Friday, June 29, 2012

You Might Be Really Old ...

You might be really old if you can remember when "family values" meant things like "nurture" and "support" and "unconditional love."

You might be really old if you can remember when a "job creator" was somebody like old Mr. Guidry who had the little grocery store around the corner and told you, "Okay, you can come around after school, and I'll let you help us sweep up around here. But I can't pay you more than a quarter a week—to start!"

You might be really old if you can remember when "bailout" was money other people paid to get somebody who had done something bad out of jail.

You might be really old if you can remember when "birther" was a lady who was expecting a baby (and was a word you never said out loud because it didn't exist anyway).

You might be really old if you can remember when "tea bagging" was something your mother did to a cup of hot water.

You might be really old if you can remember when a "liberal" was a person who was broadminded, rational, and understanding; and a "conservative" was someone who was cautious, sober, and traditional.

You might be really old if you can remember when "terror" meant a late-night horror-movie double-feature picture-show at the drive-in.

You might be really old if you can remember when "death panel" was a table with knobs and switches on it in a science-fiction story.

You might be really old if you can remember when "financial meltdown" was something you tried to do to pennies on an asphalt road in the summertime.

You might be really old if you can remember when "Al Qaeda" would have been the new kid in school with the funny last name.

You might be really old if you can remember when "George Bush" was the phrase you used to remind yourself that our first president once chopped down a cherry tree and didn't lie about it like it was some "weapon of mass destruction."

You might be really old if you can remember when a "Dick Cheney" was what you did when you stuck your weeny through a hurricane fence on a dare and got caught doing it by Mrs. Dugas from over on the other side.

And, finally, there is no question that you are really old if you can remember getting a "whipping" from your mom right then and there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Went to a Play Last Night

I went to a play last night.

By that, I mean, I actually drove to the theatre, parked the car, got out, and went into the building instead of speeding past in a panic and driving around for two hours before going back home and pretending to have seen a play.

I figured out the way to conquer my performance anxiety might be to ask someone to accompany me: The obligation of pleasing another person would thus far outweigh any fears I might be harboring of personal humiliation and psychic oblivion, and I could finally begin to get over it.

So that's what I did. I asked my friend Winston to come with me, and when Winston comes with you, you do what Winston says. So there was no backing out. Uh-uh.

And—would you believe it?—I enjoyed myself. I even laughed. Out loud. Something I don't always do, even when I'm enjoying myself and finding something funny.

Maybe sitting on the first row, because that's where Winston said we had to sit, helped. I wouldn't have wanted the actors to see me not laughing and thinking to themselves that it was because I wasn't enjoying myself. If that had happened, they might have become unnerved and thought they weren't doing a good job. Or they might have begun to get irritated with me for not appreciating their hard work. They might even have begun to actively dislike me, a dislike that might have grown into a roiling hatred so intense it would have caused them to say unspeakable things about me behind my back backstage. I know how actors can be.

But the play was funny, and it made me laugh.

It's called An Alien Home Companion & the Titanic Comedy Hour and is being presented through next weekend by the Running with Scissors troupe at the Allways Lounge and Theatre.

Running with Scissors is an established comedy company here in New Orleans that needs no recommendation from me (and, God knows, I'm no critic—I'd prefer to be loved, please and thank you very much); but if they made me laugh, they'll be sure to make you pee in your pants. And if that's not what theatre is all about, then I don't know what it is.

This production also boasts a rare appearance by the troupe's leader, Richard Read. Richard should consider performing more often. As he prepares to enter his middle years, he is still in possession of one of the better-looking asses in the city. And if that's not also what theatre is all about, well, ...

As Kenny Tynan once was wont to gush over his chum, little Larry Olivier, "Talent is cheap, but a great piece of ass is a work of art, and it's art that puts butts in the seats."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keeping This Thing Up Is Hard

It seems like lately I don't have too much to say.

No. That's not true. I have things to say. They're bad things, miserable things. But I don't want to write about the things that bring me down and lead me to the brink of despair. I don't want to do no pity posts no more.

And who wants to read 'em? Everybody's got their own despairs, they don't need to add mine to theirs.

Besides that, mine are probably not as juicy as most other people's. Mine are not the kind that involve not having enough money for my next meal (I've never missed a meal in my life, to my recollection) or a place to lay me down to sleep.

No, mine are little and unimportant.

To be perfectly honest, now that I think about it, my life has not been too miserable lately anyway. It's been pretty uplifting.

Take my theatre work, for instance. For a while, I was beginning to think it was time to put my theatre days and ways behind me and start to take up a clean-living life. But no. Some people came to me and talked me back into my wicked ways, and I'm loving the hell out of the mess of it all over again.

It gets me out of the house.

It gets me out of myself.

So I guess I won't be dwelling on the downside too much for a while. For now, at least, it's all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows around here.

Yeah, it is kind of sickening.

I'll never let go of my dark side altogether.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Don't Shoot!

A West Virginia man who claimed to be the victim of a drive-by shooting along a rural Montana highway while working on a memoir called Kindness in America has confessed to shooting himself, authorities said Friday.

Valley County sheriff's officials said they believe 39-year-old Ray Dolin shot himself as a desperate act of self-promotion.

Just so someone would notice him.

He could have tried musical comedy. Or become a boho in the Bywater. That's what people I know do to self-promote.

But a bullet? Bullets hurt.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Modern Technology: Just Another Means of Dashing Your Dreams?

I pay a lot of money for DirecTV, three-quarters of $200.00.

You may ask, "What is there on television to watch that is worth $150.00 dollars a month?"

I would have to say, "Nothing."

But the Ball and Chain likes his Spartacus on one of those Encore channels. He also likes Dexter on Showtime, The Borgias, wherever it is, and the occasional hit on HBO. The only high-end channel I have managed to get him to live without is Cinemax.

Other than that, he never misses an episode (or a rerun) of any show dealing with obnoxious people running a pawn shop, more obnoxious people trying to pawn their trash as treasure at a pawn shop, or phony reality stars paying bottom dollar for some forgotten soul's lifetime accumulation of stuff left in a godforsaken abandoned storage locker.

Then there's his six-hour daily helping of In Session, featuring trials that happened several years ago but are being bandied about as happening Live! Right Now! Oh, which way will the jury lean?

Google it and find out.

Now and then, however, something will come along that I would like to watch, which I cannot watch while it is occurring because the Ball and Chain is watching something else, so I DVR it to catch it at another time, which is usually between 2:00 and 10:00 AM while the Ball and Chain is asleep.

That was the case last night. There was a Dateline NBC episode I wanted to catch.

I know you expect better of me, something with British accents on PBS or BBCAmerica (please, have you looked at BBCAmerica lately?), but occasionally I like to get lowdown and rut for truffles in the mud, or just rut in the mud for its own sake.

And last night was a rut night for me. I wanted to rut, I mean record, Dateline NBC.

I also wanted to record Common Law on TNT or USA, whatever.

Have you ever seen Common Law? It's a cable series about two cute L. A. cops who are partnered but don't get along (in a cute way) with each other, so their cute and cuddly captain or lieutenant, whatever, sends them to cute couple's counseling. In between cute sessions, they battle crime in the cute, not-so-mean, sunny streets of L. A.

The thing about Common Law, though, is that it's filmed here in New Orleans. That's right, New Orleans is now standing in for Los Angeles for the benefit of the Los Angeles film people we basically pay to come down here from Los Angeles and get in our New Orleans way.

Understand, though, the only reason I ever watch this show is to try to spot the locals and locations.

So what does Common Law have to do with Dateline NBC? This: Dateline NBC started at 8:00 o'clock last night and ran for two hours. Common Law began at 9:00. Therefore, for an hour, the two programs overlapped, and my DirecTV hookup only allows me to record two overlapping programs at a time.

Unbeknownst to me, the Ball and Chain spotted a program last night (also set to run from 8:00 to 10:00) that he believed he could ill afford to miss, something about yet another Flying Wallenda trying to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls. To make the prospect even more irresistible to him was the thought that this was something I would not want to miss either, another Wallenda trying to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls.

Unfortunately, and meaning no offense, I don't care much about any Wallendas anymore. Besides, if this Wallenda was going to make it across the Falls or slip along the way, we all of us around the world would have heard about it this morning. Go ahead, check it out.

Can you guess now what the Ball and Chain did? Of course, you can. He didn't delete the recording of Common Law, which, being a cable series, will rerun all weekend long. He deleted Dateline NBC, which will never run again till after I am dead and buried and long forgotten.

Do you know what that's like?

That's like somebody taking you out to an expensive restaurant ... and ordering boiled cabbage for you.

Hey, I'm hungry here.

All I want is what I want. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Behind the (Shower) Curtain

There's something missing in my online life.

I can remember when I'd pull myself out of bed in the morning and toddle over to the PC in my little makeshift office and lose myself for hours in a virtual world of limitless scenarios and possibilities.

Now, not so much.

I still pull myself (painfully) out of bed and stagger (not toddle) unsteadily to the PC in my little makeshift office, but I'm no longer losing myself for any length of time in any world at all.

I've lost track of all the old haunts I used to visit on a regular basis, and there are lots of RSS feeds I just mark as "Read" and move on.

I don't even do so good on Facebook. Hardly anybody speaks to me over there anymore, not even my old high school classmates who were once so eager to reconnect.

"OMG! Can it be? Yay, there's another one of us still alive!"

I guess you've got to drag yourself to a few of those reunions or they start thinking you might be too big for your britches and for them.

A friend recently mentioned that he's finding himself becoming anxious and maladroit (I like that he said "maladroit"—how many people do you know who can feel "maladroit" instead of just plain "awkward"?) in social situations. I say welcome to the club.

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to face the fact that the world has passed him by, that there is no longer a place for him in the social circles he used to take for granted. Everybody in the world is younger than he is and sees him as an old out-of-date dinosaur who needs to just die already and start contributing to the world's supply of future fossil fuel.

A time when he has to realize Mrs. Bates awaits us all.

That is the natural order of things. Get used to it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I'm one of three people hired to direct this production set to run in mid-July. It's a gaggle of 10 short one-act plays (or eleven, depending on if you include the really dumb and pointless one or if you leave it out) written by some established American playwrights, all of them on the theme of gay marriage. They're comedies, for the most part, so people don't have to worry about feeling uncomfortable should they decide to come and spend what they'd hope would be a pleasant evening at the play place.

Anyway, we've been having auditions for the last two weeks, and I'm sitting here now wondering why people come out and read for parts in a play they have no real intention of doing?

Are they trying to make an impression?

If so, do they know what kind of impression they're making?

I mean these are people who came to us and read for us. They read well. We offered them roles. They turned them down.


Wait, though. Didn't I just audition for a play that I decided not to do?

Well, no, not exactly. I thought I was just going to a reading of a play.

It wasn't until a week or so later that someone called me and asked if I would agree to perform the part I'd read. I said yes because it was going to be produced early next year, and I didn't have any future prospects for that time.

They were offering me money, too, and I still have debts from those last three plays I did, so the money couldn't hurt.

But then someone offered me a different future (with pay!) for the same time period, and I couldn't turn it down 'cause it was the kind of future that I want and hope to have: directing, instead of acting.

So I had to tell the other people that I couldn't do their play because I had a conflict; and I know they hate me now, but that will change because New Orleans really is a small, small town, and we will all have to use each other again in some way, so we accommodate.

And, of course, I don't hate the actors who wasted my time and got my hopes up. I can't.

It's all in the timing.

But we're still not fully cast; which, when you think about it, is pretty common down here for the New Orleans theatrical way of life.

You've just got to keep that in mind and not get too worked up by fear or desperation.

Being old helps.

Old people know about priorities. Cancer or a heart attack are priorities. Actors are a dime a dozen.

Or less in today's economy.

Still, I'm sitting here thinking about it and not coming up with any reasons for why people do what they do.

I hate having to go through this kind of thought process.

I much prefer flashes of insight.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Idle Jottings

I once knew someone who expressed the idea to me that the Cosmos was a welcoming place and not to be feared.

I'm not sure I agree with that because I'm not really feeling any affectionate vibes from "out there."

I'm not an atheist exactly; but the God I believe in is incomprehensible to me and anyone else who might try to pin [Him] down. So I live with the mystery and wonder.

When I pray, and I do pray, I often pray to my mother and father who have both passed away. My mother answers my prayers, and my dad gives me the courage to deal with the answers when they don't gibe with what I wanted to hear.

And I've noticed that God, however hidden from me [He] may be, still kills the people who do me wrong.

So, yeah, I suppose this Cosmos will do for now.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Am I, a Hermit?

Well, I did it again.

For the second time in as many weeks, I went out to see a play and wound up circling the block before ending up at a coffee shop, sucking caffeine.

(The hard part is going home afterwards and telling Bobby what the play was all about.)

I can't bring myself to walk into a theatre. I can't bring myself to open the door. It's a physical thing. Does that make sense?

Of course it doesn't. But there it is.

I don't feel welcome.

I don't feel good enough. Worthwhile. Worthy. Worth it.

I swear, if it weren't for the shopkeepers on my block of Decatur Street, I wouldn't see or speak to anyone face to face anymore.

Just wanted to take that monkey off my back for a minute and get a look at him, eye to eye.

In the picture up there? I'm the one on the right.

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