Monthly Archives: April 2020

What If They Don’t Come Back?

Our recently acquired tree frog is in rare voice this evening.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

I’m reminded of a description I once heard of the “Om-m-m” chant. This is my memory of that description.

It’s a four-syllable chant;

  1. It begins with an aspirant release of breath that almost has an “H” in it, framing the “O” to come. It prepares the way.
  2. The “O” ascends from your diaphragm, through the aspirant to the parted lips. It is powerful and inevitable.
  3. The parted lips close, turning the “O” to an “M-M-M-M-M.” It roils and is eternal until;
  4. The air is gone. The aspirant, the “O”, and the “M” are gone into silence. The silence is the final syllable. The silence is the final……

until;

  1. It begins again and again……

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

As if on cue, the frog pierces the evening outside my window.

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

Every amphibious aria lasts for about eight seconds.

I’m grateful and strangely renewed by each one.

It’s good to find renewal in this year of the plague, in this presidential term of dissolution, in this week of having mortality painted on your mirror as indelibly as icy swim trunks on a stormy late summer afternoon. Thank you, E. B. White for that thought.

It’s good to be encouraged, to be renewed, and to be turned forward to anticipate a “new normal.”

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

I look forward to the new normal and speculate endlessly on what it might look like, what it might contain.

Today, in particular, I’ve been dwelling on a generation shifting notion.

What if, when work and shops open up for future business, folks in their early sixties, who have worked their asses off their whole adult life, decide not to do that anymore, decide the health risk is not worth it, decide this time off at home they’ve experienced is worth more than the eternal carrot on the stick and they should have realized that decades ago and……maybe they did know that long ago…but forgot it…or ignored it?

What if…they don’t come back?

Perhaps un- and under-employment issues would fade as younger people stepped into those abandoned positions.

Perhaps nose-to-the-grindstone people who have never felt rich in dollars would find themselves rich in time; time to think, time to listen, time do one thing at a time and do it well, time to tell their story, time to;

r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-R-R-R-R-RRRRRRRRRR-R-R-R-R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r…………..

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-m-m-m-m-MMMMMMM-M-M-M-m-m-m-m…………..

Time to take a chance.

Time to take a chant.

Time to face that mirror and not flinch.

Just a notion.

…just askin’ for a friend…

Out of Quarantine

It’s been an intriguing week in and out of quarantine. May I share it with you?

Out of quarantine?

Yes…for about three hours.

Monday was a lovely Kentucky spring day; sunny, sixty-something degrees, lawns greener than Oz, dogwoods poppin’ cream and raspberry. We don’t tell “furriners” about days like this…why share? We seem to have so little and Carmel demonstrates no eagerness to share their ocean. Without Jack Kerouac, Pebble Beach, and PLAY MISTY FOR ME, it would remain merely legendary. We have spring days. Central Kentuckians resonate with days like this and mostly never understand themselves. It just feels right and rare.

Janie left the house about three o’clock on Monday with Chloe the Wonder Pup for Chloe’s daily adulation tour of the neighborhood. Neighbors, dogs, joggers, hired flacks, and alien spaceships line the lanes to pay homage to the shaggy dog of glee. It can take hours.

I turned the porch light on to let my wanderers know the front door was unlocked, stepped out and noticed that Janie and Miss Wonderful had only made it to the corner where Chloe was basking in the worship of the Pantheon of Chuck and Paula who live there. They might be gone till dark at this rate.

I have written before in this blog about my love of bicycles. Janie and I had our bicycles readied for the season recently and I had been trying to make a habit of tooling about the almost perfectly flat streets of our neighborhood on a daily basis. The recent cool days had interrupted this effort but today… I found it enticing to pedal my ass again.

I zipped out of the garage, down the driveway, and onto the street. I flashed past Chloe and her adoring throng and had a momentary flashback on Tolkein’s warning about the road in front of your house leading to amazing places and hazardous missions. Will I meet goblin spiders or Stupey the Loud Cocker Spaniel on this journey? Will I reach the Mount of Doom or the low hedge by the old baseball field?

Neither, as it turned out

I reached the end of Providence Road and turned downhill and picked up a bit of speed. The gimme hat I was wearing (no haircut!) began to shift and I instinctively reached up to salvage it as if I were 25.

Alas, I was not 25.

The next thing I remember was answering questions from an Emergency Medical Technician in the back of an emergency vehicle bearing me to the hospital trauma suite tout suite.

Stitches, injections, and a cat scan later I was told Janie was waiting for me in the parking lot. I located the nearest restroom and finally saw the damage. I was a blood-drenched Rocky from film number one. I immediately ran the calendar through my battered head and determined I was still six months away from Lexington’s Thriller Event and I couldn’t possibly maintain this look for that long without actually dying in which case my dancing would be even worse than it already is.

So…

…I cleaned myself up as best I could, and tottered out to Janie, laughing at me in the sunny parking lot. It was the best medicine in the world; even better than Lysol.

It seemed right…and rare.

Under her care I feel a little better every day and look a little less outré every day. I think I’m now up to “No, officer, I ran into a door.”

Chloe is totally embarrassed and doesn’t want to be seen with me.

I sleep, and I watch movies…bad movies. I’ll share them with you…just for mean-ness.

I miss my friends. Who doesn’t?

To my friends and others;

…don’t drink bleach…no matter what he says…please.

It doesn’t seem right.

And then I’ll really miss you.

Twitch, But Don’t Blink

I freely acknowledge that Mario Bava’s 1971 Euro-trash classic Twitch of the Death Nerve probably does not show up on most people’s lists of favorite Easter movies, but with so much gruesome in the news these days, I thought it might be good to lighten things up with a dose of mayhem you can actually see and perhaps run away from.

Plus it involves many useful ingredients for rollicking good/dreadful ride;

  • 1) I actually do like director Mario Bava’s work, especially his Black Sunday (1960), featuring the ultimate scream queen, Barbara Steele. It’s an excellent “first film” if you’re looking to dip your toe in the cheapo-Euro horror film pool of the 60’s. Of course you may not get that toe back.
  • 2) There’s a “Bond Girl” in the flick. That alone will probably prick the attention of half the audience. Claudine Auger is featured here a few years after her turn as the tragic heroine “Domino” in 1965’s Thunderball.
  • 3) The body count in Twitch is jaw-dropping. Not since A Fistful of Dollars or the final scene of “Hamlet”…
  • 4) The gamut of death-inducing weaponry exceeds that of a game of Clue. It includes a spear, a shotgun, a rope, and a hatchet…not to mention weird insects and a freshwater (?) squid.

You’d think with all that going for it, how could it miss?

Well…it does.

I started watching this jewel with Chloe, our resident canine critic.

Her opinion? “If you want me, I’ll be in the bar”.

She’s a big Joni Mitchell fan.

Missing Sidney on This Sunny Day

It’s strange what can trigger a memory.

Today I heard my friend and adopted faux-daughter Karyn Czar asking the first reporter’s question at the governor’s press conference. I was so proud.

I first met Karyn on stage in a play.

Today was also to be the opening day for the local minor league baseball team; the Lexington Legends. Of course there’ll be no game and perhaps no season at all thanks to the corona virus. My friend Sidney Shaw loved to go to the Legends’ games. He would not have been pleased with the waste of a fine sunny day with no baseball.

I first met Sidney in the same play.

It was the summer of 1994. It was a production of Measure for Measure in the Lexington Shakespeare Festival when it was still in Woodland Park.

I remember admiring Sidney’s ease with the language and the wisdom with which he infused the character he played. I remember being delighted the first night in rehearsal when his character cast aside wisdom for outraged passion. It made the dramatic moment mean something more…more human. Working with Shakespeare’s foreign-to-us cadences and vocabulary can make an actor forget the humanity of the situations being depicted.

Sidney didn’t forget.

This was a nice production with a bunch of new (to me) actors, most of whom I’ve had the good fortune to work with multiple times over the ensuing years. This group of actors has gone on to mean much to Lexington’s theatre audiences; Karyn Czar, Jeff Sherr, Donna Ison, Eric Johnson, Laurie Genet Preston, Joe Gatton, Glenn Thompson, Spencer Christiansen, Holly Hazelwood, and others.

Ave Lawyer directed. It was my first time to work with Ave and certainly not my last. I’ve moved furniture and learned lines for her in a number of shows since then.

Thus it was with Sidney. He and I shared the stage in four or five productions. He was always good company and I learned something from him in every show.

However, my favorite theatre experience with Sidney was as an audience member for his performance in Death of a Salesman. I watched my friend Sidney disappear into Willie Loman. The growing desperation and evaporating control of Willie Loman was so alien to the Sidney Shaw I knew. It was a remarkable stretch for an actor and Sidney handled it adroitly and broke my heart.

I miss Sidney.