Our annual newsletter: a synopsis of the little comedy that is our lives.
(click the link above)
Our annual newsletter: a synopsis of the little comedy that is our lives.
(click the link above)
Does anyone, other than Jack Nicholson’s character in Little Shop of Horrors, actually like going to the dentist? These days, however, what with the wonders of anesthesia (which my dentist insists on calling “freezing”) my worries about pain have less to do with a high-speed drill hitting a nerve and more with things that dentists seem unaware of.
Maybe it’s my height, but after twenty minutes in a fancy-schmancy dentist’s chair my back is crying for mercy. Shouldn’t this high-priced hunk of furniture be as comfy as a La-Z-Boy? And when one’s mouth is full of plumbing, pointy metal picks and power tools, it seems ill-advised to squirm about in search of spinal relief.
Then there are the parts of my face that the dentist ignores at my peril. I understand his focus on the task and the teeth at hand. But must he brace that hand against my lip, painfully pinching it against the sharp edge of my teeth? I’m sensitive, dammit. In my most recent visit, mouth full of apparatus, I was at odds to explain that he had somehow folded my ear forward on itself and could he please stop doing that.
As a prodigious producer of saliva, one of my greatest fears in the dentist’s office is that of drowning. If the dental assistant isn’t paying attention, the pool at the back of my throat deepens until only desperate sounds of strangulation awaken her to my plight. That suction hose was custom designed for spit, so put it to use!
My current dentist provides sunglasses. Maybe they are to guard against shrapnel, the friendly fire of bone or old fillings fragments, hurled into the air by whatever reno work he’s doing in there. More likely is the shades are simply to cut the intensity of that powerful searchlight of his. In any case, with my head tipped back, my glasses quickly slipped upwards onto my forehead, and for half an hour neither the dentist nor his assistant seemed to notice. And that blasted light was pointing as much into my eyes as my mouth; my conspicuous squint should have been a clue.
Oh, well, I tend to close my eyes anyway. After all, what is there to look at? Long ago I thought if I ever become a dentist I will have my ceiling decorated to give patients something to view. A mural. Puzzles. A racy novel in large print.
So you dentists out there, try thinking outside the jaws. Recognize the need for more comprehensive comfort. Make it special enough and maybe I’ll require less “freezing” when I see what I’m being charged for my visit.
I’m pretty sure most people who know me consider me, on the whole, intelligent. That hasn’t stopped me from doing stupid things. In fact, I’ve spent decades trying to lessen the number of dumb things I do. Many of these things occur simply because I wasn’t thinking. Smart people are supposed to think, right?
It’s another thing when smart people do stupid things in spite of thinking.
I can understand how tough it must be for those who started smoking in the forties or fifties, how the difficulty of kicking the nasty, old habit means they still smoke.
But with every decade passing since then, it becomes harder and harder to justify taking up tobacco. Anyone who starts smoking in 2009 either hasn’t been paying attention or is mind-boggingly stupid. Or is desperate to be accepted by mind-boggingly stupid associates. Helloooo, peer pressure.
Or they just don’t care. Bad breath, smelly clothes, pointless expense, stinking up the air, endangering the health of others, and an exponential increase in the chance for heart disease, lung disease, cancer and premature death. But the attitude with kids seems to be, “Yeah, whatever.” It’s that old “I’m immortal” feeling of youth.
Most of my friends are intelligent people. Noticeably above average, even. So when I see any of them smoke I don’t get it. Is the gentle, relaxing buzz that smoking (reputedly) provides really so great, so necessary that it’s worth ignoring the overwhelming and conclusive evidence that tobacco is a bad thing?
A friend of mine used to scoff at the science. He died with emphysema and is terribly missed.
I admit to doing stupid things, but come on, avoiding some stuff is just obvious. Smoking should be (forgive the expression) dying out far more rapidly than it is. Don’t even get me started on such things as cocaine, street racing or Fox News.
Recently I got a sweet and unexpected bonus. As far as I can tell, nobody in the entire, wonderful cast of my current stage show (My Fair Lady, now playing at Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops BC) has the nicotine habit. You don’t have to be a genius to love that.
I keep meaning to post one well-considered essay or another on a topic of some depth—The Devil in a Atheistic World; Pervasive Tastelessness; Facebook Bacon—but my muse has been beaten up yet again by that schoolyard bully procrastination.
Instead, I offer a handful of poems I composed in the Adventurers Club character of Fletcher Hodges about himself and other club denizens. I enjoyed doing these, and one should hold more firmly to the good memories than the rest, yes? Hey, there’s another blog topic. For some other time.
Which is richer? Bunch of butchers,
Lots of lechers, or a kvetcher?
Clutch of creatures and a touch of teacher—
Such is Fletcher
•Otis T. Wren’s Limerick
If you’re searching a detailed anthology
For achievements in great ichthyology
You’ll find Otis Wren
Mentioned time and again
And with footnotes of heartfelt apology
•Our Club President
Can someone make your blood congeal? Ya
Think your skin’s about to peel? Ya
Worry ‘bout your geneteelia?
Betcha you have met Pamelia!
•A Dissertation on the Eponymous Aspects of the 1937 Adventurer of the Year
A person with a common name’ll
Seldom have the name of Emil
Ev‘rybody’s flag’s unfurling
In salute to Samantha Sterling
Like a dervish madly twirling
Like a hurricane a-whirling
Like a malted milkshake swirling
Setting all your hair a-curling
Till you’re heaving and you’re hurling.
More than knitting, more than purling
More than boying, more than girling
More exciting than a panther—
Sterling! Or first name, Samanther.
•Anthem of Tuneful Delights
Oh say can you see
It’s Fingers Zambee-
-zie, the spirit who lives in the organ!
Oh see can you say
He’s going to play
A musical smorgasborgan!
With feathers stuck
Upon a stick
Our maid she does her dusting,
And how she cussed
That dratted dust
When breezes blew a-gusting.
“My job went just
From bad to wust!”
She says, her duster thrusting,
And members must
Conceal their lust
While she’s dust-bunnies busting.
•The Epic Poem of Handsome Hathaway Browne
Of all death-defying and brave aviators,
The truest is Hathaway Browne.
He may be out flying to volcanic craters
Or dancing and painting the town.
He’s up for the chase—find a woman and date her
If she is in rags or a crown.
They will go to a place like the Palace The-ay-ter
Or fly through the air upside-down.
He’ll fight a gorilla or wrestle with gators
Or put on an evening gown
And then eat his filla of burgers and taters
Or champagne and filet mignown.
So if you would know of a real aviator,
A hero of fame and renown,
Don’t look here below at a mere roller-skater,
The cook in the kitchen, or even the waiter,
The bartender, manager, doorman or Maitre
D’, or to the patriot or to the traitor,
The bureaucrat, clerk, or the administrator,
A lowly submissive or a dominator,
A slave owner or the Great Emancipator,
Your brother or sister or mater or pater—
Put all of them down in your calendar later—
For each in comparison is a spectator
To he who doth soar like a wing’d gladiator
With passions as hot as a steam radiator
And loaded with love like a big ol’ pink freighter.
Could anyone do what he does any greater
•A Plea to Guests on the Mezzanine
Oh, people on the mezzanine
We fear that you don’t love us
Please come downstairs and don’t be mean
Don’t act like you’re above us
If you come down we’ll share a cup
If not, what I confess is
We’ll have no choice but just look up
Your noses and your dresses
And one more poem, written by ladies’ man Hathaway Browne:
•St. Valentine’s Day Invitation
Oh, won’t you be my Valentine
The 14th of February?
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine
And thou, à la Missionary.
Ah, Wilderness! at Chemainus Theatre Festival has a look that is at least unusual and perhaps unique. Most productions of this play have a detailed and realistic set, and one that often faithfully recreates the summer home in Connecticut where Eugene O’Neill spent much of his boyhood. (His script descriptions for the homes in Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day’s Journey Into Night are almost identical.)
Director Jeremy Tow and his creative team have instead taken as inspiration O’Neill’s description of the play as “a dream walking.” The space is open and airy and awash in sea-blues and white, as are the set pieces which practically float in the delicate frame of memory. Indeed, the play is being presented as the particular memory of Richard, my character’s son about whom the plot is mainly concerned. This concept and design emphasize the exquisite nostalgia of the script.
With our opening four days away, I find myself unable to be completely objective about our production, but I know there is good work being done and I believe we are doing the play justice. I always have a crisis of confidence about my own work sometime between start of rehearsals and opening night. If I am lucky, it is a thing that passes with a few performances and a positive response from the public.
Edits have been necessary (damn the impatience and short attention span of today’s audiences) and the considerable extent of the cuts is heartbreaking. But we assuredly care about the underlying spirit of the play, and hope to bring a rare mixture of laughter, emotion and warm hearts to those who attend.
Two weeks into rehearsals for Ah, Wilderness! and happy to report the pleasure of working with a competent cast and design team. And since we’re still ten days away from opening, allow me to digress into a brief rant about competence.
I saw a fence made up of boards nicely designed to form the shape of an anchor out of negative space (the design may seem kitschy but the concept is clever). All one has to do is put two boards adjacent in a mirror arrangement:
How sad, then, that whoever put up most of this fence was clueless, or worse, didn’t give a damn:
Seems to me the first step in being competent is awareness—knowing what is needed or intended; and the second is investment—caring that those needs are met. It dismays me how many people never get past those two rudiments, much less go further and put in the effort to study and learn or work and strive towards some notable level of achievement. Worse, they either defend their mistakes (unconvincingly) or dismiss any criticism, in a kind of reverse snobbery, as unimportant and pompous.
One of my least favourite arguments defending shoddy work is, “No one will notice.” I guess integrity is just too inconvenient.
At least incompetence can occasionally provide amusement. Still, my compliments and gratitude to those with whom I am privileged to work—and indeed to those everywhere—who recognize, care, and aim for excellence.
Some photos from Western Canada Theatre’s production of The Man Who Shot Chance Delaney by Ian Weir, directed by Johnna Wright. Photos by Murray Mitchell.