Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy happy

Happy New Year to

       D.C., CJ, Kat, Cuz, Suzie, Nicki, Aynn, Malmesbury, Wade, Mark and Mark, Kim, the other Kim, Donald, Adam, Garnetta, Robert, Dom, Michelle, and the two women who directly share my life, Juli and Sam. This year the love you all have blessed me with is appreciated more than you will ever know. May God shine His grace on you in 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The season

      Yeah, I know, it's silly. It's that kind of day, and I'm on my second glass of a very pleasant wine.

     Sorry I haven’t posted sooner. I’ve been busy.

     On January 13 and 14 I will be holding auditions for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which I am directing, with performance dates in March.

      On January 17, a play I wrote, ROUGH DRAFT, will be opening at another (and competing) theatre in town.

     … oops …

    “They” expect me to be in both theatres on the same days. Amazingly, I think I can do it.

     Honestly, I don’t plan for things to work out this way, but they do, on a regular basis. Welcome to my world.

     I hope you had a blessed Christmas, and will have a most happy New Year. We had a foot of snow just in time for Christmas.



Thursday, December 20, 2012


     With the Mayan apocalypse scheduled for tomorrow, I take a respectful comfort in this quote ascribed to Mark Twain. “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Friday, October 26, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There Really Is A Pregnancy Rock ...

… and it’s located in the foothills of Southern California.

For over 200 years, any woman brave enough to climb the nine-and-a-half-foot boulder and volunteer a fresh urine sample, the rock has proven amazingly accurate in not only proving positive pregnancy, but also the sex of the unborn child. This is because the surface of this unique natural outcropping is largely composed of the beta subunit of chorionic gonadotropin (the exact same chemical used today in modern pregnancy stick testing.) According to Wikipedia history footnote L47, Hippocrates himself observed the same chemical reactions in certain rock formations in ancient Egypt. Author Mark Twain also mentioned the rock (in passing) in a short story he wrote about other events in Calaveras County California. And, although other rocks with the same chemical composition can be found in a number of other U.S. states (most notably in Southern Ohio), the Calaveras County Pregnancy Rock continued to be the most well-known.

The rock has seen little use after the early 1950’s, with the advent of modern testing procedures. (and after reports that a number of people have been marginally injured by falling off the slippery back of the rock). Still, this historical monument has been faithfully maintained by the California Parks and Recreation Department, and is a popular tourist attraction during regular business hours.

Wikipedia: The pregnancy rock of Calaveras County, sections 2b and 3a.
Google search: Native rock formations of California, page 14, section 3.
Mark Twain: “The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County
AMA Journal of Medicine, June 1947: Injuries In Testing, pg 22, paragraph 3       

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sidestep - Charles Durning - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.mp4

Isn't it amazing how art imitates life in an election year? ... and in non-election years ...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I agree

Friday, September 21, 2012

So Here's How It Is.

     I’m absolutely the best procrastinator I know. When I’m working on a play – writing serious stuff – I will do just about anything to avoid the actual work. (I’m from the Dorothy Parker school of thought. She said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”)

     Anyway, I’ve developed a practice that gives the appearance of intelligent and experienced planning. And I need it. Honestly, any distraction at all – a gnat crawling across the screen – will throw me into totally different directions. Any perceived change (should the page number be in bold or italics?) will stop me dead in my tracks … (Oscar Wilde once remarked, “I had a good day today. This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.”)

      In the past, when I used to run into creative walls, I would go out and walk around the block. Sometimes I could be mere feet outside my door when the proper thrust of eloquence would be revealed to me. (The alleged storyline, we assume, is somewhat already in place.) Other times I would walk farther. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come out of my rhetorical stupor by wondering where I was.

     But lately I’ve developed a new and by far less embarrassing procedure. I call it my “play within a play,” and here’s how it works; I’m flinging dialogue down a page as hard and fast as I can, when suddenly a character will say something that has the potential to be another work entirely. If I ignore it, I’m still focused on the job at hand. If I pause – for even a key stroke – I’m hooked. At some point (later) I take that idea germ and plant it (hopefully with fewer apologizes than for the puerile little metaphor I can’t believe I actually just put to paper.)

     In this regard, my latest “play within a play” is called ROUGH DRAFT, and deals with characters arguing with their author about what should (or should not) be included in a story. It is, my friend, a hundred pages of silly, and lacking in any redeeming qualities whatsoever. (Case in point – eventually there is such a strong disagreement between strong characters and their feckless author, that the characters decide they can do better without her – and kill her. Only later does one character muse that since they were her creation, might she have secretly had a death wish?)

     Eventually the play was completed (and I wish I could say the same about the play from which it was winnowed.) I sent the completed hard copy to a friend, suggesting that if his new puppy needs paper trained, here was grist for the mill … (and another truly horrid metaphor. Sorry. That’s what happens when I write at eleven in the morning, the sun is shining, and no libation is at hand … (Don’t blame me. It was Ernest Hemingway who said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” He also supposedly said “Wearing underwear is as formal as I get,” which admittedly has nothing to do with the business at hand, but DOES give me the excuse to avoid wearing socks for most of the year.)

     I have digressed a bit.

     Therefore, and in conclusion … (and you thought I was never gonna get there, didn’t you?) … it came as a shock when I received a formal request from a theatrical company to produce ROUGH DRAFT somewhen later this fall.

     To say the least, I was surprised. Apparently I do silly and lacking in redeeming qualities better than I thought. (And the next thought was that perhaps you already knew that and were too gentle in nature to mention it.)

     More later.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just sayin'

Time, I think, for me to take a stand. Maybe past time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Case You Hadn't Noticed ...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We Did It!

 On Monday, August 20, 2012 at three minutes shy of High Noon Juli Ocean and Jack Petersen were married.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Diamond By Any Other Name ...

     It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a seemingly innocent joke can blossom into certified bull goose Looney exchanges of the totally ridiculous.

     Case in point:

     My fiancĂ©, Juli, and I have decided to have a less than complicated engagement and wedding. We both have been married before, and the trappings and traditions simply hold no great appeal to either one of us.

    One such tradition is the customary diamond engagement ring. Being an artist and working with her hands in clay and paint, I didn’t want her to have a ring that would constantly be removed. (Add to this the fact that our wedding bands will be a combination of Celtic and Southwestern American Indian design. Where do you find an engagement ring to match that?)

     So. Friends would not let that explanation alone, insisting that I buy my future bride a “big” diamond.

     So I did.

     Soon we spawned imitators. Apparently I struck a nerve somewhere, although I choose to not speculate on the cause, other than to observe the fact that we were playing the game of “my diamond is better than your diamond.” (What!? Are you kidding me!? I have friends in Canada and England who already think Americans are a bit on the odd side. MUST we prove them correct ALL the time?)

     Further, there was the question of the setting for the diamond. Nobody was happy with it simply nesting on the top of her fingers. “It needs to be seen in a better setting,” I was told. So – okay – we took a picture of it in another setting, and STILL received nothing but grief.

     As it turned out, I was not alone with coals of verbal abuse being lathered under foot. Last night Juli posted this picture of her stone beside the supper plate. “That’s not real,”  someone rudely commented. “Of course it is,” she immediately responded, “I made it myself!” (The fact that my future mate was referring to the potato salad did little to cool the heat of her response.)

     And – I will be the first to admit – I was also pulled into the debate when it was pointed out that the diamond was larger than the boiled and pickled egg on the plate. With indignation I was compelled to point out that looks are deceiving, that what the observer was judging was in fact a hummingbird egg, and that boiled and pickled hummingbird eggs have been my favorite for generations ...

      Ya know what? I think I need a drink. Or a vacation. Maybe both.    

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More From My Mis-spent Youth

      Just in case you missed the first of this series of posts, while going to school in California in the 1960's, I found employment (without real work involved) as a movie and TV screen extra and occasional stunt man. People who know me now don't recognize me then.

It's the hat! It's the HAT!
     Believe it or not, television and movie stars were far more accessible then than they are now. One of my favorites was Duncan Renaldo, star of film, televison, and comic books as THE CISCO KID. I bought a Guide To Hollywood Star's Homes, and knocked on his door. He answered dressed in old jeans and a work shirt (He had been planting a bush in his back yard.) He invited me in, we had tea, and when I told him I was a big fan, he excused himself, went into his bedroom, and when he came back the following picture was taken. One of my favorites.


     I also worked in televison for a number of years, and - at the time - at least one station in every market ran monster movies on Friday nights with a live host, so here I am in 14 pounds of torn bedsheet spoofing one of the famous Boris Karloff Mummy movies ... (A decade of years later I had the extreme pleasure in interviewing the great horror master. I told him about my experience as a "mummy." He asked if the costume had itched me. I answered that it had. He chuckled, commenting that some things never change.)                           

     And here is my favorite surviving picture from that time period. This is the middle of three pictures; the first picture shows me approaching the camera. The next picture - this one - shows me turning to the camera with absolutely no clue that the horse is in the process of bucking. The third picture shows me laying on my back in the grass while the horse is easily clearing the fence in the background.

    The first picture is around here somewhere. I have long ago torn up and thrown away the third picture.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Third Dead Indian From The Left

Okay, so my fiancĂ© enjoys my stories … (or at least is polite and says she enjoys them. We are not married yet, so …)

 Anyway …

 Anyway, she has encouraged me to share this one with you, so, if you don’t like it, blame her. I’ll be glad to point her out – myself, I never would have thought of doing this. Never. Ever. Never ever.

 Anyway …

 (Boy, that felt good, ya know? Kinda clears the emotional … something …


 American movie westerns had passed their peak in popularity, but still being mass produced. John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart had passed their peaks as well, getting on there, but showed absolutely no signs of slowing down.

 And movie westerns were being cranked out at a frightening pace, sucking every movie extra in Hollywood into the black hole of spurs, chaps, feathers and war paint.

 And that’s where I came in. I was attending school in California, and used to pick up money – first by being in crowd scenes walking down the street … (Oh? You didn’t know those people were paid? Why do you think a movie costs enough to bankroll a small South American country for a year?)

And later I worked as a stunt man. (More money.) My specialty was in portraying an American Indian. Why? Because I was a natural at falling off a horse. And I never went to school to learn how to do it. I was a natural at it. Why, falling off a horse was as easy for me as falling … uh … well, you get the idea.

Here’s how it worked: They would dig a trench in the ground, fill it with foam and sand, and I would ride along, pretend to be shot, and fall onto the pit (trying not to bounce.) At least that was the theory. My horse was FAR better trained than I. She knew if she dumped me in the right spot, she would get an apple. She also was aware, I think, that if she dropped me beyond camera range (onto rocks, bushes, or an occasional gopher hole, she would be taken back to the barn where it was cool and she would receive a bucket of food. This was supposed to be punishment …)

Ha! And again ha! After about the third time I am deposited unceremoniously onto whatever horse finds interesting, she looks at me and … (They say animals don’t have the facial muscles to smirk. Don’t believe that for a minute.)

… and I have the scars to prove it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

For Our Dear Sister In Malmesbury

Saw this and thought she would enjoy it ...


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome To My World

It's Sunday, and I'm in a reflective mood ...

Reflective of the things that give me joy, like ...

This hangs outside my front door on holidays. When I see it, I get a feeling I can't put into words.

     This is much easier. I love ships and good books ...

                                                                 I collect icons of history.

I am in absolute awe of God in large bodies of water ...

... and in small ones.

I bask in the memory of old loves ...

And delight in new ones.

Directing plays keeps my mind sharp,

... and writing them brings peace to my soul.

It's a good life.

                          Welcome to my world.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Parade of Homes

I went to the Parade of Homes today ... saw hot homes and cool ideas ...

I think this is about as close to Xanadu as it's gonna get ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finishing Touches

     The bad thing about moviing into new digs is, well, moving ...

     The good thing is the discovery of new and wonderful things you can do and/or aquire ...

... like a new desk. Or should I say, a really OLD desk - in fact, a 1930's art deco sewing machine cabinet.

      This treasure was in the window of a second-hand store. It cried out to me - "Take me," it cried.

     And I did. I most certainly did. (After paying for it, of course.)

     Being an animal lover, I was pleased when Mother and Son were finally reunited ...

And King Kong finally got his umbrella. Isn't it always a good thing when you can make a gorilla happy?

And the bushes are growing well, despite the indirect lighting. I haven't the heart to tell them they are plastic. Maybe next week ..

     And finally there is chair. Isn't it a wonderful thing when your most favorite piece of artwork in the whole world actually sits in one corner of your living room?

     I live in a happy house.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A visit to the dam

     I was surprised to learn there exists a dam a short distance from where I live. Now I realize a visit to a modest dam is not a monumental adventure, but I had a good time, took pictures, and feel like sharing.

     Here is one side, looking along a natural valley. If you have a vivid imagination, it's easy to see that the water was much higher a few thousand years ago.

     This is looking down at one side of the dam. (In case I didn't mention it before, looking down from a height of more than a few feet is not one of my favorite things to do ...)

     I am much happier with the view looking up.

     And here is the view on the other side. Oddly enough, I have sailed on this body of water, but never got close enough to this dam to pay it more than scant attention.

     A fun Sunday afternoon.