Wishing you a blessed and beautiful Autumn!
Last week during Harvest Moon, I found this big fat Luna Moth caterpillar—also known as a Moon Moth—in my garden. He was the first of his kind I’d ever seen–and apparently I was the first of my kind he’d ever seen (he thoroughly explored my hand). When I found him, Luna was working his way up one of my new Moonshadow plants. I transferred him to a bigger bush, and am still looking for the beautiful winged version of him.
So, what did all this moonishness mean? Probably nothing, but I found it amusing. And, no, I didn’t dance by moonlight or sacrifice anything. However…
Speaking of moonlight, this coming Monday (“Moon Day” in Old English) is the start of our Autumnal Equinox, the day when the moon gets equal time with the sun—before initiating those cool, moony Autumn nights to come.
So don’t moon around. Spread your wings…
“A mime is a terrible thing to waste.” ~Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Confession: I was a professional mime. Yep. When I was in my 20s I made a (very modest) living for a time doing mime and teaching it. That’s right, I not only “used,” I got others hooked! And I don’t even have the decency to be ashamed.
When I went back to college for grad study, the head of the theatre department congratulated me one night on my “riveting physical presence” on stage. He asked what technique I’d studied. “Mime,” I said. “Nonsense,” he replied, “mime is a joke!” Then he mentioned that one particular younger actor in the play also had excellent physical technique. “Yeah,” I said, “I’m his mime instructor.”
Mime has gotten an unfair rep for being a cheesy street entertainment any talentless schmo can master. Why? Probably because too many self-taught beginners with no real technique attempt to perform it publicly. It’s as if, having only heard beginning piano students play “Für Elise,” we’d decided Beethoven was a third-rate composer.
Did you know Robin Williams was a professional mime early in his career? So was David Bowie. Mel Gibson, Dennis Miller, Jennifer Lawrence, Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), and many other actors have studied mime.
Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest comedy actors of the 20th Century, was a student of classical French mime. So were Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Harpo Marx. Dick Van Dyke, Lucille Ball and Peter Sellers studied Chaplin. So did Marcel Marceau, the great French mime, and then he went on to pioneer the locking and popping techniques used by Michael Jackson (including his famous moonwalk) and countless jazz and hip-hop dancers.
My biggest mime gig was the gala opening of a Nordstrom store in Southern California. To my astonishment, I was paid what I asked (!), and told to create a brief but fun intro for their “sizzling haute couture” show. I was a brand-new Jesus-follower at the time, with a worldly past. So when I met the two dozen stunning models backstage and saw them standing around completely naked between changes (underwear leaves lines), I prayed very, very hard. Suddenly I knew what my opening would be!
As the program began, I pantomimed building an invisible box to keep the too-haute-to-handle models off the runway. And then, as they strutted out, shattering my invisible box, I was hurled into the audience—and the sizzle began! All of this lasted less than four minutes because, after all, as Billy Crystal said in This is Spinal Tap,
“Mime is money.”
(Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show)
My Feature Blogger this week is long-time journalist Nora Edinger of Joy Journal. Nora’s optimistic but practical takes on life, recipes, faith-related non-fiction and, in her words, “Christian chick lit” that is “a clean read, but contemporary (as in, there isn’t a single Amish buggy or Victorian-era cowboy)” consistently engage Millennials, Boomers, and everyone in between. Heck, even uncategorizables like me enjoy her writing.
I’m guessing you will too.
“I suppose every generation has a conceit of itself which elevates it, in its own opinion, above that which comes after it. ” Margaret Oliphant, Scottish romance novelist, 1828-1897
It’s hard to turn on a computer or flip through a periodical in the U.S. these days without coming across a cartoon or meme or even a news story in which one of these generations isn’t smacking down the other.
As a GenXer – who has experienced a lifetime of Boomer, well, “exceptionalism” — it’s tempting to pop some corn and watch the show. But, I can’t. And, no one else can, either. America has…
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I was 5 when I saw Dracula, my first horror movie. Alone. In a tiny room lit only by the glow of a black and white TV, behind which were sliding glass doors revealing the evil darkness beyond. I knew he would get me if I left the couch. So I had no choice but to pee in my jammies while my parents played pee nuckle (pinochle) with their friends in the next room. Revenge is sweet.
And then, on a smoggy September night in Los Angeles two years later I saw my first science-fiction movie, War of the Worlds. It terrified me. I was in love! With being scared, that is. It was a re-release of one of the best sci-fi movies of the 50s, famous for its special effects–especially the Martian spaceships with their creepy, snakelike grabber thingies that reached down into buildings, nabbing unsuspecting humans! Horror! Devastation!
Mom loved to talk about Jimmy, a skinny, high-strung guy who’d previously worked with her at the crumbling old Litchenberger building in L.A. One morning after seeing the original release of War of the Worlds, Jimmy was ranting about those creepy grabber thingies! “I almost peed my pants!” he admitted. And then, as he raved (this actually happened), a plumber’s snake, controlled by a workman two floors above, suddenly broke through an ancient drain pipe and burst out of the wall in front of Jimmy, its menacing rooter-claws still awhirl!
Jimmy screamed in a key hitherto unknown to man and clocked the nine floors to the street below, setting a new land speed record, peeing all the way. Mom said she felt guilty about laughing. Uncontrollably. For half an hour. But she couldn’t help herself.
Sure, War of the Worlds scared me. But I didn’t pee. As the movie neared it’s dramatic conclusion in sticky Los Angeles, the alien spaceships began dying, crashing one by one to the ground. “What happened?” I wondered aloud. And just as the star Gene Barry was about to explain, some guy in the third row shouted, “The smog got ’em!” The audience roared.
And I peed.
“If Adventure has a Name…”
Impulsive actions make great movie scenes. But in real life they can get you killed. Or worse: in trouble with Mom and Dad.
I mentioned previously that I was clumsy. I’ve come to the conclusion that my clumsiness is rooted in impulsive actions taken while I am, 1) moving in one direction and, 2) looking in another. There’s never been a time when this wasn’t so; I was moving in one direction and looking in another when I exited the womb.
All of the events that happened in Downey, California, occurred before I was 7, because that was when we moved away. So, although the exact date I climbed The Great China Cabinet is unknown, it was definitely during the classical period known as The Downiad.
I decided to scale it at around 4 a.m. (Mom and Dad were still inexplicably asleep.) It was a mysteriously dark summer morning, perfect for adventure. After much deliberation, roughly 1/3rd of a second, I began my ascent. I opened the bottom drawers, et voilá, two perfect steps appeared! Soon my feet reached a precipice, above which lay the legendary shelf-lands.
I opened the oaken doors, careful not to lean too far back. The climbing was easy at first: the porcelain serving dishes and crystal goblets watched placidly as I glided past them on my epic journey upward. But soon the cliff began to rattle. I tightened my grip. The rattling ceased. But then something occurred that I was powerless to stop: an avalanche! The entire mountain lurched forward. And then, in one breathless moment The Great China Cabinet that had stood for millennia crashed to the valley of Living Room far below!
Why wasn’t I killed? Somehow those open doors and out-slid drawers created a hollow just big enough for a skinny sherpa-boy.
Mom and Dad, who weren’t awake when my adventure began, were now suddenly present. They were terrified that I’d been killed. Or that I hadn’t and they’d have to do it themselves.
Miraculously, I survived without a graze!
The porcelain didn’t.
How is this a scar story? I felt so bad about destroying Mom and Dad’s china that a week later I decided to make it up to them by fixing them breakfast in bed. At 4 a.m.
Who knew those old glass milk bottles were so heavy, or so slippery when you lifted them off high refrigerator shelves with one hand, while fishing for strawberry jam with the other, and looking over your shoulder? Or that they hurt so bad when they detonated on your foot, producing torrents of pink milk?
I still have an elegant half moon scar on my left foot to match the one on my right. And every time I look at it, it reminds me of the moon on that fateful morning, the morning I climbed…
The Great China Cabinet!
To read my next Scar Story, click here.