Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the subject of Acts of God

My dear friends, it's edition number one hundred of the blog, and I am talking religion here people! So yay verily, gather around my children and let me tell you a story. Peace be with you!

Okay, I just thought I should start a blog about "God" with a preacher like intro, as I am sure I have said a few gosh darns over the past few days. I am writing you from the very crowded waiting room inside my car dealership. I am waiting on an estimate for repairs on my beautiful blue SUV (no - it's not a gas guzzler - it's a midsize.)

So what does God have to do with it? Well, apparently it was one of his "acts" that caused damage to my car, where I will have to have the undercarriage of the vehicle replaced. Driving in snow qualifies as an "Act of God."

This comes after a broken tire chain link punctured the tire on my wife's Subaru. This shredded the inside of the tire. Since we have a four wheel drive, and it was caused by someone else's chain which was caused by snow, this little "Act of God" cost us abut 650 bucks as all four tires had to be replaced.

Seems like a lot of car repair shops are blaming God for everything, and why not? It's an easy out.

I have had a lot of friends go through some life changing experiences over the last month. Two of my best friends decided they could no longer live with each other. They are very much the church going types, and this little "Act of God" may get one kicked out of said church because this particular doesn't believe in divorce. Funny thing is, the father of the prospective kicked out person is a minister (retired from a different church.)

One of my blog followers and another of my best friends are getting through their first holiday season without their fathers. Some would say this too is an "Act of God," as it was "their time." Both are dealing with the sorrow in different ways, one with a very heavy heart, one by supporting her mom who is having a tougher time dealing with it all.

Two other friends have not been able to find love even though they are wonderful people who have lots of love to give. Thankfully, they give me lots of love through the phone reminding me that they love me. Should some "Act of God" give them a soulmate to give them the love they deserve to receive.

The newsman just came on with an update. He said we should expect winds of 55 miles per hour tonight. Act of God?

I am not bashing God or religion here, I am just saying that some things just seem to happen, and using the Act of God thing on me seems to be getting more popular as a go-to explanation. Truth be told, I do not live in a church going household, but I do, through many years of going to an Episcopalian school understand the concepts of theology.

In this country, our money says "In God We Trust," but we can't mention him on public property without giving people who don't believe in God an equal display (at least here in Washington State.)

What I would wish as an "Act of God" is that we could all learn to love each other a little more in the new year. I am blessed, and I did use that word intentionally, with some wonderful friends and a wonderful family. This family is now larger by two cats, thanks to what could only be explained as an "Act of God" as I was the one who said we could adopt them after being adamant about not having more pets in the house. My kids and wife have no other explanation, so that must be it.

So, my last message of 2008 is this... love each other, whether a higher power tells you to or not. You will find life so much better when you do. And if you have to thank someone for that... please do. And if you don't, you're welcome.

Gotta go, the mechanic is about to hit me with what this "Act of God" is gonna cost me.

Happy New Year, and God bless you all.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

PS... Apparently, the mechanic was able to "re-secure" the piece of the undercarriage and said it did not have to be replaced yet, thus saving me 300 bucks. Thank you, God. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the subject of a White Christmas

Bing might have dreamed of one, but he never could have imagined this.

It is a total blanket of white outside my door and for the first time in 45 years, I am enjoying a truly White Christmas.

In 45 years, Christmas has gone from a spectacular of bows and carols and gifts to a more reasonable holiday, and I am not positive it is for the better, so let me go back and take stock.

Rewind to the 1960's.

On Christmas Eve, my old neighborhood would gather for the best party of the year. It would begin in the large circle that was the centerpiece of the "Hamlet." The large evergreen would be covered with lights by Mr. Mattson and we would have a place to sing carols. My best friend, Allen Manfuso and I would always be belting out the songs, and for a night, the neighborhood felt like a huge family.

Every Christmas Morning on Kerry Lane, my sisters and I would gather on the top of the stairs wondering if Santa had visited our house. We would rush down the stairs in anticipation of what was there. From simple ABC blocks in a wagon, to a shiny fire truck to a new bike with a banana seat, my parents, um, Santa rarely would disappoint. Gifts would always be accompanied with an amazing Coffee Cake from a secret recipe.

Christmas Eve or Christmas night meant Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding! We would all wind down in the family room and enjoy the joy.

Since I was a full 9 years younger than my nearest sibling, the stairs were a lot less crowded in the 70's with just me at the top of the stairs.

My grandfather, who played a wonderful Santa, was still spoiling me rotten though. His presents were the ones with flash; my parents providing the practical ones.

In the 80's, Christmases moved to Seabrook Island, SC, the new home of my parents. It was a wonderful place with my parents incredible house. Gifts turned to nice clothes and practical matters.

Then into the 90's... and my first Christmas away from home. I was working at CNN at the time... no, really working on Christmas Eve and Day. Luckily, the Irish Pub in CNN Center happened to be open on Christmas Eve and they were serving Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. It wasn't Mom's, but it was the only piece of Christmas that felt normal.

1993. I worked Christmas Eve... my first Christmas Eve in Seattle. I was anchoring the local sports on Channel 11 (the main and weekend anchor took the night off, so they let me make my debut - or they just wanted the night off.) Little did I know that appearance would literally change my life.

On that night, a stranger was watching the news. She had rushed home to see this guy, who a co-worker was setting her up with on a blind date. She apparently liked what she saw.

One year later, that stranger and I would be spending our first Christmas as man and wife.

We have now had our eleven Christmases with children, and for the first time ever, quality won out over quantity.

My wife gave me such thoughtful gifts, some for play, some for memories, some for comfort. My gift to her was a simple love letter. I had been busy leading up to the snowstorms, then I got sick and then time ran out. I had a couple of chances to go buy stuff, but my words ended up meaning more than any present.

Her birthday is just three days away, and we are celebrating at Teatro Zinzanni, a place where dreams come true, and I told her in the letter that there may be surprises under the big top.

So from a holiday full of gifts to a simpler day full of love. Who knows what the future will bring, but this I know... it's the love that makes Christmas, not the presents. And we are all lucky for the love from each other and the love from above.

This marks the final blog of the "first century." The next blog will be entry 100 of a project I did not think would make it past entry ten.

To all you wonderful people who have joined me on the journey, love to you, and peace in the days ahead.

Oh, my wife just uncovered our traditional Christmas Coffee Cake, and I can smell it. It's the same one that my Mom baked every Christmas morning, and it is simply cinnamon heaven. Okay, maybe it's coming back to me.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the subject of Saturday Mornings

My daughter is watching her seemingly fourth episode of Suite Life of Zach and Cody. I think I am on my ropes end. The wife is asleep in the bedroom, and so tired that the resonant noises are keeping me from watching the television in there. So, without the television on a snowy day, I thought I would do something worthwhile, like blog a bit about Saturday mornings... the way I remember them.

I feel like a grandpa saying "back in my day," but it's true... back in my day, we had only a few choices for Saturday morning television, and that day was reserved for kids! There was no Saturday Today Show or extended Morning News... it was ours!

Some of my favorites... well I seemed to be an ABC guy. Hong Kong Phooey was definitely on the list. Lancelot Link Secret Chimp may be my all time favorite. Those monkeys still make me laugh.

Superfriends had me until they started getting all strange with the Wondertwins and that strange looking monkey like thing.

Schoolhouse Rock was the transitional program... I'm just a bill. Conjunction Junction, what's your function? I am happy to say I have the DVD of these for my kids, and my son loves them.

Of course CBS had Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, with the interludes of ba doop be doop be dopp be doop... In the News. Bugs Bunny and Road Runner could always get me going. Loved Wacky Races and always wanted to rescue Penelope Pitstop. I still quote Mutley when I get mad... "sacka frassa no good rotten!'

NBC - Frankly I don't remember many NBC shows. Maybe in the 80's when I wasn't a kid and Saved by the Bell made high school look cool after I had left high school. Ah. Kelly Kapowski, although I think I had a thing for Elizabeth Berkeley. (And no, I have not seen Showgirls.)

But the one I remember more than about any other was the strangely wild Krofft Supershow. One article I saw recently described this show as "an orgy of Sid and Marty Krofft weirdness." How true! On the heels of HR Pufnstuf came Wonderbug, Dr. Shrinker, and the one that tested my adolescence, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. Yes, I thought Diedre Hall was a superheroine, and I didn't even know she was on Days of our Lives.

The end of "Saturday Morning" would always be American Bandstand. I loved Rate a Record and seeing the top ten. And as I grew older, I started liking to see the dancing more than the musical acts who had those amazing microphones with just the antenna. (Lip Sync? what's that?)

Sometimes, my TV would end up on Channel 20, WDCA (or was it Channel 5 - WTTG) where Don Cornelius brought us Soul Train. This was so strange, yet so compelling to watch. I guess this and Bandstand is what began my love of disco dancing and music.

Now, there are literally dozens of choices and here on the west coast, Saturday Mornings sometimes get rescheduled to Sunday afternoons due to sports coverage. Kids shows have become E-I shows, including one I produce on High School Sports. But one always remembers their childhood, and I hope I might have brought back a memory or two for you. Now if I can just get the vision of Electra Woman out of my head, I can go on with my day.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the subject of Carrying a Tune

I sing constantly. My XM gets a workout as I am always looking for a song to sing. Until this weekend, the sound of loud music always covered up my singing, and I thought it was best that people not hear my warbling. Well, I may have to reassess that situation.

Under the incredible direction of Doug (improv teacher extraordinaire) and Amanda (have pink guitar, will travel), the Jet City Musical Improv workshop took place this past weekend, and I was one of the participants.

On the surface, this workshop was just another piece in my giant improv education pie, but little did I know how tasty it was going to be.

On Saturday, the group of 10 students began their foray into the musical improvisational arts by learning how to commit to a chorus. Rules include keep it simple and make it catchy.

Under the suggestion of Werewolves, my chorus was inspired by a meek person in a haunted mansion. "Why must I be so scared in this house, I am as frightened as a little mouse." Okay, it's not Lennon and McCartney, but it was my first effort, and it felt cool. What was even more interesting was that I actually was singing. My voice broke into spoken word singing, but it began with actual hitting the right note singing. I was amazed.

Others were more amazing than I was including some students from the UW who sounded and looked like they were just out of theatre class.

I was happy to be joined by some of my improv troupe and was loving their work as well.

Next up, we had to create entire songs... verse then chorus. Off the suggestion of Checkers, I went into a song about how I loved a soft furry puppy named Checkers, then I proceeded to kill him off in a horrible accident in a parking lot when I had to rhyme with something. The class laughed hysterically and then Doug imagined me taking it to a whole darker level with the dog causing a fatal accident killing the person driving the car and we all went - yikes, but knew it was the right way to go in improv.

Other classmate's songs included subject matters like Hover Monkeys, Corsets, Square Dancing in Gym Class and evil girlfriends (the nastiest song of the day.)

Snow fell on Seattle Saturday night into Sunday morning putting our class into jeopardy (singing the thirty second timing song here - nothing as genius as the woman who had the perfect timing song for cooking top ramen when her timer was broken, but I digress.) However, 9 of us traversed the icy roads and made it to class, and thankfully we did, because day 2 put an exponential spin on the class.

We began with some warmups that included Hot Spot. The premise here is that one person takes center stage in the circle and sings a song to which the others can join in. However, the warmup takes two shapes. One is to see who is willing to take the spotlight or hot spot and put themselves out front. Second is to see the judgement of the others on when they choose to tag in and take the spotlight for themselves.

After a couple of people sang, I tagged in and started into the one song I absolutely knew I knew... Amy Winehouse's Rehab. I went full force into performance mode, and for the first time with this song, I actually heard myself singing it, and it wasn't that bad, bordering on good. Later, I broke into Rapper's Delight in a full force fast pace making eye contact with many in the circle. We were all in a great mood after the circle... and ready for what was to come.

It was time for Duets!!! I got to work with Will Li (no relations to the Letterman band member.) He was one of the UW Collective - the university improv group. He was something right out of a musical, with a great voice and pitch. Our suggestion was bath house... but we took it in a different direction with the power of the bath house to make one awesome. I got the chorus in which "The steam gives us courage... the heat will make us strong." I know it doesn't rhyme, but it sounded good.

Beth and I did a duet as well... but for some reason I can't remember my verse.

Our class danced and learned the diamond which can lead to improvised choreography for a big production number. Pretty cool.

The highlight duet by John and Beth was off the suggestion of Chuck Norris. It was a strange mix of a love song and a story of domestic abuse in the number "Karate on my Body." Hilarious. Really, it was.

And Sarah's Checker is my Plan... about the evil mastermind who replaced people's eyes with Checkers.

Finally, we did scenes and played SING IT where we had to break into song when prompted or when it felt right. My scene with Will and Beth was set on the transporter deck of the Enterprise. I was apparently beaming up people and turning them into mutant squirrels. When I finally brought a human onto the ship, I offered her an acorn, which she said she didn't like. That meant "I did something right!" Of course, that created the song "I did something right, that became "you did something wrong" when the red light came on leading to self destruction. Oh, the joy of failing.

So, now my obsession with singing has taking a whole new level, which happily, now has a direction. Class was incredible, and my interest for the process peaked.

Weather permitting, we will all get on stage on Wednesday and try out our new performing skills. I'll let you know how it goes.

Good night fellow singers!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Monday, December 8, 2008

On the subject of Creating Emotions

I want to start by apologizing to you readers for being away during a busy week. Time was that I would make time every day... now the day goes by so quickly that I am asleep before I realize all that I used to do goes without doing.

Now did that create some empathy for what you might feel about reading regularly. I did not start out to write the opening paragraph to make you feel one way or another... more to make me feel less guilty for not writing.

Creating emotions... it's just what I do in life. My job is to do that, to the thousands of viewers on television (and happily for me, the numbers are back up - that statement was to make me feel better) or to thousands of people in the stands, which I was happy to be able to do this past weekend. The emotion I created was hope and happiness for the audience, and accomplishment and happiness for me.

Through these blogs, I hope to create a pensive environment at times, but mostly I want to make you laugh... thus making you happy. For me, it's happiness in sharing to the desire for acknowledgment (yes, I get a huge kick out of comments.)

I spend a lot of time with my family trying to make them feel better, through telling them I love them to empathizing with their feelings. Again... it's trying to create an emotion for them, and to me honest, serenity for me.

Improv is all about creating feelings... and I have written scores of words about how I feel about that.

Sometimes, creating emotions can have a reverse effect.

Last night, at the Olive Garden, there was a significant wait for a table. I was sitting with my son when I saw some older ladies arrive. They looked tired and in need of a break, and were discouraged to hear of the long wait. I told my son to get up from the bench and walked over to them to tell them that they could have our seats. When I was half way over there, a teenage boy with Ipod earphones planted into his head, plopped his butt down where we were sitting.

The oldest of the ladies shrugged her shoulders, and the teenager was oblivious. The emotions created. I began as empathetic, went to hopeful and ended up pissed. For the ladies, frustration turned to appreciation turned to disappointed.

So, it taught me a lesson. Sometimes when you try to create an emotion, it can backfire, which reminds me that I need to spend more time letting things happen for themselves.  I won't stop trying to do good things, but I need to quit forcing it sometimes.

But before I do, I hope all of you have a better today than you did the day before. See. I just can't stop!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On the subject of Crushes and Kisses

Last night, it happened. Molly Ringwald charmed me again. Exhausted from work, I came home and on the television was Pretty in Pink. Boston Legal's James Spader playing a long haired cad far removed from the lovable Alan Shore. Jon Cryer was Ducky. Although a he was a puppy love filled nerd, I can identify with him.

This travel back into time began with my previous post, and suddenly I find myself stuck in a time that brought me so much happiness.

Then, this morning, my XM Radio had American Top 40, as Casey Kasem counted down the hits from November of 1980. And yes, I knew most of the words. My drive consisted of numbers 24 through 18. Christopher Cross (Sailing), Irene Cara (Out here on my Own) , Jackson Browne (that Girl Could Sing), Bruce Springsteen (Hungry Heart) and even Willie Nelson (On the Road Again) made appearances.

But the kicker was actually the kickoff. My radio was set to the 70's channel, as I was listening to Disco Saturday Night on my drive home. After hearing "here's a lost 45" teen heartthrob Rex Smith was on with "You Take My Breath Away." The memory rush hit me like a storm. Kristy McNichol was my crush back then. I think she was in a TV movie with Smith. I remember going to see "Little Darlings" two nights in a row just to see her. My parents let me stay up late to watch her in Family. I even rushed to buy the album "Jimmy and Kristy McNichol." The "bestest" Christmas present ever was a personally autographed picture of Kristy. I cried when i got it. When it came to heart throbs... Kristy was it.

That was until Pat Benatar came along, and suddenly, sensuality took a very sharp turn. Goodness in the form of Kristy became the badness of Benatar. Cute outfits on Miss McNichol were replaced by the spandex wonderment of this new Wonder Woman who could belt out a nasty tune.

I remember driving my blue Celica (I have a thing for blue cars.) On the back were bumper stickers from my favorite radio stations, both called Q107 (one in Washington DC, the other from Charleston SC - my summer home.) On my wall were posters of Benatar and Chris DeLisle (The Q107 Lips Woman.)

I had a boom box, a black and white TV, a CB radio, and a really cool desk where I could do my homework. I remember spending every afternoon on the blacktop basketball court of my neighborhood park playing a very rough game of playground basketball with Kenny Cassidy, Paul Gerrity and John McKenna.

Rewind to age 14.
My first real crush was on a girl named Shellie Donohoe. I took her on my first date (which I did not count as a date since it did not end with a kiss. We saw Young Frankenstein. I gave her a Polaroid Camera a couple of days later, which she would not accept. We remained friends, although she ended up dating one of the other neighborhood guys.

A little more than a year later, I received my first kiss in a men's locker room. Now wait a minute. Do not go jumping to conclusions! It was a rainy day at our neighborhood pool and the pool was closed. However, the neighborhood kids were there keeping the lifeguards, who we all liked to hang out with, company on a boring day. Then, the "scrooge" of the neighborhood - Hamilton Twitchell - showed up at the pool. He might have been a nice man, but we were scared of this older guy and thought we might get in trouble, so we ran into the men's locker room. There were three of us. Debbie Hill, and her sister Kim and me. I really liked Kim at this time. She was the older of the sisters, and very nicely put together... plus she had this Adidas swim suit that I really enjoyed seeing her in... but I digress.

We were all hiding in the changing area of the locker room when the subject of kissing came up. The Hill sisters could not believe that I was all of 15 years old and had never kissed a girl. So there it was, in a men's locker room, that Debbie Hill laid one on me. I was fluttering in glee.

This was the time of Grease and Billy Joel's Stranger album. While I was singing romantic songs of Joel, my inner Sandy was about to turn from innocent to well... a little less innocent.

Later that night, the gang was partying at Paul Gerrity's house. He had a converted basement that was the home to many a beer, lots of Springsteen, Who and Stones, and all of our neighborhood parties. I arrived late (I had been to something with my parents I think) and everyone was already a little drunk. Rarely would be the time I would have a beer, but I would from time to time. On this night however, Kim had one too many. The subject of my kissing history came up and next thing I know, Kim was grabbing me around the neck and planting a big one on me. What happened next was something of a surprise.

I was enjoying the kiss when she stuck her tongue into my mouth. I did not know what to make of it when she said "French! French!' I had no idea what was happening, but I went along and it did feel good.

She then proceeded to go back with her boyfriend and make out.

It would be a whole summer before I would enjoy that feeling again, when I had my first real girlfriend, Susan Kerdasha. She and I met at a dance on Kiawah Island, which was next to Seabrook, my island summer home. Our first date - The Muppet Movie. The date would end with that elusive kiss, and my relationships with girls officially began.

We dated for the two weeks she vacationed there, and decided it was love. the most awkward time of our relationship was when we decided that a non developed road would be a great make out place. Unfortunately for us, my friends spotted my car at the time (a station wagon belonging to my mom) . We were ambushed as I was trying to steal second. Needless to say, we were startled, but laugh about it now.

We bought matching bracelets, and wrote regularly. We spent Homecoming together and I travelled to New Jersey to go to one of her dances. Another trip took us to Great Adventure Amusement Park where we bought matching "Love is a Great Adventure" t-shirts. Puppy love was at its peak.

I don't remember how we broke up, other than the distance was too much, but I remained faithful throughout my junior year in school.

The next summer was indeed the summer of love. When you live on a resort island, people come and go, and with them, summertime romances. Think Dirty Dancing. Anyway, this particular summer began with a series of two week romances. The first with another Susan, then a Betsy and a Lisa who introduced me to Billy Joel.

In the middle of these romances were great friendships. Linda and Sharon Sovinski were sisters from West Virginia. They spent three weeks at Seabrook and I saw them every day as we were always by the pool or the rec center. I really liked Linda, but I think she was in a relationship, so I didn't want to wreck anything. Her younger sister Sharon was stunning - a cheerleader, and liked one of the others in our group, Albert Mikula.

The most vivid memory I have of the Sovinski Sisters was singing Breakfast in America by Supertramp, which we belted out in my car. They were wonderful people then... and happily, I found Sharon recently on Facebook. She is now a successful hair color designer and stylist in Los Angeles. She looks as I thought she would, and seems to be living a happy life. When I recounted the stories of Seabrook, she remembered them as vividly as I did... so it was nice to reconnect.

Towards the end of the summer, my friend Cassie Deveaux introduced me to a statuesque strawberry blonde named Sally. My taste in women took the turn from Kristy to Benatar. Sweet was replaced by sultry. If you watch Gray's Anatomy or Private Practice and know Kate Walsh (Addison), you have seen Sally.

We would travel north and south to see each other, and she gave me lots of new experiences, including my first ever look at ESPN. She had a thing for track shorts. I had a thing for her. It was as much fun as two kids could have while still remaining celabate. I would go into more of a story, but there were enough things that should remain private for many reasons... so I won't get into detail.

We went to prom together, first hers then mine. She was called the best looking girl at the prom, so I had that going for me. I remember that when we were ready to go, the tux I rented came with the wrong jacket. Luckily it fit. As for her dress... oh did it ever fit, with a slit up the leg that drove most of the guys at my school batty. We sang Fame badly, but it didn't matter... we were in love.

Our romance lasted my entire senior year and into part of my freshman year in college. Again, distance killed any chance of a long term relationship. She is happily married and just gave birth recently to her first kids... twins. We saw each other a few years ago, and age has treated her well.

In the midst of all of these romances came my longest lasting friendship... never a romance. Just a boy and girl who became man and woman and forever will be linked as "big brother and little sister." It's amazing to have a relationship like that that is so close when you are not family. Mess and I talk almost every week, and still share the closeness we had at age 15. It is truly a gift.

All in all I have an interesting perspective on life now that I have been married almost as along as I had been living back in those days that I can still remember so well.

Well, it's time for me to shoot back into the present day. I have to get back into the real world and go to work on this Sunday afternoon, but hope this trip back to the land of crushes and kisses can foster come great memories for all of you.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the subject of Confetti

Ah, the glory days. Sleeping so long that the night could last all night long.

Oy, today. Sleeping so little that I can barely last until it gets dark.

Oh, to return to those glory days. The halcyon days - make that nights - where every day was Mardi Gras and every night was New Year's Eve. (Wish I could call that my own - but credit goes to the Aquasox PA announcer Tom Lafferty.)

The place was called Confetti. It was a larger than life nightspot that was located just off Greenville Avenue in Dallas. The theme of the place was the "never ending, ever lasting party," and God, was it. From the unique design on two and a half floors, to its amazing sound and video system for that day to the lip sync performances to the confetti cannons and blowers... every bit of it screamed good time.

The best part of it though were the people that worked there. Every first impression starts at the front door, where hundreds would line up to get in. The doormen dressed in tuxedo shirts splashed with neon paint. (Ask my wife how much I loved these shirts... I still had two of them until about 5 years ago.) It was not a place for snobs, although there were the high roller regulars. This was a place where you dressed up for a good time because no matter how outrageous your outfit was, someone working there would go one better. You see, to work at Confetti, you didn't interview - you auditioned.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was just outrageous enough where they took one look at me and said, come on in. It helped to have a co-worker who vouched for me, so I could become the lights and effects to his Dee Jay prowess.

But there was something more to this place. I don't know if this was a testament to my loneliness at the time, or because I just loved the place. I would go to Confetti even on my nights off and get into costume and entertain the customers with random acts. And few even knew who I was.

My costume was made up of parachute pants... yes, you remember those. Underneath, a dress shirt with a pencil thin tie (hip back then) and over the top, a white tails jacket with black velvet trim. And over my head, a larger than life mask of a cartoon character named Herman, which made my 6-4 body nearly 7 feet tall. I was anonymous.

I would dance with the dancers on stage, I would follow customers around and mimick their moves, clowning. I would give the ladies flowers and balloons and just go around making people smile. I was, in essence, the masked merrymaker.

On certain songs, I would break out of the costume and take the stage for a lip sync performance with some of my peers. Two I can remember very well were "White Time Is It?" which was me and some others doing Morris Day and the Time, with me playing the very white Morris Knight. We would do the Bird, complete with the Jerome/Morris Chili Sauce choreography.

The other one was Duran Duran's Reflex, which was a solo number. The place had bars that separated one stage from another but you could fit in between them if you wanted to. I would literally (and in hinesight - probably stupidly) leap off one stage and grab the bars, sliding down the 15 feet to the other stage like a fireman. I was a rock star. Okay. In honesty, I was probably the only one being entertained, but the leap usually got oohs.

Then I would be head back stage, where I would hang out with the dancers (most of whom I had huge crushes on.) They saw me as the big goofy brother type. And then it was back on with the costume to take the club by a storm of niceness again.

When last call was over, and the party ended at 2 AM, I would go back to my apartment, jump in the pool to get all the cigarette smoke off of me and sleep until noon.

In case you were wondering, I would work a couple of nights a week and did sports jobs on other days. Since my condo was paid off, I did not have to worry about making a lot back then.

And I did get a payoff for all those off nights I spent entertaining the folks at Confetti. I was the proud owner of a Teal and Black Satin Jacket with the Confetti logo emblazoned across the back and specks of confetti embroidered onto the jacket front and sleeves. I wore it proudly.

And the assumption that could easily be made was that as a man in his 20's, I probably spent most of that time buzzed on alcohol in the night club... after all, that would explain the goofy behavior. Truth was... the strongest buzz I got in those days was a Pepsi.

So how does that relate to who I am now?

I am lucky to sleep past 8 AM. I work long days and sometimes nights. I very rarely walk into a night club. I never get to wear masks.

However, there are more things that still are a part of me than you might think. The random acts of clowning and kindness still happen; the clowning on an improv stage, and the kindness whenever I feel the need to want to make myself feel that way. The costume goes no further than most of my shoes, which are usually a bright shade of blue because it's something about being different. My lip synching has become Karaoke, where I actually sang "The Bird" complete with the choreography. And while 2 AM has been replaced by midnight for a rare late night party, I still enjoy the fun of being out late, whenever I can steal away the time. And the strongest buzz I get is from a Pepsi (of which I only have 1 or 2 now as opposed to the 6-8 I used to have every day.)

And for the me that used to be at Confetti, I look no further than my 9 year old son, who just yesterday sang his brains out around the house, danced around Westlake Center at the holiday tree lighting, and loves to wear costumes and sometimes masks. I wonder if that is genetic?

So to all you former party people from the days of Confetti - I salute you!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, November 27, 2008

On the subject of Being Thankful

One year ago, I approached thanksgiving with the strangest feeling. My prevailing attitude was that it had been another year that I just wanted to forget, and that my thanks were towards the calendar for the year to be close to being over.

What a difference a year makes. As I am lying down on my bed, resting from the soreness that is a given to a 45 year old who has just played football, I realize that this year, I am actually thankful for where I am and what I have become.

For the first time in the fifteen years since moving to the northwest, I feel like I have found an atmosphere in which I can breathe.

The biggest difference has been friends, and the fact that I feel like I have found some good ones. Just a year ago, responsibility and obligation seemed to take 100 percent of my time. Now, through a journey of discovery and cyberspace, I have found new creative outlets and, with them, great relationships.

It began with an incredible group of people in Improv 201 class in the spring. I arrived as an experienced student who was not sure what to expect. I arrived hoping I would be accepted for the person I was, not the person I had thought myself to be. Through eight weeks of scenes, socializing and tater tots, not only did I find acceptance, I found a group of incredible people that felt like friends.... fifteen years in the making.

From those friends, I discovered the joys of blogging, that has allowed me to hopefully entertain you, make you think, and feel like you might not be alone when you think you are. I have to thank Little Miss Notetaker and Adjil for providing the inspiration for the genesis of the blog, and to all the readers for keeping me going.

I have discovered the social network of Facebook, which has been an incredible part of enjoying life and sharing with others. Status updates and red dots can make my day, as even if it is in the relative obscurity of cyberspace, it still gives me a connection to friends, past and present.

I have to thank Teacher Doug for introducing me to Karaoke, and to Amy Winehouse for sending me to Rehab over and over.

While new improv classes came and went, there was never a feeling quite like that 201 class. Don't get me wrong, there were flashes of brilliance in those new groups, and I enjoyed them immensely. That chemistry, the illusive chemistry, was hard to recapture. Maybe I was trying too hard, or maybe it was just simple science.

The 201 class rejoined for some reunion events like karaoke, and we would go to shows together, and they always were among the best times I had this year.

Then last Sunday, the core group of the 201 class, with the addition of a few members of the most recent 201 class banded together for the first rehearsal of a new improv group. From the opening moments, we felt chemistry, and the desire to see where it might take us. In a word, it was awesome... not for the brilliant scenes, but for that feeling of chemistry, without effort.

Friends... real friends... not work friends... not shared friends... real friends. It was something I had not experienced in years... and it opened the doors.

It allowed me to see the joy of friendship without obligation, without work. I could enjoy the company of people not because they needed me to do something, just because they enjoyed my company - and I theirs. That, to me, was an unbelieveably new feeling.

So to my improv friends, thanks for giving me a new lease on friendship life. To my new friends via the blog and Facebook, thanks for including me in your cyberlife. To the people who have become my friends from coaching to life at the unnamed university to life outside of sports, I thank you.

And last, and probably most importantly, thanks to those who are closest to me for your love, your support and your kindness through the trying times of the past three years, and hopefully the joy to come. Honey, you are the reason I am able to wake up every day and tackle life. I just hope I can inspire you as you have inspired me.

And now, a new adventure begins... one for which I can thank each of you for giving me the courage to undertake... and it should be amazing.

Happy Thanksgiving All,

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the subject of Dot Dot Dot

Houston Hello! It's time for another edition of the blog brought to you in full Larry King vision.

I saw a friend yesterday who said the blogs were turning whiny... Yikes! It has been a stressful few weeks but I did not hear the sound of the whine, or thankfully wine....

What is it about wine? I have never understood the taste of it... Many would say I have no taste at all...

Now that the elections are over, people are back to discussing nothing at all... has anyone figured out that if we, as a country, stop talking about ourselves for long enough and actually do something, that we might just accomplish something...

And about the economy... why can't I find a parking place at the local shopping mall? I thought people were not shopping. And what's more, why is it that if no one is spending money, that my family had to go eat fast food after being told at three different restaurants that there was a one hour wait?

I filled up my car for less than 40 bucks for the first time in years yesterday... and it felt so good, I actually called home about it...

Without expecting it, I received a gift card for a local eatery/bakery for helping out my son's soccer team. So when my wife and I went out to lunch at this place, dumb old me pulled out a 20 and paid for the lunch forgetting the card. When we sat down for lunch, there was an elderly couple right across from us, enjoying a day out at the mall. I made eye contact with the lady and received the nicest smile. A little later, her husband shuffled off to the counter to look for some dessert. I told my wife I would be right back and went over to the husband. I asked him if he was buying dessert for his "date." He chuckled and said why yes. So I pulled out the gift card from my pocket and said "this one's on me."
I returned to finish my lunch and the husband brought a fancy carrot bread muffin back to her. He had the kindest look with a hint of happiness when he presented the muffin to his bride. It was so sweet.
As we were leaving, the husband was telling his wife what had happened. She looked up at me and said "you did this?' I replied, "yes I did, and it was because you took the time to smile and made my day, so the least I could do is return the favor."
It felt good... and I needed that. The couple reminded me so much of my own parents when they would go out on a lunch date late in their lives. It was just something I wanted to do and share the story not to be proud, but in hopes you might do the same for someone soon.

And while you are at it, one of my blog followers could use a nice thought sent her way this holiday season. Spending your first holiday without a parent can be so difficult, and I understand it totally... so good thoughts are heading your way from me... and my fellow readers as well I hope!

I love college football, but for some reason will be happy when this season is over. It was a very tiresome season for me, but someone out there is enjoying it. Good on you!

If it's British, I seem to be obsessed with it these days.

A friend from high school popped up on my Facebook chat last night as I was finishing my hockey game play by play duties. This guy and I played hoops together back in High School and I had not heard from him since we graduated. It is amazing how some things can seem like they just happened yesterday... and there are moments when high school fits in that space.

Speaking of high school... late night talk radio is not the same without Larry King and Jim Bohannon. King's moved to tv and Jimbo is not heard in this market. I can't tell you the number of times the last voice I heard at night was one of theirs.

Satellite radio sure sounds different these days with the Sirius/XM merger. They took away my disco station, but replaced my favorite Upop station with BBC Radio One. That was a good trade. Also, First Wave is a great find. Reminds me of the Resurrection Flashback Sundays that Jim Keller used to have on 107.7 The End and my days of listening to 99X in Atlanta.

My first improv rehearsal is tomorrow night. The new group is together and it will be fun to see where it might go. More details to come.

So those are random thoughts on a Saturday morning, hopefully Whine-Free. So go pop open a cold one and enjoy your weekend. I will, as usual, be working. Oops... maybe that was whining.

Good day to you all.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On the subject of Improv Videos.

When I tried to put videos online last time, I failed miserably... so here is my first You Tube attempt. Let's see how it works...

Here is Standing Sitting Lying Down. At any time in the scene, one of us has to be standing, one has to be sitting and one lying down. The suggestion is Asbestos. The result is comedy... or chaos!

Here is Alphabet. Each line in the scene has to start with the next letter in the alphabet. We start with G and the suggestion for the scene is Pez Dispenser. Sorry it's a little tough to hear... so crank those headphones!

And here is Chain Murder Mystery.... Lauren describes what it is all about before the scene...

More to come from

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Monday, November 17, 2008

On the subject of Alrighty Then

I am alright.

When I turned on the answering machine this morning at my office, I received the kindest message from an old friend. The voice sounded familiar, but it was one I hadn't heard in over two decades.

The voice was concerned about what they were reading online on Facebook and here on the blog. Status updates like:

Jon is so used to instant responses, he wonders why his mail box isn't full at 7:45AM from a message sent at 2AM. Needs a chill pill badly. Any distributors?

Jon - BOOM!

Jon - B! O! O! M!

Jon is in mile 13 of the marathon.

Jon is waiting for a star to fall.

The voice was worried about me, and that is very nice.

Interestingly enough, these same status updates led someone to want to be my Facebook friend... someone I have never met. Her note to me that came with the request was something to the effect of "I can identify with your life."

That simple fact made me happier. Someone other than myself, understands the travails of every day life that I am running through. Simply put, I am not alone.

Fact is, I use the blog and the Facebook updates as a form of therapy. Yes, you dear reader are my therapists now. Do I owe you a co-pay?

It has been an unbelievably stressful time in my professional and personal life as mid life crisis seems to be creeping in. Questions like who do I want to be? What do I want to be doing in 10 years? Do I want to take a vacation?

Happily, the questions are not do I want to stay in my relationship? Do I want to buy an expensive car? Do I want to change everything? Those are NOT, I repeat NOT the questions.

So to answer everyone who has been asking, I am okay. And to the voice, I will be calling soon so you can hear this voice as well, telling you it's okay. Thank you for being so concerned.

And to my regular readers, crazy time is about to end, and the comedy will resume. I have my first get together with my new improv group this weekend - so there will be plenty to scribe about. So with that, as the tape in the machine next to me reaches its end, I am sigh-ning off for now.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On the subject of a "Different" Me

"Jon is slowly descending from the mountain top that holds the rare air of total happiness to see that there is still the real world to contend with below the clouds."
- Facebook Status Update from Today.

For a while, it was glorious. My wife said, "well at least you had some time up there."

Up there is happiness. Up there is where I want to be all the time. Up there is what I used to be.

A new friend went to my improv show the other night and had a very interesting comment. "That's a different Jon there."

A different Jon? Seems like a very familiar one to me, but the statement struck me. It appears that few of my friends really know who I used to be, and only know the stressed out, work obsessed, family driven person that I have become.

The comment took me back to the days of dating in Atlanta. I was seeing a woman named Pam Pyevich (yes - I am writing it in case she Googles herself so she can see I did eventually fall in love and marry.) We had been dating for a few months when I let the "L" word slip out. No, not the L word from television.... sheesh. To make a long story short, we broke up shortly after the utterance.

Early in our relationship, I took her with me to join my friends at a taping of World Championship Wrestling. The Atlanta Boys, as our group was known, was notorious for forcing the WCW production crew to add in sound effects and change their shooting because we were among the first groups to cheer for jobbers (guys who usually lose) or guys who were not getting the star quality we thought they deserved. Simply put, we were troublemakers, adn loving every minute of it.

It was in this light that Pam saw me for the first time - a mischievous, kid-like, devil may care guy who just wanted to smile, laugh and make others do the same.

When we broke up, she told me that the only time she thought she saw the real me was at that wrestling taping. She said I put on a different identity to protect my own and rarely let down my guard. She went on to say that she probably could have gone out with that "other guy."

Strangely, she was absolutely on target. I am one who likes to be liked and will go out of my way to please. I care what people think. I protect my reputation with a pit bull like mentality. I never want to be thought of as "that guy (rolling eyes)."

Being a boss, and a husband, and a father, it's difficult to be liked all the time. Many times, anything you do can just piss people off, even if you have the best of intentions. Other times, it's a no win situation.

Back to last Sunday's improv show. There I was in my Zinzanni hat, taking the stage and just acting the fool. I wasn't caring what people thought. I just cared that I was giving my all to entertain and I didn't care if I fell on my face (or my back in this case) as long as I was true to my heart.

The high that the show gave me, and the feeling of belonging to something truly wonderful filled my heart with joy. I had found a place where the old me, the different me, the true me could flourish. Now the challenge will be to figure how to allow this me to make peace with the me that lives every day - the one that has to be the boss, husband and dad.

There is hope, and it has to be protected from the failing economy, shattered dreams and everyday challenges of life.

So say hello to a different me, and I hope you get to see him some more. I am going to attempt to remember he exists and let him out for a run every once in a while.

And please no schitzophrenia jokes. None of you realize what role that plays around my life, which is one reason the new me has to be, and old me only appears as a special guest star.

Good night to all the mes and all of yous.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

(Had to remove the video as it wasn't function properly. Kept saying "Yes, but.")

Monday, November 10, 2008

On the subject of Pez Dispensers

The candy was crap, but the packaging was always cool.

And while I was not obsessed in the collection of the dispensers that had all those great characters, I will always have a fond recollection of Pez after last night's Student Improv Showcase at the Historic University Theatre in front of, yes, a sold out audience.

The scene was done for a game called Alphabet. Each line of the scene was to begin with the next letter in the alphabet. The suggestion for the scene was Pez Dispenser and the letter we began with was G. Now usually these scenes go all the way through the alphabet, but X, Q and Z are usually the scene stoppers for the wrong reasons. Last night, X was the spot for the right reason.

I played a little kid with an Incredible Hulk dispenser whose mommy (played by Erika) wants him to get rid of all that candy. She makes him destroy his favorite dispenser which leads him to being sad. Being a little boy, my lines were very short, usually one word or two... but always appropriate. I seem to remember the last lines going something like this.

Mom: Unless you get rid of that you'll be in trouble.
Me: Very well. (I stomp on the Hulk dispenser)
Mom: What do you think you're doing now?
Me: (Pulling a new dispenser out of my pocket) X-Men!

The scene was called there. I really don't know if Lauren was thinking we were running out of time in the show or she just thought that was the place to end it, but it got a big cheer and made me feel great.

Being on stage is a really wonderful part of my life now, and I look forward to doing it more and on a regular basis. Some dear friends of mine, including many of my fellow bloggers, are getting together to start a new group. We believe we are on our way to a great direction, and I can't wait to see where it will take me. I still am not sure I have all it takes to be awesome, but my heart tells me that there is some kind of magic still left in this 45 year old body.

To my fellow cast members from last night, my heartiest thanks.
To my future cast members, I can't wait to be awesome with you!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, November 9, 2008

On the subject of Making Time

I wish I had 27 hours in every day. That would allow me to do everything I need to do, get some sleep and also have a couple of hours to enjoy myself with something fun.

Like right now. I am taking a short break from work. But I am doing it while double tasking. So every time you see this 8) - that means I had to go back to work and stop writing.

We spend so much time double tasking. 8) Like most of the time when I am watching TV, I am surfing the net, reading blogs and Facebooking. When a show nee 8) ds me to pay attent 8) ion I will shut down the lap 8) top and donate my eyes to the tube and my ears to the words.

At work, I will listen to the radio, and while rendering video (which is the world's greatest time waster for editors), I will take time to check in with Facebook or to see what Little Miss Notetaker, Adjil, Rosie or one of my other blogging friends has contributed to the blogosphere.

Taking time 8) to do just one thing is nearly impossible in my busy season. With kids, it's impossible. I am at work on a Sunday, and my son is standing outside my office. Even now he is asking me questions, causing me to triple task to answer, work and blog at the same time. My head is going to explode. 8)

Later today, I will be able to do just one thing, and that is hopefully be entertaining. 8) My student showcase for Improv is this evening and I am really looking forward to attempting awesomeness. Many times, I go to class with so much on my mind, between work and homelife, that I don't have my mind focused in on the task at hand - which is to be creative instantly. I am giving myself plenty of time to prepare and clear the mind of any distractions.

The pictures will be on Facebook, and who knows, videos may end up on Youtube. I'll let you know.

Until then, thespians and crowd, good night from,

Yours truly,
8) Johnny Blogger

PS - I just had to do a little quadruple tasking before I even hit publish.... anything to entertain you my blog readers!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On the subject of Marathons

26 miles, 385 yards.

Never had the desire to run it. Don't know if I ever will.

Friends of mine actually have run marathons, triathalons, and other athalons, but for me, just getting through the day is a race enough.

I am currently in my busy season. I work most every day from 8:30 AM to 10 PM, which can be a marathon.

Anyone that runs will tell you that pacing is important but sometimes circumstances call for starting with a sprint, kicking in the middle, and sprinting with a huge kick at the end. That is no way to run a marathon.

I need new shoes to do this.

Metaphorically yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On the subject of Election Day

It's going to be over in just a few hours, and relief will hit my brain.

Gone will be the attack ads. Gone will be the constant bickering. Gone will be the marathon that should have been a sprint.

On Facebook, people will hopefully go back to being friends rather than spending their status updates on campaign messages.

Election Day is here, and it will be historic no matter the outcome.

I voted in a way I thought I never would. I went with my heart rather than my history. It was the only way I could.

That vote included one non-vote in a major race (not the Presidential one) where I found both people so sickening in their tactics that I could not in my right conscience vote for either one of them.

We can only hope that some of our system of government's problems can be fixed, or at least examined to admit there is something broken.

So I look forward to tomorrow with anticipation... where the first thing someone wants to talk about is something about who I should vote for. 

Good night, America. 

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, October 31, 2008

On the subject of being someone else.

You miss me. Sorry, been busy. 

Today is Halloween, the day we all can be someone else for a day. Sadly for me, no such luck. I am just stuck being me. However,  I thought I'd take you on a very scary journey back in time for some of the most outrageous things I can remember from Halloween.

These days, it's not Halloween, it's a Harvest Festival, or a Costume Carnival, as no church or school is apparently allowed to call it what it is. We usually take the kids to the local church for a night of games, tickets, cheap toys and candy, all in a safe environment. Then, it's a quick trip down the street for more candy for the kids. Most of that candy sits for the next year in a bin in our cupboard. Ah - enterprise!

I am working tonight - doing hockey play by play for television. I am dressed as an announcer, or at least I am playing one on TV.

I am trying to remember the last time I actually dressed up and I think it was in 2001 when I produced a show for the Washington Huskies and I dressed up as Rick Neuheisel, complete with coach's shirt, whistle, and secret playbook. To the cynics who asked if I had cash or poker chips coming out of the playbook... no.

That was pretty much dressing as I usually do though. It's been a while since I have been in full costume.

My wife seems to remember me putting on my letterman's jacket and taping my glasses for a dance once, but I think that was a sock hop and not Halloween.

I think I have to go back to the 90's when my girl friend at the time and I wore bright orange ponchos with huge smiles on them. We were happy campers, well, that's what the costume was supposed to be.

In the 80's, now that was my glam era. For one party, the theme was unsuppressed desires, and I went as a purple panted punk rocker with glitter in my hair. Again, I seem to remember that wasn't for Halloween either.

When I worked at a huge night club called Confetti, we always dressed in costume, so when it came to Halloween, we had to go over the top. One year was after seeing Cats, and I decided to do one of the characters - Rum Tum Tugger. This was before Cats was seen as corny, and it was a hit play.

There I was in a black body suit, feathered boa (the character wore feathers around his neck), collar, tail, cat ears on top of the most amazing silver and black wig and full makeup. I guess to say it wasn't understood, as one woman asked me if I was supposed to be Tina Turner. She said this as she pinched me. She promptly left the club, but I still remember it all these years later. 

We also had another contest for the best superhero, which I won as Commander Confetti - complete with a red top, yellow trunks and blue leggings with white stars. To top it all off was a red satin hat with a rhinestone C with confetti coming out of it. On my back was a gold cape with my character's name in rhinestones. And finally, I wore metallic silver nike basketball shoes.

My most normal one was probably a Dallas Mavericks complete uniform with warmups and a jersey with my name on the back. I bought it because I thought it would be cool. The shorts were not though... at least in these days.

I guess those wild days are over, however I think I have one good costume party left in me, and there are those who have already said that there is just one costume for me, especially now that I have lost some weight, and given my penchant for singing a certain song. Yes, it seems like the consensus is that I should go as Amy Winehouse.

Maybe someday, not tonight. 

Hey, I warned you it might be scary! (something tells me that Anonymous will be quacking in here in the comments. Oh sheesh.)

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the subject of Silence

Mother told me there would be days like these.

A couple of blogs ago, I got a comment from my Duck friend that said “Larry, get back to entertaining us.” Well my mallard pal, I wish I could, but it’s just been one of those times.

So, at the advice of my therapist (yes, I do have one of those, doesn’t everyone?) I am trying something new, albeit not voluntarily.

I am in silence right now. I don’t have a radio on, no TV playing College Gameday (my Saturday morning favorite show.) All I hear is cars rolling by, as I am sitting in a park close to my old house with the laptop and sharing thoughts.

(It’s 8:30 AM – it’s cold. I only have a warmup jacket on, so I am a little chilled. Lots of birds chirping.)

Friday nights are never easy sleep for me. I produce a television show that is edited overnights for airing on Saturday morning. I have hired someone to do the editing for it and he handles the late hours. When I come in, as I oversee the show, is when there is a problem. This morning, there was a problem.

I took a sleeping pill last night and got to bed at a reasonable hour. I woke up at 5:45 AM for no reason and went to check to see if the text message signifying delivery of the show was on my phone. It was not, so I called the television station. They said it was delivered hours ago, but that there was a problem and I was about to get a call. It seems as though there was missing video in two parts of it. Not a good sign.

Seeing as though I was closer to the office, I just went and fixed the problem and delivered it to the station. That was at 7 AM.

(A squirrel just startled me, asking which way Bullwinkle went. He flew out of here when I said I had no idea. I believe he said his name was Rocky.)

On the calendar, this is a day I have been looking forward to for a mighty long time. At 10 AM, I am going to take a class. The subject is physical improv. It was born from a suggestion I made to the education director of Jet City, my improv place. I have longed to do physical comedy, and this class should give me a great foundation.

However, doing a class when I have been up since 5:45 AM might be different than after getting a full eight.

(SUV’s can be noisy.)

Then there is the football game this afternoon, between two legendary teams. Sadly, one of them is 0-6 and the other is not what it used to be.

This all comes after a week where:
- A lightning storm went through two surge protectors, and a battery backup to fry the power supply and mother board to my brand new Mac Pro.
- The continuing project at the covert operation has taken on a life of being the Shell Answer Man more than actually doing the spying, if you know what I mean.
- One of my kids is still having so much trouble in school that I don’t know how or if we will be able to help.
- My therapist tells me I need rest, when I have a massive design project and have to work a stretch of 9 nights in 10 days, after working the days.
- I have no idea what is left of my 401K which used to sit in a savings account earning nothing, and now it sits with an investment advisor (who is pretty solid) and is worth less than it was when we took it out of the savings on a “conservative” plan.
- I am ready to shoot the TV with every campaign commercial that airs
- Thankfully, I don’t own a gun.

(There is a very loud honking goose across the street. If I was asleep and living in the house over there, I think I would be very annoyed right now. Who’s kidding whom? I am annoyed and I am awake.)

Okay – bright side.

I heard from someone from my teen days that found me on Facebook. She is very happy and just was surprised that she found me there. She’s very much like I remember her (we were casual friends and did not do the dating thing) and full of spirit and family love. Nice to see.

(Two women just got out of the car for their morning jog or walk. Their voices seem very loud right about now. I guess silence has its drawbacks. Okay, I guess they are just walking. Oh, three more have just arrived… is this a group that is going to play a game of soccer? Hmmm!)

Okay, more bright side. Okay, it’s coming to me. Give me a minute. Um.

(Damn, that car radio is loud – and booming.)

Hold on, I am thinking.

(Oh, there is a homeless guy over there that apparently just woke up. I had no idea he was there.)

One fact that I can’t deny is the one that my lovely wife has been very caring and supportive of me in this burnout stage. She gives me lots of hugs and snuggles, and God knows, we could all use some of those! Thank you my love.

(A mom and her kid just emerged out of one of the local houses. Mom keeps repeating “here we go!” while the child just says Blah, Blah Blah. The women have just started a morning jog together and are running around the field. It’s a full blown exercise class as the leader is shouting out instructions. Maybe I ought to go join them and run like Pheobe from Friends. That would be a sight.)

One hour from my class, so I am going to sign off now. I am worn out, and it’s only 9 AM. Hey, there is a 7-11… time for some Pepsi – power (still half and half so I can maintain my girlish figure… did I mention I passed the 30 pounds lost mark and that I now am wearing XL clothes for the first time since college? HEY, There’s a bright side!

Back to reality, Oh there goes gravity – Oh! (Hey! Aren’t I hip and happenin’ – a 45 year old quoting Eminem. Yo Yo!)

After class, it’s another day at work at the secret covert operation that may or may not have anything to do with sports. Go generic team that I cannot mention on the blog.

If you are trying to reach me tomorrow, good luck. I will probably be sleeping most of the day, until something will no doubt wake me up.

Mom, you warned me about these days. Let’s hope this one ends better than it began.

Good night… er morning, fellow readers.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger
At 9 AM on a Saturday morning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the subject of Being One

There is a lot of drama out there.

Candidates want you to believe their opponent likes killing babies. They want to make you think their opponent wants to attack you with thumb tacks. You need to know that their opponent is a total piece of sh...aving cream!

It's enough to make one sick... and I am one.

The stock market has no rhyme or reason. Life is full of expectations and all the traders can do is expect the worst. My 401K - a lot less than it was back when it was just a savings account.

It's enough to make one sick... and I am one.

The team I am not allowed to talk about has not been able to become a winning team. As a matter of fact, my college team stinks. People want to see heads roll for every little thing from bad coaching to softball questions to typos.

It's enough to make one sick, and I am one.

I went into improv class with the choice to be awesome or awful. My dog helped make the choice by his need to be let out every 15 minutes from midnight to 2 AM the night before, and a sound sleeping wife had no idea what was going on... so I was Doggie Door Man.

So as my worn out self went into improv, I couldn't act or think my way out of a doggie bag. It was just brutal. Interestingly enough, my teacher had a solution by taking away what is my biggest strength. He told me that I had to basically become a statue and do the entire scene motionless. 

It was awesome, as my character took shape from the opening minute. If the audience was looking to laugh, they were out of luck. The drama of the week had taken its place in class, and I was driving it. 

In the next scene, restrictions came off, but the drama continues in a poignant scene about someone who had almost killed his friend's friend in a car accident. 

Afterwards, I jumped up and screamed, "I just went dramatic on your ass!" Now, that was out of character, but it was just want I needed. In trying to find a way to make others laugh, I discovered it was more interesting, at this point, to make them think.

It was enough to make one happy, and finally I was one.

In these days approaching the election, and the wacky days in the market, take time to save some drama for yourself. It may have a surprising effect on you.

Good night, fellow thespians!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On the subject of a Passing

Edie Adams passed away yesterday.

Chances are you have no idea who Edie Adams is. Many would wonder how a 45 year old like myself would know who she is.

She was the straight woman to Ernie Kovacs, arguably the greatest comedian of his time. As a matter of fact, she was Mrs. Kovacs. 

Many who have seen my sense of comedy wonder why I tend to be so old school when it comes to the people I like. Ernie Kovacs was at the top of that list. He could make the largest of jokes out of the simplest of things.

One of his greatest accomplishments was the Nairobi Trio. The act was only three people dressed in ape suits, always playing the same song. However, the stories they could tell in that atmosphere were oh so numerous. Edie was one of the trio along with Ernie. There was a lot of conjecture as to who the third was... some have even said that Frank Sinatra took a turn as the third.

Comedians like Bob Newhart, Shelley Berman, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner... these to me are the geniuses of the art. But for every one of those, there was a Carol Burnett, Imogene Coca, and yes, Edie Adams, that could stay with them, joke for joke, sketch for sketch.

David Letterman credits Kovacs and Steve Allen along with the great Johnny Carson as his greatest influences. That's quite a trio.

For me, there was one that started it all. He died sadly in a car wreck much to soon. He had lost a child in a mystery. But now, he is finally all together up there with his beloved Miss Edie... and the man that made me learn to laugh can finally smile.

Good night, Mr. Kovacs.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the subject of a Sticky Situation

Okay. I am stuck. I am having live writer's block. 

Live writer's block? You're writing now aren't you?

Well, yes, but I am having one of those times when I am in a conversation and can't ever seem to find the right word. I am in one of those times where I feel stuck when I should be moving forward.

Stress can do that, but usually, I can find the key to unlock the brain. It usually happens when I have an epiphany moment, and I am looking for one.

I thought it might have happened over the weekend when my wife and I went to Teatro Zinzanni. I felt inspired by what I saw, but alas - not it.

So I continue to look, in hopes that - poof - it will appear, and the key will become available again - and so will the ability to be great instead of just okay.

Good night keepers of the key.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On the subject of Inspirational Faces

To see the face of a woman... one that will not allow you to turn away for even just a moment. Every move she makes, every smile, every wink, there is no opportunity to blink, no time to rest, there is just admiration and awe.

On the celebration of my 14th anniversary, I will admit, there was a woman who distracted me to this very point.

Now before you start sending me nasty comments about my perverted self, or how I have crushes on people other than my wife, or how I am just one of those guys, you must gaze into the eyes of this woman.

All hail the queen.

Her name in actuality is Krissie Illing, and she is the star of the latest (and soon to wrap up) incarnation of Teatro Zinzanni, a show that can be described as part circus, part dinner, all amazing. 

For four hours, my wife and I were transported into a world of Love, Chaos and Dinner where the movements of faces and bodies mesmerized us. The words of over the top actors sent us to a universe far far away from the one in which we live. It was the perfect tonic, without the gin.

In the midst of an array of incredible acts that included aerialists, contortionists, jugglers and strong men (and women), there were the stars who took our breath away (and in one case - someone's breasts away). 

The Queen, as played by Illing, is a very smartly played dizzy wonder. At one point in the performance, she is preparing for a date with her true love. Alone on the stage, she is sitting in an outfit very much not fitting her role as her majesty. She makes this costume her own aura and proceeds in a 10 minute wonderment of facial expressions, aquatic convulsions (the spit take to end all spit takes), and uncomfortable twitching the likes of which I had never seen. 

The amazing point on this performance is she said nary a word. Her movements spoke volumes. Her eyes did the talking. Her body wrote the story. It was the performance of my dreams.

My dream, is to be able to make people laugh in an improvisational performance, saying it all without saying anything. 

The irony of this on my anniversary night was not lost on me. My wife was amazed by the performance as well, as she was for those of Manchester, Peter and the strange waiters who had a uniquely German touch. This appreciation coming from the woman who told me only days before "I really don't get your thing with improv." This coming from a woman who seemingly had lost her smile. 

On this night, she smiled broadly, laughed hysterically, and danced divinely. Our world had transformed for a while into one where the kid's problems were non-existent, our stress was invisible, and our love stronger than ever, all because of a queen, a queen, and the court jesters who ruled our evening. For one magical night, our worlds collided in just the right way, and it was amazing.

Yes, at the end of the night, there was one set of eyes I was thinking about. One wonderful woman who I am lucky to spend my time with. My honey and I were happy... together... and that is what makes it worth while.

So thanks to all who helped us get lost, and in the process, find each other. Do we adore them? "WE DO!"

Thanks to you all, and to my honey, thanks for 14 wonderful years of life's greatest adventure.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On the subject of Being Misunderstood

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good,
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."
     - song by Santa Esmeralda

Tonight in improv class, I reached a new low. No, I have been bad before, but tonight, the interpretation by the audience of my characters went down faster than the stock market in the last two days.

In the first scene, Erika and I were playing a two people being confronted by a hippo. The game was called "Oh, I know what this scene is about." The object was when an audience member has an idea of what the scene is "really" about, they stop the scene and give their interpretation.

The scene began, and I was hiding behind the demure Erika acting terrified but curious about the hippo. It took almost no time before a classmate stopped the scene and said "Jon is a creepy guy who has the hots for her." Oh, great. That's what they got out of my character. (I was playing a scared kid using his friend as a human shield.) Instead - creep! Won-der-ful. 

So we restarted the scene and I began to just get creepy, as in overly creepy as in lecherously creepy. It all ended when I went to the place where I am most uncomfortable - as a sexist pig looking for some... or in the case of where the scene went... some with more than one. Sheesh, let the dominoes fall.

Later in the night, we were given suggestions a character that we had to play blindly and independently from our scene partner until the cue to interact would force us to figure out what the other was doing.

I was told that I was nervously dancing. It was the one character I actually understood all night. My thought was that I was a bride getting ready for her wedding day. As is usual with improv, what it ended up being was a daughter who ruined her father's painting only to have her dog killed.

It was the most normal scene of the night for me, as in the next round, the ultimate in misunderstanding would occur.

I was playing a scene with... well, I am withholding the name and you will understand why in a minute. The suggestion given to me was to be a guy who was so sleepy that he couldn't stop from falling asleep while watching TV.  I sat down and assumed the Al Bundy position, with a hand slightly under my belt line and the other miming a remote. My scene partner was a woman putting on makeup as thought she was preparing for a night out. The scene took the direction that I saw the woman on TV, "Janice" who had beaten out my scene partner as homecoming queen, and when I flipped the channel on, I said "and oh yeah, she's had a boob job." Lots of laughs from the audience.

The scene broke down into an angry spouse laying into the husband, but I never left my position that I had assumed at the scene's genesis. The ending featured me with "Janice's lipstick on my collar," and saying that "I liked the taste of her cherry chapstick." The scene ended with my partner saying, "yeah, I did too." And, Sceeeeeeeene!

After the scene, our teacher asked us for comments about the scene. My partner looked straight at me and said, "were you m...????" I can't type what she actually said here. She was asking if I was dancing with myself to um... be tactful.

It was at this point where I hit a new low. Now, classmates (most of whom are women) are now assuming I am going to play a pervert, which is not my nature. Two scenes with references to couples who were actually a trio and one case of an imaginary lover on stage. Dr. Freud - line one.

While I was somewhat embarrassed, it was more a silly thing. I didn't take it personally, but the theme of my evening was not what I expected.

So I am hoping next week to get back to my physical comedy and playing childlike characters, because playing a grown up tonight was not exactly rated PG. More like a pirate-like RRRRRRRR!

Good night, you silly classmates,

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On the subject of Blowing Up

It should probably be said that people should read the next post then come back to this one.

Okay, welcome back.

It has been one of those days, and then, I come home after a pretty dismal day at work. I don't sit down. There's laundry that needs to be done, and there are dishes piled up in the sink.

Feeling irritable, I began thinking that maybe I was just hungry. So, I sit down to have a snack and open up the newspaper to the A&E Section.

Each Sunday. the Seattle Times publishes a Rant and Rave Section. I enjoy reading it to see some of the nice things people do. The rants I usually understand, but sometimes wonder why they felt a need to publish.

THEN, I FOUND OUT I WAS THE SUBJECT OF ONE OF THE RANTS. The request by one of my clients keeps me from sharing what the subject was, but needless to say, it was something trivial beyond belief. I can say this. Someone who works for me made a typo, and someone decided it was harmful enough to take the time to write the newspaper. In doing so, this person questioned my/my employee's ability to do their job.

I can start my own rant here, and I will. I am so sick and tired of people who are so perfect that they expect the rest of the world to be as perfect as they appear to be. They judge people's abilities by the mistakes they made, or overlooked. They do this not realizing the scope of work that is invested into everything that is done in the big picture.

Are the people who write this perfect in everything that they do at work?

Are the people who post anonymously in the paper, or on internet message boards, so courageous that they can slam someone else while hiding behind a keyboard? And by the way, I don't hide behind that keyboard, my name is on the masthead!

I am sick of anyone who has to judge someone on a small mistake in the realm of a much larger picture. Was the mistake made? Yes. Was it about 1/1000th of the entire body of work that takes about 40 hours of work to do? YES!

I loved the rant and rave column because it shows the best in people when it salutes the good deeds they do. I have done some things that I honestly believe would be the subject of the raves. I have been the victim of some of the acts that were like the subject of rants. However, to be called out for a simple mistake on a keyboard - give me a fricking break.

There are parts of me that want to send this entire entry to the rant and rave section as a reply to the judge, jury and grammar executioner. Instead, I am just sharing it with you folks who know me better.

It's just a bad day that got worse, and I felt a need to share it.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

On the subject of One of those Days

I have never liked Sundays. They seem like a footnote to Saturdays and a precursor to Mondays.

It's the day we are supposed to rest, but for me, it seems like the day I am expected to work. It can be as simple as a honey-do list, or as complicated as going to the work that is my secret covert operation of which I am not allowed to blog.

You can tell from the tone... it's one of THOSE Sundays.

Growing up, there was no better day than Saturday. From the time I was little, it was a day to play, a day to stay up late, a day to enjoy. Now, Saturday is just another work day for at least 26 weeks a year, and somedays, the most stressful.

Oh, but that title belongs to Fridays. I produce a TV show that is edited overnight on Friday nights for a Saturday airing. I did it myself for five years, before hiring someone to handle the overnights last season. This year, I brought on an experienced editor/producer type who is doing a great job. However, I can't seem to let go, and can't get a good night's sleep wondering if it is all getting done. I keep waiting for the phone call that something is wrong. I shouldn't but I do. I guess it's the way I am wired.

That state of unrest leads to stressful Saturdays, usually from a lack of restful sleep, or the fact that work is going to take me away from a weekend. I don't mind the work, I just would like to have a "normal" life once in a while.

In the early 90's, I moved to Atlanta, arguably one of the most social cities in all of America. Here's the funny thing. In the first 44 weeks I lived there, I never spent a Friday or Saturday night there. I would fly to Dallas for work every Friday morning and return on Sunday. Somedays, it would be a couple of trips for another broadcast.

When that job ended, I finally found out what a Friday night in Atlanta was all about. However, that would not last long. I took a job with CNN which gave the lovely schedule of Wednesday through Sunday, 6 PM to 2 AM. So again, spending a weekend night in Atlanta was a thing of the past.

Now, in the burbs of Seattle, I long for a night out with my honey, but I am working most weekend nights again - in some cases weekend days AND nights.

And so the misunderstandings begin. My honey thinks I am never home, and that I spend all my evenings out. I am not one of those people who goes and hangs out at a bar with drinking buddies. Hell, I don't even drink. One night a week (Tuesday), I take an improv class and following the class, I go out with classmates - now to a Karaoke bar and sing a couple of songs before I come home. I am home by 11:30 to kiss my wife goodnight.

It's most difficult as I would like to get out and enjoy myself more often, but have not found any common ground with my love on things she would like to do. It's kind of like getting my kids to eat vegetables. I say, Honey - try this, and she makes a face. So instead of doing something, we end up doing nothing but watch shows we like on TV. Luckily for her, we have similar tastes, as I am a rare husband who, for the most part, likes Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy and the like.

So the misunderstanding continues, and any desire I have to go have a good time is met as a direct front to my desire to be with her... which could not be farther from the truth.

And with that on my mind, it is most definitely one of THOSE days. I'd love to keep typing, but I have to go to work. Isn't that what we all do on Sundays?&$%$!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, October 2, 2008

On the subject of Flashbacks

One of my favorite aspects of being lost in cyberspace is the ability to go back in time without the use of a Flux Capacitor.

Facebook is the ultimate wayback machine. Through its portal I have walked back into high school, college and the past with usually wonderful results.

May I share some experiences? Of course I can, it's my blog and you're reading (laughing to myself as the dog sitting with me doesn't get the joke.)

I have discussed finding an old college classmate whom I dated for a while and learned about her courageous life after college. We have exchanged some e-mails since and try to stay in touch. It's nice because we were more friends than dates, and I feel like I found an old friend again.

A couple of weeks ago, another friend from both college and high school reappeared after more than 25 years. We both had the same interests throughout school, but ended up on very different paths. She's a mom that works with some religious organizations. It's amazing how many friends who are so defined by their religion. I understand it all, but never have been defined by it... but that's another blog for another time. I think it will be the one I write just after my treatise on politics.

Back to the blog already in progress...

Just last week, I received a friend request from a person that I had never heard of. I knew not of the name but the picture looked somewhat familiar. When the attached message mentioned her maiden name, I was a giddy high schooler all over again. It was one of my friends from our sister school.

Oh, to catch you up, I went to an all boys school with a graduating class of only 52 people. I took some classes at our sister school including Drama and Psychology, and had many friends who went there.

Back to the story. So here was the note and the request which I happily confirmed. I went on to her page and saw that she had not changed much at all since school, and that her daughter was the image of her - much like my son is just like me. We have exchanged messages back and forth, catching up on the friendship.

Whenever you go back to the past, you have great memories, but you don't know how they will be taken in the present. In one of my notes back to this old friend, I admitted that I had a crush on her back in those days. I was glad she took it as a compliment, and mentioned what I knew all along... that our friendship was what endured - and that is indeed the most important part.

Not every reunion has a storybook continuance. There are some of my new Facebook/old friends that I don't hear from at all. I enjoy seeing their status updates and seeing what they are up to. I have reached out to many of them, but I never want to be considered "too Facebook happy," so I let it go.

So if in this Google world you happen to track me down, or find me on Facebook, please, by all means ring me up... I love flashbacks and love to share the present day with people whom I enjoyed so much in the past.

Good night, friends who I had a crush on and those that I didn't. It's great to hear from all of you!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger