Personal

Doug

I really don’t know what to write.  I don’t know how to begin.

This blog has been in existence for over 12 years.  It was around before Facebook and Twitter and before most people even knew the word “blog”.  And at times, it has been a platform for personal things (shows I’m doing, etc.), but it has evolved more into a lengthy observation of the world I live in.  I guess that’s because as I get older, I’m more interested in that than I am in, well, me.  But I can’t not write about my brother Doug, who passed away on February 26, 2015.  I intended to do it on the one-month anniversary of his death.  But I didn’t; the thoughts hadn’t coalesced.

Almost six months on, and my thought still hadn’t coalesced.

And here it is.  One year.

Giving Tuesday 2015

Giving Tuesday follows Cyber Monday, which is such a 1990s name, by the way.  Who uses the word “cyber” anymore to describe Internet transactions?

Anyway, Giving Tuesday is the only designated day of the three (the third being Black Friday) which is truly in the spirit of the season. Last year, Black Friday sales were down, but Giving Tuesday had a banner.  So some people get it.  I am glad it is a “thing”, even if it is only a few years old.  The story behind Giving Tuesday is here, but basically, Giving Tuesday was established in response to the commercialization and consumerism prevalent during the holiday season.

080624-cause800Unfortunately, a few businesses – big and small – sink to a pathetic level by using the day to promote themselves and their brand.  I’m talking about businesses like Evereve, a women’s fashion retailer — starting on December 2 and extending through the end of the month, $10 from every pair of jeans sold in stores or online will go toward a loan for a female entrepreneur overseas to start her own business, provide for her family and transform her community.  The cause is just, but why is Evereve’s so-called altruism dependent on people buying their product?  That’s consumerism — the very thing Giving Tuesday was meant to counteract.

Compare Evereve to, say, The Avon Foundation For Women.  That group has pledged to raise money to benefit domestic violence organizations this holiday season in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Consumers can donate to The National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Avon Foundation will match every donation made, up to $500,000.  No consumer sales involved. In fact, if you click through on the Avon Foundation link above, you wouldn’t even see an Avon product anywhere.

Anyway, if your email inbox and Twitter feed is like mine, you are being inundated by actual charities and nonprofits for help.  It would be nice to help them all.  Whatever you choose — if it is a charity — you might want to run it by the Charity Navigator — not only to see if it is bonafide, but to see how its donations are used.  In fact, the Charity Navigator is a good place to go if you WANT to donate, but don’t know where to donate to.  In fact, you can donate to your favorite charities — like a struggling theater company — without leaving Charity Navigator!

Last year, I made a pitch for The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, a leading peer-directed national organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder:

DBSA’s peer-based, wellness-oriented, and empowering services and resources are available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them-online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America.

Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with in-person and online peer support; current, readily understandable information about depression and bipolar disorder; and empowering tools focused on an integrated approach to wellness.

And again, for all the same reasons, I invite you to donate to them again.  I have been involved with them locally as a group facilitator, and it is a great organization.  Your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar today!

Another strong group in the area of mental and emotional wellness is NAMI — The National Association of Mental Illness.  I’m a dues-paying member, so I am partial to this.  They are bigger than DBSA but have a broader agenda.  Most people who know NAMI, if they know NAMI at all, know it through their annual NAMIWalks, walk-a-thons all over the country to raise money and mental health awareness.

To get the facts about the mental health situation in the United States, click the “Read More” button below for a nice infographic.

If you want some more suggestions, again I recommend the aforementioned Charity Navigator… but I also will plug for some very topical charities:

Planned Parenthood — now more than ever (and you can give locally at the link)

Lady Parts Justice (edgier than PP)

Doctors Without Borders

World Relief

American Refugee Committee

ACLU – matching donations today only!

Act Blue

The Innocence Project

For breast cancer, I would avoid Susan Koman — there are better choices out there.

Locally, I would recommend the Second Harvest Food Bank or the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, both of which gets consistently high charity ratings.  I would hold off on donating to local animal shelters, given the problems in Guilford County and Davidson County.  Forsyth County doesn’t seem to be ensnared, possibly because it is affiliated with the National Humane Society, rather than an independent local shelter.  In any event, once their acts are cleaned up, perhaps the other animal shelters will need your help.

And yeah, the arts count.  Just help out anywhere you can.

Down The Street From Me…. Murder Most Foul!

Oh my:

As a result of a joint investigation between the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the WSPD, along with the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, investigators have charged two Pfafftown residents after finding human remains in their back yard.

During the course of a WSPD Missing Person investigation, information was obtained that led Investigators to a home located at 3555 Brookbank Drive. On June 26 authorities executed a search warrant on the house and investigators discovered human remains. The North Carolina State University Forensic Anthropology Unit and the Medical Examiner’s Office from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center assisted in the examination of remains before they were removed from the scene.

The human remains are currently being evaluated and Investigators are awaiting a positive identification as of this writing. Authorities have indicated that they have an idea of who the remains are, but will not be releasing that information pending a positive identification.

Upon presentation and review of the evidence collected thus far to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office issued Warrants for Arrest for felonious Destruction of Body/Remains Concealment of Death, NCGS 14-401.22(E), were issued for 34 year-old Jason Michael Mitchell and 48 year-old Mary Utleye Mitchell.

I actually know a Jason Mitchell (but not a Mary Mitchell), but I don’t think he is 34 and he doesn’t live in Pfafftown.

Oh, yeah.  Not him.  There’s pictures accompanying the article.

A Remembrance Of My Brother

Preface:  This blog has been around for over 10 years.  It never was intended to be a blog about me, although there were phases where I indulged in, say, a blog post highlighting a show or project I was working on.  Frankly, I believe that if you are so self-indulgent to write about about your daily life constantly, you better be damn talented.  And for my money, only one blogger has been successful in that genre.  So instead, I write about my views of the world I live in — a time capsule of life in the post-9/11 world.  But if I may be permitted a moment of self-indulgence….

My brother passed away on February 26 of this year, from cancer.  I have been working on a blog post about him for several months now, and I still haven’t been able to coalesce my thoughts.  I scrap it and start over again, repeatedly.  Some day, some day.  However, I was touched and moved by this remembrance, broadcast and written at WBUR’s place (the Boston NPR station).  My brother Doug was a fixture among the — shall we say — musical elite in Boston, particularly among the folk and jazz scene (although he had a healthy appetite for film as well).  Anyway, from NPR….

by Ellisse Ely

doug-ashford1Doug Ashford died February 26 in Concord, New Hampshire. He was 53 years old. When it came to music (his most essential nutrient) he bought vinyl records and, later, CDs, like other people buy morning coffee. Friends used to play a recognition game with him they called “Stump Doug,” and over decades, in every style — from gamelon to Celtic to Zydeco to Dan Zanes to Richard Thompson to John Denver — Doug missed a musical fragment only twice.

He was a humble evangelist for eclecticism and inclusiveness, kind of a music whisperer. Doug could segue between non-adjacent styles with such genius that there was no question they belonged together, even though they never had before.

His largest listening congregation was for “Morning Soup,” a folk-jazz show he hosted every Saturday from 10 to noon on Boston Free Radio. Lucky friends — those unsuccessful stumpers — also got an annual best-of CD each year, with personal liner notes they could savor over the next 12 months.

Though self-effacing and retiring in life (he liked to be heard more then seen, and receded to the back of any photo), Doug could be ruthless in criticism. “The cover artwork for this CD is the year’s worst,” he wrote about one selection. “It is rather unspeakable.”

Boston Free Radio, where Doug was the unpaid program director, epitomized a free-speech forum. For $60 a year, anyone could host an online radio show on almost any topic. There were series on high-school sports, widowhood, the secret lives of stuffed animals, and, of course, music. Doug embraced them all.

He fell in love many times — with music, radio, friends, Wolferman’s English Muffins — and delighted in introducing one passion to another. After a quest to a Zydeco and Cajun music festival in Louisiana, he returned with dozens of jars of olive jam that were pressed on friends. As far as he was concerned, it was a natural combination.

There were grand, open events, like the annual all-night sci-fi movie party, where guests brought fuzzy slippers. At the same time, Doug was intensely private. One night, a dear friend was stunned by a phone call. She’d known he was battling cancer. But, he explained apologetically, he wasn’t going to be able to attend the concert she’d bought them tickets for: he was going into hospice the next day.

At his memorial, friends made his bread-maker bread, ate his favorite burritos, and shared his apple-pie recipe, the one that had won their blind taste test year after year. His 2002 best-of CD played in the background, and after a while, the liner notes came out. When they were passed around, the wistful, hungering room fell on them like a splendid dessert.

Giving Tuesday

I remember when it was just Black Friday.  Then came Cyber Monday.  Now they’ve added Giving Tuesday.

Okay.  But that’s all, okay?

Anyway, since Giving Tuesday is a thing now, let me make a pitch.

I got heavily interested and involved in the mental health area when my (now ex-)girlfriend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder and depression affects more than 21 million Americans, and accounts for 90% of the nation’s suicides every year.

Obviously, people with bipolar disorder bear the brunt of the ill-effects of their condition, but they don’t live in a vacuum.  If you have a family member or significant other with this condition, you already know that YOUR well-being suffers too.  The parents, children, spouses and significant others of “bipolars” often find themselves becoming anxious, clinically depressed and even suicidal when having to deal over the long term with their ill family member or mate.  I wasn’t suicidal, but I  found it unbelievably difficult.  Her emotions were all over the place, and very strong.  What was once “cute” turned into a nightmare.  I never knew what her moods would be and what would trigger her moods.  She tried to kill herself. She was manipulative.  She had delusional events.  She shoplifted.  She lied.  She wasn’t accepting of my friends and worked behind the scenes to create friction betwewn others.  At the end, when she stopped all therapy and medication, she took no responsibility for her behavior.  And God forbid if I had any problems of my own — she wasn’t at all interested in my thoughts or feelings (unless it affected her in some way).  On a mental health counselor’s advice, I had to withdraw for my own sake at times, simply because I was the object of emotional — and sometimes physical — abuse (not that she injured me, but she did hit a few times).  It was a constant struggle, and I ceased to exist because, whether she was happy, sad or angry — it was all about her.

Despite all that, I was trying to make sense of my then-gf’s erratic behavior, and to be in a better position to help her.  So I joined several bipolar support groups.  And now, even though the relationship is far off in my rear view mirror, I am still active in a couple of these groups.  I keep abreast of the current developments in the science of bipolar disorder “cures”, techniques for therapy, and motivational assistance for those who are damaged by a loved one’s bipolar disorder.  The problem with being close to someone who has bipolar disorder is that you don’t know what is going on, and very often, the person with bipolar disorder is too volatile or too much in denial to be objective or explain.  However, although nobody’s bipolar situation is ever the same, there are many similarities between those inflicted with it.  It is rewarding to be able to help people whose significant other or family member is struggling with bipolar disorder… in the way I was helped when I was “green” about the issues

A lot of groups are out there asking for your dollars to help understand and fight the stigma of mental illness.  And certainly I would recommend any of them for your charitable dollars.

But I wanted to put in a plug for DBSA – the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.  The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is the leading peer-directed national organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder

DBSA’s peer-based, wellness-oriented, and empowering services and resources are available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them-online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America.

Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with in-person and online peer support; current, readily understandable information about depression and bipolar disorder; and empowering tools focused on an integrated approach to wellness.

Even though they are the leading group in this area, they are not very big.  And they could use your help this Giving Tuesday.  More information here.

A Response To A Bipolar Mind

You write:

  Iambipolar

Okay.  Good questions.  Here are some answers.

Why do these people who love me think I do these things on purpose?  There are people who love you who don't understand your illness, or don't even know you have an illness.  Yes, those people think you are doing it on purpose.  

But then there are people who love you who DO understand your illness.  They understand you are not doing it on purpose.  But it isn't easy to understand.

You certainly look like you do these things on purpose.  You plan.  You talk about it.  You are enthused about it.  It's really difficult for us to believe that you are under the control of your illness.  You want these things, right?  You want them and it has nothing to do with your illness, right?  Tell us. 

But you can't have it both ways.  You are making a choice to spend you life this way, or you are NOT in control and "can't help" what you are doing.

Because it looks like you are in control and know damn well what you are doing, but when it all crashes in on you, you are setting it up so you can blame the illness.

Here's an idea: don't take responsibility after the bad things happen.  Take responsibility now, before they happen, and then stop them from happening.  And if you need help, say something.  But don't write "I do everything to control my illness" if you don't even seek help from those who are willing and able to help.

How can they deny my illness after so many years of watching me battle all the extreme highs and lows?i

I'm not sure who you think is denying your illness these past few months.  If anyone has been, it has been you.

Think hard about this… who has been denying your illness?

Why do they prefer to constantly remind me that I messed up again?  Not sure who is "constantly" reminding you of anything, since you've done a good job of isolating yourself from anyone who even knows you are bipolar, much less understands it.

That said, nobody I know wants to tell you that you "messed up".  They just want to mitigate the damages.  Put quite simply, they want to help you before things get bad for you.  Is that a bad thing?

And you asked for this help.  You said, after making a decision to buy a dog, "Tell me if I'm doing something stupid like that again because of my mania."  That's what they are trying to do.  They are not trying to make you feel bad.  They don't take pleasure in seeing you "mess up" (in fact, just the opposite).  They understand you don't have control.  They are doing for you what you would do for them, if the roles were reversed: they are trying to help you until you get to a place where you don't need it.

Don't they realize I already hate myself for my irrational behavior?

No, they don't.  

Does this surprise you?

It shouldn't.  

Ask yourself this: what have you done to indicate to others that you hate yourself for your irrational behavior?  Name one thing.  Just one.  

I'll make it easier: Forget about hating yourself — what have you said or communicated to anybody to give the impression that you know this is irrational behavior?

They may not understand, I do everything I can to control my illness but sometimes it controls me.

Try this on for size… maybe "they" DO understand.  Maybe that is exactly what they think… that your illness is controlling you.  Why would you want to let go of people like that?  People who actually "get it" AND are trying to help?

This truly is a bipolar mind at work.  People with bipolar often see the people who are helping them as people who are putting them down.  That is why we caregivers are taught not to constantly ask "Are you taking your medication?" and to let the bipolar partner know that you see them as MANY things, only ONE of which is "bi-polar".  Still, it's pretty hard to do and be 100% successful.

BOTTOM LINE:  We are told that there is a lot of shame with being bipolar, and being the one who "messes up".  We are told that helping you out increases that sense of shame, which makes it difficult to help you out.  The people who love you understand all this, but they don't hold it against you.  They don't think you should feel shame.  They know you are trying.  They know it is difficult.  They know you will fail sometimes.  But guess what?  They are trying, too — trying to help.  And helping is difficult.  And they fail at it sometimes too.  Help them to help you by letting them in and by not assuming that they are trying to make you feel shame or remorse or anything worse than you already do — believe me, it's the last thing they want.

In Which I Get A Nice Review

Standout performances bring about laughs in 'A Funny Thing'

By: LYNN FELDER | Special correspondent 
Published: May 06, 2012

MeandgraytKen Ashford and Gray Smith have proved themselves to be two of the funniest men in town in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," which opened Friday at Twin City Stage.

Appearing in nearly every scene, Ashford carries the show with his energetic and amiable portrayal of the Roman slave Pseudolus, who plots, schemes, connives and risks life and limb to help his young master, Hero (Charlie Klutzz), woo his lady love, Philia (Gracey Falk).

If Hero wins Philia, then Pseudolus will win his freedom, the thing he wants most in the world, as illustrated in his wonderful song, "Free," a humorous and haunting duet with Klutzz.

Klutzz has a warm tenor and, despite a floppy pompadour wig, which is intentionally and effectively funny, Klutzz looks and sounds like the perfect romantic hero.

Ashford has a pleasant singing voice, flawless comic timing and wonderful expressions that he uses to show an ever-changing array of feelings without ever going over the top — well, except maybe in his death scene. The latter is a tour-de-force of zaniness in which he quotes from a madcap array of literary and pop-culture sources as he careens about the stage.

Smith, on the other hand, defines "over the top." After all, his character, the chief slave, is named Hysterium. Smith uses his rubbery face and antic vitality to enliven every scene he is in.

In addition to these standouts, the ensemble cast is solid and includes an excellent belly dancer, Tintinabula, danced by Angela Brady. Falk is, indeed, lovely as Philia, the virgin courtesan who wins Hero's heart.

The orchestra, under the direction of Margaret Gallagher, plays well enough but seems a bit restrained. Director Mark Pirolo keeps things crisp, and his colorful sets frame the action nicely, holding up to the slamming doors, slashing swords and pratfalls.

If you're looking for a belly laugh or two or three, "A Funny Thing" more than lives up to the promise of its name.

A ‘Funny’ coincidence 20 years later

Reprinted from the Winston-Salem Journal:

By: LYNN FELDER | Special correspondent 
Published: April 29, 2012

W0429 SUN SECONDARY 18422583.JPG

"A Funny Thing Happened" 20 years ago at Twin City Stage — then the Little Theatre of Winston-Salem — and it's going to happen again Friday when "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" opens.

What these two funny things have in common are actor Gray Smith as Hysterium and director Mark Pirolo. Everything and everyone else is new, including Ken Ashford in the lead role of Pseudolus.

The play revolves around the slave Pseudolus and his passionate desire for freedom. He will only get his freedom when his master, Hero, played by Charlie Klutzz, satisfies his passionate desire: Philia, played by Gracey Falk. Hysterium is the head slave in Hero's parents' household.

"Gray played the same role 20 years ago. Now he's the right age," Pirolo said. "As good as his performance was back then, his performance now has a great deal more nuance. He's grown as an actor."

* * * * *

Well-known throughout the Triad for his comedy roles in community-theater productions, Smith said that the 1992 "Funny Thing" was a turning point in his acting career.

"Hysterium was the first role I played that made me realize that I'm a character actor," Smith said. "Everyone, when they're young, wants to be the ingénue or the leading man, but this role made me want to audition for character parts."

Smith said he doesn't feel that his characterization of Hysterium has changed much since he was 28.

"I've had a lot more experience onstage, but it's funny — I don't feel like I'm doing it much differently," Smith said. "I feel like it was a pretty solid character then, and Mark is staging it pretty much the same as he did 20 years ago. Of course, the entire cast is different.

"Having a totally different cast brings a totally different feeling to it."

One of the different cast members is Ashford. The two men have performed together in other shows.

"I always feel comfortable on stage with Ken," Smith said. "If we get in trouble with lines or something, one of us will pull the other one out."

In addition to acting in community-theater shows, Ashford works with an improvisational troupe, Nekkid Feet, and he's bringing his improv skills to "Funny Thing."

"It's more fun than other plays because we're playing off of each other in rehearsal, and some of what we ad-lib may wind up in the show," Ashford said.

"Ken can really come up with some zingers," Pirolo said. "We laugh at rehearsal a lot, and that's how I know we've got a good show. Sometimes Maggie (Margaret Gallagher, the music director) is laughing so hard that she can't continue."

"Funny Thing" is based on the work of the Roman playwright Plautus, the original physical-comedy writer. The tradition of physical comedy was carried into Commedia dell'arte in Italy. Vaudeville followed, and early television featured such physical comedians as Sid Caesar and Carol Burnett, with Dick Van Dyke picking up the banner. Jim Carrey comes close, but gross-out humor is not the same as physical comedy.

"The stage is the only place you see this kind of humor now," Pirolo said.

Actors performing physical comedy have to make the right move at the right time and convey feeling with a look. There are gags and pratfalls that require inordinate strength and skill to avoid injuries.

* * * * *

During a recent rehearsal, Ashford and Klutzz worked on a scene with a dagger. Pirolo directed them through it repeatedly, choreographing the moves like an intricate dance.

"Once you've got that down, and once everybody is on the same page, then you can experiment with it and have fun," Ashford said.

"Ken's very good at finding the right moment to do the right gesture and give the audience a look," Pirolo said. "As he begins to get a handle on everything that he has to do, he's beginning to get a sense of himself as the master of ceremonies. It's really Pseudolus' need to be free that drives the show."

As rehearsals progress toward opening night, and the cast and crew learn their lines and moves, they are finding more fun in the show.

"There is a part at the end where I fake dying," Ashford said. "And what's weighing on my mind is how much am I going to ham it up without being completely stupid. I don't want to look like the guy at the party with the lampshade on his head."

Then he brightens.

"We definitely are having fun," Ashford said. "Mark provides a really good atmosphere, so that if I try to be funny and I'm not funny it's not mortifying, so I can take more risks and not worry about looking like a total jerk.

"It's a really hard-working cast — professional but fun."

 

Still Busy

If anyone is interested about my Costa Rica trip, it is more or less being serialized here.  Even though we were together most of the time, my ex-girlfriend's account pretty much purges all traces of my existence, Soviet-style*.  That's fine – you can substitute most of the "I"s with "we"s, and it's still fairly accurate.

* She just chose to do it that way — for whatever reason.  I wouldn't read much into it.

The Review Is In….

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

W0604 REV DUCKHUNTER 16347009.JPG

Play is good-hearted fun

By LYNN FELDER

"Duck Hunter Shoots Angel," which opened Friday night at Twin City Stage, follows the misadventures of a couple of good old boys who think they've shot an angel and a tabloid journalist from "up North" as they search for meaning and redemption in an Alabama swamp.

Along the way, we meet a half-man, half-gator; a smart girl who runs the local Gasmart; a mysterious woman; and a corrupt tabloid-newspaper publisher.

The journalist, Sandy, played with disillusioned charm by Don Gunther, sums up his philosophy this way: "Life is about stumbling from one mistake to the other … and then you die." He is schooled along the way by the bumbling duck hunters — Duane (Ken Ashford), his brother Duwell (Chad Edwards) — and a couple of earth angels — Kansas (Katlyn Swanson) who runs the Gasmart and Woman (Laurel Ullman), the love he sacrificed to his ambition.

Rudy Anderson as Lenny, Sandy's photographer side-kick, is quite good, lending some naturalism in his acting to the frequently farcical proceedings.

Ashford and Edwards are often hilarious with their endless stream of malapropisms; at one point of extreme stress, Ashford's Duane declares that he's about to have "a corollary."

The Southern characters have Southern accents, but Gunther and Zach Hall, who plays the "Weekly World and Globe" publisher, Lester, use neutral accents.

In a script that constantly compares the North and the South and makes good-hearted fun of both, some actual Northern accents would have created more contrast and more humor.

The set by Larry Hurych is functional and effective with smooth scene changes and a great, murky swamp. The lighting by Daniel Alvarez supports the action nicely, particularly in the scenes that suggest the angel's presence.

Site Notes

Yes, I know my blogging is sporadic.

Yes, I know I missed writing about the State of the Union, this blog's seventh anniversary, and the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Lot of things going on right now, and free time is at a premium.

Hope to get back to a "normal" blogging routine soon.

The Reviews Are In

Can't complain at all:

Play is about love, marriage and gender change

By LYNN FELDER
Published: January 08, 2011

Ideas about love, marriage and gender mutability combusted on the Theatre Alliance stage Friday night in the hands of an outstanding cast and capable directing by Artistic Director Jamie Lawson.

"Looking for Normal" by Jane Anderson tells the story of Roy, played by Ken Ashford, his family and friends as they navigate the uncharted terrain of his decision to have transgender surgery in order to become the woman that he believes he has always been. In the process, conventional ideas about the meaning of love and marriage are exploded in provocative scenes, and economical — often humorous — dialogue.

The play opens as Roy and his wife, Irma (Gesh Metz), are seeking pastoral counseling. But Roy simply cannot get to the point, so Irma volunteers to wait outside. After much dithering and hand-fiddling, Roy tells the Rev. Muncie (Neil Shepherd) that he has been seeing a psychiatrist and has made a decision to change his body. In a moment of perfect balance between pathos and humor, Roy bursts into tears, and Muncie rolls his eyes.

The preacher desperately tries to frame Roy's experience in a context that he can work with and correct, but Roy's description of a spiritual experience in which God has blessed his desire to correct nature's mistake flummoxes Muncie.

The two agree to tell Irma together, and they do in a priceless moment of subtle scripting.

The entire cast is terrific, and the standouts are Ashford with his burly-man body and sweet face, and Shannon Haas as Patty Ann, the pre-teen daughter who is having her own gender concerns.

Ashford is completely believable in both male and female aspects, and neither is ever a burlesque — except when it is intended to be.

Haas plays Patty Ann with maddening, eye-rolling accuracy. Patty Ann asks her dad all the great, obvious questions: Will he shave his legs? Will he wear dress? (She hates wearing dresses.)

Grandmother Ruth (April Linscott) — Roy's grandmother who abandoned Roy's father when he was just a baby — sums up the gist of what the play is against: "People would rather be shocked than enlightened."

But what the play is "for" is love.

Movie Premiere

Well, my movie premiers tonight, and when I say "my" movie, I mean (of course) the movie in which I may make a brief appearance assuming that I don't end up on the cutting room floor.

It's called "Hellphone" and the premiere takes place at the Carousel Theatre on Battleground Avenue at 6:30pm in Greensboro, with the film commencing at 7:30.  Then there's the after-party at 9:30pm, Vintage 301, 301 MLK Jr. Drive, downtown Greensboro, but I just canNOT deal with the paparazzi tonight.

"Hellphone" is a movie wherein a demonic cell phone wreaks havoc on a small Southern town, and only the rag-tag team of a deputy sheriff, her boyfriend and her ex-fiancé can stop it.

Here's the trailer.  Scott Stevens, who was my co-star in "Rounding Third", plays the demon who possesses phones (from beyond the grave) and you can see him at the beginning of the trailer as he makes some gruff noises and demonic laughs (even as he is getting buried alive).

 

My Girlfriend Scares Me

She's on this kick of doing things she's never done….

Like going to a firing range and shooting a gun…..

Now I don't know if she's any good….

But she be the toughest-looking gal in the hood.

UPDATE – 

 This brings up a West Wing classic, where CJ (Alison Janey) goes to the FBI to use their gym, and discovers they have a firing range and asks for lessons from the agent on her security detail (Mark Harmon)

 

Of course, in subsequent episodes, they fall in love, although that didn't turn out well….

 

World Premiere

The movie I'm in (or perhaps "of which I am on the cutting floor") premieres next month.

Hellphone-Postersm

Blurb: 

When people start dying in a small southern town, it’s up to the deputy
sheriff, her ex-fiancée, and her current boyfriend to figure out what is
happening. Little do they suspect that a vengeful spirit has possessed a
cell phone and is the cause of all the havoc. Together they must discover
the source of the mayhem and find a way to stop it before their town in
destroyed.

The Reviews Are In

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

Leigh Somerville McMillan 

SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL 

 Published: August 1, 2010 

The Theatre Alliance audience returned home after Friday's opening night performance with quite a catch. King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs and Stories of the Carolina Coast delivered exactly what was promised: a vacation. 

And, like most vacations, we didn't want it to end. Within minutes of stepping on stage, Jason Kraack, Mike Orsillo, Tracy Warren and Ken Ashford became our new best friends. 

Playing members of the band, The Coastal Cohorts, they engaged the audience in a benefit to raise money to restore Miss Mattie Jewell's Corncake Inlet Inn after it was damaged in a hurricane. 

Kraack, the leader of the group, explains that if they fail, the "greed-head developers" will tear it down and build a new high-rise. Kraack's rich and true tenor and full-body piano playing earned him the role of "The King Fish." He knows how to rock and roll, but he was clearly at his best during his heartwarming solos, "Sand Mountain Song" and "Home On The River." 

Wearing a well-worn ball cap and growling out a better-than-garage band baritone, the "mystic fisherman" Orsillo brought back memories of summer romances in his solo "Georgia Rose." But it was his storytelling, especially of Cooter Womble's boating fiasco, that won our hearts. 

And when Warren took the stance and leaned back with that bass guitar, we all fell in love with his boyish smile. The house was full of folks who related to his fondness for cruising Myrtle Beach at 4 or 5 miles an hour in the 1963 Thunderbird his grandmother won in a Bingo game. 

Director Jamie Lawson gave the show the perfect finishing touch by adding Ken Ashford on drums to the script. It's hard to imagine '50s music without percussion. While he only had one line (which he delivered perfectly), Ashford was able to do more with his good-ole-boy smile than some actors can accomplish with pages of monologue. 

A rousing game of Bingo provided the opportunity for some actual audience participation. Rita Ladd won an all expenses paid vacation at the Corncake Inlet Inn with its private flush bucket and flounder shaped Jacuzzi. The rest of the audience won rubber worms. 

After the final number, the crowd was invited to have pictures taken with the band and the 5-foot long, 42-pound, 11-ounce canvas King Mackerel borrowed from the original cast. No one seemed to mind getting a little sand in their shoes. 

Theatre Alliance will present King Mackerel & The Blues are Running at 2 p.m. today; at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and at 2 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $16 and $14 for students and seniors. The theater is at 1047 W. Northwest Blvd. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 800-838-3006 or go to www.wstheatrealliance.org.

We've added a show at 4:00 next Saturday, too.  

Here's a picture of the cast with a pretty girl:

DSCN3083
 

Rites of Passage

I had my first encounter with actual moonshine last night, distilled (or so I was told) by the late and legendary "Popcorn" Sutton.

I'm not the kind to cotton to such things, but there I was, on some abandoned railroad tracks with a steel guitar player and a banjo player and a bunch of others.  (The railroad tracks were behind the theater where I and the others had just finished a performance of the show "Hank Williams: Lost Highway").  Under the circumstances, a swig of moonshine just seemed appropriate and fitting.

I highly recommend it.

In Which I Get Caught Up In Some Illegal Activity (Part II)

Part I here.

Apparently, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten FEDEX packages have been sent out in my name.  This morning alone, I have received three phone calls from people all over the country asking why I sent them a check.  These checks are in the name of South Motors Infiniti (which is the name of a car dealership in Miami, Florida), and are in the amounts of $2500-3000 each.

After speaking with FEDEX's fraud department, my bank's fraud department, and the local FBI (who referred me to the U.S. Secret Service), this much, at least, is clear:

  1. Someone opened a FEDEX account in my name about a week and a half ago.  They had my address, cell phone number AND my debit card number.  When they opened the account, they gave an email address which is NOT mine (The email is in the form of LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME @ YAHOO.COM; I know the name, but I won't share it; FEDEX assumes it is probably fake anyway).
  2. They sent out ten FEDEX packages under "my" FEDEX account to various people throughout the country (some of whom have called me).  According to FEDEX, at least some of the packages came from a FEDEX drop-off box in Daphne, Alabama.  The shipments are charged to me.  (Don't worry – my bank is on top of this now)
  3. According to the Secret Service agent I spoke to, the targets of the scheme are the people who receive these checks.  The perpetrators hope that the recipients will cash or deposit the checks, thereby revealing their bank account numbers.  "My" FEDEX account serves merely to cover their tracks.

It's not clear why the perpetrator or perpetrators chose these particular people as victims.  But the victims I've talked to come from Chicago, South Carolina, Texas, etc. and seemingly have no connection to each other or South Motors Infiniti.  And certainly no connection to me.

Anyway, the lesson of the day is this: If you receive a big check in the mail from someone that you don't know, don't treat it as a windfall and cash it.  You're probably being set up.

Yeah, I know — that's common sense.  But apparently these schemers are counting on enough people not having any.

In Which I Get Caught Up In Some Illegal Activity

Okay, all you Seventh Sense readers (both of you).  I'm in the midst of a mystery/enigma/scam, so please weigh in with your thoughts.

Last night I received a call from what sounded like an Hispanic teenage girl.  The first words out of her mouth were, "Who is this?"

I said, "I'm Ken.  Who is this?"

She said, "I'm Gina.  Why you send me chick?"

I almost hung up, thinking it was a wrong number, drunk caller, whatever.  But I stayed on, trying to figure out what was going on.  After a few minutes, I was able to discern that Gina was telling me that I had sent her a check — a check for $2,900 (or therebouts) — and she wanted to know why.

Fortunately, Gina's mom got on the phone.  Her English was more coherent, and she told me the whole story.

That afternoon, her 16 year old daughter Gina, received a FedEx package.  Inside the package was a check made out to Gina for $2900 and change.  The check, I was told, came from me and it was made out to Gina.

"What makes you think it came from me?" I asked.

"Because your name, address, and phone number is on the FedEx label as the sender" she said.  "That's how we got your phone number to call you."

"Okay.  Then you tell me my name and address." 

And she did.

Now, at the point I am very concerned.  Maybe this is a scam and I should hang up.  But maybe someone got my checkbook and was writing checks.  So I started asking about the check.

"No, no, no," she said.  "The check is not yours.  It's from South Motors Infiniti.  It says so on the check.  But the Fedex package, which was sent on April 14, has you as the sender."

She went on to explain that she was able to determine, via the Internet, that South Motors Infiniti was a car dealership located in Miami, Florida.  Both she and Gina lived in Chicago, and had no dealings with South Motors Infiniti in Miami.  I assured her that I had no connection to South Motors Infiniti in Miami either, nor did I have any connection to her daughter in Chicago.

At this point, I still wasn't sure whether this was a scam.  But clearly, this woman I was talking to wasn't very trustful of me either.  We were both being cagy of each other.  Neither one of us wanted to give out more information than necessary.  She asked if I worked at a car dealership, or worked in Miami, and I said no, I was an attorney in North Carolina.  But other than that, she never asked me for any personal information, I never offered any personal information, and I never asked her for any.

She went on to explain that she had called South Motors Infiniti in Miami, and they claimed to know nothing about it.  They told her that the check was probably some sort of fraud.  But — at least the way she conveyed it to me — they didn't seem too concerned about it.  Which is odd since it was their check from (presumably) their bank account.

I inquired about the Fedex label bearing my name as sender, but there wasn't much to say.  It wasn't handwritten; it was computerized.  I wondered aloud if the Fedex label couldn't have been a computer glitch, but even that doesn't make sense.  I haven't sent anything via Fedex in years.  And Gina's mom pointed out that a Fedex computer glitch still doesn't explain the check.

Anyway, Gina's mom said she was going to send me a copy of the Fedex label and a copy of the check (since she had my address anyway), and said she was going to contact the FBI (which I said was a good idea).

And that's basically the mystery.

Now, to be honest, I presume my name, address, and phone number is public information, accessible by a rudimentary Google search.  And no private information (my bank account number, etc) appears to have been compromised.  So I can't really claim this is "identity theft" (but I am taking precautions anyway).

But if this is a scam or some illegal activity — and tend to think it is – I can't figure out what it is, or who is the victim, or how/why my name is involved.  Any thoughts?

Hellphone Teaser

The funny thing is…. the guy at the beginning of the trailer?  That was originally going to be my part, but due to scheduling issues, it went to someone else.  I got a different scene.

This is going to be a fun little movie.

David Joy Gets Good Press

Geez.

Best quote:

Jokes Lawson: “Truth be told, he owes all of his success to me, and the rest is history.” Joy plays right along. “It’s true,” he says. “I’m Jamie’s bitch. He works me like a slave driver and I keep coming back for more. I’m a prison bitch.”

The Shoot

Hellphone I didn't know what was going on.

I knew I had been cast in a very small part in "Hellphone", being shot in Madison, NC.  My original part was one line, spoken into a phone, and then I die.  But a scheduling conflict preventing that from happening.  But they put into another part.  I just had no idea what part, or when it was being shot.

So every morning, I would get by email a call sheet.  And yesterday, I was on it.  I was "John" and I was to be at Dan's Coffee Shop in Madison at 6:30 pm.  That's all I knew.

I arrived there and there were already a bunch of extras in semi-formal dress.  I was in a polo shirt and jeans.  Uh-oh.

Fortunately, Jaye Pierce was there.  I just ended a show with her — The Great American Trailer Park Musical — she played my stripper-girlfriend.  Her brother is the director of "Hellphone".  She was there, with much of her family, to be extras.  She had on a snazzy evening dress.

She got a copy of the script, and it turned out to be a scene at a dance hall.  It was a "Support The Troops" benefit where people turn in their cellphones in exchange for a bluetooth phone that fits in your ear.  This is early in the film.  Apparently, outfitting most of the fictional small town with bluetooths is important for the plot — the demon can now kill them better through the bluetooth.  Or something.

Anyway, as luck would have it, I was able to get myself dressed up, pulling from my Trailer Park costume which was still in my car.  Now it was just a matter of learning my lines.  And knowing when to say them.  One of the lines was "Well, as a vet, I seriously appreciate the community coming together to support our boys."  Dummy me — it took me a while to realize I was a veteran, and not a veterinarian.

As luck would also have it, the woman playing my wife Sharon, was unable to make the shoot, so Jaye took her place.

Our scene was basically a brief conversation with the lead, Graham (played by Nathan Moore) and Elisha (a reporter who has a crush on Graham, played by Caroline Granger, a Charlotte-based actress).  I talk to Graham about the event, but he is distracted and excuses himself from the conversation.

Shooting was fun.  It was a long process though, because it was a crowd scene.  There was a band and the extras were dancing.  Meanwhile, there's several conversations going on.  So we had to shoot wide shots from various angles.  Then we had to shoot closer shots of particular conversations (including the one I was in).  And you had to remember your movements from the wider shots to the closer ones, which sometimes were shot an hour-and-a-half later. 

Again, Jaye was a big help.  She would remind me, "…and here's where you turn around after I point at the fat lady".  Of course, we had to mime a lot when the camera wasn't on us — the boom wanted to pick up the main conversation and not all the background noise.  So there was silent talking, silent dancing, etc.

The extras were, uh, interesting.  Some of them had clearly never done it before, but they were very attentive to Jason's direction.  Others seemed to be "extra groupies" — people who apparently have nothing better to do that to be extras in movies.  Some people drove from Florida and Marylan, just to be in the background of this one 3-minute scene.

Anyway, my scene went off without a serious hitch, and I managed to remember my lines.  Nathan was a great guy and a very good actor.

Jaye had her baby with her, and the baby was acting up, so she had to leave the set shortly after our close-up scene was shot.  They still had more party scenes to shoot (reflecting later on in the evening when the party had died down a little), and since my "wife" was no longer there, it stood to reason that my charactor wouldn't be there either.  So I was done at 11:30 pm.

Nice time.  Hope to see the film itself someday (my co-actor in Rounding Third, Scott Stevens, is playing the demon).  Might even get me on IMDb.

P.S.  Forgot to mention.  My charactor, John, and Jaye's charactor, Sharon, are named after Jaye and Jason's actual parents.  Waiting around to shoot, I asked Jaye if her father had any mannerisms that I could incorporate (you know, just for fun).  Jaye's niece said the he sometimes scratches his chin.  Unfortunately, I forgot to do that on most of the takes, so I'm not sure if my chin-scratch will make the final cut.

Where Am I?

Confirmation hearings, the economy still in the tank, and we're STILL learning more about the arrogant law-breaking colossal fuck-up that was the Bush Administration.  Er, the Cheney Administration.

And yet, I'm AWOL.  Not that I don't care.  I just have a lot on my plate.  Sigh.

I Dream Of Geneology

I’ve been getting into tracing my heritage and, with a few hours to kill last night (that could have been put to better use, but what the hell), I built up on some basic research I had started about a year ago.

I decided to climb up my family tree, and go out on the branch marked “Mother”.  This was all done through ancestry.com, which is cool.  I thought I would share my roots – well, the interesting parts.  Well, the parts that are interesting to me, with a veiled attempt to make it interesting to anyone outside my family who is reading this.

I've decided to "tell my story" on a seprate page of this blog, apart from the regular posts.  I hope to update it periodically.  It's here.

New York Update

Well, the shows are done.  Audiences seemed to like it, although almost everyone who attended was a friend or family member of someone in the cast…. so that doesn't count.

After-show outings were entertaining: HGTV's Libby Langdon ("Small Space, Big Style") took us to a nice restaurant for which she had interior designed (Libby is the daughter of cast member Mary Ann Luedtke).

We also went out with Michael McDonald, who came to our show right after the Tony Award dinner.  Mike, a friend of Joe's (our director), has received his first Tony nomination ever – for costumes in Hair

On Thursday, Cheryl and I went to Central Park to watch the Broadway Show League.  It was hot; we ended up mostly watching South Pacific beat out 9 To 5, sitting with Laura Osnes (Nellie) who didn't play, but was nice enough to show up to route the team on.

Some random celeb sightings: Senator Bill Bradley, Tim Robbins, and Michael Emerson.  Oddly, this is the second Emerson sighting for me.  On another visit to NYC a couple of years ago, I saw him too.  This time it was in the 23rd St. subway; he was with wife and kid.

Anyway, some shows to see this weekend, including 9 to 5, and Waiting for Godot.  Lots of sailors in town (it's Fleet Week), but they don't sing and dance like in On The Town.

Big Media Me

Interview/promo on Fox 8 went well this morning, I thought.  I'll try to have a viideo (or link) up soon.  I'm not sure if Fox 8 will put up the clip.  Their website seems obsessed with the strawberry pie segment of the Morning Show which immediately preceded us.

Sometimes I Worry About My Friends

Someone very near and dear to me is in love with Ben Linus, the charactor on Lost

Mind you – not in love with Michael Emerson, the actor who portrays Ben Linus, but Ben Linus.

Ben Linus, who is not only a murderer, but a fictional murderer at that.

I'm going to watch my back around her….

But seriously, Lost is getting pretty good.  Unfortunately, I missed a few shows in Season 3 and 4, and I'm not quite sure I follow everything.  Then again, maybe I'm not supposed to.

An Open Letter To Freida Pinto

16slid1 Dear Freida,

Loved you in Slumdog

I read here that you don't have an Oscar date.

I just wanted you to know I'm not doing anything this coming Sunday evening.  Leave a comment to this post so I know how to contact you.  Or email.

Yours, Ken

Broadway Bound?

Who would have thunk it?

I might be making my Broadway debut in May.

No kidding.

I workshopped a show at Open Space Theatre last year — an original play called "The Nebula of Georgia".  And now it's going to be staged (with the original cast, as best as possible) at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre on May 20, 21, 22.

Okay, it's not actually a Broadway house.  It's technically off-off-Broadway (which I've done many times).  But it's right in the theater district…. so, you know, close enough.

I don't know all the details, so I don't know if I can commit.  But it's kind of exciting.

You Are What You Blog

Typealyzer ingests the contents of your blog, and based on that, does Myers-Briggs psychology test on the blogs author.

So this is me:

ISTP – The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generelly prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Not bad.  I'm actually an INTP.  And the S-N is borderline.

Oh, and then there's this…

Brainblog

Good to know.

But like others, I wonder:

Methinks the web is getting too smart for its own good. Granted, my personality type probably isn't too hard to figure out even from a 30-second conversation, but it's a little unnerving that some heap of silicon can do it. If they can already do this, how long will it be before our robot overlords take over completely?

Google Street Me

For those interested, the Google Street View people must have swung through my neighborhood this summer.

Check out the Google map of my home address, and then click "Street View".  Then click on the little "yellow man" icon to see the view from my street.  You will see this:

Googleme 

I know, you can't make it out.  The sun was behind my house that day.  The mailbox is barely visible (I replaced that mailbox in August), and the driveway (between the mailbox and the phone utility box thingee) is barely visible.  My house itself is totally obscured by the tree in the center of the photo.

On Google Maps, you can drag the little man around to try to change the view, but the other views aren't any better.

I guess I'm surprised, because there are quite a few areas of the country haven't been Google Street Viewed yet. (See map of the east coast below -covered areas are in blue)

Streetmapcover  

The Latest On Me

For those who have inquired….

First of all, thank you for your concern.

Secondly, I am going to have colon surgery at some point.  The date keeps getting pushed back.  The damage is serious, but fortunately (and this is the good news learned this week) not widespread.  This means the surgery can be done laproscopically.

But the date is looking like sometime in January or February.  In one sense, this is good: it means the doctors don't feel a sense of urgency (technically, I've been taken out of the Trauma Unit's files as of this week).  On the other hand, it just means that this whole mish-a-goss (not a real word) is being prolonged.

Anyway, I'm mentally taking a respite from the whole issue, to the extent that my innards will allow me.

My New Phobia

People are afraid of stupid things.  I know someone who is afraid of driving over bridges, even ones that are merely overpasses.

I, on the other hand, am afraid of ice.  Not ice cubes (that would be really stupid), or even ice on the road or sidewalk.  I’m afraid of ice on ponds, rivers.  More specifically, I’m afraid of falling through ice.  Something in a past life, I think.

And now I have a new fear.

That Ira Glass will call me and shame me because I haven’t donated to NPR.  He’s doing that now; I heard him this morning.

Call Me Howie

So I sat down at 4:00 pm to play a game of online poker.

$11.00 entry fee for 3,000 chips.  2,907 players in an elimination tournament, which means the later you get eliminated, the more of the prize pool you win.

9 hours and 40 minutes later (yes, 1:40 am) one guy was standing with over 17,000,000 chips.

Me.

I won $15,227.90.

Good, because I have medical bills.

Where Are The Ashfords?

APM = Ashfords Per Million

Top Countries

Country APM
UNITED KINGDOM 95.51
AUSTRALIA 71.84
NEW ZEALAND 68.67
CANADA 40.8
UNITED STATES 27.76
LUXEMBOURG 8.5
IRELAND 3.77
DENMARK 0.98
BELGIUM 0.86
SWITZERLAND 0.64

Top Regions

Area Name APM
WEST MIDLANDS , UNITED KINGDOM 205.79
SOUTH WEST , UNITED KINGDOM 193.53
EAST ANGLIA , UNITED KINGDOM 185.88
NORTHERN TERRITORY , AUSTRALIA 168.34
WALES , UNITED KINGDOM 154.79
MISSISSIPPI , UNITED STATES 143.45
QUEENSLAND , AUSTRALIA 100.86
LOUISIANA , UNITED STATES 95
OKLAHOMA , UNITED STATES 90.08
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY , AUSTRALIA 87.94
Top Cities
City
BEMBRIDGE , SOUTH EAST , UNITED KINGDOM
APPIN , SCOTLAND , UNITED KINGDOM
BILSTON , WEST MIDLANDS , UNITED KINGDOM
BAGILLT & FLINT , WALES , UNITED KINGDOM
BATHGATE , SCOTLAND , UNITED KINGDOM
AIKEN , SOUTH CAROLINA , UNITED STATES
ASCOT , SOUTH EAST , UNITED KINGDOM
BILLERICAY , SOUTH EAST , UNITED KINGDOM
ASHFORD & SURREY , SOUTH EAST , UNITED KINGDOM
BACUP , NORTH WEST , UNITED KINGDOM

Source: World Names Profiler

Forever Young

Being stuck in a hospital has caused me to be a bit nostalgic.  So I’ve decided to upload my yearbook photos from years gone by…..

1950

Myyearbookphoto1950

1956

Myyearbookphoto1956

1960

Myyearbookphoto1960

1964

Myyearbookphoto1964

1970

Myyearbookphoto1970

1974

Myyearbookphoto1974

1978

Myyearbookphoto1978

1984

Myyearbookphoto1984

1988

Myyearbookphoto1988

1990

Myyearbookphoto1990

1994

Myyearbookphoto1994

2000

Myyearbookphoto2000_2

Sicko

Cheryl managed to smuggle in my laptop and I’ve hacked in to the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital computer, so I can inform the outside world of what’s going on.

Actually, Cheryl carried in my laptop and that have free Internet access….

What’s going on is…. hell if I know.

I went to my GP on Friday.  It was my second visit to him since the whole ER experience from the previous week, in which it was learned that I had an infected colon from diverticulitis.  The doctors had sent me home with some strong oral antibiotics.

After the results of some blood tests, it was clear to my GP that the antibiotics were not helping.  In fact, the raised white blood cell count indicated that, if anything, the infection in my colon was getting worse.  So he said to go back to the emergency room.

So, another Friday night, another visit to the LOVELY Wake Forest Baptist Hospital ER.  Xrays, CT Scans.

I was admitted to the hospital this time.  The two issues are these:

(1)  The infection, which was apparently so massive as to block all digestive "movement" and

(2)  The damage to the colon itself.

Now, as for #2, there’s not much to say because damage cannot be assessed until the infection is down.  It LOOKS like, from all indications, they will have to remove a section of my colon (making it a semicolon).   That operation will happen in a few weeks, all other things pending.  (The alternative to that is a collostemy bag, which is NOT cool).

So the focus here is on #1, which consists of me taking some IV antibiotics.  Plus, to clear out pressure from behind the infection/obstruction, they inserted a tube through my nose, down my throat and into my stomach to pump out bile or whatever.  This hellish thing has been running through my nose and into my stomach for about 40 hours now, and I hate it.

To speed up the process, it looked like they were going to insert a needle, but that might be on hold.

In any event, it’s getting better through the slow process of IV antibiotics.

But I could be here many more days.  Just lying here.

Probably wont do much blogging since im not paying attention to things and this isnt particualrly interesting

\

Yeah, So I Collapsed At Work…

…and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where I hung out for nine hours all told, and then was finally sent home me with the news that I had a ruptured colon.  [CLARIFICATION:  Ok, not that I had a ruptured colon…. more like an infected colon which could rupture if it hasn’t already, so I have to take anti biotics and anti-inflammatories…..]

Which means I probably won’t be much help in the team and individual qualifying events.

**** UPDATE — 8/14/08  9:15pm —

Still recuperating.  I have written in my mind an absolutely hysterical blog "pamphlet" entitled "SO YOU WANT TO HAVE DIVERTICULITIS", based on my experiences.  Sadly, it’s probably too nasty, and I lack the energy anyway.

Bottom line — light blogging for the next few days.  I woould love to share my feelings about many things (i.e., the Edwards affair — disappointing), but que sera sera.

Got MILFs

Judy Pike, a dear old friend from from Tufts, turns — and I’m estimating here, based on the fact that she was a senior when I was a freshman — 49 years old today.

Suzanne Evon, an ex-girlfriend and even more endearing current friend, turns 50 this coming weekend.

What happened?  When did we get old?

I mean, I can deal with me getting older, slowing down, having sciatic pains, etc.  My whole life, I’ve been aware that that stuff was going to happen… eventually.  I mean, I can read a play and see a great part for a mid-twenty year old, and say "Oh, wait.  I’m not the right age".  I can do that now.  I used to not be able to.

But my contemporaries getting older?  Turning a half frickin’ century?

Shit, I didn’t see that coming…

I guess, in my mind, 50 is about how old my mom is now.  Which she isn’t but… that’s my mind.  And then everyone else’s age is supposed to fall in accordingly.  It probably doesn’t help that I have teenagers and twenty-somethings in my life who I can relate to (i.e., talk the lingo, or whatever — although realistically I’m probably just a poser to them).

So when I contemplate Que Evon turning 50, something in my head short circuits.

Saving grace is that it doesn’t show in either Que or Judy.  But still… that number… five-zero.  Yikes.

It’s Friday

I got nothing….

UPDATE:  Okay, I got something.

A Flickr user filming the heavy rain gets hit by lightning.  Happened a few days ago:

She writes: "From what i understand, it went through my left hand holding the camera, crossed my back and exited out of my right hand holding onto the metal railing. No entry or exit wounds, just a really good zap!"

But No Superhuman Abilty To Wage Mind Control

Human Resources at the place I work is asking employees to take a Clifton Strengthfinder Test, to show our strengths and talents.  It’s a serious psychological test (not one of those BS internet things).  It assesses your strengths, giving you five "talents" out of 36 metrics.

Here’s my results:

Learner

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Ideation

You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.

Input

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

Individualization

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.

Intellection

You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.

Whatever.  Below the fold is all 34 themes for me, in order…

How To Upstage Heather Maggs

(1)  Show up at my place of work (ostensibly to see Grandma)

(2)  Be cute as a button, with strawberry blonde hair

(3)  Sleep and be an all around angel

(4)  Be named Cassie

Oh, yeah.  It was great seeing you too, Heather….

Sis And Family In The Paper

Must not be much going on in Auburn Maine.

My sister and her family attended the local Empty Bowls Supper, and it made the newspaper.  (I went to the Empty Bowl luncheon last week here in Winston-Salem).  As the article notes, my nephew Zach was unable to attend.

But not to worry — his whereabouts were covered in another article in the same newspaper….

S’up?

You would think that after not blogging for a couple of days, I would have something to write about.  Not so.  Been busy with work, Whorehouse rehearsal, getting ready for the closing week of Nebula of Georgia, late night chats, and so on.

Missed the debate last night.  Apparently it was a travesty, with emphasis on gaffes and gotchas, and almost no questions on policy or substance.  Sigh.  Better media please.  Atrocity of the debate aside, apparently neither did well, with Obama doing worse (probably because it was pile-on night).  Most people I’ve read thought the winner was McCain.  Great.

Not paying attention to the news.  Again, better media please.

Not even paying attention to the Red Sox.

Heather’s got some pictures though.