Thursday, October 30, 2008

Magic Monsters 10/31/08

I have seen flowers come in stony places
And kind things done by men with ugly faces.

John Mansfield

/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /


So it's Halloween is it? All Hallows' Even. 'Tis the season to be scary. This is the night when children and adults become ghosts, ghouls, witches, owls, crows, vultures, pumpkin men, black cats, spiders, goblins, zombies, mummies, skeletons, demons, devils, fairies, pirates, vampires, frankensteins, wizards, various movie stars and political figures. The child-monsters to collect bags of goodies of dubious benefit to their well being, often accompanied by adult-monsters who may go off later to masquerade parties where who knows what dubious liaisons are formed.

Although at home we wrapped up candy and oranges to give out, I never went trick 'r treating. My mother wouldn't let me. There was one exception when I went out as a gangster trying to scare people with a water pistol. No one was scared.

In this eastern Pennsylvania town Halloween is a big deal. And now that the Phillies have won, it's liable to be more rambunctious than ever.

But remember, the ugly little monster that shows up at your door this "een" may grow up to be a great scientist, or artist, or educator, or writer, someone who does kind things for the world. So treat 'em with treats.

Vagabond Journeys

Lively Latching 10/30/08

Let us live for the beauty of our own reality.

Charles Lamb


When you finally get to that sacred point in life when you stop trying to be someone you're not or to accomplish something you're never going to do, you have taken the first baby steps toward understanding yourself.

One day in the lobby of an office building in New York City there were two young boys running to Mommy. Well, one was running, the other was crawling. It was a long lobby which stretched from 59th Street all the way to 58th Street. The crawler wass so fast he got to Mommy first. He was an expert crawler. He was showing the world what a good crawler he was. I said to his mother that he really had the crawling thing down solid. She laughed and said that it was too bad there was no crawling event in the Olympics.

The kid was such a good crawler, why should he bother to learn how to walk?

Well, as we all know, sooner or later he's going to have to find out what his legs are really for. He'll stagger and fall down. He'll resent his brother for being able to do it better. He'll get frustrated and go back to crawling. But, inevitably, he will get the gist of it and discover that he really is a walker, and maybe even a runner. He will have given up thinking of himself as a crawler and stand proudly on his own two feet, as the saying goes. What a grand day that will be!

As I grew up and began to learn about myself I discovered two things. One was just how many illusions and fantasies I had about myself. And the other was that deep down I really was a great guy and no one else's opinion of me mattered.

I still wanted approval, of course. I was an actor after all. Approval is part of the pay packet. It kept me going. But in the long run the only approval I really needed was my own.

Understanding oneself is a life long enterprise, but dropping off the unreal veneer of fantasies reveals more of the beautiful reality of human character.

Oh, I know what you're saying, "But I like my fantasies." That's okay. Mine sometimes help me get to sleep at night. Just don't take them seriously.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Knocking Knowledge 10/29/08

Truth is the child of time,
erelong she shall appear to vindicate thee.

Immanuel Kant

It seems to me that all great, new ideas go through three steps. First people summarily dismiss and ignore them. Then they argue and put up defenses against them. And finally they adopt them.

The irony is that when you finally accept the truth of something you've been told you have usually forgotten who it was that told you, oh, so long ago. Not only that, but some people actually come to believe that it was their own idea to begin with. That's an intellectual injustice, of course, but it's inevitable.

When someone says "mark my words" you know damn well that the "my" referred to is probably going to be forgotten about, even though some day the words might be remembered.

I know things today that I refused to believe years ago. But I don't remember where I first heard them. And in my lofty aerie of intellectually superior senior citizenship (?) I know I have given young folks the benefit of my original thinking which has been met with suspicion and disbelief, and that when those folks finally know that I was right they will have forgotten all about me. That's the way it goes. That's life.

These days people are complaining about the toxicity of plastic. I was doing that 30 years ago.

I have even had returned to me one of my own quotes, one of my Vagabondisms, as an "old saying." That made me smile.

I've been humbled enough by time and by a sense of humor to be content with the realization that, about whatever it was, I was right. Forget who gets the credit.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

May all the flies stay away from your ointment.

Winter Wonderland

I'd like to announce that it is snowing in eastern Pennsylvania, great huge snow flakes some as big as my big toe (I know because I stuck my foot out to see). Winter is here. If you want winter, it's over here. It's mighty beautiful.

DB - The Vag

Jazzy Javelin 10/28/08

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

Samuel Johnson


There is one thing in this world that I can honestly say that I hate. I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I hate anything, but this one thing I truly detest. I hate it so much it can send me into a rage.

Ugliness disgusts me. Disappointment and dashed hopes make me sad. War and torture anger me. The abuse of children and animals makes me sick. But I HATE NOISE.

The increasing cacophony around us is one of the greatest threats to civilization there is. I think the internal combustion engine is a marvelous thing. But when it finds its way into lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers it becomes a menace. The ironic thing is that when you buy one of those things they will put in ear plugs so that the noise doesn't bother you. But they give you no ear plugs for your neighbors.

In Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, they wait until noon, when everyone is out on lunch break sitting in the park, enjoying the peace and listening to the birds, to start mowing the lawn or blowing the leaves around. That's another bit of irony.
In New Hampshire one year a man decided to make a few bucks by installing a Go Cart track in his back yard, oblivious to the idea that the noise would annoy his neighbors. A bunch of people from all over town chipped in to hire a lawyer to get the thing closed down.

I love music, I hate noise. When most people think music they think songs. Songs are good. I like songs. But songs are mainly about words, lyrics, not about music. In many cases the music is minimal, it's the words that matter. In the case of Rap the music has virtually disappeared (even though it's still called "music"). I have also noticed that with some popular music the stupider the song the louder they play it.

I don't care for Rock Music, most of it is way too noisy for me, but I won't put it down because there is extremely good musicianship among some of the performers. I don't care a rap for Rap.

Pure music (if there is such a thing) is classical, jazz and some new age. Folk is usually pleasant to hear, but it's very simple by nature of what it is. And Opera is for crazy opera lovers like me.

In 1685 a man was born in Germany named Johann Sebastian Bach, who took all of the music which came to him from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, organized, codified and engineered it into some of the greatest music ever written He wrapped music up in a golden spear and thrust it out into the world to weave through the centuries right into our own and it';s still flying. Western music, of whatever kind or style, owes its forever existence to Bach. And every serious musician will acknowledge that.

But the horrifying fact, which Bach could never have imagined, is that the noises of the world are drowning out the music of the world. Noise is a pollution. It's toxic, dangerous and destructive. And it's getting worse.

So remember, the next time you take out that motorized lawn mower or leaf blower that, unless you live where there are no houses near you, you are destroying the neighborhood.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inside Inspiration 10/27/08

If a composer knows more about a horse
than he does about heaven,
he might better stick to the horse,
and some day the horse may carry him into heaven.

Charles Ives

Substitute for horse the word, violin, or kitchen, or garden, or farm, or fishing boat, or aircraft, or whatever and you have it. The trick is to do what most people never do which is to look behind the thing that occupies your time and attention to find and understand the true, invisible reality behind it.

What does it really mean to tune a violin, wash and chop a potato, stick a hoe in the ground or plow a field? I have heard farmers and pilots talk about what they do in very metaphysical terms. It took me a long time to begin to take that kind of thinking seriously. It's just a potato. What's the big deal? A potato is always just a potato, but it has a deeper meaning in the over all cosmic scheme of things.

You are laughing.

About midway through my career I began to ask myself questions about what I was doing and expressing to, usually unwilling and uninterested, ears the answers that I had, so far, come up with. One of my colleagues, a stage manager, once said "Why do you talk about it so much? Why don't you just do it?"

I took those words home with me and wondered, not only why I was talking about it but also why no one else was.

I don't know what heaven is, but I know what acting is, and a great performance gives me a feeling of what they call "heaven on earth." And I know that performing a task, no matter how simple or complicated in may be is a divine opportunity. But it should always be done with the mind open for the inspiration that comes from the real heaven. That's what prepares us to get there.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Heroic Harbinger - follow up

This is in response to the excellent comments I recieved on my issue called Heroic Harbinger of last night. In light of those comments I reread my essay and the only thing I find wrong with it is that it is not complete. But to completely address the issues might take a hundred pages.

First of all to probe deeply into such topics and to reason through them in the attempt to answer seemingly unanswerable questions does NOT make one an atheist.

I state "We have the right and obligation, by the way we live, to announce to all creation just what it is capable of." Why is that not to reflect back to the creator its own creation? Surely an act of love.

I also state "We are the pinnacle of earthly creation." That statement does not preclude a greater existence in the universe than ours.

My struggle has been to pass along in some viable way a lesson I have learned and am still learning which is to not oversimplify my own existence, to not cast my unknowns into the lap of God or gods and let it go at that, to not accept without question the doxology of some religious system of explanation and walk away with a cross, or some other "sign," on me, but, instead, to think for myself trusting that the creator has given me the freedom , right and ability to do that.

DB - The Vagabond

Heroic Harbinger 10/26/08

We are a sign that is not read.

Friedrich Hoelderlin


It says at the top of my journal profile that I am a Pisces. That's my "sign." What does that mean? Does being a Pisces make me any better or happier than if I was a Leo or a Capricorn? I know a woman who, when someone asks her what her sign is, says "no turn on right." I know another independent type whose sign is "No Parking."

You can wear a McCain or Obama button, or put up a similar sign on your front lawn or in your window and think that it somehow identifies you.

Our "signs" are everywhere, on T-shirts, bumper stickers, tattoos. It's easy to read those signs. But eventually they're not important. They only represent something, They aren't the thing itself.

What Hoelderlin means. I think, when he says "We are a sign that is not read" is that we are so involved with the signs of daily life and what they represent that we overlook the fact that we are the greatest and most important sign of all. We are the pinnacle of earthly creation, we are the signal to the universe of the grandness and beauty of life, we are the unified signal to all existence of the fact of survival and accomplishment, we are the receivers and stewards of life itself. We have the right and obligation, by the way we live, to announce to all creation just what it is capable of.

And yet we don't read ourselves, because we go about destroying the very existence we are a part of, including each other, and we do it under some sort of banner that pretends to describe us and proclaim who we are, that limits and categorizes us, and that sets us up one against the other.

I believe, with futility perhaps, that a time will come when the human race will
step out of the dark age it's in and put away the false labels that have governed us for too long. If I can do anything at all to hasten that time, let me do it. Not for me, but for the life I'm in.

The moral is: Don't wave a sign. Be one.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Genuine Genius 10/25/08

The conventional view serves to protect us
from the painful job of thinking.

John Kenneth Galbraith

I would frequently say that I reinvented the art of acting with every role I took.

One of the things that some actors tend to overlook or forget is that each script is written by one individual writer and that writer's use of the language is specific to him. The basic elements of language are all there for any author to use, but how an author combines those elements is like no other.

The colors of paint are available to every artist, but one artist will combine those colors in a completely different way from another.

It's the same with music. There are a finite number of tones. It's the individual's combination of those tones that make music.

Dialogue is one of the main walls in the architecture of the theatre. The style, form and thrust of an author's dialogue should be considered by the actor when performing a play. Hidden within the words of the play are hints at the characteristics of the person the actor is portraying. I discovered that so many times in my career not to know that it is the truth.

As with colors, words and tones, there are elements to the actor's art that he can use in his own particular, individual way to fill out the character's life. But he has to observe, understand and weave into his performance all the other elements that combine in the collaborative process of theatre. The scenery, the costumes, the lighting and, of course, the dialogue, the language. Too many actors try to impose their own ideas of acting style on the script and don't set about to discover how the art of acting can be used to bring the writing to its best articulation, to recombine those elements of the actor's craft to fit the play. Hence, to reinvent the art of acting every time.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Funny Foibles 10 23-24/08

To err is human
but to really foul things up requires a computer.

Farmers Almanac

Hear ye! Hear ye! Spotters. This journal is now open for the most outlandish computer stories you have. Prizes will be awarded, if I can find any.
Come one, come all. DB

Epistemic Energy 10/23/08

A clever person solves a problem.
A wise person avoids it.



And what about a dolt like me? He invents problems.

In the early 20th Century there were vending machines for cigars. You put in a nickel and a cigar came out. On the front of the machine was a hole. You put the cigar in the hole and it cut off the end. One day my uncle, in his boyish curiosity, stuck his finger in the hole. He survived, but he learned a lesson. One I never learned.

One day, when quite young, I put me head through the railings of a banister and couldn't get it out. I cried for help and my mother simply said "Well, you got yourself into that fix. You get yourself out." I did. But did I learn my lesson?

It seems to me I've spent my whole life inventing trouble for myself. And some of it has been quite imaginative and often severe. It has been said that a fighter who has to invent an enemy to fight is no warrior. There are enough problems in the world, why do I have to devise and engineer my own? To give myself something to do? No, there's plenty to do. To show my mettle? There are positive ways of doing that. The agony and the ecstasy? Perhaps.

I've never been a sky diver or a bungee jumper, I've never wrestled alligators or been in battle. I'm just an authority at tying myself in Gordian knots and burying myself under New England rock piles.

My uncle went on to live a secure life as one of the richest men in America. I'm still working on that one.

Just think, I could have done something quiet, peaceful and safe with my life like being a counterspy for the CIA, stealing eagles eggs or milking cobras. But Nooooo! I had to go into show business.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day Dreams 10/22/08

Who will give me back those days when life had wings and flew just like a skylark in the sky.

Marceline Desbords-Valmore

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Classic Configuration

Keep a green tree alive in your heart
and a song bird may come and sing there.

Chinese proverb

Outside my apartment there's a tree. And every year a bird comes and lives in it. She shows up in the Spring, builds a nest, finds an appropriate soul mate, lays some eggs and raises a family. She's also quite a conversationalist. She gets up early, around 4:30, and chatters away for about half an hour, then goes back to sleep until around 7:00 when she starts in again.

Today was a chilly morning in eastern Pennsylvania. There was frost on the jack'o'lanterns. She'll soon be going south again with her buddies, about the same time as the leaves change color. Perhaps she'll spend the winter with Bethe down in Palm Harbor. But when Spring comes she'll be back. Then she'll let me know that warm weather is on the way again.

Do I miss her when she's gone? You bet. And if some fool were to chop down the tree she would have to find another home and I would be deprived of her company.
What kind of a bird is she? I don't know, I'm not a bird watcher. She's my song bird, that's all I care about.

It is indeed a difficult thing to keep the green tree standing during the bleak times of life. I read a bunch of entries both from emails and in my journals, from folks who are suffering hard times, physically, emotionally and financially. And heaven knows I am having some hard times myself. But I am always pleased to see a sentence or two of hope and light coming from those people even in the midst of pain and sorrow.

The joy of the song bird may not come with the seasons, but it can only come if the heart and mind are prepared for it.

Every day has its problem and every problem has its solution. Some things take time. I am willing to wait out the winter for my song bird to reappear, because I know she will. I am willing to have the patience to wait for the answer to my life's problems. I am willing to keep the green tree alive. Every day is a test.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Attention Spotters: My monitor took almost an hour to stop blinking and turn on this morning. I can't afford a new on. Not for quite a while. Even if I could scrape the money together, I can't get to where I could buy one, not in this location. And if I can't read the Internet I can't buy one on line. So if I don't show up at all some day, that's the reason. DB

Monday, October 20, 2008

Basic Beatitude 10/20/08

Any and all creativity...comes from the same place.
You just try to get out of your own way and let it happen.

Jeff Bridges
(Thank you Marty)


Blessed are they who step aside and let creation do its job.

There are moments in every artist's life when the work seems to do itself. I've noticed this in painting. Sometimes the brush just seems to know where it's going without me exercising any will power over it. And it has been even more apparent in my acting career. I can recall those moments that every actor hopes for, when the character seems to play itself. Some magical thing happens when something takes charge of my mind, my voice and my body and I'm just an observer.

For a lazy actor it may happen once or twice in a year's worth of performing. For a disciplined actor it will happen much more often. All the reading, table time, rehearsal time and home work the actor puts in prepares him for those moments. For a genius it may happen once a week.

There's a famous story, probably true, about Lawrence Olivier who had just given one of those inspired performances. It was so brilliant that many of the other actors were waiting for him when he came off stage in order to congratulate him. But he was in a fit of fury. When asked how he could be so upset after such an unusually magical performance, he said it was because he couldn't remember what he did.

DB Vagabond Journeys

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Addition to Zippy Zildjians

5/4 Time

This is an addition to my entry of October 17th, Zippy Zildjians. I just remembered that another well known example of music written in the unusal time of 5/4, if anyone is interested, is the theme music of Mission Impossible. DB

Affectionate Advice 10/19/08

Love, and do what you like.

Saint Augustine


There was an acting teacher named Michael Shurtleff who would say that the first thing an actor should look for in his character is the love. Where is the love? It could be love for another person, for a family, a job, a career, a hobby, a house, a pet. Wherever the love is everything else relates to it.

I knew a woman who lived in a big, beautiful house in Southern California with lots of land around it. She had a husband, two grown children and a lot of animals. There was a stable with two horses. In the house was a singing bird of some sort, a tank of tiny fish and a small, sweet dog. Outside the house there were 22 cats. That's not a misprint. 22.

Only one of those cats ever came into the house. The rest lived in the trees and bushes around the property. I was visiting her one day at feeding time. She would mix up a big tub of food, take it outside and put it here and there on some wooden boards in a corner of the property. The cats came from everywhere, out of the trees, from around corners, up out of the ground for all I knew.

She never gave names to any of them although she recognized them all. But one of them was called Trouble because that's what he was. He was definitely the bully of the group and the other cats stayed away from him.

But he got into a serious fight with something because one day he should up at feeding time with a very badly wounded eye. No one could get near Trouble, so it was impossible for her to take him to the vet. She called the vet and explained the problem. He told her to come over and he would give her something to help.

What he gave her was a powder to mix with the food that put all the cats, including Trouble, to sleep for a while. So she walked through a yard full of sleeping cats, picked up Trouble, put him in a box and drove him to the vet. The vet removed his eye, kept him for a few days and then she came and got him.

When she got home and let him out of the box he took off. But he was back the next day at feeding time.

She loved those cats.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Zippy Zildjians

A composer is a guy who goes around
forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules.

Frank Zappa


I fell in love with classical music at a young age. I thought composers were the grandest possible human beings ever. As I grew and studied music I became even more enamored and fascinated by it and am still to this day. In some ways it's the most important thing in my life.

HARMONY: I found the whole process of chord progressions a difficult but very rewarding study. I learned how chords were made from basically three tones in a scale, how they related to each other and how they defined the movement of a piece of music. That's why it's called "harmonic progression." I learned how a serious piece of music will modulate from one key to another by finding a common chord. And how a piece will go from one key to a totally unrelated key by modulating to a different key and from there to the new one. (I hope that makes sense.) Most popular music keeps it's modulations down to a minimum.

COUNTERPOINT: I learned how a melody can have a counter melody playing in harmony but with a different rhythm. I learned how those two melodic lines relate to each other, rhythmically and harmonically. I learned two, part, three part and fiendish four part counterpoint (which, unless you're Bach or Beethoven, will keep you awake at night). There is very little counterpoint in popular music, but quite a bit in Jazz and some show music. If you want to know what counterpoint is listen to a Bach fugue and try to fallow all the parts at once.

RHYTHM: I learned to distinguish one type of beat from another Basically rhythm comes in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 time. All music scores are divided up into measures and each measure has a number of beats: 2, 3 or 4. In the early 18th Century some composers wrote with 12 beats to the measure. That's rare today, but what isn't rare is switching from one count to another, i. e. going from measures of 4/4 time to 3/4 time and back again. It happens all the time in concert music these days but not so much in popular music, although the Bee Gees did it. Another innovation in rhythm is the use of 5/4, 7/4 and even 11/4 measures. There are three fairly famous cases of the use of 5/4: the Second Movement of Tchaikovsky Symphony #6, Dave Brubeck's Take Five and a song called Sensitivity from the Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress.

FORM: When most people think of music they think of songs. But songs are more about lyrics than tones, harmonies or rhythms. In Rap Music the music has practically disappeared. But there is a rich catalogue of musical forms that have delighted listeners and tantalized composers through the years, too many to name.

Okay, what's a Zildjian you ask? In the early 17th Century an Armenian alchemist while attempting to make gold, mixed a special combination of metals that produced something that had a particularly clear and beautiful ring to it. So he started manufacturing cymbals, those round metal things that sing, ting, ring and crash. The recipe for making the cymbals has passed down through 14 generations of Zildjians. It is a closely guarded secret. The Zildjians quickly set up shop in America. They are officially the oldest family-owned business in America. The Zildjian heirs are still producing their cymbals according to the original secret recipe and their cymbals are all over the world. No respectable percussionist, whether in a symphony orchestra, a jazz group or a rock band, would ever go on the stage without Zildjian cymbals. And that's a fact. The next time you see a drummer with a rock or jazz band, or an orchestra performance where the guy bangs the cymbals together and holds them up, you can bet all the money you've got on you they are Zildjians.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Friday, October 17, 2008

Comment on Yesterday's Yammering

Evidently I have to explain something about today's entry. Nowhere did I state nor imply that I didn't know who I was going to vote for. The point of the piece, I thought, was that I bemoan the low level of campaigning and involvement by supporters in the process. I'm 69, almost 70, and I have never seen or heard such venom coming from a presidential race. Is this what the last quarter of a century has brought us to? If you really think that the past actions of either of these men are important, think for a moment if you would like all of your mistakes and miscaculations to be brought out and shown to the world to judge you by. DB

Yesterday's Yammering 10/17/08

The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed,
the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.


Someone once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest. We in the US have a flawed system to be sure. But what is wrong with this presidential campaign? I don't remember a campaign in which I've heard so much reactionary nonsense. We should be electing a human being, not a machine. If you ask a candidate what he want's, the answer is he wants to be president. That's not good enough for me. I want to know why.

I'm tired of hearing where he was born, where he grew up, where he's been, who he's known, what he's done, how he voted in favor of this bill and how he voted against another. All of that stuff is playing in shadows and looking into the mud puddles of history. People change, minds change and they have a divine right to do so.

I want to know the man. I want to know what his vision is. I want to know what drives him, what enables him to get up in the morning and get going even though he knows he's going to face acrimonious criticism, verbal abuse, the media poking into every muscle of his private life and vigorous and often unethical opposition.

I want to know what he thinks his personal destiny is. I want to know what he wants for himself, his family, his country and the world and why he thinks being president is going to help him achieve those goals.

I wait and wish for the light to shine on some beautiful and clearly articulated ideals that are purer than democracy, bigger than government and better than this ugly and uncomfortable fight for the job. It is folly to vote for one man merely because you are afraid of what may happen if the other one is elected., and yet that is what we have come to: the exercise of fear.

I want the presidency of my country to be legitimized and made respectable once again. Is it impossible to witness such things as grace, heroism, statesmanship and benevolent energy in our government. They have been lacking for a long, long time.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Xenionic Xylograph 10/16/17

Large skepticism leads to large understanding.
Small skepticism leads to small understanding.
No skepticism leads to no understanding.

Xi Zhi

A man goes to a psychiatrist and says, "I have no friends, no one talks to me and if they see me walking down the street they'll cross over and walk on the other side."

The doctor says "That's because you're ugly."

"I'm ugly? I come to you for help and you tell me I'm ugly? I want a second opinion."

"Okay," the doctor says, "You're also stupid."

Skepticism is not negativism or cynicism. It can often seem like suspicion. But it's really a healthy practice of not taking things as the immediately appear. I often advise people to be skeptical about what the read and hear. I say to them, and to myself, you not only have to read between the lines, you have to read behind the lines as well.

If a thing sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Know that most of the authorities in the world, aren't and "Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none." as Shakespeare said.

Skepticism is a good practice concerning the things we buy, the people we meet and the ideas that we encounter. In an ideal world no one cheats us, people are what they claim to be and the theories we live by are tried and true. But, since it isn't an ideal world, everything should be picked up, turned over, carefully observed and quietly listened to.

I ask myself, "What's wrong with this?" If I can't find anything significantly wrong with it, I'll accept it. But to understand how we are cheated, why people masquerade as someone they're not and how a charade of useless ideas can get established in the world and embedded in out lives, we need to keep the mind open to check things out before they come home with us. We need an honest second opinion.

DB - The Vagabond

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More about crazy actors.

Some folks are interested enough in this topic to prompt me to write more about it.

Is the actor like the role he plays? Maybe, Maybe not. But that's not the question. The question is, does the actor become the character he's playing to the extent that he carries it off stage with him and becomes that man? The answer to that is a loud, foot stomping "NO." How long does it take the actor to get out of character once the show or the shoot is over? If you ever spent any time backstage at a professional theatre or off the camera on a movie set you wsould know that there is no time lapse at all. Backstage is peopled by crew who are busy doing things, there is usually a walk up or a walk down to get to the dressing room. There is hub bub and noise. One has to deal with it as oneself.

I have always been baffled by people's lack of sophistication about actors, even though they may be intelligent about other things. I'm thinking back over my career. I'm not Jewish, and yet for about 3 years all the roles I got were Jewish men, and they were all different from each other. I didn't play the same Jewish man for 3 years. I had a long running Off-Broadway show in which my character was gay.
Someone actually had the ignorance to say to me that I must be in the closet and not admitting to myself that I was gay or I could never have played him so convicingly.
My answer to that is another loud foot stomping "Nonsense."

If an actor suffers some emotional trauma over a role he plays it's because the story has touched some vulnerable unresolved place in himself. That's not the play's fault nor the character's fault. It's something that must be dealt with outside the theatre. But there are many moments in any play that may move the actor and in so doing add demension to the role. That is devoutly wished for. It has happened to me many times, but it does not change my real life, it simply draws from my real life.

Remember, I wrote that theatre isn't real life. Because it's scripted, one way or another. You should know that TV events like Jerry Springer and the World Wrestling Federation matches are scripted as are many other things, scripted and sometimes rehearsed. But theatre, if it's done properly resembles real life, and that's why it can grab your interest. The actors are committed to making you believe they are the people they are playing. One of the best reviews I ever got was from the Cincinnati paper after opening there in Educating Rita. The critic said "I never saw him acting."

In olden times when warring Kings wanted to talk with each other they sent a messenger into enemy lines. That messenger was given free entry to the King, without interference and when done escorted safely back to the front lines. No one would dream of killing him because of who he was or what he had to say.

An actor is a messenger. Don't confuse the messenger with the message.

Love you. DB - The Vagabond.

Wired Wastes 10/15/08

I am fond of them,
of the inferior beings of the abyss,
of those who are full of longing.

Richard Wagner

One of the major flaws of politics is that governments are run by the "haves" and never by the "have nots" as President Lyndon Johnson described them.
It is vitally important to the haves that they keep the have nots under control. This is done by economic means, and through carefully designed dissemination of information. That is why in a dictatorship the government will own the banks and the media There is freedom of the press only in so far as the facts are available to it. Meanwhile the have nots go on working through their desperate lives, rich in longings.
Times come, however, when the have nots line up behind a leader or a committee of leaders and topple the haves. The rebellion is usually violent and the haves are killed by having the heads chapped off (France), being lined up against a wall and shot (Russia and Rumania), being hung from lamp posts (Philadelphia) or other heinous acts of cruelty.
The clever haves who know what's coming will get out of town, hop on a plane to Brazil, Spain or Dubai, and live off of their numbered Swiss bank accounts, money "legally" siphoned off from the top The others will ignominiously meet their various fates.
Then, out of the abyss will come crawling the have nots, those whose lives have been wasted under the boots of some oppressive group of haves, ready to take revenge and rewrite the rules. It has happened in the US once before, and will happen again.
I can only hope it will be nonviolent and intelligently done. History doesn't give much hope of that.
The problem then is that the have nots then become the haves, after a while the Leviathan crawls up out of the sea and the whole cycle starts all over again.
I'm not a pessimist, nor a nihilist, and my rebellion has been of the personal, benign anti-social type, hardly noticeable from the outside. I believe in education. But I think education in my country is in a sorry shape. Students are taught to be very proficient in a number of technical things, but severely lacking in knowledge and awareness of history and civic affairs. I notice a profound ignorance in our political leaders, from our President on down, of how civilization operates. Congresspeople must stand up and speak about and vote on things that they know very little about. We have accepted "learning" to be what we have made it and no one challenges that concept.
Times change, people change, things change, changes change. It's an ever revolving world and I don't suppose it will ever be any different on this plane of existence. There will always be the have nots. But, advice to the haves, beware of them.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Are All Actors Crazy?

This is in response to a few comments about today's entry in my journal.

Does an actor who portrays an evil character, who locates, unlocks and performs endemic human villany, carry it with him after he leaves the stage? Does it affect him to the point where that badness shows up in his own life? The answer is: no. Not unless he's a mad man to begin with.

Remember acting is an art form, a performing art. Does the ballerina walk around on her toes when she gets home? Does the trumpeter blow his trumpet in everyone's face as he goes about his daily life? Hardly. Acting villains is enjoyable and usually much more interesting than playing heros. Frank Langella once said that while he was playing Dracula on Broadway he would sometimes get the giggles which he then had to suppres.

Playing bad guys is also chathartic and therapeutic because it brings up all the human ungliness to turn into fiction, wash away and dissipate. I only know of one case where an actor brought a character home. A well known soap opera actress played several days as a woman with a cold. One day she noticed she had cold symptoms herself. She quickly talked herself out of them because she knew she didn't have a cold, only her character did.

Some people say that a person would have to be crazy to be an actor. I suppose that's true. But it's a different kind of insanity. It's positive, self fulfilling and not destructive.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Veritable Viewpoint 10/14/08

A man who is "of sound mind"
is one who keeps the inner madman
under lock and key.

Paul Valery

I am always amused and slightly irate when I read in a crossword puzzle that they want a five letter word for "to act" and the answer is "emote" as if acting was emoting and only actors "emote." Serious actors do NOT go around the stage emoting. Any one who is reading this entry should know forth with and forever more that acting is not "emoting." Acting is what the dictionary says it is. It is doing something. An actor is someone who does something. An action is something that is done. Got it?

I used to advise young people who asked me about their acting to take charge of whatever scene they were in. Even if they were only playing Third Guard. If there was nothing that required their participation, then to stay still. But to always be alert and ready to step in and do something if the Third Guard was needed.
Any serious actor will tell you that emotion is the sauce on the steak. The sauce without the steak is what unprofessional actors try to do. But what is the steak? What is AT steak?

The character that is being played has a desire and a goal: to make something happen or to prevent something from happening. He wants her, she doesn't want him. There's a conflict, and it's the conflict that brings on the feelings. The more vigorously he pursue her and the more insistently she rejects him the stronger the actions and hence the stronger the emotions. It's not real life. But it will convincingly resemble real life if it is artistically done and believed in by the actors. Their emotions will come with the steak.

Sometimes an actor has to play a character whose desire and actions are so villainous, extreme or self-consuming that he draws on actions that produce a strong passion about something, and at other times no passion at all. Shakespeare's King Richard the Third seems to be completely unemotional about all the heads he's chopping off. There are certain roles that require the actor to unlock the madman inside and let him out. But, since it's done through art, he can do it and still be of "sound mind."

It is the actor's good fortune to know both the nobility and the villainy that dwell in all of us otherwise sound minded people. And that is what we get to portray.

So the next time your crossword puzzle says "to act" you can write in "doing" if you want to, but I don't advise it. It won't fit. So write in "emote" and chuckle along with me at the silliness of it.

DB - the Vagabond

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Useful Uncovering

Dear Spotters, thank you for your interest in my paintings. I will be glad to share them with you, but it will take some time. My neighbor is ready to take digital photographs of them but I'm still working on three of them and another three were damaged during my last move and need to be repaired. Maybe by December I'll be ready to "show." DB

Instead of using your imagination as an escape,
create an inner landscape that matches your goals.



In the late 1960s, when I moved back to New York City, I found a 24 hour radio station that played my favorite music, classical. The program that ran from midnight to 6 was particularly interesting because it was one 6 hour program which contained only 2 five minute newscasts somewhere around 2 and 4. And the announcer, Bill, was an intellectual, sophisticated gentleman who had very interesting things to say.

I thought to myself that if I ever had my own radio program, that is what I wanted to do. I thought about it off and on over the years and imagined what I would do and what it would be like.

About 6 years later I heard that the station was looking for part time relief announcers. So I auditioned and was hired. When I worked it was in the daytime or the evening. But sometimes, if I worked the evening shift, I would stay for a while and talk with, Bill, the all night announcer, who was a fascinating fellow. We had great conversations.

But the station was sold and the new manager, who didn't know much about music, broadcasting or New York, brought in a bunch of buddies from Kansas City and turned it into a rock station. They thought they were going to take New York by storm. (Nobody takes New York City by storm.)

They lasted for about a year and then went off the air. The station was dead for almost another year. And then one evening I got a message when I got home from David, the man who had been the program director of the old station. He told me that we had gone back on the air at 8:30, Bill was no longer available so Matt was coming in to do the all night show and could I be there at 6 to do the morning show. I called him back and said I would. I set my alarm, went to bed, woke up at 4, had some coffee and breakfast and then walked from my apartment on 57th Street down to the building on 45th Street, took the elevator up and walked in on Matt who was just finishing the all nighter.

I was now the full time staff announcer for the morning show. A week later we had a staff meeting. After it, David, the program director asked us if we were all satisfied with our shifts. Matt said he would rather do the morning show and I said I would rather do the all night show, so David said go ahead and switch tonight.

That night, at midnight, I sat down, turned on the microphone and was on the air doing the program I wanted to do and thought about doing and imagined myself doing for the past 10 years.

For the next 2 years it was a love affair. I programmed the show myself, so I could do anything I wanted. I could play a piece and then play it again if I wanted to. I could play the longest recorded piece, a 5 1/2 hour opera by Berlioz. I interviewed some musicians, got a lot of great fan mail which I still have, some of it from famous people, got my name in the papers and was a happy man.

But, alas, they sold the station again. The new manager was inept and managed (mangled) the place right out of business. So I went on my vagabond way. But it taught me about imagining and visualizing my goals and that I had more to do in life.

DB - Vagabond Journeys


Treasure Testing 10/12/08

There are so many doors to be opened,
and I'm not afraid to look behind them.

Elizabeth Taylor


Just about 30 years ago I signed up to take life drawing classes at the Art Students League in New York City, The League is a great place. There are no entrance requirements, no tests, but there are student exhibits now and then, and you can come and go as you please.

During the month of October I had one class a week on Saturday mornings. By the first of the year I was signed up for classes all day, every day. I was doing a lot of freelance work at the time and I had a locker at the League. So I could start drawing in the morning, put my stuff in the locker when I had to go, then get it again when I came back. I was always enrolled in a class somewhere.

In about 6 to 9 months my skill improved enough to start painting., Since then my paintings have won a couple of awards and I've even sold a few even though I don't market them yet.

Drawing and painting was a great, precious discovery for me. I can't tell you how important it was. It was like opening the door to a room in my house I had never been in before and didn't know was there. It changed my life.

There are many more doors to open and look behind. I am seeking them out.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Senior Search 10/11/08

The worst thing for a man
is when there is nothing to do,
and no future.

Marat Safin


Only 75 shopping days left till Christmas!! (I wonder how many people know why I said that.)

If anyone cares to do it, defining one's life can be a tough, brass knuckle thing to do. There was a famous acting teacher of the past who used to say to his class on the first day, "If you want to be an actor you're going to spend the rest of your life looking for work. If you can't deal with that you might as well walk out of here right now."

As I look back on my life I realize that my goals were very simple ones. As a vagabond theatre actor it was usually to get the next job. I didn't think about any long range goals.

Some people work their lives in order to retire. I never planned to retire, but physical problems forced me to, and now I'm faced with the dilemma of identifying myself, my life and my future.

The future comes in two forms: the short term and the long term. For many people the short term future is today. The goal is to get through the day. For others it's to get through the week, to get to the next pension check, to get the Christmas shopping done.

But what about the long term future. So now I'm retired. So What? I don't have to look for a job. What should I do? For many people the goal is retirement, but retirement comes with a problem. This is where the brass knuckles come into play. If your goal in life is to retire and you've achieved it, what's left? Death?

I'm still alive (thank you) and so my life is moving along. But to where is it moving? And why?

To have a future, but to have no idea at all what it is, means there is no goal.

I am grateful that these brass knuckles hit me gently in the jaw because now I am thinking about a goal, goals, a future, a long range future, instead of a colorful but troubled past.

DB - The Vagabond

Friday, October 10, 2008

Relative Restrictions

Many a time a man cannot be such as he would be,
if circumstances do not admit of it.

Jean Racine


I was born into an upper middle class family. We had a big house with an acre and a half of land in a New York City suburb. My father was an officer in the U.S. Army. He had seen action in France during the First World War, had been wounded and decorated. After the war he stayed in the Army Reserves and worked as a writer and publicist. He wanted very much to go back on active duty when the Second World War started but he couldn't pass the physical. His wound had given him a heart condition. In 1943 he died. The government decided that since hw wasn't on active duty when he died they were under no obligation to give his widow his Army pension, in spite of his years of service and citation for bravery under fire.

My mother tried to keep the house by taking in borders, but two years later she sold it and we started moving. I was six years old.

My much older brother and sister were off to college. Hers was already paid for by my father. My brother joined the Navy ROTC which paid for his education.

My mother tried vainly to hold on to her possessions under the false belief that somehow she would regain the life she had lost: the fine china, the silverware, the pictures the books, etc. But we were slowly sinking into poverty and things had to be sold or discarded. One time the house we were renting burned down and many things were destroyed. By the time I was in high school we were living in a miserable shack with no central heating and sometimes no electricity. I literally often did my homework by the light of a kerosene lamp. Mother would cook on a Sterno can.

I had a job delivering papers after school. And I saw my mother go off to a typing job every day with arthritic fingers.

Some times people would help us out, but frequently in inappropriate ways. Some one gave me a violin. I tried like hell to learn to play it but we couldn't afford lessons. A fellow we knew sent me to Boy Scout Camp. I strongly disliked it. A well known singing teacher heard my voice and said that I could be a great singer. He wanted to teach me. We couldn't afford it.

I had an interest in drawing and painting but it was squelched by my family. I didn't return to it until 30 years later. Then my paintings won some awards in exhibits.

I got a one year scholarship to college to study music. During that year I acted in several shows for the Drama Department. I was the only one in the history of that college up to that time who won Best Actor Of The Year and Best Freshman Actor Of The Year in the same year, and I wasn't even a drama major.

The summer following that first and only year at college, my life changed. From the time my father died until I was 18 I had no proper guidance from any source. Decisions were being made for me and they were usually wrong ones. But that summer I took a very low paying job as an actor in a summer stock theatre and met the man who would teach me, or rather show me, that I was an actor. I never took a class in acting. I learned it on my feet.

And so my real life began. But one day, after working steadily as an actor for three years in southern New England, I found myself without a job. So I walked into the local radio station and took an audition. They gave me a part time job in a combo studio, where you had to be both the announcer and the engineer. When I first sat down at the board I didn't even know how to turn the microphone on. I did that job for the summer and in the Fall they gave me a full time staff position. So now I was a broadcaster, for a while.

Many years later after I left radio to work full time as an actor I was out of work one day and a friend suggested I try proofreading. He got me an appointment for a test and an interview at a big law firm. I didn't know anything about proofreading. But I went to a bookstore and bought a book on it, read the book, aced the test and the interview and went to work the next day. Thankfully I could learn the finer points by asking around. And so that became my in between work when I wasn't under contract as an actor.

Now I'm retired and live in a place where, after looking around for 7 years, I have no opportunities. There's no point in being ashamed of my life. There's no use thinking about what I might have been: a great singer, a great painter, a famous actor. I can think instead of all the other men and women in the world who will never achieve their potential because of improper guidance and lack of money and opportunities. And I can wish I could do something for them.

DB - The Vagabond

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quickening Quality

To be is to be the value of a variable.

Willard Quine

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Persistent Plumbing

It is necessary to the happiness of man
that he be mentally faithful to himself.
Thomas Paine


One of the benefits of growing up is the liberation of being able to weigh one's thoughts in the scales of reality and results. I am weary and disgusted at having my thinking corrected by any patronizing individual whose ability to think for him or herself is suspect. I've had my acting corrected by those who daren't set foot on a stage in front of an audience. I've had my announcing corrected by those who would be petrified in front of an open microphone.

When I was in the 6th Grade our teacher Mrs. Coleman, asked the class what they liked to watch on TV. It so happened that I enjoyed watching the UN proceedings in the afternoon. They were broadcast over the PBS station with no editorial comment. Even though I didn't completely understand all the nuances of the political and diplomatic maneuvers, I was fascinated by seeing all those men from the various different countries coming together to talk about some issue. I had a map from the UN so I could see where the people came from. When it was my turn to respond to Mrs. Coleman's question and I said I liked to watch the UN in front of the entire class she called me a liar. Not having learned, at that young age, the technique of sticking up for myself, I let it pass. But i will never forget that insult. (Wasn't that the same school where Mr. O'Conner, the science teacher, told you that man could never fly to the Moon? No further questions, Your Honor.)

Be careful that someone doesn't try to exercise some degree of authority over your thinking, Most of the authorities in the world, aren't. Even if you seem to let them out of love or respect, retain the right to pass their words and ideas through the prism of your own self-knowledge. That's where you live, warts and all. Everything else is costume and make up.

Listening, understanding, compassion, advice and open discussion are good things. But beware you don't try to exercise a willful, judgmental, even well meaning, rearrangement of someone else's thinking. At the last trumpet we are alone with the creator and creation, and answerable to ourselves, to our own honesty.

DB - The Vagabond

Monday, October 6, 2008

Omnipresent Offering

I really just want to be a warm yellow light
that pours over everyone I love.
Conner Oberst

I spent my life as an entertainer. As an actor the motive was to share the talent and ability I was blessed with and the craft and experience I developed, to touch people's hearts and minds, to heal.

Now, since I can't work any more, due to illness, I am trying to do the same things through my writing. I try to share my thoughts and feelings, my impressions and lessons, and, though the payback is sparse, I seem to keep doing it.

But I'm pushed down hard with the burdens of sickness, pain, poverty, debt, threats and other troubles. And one day I will stop. It's inevitable.

One of these days I'm gonna set my burdens down.
One of these days, Lord, I'm gonna set my burdens down.
One of these days I'm gonna set my burdens down,
And carry my song away.

Natural Nobility

We are living life as it is meant to be lived -
as a challenge that takes every bit of our courage and ability.

Anna Neagle

Why does it take so much courage to live a life? Where do we find the strength to continue in the face of all the problems and dangers that threaten us? What gives us the ability to wake up, get up and face another day of trouble, fear and worry? How do we cope in our days with illness, poverty and loss, loss of loved ones, family, friends and pets, loss of employment, loss of faith, loss of trust in government, loss of the strength and energy of youth, loss of confidence in ourselves? And what do we do about desperate situations that suddenly arise?

I have wanted to tell this story for some time, The picture is from a play I did in Pennsylvania a few years ago. It is the moment when the lights go up on the curtain call. The actor in the center is David. The one on the end is Paul. In the final moments of the play I am curled up on the floor, dead. Paul is holding up a pillow stuffed with feathers. And David stabs it with a knife sending the feathers flying. Then he has a rather long speech - several minutes long.

One night the consistency of the cloth was different for the pillow and when David stabbed into it the knife went right through it and into his thigh. He could have left the stage at that point. But instead he found the strength in himself to do the speech and join us in the curtain call. And Paul, who faints at the sight of blood, held himself together long enough to finish the play.

Back in the dressing room Paul passed out on the floor and David asked me to get the stage manager to call an ambulance. When I saw the wound in David thigh I could hardly believe that he had stood and walked with us.

That evening there was an opening night party for the other show in the theatre, to which we were invited. Charlie ,the director, followed David to the hospital. Paul went back to his apartment. The crew were all busy scrubbing blood off the stage floor. So I went to the party. I didn't get four feet inside the room before I was surrounded by people from the other show wanting to know what happened. When I described the event they were amazed at David's courage.

The next day I went to visit him at the hospital. The doctor had told him that the wound went right down to the bone, but that he had just barely missed an artery.

We missed only two performances. The third day David was back. We had to rehearse it to change some physical things, but we went back to work. It was one of the most wonderful examples of courage and personal strength I've ever seen close up.

A humorous side note to this story is that when the ambulance was called the media showed up and pictures were taken and published. After his first night back, we put David in a cab. The Caribbean cab driver looked at him in the rear view mirror, recognized him and said "Oo, my Gahd! Eets thuh mahn what stahb heemself."

DB - The Vagabond

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Morning Maneuver

We die daily. Happy those who come to life as well.

George MacDonald

Every day is a disaster, to one degree or another. Things explode ,or they implode. Things break down and refuse to get fixed. Other things don't work right. Things don't go the way you want them to or expect them to. You tried, you failed. So what's the solution? The solution is: tomorrow.

I used to have an early morning radio program in a big city. I went on the air before most of my listeners were awake. As they came to they relied on me to tell them what day it was, what time it was, what the weather forecast was for the day, etc. I would also remind them frequently that they had another chance to do great things. I would pepper my announcements by saying "Thank heaven we have another day on our hands." Then, since I was in a big city with a lot of commerce going on I would say things like "Make that sale!" "Win that case!" "Pass that test!" "Sign that contract!"

People would often write and tell me how much they appreciated that gentle boot in the rear as they were getting ready to leave the home and head out into the jungle.

When you get up tomorrow remember that you have another day on your hands, and make a mole hill out of that mountain you made today.

DB - The Vagabond

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Laughable Loss

If you're trying to invent something new,
you're going to reach a lot of discouraging points
and most people give up.

Steve Lacy


It's okay to give up. Giving up is fine. Giving up is good. I give up several times a day. When the pen falls on the floor and disappears into the black hole, I give up looking for it. I gave up trying to get my scanner to work so I could post some pictures in my journal. I gave up trying to get my journal started on logspot. Everything I have and I've done I gave up on.

What giving up does is to relieve the growing emotions like frustration, desperation and rage. It enables one to let go of the trash that's gathering at the front door of one's thinking. It then enables one to open the door and let fresh air into the mind. It thumbs it's nose at failure and disappointment. It justifies tears.

But if you don't take yourself too seriously, it also enables you to go back and start over. The air is cleared, the bonds have been removed and the fog has drifted away. It's a splendid emotional cleaning. It can help to turn misery into joy.

This afternoon I watched a friend accidently drop a small piece of her telephone as she was trying to assemble it. It fell to the floor and disappeared. She was angry and frustrated because she couldn't find it. Groping around on the floor in the only places it could be just made her more upset. Finally she gave up. We had a chat, shared a few laughs and she went and sat down. From her chair she could see under a cabinet and there was the piece she had been looking for. Not where it should logically be.

Years ago I was doing a play down south. It was a terrible experience. I didn't like the theatre, the director, the other actors nor the town. I was miserable. I finally made up my mind to leave. I quit the show, left the theatre and went home. It was a long bus ride to get from there back to New York. And all the way I kept asking myself what I thought I was doing. I was walking away from a job, from my career. I had never done anything like that in my life. But there was a quiet voice inside me which kept saying "You're doing the right thing." I wouldn't have paid any attention to it if it had happened only once. But the voice kept repeating over and over again "You're doing the right thing."

When I finally got home I relaxed and went to sleep. When I woke up the next day I started processing what I had done and I realized that I had accepted that job for the wrong reasons. It was a money choice, not an artistic choice. There was nothing wrong with the play itself. It was the production that made me unhappy.

A week or so later I received a call from another theatre asking me to come and play the very same role I had walked away from. A bigger theatre, a better director and a nicer group of people all around; it was a very happy experience. Obviously I had done the right thing.

I spent my life working as a performing artist. Now I'm retired with physical problems. I've given up acting and quit show business. Will I ever work again? I don't know. But like my actor/director friend Jim, I have sung my swan song so many times I no longer take myself seriously .

DB - The Vagabond

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kinetic Knack

Being a writer is like having homework
every night for the rest of your life.

Lawrence Kasdan

Dear Spotters

I write every day. I spent my working life as a performing artist. Due to physical problems I can't work at that trade anymore, so now I write. I am amused to see that Google in its profile section under "industry" has no category marked "theatre," "film" "entertainment" or "show business." So I had to go with "arts." I guess that's okay. Artists have always been considered sub-citizens by the big corporate world, especially actors (except rich and promiscuous movie stars, some of whom are not "actors" in the strictest sense of the word). I'll settle for "arts."

By the way, you can also find me in all my amber autumnal splendor at:

Somerset Maugham said that if you want to be a writer you have to write everyday. In my case I write everyday whether I want to be a writer or not. I write because somehow I feel obligated to. I don't have a publisher or an agent tapping his impatient foot nor a teacher gleefully giving me impossible assignments. I just think that if I didn't write something and put it in my journal every night I would be letting myself down and also possibly a few readers. So I write whether I feel like it or not.

I often sit at this keyboard and know I have nothing to say. So I check the mail, go for a walk, do a little reading, ponder, take a nap (old folks do that), wake up and have another cup of coffee, while I try to put a sentence or two together. Soon I give up, hopelessly admit a blank mind and an uncreative day. It's pure drudgery. I heave a sigh over my lumpish nature and decide that I'll just leave a quote and forget about it.


Silently and suddenly, like a squirrel showing up on the porch outside the window, a thought comes to me. And then another, and soon there are a few that line themselves up in a good order, Some words pop up, a phrase or two, an example, some language that appeals to me, colors and sounds, pictures, a new way of saying something and a feeling. The squirrel becomes a deer. And then everything begins to circle around a main idea like planets around the sun, each sending out its own energy and beauty and light. The marvelous English language starts caressing my mind. I can't type fast enough. I'm in love again.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Justified Jump

People lose people.
We lose things in our life as we're constantly growing and changing.
That's what life is is change, and a lot of that is loss.
It's what you gain from that loss that makes life.

Thomas Jane

Right. Now we're told we have to pick up and split the scene.
The Sheriff has given us until the end of the month to round up our livestock, shut down the still, board up the old shack, pack our bags, hit the road and find somewhere else to sell our snake oil.
Well we've been AOLed long enough I guess. I personally have been a vagabond all my life so it doesn't splinter my nerves to move again. Some folks will drop off along the way and be lost. I know that's true. It's not the first time that's happened in my life. I wish them well, bon chance, and all of that. until we meet again or we don't.
Like most of you I'm crossing the Red Sea into Goo Goo Land. In fact I've already pitched a tent over there/here and am open for business. You will find me at:
If I leave you a comment it will come from "housetohalf." Don't be alarmed, that was my original Google title. It's a theatre term signifying that the show is about to start.
For you emailists there will be no change at all since my pigeons are still delivering my mail.
Some of you have been Jlanders for a long time, much longer than I have and I know this uprooting is probably very stressful. And the landscape over there/here is different and will take some getting used to. But think of it as an adventure. New things to discover and maybe new people to meet.
Moving is a difficult thing and usually much more complicated than one thinks it's going to be. I know some of you are concerned about salvaging all the journalism of the past. I am also, obviously, although compared with most of you I'm a newcomer.
Even though my AOL journal has been open for several years it has only been active since February when the Washington State Linda, bless her, found me and started spreading the word. Then I got a comment on my journal from Bethe and I was so startled I said "Who are you?" Since then I've written a lot of entries and made a lot of friends. I don't want to lose any, but I know it's inevitable.
I was IMing someone today who was concerned about possibly having to go through her entire journal to save things. That's a huge job, but I suggested that maybe she would find things that she would just as soon get rid of. I know I would, to discard the things but keep the lessons.
Well, I will keep making entries in the AOL journal until the cows come home and I understand they're due in at the end of the month. But those of you who are forced to move, I sincerely hope I meet up with you all again across the river.
To those on my email list, it's business as usual.
DB - The Vagabond