Come Saturday Morning

I got sore on Saturday, but I also scored an epiphany.  No pain, no gain, although the pain part is getting old.

And so am I, and thus the epiphany, but first some explanation.

The middle chunk of Winning Dad takes place on the road, as two characters (I play one; our screenwriter and director, Arthur Allen, plays the other) travel from Seattle to Montana, camping and hiking along the way, bonding and having some interesting conversations.  It’s an important part of the story; it can’t be cheated or reduced or covered.  It has to be done, and filmed.

And survived, as it turned out.

For various reasons, there was some last-minute scrambling to find locations for our outdoor adventure.  About 40 minutes east of me is Mt. Index and Lake Serene, an area that looked to be just what we needed.  A remote lake, requiring a hike in, where we could probably find what we needed: Plenty of hiking coverage, a couple of campfire scenes, a big scene at a picturesque vista, and a mountain lake.  Good to go.

After going over the logistics, our producer decided that it would be more efficient to hike to the lake with our gear, set up camp, and stay overnight so we got a couple of full days of filming before heading further east for some road trip stuff.

This was unexpected, as I was assuming we’d be doing day trips, so I grumbled a little and started searching for friends with camping equipment, since it had been years since I’d even seen a sleeping bag around this house, much less the tent, etc., that I’d need.  In the meantime, after noting my reaction and also noting that Arthur wasn’t crazy about camping either, the plan to changed: Arthur and I would hike back out in the evening, stay at a local hotel, recharge the equipment batteries and download the footage to a laptop, take showers, etc., before resuming the next day.

This sounded fine with me, so I showed up at our meeting spot early Saturday morning with just a change of clothes and a water bottle, only to find Ellen McLain, my movie wife (she’d dropped off her nephews, who are working on the crew), walking purposefully toward me with an expression I haven’t seen since I spilled something at the dinner table when I was a kid.

“This is suicidal,” I believe she said at some point, pointing out that I was hiking twice as much as I needed to, and by the way I wasn’t 20 years old anymore.

Here are a couple of things, things Ellen wasn’t privy to.  First, while I rarely “hike” in terms of mountains and packs, I do walk a lot at an aerobic pace, usually 5-6 miles a day, and I’ll also hop on the stationary bike sometimes and cover 18-19 miles in an hour.  My weight has fluctuated a little in the past five years or so, up a bit or down, depending on my mood, but my exercise routine has stayed pretty regular (sometimes I pick familiar calories to hang out with at night, that’s all).  I have no breathing problems, no chronic aches and pains, and a pretty low resting heart rate.  I am, for being 55, reasonably fit.

And, according to our producer’s estimate, it was only about an hour’s hike to Lake Serene from the parking lot.  Assuming we managed our big sunset scene and left immediately afterwards, we should have been able to hike back out in good time and spend our night in the comfort of a small-town motel, easy.

So.

The hike, as it turned out, was three hours, almost all of it uphill to this mountain lake over a very rocky trail.  I was happy with my recovery once we reached the lake, but my quads were aching and I was pretty drenched in sweat.  And toward the end, the last thing I wanted to do was sleep on the ground in a very cold spot (there was still snow) without camping gear or even a coat, having prepared for a hotel room.

There’s a lot more to this story, including the entire crew eventually deciding to leave the lake rather than camp, me reaching the parking lot first (I headed out, thinking our producer would be right behind me, preferring to get to the bottom before dark, which I didn’t do but got close; thank you, iPhone flashlight) and having to wait for an hour in the dark, under the stars, freezing in the bed of a pickup truck, thirsty and cold.

The major point here, though, and the inspiration for my epiphany, is that I was sore.  More than sore, even.  Hobbled.  Sore knees, sore calves, sore shoulders, sore back.  I was walking wounded, and not really walking, and then I understood.

I just turned 55.  I’m a regular exerciser and not seriously overweight (around 196 at the moment, whereas 180 would be great, but nothing to worry about this side of vanity).  As I said, I’m reasonably fit for my age.

But I won’t get any fitter.  Let’s face it.  My best hope is to stay somewhere around this level, with lots of regular exercise, for 10 years or maybe 15, then slowly degrade.  I’m not going to get much healthier or stronger; this isn’t me, just life.

So there it is.  I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.  Avoiding this kind of whole-body achiness is an easy fix (no more multi-mile hikes in the mountains), although you never know what I might want to do.  So maybe I need to bear down and drop 20 pounds or so, just to take what pressure I can off the joints.  It’s not hard, I just haven’t had much motivation, and maybe now I do.

Or, as I said, avoid going uphill.  But sometimes you have to, even if you’re 55.  And there’s more filming to come.

Ellen was right in a way.  It was risky behavior, and I was the oldest of the group by 25-30 years.  Vanity may not factor in that much in terms of my appearance anymore, but it definitely played a role in not wanting to draw attention to the fact that my legs were screaming and my T-shirt looked like I’d taken a few swims in the lake.  And that kind of vanity is dangerous.  Lesson learned.

Arthur and I are the specks on the rock.
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This Is 365

A sunny summer, soggy fall, uneventful winter, and a nice spring.  An election with unsurprising (for me) results.  Lots of walks, rides, indulgences, disciplines.  Lots of meandering.

A death in the family, and a new life coming this way.

And new friends, surprising to me at this time of my life, given my situation and tendencies.  I made new friends this past year.

The world outside my window was busy.  Besides the general election last November, there was Aurora, and then Sandy and Boston, only three out of a busy year here on earth, bad news always getting the headlines over good.  And a lot of it was bad, to be fair.

But this was personal, just a trick to see if I’d discover something by setting a goal of posting something for the world (small world) to read every day.  If I did – discover something, that is – it’s going to take some time to figure out exactly what.  Writing every day isn’t new for me; neither is emptying out a mostly dull life to see if anything sparkles.

I did mostly the same things.  I stayed exactly the same weight, which is unfortunately about 15 pounds heavier than I’d consider ideal, but again: At this age, who really cares?  My doctor certainly doesn’t, as evidenced by my first physical exam in four years last November.  Good to go, and please go so I can see sick people.  Come back in a year.  All good.

I also managed to reconnect with my dentist, getting a much-needed cleaning and brightening, a couple of fillings, nothing new or exciting on that front.

I saw a few films in the theater, even less than in previous years, and that thrill seems to be gone, don’t let the door hit you.  I listened to a lot of music, a lot of that being nostalgia, and a lot of podcasts.  I read a few books.  I continued to do my net business, wandering around the sites I like, getting the news I need and rolling my eyes at the rest.

I still continue to check in on Facebook regularly, many times a day, mostly out of boredom but satisfied that I have at least an idea of what my far-flung friends are up to.

And, of course, I have my Big Adventure, still going on, about to get busy this weekend.

But my year of being 54 is over, and it felt like 53.  I’m not sure what I think about that, but I assume it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  And again, it might take me a while, if not forever, to look back at this year of relentless blogging and find something worthwhile to consider.

I did it, though, and it’s over now.  As I mentioned a few days ago, it was obvious to me that at some points I simply ran out of things to say, even if there was always something to do.  This doesn’t mean the tank is empty, just that some discretion is probably a good thing when it comes to sharing.  So I’m not going anywhere, just probably cutting back a little.

But I like the idea that I paid attention for a full year, to pretty much everything, out of desperation to find something, anything, that might be worth a few sentences.  And I could, so I did, and there might be something there.

Of course, daily writing might have produced something else.  Something worth reading.  That’s another thing to ponder.

Last week I had a good day.  You remember that van, the one that seemed overflowing with foam rubber, the superfluous van with bad brakes that sat in my driveway for months and months because both of us lost our keys to it and couldn’t get it together enough to figure out how to get rid of it?  That van?

A guy came to my door and bought it.  Handed over cash, signed some papers, had a guy hotwire it and actually drive it away, if you can imagine.  And then I went inside and found a royalty payment deposited to my bank account; some people had been buying books, books I actually sort of forgot all about.  So that was a good day for me, and it made me realize I’d had a few this year.  Minor good days, but good anyway.

And yesterday John and I went out and power washed that driveway, getting the moss off.  It still needs a lot of work, but it’s fun to create space, clean it and get it ready for whatever.  It’s a good feeling, getting rid of the unnecessary and washing off the debris.  Metaphor alert.

Tomorrow is a long day of filming, during which it will almost never occur to me that it’s my birthday.  This will be a new thing, too; having the only summer birthday in my family, I’ve been used to thinking of it as sort of a national holiday.  This time, not so much.

But I’ll be doing something new, well or ill.  I’ll be doing a scene in which my character tries to deconstruct Twain and Huck Finn, pointing out to a younger man that achieving goals is boring.  Happiness is the key, he seems to be saying, and play.

Let this be a year of happiness and play, then.  Now that’s a goal.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 12 years, and over 12 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From  July 24, 2002

——

Let’s take the Rambler,” he said, and I laughed so he said it again.  “Let’s take the Rambler to Portland.  Let’s take a road trip.” 

We’d been planning this for months, my friend Dave and I, our annual summer reunion of high school friends in Oregon.  We’d decided to take the train and it left in less than an hour, and we already had our tickets. 

“What are you talking about?” I think I said, with maybe some other words added in there for effect.  Words we tend to think of as Anglo-Saxon but really aren’t. 

“I may not have it next year, so the Rambler needs at least one road trip.  C’mon, it’ll be fun.”

He’d bought this car, a 1963 Rambler, a few months before when he spotted it for sale on the street.  Dave has an eclectic appreciation of old stuff.  He’s got an incredible collection of pulp fiction from the 1950s.  He’s an amateur student of interior design of the 1970s.  He’s written articles on European spy movies from the 1960s.  Eclectic is maybe not the right word.

I understand passion and spontaneity.  I outgrew them.  It sounded so important to him, though, and one way or the other we needed to get to Oregon, so there we were, driving south on Highway 99 early on a Sunday morning in a car barely younger than we were.  A car that would have graduated high school in 1981.  A car that should have known better than to drive to Portland at its age.

It must have been sweet in 1963, though.  Automatic transmission, bucket seats, a V8 under the hood.  It had an AM radio and wind wings and separate ashtrays for the driver and the front seat passenger.  This was a car made for a country that smoked a lot.

“Does it have a name?” I asked, and I was joking.  “Florinda,” he said, and he wasn’t, so I just looked out the window as we passed the train station.  I’ve only been on a train a couple of times, and that was at Disneyland.  I had been looking forward to it.

There was something about Florinda, though, something about taking her on the open road that seeped up from the seats and murmured of Ken Kesey and Jack Kerouac, something that slowly made me smile.  Here we are, I thought, two guys in a 40-year-old car, driving the highway on the road to Portland, and suddenly I’m laughing in spite of myself, enjoying the novelty of it.

There was a cinematic overlay here, a playacting quality, and we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and I could tell Dave was feeling it too.  “I’ll fill her up,” he said, “and you go inside and rob the place.”

We turned on the radio and there was Nat King Cole, and we drove past farms and fields and it could have been a new car and another age.

There is no safe time, I know, no placid year free from worry.  If we are driving a new Rambler in the summer of 1963, already 16,000 “advisers” are in Vietnam, a civil rights march on Washington looms, and plans are in the works for President Kennedy to take a trip to Texas in the fall.  “You’re heading into crazy country,” a friend warns him.

But we were heading into God’s country, and that big engine purred down the interstate at 80 like it was no big deal.  She tended to shimmy on wide turns but she stayed cool and it was cool, this car, and I decided then that a train was too sedate for a spontaneous and passionate guy like me. 

We stopped at a diner, a small town restaurant boasting on its billboard that Jack Benny and Elvis had eaten there.  Dave had steak and eggs and I had the Jack Benny Burger, which was neither spartan nor particularly cheap.  It was good, though, and even if the waitress didn’t call us “Hon” the service was excellent.  For all I knew Elvis was in the back, finishing off my fries.

We came home two days later to traffic and a tanker truck burning in Issaquah.  The stock market was tumbling, major companies were shuddering from the top down, and a little girl had been kidnapped in California.  We were in crazy country again, but we’d been somewhere else for a while.

We live in troubling times and there’s no getting around it, but I’ll tell you what: If somebody offers you a ride in a Rambler, it’s worth thinking about.  It’s an old-fashioned car, one with room to stretch your legs all the way out.  Tune the radio to Nat King Cole, pop the wind wings, and smoke ’em if you got ’em.  There’s still summer, and friends, and open highways to be grateful for, and a road trip never hurt anybody.

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Four Days To A Week

Thursday marks the 365th consecutive post on this blog, a project that was whimsical and arbitrary and proved little, except that (a) it’s possible to write something every day, sure, and (b) it’s very possible to run out of things to say.

And while plenty has happened over the course of the past year, things worth noting in retrospect, it’s at least theatrical if not symmetrical that I’d wrap up this little project by wrapping up another.  Close, anyway.

I have a full day of filming scheduled for this Friday, my actual birthday, and then the next day we head for the hills, the outdoor chunk of the film where confrontation happens and hopefully bears or other accidents don’t.  Bits and pieces will wrap after that but we’re pretty much done then, nothing left but the real work, stitching the thing together, which is not in my hands.  My job, then, is done.

Both of them, I suppose, although I’m not going anywhere.  I might be thinking along the lines of discretion being the better part of valor, but there are no plans.  I have little interest in journaling, although often I’m fascinated by reading people who do.  Deadly trivia is sometimes very interesting as an aesthetic, a choice, and I wouldn’t read if I didn’t want to, but that doesn’t mean I have to join the game.  Unless I set myself a meaningless goal and decide to actually do it, in which case the field is open for whatever fodder I can find, I guess.

Anyway.  There’s a column to write, and then another for next week, and while we all wait here’s a little look at my weekend.

Prepping the Steadicam
The final scene set-up.
Cast and crew after wrapping the Clarke house set.
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Weekend Work

I’m not going to compare apples and oranges here.  Or apples and another apple-like thing.

I will say I don’t care for tomatos much, but I like most tomato-based foods.  Funny.  Although not relevant.

I talked yesterday with Ellen about voice teaching, and how Julie will sometimes teach 6 or even 8 private lessons in a row, one student arriving five minutes before the previous one is done, one after the other, an hour each.

I’ve worked long hours in the past, a lot of them, most parked in front of a monitor, the minutes crawling into my lower back and shoulders and neck, my eyes getting sore, my wrists aching, hard work by most definitions this side of heavy lifting and hey, you try it.  Work is work.

But I can’t imagine doing what she does, and what Ellen has done, solid hours of one-on-one teaching.  I get tired just imagining.

It’s not hard to imagine, though.  People do hard work, and it’s possible to picture and to see just how hard it is, although we can still be surprised.

So this is surprising.  I spent nine hours yesterday just pretending, from 3pm until a little after 2am, not exertion by most definitions, but still I felt it.  Take after take, change clothes and more takes, walk up the stairs and please do it again, this time slightly different.  Wait and wait, walk and wait some more.  Kneel down by a lawnmower and pretend to fix it (yeah, me).  Sit in a tiny space and listen to a wonderful actress tell a sad story, tears running down her face, and then stay seated while we do it all over again.

And what’s funny is that most of what I will do in Winning Dad is yet to be done.  The big scenes, the big monologues, are still a week away.  I’m just walking and grunting, snapping at my wife and daughter, pulling my truck into the driveway and getting out, doing it again.

I’m tired, though.  Physically, emotionally, psychologically.  Maybe philosophically.  It’s an adventure, it’s fun, it’s exciting, but it ain’t easy.  And today we do it again.

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Persistence Of Vision

“Suspension of disbelief” is such a toss-around phrase that it’s not rare to hear it as “suspension of belief,” the sort of semantic palindrome that (at least) English speakers seem able to get away with because everybody understands what we mean.  I could care less, and so on.

We pretend not to notice, in other words.  To notice, in fact, takes away our enjoyment.  So we pretend that the actor on screen is a lawyer even though we know he’s Rosemary Clooney’s nephew and used to be on a TV show.

And most of us know roughly how movies are made.  We skate on reality, sort of skim past the sausage-making part so we can enjoy the show, but we know that somewhere there’s a camera or a computer doing the heavy lifting.  There’ve been whole movies about making movies, even.  It’s not a big secret.

There were several discussions along this line the other day while filming, and specifically about continuity.  Continuity is the film term for staying on the same page, wearing the same shirt and the same part in your hair even though you may have filmed two scenes many days apart.  There are people on set (several) whose job is mostly to make sure continuity isn’t disrupted, although it’s bound to happen.  They just try to keep it at bay.

But there’s a modern aesthetic that isn’t interested in continuity, and it’s interesting to me.  This was what our discussions were about, about who among us didn’t care and who did.  Is your enjoyment of the movie diminished because you notice that suddenly Mr. Clooney is wearing a different tie than he was a second ago, and whoops, now it’s back?  I dunno.  Maybe it would be for me, maybe not.

Some of this is personal.  I brought some clothes from my personal wardrobe to the set on Tuesday, among them a red plaid shirt that I thought might work for a camping/hiking look.  Sort of flannel-y.  I’ve had it for years, particularly during those years when I was a lot heavier.  It’s an extra-large, in fact, and I can remember when it was tight.  Now I swim in it, and normally just toss it over a T-shirt like a light jacket when I think it might be brisk outside.  It’s a junk shirt, a cleaning-the-garage shirt, a rag wannabe.

But Arthur liked it, apparently, liked the look, so I wore it while filming all the little scenes leading up to our hitting the road moment, when Arthur and I get in my truck and head out for some camping and hiking.  Arthur, making a directorial decision, decided I should button it up, turn it from a jacket into a regular shirt.

Yes?  And there’s a point here?

There is.

Note that I’m leaning against the truck, a position I was in, as a matter of fact, for two hours or so, 20-odd takes, mostly because it was a tricky camera shot and they were using the Steadicam a lot, choreographing swoops and sweeps while I basically stayed in one place.

Also notice that I look to be around 300 pounds.

This is not actually the case.  While I was thinking it would have been nice to show up nice and lean, say 175 pounds or so, I have no problem with weighing around 195.  It’s fine for a guy my age, helps establish that this is a man with some years under his belt (possibly over it too).  It’s slightly over a statistically healthy weight but nothing to get excited about.  A little flabby around the love handles.  Or, to be more crazy-vain, those jeans I’m wearing have a 34-inch waistline, and I’m sort of swimming in those too (picked specifically because they look like Dad Jeans, which I personally would never wear).

So suspension of vanity is also a prerequisite, apparently, for moving making.  It’s not keeping me up nights; mostly I just groan at the above picture, but I know what I look like.  I feel fine about it, fine about the gray-white beard, about the Dad Jeans, about the bald spot, about the lined face and the thick glasses.  I’m not fooling myself, suspending my disbelief about being 55 years old and surrounded by young people.  It’s been fun.

But continuity means that I’m going to be wearing that damn shirt a lot, and all because I brought it with me.  Myself.  Hoist by my own stupid wardrobe.  Surrounded by skinny 20-somethings.  Leaning against trucks for hours, staring off into space, arms crossed over a relatively flat stomach, in much better shape than I was in 10 years ago but looking like a pregnant beach ball, appreciating the glamour of being in a movie but sometimes not so much.

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And the evening and the morning were the fourth day

By all accounts, the first three days of filming Winning Dad went very well.  Well enough, a reasonable person might think, that this same reasonable person might wonder why they needed the old guy at all.  I was trying to be reasonable.

Along the same lines, sort of, I’m going to reason that anyone reading about my adventures in later-life over-reaching knows something about how movies are made.  About how scenes are constructed, and then filmed in convenient, not necessarily chronological, order.  Not to mention the whole chronological messing around you can do.

So I’ll let it go, and just note that I started my part of the filmmaking on the fourth day, Wednesday, around 5pm or so, by walking into a garage as the door slowly slid up, carrying a duffel bag and wearing a bright green polo shirt.  Plus pants.

One of the wonders of digital filmmaking is that it’s fast.  No hours-long setups for lighting; move some furniture, arrange some actors, turn on the camera.  Or cameras, as happened in a couple of scenes.  Coverage will always be key, though, so there were multiple takes, including a couple of family dinner scenes in which we pushed around mushrooms and rice and bell peppers on our plates for a couple of hours to approximate eating.

“Are we vegetarians?” I asked Ellen McLain, who plays my wife in the film.  “I think so,” she answered, and didn’t look real happy.  A little Minute Rice doesn’t go a long way.

We stopped that first day at around 2am, then picked it up the next morning around 7, giving me roughly three hours of sleep to recharge my batteries, then wrapped up the first 24 hours sometime in mid-afternoon.  Getting tired of sitting on the front porch of somebody else’s house in Lake Forest Park, waiting for my wife to finish in Renton and come pick me up – and not finding any other fellow marathoners willing to give me a lift – I came up with the idea of walking home, a little less than nine miles, although I did only a third of that before JK met me in Shoreline, for which I was grateful, but hey: It was a pretty full 24 hours.

There’s more to say,which I probably will, but it’s another busy morning, this time without acting, just everyday stuff.  In the meantime, my musings on how I got to this curious place where I find myself.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 12 years, and over 12 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

 From  July 16, 2003

——

We tend to think of humor as universal and constant; we’ve always laughed at the same sort of things, we think, from Shakespeare to Saturday Night Live, but this isn’t entirely true.

Humor is also evolutionary, topical and even transitional, changing with cultures and the way we think about our lives.  Some things aren’t funny anymore, and we wonder how they ever were.

Same thing with comedians.  We get used to them, get used to their timing and shtick, and we want something new.  We can be fickle.

So it was a pleasure to see Sid Caesar on “Larry King” a few weeks ago.  I laughed a lot, and I’m a hard laugh to get.

At 80, he looked decades younger and was as funny as ever.  I’m actually not sure what was better, watching him improvise with Larry or seeing the clips from “Your Show of Shows,” fifty years earlier and recently restored.

It was before my time, but I’ve seen some of it and always found it funny, even after all these years.  And why not?  Talent surrounded Caesar, writing and performing: Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Neil Simon, and Mel Brooks, even Woody Allen for a time.  When they call 1950s television The Golden Years, “Show of Shows” was a large reason why.

Then there was Imogene Coca.  She passed away a year or so ago, and her career never quite matched her Caesar days, but Imogene Coca laid the groundwork for Carol Burnett and the ones who came later.  Lucy was a bigger name, but Coca had more range.  She was the perfect partner, just as quick and just as funny as Sid.

As I say, Sid Caesar and his company were of a different generation.  I came of age with Robin Williams, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman, and to some extent George Carlin (he was an evolver, and bridged two eras).  This was the age of conceptual humor, an outgrowth of the 60s, taunting convention and a lot of times really funny.  Some of them will have legacies, and some won’t.

Thinking about this reminded me of something that happened 20 years or so ago, though, and about comedy and celebrity and mostly about how I stupid I can be.

My wife and I were working at a dinner theater in Northern Arizona over the summer.  It was just tourist entertainment, songs and skits, but I made (I think) 50 bucks a night plus tips, and I wasn’t flipping burgers.  I had a lot of fun.

One night, Chevy Chase came in for dinner.  He’d been making a movie in the area, and he slipped in for a steak at the end of what I assume was a long day.

He didn’t come to see our show, but just sat in the dining room next door.  I snuck around during breaks to try to get a glimpse, and I just hoped he had a leisurely dinner and would still be there after our final bows.

Our audiences were mostly visitors from the RV park next door, but they always seemed to enjoy the show.  As we finished our final number that night, and I was eying the exit, hoping that Chevy was still eating, in the middle of the audience an elderly woman was standing up and hollering “Bravo!”  People did this sometimes, and as cast members it was part of our job to mingle, thank them, etc.

So this was my chance, and I took it.  Everyone headed for this nice old lady, and I snuck through the door, raced through the bathrooms, and still in costume I caught up with Chevy as he was heading out the door.

He was taller than I thought, wearing a baseball cap.  He pretended to walk into a wall for the benefit of the few of us hanging around, and then he was out the door.  My brush with greatness.

You could call Chevy Chase the Sid Caesar of his generation, I suppose, but you’d probably have to owe him money or be related to him.  I don’t mean to be hypercritical, but his career, aside from a few hot spots, has been spotty and pretty mediocre.  I wanted to see a famous comedian, though, and you never know when you’ll get a chance.

You never know.

Looking back now, I just shake my head.  I’ve learned, I hope, to have a better appreciation of talent, and longevity and endurance.  I’ve learned that the flash of the moment is sometimes just that, a flash, and that time will tell.

Seeing Sid Caesar the other night reminded me of that.  It reminded me that people who make us laugh should be treasured, particularly when they’ve done it for a long time and are really good at it.

And it reminded me of the night 20 years ago, the night I chased after Chevy, too young and too dumb to imagine that a little old lady in the other room might have had an idea or two about comedy.

The night Imogene Coca gave us a standing ovation, and I missed it.

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