Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Jazzmen

Sometimes after two o'clock at night, in some of the smokiest out-of-the-way music clubs in town, you hear the sweetest improvised jazz you've ever heard in your life.

I couldn't believe the sounds coming from two local artists, Jesse Wolf and Billy "Tubbs" Augustine, last Thursday night at the Coltrane Club.  

Jesse Wolf can play the guitar and make it sing.  And Billy Augustine is one of only three or four people in the world to play his very unique instrument.

Billy blows the "outtee navel."  He is rumored to have the biggest outtee in the work. It's quite a treat to see and hear Jesse playin' his heart out on guitar while Billy's blowing the blues on the outtee with his great big belly stickin' out

Jesse Wolf on Guitar and Billy "Tubbs" Augustine on Outee Navel: SWEET!
It's not every day you get to see the world's biggest outtee ... or want to. So depending upon how you interpret the picture above,  gaze away at it in awe, or not. Simply put, a naval engagement was my interpretation of the picture prompt above for this weeks' Friday Fictioneers enclave.

You can contemplate your navel, as well as the navels (and stories) of the other Fictioneers by clicking right here.

Now that I've focused you on something you rarely focus on,  guess what? Clean That Thing Out!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just For (Vain) Men

Applying Just for (Vain) Men;
Well, this guy certainly looks better!

I've been wearing a beard for over a year now and by now the beard has become as much a part of my persona as a big nose, spindly legs, and a spine that rivals Lombard Street in San Francisco in its defining characteristic of world's curviest. 

Isn't it ironic that when you reach your sixties, you do things to try to make yourself look younger that you would have done in times past to look older? 

"Why are you growing a beard, dude," say some folks I know, "you'll look 120 years old." 

To which I reply "Terrific!  Because I feel like I look 130!"

There was, however, one thing about the beard that clearly did make me look as long in the tooth as Dracula on a hot date:

Its fleece was white as snow! 

Yes, my beard was totally gray,  as gray as the beards of actor Donald Sutherland, CNN newsman Wolf Blitzer, and cowboy Roy Rogers' grizzled  sidekick, Gabby Hayes.   You probably don't remember Gabby Hayes, but rest assured if you're growing a beard to look younger and cooler, your role model is not going to be Roy Rogers'  grizzled  sidekick, Gabby Hayes.  And few were comparing me to Donald Sutherland or Wolf Blitzer.

Finally someone sat me down and told me frankly that the all gray beard was making me look older and to dye it or give it up!  That the person doing so was Santa Claus gave the advice that much more credibility and immediacy.

So I went out and purchased a box of Just for Menthe prevailing treatment today for rampant gray bearded-ness.  On the package of the dark brown variety of Just for Men was a selfie of a man who had just used the product, and indeed it had worked wonders! Through the magic of Just for Men, a 22 year old man with a dark beard now looked exactly like a 22 year old man with a dark beard!

In our youth obsessed culture, even a product meant for bearded middle-aged guys is marketed via someone who looks like he's too young to shave.

With the box of Just for Men now opened on my bathroom sink, I faced a perplexing dilemma.  How much gray to take out and/or leave in the beard? If you remove it all and make the beard totally dark, it looks like your face has been attacked by an insane bootblack from Pennsylvania Station circa 1957.

But if you take out too little, Roy Rogers is likely to spring to life and ask you to help him  form a posse.

So, you stand before the mirror, take a deep breath, mix the stuff together, and slather it on with reckless abandon!  Leave a gray patch here, leave a gray patch there, make it real dark here, make it real dark there  ....   ee -ei-ee-ei oh!  Yes I was turning my face into a veritable hirsute checkerboard.

One thing I knew I wanted was the "gray chin patch" made famous in Philadelphia by legendary disc jockey Pierre Robert. It looks pretty cool on Mr. Robert, but on me it looked more like a chin dipped in vanilla ice cream. Well, the first application was finished.  There was more Just for Men on the sink than on my face.

The truth is every application of the stuff will turn out differently.  Unless you've marked off a precise gray/brown designation for your beard like you were surveying the Mason-Dixon Line and you touch it up every couple of days, a completely consistent look is impossible. Let someone take time lapse photography of your face over the course of several weeks, and you'd see the gray patches moving across your beard like clouds on Doppler Radar.

But with it all, after many applications to my credit, do I look younger?  Maybe a little.  Certainly not as young as the guy on the front of the Just for Men package, who looks like he's still studying for his Bar Mitzvah.   

One day, several months after I'd begun implementing Just for (Vain) Men treatments, I saw the real Pierre Robert in a nearby convenience store. There was the familiar long black hair and totally black beard save for the trademark  gray chin patch.  I introduced myself and he was indeed quite friendly.

"You know, Mr. Robert," I said admiringly, "I designed my beard after yours."

"Did you really?" he said, giving me an odd look. 

"Is something wrong, Mr. Robert?" I asked.  

"No, but I've a question for you."


"Did you ever hear of Gabby Hayes?"

Note: I really did run into Pierre Robert, but the dialogue here is, well, kind of bogus.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Over the Hill Hero

"Bruce, what are you doing?"

"I've got to save this poor individual trapped beneath a barrage of falling pillows, Selena!"

"Bruce, that's a doll with striped socks.  No one is in any danger whatsoever."

"Oh, I see!  Well, perhaps I'll just check to see if ....."

"The Bat Signal is on?  It hasn't been on in years!  And why that ridiculous nautical headgear?"

"The mask isn't for you.  It's for those you love."

"Oh, Selena, this is terrible!" said her neighbor Sarah. "What happened?"

"He's been this way ever since he turned 55, the Joker beat him in thumb wrestling, and Bane finally succeeded in blowing up Gotham City."

"Can anything be done for him?"

"Don't worry; Superman is coming over to play checkers. That always perks him up."


I doubt anyone could help but wonder how a superhero like Batman, someone who is used to contending with arch villains and routinely saving the planet,  manages to make the transition to contending with bird poop on his favorite park bench and routinely saving string.  This is the theme of my post today in response to the picture prompt above for this week's Friday Fictioneers

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's the other Friday Fictioneers flying high with their own interpretations of the same prompt. No telling where they'll land, so do yourself a favor and ride along by clicking above.

It's good that Batman and Superman will at least have each other to reminisce about old times together with.  Not to mention a stimulating talk or two about prune juice. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You're Such a Lovely Audience

Thank you, Everyone! 

Your applause is wonderful!  Let's bring out that terrific cast again ... Meryl, Meryl, my sensational co-star, take an extra bow!

Y'know, folks, it's great to be back in my home town of New York starring in Broadway's latest smash hit,  Kinky Boobs! You were all fantastic tonight, a truly phenomenal audience! You're such a lovely audience I'd like to take you home with me, I'd love to take you home!

In fact, I will take you home!

I've had 14 buses dispatched directly outside the Helen Hunt Theater to transport all of you to my condo at 87th street.   Ladies, rest assured there are bathrooms on each bus with much shorter wait times than at the one Ladies Room here in the Helen Hunt Theater in the mezzanine.  So you should all be able to stop dancing around like Native Americans preparing for war by the time you get to my home.

We have ordered trays of food from the Plotkin Deli including corned beef, swiss cheese, roast beef, cole slaw, white fish, herring, chopped liver, baklava, cheese cake, and many other delicatessen delicacies guaranteed to give you reflux for the next week. Our Jewish audience members are going to feel like they're at a shiva but with the added bonus that no one's dead.

Now please all file out by section into the buses.  Orchestra seats go first, then the mezzanine, next the balcony, and last the abysmal seats slammed against the rear wall but you good folks are plenty used to that.  

When we get to the condo, feel free to throw your coats on my bed.   Remember that many coats look alike, so when you leave and you're parsing through 600 coats, give or take 150 or so,  be careful to take yours and not one of the other audience members or you'll be going through life as a 34 short London Fog from Woodbridge New Jersey when you're actually a 38 long Burberry  from  Greenwich Connecticut.  

I want you to feel totally at home in my home. Traipse through each and every room, admire the artwork - especially my paint-by-numbers --- and peruse my photo albums. You'll notice that my first wife was exceedingly hot but about as stable as the lower half of the periodic table, and my second wife had a great ass but the personality of the love child of Martha Stewart and Martha Stewart if Martha Stewart could mate with Martha Stewart. And I know Martha Stewart!

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and spending quality time.  I want to hear about children, grandchildren, new jobs, retirements, divorces, operations, accidents, and existential angst and/or weltschmerz that may have you close to pondering ending it all. If necessary, I'll hug you through the night after the others have left.

Remember I don't give autographs.   

Why am I inviting an audience into my home after all my years in show business?

Frankly,  this is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I had to wait for a truly responsive, enthusiastic,  and appreciative  audience --- a lovely audience. Tonight, folks, you were at long last that lovely audience.  

You applauded loud and long for our very marginal show, laughed at even at the stupidest and most unfunny jokes we padded out the script with, and hummed along with the utterly forgettable score.  If every theatrical audience were as naive and undiscriminating as all of you, Kinky Boobs would run forever and I could extend my waning career at least another ten years, at which time I'll be the BIG 8-5!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Remember to take off your shoes at the door, or I'll never hear the end of it from my third wife!

Hope you like the chopped liver.