The Showman’s Shortlist of Worries and Affirmations

Backstage in the Small Time

                                               Backstage in the Small Time

Hats go up and down much as the stock markets do. I had lunch yesterday with Dan Holzman. He had nothing but good things to say about his last outing. The money stunk but audiences were good.

Wheeler Cole back from a lengthy tour of the Big Island of Hawaii has been throwing shows at Pier 39. Ten years away and on the other side of his misspent youth he dawdles for the moment.

His was a good question? “When do you do something besides what you have done?” Just because you can, just because you could, just because you know how to do that does that mean you keep doing it?

Andrew Potter off to Fresno for the fringe mounts another series of performances in his latest digital vehicle. The Road to High Street has been what he uses as an excuse to be with audiences now. He shares now by looking back when.

Karl Saliter just back from Nepal and trekking is presently in Playa del Carmen trudging his show on the boards at the resorts. This is my tribe. Karl is comic juggler, sculpture and fiction writer. He likes soul and sits around a lot. Teaches yoga and eats vegetables. Vegetables if they did worry should with Karl’s lust for greens.

Alan Sands has in the works a steampunk costumed hypnosis act. This is an extreme makeover for a guy who doesn’t own a house. Who needs a house? He spends way too much time flying to gigs. He sits in Foster City when here at home imagining what those sucked into a trance might want to see for a host.

Mike Stroud a friend since his youth, mine was already spent, makes his oyster in the South Bay. He bought early in his career and it has paid off big time. With roots deep in San Jose he gigs as he can and where he can. He sleeps in his own bed more than any person I know devoted to sleeping in their own bed and at the same time claiming a career in show business.

Me, I’m here aboard my sailboat with my wife. She is my beloved. Like me she’s inclined to sleeping upon beds that move. She’s soon like me out of town on assignment. Everything is fast here but for the freeways. They are the slowest.

In rehearsals, writing jokes, memorizing jokes, juggling, gigging now and then, counting down until I go to Playa del Carmen and grind it out 6 nights per… I am up in Napa Valley as I can, when time allows, hiking and scouting vineyards, roadways and restaurants for the next novel.

One of my bachelor friends, a magician, short by way of height, but quick by hand, is rotten that all the cute short girls have been picked over. This is what it means to be trapped in the small time. He is left to look silly with a taller one or none at all. He is worried. They don’t make enough short women and he isn’t getting any younger. He is the loneliest man in show business.

Thank your lucky stars you wanted to be a plumber or shoe salesman. Nothing is easy about this racket called show biz. I’m sorry the phone has just rung and I am due for a martini with a friend who has a new script he wants me to punch up before he submits to his agent.

Letter to the Editor  And this time in praise of  Yes.............

Letter to the Editor
And this time in praise of
Yes………….

 And Last of All Hot Spring Honeymoon

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How Workers Deserve Less

image

Juggler juggling

In the world that I come from workers who are members of unions have some chance of negotiating a better deal with their employers.

In another world I come from I have noticed that income inequality has gotten much worse in the last forty years.

Yes, I would like to restrain the financial sector from becoming too strong. I would feel the same way if the union workers were so mighty they began taking too much for themselves.

But, that isn’t what we have happening in the world that I live in. What we have is a much diminished union movement. While executive pay continues to climb union pay continues to remain flat.

Sad day in our world when Wisconsin’s Republican legislature passes union busting legislation for the benefit of the few and for the detriment of the many.

I am a regular reader of various economic blogs and nowhere in any that I read does it suggest that this kind of legislation has any economic benefit. As economic policy it is a zero.

It is a a political action. Wisconsin’s voters need to wake up. These are your neighbors, these are your friends and customers. Stand up and reject this partisan attack on the good workers of your state.

Academy Awards an Oligarchic Pie in Face

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Oligarchic Nightmare Goes All Hollywood

That pesky liberal agenda featured on the Academy Awards was a bit of a thumb in the eye to many people not sympathetic to such an agenda. These are the issues being systematically blocked by a do nothing Congress.

Voting rights, equal pay for women, spying and immigration reform come to mind. There was the issue of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and ALS…

Some loon on the radio urged the liberals in the film making industry to put a sock. He was suggesting that the big corporate money was behind a more conservative agenda and since they were the masters that the artists were supposed to behave more like servants. This guy gets today’s ass kissing award for media performing in a supine role.

So, let me see? I have a majority of women in my family. Advocating for equal pay isn’t some kind of liberal agenda item. It is pragmatic. The more they earn the less I have be concerned with their welfare.

Are the NSA surveillance programs a partisan issue? I’m not so sure. I think it is dangerous to democracy in general and a concern to both left and right in particular.

Voter suppression is an oligarchic issue. Case in point are Social Security and Medicare. About the only piece of the conservative movement that wants to mess with the two programs are those people who can afford to be messing with those programs. We call those rich mo-fo’s where I come from.

We are defunding basic research because of schmuck’s like Author Laffer, Larry Kudlow and Steven Moore. These are the loon right fake economic elite who have been embraced by the no new taxes freaks.

Neil Patrick Harris was something of an odd vortex. Sucked down by his version of hosting was warmth. He seemed too scripted but for a few asides and the scripting while terse played emotionally brittle. He didn’t take over so much as draw the audience into his tone and orbit. He glowed where numerous hosts in years past shined. He won’t be back is my guess.

I haven’t seen Eastwood’s American Sniper yet. We may not be ready to celebrate sending our best soldiers working as snipers in foreign wars. That isn’t too difficult to understand. It can’t be a zero sum game and it isn’t. I’ll have more on American Sniper after I see it.

I had seen Selma. I loved it. It didn’t do that well because an intangible secret energy level was missing in the script. And then Birdman a film I loved this last year indeed captured that secret energy level. One person’s secret energy level is another’s fingers on the chalkboard moment. I’d recommend both of the movies. Each has much to admire.

My personal disappointment was that Keaton missed earning his first Oscar. One of the last things from the stage was his approaching the microphone after Birdman winning Best Picture and starting to say something then breaking it off, “Who am I kidding? I’m just lucky to even be here…”

And that my friends is how this juggling novelist lives life. Bravo Keaton…

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Fuel for Thought…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hat Snatching Owl’s and Brawling Burro Truths…

image The owl soared across the street to the limb of a cottonwood. The animal perched, balancing on one foot, with Mr. Garrett Harwood’s hat clasped and dangling in her clutches in the other.

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Owl attacks joggers and steals their hats…

Headline from The Guardian, Reuters in Portland, Oregon

I concocted a confrontation between an owl, a burro and an old man in 2012. Some background. I took out on the road with a circus in 1974. We traveled with a bear, fox, pheasant, monkey, dog and miniature horse.

I spent six months tending to the horse. A young stallion that I took from his mother had no choice but to hook into me; the world was too empty- too cold otherwise.

I spent one decade plus performing with an Belgian Shepherd and another decade plus with a Jack Russell Terrier. Sunshine and Lacey devoted their lives to the work we shared.

What I know about the animal kingdom has been derived from 10,000 performances and countless hours spent in a performing duo pair bond with two dogs and a miniature horse.

Garrett searched the ground. No hat. The owl screeched. Garrett startled. He looked from where the call had come from. The animal was in the tree. She had his best hat.

I was plenty sure when I built this scene that what I had imagined was within the realm of possibility. I not only have had two dogs in my act for the longest time I juggled fire while balancing a live chicken on my head.

Two decades plus with dogs and a near decade with a chicken and you get to know things about the animal kingdom that might slip by the casual observer. You know what an animal will do and what guides their understanding of the world they live in.

Bambalina (the burro) was disgusted. Her adversary was pathetic, spineless, not even a worthy opponent, and say what the world will  about the animal kingdom, rare if ever does an animal fight simply for the sake of a fight.

The Guardian’s story about this pesky owl in Salem, Oregon is a literary affirmation. An interested reader now knows by proof of fact that the writer is with regard to the animals portrayed in his work an authority on the subject.

Bambalina and the owl traded a knowing look. They knew a man was no match in a real brawl. Garrett slunk back. The old man turned and trotted away. He was not her equal. He ran for his life.

Once I formed the outline to Hot Spring Honeymoon and began to write Bambalina’s character her voice flowed. She required few revisions. Her ‘burro personage’ from word one rang true.

How and why that is has everything to do with the animals I trained and have shared so many years of my life with. So, besides having concocted a sexual farce (another bit of nature I have some experience of) there is also the reward a reader will find in discovering the truths to be learned about the animal kingdom, a lifeforce man is so inextricably woven into.

This is the realm of the interdependent nature of mind. Where we see mankind in a dog, and a dog sees the canine in us. I’ll leave you with one last piece of burro truth.

His burro approached. She didn’t care about anything but Fletcher. He tugged on the crushed straw western hat, yanked it out of her teeth. “You know I’m going to have to give you a whipping for this?”

No he’s not. Bambalina had heard that sorry act so many times, but Fletcher McCrea was all bark no bite, and it is why she remained faithful to this man. The sarcasm and snide commentary was part of something bigger than both of them. image

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That Brilliant Joke Teller Sam Brownback

Hack

No fixing stupid, No cure for stubborn…

I do own a suit. I am an entertainer. I can say things that aren’t true. In fact in my business I’m not really required to tell the truth. I’m in the business of amusement.

If you stand up and raise your hand and volunteer to fly an airplane you had best been trained, licensed and do as you were taught. Leave improvisation to the comics. In piloting we don’t like to do stupid.

Let’s take a trip to Kansas shall we? How about that amazing, brilliant joke teller himself Governor Sam Brownback? There’s a laugh riot of governorship right there.

And where did Sam get his ideas? No, not the nitwit, that tower of intellectual probity himself Arthur Laffer. Yes, he took Laffer’s advice.

Laffer was getting hammereed at a roadhouse playing liars dice with the slice and dice tax cutting legend Grover Norquist. A match made of sewage if ever there was one. Here in one convenient location were two of America’s greatest hole diggers tossing back shots of misguided sludge as if it were god’s truth.

“Boys… let’s keep digging them holes…” said the Heritage Foundation hack fraud economist Steve Moore. You see stench is an irresistible odor that draws other hacks.

Right there in one place we have three celebrated hacks and Governor Sam Brownback has these clowns at the controls of the Kansas economy.

But, you see I am a hack blogger. I enjoy my hacking. I do not take kindly to hacks that masquerade as authority. Those are the worst kind of hacks. Of course the great hacks never admit a thing.

This is where we find ourselves. Our America is being guided by the best hacks conservative money can buy. And so good old Governor Sam Brownback with the help of his hacks rationalizations and policy prescriptions has gone and crashed the Kansas economy right into the ditch.

Arthur Laffer is a discredited below average failed economist. Grover Norquist is a one trick pony. Steve Moore, a former editor at the Wall Street Journal is an out of control fire hose of complete and utter nonsense.

This is a Hall of Fame of Hacks. The rubble of the Kansas economy smolders in tribute to their hack ideas. It is a sad day in paradise when an unqualified entertainer hacks his way to the top of this stinking pile of truth. Thank God it’s Friday… May your weekend be guided by the pilot of the truth.

“It was something like the current state of human beings and their believing, when compared to other animals, that they were superior living beings. From Bambalina’s reckoning the man who took care of her didn’t even make horse sense.”

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Bachelorhood as Infrastructure

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To Have Anything You Must Give Her Everything

     “You peeling down into your French lingerie and your slick high-heeled cowgirl boots, I swear on a stack of Gideon’s, you don’t want a fair fight… Trying to ensnare me in my own weaknesses…. I know your kind; you’ll have nothing and nobody to blame but all those temptations you’re trying to weaken my will with.”

Fletcher McCrea from Hot Spring Honeymoon

 

The majesty of a seduction is something special. At the scale of infrastructure it isn’t just special it is monumental.

A good piece of public policy that works toward the common good of the entire society seems to have become illusive. It is as if the transmission mechanisms for making good choices have been clogged.

It isn’t too hard to understand. We weaken the will of an otherwise sensible person by buttering them up with legalized bribery. This is known as a campaign contribution.

This will work until it doesn’t and right now failure is looking truly global, as in global climate change.

This human foible, this human sickness of being incapable of preventing our politics and economics from destroying mother earth is in full view for all to see. It isn’t a secret. It is tragedy and like any audience we know what is going to happen and yet we are unable to stop it.

Well, one way or another it will end. Like a good love affair sometimes you have to give one thing up to get the pleasure of another.

“If I was you, Fletcher McCrea, I’d start washing my hands and combing my hair. End of your bachelorhood’s not even fifty yards away.”

Glenna Goddard reply… from Hot Spring Honeymoon