June!

How I do mourn your passing each year, my dearest June

So much rests in your welcoming arms,

those brief weeks when all is as it should be in these local environs, this fantasy of a world gone right, when we humans and our animal friends seem to flourish happily in the petri dish of ideal conditions, euphoric from the off-gassing of the perfect weather for being out of doors, when each half-hour at your bosom enlivens and recharges hearts and souls; all the while a miserly, little clerk from some Dickensian counting house is ticking off the days before the sticky throng of humid slimery descends like evil, stifling cling wrap to mummify us under muggy, clammy layers, or else imprison us behind pollen proof windows and the labored wheezing of the window air conditioner well along into its feeble retirement pension, across blistering months too long to make sense of, until the coming of the dank, and the cold, and the dark that follows.
 
I miss you before your are fully gone, and live the year ahead banking on the slender salvation of your return, you cruel, cruel mistress.

The Actor’s Nightmare

It’s been years since I’ve had the full-blown actor’s nightmare.

I awake on a picnic-strewn blanket in the center of a brightly lit stage behind a traditional proscenium in a 300 seat theater. Not only do I not know any of my lines, I do not even remember rehearsing with these people.

Early twentieth-century dress. Ah Wilderness!? Chekhov? But no, there is no improvising my way through this one. It is Shakespeare. Measure for Measure, Act II.

My blanket-mate has a copy of the text hidden in a book! But I can never find exactly where we are in the script.
As people stomp this way and that with their arguments, I realize maybe I am part of some director’s concept about the general public waiting to judge those who had down judgement from positions of power. So I start acting in that manner, a member of the jury. Until my blanket-mate suddenly stands up to become Isabella.
 
My turn to “enter” is coming but I still don’t know I am, until the action stops and people glare at me for missing my cue.
 
And then a loud demanding meow tells me I have missed my real cue and Nisa New is heralding certain death from starvation if I do not get up and put food in her bowl.
 
I awoke on a sweat-strewn blanket, feeling like I need eight hours sleep.
There are few dreams that stay with me. Some I remember from decades ago, including various renditions of the actor’s nightmare, going back to my teenage years.
Actor's Nightmare stage

Dunkirk Done Right

Today, 79 years ago, the siege at Dunkirk was at its savage height

The small screen managed to do a better job of it than the big screen

I wanted to recommend a VERY good dramatization about Dunkirk that I saw recently – and I do not mean the cinematic Twilight Zone episode that got all the hype two years ago.
 
It is a three-part mini-series (three hours in total) from 2004, which is currently on Britbox. But it may be findable elsewhere.
 
Part docudrama narrated by Timothy Dalton, part scripted drama, it gives a much better idea of what a shitstorm it really was, compared to the artistic license version we saw in the cinemas.
 
And Benedict Cumberbatch is featured in the last part, when he was just starting to be recognized as someone special. “Bennie” loses his celebrity status quickly and is truly terrific as one of the real-life lions in those dark hours.
 
Not that the 2017 film wasn’t a good movie. But as my review puts it back in the day, it was a creative way to try to tell the re-examined metaphysical tale, rather than spend the zillions required to tell the actual one.
 
And in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, my review doesn’t spoil very much at all.
 

Remember this day!

Pancho Villa and others at the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía

Rare photo recently discovered

Sinko de Mayo

A contemplative Villa (left) and a glum Zapata (2nd from right) face an uncertain future

In Mexico during the time of the Revolution, mayonnaise was a national obsession. More of the condiment was consumed there than any other one place on earth, with Hong Kong a distant second.

In fact, leaders on both sides of the conflict were crazy for the stuff. But it was Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata circa 1910, who spread the spread among the common people, as it were, so that its popularity soared.

In those days, England was the mayonnaise capital of the world, with Cross & Blackwell’s, and Hellmann’s as the most popular brands, and the largest shipment of all time, some tens of thousands of jars, set out from Southampton by steamship on April 10, 1912, bound for Vera Cruz, by way of Cherbourg, New York, Charleston, and Havana.

But as history showed, the vessel was none other than the ill-fated H.M.S. Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank on April 15th.

When news arrived in Mexico twenty days later, the war-torn people were devastated. Their anguish was so great that a truce was declared between the Federales and the rebel factions, for one day of mourning. And thus was held the very first Fiesta de la tarro vacía (Feast of the Empty Jar.)

(photo: Museos de México)

feast2

It has been observed ever since, on this very day, now known colloquially as Sinko de Mayo.

Thank you, I’m here all week …

 

April is the Cruelest Month

Funny

How I’d almost forgotten what it’s like

That buoyant highline ride across a string of performances that just won’t let you stop til it’s all done.

But after two days of wake-up, travel, play til numb, stare at alien bedroom ceiling, get up too soon after a dawn ice storm, absorb coffee and carbs, play too many hours too long but not stop even after the last video is shot, prattle on over burgers before bed, and then performing for a third day at the Martin Museum despite swollen fingers and the unexpected construction of a special presentation site for a private, deep-pocketed tour heard just off-camera, and ending up in a hotel room rented to construct our own makeshift video studio because some new Martins suddenly became available at the Distribution Center, just as I was on my way to that stage coach home, I still ended up spending Friday night back in Brooklyn, vibrating in front of my best friends while gratefully absorbing their 21-year-old Balblair and Insanely-year-old Caol Ila, and then staring at my own bedroom ceiling only to not be able sleep past 7 on Saturday, what with my girlfriend sick as a dog in Florida when I can’t take care of her, and so much back log of writing to do after the soul-crushing fatigue of my own 30-day bout of the flu has finally dissipated just in time for this past week’s trip.

And here I am on Saturday night, now after midnight, after a good sushi dinner with “super dry” hot sake, after borrowing a pre-CBS seafoam green Stratocaster, after one too many glasses of the Great Malt Which Wounds from the Isle of Skye, after Season 1 episode 2 of Grantchester, here I sit, with roommates and cat having given up long before.

And 11 hours from now I head out, Strat in hand, to the plush Battalion Studios in Gowanus for a large amplifier reunion jam with my 1990s rock band, the Cheese Beads. (And me with no ear plugs!)

I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime Monday morning I will fall off the proverbial cliff…

Until the next tour gets underway.

But at least that one will require of my fingers little beyond giving massages to some very special toes situated near, if not always on, a beach in Florida, and lapping up some sun and sea.

I’ve never been that far south before. I hear it’s nice there.