Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the subject of "Hitting the Wall"

It has been four years. I have watched my world be flipped upside down then right side up and back and forth. Over that time I believe that the people around me may have noticed, but also knew that "dependable me" would still be around.

That seems to be my nature. I am always around when people need me. Need an assistant coach for a team, I am there. Need someone to help raise money, call me. Need someone to design a new logo for a group, e-mail me. Need someone to make sure everyone gets home safely while the world drinks around me, yep, I am there. It is just my nature.

For the first time ever, on Monday, I hit the wall, and it hit back very very hard. My reaction, as always, was just to get my self up and dust myself off and start all over again. This time, when I tried to get up... it took effort.

The goalie mask you see above carries the quote "Fall down 8 times, get up 9." It belongs to former WHL goalie Dustin Tokarski. It really exemplifies what I try to do... but this time the effort seemed so much different.

So... let's take a look at the last 12 months in my life...
Had a mystery headache that flattened me for two weeks causing me to go get a CT scan.
The results of the scan found nothing. (insert joke here.)
Answered dozens of Facebook random facts and questionnaires with every conceivable fact about myself.
Discovered re connections with people that I could have never imagined and realized I have made some kind of difference in many people's lives.
Created the mother of all Facebook notes with the "300" note, acknowledging stories about each and every one of my 300 Facebook friends.
Wondered how I have 562 Facebook friends now.
Said goodbye to my parents house by going to organize its clearance.
Watched a moving van pull up to my house and leave the memories of UpDaCreek in my own house.
Saw the people I work with at my major client get fired and the new ones wonder if I could in fact do my job.
Had those same people realize that I might be the person right to run their operations for the long term.
Lost a television show that I had worked on for the last 7 years.
Got a "replacement" deal for less than half the money for segments instead of a show.
Saw a 15 year streak of Emmy Nominations come to an end.
Realized that Emmy Awards were something I had obsessed about for no particularly good reason.
Turned 46 and figured I am on the "back nine."
Started an improv group that has brought me more joy than anything I could have ever imagined, and found a new permanent home for the group just six months into its existence as the theatre's resident group.
Almost saw the theatre close its doors before we even got to do our first shows until an anonymous donor saved the day.
Created a video for my daughter's sixth grade graduation that made everyone in the gym cry.
Cried at the fact that I have such a tenuous relationship with my daughter.
Had a dream that allowed me to see amazing possibilities in my life.
Had a dream where I didn't get away from the "bad guy" for the first time and felt the pain of being shot.
Had another mystery illness that shut down my digestive system for a week forcing me to get an MRI.
Had a situation where a close friend wondered if I had become a different person than the one he knew.
No cause was found, and it went away.
Saw my ability to sleep more than 8 hours go away.
Took a cruise and felt so close to the people I met on the ship, I almost applied for a permanent job on the Cruise Staff.
Came back to reality and realized that cruise life is fantasy, and reality can really suck.
Sent my son on an incredible three week cross country road trip.
Spent most of the next three weeks talking him off the ledge as the kids on the trip were making life miserable for him.
Wrote my first song.
Heard the crowd, thinking the show was over, talk over the last verse which had the message to it.
Questioned my future for the first time in such a way that I wasn't sure how it would all turn out.
Went through a long process to try to find a way to strengthen what I already have.
Found myself waking up before sunrise on most days, whether it was planned or not.
Left the place that I had lived in for longer than any other place in my life.
Moved to a new house that is so far out of my league it is ridiculous, but am finding a way to make it work.
Discovered an untapped improv character ability to "be big."
Discovered that I still felt like a jilted school girl when I didn't get invited to a party that many of my friends were invited to.

I think you can see how I might have hit said wall.

However, as I write you, the sun is out. I am in an amazing office surrounded by the memories of the past and the possibilities of the future.

I have two families that love me... one that I have, one that I chose, and who chose me.

And the wall is something I look back on and realize that I am only human. It will reappear when I least want it to... but at least I know it is there and may be better prepared for it next time.

Merry Christmas all... hope your wall stays in your rear view mirror and the endless possibilities of life bring you blue skies ahead.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On the subject of UpDaCreek

Greetings to you, fine internet people... it's been a while.

I am coming to you live from the garage of an empty house. It was the house I lived in longer than any other, yet now, it lies without a chair, without a table, with nothing but the internet modem which is the last thing that dwells in the dwelling.

It is a surreal sight to look around and see where I changed the diapers of our first child, then our second. It is so strange to see the place where I sat in disbelief when we had to take our daughter to the hospital for the first time. It is unnatural to look into the kitchen and not see my lovely wife welcoming me home. I look at the sliding door and there is no dog waiting to be let inside. Home is now a memory.

Last night, I spent the night in an almost as empty house just a few minutes away from here, but a world away in terms of what will be. From a nice size rambler to the house that most people can only dream about, but somehow it has become ours.

The last time I had emotions like these were when I visited my parent's house for the last time. They lived in South Carolina in a house they called UpDaCreek, as it sat by an ocean fed creek.

Driving away from my new house for the first time this morning, I realized that we are on the banks of an ocean fed creek as well. Ours is on top of a hill and you have to go down a trail to get to it, but none the less, it is there. So, I called my wife and asked if she realized this as well. She didn't put two and two together either.

We had always said we wanted to live like my parents did, in a house of dreams, by the water, and now in a way we have. So we have dubbed the new house UpDaCreek West, and we will refer to it as a tribute to my wonderful parents who dreamed of this for us those many years ago.

Finally, their dream came true, and so did ours... and we think that somehow, some way, the connection of the Atlantic to the Pacific and the creeks that run by, make it all the more right.

Hey Mom and Dad, we made it!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the subject of 5 in the morning

Okay... it's technically 5:37 in the morning. I have been up for almost an hour now.

The song on the iTunes from Gary Go asks "whatever happened to me?" I don't think there could be a more appropriate song for this moment.

Over the last two months, my life has undergone a drastic change. I have seen the highs and the lows, the best and the worst... and I realize that I have not shared any of it like I used to. So let's get to that shall we?

This week alone, my wife and I have sold and bought a house. We never thought we would want or need to move, but as kids grow up, they seem to need space. Maybe, I should be more accurate. We needed more space. I love my kids, but they always seem to be right on top of us, leaving me and Gale with very little room to breathe. So now, we will have some breathing room as well as a new opportunity.

I have always wanted to entertain friends in my house, and our new house will allow us to do that in spades. It is a dream house that we could have never dreamed of, but as the stars aligned, interest rates low, job doing well, and housing prices where they are... we could.

Then, there is improv. Oh my God, how improv has changed my life. I have spent so many entries on this blog telling you about improv, but I had no idea what it would truly mean to me. The freedom it has given me to expand my horizons is limitless. That's what happens when you make up life as it goes along.

My improv group, {breakout}, will be moving into our own theatre in December. I went into this theatre with the idea of just doing some shows and the timing could not have been any better. They wanted to have a regular group to bring in younger audiences... and there we were. It is a magical place, or that was the feeling I had after our first rehearsal there. It seems so right, and I look forward to the hours I will be spending there.

The place that taught me all the improv skills is still a place I call home as well. Jet City Improv is looking to me to help them raise money as a member of their board. It is a tough thing to do with the limited experience I have, but ideas seemed to be what they needed. Let's hope those ideas can turn into dollars. I think they will eventually.

How about family? Life could have changed pretty dramatically there too. If there are peaks and valleys in any marriage, I have seen them both in the past two months. From the desperation of feeling totally detached to the high of new possibilities, this thing called love has been a crazy little thing. I am very blessed that I was raised to see things through, and keep promises, and that is what I continue to do every day. Happily, I have a good partner in that.

My kids... well, my relationship with my daughter is recovering. I am sure there are people who feel that they have no attachment to their kids. Not like the woman in "Private Practice" who won't look at her baby. I am talking very little in common and constant fighting. Such as it is with my girl. However, it seems like the freeze is beginning to thaw from both sides, and somewhere through the ice, we will swim in a relationship again. That's nice.

And what about a son who is so close to being you it is uncanny. My son is a mini-me. He does the same things I did growing up, makes the same mistakes, pulls the same tricks. He, however, has something inside him, that I never saw in me at his age - heart. He puts a lot into things even though he gets knocked down (that, I understand.) He is an amazing soccer goalie, with a competitive spirit. When it comes to friends, it's hard to see how it's going. He say he's picked on a lot. I know I was at his age. He has a strength that I did not, so I think he will be just fine. He is a loving son, and we are lucky that he is around.

Work? Wow... I could not have thought that things could change so much in a year. Yesterday, I left my office of the past three years, after five years of having an outside office, and moved back home. I sit here in the home office typing this and it seems surreal. And today, I discuss the future with my major clients, and I do so with confidence of a job well done. If you had asked me two months ago about my confidence in the future, I would have told you it could go either way. Today, it seems pretty good!

So what gets me up at 5 in the morning? That is the 64,000 dollar question. I can't sleep anymore. It started this past summer. The guy who loved to sleep in till 10 AM and hated mornings finds himself up before the sun on most days. I try to figure out a way to get back to sleep, but many mornings, I just give up. Like right now, I feel like going to bed, but it seems more right to talk to you.

The Gary Go playlist plays in the background. One of the songs on that collection is called "I am wonderful." It's not a song about egos, it's a tale of feeling good about yourself. Well, today, I, am wonderful. Tomorrow may hold other things, but I will take today.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the subject of new beginnings.

Hey there... sorry to have been gone for so long. It's a busy time for me. Football season is in full swing, with basketball hot on its heels. However, what is most exciting is what I will share with you now.

Yesterday, my improv group {breakout} announced a creative partnership with a local theatre called The Phoenix Theatre. We will produce original shows for them throughout the next year, and hopefully beyond.

I will share some personal thoughts on the blog, as I promise to get back to writing. I have spent so much time launching this project that I have neglected some things... like the old blog. However, with this new beginning, I will begin to blog again. If you keep reading, you will even find a new old entry as I found one just sitting there, waiting to be finished!

I have missed you all!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On the subject of "Connections and Definitions"

(I began this entry and realized I had not finished it... so I am sharing it with you now. It was written just after the premiere of my improv group's first original show in September.)

The world has been very right of late. That is nothing short of amazing considering how very wrong it could have been.

In one week, my life was going to be defined in one way or another, and the pressure was getting to be incredible. Around me, life was going on and I had no idea what the outcome was going to be. You, my internet friends, are probably wondering what I am talking about. After all, I have been absent from the blogosphere, but with good reason.

This summer was one of transition. In work, I was now working for a totally new set of clients, all of whom I had to educate in who I am and what I can do. At the same time, I was really exploring the world of improv. I had started a group and, with the help of some talented people, was looking towards creating an original show. Nothing that was familiar when I started the summer would remain at the end, or at least it seemed that way.

Following the magical cruise, life took a turn towards responsibility. Work took a very serious tone with huge expectations. Family life had new challenges with our attempt to buy a new house while selling place we have called home for 12 years.My daughter... starting middle school. My son, becoming a young man. My wife, stressed over everything. And me, well, at least I had improv.

As September began, the pressure was mounting. Expectations were high at my work to create a great atmosphere for the team I was working for. The team, which had not won a game in more than a year, needed an emotional boost, while dealing with the economic reality of life as we know it. Simply put, they needed more for less, and looked to me to do it.

In a parallel universe was my improv show. We had been rehearsing this show for months and had never made it through an entire run through. I was nervous that maybe I had set the expectations too high for something that was supposed to be fun.

All the while, I felt a real need for everything to work, never doubting it would, but always doubting whether others would say it did.

On Saturday, the 5th... the first game with the new bosses came and went, and the expectations of the presentation were exceeded. Relief... no doubt. However, that was all about work for a client. The next six days would be about pleasing just one client... the toughest one I had ever come across. Me.

I had hyped this improv show to heights that even I could not comprehend. Websites, twitter, facebook, e-mails, posters.... everything I had to be PT Barnum - barking to anyone who would listen. But there was a palpable buzz about what we were creating. I had talked about the show being different, and many aspects of it were shrouded in "secrecy." I left myself with no grey area... either it was going to be a huge success or a terrible flop.

On Tuesday night, the cast of my show met at our usual rehearsal place, but this time, the stakes had been raised. An invited audience of some of the top people in improv was in place, as well as members of another improv group that has been doing shows around town. I told the gathering very little about what they were going to see other than it was our dress rehearsal.

Moment by moment, the show came together before my eyes. The imagined world of romance and improv colliding was taking place. From the opening monologues on heartbreak to the final montage on Newts, most everything was organically coming together, just as I had thought it could. Fact is, our amazing director,Mandy, had understood my vision and gave us the tools to succeed. Sadly, she could not see the final product as she had a job assignment take her away just as the show was about to take place.

After the rehearsal, I nervously waited for notes from the audience. They came in great numbers... but they were not what I had expected. The first was about our chemistry. The audience noted that they could all tell we genuinely liked... even loved each other. They talked about the fact that the show had such a uniqueness to it that it was hard to define... but was so easy to understand.

On Friday night, we performed the premiere (and what we thought would be the only performance) of {girl meets boy}. It was a magical evening, everything we imagined it could be and some things that we could have never believed. A packed house, an appreciative crowd, glowing reviews from the audience and a feeling of accomplishment that beat any Emmy Award I had ever won. This was a piece of my heart, shared with the world, and accepted. That was the best feeling of all.

To share the experience with the people I love most, my family and my improv family. It was truly a defining moment, and one I will never forget.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

On the subject of "Making Music"

Greetings to you. I know it's been a while, but it's been that nutty time of year when I rarely have the time to change my mind, let alone share it with anyone. Today, I find myself with nothing but time as I have been forced to stop and rest. My body is playing some nasty tricks on me, and so I am stuck in bed attempting to escape the pain and get the sleep I have been denied over the nights.

I was going to write about how crappy that feels, but you don't read blogs to hear me bitch, although sometimes I will do that. Just go back one entry.

In the middle all this craziness of my illness came one of the most rewarding moments of my life. To understand fully the context, let's go back a few months.

Most of you know about my love for improv, and how that love has changed me, the way I think, and my desire in life to make others happy. If you have followed this blog, you know the story of how my Improv group began, and that we are going to be doing an original show in September.

In the journey to put together this show, the idea was to create as short form show, with a long form feel. As the show developed, the format took on a new air... a world of romance, introspection and happiness. In examining this world of love in the rehearsal hall, we have discovered that when reality sets in for our scenes, trying for what's in our hearts rather than what's in the comedy books, there is a unique take to the world of love. We saw that it was not about who was right or who was wrong... it was everything in between.

At my favorite improv theatre here in town, the second musical production I had seen at the Historic University Theatre was just wrapping up. The show, called Lovetanic, was improvised musical from start to finish, as was "Lease," another amazing show from the same director. Also, I had just taken Musical Improv and loved the musical aspect.

The one thing that both "Lovetanic" and "Lease" had in common other than one word titles that start with the letter L, was an opening song that was not improvised, but rather written especially for the show.

It was always our intention to have music be a part of our show, but only in the form of an opening act. The Chai House wanted us to take a full two hours, and a two hour improv show, especially with a relatively novice group, would be potentially tedious. So I brought on a wonderful singer named Megan Jergens, whom I had befriended from my karaoke days at Hula Hula. We loved the same kind of songs... ones that spoke honestly about love and what it does to the soul.

Rob, the musical director for Lovetanic and I had also become friends over Sounders soccer. We both show our love for the Rave Green and one day in a conversation on Facebook, I asked him what he thought of the possibility of writing a song for our show. The difference was I wanted to end the show with a song, one that sent home the message of the show.. Much to my happiness, he said yes.

He asked me what I had in mind, and I told him nothing sappy, nothing extremely snappy, but something that would make the audience think and reflect on what they had seen. Little did I know that I was, in essence, asking for a broadway show stopper of sorts.

Rob said he already had some ideas, which made me extremely happy. I told him I would send him some notes. I sat down at the keyboard and started writing ideas. I am not one for poetry. The last poem I had written was probably back in college, song parodies excluded.

For some reason, notes became lyrics and before I knew it, there were a set of lyrics staring me in the face. I sent them to Rob, saying it was just an idea of what I was looking for. I didn't hear from him for a few days, so I thought I had blown it... that he thought I was probably a little pompous - writing lyrics on my own rather than leaving it to the pro.

I could not have been more wrong. "Excellent," he called them. Turns out his e-mail had been not gettng to me as he was replying to Facebook messages on e-mail rather than on Facebook.

Last night, with Megan joining me, we met in a rehearsal hall and I heard, for the first time, the song written for the show. It was breathtaking. It was amazing. It was unlike anything I had imagined. And then I realized, the lyrics were all mine. I had collaborated in writing a song.

My happiness was the first thing to overcome the pain I had been feeling for the past weeks. The accomplished feeling was a most excellent tonic.

So when {girl meets boy} makes its debut, it will finish with an original song by my most talented friend, Rob, with lyrics from your faithful blogger, and sung by my enchanting friend, Megan.

When I returned home and played back the recording on the computer for my wife, I realized what the inspiration was. I had written a song on what love with my love was all about. No wonder it was so easy.

video

If you are not able to come to the show to hear it in person, I will post it following the show in September.

Well, sadly, I have gone back to feeling a little sick and have to go back to lie down again, but I wanted to share that magical moment with all of you.

Take care of yourselves, and may you find your own magical moment soon.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On the subject of "needing therapy"

Therapist is busy... so I will blog instead.

My son is on a cross country camping trip that he signed up for and has been looking forward to for months. Now, 6 days in, he has had kids picking on him, has lost his camera, has gone through a tornado watch and is so upset he wants us to fly out to pick him up and bring him home.

Our house is on the market as we have found a dream house very close by. It is everything we need in a house. Meanwhile, we have put a large amount of money into our own house to get it sold, and so far, it's the market we thought it might be... so I don't know what will happen.
When one of the real estate agents called us and told us that he was going to visit today between 3:30 and 5 PM, my wife and I decided that it would be a good idea to go take some measurements at the new house... just in case it all works out. My daughter was at a friend's house, and said that she wanted to have a sleepover... leaving my wife and I alone for an evening for the first time in a long time.

We returned home and the agent had not arrived and had not left a message. When I called the agent, he announced he was on his way and would be there in minutes. My wife had left to pick up the daughter who no longer wanted a sleep over. We had to get the dog out of the house again, and could not leave the injured (neck) dog in the house because nothing says "buy me" like a house with a high pitched whining dog.

The wife returns home and helps me get the dogs so the wife, daughter, dogs all pack up and go to Grandma's house to allow the viewing.

At Grandma's house, her dog had left a piece of rawhide on the floor which our injured dog decided to pick up and chew and start choking on, so when I went to go try to help him he bit me, thankfully not breaking the skin. He coughed it up and them decided to chew it again and swallow it and coughed. Now, my daughter is trying to help, not hearing me in saying that she will need some protection to do that. He bites her and inflicting a puncture wound on the finger.
This was while my son was on the phone freaking out over the tornado watch which was in the area of where he was camping, which I assured him was okay, as I had lived through many tornado watches in Texas and South Carolina, and checked the local weather there to see that the chance of rain was only 30 percent.

Meanwhile, my daughter's doctor says she needs to be taken to the emergency room for xrays. The Vet bills on the dog were already in the 700 dollar range, and who knows what this will be.
And this call comes after a trip to the doctor's office myself where I am having numbness throughout my left side around my waist, and which apparently is a textbook precursor to shingles. I asked the doctor if stress could cause this and he just laughed.

Happily, he said that I seem to be having the symptoms but not the rash, so I may be out of the woods. However, when I am stressed, there is a pretty intense pain in my side. So needless to say, I am waiting for the pain to hit.

So... how are you doing?

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, August 7, 2009

On the subject of "50 more questions"

Hello internet friends. Sorry to have been gone for a while, but it's the busy season for me... and sadly, I had time for this. Who knew!

I haven’t done one of these in months… but saw that my fellow {breakout} cast member, Megan used this as “Morning Red Bull for the Soul”… Okay, it woke me up a bit, but not like a Red Bull.

No one was tagged, but let me know if you do one.

1. What time did you get up this morning?

8 AM – I used to sleep all the tiome, now I get up early. Don’t like it a bit

2. How do you like your steak?

Medium Rare

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

The Hangover... and it was very funny.

4. What is your favorite TV show?

24

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Atlanta

6. What did you have for breakfast?

4 Eggo Frozen Waffles, just like every morning

7. What is your favorite cuisine?

American… I am a steak and potatoes kinda guy.

8. What foods do you dislike?

Brussel sprouts and creamed spinach

9. Favorite place to eat?

Lunch: Chipotle

Dinner; A good steak house

10. Favorite dressing?

1000 Island with Caesar being a very close secons

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?

A very bright blue Toyota Highlander

12. What are your favorite clothes?

My karaoke dressup clothes, my Teatro Zinzanni and {breakout} American Apparel Long Sleeve T-Shirts, Lucky Brand Jeans (Lucky You!)

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

Australia with my wife

Europe for a Football (Soccer) trip with my son.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?

Half full

15. Where would you want to retire?

Somewhere quiet

6. Favorite time of day?

Night time

17. Where were you born?

Washington, DC

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

Now, Soccer with my son… on my own, College Football

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?

No one cause I won’t tag this.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?

See number 19

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

You, of course.

22. Bird watcher?

I was an Orioles fan once, does that count

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Night!

24. Do you have any pets?

Two dogs, three cats, two kids

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

The new phone books are here, and I have already placed them in the recycle bin.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?

A television announcer

27. What is your best childhood memory?

The Olympics in 1972 at age 9 and sitting with Howard Cosell talking sports.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?

Used to be a dog person, but then the constant barking of my current two drives me nuts, so the cats have won me over.

29. Are you married?

Yes, for 15 years

30. Always wear your seat belt?

I used to not… but now I do… hate the fact that the government had to make a law, but I guess it’s for the best… although I gave up riding bikes when they said you have to wear a helmet..

31. Been in a car accident?

Flipped a car at age 16 when I fell asleep at the wheel

32. Any pet peeves?

People who are not nice, and Washington state drivers (who have taken over the title from Virginia drivers)

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?

Pepperoni and Mushroom

34. Favorite Flower?

Anything beautiful – white rose if I had to choose

35. Favorite ice cream?

Haagen Daas Lemon Sorbet

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?

Chipotle

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

None

38. From whom did you get your last email?

The people handling my Dad’s estate

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

The Apple Store

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?

If I have to think of it, it probably wasn’t spontaneous… how’s that from an improviser!

41. Like your job?

The boss is a real… oh, wait a minute, I work for myself! I do like it. Stressful owning your own company though.

42. Broccoli?

Only when my wife makes it for me and insists.

43. What was your favorite vacation?

My recent Alaskan Cruise

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?

My wife

45. What are you listening to right now?

A clock ticking and I want to throw it out the patio door

46. What is your favorite color?

Cobalt Blue

47. How many tattoos do you have?

None and none.

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz?

None and none.

49. What time did you finish this quiz?

8:52 AM with 1:26 left on my battery

50. Coffee Drinker?

Pepsi.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On the subject of "Pop Star"

I didn't mean to steal the show. Okay... maybe I did.

Last week, my family and I took a cruise to Alaska aboard the Golden Princess. I had been excited about this journey for months since we booked it. To prepare for the trip, I was looking over copies of the Princess Patter, the daily newsletter of the cruise, from the days when my wife took a cruise.

There it was... tempting me like a great looking woman in a catsuit... yes... that strongly! (dozens of friends laughing hysterically right now.) "Be the star that you are - Princess Pop Star - If you are good, you're good, but if you're bad, you're better."

This competition seemed tailor made for little old shy me. Get out there and rip apart a performance and be awesome. It was the exact idea behind "Seattle's Most Awesome Karaoke Performance Ever!" At least that is what I thought.

On the second night of the cruise was the first night of the competition. I was there early to sign up. Lindsay, the nice member of the Cruise staff was there to take the sign up. They did not have the song I wanted to do, which was to reprise Jungle Love by Morris Day and the Time - the song I had done at the Awesome Karaoke Competition. So I looked and saw they had Rapper's Delight. Not only did they have it... they had three versions of it.

"Use the first version," said a helpful Lindsay. "It's usually the best."

I turned in my slip with the number and the selection and asked her not to tell what the song was that I was going to do. I was dressed in a full on Tux and a top hat from the night's formal activities. It was the perfect performance outfit, I thought.

Lindsay took the stage and welcomed everyone... and said, "no one likes to go first, but we have to have someone do it... so here is our first performer, Jon!"

I took the stage and talked a little bit with her saying "I know what you are thinking, tux and top hat... Frank Sinatra?" She laughed politely and said to go ahead.

When Rapper's Delight began... there was a very long intro... so I tried to get the crowd into it... and finally broke into the song... from memory. I went all through the crowd in the Explorer's Lounge to cheers, laughs, claps and smiles... I was barely able to keep up with the song after four minutes, but knew I had two minutes to go... or so I thought.

I finished the part of the song that I knew (the single version) when I noticed the music wasn't close to stopping. So I broke into my version of "Rehab" to the tune of Rapper's Delight. The crowd laughed and wondered where the heck this guy had come from. (Seattle actually)

When I got through Rehab, the song was still going. I finally said "Yo, Lindsay" to which she responded, "Yo, Jon!" I asked if this was the 12 minute version of the song, and she said "Afraid so!" I replyed, "if I go any longer I am going to have a coronary."

Big cheers, big laughs... I thought I was a shoe in. Remember - if you are bad, you're better! I only had to make the top three. Well, singer after singer went... and three of them were quite good. The crowd went with the singers rather than the performer, so I came in fourth.

I asked Lindsay if I was even close... and she said that they loved it, but the crowd vote went another way. I could, however, enter again on Wednesday night.

Wednesday morning, I woke up very early and went onto the balcony of my room. I thought that if I could wow the crowd that I might have a chance. I pulled out paper and pen and started writing a parody song to the tune of "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry.

I practiced all day and was ready to perform. This time I would get to go sixth. None of the performers were very awesome up to my performance, so I felt good.

Jorge introduced me and asked me what I would be singing. I responded "Katy Perry" but in a different way! I had taped my lyrics to the screen and they wondered what I was up to.

I started the song "This was never the way I planned, not my intention." People laughed and thought I was singing the real song... but I continued.

Got so brave, ring in hand, I needed intervention.
I'm down on my one knee, Oh my God, will she say yes?
Or if she just says know, who else would I impress?
I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chapstick.
I kissed a girl just to try it, hope HER boyfriend don't mind it.

There were laughs and cheers... and I thought I was getting to them. I continued.

We're going down the aisle now, God, it's too late.
But that was 15 years ago, guess it was my fate.
Pick up a loaf of bread!
Honey, would you mow the lawn?
Could you be home by 9?
Grey's Anatomy is on!

More laughs.

I kissed my WIFE and I liked it, the taste of her Avon lipstick, (Biggest laugh)
I kissed my wife just to try it, hope the pool boy don't mind it.
It felt so wrong, it felt so right, hoping that I will get some tonight,
I kissed my wife and she liked it. She liked it?

My wife she is so beautiful,
she loves me its a fact I know,
Tonight I want to have some lovin', oh
What's that? You're tired?
At least I have the H B Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

Well I thought I had nailed it. I didn't sing it perfectly, but for stage presence and entertainment value, I could not have done better. Jay, of the cruise staff, thought I was nuts and asked me if I like to perform, to which I said, of course. He guessed the name of my show was the Jon show to which I said... no, it's actually called Breakout.

Sadly, I came in worse than third, which meant I missed the finals, and my dreams of being on the big stage were dashed... or so I thought.

Thursday night, I was privileged to see the wonderful people who had entertained me all week show their even more entertaining side. The show, the International Crew Show, highlighted the talents of many of the crew members as well as the Cruise Staff. There were a lot of great performances but two topped them all.

Adam's performance of an original song could have easily put him on American (Or Australian) Idol. Actually, I think he might be a triple threat, and believe someone needs to discover him and put his talents to work. Comedy, Music and Acting... he can do it all.

The other was an old vaudeville routine called "If I were not on the Sea." Lindsay's Lorenna Bobbitt and Gemma's Nurse were hilarious. Heck, they all were. I saw a little more of Cruise Director Dave's Arabesque than I would ever want to however!

Later that night, we received the Princess Patter in our room. The Patter is the calendar of ship activities for the next day. I opened up the Patter and there it was mocking me. Princess Pop Star finals tonight at 10:30 - not to be missed. Also there was an item about Talent Show signup and rehearsal... 9:30 AM in the Wheelhouse Bar.

I had not been sleep well all cruise, so I woke up early again on Friday and was wide awake at 8:15 AM. I went to the Horizon Court and had some breakfast. I then had the idea that I might just have fun in the Talent Show and wouldn't it be funny if I did an act about not making it into Pop Star.

Out came the pen and paper... which made me feel light years younger as normally I would be using the computer to write ANYTHING! My self imposed exile from all things computer was hampering me, but I would not be deterred.

Pen in hand, I wrote a parody song to Rehab... yes, the same song I had sung a million times before. The song went like this.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I know I'd be the rage,
But when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

I couldn't dance in Ballroom Blitz.
Gemma said I moved like sh_____it's a family show.
Cause there's nothing, nothing she could teach me,
That could have made a difference anyway.
Lindsay said "Just go take a Class!"
But the ship was moving so much,
I kept falling on my my ass.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I know I'd be the rage,
But when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

The Cruise Director said "Why are you here?'
I said I have an idea.
I'm crusin, crusin with my honey.
So I thought I might just be funny.
He said, "you must have been misled."
"Drink this, buddy then go back to bed.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.

I may never get to cruise again.
That's why, ooh I need you friends.
I just tried to spend all week.
To make you all laugh until the end.
You can't say I didn't try.
But to not make the finals just made me cry.

I tried to make it into Pop star,
they said No, No, No.
Know I can't sing, it don't mean a thing,
This I know, know, know.
If I could get on stage, I guess I should just turn the page!
Cause, when it comes to Princess Pop Star,
They said Go! Go! Go!

35 minutes and I had a song... and into the Wheelhouse Bar at 9:30 arrived Assistant Cruise Director, Ben. Sadly, he and I were the only two in the bar. That meant, there would be no talent show. I told him it was ironic, as I had written a song about being upset about making it into Pop Star. He thought I was joking.

He read the song, and laughed out loud and said... "well that makes it easy, we'll just have to put you into Pop Star." I was quick to tell him that I appreciated it, but I wanted it to be fair to the people who made it fairly. He said that I would perform in a showcase performance while they tallied up the votes.

When I arrived for Pop Star rehearsal, the other contestants were perplexed. When I stepped up to the mic and sang the song, they got the joke totally, so happily, I was a welcome addition in their eyes.

I spent most of the day rehearsing, but could not get through it all. I was amazingly nervous. So I came up with the idea that it would be presented as a letter of complaint to the Cruise Director. That way, I could carry the lyrics with me.

Showtime approached and we all went back stage led by Jorge, Lindsay and Jay. The contestants were all nervous, but I felt great. The pressure of not competing was just fine! When I changed into my human mirror ball disco shirt and top hat, they all had a laugh!

One by one, the contestants sang, with Billy and Ashley presenting the greatest performances. Lindsay from the Cruise Staff was doing the "green room" interviews and making everyone laugh with her "technical difficulties" some brought on by an apparent empty bottle of champagne. It was this bottle of champagne that led to me taking the performance to another level.

As I was being introduced, I took to the stage drinking from the bottle, looking lost, like I had just wandered onto the stage. David introduced me, and I told him to hold the bottle.

The performance went beautifully.... and you can see it here!

After I was swept off the stage by Lindsay, the smiles backstage were broad. It was what I had really wanted all along. It was not the winning of the competition, it was just the chance to take the big stage... a 750 seat theatre, with bright lights and a great sound system. It was what I had based the Karaoke competition at Jet City on, except this was way beyond that.

Upon leaving the ship the next day, I was having a tough time holding back tears. It had been a wonderful time with my family. What was making it so difficult was the fact that I had an emotion I hadn't felt since I was a teenager.

Back in Seabrook Island, SC, I have fond memories of some incredible friends who I made when they traveled to the resort island on vacation. They would enter my life for one or two weeks, and I would feel like I would always want to be their friend, although I understood that I would never see most of them ever again. Back then, I would be pen pals with some of them.

Now in the days of Facebook, I may never get to see them, but I can still be in touch with the 2009 version of pen pals. I am so pleased that Lindsay, Gemma and Jay have become my Facebook friends, and I truly hope that some day, they might look me up and say hello if they get some time in Seattle. If nothing else, I will, like most of my FB friends, keep them laughing with some fun status updates and a message or two from time to time.

To the Cruise Staff of the Golden Princess, thanks for letting me play on your boat, and thanks for being such awesome people. I am honored to call you friend, and hope you will always know this crazy guy will always have a special place in his heart for each of you.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the subject of "It's Complicated"

I almost changed my relationship status last night, but after reading this, I think you all will understand.

She was very good to me for about a year and ten months. She treated me with respect. She brightened up when I looked upon her glowing face. She slept peacefully when I tapped her on the the head.

In recent weeks, she began to act differently. When I would need the right words from her, she would just spit my request out like she didn't care.

When I needed her to do something, really depended on her, she let me down.

Then, she did the unforgiveable. She ran out of space for my thoughts in her heart and brain.

Yes, I had done it again. I had run through a faithful friend in less than two years. I thought this one would be different. I thought she was more sturdy. When we first went out, she was fast, always faithful and I loved the fact that her body looked all sleek and shiny (yep, I like them to look that way.)

Alas, I was wrong. That's when I was in a pick up joint and saw a new one. She lookied like my old love, but her drive was much more, um, apparent. Her curves were even more than I had remembered in any old flame. And when I looked into her face, there was a perfectly clean complexion without any kind of imperfections. She was quiet when I needed her to be, and communicated beautifully when I needed to talk.

And then, the bartender told me of her secret. She has a friend that goes with her everywhere, and they "practically share a mind." Could it be true? I could have two that understand me. One to keep at home and one to take with me out in public? I met the little friend. She was petite and so dark, and sleek, and shiny, and sexy.

Sure enough, the bartender was right. When I spoke to the one, the other would say the words. And when I whispered into that small cute little place on the side of her head, her friend would know exactly what I was saying mere seconds after I said it.

I knew my old lady would never understand, but I had to. These new sultry beings were too tempting.

So I called my wife to ask her if she would mind if I picked up a new lady, and she said, "well, if you have to, I know that you will be happier if you do."

I didn't have the heart to tell her about the little friend. I just hoped she would understand.

So I brought the two ladies home and the kids seemed to really like them both, and immediately wanted to have a relationship with each of them, when I said, no kids, they are mine.

Cruelty. It is not my strong point, but at some time, I knew it would come to this. I called up my old lady and while I had her on the line, I let my new ladies listen in and basically take all the precious memories that we had formed together. Every single one from the past year and 10 months. Then, the most unkind cut of all. I informed my wife, and my old lady that not only did I have two new ladies, but that these two ladies had an intimate relation with the lady I keep at my office, and now they would be interacting as well.

Not only had I kicked my old lady to the curb, but the one that had proceeded her was able to stick around and play with the two new gals.

As I write this, she is still sitting there. Closed off now... her brightness gone, some scars apparent. There are a few things piled on top of her as well. I guess like an old lady with cats, she just will get used to it. I know there will be someone who will love her again... it just probably won't be me. That is unless my new ladies aren't around and I need her for a quickie.

I am sincerely hoping my new loves will be able to last longer than the old ones. I seem to run through relationships in less than a couple of years, no matter if the counselor had guaranteed me longer relationships. Time just seems to move on fast, and I need a lady I can depend on.

Thank God my wife understands.

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce that this is the first blog written on my new MacBook Pro with it's fully integrated iPhone and MobileMe. Pretty sexy, huh?

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

PS - I will be out of the blogosphere for a bit as I am going on vacation without my new or old ladies but with my wife, so I will resume writing when I return. There are just some times my wife wants to be the sole receiver of my attention. Imagine that!

Friday, June 26, 2009

On the subject of "Breaking News"

Did you notice things slowed to a crawl yesterday? The world got slower?

Some icons passed yesterday and suddenly, old feels a little older.

Using the internet to get information was quite interesting yesterday, as I looked for news on the stories of the day. I was struck by the fact that the passing of these three legends took me back to a simpler time... where the internet, nay, computers were just a dream.

Hoy-yo!
His voice was unmistakable; his laugh even more so. "You are correct, sir." "Funk and Waggnals jar since noon today." Ed McMahon was the consummate sidekick. He made everything go just that much easier and added the laugh track to Johnny. Some would say that Ed alone could have been the audience for Johnny and his jokes would still resonate.

The thing I always loved about Ed is the thing I have the hardest time with. He was able to take a back seat to the star, and never desired to be the star himself. I could learn a lot from that, and maybe, someday I will.

The Poster
I had "that poster" on my wall. She wasn't my favorite angel, but she sure was pretty, I am more of a Jacklyn Smith type, but Farrah was something else. I loved her car almost as much as I loved her.

Her courage in later life was something we can all take a lesson from. She died with dignity and with a passion. I am happy she married Ryan before she left, as they lived life together, and that simple act showed their undying love.

The Roller Rink
I remember the blue SpotBilt shoes that were converted into roller skates. I remember the rink in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Learning to dance on skates seemed to be a lot easier back then, but the song I will always associate with skating backwards was "Rock with You."

I loved the "innocent" pre-thriller Michael Jackson. "Off the Wall" was, by far, my favorite Michael Jackson album. I am happy that as his is being memorialized that people are remembering him for his music, and not the craziness that became his life.

Like a player becoming a coach. Like a coach becoming a hall of famer. Like a hall of famer passing away, these three deaths have signaled a passing of time, and another reminder that I am getting older.

May God bless them all.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 18, 2009

On the subject of "Growing Up"

My little girl graduated from sixth grade today. They don't call it graduation as I guess it's not politically correct or some other reason, but fact is... she graduated.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I put her on the bus for the first time.

At the end of her Kindergarten year, I made a video (hey, it's what I do) where I interviewed the entire class about their memories of the year. I asked them what they learned... some of the answers:

"how to count a little higher than I did before I started school"
"how to read"
"that two wrongs don't make a right. They don't."
"to not destroy other people's property."
"be nice to others... and care about them."

As part of their sixth grade graduation video, I used the old video from 7 years ago as a basis for the final part of their graduation salute. You see, their answers then are as true now. Sure, they may have moved from counting to algebra, from reading to creative writing, but the basics are still there. They will still miss their teacher. They will miss their school. They will miss their friends.

The last two shots told the story best. As the Faith Hill's version of "Over the Rainbow" plays... we see a little girl hugging one of her students at the end of the day. The teacher, youthful and smiling, gives the petite girl with the cute yellow dress and the pink backpack a side hug as the two happily leave the classroom. The teacher hesitates, and turns out the light as the door closes, while the girl looks back one last time at her teacher. That is how the kindergarten version of the video ended 7 years ago.

For the sixth grade version, that scene dissolves into one last one. The teacher, now a little older and showing a little more experience exits the door when she is greeted by that same little girl, who is now nearly a half a foot taller than the teacher. The little yellow dress has been replaced by the more practical blue fleece top and long blue pants. The pink backpack has turned into a more with-it blue messenger bag. The two meet and hug once again. The teacher waves good bye as the student walks around the corner for the last time. Fade to black.

I had seen the video at least 20 times as I had edited and reviewed it, but still, I could not help myself. I was balling in the middle of a gymnasium of parents and kids. I could not control the sobbing of a dad who realized his little girl was not so little any more.

As I looked around, I was not the only one. It seems that imagery summed up the feelings of many of the parents on this day.

I am glad I could share my talents for the good of my girl... and hope that it provided the perfect ending to an amazing journey called elementary school.

I love you, sweetheart!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, June 12, 2009

On the subject of "Urban Legends" and other impressions.

There I was, just happily surfing through Facebook, when that wonderful red dot appears in the lower right hand corner of my screen. "_______has commented on a photo of you."

I click on the photo and one of my friends makes a pretty funny remark about a picture in a friends album. However, the remark itself could be taken by my less "understanding" friends as very offensive, and by my conservative friends as "oh my god, has Jon gone to the other team?"

Thank God, I am not Miss California.

Here's the story. As most of you know, I take improv classes very seriously. This past week's class, called "Attack" was about going to extremes to get your scene to go to a totally higher level.

The day before in class I was not attacking at all. As a matter of fact, I was like a sheepish puppy. I was having an awful day and it showed in my work. So as I entered day two of the class, I had decided that no one was going to out do me in class. I even stated in my Facebook status:
Jon
went to Attack armed with a water pistol. Tomorrow, dammit, I go in with a fricking Howitzer. Watch out, class!

Day two was going much better. Halfway through the class, there was a moment where our instructor took a picture of two of the improvisers in a position, that out of context, could be taken in many ways. The point of the instruction was that the closer one gets in proximity to the scene partner, the more powerful the scene can become. So instead of two people standing two feet away, we were practically talking into the nose hairs and ear hairs of our partners. So when our instructor snapped the first picture, you might have thought they were about to kiss.

Smart alec me said "---- has just tagged you in a photo," which drew huge laughs from the class. So our instructor, hoping to help us, snapped away.

We moved to a game called interrogation. The object of the game is to make the person being "interrogated" laugh or they would have to divulge a secret to the class. We paired off and each of us used our own tactics.

Jim and I were paired up and I volunteered to go first as the "suspect." Jim could not break me. I used to watch a show called Make Me Laugh back in the '80's. The object of the show was the longer you didn't laugh with comedians shouting jokes in your ear, the more money you win. I would have taken home the grand prize.

Jim tried everything, including taking my finger and threatening to pick his nose with it. I said, "go ahead, brother!" It broke him.

When it came time for me to question Jim, I knew I had a tactic that always drives my wife nuts, in the wrong way. I was going to fog up his glasses by coming in and acting like I was going to whisper in his ear. I never got to the fog as the first statement out of my mouth was "ear hair," which got him to laugh and break.

After the exercise, our instructor asked if anyone broke, which most people raised their hand. Then he asked who did not break, and only a couple of us raised then. He then asked, does anyone think they can't be broken. Without hesitation, I strode up to the chair and plopped down with a badass look none of those people had ever seen in me. When I took my glasses off, there was an audible ooooh in the room. This was a showdown.

To understand what I was feeling, you would have to go back a week earlier when I was in rehearsal for my own Breakout group. I was doing this same kind of "interrogation scene" when I decided to play it very sheepishly. Our director took me by the cheeks and looked right into my eyes and said "you are 6-4... you are a big man... don't you ever, ever be ashamed of that fact. Be proud of who you are."

She was right. Most of the time I have been on stage, I have played kids or shy people, all in spite of my gregarious personality and undeniable size.

So with Mandy's voice in my head... the challenge was on. The instructor began, and I think a little to his surprise, I fought back with comments of my own. He tried many techniques, but nothing seemed to be working. We got into some very inappropriate banter about Mothers and such, and went very NC-17 (it was a class, I had no problem with that in a class.) The duel continued for minutes... only to have me break when he look exhausted and made a very funny pun saying that it made him feel "__________angry."

I felt like a million bucks. I stood up and was big!

Then, the instructor said, "does anyone think they can break me?" I was being nice and waiting to give my classmates a chance. I was actually a little warn out from the previous scene. No one would raise their hand, so I said... "you're on!"

Doug sat there as I circumvented the chair. Then I struck suddenly, using the same talking close tactic I had used on Jim earlier. I think he was a little caught by surprise. Doug has been my teacher for quite a while and was not used to this aggressive me.

Here is the Urban legend story. I continued to question him getting closer and closer to him. He leaned to the right and I followed him. He leaned to the left so low that I decided to just hit the floor and wait for him to drop. He raised himself up and slipped down in his chair so low that his shoulders were now on the chair and his body created a bench like shape.

This is where the Urban Legend kicks in. I said "so, that's how you are going to play it." Seeing that he was, in essense, a bench. I decided to sit on his chest, trying not to hurt him. The angle of the class however did not see that I was sitting on his chest, but rather... how should I say it... higher.

So the stories began, and apparently had gotten to a very big urban legend status by the time he had his next class, when one of the class asked if I really had "sat higher." That was not the term he used, but ew... I still hate the term he used. Anyway, I was told the class went into somewhat of a tizzy when one classmember said "well, who hasn't he done that to."

Now remember, one week earlier, I was playing shy roles and trying to be unassuming, now people were giving me a whole other reputation. To the instructors credit, he played down the story, laughing at the same time.

That night, I went onto Facebook and there was the notification of someone making a comment on a photo of me. They told the urban legend story, to which I responded with a gasp and EWWW! I then said I needed to take a shower. I wrote back that there was some "splainin to do."

This led to a response that used that "word" again, followed by a cleaned up version only using the first syllable - "tea."

My friend, realizing that I was not comfortable with my new reputation told from the urban legend took the comments down. She's my friend.

So, why do I bring it up again. I love Facebook. I love the way it keeps you in touch with friends, but as you all know, I have friends from all walks of life. From theater types to jocks, from liberals to ultra conservatives. And now, from people who knew me as a sports loving television obsessed guy to the one who loves improv and the theatre now. There have been many different me's, but everyone knows a different part of me.

If anyone happened to see that particular comment, some might have been offended... others ultra-suprised that something like that would be said about me.

The legend is something nasty. The reality is something that never had any intention to be. 430 of the 452 friends I have on Facebook would know that, but you never know what someone might decide to take and put in their pocket to use somewhere down the road.

Case in point... last weekend's Karaoke event. I had full intentions when the concept began of doing Amy Winehouse in a full Amy Winehouse get up. I had the wig (which was borrowed and beautifully worn by Megan in the competition.) I was thinking of what else I could do... then my wife said to me, "in this day of Facebook and YouTube, you don't want to take any chances." She was right, so I went with a plan B.

So now, the record is clear, and the story is told, so that there won't be any misunderstanding of what happened. The urban legend might stay, but my heart is clear. And for those who made comments... no harm done. And, to the one who was looking out for me to let me know the legend had made it's way around, thank you! I don't want to become Amy Winehouse!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On the subject of "Don't Stop Believin"

There is a video on YouTube that is guaranteed to put me in a magical mood.



I was never in Glee Club. Our school didn't have one. However, if there was half this magic, I would have joined in a minute.

My life has taken an incredible sharp turn over the past year. Once a man obsessed with everything sports, the games on the field have taken a back seat to the games played on a stage. I have been bitten by the theatre bug, and it's venom may have saved my life. Okay, that might have been a little melodramatic, but there is no doubt it has changed who I am and how I identify myself. My work no longer defines who I am, and that is an amazing thing for me.

Ironically, the thing that makes sports most special is what is making these performing arts so rewarding. It's the ultimate team sport. There is no way that I can do any of this without the amazing dedication of others to make it happen. This is not the Jon show. I just get to play a part in it.

Last Sunday, Jet City Improv put on a fundraiser for its At-Risk Youth Education Program. We raised over 37-hundred bucks, which is not Jerry Lewis money, but not bad for a first effort. The idea came from a lunch conversation with my best teammate - my wife, who mentioned how cool it would be for me to do my karaoke on a big stage. One lunch turned into another and plans were set in place and it all came together.

To get an idea of how amazing it was to take the idea of Karaoke and put it on a theatre stage, I think you just have to see the pictures. It was the excellent work of dozens of people that made that show what it was... a magical night that we won't soon forget.

The result of the evening is a new ability to make a positive difference in the lives of many in the community and in particular, the improv community at Jet City. I so look forward to the opportunity to dream big dreams and watch them come to life.

Now, it's on to the next challenge. Another talented team, the Breakout Improv group, is getting set to take the stage for the first time next Saturday for the first of our preview performances. We would not have been able to come this far without the amazing dedication of our director, Mandy, and the belief that 8 other people have in yet another crazy idea. Again, big dreams turning into a beautiful reality.

So, I guess my mid-life crisis has been answered. The higher purpose question has been answered. What was in that blue room has been answered. It is a empty theatre, where dreams can come true just by stepping onto a stage.

All I have to keep remembering is...
"Don't Stop Believin'"

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On the subject of "Defriending"

I just had the weirdest feeling.

There, in my Facebook highlights, was a photo album of a friend of mine with photos of an amazing event - a contest won by another friend of mine. I was ready to lend a congratulatory comment when I realized the comment box was not there.

I went up to the search box, and typed my friends name. The search results came up with her name on the top, and the fact we have 11 mutual friends. Then, I saw it. It stared at me like an accusatory finger from a Perry Mason episode. "Add a friend."

I had been defriended. My first feeling was surprise, followed by being a little hurt.

She had worked with my wife many years ago, and had moved away to take a job on the East coast. She went on to become an improviser at a very cool place, and was living her dream. When things changed, and the club closed, I even joined the Facebook groups in support of her cause, and sent her a wall note wishing her the best. It seemed pleasant enough, friendly even.

I had seen this person in person recently at a show where I was genuinely pleased to see her. She was in town to meet with many of our "mutual friends." The conversation was brief, but maybe a little uncomfortable, so that could have been a sign.

But then today... it was clear.

Okay, I am sounding a little melodramatic about it, but I never like to be thought of in a bad way. I know I can be a little much with Facebook status updates, and use Facebook more than most, but isn't that what it's all about... trying to connect with people?

I remember when someone told me I was too Facebook Happy, and felt a little insulted that she took it personally. So I guess people will think the way they want to and that's okay.

Now I have a quandary. I follow this person on Twitter. Do I unfollow her? Funny thing is that she has started using Twitter a lot to talk about some of the everyday things I do on Facebook. Decisions, decisions.

Defriending is an ugly business. It's clean and simple and there is a perfect getaway car... the ignore button. I guess it sometimes just has to be done. Maybe it was spring cleaning. Maybe it was I said something that offended her. Maybe it was nothing at all.

As most of you know, I am not in the business of "collecting" Facebook friends. As a matter of fact, this week, I ignored quite a few requests from people I didn't know. My basis for accepting a FB friend is simple... do I know them and have I a reason to accept it? If I don't know them personally, do we have a mutual interest (blogging, improv, NASCAR, Groucho Marx, etc) that we talk about and will become friends? If you don't fit into one of those categories, I probably will not accept the invite.

So my friend count goes back one, no big deal. It still hurt a little. (Hey, you... don't get any ideas.)

Oh, remember that person who said I was too Facebook Happy. I defriended her a while back so she wouldn't have to deal with my happiness. I guess it goes both ways.

Your friend,

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On the subject of "The Secret"

"Jon needs a song in his heart, an improv line on his tongue, a hat on his head, and a smileon his face... yes... it's one of THOSE days."
- my current Facebook status.

Just out of the shower. I know... nice visual. The shower seems to be where I can find clarity in life, and that is not a brand of shampoo. Although wouldn't it be nice if it was?

"Mind doing tricks on you? Is your life a mess? Need to find inner peace? Then try Clarity. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. You have Clarity... now enjoy your day."

Nope, not that simple. It's hard in these times to find reasons for a lot of things, but clarity has allowed me to figure out why I am such a grouch these days.

My friends, I shall now divulge the secret!

Remember "The Secret," that book that Oprah raved about for weeks and was the one book that was going to change everyone's lives? Didn't read it.

I know what the Secret is... connections.
Happiness is a hello away.
Happiness is feeling loved.
Happiness is loving in return.
Happiness is someone saying I heart you.
Happiness is sharing a moment.
Happiness is laughing with someone, not by yourself.
Happiness is getting a loving comment, and knowing it was written just for you.
Happiness is hearing "thank you."
Happiness is hearing "I'm sorry."
Happiness is not hearing "have a nice day" but feeling that someone who says it really means it.
Happiness is turning over in bed and having a loving person by your side who wants to snuggle.
Happiness is having "the moment" and having someone acknowledge you for it.
Happiness is someone catching a phrase from your past and realizing how fun it was to remember the moment associated with it.
Happiness is when you feel understood.
Happiness is when someone takes the time to understand you in the first place.
Happiness is wanting to share your secret with everyone else.
Happiness is them sharing their secrets with you.
Happiness is wanting to be around people you love.
Happiness is the people you love wanting to be near you.

One of my improv friends said to me the other day that improv was the best heroin ever. It's something that you get hooked on and it never lets you go. I had to agree with her, but thought that it's not the improv I am hooked on, it's sharing the joy of the moments with the people around me. Whether they are in the audience or the closer connection of sharing the stage with me, it's about the connection between your heart and theirs. That is what I am hooked on and can't get enough of.

The bottom line is this. I have been a grouch this past week, since a wonderful Sunday of improv. I was a grouch last week, after an incredible Sunday of improv. It was like coming off one of those highs that you don't want to come off of, yet you know it will be a crash. I know that crash.

When you are hooked on happiness, you need it even more. When my wife gives me a hug, when my kids do something to make me proud, when the dogs can be quiet for just a moment, that is real life happiness. It's not something that can be created, it is something that just has to be allowed to happen.

So I am going to try to find the happiness in the little things. Last night when I joked in my Facebook status that I was "waiting for a star to fall," a friend from the past reminded me of another star song that could go a long way towards allowing me to achieve what I have been blogging about today.

""Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day..."

It's not raining... it's 88 and sunny... but it's still good advice. Because even if it's not raining, you need those stars to get you through the days that feel like it's raining.

So what are some of your secrets? Do tell.

Yours trulym
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On the subject of "Sexting" and "how people see you."


Early morning... dirty... caught in the act... Yes, this is the closest you will ever get to a racy shot of me.

This morning, I was introduced to the new trend of the internet and cell phones. Sexting. It's when people exchange racy pictures of themselves via their cell phones or posting on the internet. I am sure Twitter has something to do with this too.

Technology has brought us so many wonderful things, so is this the next?

Apparently Sexting has become such a big topic, that it was the lead story on CBS Sunday Morning (a show I never miss by the way.) The story was about teens and their ability to get into trouble over this. One guy forwarded nude pictures of his old girl friend (age 17) around to his friends. Problem was, he was now 18, which made him a peddler of child pornography. The local DA put him on the sex offender list, after threatening him with 76 counts of distributing child pornography, and a life sentence. The guy is now ruined.

One girl, who was 12, took a picture of her and her friend on the phone. The picture showed the two in what looked to me to be sports bras, but described as training bras. The local District Attorney brought the girl up on child pornography charges, saying that she was posing provocatively. For those of you who did not see the story, I will repeat the pose here.

Oooh. racy. I am going to be getting calls from around the country asking for more I am sure. Sorry if you are reading this in the morning, and I have just made you choke up a little bit over breakfast. Perils of the trade I guess.

My point is this. The way you are perceived online or by what you send out over the internet is your new perception. Did I worry about this picture being sent to my bosses? Well no, because I know my boss. The fact is, if you are worried about how you will be perceived, worry about your online image, sexy or not.

Case in point. I had a dear friend who was fired from her job this week. She posted comments and notes on Facebook about what "they said." She sounded bitter, but was quick to say she did not want her job back.

I quickly wrote her and told her that I thought while Facebook is a wonderful way to get things off her chest, that it could also be her downfall for any future employment. I wrote, in part:

"You see, any potential employer who is savvy now figures out a way to check out your online presence even more than they check out your resume and sometimes even references. The reason is that your history of when you let your hair down... your unfiltered personality is there for all to see...

So if a future employer was to go on there right now... the first words he would see associated with you are "bitch" and "not a team player." Not because someone said that about you... but because you said that about you. Think about it... those words were not posted by someone else... they were posted by you."

Just a few minutes after sending this, I saw where she had taken down the references to the past and delightfully announced she was moving on to better things. I was happy for her.

The comments I write here and on Facebook are written for all to see. I will admit, I have some privacy filters on my Facebooks as somethings are just for my friends, but even things posted there could be seen or read by anyone without reservation.

It's interesting as less than a year ago, I was called to the carpet by a client for posting a picture of myself with a college gymnastics team. The photo, taken by one of the coaches, showed me on my computer in front of the team in their pre meet attire (which is basically one piece swim suits) in the poses that they had used in the media guide. The comment I made on the picture was, quoting, "now, this is how a television producer gets inspiration."

The comment was made because I had used each of those poses as the basis for the look for the year. Cameos of each of those poses were made into animated dancing objects and created a cool open for the team's video show. The exact poses, in their competition leotards, were seen in the media guide, and on their video headshots.

The comment, however, apparently created some double entendre for some readers and I was asked to remove that picture from my Facebook page, and oh, and any other picture of a student athlete from my page.

It was a dark day in my life
, as someone perceived my thoughts as something other than it was intended. You see, the perceptions that others have of you online can trump the real meaning.

I put this to the test last night when I posted this status update:
"Jon Horton has taken his 10 year old son to a bar for a soccer pregame party. I guess I am starting him early."

The comments started to roll in. "Tsk Tsk," from someone who is a teacher. :<0 href="http://sambaysabor.com/pitt.aspx">You can see what I am talking about here.)

My thought was to be funny... but calculated funny. Heck, my choice of shoes earlier in the week brought in five times the comments, but people know about my affinity for loud shoes!

So next status update, make sure you say what you are wanting to say, or at least explain it quickly, and you will find life a lot easier.

Just a little advice for you still lost in cyberspace from

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the subject of "Words"

This morning, one of my favorite movies was on. "Finding Forrester" is the story of a kid from the Bronx Ghetto that is given the opportunity, through fate and friendship, to work with a famous enigmatic author. Sean Connery played William Forrester, who was portrayed as the JD Salinger of the day. The basic scope of the movie was the value of words, and the difference they can make in people's lives.

I know there is the constant argument that "actions speak louder than words," but I also totally believe that words on their own can provide the foundation for so many things, be it inspiration, or motivation, or compassion.

One year ago today, I started typing words on a screen without a care for where they might go. I didn't know if they would fall on deaf ears. My first blog was about how I had started on Facebook and MySpace and how I was moving into the blogosphere. My inspiration came from the blogs of two close improv friends, who still have their blogs going today. 

Over the past year, I have tried to share parts of my life with you, in hopes that the lessons I have learned, and the chronicle of the journey I am taking, could possibly help someone through a tough day by their compassionate tone, their ability to make you laugh, or their ability to connect on a personal level with each and every one of you readers.

I do not pretend to be a poet. I do not pretend that my words are something important. They are just pieces of me that I want to share with you. One hundres thirty one pieces of my mind, my heart and a little bit o' soul.

So if you are new to the blog... I wanted to share some of my favorite entries with you in hopes that you might enjoy a little bit of my world, which could lead to your world being a little better.

The fourth entry "On the subject of going to Rehab" still ranks among my favorites. It was a journey in life taken through the lyrics of a song that I know was not written about me, for me, or really has anything to do with me. However, I seem to identify with it for a reason that is so "out there."

There are a lot of remembrances of my hero... my dad. The first was "On the subject of Lost and Found" which marked the two year anniversary of his passing. It's interesting as today, I received the final document from his estate, nearly three years after his passing. He is never far from my mind, and I hope in reading stories, he won't be far from yours.

This past year has brought along some incredible challenges for many of my friends... and the story of two of them are told in "On the subject of Life's Challenges." It tells the story of two friends and life changing challenges that brought courage and hope to both... and I think it will help you count your blessings as well.

I am a hugger, but have come to find there is a lot of meaning in hugs... or at least I think so in this entry from late July.

The earliest I ever wrote a blog was one Saturday morning so early, breakfast places weren't even open.

Many blog entries have been about self-realization and those moments you know that life will not be the same again. Then - there's a different me.

Last Thanksgiving, I wrote about what I was thankful for... and apparently it means even more now. Friends, real friends, were the subject of my thanks, and just a few weeks ago, my wife said nothing less than the fact she is thankful for my friends as well. The reason... they allow me to be be me. And that, my friends, is truly a blessing.

While I wrote 100 entries in 2008, I have only authored 31 in 2009. Many of the posts were inspired by those Facebook lists that everyone did for a while. 25 random facts, 48 questions were all part of the fad. They were also what led to me doing the mother of all Facebook lists.

When I clicked over to 300 friends on Facebook, it marked a wonderful time in my life, so I wanted to give thanks to the people that helped me get there... thus "300 friends, 300 stories." Never have I had so many people talk about the positive meaning of connections as I did from that post. I did a 400 version as well, but nothing was better than the original.

Life has become busy, but never too busy to try to inspire others. "Same Person, Different Life" told the stories of some of my long lost friends who I had reconnected with after many years, only to feel like I had found new friends.

The inner search for meaning in life allows for "refocusing" when life seems to be really stinking at the time. But when you have a realization that you believe may help others, it seems effortless to share it. "Into the Blue" was a blog about a dream, but I received so many notes that said the imagery helped them see a magical place in their lives.

And a little while later "People You May Know" did the same.

I realize this might feel like a "Greatest Hits" album and you all want some original material. I promise I will get to some in the very near future. There are lots of words stuck in my head, and many stories to tell. I will get to them this summer... including an incredible journey to Alaska.

Thank you all for being such wonderful readers. I hope my "words" have made a positive difference in your life.

As always, I am...

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Sunday, May 24, 2009

On the subject of "My Boss"

I have the worst boss in the world. He is demanding. He won't let me take any time off. He is a workaholic. He is impossible to be around sometimes. He expects me to work most holidays, but this year, I'll show him.

On the other hand, he can be lazy, with a daydreaming mind and absent from the office for days on end. He never calls, or sends e-mail and he spends a lot of time on Facebook and writing his own blog.

Some days I hate him, but most days, my heart has a soft place for him. I know he can have his challenges, which is why I can understand what he is going through.

He is driven to reach his goals all the time, but he's suffering from mid-life crisis, attempting to figure out what he wants to do in his life. At the same time, he is the one that makes the company run so I have to be supportive.

This year has been especially rough, as I know it has been for many. His way with dealing with it has been to dive in to projects outside of work to make him feel accomplished until the world stops spinning so fast. It takes away from the time he can spend with others, but it seems to be working as the more time he spends on these project, the less he is apt to bitch about others.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, I am spending some time away from the boss, but I continue to hope he will be more understanding to me when I go back to work on Monday. Wait... Monday is a holiday? I wonder if he expects me to work on Monday. Let me check.

Okay, he said for the first time in a while, that I am welcome to take the holiday off and spend it with my family. He encourages me to go take a day trip with the wife and kids, but also to remember there is work to be done and to be in the office first thing on Tuesday morning!

Can't he just let me enjoy the weekend? Nope, because he is always worrying about the next project and building business and being all creative so that his clients can have nothing but the best. Why can't he just chill and enjoy life?

Damn, it's tough to be your own boss, but I will happily live with him. I have to.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger