Monday, October 26, 2020

FIND SOME JOY

It's TEN DEGREES outside. Hath Hell frozen over? I like cold weather. I love it. Snow, icicles, having your breath steam out of your mouth. All awesome. But when it gets down to single digits, I find I prefer staying inside. I'm glad it snowed. I'm glad it might help mitigate the nasty fires. I see all sorts of metaphors for the year 2020, Trump's cold heart, etc. Even so. Enough. Enough of this. 

Enough of seeing the numbers rise and rise of those who have gotten sick, and those who have passed, from this virus. Enough of people closing their minds and hearts to their own best interests. Enough greed, fear, anger, and sorrow. Enough.

We live in this amazing miracle of a world. We have so many wonderful things to experience: love, friendship, music, art, theatre, movies, dancing, laughter, nature, pets, cooking meals, reading books on cold days, finding a parking space, finding a dollar bill in an old pair of jeans, complaining about cold weather. We have all these things, these moments, these experiences, that are free and open and available to all of us. Why spend our time gnashing our teeth, living in fear, worrying about the other person? 

I watched Sixty Minutes last night, because I wanted to see this interview with our current president, see if it was as bad as I have read it was. And it was. The president, the most powerful person in the world, came across as a petulant, insecure, neurotic mess. And this guy has the nuclear codes. And in in charge of the federal government, which is in charge of our nation's response to the virus. And on and on. Then I watched the interview with Pence. He just seems like a yes man. What some would call a KissAss. And a robotic one at that. 

I think Trump and Pence need to take long walks, listen to more music, laugh more, try to tell jokes more, look at the stars and see if they can remember any constellations. Maybe they should take a camping trip together, get some bonding time in. Be human beings. Find some joy. 

They just don't seem to have any joy in their lives. None. And while it is sad, it is also dangerous, given their positions and power to shape the course of current events. 

I have had many people influence my life. And the ones who have had the best and longest effect, who I remember to this day when I need guidance, are the ones who always found the good in this world, the magic, the joy. 

The Love.

I think whomever wins the elections next week needs to find some joy in being alive. In their friends and family. In themselves. They have to remember that in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. They have to publicly hug their children and spouses more. They have to sing loudly and off key at least once a month on live national television. They have to do an improv game with the Cabinet. Write poetry. Put out their top ten album lists. Make a playlist for days their legislation gets stalled in congress. 

They have to bring humanity and humility to the Oval Office. 

And if it gets cold, write long, meandering blogs about life, the universe, and everything.

Here's a song. It's The End by The Beatles. 






Wednesday, October 7, 2020

THEY SAY THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT

So, in the midst of what sometimes feels like the end of the world, I am directing a production of Little Shop of Horrors at the PACE with my company, Sasquatch Productions. I am the left foot of Sasquatch, and the right foot is my buddy August Stoten. I love having a theatre company. It has been one of the great joys of my life, profession wise. We started out a little over a year ago, and have done three shows so far: The Full Monty; Little Women; and Matilda. Matilda in particular did extremely well- garnering huge crowds, many nominations for awards, and setting our bar very high. We were all set to do Sound of Music in the fall, and then along came Covid.  So we're doing this weird little story of temptation, madness, and doom. 


It's awesome.

I've done this show several times, and I alway dig it. Because it's about those on the edge of society, the poor and oppressed. The damaged and lost. The meek.

My people.

In this production, we have to socially distance the actors from each other, and the audience. There will be masks. It will be different. And I couldn't be happier. Theatre, and art in general, is supposed to be about the world we live in. I suppose some theatre these days can be the equivalent of comfort food, thick and filling and giving momentary bliss that slowly morphs into fat. But I am not interested in that. 


Frankly, I never am. If I want comfort food, I'll make myself some Mac-N-Cheese and revel in the processed goo, and vow after to eat nothing but greens for a week.

But I care more about theatre than I do about my diet. 

So, I'm heading to Skid Row, where Seymour makes a deal with the devil, and Audrey can't find a place that's green. And I'm going to rock out, and explore new terrain, and hopefully share something pertinent to these mad times.

And they are mad. Our president has lost his damn mind, and seems to be holed up somewhere in the White House, tweeting away while watching several TV shows at once. 

But I feel hope. I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. And that light is the election. 

We have had the shit kicked out of us this past year. And it ain't over. But we have had enough. On top of that, we were forced during the lockdown to find out what is important to us. And it ain't money, or burning fossil fuels, or doing better than the folks next door. What's important is living in a world where we can hug each other. Where we can breathe fresh air and marvel and the miracle that is our planet. Where we put down our phones and listen to actual voices in the room.

They say the meek shall inherit. Let's see if that's so.

Here's a song. It's The Meek Shall Inherit for Little Shop of Horrors.



Friday, September 25, 2020

ACKNOWLEDGE THE WRONG BUT SEEK THE RIGHT

It's Friday. End of the week. Time to relax. I remember when that was so. Not now, of course. This is the age of uncertainty. 


I suppose it is always the age of uncertainty, and we just pretend life is eternal and unchanging, but it used to be much easier to pretend. Nowadays, there are constant reminders of the impermanence of it all. Things are bad. We all know it. Covid is very real. Global warming is galloping apace. The powers that be seem to be hell bent on minority rule, with a small clutch of very powerful people dictating policy with only their best interests in mind, to the detriment of the rest of us, and to the world itself.

So I don't want to focus on that today.

I have things to do.

I need to write up a treatment for a new musical I'm working on.

I need to gear up for callbacks for a socially distanced, mask wearing production of Little Shop I'm working on down in Parker. 

I have to tend to my garden, both literally and figuratively.

I am not saying close your eyes and pretend this isn't the most serious time of your life.

It is.

I'm not saying just climb onto your roof top and watch it all burn down.

That way lies madness.

I'm saying acknowledge the wrong but seek the right.

Listen to your favorite music.

Tell someone you love them.

Call an old friend.

Meditate. 

Lose your fear.

Find your courage. 

Love life even when it is harsh.

Love life.

Love.

Live.

Love.

Here's a song. It's All Alone by 1 Giant Leap



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

WE'RE ALL MANBATS HERE

When I was a kid, the world was crazy. Watergate was in full swing.  The Beatles had broken up. Jimi and Janis and Jim were dead. The Zodiac was on the loose, and the Manson Family still had a few members taking shots at Ford. When they announced we would be pulling out of Viet Nam, I remember a fellow kindergartener saying to me "I can't believe we lost".  He seemed to take it very personally, which seemed odd to me, being all of five year's old and not feeling like anyone, anywhere, was truly invincible. Not on the playground. Not in my family. Not on TV. Not in life. 



And culturally? We were so divided. There were people who still dressed like it was 1955, and those who dressed like Woodstock never ended. The hippies and the hard asses. I liked the hippies because they had better music and didn't seem as angry. Move love, less fear appealed to me. 

There were good things too. The Planet of the Apes movies. Micronauts. Evel Kneivel. Slurpees. And Comic Books. 

I think one of the many things from that time that sort of summed up the state of the world was Manbat. He was this sort of reverse Batman werewolf like character who wasn't evil or good, but messed up and lost. 

I dug him a lot. 


And I think we are all Batpeople now. Struggling to retain our humanity in a world full of contrasts, short of love and tall on anger, not sure if we are doing the right thing, or even what the right thing is. 

But back then, and now, one thing is remains true. We try. We seek answers. We don't often get them, and when we do, lots of times we misinterpret them. But we keep on trying. We have to. What other choice do we have? 

I grew up in a dysfunctional, alcoholic household. Dismay and terror were part of the daily routine. Paired with the state of the world at the time, I had no choice but to be optimistic. It was difficult, and there were plenty of times when I let the dark side take over, when I was more bat than man. But I kept on. 

And I keep on today. I think the world is gone mad. I think people are lost and afraid and angry. I think we are facing the very real possibility of the end of democracy in America. But I keep on. I have to. 

And if I do turn into some from of hybrid bat/human, I will fight for what I think it right. I may get rabies, or have Batman kick the shit out of me, but that's the way it goes. 

As mister Bowie told us, "we can be heroes". 

So let's do that. Let's find the love and hope and possibility of a better world. 

Here's a song. It's Superman's Song by Crash Test Dummies.




Monday, September 21, 2020

CULTURAL EVOLUTION

Okay. I get it. Things suck. And there is no final crappy thing that will mark the end of things sucking. This is life. Things happen. Some good. Some bad. Both will happen in large amounts. Can't control that. Can only control how we respond. How we live. How we treat one another. 

I am choosing as much love and respect as I can. And doing not only the right thing, but the hard thing. Risking oneself for what is right. Speaking out, politely but unsparingly, for what I believe to be true. Well, maybe not so polite. I might tell someone to go to Hell. Or fuck off. Or ask them to pull their head out of their ass. Because a lot is going on right now, and we are all of us, each and every human being, being counted. Where do we stand on: Covid, Global Warming, Science in general, Systemic Racism, Equal Rights, voting rights, education, the Economic Divide, and on and on and on and on and on. 

It's all coming together, it seems. 

It's one of those moments in history when the world is being tested. And we can either rise up to greater glory than ever before, or sink like Atlantis. 



I prefer rise up and flourish. But that's me. 

What I don't feel like doing is giving up. Ever. I don't think I can. I have built into my brain a desire to fight for what's right. I think we all do. Not that we always do the right thing. Far from it. We all have let things slide, given the benefit of doubt to trolls under the bridge who promise us they are up to no mischief. We've all had that moment when we could have said or done things better. And we will no doubt have more. 

But we are living with such gigantic consequences of letting things slide, I firmly believe we will not let that continue. I think of the Velvet Revolution in the former Soviet Union. I think of the American Revolution. I think of the French Underground during WWII. I think of the Underground Railroad. Things have been awful before. And people chose sides. And there were heroes. 



And there are heroes. 

I want the ghosts of Harriet Tubman and RBG to guide us. 

I want us all to have a daily or nightly seance where we call on the spirits of our personal heroes to return to this realm to help us become better at being human beings.



I want every person reading this to get five people they know to vote, and to vote Democratic. 

My words may be jumbled, my paragraphs rambling, my meaning not clear.

But I am clear. I know what I want: Justice. Peace. A Green New Deal. Equal rights for every human being on this planet.  A future for every little kid I see. 

And together, we can make this all happen. 

No more fear. No more madness. No more lies. 

And no more excuses, for ourselves or for those who seem bent on world destruction. 

Let's take that next step of cultural evolution.

I love you all. Here's a song. It's All Is Not Lost by OK GO





Wednesday, September 9, 2020

EXODUS 8:2

Okay. Can we just all get together on the global warming thing? Shaver Lake, the lake I grew up on every summer as a boy, the lake I swam a mile on, got my certification as a lifeguard, lay on rocks at night, letting their sunbaked warmth keep me toasty in the cool Sierra Nevada evenings, is surrounded by flames. So for me, I have a real place from my life that has been burnt to a crisp. Of course, there's also the fact that is got over 120F in LA the other day, and pylons melted on the pavement. And it got over 130F in Death Valley recently. And on and on and on and on.

But wait. I read something today that made me think maybe, finally, real work will be done on a massive scale and approved by our corrupt system. It was an article in the NY Times, which despite what the Orange One and his followers says, is still a pretty reputable news source, about how global warming is going to start messing with economic markets on a massive scale. 

So greed will get the world moving. Not safety, kindness, a sense of responsibility, love for humanity or nature or animals, or even wanting a world your children can live to an old age in. Just greed. A desire for money. 

What is it with us, as a species? How did we come to value money above all else? How have we been able to ignore the obvious downsides to this aspect of our collective soul throughout our history? I am reminded, yet again, of a line from The Planet of the Apes. It's at the end of the movie, right before Heston sees what's left of the Statue of Liberty. Cornelius is asked by a tied up Doctor Zaius to read from some religious scrolls. Cornelius complies, and reads the following:

“Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.”


It seems like we are making a desert of our home. 

It is time to stop; all this. To either fix this, or go the way of the Dodo. I prefer fixing. And I think we can. I know we can. I firmly believe we are in the greatest period of flux since The Enlightenment. We are being forced to confront the end result of our way of life, of thinking and doing. Oppression, repression, exploitation, and manipulation are up against science, compassion, reason, and love. We have to make a choice. Each of us. We have to get up, and try, and try again. We have to help, both ourselves and each other and the planet we live on. 

We have to wise up. 

Please. 

I love lakes and forests and beaches and trees. I love open fields, going to the movies, concerts at Red Rocks, live theatre, hugs. I can take heart ache and being stupid and arguments about chores. I can't take us killing the planet. I can't. And I won't. I am in this to the end. 

Here's a song. It's Aimee Mann singing Wise Up, with footage from the movie Magnolia. 



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

FIRE AND ICE AND SMOKE ON THE WATER

Well, life in the Upside Down continues to warp and woof, to mutate on a constant basis, always in surprising ways even when I am certain surprise is no longer possible. For the past few days, the skies of Denver have been this creepy pale dullness that looks like the photos of what the skies of Mars look like. Dead, lifeless, barren and forsaken. This is because a ton of the state is on fire. A ton of the country is on fire. And don't tell me this isn't due to global warming. Don't tell me anything about global warming, unless it's about how we need to change our habits right the fuck now. A bunch of greedy, lost fools have sold our planet for a fistful of dollars, and it sucks. We need to fix it, and that will be painful. Doable, but painful. That, too, sucks. But that's all I really care to discuss on the matter of global warming. At least for this paragraph. 


I was talking about the sky. How strange it has become. How drab and dreary, like that Once Upon a Midnight Poe wrote of. And what really makes that sky so sad is that we all got to see blue skies for a bit, at the beginning of the lockdown. Blue skies, clear streams, birds singing. I dig that. I love that. Earth is this huge love planet, and all we did was pause our so very important business for like a month, and POW! that planet was reviving, recovering, refilling. I want more of that. Less smoke and sorrow, more life and joy. 

Speaking of joy, I'm gearing up to direct a production of Little Shop of Horror. Which fills me with happiness, trepidation, and a desire to create something pertinent to the now. To right now. To a world of masks, protest, fire and ice.

Oh yes. The ice. 

Yesterday, it was in the 90s here in the Mile High City. Today it's in the 30s. That seems a bit severe. A bit unkind. But undeniable. We now live in a world where the temperature can swing over 60 degrees in a day. Where is gets so hot in some cities that traffic pylons melt on the pavement, while not that far away, late summer tomatoes freeze on the vine before they've fully ripened. 

Wow. I'm feeling like I might be veering towards the negative. And I don't want to do that. I don't. We have so much trouble right now. So much heartache. Time for heal. To put out the fires, bundle up the cold, and sing songs of love and laughter for our fellow human beings. 

I am going to try and do just that. I write stories. I direct plays. I teach children. 

And I play you songs like Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.

Enjoy.



FIND SOME JOY

It's TEN DEGREES outside. Hath Hell frozen over? I like cold weather. I love it. Snow, icicles, having your breath steam out of your mou...