What’s for dinner?

I was raised on meals that came pre-made. Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Spaghetti-Os, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Campbell’s Tomato Soup; however, my favorite was the Salisbury Steak.

I would get home from school. Heat up the oven, toss in a frozen meal, prepare my TV tray, and then plop down on the couch.

By the time an episode of Scooby-Doo and an episode of Super Friends had run, my meal would be ready and I could eat while watching Little House on the Prairie and Gilligan’s Island.

I wasn’t really expected to know how to cook. My parent’s both worked and I had to be able to feed myself. It was how things worked for a lot of kids in the late 70’s and 80’s.

To be clear, there were home cooked family meals but I was not a participant in the preparing.

I didn’t begin cooking until I had a family of my own and I am an amateur for certain. I do very much enjoy it though.

Last night, I made chicken soup. I had a kid that was under the weather and I had a yen for it.

It was a simple recipe.

4 cups of pre-cooked rotisserie chicken

48 ounces of chicken Broth

3 celery sticks diced

2 large carrots diced

1 onion diced

1 jalapeño diced (Wasn’t in the recipe but I put jalapeño in everything.)

1/2 teaspoon of Oregano

Dash of Pepper

Dash of Garlic salt

Once all that stuff is in the crock pot top off with veggie broth.

Cook in the crock pot on high for 3 1/2 hours or until veggies are tender.

Toss in some no-yolk egg noodles and cook for 15 more minutes.

Done.

Not really cooking but cooking enough.

It was good.

My real bench mark for how good something I cook is not yummy sounds from the family but how much is left at the end of the night.

Last night there was less than half a bowl of chicken soup left.

Success.

Thank you for reading.

Wherever you go . . .

I generally believe the sunset you see today is always the best sunset.

That said, sunsets over Chicago are pretty great.

Sunset from The Hilton McCormick Place in Chicago

New York, New York, it’s a smell of a town

I am in New York right now as I type this.

I had delicious Indian food tonight. It was hot and spicy and smelled amazing.

Chicken Curry from India on Time Square

As I ate the aromatic food, a police officer rode past the window of the restaurant on a giant white horse. He was riding on the sidewalk because there were too many garbage bags piled in the street for him to ride there. Just past the bags was a stream of steam emanating from a sewer grate and on the far side of the street past the sewer grate was a coffee shop filled with people.

This is a new memory I will now have every time I smell chicken curry and garlic naan.

Thank you for reading.

The Tell Tale Giggle

In the spring of 1997, I was living in an apartment in Santa Monica California.

My Mother had sent me a Dan Dee Giggle Bunny for Easter.  If you squeeze the paw it would start giggling and wiggling, the cheeks would light up, and it would say, “That tickles.”

At first, it seemed innocent enough. I opened it and thought, “Oh, this seems like a funny gift.”

The laughter was a bit deranged.  The wiggling was a bit manic.  The voice was a bit disturbing, but cute.  I didn’t love it but I set it on my desk in my room because it was a gift from my mom.

Then, I forgot about the bunny.  

That was my mistake.

I thought I started to hear the giggling at random times.  While in the shower or watching TV in the living room, or even in the middle of the night, I would hear the giggling.

I told myself, “Surely, that’s not possible.  You have to push the paw. “

I put the bunny under the bed.  Giggling emanated from beneath me while I slept.

I moved the bunny to my closet, muffled giggling.

I moved the bunny to the living room, distant giggling.

My roommate forced me to move the bunny back into my room insisting that it was too creepy for the shared space.

I was starting to unravel.  Was I feeling guilty because I didn’t love the gift from my mom or was the bunny actually trying to drive me mad? 

I shook the bunny, I shook it and screamed, “YOU HAVE TO PUSH THE PAW!”

That night, under cloak of darkness.  The bunny went to the dumpster behind my building.  Good riddance.

As I walked back up the stairs to my apartment a feeling of peace overtook me.  It was done.

I got into my pajamas, crawled into bed, and clicked the light off.

Then, in the darkest part of the night, I heard it once more.

The bunny giggled.  It’s giggle was amplified by the open air space  in the middle of my building.  It was louder than it had ever been, echoing deep into the depths of my soul and so that the entire building woke and was hollering cries of dismay and dread from their windows.

I shook my fists and cried, “DAMN YOU GIGGLE BUNNY, DAMN YOU TO HELL!”

Thank you for reading.

One sheet

Rather than sacrifice a forest of trees for an epic tome about my life I would utilize a Hollywood script treatment to tell my tale.

Title: He Gave it a Good Shot

Logline: A man of dubious origin manages to not become a total train wreck.

Jesse never became a doctor

Character:

Jesse –

Able to tell some jokes, mostly functional adult who likes food. Somewhat tolerated by a few people. Doesn’t age well.

Most remarkable is that he never became a doctor nor did he ever portray a doctor in anything other than a picture taken at a medical convention.

Plot Summary:

Born in Minnesota, then some stuff happened. Finally got married and had kids everything got better. At some point their should be a slide show of all Jesse’s pets underscored by Bach’s Come Sweet Death.

Last line:

Jesse – “Hold my coffee, kids, I’ll show that Rockford Bear who’s boss.”

“End”

Thank you for reading and see you at the movies.

Top Secret doesn’t mean what it use to.

I have recently learned that multiple politicians have been keeping top secret documents at their houses. I guess I didn’t learn it but it has been prevalent in the media lately so it feels new.

I keep track of politics, I vote, and I pay taxes but I don’t necessarily think too much about politics or politicians in my day to day life; so when I saw a video of Mike Pence being contrite about keeping Top Secret documents at his house, I didn’t care.

I imagine Pence shifting through some mail on his desk and discovering that he had some folders with “TOP SECRET” stamped in red on them.

“OOPS! Darn it.” he would exclaim. I don’t think he is capable of cursing.

Then he would show his wife and she would scold him and tell him, “I think you know what to do, Mr. Pence.” I also imagine his wife calls him Mr. Pence.

Then that fly would buzz, “You better FLY straight, Mr. Pence!” Then that fly would then crack up at his own joke.

Then Mr. Pence would call his lawyers and his team of experts and they would advise him to “Get in front of this” and “Be Compliant.”

Mr. Pence would go on TV and apologize and bow his head and we would forgive him because he’s so darn authentic.

Then those men in black would come collect the documents and analyze them and assess the threat posed by those documents and take pictures and statements and fingerprints and hair samples and covid tests and there would be three people in Hazmat suits that would actually collect the documents. They would put them in sealed containers and fly them to an undisclosed location. Then mark them with an uninterpretable code, crate them and wheel them into oblivion.

And when all that was done, Mr. Pence would sigh and his shoulders would relax exactly one-eighth of an inch.

Thank you for reading.

The Pie Girl Dinner

When I was growing up there was this weird trope of people jumping out of cakes on TV and in movies.

My first memory of it was from Some Like it Hot when the gangster pops out of a cake with a Tommy gun. At that point, I had no idea the origin of the practice.

Some Like it Hot

Apparently, the first recorded version of this practice was in 1626 when a Duke and Duchess presented a pie to the King and Queen of England. A dwarf in full armor then popped out of the pie to everyone’s amusement.

It became popular in America in the early 1900’s with gross old rich white men having a “Pie Girl Dinner” at their ridiculous soirees.

This is one of those things that I have always been curious about. Is it funny? Is it sexy? Is it dangerous?

I remember the joke on The Addams Family, Lurch accidentally bakes the stripper for Fester’s birthday party into the cake. YIKES!

People jumping out of cakes sends a lot of mixed messages. There is a spectacle element to it for certain. It leaves me to ask, who would want to have someone jump out of their cake? More importantly, who would think that someone would want to have someone jump out of their cake? Who is that party planner who thinks that is a good idea?

Cheers “One Last Fling”

All I can say for certain is that if someone wheels a giant cake into party, any party, I’m going to calmly excuse myself from the room.

Thank you for reading.

90°

I received a cryptic text two days ago from a co-worker. She asked if I could potentially move my travel day up from the 13th to the 12th next month. I responded that I could and asked what was up. She only replied, “90°.”

The same old room layout.

The project I am working on is in San Francisco next month. There are two identical events that happen back to back. One in January and a similar one in February. Same organization, different internal groups. They utilize the same room layout and have for years.

The January event went off without a hitch but for some reason, the second group decided they wanted to shake things up. They wanted to turn the room 90°.

On paper, this seems easy enough; however, it is not.

It requires completely re-engineering rigging and cable paths and backstage footprints and case storage and front of house control and audio layout and lighting deployment. . . etc. We would have to work fast and focused for the few weeks remaining before the event.

It’s a lot to rotate 90°.

But I waited.

I receive an invite to a teams meeting with the subject being, “Room Redesign 90°.”

And I waited.

thirty minutes before the meeting an email marked urgent came out confirming that we were indeed NOT rotating the room 90°.

I have been in this line of work for a long time. I knew I needed to let the dust settle before making any big changes. One thing truly drives everything in our industry. Cost.

The cost of the 90° turn was too high.

Strategic procrastination utilized properly can deter a great amount of stress. Use with caution.

Thank you for reading.

Universal translator

I was working at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California and there was a group that rented the space once a month for a one night event for their community. It was an Armenian group and most of them only spoke their native language.

There was a translator provided to interpret what their lighting designer wanted. She explained everything to me directly and the translator repeated it in English.

The one challenge with this was that the translator was not a theater person. I would see her explain something and his confusion about what she was requesting. They would bicker for a few moments and then he would cobble together some semblance of words describing what she had requested.

The third time the group came to the theater, I met with the lighting designer and the translator. She spoke directly to me as had already become the usual. When she concluded I turned to go fulfill her requests.

The translator said, “What, you speak Armenian now?”

We laughed.

“No, I just know what she is looking for.” I replied.

The language barrier had been broken by her and my shared theater experience.

It reminded me of the Star Trek episode “Darmok” in which Picard has to understand the Tamarian’s language which is being translated by the universal translator properly but doesn’t make sense. (Spoiler Alert) Picard ultimately figures out that the aliens are speaking in metaphors.

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

I have had several other experiences in theater and live event in which the artist or client was a non-english speaking person. Fortunately, the language of theater is my universal translator.

Oh, and I would like to speak Klingon.

Thank you for reading.

George Michael, in general

Let me get right to it.

You have been loved by George Michael

She takes the back road and the lane
Past the school that has not changed in all this time
She thinks of when the boy was young
All the battles she had won just to give him life

That man, she loved that man
For all his life
But now we meet to take him flowers
And only God knows why

For what’s the use in pressing palms
When children fade in mother’s arms?
It’s a cruel world, we’ve so much to loose
And what we have to learn we rarely choose

So if it’s God who took her son
He cannot be the one living in her mind

“Take care my love”, she said
Don’t think that God is dead
“Take care my love”, she said
You have been loved

If I was weak, forgive me
But I was terrified
You brushed my eyes with angels wings, full of love
The kind that makes devils cry

So these days my life has changed
And I’ll be fine (and I’ll be fine)
But she just sits and counts the hours
Searching for her crime

So what’s the use of pressing palms
If you won’t keep such love from harm?
It’s a cruel world, you’ve so much to prove
And Heaven helps the ones who wait for you

I’ve no daughters, I’ve no sons
Guess I’m the only one
Living in my life

“Take care my love”, he said

Don’t think that God is dead
“Take care my love”, he said
You have been loved

The first time I heard this song it upset me. Every consequent time I hear this song, it upsets me. I researched the meaning behind this song and it is upsetting.

George Michael could sing a pop song, no doubt but his lyrics on his later albums, specifically, Older, were so deep and impactful.

He dealt with his depression and loss and sorrow and put it out there for everyone to hear.

I know that I’m not the only one that appreciates his music. I am just another person who appreciates his music.

Excerpt from The Strangest Thing by George Michael

The things that I know
Nobody told me
The seeds that are sown
They still control me
There’s a liar in my head
There’s a thief upon my bed
And the strangest thing
Is I cannot seem to get my eyes open

Thank you for reading.