It's been, as happens occasionally, a while since I've posted. This hiatus was brought about for good reason, however. I bought a business, and went through my first tax season on my own.
All in all, I'm pleased. The learning curve was steep this time around, despite being involved in the tax industry for 17 years. Nothing equals doing it yourself, it seems.
The final tally for the year was 612 clients served, a 1.8% error rate, and enough income to get all the bills paid for the year, which hasn't happened for us in a long time. I believe it's been 3 years since all the wolves at the door got satisfaction. I'm not pleased with the error rate, though all of the issues were fixable, and fixed. I want to get that down as close to zero as possible.
Tax prep is a crazy beast...10 weeks of fast, furious, long hours and then POOF. Normal, or even shortened, work days. I'm proud of what I accomplished this year, and looking forward to doing better next season.
It's time now to get into some thinking again, and some humor here. It's time to clear a long, long list of to-do items, including cleaning a house that looks like it's been raided by a Mongolian Horde. It's time to breathe a bit easier, now that we have feathers again instead of flames.
For all of you who supported us, rooted for us, I offer a sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart. We're back.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Well, here it is, in all its splendor. Such as it is. I’ll be including a few notes as we go along, and updating the list as it changes and completes. Strap in, here we go!
As the list is finished, each entry will get a big ol’ DONE. If something is accomplished, but not as fully as it could be, I’ll give it a lower case entry of done, signifying accomplishment but room to improve upon the experience. Those that get the DONE stamp will end up getting a blog entry of their own.
14/100 is the current score.
This was important enough to be #1 on the list when I was far younger. As I’ve explained elsewhere, it just doesn’t grab me anymore. I’ve had a lot of fun and success and strife and learning, and the paper just doesn’t mean as much as I thought it would. 40 year old me isn’t 25 year old me, so this one will end up being replaced at some point.
2) Drum with Babatunde done (as close as could be)
Didn’t get to drum with, but did get to drum for him, and with some other phenomenal drummers. Expect a blog entry on this at some point.
3) Publicly speak/teach
This is another that will be modified. It already has, actually. When I was younger, alternative religions really needed some advocate voices, and I longed to be one. Now, that cause has done well enough with only minor input from me. I’ve helped teach theatre for high schoolers, and I’ve taught drum workshops, and maybe that’s enough to mark this one with the DONE stamp…or maybe the slot needs to go to something else.
4) Fly a Plane
5) Have a 6 digit career
6) Have Children DONE
Stopped at one, for various reasons, not least of which that Little Danger is the best kid in the entire world. Yes, I’m biased.
7) Provide for that child.
Obviously, this one may never be done. It might just be an ongoing way of life. Providing for him comes in so many ways, and he’ll have to tell me when the done stamp is ready.
8) Master my drums
“Master” is perhaps too lofty a term. I’m damn good with the djembe, but my technique is weak on conga and doumbek, and I’d like to get better.
9) Finish fig painting
I have a collection of Necromunda figures; each and every gang produced by Games Workshop. I zen out when I paint. It relaxes me. I intend to finish painting all of them.
10) Have Poetry Published
Kind of self-explanatory. I have written, and occasionally still do, some fairly OK poetry, if I say so myself. I’d love to be published, and not by myelf.
11) Portray Javert done
I haven’t done the full show of Les Miserables, but I have performed an excerpt. There’s still time to upgrade this one to full caps-lock glory, and I look forward to it.
12) Catch an 8 lb rainbow trout
Ever since that Bennett Springs trip, I’ve longed to square off with a nice pan-sized fish and pull it out of the water to grace my plate.
13) Watch a sunset at Sanibel Island with Wifefish DONE
14) Visit my nephew in Colorado
Wifefish loves Colorado, I’ve got family there. Seems a natural fit.
15) Ride a Horse DONE
16) Own a large parcel of land
At some point, I intend to have some acreage with a nice barn and woods.
17) Physically touch totem animal(s).
This would include all of those that have entered my life. Tiger being most important to me, I’ll probably save the done stamp for that eventuality.
18) Earn at least a mid level in some martial art
Even though I’m getting older, I still would like to cross this one off the list. It’s always been a matter of time and discipline, and the time, I think, is drawing near.
19) Ministry license
Easy to do nowadays, and I did long ago formally train for such.
20) Fence again
I used to fence. I wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t do it for very long. I’d like to get back on strip.
21) Learn Rapier/Main Gauche DONE
In the course of getting pretty heavy into combat choreography in my youth, I learned the style.
22) Visit Ireland
I wanna go.
23) Brew Mead
“It’s made from honey!” I’d like to make some batches of my own.
24) Learn Reiki
Some think it bunk, some think it a healing method. I have enough belief in unexplained sciences to give it a go.
25) Enrolled Agent
Given the career, I may as well go through the hoops to be certified to bust the IRS in the chops.
26) Contact Hedy
Even though she’s part of my history, the concept of celebrity has gotten less and less important to me as time goes on. Connecting with a gradeschool friend I haven’t seen since 5th grade could be cool, but I think I wrote this one on the list in youthful ignorance. Slot may change.
27) Own a House DONE
I’m on the second one.
28) Writing Published DONE
Brew News articles for the win.
29) Visit West Africa
The land of the djembe, I should love to visit and hear traditional rhythms in traditional settings.
30) Be in Salem at Halloween
I just think this would be an awesome experience.
31) Swim with Whales done?
I’ve gone whale watching, I’ve been in the water (and danced with) dolphins…is it done?
32) See Alaska
As all of these travel things might be labeled, I wanna go.
33) See Hawaii
Yep, wanna go.
34) Melee Sparring DONE
I had intended to do some foam fighting, learn some weapons techniques. I had no idea how much further I would go than this simple goal.
35) Amtgard DONE
I had intended to begin attending a foam fighting game, as well. Instead, we ended up creating Triumph, and making our own entry into the fantasy worlds of LARP. I’m pretty proud of it.
36) Drum with Michael Bashaw
Hell of an artist, and glad I got to play with him.
37) Know my grandchildren
This one is a longevity goal, true. Guess I’ll have to keep my body in some semblance of temple-hood to get there.
38) Drum with Mamady Keita DONE
More than once, I might add.
39) SCUBA certification
I love to be in the water, and this is another of my “when I have money” items that I should have attended to a long time ago.
40) Plan and achieve retirement income
Given my current career choices, it would be pretty sad if I don’t get this one done.
41) Attend a BIG LARP
I would so enjoy going to a humongous game, something like Bicolline in Canada or even Mythodea in Europe, where there are true line battles of hundreds of people.
42) Choreograph or portray Cyrano de Bergerac
The ultimate swordsman. Wouldn’t it be fun to choreograph those fights?
43) See Scotland
Och Aye Wanna Go, Laddy!
44) Own my own company DONE
This one gets an oak leaf cluster as well. Two so far.
45) Portray Jekyll/Hyde done
In the musical of the same name. Again, I’ve excerpted, but haven’t done the full musical.
46) Hike in the Grand Canyon
Yes, it’s a big hole in the ground. It’s older than mankind, and I think it needs my footprints in it.
47) Build a decently sized poker bankroll
I, like so many, enjoyed the meteoric rise in popularity of Texas Hold ‘Em. I would like to continue playing. The bankroll is the poker money, kept separate from other money…and I’d like to grow it.
48) Taste all the single malt brands
“All” is again difficult, but a list has been assembled that I shall conquer.
49) Play a high dollar poker tourney
Pursuant to #47, once I have it, I want to risk it.
50) Conquer “The Classics” reading list
A hat tip goes to Hercules and the Umpire here. I have a pretty impressive list of things to read which, once finished, will be added to again and again. It’ll get more than one Done stamp.
51) Sail on a tallship
Aye, ta get in the riggin’. Ta fire the cannon an’ work the wheel. It calls ta me, it does.
52) Drum on the rim of Ngorongoro
A place of epic beauty, and I want to stand and look out over it and slap some goatskin.
53) 1 million hits on the blog
This would be a fun one, too, I think.
54) Multi-day riverboat cruise
I’d love to get onboard a paddlewheeler with the family and enjoy the river.
55) Visit all the National Parks in the US
Yep, all of ‘em. I intend to get Little Danger a completed Park Passport.
56) Build the Perfect Pyrate Pub
I have a great one, but in true pirate fashion, I want more. More room to display breweriana and pirate/nautical goodies.
57) Highlander Trophy Room
You remember that scene in Highlander, where he has all the cool things from his personal history? Yeah, I want a room like that. Swords and costumes and armor and tidibits and some fucking-A old Scotch.
58) 100 push ups, and keep it
If George Takei can do it, why can’t I? This is a yardstick for being in shape, thus the “keep it” portion.
59) Watch a sunset at Sanibel Island with Little Danger
It was so good the first time, I need an excuse to do it again.
OK, I’m not weird. Wait, that’s a lie. OK, I’m not a crazy prepper, but I have a basic list that would be kind of cool to have on hand, and would learn good skills if I checked it off. So why not be a little crazy?
My state has concealed carry. I should go ahead and do the training and get the permit.
62) Complete costumes: Commisar, Pyrate, Pioneer, Wild West, Zarkov
I like having cool costumes for specific needs. The Pioneer outfit, as an example, would be necessary for working at the cabin during events. These are the 4 I want to do up right.
63) Obtain an authentic piece of Pyrate paraphernalia for the pub
You know, a cannon or belaying pin or something actually from the period, or better, a shipwreck.
64) See New Zealand
Want. To. Go.
65) Take Little Danger whale watching
I enjoyed it, and I want to share it with him.
66) Create, and then regularly perform, a weapons “dance” workout (kata)
I hate normal workouts. Thus, combining things I love would be a good idea. I want to splice some yoga and sword choreo into a daily routine.
67) Ride in a warbird
I still have that pilot dream. I’d love to take a ride in a piece of history. Be it a P-51 or a B-17, there are some awesome planes that still take to the air.
68) Go on a “throw a dart” adventure
Pull out a map, throw a dart, and go there. Easy and crazy.
69) Ride in a hot air balloon
I’ll wait until Little Danger is old enough to do this as a family, and then it’s soooo on.
70) Romantic dinner with Wifefish on the Riverwalk
I visit a lot of places on business. I spent an evening O Solo Mio listening to Mariachi stroll and play, while eating a very, very good steak. There was one person missing, and I intend to replay that scene correctly at some point in my life.
71) Attend a Pirate Festival
Because YARRRRR., that’s why.
72) Go on a charter cruise
I think it would be pretty cool to live like the uber rich for a bit, and charter a yacht for a few days of Caribbean or Mediterranean goodness.
73) Attend Bledsoe’s Fort Colonial Fair
I’ve got some roots in this location, and thus it’s a place I want to rendezvous, once my gear is ready.
74) Host a sushi party, and be the chef
I love sushi. I love parties. I love making food. I love eating food. Doesn’t this seem perfect for me?
75) Get debt free
A mortgage doesn’t count, due to tax break. I want to keep that debt.
76) Get Protectorate up
I’ve been working on another LARP, something creative and futuristic as opposed to high fantasy. I intend to get it live.
77) Go on a zipline
78) Family dinner at Ponce Inlet
Sharing a piece of childhood with my family.
79) Take Little Danger for a day at Discovery Cove
Wifefish and I enjoyed the place so very much, and I think Little Danger would as well.
80) Attend a Whiskyfest
I wanna go! And my liver will hate me!
81) Pacific Island/on water bungalow trip
You’ve seen the pictures, so you know why I wanna go.
82) Snorkel in the Crystal River
Wanna go. Manatees. Clear water.
83) Busk (drum with a hat out)
I wonder if anyone would put money in that hat?
84) Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant
Since I happen to love food so very much, I want to discover for myself what the fuss is about.
85) Drum at Starwood festival
They have a hell of a drum circle, I’m told.
86) Snorkel Hanauma Bay
#33 got an add-on when I saw the pictures. This would be a great one.
87) Breakfast at sunrise on the beach, sunset dinner on beach same day
I loves me some beach.
88) Have a Crazy Vegas Trip
Whereas I’ve been to Vegas many times, I would love to do a true “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” trip of too many shows, too much good food, and too much booze.
89) Wild West trip
Deadwood or Tombstone or some other tourist attraction piece of history.
90) Go whitewater rafting
I was too chicken, until the in-laws went. If they can do it, I certainly should.
91) Marathon gaming weekend
I want to take a 3 day weekend, a select group of gamers, and a few games and go absolutely crazy immersive fun for a weekend, stopping only for good food and fun breaks and occasional sleep.
92) Make a charity donation/contribution
Either with time or money, I’d like to make a true difference to someone(s) in need.
93) The Top Shelf of Badassdom
A monetary goal, I’d like to have 10 or so bottles of the REALLY good stuff. Unique, expensive, as long as it’s good.
94) Attend either ComicCon or Dragoncon
Those are the big ones, with the cool people and the neat panels and events. Iwannago.
95) Earthship or similar dreamhome
Wifefish and I want to put together a nice house, but use as much environmentally intelligent technology as we can. Having a house that makes best use of water and power and such would be pretty sweet.
96) Visit Great Barrier Reef
97) England backpack trip
Want. To. Go.
98) Canoe Green/Yampa rivers
Wifefish wants to share some childhood with me, too.
99) See the Aurora Borealis
Gotta go North for this one. Parka, anyone?
If tourist space flights become at any point anywhere near affordable, then Dangerboy is going to earn his fucking astronaut wings.
There it is, the hot 100. It’s true, I may come up with more ideas and desires. Slot 101 and beyond is easy to add, after all. Wish me luck! More importantly, wish me fun!
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I have mentioned recently that I’m working on my “bucket list”. When I first started said list, it was merely called 100 goals, and it was a “key to success” that coach Lou Holtz spoke about. I haven’t quite gotten the list to 100 yet, having 8 slots open at current.
In addition to that list, I now keep a second. It’s my “reverse bucket list”, and I encourage you to keep one as well. This is a list of things that I probably wouldn’t have put on the first list, either for not having thought of it or having done it already when I started “list prime”, but after having done, would not trade the experience for love of gold.
You may, in fact, already have a 100 item list completed (or more!), if you’ll just think and reflect. What awesome things have you done?
Let me give you an example. I would likely have never put on my list “Watch someone get married by Elvis”. I just wouldn’t have thought of that, maybe wouldn’t have gone out of my way to do it. My wife’s uncle got hitched in Vegas some time ago, and I just happened to be in town at a convention. It was not to be missed, period.
From the limo ride with the in-laws to the 20 minute ceremony performed by His Kingness (two songs!), to the names-in-lights at the chapel, to the reception at the Haufbrauhaus, it was a day full of awesome memories. I even enjoyed walking in the desert heat from the reception to the convention at MGM Grand, stepping onto the floor with 2 minutes to spare from start time. The day had a glow about it, an epicness that makes smiling easy.
That is entry 38 on my Reverse Bucket List.
It bears mentioning that my RBL is not in any order beyond the crazy order in which I remembered things, and I have no desire to organize it. You might wish to list chronologically, perhaps. Me, I’ll take scattered, just like my mind on any given day without coffee.
As for my initial list, it’s been tweaked a few times. Pro Tip: You’re going to change and develop as you get older, and it’s perfectly OK to look at the list and replace something you just don’t see as important anymore.
I’ll give you an example. #1 on my list, written over 16 years ago, is “Degree”. I intended at the time to get a 4 year degree. Now that I’m 40, have Little Danger, and tuition has skyrocketed, this one is just nowhere near important to me anymore. At some point in the near future (right after I fill the 8 empty slots), I’ll evaluate that goal and replace it with something else.
It’s important to note that such a change isn’t a disappointment; the goal simply doesn’t fit me anymore. I’ve read and studied and learned a great many disparate topics, and will continue to do so. Do I need a 6 digit sheet of paper to think myself intelligent? Nope. Now that I own a business, do I need that sheet of paper to advance? Nope. Due to the expense and other negatives, it becomes something in the way of the other 99. So, it gets scrapped.
Here’s a second example. #6 on the list is “have children”, which if you’ve paid attention here you know was a big effing deal for Wifefish and I. For numerous reasons, not least of which is that Little Danger is like the perfect kid ever, we’ve stopped at 1. So this one gets checked off, but with a caveat following.
In complete rambling news, I’ve been productive as I’ve been writing…there are now only 7 slots open. I promise to post the 100 list once completed, and start telling some stories.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I am currently putting the finishing touches on my list of 100 goals, aka the bucket list. I’m also keeping a “reverse bucket list”, or a list of things that would have gone on the list had I thought of them before doing them, because they have a cool factor of “oh, yes.”
Where appropriate, I intend to share the stories here. There are one or two that just aren’t going to be committed to posterity. Suffice to say they were fun.
In hearing or reading the word “bucket” more times than a Kardashian checks make up, I was reminded of a story from my youth.
It bears mentioning that I was a geek in my youth. Big surprise, I know. I was gangly, had little physical prowess, was constantly nose-in-a-book or eyes-agape-at-a-pretty-girl, and had been in more fights than Mike Tyson. My win/loss record was, however, roughly the opposite of his. At zero and all, unfortunately, with 1 draw, my pre-senior year fight stats were pathetic at best.
My dad, wonderful man that he is and was, made many an attempt to put some muscle on my frame, but unsuccessfully. I have to admit in retrospect that he lectured me in rants that left my butt sore from sitting in the chair through the entire monologues. He could go on for hours on the topic of my failings, a perhaps universal danger of fatherhood.
Granted, Dad has some room to talk on this topic. He’d been a first class ass-kicker since his teen years, having been fed the same bully soup I’d been eating regularly at school. He decided to take the path of most resistance, bulking up and going apeshit on all comers. At the age of 50, he was still able to bend a 16 penny nail in half with bare hands, and tricep pull an entire 350 pound stack on a universal machine. Dad’s a fucking gorilla.
Still, he just didn’t get the fact that I’d far rather swim through eight chapters on paleontology than squeeze out 3 sets of benchpress reps. Sadly, I’m still in that same boat, though I’ve found some discipline to keep a bit of exercise in my daily routine.
Thus it was that, fresh from an undeserved ass-whomping after school, I found myself at the kitchen table enduring a vociferous, decibel and profanity laden soliloquy on the finer points of making a bully sorry via fisticuffs and dirty fighting techniques. At what would likely have been the midpoint of the speech, the following was said.
“Son, you just have to have a pair of balls when a motherfucker wants to fight, and I’ve got balls as big as buckets!” He continued to assail my eardrums.
Mom hid her mouth, eyes alight, got up from the table, and walked into the basement.
Dad continued an f-bomb delivery worthy of a Stratofortress.
Mom came back upstairs, silently, and placed a 5 gallon bucket in front of Dad on the table, and pointedly looked at his crotch. She shook her head in mock sadness and walked away.
With an authoritative *clunk*
The lecture came to a screeching halt.
To this day, mom and I can reduce each other to laughter ending in tears with just one word: “buckets.”
Thursday, September 11, 2014
It’s been 13 years. Yes, I still remember. No, I won’t forget.
More than that, though, I won’t forgive. But the people I’m not forgiving may surprise you. At the time, I supported, and still do, a military reprisal. It was inevitable, and it was necessary. It was the other ominous shit that, even then, gave me the fucking willies.
I will not forgive those who knee jerked, and made disproportionate war effective for our enemies. In a blind fear, we threw billions of dollars down a hole, and we’re still doing it. We walk around, cocky, knowing that ‘merica! is number one…but we danced to their tune, and we’re still doing it.
I do not forgive the creation of the exceptionally ominous Department of Homeland Security. Words like “Homeland”, “Fatherland”, and “Motherland” are rhetorically charged devices that smolder in the minds and hearts of the masses, and I worried about it then. I see no reason today to stop worrying.
I do not forgive the creation of the TSA, a ridiculous adventure in security theatre that has kept exactly zero travelers safer in the past 13 years. They confiscate belt buckles and knives and jars of jam, and tell themselves they're effective. Kudos, boys, you’re doing a bang up job.
I do not forgive the creation of the snoop state that Snowden exposed, nor those in power who wished to silence and now wish to punish. We shredded the 4th amendment looking for the needles in the haystack.
I do not forgive the furtive movement to arm police with ever increasing military hardware in fear of terrorists. Those toys are getting used against citizens, not foreign, nor even domestic, terrorists. Mission creep is a very, very real thing.
The thing I hate most about those vile men that poked the eagle with a stick is quite simple, really. They won.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
It’s time again…let’s put on our thinking caps and enjoy, shall we?
1) I think I never get enough time at the lake. I had waaaaay too much fun this trip, made more enjoyable by good friends, my awesome Little Danger and Wifefish, good food, and good booze.
I also picked up a pair of these bad boys: http://www.darkfingloves.com/ For those who are too lazy to click, let suffice the description of a pair of webbed gloves. Coupled with a short pair of foot fins, I zipped around the lake like an otter on meth. The gloves are slender enough that you can still open a can of Samuel Adams with ease, put it in a coozie, and slurp away to your heart’s content. You can even do it 12 times in a row. If, by chance, you felt the need to do so.
2) I think I’m pleased as punch about the new career. It’s official now, Wifefish and I bought out the business. We are officially business owners. That’s both exhilarating and a bit frightening, but mostly the first one.
I’ve been involved in the tax industry for years and years and years, but now I get to put all that knowledge and all my curiosity to work for clients of my very own. I’ll be transitioning to a full time be-my-own-boss in January, and I’m looking forward to it like a beaver on the way to a tree farm.
3) I think I’m enjoying the living history aspect of Pioneer Village. Yes, we’ve made more progress on the cabin from 1797, but beyond that I’ve been learning some new skills.
I got to work in the Smithy last time around, as did Little Danger. I just worked the bellows for the blacksmith as he made some nails and such, but still, I got to learn something I didn’t know. I’ll be making a point to get in there and learn every chance I get, because let’s face it…hot steel is awesome.
Granted, our last foray out there for a museum event was as muggy as Satan’s jock strap, and a wasp used my neck as a bull’s eye for a loaded butt bombing run. I may have made a noise akin to a mule having a surprise prostate exam. Ah, the life of a pioneer has hardships, my friends.
4) I think I truly understand the nature of ambivalence. I’m at a point again with the Game where I am tired of it. Events are awesome, I see great things, participate in wonderful theatre, get exercise, and just generally have fun.
Between events, though, I get to deal with crap. Complaints. Bitching. Requests for special attention that would require me taking time away from career and family to sit down with players and mediate whatever dispute may be on their minds. At least one person just stirring the shit pot trying to get a rise out of someone else, using me to do it.
I’m not amused. I find myself again looking at the calendar and wondering if running this thing is worth all the crap I put up with. Game day, the answer is yes. Today, the answer is no.
5) I think it’s time for another kid brag. Little Danger got bumped out of his swim class…not for being bad, but because they wanted him to swim in the next age bracket. Good swimmer, that one, and he’s just done the width of the pool with no flotation device.
I am truly in love with the way parenthood makes little milestones extraordinary. You may recall my thoughts on bad dads some time ago, wherein I said my job is to lift him up, to raise him above me. This is one such milestone…I didn’t learn to swim until high school. He’s already able to tow me around in a rescue swim.
You see, last lake trip, I noticed he was moving around pretty darn well, so I decided about 5 boat lengths away from the pontoon to just stop and ask him to take me back to the boat. We were both wearing jackets, because lake=85 feet deep, but he managed to haul me back in toot de suite in a nearly perfect rescue swim.
Wifefish and I make it a habit not to tell him he can’t do things.
Well, those are my thoughts for today...some good, some bad, all mine. What do YOU think?
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
I’m going in the wayback machine for today’s post. As many of you know, I’m a fan of live theatre. Huge fan, in fact. And willing participant.
I’m proud to be able to share that joy with Little Danger, who, at the age of 3, has managed to watch Hamlet in its entirety. He was well behaved and quiet, asking in a whisper occasionally “Why he sad?” or things like that. He’s also enjoyed 4 viewings of Jesus Christ Superstar, because Wifefish is AWESOME and kicked ass as Mary Magdelene. He was similarly spectacular at each show, saving his singing for the car ride home. (He does a fairly good rendition of “What’s the Buzz.”)
Today, I read an interesting and somewhat frightful article regarding the decline of the American Audience in theatre. Between Shia Lebouf getting booted for being a butthead and various cellphone infractions galore on Broadway, it appears that audiences just can’t be bothered to politely pay attention. It’s like theatre has caught a bad case of the assholes, which is a rash that can inhabit the house.
I was part of such an audience once, and it was not fun. But oh, was it memorable.
In 1990, (I know, way back machine) I was a junior in high school. Our English class would occasionally take trips to the Repertory Theatre of St Louis, aka “The Rep”, to take in a play. Thus it was that we went to see Fences, a fairly impressive production.
As luck would have it, this production had a guest star. I (and my classmates, of course) had a front row seat for a hell of a performance by none other than Avery Brooks, who had been playing Hawk on television, and would of course go on to play Captain Sisko on Deep Space Nine.
If you’ve seen the interview he did with Shatner, and you’ve wondered what made Avery Brooks go insane, wonder no more. It was the audience that day that cracked his sanity; I’m sure of it. The experience lay in his mind like ticking time bomb, triggering an aneurism in later years as I imagine he recalled the scene over and over until only the piano could save him.
The play itself was good, the actors quite talented. The set was AMAZEBALLS, including a kitchen just inside the door of the house façade that had running water. Talk about your practicals! A working kitchen faucet!
I’ll assume you’re not familiar with the play itself, so here’s your synopsis. I’ll wait for you to come back.
Back? Awesome. As you can see, that was some heavy subject matter for a high school class, but really, just a great show. Unfortunately, the day we attended was also a day in which the hosting college had sent many of their own students for extra credit. To say they misbehaved would be an understatement of epic proportions. It’s like saying Hulk has anger issues.
I was largely focused on the stage, and missed a great deal of the inappropriate stuff. In discussions on the bus ride home, others recalled a plethora of audience problems. Candy wrapper opening, mumbling, discussing, snoring. (Granted, that last one I’d nearly been guilty of my own self in a production of Henry IV in that very house. My teacher forgave me for it, saying it bored her, too.)
But I remember clearly the fight between father and son, Avery’s character Troy going after Cory with a baseball bat in some very convincing combat choreagraphy, and how the audience wasn’t, as I was, horrified at the prospect. Instead they howled with glee. Someone in the back yelled “get that motherfucker.” Candy was thrown on the stage. Reflect on that for a moment. Someone attending an institute of higher learning decided that part of their extra credit included throwing candy at a live cast in one of the premier theatres of the city. Acute case of the assholes.
At show’s end, it was obvious that the cast was as happy as a seal at a polar bear reunion. The curtain call was terse, short, and perfunctory. Each actor wore a frown, scowl, or other dour demeanor, clearly pissed off at having wasted a damn good performance on such an unappreciative bunch. (It bears mentioning that not one single member of our class had participated in any of these shenanigans.)
"Who raised these kids?"
Most of the cast left the stage, whilst most of the audience started to get up and go their merry way. Avery stood center stage and just watched. After what could only be called a dramatic pause, he spoke. He used what was then the “Hawk voice” and would become the “Sisko’s pissed basso profundi.” Two words, bouncing off the sound clouds as if spoken through a loudspeaker.
It garnered an amazing response. Everyone sat their ass down, responding to the commanding tone as if he’d been holding the nickel-plated .357 he held every week on our TVs. Playing a hitman can command a bit of respect.
After a scant few moments to let everyone sit, he began his lecture. Worthy of a professor of theatre, he launched on a diatribe that had even those of us who’d done nothing wrong slinking down in our seats. He wielded shame like a bludgeon, at one point walking stage right, plucking a twizzler off the floor, and bellowing “THIS has no PLACE in the THEATRE.” It sounded something like this:
The audience that left was a vastly different audience than had arrived. The lecture seemed to penetrate most, and there was precious little shit talking as the students filed out. There was a great deal of silence.
It was a performance every bit as memorable as the production he’d just participated in, if not more so. It was a message most in the room absolutely needed to hear. And maybe, just maybe, it’s one I’d like to see him deliver anytime an audience gets a case of the assholes.