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.

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:
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