Musings in Haiku-time

It’s early summer and I’m busy (who isn’t?) and I’m just feeling the need to share some new haiku. I thought after I’d written 5,000 that maybe, just maybe, I’d put the bug behind me. I guess not. Anyway, enjoy, thanks for reading, and have your best possible day.

Namaste,

Jason

5178
Good and Bad exist,
Whether God or Man made them
They exist nonetheless.

5179
Know that rewards come
When the naysayers say “no”
But you respond “yes.”

5180
Making enemies
Is sadly part of the game.
There’s always a foe.

5181
It’s far too easy
Too acquiesce in defeat.
It’s hard to stand strong.

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Don’t let the aliens get ya!

5182
There’s always someone
Less fortunate than yourself.
Fight on in their name.

5183
Lead by example.
Courage, integrity, grace:
They’re not unnoticed.

5184
Your son deserves the
Best you you can offer him.
Don’t squander his wealth.

5185
Faiths that focus on
Fear, division, and judgement
Don’t speak to my heart.

5186
Have you ever seen
A sick giraffe and uttered
“Now that’s a sore throat?!”

5187
“Where do we go next?”
the boy asked sitting by Dad.
“We go on,” my son.

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Fat Man and Little Boy

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Bathtubs over Broadway

There’s a new documentary on Netflix. It’s called Bathtubs over Broadway and it was written by one of the head writers of the David Letterman Show, Steve Young. The documentary was premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and it has garnered several awards since then. Mr. Young was tasked with discovering unique, oddly funny, recordings for a Letterman segment called “Dave’s Record Collection.” What he unearthed was the hidden world of the industrial musical, a world that has become his obsession for more than a decade.

Industrial musicals were, and still are to some extent, musicals produced by corporations for their salespeople, clients, CEOS, and shareholders to boost morale and increase interest in selling a said product. General Motors, Coca Cola, General Electric, and Westinghouse among many others produced hundreds of industrial musicals between the 1950s and 1980s when new trends in hiring, and employer/employee loyalty signaled a decline in interest. These musicals often had larger budgets than contemporary Broadway shows and were never intended for public consumption. However, LPs were often made and given to corporate staff as souvenirs, and from these albums comes much of what we know about this fascinating subset of Musical Theatre.

In the documentary, stars such as Chita Rivera, Florence Henderson, and Martin Short discuss their time in industrials, alongside notable composer/lyricists like Sheldon Harnick and Sid Siegel. The film features many excerpted videos and recordings of performances from such “notable” musicals as Diesel Dazzle and The Bathtubs are Coming. Mr. Young and co-author, Mike “Sport” Murphy, are credited with writing in 2013 the first history book on the industrial musical called, “Everything’s Coming Up Profits,” upon which the film is based. I don’t own the book…yet.

It’s hard for me to say that the subject matter, the industrial musical, is a particularly important subject upon which to spend too much time and effort. Given the breadth and scope of the history of Theatre, let alone Musical Theatre, the history of the industrial musical is probably deservedly a footnote or a passing mention at best. But with that said, every field of study has fun, crazy, anecdotal fringes that are more than worthy of the attention of a select few devotees. And Steve Young’s passion, here directed and translated to film by Dava Whisenant, is fun, informative, surprising, and at times moving, as we get to know the very talented people who plied their trade in a largely hidden and forgotten theatrical landscape. And if that doesn’t snag you, the movie is only 90 minutes long and features a brand new closing musical sequence featuring many of the stars of the form.

What have you got to lose, but 90 minutes?

Break a leg,

Jason

Bathtubs_Over_Broadway

The poster of Bathtubs over Broadway

My Once and Future Passion?

I don’t think any of us really know where it is we’re going to wind up in life, but it’s certainly not where we think we will. When I was 18 I was sure I would be working on Broadway by the age of 25. Then I graduated. And again and again and again. Got married, had a child, moved several times, started various jobs, and…you get the idea. I never got to Broadway. At least not yet.

My relationship with Broadway has been a love/hate one over the years. When I was performing more, had more money to see shows, felt in some way connected to the NY theatre scene, I’ve taken more of an interest in its “doings.’ When I felt dispirited, broke, sick, or just plain didn’t like what I was finding, I would put my interest unconsciously away, just forgetting that it even existed for years at a time.

In 2014, after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with my Theatre MFA, I was full of excitement and hope about my prospects in the business. It didn’t last long. The job market wasn’t great (is it ever for the arts?) and I didn’t find my place in academia (again, at least not yet). I lost interest in Theatre, perhaps due to its lack of immediate interest in me, put my scripts and cast albums away, and turned my attention to my son, my family, my stable church gig, and the education of my students. Through all that time, I’ve felt incomplete somehow, but it somehow seemed in my best interest to turn my attention elsewhere. Cue the last few weeks…

Flower Drum Song

The 1961 movie of Flower Drum Song

For the last few weeks I’ve had a renewed interest in my old love, Broadway, especially musical theatre. I don’t know why it came on. It just did. It started with me deciding to watch Flower Drum Song, the last of the big Rodgers and Hammerstein successes that I was mostly unfamiliar with. That led me to listen to both its cast albums, and then turn my attention to the other lesser known scores of R and H: Allegro, Pipe Dream, and Me and Juliet. I’m currently reading the script for Pipe Dream and I’m sure the other two aren’t far behind. They’re in the pipe line so to speak.

As of this writing, Spotify has become my best friend. I’ve listened to cast albums that I’d never heard before from Brigadoon, The King and I, Pipe Dream, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. And I’ve turned my attention further back to the operettas that were never part of my education, but should have been: Babes in Toyland, The Student Prince, and The Desert Song. I’m learning a lot, and hearing a lot I’d never heard before. It’s frankly, thrilling.

Pipe Dream

City Center Encores sings Pipe Dream

I don’t know what brought it on. I don’t know where it’s going or where it will end. But for this moment, this “brief, shining moment” (now I have to listen to Camelot) it’s nice to be in a mental place where I can appreciate the music I once and always loved; the music of my childhood; the music my father and I especially shared. It’s like hearing from an old friend you’ve been mad at but can’t remember why.

Now please excuse me, I’ve got listening to do.

Musically Yours,

Jason

Brigadoon

Kelli O’Hara as Fiona in Brigadoon

Well, It’s Been Awhile Haiku – March 2019

For some reason I just needed to get these out today. I wrote many of these weeks and/or months ago, but they are no less relevant today. Life has been crazy, busy, tempestuous, frustrating, and (time permitting) joyous. A more thorough update/investigation of me and my family is warranted, (or at least a 4 page summary), but today these haiku will have to stand as testament to my mood. I hope they bring you comfort, inspiration, resilience, and motivation. Yeah, I’m working on it too.

Peace to you all.

Until next time,

Jason

Carefree and reckless;
How alive one must feel when
Running with scissors.

It’s all too easy
To repay low with low, but
High requires work.

Don’t give in to fear.
Real or manufactured, both
Should be met with love.

Some people lack both
Common sense and decency.
They are our crosses.

Who can you count on
To be there when it matters,
When it’s not easy?

 

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Nancy and I on a very cold camping trip in Prince William State Forest

Science and wisdom
Await our return from the
Lowlands of the Lie.

When someone hurts you,
Focus on healing yourself,
Not taking revenge.

Hare or tortoise? Choose.
Each offers advantages.
Me? I’m a tortoise.

 

 

 

Roll with the punches.
Take what life gives you gladly.
No, it’s not easy.

Let’s work together,
Build our ‘more perfect union’
On peace, love, and facts.

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Shadow says, “May you find time for this today.” And food. Lotsa food.

New Year, New Haiku (2019 Edition)

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year, 2019. It has been over 5 months since I connected with you. So much in my, and my family’s life, has changed. We live in a new house; we’re closer to our work; I have started a new job with the Stafford Regional Choral Society; Nancy is two chapter revisions away from defending her dissertation; John Adams is in Kindergarten; and there are many smaller, subtler changes and adjustments that have altered our lives since last writing. We are still packing and unpacking. We are still finding our footing in a new home. There has been less than a little time to be creative with the move, and then  into the holidays. But I am still here; we are still here. And I am still dedicated to my blog and my writing. So with that said, please enjoy these new haiku, written over the last few days; the first new writing I’ve done in awhile, and certainly the first writing I’ve done in 2019. Until, next time, thanks for reading, thanks for noticing me, and thanks for being a part of my life, online or other, in 2019.

Blessings, Bounty, and Bacon,

Jason

The New Year’s begun.
Will it bring big surprises,
Or more of the same?

We are our actions.
Inaction is an action,
A choice of no choice.

Character matters.
Your actions and words matter.
Children are watching.

Model behavior
You wish to come back to you,
For it will return.

We have adopted
A white lump of fat some say
Used to be a cat.

Shadow set to spin

The road up is hard.
The road down all too easy.
Which road are you on?

No resolution
Can survive January
Without discipline.

I love New Year’s Day:
We resolve, renewed, hopeful;
Tabula rasa.

A cool blast of change
Blows with a wintry crispness
Across our country.

 

Pray for each other.
Listen to each other.
Love one another.

The family on Christmas Eve, 2018

Last New Haiku in an Old Home

Well, here we are: less than ten days away from moving into a new home we are blessed to have been offered, but the sadness and nostalgia of the moment is competing with the excitement, challenge, and exhaustion of a major move; even one just across town to convenient Fredericksburg. Our little 9-room idyllic rancher in King George, VA has been mine and Nancy’s home for eight years. It was our first home together. While in it we became engaged, married, pregnant with John Adams, gave birth and raised him for almost five years. I received my MFA. She all but completed her doctorate. We adopted our beloved cats, Duke, Ceyde, and Shadow. We leave our hearts behind with Ivan, Scoutie, Kisaki, The Nix, and many, many fish. We have borne illnesses and celebrated Openings and successes. We have as many memories as the clutter that we seek to escape. Who knows what comes next. Hopefully, we are trading the good for the great, the inconvenient for the convenient, the isolation for community. Only time will tell. So much to do before and after the move. We are so truly excited. Well, excited and scared. Anyway, enjoy the haiku, draw strength or insight from them if you find them worthy, and we’ll talk soon.

Namaste and may your life be one of exciting change,

Jason

 

 4776
Most differences
Can disappear with the words,
“But I accept you.”

4777
Be reliable.
Be someone they can count on
Even when they’re not.

4779
Animals know us;
They perceive our fears and moods
In ways we can’t hide.

4780
Attention expands
Those things which we put it on.
Where is your focus?

4781
Meditate daily
On your unique perfection.
You’re like no other.

 

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First Forsythia of Spring

4782
In adversity
The most gorgeous flowers bloom.
Seek out mud puddles.

4783
I am perfect health.
I am perfect abundance.
I am perfect love.

4784
Why are you waiting?
With each passing year you age!
Take those risks right now.

 

4785
There’s only one way,
And that is the way forward.
There’s no going back.

4786
Seek the difference
Between opinion and fact,
Between spin and truth.

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Our home in King George, VA (2010-2018)

Haiku – Late May Musings – All is Perfect

The school year’s ending. Life is crazy busy as we all gear up for summer. Change is in the air. Pause and appreciate the accomplishments of the last few months, and of your place in the universal whole. Take a moment to glance through my haiku below, and remind yourself that you are perfect. All is as it should be. And as changes arise they too are part of the ever-evolving and expanding perfection of the universe. And remember…breathe.

Namaste,

Jason

 4763
Within or without,
The Source of All surrounds us.
We’re part of the Whole.

4764
There is only now.
Whatever you do with now
Defines the next now.

4765
Rejoice and be glad,
For God made you as you are,
Perfect and unique.

4766
Christians, Muslims, Jews,
Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians,
Taoists, Pagans, Love.

4767
I have a strong heart;
It beats in empathy for
Myself and others.

 

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Caledon riverscape

4769
When we help others
We reveal our best nature.
Service is godly.

4771
The mind’s eye sees all.
Though words can deceive the world,
Souls know only truth.

4773
Grasp infinity
With your warm, mortal tendrils,
Yearning to know both.

 

 

4774
Unclutter your soul.
Discard the broken pieces
Of the half-lived life.

4775
Love that which loves not.
Love that which knows only fear.
These are our burdens.

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“I can do anything!”

Early May Haiku – Breathe

We’re all so very busy. Stop. Breathe. Meditate. Read my ten little haiku below. Meditate on one of them. If that brings you a few minutes of peace today I will have done my job. Good luck and thanks for reading.

Namaste,

Jason

4731
All realities
Were first dreamt upon before
Manifesting them.

4748
Listen to silence,
It speaks peaceful and profound
Of love, always love.

4750
Life is a struggle
Between the forces of Light
And those of Darkness.

4751
Life’s dualistic.
To assume there is evil
Is to assume good.

4752
How many people
Do evil in ignorance,
Blind, or in denial?

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Pink Flowering Dogwoods

4753
Anger solves nothing.
It’s but a conduit to
Higher emotions.

4754
Invest in yourself.
Make self-development a
Recurrent focus.

4757
Do what you can do
To be a better person,
One change at a time.

4761
The Keys to Success:
Vision, Passion, Persistence,
Doing what it takes.

4762
You are a unique
Expression of the Divine.
Cherish your Being.

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The towering trees of Caledon State Park

I’m Not a Pollyanna (I just play one on social media)

From time to time I get accused – usually lightly and by dear friends – of being a Pollyanna, i.e. in this case, a person who somewhat vacuously only sees the good in people and not the bad; a person removed from the news of the world, ignorant of the struggles of those around me; determined to believe that it will all work out for the best and as it should. My social media presence perhaps reflects this. I rarely ever post political comments, critiques, or articles, and I always make an attempt at posting in the realm of the positive: news and pics of my family, our adventures together, stories about John Adams’s latest verbal revelations, and lots and lots of positive quotes from varied sources. It is who I am, who I would like to be, and how I would like to be perceived. Some astute person once criticized Facebook for being everyone’s “highlight reel” and to some extent I must own that. I do try to showcase the best my family has to offer: the best pictures, stories, etc., and to minimize our woes. I don’t share personal failures, blurry or unflattering pics (like some family members), illnesses, and, generally speaking, personal or national, public misfortunes. I have my reasons for this and I’m happy to share those reasons with you. I’m glad you asked.

  1. For me, Facebook, Instagram, my blog, my twitter account, are records of my personal history. When I access them I want to see my smiling son, my beautiful wife, myself in periods of joy, quotes by great minds better than mine own that remind me of the value and purpose of living one’s best life. I want to read humorous stories I’d forgotten, personal and not, and, frankly, I want to be uplifted by accessing the record of my past. If that sounds selfish, well so be it. They’re my social media accounts, and I choose to record and read the ‘happy past’ not the ‘tragic present.’
  2. I have many people – friends and family – that are on all sides of the political spectrum. I love them all, not always equally and not at the same time, but I do nonetheless. 100% of the time I became friends with someone before knowing their politics, and at the end of the debate I would prefer to attempt to maintain a friendship across a political or social divide than just give up, unfriend, offend, or defend my rightness in any given situation. I am of course right in all my political opinions. Aren’t you? Of course you think you are. Wayne Dyer, my spiritual mentor, stated “Given the choice between being right and being kind, be kind.” So I have made my choice. I can be privately right, but publicly kind. And in case you think that’s easy, it’s not. It’s damn hard. But it might just preserve a friendship, keep a mind open to new ideas, and keep the dialogue going. And that’s worth more than righteousness.
  3. I also see many friends and family who post on the news of the day and get drawn in to needless arguments on social media that serve no purpose, change no minds, harm the integrity of all engaged, and ultimately contribute to a culture of hyper-partisan ugliness that seems to be the driver of the day. Rarely do I see people talking the high ground. Michelle Obama’s quote, “When they go low, we go high,” goes unheeded and falls largely on deaf, angry ears. Whether it’s twitter rants, Facebook wars, unseemly marcher signs, or what have you, few people want to model, most want to attack, and the big loser to our society is the children who see the adults behaving like toddlers and conclude that ‘when I grow up, I want to be just like that.’
  4. There is so much ugliness in the world, when people visit my sites/platforms etc. I want them to be able to take a break from it. To see smiling faces, great inspirational quotes, a dancing cow or two, and lots of love for the world. An oft referred to quote by me is Einstein’s, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” When people visit my sites I want the universe to be friendly, to be kind, to be receptive, and forgiving. I know where they’ve been and it’s anything but.

So that’s it. Believe me, I see the ugliness, the fear, the concern, the corruption, the manipulation, the greed, the ignorance, the evil. I’m concerned for my wife, my child, for all our children’s safeties and futures; for the stranger who needs a leg up, the adult who can’t afford healthcare, the environment, public education, PBS, animal welfare, the National Park Service, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the minimum wage, women’s rights, income inequality, gerrymandering, and the list goes on.

I see it all. I feel it all. I just choose to not make Facebook my private daily battleground or all my views public. In the days before social media, we were taught never discuss religion or politics. Now we discuss nothing else. Perhaps we could use a little old world wisdom and Aristotelian moderation now and then.

I don’t promise to never express a partisan opinion. But generally speaking, I’d rather lift up than tear down; elevate than agitate; raise up not run down.

We need more love in the world, and I’m just trying to do my part.

I hope this finds you well.

Namaste,

Jason

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Why I get up each day.

Late March Haiku/Such a Long Week!

This week was a long, LONG week! On Friday, Nancy and I drove to her parents home outside of Philly and had dinner. On Saturday, Nancy and I went to our 15th consecutive Philadelphia Flower Show to celebrate our First Date Anniversary.

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Me and a Flower Show cow

On Sunday, I drove to Stafford, VA to conduct a three-hour rehearsal for the choir of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. On Monday, I went to the First Dress Rehearsal for Hunchback. On Tuesday, I had unsuccessful blood work done, taught lessons, and went to the Final Dress Rehearsal of Hunchback. (Hunchback opened successfully on Weds at the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts in Fredericksburg and I’m very proud of all the choir’s hard work and our involvement in the production, but I wasn’t in attendance.) On Weds., I had successful blood work done, a doctor’s appointment, taught piano, and conducted two handbell rehearsals. On Thursday, I taught voice and took our cat, Duke, for enema surgery to remove the impacted feces from his swollen colon. On Friday, Nancy and I went to Black Panther. On Saturday, I received the lab results from the blood draw, which were fine, but a stressful wait, and then I drove to the West Virginia border to perform in a murder mystery with Murder Mysteries Will Travel. Sunday morning, my Adult Choir performed two pieces and then Nancy and I drove to Baltimore to have dinner with my in-laws and collect my wayward, vacationing son.We drove home Sunday night and I pretty much collapsed.

It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. But if I could do all that, surely you can do anything.

Enjoy the haiku and hopefully I’ll essay again soon.

Namaste,

Jason

4720
No life is perfect.
Handling the imperfections
Defines character.

4721
You have the power.
You can make a difference.
You can change the world.

4722
Wake up each morning
Determined to make the world
A little better.

4723
Being a success
Starts with a good attitude.
This is no secret.

4724
Make a difference.
I can’t tell you what or how.
That’s yours to decide.

4725
How can you deny
The interconnectedness
Of all existence?

4727
Time’s always fleeting.
So many untraveled roads.
Make quick, wise choices.

4728
Live in gratitude.
Whatever you possess you
Could always have less.

4729
In every way
Take responsibility
For your life and health.

4730
Just hold your head high,
Forgive them their trespasses,
And keep on smiling.

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Rows of spring flowers – my favorites – at the Flower Show