Wednesday, September 29, 2010

God Stopped By Last Night

Early morning. Tucked behind the iron mailbox at our front door, was a small folded piece of paper. A note from one of the tenants? Package attempted delivery? No, this came from "higher up".

Drat! God had been there once again in the middle of the night, and we missed him again! Why doesn't He knock, like in the picture? Behold, He stands at the Door and knocks. No, God had an important message for us, but He couldn't be bothered with telling us personally. He gets in these "Hate and Run" moods, sometimes, then He just leaves a note.

"God left a note again, last night."

"Again? and He didn't knock! We would have heard him. What is it this time? Is He hating on the gays again?"

"No, this time, I think He's got us!"

In the past, God had been castigating us for things we didn't do. Abortions, homosexuality - Even though the things He was angry about were things we hadn't done, He had wanted us to persecute people who were exercising their choices for reproductive freedom or choice of life-partner. But this time...

"It's the martinis that are setting Him off, now."

I showed my wife the paper which Hate-and-Run God had left us. That relaxing moment of twinkling ice at the end of a 12-hour-plus day was what He was now after.

"Did He say why? Remember, His Kid used to turn water into wine a few years back. Did He forget that? Where does He get off prying a martini out of my hand?"

"Apparently - He quotes the prophet Habakkuk --"


"Habakkuk - Old Testament Prophet. Remember - Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai or something like that. Habakkuk said - here let me quote - 'Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, and makest him drunken also, that thou may look on their nakedness.'"

"Go on, does God really think we're doing that sort of thing? I'd like to see you even try looking on your neighbor's nakedness. I'd give you such a one...."

"Well, next time He comes over, I hope we hear him. We could ask Him in for a martini."

Thanks for listening and contributing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jack Frost is Painting the Leaves

The first song I remember from my childhood was sung by my mother. I remember, it seemed like some miraculous transformation -- my mother was suddenly expressing a thought in a song.

I was looking out the window of our house, I was barely tall enough to see out. The leaves of the tree outside were suddenly not entirely green anymore. Instead of green, they had become yellow and red. When you're only on the second or third time around the calendar, the transformations of the seasons are a novelty - you don't get it all the first time around....

My mother came up behind me, kneeled down, and sang softly in that voice by which I have always remembered her:

"Jack Frost is painting the leaves
He's painting them all over town

He's painting them red

He's painting them yellow
And even painting them brown"

I remembered so vividly every word set to music. I questioned my mother thoroughly about who this "Jack Frost" was, and when could I watch him work... Did he use a ladder? How could he see if he painted at night? Hush, Child. Just listen to your mama.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Man in the Moon as He Sails the Sky

Max Wincell was kind of scary. I was in 3rd grade, and Max was now in his second year of 3rd grade. Previous encounters with Max had involved Max hitting me. Once we had met him in a park downtown, my sister and I, and he had hit us both. But now, I was almost home, safe on my block, when Max called me by name. How had he remembered?? I was paralyzed by fright when Max ran up to me.

"Hey, I just moved in over on Davis Street" (2 blocks away) "Aren't you that kid who plays piano?"

-- gulp --- Oh, no! my short life flashed in front of me, in a nightmare vision of a future filled with daily poundings. But this was different. He was new to the neighborhood, and now, things had changed. Now, I was now one of "his people". The incidents of the past had been forgotten, as if they had never happened. I certainly wasn't going to remind Max of those.

We played together, hung around together, and then he did a shocking thing. He politely introduced himself to my mother. Max wasn't the sort of person you mentioned to your parents. He was more of the sort you snuck out to hang around with when you were being rebellious. My mother was bowled over by the hospitality, and if Max were around on Saturday, she'd invite him to stay for lunch. He certainly knew how to play the "nice boy" when necessary.

Max, it turned out, didn't have much of a home life. He'd always had to seek his friends one by one, which was hard when his father kept moving from place to place. Max had no mother that he spoke of, and his father was not home much. His house was a cheap wooden pre-fab, and his father's current live-in girlfriend (Max called her "the housekeeper") didn't want us hanging around the house.

Max was smart, although he didn't have very good grades. He never did homework, because he wasn't welcome at home, but he remembered everything we learned in class. He was especially fond of a song Miss Schlueter had taught us in music class. We'd sing it as we roamed the streets after dark, looking for trouble.

"Oh the Man in the Moon
As he sails the sky
is a very remarkable skip-per

But he made a mistake
by attempting to take
a drink of milk from the Dip-per!
a drink of milk from the Dipper.

He dipped it into the Milky Way
and slowly and carefully filled it
but the Big Bear growled

and the Little Bear howled

and frightened him so that he spilled it

and frightened him so that he spilled it.

I think of these nights when summer's gone, and the air is crisp with fall, and a faint smell of leaves burning somewhere. I think of when Max showed me how to howl at the moon.

Thanks for listening and contributing. On Twitter, they call me @dimbulb52.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Witch's Polka

It seems like a long time ago, but it was only 12 years ago. I was the music director for some of the musical comedy community theater productions of the legendary Gil Shine. Time spent working with Gil was time spent learning a craft. I learned things about writing, comedy, staging, and publicity that serve me to this day. Gil is on his next assignment, now, and I'm sure that God is getting a laugh about Gil's first-rehearsal talk, the part where he says "when you're in one of my plays, I AM GOD! JESUS WAS JUST AN EMISSARY!" And I picture a row of angels, all flipping their wings in UNISON. "AGAIN -- FROM THE TOP!"

Marian always had her own sense of timing. Gil hated that, but realized what a tremendous stage presence she had. Marian could take the most unimportant role and make it into the center of attention - as those who worked with her always said "that's just Marian!". People would come to a show with Marian in it, just to see Marian.

The play from which this one-minute video is taken is a Halloween musical comedy production. A simple plot, for children of all ages. One of the witches is having her three hundredth birthday, and the other witches want to throw a surprise party for her. A running theme: Marian is always offering to play her accordion for the party but all the other witches keep telling her "NO!" . "but why?" whines Marian. And the answer is always "Because you're not any good at it". At the end of the play, the party of course, and Marian sneaks back from behind the curtain to present, as a surprise to everyone - her Polka Band. That's me on accordion, and Rob as the Mummy playing drums.

At I'm @dimbulb52, but i'm usually in trouble over there for not posting enough.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

O'er the Lamp Parts We Watched

One day I was being helpful around the house. A rare occurrence because usually I've got to be helpful in one of the rental properties, some smelly garbage disposal or leaky toilet seal, you know, the good stuff.

I noticed that Joyce's lamp had gotten dusty on the inside. You could see the dust clearly, because it was a clear Lucite lamp, and years of being next to the heat radiator had let dust settle on the inner surfaces of the lamp. The Art Deco Lucite Floor Lamp that Joyce loves.

So, lovingly, tenderly, I wrapped a paper towel soaked in Windex around a wooden ruler, and used it to remotely reach in and clean the inner surfaces. There were a few corners that I couldn't reach with a ruler, so I loosened up one of the nuts holding the end pieces on. The end piece of the Art Deco Lucite Floor Lamp that Joyce loves. I heard a terrifying sound:


Now, when you're working on something so close to Joyce's heart, and something goes "dink", that is a grave sound indeed. In unscrewing the nut, I had loosened a metal bolt from the other side, and a little 6 inch shaft of metal had slipped out. I picked it up, and when I went to insert it, I noticed that the lucite holes did not line up as they had before. I turned the lamp on its other side for a closer look. A shower of small Lucite blocks fell on the floor. The horrifying clatter of course attracted the attention of my wife.

"What are you doing, there?" from the other room.

- gulp - "I noticed that there was a little dust inside your Lucite Lamp, so I'm just *dusting* it a bit, Honey."

Meanwhile, I loosened another nut, in hopes of lining up the first one, more of those clacking sounds, like the Wind Chimes of Satan, as the pieces fell all on the floor, much to the delight of Gondi the Evil Cat, who started batting the little pieces around the floor.

New approach. Take a deep breath.

I intentionally loosened all the nuts in the whole lamp, unscrewing everything that could be unscrewed. I loaded everything into a five-gallon bucket, and took them downstairs, because I could not work with my hands trembling so. There were close to two hundred pieces when I had finished.

I cleaned all the pieces with dishwasher liquid, and laid the pieces of the corpse out on the table: a very apprehensive moment indeed, while I waited for them to dry. I showed Karl and Fred, my so-called friends, and they both shook their heads and volunteered to be pallbearers when Joyce found out that I had murdered her lamp.

I let the pieces dry overnight, and the following day, I re-assembled them, skilled artisan that I am. With a sigh of relief, I screwed in a bulb and plugged the lamp in. Nothing went wrong. Nothing was missing. Nyah Nyah, Karl! In your face, Fred!

This was the luckiest day of the year. Of course, I told Joyce that I had disassembled the lamp on purpose, for maximum cleanage! How differently things could have come out. How my life could have been changed for want of a small single block of lucite!


Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Crazy Carousel of Time

Each of us is given the same amount of time. To get the most out of the small amount of time you have, sometimes planning and prioritization are required. Deadlines have to be met and time-consuming preparations for future deadlines must be accommodated. In the meantime, there are the demands of the moment, choices that must be made. Knowing how much time each thing you want to do is expected to take is the most important step in planning your time effectively. And there are things that can be overlapped.

There are times I can successfully keep multiple operations going all at once. For example, if there is a rehearsal going on in the theater, I'm cleaning the backstage area during the same time, since I've got to be there anyway, a video edit is rendering on one of my computers, and I'm taking incoming phone calls. Sometimes these individual and precious little pieces of time can be very tightly nested into a super-productive evening. And sometimes, they can come crashing down into an ugly shambles. Monopolistic phone calls are the worst culprits. Biting my tongue to keep from saying " a matter of fact, I really don't want to spend the next hour and five minutes listening to the details of your personal life. I have a personal life of my own."

(There are certain natural combinations of activities that work really well together, for instance, writing blog entries, and the "day job")

There are times when a conflict arises between the volume of stuff that needs to be done and the time allotted in which to do it. It is important sometimes to stay in time, to meet, for example a show deadline. When the lights go up, the stage set had better be finished, even if some of the paint is still tacky. Sometimes, to make all the puzzle pieces fit, more drastic measures have to be taken:

But then there is that aesthetic thing. If you compromise a job too much, people will notice. Too many jigsaw pieces with corners bashed off, and the overall puzzle picture will suffer. My friend Norman produces commercials for a Madison television station. He's constantly under pressure to meet impossible deadlines. He has a saying, and it's written on the wall of his office:

choose any TWO"

Thanks for listening and contributing. I wish I could tweet on the run like Lydia... I'm @dimbulb52

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moon Acre

I found this last night, while moving boxes around in the basement to build some more shelves. Yes, I own an acre of the moon. I bought it in 1972.

Wandering and wondering around Madison in the springtime of 1972, at the end of a year that left me spinning. My life had been permanently left its orbit and spun off in a strange direction, a direction which was not the direction everyone else had planned for me. Barry made me laugh, and he made me think, he ridiculed people who take themselves too seriously. So I bought a moon acre. And I've never regretted it.

A man in a silver space suit, Barry McArdle, was selling real estate on the moon. The moon. Why was a lunatic in a silver suit allowed to sell entire acres of the Moon for only one dollar per acre, and only one acre per customer? Barry answered the question himself: Why not me?

Thank you Barry. Although I may never get to walk on my moon acre personally, someday, somebody's gonna be walking on my acre of the Moon!

Barry wrote a book about his adventures on earth. I'm going to buy it.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whirl and Spark

Remember these? They were made out of tin, and sold for fifteen cents or so at Woolworth's.

A plunger operated a gear mechanism that spun the wheel around. A flint like those used in cigarette lighters would spin against a piece of sandpaper on the wheel, causing sparks to radiate from the whirling circle. There were ports in the wheel, with red and blue light gels in them, to color the sparks as they came out. It was quite magical, especially in the dark. We used to like to take them in the clothes closet and shut the door so we could see them better in the daytime. I suppose Mother wouldn't want us making sparks in the closet for any extended period of time, but we got away with more, back then.

I remember the smell of them, a metallic ozone smell like nothing else on earth.

I'm reminded of all this by something I saw on the way to work. Those new LED light bars that the police are using remind me of those magic spinners. Every time I see them. I suppose if I saw them in my back mirror on the roadside, I might think differently. But maybe if I should ever be in such a situation, and mention it to the officer, it might make a difference. "Excuse me for interrupting, Officer, but did you know what those red and blue strobe lights on top of your car remind me of? .... " Maybe that would not be a good time to mention it, after all...

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Thursday, September 16, 2010


Here's some arithmetic for you, very round figures, you can do the exact ones if you want to research it yourself.

People in the United States: 200,000,000. Of these, only 100,000,000 pay taxes of zero or greater. So, every time the government spends a billion dollars, that's 1,000,000,000 divided by the 100,000,000 taxpayers, or TEN BUCKS EACH. Not much, until you think of how fast the Government can run through a Billion - what is it, 10 seconds or so?
Of course, if the government can't afford it - that is, if they can't shake us down IMMEDIATELY for the $10,000.00, they take out a loan from the Federal Reserve - a private bank, and then we each owe $10,000 each PLUS INTEREST. The spending never stops, and the increase in spending never stops, and, lately, the increase in the rate of increase hasn't stopped.


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Obamanation - Imaginary Careers

They did it to us again! The Government has lied to us again, in order to re-brand its failure as success.

According to today's New York Post, ==LINK== election poll workers are being counted as new arrivals in the national work force. A poll worker who has served in this capacity for many years stated that this is the first year that they are required to be fully registered with the IRS, as if they were permanent workers, even though their "career" only consists of one day of training and one day of Election Day duty.

This is the same strategy that the government used last winter, when they counted the temporary census workers as part of the permanent work force.

Manipulating the statistics does not create jobs. Taxing and bleeding the employers and penalizing them for their success does not create jobs. Stripping workers of benefits by the Socialist Health Care mandate does not create jobs. What creates jobs is when people have confidence that they can control the money they have worked for.


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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hammer Man

We live in an old bank building, built in 1925. My wife (the designer) and I (cheap labor) have divided it into apartments upstairs and a concert/meeting hall downstairs. Sometimes it's fun to look beyond all the renovations at the parts of the building that haven't changed.
Many years ago, I was painting a hallway with frosted iron-frame windows, all very heavy-duty and unchanged since the time the building was built. An old tape machine keeps me company when I'm doing these manually intensive chores. Large coffee cans hold endless collections of cassette tapes. On this particular day, I was playing a collection of music from the mid-20s, by Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington, and others. There was a strange resonance, the music sounded so poignant, as if the building was listening, too, remembering when it was first built. The Merchants and Mechanics Bank of Bay View was the place where Bay View workers took their hard-earned paychecks. They were a hard-working lot - many steel factories and foundries supported the area's workforce.

One of them remains on the front of our building - a blacksmith with his hammer and anvil commemorate the original purpose of the building. Although thousands of people pass by the building every day, when I point this guy out, most people say "I never knew that was there..."

Thanks for listening and contributing. All dm's answered promptly. @dimbulb52

Monday, September 13, 2010

Truth Doesn't Burn

God's Dumbass Hijacks 911 Remembrances

Muslims Destroy Synagogues; Burn Jewish Holy Books
Orthodox Jewish youths burn New Testaments in Or Yehuda

All in the name of God. WTF?

In my opinion, those who burn books have never read the books they burn.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free " - Jesus, quoted in one of the books that has been burned in his name.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'm @dimbulb52 on Twitter, and will respond to all direct messages, although I haven't had the time to visit with all those wonderful folks, of late...

Saturday, September 11, 2010





Emerge. And See

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, wish I had time to I'm @dimbulb52

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reverse Prosopagnosia

The strange things that wake you up at night.

Little Red Riding Hood. A strange little girl with a basket of goodies for her grandmother, encounters a wolf - a talking wolf at that - in the woods, and then she suffers a strange case of reverse-prosopagnosia.

The wolf, as you recall had preceded Red to Grandmother's house, and devoured the unfortunate beldam - swallowed the old biddy whole! But then things get really strange!

What was it that kept Red from recognizing her own grandmother? She wanted to believe that the person in Grandmother's house was indeed Grandmother. And then to take her "grandmother"'s word for it that the noted changes in Grandmother's features were actually improvements on the Grandmother she knew and loved. "The better to see you with, My Dear!" Indeed.

Perhaps Red was motivated by guilt, for not having visited her Grandmother as often as Grandmother would have liked. Perhaps her selfish life - indulging in cable TV and WI-FI while Grandmother is living in the fifteenth century on her wooded lot, which would be the site of Condos in the not too distant future. Was it her dereliction of grand-daughterly duty that kept Red from recognizing a wolf in her grandmother's bedroom?

Perhaps it was the memory of the wolf, a talking wolf at that, that she met in the woods - that set her off. Red was so subliminally shocked that everything and everyone after that looked like a talking wolf to her. And, when she arrived, why wouldn't she have mentioned the talking-wolf incident to the one she supposed was her grandmother? Nooo! As if nothing had happened, she reaches into her basket - "Grandma, I've got a bit of old cheese for you, and a jar of pickled pig's feet -- your favorite!"

And why would the wolf, with an entire grandmother flopping around in his guts, why would he still be hungry after all that?

I'll spare you the part about the axeman coming in and disemboweling the wolf....

The whole thing doesn't wash. I'm sorry, I don't believe any of it.

thanks to for the illustration.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices

This summer I was lucky enough to meet up with Trefor Williams, who is the driving force behind the Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices, a 26-voice choir made up of music enthusiasts of all types and all ages. This group is devoted to excellence in whatever music they undertake. Broadway shows, operas, and popular music all provide inspiration for the dynamic performances delivered by this group.

Graciously, they offered a performance at the dedication of Joyce Skylight Court, our latest rehabilitation project. Joyce Skylight Court is a four-unit commercial rental unit with a spacious indoor common area and an outdoor courtyard area, where the concert you see below was filmed.

Here's a promo video we are distributing for the upcoming show. Feel free to share the video and attend the show.

And Trefor Williams is the most easy-going and completely insane soul to work with in setting up the shows. It was a pleasure, Trevor - we're all a bit crazy when it comes to music. More on Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices at

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52

Friday, September 3, 2010

The First Song

Here's a video I never thought would be made. My wife decided in 2003 (she's the one that likes to play Monopoly with real houses) that we were going to buy a run-down multi-use building (wish I could be more specific... most of the things I have called it over the years are unprintable).

After seven years of hauling, demolition, building inspectors, enviro cleanup, scrap contractors, excavation, construction, building inspectors, reconstruction, building inspectors, contractors, architects, plumbers, building inspectors, electricians, building inspectors, masonry contractors, and a few who were just plain idiots, including building inspectors, on August 18, 2010 we threw ourselves over the finish line, and hosted a dedication concert for the new facility.

Along the way, we made a few friends, met a lot of schnooks, spent a lot of money and time, and the neighborhood for the most part loves the upgrade of their block.

Over the next few weeks I hope to feature more before/after photos - it is quite remarkable what Joyce has done to create this marvelous facility. But, for now, since music is just about the only thing of enduring importance in our lives, here is a 2-minute video of the first song that was sung in the Joyce Skylight Court. Thanks to Trefor Williams and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Voices.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trim the Old Man's Toenails

Every night when Syd (a REAL cat) and I are trying to get some sleep, we here this constant "tap-tap-tap-tap" "tap-tap-tap-tap". Gondi the Useless. Gondi the Suckup. Mama fell asleep on the sofa, and Gondi got bored, so Gondi came to circle around the bed like a poltergeist.

Gondi has never read Robert Frost -That cats should "be silent like a snowfall", or some damn thing, here's the quote -- I'll Google it . . . . ok I was wrong, it's Carl Sandburg, and it's Fog, not snow. (I'm not as perfect as I imagine myself):

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Well, Gondi doesn't sit there looking over harbor and city. He paces frantically back and forth. and he's an Old Old cat, and his claws stick out too much, so when he gets on the laminate floor, it's definitely not a "silent haunch" moment - it's more of a 'Fred Astaire on mixed medications' sort of sound - he goes "tap-tap-tap-tap" an uneven spastic sound that wakes up Syd, and Syd wakes me up. "Gary, he's at it again" We'd just like to take the useless old cat and put him out on the back porch, but Mama would surely put both of us out on the back porch permanently if she caught us doing that to her "iddle boy". So, we endure, Syd and I, and eventually the aging neurotic sissy gets tired and goes back to the sofa, where he belongs.

And, yesterday, it was decided to give the bony old rattletrap a manicure, pedicure, claw-acure, whatever the devil it's called. And Steffie, Joyce's friend, was standing by to take pictures with her cell phone of the Blessed Event.

Ah, "Sleep in Heavenly Peeeyeeece!" At Last! Good Night!

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52