Monday, December 20, 2004

Freakin' Sweet

The first package opening of the Christmas season occurred Saturday at the 2nd Annual Fleece Navidad Party at M. Schaeffer's house. The generousity of all was abundant and my family thanks everyone for their kindness.

I got the Brian (dog from Family Guy) action figure I shamelessly asked for in an earlier blog thanks to Sarah.

Seth made it possible for me to find that "mot juste" with his gifts of etymological compendiums. I have never been accused of possessing a paucity in the vocabulary department. However, the next time I wish to vociferate or pontificate with my coterie, even though I am no polyglot, I shall be able to regale them well, much to their delectation. Maybe this skill will one day lead to true autarky. I do hope I don't sound too supercilious.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What do you Want for Christmas?

A common question this time of year is "What do you want for Christmas?" When I was a kid I had no trouble coming up with quite a long list. (Did anyone else out there ask for "Calisto" the alien buddy of intrepid space adventurer Major Matt Mason?) I was lucky enough that my parents were in a situation and of the dispostition to give me more than a reasonable amount of what I asked Santa to bring me.

Now, as forty-two year old father of three my listmaking is not anywhere near what it used to be. It is not that I don't desire stuff. (See the previous blog entry "Materialistic Bastard") I have gotten to a point in my life that "stuff" isn't as important. The desire is not for the particular "most wanted item" (Red Ryder BB gun etc.) I like gifts that have meaning in relation to the person giving them.

Whenever my kids asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year they added the describing phrase "that we can wrap and put under the tree." Below is the list of what I would like that cannot be wrapped up and put under the tree. After you read the first couple you will understand why my kids said what they said.
  1. Children that do not fight with each other
  2. Children that keep their rooms somewhat clean
  3. Time to spend with my family - alone time with my wife
  4. Time to spend with my friends
  5. Time to do the creative things I enjoy
  6. The dream of Imum Pancy comes to reality
  7. A league championship for the Legend

There are only nine shopping days until Christmas. If you can do something about the above list I would greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Stories and the people who tell them

I have always enjoyed good story tellers. I also aspire to be one. There are times I feel like the Salieri of storytellers. I am able to recognize greatness, but seem unable to create it myself. Now before Seth gets onto me for my usual self-denigrating way, I am good. I have written very good things from time to time, but I lack consistancy and the nebulous quality that puts me into the great category.

I don't want to write the great American novel. Deep literature doesn't interest me very much. I like stories. Snippets of life that make the reader laugh, feel pride, even the ones that make you tear up a bit. I do not subscribe to what I call the "Oprah Disease." This is a malady where the only great literature must be immensely sad. The abused wife suffering from Tourette's Syndrome finds an autistic child on her doorstep...(arrggghhh!) Look at a list of the Oprah Book Club and nearly all of them have a "depression factor" beyond standing on the scale after three weeks of intense physical labor to find you gained 7 pounds.

Someone who excels at capturing simple life in a wonderful way is a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star. Joe Posnanski knows how to write a story. Recently the powers that be at the paper have realized his talents and he has branched out to write about more than sports. He still writes about sports, but he diverts to other topics more often now. He writes about humanity in a way that makes you glad you still have a membership card to the human race.

If you want to read some of his stuff:

Monday, December 06, 2004

Windmills and a Windbag

Hmmm... what to write about today.

The latest windwill I tilted at was not one for publication. I used to go on Quixotic quests with great regularity when I was a teacher. There are ample opportunities for righteous indignation when working in education. The "windmills" won entirely too many of the battles, which was probably one of the reasons I now work for a basketball team.

I still have the deisre to fight the good fight. It is just the opportunites are fewer and I have less direct contact.

Beware: Change of topic without benefit of segue...

I have added radio sports broadcasting to my resume in the last year. It was an expectaion of the job with the Legend. It has since branched out to include high school sports in the fall and winter. I enjoy it quite a bit. The hardest part is not saying the bloody obvious over and over again. ("I think the team that will score the most points before the clock runs out will win." was a quote I heard a broadcaster say once.)I just hope to throw in occasional jokes and arcane references to make it enjoyable for the few people listening.

Talking for four hours solid brings on a whole different kind of fatigue than anything else I have done.

Note to would be broadcasters: Do not eat anything before the game that will cause indigestion - squelching a belch while calling a fast break is damn near impossible.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Materialistic Bastard

I like stuff. I admit it. The Christmas season is just about to kick off. The ulitimate dichotomy of the good and the bad of materialism. Retail greed is at its greatest this time of year. Buy, buy,BUY! is the battle cry everywhere you look. Then there are the reminders placed strategically about pertaining to the "reason for the season."

Giving and not getting is supposed to be the purpose. The Christian faith is celebrating the begining of the life of Christ. There were no blue light specials in Bethlehem, besides I doubt K-Mart carried myrrh. (If they had would they have been called K-Myrrh-T?) I do get a very good feeling giving gifts to people. I love the looks on my kids faces when they open gifts. The youngest one still has the wonder in his eyes, he has not been as exposed to jaded folks yet. The Santa spirit lives well in George.

Probably the best thing about Christmas morning with the kids is the joy they have on their faces when they watch others open the presents they picked out for them. Emilyjane, Alice, and George all love to give to each other and they put thought behind their gifts. They are completely focused on the person opening the present they gave them even with the spoils of their own Christmas plunder at their feet.

All that said and all that being true, I still have to admit I like getting things. I like toys. I like gadgets. I like getting stuff. I will not say there is anything wrong with me. I work hard to appreciate the non-materialistic side of life. I love my wife, my kids, my mom, my brothers, my sister, my friends and I miss my dad. I realize that I am blessed by many things. However, I still would love to have an I-pod and the "action figure" of Brian, the dog from Family Guy under my tree on Christmas day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Word of the Day: Equipoise

There is too much negativity running about in the world today. I am a perpetrator. I admit it. I have a theory that sadness and anger are natural emotions but happiness and serenity has to be learned. The simplest example of this is a baby. They cry and fuss without any prompting. The smiles and coos only come with work done by the parent to create the positive feelings. It only happens with the help and training of others.

Work on making yourself happy. I am not advocating hedonistic behaviors, at least not all the time. Also, I think we all need to remember to work and train others to feel the good feelings. This can cause your own good feelings to multiply dramatically.

Personally I need to work on the guilt I often inflict upon myself when I do things that could be construed as selfish.

I love the term serenity - calm and undisturbed. It is a state of mind that is a laudable goal. Not an easy one, but a great intent.

Another word I like is equipoise - balance: equality of distribution. I first heard it in relation to baseball. It takes great equipoise to hit a ball, relaxation and concentration. Those two frames of mind balanced properly seem to me to be a great way to get to that serenity.

I always "sign off" when leaving a person or ending an e-mail with the phrase "Have fun." I mean it.

Have fun.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Sense of Completion

I finished it. I had been working on a movie script for quite a while now. Sarah, Seth, and I have been planning to make a short comedy film for a little over a year now. It all began as trading jokes and gags while sitting around Sarah's classroom. I started writing the script soon after that session. Well, a variety of things slowed the process. It took me nearly a year to write the first 29 pages and then I wrote 20 pages Wednesday.

It was great fun to write the script. I was giddy Wednesday. Claudia and I were hanging out Wednesday afternoon while the kids were at choir practice and she was bombarded with silly joke after silly joke as I continued on what I called "a roll." Writing is a singular process. I enjoy sitting at the computer writing. I even make myself laugh out loud once in a while. The contributions of Seth and Sarah can not be overstated.

I think the movie will be quite funny. The circle of friends we have possess talents that should make it possible to truly pull this off well. The fun of collaborative creative process is great. I hope all can continue towards the completion of this project.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Hermit Tendancies Pushed Aside

Saturday night was the big party for Seth's natal day. I realized that it had been quite a while since I had been in a large group of people for social purposes. Even when I go to places with lots of people I tend to stay rather closed off and stick to a small number of folks. Saturday was different because, not only did I know 99% of the people there, I liked all the people there. I have, maybe not anti-social tendancies, but rather, hermit tendancies.

It was great to laugh and talk and eat and drink (I was a good boy I had one cup of the spiked punch only) with a bunch of people. Thanks, Sarah for the throwing the party and thanks to Seth for making it clear that the lack of a party would be tantamount to sacrilegious behavior.

Next year I will have to drop hints the size of Buick that I want a big party on my birthday.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

I just think it is cool to vote. I know a lot of people voted in advance for convenience sake, but I like the process. When I showed up at my polling place there were no lines, but it was busy. It was at 9:15 so not a peak time in Cimarron. I was given the wrong ballot for my "township" and had to vote twice - but I am sure only one will count.

My father was a political junkie so watching the news and the election returns was a big deal in my house as a child. I have memories of watching the political party conventions when they actually meant something, not just rubber stamp of primaries. It was fun to watch the spokesman for each state announce how they were voting. They always got some sort of chamber of commerce plug in as they were polled. "The great state of Wisconsin, the home of enough cheese to make an enchilada the size of Pangea, casts its votes for the next President of the United States -- George McGovern!" So both statements were probably not correct.

I hope everyone old enough to vote does so. I realize that everyone I voted for will not win, but it did not stop me from voting for the person. I was casting about for someone to write in against Tim Huelskamp and Melvin Neufeld because I hate it when someone runs unoppossed. People complain that we should have a more open pool of candidates than the two established parties, well in southwest Kansas there is but one all to often. No Democrats run against the established Republicans, that can't be good.

I am looking forward to watching the coverage of the election tonight...I just pray that we have a decision 2004 in a much shorter timeframe than decision 2000. If the courts get involved we may have problems that reach far beyond who will be president for the next four years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Nothing in Particular

I have nothing in particular to talk about today. I just felt I should post something because when I go to the blogs I read on a regular basis and there is nothing new I have a moment of dissapointment. It is not disheartening (my car won't start), painful (I just stubbed my toe on the chair leg) or frightening (the Supreme Court just got bombed and Bush gets to name a whole new batch). It is just a moment of "aahhh, nothing."

I am glad Seth got me started with this odd little electronic therapy. I am very curious how much it gets read, but I am not worried about the "popularity" of it. I enjoy the excuse to write "stuff." Unimportant stuff, silly stuff, self-important stuff, crappy stuff.......

To anyone who does read this stuff please add your two cents worth on the comments. I love the feedback and the fun of seeing what others think.

Question of the day: How does one loot 377 tons of explosives? This isn't a television from a storefront window in a race riot. I can't lift a box of books much less 377 tons of something.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Extremists are fun

This is a great time of year for fanatics.

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees series has brought a huge number of irrational statements, not to mention fun baseball to watch.

The election creates fanaticism that is unparalleled. Both sides are guilty of this. I have been listening to Air America on the internet today. Liberal radio designed to combat the conservative radio talk that is rife on the airwaves. It is fun to listen to this after getting angry at Rush Limbaugh for years.

Everybody spins and distorts...

Be sure you vote what your head and heart tells you, but please use your head more than your heart.

You know who I miss ... all the fanatics saying that Harry Potter is demonic and makes children turn to Satan if they read them. My children can spout Potter trivia as easily as their names and address and I have yet to find a pentagram drawn in blood on their closet walls.

I wonder how the candidates feel about Harry Potter. My guess: Kerry liked the books, but wants to put a Potter tax on all Harry memorabilia to fund his liberal tax and spend ideas. Laura read the first book to W, but he didn't have the attention span for the longer sequels. Dick Cheney explained them to him and got a contract for Halliburton to supply the troops with hardcover copies, the books are in Farsi (the official language of Iran) and we paid $795 per copy, but if you wedge one in your shirt they stop many forms of shrapnel better than the flak jackets. Nader feels that the fact that book 5 was 870 pages was a threat to the rain forests because the number of trees to supply the paper can not be found elswhere. Michael Badnarik's Potter opinion, oh, who the hell cares what the Libertarian candidate thinks. I bet you didn't know he was the Libertarian candidate until the end of the sentence.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Are your humors out of balance?

A friend of mine gave me a "Personality Testing Instrument" the other day. I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for something so I filled it out. It was simple enough. There were forty rows, in each row there were four words. I was to chose the one word in each row that best described me. Twenty rows went under the heading "Strengths" and twenty under the heading "Weaknesses." What I found the most interesting about the test is that they divide the results into four categories: Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy, the four humors of Elizabethan times.

My question is:
If I think that I would rather be in a different category than the test slots me would a pair of peckish leeches fix things up?

In case you are wondering I was labeld a Peaceful Phlegmatic with slight Perfect Melancholy leanings. A few Popular Sanguine traits popped up, but the Powerful Choleric was nearly non-existent in this guy.

I would love to have a friend fill it out for me to see if others see me as I see myself...

Monday, October 11, 2004

The Meaning of Life

What’s it all about?

What is it that makes it all worthwhile?

For centuries people of great learning and spiritual strength have been searching for the meaning of life. Unfortunately the number of people looking has produced almost as many different answers to the question. There are similarities in many of the answers. Most religions have tenets that are comparable. Secular conclusions even have common elements to the religious ones. Read Joseph Campbell and you will see similarities even in cultures separated by greats gulfs of time and space.

Why do I bring this up? Because I think I may have stumbled on the actual proper answer. Go into a pre-school classroom and watch the children sing and dance to an age-old song.
The Hokey-Pokey is what it’s all about.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Fred Allen Contest

As I stated in a added comment to the "Isn't Technology Grand?" let's have a contest. To all folks who can put a Fred Allen quote, reference, or bit of trivia on a comment attached to this blog you will win...congratulations and respect from your peers.

I'll start it:
"That ain't the way I hear-ed it. One feller says to the other feller Saaaay he says..." Old Timer from Allen's Alley

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Laughter is a strange thing. It is next to impossible to describe why some things are funny and some other things are not. There are times that you can lose control of yourself when just the right funny thing happens. Who among us can say that they have never had a moment when they thought breathing normally may not ever happen as they laughed at something, often something that really wasn't that funny.

Making people laugh as an actor was great. The nuances I added that were not in the script gave great satisfaction. The laughs I got doing speechette for the shows I directed may have been more fun since they were completely my own.

Sometimes I wish laughter could be more quantifiable. I wish I was assured of always getting my Recommended Daily Allowance of laughter like I can have a Centrum to get all the riboflavin I need.

Thanks to Claudia, Emilyjane, Alice, George, Sarah, and Seth for making sure I laugh every day.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Isn't technology grand?

I am not a huge baseball fan, but I do enjoy it. Being a Royals fan makes it hard to maintain excitement. Each year I adopt a team or two to root for in order make it interesting throughout the season. One of my teams for the last few years has been the Cardinals. Well the Cards are in the playoffs, but I have to work so sitting in front of the television isn't possible (I don't have cable so I would have to find some place to watch anyway). Well, I have dialed the game up on the internet. And as an added perk I get to listen to the venerable Vin Scully do the game. Baseball is the best sport to listen to on the radio and Scully's voice means baseball.

Most people reading this will probably not get this reference but I think Scully sounds like the great radio comedian Fred Allen. I keep expecting him to say: "And now we'll leave the ballpark and head to Allen's Alley and see what Senator Claghorn thinks about the Pujols home run."

Monday, October 04, 2004

Home Sick

Alice has a slight stomach malady so she stayed home from school and I stayed home with her. Remember when you were a kid and stayed home sick? The "nest" that was created on the couch, with the moutain of pillows, the small glass of Seven-Up that eventually replaced the bucket, and the televison on all day long. I watched game shows and soap operas. Alice has much better technologies at her disposal. She is watching DVDs. My kids are a bit odd. She has watched a Shirley Temple movie and The Road To Bali with Hope and Crosby. My bet would be her next choice is a Marx Brothers movie.

I am trying to get a few more pages accomplished on the movie script. I would love to be a professional writer. I love the process of preparing to write. The comfy clothes, the computer set up just right with the proper snacks and the right CD on the headphones. Wouldn't it be great to have a career that allowed you to eat M&Ms, listen to The Blasters and wear ratty shorts and a baseball jersey?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Creating in Kansas

I went to the Depot Theater Company show last night. The work that everyone put into it was obvious. It was great fun and will be a very funny show through the course of its run. I often think about the talent level of the folks that have worked in the company over my years of involvement with it. One doesn't think of a town of 20,000 people in southwest Kansas being this rich in talent. I am not the most traveled of people but I have seen shows on Broadway and the West End of London. The people in our shows could hold their own there. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew.

Thinking about the show makes me think about collaboration. One of the reasons I didn't stay in Hollywood was that making movies was too collaborative. Too many people involved and the vision was too muddled. The collaboration I have enjoyed as a director in the Rep. Co. was very gratifying. My intent was always to be a facilitator, an encourager (is that a word?), and a guide. I had a great time doing it and I thank all those with whom I have ever worked. The joy that comes when people work together in a creative atmosphere is one of the best feelings I get.

I look forward to doing this with the Imum Pancy Productions team. Seth and Sarah thanks for giving me this avenue.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Orwellian overtones

I just went on a long-winded political rant about healthcare in this country and when I hit the publish button my computer went a little haywire and lost the whole thing. This smacks of Big Brother! Maybe W is smarter than I thought he was.

Kansas's electoral votes are already signed, sealed, and delivered to the Republican candidate so why is "the man" keeping this working man from voicing his frustrations?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Pretention be damned

As I was sitting in my den, wearing my new smoking jacket and ascot, enjoying a perfectly smashing glass of port, I put down my copy Rememberances of Things Past (I find Proust to be so jejune at times but still diverting) and noticed the rain on the window. I couldn't help but think that I was like one of those droplets of water on the pane. Racing downwards, pulled by the force of gravity to the inexorable end of it all. But I was heartened to think that at the end of the race I would join all the other droplets in a sort of H2O heaven at the base of the window sill.

O.K. I watched Monday Night Football and went to bed at ten o'clock never thinking about the meaning of life or anything like that.

Seth...are you going to post the meaning of jejune on your blog?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Succumbed to peer pressure

It appears that this blogging thing is the new wave of communication. I have found myself reading other people's blogs quite regularly. Joining in sounds interesting and if I don't put too much pressure on myself to be erudite and hilarious, and avoid pretention, it may be a good way to bounce ideas around and let creativity flow (oops - already sounding pretentious).

First Entry:
Since I don't have to leave for my job as early during this time of year I have been taking my kids to school on a regular basis. Today was picture day so there was a variety of traumas revolvoing around hair and clothing for the oldest kid. The middle child was truly unhappy due to a canker sore and an injured toe. The youngest was just pissed because kindergarten "is just too loooonnggg." I was going to go tell the photographer to be sure my children were not smiling for their pictures because we should portray them as they really are.

Well, that wasn't too hard. Not erudite, not hilarious and not pretentious.

As Tony Kornheiser says, I'll try to do better next time.