giggles you get during a situation where laughing out loud would be offensive or at least not proper.  On the verge of tears, laughter becomes a desiderate antidote to the sadness of the moment.

My nephew discovered the hanging problem on the back of the picture frames.  Although the three pictures were framed exactly the same,  and appeared to be the same in every way, the eyelet screws attaching the wire of my picture frame was not screwed in at the same place as my brother's nor my sister's frames.  My screws were fastened to a different measurement.
With this discovery my nephew turns to his wife, my niece, and says, "Here is the trouble.  Jay is just wired differently from the others."
To which she replied, "I guess we better take him down a couple of notches."
They laughed about the discovery, as did I in the re-telling to the rest of the family. It was nice to laugh again for a moment. 
I suppose there will never be another metaphor more descriptive than this one explaining my place in the family gene pool.   It reminds me to say thanks to my brother and sister for understanding I am wired differently, and to thank my Mom for understanding I just don't hang like everyone else. It has always been so because my screws are in a different place.

As you were,