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