Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Groovy vs. Cruel

And now it's April. How did that happen? Isn't it still 2019? And 1976? And 2001? I have come unhinged in time, and I kind of dig it. Whatever year it is, I do like the weather. Blue skies. Flowers in bloom. And everyone I see on the street seems happy. At ease. Not freaking out quite like before.


And when I say before, I think we all know instantly what I mean. Back in the panic zone. When we all felt like we were in a dream, knew it was a dream, but couldn't figure out how to wake ourselves up. The time of endless bad jokes about toilet paper hoarding. When everyone was watching The Tiger King. I wonder if that will hold up in future years? I read a lot. Listened to a lot of music. Tons, really. Took up cooking in an instant pot. (if you ever want some of the best Mac-n-Cheese made with chorizo and gouda, come on by)

But here we are in April, once described as the cruelest month. I think it's the grooviest month. I think I shall strive to do all those things I've been meaning to do since before. Write more. Hug more. Return calls more. Live more. And live well. I have a great capacity to procrastinate. And it's one of those things that, once started, is hard to stop. Like, if I have to make a call to the dentist, I either have to do it first thing in the morning, or it ain't happening. And then, weeks later, when my wife asks me if I called the dentist, I sigh, remember I should have done that, and the cycle then repeats. 

No doubt, I will do that some more. But hopefully not quite so much as before. 

And if I do, I am going to give myself a break.

I have discovered that's important too. Giving people a break. Last night, at one of the many rehearsals I have going on, the cast was acting kind of nuts. Attention span was zero. Talking out of turn at an all time high. And everyone seemed to have forgotten every bit of blocking, singing, and choreography. I felt like yelling. Almost did. Then something weird happened. I took a breath, reminded myself we have all been through a lot, and started asking nicely if everyone could get it together. I had to ask several times, but soon, the whole cast was on stage, getting things done, working hard, and even laughing. 

It was awesome. 

So that's April. No long cruel. Totally groovy.

Here's the song "It's Not My Fault I'm Happy" by Passion Pit. Enjoy. And be Groovy.



Thursday, March 18, 2021

Everybody's a Time Lord

My habits have changed. My taste in movies. Music. TV shows. How I sleep. How I drive. How I function as a human being. How I consider humanity, my own and everyone else's. My perception of time has warped and woofed. I am my own TARDIS. I am a Time Lord. 


Last night, I got to the end of the first season of the current run of Doctor Who. The one that started in 2005. It is a rather awesome show, part action Sci-Fi, part comedy, part drama. Quirky. Strange. Thought provoking. The main character, the Doctor, has this thing that happens now and again. She, or He, regenerates their body. Completely. New body, new personality, new everything.

I can relate to that.

I think we all can. Doesn't it feel like a new world we are living in? Doesn't a year ago seem like some alternate reality that we were a part of but is now as hazy as a vivid dream- we remember most of it, and know we were there, but the person in that dream is not us. 

We have metamorphosed. Evolved. Taken on a new form.

This can be scary, or exciting. I opt for exciting. A new adventure for us to take. 

So, on that road we go. I am directing three shows right now. In order of performances, they are: Matilda; Gleeful, and Little Shop of Horrors. I think they will all be quite the experience. I think the first time we all get to be in a theatre, knowing that the virus is contained, that herd immunity is imminent, and that everyone has gotten vaccinated will be an insanely glorious, fantastic ride. I can't wait.

For those of you thinking of not getting the shot, I have one question.

Are you fucking crazy?

The world is round. The virus is real. And Doctor Who is an amazing show.

This are incontrovertible facts. So do the right thing and get your shot or shots.

And if you are near Colorado, come see my shows.

Beyond the shows, I'm writing, teaching, living. I have not idea what will happen in the coming year. But I'm ready for it. I'm ready for ups and downs and inbetweens. For unexpected phone calls. Alien contact. Break throughs of all sorts- political, scientific, artistic. 

One thing this past year confirmed to me. Life is quite unpredictable. Sometimes deliciously so. Sometimes sadly so. But it does keep moving. We are all so lucky to be alive.

Rejoice. Revel. Rebirth yourself into your new form. Take a walk. Sing a song. Dance a dance. Recite poetry to strangers. Cook something you've never heard of and eat it voraciously. Try to communicate through ESP with your pets. Donate to a worthy cause. Donate to an unworthy cause. Go out and blow some money on something ridiculous. Take up gardening. If you already garden, tear up some or all of your current garden and create something new. 

I am feeling groovy. Spread the love. 

Here's a song. It's Everybody's Everything by Santana. Blast it and dance in the kitchen please.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL

So right now I am rehearsing, in various capacities, a couple of shows. It is hard, with social distancing and masks and all that. But not impossible. Nothing much seems impossible, really. Immortality. Talking sense to Trump supporters. Incontrovertible proof of Bigfoot. But other than those, most things are in the realm of doable, with a little work. And I feel like these times make the need to do things that might seem difficult greater. Like somehow, by doing what is hard, we get a sense of light at the end of the tunnel and all that.


So here I am, directing an original musical with a bunch of high schoolers up in Conifer, at a theatre called StageDoor, a place I love and have been directing shows at for several years now. We were in the middle of one of my all time favs, Sweeney Todd, when the shut down hit. That was a drag, because it was going to be an amazing show. I still hope to one day get the band back together and do the damn thing, lock, stock, and barrel. But I digress. We were rehearsing last night, going over music and dances and scenes, like one does at rehearsals, and everyone seemed a little lackluster, a little not-into-it as much as they should be. So I got them all up and out and we ran around the building complex the theatre is in. This was at night up in the mountains, and it was cold. But it felt right. I ran with them, which also felt right. I didn't think it would tire me out as much as it did, but even so, it was awesome. Sometimes, you have to mix things up, take a step back and examine the world, and then run with a bunch of fellow human beings.

It reminded me that we are all here, now, and in need of being present. I know that I can sort of drift along sometimes, sort of here and sort of not. And I don't like that feeling. In fact, I think it sucks eggs. 

What was really cool about the run was how everyone seemed energized and awake and everyone was conversing and laughing and breathing hard. Friggin' awesome. I think if I hadn't run with them, it would have not been as fun, for them or me. For them, the joy of seeing me huff and puff was probably a good thing. And for me, seeing them all laughing and enjoying being in the moment was priceless.

So yay me. Sometimes, I don't suck.

I hope when we get to performances that we can have something like a real audience. And be able to stand more than six feet from one another. 

Wow. Just realized that the prescribed distance we are all asked to stay apart from each other is the same distance we usually bury our dead at. Kind of creepy.

Still, the show will be monumental, and I think we will all have more than a few good cries when we do it. Because it will be a huge affirmation of life going on, of not letting things get us down, of proving ourselves and each other that we could indeed make it through the duration, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, and still make some art.

Yeah, it has been rough. Be we go on. We write shows and tell jokes and run through the night with glee.

Here's a song. It's Van Halen's Running with the Devil. Enjoy.



Monday, March 1, 2021

A FINE MARCH HARE MADNESS

I was once the March Hare. I had tea parties with my brother, the Mad Hatter. This is my month. Truly the month for Madness. Just ask the NCAA. I get my second vaccine shot this month. I get to rehearse two shows and do some pre-production for a show that is coming back online after being banished by COVID. And I get to watch the finale of WandaVision. 

Life is good.

Yes, it is also all too short, at times confusing, full of sorrow and anger and dreams unfulfilled. But still, I find it amazing to be alive. I love it. I always have, and suppose I always will. 

Maybe I'm the village idiot, happily skipping along in blissful ignorance. But ignorant of what, I know not. I've had my share of death and fear and loathing. Of friends and family acting insane in the face of science and reason. I was in NYC for 9/11, the Bay Area for the big earthquake of 1989, lost people I love, been broke as can be, lost races, been rejected by what at times feels like every agency in both LA and NYC. 

In short, I've seen my share of shit. As have we all this past year.

And yet, I still love being alive. Last night I was doing the dishes after making a triumphant batch of Mac-n-Chees with chorizo and a mix of cheddar and gouda that will be spoken of long after I shuffle off this mortal coil (if I do ever do that. I often think I am immortal). As I washed, I turned on the Stone and dance about the kitchen. Just because. 

I am so lucky. I think a lot of us here in the USA are lucky. There are so many places that have a rougher quality of life. I mean, how many places can you live where not being able to get a hair cut is grounds for freaking out? I would have thought that this last year would give us all perspective, and appreciation for all the good things we have. And maybe it has. I hope to find out soon. 

I am sure the lessons of this disease will continue for many years. Some will be pleasant. Some not so much. 

Still awesome to be alive. 

So. I the midst of all this bliss, my dog Padfoot is getting old. Very. I hate it. He is having pains in his joints, and things like climbing the stairs have become next to impossible. Sometimes, out of the blue, he gives a little squeal of pain. When I say I hate this, I mean I fucking hate it with all my being. I love my dog so much. He is the weirdest, best dog in the world. I want him to be young and healthy forever. To eat more of my wife's shoes. To get out and make me spend hours looking for him. 

I want him to live forever. 

Is that too much to ask? I suppose so. I've had some of the best dogs ever. I think we all have, because each dog is the best dog ever. There is solace in knowing that he will one day get to meet my first dog, Gigi. And I am sure they will get along and tell each other stories about life with me. So that's cool.

But the house will be so quiet when he goes. So unbearably clean. 

But he ain't gone yet. There are still hugs to give, ears to scratch. Love to share.

And life is still beautiful, even with it's stupid brevity.

Here's a song. It's Marching On by The Alarm. Lots of big hair in this video. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/vxkhr76SydA

Thursday, February 25, 2021

SNOW DAY, YEAR, AND LIFE

It's a snow day here in Colorado. Everything is shut down or slowed down and all of it is different. We can't navigate our lives as easily. Some of us are sleeping in. Some of us are up but don't know what to do with ourselves. Of course, there are always a few who pretend it's just another day, and trudge along through the drifts as if they don't exist. I watch them from my window and can't decide if they are crazy or stupid or from another planet. When I let my dog out back this morning, he made it all of three feet out before giving up.

It's a snow day. It's been a snow day for over a year, hasn't it?


And what made this one feel just like the past year is that somehow I didn't texted by my school to tell me it was closed today, so I got up at 6 am as usual, put on the coffee, put the dog out, listened to the morning flash briefing on my Alexa, and fully woke up. I think sometimes, when you wake up, you have this little window of time when you can decide to go back to sleep and you do, no harm no foul. But for me, once I've actually made a full French press of coffee, heard the weather report, and read at least part of an article on the NY Times app, there is no going back to sleep. So here I am. My wife and I work at the same school, and when I brought up the coffee, she was still sleeping. I nudged her awake, she told me to look at her phone. And there was the text she had gotten over an hour before, saying our school was closed today. Somehow, this miscommunication from a usually reliable source seems to fit in with the world we have been living in for over a year.

It's a snow year. But at least it does feel like the ice is melting, the Spring is coming, and things are getting better, albeit at a glacial pace. Gone is the sense of dread every time I see a headline that has the words "the White House" in them. It is of course still awful. Over 500,000 dead in America alone. Over 2.4 million worldwide. Or, to let the numbers look accurate, 2,400,000. I can't really wrap my head around numbers that large. I try to imagine how many people that is, how to make the number real. And I can't. It's like contemplating infinity. It just makes no sense to me. 

So I'm still in my PJs, drinking coffee, listening to a little classical mix in the den, shaking the cobwebs from my head as best I can, and wondering what comes next. I've got some writing to catch up on, a few screenplays and a new musical. I have a call I have to make about the sale of my mom's house out in California. And there are always plenty of projects to do around the house. But there are also tons of shows I've been wandering through on all those damn streaming services. Doom Patrol. WandaVision. Modern Family. Derry Girls. Not to mention my ever growing stack of books, some half read, some untouched. It's like the house is full of items and ideas in semi-suspended animation. 

Looks like we got over eight inches last night. I drove down from the mountains, where we were having a socially distanced rehearsal for a high school musical. The road was very twisty, covered in ice and snow, and it was coming down so hard and fast that it looked like when they go to hyper space in Star Wars. What usually takes half and hour took over an hour and a half. My car is a little Hyundai. No AWD or 4WD. The car slid more than once. And I passed several accidents. It was a little nerve wracking. But I made it. 

Maybe that's the metaphor I'm looking for this morning in regards to the snow and this past year. It's been terrifying, tedious, and frustrating, but for those of us still alive, we made it. We're tired, unsure of what today will bring, and in need of coffee. But we made it. 

Yay.

Here's a song. It's Snow Days, by Trip Shakespeare. Enjoy.



Monday, February 8, 2021

DFWTNOM IS COMING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

It's Monday morning, cold as can be here in Denver, like in the teens cold, and I've already taken a long walk, made a post office run, and now am back in the joyously heated house, listening to the first stab at a podcast I am working on with my friend Craig Nobbs tentatively titled DFWTNOM. 

I talk a lot. 

The format we are going for is a back and forth conversation between two friends who are both writers discussing current events, projects, shows we like, and so on. I think it works for our particular personalities, and am excited about where it will go. But as I listen to myself, I am astounded at how much I can go on about things. And how poor a listener I can be. No doubt part of this is due to me wanting to do well, to cover my half of the lifting for the podcast, to come off as someone worth listening to for a half hour or so.

But holy shit, do I go on. 

Part of that is good, I think. I have a rather stream-of-consciousness approach to life, and to conversation, and I think/hope that gives what I say a veracity and specificity. But at the same time, I think maybe I could and should edit myself a bit more. 

So look for DFWTNOM wherever you download podcasts soon.

Also, the Super Bowl kind of sucked.

I think it is so long and so bloated and so desperate to feel like it used to but hasn't in a long time. Each year, the half time show seems to get longer and more convoluted. More determined to be that much bigger than the previous year. Each year, the commercials get a little more obnoxious. Not that there weren't some cool things, some moments that really were entertaining and possibly up lifting. But a lot of it felt tired. 

And I think we have all felt tired enough of late.

Maybe my priorities have just changed from the last year. Maybe I don't really cared as much about the NFL as I used to. Maybe I am hungry for more satisfying material.

I've started watching more movies again. This past week end I watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 and also Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Both films were awesome, exciting, thought provoking, emotionally fulfilling, and cool. They fed my soul, and I dug that.

More soul food, less junk food please. More stories that help me interact with the world, less stories that are designed to placate me. 

More.

Here's a song. It's Talk, Talk, by Talk Talk. Enjoy. And don't forget: DFWTNOM.



Friday, February 5, 2021

WAITING FOR THE LET GO ON THE RAZOR'S EDGE

And just like that, the first Friday of February 2021 is here. I keep writing 2020 on things. This happens every year around this time, but I seem to be doing it a little more. I think we are all still trying to shake off the past year. And with good reason. What a long, strange, scary, bizarre, year. And did I mention long? Sometimes I forget that Trump is no longer President. Not for very long, just a moment or two. It just seemed like we were going to be stuck with his madness forever and ever. Happily, this is not the case. 

I think we've all gotten used to Covid world. To social distancing and masks and thousands dead every day. Which freaks me out a little. Every day, around three thousand Americans die. And thousands more across the globe pass. All from Covid. And this has become routine. We barely blink an eye. Just another day. It's like a curse and a blessing at the same time. Horrific that we can put up with and endure these times. Heroic that we can keep going at times like these. It makes me think of that line about how life is like a razor's edge we walk upon. I used to find that saying kind of lame. Like "yeah, there's good and bad in the world. I get it. Move on." 

That was long ago, when I was young and stupid. Before life began it's ritual of kicking the shit out of me on a regular basis with just enough variation in its timing that every new tragedy is a surprise, something unexpected that drops out of the blue like a dinosaur killing meteor. 

Maybe we don't balance on that razor's edge. Maybe we can't fall to one side or the other. Maybe we endure because we are just built that way. Maybe we have to see the good and bad, the wondrous and the woeful in equal measure, because that is simply the world we live in. Sure, we can try to pretend it's all great, or all gross. But I think most of us know that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 

It is still an incredible universe.

There is music, and laughter, and tears of joy, rage, and. sorrow that give us comfort. 

There is love. And that makes all the difference.

I was teaching a short unit on Shakespeare this past week. We went over all the plays and what the basic plots were. Revenge came up a lot. And the class, middle schoolers, got into a conversation about revenge, if it is a good idea, if it ever really brings satisfaction or joy. It certainly doesn't in Shakespeare. And I've never had a time where carrying a grudge, seeking retribution, getting even, ever worked out well. 

Maybe it does for some folks. I've just never seen that. I've seen anger twist people's souls, filling them with toxins that cloud their judgement and seem to make them miserable and lonely. Seen plenty of that. 

Not that I think we should let those who are acting cruelly or with malice or doing something that hurts others or themselves continue with those destructive ways.

We just need to let go of anger and resentment. Process it, acknowledge it, and move on. 

That's been the only thing that works for me. Forgive, accept, move on. 

Right now, there are a lot of people in this country who are, I believe, behaving badly. I would like them to stop. I don't let them do so when I'm around, if I can help it. I don't wish them ill. I don't want them to be miserable or kicked in the nuts or ridiculed. I want them to stop hurting my friends, families, and themselves. I want them to let go of what seems like a lot of anger and grief and fear. 

If they can't, we need to deal with them clearly, strongly, and without malice. 

Easy to say, hard to do. I often post about the morons, the whackos, the greedy and the willfully ignorant. I probably shouldn't. It prolongs the anger I feel. That is one of my many faults. But I do try and let it go before I go to sleep. I try to treat others with respect while at the same time calling out lies and madness. 

It's rough. A razor's edge. 

Here's a song. It's Waiting for the Let Go by Elle King. Enjoy. 



Groovy vs. Cruel

And now it's April. How did that happen? Isn't it still 2019? And 1976? And 2001? I have come unhinged in time, and I kind of dig it...