Tuesday, December 30, 2008


So a few people have commented to me that they miss the stories. Ok then.

As such, here's a story that most people will probably enjoy.

Back when I was in college, I took a summer to work as a master electrician/prop master/stage manager for a fledgling theatre company in St. Louis. (Sadly, the company would fold after the season I worked for it...go figure.) The second show, True West did very well, but it had a fast turnaround into our next show, Raised in Captivity. When I say fast turnaround, I mean we had to strip all the lights and sets down and then rebuild and hang in a 48 hour period. And when I say we...I mean me. I had to go and pull everything down and then put everything back up. The only help I would receive was from my then Lighting professor (who hated me so...probably because I was not a small, hot, Asian girl) who offered to give me thirty minutes of his time (at time and a half) to put up flats and curtains.

Ok, strike (when you take everything down for those who don't know the lingo) is always quick. You're tearing down the wall, so you can pretty much speed through taking out screws and bringing down lights as long as you have a good ladder, a working wrench, and a good set of leg and arm muscles. One of the first lessons in lighting I learned was that in a black box theatre, you can grab on to a ladder with your legs, grab the lighting pipes with your arms, and pull yourself with ladder to the next destination. It's like being a monkey. And later you learn how to hang upside down and do work with your feet when necessary...I'm not kidding.

So, the actors and I strike the set (including a working sink) and the lights (though most of the actors, as actors usually are, were afraid to get up on the ladder because getting hurt means no paycheck). In comes the light plot.

When you have time, a sound mind, and help, light plots are extremely cool. It's the lighting designer's road map to creating a painting with light. It's how one man or one woman (usually one) takes the color palette and creates a visual representation of feeling, of a point of view, etc. One could be in awe of how just some drawings, colors, and Geometry create moods.

However, when you have no time, fatigue, and no help, a light plot becomes your mortal enemy. Especially when the designer doesn't label anything.
And that's where I was.

As an added incentive, one of the heads of the company bought a countdown clock and set it from the moment strike started. 44 hours. With a click, the numbers began dancing away toward the null. I didn't have a lot of time. So my time breakdown became the following:

Show ended at 10 PM.
People schmoozed and talked for 20 minutes.

Strike took about 25 minutes.

5 minutes was organizing and discussing.

That makes it 11 PM Sunday night. They want the space up and ready to go by 7 PM Tuesday.

44 hours.

No problem. The list was:

Hang the lights
Run the cable
Plug them all in
Get the set up (It was a small set consisting of furniture, a wall with a door, and some knick-knacks.)
Focus the lights (the worst part of the hang)
And set up the props

I decided that I would begin by placing the lights where they would eventually be hanging. This way I could gauge how much cable would be needed as well as which circuits I could use (this would all have to be written down on the light plot as well as the master list.

Now I know someone in theatre is reading this and saying, "Dude, I.T. ... why didn't you just bring the lights over, move the ladder, and hang as you went? That's simpler."

That person is probably right (and should go to Hell), but I had to make sure we had enough lights (which is a constant worry when working in someone else's space).

No, I moved the lights and recreated the plot. Then, with my trusty Crescent (fresh) Wrench, I started hanging the lights.

The original plan was to hang and plug in the lights and get gels in before dawn. Then I would go home, take a cat nap, come back, and finish by dinner. This would leave a whole day to load set and focus. Thus, when 7 PM Tuesday rolled around, and the clock struck zero, I could do a victory dance and bask in the love of actors. This last statement should show you that I was an idiot as actors will never let you bask. Nor will dancers for that matter. While working on a dance show, my crew and I decided to entertain the performers by doing one of the dances ourselves...in steel-toed boots and wearing all black. Instead of laughing, we were given a lengthy post-dance speech about what we did wrong. Damn Ballet dancers....

Anyway, I'm rolling along. Music is blaring to help the caffeine in my system keep me awake. I'm about to hang the first light on the last baton. This meant I only had seven lights to go...and my cell phone rings. This is when cell phones were for...well...phone calls. One kind of ringer. No internet. Just phone calls...at two in the morning...with seventy-five lights hanging above you...but whatever.

The phone jingle-jangle-jingles, and it's the lighting designer.

"I.T.! Where are you?!"

"I'm hanging the last of the lights, Jerry," I say with pride. "What's up?"

"What's the number on the plot?" he asks. For those unfamiliar, some lighting designers will plot, then tweak, and each tweak is a new number.

"Four," I respond. Jerry liked to tweak (and I am using lighting and...other vernacular here).

"Shit! You're supposed to have six. There were changes."

"We'll I have four, Jerry. And I'm almost done. What kind of changes am I looking at?" I ask in dread. He was not a subtle tweaker (and again I mean both ways), but one who would completely redo sections.

"The section over the office has changed. Everything has to be turned ninety degrees to accommodate the [lighiting] booth. Toooootally didn't think about it when I planned it. Can you come over here, like, now?"

"Jerry...when did you change this?"

"Dude, I changed it last Friday."

"Jerry," I say with annoyance growing, "We had a production meeting on Saturday. Why wasn't the new plot there?"

"Don't know. My fault. Come get the new one. I'll have it on the porch." And with that, the phone call ends.

Fatigue has started to sink in a little, and anger doesn't help that. I locked everything up and walked out to my car to begin the twenty minute drive to Jerry's home. He lived a neighborhood that the local university I was attending said, "Avoid if at all possible." On the security maps they gave to kids, this neighborhood was completely shaded in for having the most crime. And here I was driving into it at 2:30 in the morning.

Like Excalibur in the rock, Jerry's new plot is sticking out of a lawn chair glowing bright white by the light of the lamppost near by. The plot was as bad as I feared. I would have to shift every light over one pipe and move fifteen lights two pipes back. Back in the car, back to the theatre, and in I went.

I found that Guns and Roses was great music at 3:15 AM to motivate hanging lights faster. What doesn't work? Dave Matthews...that's for sleeping.

The clock continues spinning as the last light is locked into place. I do a little happy dance knowing that the hardest part is about to start: running the cable and plugging it in.

The best part about Monday morning at the university is that the coffee shop (conveniently next door to the scene shop) opens at 5 am. As the sun begins to peak on the horizon, I run the last of the cable and begin plugging in everything. Again, I'm alone on this, so what could be done by now is not finished...and the cavalry might come. And because the floor is clear, the set can now be loaded in. I call the artistic director at 5:30 am as I am walking to coffee shop to eat something and then go home to sleep.

"Nic," I begin. "Everything is up. The set can be loaded and locked down.... Oh, and good morning."

After some bursts of half awake dialect I don't recognize, Nic responds, "Ooook. We'll have the set in by two. I want everything focused by five."

"We still have more than twenty-four hours," I respond. "Why are we rushing?"

"Robert [the director] wants to up the timetable. He needs more time on stage. Show's...not going well."

I sighed. While I really liked Robert, his antics were a problem for the tech people.

"Ok," I tell Nic, "I've got some errands to run, then I'll go home, sleep, come back at four, and try to finish everything tonight. One thing: I have everything up. Tell Jerry no more changes."

"No problem," Nic replies, "Now fuck off! I need to sleep." And with that, he hangs up on me.

The plan sounds easy enough. I have to quickly get my errands done (this included doing stupid things like, you know, getting groceries so I can eat, depositing a check so I can buy said groceries and pay my rent, and turning in class work (I was taking a summer course to get done with college faster).

The problem with working near where you live and where you go to school is that you are going to run into people you know. When you're really tired and trying to rush, Murphy's Law takes over. You WILL run into people, and they will suck up your time. First stop was the ban k, where I ran into two of my professors, who tell me everything about the upcoming year (it will be my senior) and what they expect the plays to be as well as what work will need to be done. Because I want to have a prime position, I play the part. I should have said, "Oh my God. Leave me alone!" I didn't. Next, I'm in the grocery store buying a few items (biggest item: cat food), and I run into a friend of mine, who is also there with his fiancee...and his siblings.... So of course I have to talk to all of them, and this takes over an hour.

And, after a quick stop on campus to turn a paper, I'm finally in my little mushroom house (Yes, Virginia, they called it the Smurf House) ready to sleep. I still have time. I feed the cats, drop the pants, and hit the bed that is lulling me to it with it's siren song and false promises of rest.

The eyelids close.

The body begins to relax.

The sound of the world and ringing in my ears fades...

And the phone rings.

Five minutes. That's how long I slept. Five minutes. It was at this moment in my life that I learned to hate the ringing of the phone. The dull, insensitive tone it makes. However, it might have been an emergency, so I picked it up.

It was not an emergency, it was Rick.

Here's what you need to know about Rick. Even though he hated me, I really respected him. He was and is an amazing designer. It's no wonder he was asked to work the Olympics more than once. However, his personality was a major turn off for most people. He was the runt of his family, and the other men had been military. He wasn't, due to an eye issue, and then picked theatre, which was very unpopular in his Southern-rooted home.
That being said, he had a thing for young, Asian women, and treated any man who got his girl's eye with severe contempt. His girlfriend thought I was funny and cute, so naturally I was given shit jobs like light maintenance (sitting in a dark room making sure every piece of equipment is working), cable coiling (unwrapping and then recoiling every cable), and dealing with rental equipment (which could be ok, if the owners of the equipment weren't complete dicks...oh well). The only compliment I ever got from him was after the first show (two one-acts) I designed the lighting for. He walked up to me and said, "Not bad. Better than my first show, but you had better equipment and better training than I ever did."

I was dumbfounded. On the one hand, he said I did a good job. On the other, he said it was because of him and because I had the equipment. Give the cookie, but make it bitter.

Rick was also very protective of his space. It had to be done his way on his time. Any variation and he would shut it all down. He was a tech diva, and this is who was on my phone.

"Where the fuck are you?" The drawl spits across the phone.

My first thought was, "I'm at home, obviously, as you called me here." I could not say this, however, as he might respond badly. So I said:

"I'm at home. I worked all night, and I wanted to get some quick downtime."

"Well get the fuck back up here. Your 30 minutes of my time are about to kick in, and I need some answers as to what's going on around here."

"Could you call the TD (Tech Director)? I haven't slept yet. I really need some time away."

"Shut the fuck up, get in your car, and get your ass back up here! Or I walk."

My body screams at me to tell him to fuck off. But my mind knows better. Rick has this...eye for focusing. It took him seconds to see a light and know what had to be done with it. It took me a few minutes for each one. Yes, he was an ass, but I had to bear with him in order to be ready by the new timetable.

No time for a shower, just throw on some new clothes and deodorant, grab a Coke for lunch, and run.

When I arrived at the theatre, there were problems, and I understood why Rick was pissed. After I had left, someone (and I assume it was the set designer who was also the carpenter) had started cutting some new boards for a flat and had sliced off part of an acting cube...then had left the cube there with the sawdust on the floor next to the saw.

"What the FUCK is this shit?!" he yells at me

"I don't know," I respond. "When I left, it was just me. He must have come while I was running my errands and turning in work."

"Look at the cube. Shiiiiiit. This is coming out of someone's budget." And with that, he looks squarely at me. His mind obviously saying, "And I mean you, fucker."

This presented the second problem. Not only was there damaged property, but the set wasn't up. I couldn't focus without a set to focus upon. Worse yet, if Rick left, I would focus alone and have to use the Focus Dummy.

Ok, the Focus Dummy is a sewing mannequin on wheels. We attach to it pieces of the fabric that the actors are going to wear. This means having to know the blocking, set the dummy in position, put on the fabric, then focus. It's time consuming. It sucks.

With no set and no set designer around, I had to buy Rick a tall latte to keep him from bolting. I dialed up the tech director.


"Yes," I hear Doug reply. He sounds out of breath.

"What's going on in the theatre? I'm here with Rick. There's no set, there's a saw next to a cube that's been cut, and I need to focus before Rick leaves.

I hear more breathing coming faster and faster. My first thought is a very dirty one. Doug is having sex and is making me listen. When he finishes, he'll talk. This, thankfully turns out to be wrong.

"Are you near Rick?" Doug asks.


"Good. We lost the set."

There is a moment when you hear something that makes no sense. Your brain almost stops like a derailed train. Logic disappears. Like when someone says something so incredibly off topic or stupid that you can't fathom how that person's brain could put those words together. That's what happened when I heard they had lost the set. All I could say was:


"We lost the set. We put it in the scene shop [which was directly below the theatre] last night. Came in this morning, and it was gone. Someone took the flats. We were rebuilding them."

I'm stunned. How do you lose flats? I couldn't understand it. Then I hear Rick say:

"And did you guys take your fucking flats off the paint rack? I had to move them because they were blocking the prop cage."

"Doug," I immediately say, "did you remember to move the flats off the paint rack."

"Oh fuck! They're on the paint rack? You're a life saver!" And the huffing begins before I hang up.

I turn to Rick, who has just finished the latte, and say, "Can we focus in like twenty minutes? I need to get a drink and use the bathroom. Weird, right?"

Rick just stares at me with these icy blue eyes. After a few minutes, he sighs then says:

"Fuck. Give me the cash for another latte, and I'll give you ten minutes."

I do the math in my head. Not enough time. So I do something incredibly unethical. First, I call Doug and tell him to keep loading no matter what. Then I go and see a fellow student who owes me a favor. I buy a newspaper, give the student (not giving his name just in case) some cash, and tell him to start a trashcan fire on the first floor near the sprinkler. To his credit, he did it. This set off the fire alarm, which meant the building had to be evacuated for some time. I found Rick outside.

"You can't count this time, man. This is like an act of God."

He stares back at me and says, "Shiiiiit. Fine...but you only get twenty minutes. And I want you to call Mark tomorrow and see if he's selling any eight inch fresnels."

This is actually a punishment. Mark liked to talk...alot. He would talk about whatever was on his mind. One conversation ran from a light, to a baseball stadium, to his ex-wife, to football, to movies, and then to his hair. A typical five minute visit anywhere else was a half an hour with Mark.

The set is finally loaded, and the focusing goes quite well. Rick is fine form, so it all gets done. Because his girlfriend shows up to load some sound cues, he stays longer. We finish with enough time for me to go grab a quick bite and then come back for rehearsal. It's a miniture hell week (what many will call Tech Week), so we have to do a run through of building cues. This is time consuming, usually boring, and if the director is a bastard, frustrating.

Instead of being done at 10 PM, we finish around 1 am. Robert could not get out of his own way. We would build a look, get it all set, run it, and he would then say, "NO! That's not what I wanted. Do it again. Weren't you listening to me?" This would happen with almost every cue.

1 AM when you've been up for one day makes you slightly tipsy. 1 AM on a second day makes you very tired and very angry. I just want to sleep. But there's a problem: a few of the lights have burned out. Some are probably due to lamps burning out, but others are mechanical issues (loose wires, broken pins, etc.). The space is being used for a class all day the next day, so I can't leave until I finish fixing the problems. Once again, I'm alone in the space at night, and I haven't slept since 6 am Sunday morning.

When you're really tired, the mind sometimes misfires. You don't fully follow logic. This was about to happen to me. One light wasn't working, but the lamp was fine. This meant it was wire related. I went to the light board and turned the circuit on, then I check the light itself. Wires were fine there, so it had to be the cable. I checked the wires at the plug first. They were fine, so it was where the cable connected to the light's pig tail (or cable). I opened up the cable head and found a loose wire. I started trying to pushing it back in place, but it wouldn't go with the gloves I had on.

Now I don't know if it was the fatigue or a deathwish, but I did something so stupid that the fact that I am alive makes it funny.

I started thinking about how to make the wire fit.

"Well," says my brain, "When you work with sewing thread, you lick the thread to make it stable to go through the needle. The wire here looks like thread, so logic dictates you should like it to make it go through here."

Now, because my body was so tired, it did not scream, "No, you stupid fuck!" Instead it went, "Just FINISH!!!"

So, high up on a ladder at 3 something in the morning and by myself, I licked a live wi re. First of all, it hurts...like you wouldn't believe. I really have nothing to compare it to unless there's a comparison to electrocuting your mouth. The first thing was pain, the next was being blown off the ladder on to the floor.

When I woke up a few minutes later, my back hurt, my mouth hurt, and my pride hurt. I had a bruise the size of a dinner plate on my back (I would see this later) from the fall. My mouth was burned from the electrical adventure, and my pride kept saying, "You LICKED a live wire, you stupid moron!"

So I lay on the floor of the theatre trying to make sure I was actually alive. When I could finally get up, I went and turned the circuit off. Then, even though I was still shaky, I climbed the ladder and finished. Then, with my hands still shaking, I dialed Nic to tell him what had happened. After exchanging pleasantries, I told him.

"You did what?" He responded.

"I haven't slept, Nic. I licked a wire."

A quick sigh. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah," I say. "Just shaking," and watch the bottle of water in my hand jitter around.

"Can you finish?"

"What time is it?" I ask.

"It's 4:10."

"Oh shit, that means I actually passed out for like ten minutes."

"I don't hear that!" Nic yells. "If I hear that, I have to fill a report, so shut up!!!"

In the background, I hear Nic's wife stirring and then quietly saying, "Just hang up."

"I have to go," he says, "Finish up and go home. Sleep! We have alot to do the rest of this week and I need you alive for now. Good night."
The phone call ends.

I managed to pull myself together and finish everything in time to see the sun rise as I walked outside. The first thought in my head was actually not the sunrise, which I would eventually watch, but how jealous I was of the janitor's cigarette. I didn't smoke, but I really wanted a cigarette. Actually, I really wanted a drink, but drinking in the early morning is usually frowned upon. It's eggs and bacon...not eggs and Jack Daniels...but it could be. So the constant smell of burned hair (seems I singed some beard hair) was to be with me until I showered.

As I walked to my car, however, I saw that sunrise. A deep orange and golden amber that spilled across the sky with delight. This led me to walk to my car, hop on the hood, and just watch. No music, no one with me, and no reason to rush. Just myself, the sun, and the universe as a new day is born.

The film City of Angels (an inferior remake of a brilliant film called Wings of Desire...Go watch the two. I'll wait...see I was right.) has a moment where the angels watch the sunrise and act as if they are hearing the most pure sound in the world that reaches to the core of being. Humans, however, cannot hear it or feel it. That rising there, sitting on my car a few hours after almost electrocuting myself, was one of the greatest sunrises I had ever watched. It has only ever been rivaled by a few days in my life.

Lest you think I'm sappy, here's the rub: When you do lighting design, a problem begins to occur. While I enjoyed the moment and watched the sky in awe as the stars winked out and became replaced with the blue hue of life, I started seeing gel colors in my head. The more you design lights, the more you start to see the world in terms of color gels. Imagine looking at the gold light spilling across the sky and thinking, "Hmm..Roscolux 04 [Medium Bastard Amber] with a hint of 08 [Pale Gold]." This was one of the reasons why I would end up leaving theatre: the wonderment and beauty of the world became colors in a swatch book.

So I watched the sunrise and made the decision to take the day off. No work. No helping anyone else out. Just get in the car, drive home, and sleep. So, with Helios above the horizon and being dragged higher and higher by Apollo's Chariot, I went home. I sat down on the couch that had been left by the previous tenant, and looked out the window one more time at the sunlight moving between the trees. Then I passed out...hard. I would wake up several hours on the floor. The cat (my grey and white one) was pulling on my ear. Either he thought he was helping me to get up and go to work...or he was trying to eat my ear for nourishment. I like to believe the former, but it was probably the latter.

The show went very well. It was sold out every night and, after the reviews came out, it was standing room only for a while. In the end, however, the theatre company went out of business when the artistic director moved to Florida.

And there was a cast party, which ended with Jerry trying to sleep with a woman in the loft of my house and showing his ass to everyone before falling out a window. I had to burn those sheets. Wish I was kidding.

So what, dear reader, should you take from this? Well:

1. Don't lick a live wire. Seriously...don't do it.
2. Rest. Even when the hurly burly is flying about and the shit hits the fan, take a moment to breath and rest.
3. You live theatre. It's not a job, it's a lifestyle. If you're thinking about doing it professionally, make sure you know that.
4. Don't lick a live wire. It's just really good advice.
5. All people, no matter how horrible or schmucky they seem, have a heart. Appeal to that.
and finally,
6. Never, ever, let a day go by without seeing, learning, hearing, or doing something new. Take an appreciation for the light of life if nothing else.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry X-Mas!

And a happy new year!

Enjoy this cartoon from Welcome to Wayne Manor. She's awesome.


Monday, December 22, 2008


"Fortune favors the brave" - Publius Terence

"Battle not with monsters
lest ye become a monster
and if you gaze into the abyss
the abyss gazes into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Wherever you go...there you are." -Buckaroo Bonzai

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friendly Thought

To the guy who parked next to me at Target (and almost hit me to boot):

You saw me, and yet you still plowed ahead and almost took off my door and my leg. Then, when I shut the door, you moved over so I couldn't get out.
And you laughed.

Great holiday spirit.

So here's what I think you can do in order to help the gene pool:

This is why I love art.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Shark 2: The Return!

(from here)

I'm not sure why, but this is hysterical.

And finally...the mother of all inspirational speeches:

Moral: don't break an oath, or karma will get you... or sharks will fuck you up...or something.



Because Batman is always prepared.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Celebrity (or If You Ain't Famous...You Suck!)

(This will embarrass him slightly, buuuuuuut... I don't care.)
First of all, I would like to welcome the Fox Mafia who has probably already found this and has passed it on to proper channels. How's it going?

It is fascinating to me how people will change their demeanor the second a celebrity appears. The most stoic person in the world can suddenly become gelatinous goo when a famous person walks in the room. When I was in college in St. Louis, I used to go to this restaurant/diner all the time in the city of Clayton (near St. Louis...think rich suburb...like Edina). They had wonderful, greasy diner food. More often than not, my dining partner was a set designer friend of mine who was the most uptight person in the world. Did not like to show emotion. If you've ever seen the movie
Ratatouille, think of the character of Anton Ego, the food critic, and make him a little more of a hippie and this is Peter. So it was incredibly shocking to me that Peter would turn into a giddy little school girl when we had lunch one day and there was Mark McGwire at the next table. You couldn't miss the guy. He had Popeye-like arms, very light hair, and many waitresses falling over themselves to talk to him. This was also the offseason after he had broken Maris' record.
Maybe I'm just different, but celebrities are just people who have been elevated by the public. Thus, I did not run over and ask for the man's autograph. Peter, however, did. "Oh my GOD! You're Mark McGwire!" Peter shouts. Again, my dining partner is usually stoic. When his girlfriend dumped him in front of us at a tech rehearsal (such bad timing), he just said, "We'll talk later, I have to work." No emotion, no raising of his voice. Yet, here he was jumping up down trying to get a baseball player to sign a pad of paper.
I did my part. McGwire sighed as he looked at me and said, "I suppose you want an autograph too?"
"No, sir," I said, "I just want eat in peace. I know you know that feeling."
He laughed. "Yes, I do."
Later, as he left the diner, he stopped and said, "Thanks," and walked out.

Microfamous people aside (I leave that to
Rex), we have elevated people on TV, radio, film, and playing fields to a level beyond us solely because they do something we don't: talk to the masses.
Thus people can take celebrity one of two ways. Either:
1. It goes to their head, and they treat people as lower than them, or
2. It doesn't affect them as much. They know they have power, but it is not wielded like a sword.
Jason DeRusha. Sorry,
Jason DeRusha (that's better) is an example of a #2. While he enjoys some celebrity and is well known, you will not hear him say (or see him do this) in a harsh tone, "Do you know who I am?" That's not him, and that's what makes him likeable. (I also owe him for way back when he named my blog as one to read. What the hell was he thinking?)

The same can be said of Keith Marler. He's not one of those, "Get out of my way, kid," kind of celebrity. He enjoys talking to people. One time he was in the Arbor Lakes 16 when a woman, who was a little infatuated with him, came up to him and said, "Oh my GOD...Keith Marler...I love you." Keith just stood there and smiled. "Thank you very much," he said. Of course, I had told the woman to hug him...and he graciously let her while giving me the, "Your children will suffer," look. He doesn't seek out people and doesn't use his fame for personal game. Never once have I heard this man exclaim, "Don't you know who I am?!"

Karl Spring, however, is an example of the other kind of celebrity. Years ago, I met Karl Spring at the Minnesota State Fair. He was working at the Fox 29 (this was before the switch) booth. He couldn't have been nicer. We chatted for a few minutes about being a weatherman, and I told him I was a teacher.
"Oh!" he exclaims. "You have to bring me to your classroom."
"Um," I begin, "Maybe."
At this point, he grabs my free fan (on a stick) and starts writing numbers on it.
"No really," I say, "that's not necessary."
But he just writes out these numbers and says, "Please call. We'll set something up."
"Ok," I say, and I start to walk away.
And this is where it gets odd. Even though I have the numbers, the former weatherman comes out of the booth and runs down to me as I'm walking away.
"Stop!" he yells.
I do.
"I forgot. This is my other line," and he takes the fan and writes more on it.
I never called, because the students wouldn't have gone for it, and because he seemed desperate.

The worst "celebrity", however, has to be Dick Ebersol. Now, I used to work as a maintenancean at a tennis court. Ebersol's wife, Susan St. James, played there, and I had spoken to her a few times. Very pleasant woman. He and I had also met, but he dismissed me. One year later, I was a ball boy (yeah, yeah, get it out of your system now) at the then Volvo Open (now called Pilot Pen). There was a celebrity softball game between CBS and NBC Sports personalities. The best personality was the umpire: Randy "Macho Man" Savage, who called balls and strikes in character. "HOOOOO Yeah! That was Strike ONNNNNE!"
One of the personalities, however, was Dick Ebersol. At the end of the game, the crowd was allowed to go on the field and mingle. I went to Ebersol to talk to him and ask how his wife was (she was always very nice to me, and a really good tipper). The second I walked up, it was like I smelled of the plague and asked him to lick me.
"No, I'm not signing autographs," he said.
"I don't want one," I replied. "I wanted to ask..."
"No," he cut me off, "Fuck off, kid."
"I just wanted to ask...."
"Did you not hear me?!" he yelled, "FUCK OFF, kid!" Then he turned back to the person he was talking to and said, "I hate these things. The people are so...you know?"
I walked away, but that was the moment I realized that some people gain a modicum of fame and power, and they treat people badly because of it.

And yet, we value celebrity so much in these modern times. We don't know what to wear unless our new "heroes" tell us. The celebrity endorsement may not mean as much as it used to, but it can sway some people.

I'm not famous. I never will be, but it's fine. I wouldn't want photographers following me. I wouldn't want people digging through my trash.
I wouldn't want to be in public with my children and have people come running up. Some of us have control, but many don't.

I'm proud to call Keith my friend, and even though I haven't known him very long, I know he's not the kind of guy who would dismiss me for my low standing.

So thanks, Keith. Thanks for reminaing a real person even though you don't have to be.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Batman Says It Best

Because he is the man.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

How I Will Pay For This

Ok, read this first.

This guy is on to something. I'm going to sell ad space on my tests.

I wish I was kidding.

I've spent over $1,000 every year for each year I've been teaching. Yes, I can write it off on my taxes, but there comes a point when I can't keep throwing money into the hole.
Budgets are tight, so here is the call:

I am a high school English teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. I work with ninth-graders and twelfth-graders everyday for fifty minutes a period. Every Friday there's a test, and I give out a great deal of study guides.

I'm looking for companies that are interested in only getting a small mention at the bottom of the page (like a, "sponsored by fill-in-the-blank"). No logos and no full sheets.

I will offer the same rate as Mr. Farber in San Diego: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a test, $30 for a final.

This is not just for businesses. I offer parents and even students the ability to sponsor a test or quiz.

Interested parties should contact me at ironicteachings@hotmail.com



Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm just not ready to face the world after Turkey Day....

Apparently doctors are now saying that looking at pictures of babies and baby animals makes you feel better and is good for your health (makes the blood pump faster).

So, enjoy the New York Daily News' Baby Animal
gallery and improve your health.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Rage Kitty

I can haz acidic blood that melts people.
Really like the Rage Kitty.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Proof Positive

This explains a great deal....

Revenge Is Best Dished With Turkey

After the Macy's Day Parade was Rickroll'd today, I think it's only fair that we begin a plan like this one to get him back. Let the Duckrolling begin.

And in case you missed the Rickroll today (it's about 30 seconds in)....

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

Before you slip into your Trytophan coma, make sure you thank your friends and family, and make sure you go and do something nice for someone who isn't as lucky as you are.


Friday, November 21, 2008


Enjoy this website.

If you don't suddenly feel like Helium is following you around and smile...you aren't human.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Augering an Adult

(Thanks to Alan Guthrie)

Being an adult is not the moment that you realize that people will leave you. It's the moment that you figure out that you will have to leave other people for their greater good.

Being an adult is not realizing that you will fail. It's figuring out that you will fail someone else.

Being an adult is not being angry at the world. It's figuring out why you're really angry.

Being an adult is finding the futility in trying to change other people.

Being an adult is not pointing out other people's stupidity. It's figuring out your own.

To some, the tree in the picture by Mr. Guthrie is dead and sad, but there is a real beauty to it. It is the true metaphor of the world. Eventually the pieces will be stripped away and we will all be laid bare. If what is left is beautiful, it will be seen that way. If not...then so be it. There is a beauty in the futility of fighting the course of the river.

I don't really sleep anymore. My body and mind won't let me, so I contemplate. Some nights, I go into my son's room, and I just watch him sleep. This big head with a little body that occasionally jerks at a nightmare, and I wonder what a two year old dreams about that would scare him. There aren't monsters in his life yet as his mother and I have been careful about that, so what makes him jerk his body and scream a little. Is it being without his parents? Is it falling down stairs (as he did once)? And yet as I watch him, my fears begin to take realization. If I die tomorrow, I don't care...but what will happen to him? To my wife?

It used to be easy. When I was in college, I nearly died a few times. There were accidents, times of idiocy, and even just straight dumb luck, yet I survived every moment. If I hadn't...then oh well.

And it's odd, because I remember the exact moment I understood death. I was five years old standing in my parents' bathroom, and the whole process and idea of death clicked in my head. The world literally shifted to a point of clarity. I can't describe it better than that, but the whole world moved left and clicked into place. My parents and sisters would one day die...then I would too...and I would be gone forever. Yes, Virginia, even at an early age I knew that Christo and I wouldn't agree. So I did what every "genius" child would do: I hid in my parents' clothes hamper. I was convinced that Death (in the personification of the Grim Reaper) wouldn't look in there because it was dirty clothes...and who the heck hides in a hamper? I was in there for only an hour, but I thought I was in there for longer (because kids don't really have that concept of time yet).

This would change, however, as time passed. I no longer feared my death, and I really can't tell you why. It's not a "I believe in ever-lasting soul" thing, but more of a just not caring anymore. This was seen when I got to college. In my first year, I took part in pychological experiments as part of what I thought would be my major: behavioral psychology. One of the experiments was about extreme situations and self-preservation. The tester had setup a situation where three or four people would be in a room and (unbeknownst to us) a man would enter with a gun and threaten us. The test was apparently about seeing if we would follow directions under duress (This is another reason why I don't like psychologists). So there we sat, in came the gunman, and he gave us directions that we were supposed to follow. I would love to say that I walked up to him, put the gun up to my forehead, and, in a low, gruff voice, said, "Go ahead...pull the trigger," but I can't. I followed instructions...sort of. As I was told later, I made sure to step in front of everyone when the gun was pointed toward us. Didn't matter if it was the other guy or the girl in with us. Whenever the gun turned toward anyone, I stepped in front of them.

And that's what I want to do with the people I care about. I want to step in front of them and take the bullet. In my head, I've lived a good life (if it's not a metaphorical bullet, but a real one). And yes, pain is necessary to learning. We have to hurt someone, and someone has to hurt us if we are to be complete...yet I think of my son again. I don't want him to ever experience the pain I have. I want to protect him.

You see, the hardest part of being an adult is realizing that you are connected to people...and if that connection is severed, it hurts them.

I have to stop and think of him, my wife, and those who care about me and I care for if the situation rises where I might die. I would take a bullet for my students, I really would, but what would it mean for my son? And what If I'm dying? What if Cancer has a hold on my body and ravages me inside and out? I would never want my son to have to do what I did with my father. I took my father's hand and walked him through the hospital. It was a horrifying experience. Who could ever want that for their child?

It's easy to disappear. Unlist your number, change that cell phone, delete an email address. People are resilient, and we can overcome pain.

And the beauty of futility is that eventually we will become orphans and have to deal with it.

So I sit in my son's room and watch him sleep. I wish him happy dreams where he rides the train he loves so much. And I hope I prepare him for the future.

Being an adult is not wishing you could be young again. It's preparing those around you for you leaving.

Being an adult is not saying used to be better. It's questioning what makes things better and why.

Love your friends and family while you have them. The current can always shift in an instant.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Because You Should

Give to your friends.

I recently surprised two different friends of mine with gifts solely because I could. While that's sounds egotistical, the reasoning behind it is far from that.

My buddy Keith is a huge Green Lantern fan. Recently, a limited edition pair of bookends was released to commemorate the Sinestro Corps. I managed to trade a few of my older and important comics to another collector who happened to have those bookends. While I'll miss those old comics, the look on Keith's face, which was a combination of sheer joy and total bewilderment, made it worthwhile. If you've never seen a grown man returned to a state of being a child on Christmas morning, you're missing out.

At the same time, I made sure Margaret could live out her fantasy as a drummer for Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. Before she even called, I could hear the squeal several miles away. Now I expect her to rock out so hard and become so good that she can destroy anyone while wasted at a
Vita.mn party.

I'm not rich, I just care. Why? Because even though I understand that we finish alone, the journey should never be done so. And as selfish as it may seem, the feeling you can get from making someone else happy is intoxicating and more addictive than any drug. An added bonus is the need to use your brain to figure out what a person really likes. It's a fun mystery.

To be clear, however, it doesn't take money to get that feeling. You can just as easily make a gift and give it to someone. One of my former students is about have a birthday. The gift I'm sending is not one I made, but one that (I hope) is thoughtful.

You should care and give because The Beatles may have been right: and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Of course that's just my opinion. I might be wrong.

What I find interesting, however, is the backlash for both the above mentioned gifts. For Keith, the comic book community the person I got the bookends from has turned their attention on me and started taking me to task. While I should care that the value of one of the books I traded is much higher, I don't. In the end, the perceived value of the book is worthless compared to his joy.
The same goes with Margaret. I don't care if people are jealous or think I'm crazy. All I care about is that she's happy, and Indigo Sassypants will now have music to help him chase shadows on the wall.

Be good to your friends, and when you need them, they'll be good to you.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'd Vote for Him

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Because my son is Lando.

And because we have to save those Tauntauns.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Makes Sense to Me

I was asked to summarize my training as well as this trip.

This picture works. Another two hours of lecture, then I get to hope I have a seat on the plane back to Minneapolis. If I don't have a seat, you better believe I'm buying another ticket or renting a car. Ain't no way I'm missing the election.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

(Still) Training in Dallas

Day 2.

While the actual training is SO much easier than was described to me, the hotel is still causing problems.

My teaching conference is not the only one here. Fannie Mae is also here showing off all the money the government gave them by having a giant party for its members with high end food, entertainment, and gift bags. I managed to crash their party for a while before someone noticed I wasn't wearing the right badge. While my buddy Tom has a ton of anger, my anger is focused more on this crap. Don't tell me there's no money and you need help...then throw a giant party. Sheesh.

Also here are people for the Texas/Texas Tech game, NASCAR fans (there's a race at the Texas Motor Speedway), a law enforcement conference, and some sort of conference for beauty pageant organziers. That's a great deal of people. And because of this, there are a many idiots. Sure, I went and meditated in the garden again. And I had a person ask me if knew my shoes were off. It was if I was special person who could not feel that my socks and shoes were in my hands. I wanted to feel the grass between my toes. However, there two better stories of the other people here and the grief they cause.

We may have fallen back last night for the end of daylight's savings, but the Texas fans were crying into their beers after the Longhorns lost to Texas Tech last night. No one was crying more than the guy next door to me. John Longhorn, as I've been calling him, was extremely drunk when he stumbled into his room this morning. He was also really upset. So he made a phone call and loudly bawled about the University of Texas. Not a small crying, but a full on boo-hoo as if he was Oedipus discovering his history. I heard the entire conversation as well as his..umm..relieving of his beer from his body via his mouth after the phone call. Extremely annoying and loud...and disgusting. However, I was not alone in this. My colleagues mentioned hearing other people stumbling into rooms. There were even extremely drunk fans who beat on sleeping people's doors. No respect for those who were not here to watch the game.
This was a subdued story, the next was not so nice.

There are several bars in the hotel, but the one in the lobby near my elevator has sushi, and I wanted something that would not be greasy. So I bellyed up to the bar and tried to get some Nigiri (Tuna preferably). Yesterday I wore black...not knowing that Texas Tech was playing Texas (and Tech's colors are red and black). Many people at the bar were wasted (the bartender told me that many people actually tailgate AT the hotel. Ok then). So, I'm sitting at the bar when I feel hands and an arm around my back. I don't really liked to be touched, so I jumped out of my seat and pushed away the arm of the person touching me.
It was a wasted gal wearing Texas gear.
"Oh my goood," she slurs. "I so thought you were my boyfriend. You look ssssso much like him."
Now, she didn't see my face, just my back and back of my head. I could have been...Alfred Molina for all she knows.
"I'm not him. Sorry," I reply.
As I sit back down, I hear the cry of the drunk, angry jock.
"What the fuck are you doing hugging my girlfriend?!"
I look over and see a large dude who looks very little like me except that he, too, has a goatee and has dark hair. Other than that, he's thinner, taller, more muscular, and drunker. He's also wearing a TON of Texas gear so his clothes are more of a burnt sienna/orange color. Again, I'm wearing black. If she had seen him earlier in the day, she would know this.
"She hugged me. She thought I was you," I reply and turn back to my food.
"What the fuck?" the Orange Incredible Hulk says to me and starts toward me.
"Dude, calm down and go be with your girlfriend," I say.
"That's it, fucker!" he screams at me. "We're gonna fight. Let's go outside, and I'm going to kick your Red Raider ass!"
"Fuck you," I reply. "I'm not fighting."
"You're gay! You're fucking homo," he yells back.
I bite back the line from Full Metal Jacket about steers and queers and move to the other side of the bar to pay my tab. I'm not fighting. If I get arrested, I'll never hear the end of it.
"You fucking fag!" Texas Tommy keeps screaming at me, "Get back here. I'm gonna fuck you up."
I look over and see his girlfriend trying to calm him down, but to no avail.

Now, the next few minutes are insane. Texas Tommy is still yelling and being asked to be quiet. I'm trying to get away as I don't want to say something to set this guy off, and there are a ton of people watching this. As Hulk keeps yelling, some Texas Tech fan (actually wearing a Texas Tech t-shirt) says, "Why don't you stop yelling, you little bitch."
Hulk's eyes glow orange, and he flips the table in front of him out of the way so he can charge at the Texas Tech fan. Even the guy from Texas Tech was not expecting this. I wonder if he hoped that Texas Tommy would be pissed and attack me.
Remember when I said that there was a law enforcement convention? Well, there were armed officers here. This included a cop near the bar who had a taser. He yells at Texas Tommy to calm down and back off.
"Sir, don't move!" he yells, but Texas Tommy ain't listening.
The guy from Texas Tech actually runs behind the cop, who tells Texas Tommy to, again, stop.
The Incredible Orange Hulk is now going toward the cop who has warned him twice. Out comes the taser.
You can almost see the brain of Texas Tommy kick the alcohol to the side and yell, "Dammit, you fucker, we're in for a real shock now."
The eyes go wide as the taser is fired, and Texas Tommy hits the floor.
At this point, I put a little sping in my step just in case.
Fun times.

As for the training... well, I'm not getting anything new. The teacher is a wonderfully nice guy from Vancouver, but even he said to me today that I am way ahead of the people in my class. I actually finished my group's unit plan today because I wanted to get done. Though I love my job, I just don't understand how taxpayer money can go this. I could have done this in Minnesota...online...for cheaper. Oh well. At least I got a nice walk in the garden.


Goodbye Old Friend

Goodbye to possibly my favorite cartoon character of all time.

When I was kid, Bloom County was my favorite Sunday comic. I didn't always get the jokes ("Who's Gregory Peck?" I used to ask my sister), but Opus, Bill, Portnoy (who I thought was named after the novel), and Binkley always did something I could understand. That is the genius of Berkeley Breathed: his comics are funny on multiple levels. Many were political, but you could still appreciate the humor without knowing who the heck Jeane Kirkpatrick is. It helps, but it isn't necessary.
In one of the happiest moments of my life, I went to a used bookstore where I stumbled upon a signed copy of the first Bloom County collection. I still have it, and though he is nortorious for being very private, I hope I can actually thank him in person one day.

Opus gets a good ending. He's tucked into bed in what is Lando's favorite book: Goodnight Moon.

In the end, the Bloom County creator tied his work to the Humane Society in order to help protect animals. If you look at his work, you'll see how much he cares about animals and their treatment. There was even a contest for the last strip. And it makes sense. Make sure you take care of the animals, because of the joy they have brought you.

So thank you, Mr. Breathed. Opus got a happy ending, which I'm happy about. I'm sad that the strip is ending, but if you right more books like Mars Needs Moms, I will be very happy to keep reading them to my son.

Happy trails, Opus.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Training in Dallas...

Day 1.

A tourist. I should have been preparing for the training, but I was a tourist. The group I am with couldn't check in for a few hours, so we headed to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. The museum is fascinating. The audio tour takes you through who JFK is, the fateful day in Dallas, and the conspiracy theories. It's incredible.

After a quick stop at a steakhouse (where I learned one of my colleagues with me can't look at taxidermy...because it scares her), we moved to the hotel.

The hotel, the Hilton Anatole, is what would happen if the Mall of America added on a hotel. A few rooms to sleep in surrounded by overpriced stores. My colleague actually bought a $2.00 bottle of Diet Coke today. Candy was also a $1.50...for the little bars.
It's usually a bad sign when the hotel gives out a fold-out map when you check in. Want to go to the sculpture garden? Go past the elephants, around the five different bars, and go outside to the other side of the compound. Ok, maybe it's not that bad, but it's close.
My room looks like the 1970s flew to Japan...and threw up. Orange everywhere.

Incidentally, the sculpture garden is the best part of the whole place. There's a quiet Koi pond where the sun shines and the grass is soft. I took my shoes and socks off and frolic a little before meditating. Of course one yutz had to come over ask me what I was doing.
"Why'd you take your socks off? The ground is dirty."
My first thought was, "Really? That's a problem for you?" But that's not what I said. I merely said, "Because the grass feels good for my feet. Try it."
"Eww," he responds. "Not way. Your feet will get dirty. You're weird." And with that he returns to the path and walks away. No loss for me.

Dinner last night was an adventure. Literally. We headed over to Medieval Times because one of my colleagues really wanted to see it. First of all, it was $40 for each of us. Secondly, the "fabulous feast" we were promised was mislabeled. I have no problem eating with my hands, though one of my colleagues would remark, "Umm...if we were really eating with the king, we'd have untensils."
No, the problem was the food itself. The ribs we were promised turned into rib (singular), and it was all fat. The chicken was down and dirty greasy, which is fine, but it took several washings to remove the smell.
My biggest problem, however, was the show itself.

I'm spoiled when it comes to theatre. I know how the tech works, and I have worked with some amazing actors in the past. Not to be too mean, but the acting was kind of atrocious. Don't get me wrong, as horse trainers and stunt people, these guys are good, but they can't act.
The worst was Princess Leonore who sounded like a Disney princess who was constantly ready to burst into song...but she never did. Beyond that, she dropped into her obviously East Coast accent now and then. "Oh my prince...Dis is a moment I will never forget."

However, the guys were good at fighting and riding. My section was for the Blue Knight (no idea of the name). He had the best hair out there. It was nicer than the hair of most of the girls I know. At the end of the show, the knights come into the lobby and talk to the nobles (audience). I just walked up to him and gave him a hug. It freaked him out.
If I had one gripe for the knights, it would be the telegraphing. I know they have to as it's all routine, but it's weird to see a guy point where he's going to start. I can't imagine a real sword fight where the knight points at a guys arm and starts to attack him.

It may be a money maker, but you can tell that the actors who are part of the show (not the knights) hate their position.

Still, I recommend going to see it once just so you can experience it.

As for the training itself...well...so far it's all lecture of things I already knew. Not really helpful.

We'll see if it improves.

Verily until then, my lords and ladies...


Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Sad Day for Parenting

I missed Halloween, which kind of angers me to no end as I was really looking forward to talking Lando (now two years old) around the neighborhood. Instead I am in Dallas.

All is not lost, however. Last night was the Halloween Spooktacular Party ('til you drop dead) at my son's school. Indeed, we partied.
However the best moment of the night came during the dancing. The school hired a DJ so the kids could dance...and boy did these kids dance. Unfortunately, Poozer is not really a dancer yet. He's more of a jumper...in place...and then falling and laughing. Except..the other kids followed him.

Anyway, best moment. Lando is "dancing" and over comes Krista, another kid in his class. She is dressed as a cheerleader for the Vikings. It makes sense that she comes over as Little "IT" is dressed as a football player. Krista takes his hand and they jump/dance together. After the song ends, Krista turns and plants a gigantic kiss on Lando. Krista's mom, who had been all smiles until this point, sees this and screams across the room, "Krista...NOOOOOO!!!"

Needless to say, my wife and I were dying of laughter.

Little "IT" had no idea what to think. It was if he was in a daze from being kissed (a feeling his father knows all to well).

While I may not get this Halloween with him, at least I have something to hold as a memory of him enjoying it.

Tonight, he went Trick-or-Treating with his mom. He had a ton of fun I am told. The picture of him is with his friend Nicholas as they get ready to head out and get candy. He's a train engineer...for Thomas.

Happy Halloween and Namaste.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Room's Still Spinning

This about sums it up today.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Because You Can't

You're not allowed to be anything but happy.

You're not allowed to fail.

You're not allowed to have an off day.

You're not allowed to be anything but funny and uplifting.

You're not allowed to pass on helping someone.

You're not allowed to miss.

You're not allowed to be a mystery and yet be completely open.

You're not allowed to stop and contemplate yourself.

You're not allowed to feel small.

Because you can't. Because too many people need you to be there.

Life goes on without you until someone needs you and then you must be there.

And there are no excuses.

You are not allowed to be human.

Because you can't.

A Question of Quacking

Contemplation of metaphysical questions is the best way to overcome any frustration. It focuses the mind. So, dear reader, I present to you a question that cleared my mind of many problems:

There is a bottle. It is a normal sized bottle with a wider bottom and a thin neck. Inside this bottle is a duck. A real, live duck. You cannot break the bottle, and you cannot kill the duck.

How do you get the duck out of the bottle?


Becoming the Metaphor

I fell from the grace
A quick rush to the concrete
perhaps this is fate
I fell.
All it took was one wrong step, and gravity took over.

Many people talk about the slow motion of falling. How time slows down and it's like falling through space. This is only when you know the fall is coming. When you make a wrong step and the body and the mind are not ready for it, it's something completely different.

The fall happens in real time, but the brain takes a minute to catch up and process what just happened. It's almost like being an infant again. The child bumps his/her head and looks to mom and dad (or the people around it) as to how to react.
"There's this feeling...is it bad? Mom looks upset, so it's bad...annnnnnnnd cry."

There is a cage in the back of the theatre at the school where I work. On top of this cage is all of our wood and flats. I was up on top of the cage, alone, trying to get a flat down. The wood was strewn about and I should have cleared it up, but I was rushing and not thinking. This is the problem of no forethought...right Romeo? I need the door flat which I, in my infinite wisdom, have placed behind all the other flats. I have roughly four feet of depth to work with, and I start moving them to get to the door. Sounds like it isn't a problem, right? It wouldn't have been if I had been paying attention. I slid the first two flats out of the way and moved the door out and down. I turned to move the other flats back and my foot found nothing but air.

And in an instant I was on the concrete. It's weird that the pain wasn't instant. That, I'm pretty sure, has to do with knowing you're going to fall.

When you know something is going to happen, the body prepares you. The muscles tighten, the jaw clenches, and the mind goes into a form of hyperactivity. When you don't know, the body remains loose and the brain plays catch-up. I was the latter as I lay on the concrete. There were people near by, but do to the scene they were practicing in which they were screaming at each other, they didn't hear me. At first I was confused and out of breath. The fall knocked the wind out of me.

Your brain does something weird when you get hurt. While you are assessing your situation, you also drift. My mind started by telling me that I was out of breath, then I started thinking about the door flat and would it work. Next, I wondered if anything was broken in my body, which was followed by wondering if the wood or flats were broken. The final thought was of my son.

The final thought, however, was about the situation as a whole. I was alone. No one could help me and no one knew I was there. If something really bad had happened to me, I'm not sure anyone would have helped me. It was a non-crew day, and when the actors wrapped up, they left without going backstage. They never would have found me.

And thus, I became the metaphor. If something had happened...if I had been hurt badly, I would have been alone. I fell from grace on my own and was without help. I was the last leaf that fell before winter.
That's how we will inevitably be in the end. Alone.

We can be joyous and surrounded by those we love, but the journey is ours to take alone. And in the end, no one can help you but yourself.

I was lucky. Nothing is broken. I have a bruise and a limp, but I got the work done.

I fell, and in that moment, I realized that the hardest part of being an adult is no longer being able to have someone be there to pick you up.

Watch your step, dear reader, because this fall is more painful than the others.


Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Waiting....

Some days I really am.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Words, Words, Words

It's because he almost went to wrong way off stage, but there is something about this photo that is just rife for a caption.

Maybe the folks over at
The Gone Rick Motel can come up with something.

However...it wasn't the only one.

Tongue came out a few times.

To be bi-partisan....


The election is a scant 19 days away as of this post. Regardless of if you're voting, not voting, Republican, Democrat, or whatever: Keep you sense of humor. Just because the election ends doesn't mean the satire does.

Here's one last website for you... enjoy.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Can You Be?

Stand up in a clear blue morning until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning, are you still free?
Can you be?

When the time comes that you gain perspective and start to see the world, it's dark and scary. When we're young, we imagine this wonderful freedom to go and do whatever we want. No curfews, no one telling us to brush our teeth, eat our vegetables, or stop smoking. Yeah, it's going to be OUR world...then we get into it.

And so we stand alone in the sunshine of life. As our new life as an independent person starts, we stand alone and question if we're really free.

Sure, there are no more rules put upon us by parents, but now we are trapped in routine. Can we really be free?

When some cold tomorrow finds you, when some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you
While you see a chance take it, find romance fake it
Because it's all on you

And it becomes all about us finding our way and dealing with the sadness of the real world. There is pain, there is anger, and there is the death of a dream. It all seems simple, but it never goes that way.

However, we are not trapped by it. It's on us to fake it until we make it. We have to make life interesting, even when the road seems neverending, even when all seems lost. We have to find the glimmer. The spark that keeps it going.

It's on us.

Don't you know by now no one gives you anything
Don't you wonder how you keep on moving one more day your way

The hardest part, however, is that we are alone. You can have friends, family, or someone who really reaches down into your soul, but those people cannot help you or be with you in the end. Your journey, your understanding is yours alone. Advice can be freely given, but no one can really take away your pain or anger or happiness, and they shouldn't. Those experiences make you the person you are. That's how you move on from day to day.

For some, it's the motivation of pain. The pain and anger they feel forces them to move to the next day. Others fight to regain that moment of happiness.

When there's no one left to leave you, even you don't quite believe you
That's when nothing can deceive you

In our solitude, the universe opens up to us to explain its mysteries. I could sit here and tell you everything I know, but you won't learn anything until you are truly alone and ready to open, ready to receive. The mind must be clear and empty. Without that, nothing can be learned. And you may feel stupid. You may feel betrayed by the quirks and works of the universe, but the mind must remain open. The light at the end of the tunnel is your decision: It's hope or despair. It's freedom or a train coming to hit you. Your choice.

Stand up in a clear blue morning until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning, are you still free? Can you be?
And that old gray wind is blowing and there's nothing left worth knowing
And it's time you should be going.

Time will pass. Knowledge will come and go, and in the end, the long day's journey into night is yours alone. No one can go with you and no one can have the same experience. That's the beauty of free will. Find the way to understand the ones you love before the wind carries their ashes away forever. Let go of the hate, the frustration, because it blocks understanding and knowledge. It creates fractures and breaks life into pieces. There is no ultimate answer. There is only what we are willing to understand.

And yet all of this can be undone by the single misfiring and imperfect growth of just one cell. Just one cell.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's About Time!

Southwest airlines is FINALLY coming to the twin cities.

I have no idea how this is going to work. Will they fly only from here to Chicago and then travelers will have to change planes? Will they actually go to other places?

In the end, it doesn't matter. I'm just excited that a lower cost carrier (by comparison) is coming to the Twin Cities. Sure, people like to gripe about the ticketless travel and the fact that you have to line up for seats, but those are also people who complain about the way airline attendants look.

So what is there to complain about with Southwest? I'm not sure.

When I was in high school and college, I used to take the airline back east all the time. I never had one flight delayed (unlike...say...Northwest), I never had one flight canceled (unlike...say...Northwest), and I never had a back experience on their flights.

The first Southwest flight I was ever on was in 1995. This was two years after the company first started. Maybe it was because I was an idiot high schooler, but I really thought the idea of flying in their jump seats was cool. I was early to the gate, so I had a very low number. This meant I could get on early and choose whatever seat I wanted, and I wanted those jumpseats. I loved the idea of sitting and facing the other passengers. It didn't make me uncomfortable...but it did make some of them unhappy.

A few years later, I flew home from St. Louis on a near-Christmas flight (holiday or winter break). The airline attendants were dressed as elves, reindeer, a Santa, and (oddly enough) a rabbi. The flight was extremely fun. One gal reached into an overhead bin and pulled out a guitar. Suddenly the faux rabbi and the reindeer with the guitar started singing Christmas and Chanukah songs. Amazingly, the (not so full) flight sang. Was it the Vienna Boys' Choir or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? No, but it was nice, and it made the flight go quickly.

About an hour into the flight, the captain and head airline attendant decided to have a contest: The passenger that was closest to guessing the weight of the plane, the baggage, and the people at landing would win a bottle of wine. The second place finisher would get a twenty-five dollar certificate for food at the airport (again, this is pre-9/11). The only information the captain gave us was the weight of the plane and the weight of the fuel from take off as well as how much is burned off per hour.

The gal next to me and I worked up the math problem. I had seen everyone in line with me at the airport, so I knew almost everyone on the plane had one bag checked. Add to that the average weight of men and women and we were sure we had it. We ended up with the second place prize (which I gave to her). We were off by 150-some-odd pounds. The winner, a math major from the same university I was attending, was off by six pounds. The entire plane gave her acclaim, and she even got to take a bow to a waiting crowd when we got off the plane.

The last time I flew Southwest was when I was going to tell my parents I was getting married. I was nervous and fidgety, and the gentleman next to me noticed this.

"You ok, son?" he asked me.

"Yeah. I'm getting ready to tell my parents I'm getting married," I replied.

"That's great," he said. "You should celebrate," and he turned to the attendant and said, "Hey, this guy is getting married!"

"Really?" she beamed. "That calls for a party."

This was the last thing I was expecting, but the entire plane ended up having a party with food, some drinks, and general chit-chat. Finally, after a some time had passed, the attendant asked me to address the plane.

"Whaaat?" I asked thinking this was insane.

"Just introduce yourself and talk about why we should be so happy."

So I did. I told an entire plane of strangers that I was going to get married, and they cheered. It was the oddest and strangest flight I had ever been on outside of a flight from Miami to Quito where I sat near a pig...but that's another story.

Maybe the airline has changed since September 11, 2001. Maybe the people aren't as friendly or as fun, but I would like to believe that my nostalgia is not misplaced. And isn't that the point of nostalgia? We remember the greatest details of something that might be horrible. A friend of mine is now lamenting the loss of Yankee Stadium's bleachers after spending the last year bitching about how uncomfortable they are. Yet he knows his children will never get to sit in those bleachers like he did. Not matter how uncomfortable they may have been, the memories were pleasant. That's how it works.

As soon as Southwest opens a gate at MSP, I will take a flight. It's about time that a reasonable, well-run, and affordable airline was allowed to open here in the Twin Cities. I would have counted Sun Country...but...um...uh...yeah.

Of course, what do I know? I can't even speak about the Mile High Club. I could be wrong.