Thursday, April 30, 2009

Zeds & Zeros 4/30/09

Only the person who has experienced light and darkness, war and peace, rise and fall; only that person has truly experienced life.

Stefan Zweig

How many days must dawn on a troubled life before the mud is dry?

How many hopes must be sacrificed to pay for the sin of desire?

How many sweethearts must be killed before the war is won?

How many painful steps must be taken before the old man can rest?

How many scornful words must be said before the fool is forgotten?

How many nights must be watched before the child is born?

How many times must the gavel thump before the truth is known?

How many tears must be shed before the prayer is heard?

How many children must starve before the help is offered?

How many days must be spent in fear before the door is opened?

How many light bulbs must be changed before the room stays lit?

How many animals must suffer before the sadists are satisfied?

How many curses must be uttered before the people listen?

How many wrecks must there be before the drunks are sober?

How many youngsters must be lost before the predators are found?

How many punches must be delivered before the police arrive?

How many lies must be told before the laws are obeyed?

How many crowds must gather before the wretched poor are fed?

How many lives must be destroyed before revenge is a felony?

How many sermons must be read before the ignorant are saved?

How many hollow weeks must pass before the lonely are visited?

How many hearts must break before we uncover love?


How many words must I write before I win my rights?

How many gates must I unlock before I can see my freedom?

How many times must I begin again before I can begin to live?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yesterday's Yoke 4/29/09

Choose your companions from the best.

This quotation from W. B, sure kicks at some old and new wounds. I calculate decades have to be used to measure the time it has taken me to learn that lesson. How ,much time have I wasted listening to the dull, talking with the hard-of-understanding, praising the unworthy and trying to show respect for the disrespectable? "Let me count the ways." No, let me not.

Recently, a dear, long time friend (she knows who she is, one of the best) said to me "Why do you insist upon believing that everyone is as intelligent as you are?" The answer is "Because I want them to be. I want them to be more intelligent so that I can learn something."

One of life's frustrating discoveries is that some people actually make a habit, or even a religion, out of not understanding things. It seems that if it doesn't fit into the circle around their toes and noses, they don't want to know about it. They eschew any knowledge that is on the other side of the fence. And so, as a result, are shocked and offended when something happens that they didn't expect or that doesn't fit a preconception. A wise person said "Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often."

Your life is run by ideas. That's a fact. And if they aren't your ideas then they are someone else's and whether you agree with them or not it is well to find out what they are. Not doing that caused a lot of people and businesses to go bankrupt recently. But reason is one of the most useful tools in the shed. Why is it buried?

There are other ways in which we can blind ourselves to that which is true. One is to predesign it. If you make up your mind a head of time what is true and what isn't and then try to live that way, you're on the primrose path. Imagine a scientist with a hypothesis that doesn't hold up under experimentation but who goes ahead and publishes it as if it was a true discovery. That has happened unfortunately. It may be your boat, but if it's sinking, get off of it.

Another, even more insidious way to avoid understanding something is envy. If someone seems more intelligent, some people don't want to be around him because they feel intimidated, It's much easier for some people to stiff arm any degree of wisdom than to admit that someone else has more. That kind of egotism keeps people dolts. It protects them from enlightenment. I believe I have lost comrades for that reason.

I hope I don't quit the field and give up the struggle to get myself and others free from these mental mirages we have created for ourselves, and their effects. Wisdom will force the thinking person to find a tool for expressing itself. From the reactive person wisdom will hide. .I think it is vitally important to our future that we don't go on living in clouds and think we will survive. In the meantime and from now on, I hope it's the best companions I can find who will get my time and attention.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Xenophilic X-rays 4/28/09

To me reading philosophy is like reading a great work of fiction. I love to follow a path of ideas to the ultimate and pleasurable surprise.

DB - The Vagabond
C'mon-a my house-a, my house.
When I was a kid I liked classical music, opera, poetry and novels (Yes. I was a strange kid.) But I wouldn't go near philosophy. What could be more boring? Watching the grass grow, perhaps?

My college English teacher, a tiresome, over-categorizing fellow, made us wade through Plato's "Republic" for some odd reason. It was all Greek to me (ha, ha). I had a girl friend who was a Philosophy major. She would often give me quotes to think about: Plato said this, Descartes said that, Aristotle said the other, but then Mill said so and so and Russell replied such and so, and of course Santayana and Rousseau, etc. until my head was spinning.

Years later, I don't remember how, I found a copy of "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes sitting on my desk. So I read it. That book showed me three important things. One: it taught me a lot about the machinery of politics and government. Two: it showed me that in the hands and mind of a great thinker, philosophy could be a very interesting read, Three: philosophy isn't a system to tell you what to think, but a system to get you thinking for yourself.

The first actual book of phosophy I bought for myself was by Martin Heidegger. By the time I finished it I was an addict. I soon found the funds to purchase a complete Plato that now sits at my elbow along with my complete Shakespeare and some other favored books. I was blessed to be chosen to record Nietzsche's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" for the Library Of Congress' books for the blind.

Now I'm the owner of a small library of philosophical works: a lot of Aristotle, Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Benthem, Mill, Santayana, Kierkegaard, Bruno, Locke, Whitehead, Neruda, Russell, Sartre, Descartes, Aquinas, Jaspers, Hegel and that's all I can remember without going through my library and it's too hot today to do that. Plus I have several journals on philosophy and the history of ideas.

Aesthetics, ethics, politics, poetics, linguistics, logic, epistemology, metaphysics, semantics, cosmology, spirituality, sociology, virtue; philosophy is the study of the human race, where it came from, and what it's destiny is. It is the hidden art and the divine science.

Through the years philosophers have approached it's topics from every conceivable angle and influence. That they can't agree with each other is what makes it fun. But they all address their subjects with a keen mind. To follow such a mind as it hikes its way through the jungle of thoughts and theories, making discoveries along the way and reaching a destination on top of some mountain of clarity and conclusion, is exciting to me.

You don't have to like philosophy. You don't have to read it. Leave that up to strange kids like me. I just wanted to spend this page of my journal sharing my joy with you.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
May angels greet you in the morning.

Monday, April 27, 2009


From a reader of "Brian and Christine" on Vagabond Tales.

it does feel like a siege situation. The three of them have formed a family, and outside forces are conspiring to tear them apart. How can they fight these seemingly invincible--and virtually invisible--foes? Can they keep their new family together?

Wary Wisdom 4/27/09

To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have.

Theodore White
Ah, back again are you?
A "difficult act of heroism"? Now why should that be? What's wrong with thinking for yourself, having original ideas and expressing them? Why should that require bravery?

It might be because some people do it in a belligerent fashion. Instead of "I'd like to offer a different opinion." they say "Sorry, buddy, but you're wrong." Ot it may be because a person with a different idea can't express it as easily as someone can who expresses the common opinion armed with all the sayings and sound bites that accompany it. Most likely it is because the ones with the standard, chiseled-in-stone ideas are ready to do verbal battle with anyone who disagrees with them.

I once lost a friend because she found out that I had a political and social opinion that was different from hers. Losing a friend for that reason is an absurd experience, but what was worse is that she acted as if I had been hiding my beliefs from her when in fact the subject of politics had never come up in our conversations.
She just summarily and scornfully dumped me as a friend, and that was that. What a shame.

I knew a man in a small backwoods community, who held very strict political views. They were well known in the town and were known to be extreme. People knew not to bring up the subject of politics with him. If perchance someone disagreed with him the verbal abuse to follow was terrifying. But if one tried to argue the point with him that person's life might literally be in danger.

On the other hand, I knew two men who were the best of friends. They shared a lot of enjoyments and laughs together, and yet they had diametrically opposed views about politics. One was a far left liberal and the other a far right conservative.
One day we were sitting around talking and a mutual friend asked them how, given their differences, they could remain such good friends. One of them said something like: "I'm a bleeding heart, pinko, empty headed liberal and he knows it, and he's a heartless, lock jawed, cement headed conservative and I know it, and on that basis we get along just fine." The other one nodded in assent.

I don't know, but I tend to think maybe the world could breathe more easily with something akin to that style of light hearted bipartisanship.

Go get some rays.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Viewed Verisimilitude 4/26/09

Life is a zoo in a jungle.

Peter De Vries
Happy Sunday.
Years ago some friends and I went to a zoo in a large city. After wandering around we got to the primate area. There was a large field with baboons chasing each other around and a building next to it. When we entered the building we were in the gorilla section. There were several glassed in areas. One of them was a small area with rocky walls and ledges. Sitting on the ledge near the window was a young male gorilla watching the people go by. There was a bench nearby, so I sat down.

Within a few seconds that youngster and I were staring at each other. He reached up and brushed his shoulder once. I did the same. Every time he made a gesture I copied him. He seemed interested in that. I held up my hand in the gesture of a greeting. He watched me but didn't do anything. I did it again. After the third time he copied me.

Soon we were making gestures at each other. I always imitated him, which seemed to amuse him. Some of my gestures he imitated, some he didn't. There was a man's voice behind me with a scornful tone that said "Ha. Monkey see, monkey do."

"Ape" I said.


"Ape, not monkey."

"Oh, really" the scorn went on. "And what's the difference?"

"Monkeys have tails" I said.

He walked away.

The imitation game went on for a while, back and forth, until the mother gorilla came out to get him. She lifted him up gently. He climbed up onto her shoulder and as they disappeared behind the rocks he looked back at me.

I didn't see that young one again, but I wonder just how much real communication there was between us. There certainly seemed to be thinking going on.

Considering that he was probably born there, under the supervision of the zoo's veterinarian, that he was fed and cared for by the custodians, that he had other young gorillas to frolic with and the adults as companions and that when he wanted some entertainment he could sit on the rocks and watch the silly humans walk by and gawk at him, my final question is: Which one of us is living the more civilized life?

DB - Vagabond Journey
May the good shine through.
Check out the Spring Quiz below.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Unexpected Uncovering 4/25/09

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as other creatures do.

Good day, my friend.
One of the most memorable experiences I ever had while hiking in a forest happened many years ago in the middle of the night.

The many hours spent in the White Mountain National Forest had given me a great respect for the creatures who live there. I learned to admire how the chipmunks could silently move across the fallen leaves, how the squirrels could charge up a tree at the speed of lightening, how the bats could fly noiselessly as if the were black leaves being blown by the wind,

I admired how the large birds could sail between the thick branches of the trees, how the rustling of leaves on the ground nearby when there was no wind would reveal a snake that had crawled under them to escape being seen and that when I saw the hoof prints on the trail I would know that a moose had passed there recently.

I saw the deer running through the brush, their little white tails bobbing up and down. I heard the splash of the frogs in the water as I approached. When I came to a clearing where there were wild flowers, I saw the insects going about their business. And sometimes I would see something pop up from behind a rock and dip back down again so fast I couldn't catch what it was.

I have written before about my trip down Tremont Mountain, most of which I had to do in the dark because I had mistimed my journey, Near the end of that hike there was a small brook that had to be crossed, It was a very dark night, There was no moon. I knew that on the other side of the brook there was only a short, half hour walk to my car so I decided to sit down by the brook before I crossed it, rest and have a cigarette. I turned off my flashlight and set it down, put down my stick and my back pack, took out my cigarettes and my matches.

I had large, kitchen matches. When I struck one I saw that all around me for as far as I could see there were eyes looking at me: large eyes, small eyes, round eyes, squinty eyes, tiny dots of eyes close together, big droopy eyes far apart. It was as if every creature in the neighborhood had called a truce to whatever hostility they had with each other and all came out to find out what this being was that had invaded their territory. I had absolutely no inkling that there were any animals around, I didn't hear a sound. But they sure heard me.

Of course, as fast as they could they disappeared. I finished my cigarette, got across the brook and made it home with no further contact with wild life. But I won't forget the night when I was the talk of the forest.

Vagabond Journeys
Spend some joy today.


What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

15 responses so far.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal Thank you. DB


Friday, April 24, 2009

Talent Tool 4/24/09

Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive...then do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman
Hello. Come right in.
I was doing a play in Virginia and the producer asked two of us if we would talk to a group of high school drama students who had seen the show. We both agreed and a session was set up at the high school with about 10 senior class students. They were a bright and curious group. I enjoyed meeting with them and answering their questions.

At one point one of the boys asked what life was like in theatre. I asked him if he was thinking about a life in theatre. He answered "Mildly." My colleague said "Well, if you're thinking about it mildly, don't think about it."

I could feel the kid's reaction so I said to him "My colleague is not being insulting. He's telling the truth." I went on to say that the theatre, as with any important venture in life, one had to go into with both feet, stomach, heart and brains. If it wasn't an unqualified desire in his life then something else was and he should keep experimenting until he found it.

I also let him know that the theatre may in fact be his life's work but that he just didn't know it yet. That he was in that class showed that he was definitely interested in acting and he should keep doing it if he wanted to and one day it might happen that his bells would ring and his lights go on and he would know "This is what I want to do for my life." I told him that might happen in the next five years, the next five weeks or the next five minutes. One never knows. But that if it doesn't happen he should keep on looking and one day it will.

I told the story of a singer I once worked with. To the age of 50 he owned a successful insurance company. His doctor told him he had to do something to exercise his throat. They both agreed singing would be a good choice, so he began taking singing lessons, Three years later he sold his business and became a full time professional singer. He was 55 when I knew him. He said that it was as if he had been asleep for half a century and suddenly came alive.

I knew another man who, in his early middle age, quit the corporate world and went to medical school because he suddenly realized that what he wanted to do, what he had to do with his life, was to deliver babies.

There are hundreds of stories like that. It usually doesn't happen in any grandiose fashion. I have described elsewhere how it happened to me as I stepped over my sister's vacuum cleaner. It's usually more like the silent, final click that opens the padlock One may not even realize it has happened. And one can't force it. But when it happens it always leads us somewhere.

Ask, seek, knock, struggle, strive, get to know yourself and one day you will find, as Beth puts it, "what floats your boat."

When you come alive you contribute to the world and make it better. It's inevitable. You can't help it.

DB - The Vagabond
Sing a song to Spring, tra la.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Special Sessions 4/23/09

The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit is to be joyless.

Dorothy Sayers
Hi, please remain seated.
I had a joyful day today. I was basically happy all day and at first I couldn't figure our why. I have no reason to be happy. I have a U-Haul full of troubles, what's with all this glee?

Around noon I realized that I had been thinking about people I used to know that I liked, people who were good and respectable, people whom I respected and liked, people who smiled whenever they saw me and who put a smile on my face. Some are people I don't know any more and I don't know where they are. But the memories I have of them are so beautiful that I can keep them in my life and recall them any time.

I live alone, No one is here to greet me when I come home. I have no grandchildren to climb up on my lap. There is no faithful dog wagging it's tail at me, no cat looking for food and strokes. There's no one to help me up the stairs with my groceries. I have to look at the same dirty dishes still in the sink where I left them. The life of a solitary senior citizen is a lonesome one, especially if it's filled with troubles.

But in spite of the fact that there is no one to help me solve those problems, in spite of the monsters in my mail box, the vipers on my telephone and the sadistic notices sitting on my desk, I'm smiling.

How come? Because I know and have known good people, people I cared about and who cared about me, and I can think about those people any time I want to.

Keep dry, or keep wet, whichever you prefer.
If April showers bring May flowers than next month this town is going to be a forest.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rendering Reality 4/22/09

I am fascinated by the whole process of what it means to be alive.

Charlotte Rampling
How do you do?
"Life's perhaps the only riddle that we shrink from giving up" W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan) wrote. As time goes by life is becoming more and more of a riddle. Most of us live theoretical lives; that is, we live according to theories of life that are based on conclusions reached from observations of the world around us. Every time a discovery is made, the theories change a little bit and hence so does life.

Ever since space exploration began our theories about life have had to include some universal concepts. We can no longer think of life as something that is purely earth bound. But understanding the universe is about as easy as pitching a baseball to the moon.

As if to complicate matters further, scientists are now telling us about the existence of parallel universes. Frankly that complication delights me. Beth says that some of my entries make the brain hurt. Well Beth, get the aspirin ready, folks may be calling on you.

Is it possible that there is another paper clip, identical to the one in front of you, existing in the same time and space, but in another universe? The answer is yes, if there are parallel universes. And if so, is it also possible that when you pick it up (go on, pick it up) there is another you, identical to you, existing in the same place and time, but in another universe, picking up the other, identical paper clip?

These are not questions that concern us in our mundane, earth and gravity bound lives. But should they be? The reason I find this fascinating is because I have noticed that there are things in our mundane lives that hint at, and even illustrate, some of these subjects.

Can a thing exist in two different places at the same time? Can a thing exist at different times at once? Can a thing exist and also not exist. Hang on! Don't quit now. It's going to get interesting.

I'm going to draw from my own career as an actor to illustrate the possibilities I've thrown in your face. "What! What could mere actors know about the physics of time/space or anything else for that matter?"

If, in a play, I pick up an object on the stage, let's say a book, it exists in reality, because it is a real book. But it is also a fictional book, because the play is a fiction. It is most likely not the book discussed in the play, but whatever book it is it has loaned itself to the fiction to represent the fictional book.

Now let's suppose during the course of the play my character eats an apple. It is a real apple and I am really eating it. Nevertheless it is a fictional apple because it is being eaten as part of the fiction, it has been made fictional, to be eaten by a fictional character.

Now since I am the fictional character eating the apple and holding the book my thoughts, feelings, actions and voice, even though they are mine as the actor, are also thoughts, feelings, etc. of the fiction, that is, of the life of the fictional character that isn't real. In short they are both real and fictional, they exist and don't exist, at the same time, in the same place.

Now an actor has two tapes, two consciousnesses, running through his head at the same time. One is the performance of the fiction, the thoughts, feelings, actions and words of the character in the fiction. And the other is the monitoring of his performance. The artist observing himself as he works through the story. Which is the fact? Which is the reality? Well, they both are. You see the man standing there with a book in his hand. It is a real actor with a real book. It is also a fictional character with a fictional book. Within the mundane, earth and gravity bound limits of the stage, they are parallel universes.

And finally there is the metaphysical tunnel leading to the questions of how much of ourselves is a fictional character in our own drama, how much of our lives is spent being there and not being there, how do we know if we are who we are or if we are the other self in the other universe?

These may seem, today, like silly wasting-of-time questions for a boring class in philosophy, but the answers may have a much broader impact on "the whole process of what it means to be alive" than we can even imagine.

Vagabond Journeys
May flowers and fruit bedeck your day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Questionable Qualifications 4/21/09

You should always look your best, because someday, when you least expect it, you may meet yourself.

DB The Vagabond
I hope all is well.

It often seems to me that I've spent most of my life being defined and described by other people. Family members knew me to be one way, my teachers another, colleagues another, critics another. That is an awful lot of hats to wear, especially since none of them fit my head. The worst part of it is that I tried, as most young people do, to be the person they described me as, and in those rare moments when my real self oozed through the cracks, I disappointed them.

Isn't it odd how people have to tuck others into nice cozy boxes with labels on them? And isn't it even odder that we let them do it? The result is a giant cover up. One can spend a lifetime trying to believe he is what other people say he is. One can adopt attitudes, behavior, opinions, even careers and life styles trying to conform to a fiction.

The human being is an infinitely complicated creature. There are no two alike. And yet when we become even the slightest bit self-aware we find it hard to believe that any one else is as complex as we are. And that's an easy mistake to make if the other person is only acting out a role he thinks is assigned to him.

I'm amused when I read that the critics are unanimous in their praise of some rising star, knowing that in three years or so that star will be a footnote. Or if he remains on the scene the media will be prying into his private life trying to come up with some way of defining him. Even though I was only a minor league celebrity I had the same label pasting put on me. A few times in my career I received a standing ovation from a large audience after my performance, which was very appreciated. But I knew there was at least one person, not standing, who didn't like it.

I've been labeled a realist, an idealist, a humanist, a socialist, a religionist, a classic, an eccentric, a traditionalist, a failure, ignorant, too sensitive, impractical, foolhardy, a dreamer, a loser, a liar, a genius, undependable, irrational, a joker, a loner, sarcastic, stupid, a leader, a curmudgeon, a betrayer, egotistical, awe inspiring.

What am I? The answer is: None of the above. I am a human being. And I am more complicated than I will ever possibly know. I have spent many unhappy hours struggling to squirm out of one or another of those boxes. But one of the advantages of growing older is that one can more freely throw off the labels, like leaves of a cabbage, to get to the heart. Yes, it gets harder, because some of the lower layers have been there for a long time.. But with each discarding of some false category that I have found myself believing in, I get closer to the real man. I sincerely hope that some day soon I will meet him.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
May you have glee today.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peculiar Persuasion 4/20/09

If you don't know where you're going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

Lawrence Peter
A warm, spring greeting to you.

I don't know, but it seems to me original thought is becoming more and more unpopular as the days go by. People are busily involved in useless activities. Radio and TV news and interview programs air inane nonsense. People come out of nowhere to sing badly on TV just to have a moment in the spotlight while other people watch them. City councils, state and federal congresses pass silly legislation. Authorities on so-called important subjects orate on them without giving a moments heed to making any solid sense. And all that is as it should be.

"If ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise" the old saying goes. But since when is ignorance bliss? If you don't know where you're going, you may take the wrong road. What's so blissful about that? What's so blissful about being wrong, foolish, backward, unaware, stupid? I'll tell you. Read on.

"Ah, but I don't have to think for myself, My husband tells me what to think, or my pastor, or the guy on the radio. Besides, I'm too busy, I can't waste time sitting around mulling things over. I have work to do."

Nothing serious was ever done without prime thought behind it, under it, over it, in front of it and on both sides.

"Okay, I'm going to think, I'm going to sit here and think, just think. I'm going to sit here until I think of something to think about. Now, let's see, what shall I think about? I wonder what I should think about. I guess if I think real hard I might come up with something to think about."

"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look, he thinks too much, such men are dangerous." (Shakespeare) To be sure thinking can be dangerous. You might solve a problem. If you think clearly about something you might come upon the truth (gasp!). You might find that some long held and cherished beliefs are just a stack of nonsense, Or what's worse, you might actually discover a great idea. Just think of the trouble you can avoid if you give up this silly notion of thinking for yourself.

"I don't like to think. Thinking disturbs my thoughts."

No, no. Slogan Mentality: that's the modern way. And it won't matter where you end up.

DB - The vagabond
Let a happy surprise be yours today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obligatory Observation 4/19/09

The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.

Lawrence Olivier
A big greeting to you.
After many years as a theatre actor, I finally got cast in my first film. Doing that job was a learning experience for me in a lot of ways.

Almost all film actors, even if they have spent their entire professional careers working in front of a camera, will tell you that they really enjoy working on the stage with a live audience, and some of them often take a big cut in salary to do it. From the 7th Century BCE until the 20th Century CE the stage is where actors worked. Film acting is an unusual and difficult process. The principles are the same but the circumstances are different. From the audience seats in a theatre you can see the entire playing area at once. If an actor needs to get your attention he can do that with a gesture or a movement. It's called "taking focus" (some nasty actors do it when they're not supposed to, that's called "stealing focus"). Since the director decides what is going to be shown on the screen, focus is not an issue to an actor in a film. There is a different kind of focus involved.

In my first film I had one scene. It was with the leading actor only and during it my character had to perform an intricate task sitting at a table.

The first lesson I learned was that while in theatre the playing area stays the same, in film it keeps changing. The "stage" can be as large as a desert or as small as the eye of a needle. In performing my table top task I was surrounded by equipment. The camera was focused on my fingers, the microphone was suspended in front of my face, there were hot, bright lights all around me. Neither my face, nor the rest of my body were involved in the scene, only my fingers. My stage was very small.

The other lesson I learned was that, while in theatre the actor has his body, his face and his own voice to communicate his intent, the reason he is doing something. In this case I had only my fingers to tell the story. Which meant that even though nothing else was involved, it was necessary for me to know, as my character the what and why of the scene. It was my fingers really doing the intricate task, not pretending to do it. And something more than simple task making was being communicated, if only in the subtlest, almost invisible, manner. As I have said before it's the thinking behind every action that gives it its life, on stage or off. Will, desire, objective, love are all in every detail the actor does on stage, but especially in a film where the action is so specific,

It is imagination that leads us to art and invention. It is possible through thought, imagination and careful attention to details to create the universe in the hand, on a table or anywhere it's needed.

DB Vagabond Journeys
Put some spring in someone's life today.
Happy birthday J.B. wherever you are.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nouvelle Nuages 4/18/09

Let the formation of the clouds show in the view of man on earth, that he may bear witness to the manner of the unseen becoming seen.

John Newbrough
Hello interesting one. I managed to read and comment on one journal today before the gangster computer seized up and I had to log off and start over. At that rate I'll be getting around to all of you by the autumn. Hopefully I'll get it fixed soon.
I flew from New York to West Palm Beach for a job. Due to a malfunction with the aircraft takeoff was delayed for an hour, which turned out to be a blessing. It meant we were flying through Florida at sunset. The rest of the cast was spread around the plane in various seats so I didn't have to talk to anyone. I was sitting on the right side next to the window and what I saw amazed and dazzled me. I didn't take my face away from that window until night fell. I saw the surface of a planet passing by. There were bright red lakes and rivers, mountains with flowing streams, plains with foliage, giant bushes, deep wells. It was a vast landscape of bright orange/red and grayish purple. And yet it was in reality the setting sun peering through and lighting up the clouds.

It was a magnificent sight. I have tried many times to recreate what I saw with paints on canvas. I can't do it. It was a once in a lifetime experience. There will be other such sights, and none the same as that one. I felt especially crowned with fortune that I saw it.

If you've ever flown above them on a cloudy day you know how substantial they look. It seems that if you stepped out of the aircraft you could walk on them. They are the largest, fullest things in nature that have almost no substance to them.

I have sat and seen clouds in the sky slowly disappear as the sun dried up the moisture that made them. But even more remarkable is to see them form out of nothing. A small wisp of white in the sky slowly gathers size from somewhere until it covers the sky. A sunny day becomes a cloudy day, a happy day becomes a troubled day, the unseen becomes seen.

"Where did these dismal feelings come from? What happened to the sunshine of joy I felt a while back? Why am I now blanketed with sorrow? I didn't foresee this. What happened?"

Then, just as the rain may come and empty out the clouds, the tears may come and clean the heart of clouds. They came from nowhere, they went nowhere and though they may have seemed quite substantial at the time. there was nothing to them.

The unseen becomes seen, the seen becomes unseen, and life goes on.

Et resurrexit.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Joyous weekend to you wherever you are.
BTW: Yesterday's Journal entry was not about death.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Men's Means 4/17/09

I am an abyss that I am trying to cross.

S. Merwin

Strolling down a sidewalk, or along a garden path or on a trail in a forest, reasoning through a difficult problem, calming a distraught emotion, nursing illness back to health, and transcending a mortal illusion; in each of those activities we are treading a passageway in the universe.

In my last entry, Anne, of commented that "when one door opens, another closes, but it's the hallways that are a bitch?" I agree. Indeed, life often seems to be nothing but hallways, corridors from one experience, one explanation to another. You get to the door and think you've made it. But when you open the door, there's another passageway to another door. And some corridors are so long you can't even see the door at the end.

But what about opening a familiar door onto a hallway you've been down before. It's very confusing to think that you're just going around in circles. Or what happens when you open the door onto a blank wall and you realize you have to go back, start over and find a different hallway. It's very depressing. What could be worse?

One thing; when you at last reach the door and you open it you find nothing there, no hallway, no door, nothing in front of you, nothing above or below you or on either side: nothingness, emptiness, void. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to be. No meaning. The journey is over.

If we step out into it we are in the abyss, the abyss is in us, We are the abyss. Who has the courage and faith to step out into it? It's a place where the senses don't apply, where reality is invisible, where there are no landmarks of human life, as we know it. It's a place where every question is its own answer. It's where uncertainty is the only certainty, where there is no time to do anything and no space to do it. It means nothing because it is its own meaning. It is the realm of pure mind, with no passageways, illusions, mysteries, mirages or masquerades. Ii is the land of endless, universal light.

Or maybe it is none of those things, Maybe it's an entirely different nothingness. Who has the courage and faith to cross that abyss and find out?

I don't. Not yet.

The Vagabond
Sing please. The birds do it without being asked.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lost-and-Found Love 4/16/09

The one that I love, I wish to be free - even from me.

Anne Lindbergh
Hi folks, When I try to click on a journal it frequently freezes and won't release unless I log off and reboot. So if I'm not reading you, that's the reason - until I get it fixed.
Years ago I was very much in love with a woman who fascinated and chromed me. She was beautiful. There was color and fragrancy to her thinking, a warm compassion for nature and the world around her and a great appreciation for art and music.

We shared a love of opera, religion, humor and community. She completely stole my heart and I loved her very much. I knew her parents well and they liked me and approved of me. Everything pointed to it being a good, healthy relationship for both of us.

But she had recently come off a bad relationship and was hurting. She was desperately in need of being loved, and went seeking it everywhere, but she had difficulty giving it. Knowing that, I tried to be compassionate and patient. I gave her a lot of freedom and space. I tried to keep my distance in order not to trouble her recovery, to be there when she wanted me, and to maintain a healthy attitude toward her, our present and our future.

I thought it was working because she would seek me out for love and comfort. I loved her so much that I would do anything for her. After several months it became clear to me that the one thing she wanted from me more than anything else was for me to go away.

One of the last times I saw here I said to her that all the things that were troubling her should leave her alone. I didn't realize at that moment I was one of those things. There was a healing process going on and I was interfering with it. In my love I wanted to make her world happier. But I learned that she had to do that for herself. She had wrapped herself in a protective emotional blanket which I was trying to unwrap before she was ready to emerge from it. Therefore, with all of my love, I was a threat.

So I stepped out of her life. I am the only one who knows the price of grief, pain and heartbreak that cost me.

A few years ago I heard that she had gotten married. I'm glad.

I've gone on to other relationships, some good, some not so good, none permanent. But that woman always has a bright place in my memory (whether she wants it or not).

Find another evidence of spring today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kindling Knack 4/15/09

Genius is the talent for discovering what cannot be taught or learned.

Immanuel Kant
Hi. Government got your money?
Einstein once said he wasn't a genius but that he was just very curious. I don't know but I guess curiosity is behind all endeavors that transcend what people seem to know. It has been said that education begins the moment you leave school. That's when you start to find out some of your teachers knew what they were talking about, some of them knew some of the time and others never did know. Leaving school and going out into the real world requires shedding a lot of skins.

In my own career I have seen young people come into professional theatre fresh from some drama department or school of the arts with the stupidest ideas as to what acting is all about and what actually goes on in a professional theatre. It's painful to see them struggle to let go of what their favorite professor taught them to do. But letting go of useless training is essential to finding one's way in any important endeavor.

There are theories, there are practices and then there are discoveries. Theories are like rule books, written or compiled by somebody along the way. They generally say that if you put this with that then the other thing is going to happen. Some of these rules are good, others are not. One has to decide for oneself. And that's where the practice comes in.

I know actors who act by the numbers, as the saying goes, who think they know how any given scene should be played based on similar scenes of the past. If they have a love scene they will perform a generic love scene with no love in it, a rule book love scene. No risks taken, nothing learned.

Then how do discoveries come about? By asking questions. By curiosity. By saying "I wonder what would happen if I tried attaching a flat piece of wood to the bottom of the ship with a handle on it. Maybe I can steer it that way and I wouldn't have keep moving the sails back and forth by hand."

In short, geniuses are curious people who put the rule books aside, imagine, think things through, try them out and keep trying until they work.

Maybe you qualify as a genius but don't know it yet.

Have another one on me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Joyous Jump 4/14/09

Have no fear of moving into the unknown.

Pope John Paul II
Come jump in with me.
I set out today to write something completely different. It was to be a story of playwrights and actors, a topic I know something about, of kings and queens, a subject I know almost nothing about. But instead I don't know what I'm writing about, I'm writing about the unknown.

When I came across this quote from the late, great Pope John Paul, I decided to accept the challenge amd plunge into a topic that does fascinate me but also sometimes leaves me speechless or, in this case, wordless.

There are many paths in life one can take where the journey is unfamiliar but the destination is known. Who has the courage to venture out not Knowing what the end of the journey may be? We grow to depend on certain things. If we head home we know where home is. If we put the key in the ignition we expect the car to start. When we log on we are sure we will get our own mailbox site and not some strange blogger's email. I suppose it's that sort of dependability that helps to keep us sane.

But what about sailing forth into unknown waters? What if we are actually crew members on some vast Star Trek expedition, off to visit hostile environments with strange, dangerous creatures? What if, lost in the woods, we came upon a civilization we've never heard of and didn't understand? How do we cope? If we find ourselves deep in the forest or in deep space with no landmarks to tell us where we are and no way known to get back to the nice warm safety of "Home" what do we do?

The answer is that we learn to live there. We make the unknown known. When the first pilgrims came to this country it was a wilderness. They didn't know where they were or what the dangers were. But they set down their bundles and started to make lives. Manhattan Island, New York City, where I lived for a good part of my life, was a total wilderness. Some small isolated parts of it still are. Slowly but certainly the people who came here tamed the wilderness and made, not only a home, but eventually a great city,

On the east side of Manhattan sits the Headquarters of the United Nations. Any citizen of the world has a right to visit the UN. And when you do you come to understand that it is not about "The Distinguished Representative from France" arguing with "The Distinguished Representative from Chine" or blue helmeted soldiers invading some war zone, but a vast complex of international workers, citizens of the world, from diplomats to janitors, working, one by one, in small, unpublicized ways, to try to make and keep peace in the world, to try to sew together out of all the disparate tribes, nations and cultures a world community, to try to understand and establish that strange unknown entity known as civilization. .

On the grounds of the UN there's a park, with grass, trees, benches and paths. I was sitting there one day watching the East River boats when a man came out of the UN building with his young son. I could tell by the way he was dressed and the language he spoke that he was not a New Yorker. He seemed to be from some South Asian country, possibly Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. As they walked along I could see he was wearing sandals. I watched his feet as they stepped along the path and I thought that, just as he was able to walk on a gentle path in what was once wild and savage wilderness, the people inside the building were working to tame all the savagery, hatred, prejudice, war and poverty in the world, to put it all under foot and make it livable. Nothing could have been more eloquent to me than seeing that man with his son. He was a citizen of the world simply and silently saying "look at what we can do."

That experience also eventually taught me how important it is to overcome the wasteful wilderness in myself. If I could not tame the hatred, anger, sarcasm, fear and negativity of my own life, how can I expect there to be peace in the world? There were many things about myself that I didn't want to face. There still are. Those are the unknowns. But I'm learning not to fear jumping in there and putting them under my feet.

"Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me."

DB - The Vagabond
Visit a favorite place today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Inevitable Illumination 4/13/09

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.

Indian proverb
Overtures of friendship to you
It is a remarkable but often frightening thing to realize that all thoughts, ideas and beliefs will blossom someday in one way or another depending on where they are planted and how they are tended. These mental seeds are all around, looking for a place to land and take root. What am I growing in my field, something useful like roses, tulips, corn, potatoes, or stink weed, skunk cabbage, deadly nightshade?

If I wake up one morning and look out the window at my life and see weeds I know I've let the wrong seeds into my head. I have some uprooting to do. I have some replanting. It's strange, because the seed I hold in my hand knows what it is going to become, even though I don't. So I have to be very careful. Is it a seed of hope, beauty, truth, happiness or one of fear, hate and ugliness?

I also have to be careful where I put the seed. I have to make sure I have the right mental condition, the right attitude, the right soil, to inspire its proper growth. The same idea in one mind can make a genius while in another might make a mad man. One soil grows an Einstein another grows a Frankenstein. It's not enough just to have a good idea, you have to know what to do with it.

Then there's the matter of cultivating, nourishing and protecting it while it grows. Patience is required. The butterfly can't leave his cocoon until he's fully grown. A grand idea needs its own fulfillment time. An artist or a scientist may give a large portion of his life to bring a grand idea to maturity.

In my neighborhood there are a lot of children. Some of them are quite small and I sometimes wonder what that little one is capable of. Will he grow up to be a master musician? Will she become an astronaut and step on another planet one day? It's amazing to think that whatever they can do or become is already inside them waiting to be nourished, cultivated and illuminated. It's so vitally important to make sure that the thoughts they are encouraged to hold in their hands and plant in their lives are good ones.

And that is equally important for all of us, no matter how young we are.

What's in your garden?
DB - Vagabond Journeys
May there be nice newness in your life today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happiest Honorific 4/12/09

I just try to play music from my heart and bring as much beauty as I can to as many people as I can.

Charles Haden
Greetings friend.
I once saw a production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" which was one of the dullest, most boring things I've ever seen on the stage. What? How could Shakespeare be boring? Simply because there was no heart in it. Every time a performing artist goes out on the stage there has to be something big at stake. But those men were not assassinating the leader of their country and the most powerful man in the world. It was as though they were sticking pins into a rag doll. It made me yawn.

My teacher Edward told a story about his teacher, the Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya. She watched a scene prepared by her students and then said "It's very nice. But where are the bubbles?"

To make the bubbles happen on the stage, as they happen in a glass of champagne, whether by a singer, dancer, musician or actor, requires a total commitment of heart and mind. One can play the notes or say the words correctly, but that does not make music or drama. Many people don't understand that, including some critics.

Why is there such a commitment needed? Because that is what is owed to the work itself and to the audience as well. We can be many things on the stage. No two performances are exactly alike. But the one thing we absolutely cannot be, the one thing that is not forgivable, is to be boring.

The arts are about truth and beauty. It is a sharing experience. Music speaks to the mind as well as the heart. It is what happens between the notes that makes the music. The listener to the music or the play is being invited to join the performer on a journey through an experience of total being. It has been said that going on the stage is like jumping off a diving board without knowing if there is any water in the pool. It can't be done successfully without a heart full of faith, trust and unconditional love. In a moment of time or a flash of space an artist can open up the door to a hidden place of reality, bring up from some secret deep an understanding of life not seen before, turn over some stone and expose the light underneath, blow the dust off ancient beauty. An artist faces and handles ice and fire.

Yes it's dangerous. But it's that danger and that trying that keeps the artist going back to his easel, his piano or back on the stage. There is nothing boring about it.

Vagabond Journeys
Arise and greet the day.



What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

9 responses so far. We are waiting for yours.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal Thank you. DB

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gracious Gift 4/11/09

Once in a while you have to take a break,and visit yourself.

Audrey Giorgi
Hello again.
Lori of Dusty Pages has given me this Kreative Bloogers award and now I must visit myself to see if I deserve it. Well I guess maybe I do, I don't know. There are a lot of creative people out there. I just enjoy writing, so I write every day. I like to share my thoughts with people. I've always liked that. Good conversation is a delicious dinner with a fine wine. So even though I dine alone....

I am supposed to list 7 things I love. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm a lover of fine music and good literature, but here are some specifics.

1. The music of J. S. Bach. When I first heard the Bach B minor Mass I thought it was the world's greatest piece of music and I still think so. The opening chorus lasts from 10 to 12 minutes depending on the conductor and during it the chorus sings only the 2 words "kyrie eleison" in a slow majestic fugue,

2. 52 years ago, as I approached my senior year in high school, I had a job in Boston for the summer. One day, in Harvard Square I went into the Harvard Coop and picked off the shelf a complete Shakespeare. It's a very small volume. It measures 7" x 5" x 1" and yet it contains all the plays and all the poems of Shakespeare. It cost $6.50. I bought it, wrote my name in it and it has been with me ever since. It goes with me wherever I go.

3. One afternoon in New York City I went to the Museum of Modern Art during a time when they were renovating the building. Most of the art work was stored but some of the pieces were on displays on peg board sections. I turned a corner and came face to face with The Piano Lesson by Henri Matisse. I spent at least 20 minutes staring at that picture. It definitely changed my life.

4. I spent my adult life as an actor. Sadly, I can't do it anymore or I would be, right now. If I were to grow suddenly wealthy and could afford to get all of my physical problems solved, healed or under treatment I would gladly go back to the stage, because I can remember performances which when I did them I said to myself "I love this more than life itself."

5. I love my friends. They are not too numerous to mentions, but I won't mention them because I don't want to make the mistake of leaving anyone out. They know who they are.

6. The music-dramas of Richard Wagner. Like most opera lovers I came late to an appreciation of Wagner's work. I thought it was too heavy, ponderous and verbose and it gave me a headache. Until one afternoon, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City I sat through a performance of Tannhauser with Astrid Varnay, Margaret Harshaw and George London. During the third act I had an epiphany. I suddenly heard, saw and felt a spark, a momentary flicker of light into the whole mystical Wagnerian universe. Since then the light has grown brighter and is still growing.

7. Although I can't do it anymore, hiking the trails of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine. All by myself, striding up and down those hills and through those forests, I don't think I have ever been happier in my life.
I am also supposed to pass this award along to 7 other bloggers. So from my humble corner of the journalistic world here are 7. No explanations necessary.

1. http://theworldinblackandwhite/
2. adebanji alade - urban sketches
3. raymond shurtz - cowboys and bohemians
5. valerie - joy in the rain
6. Big Mark 243 - Stars Like Grains Of Sand In My Pocket
7. Judith Ellis - The Being Brand

I could easily choose 10 more, but these will do.

Thank you Lori

DB The Vagabond
May you have unexpected joy today.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Former Focus 4/10/09

Maturity is just a short break in adolescence.

Jules Feiffer
Come in. I've been waiting for you.
I wouldn't live through my adolescence again for anything. It was a desperate time. It's jumping in the water before you can swim. It's making a sky dive and learning how to operate the parachute on your way down. It's trying to make a good impression with a crop of pimples on your face. It's falling in love and thinking you are the first person ever to do so. It's discovering sex before you discover its dangers, It's having your heart broken for the first time and knowing that no one else has ever felt such pain, It's trusting untrustworthy teachers. It's knowing that your parents are stupid and your friends are wise. All together adolescence is out right insanity from which most of us recover, but some don't.

It has been over half a century since I was an adolescent I wouldn't go back and do it again, and yet in my clear thinking moments I can realize that in many ways I'm still the boy I was at 15. Many things have changed, of course, but the things I loved and admired back then I still do. I still carry the hopes and dreams of my boyhood, though in less grandiose forms. While sex is not much more than a memory I could still fall in love, if the opportunity occurred. I might even be capable of romance in limited ways. If I discover a pimple on my face I don't rush off to the drugstore for some useless therapeutic cream. I won't try the sky dive or the bungee jump but I still cherish the pleasure of discovering new things in life. I can still enjoy fireworks, a ball game or a puppet show. I'm still capable of saying "Wow!"

In short, the last several decades has been nothing more than a short break in the roller coaster ride of my youth.

DB - The Vagabond
Be a bright, warm spring afternoon to a friend today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Extreme Etchings 4/09/09

We have left our thumbprints in the thick, moist clay of each other's lives.

Hugh Elliot
Good day to you.
One of the traits of an experienced actor, or, in fact, any artist or thinking person, is a careful observation of the world. An actor will glean images and experiences from human life to use as raw material. Now I find myself doing the same thing in my writing. I often think back to moments when something someone did made a lasting impression on me. Sometimes it was a friend who did or said something that had an impact. At other times it was just a moment observed in passing. Why do I remember some things and not others? That's a mystery.

But an even greater and perhaps unknowable fact is to what extent I have impacted other people. Unless I'm told I will never know if something I said or did stayed with someone as part of a collection of memories that changed that person's life in some way.

But the realization that just as others have affected me without their even realizing it, leads me to understand that I have a responsibility to those I come in contat with to try to leave an impression that is good, not just so I won't appear negatively to them, but also so that I don't adversely affect their lives.

Who knows to what extent someone's behavior may be due to negative impressions they have received over time from people they don't even know? I may respond poorly to someone, not because they deserve it. but because something they do brings up a reaction I once had to something similar from someone else.

It is unforgivably self-indulgent for me not to hammer out on my anvil that gross metal and make of it a positive tool.

As we skip and trudge through our daily lives we are always leaving thumbprints in other's lives wherever we go. We can't help it. If you think about the people who affected you somehow, even if it's just a flash of a thought, realize at the same time that others are thinking of you in the same way. Some part of you lives in someone else's thoughts. It is impossible to always leave a good thumbprint but it is possible to be aware of the fact that we do leave one.

May you always have a song to sing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dumbing Down 4/08/09

The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.

Salvador Dali
Is it Spring yet?
I truly believe there is such a thing a moral idiocy. How else can one explain the bland, inane, vacuum headed, stone hearted stealing of someone else's ideas and claiming them as one's own? A malicious thief knows what he's doing. He knows that what he does is unethical but he doesn't care. But there are those who can take another's wares oblivious to the fact that they are potentially harming that person's reputation, credit or even, maybe, his livelihood.

Imitation is flattery they say and no doubt that's true. To do something "in the style of" or to acknowledge the inspiration of someone else's work is certainly acceptable flattery. But to walk off with another's work and take credit for it without acknowledging and respecting the owner's right to it is wrong, it's reprehensible, it's stupid.

I was doing a comedy in Florida. In one scene I made a funny exit from a chair by tripping over the foot stool. An actress saw me do that in rehearsal, thought it was clever so did it herself. But she did it earlier in the play which made my moment look like I was copying her. The director was a very savvy man. The next day the foot stool was gone. I came up with a different funny way of doing the bit, a way she couldn't copy.

I was doing a drama in New York. There was a scene where my character had to viciously slap one of the others. I had my character prepare for it by removing my jacket and hanging it on the back of a chair. A brainless actor in the show saw mw do that and he had to do it, because it looked dramatic. But once again he did it earlier in the play so I had to come up with a different approach.

I did two remote live broadcasts from big record stores in New York City. It was a tough job. Four hours on my feet talking to people and selling CDs and CD players over the air. There were contests and such. Chairs were set up so that an audience could watch me. I got everyone's name who was involved in the presentation. At the end of the first broadcast I read through the names and thanked everyone before I returned the broadcast to the station. The all applauded me.

I did the same thing for the second broadcast, but the producer who had watched me do that the first time and thought it was neat. took the microphone from me just before the end, did all the thanking, got the applause and turned the show back to the station himself as if he done all the work. He's a moral idiot.

When I returned to the studios the next day one of the announcers said to me "He stole your curtain call. Why is he still alive?" And that's when I coined the remark "They can steal my fish, but they can't steal my ocean."

That quote has found it's way into other people's mouths who now think it belongs to them. One man heard me say it and wrote it into a film script, twice. If that script is published he will go down in history as having invented that aphorism. That's moral idiocy.

I say, come up with your own way of describing the fair maid's cheeks. Don't take another person's ideas, inventions and wares and pretend their yours. And if you can't do that at least place the credit where it belongs.

End of rant.

DB Vagabond Journeys
May blessings dwell over your head and under your feet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Champion Cuisine 4/07/09

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

Truman Capote
Although it has its uses, "failure" is a nasty tasting dish. And if you make the mistake of mixing it with "I give up" then you have something which is really foul. It's good for nothing but to be flushed.

Ah but wait! Take the "failure" and put it in a bowl along with a stick of "lesson learned" (melted) and a packet of "I'll try again." Mix that up. Then check the spice rack for a container marked "I deserve success." Throw some of that in the bowl, stir and taste. Still not right? Okay, look on the shelf in the back of the fridge for a jar labeled "I can do it." Spoon some of that into the bowl and mix it up. Now you have a zesty Tartar Sauce, or what Edward, my teacher used to call "Ta Ta Sauce."

Dab a couple of generous helpings of that on your red snapper of success and say "Ta Ta" to the failure.

When I started to learn art I went to a life drawing class every Saturday morning. In my first class the model was a very large retired fellow. There was so much to him I thought it was like drawing a mountain. It was a ten minute pose. I drew a picture a little bit larger than my thumb. The instructor came by, looked at it and said nothing except "Carry on."

I was at the point where the nasty peck of "failure" was saying "You can't do this. Give it up." But I didn't give it up. I signed up for even more classes and kept drawing until I could do it. Eventually I learned something about painting. I won a few awards in exhibits and sold a few things.

I kept that first drawing around for a long time, not just to humble myself when I needed to, but also to show me how far I had come.

Failure happens. But all one needs is the right recipe to turn it into the right sauce.

DB - The Vagabond
May you see "crowds of daffodils."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Basic Birth 4/06/09

All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from it. Today is the only day there is.

Frederick Buechner
Welcome to my world.
Time is a gracious friend and also a fierce enemy. We can measure the past with memories, charts and journals. We can parcel out the future according to our needs and wishes. The thing we can't measure is the present, at least not according to time.

Time is a relative measurement. It usually refers to how long it took for something to happen. It's related to space in how long it takes an object to go from one place to another. It's also a linking mechanism. It can identify an event with another event. Such and such a thing happened at the same time as the other. History books will give us charts with fascinating information that is of relatively no use, except to historians. Alexander the Great was born on the same day that the Temple of Diana at Epheses came down.

Although the future is unpredictable we can still make charts to help us get through it. There's the Mom's mental chart of when the kids are up, dressed and fed in time for the school bus. When dinner starts in order to be ready for the family when they're hungry. Things have to be done by 10 so she can watch the TV special on panda bears.

In broadcasting there is something known as back timing. The announcer kinows how many lines of copy he can read in one minute. If he's playing a song at the end of an hour that leads up to the 3:00 news with a tone on the hour, and if he has a 60 second commercial and a 30 second commercial, as well as a station break, he has to back time that record so that it ends at exactly 2:58:10. Announcing the song will take him to 2:58:20. The 60 second commercial will take him to 2:59:20. The 30 second commercial will take him to 2:59:50. He has 10 seconds to do a station break and say "At the tone the time will be 3 o'clock." Then comes the tone and the news. If he does it right it sounds effortless and automatic. Broadcasters live their lives by the clock.

The only thing about time we can't measure is the now, this instant. It is the only thing we are ever conscious of and yet it instantly becomes the past. Every note the singer sings passes into history as soon as he sings it. Every pitch the pitcher throws disappears into oblivion the moment it is thrown. The reading of this sentence has become already a part of your past. And that is why I think it is so important to be always alert and receptive of thoughts, ideas and opportunities. The now is where we live, where we have always lived and always will live. Every moment of our lives is a birth. It's a reaching up out of the cradle for the arms of a new experience, a higher lesson and a greater awareness of joy.

DB - The Vagabond
May the cherubs of spring visit you today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Appointed Adventure 4/05/09

If you don't have a plan for yourself, you'll be part of someone else's.

American proverb
I thank the people who responded to yesterday's request for thoughts and opinions about my dream. It seems there are as many ways to dream as there are dreamers. I guess that's not surprising. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has dreamt that he was dreaming.
This proverb above really needs to be addressed to the young, if there are any young out there you know of. Now, in my 70th year, I sometimes think back and wonder if I took the right road in life. But then I realize it's a pointless endeavor. It's the road I took. A life was lived and is being lived as a result ot that choice, for whatever reason it was made, so what's the point of wondering about it?

Perhaps there is a point in passing on to the young the lessons learned about choosing the right plan for life. But for me that is also a futile effort since there are no young people around me, and they probably wouldn't listen if there were.

In my wild and restless youth I wanted to be everything and do everything. That was because I really didn't have the resources to choose anything, and I totally lacked the guidance I needed, the advice that would have steered me in some reasonable direction and the encouragement to follow through. Those are tools every young person needs and should have. Even when I felt I was on the right track there was always someone, family or teachers, who derailed me. Most of what I remember from my childhood is what I shouldn't, couldn't or wouldn't be allowed to do. Decisions were made for me and I had almost nothing to say about them. For a young person in the 40s and 50s independent thinking was not to be practiced in my universe.

Nevertheless, in my late teens I had managed to accumulate a few skills, a rebellious and independent vagabond streak and a reputation or two. I did have some real choices to make. But I also realized no matter where I was or what I was doing I was always going to be in someone else's playground.

I chose to be an actor because that's what people kept hiring me to do. I became secure in my skill and artistry but I also knew that probably never would I have the luxury of choosing what work I would do. I would play as I was cast, and the person who cast me was the one who owned the playground.

I settled into the life of a skilled actor who was also a hired hand, a blue color artisan, labor, known in the trade as "talent." I don't regret my working life. It has been a grand adventure. But I sure wish I had had the opportunity to make my own plan for myself.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
(Facebook, etc. is breaking up that old gang of mine.)
Check out the Spring Quiz. 8 responses so far. We await your answers.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Zephyr Zone 4/04/09

I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?

Welcome to my musings.
I had a very unusual experience Thursday night, one that has kept me curious all day. I seek your thoughts and opinions about it.

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on." Shakespeare

I woke up in the middle of the night because the phone had somehow fallen off its cradle and was beeping. I got up and put it back but saw a light on it that told me someone might be calling. I pushed the button and said "Hello." A voice said "Hi, it's David." I recognized the voice of my friend David in Vermont. I looked at the clock. It said 2:30 a. m. I know David well and knew that he wouldn't be calling me at 2:30 in the morning to chat, but he said no more and I got a dial tone. I hung up the phone and when I did I realized that I had probably dreamt the whole thing. I acknowledged that it was a dream and decided I should probably just go back to bed. It was then that I woke up.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.

When I woke up I was lying in bed. The whole thing had been a dream. I dreamt I heard the phone buzzing, I dreamt getting up, picking up the phone, hearing David's voice, checking the clock and hanging up the phone. I even dreamt that I had accepted it as a dream and should return to bed. In other words I dreamt that I was dreaming. My dreaming was part of my dream. I dreamt that I was dreaming. A dream was what my dream was about.

"They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream." Ernest Dowson

That event poses two questions to me:
1. Is it possible that some life experiences we have which we identify and acknowledge as reality are actually dreams? and
2. If so, is it possible that realizing them as dreams and acknowledging them as such would be sufficient to wake us up?

I'm not talking about somnambulism, or fast forgetfulness (whatever that's called) but actual seemingly wide awake events which seem to be true but are not. A mirage of the mind.

Merrily, merrily , merrily , merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Have you ever had an experience like my dream? If so, and even if not, what do you make of it? (And don't tell me I'm crazy, because I already know that.) I would really like to know what you think.

Sincerely, DB
Check out the Spring Quiz below.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yielding Yank 4/03/09

It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the stiuation is crucial.

Boris Yeltsin
Read on, if you dare
This is the story of my completely crazy thinking and behavior at a moment when my life was in extreme danger as well as my wife and our cat.

We were in the process of moving from Harford, Connecticut to New York City. I had purchased a used station wagon which a mechanic had deemed good enough to drive to the city. So we started out at about ten thirty in the evening. It was winter. We stopped for gas and then tuned on to the highway. I 91. It began to snow, a lot.

We had traveled several miles when all at once at the bottom of a slight hill,the car started to die. I could see the dashboard lights failing, the headlights failing and the car was slowing down. In the last dim light I turned the car off to the side of the road, or what I thought was the side of the road.

I got out to inspect the car to see if there was something I could fix. While I was doing that a truck passed us. It was difficult to see anything because there were no car lights nor any overhead lights on the highway. Then two more trucks passed us, one on the left and one on the right. I was in the middle of the highway with no lights.

(To be continued.)

Just kidding.
I told my wife to get in the drivers seat and steer to the right while I went around and pushed. But the car wouldn't move. There was now about a quarter inch of snow on the highway and I was wearing sneakers, My feet kept slipping. I was about to tell my wife to grab the cat, get out of the car and get away from it. Some poor truck driver would surely come down that hill without seeing us, plow into the car and we would all be killed. But then I got another idea.

I wasn't getting any forward purchase, but I had up and down leverage. I reached down, grabbed the bumper and picked up the back of that station wagon. When I let it go it bounced once on the road but didn't go forward.

You hear of people picking up cars to rescue someone. But to pick it up more than once seemed impossible. Nevertheless, that's what I did. The second time I let go it went forward about an inch. Each time I picked it up it went a little further until it slowly rolled over to the side. I don't remember how many times I picked it up, but it was a lot, I was desperate. When I finally got it up against the fence on the side of the highway, another truck passed in the near lane and cleared us easily. Now, here comes the interesting part.

(To be continued.)
No, no.

Shortly after I started picking up the back of that station wagon I began to sing. I don't remember what song I was singing, but I sang it out loud at the top of my voice.
Now I know what a work song is. I was Nina Simone singing "Chain Gang." I was Odetta singing "Water Boy." I was The Vagabond singing my heart to the night while I saved a few lives in a totally unorthodox, impossible way.

After the car was safely on the shoulder I got in and waited for the police, who soon came and got us towed to a body shop. The mechanic drove us to the train station. We got on the mail train and got to New York at dawn. I sold the car to the mechanic for the price of the tow,

My wife couldn't believe what I had done out there on the highway, and neither could I. I don't know what the cat thought, she didn't express an opinion.

DB - The Vagabond
May you find some sunshine today.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

25 Influences

Thank you Linda Linda S. Socha for tagging me for my 25 influences.

Working through such a list also implies "thank yous" that perhaps haven't been given.

This took a lot of thinking,
1. My mother, of course, for good and bad
2. Classic Comics.
3. Jules Verne.
4, The Metropolitan Opera Saturday Broadcasts.
5. J. S. Bach.
6. W. A. Mozart.
7. Beethoven.
8. The operas of Richard Wagner.
9. Stravinsky.
10. Alban Berg.
11. Edward Thommen.
12. Constantine Stanislavski.
13. Shakespeare.
14. Eugene O'Neil.
15. Samuel Beckett.
16. The Beatles.
17. Paul Scofield.
18. John Cage.
19. The Bible.
20. Friedrich Nietzsche.
21. Immanuel Kant.
22. Thomas Hobbes.
23. John Moore.
24. Linda Pinkham.
25. My computer.

Who wants to go next?

Xenophilic Xylograph 4/02/09

You can't bury your anger, but what you can do, is bury the thoughts that cause the anger.

DB - The Vagabond
Hey, good buddy.
I'm a great believer in the power of thought. It's a subject I seem to preach all the time and try to practice. Why is thought so important? Because it precedes everything. A good attitude is essential to a happy life. But even a good attitude is gained primarily by the way we think. It's the same with emotions, especially strong ones. And notice how much our behavior is managed by the way we think.

One of the most interesting things to me about thought is that while we may notice ourselves feeling and doing, we don't often notice ourselves thinking. However, if thought is the motivation for what we feel and do, isn't it obviously important to know what it is that we are thinking? I have a quote somewhere from someone which reads "Think before you think," The astonishing thing to me is that we actually have a choice about what and how we think.

You can improve your life by the way you think. Positive thinkers have been telling us that for a long time and in many ways. But I have approached that from a different draw bridge: the theatre, acting. There are a bunch of slogans to describe what acting is: "Acting is doing something." "Acting is reacting." "Acting is behaving." "Acting is living in the moment." Etc. Now I tend to tell young actors that acting is Natural Law, and, of course, they don't understand.

I was doing a long role in a two character play and when it wasn't developing well I had to sit down with the script and determine why not. The character made a lot of personal changes during the play. I began making a list of what he was probably thinking at certain places in the script. I hit upon some thought patterns that were very close to my own. In rehearsal I found myself thinking those thoughts and not about doing a play. The scenes in which I did that were progressing very well. Then I realized it wasn't because I knew what the character was thinking, it was because I was thinking what the character was thinking. So I went back to the script and defined what his thoughts would be in all the other places. In doing those scenes I chose to think what the character was thinking and the results were amazing. I learned a great lesson about acting. But an even greater lesson was that we can really choose what to think. Not opinion, not conclusions, not frame of reference, but actual thinking, a dialogue of the mind.

Why should we do that? The human mind is like a garden or a farm. If we know what we want to have grow in it, we have to plant the proper seeds. And if thought is the precedent to everything, then the seeds we plant will bring us the life we want. It's Natural Law.

May you have joy to spare today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whimsical Wisdom 4/01/09

Seven days without laughter makes one weak.

Mort Walker
Hi. I am the April Fool

I wake up with a cheerful attitude, ho hum, another day. I stagger around a bit, make some coffee, drink it, find out what time it is, what day it is and start some music playing, The Chipmunks Greatest Hits.. Then I sit down at my desk and look at the problems that face me. Oh, dear. Alas and alack. Woe is me. How will I ever get things done and straightened out? It's no use trying. All is lost. I give up.

But then my brain starts working. The coffee is kicking in. It's that good old Brazilian Jungle River brew. After my bowl of gruel and molasses, I feed the animals I have to feed them right away so the kangaroo won't pee on my foot. The giraffe has not been eating well lately. I hope she's not pregnant. I'll have to take her over to the vet one of these day. He's a herpetologist, but I guess he could treat a giraffe if he had to.

Then I call Hong Kong, Moscow and The Vatican to collect my messages, pay my sky diving instructor's bill, another month's rent on my dinghy, just a few more payments on the mortgage and I'll own my blimp outright. I answer a few letters and dash off a note to Obama, he's expecting it, Then it's time to take the armadillo out for his walk. That takes a long time. He's very slow and has to stop and smell every damn thing. If I try to rush him he gets nasty. You don't want to rile an armadillo.

I don't have time for a proper lunch so I mash up one of last year's Easter eggs and make a sandwich. It's a shame because they're so pretty. After lunch I ponder what I'm going to write in my journal for today, do some reading from the ancient texts and make some notes on my sleeve.

Oh, no! I just remembered I have to make cookies for tomorrow's Sack Race Festival. Well, I'll just have to put up the Christmas lights another day. It's only April after all, they can wait. I must remember the Pick Your Own Forsythia Weekend coming up. The Everhollow Banjo Band will entertain, if it doesn't rain. After the cookies are made it's time for my dinner: baked squid with radish sauce and a piece of onion pie, if there's any left.

Before I forget I have to decide what I'm going to write in my weekly column for "Denture News." I hitch up the warthog to the wheel and get him walking to generate enough electricity to get my computer on, and since a lot of my usual correspondents have gone to sleep for a year or two, I sit down to see what my blogspotter friends have been up to.

Well, I see Larry's back in jail. Clyde and Gracie have gotten married again for the fourth time. Wow! Jasmine won $5 in the lottery. Congrats Jasmine. Way to go girl! Aw, Clarissa finally ran off with her pastor, may heaven bless them. Bruno drove his truck into the Wabash River, Come on Bruno, learn to drive. Mary Loo writes that the Holy Cross Bingo Hall was raided by the police again last night. And Miss Foo Foo has fleas. Sounds like a normal day.

Now for my journal. What famous quote should I use? Ah, I have it. "East is East and West is West." That ought to get them thinking.

It's been a full day.
DB Vagabond Foolishness.
May you hear the bluebird sing today.