Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Moon Over Danville Mountain

I actually have no words for this.............

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1961 Impala

Because I was in tsunami-overload, I was channel surfing early this morning, looking for something else to listen to on television while doing housework. My heart breaks just a little bit more each time I see those images in Japan and hear the stories of tragedy beyond anything the human mind is comfortable with.

It was during this search for something that didn't require direct attention and wasn't too depressing, I came across a movie called "Blue Crush". Because it looked like a transparent plot and was filmed on the beautiful North Shore of Hawaii, I decided this was my temporary diversion.
But this is what caught my attention.......a 1961 blue Chevrolet Impala. This is the identical car to the first one our dad ever bought my sister and I in the summer of 1966. It was a clunker, but at 16, transportation is transportation. And compared to the black hearse he bought my brother to haul musical equipment in for his band and the mail delivery mini-vehicle (built on a golf cart base) that didn't require a driver's license to operate he bought for my under-aged-driver other brother, this 61 Impala might have been the most normal car my dad bought for his kids.
In 1966, Lyndon Johnson was President and the Viet Nam war was raging. If you were a male under 30, you were consumed with the draft; who would be called next and how the hell it could be avoided. You could buy a new house for $23,000, a first class postage stamp for $.05, and a gallon of gas cost $.32. Seems like a kid could drive forever on that, but that wasn't the case because our allowances were adjusted accordingly....we got next to nothing. If we wanted extra money, we have to find a job and earn it. So the more kids you could pile into the car and share the $1.00 worth of gas you usually bought, the more money you had left over for other stuff.
My sister and I had big plans for the car that summer. We lived in a very tiny town with no community pool, so the popular summer activity was a 15 mile drive to Spring Lake, mostly down a dirt and gravel road. This posed a problem because most cars at that time did not come with air conditioners; they had to be added later. So, driving the dirt road with the windows down in the scorching Arkansas summer heat in a car packed with sweaty kids was not a good situation by anyone's description.
We begged out dad for an air conditioner and finally when he was able to locate a used one at a salvage yard, he agreed to have it installed. This posed another problem . If you have never seen an after market car air conditioner from the 60s, just imagine someone attaching a small microwave under the dash between the driver and passenger seats. Before the air conditioner, we could easily get 3, sometimes 4 girls in the front seat of that car. After the air conditioner, the third person in the front bench seat had to sit in a tight fetal position because there was absolutely no place for that person's legs except in the seat tucked up next to her cheat. Despite a little initial bitching, no one really seemed to mind. Plus, that was another 10-15 cents toward the gas bill if we could still pack that person in!
I still think of that as the Spring Lake Summer.....the summer that I had an Almond Joy and Dr. Pepper almost every day for lunch if I budgeted my money well.
By winter, that car was on its last leg and I often wonder if the engine died a painful death from dirt inhalation. My dad went out and bought us a brand new car so we would have reliable transportation to school. It was a very ugly tan 4-door stripped down version of a car that didn't even have carpet (I didn't know they even made such a thing). Oddly enough, I was more embarrassed to drive this new old-lady car than I was the old clunker. Go figure!
But, just by happenstance, I saw the twin of the old blue Impala this morning and it took me back, WAY back, to a time when coming up with $1 for gas and deciding which swimsuit to wear might be the biggest dilemmas of the day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rock of Ages

I just returned from Southern California where I had the opportunity to see Kansas City's own ridiculously talented actor, singer, dancer and comedian, Patrick Lewallen, perform the lead role of Lonny, the narrator and comic relief in the 80s rock musical Rock of Ages.

Patrick is the protege of my friend Linda, who has spent her life helping recognize and develop talent......but usually in the realm of professional baseball. However, from the first moment she saw young Patrick take the stage several years ago in local theater, she knew she would move heaven and earth to give this kid a shot at developing his full potential in front of a much bigger audience. And you know what? She did.....and so did he!

So when she invited me out to join them for his performance at the beautiful Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, everything else I needed to be doing got put on hold.

Patrick has been a hit in every city the tour has played. He has gotten excellent reviews from the theater critics........

.......and from the celebrities who have stopped by backstage to chat with him and congratulate him on his performance. This is Patrick with Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith, and presently an American Idol judge.

Tom Cruise stopped by to visit with Patrick after the show in Los Angeles.

Linda, Patrick and I went to dinner on Friday before the show at a steak house Linda picked out for us. The Kobe steak and the grilled shrimp that looked like lobsters were amazing. But we knew we were in trouble afterwards when a giant platter containing a whole butter cake and large slice of chocolate/chocolate cake arrived with a giant serving bowl piled full of handmade whipped cream and..........

a $200 flight of their finest Scotches! Obviously, someone in the restaurant recognized Patrick and wanted to make sure THEY got a good review from HIM!

Completely stuffed and feeling very good, we left for the theater.

The board containing the list of actors in the lobby of the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center.

Patrick going into his dressing room back stage.

Patrick signing in on the message board back stage.

After the show, Patrick took Linda and I backstage so we could see how the show came together and where all of the magic happens. This picture was taken on the actual stage, in the bar where most of the scenes take place.

While walking around backstage, we passed by the section of the stage where the band plays. I took this photo standing behind the drums, looking out into the area where the audience would be sitting. Sort of a "drummer's eye view"!

Patrick showing us how the show comes together.

Big deals going down backstage!

One of the sets on stage..........think about it..........80s rock bands, bar bathrooms.......lots of action going on in here!

Patrick and another of his fellow actors in the show.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the amazing behind the scenes tour!!!

No one is allowed to take any pictures or film during the performance, so unfortunately I have no pictures of Patrick's performance.
But this story gets better.
After the show on Saturday night, the House of Blues in Anaheim invited the band and some of the performers from the show to come out and take the stage for their late set at midnight. This was a wonderful opportunity for a group of very talented musicians to play together in a completely different environment, but really be able to ROCK!
So, this is Patrick as we arrived at the House of Blues.

When our group arrives, we were all given blue armbands giving us backstage access. This was taken right before they took the stage.

Patrick and another very gifted singer and actor, Nick Cordero, who plays the role of Dennis, the bar owner in Rock of Ages.

Patrick and the female star of Rock of Ages, Rebecca Faulkenberry. The following day, she left the tour and headed to New York City to take over the same role on Broadway.

Patrick and fans at the House of Blues.
The boys take the stage and totally rock the house!

When I left Little Rock, I was excited about going to see two performances of Rock of Ages. But the trip turned into much much more.
I think there are lessons to be learned from all of this. First of all, we should take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, even when the alternative is easier or less hassle to accomplish. You just never know what lies around the corner out there. And some of these experiences change us forever.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly is this: sometimes it all comes down to someone believing in us. There are countless people out there with talent and dreams......some of them isolated in small towns and others swallowed up in the anonymity in the of the big cities. But everyone is waiting for someone to come along to help us open those big doors that are just a little too heavy for us to maneuver by ourselves.
The story of Patrick is a musical with a moral to the story within itself. I would buy a ticket to see it, and I have had a front row seat all along.
Patrick had the talent, drive and desire, and he was peeking through the doors on his own..........he just needed someone with the ways and means to help him swing those doors open a little wider. So when the right person did show up and shoved those doors wide open..........that boy ran through with gusto!
Rock on Patrick.......rock on!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fog on the Mountain

My yard looks especially creepy this morning....almost as though the earth reaches a certain point, then just falls away. I only ventured out so far..........just in case!
In the movies, isn't there always a guy in a hockey mask with a chain saw or some sort of rabid animal lurking just on the other side of this invisable line?
I think I can find indoor projects to do today.