Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back on the Boards

Last night I auditioned for The Relevant Stage's production of The Christmas Carol which will be staged at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, December 4-7. Today I was offered, and accepted, the role of Jacob Marley.

Marley is a wonderful character role; chains and blood curdling screams. I played him, along with other characters, in a different version of the play several years ago. (Unfortunately, I have no photos from that 1995 production at CSUDH.)

Rehearsals start next week and I am both excited and ready to be back on stage. I hope friends in the Los Angeles area will find a way to see this production. (I believe that comment comes under the rubric of blatant self-promotion. What can I say?)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Visitor #7000

Visitor #7000 stopped by this afternoon, according to StatCounter. (SiteMeter had only recorded #6905 at the time.)

It appears that Ms. Fairway a relative new comer to the world of blogging over at Beyond the Fairway was the one who got that milestone to appear on the counter. Her first post was on October 2 and her visit here was soon thereafter. She also has left a few comments along the way. That is always appreciated.

Thank you Ms. Fairway for becoming a regular visitor. I am delighted that for once I recognized a milestone address.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Observation on Counting Visitors and Vanity

Some time back when I hit one of my "milestones," I mentioned my suspicions that Sitemeter (my visit counter of choice) was missing visitors to The Ancient One. I decided that I would test this out.

One month ago today I added StatCounter as a 2nd monitoring tool to determine how many folks were stopping by whether on purpose or by accident. The new counter was set at the same number as the old one.

Just before I started writing this post, I looked at the counters all the way down on the bottom of the page. Sitemeter read 6930 and StatCounter read 6980. Now a difference of 50 might not seem like much but if it is annualized it comes out to a difference of 600 over 6 months.

Yes, those of us who blog let our egos get in the way. We want more visitors; somehow it makes us feel like we are more important, or better writers, or have something to say that others find interesting. Whatever. The Ancient One is no different.

From this moment forth, while both counters will remain visible, milestones will be measured by the higher number. In a day or two I will announce my 7000th visitor according to StatCounter. (SiteMeter will take a few days longer to reach that number but I don't care.

Ah, the wonders of blogging and its ability to feed my vanity.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Halloween Hangings – Banners 11

Since the last post more colorful Halloween banners have been spotted on my morning walks.

Some on houses:

Others outside classrooms at the neighborhood elementary school:

Just another reminder of what's coming next Friday. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Harbingers of Halloween – Banners 10

October has been a month in which I've had a hard time finding time to post. But my camera was busy on some morning walks and the following pictures, taken about 10 days ago, announced the approach of Halloween in my neighborhood about a week before the yard decorations appeared.

Ah, now my preparation for those little trick-or-treaters can proceed. The Ancient One will be ready when they arrive on the evening of the 31st.


Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Been A While. . .

This has not been an active blogging month. In addition to being busy, at the moment I am in Houston; arrived here 2 days ago and will head back to L.A. tomorrow afternoon.

My sister (from the Detroit area) and I are here visiting my brother and sister-in-law. He had coronary artery by-pass surgery last spring followed by complications and did not get home for 3 months. He has no memory of the first 7 weeks of hospitalization. But, for the most part, he is now fine.

We have been sharing stories and memories. And we have been eating. We do that a lot in this family. Some of this I will share in the future along with pictures of our reunion.

It has been an emotional few days. And it has been important. Of the 3 of us remaining (our oldest brother died 12 years ago), The Ancient One is the baby. And we realize how deeply we are tied to each other even though we were not terribly close in our youth and we now are separated geographically.

So many memories of our parents and family life have been revived. We have brought each other up-to-date about our own children and grandchildren. The Cohanim truly live and our progeny are scattered across this country. We realize how important it is to keep our parents legacy alive and we will carry the memories of this week back to our own branches of the family tree.

More soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blatant Self-Promotion (4)

During this past summer, The Ancient One wrote 2 posts about working a 4 day gig on TV series Boston Legal (here and here). Well, based on the TV promos and the listings at IMDb, that episode is scheduled to be aired on this coming Monday evening (October 13) at 10:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. Central) on ABC.

Assuming, the jury gets some air time, The Ancient One should be seen in Chair #2 (front row, 2nd from the left) in the jury box. Again, he will not be heard but, unlike his recent sketch comedy appearance on Talkshow With Spike Feresten here), his face should be seen.

I'm excited about this appearance because I have really enjoyed the opportunities to work background on Boston Legal and this is their last season. It completes filming in mid-November with the final episode to be aired probably in late January or early February. It is a series that I will truly miss (and not because I have worked on it several times over 3 seasons.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Deciding For Whom To Vote

I generally don't talk about politics on this blog. There's enough garbage out there and I really don't want to comment on the campaigns and the latest round of charges and counter-charges that change daily. I find it depressing that otherwise honorable people reach the point where the desire to win leads them to fling garbage at their opponents. I guess they figure that they have nothing to lose and maybe the garbage will stick.

Actually, I believe there is a simple way to make a decision on whom to vote for in the presidential election. It is a method that allows you to turn off the news and cast a ballot with a high level of confidence that you have made the right choice according to your own beliefs. It works for Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

To make your electoral decision, ask yourself the following question: If elected President, what type of people will McCain or Obama appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court? I feel this is the most important question to ask because the long-term impact of any President is found in the decisions of the people appointed to be Justices on the highest court in the land.

It's a simple question and, for me, it makes my decision a very easy one.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts On Liberty, Freedom and Democracy

What a pretentious title! I've been thinking about this post for a week or so and I couldn't think of anything else to call it. It was brought on by a combination of inflated, often outrageous campaign rhetoric combined with being prodded to think about what book had the most profound impact on my life.

My parents were always involved in the community on issues of free speech and minority rights. The "McCarthy era" came about during my formative years. And somehow, I was eventually led to graduate work in political science from experiences in politics and political campaigning. With my background, I always cared deeply about freedom and the human condition.

About 50 years ago, I took a college course in political philosophy. One of the assigned readings was John Stuart Mill's On Liberty (originally written in 1859). I still have the copy I bought way back when. It was a used copy, edited by Alburey Castell that had been published in 1947.

Inside this small (118 page) volume, I found a passage that spoke to me and succinctly summarized my deepest beliefs: "If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of contrary opinion, mankind would no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."

One sentence! And I have quoted it to students over and over again for nearly half a century. It seems to me to that this summarizes one of the basic tenets of representative democracy. (Mill followed up on this essay in 1861 with his Considerations on Representative Government.)

Whenever politicians and demagogues talk about democracy, they are always quick to point out that it entails majority rule. But they generally forget that representative democracy also is based on minority rights. The framers of the U.S. Constitution created checks and balances to prevent tyranny. They added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect the rights of individuals. And the Supreme Court has, for the most part, been the guardian of those rights, preventing elected officials and popular majorities from "silencing that one person" or oppressing minorities.

Obviously, American history is not perfect in this regard. There were infringements on "unalienable rights" from the beginning and they have continued through to the present. But I thank the friends whose suggestion sent me scurrying for my copy of On Liberty. It's an important reminder of basic democratic values as we listen to half truths and attacks on those who are willing to listen to all points of view, no matter how unpopular. For me, Mill still provides a guide to what ought to be!

Friday, October 3, 2008

On TV at Last

The Ancient One finally made his appearance on Talkshow With Spike Feresten on Fox TV last Saturday night at midnight. The sketch can be found here on YouTube,

I know, you can't recognize him. And the hair that was cut away for the shoot has mostly grown back in.