Sunday, November 27, 2016

dear mark

Mark,
I'm glad you spoke as much as you did the other day. You say you don't normally talk about yourself so much...i know that that wasn't necessarily a compliment, but i'm honored nonetheless.
There was one semi-silence of mine i'd like to expand on. You mentioned amanda, and i said very little. It can be hard sometimes to know where to draw the line between the negativity of dwelling in a dark place, and the healthiness of fully expressing one's humanity. I avoided mentioning how much hurt has been involved, but a little transparency might help you be a friend to her someday when she's willing to accept such.
It might be healing for me to share this, too. I've been cut off from talking about it with anyone who might understand. Shane has been going through some scientology stuff, and has shunned me for the past few years. Eric has shunned me too...i've known for a long time that my decision to love both he and amanda meant i might lose them both (and van, who loved me) when their breakup came. As usual, we make our children pay for our own stupidity and selfishness.
When i returned to Florida three years ago, i thought i was positioned better than anyone ever had been to help her in her journey toward self-love. Nowadays it feels like i'm nowhere on that list. There was one absolutely brilliant moment of growth soon after i arrived, when she admitted that she had never let anyone in, emotionally. It made the fifteen years of self-sacrifice i'd endured worth every second. But since that moment, she's run as fast and far from me as she could. Maybe, as she might tell you, it's not personal at all. Or maybe she wasn't ready to be around someone who could see her so clearly, no matter how much unconditional acceptance i offered. Or maybe even on some conscious or subconscious level, she just decided that i wasn't a person she wanted in her life. Or maybe (and this may be overreaching), a part of her genuinely loved me and knew that my life would be healthier away from her self-destructive ways. Whatever the case, it couldn't have been more horrible timing. In my spiritual journey, i'd never been more stripped of my walls, which makes me quite vulnerable. I had never been so raw and wounded. I asked her whether she was finally ready to be the friends we had been building toward all those years. She said yes, and i'm sure a part of her meant it. But i'm also sure the reason i was her oldest friend, was because i had never ever asked anything of her. In retrospect, i knew she probably wasn't ready yet, but i had never been so in need of the friendship and love she spoke of.
She and i went into limbo these past few years, keeping in touch with an occasional surface e-mail, but making no human connection. When we occasionally met in person accidentally, she would say confusing things, just because i think she felt she had to say something, anything. She told me she thought i'd had expectations, which is the single most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me. It got to a point where even just approaching her home to drop off a book or some other token of affection, made my stomach hurt. It would have been easy had she told me up front how she was going to run away, and why. I would have said that i'll be there whenever she comes out the other side. But she kept us in this limbo, with words of love and eventual friendship, and earlier this year i realized how horribly unhealthy it was for both of us, and told her we should drop the pretense, and resume our friendship only when she's ready.
Anyway, thank you for listening. And for being who you are. Your friendship and support have made me a better person.

love,
wrob

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

winds of...

Rumblings. Portents. Winds of...
Okay, no poetic melodrama.
But there is a change in the air, one i've felt coming for quite some time. A change to this website, and to a lesser extent my creative focus. In many ways this change is harmless and organic. In other ways, i do feel conflict and existential angst.
It feels almost strange to be talking to you without any literary pretense. Hello, my three fans (and sweet cricket). Over the past few years, my writings have shifted more and more toward fare designed for public performance. That's been a lurking goal almost from the start, a melding of my performance skills and literary voice. At the same time however, i've tried not to have any agenda beyond the words themselves. I've tried to give you a voice free of editors, deadlines, commercial aspiration, or above all self-censor. If i haven't always succeeded, i've come disturbingly close. I've also tried to live by picasso's words: "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." Of course, pablo died filthy rich, so make of that what you will.
Over the past few years, on this little Gulf of Mexico island, i've taken my baby steps in public speaking. Ever polishing and expanding my repertoire, and writing pieces with a greater focus on entertainment over enlightenment (or even just raw honesty for its own sake). I haven't considered that a compromise, i embrace the nobility of simply putting a smile on the face of some overburdened fellow traveler on this space rock. They say it takes ten years to become really good at something, and after eight years, i feel ready for my close-up, ms. demille...and constrained by a lack of public speaking opportunities. A return to some progressive metropolis beckons. My time in New York was wonderful, but i haven't seriously considered any destination other than San Francisco. Cafes, bookstores, colleges, coffee shops, libraries...and a population abounding with semi-free thinkers.
Well and good.
But my aspirations go beyond literature - and that's the dicey part. I've happily not yet received one thin dime for these products of my mind, but i know i'll be seriously flirting with that, in putting myself out there where (and as much as) i plan. A part of me is genuinely open to that. There is nobility in modesty...but no one takes care of you for free in this world. Money's security is more illusion than we realize, but at this barbaric point in history, it's a powerful illusion amongst us small-minded naked apes. And a part of me is weary of living close to the edge, without the simple "luxury" of knowing my most basic needs will be taken care of beyond today (and worse, knowing that some of my needs will not be taken care of today, nor likely tomorrow...a situation that money would change). I currently put food in my tummy through the labors of my hands and back, and i've structured that part of my life in such a way that it's not onerous, but...if my mind can afford me some creature comfort and security, i'm a bit too weary to resist. I've been more alone and unloved than any human ought be (though i know i'm tragically close to average in that regard). In particular, the ascetic, sober life feels so non-conducive to female companionship in this material world.
I'm aware of the considerable pitfalls in this path change. When commerce arrives, compromise isn't far behind. What if some of my writings strike a chord, but others more cherished don't? What if opportunity comes cloaked in conditionality? The perils of "feeding the beast", or even just seeking it, are myriad.
And how might all this change what i offer you here? As i focus more on performance, a drop in output is expected. I've also started to learn how to play my own songs on ukulele, a time-sucking endeavor.
But deeper than that...
The voices of "I ME MINE" might grow harder to keep at bay. The voices of fear, telling you to protect what is yours from the wolves. Some of you may have noticed occasional posts over the past year saying nothing more than "available in performance only". You might scratch your head, indeed. I've started holding back some of my juiciest pieces, in anticipation of copyrighting and other such selfishness. It's even possible certain choice entries may one day be removed from this forum which costs no one a penny. Might this site one day morph into a venue for nothing but the occasional review or poem (Copyright a poem? Who the hell would even steal one?)?
Maybe.
I did ask for help, don't forget. A voice of purity could be preserved, if we could find just a few thousand souls in this world of billions, willing to subsidize me in a profoundly minor way. I put this plea on the site, even giving it its own tab (http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/search/label/please%20help%3F). But alas, no takers did i entice.
Hello? Rich widow?
So i prepare to walk into the land i've always been told suits my laid-back ways to a T...a mythical land where i've never trod.
California.
And a shining city by the sea.
Sorry, more poetic nonsense. I'm sure San Fran has its share of leeches, liars, and lithium junkies.
And soon, it will have a naked meadow.
I love you all.

P.S. Is anyone impressed i made it to the end of the article without once mentioning Starfleet Command?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"Soap"

-created by susan harris
1977-1981
Infidelity, impotence, homosexuality, miscegenation, incest, insanity, sexual harassment, student/teacher sex, communists, new age cults, alcoholism, alien abduction, demonic possession...what was all the fuss about? Only one of the five funniest shows ever (alongside M*A*S*H, MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, DA ALI G SHOW, and CHAPELLE'S SHOW). It arrived on the air in the midst of a furor of protest by religious and "family values" groups, but instantly won a following. It was cancelled after its fourth season, partly due to sponsor unease, but mostly because it had fallen out of the top thirty. Creator harris (THE GOLDEN GIRLS, EMPTY NEST) also wrote or co-wrote every episode, and seldom has an artistic vision felt so perfectly realized. Between them, jay sandrich (MARY TYLER MOORE, GET SMART) and j.d. lobue (OH MADELINE, HERMAN'S HEAD) directed every episode save one. A parody of daytime soap operas, it ran with all the over-the-top cliches of the genre (plus a few that more), but what made a great idea genius was a lightning strike of cast chemistry, plus a murderer's row of recurring characters. The actors all imbued their work with a resonance deeper than mere silliness, making the poignant moments as memorable as the madcap. An episode guide is rather pointless, as each one is pretty uniformly perfect. So here's a tribute to...the greatest cast ever?
-jessica tate, 87 episodes: katherine helmond (BRAZIL, WHO'S THE BOSS?)
A dippy suburban mother and wife with a heart of gold, all the men fell for her (onscreen and off), making her the first middle-aged female sex symbol in TV history. She has a guilt-ridden fling with her tennis instructor, but is blind to her husband's serial philandering. Then she falls in love with the detective she hires to find him when he has amnesia, and eventually falls for the leader of a south american revolution.
-announcer, 87 episodes: rod roddy (THE PRICE IS RIGHT, HOUSE OF MOUSE)
His brilliant balance of tongue-in-cheek earnestness was paired with perfect freeze-frame cinematography, making the show intros and wrap-ups at least as funny as the show itself.
-burt campbell, 86 episodes: richard mulligan (LITTLE BIG MAN, EMPTY NEST)
Husband, father, blue-collar worker and eventual sheriff (who also played a libidinous alien copy of himself)...standing out in this cast was nearly impossible, but richard's facial tics, grunts, guffaws and double-takes provided the most laughs-per-second of any (non-wooden) character.
-mary campbell, 84 episodes: cathryn damon (WEBSTER, SHE'S HAVING A BABY)
Burt's wife, and the other sister at the center of the silliness. Her saintly down-to-earth sensibilities made her the perfect complement to jessica.
-danny dallas, 79 episodes: ted wass (SHEENA, BLOSSOM)
The son of mary (and, unbeknownst to all, chester) who is almost a male version of his aunt jessica. He falls into romance with a mob princess, a black widow, a hit man's girlfriend, and a prostitute, giving his all each time. His interracial love affair with polly (lynne moody - THAT'S MY MAMA, HILL STREET BLUES) is one of the most tender, touching, transformative, and transcendent tales of the series.
-chester tate, 77 episodes: robert mandan (THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, THREE'S A CROWD)
The smarmy stock broker husband of jessica, who beds his sister-in-law, secretary, pastor's daughter, and daughter's maid of honor. He also kills his wife's lover, but beats the rap with temporary insanity.
-jodie dallas, 76 episodes: billy crystal (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, CITY SLICKERS 1-2)
Son of mary, and one of the first openly gay characters in TV history. Billy played the part with simple sincerity, as he dates an NFL player (for whom he plans a sex change, and then attempts suicide), and unintentionally fathers a child he then raises alone. When he falls in love with the detective he hires to track down his kidnapped daughter, he tries hypnosis to "cure" his homosexuality, but comes out an eighty year-old jewish man.
-eunice tate, 67 episodes: jennifer salt (MIDNIGHT COWBOY, BREWSTER MCCLOUD)
The snooty but secretly slutty daughter of jessica and chester, she dates a congressman and a convict.
-billy tate, 65 episodes: jimmy baio (THE BAD NEWS BEARS IN BREAKING TRAINING, THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES)
The sensible teenage son of jessica and chester, he has to be rescued from the sunny cult, has an affair with his teacher, and becomes an officer in the malaguayan revolutionary army.
-the major, 62 episodes: arthur peterson (RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE, ROLLERCOASTER)
The irascible father of mary and jessica, who believes he's still fighting WWII. Burt, bob, and the major are the big three.
-corinne tate, 61 episodes: diana canova (THE FIRST NUDIE MUSICAL, THROB)
The loving, sensible daughter of jessica and chester, who falls in love with her priest. She has a baby possessed by the devil, then falls in love with her sister's convict boyfriend. She left the show to star in I'M A BIG GIRL NOW with danny thomas (which tanked in its first season). You barely notice because the quality never falters, but her season 4 absence made the show a little too much of a sausage fest.
-chuck campbell & bob, 61 episodes: jay johnson (BROKEN BADGES, JAY JOHNSON: THE TWO AND ONLY!)
The son of burt, who shows up with a ventriloquist dummy he thinks is alive. To call bob anything less than one of the regulars is just crazy, because his snide zings at all the lunacy around him are at the heart of what made SOAP genius. According to legend, the directors originally couldn't figure out why the sound levels were always wrong with bob, until they realized the mic operators were so taken with the puppet's reality, they were pointing their mics at the wrong mouth.
-benson dubois, 51 episodes: robert guillaume (BENSON, SPORTS NIGHT)
The no-nonsense butler of the tates, who brooks no guff from (and might not serve breakfast to) anyone he doesn't like. His friendship with jessica was one of the heartbeats of the show. He left during the third season for a spin-off, and it was only through a minor miracle of casting that he wasn't more sorely missed.
-dutch leitner, 38 episodes: donnelly rhodes (HILL STREET BLUES, GALACTICA)
The tough, uncouth convict who breaks his unwilling cellmate chester out of jail, then falls in love with both of his daughters.
-father flotsky, 24 episodes: sal viscuso (M*A*S*H, SPACEBALLS)
The priest relentlessly pursued by corinne, he finally relents and soon has to perform an exorcism on his own baby.
-saunders, 16 episodes: roscoe lee browne (BLACK LIKE ME, A DIFFERENT WORLD)
The new butler, always classier and savvier than his employers.
-elaine lefkowitz, 16 episodes: dinah manoff (GREASE, EMPTY NEST)
An obnoxious, spoiled mob princess who makes her father force danny to marry her, she gets gunned down after she finally allows him to love her.
-chief tinkler, 12 episodes: gordon jump (WKRP IN CINCINNATI, CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES)
The bumbling local lawman who loves what he smells...
-peter campbell, 8 episodes: robert urich (VEGA$, SPENSER: FOR HIRE)
Burt's other son, a hunky tennis instructor who has a fling with both jessica and corinne, then is shot, stabbed, choked, bludgeoned, and drowned for his trouble.
-mr. franklin, 7 episodes: howard hesseman (WKRP IN CINCINNATI, THIS IS SPINAL TAP)
The slimy prosecutor at jessica's murder trial.
-saul, 5 episodes: jack gilford (CATCH-22, COCOON)
A 2000 year-old prisoner aboard the alien ship, who befriends burt.
-flo flotsky, 4 episodes: doris roberts (REMINGTON STEELE, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND)
The possessive, melodramatic martyr mother of a fallen priest...
-mr. lefkowitz, 4 episodes: sorrell booke (ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE DUKES OF HAZZARD)
A jewish mob boss who disinherits his disgusting daughter.
Plus george wendt, william daniels, g.w. bailey, michael conrad, john hillerman, kurtwood smith, and bea arthur in one-offs.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

dear ah

Dear ah,
As this pathetic circus we call an election comes to a head, perhaps a dyed-in-the-wool independent like myself is the only person who might inject some sanity. Probably not, though. I probably shouldn't say a word - people believe what they want to believe. End of story.
We independents can accept that trump has supporters. It's just beyond perplexing to discover someone you've known and loved as a sensible person, in that camp. So here are my thoughts.
I'm no clinton fan. I'm still reeling at how colossal a failure the first clinton presidency was. In the big picture, bill's first term was (or should have been) the pivotal moment in american history. The cold war was over. We were the only superpower in the world. Unthreatened by war, and rich as god. We no longer had any pretense (not even a flimsy one) to justify 300 billion a year on the military. We could now do something truly revolutionary - live up to our ideals of life, liberty, and happiness for all. We could turn our staggering resources to ending poverty, saving our fading schools*, and becoming the world's first humanitarian superpower. Ever. At the end of clinton's eight years, nothing of the sort had happened. We were spending virtually as much on the military as when he came in, and his answer to poverty, like every other modern president, was to build more prisons.
More of that same, we do not need, mrs. clinton.
But as for mr. trump...you say you're impressed by his honesty, ah. According to politifacts.com, a non-partisan website, over 60% of the things donald said in the final debate were mostly false or worse. One shouldn't expect otherwise - his character was molded in the world of high finance, where honesty is not an asset. In small business, honesty tends to be rewarded. In big business, the opposite is true. So what is it you're perceiving, that resembles honesty but isn't?
It's candor.
Donald can be startlingly candid for a candidate. The question is, is it because he believes in forthrightness, or does he simply not care what others think about him? There's a word for that - sociopath.
Now it's my turn to be candid. Everyone you've ever met is in varying degrees a sociopath and liar. There are some who elevate that to an art form, however. Donald tells you our country is in the worst economic shape it's ever been. Scary! Economists say there's no substance to that claim, but mr. trump's handlers are no fools. They understand one of the most basic facts about election psychology - people who are afraid, vote for the bully. He blames our problems on an underprivileged minority, who will subvert our values and rape our daughters. Quick - can you name a 20th century leader who rose to power by blaming his country's problems on an underprivileged minority?
And as a businessman, donald knows that if we didn't want illegal immigrants taking awful, underpaid jobs, they wouldn't be here. If american business truly didn't want immigrants to exploit, they wouldn't be here. He knows that. But he'll pretend he doesn't. Does he deserve our hatred? No. He deserves sympathy. It's a safe bet that some especially horrible things happened to him as a child. That said, you don't put a greedy, misogynistic, racist narcissist with questionable impulse control, in a position of authority. You just don't.**
Will i vote for hillary? Sure. Because of the symbolic power. A country like us, with such a horrible record on women's rights, electing a woman leader? I don't have any illusions about where the true power lies in this country. Our elected leaders are pawns, and in the big picture there is absolutely no difference between republican and democrat - it's just a circus which distracts us from actually solving our problems. But the global symbolic power of a female american president? Why, that would make me almost proud to be an american - a feeling i've only felt one other time in my life. Eight years ago.
Am i embarrassed to vote for a major party candidate? Sure. But it will almost certainly be the last time. And that stuff about becoming the world's first humanitarian superpower? It could still happen. But it never will, within the current system.*** The answer to that however, is not a supposed "outsider" who may be new to politics, but is an establishment insider to the core.
I love you very much,
wrob

*And spending actual money on the arts. Every other first world country, every single one, spends real money on the arts. But not us. It ain't "american", apparently.
**Though there is perhaps a perverse, carlinesque part of me that almost wants him to win, as it might hasten the demise of this bloody, imperialist, failed experiment in democracy and human rights we call a country.
***now 600 billion a year