For so many, the fact that this year is nearly over and done with is a blessing, as though the changing of the calendar puts everything right again. Time is relative, folks and sometimes, a drunk uncle at that who gets all handsy at family gatherings. The world continues to go ape-shit, chock-a-block with WTF moments from one end of the globe to the other. It's difficult to make sense of it all. What's it all about, Alfie and why the hell am I asking you anyway?
But I had a damn decent year. I feel almost apologetic admitting that to y'all, especially when so many of you wish 2014 never existed. I have always been empathetic to a fault. When bad news permeates the atmosphere, whether personal or widespread, I tend to suppress my accomplishments to the point that they become not yesterday's headlines, but buried in the back archives next to last month's Dog of the Week. Hey, it wasn't a merry-go-round each and every day. However I did find some balance for the first time in years thanks to some good fortune and people in my life. There is the inevitable suck of everyday existence that has pinned me to the ground and drained me of all hope and desire. Then there were those moments-and there were blessedly plentiful-that lifted me up where I belong, where the eagles cry on a mountain high.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a murder mystery script (THE PERILS OF FRANCOIS) that was produced less than four months later by Mel O'Drama Theater in Nashville. Next Halloween, my latest foray into the same genre is set to premiere, all due to producer extraordinaire Melanie Roady whose website I found by chance last year at this time.
My melodrama, SONG OF THE LONE PRAIRIE, retitled SONG OF THE CANYON KID, was the summer attraction at the Great American melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano, CA. It was the first time this show had been staged since the 1980s. Next summer in the same exact spot, my first show, LA RUE'S RETURN co-written with Edward Thorpe, will sit in the same exact spot on the calendar on the same exact stage at the Great American.
SONG OF THE LONE PRAIRIE, under its original title, opened in August in Jamestown, CA for the Footlight Theatre Co. with dates running concurrently with the Oceano production.
This has all given me a new lease on life or a renewal of my lease at least because I have aggressively marketing these plays as well as THE LEGEND OF THE ROGUE since then in hopes of more success down the road. i have several irons in several fires that I am trying to warm my coffers without burning myself in the process. I am putting myself out there liker never before so that may reach actual goals I have set for myself and not living off of memories and regret, a diet I don't recommend.The world is my oyster and all I need to do is to shuck it.
What has always helped me in these time of nada damn thing is this family of mine that has blossomed into a full blown garden of love. These guys continue to nurture and amaze me, keeping me afloat in times of nearly abandoning the ship. In better times, they're more important to me than ever. This year, I had the amazingly good fortune to enjoy the company of all three of my grandchildren. A return trip to Colorado at the start of summer culminated in the exquisite delight of our youngest's, Aefa, third birthday party. A couple of months later, we were reunited with our eldest, Kardena, when she and her mom visited Oregon not two weeks after seeing my show in Oceano. Then my grandson Sebastian, shooting up like a corn stalk so that he can literally see me eye-to-eye, has become my own personal motivational speaker, boosting my way-too-fragile ego lengths and bounds as he always has, but at times when I least expect it. When we had a discussion about his own future, I told him flippantly, yet quite honestly:
"Don't end up like me."
To which he replied:
"What-a successful playwright?"
Damn, I love that kid. I love them all. They've made me want to be a better person or for them, I strive to be.
If I were to pick a definitive highlight that sits at the very top of 2014, the memory I will always cherish occurred in Oceano when my best friend Ed Thorpe gave me the incredible gift of making this visit to see my show possible. SONG OF THE LONE PRAIRIE (CANYON KID) had been rewritten since its debut on the Palace Showboat stage with new scenes that never seen the light of day before, in particular an extension of a confrontation between the two principal characters, The Canyon Kid and Darla Darling. The scene was a sad, rather melancholic scene in the midst of all the other goofiness in the script. I'll be goddamned if it didn't work. Thanks to the director and the two actors in the scene-Andy Pollock and Christine Arnold-it put a lump in my throat and a tear to my eye which lead to a moment of complete validation. I knew the jokes would work but I wasn't so sure about the love story. Now I knew. Ultimately, this meant it ain't over for me yet. While I haven't just begun, I am back on the right track and not fermenting like so much kim chee. I still have it in me to move forward onward and upward so 'scuze me while I attempt to kiss the sky...again. Just as I want to be a better person for my grandkids, this makes me want to be better just for myself. The most important thing is that it make me want to TRY.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. All wrapped up into one.
Happy New Year