Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank you, 2009

A double rainbow in Vermont. Taken by a buddy.

It would be foolish not to acknowledge what went well this year, so here goes.

First of all, Thank you 2009 for the fulfillment of one goal I had for this year, a closer and better relationship with my daughter.  It hasn't been smooth, but that's exactly part of the process. She felt safe enough with me to argue with me a few times and we've worked it out and found more common ground to communicate than just our love of pop culture.

Thank you 2009, for making up for the eviction by miraculously helping me into a terrific roommate situation. I really wasn't looking forward to it, but I found a place that is pretty good and a roomy who is enough like me in all the right ways that living with another person is easier than it could have been. Plus the dude makes the best pulled pork I have ever had in my life.

Thank you 2009, for introducing me to Twitter. Really that's because of Too Much Perfection. I still don't remember how I found her blog, but her twitter roll on her blog made me break down and try it and it's been fun to meet new people and get into some conversation and take on a Right Wing Nut Job or 3. As a result I will be attending Blog Her next year, which happens in my home town, but more on that in tomorrow's blog.

Thank you 2009, for keeping me employed. Temporary or not, lack of paid time off and holiday pay or not, its great to have had relatively steady income this year when so many friends and/or their spouses have not. It's a wicked rough world out there and for all that's been so hard this year, I'm glad to have not gotten further knocked back. Which leads to...\

Thank you 2009, for the chance to begin to etch away at debt, medical, consumer, tax and otherwise. It's gone slower than I had hoped, but it's gone...and that's important. It was a thinner Christmas than I would have liked, and this month's rent will be a little late. But I wiped out an entire section of debt left over from my hip replacement a few years ago...and that feels damned good in and of itself.

Thank you 2009 for the folks I have met in the blogosphere and twittersphere. Some real sweet people. Even a cybercrush or two (no I'm not telling). I do need to spend more time with my friends in the "real" world in the coming year, but I have found my cyber friendships to be fulfilling and meaningful and I hope they can say the same about me.

Thank you 2009, for me beginning to find my voice in the really learn how to express, argue and rant my sense of things...its been helpful.

Thank you 2009, for helping me rediscover the joys of Brooklyn. It's interesting and beautiful here.

Thank you 2009, for the slow and steady clarity of vision about my life. Got a ways to go yet, but its gone better than it has in a long time.

Thank you 2009 for getting Healthcare reform on the table. I may not be happy about how its turning out, but I still believe it to be an improvement and a first step. Social Security and Medicare evolved as well. So too shall this.

Thank you 2009 to the growing number of folks who actually read my stuff here and respond back. It's really fun and heartening and motivating.

And finally, thank you 2009, for ending. I'm tired from it.

Tomorrow, what I'm looking forward to in 2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fuck You 2009

It's almost over so I'm saying goodbye to the year in two parts.

Today's should be obvious by the title. Tomorrow's will be more positive.

Fuck you 2009, you started out with an eviction, upending my life and causing me to abandon 80% of my stuff.

Fuck you 2009, your recession halted my ability to find new or extra work to help my new situation along. You also pushed back for another 2 years the ability for the place where I temp to hire me permanently.

Fuck you 2009, for giving me more of that ignorant and manipulative bitch, Sarah Palin.

Fuck you 2009, for continuing to bombard me with that evil troll Dick Cheney's incessant and fearful nattering.

Fuck you 2009 for those teabagging morons who can't spell, read or think, let alone make a reasonable case for themselves.

Fuck you 2009, for making things more expensive undermining my paycheck.

Fuck you 2009, for not being much of an improvement over 2008 despite my best efforts.
Fuck you 2009, for giving my hip so much trouble. It's supposed to be less painful than it's been so you can go screw yourself.
Fuck you 2009, for Dick Armey, speaking of those moron teabaggers, for being the kind of douchebag smart enough to know how to make people into sheeple.
Fuck you 2009, for Jim DeMint, the hipocritical asshole that has more to do with how fucked up National Security is than anyone else, but plays it as if it's Obama's fault. We don't have a head of the TSA because DeMint hates Unions. Country First, douchebag.
Fuck you 2009, for teasing us with Obama's election but sticking us with the worst Senate in memory. Not to mention Obama's penchant to stay out of things...very disapointing.
Fuck you entire decade for Joe Lieberman.
Fuck you 2009 for the bullshit racket of college textbooks. $150 for the Spanish language my ass. And that's just ONE textbook.
Fuck you 2009, for being the third year in a row that I wasn't able to do my retreat in Vermont this summer.
Fuck you 2009, for letting FOX cancel Dollhouse.
Fuck you 2009, for Snuggies.
Fuck you 2009, for killing off teachers and old classmates.
Fuck you 2009, and good riddance.

Tomorrow I'll say things that refute almost all of this, but venting comes first.

Thanks for listening and your tolerance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Grateful: Tom et al

I'm about to head out to see some family for Hanukah today. For the second time in the last few years I am going without presents for my little cousins.

Just too broke this year to pull it off. It's a little challenging to be grateful today for that but I am focusing my mind on how I'm going to work things better in 2010 to be able to have a stress free Hanukah and Christmas shopping season.

Having said that....

I was at a couple of parties yesterday that were fun. One to someone's place I barely know but who lives not far from me in Brooklyn. One to an old friend and his partner's, Tom (and Greg).

It is safe to say that my 30s were somewhat disastrous, divorce, semi homelessness, dad's was really one of those get back up my feet, life kicks my ass back down kind of decades that lasted just a bit longer than 10 years.

My semi homelessness, due to under earning and the like resulted in me couch hopping awhile was about 12 years ago. The longest of those stays was at my friend Tom's. It was only supposed to last a few months, if that, while I gathered funds and found a place to live. This was slow going but then Tom got a gig working a show out of state and got the architecture firm he was working for as an admin to hire me in his place.

They were a few blocks away, nice folks and they paid really well. I worked every day and started a project that reorganized their storage closet and supply closet. (I'm fantastic at organizing other people's lives and own?..not so much)

It was a good couple of months and I earned enough to easily afford the expenses of moving. About 3 or so weeks before Tom's return I began apartment hunting. One day I took a longish lunch and as I was leaving the office to take a look at apartments in a part of Manhattan, not far, where we once lived as a family, I ran into my dad. He lived still in the small apartment building he had moved into after my parents had split up and where I lived with him when I was in High School, only a few blocks away as well.

He wasn looking old. A couple of months shy of his 60th birthday he looked a good bit older than that, and shaky. I tried to talk him into coming with me but he came up with some lame excuse about having to buy milk and then spoke obsessively about the things in his life he was worrying about. I'll save the details of this for some other blog, but I shrugged it off, gave him a hug and said I'd come by soon and we'd have dinner.

A week or so later my dad's body was found after he shot himself with his own .357 magnum. I got the call from the cops as I got into work that day after seeing my daughter, then 7 in her school play. I left quickly, running the block and a half and getting into the old place....

I called the office, told them what was going on. They told me to do whatever I had to do and not to worry about returning as obviously I would have priorities.

Two days later the accountant for the firm came over to give me my last paycheck which included the time I would have worked up until Tom's return with no expectation of actually working those remaining days.

It is a generosity I can never forget and am grateful for every time I think about it.

I spent the next few months going through dad's things, straightening out his affairs as best as possible and holding my ass together through a pretty awful period.

The money I'd saved ended up keeping me fed over that time rather than moving expenses and the time that all of this required kept me from finding work.

I ended up living on Tom's couch for another year. Tom charged a small amount of rent and I took up his living room for that time until I was able to move. I know it was hard for him. He enjoyed his privacy and was a single gay man at the time, trying to change that while his straight friend was taking up half his place.

It was hard for me too. Couches do not make great beds. But it was a lot less hard than any alternative would have been.

Last night as I was hanging out at his party he said "I don't know how you got through all that." I told him. "Dude, YOU!" It's also true that during that time I had other amazing friends who stepped up and helped out in ways that were beyond reason. My brother had friends who were also very amazing.

I will be grateful to Tom and these other friends until I keel over and die at the age of 120. I can never ever thank them enough or love them enough for helping me through that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth it is.... have a thankless child" - King Lear

Laurence Olivier as King Lear, Alec Guiness as The Fool at the Old Vic, London (1946)

This is a long one, I apologize.

I've written before about how proud I am of my daughter, who, at the age of 2 was diagnosed with autism. Mirror staring, phrase repeating, repetitive behavior, classic autism. I've written about how in many ways it was her own sheer determination and will that helped her break through a good deal of that to the point where she is high functioning and is now under the label of Asperger's Syndrome. I've never written about the part of being her dad that is painful, frustrating and makes me want to run screaming and deny that I am a father to anyone, let alone her.

Today will change that.

First, something to edify those of my readers that don't know what Asperger's Syndrome is.

This is the simplest comprehensive explanation of AS I can find. If you want, read this first, then go ahead. It might be helpful.

My daughter and I are in the middle of a kind of fight this week. Over the Thanksgiving weekend she got into a pretty intense battle with her mother and her stepfather. (To clarify, my ex is not married yet, but her fiancee has lived with them for a few years now so the relationship, while not official, is concrete enough.) My daughter likes digging at my ex wire, as teen aged, early college children are want to do. It went too far, causing my daughter's friends to tell her to back off and my ex wife to break down.

Now to be sure, as events were given to me, my ex was inappropriate a few times and has a tendency to invite this sort of abuse from my daughter without accepting that responsibility. But in the end, my daughter needs to learn when enough is enough. If you've read the link above, you can see how her AS plays into the already troublesome mentality of the late teens/early twenties brain.

Enter me, calmly picking her up on a Sunday before she heads back to school for breakfast and a calm talk about what's going on and how to patch things up. I won't go into detail, but it got ugly at one point when one of the adults lost it and set back my efforts considerably. It was a tough day, but eventually Sarah saw where she had gone too far, felt bad about it and owned up to it. There was peace in the valley, more or less.

I took her to the bus, she hugged me before getting on and thanked me, then off she went.

A little more background. Her mother and I split just before she was diagnosed as autistic. Over several years my ex and I tried to get back together, back and forth back and forth. Long story short, eventually we got smart and gave up.

During the time since splitting up the relationship with my daughter has been complicated for all of us. I alluded to an over possessiveness on my ex's part that created a block between me and Sarah that I didn't have the maturity to understand or work through constructively. The bottom line is that in many ways Sarah and I never got to bond enough in her babyhood. After I moved out, whenever I could come over to begin our weekends together, there would be tears. This was fine and understandable of course, but over time, its difficult to not take this personally.

The AS resistance to changes or shifts complicates this...going to Dad's house for weekends, Grandma's for Christmas, etc...all shifts that are difficult. And because Aspys have trouble with empathy at times, they don't understand the emotional impact of their apparent indifference or resistance. All of this I understand, but in the end, our history while filled with many wonderfuls is also filled with many rejections. Her rejections of me and as much as I get it, it still stings because frankly, its hard not to hear "I love you, dad" once in 19 years. Not because she doesn't love me, but because its just not something she can say. "You too" is the best I can get.

So, honestly, I am somewhat sensitive as a dad. Not one of the most mature aspects of me. But there it is.

Sarah and I had a sort of date this weekend to watch on Hulu from our respective locations, the last episodes of Monk. One of the ways that she and I bond is through the shows and movies we love. It's also a classic Aspy thing and it has made a difference in our relationship. We started to get much closer when I started turning her on to Buffy DVDs when she was 11. It continued with Angel, Alias, Firefly....Monk she found on her own but I was watching it too...and she relates to Monk (guess why).

So, it was something I looked forward to. We made the arrangement last Friday when we were all up at her school to see her ensemble concert. We agreed to watch together over the weekend.

Saturday didn't work out well because it was crazy around here with my roomie's party preparation, so we agreed on Sunday. Sunday was a series of phone calls on my part with schedule issues for her and subsequently me saying, ok..why don't you call me when you are able to watch, even if its not tonight. She agreed.

End of Monday I find on her FB status that she's watched the show and hasn't bothered to tell me directly. Now, I'm less pissed about missing the show with her, though I am disappointed. It's the not calling that gets me.

And yes, she's 19 and to some degree this is normal anyway...and combine that with AS its not unusual. But when I email her about it I get scolded for thinking its such a big deal, as if my phone calls weren't a cue that it was something I really wanted to do with her. To her it wasn't important enough because we weren't in the same room or couldn't talk about it during commercial breaks. So it couldn't possibly be important to me.

Ugh. She doesn't get that its rude, she tries to say that I could have called instead of me waiting for her (as if my 5 calls to her 0 weren't enough). It's the same kind of insensitivity that drove her mother to tears only a week ago.

I've spent 19 years enduring resistance, rejections, patching up fights, advocating for her helping her, coaching her monologues, staying in a city I have come to loathe to be near her, suffered financially to some degree for her and continue to do so. All of these things are things that go along with being a parent. And I don't want to play martyr to it, but today I am sick of it. I am sick of the treatment, sick of the life I live for it, sick of the nonsense drama I have had to deal with. Sick of the situations I am stuck in for her. SICK OF IT.

I know in a few days it will be ok...peace will be had...and that this goes along with the territory of being a father of an Aspy, who is 19, who has all the arrogant and stubborn genes of both sides of her family and who is also a spoiled brat (that I blame on the other parent...but it is what it is). It also goes along with the territory of a child who had the strength of will to pull herself from staring at mirrors in silence at the distance of half an inch, to moving to mainstream education, a specialized high school for actors and into college. Yes her parents helped, but in the end it was her will that pulled her through...and its that same will that makes me want to grow my hair back so I can pull it all out and run to California or Georgia or Arizona and forget I was ever a father. Today. Sometime later this week I'll be back to being proud as can be of her for one reason or another.

I just have to keep remembering, this comes with the territory, this comes with the territory, this comes with the territory.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Grateful

Malachite is said to bring harmony into one's life. It is also believed that malachite gives knowledge and patience. Malachite is used as a children's talisman to ward off danger and illness. It is attached to infant's cradles.

I'm trying to return to this tradition. Like many of us I think its really important to just make notes, of what you appreciate in your life.

This morning I am starting by being grateful for coffee. Yes I know it's a drug and it doesn't REALLY wake you up. But it says 'Good morning' to me and it does indeed ease me into the day and give me a way to settle myself and gather my thoughts.

I had a really good time on Friday visiting my daughter with her mother and stepfather. It was a very pleasant and fun day despite the terrible tension of the previous Sunday. My daughter had a really great time. We enjoyed her company immensely and she was really funny.

When she had her ensemble concert it was the usual delight in watching her have such a great time.

I'm grateful that I am still employed in this rough economy, WhyIsDaddyCryin' recently lost his job and is undergoing all the frustrations that come with such things. And TooMuchPerfection's husband is now beginning a recovery from over half a year of being jobless. It drives home that I am fortunate and count my blessings. As well, I am keeping my fingers crossed that TMP's good fortune continues and that WIDC only finds that his life picks up after this snag as his blog seems to show that he will.

By the way, I'm grateful for my many blogger friends who are awesome.

I am grateful for this apartment I am currently living in. It's not ideal for a man my age to be living this way but the fact is that I have a really good roommate who is a nice guy and is a great cook. His holiday party last night was a gas and much needed and it was good to meet his good friends and eat that damned delicious food he made.

I'm grateful people in my life whom I love greatly and who despite how difficult I can be and how complicated my life is, love me back.

I'm grateful for you readers and my twitter friends. My world is expanded because of you and I am the richer for it.

I'm grateful that despite the economy I am taking stock in myself and beginning the hunt for new employment so that I can continue to improve and grow and lead the sort of life I want.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The return of the Sunday Grateful

So, it was Thanksgiving a few days ago and its been a really interesting week of sneaky blessing lessons.

I started the Sunday Grateful blog inspired by Too Much Perfection...but my ADD kicked in after awhile and I wasn't particularly consistent. But the fact is, life really does seem to go better when I remember to be grateful for things, to acknowledge what is working in my life and keep my attention less so on the things that don't seem to be working.

This week a few things happened to really illustrate that its best not to judge your life so much. Religious people say that God has a plan for us. I've never bought that phrase. I'm pretty certain that God is pretty damned busy and doesn't have individualized plans for the billions of us on this planet...but that's for another day.

What I DO believe is that God, or the Universe or whatever it is, responds to our thoughts and behaviors as we dictate. And that sometimes things just happen. They might seem one way at a certain point, but later turn out to be something else.

Case in point: In January of this year I was evicted from my home of 10 years. That apartment signified the end of a 2 year period of time when I was essentially homeless and living on friend's couches and spare rooms. So, when I fell a little behind on bills from medical expenses and then when I unexpectedly became jobless for a year and a half and I was struggling to catch up on rent, you can imagine that finally giving up was a huge and painful decision for me.

I had failed to take care of myself. I had failed to be a grown up and meet the most essential of obligations, rent payment. A struggle of more than a couple of years that I surrendered on.

It sucked. I was down on myself, down on the world, particularly down on the management company that owned the building that was essentially moving ahead because a payment had been and they decided to stick to the letter of the agreement so they could renovate the apartment and install bad plumbing and wiring and charge 4 times the rent I was paying. But the bottom line was that I was a failure.

Jump ahead to last Tuesday and I get an email from a friend of mine who lives across the street from that old apartment. The building is on fire, people are jumping out of windows to the firemen below, smoke and flames are everywhere. Bad wiring is the culprit according to the fireman my friend talks to. My apartment is one of 6 that are decimated.

Suddenly I feel pretty damned lucky and the fact that I lost a lot of stuff in the hasty move I had to make pales when compared to the thought of losing EVERYthing.

Then on a smaller note, this Friday as my brother, his new girlfriend and I are waiting for the bus home from Atlantic City, we are cold. He has to be at rehearsal in NY at 6, I need to be at work at 5. We wait for the bus. It arrives, but its been to two casinos before hand and only has room for 4 more passengers...we are the 10th, 11th, and 12th among about 40. The next bus will make me late for work.

Greyhound decides to supply a second bus. This is not uncommon practice, but in Atlantic City the bus ride is a gamble like anything else and there's just as much chance we'd have been sitting out there waiting for the next bus, which might have been just as crowded.

So the new bus arrives, completely empty, which means that with everyone on the line, we still have a lot of room and can stretch out... a near impossibility most times. AND, the normally 2 and a half hour ride to NYC is 2 hours and 10 minutes. So I am actually earlier than expected. Which reminds me that the trip from New York to Atlantic City and ultimately Cape May, is normally a 4 hour trip altogether and was 3 hours. Totally good fortune all around.

You never really know what's bad or good in the moment. There is only what is and what isn't.

So, I'm grateful for what is. And I am grateful for the first step toward a wisdom of ceasing to judge my life in every given moment and to simply live.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Right Across The Street From Russia

and here you see the phenomena of Sarah Palin in a nutshell.

The founding fathers created a way of governing that was pretty restrictive by today's standards. Videos like this begin to convince me that they might have been completely correct in this.

I won't go into the many many things that are wrong with what people say here. But if you post a question in comments, I'll be happy to answer. So...without further adieu, I give you Columbus Ohio Borders.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Long Thursday Journey: Part 2, What a night. Plus a touch of Friday.

3:00 pm: I'm at the office. It is of course odd to be here when I usually am not. But it's centrally located and has a usable men's room. Picked up some alcohol and hand wipes from the Duane Reade and start undoing the wax and glue and make goes faster than I thought. Awesome.

I tweet a few pics of it and head back to my desk, which is thankfully unoccupied for this earlier shift. I sit and take those damned shoes off and breath while co workers ask what I'm doing here so early and also how the gig went. I tell them...then remind Mark at the front desk that I will be late tonight for the memorial. I go back to my desk, rest my hips, catch up on email on the iPhone and catch about a 5 minute cat nap. It helps.

4:15pm. I head out. The memorial is scheduled for 5 and its a quick subway ride, but I figure I will see some familiar faces and want to have some room for conversation if necessary.

The subway's are cooperating and in minutes I am back in the neighborhood (The Upper West Side) where I grew up. I don't spend much time here now as I knew few people who still live in this now unaffordable area and it is also fairly unrecognizable from my youth.

4:40 pm: I'm at the memorial chapel. It is an UWS stalwart that I am grateful still stands, and I am reminded that the last time I was here was 25 or so years ago for the memorial of a college friend. The surreal is all over the place.

I walk into the main entrance and there is Alex, one of my first friends in high school. I hadn't seen him in quite a while and we'd suffered a bit of a falling out over the years, but we smile and embrace each other and he says how it does his heart good to see me. We get into the elevator and immediately start talking about how we've processed Mr. Eskow's death as if we'd been in touch every day for the past 30 years even though we've barely spoken for the past 10. It occurs to me that the last really lengthy conversation he and I had was the day of my father's memorial. This is just getting creepy.

4:45 pm: We get to the 2nd Floor chapel and I can see Jerry's daughter, Lisa greeting people. Lisa is only a few years younger than I am. I remember meeting her a few of the times she would visit our school to see her dad. She is still stunning and I can't quite fathom the fact that it has been 30 years since I have seen her. The wheel of life is humbling.

I go to check my coat and umbrella. The woman taking care of all that is Lisa's college roommate (whose name escapes me). She's very sweet and we talk a bit about how things are going. I ask how Lisa is doing, how Libi (Jerry's wife) is doing. She says rather well. He'd been sick awhile but there is still a weirdness to processing it. I nod agreement and mention that I had to blog about it in order to work out my own oddness, I could only imagine how hard it is for them.

She looks at me and says “I read that blog, I think that was you. It was wonderful. Lisa loved it!” I suddenly remember that when I sent Lisa an email of condolence from the notice of Jerry's death that I had told her about the blog if she cared to read it. I actually had no expectation that in everything she had to do, that she would even get to my email, let alone read it. But apparently a google search of Jerry Eskow brings up the blog and her ex husband had found it. I'm amazed.

The woman turns and waves to Lisa then points to me “He wrote the blog” she says. So I wave to Lisa and go to her to say hello and she tells me how much she and her mother loved the blog. That it meant a great deal to her. I start getting teary because well...I hadn't really thought about having an impact like that just from a little blog. It both humbles me and feeds my ego a little.
Lisa introduces me to her mother who tells me that I got Jerry exactly right. Lisa follows up by saying that her mother never does much on the internet. Again, I am floored.

I go into the main chapel area and look at the posters of show's he's directed. A great photograph of him that I remember being in his office and a picture from one of the Senior productions from high school. (The photo is the same one used here) It happens to be a production that my ex wife was in, though she isn't in the picture. Our Town, and Ving Rhames is playing George's father, if I remember right. He was one of the fathers. Anyway, I hadn't seen that pic, aside from the reproduction in my ex wife's yearbook, in 26 years. I grin.

Alex and I look for a seat but see several of our old teachers. Mr. Britten one of our acting teachers who had been one of the original Bozo the Clown's back in the 50s, who has the energy of a teenager despite having to be in his late 70s. Mrs. Koehler, another acting teacher whom I had Junior year. Despite white hair she looks the same and is just as commanding as she was then. Mrs. Schwager who was a math teacher when I was there, but also good friends with many in the drama department. She looks about the same which seems impossible. Later, Tony Abeson comes in. He started teaching there when I was a senior and was a very strong influence on my work. It's a flood of people and memories.

As Alex and I make our way from all the teachers, my ex wife comes in, escorting Mrs. Schein, who was my first acting teacher there. When my daughter was about 4 or so she met Mrs. Schein on the street with my ex. They hit it off immediately and there were frequent visits hence.

But the last few years Mrs. Schein began to succumb to Alzheimer's and it was clearly taking its physical as well as mental toll now. She too was a very dynamic woman, very youthful even as she grew older. She always wore black, like Mrs. Koehler and they both were known to wear leather pants. It is disconcerting to see her now, barely able to walk, and unable to recognize anyone there.

I'm thoroughly impressed and proud of my ex wife for bringing her. Being with very sick people has always been something that has frightened my ex. But she worked through it, obviously, out of love for our old teacher. (My ex graduated in 1977, we met several years after high school but that's another story). They sit together with the other teachers who are very emotional to see “Roz” and thank my ex profusely through tear streamed faces. Its nice to see.

Sometime after 5pm because here I lose all track of time pm:
Paul comes in. Paul, like Alex is a year younger, but came in at the same time I did. He started as a freshman, I as a sophomore (yeah you can do that in NYC, or could back then). He was my first scene partner and when Mrs. Schein sees him she tells him he was a very nice boy. But Paul remembers how many times she admonished him as something or other and doesn't realize how far gone she is. He makes a humorous reference to it, no malice intended, just a fun ribbing, til he realizes what's happening. It hardly matters.

Many others I know of course are there, and there are many hellos. Alan, a guy from two of 3 classes under me but who was there when I was a senior comes in. His girlfriend in high school lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn as mine did and so we hung out a lot too. Alex, Paul, Alan and I are sitting together and the memorial finally starts. I think its about 5:20.

Lisa speaks. She tells funny stories about Mr. Eskow's passionate approach to life, his need to master certain things like mixed drinks or the perfect omelet. Stories of her young son and him. How he dealt with Parkinson's with humor. She finishes by saying that she was an only child, but that when she would visit her dad where he taught, she felt like she was part of a huge family. She speaks of how she loved that old building we used to be in. How it was a kind of magical castle of creativity. I smile and get a bit misty because she's exactly right.

Next is a guy that Mr. Eskow grew up with, went to WWII with and then college too...turns out like me, Jerry grew up on the Upper West Side. And I laugh at some of the stories describing certain streets...despite the decades distance between us they were much the same up until 15 or 20 years ago, so I recognize a lot.

He tells a story that strikes Alex as amazing, about a young woman that Jerry had fallen in love with. I won't go into detail but I'll get back to it later.

More family members speak, nephews, a brother...and then the rabbi says that if there is anyone who wants to speak or tell a story, that the the floor is open.

This strikes me as terribly dangerous in a room filled with about 300 theater people. We love to talk.

Alex gets up. But someone closer beats him to it. This happens several times. Paul leans forward and suggests that all four of us go up, but I feel like I'd just be repeating my blog.

A couple of more people go and then Paul who has the aisle end of the pew, stands...we all stand too. I realize I had something new to say.

Paul gets up first. He talks about how he briefly dated Lisa Eskow. He also spent time with Mr. Eskow in the mornings and have conversations about this or that. Jerry really liked us and enjoyed talking to us. The story was about how one day, Jerry, silently made it clear that dating his daughter was not in the cards for Paul. He just sat with his knee over the other, hands clasped over, peering over the top of his glasses at Paul and Paul said. “This isn't a good idea is it?” Jerry shook his head. That was that. The room laughs.

Alan is next and he tells the story of how it had fallen on Mr. Eskow to tell Alan that his father had died. How patient he was in the telling and how he sat with Alan quietly, telling him that whatever he needed he'd take care of it. A ride home, calling someone else to keep him company home if he preferred. Whatever was needed. Alan said he decided to go home on his own, but how Jerry continually followed up with him over the rest of the year.

My turn. I stand at the podium and suddenly find myself overcome with emotion and have a hard time catching my breath. What the hell is wrong with me? I breath in and introduce myself and mention how the four of us all hung out together in one form or another.

I go on to talk about how the school is very important to me, how it is in my bones. I ended up marrying a woman from there and though we didn't stay married it was such a part of our beings that when our daughter was 5 she decided to go there too (though a different building, she still did it).

Those years are the first time in my life I was in a place I knew I belonged. Where was safe to fail in my work. And fail I did on more than one occasion, but also I had terrific successes.

I pointed out Mrs. Schein, who according to my ex beamed at her mention, and how she taught the basics and how to think through a character analysis. How to hold myself and begin to think well of myself. Mrs. Koehler who taught me that attention to physical presence was as important as psychological analysis.

In my emotional state I flaked on Mr. Britten who was out of my line of site, but later said to him that what he had was a ridiculous joy for being there every day and that he made us all feel good in his class. There was never drama. There was Mr. Capalletti (sp?) how had a very subtle way about him and whos lessons tended to hit you on the back of your head when you weren't looking. And Mr. Abeson, who in my senior year taught me that actors and artists of all stripes have an important place in the world and that we should be proud of what we are. Who helped me clarify some of the language that had been taught me in that school and make it even more active. Who tried to teach me that poverty was not romantic.

In that speech I managed to tell these teachers what I had failed to tell Jerry Eskow. That they were important to me and that I loved them. I looked down toward Lisa and said to her that he had made all those people a part of that teaching there. And that it was indeed a castle and that he made it that way.

I was done and really really needed a glass of single malt.

Alex was up next and told the story of how Jerry had changed his life simply by telling him he needed a box moved from point A to point B...that Alex is now a professional in the stage hands union, indeed in Local 1, which takes a serious amount of skill and ability to get to and that it was Jerry who recognized that in Alex within his first few days in high school and that he knew that if Alex didn't have something to do at all times...there would be trouble.

He then finished by saying that he lived in the same building as this dancer that Mr. Eskow had fallen in love with in his youth. Alex did a paper on her for an assignment for Mr. Eskow. The paper was handed back to him with an A but absolutely no notes. Everyone else had had copious notes.

No matter how many times Alex asked why there were no notes, Mr. Eskow skirted the issue. Now Alex knew why. This strikes many of us as the highlight of the evening.

Another fella from around our time, Bill came up and thanked Jerry and spoke of his street life and how the school saved his life. We are a little dubious of this as we remember Bill as being a pretty cool kid right off the bat and not at all menacing. But apparently it is how he felt about himself and more importantly where he felt his life was going at the time.

Mr. Abeson got up and described what a “hot mess” he was when he came to PA and how badly he needed that teaching job and how on paper he was unqualified but that when he said he felt this was where he needed to be, all Jerry did was lean forward and say “Yes it is” and he was hired.

7:30 pmish: It is over and we are breaking up...we say goodbye to as many as we can. My ex is already gone having to bring Mrs. Schein home before she became too exhausted. I catch up with others there. Some whom I didn't remember but who remembered me (Freshman always remember the Seniors) Some vice versa. I am the only one from the graduating class of 1980 and I am rather disappointed by that fact. Ah well.

I say goodbye to Lisa who is leaving for home in Texas in a couple of days. She's in Austin and we joke about how Austin is the only place in Texas worth a damn. Libi thanks me again for the blog and says again how much I “got him and what he was trying to do”. I find myself wishing that I had managed to get Jerry while I was in high school, but glad I got there eventually. I remind Lisa that most of us are on Facebook and she should do it too and say hello. She nods. I don't think she will do it.

Paul, Alex and a few others and I have a beer/club soda/coffee at a nearby bar and trade stories about all the teachers. I still want a single malt, but I'm broke and I have to leave for work. The Magic Hat beer will do just fine.

8:35 pm: I say goodbye, we all remember that we are on Facebook and to stay in touch. I head downtown to the office where it is so dead I end up doing a little Corel training and watch Countdown and Rachel Maddow on line. They make me think about Fox & Friends, but mostly all night I keep thinking about the memorial. How much of a celebration it was. Joyous. There wasn't a single maudlin moment. A fitting tribute because Jerry would have hated maudlin. That much I knew.

1:15am: I am heading home in the car the company provides every evening after 10pm. I'm grateful for it.

1:45am: Home. I take off the Jos.A.Bank suit, those awful shoes and breath deeply. I sit down at my computer and finish off email, play a little Yoville and Farmville on Facebook to unwind and accept a couple of friend requests that popped up from the memorial, then send a couple of them myself.

There are already notes on the PA pages on Facebook about the memorial. Our speeches are mentioned which is sweet and I see that my blog has gotten a LOT of new hits since the memorial.

2:45am: I lay down. Too tired and achy to think about anything. I plug in my iPhone to speakers and wall cord and listen to Ambience Pacific Shore to let the crashing west coast waves waft me to sleep.

Thank you for today, Universe. Thank you for every day, but especially for today.

Goodnight Jerry.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Long Thursday Journey: Part 1. On The Fringe.

3:30am: I'm awake. I'm supposed to wake up to an alarm in another half hour, but my body, despite being on sleep aids has decided I need an extra half hour to get ready for the day. After a moment I decide my body is right. I have to shave my head and face and be very very thorough about so the extra time takes the sense of being rushed off the table. I am suddenly aware that I am waking up at the time I usually go to sleep. This is weird and it hits me just how long this day is going to be.

I get up, shower and do the shave thing. I'm excited. Today constitutes what is my first paying acting gig in many years, and even though its not a full on production, just a promo stunt, it feels really good.

5:00am. I am out the door in my new Jos.A. Bank suit and my charcoal grey longcoat. I haven't dressed this well in years and I am suddenly very aware that the neighborhood I live in isn't that great and its 5am and I am looking damned upscale. I walk cautiously and even cross the street when I see a couple of teenagers coming up the block toward me. Jeez. When did I become THIS guy?

5:15am: The A train arrives, running local. This is fine as it will take me right to the F. So far so good. I have to be at the hotel at 6am sharp to have my eyebrows covered. I'm excited and amazed to be upright. I listen to Dan Savage's podcast to stay awake. Nothing like listening to people's sexual issues and Savage's awesome if sometimes snarky advice before sunrise.

5:55am: I arrive at Stay..a new hotel on 47th street. I'm right near where I used to go to High School. It's the first of many moments of walking by significant areas of my past. The day is going to have an element of weirdness I hadn't anticipated.

6:20: I am in a small hotel room with 10 other guys with shaved heads in suits and two make up artists. I've had to get my own coffee as there is none provided. That irks me a little as coffee and pastries at gigs this early is pretty much SOP, but since I'm getting a free suit out of the deal, I get over it really fast and get my own coffee.

My eyebrows get spirit gummed, waxed and covered. I'm really looking like an Observer now. My inner actor is excited and dancing with my inner fan boy. The only thing better would be actually playing an Observer in an actual episode of Fringe. But this is damned fun.

7:00am: We are split into two groups of 5. One group is to go to the Today Show, the other, Fox & Friends. I am really hoping for the Today Show as those three morons on Fox & Friends really bug me. I am of course chosen to go to Fox. But I'm getting a free suit and $250 so I get over it.

7:15am to 8:40am: I am standing outside the Newscorp Building in Rockefeller Center doing the Observer thing. (Silent, watching, creepy) The show is broadcast and I am forced to remain stoic while Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson (her credentials according to their website is that she is the first classical violinist to be crowned Miss America.) and Brian Kilmeade kiss Rudy Giuliani's ass while he lies up and down and up and down. As I listen though I am relieved to realize that this scumbag won't be running for Governor of New York, which I think he has a shot at winning, but is instead running for President again, which will help him succeed in travelling from being America's Mayor to being America's least liked scumbag. Later Brian Kilmeade says “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but certainly all terrorists are Muslims” I nearly vomit. But I remain stoic and scare the hell out of passersby. Despite the 3 Blind Idiots in the background I am having fun...and at about 8:30 the show goes to break filming me and 3 of the other Observers on the street.

The first time I am on television since my episode of Law & Order 15 years ago and its on Fox & Friends. I'd be unhappy, but I'm on television and I'm getting $250 for the day and a free Jos.A.Bank wool and cashmere suit. I get over it real fast.

9:00am: Grand Central Station. Here the fun really kicks in as people are milling about and stopping and staring. Some of the other guys end up having pictures taken with passersby. I am just stared at, I love it.

10:00am: Times Square. We are in the area that has been closed off to traffic. I'm sitting at one of the chairs with a circular table. This is a major relief. My shoes are very bad shoes and I have been on my feet since 6:30 this morning and I have an artificial hip. I'm actually in a great deal of agony. It makes being stoic a bit easier.

The sitting helps a lot though I am still achy.

School children come by. They are about 9 years old or thereabouts and very excited by what they see.

“Hey that bald man moved” “so what stupid, they're not statues” “can I have a picture Mrs. Jones, with them?” “What are they doing” “It's a TV show, I think my mom watches it.”

They are adorable.

A pretty girl of about 20 is staring around with 2 friends of hers. She gets one of the folks who hand out Tabasco sauce and say “Watch Fringe on Fox tonight at 9” to take a picture. The girl sits in the chair next to mine and her friends stands behind her. I am “observing” facing away from her. I hear her say “Dude, don't look over at me, ok?”

Now to me, that just means, “Please look right at me” so I slowly turn my head and give her a wondering, quizzical stare. She jumps. “DUDE” and her friends laugh. I turn back and look across the street, she settles in and has the picture taken. The Tabasco girl is laughing and so are the pretty girl's friends. The walk off and I hear her say to her friends “I want to crack one of them up”. This almost cracks me up.

More tourists come by, more pictures are taken.

In the walks between sites we are working, I have passed by 10 different places where I've once worked and also where I am currently working. And of course, where I went to High School. Later today I will be attending the memorial Jerry Eskow. There seems to be a real symmetry to the day and I am glad that this is a day that I am working as an actor. Jerry would be pleased I think

11:30am: I am finally eating breakfast at Andrew's Coffee Shop and stopping to get vitamins at The Vitamin Shoppe. I wolf down the eggs and bacon and coffee...ahhhhhhhh. Then head over to Macy's for the second half of the event.

11:50am: Herald Square, lots of passersby. We are basically all together in another part where traffic is no longer allowed. But it is part of a crosswalk so there are plenty of people to creep out. And creep out we do. I stand at the edge and stare into the windows of passing buses which are slowed by traffic. I gaze at every passenger I can. Inside I am grinning at the reactions even though on the outside I show nothing more than an otherworldly curiosity. My back and hip and feet are aching again. So much walking. So much fun.

Twice I am asked what is going on by passersby. I silently direct them to one of the Tabasco people. Some are fans already and shout OH YEAH. Others say weird.

We are being filmed for the promo. Some genius walks up to the cameraman who is gazing intently into his viewfinder to set up a shot.

GENIUS: Excuse me, are you filming something?

CAMERAMAN: Calmly and nicely tells him what's going on.

INNERJOHN: No, moron, he's fucking the camera right here in the middle of Herald Square.

Really, I am exercising delicious self restraint today. $250 and a free suit. Did I mention its a $600 suit?

1:00pm: Union Square. The last site. We are all pretty exhausted actually but still having fun. There are benches and a couple of us sit and do our creepy resty thing. But there are few passersby in this part of the Square.

It starts to rain, so we go down into a subway entrance and scatter among the stairs and turnstiles. This affords a fantastic opportunity to stand at the gate and observe commuters who are unnerved by what is happening.

At a certain point a very drunk woman comes down the stairs...talking out loud about some craziness. I watch her out of the corner of my eye because she might be trouble. She's that drunk.

She pauses for a moment before the turnstile and looks around, stumbling a bit as she sees 10 men of varying ages, all baldheaded, all very well dressed. She shakes her head “Oh no no no. I need to get right the fuck home now. I can NOT deal with this. No no no sir” We are all desperately trying not to crack up.

1:50pm: A cameraman from the local Fox News station comes down to shoot us for awhile. He seems to be having a great time with it all and it turns out he's a Fringe fan. He says this should be on the news tonight, but a friend on Facebook tells me the next day that she saw me that morning. It creeped her out. I get very pleased.

I pass by so many places I used to work today, its like my past is sort of surrounding me. I decide its a way of saying goodbye to all those old non acting jobs while I am acting. I like it.

2:10pm: We are done. I am exhausted, but I have a memorial and then work later. So I grab more coffee, some spicy cinnamon gum and head to the office where I work to use the Men's Room to take off the wax and gum from my eyebrows. And get some rest. My body is really aching pretty badly.

I'm not even half done with the day yet.

To be continued...

If you are on facebook, you can check out what we did here. Scroll down for Sightings: New York and you can find me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Praise of passing teachers.

Most of us are pretty arrogant when we get to high school. Even the most modest of us. We are smarter than our parents who are exceedingly uncool and say the most ridiculous things. We know who we are and we know exactly what we are doing and where we are going and anyone that tells us otherwise is either full of shit or just has no idea what is going on.

This disease goes on until we start to approach 30. Then we start to realize that WE were the assholes and that we have a ways to go. If we are lucky.

A man named Jerome Eskow, who was the head of the Drama Department in my high school for many years before and after I went there, passed away a couple of days ago after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.

I went to the High School of Performing Arts here in New York City. Most of you will know it as The Fame School. I hate that moniker, but that's a blog for another day. I entered the school in September of 1977 as a Sophomore and graduated in June of 1980. Yes, I'm that old.

To this day I consider my time in High School pretty much the most amazing years of my life. Not all happy, mind you, but every moment pretty fucking wonderful. I experienced all the awfulness that goes with adolescence. Confusion, anger, social awkwardness, etc. In spite of all that I enjoyed a level of creativity, exploration and artistic growth that I've never had since. Jerome Eskow was more responsible for that than any teacher I've ever had.

That's not how I felt about him through most of high school. Only toward the end did I begin to suspect how brilliant the man truly was, and how much he loved us and the school.

He came across as rather pompous, sitting on the edge of his desk, legs crossed, his hands cupped a foot or so from his face as his gravelly, slow voice expounded on and on about acting theory, theater history, "the business".

To so many of us, it seemed like endless droning by a man who loved to hear himself talk. While there's possibly a grain of truth to that, the fact is that we suffered from our own pomposity. The pomposity I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. We suffer from this pomposity to the extent that we don't hear the grains of wisdom that are offered to us. And as I came to realize later, Jerome Eskow offered a lot.

I won't get into the specific lessons here all at once. A lot of them won't make sense outside of the Theater. But one thing he said once has always stuck with me.

"We have to say I hate you a lot before you can really get to I love you" I don't remember the context of the day's lesson. But the point of what he was saying was that to truly love someone, or something, you have to really know them and accept them, warts and all. You have to pass through the negatives because at the end of all that is the positive that was there in the first place. The love.

As time passed and after I graduated, I would visit the old school, which later became the new school when it moved into a large and (to my mind) still soulless building a bit further uptown, I found that Jerry (who seemed to prefer me calling him that after graduation) had more to teach, more to talk about. But more and more it was about me and self acceptance. I continued to watch the way he would talk, the way he held himself...and it occurred to me that it wasn't so much pomposity as it was...PASSION.

Slow, gravelly, deep and I think even luxurious passion.

My life went on...I drifted away from visiting, Mr. Eskow retired as did most of my teachers. The last of the teachers that were there retired just a couple of years ago (while my daughter was a senior in that soulless structure).

I sent an email to Mr. Eskow a couple of years ago. Or I meant to. I never heard back from him, it occurred to me and its possible that either his Parkinson's made it too hard or that I, in my ADD just flaked on it.

It is a regret. I don't think I ever told Jerry how much I've grown to admire him as I've gotten older (more mature?). I didn't tell him that despite my rather disappointing career (so far) that much of my deepening as an actor and a teacher comes from the things he taught me, even if they took awhile to soak in.
I had other teachers at P.A. that I loved. Some were inspiring, others were brilliant in subtle ways, some, honestly, weren't very good at all.

Jerry seeped in, someone planting seeds in the dark of night while every one is sleeping. Then one afternoon you wake up...and there's a tree.

Rest In Peace, Jerry. Thanks for the trees.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sent to the Attic (without any supper)

So, as I suspected it would, Fox canceled Dollhouse this past week. So, as a result, I will be canceling Fox from my viewing activities.

Whining Fanboy you say? Over reacting? Well, maybe. But losing Dollhouse is really the final among many straws.

Dollhouse was not a perfect show. It took a few episodes to find its voice. Get its leggings. But this is true for every other Joss Whedon show, with the possible exception of Firefly, which I will get to in a minute.

Here's what Fox has/has not done, that has me deciding to tell them to go fuck themselves.

1-They put Dollhouse in exactly the same time slot where they put Firefly a few years ago. Friday nights...WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING TV!

2-They barely promoted the show themselves. This year alone on Twitter we counted hundreds of official Fox tweets for Glee, a show that was already a hit, and about 20 for Dollhouse which was strugging ON FRIDAYS.

3-They then blamed poor ratings.

4-They promoted upcoming episodes coming in November, but only as coming soons, very rarely on other time-slots, then within days they pulled the show OFF November for sweeps, thus playing a sort of game with fans. They assured us that this was a way to keep the show safe and help their numbers (the replacement, re runs of House, garnered a tiny tiny teeny weency improvement for that slot. Why? BECAUSE NO ONE WATCHES TV ON FRIDAY NIGHTS for network broadcast numbers to be worth anything.

5-Then after a week they cancel the show, demonstrating that EVERYthing they said previously was flat out, in your face, bald faced bullshit.

They treated Dollhouse marginally better than they treated Firefly, which is to say that they treated it like less stinky shit, holding it 3 feet away from their noses instead of 4. And they spoke to fans in condescending and again, lieing tones.

What they should have done, if they really wanted the show to hit, if they really wanted to give it its best opportunity like they said they did, was keep Fringe on Tuesdays (I'll get to that in a minute too) and have Dollhouse follow, giving the show a significant and popular lead in. If Dollhouse failed to garner an audience then, the network would have had a legitimate case on its hands and would actually be able to honestly say they tried.

I've written about this before. Gone are the days that network executives gave shows time to find their audience. Time for their audience to find them. No more. Everything has to be Lost now. Everything has to be Desperate Housewives (I just vomited a little into my mouth). Everything has to be Glee.

BTW, I have nothing against Glee, it doesn't interest me, but it sounds like a good show IN A GOOD TIME SLOT.

Firefly was probably Whedon's greatest creation for television. It was mature, featured the strongest cast that's ever been on one of his shows and it had a great premise. Sales of its DVDs continue to sell brilliantly. Fox claimed to learn a lesson from that. Their actions proved that to be bullshit. They did absolutely nothing for this show.

The pulled this same kind of half hearted nonsense on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles too. I wasn't a fan of the show for a number of reasons. But it clearly had a loyal base and its ratings on say FX (which Fox owns) or SyFy (Which Fox doesn't, and God I hate writing "SyFy", so fucking stupid)would have made it a smash. Given that Dollhouse's ratings were even better, that same action would have been even more successful

And finally.

I love Fringe too. It's on Fox so my giving up on Fox means I am giving up on Fringe (yes there are ways to watch it under the radar, I'm not going to advocate that). But they are doing it to Fringe too.

It was a hit on Tuesdays last year. It started slow and built really well. So what did Fox do? They moved it to Thursdays...OPPOSITE CSI AND GRAY'S ANATOMY. Two huge ratings giants. What the fuck did they think was going to happen?!!!

And now they are saying that they are unsure of the ratings and we will see about renewal.

And then of course there's Arrested Development. A brilliant show that yes, they stuck with but never did a single thing to improve its ratings. They played the martyr with it and also fucked with its fans.

Well guess what? FUCK YOU FOX. FUCK YOUR DISDAIN FOR GENRE TELEVISION and FUCK YOU FOR TELLING ME FUCK YOU. The Simpsons is boring now and you have nothing on that interests me. Much as I like Seth MacFarlane I have yet to get a single good laugh out of Family Guy (I know, I know....I just don't think its that good). I'll watch the remaining 7 episodes and then I'm done with you. Oh, and if I haven't said it enough already, FUCK YOU.

(Monday update) I forgot to mention that I think web shows are the future anyway. Like Dr. Horrible or The Guild. I don't think it's a bad idea to begin making clear to networks, both broadcast and cable that they are moving into irrelevancy as far as we are concerned.

I encourage you to join me in my boycott if you've had enough.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blog that's really stealing someone else's blog

So back in April I put up some pictures that were taken by professionals at the first Teabagger demonstration. Just stuff that displayed the monumental stupidity of this movement.

But yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers actually encountered a group of these geniuses in her home town.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Too Much Perfection. She doesn't normally get political and ranty the way I do. Its just a nice calm witnessing. Good on her.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

OK, Look...

Yesterday sucked on a lot of levels for those of us that stand for sensibility, reason, fairness and freedom in this country. But it also wasn't the big deal that the main stream media keeps making it out to be.

New Jersey: For those of you who don't live in or nearby, you might think that this is a big deal. John Corzine, incumbent Democrat, ousted by a Republican for a bedroom at the Governor's Mansion in Trenton. But those of us from these parts know one thing, every 4 to 8 years New Jersey goes from having a Republican Governor to a Democratic Governor and vice versa. In my lifetime this State has never been able to make up its mind as to whom should run it. And Governors of both parties have never gotten it quite right. Only Tom Kean, a moderate Republican, managed to do a fairly decent job for the state, actually beginning to make inroads toward shedding The Garden State of its reputation for being a garbage dump.

Republicans cut taxes, then the localities have to raise property taxes in order keep their basics (garbage collection, etc. going) so they get ousted for not keeping taxes down. Democrats move in, raise taxes, improve schools etc...but the taxes got they get ousted.

The Senators are still Democrats and likely to remain that way. The State generally goes Blue for national just has a split personality for its locality. The northern part is generally blue, the southern generally red, with Indies in between. The Indies generally dictate what happens.

Oversimplification, but basically that's what happens over and over again. Corzine was not a great Governor. Better than he got credit for and better than his overspent campaign managed to communicate, but his negatives were enough.

Virginia: Virginia is a purple state with heavy emphasis on the red end of the spectrum. It went blue for Obama last year for several reasons. A-youth vote B-Sarah Palin C-Changing Demographics. But that doesn't mean that the change is going to be a steady climb. For one, the Democrat ran a lousy campaign in a state that always elects a Governor of the opposing Party to the White House. For another, its mostly a Republican it did what it usually does.

Neither of these elections mean a lot for either party.The next Governor of New Jersey will be a Democrat, very likely in 4 years because this guy is a clown. Virginia will continue to move toward blue, but at its own pace. Just like Georgia and Texas. (Yes, GA and TX are going blue...just watch)

New York 23: OK, this one surprised me. I really thought the conservative would walk away with this one, but here's the thing....other than 23, most of that area is blue, and it seems that 23 looked around, thought about which candidate had the better chance of doing more for them and went with the Democrat rather than the guy who was anti-abortion but had no idea what the local issues were. Parochial indeed, Dick Armey, parochial indeed.

So its one more Dem in the House for us. This is far more significant than losing two governorships. The Club for Growth and Sarah Palin and DICK Armey will tout their ability to oust the established Republican candidate, but they won the battle and lost the war. They think they will win next year, but that's highly doubtful. The district will likely feel good about their choice this year, especially since the economy will be picking up by then. Also, that area is about to be redistricted and in two years will be entirely Democratic. Its over.

Meanwhile we also did well with getting progressive into a seat in California. This isn't getting much play but its at least as important as NY-23 if its important at all.

Finally there is Maine...ahhhh Maine. But Rachel Maddow warned us. States are basically losing whenever it comes to these referendum votes. The anti Marriage Freedom people are well funded by the Catholic church, the Mormon church AND the Church of Scientology and well...people are bigots and self righteous beasts for the most part. I think that while it is disappointing, we should bear in mind that 5 years ago, the vote would not have been as close as it was. Close enough that a recount is likely.

Marriage equality is going to have to be done on a national level. As a friend at work said yesterday, it will likely have to be some kind of law saying that Civil Unions must provide the same protections and rights of Marriage and that Civil Unions are to be available in every state.

I don't see the LGBT community going for that. They seem to have decided on an all or nothing approach. But I think my friend might be right.

This is an issue of rights. It bugs the shit out of me that we allow elections that take away rights, but apparently we do. And apparently we do indeed vote to remove rights. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

We will get there. We've been moving in that direction quite a bit, and we have a generation coming up that doesn't even believe this is an issue. Indeed, most of that generation voted for Obama as their first national vote last year. Maybe this is small comfort to my gay brethren, but it is a comfort at least....I hope.

(Friday addition)

OK...seriously, I don't think I've said 2 nice things about Republicans on this blog, but the key words have attracted an ad to contribute to the Republican Governors Association.
Tone Deaf Much? Out of Touch Much?...Yes I do believe so

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recovery? Seriously?

The news is blaring about how the Recession is over.

Well, this is technically true. A Recession is marked by 3 quarters in a row of negative growth. As we have just had a quarter of growth, the recession is over.....
For now.

I'm not an economist and despite my admiration for a few of them I don't have a whole lot of respect for the study anyway. It's all theory, sometimes you can base a theory on history, but its still theory.

We base our perspective on our economy in this country on Gross Domestic Product or GDP, this is a number that comes out of analyzing the value of goods produced and consumer spending. This is taken from a bunch of numbers that are amassed and run through mathematical formulas on some genius' spreadsheet.

Liars like Maria Bartiromo go on about how what's good for Wall Street is what's good for Main Street. But we know this woman has no knowledge of history and is also married to one very rich honcho. Out of touch much, bitch? And Jim Cramer goes on and on and on about absolutely nothing. Gets everything wrong on every count and somehow we still ask him how we are doing...Like he fucking knows his ass from his checkbook.

But to my mind, there is only one true measuring stick to how well the economy of a nation is going. A simple two part question.

Does everyone who wants/needs a job have one and are they earning enough to thrive?

By thrive I mean, 3 meals a day, a decent roof over your head and the ability to save for an improved future for you and your family.

A simple question with a simple answer. Yes or No.

The answer is still a resounding NO.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You asked...I tried to answer. Writer's Block at least temporarily averted....

So I stole this idea from one of my twitter/blogger friends because I have hated every writing idea that's come into my blogging head for the last week. I even had someone suggest expanding on a Twitter Story I told a few days ago...and oh boy was my inner critic running overtime.

Thus I begged my TwitterFollowers to help me out, ask me questions so I could blog the answers, so that I am doing SOMEthing.

Thank you all. I tried to Favorite every question so I had them handy, but the function seems to have not worked well. So I'm doing my best to get them all. I won't be as funny as "Daddy" but here goes....

@WhyIsDaddyCryin if given the opportunity how would you choose to publicly humiliate balloon boy's dad for being such a fucking douche?

My first question and oddly parallel to the TwitStory expansion that I abandoned, although that involved Rush Limbaugh as the balloon and Glenn Becky as the boy who crawled up his ass only to float around the United States. Anyway.....

This question leads to my question, How do you shame the unshameable? This guy got vomited on twice on national television, completely exposed by a 6 year old and had his awful reality TV show proposal aired to everyone. None of it seems to phase this guy. He just wants the recognition.

He is in fact, Rush Limbaugh. He will say and do anything to get noticed. If he's a Democrat, I guess I'd just call him Rush Jr. every time I referred to him, while he was in the room. If he's a Republican I guess I'd call him Chairman Mao since that's their latest fetish.

@lesleehorner asked this of both “DaddyCryin” and me” What's 1 thing you are passionate about, and lose all track of time while doing? And the answer can't be sex.


Well, I mentioned recently that I enjoy doing character roleplay on certain venues. A way of getting my creative writing juices going. I very easily lose track of time doing that, the way other friends of mine do it playing World of Warcraft (which I refuse to play, A-because there's a monthly fee and B-because I KNOW no one will ever see me again if I do).

When an idea hits me, or the hint of one, I get really excited and I've made myself almost late for work on more than one occasion.

But in the end, its when I'm acting or directing. I could do it forever...never take a break except to eat and even then I just want to keep going. Never tired of it, always want more. There really isn't anything that makes me more happy.

Except perhaps for sex with someone awesome. (heh heh, got it in there anyway)

@GratefulKim What cereal could you eat everyday?

I'm honored that you took time away from your devoted stalking of @WhyIsDaddyCryin' to ask me that.

It's a two parter.

Non Sugar Cereal. Cheerios. I fucking love Cheerios. Especially with a banana sliced on top. That rocks. Even better when eaten outdoors

Sugar: Lucky Charms, because they're magically delicious, of course. Interestingly, Lucky Charms is essentially Cheerios, covered in sugar and with marshmallows. MMMMMMMMMMMMM. I'm all in touch with my inner Homer Simpson now.

@kitterztoo asked me what color I would be if I were a color...something like that. I can't find it because Twitter's Favorites function doesn't function. Fortunately my memory is a bit better.

Unfortunately I have no fucking clue. When my daughter was born, in the first couple of minutes, she was this amazing deep shade of purple. I mean like, dipped in grape juice for days purple. It was stunning. STUNNING. Not blotchy, not ugly. Breathtakingly beautiful. I wished it would stay that way because it really was that awesome. Shortly after that she got all splotchy like newborns do, then settled in. Ah well.

I guess I'd like to be that color. I think it would be cool, also....mad sexy.

Now if you're asking about my personality? I really don't know. I probably would go between red and blue..which might explain the purple thing.

@MajorBedHead wants to know one place I would go to for a month, as in a vacation. Once again Twitter lost this post entirely even though I added it to favorites. Twitter is really starting to piss me the fuck off, though my memory is pleasing me.

There are a few places I want to spend a month in. For the last few years though, the number one place is Scotland.
I lurve single malt whiskey. Lurve isn't even right because it's inadequate. But drinking it makes me all kinds of happy. A really good single malt has complexity and smoothness that makes life worth living even in the worst moments.

The plan is I start either at the southern most tip or the northern most tip and work my way up or down, back and forth, visiting every.single.distillery there is in that country. I would buy 2 bottles from each, whether I liked it or not, and send them home, in addition to whatever I sampled on the spot. I would journal the entire trip as a separate blog from this and then turn it into a book.

Eventually someone would fall in love with the whole story and make a movie out of it. They'd call it John and something really catch that would be a pun on my name and whiskey....or something.

@LiberalViewer1 What do you do for a living, my friend?

To pay the bills I do document work for a bank. Most of these are done in Power Point as pitches to invest in certain areas. But it often involves charts and tables in Excel and Word too. I'm actually not allowed to talk a whole lot about it. A Co-worker got fired for mentioning where he worked when he called a local newspaper to report a major event he'd just witnessed outside an office window. Seriously, it's that crazy.

I have on occasion, tweeted the view from said windows. Very stunning.

I'd rather be acting (see above).

@wil_m alright, when was the first moment you actually felt like a father?

This is a really good one and I had to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Oddly enough, the answer is the moment I first held my daughter.

So there she was, already fading into blotchy from being that purple grape juice purple. My (ex)wife had been in labor for close to 36 hours so when my daughter was born, her body went into a kind of shock. Shaking uncontrollably. So once they were finished doing all those awful things they do to babies when they first pop out, the couldn't hand her to her mother, so they put me on a stool and gave the screaming baby to me.

I was grinning as I felt this little life in my arms...crying and crying from the harsh bright light, the poking and the prodding. I gently shushed her and then said “It's okay Sarah. Daddy's here. It's me, daddy...everything is ok”.

Immediately her tears stopped and she scrunched her face and seemed to look in my direction...she was quiet and I could feel her relax. This of of course was when I started crying. It had been a very very long labor (a story I will tell some other time). I had nearly fainted from lack of food because I was too worried about my then wife and also was certain that the moment I went anywhere to eat, that would be when my daughter would finally decide to come out. So the emotions were deep and palpable.

But the response to my voice ...that made me feel very dad like.

The second time was not for awhile after that. To explain would mean going into one of the major things that was wrong with my marriage. That's a whole nother blog story. Just that for a long time my ex got proprietary about our daughter and essentially shut me out. Something that years later she finally copped to and apologized for. I didn't exactly handle all of that like an adult myself.

It was while visiting my mother and stepfather at their then house in Long Island. A nice long weekend of just my daughter and me and she got to really learn to come to me with things. I think she was 4 or so at the time. She came to me in the kitchen to help her with something. And while I was helping she asked a bunch of questions, which I answered. There was a lot of humorous back and forth. After she ran back to do whatever it was she was doing on her own I felt my back straighten up and I was suddenly breathing really clearly, like after a good yoga class. I wish I could remember what we were saying. But I do remember the feeling.

If I missed anyone, its Twitter's fault. Hope you all enjoyed it. If so, I might do it again. Thanks again to @WhyIsDaddyCryin.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Remember what I said about the News Networks the other day?

Turns out, as usual, Jon Stewart is on it.

One more bit of evidence (as if his Jeopardy appearance wasn't the nail in the coffin) that Wolf Blitzer is a useless piece of shit.

This segment sums up exactly what is wrong with the state of our current news service. I maintain that The News Hour with Jim Lehrer is by far the best of the bunch and is actually good.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What I meant to say was....

I'm not a fan of religion. In high school a friend described me as "Love God/Hate The Clergy". This was about right. Though back then I was more of an atheist so I didn't have much love for God either.

Since then I have passed through many belief systems and ideas. I have come to believe in God through experience, not other people telling me what to do or think. I have found ways to peace and God that have been very helpful not only to me, but to those I interact with and love, when I keep my discipline together. But I still dislike religion intensely. I find a peace and comfort sitting quietly in churches, but usually once someone starts telling how "how it is" and "what it is" my bullshit meter goes to red alert. Stop interrupting my experience of God and Love by telling me what its supposed to be rather than what it is in the moment.

I've been following this blog for the last few months and come to admire the woman behind it very much. While the blogosphere has no shortage of folks "journaling" their self exploration (yours truly no exception) I find Leslee's approach to be very earnest and honest and rather sweet.

So I was deeply disturbed by comments left on her last two blogs by two women, one of whom is her sister and the other a friend of many decades.

I left comments also, which you can see if you check the link and read through, but I chose to simply lend words of support with a mild dig to those two. Following, is what I would have said if I had no respect for Leslee and her blog at all. (I have no such respect for my own). I doubt they will read them, but I feel a deep need to let this all out.

This might be long. Bear with me and forgive me because I am not going to be remotely nice. These two women embody just about everything I loathe about devout anything. They happen to be "Christian" but my feelings apply to any religious dogma of any faith.

I say this often, to spell Dogma, you have to spell God backwards. 'nuff said. And now, my very judgmental, very uncompassionate rant.

Christi, you fatuous hypocritical judgmental bitch, let's start with you. Quotes will be in italic. My responses, bold.

And who is the ones with open minds? Even the Kings of Egypt had false Gods, but they lost their souls! I don’t want to gain the whole world and loose my soul! Read the Bible and look at what is going on in the world around you! Be open to see the evil, people in pain and hurting! Hungry children – don’t try to brag to the world about what charities you support. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!

Right, let the children starve, Let them long as I feed my god's ego, I'm going to heaven, so fuck you anyone that is actually doing anything while I kneel on my fat ass and tell myself how wonderful I am.

Romans ch 4 – Abraham was rewarded righteousness from GOD (not Man) because Abraham believed God but yet Abraham was a liar, adulterous; Noah was a drunk – and we didn’t learn that in VBS – but he believed God and was FAITHFUL! King David was a adulterous; committed murder but he believed God and confessed his sins and because of God he was forgiven! It is not about dos and donts it’s about faith! Believing and trusting in one God, Yahweh – not Ganesha on your ankle!

Right, David was cruel bastard who had the husband of the woman he was fucking killed, but he went to heaven cause he believed in God. You can be a big douchebag, but have faith in God and it doesn't matter. Right.

So many people these days are coming out of the closet, and God trusting Christians are being pushed back in the closet

What closet, I can't go anywhere without seeing your hypocritical bullshit on TV, the news, posters, your posters of Obama as Hitler.....Oh I get it, apparently you are making a passive aggressive suggestion about Gay people. Good thing you aren't judgmental. And no, sorry honey, you're not judging with righteousness in your heart. You're doing it with fury and ego. So yeah, if there is a heaven and hell, I think you might be in for a surprise. And yes, that's me judging, at least I can be honest about it. I'm not hiding behind a book.

I serve a risen Savior – Christ the Lord! Praise God! Leslee you never call me or email me – I call you and ask about your life and what is going on with your family – you NEVER ask about my life or my family – you are so wrapped up in your world – your self-discovery that you can’t look beyond yourself. Just read your responses above it is all about your self! Just as it was growing up! Like when you visit I try extra hard to connect with my wonderful nieces – do you even hardly acknowlegde my children? NO! You don’t that is not what your life is about it is about SELF!

Who the hell would WANT to call you. If this is how you talk to people I'm sure they'd rather chew on aluminum foil. I'd sooner shave my head with a cheese grater.

Yes I believe in the devil and I believe he comes out in all kinds of ways. In people, crisis, circumstanes, etc… It never fails that when I am closest to God he tries to pull me away thru different avenues. Your blog for one – I am going to have to try to sustain from it.

The word is ABstain. I guess the devil kept you from learning vocabulary or proper spelling. Or you COULD open a dictionary. And LEARN something beyond your narrow thinking. You COULD take responsibility for your actions and actually grow from them, like your sister does. Nah, nevermind, blame it on something external. Stay on that fat assed kneel.

I want to support you and who you are but not at the price of peace! Peace is a wonderful thing and my life is so busy and hectic that I don’t need to let things upset me! I have never judged you –

You might be funnier than John Stewart.

you are who you are now – I miss the old you – yes there was an old you – but old things pass away and now we go on.

No, that's not judging at all.

I believe life is about loving others and showing Jesus’ love thru us! I try not to focus on myself sometimes I do but I try to focus on others and showing them his love thru me that I feel fulfilled – some people can’t look beyond theirselves. I pray I never get that way! I have acknowledged that people are the way they are because of their parents, spouse and friends – everyone has choices. I try not to judge them because in actuality we ALL are disfuntional people – it is the real world! No one person is perfect only Jesus Christ! Love you girl!

So, its bad to brag about charity, but its ok to brag about what a hard working Christian you are...I got it.

Below though is the crux of it. An older sister jealous of her younger sister because she wasn't beaten by an abusive father as she was. Understandable...and despite what I've been saying my heart is broken for you to have suffered that. But its interesting how you throw it in your sister's face and then utterly replace your father with God as a pacifier for a pain you have yet to face and deal with. It's interesting that you chose to use words of violence to describe how 'finding God' changed you. I'm sure you think you were being creative, but its obvious to someone as not all that smart as me, that you have a long way to go before you understand yourself, OR God.

No, I wouldn’t agree you are the black sheep, I would agree that you are different than me. You were spoiled rotten as a child, you were the baby of the family, Mom gave you everything you ever wanted and more! I don’t know that you ever experienced any of the beatings that I did, I believe maybe one but Dad had went from abusing me to not spanking at all by the time you got old enough for that. So would the fact that he beat me make me a black sheep? I am so sorry that you feel that way – you know I love you always and think the world of you. You are my baby sister and no matter what you do or say you will always hold a special place in my heart! I am saved thanks to God and do believe because of that I will go to heaven when my Father returns for me! I believe in the King James Version of the Bible, I don’t believe in chanting to anyone!!!!! I believe Jesus died on the cross for you and me and everyone else and we choose to love him and live for him as we will. My Father forgives me for my sins, past, present and future because of what Jesus did on the cross! He was beaten and bruised for OUR transgrassions! I can’t wait to see loved ones in Heaven one day, especially Aunt Ella, Aunt Elma and Uncle Frank who set very BIG GODLY impression on me as well as showed me his LOVE! I don’t think I should be treated any differently because I have strong beliefs as well! Yes I do pray for you; I pray for ALL of my family all the time. The prayers are usually the same I pray for your family and I pray for Cynthia’s family. I don’t pray any differently for either one of you just so you know! Thanks for sharing your feelings; I felt as though I needed to share mine! I love you always!

Leslee talked about her sense of otherness in her own family. It's not unusual. There is always someone that feels that way. You start off by saying she isn't a black sheep, then you call her spoiled rotten and essentially trash her. She did nothing of the sort in her blog post to you. She simply pointed out why she felt different.

There is a definite difference though. She's likable and sincere. You say what you think you need to say so you can go to Heaven.

Also, spelling and grammar...look into it.

Now its your turn, Laurie.

Girl…. I know I haven’t called you yet – because I am not sure what to say to you.. but this is to your soul… You are going down a lonely path of self discovery – life is not about you and your discovery – life is about what you can do for others, when and why did you become so self centered… You really need to get right with God – God is not a feeling or here to make you feel good – he is the creator and has written a book to show you the way – why don’t you spend your time reading that book (the bible) instead of learning about all of this non sense.

Since you are too much of a coward to have a heart to heart with your friend, but apparently perfectly comfortable judging her in public I don't see how you believe for a second that you are right with anything, let alone God.

Oh, I don't know if you noticed. God didn't actually write the book. Also its been severely edited. Learn history. Its even being edited now by zealots who want to remove anything that sounds remotely Liberal. Also, Constantine, you might have heard of him, look it up beyond what you've been spoonfed and get off your friend's ass.

Hell is a lonely place and you will never know how lonely life can be for an atheist – always searching – you don’t just check in with Jesus – he fills you with joy.
And Christi is right you were the prize kid and your parents did everything for you and your friends – they were so proud of you and your family has picked you up so many times – how dare you bash them blog after blog – it is ungrateful and I hope you never feel the pain you are putting them through by Bella and Callie. Your family is who really LOVEs you and you know they may not approve but they will and have be there for you every crazy step of your way –

I am not an atheist, far from it, but I know many. And many of them are incredibly happy, loving and generous people. They are also deeply moral. None of them are any lonelier than many Christians I know. Speak from what you actually know...again, not from where you are spoonfed.

Here is more about the book Living on the ragged edge.
While many Christian books encourage thoughts about God’s love and kindness, it’s also good to see life as it really is in this world. Swindoll pulls no punches as he describes the emptiness of living to please self instead of God.
Among the many excellent points Swindoll covers are:

1. People focus on the external appearances while God focuses on the heart.

Where is your heart, Laurie. I don't see it. It's too clouded by your venomous language and judgment.

2. God can work through you in mighty ways if you let Him.

How are you so sure he isn't working through Leslee? Or do you have it all figured out already? If that's the case, why bother saying anything.
3. Wise counsel for those under pressure.
From God, yes. From judgmental, lonely and angry people...not so much.

4. The world’s movers and shakers are also often the most lonely people on earth.
No one with common sense needs only a Christian to see that.
5. Different world-views and their weaknesses.
Right, not judgmental at all
6. How to handle the mysteries of life.
You can also find this in Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam. As well as Pagan. Oh I'm sorry, did that upset your sensibilities? Only the faith YOU believe in is valid. Nope, no ego there.
7. Excellent counsel on how to get the most out of life.
Again, not exclusive to your religion
8. What keeps us from pursuing happiness.
What's keeping you? I don't notice anything happy about you.
An excellent and highly recommended book, be encouraged and challenged to seek God’s wisdom instead of the wisdom of the world!
I know too many devout and religious Christians who are terribly unhappy to buy this for a second.

Finally to both of you. IF there is a Heaven and Hell, I believe wholeheartedly that your souls will burn eternally for your hypocrisy. God does see and notice action over words. He feels love over judgment and he smiles upon it. He does not care about politics or petty earthly things. And he doesn't have an ego that constantly needs your worship.

Leslee chose to respect both your privacy, in her posts while remaining honest to herself and her journey. You both decided to make it a "bash Lesleefest".

The God I know insists you get on your knees and beg forgiveness for being such a piss poor excuse of a sister and "friend"...AND a Christian.

Sucks to be judged, doesn't it.