THE STRANGELING (another update)

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I wrote a play last year; and then another; And then a very long essay. Each of these creations bore the same title…


One afternoon while visiting on my patio with the quail family that periodically comes to check on me, I fell into an experiment; I took a few recent posts of different ideas and searched within them for one line which would say it all.

Out of seven hundred or so words I trimmed this creation down to…

The truth of Now is that it never, ever leaves us. The same is often said of God.”



SunSounds of Arizona is a reading service for the blind. I have had the good fortune to create two entertainment programs for SunSounds, the first of which was in the early years, called STUFF and SUCH  and eventually simply, STUFF.

As a volunteer reader of public information found only in print, it was my job to read well and to read accurately. I was reading the words of humorists like Dave Barry. Once a week I wrote a short play and acted the different roles, sandwiching the ditzy dialogues between those articles by humorists in print.

These comic scenarios of mine became so popular that I decided to risk converting one of Dave Barry’s creations to a play. It was called Thirty Minutes Eye-Witless News. There were perhaps a dozen characters and again I played them all. I sent a copy to Dave. Shortly after he landed a four season Gig on TV called Dave’s World. I was later told that my play gave his manager the idea for that very successful sitcom.

In about 1989 Garrison Keeler who does Prairie Home Companion announced that he was marrying a Swede, leaving the show and moving to Sweden. (NPR continued to rerun old tapes.) On the weekend following The Keelers’ departure I aired a five-minute spoof of his show and called it Prairie Dog Companion; instead of “Coming to you from Lake Wobegone” my show came from “Lake Dogonit”.

A year or so later Gary returned to the show. Years later,  I found myself in a conversation with Keeler about his DSL service, I was in that business for a while and he had heard that I might be able to help him. When I answered the phone Keeler recognized my name and we had a chuckle over Lake Dogonit.

In 1995 STUFF was canceled. Exactly three-years later a local television station began an ad campaign airing a number of STUFF- esque jingles which were similar to the song that I had written in 1981 to sing my way into the original STUFF radio show.

Today I am known as Retail Man; my show is Retail Store Ads. I read the ads from Big Box and Department Stores as well as transcripts of taped interviews with sales people and floor managers from these various stores.







Advice about WHAT to think is certain to be met with argument. If a conclusion is drawn it will be because the subject has shifted from WHAT to HOW.

Advice about HOW to think increases the pool of knowledge; it generates questions rather than arguments, discoveries rather than frantic searches for proof.

Those who focus on WHAT to think often rely heavily on the quotes and references of dead scholars who are no longer able to defend their words; words which are often taken out of context.

A book I own has a chapter entitled HOW IT WORKS.

It is not about HOW anything works NOR is it about WHAT to think ; the reader is encouraged only to adopt the biases of the author however allusive their attraction. “TRY IT – YOU’LL LIKE IT” the text implies. (Now what did I do with the Alka Seltzer?)



At VA yesterday morning there was a guy in the hallway strumming chords with some great sevenths for occasional surprises.

He’s always there. People stop to listen but rarely leave any cash. Inspired for some reason, I started whistling improv – jazz lines blending beautifully even when Mr. Guitar – Man erred.

I used to be one of the best whistlers ever till I started repairing my teeth. Somehow the wind from my lungs uber-reacts with these dental changes in a new and different way, usually in an unfriendly, non-musical manner that gives me the shivers.

I had thus forgotten my talent but for some reason it returned this morning. Together Mr. Guitar-man and Bobby Lee Spike Oaks Broom drew quite a crowd.

When my notes eventually began to fail me I started singing Allen Toussaint – style scat riffs and carried the Guitar Man’s hat around for money. We got a few tens – lots of fives and singles. When I handed him his hat, his lips started moving and his hands started signing. He took the money but someone told me later he wasn’t doing this for financial gain; his music is his gift to the Vets.  He was once a professional jazz singer – songwriter – musician. A throat injury in a Middle East conflict took his voice. I still don’t know what his stage name was.


“Tolerance is not psychologically healthy; it keeps resentments alive.”
This sounded logical to me until I realized that when tolerating the disturbing antics of well-meaning loved ones, I was actually keeping Love alive and often they with me.
When I enter tolerance mode with a friend or family member I am free now to listen and observe more closely as they sing their song and surprise me with this hidden treasure or that.
Freedom becomes more personal when we pay attention. Happy Independence day everyone. Happy Fourth of July.