About aggedor3

I am a forty-eight year old actor, director, music director, composer, and poet, with interests in Music, Theatre, Poetry, History, Psychology, Myth, and Spirituality. I was born in Reading, PA, but currently reside in Fredericksburg, VA with my wife Nancy, son John Adams, and our assortment of cats. I have self-published two books of haiku and two children's books, the links for which are on my Amazon Author Page below, and I regularly write choral and hand bell music - sacred and secular - for the Unitarian Universalist fellowship where both myself and my wife are employed.

Haiku for an uplift

Well, it’s been a week. (I seem to say that a lot.) And that means writing haiku to bolster my spirits. I’ve been working seven days a week (doesn’t everybody nowadays?), celebrated a wedding anniversary, marked the 89th birthday of my father who crossed over 19 years ago, and just tried all manner of strategies to keep my head above water. So here you go! If these little guys bring you any peace, comfort, or joy, I’ve done my job for another week. May you be calm and blessed.

Namaste,

Jason

5216
Let today be a
Peace, Love, Light, Healthy, Happy,
Groovy kind of day.

5217
Who you choose to be
Is entirely your call;
Not a group project.

5218
We become our thoughts;
Our thoughts become our actions;
Actions, character.

5220
I brake for flowers,
Good food, sunrises, rainbows,
Slow turtles, and cats.

5221
Dance the cosmic dance,
Making up the words and moves
As you go along.

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The Tao of Kittens

5222
There are some people,
No matter how hard you try,
You’ll just never please.

5223
Mother used to say,
“Some people just won’t like you.
You mustn’t sweat it.”

 

 

 

 

5226
Seek help if needed.
Don’t suffer in silence while
Putting up a front.

5227
Live today today.
Put yesterday behind you
And tomorrow off.

5228
Try to breathe today.
Don’t let the grind get to you.
Hold to your stillness.

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Scary Halloween faces

This Week in Haiku

I find that I’m writing again. One haiku a day; but one is better than none. There’s been a lot of stress in my life these last few weeks, and I know it comes out in my writing. But my focus is still primarily inspirational/motivational, even if sometimes the voice is pushing from a place of frustration. Either way, the weather is beautiful today, and it’s Monday, and the week is filled with possibilities. So enjoy, thanks for reading, and I wish you a stress-free, productive week.

Namaste,

Jason

Hopes and fears and dreams,
Endlessly intertwined, each
Craving attention.

Open your heart to
Reveal compassion bursting
Forth like a rocket.

For your sanity
There have to be days when you
Say “no” and mean “no.”

Always be prepared,
For people will let you down.
So just be ready.

You need to let go
Of the bullshit in your past
And focus on NOW.

 

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You can’t fix stupid.
You can’t motivate lazy.
You can’t turn back time.

Know that there are times
When the best thing you can do
Is just walk away.

I’ve always dreamt big,
But I now find small actions
Are the way to go.

 

 

There will always be
A new battle to win and
A new hill to climb.

I am not perfect.
I strive for perfection, but
I miss the mark often.

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John Adams wishes you all a Two Thumbs Up kinda day.

Don’t Dream. Do. A Sonnet for You

It’s been awhile since I wrote a sonnet. I’ve only written 20 or less in my whole life. But I do like the art form, and lately I’m trying to flex both my artistic and creative writing muscles, so here goes! I hope you enjoy it. If it is imperfect, its message, at least, is sincerely intended.

Peace,

Jason

 Don’t Dream. Do!
By Jason J. Michael

A dream is but a dream until you act.
The act of dreaming never made one true.
For dreaming’s but the start of “false to fact.”
A path that’s tracked, compact, from dream to do.

Too many, meek and mild, suppose to sit,
As if the sitting is the act itself,
And while away the hours in a fit,
While more constructive measures stay the shelf.

So please take heed, you need to hear me now:
A dream’s but the beginning of the quest.
Yes, dream, but steam ahead to “when and how,”
For dreams are naught but air till pressed to test.

And if this formula is followed through,
I can but hope for you your dreams come true.

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May your day be filled with beautiful flowers.

The “Best” Dad in the World

My son, John Adams, makes us art all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. He just turned six. We get pictures of trees, flowers, rocks, birds, us, him, our families. You get the idea. It’s all somewhere between beautiful, heartfelt scribble, what is it?, and “now what the hell do I do with this?” We put some on the fridge. We lay away a lot in a box. We get overrun and start the process over. It is quite simply one of the joyous-griefs of parenting.

Recently, I reached for my yellow legal pad and realized I had inserted two of his more current drawings between the pages. I’m certain I did it in a moment of unconscious decluttering desperation. This time I stopped and looked at the pictures. The first picture was a lopsided heart with the inscription, “You are the best dad ever.” The second picture is of him and me walking outside on a sunny day with the words “Dad” and “Beeny” variously strewn about the page. I call him Beanie Bug at home or Beanie for short.  I really looked at his work this time, what he wrote, how he meant it. And I felt loved. And sad. Beanie Art20001

I’m not the best dad. I love him. I care for him often. I am usually the first face he sees in the morning and the second to last face before bedtime. I feed him, clothe him, and shuttle him back and forth to school. And he is with me for almost all of my work commitments. But I do frustrate easily at his unceasing chatter, his imperious self-righteousness, his inability to do for himself, his laziness, his petulance. And I let him know it, often, and in no uncertain terms. “You’re six, long hair. Get a job!”

Beanie Art10001

And yet, he still loves me. I’m the best dad ever. At least, in his eyes, on that day, at that moment. And he drew me a picture to tell me so. I couldn’t love him more, and I am unworthy.

So to all the rest of you out there, in the spirit of Paying it Forward, if you are feeling down about yourself, feeling unworthy of love, here’s some affirmations from our family vernacular to you, to lift your spirits a bit; to remind you that you are worthy of love and affection, even when you’re not meeting your own standard.

You are:

The best piece of chicken…

The longest game of UNO…

The warmest, fuzziest blanket…

The funniest animal video on YouTube…

The last lick of a Tootsie Pop, right before the chewy center, when the candy and Tootsie Roll are blended in your mouth just right…

The bestest hug…

The mightiest superhero…

The softest fur on the friendliest cat…

The kindest face when I first open my eyes in the morning…

And, of course, you are:

Bacon

 

Love and Hugs from the “best” dad,

Jason

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Beanie and I at the Caledon Butterfly release

Autumn Haiku Musings 2019

Happy Fall, Everyone! It’s been two months since I posted and it’s time I do something. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, dreaming, some would say procrastinating, and it’s coming out of me in the last few weeks as haiku. I know, my old standby. Anyway, enjoy, read, reflect, reject, take comfort in, or what have you. And as always, thanks for reading.

Namaste,

Jason

5188
Open wide your heart.
Embrace all inhabitants
Of this universe.

5190
Take back what is yours.
Take a vow to reclaim your
Personal power.

5192
Today, you’re stronger.
Today, you’re more in control.
Today, you stand tall.

5193
Part of the “Good Fight”
Is educating oneself
How to fight better.

5194
Each day is a gift;
A Present Moment is time.
Use each day wisely.

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Flamingos in the Mist

5195
People: just two kinds:
Those who fear and don’t do, and
Those who fear and do.

5196
Read voraciously,
Open-hearted and open-minded;
Absorb the masters.

5197
Know when to hold’em,
Fold’em, walk away, and run.
Thanks, Kenny Rogers.

 

5199
Don’t care what they think.
Don’t keep up with the Jones’s.
Just run your own race.

5200
The art you create
Is a reflection of you,
And your soul’s cravings.

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A joyful family moment at Belvedere Plantation

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

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