I Don’t Need a Boat.

 

When discussing something or other, I often say, “I don’t need a boat. I need a friend with a boat.” This is terribly true. I neither want the responsibility nor the burden of owning a boat, y’all. But if a friend has taken on all that accompanies possessing a water craft, then I am more than happy to appreciate that person’s kindness in allowing me to enjoy their boat. Of course this extends to all sorts of things. And I am grateful for the blessings of my friends’ lives, and for their generosity. So much of what I get to do in this world is due to various friends and their willingness to share their blessings with me. Yes – I am a lucky gal.

 

A couple of nights ago I was invited to a screening of “Judy” and while I thought it might be okay, I had no idea what I was in for. The film is just lovely and heartbreaking and informative and beautiful and powerful and… I could go on, but I won’t, except to add this: When every single person around you – female and male – is crying because of how good a film is, you have won. Period.

 

Renee Zellweger

 

The friend who invited me out for the screening is a member of the SAG Nominating Committee. The Screen Actors Guild is responsible for the SAG Awards, which will be in January of 2020. The Nominating Committee, as I understand it, will, well, nominate individuals and groups of actors for the SAG Awards. Because this was an industry thing, Renee Zellweger, who stars in “Judy,” was on-hand for a Q&A after the film. And she was pretty cool. Down-to-earth, honest – she made quite the impression on me and I find myself with a newfound respect for her as an actor.

 

I got to enjoy that night out because a friend shared her privilege with me. I don’t need a boat. I’ve got friends. So yeah – I really am a lucky gal.

Bad Ad

 

 

I’m working on a show right now, based on historic archives (some pieces 125 years old!), and I’ve got writing on the brain. Some things as simple as emails to actors are being handled and I pore over each mission more than you can imagine. Do I make mistakes? Yes, yes, and yes. And that is why I first send the text of said emails to my cohort in this endeavor. I always hope I’ve caught my own errors before letting a missive fly, but just in case, I want my buddy’s eagle-eyed opinion each and every time. Not only might she flag an obvious error, but she may have a much better way of getting a point across. As The Temptations sang, I ain’t too proud to beg. Collaboration is a beautiful thing, y’all.

 

I’m telling you this because not everyone is open to letting someone else proof their work. And as Fats Domino sang, ain’t that a shame

 

Bad Ad

I Said Yes

 

Max and Trust

 

So much has been going on, and nothing at all has been going on. That’s how life rolls sometimes. For me, it seems that’s how it rolls most of the time.

 

All the same, my intentions of sharing things with you have been patiently waiting for me to get my ass in gear. As it’s now officially Summer, I feel the day should be treated with a modicum of reverence. To serve those feelings, I give you a glimpse or two into my world…

 

Vidalias

 

I’m making my way through 20 pounds of Vidalia onions. And I’m enjoying every damned one.

 

Tomatoes

 

We’re also starting to get some tomatoes from our little plants. I call them little, but a couple of the plants are at least 8 feet high and still growing. I don’t understand it any more than you. But I’m not complaining, because all the gods know there’s nothing as good as homegrown tomatoes, y’all.

 

Props Only

 

I worked on a film set for the first time in ages. It was a one-day shoot and I ended up dealing mostly with props. I declared myself to be the day’s Ice Cream Wrangler. Someone had to do it. It reminded me of how much goes on behind the scenes, work that will never be shown or seen. I respect the hell out of the professionals who make cinematic art. Because I got to be a part of this particular shoot, with such lovely people, I enjoyed the day more than I can express.

 

View From LACMA - Deathstar

 

I attended a crazy-cool happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Throughout the exhibit space of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile, various musicians roamed about, improvising and collaborating to create soundscapes based on the work and the moment. It was trippy and, in some instances, inspired. Once I’d absorbed as much of the evening as I could, I walked outside and spotted work on the adjacent Death Star. It’s not really the Death Star. It’s architect Renzo Piano’s ambitious new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s sure to be astounding, once it’s finished. But I have no doubt it will always be called the Death Star. As it should be.

 

Drinking Cask Ale Makes Me...

 

I also went to the kick-off event for L.A. Beer Week. I was a fish, I was. And I was happy about it, too. (Baker Jen is responsible for the sticker I’m wearing in the above photo. She’s cool like dat.)

 

Baby Hummingbirds

 

Baby hummingbirds got hatched, grew and have already flown away. Little Mama had built the nest and was keeping it warm before we even realized what was going on. Once those babies made their debut, they were in high-gear. They were only there a couple of weeks and then they were gone. Nature. Who knew?

 

Michael Watkins, Director of JPL & Me

 

I got my geek on at JPL‘s open house. When I spotted the dude shown above, I didn’t hesitate to embarrass myself. That’s Dr. Michael Watkins, the director of JPL and a rock star of the science world. Yes – I am that person. I do indeed nerd out for brains.

 

The Liza Minnelli Room at Feinstein's at Vitello's

 

And then there was this week. I was getting some exercise and passed by a place I’ve been many times. It’s a restaurant with an upstairs club. (The restaurant played into Robert Blake’s wife’s infamous murder. Yeah.) I walked past and doubled back. The upstairs club had a new name: Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. As in Michael Feinstein. I wasn’t sure when that had happened, so when I got home I looked on the interwebz and saw that last weekend was the official grand opening of the supper club. I also saw that Michael Feinstein himself had provided the entertainment during the grand opening, with a little help from his friend, Miss Liza Minnelli. Da fuh? I missed that show, which was a shame. But I saw that Melissa Manchester was set to perform during the week, and tickets were still available. I grew up loving that gal. As I sat at my computer, thinking about whether or not I could justify laying out the dough for a ticket, I realized I was singing her songs. I remembered the lyrics, I remembered the tunes. I bit the bullet and bought myself a seat for the show.

 

As I was flying solo that night, I had no idea where I’d be seated or with whom. When I checked in with the hostess, she asked if I was meeting anyone and I told her no. She asked for my name, which I provided, and she said, “Well Mikki – you’re about to make some friends.” Then she led me to a table where 3 men were already seated and engaged in conversation. The hostess said, “Gentlemen – this is Mikki. Mikki – this is Troy, Steven and Max.” She walked away, I sat down, and the 4 of us commenced to talking.

 

I’m a friendly gal and I’m generally a pretty good gauge of people’s decency. But I don’t rush into getting to know people and I don’t give out my digits all willy-nilly. I’m a fairly private person and I’m okay with that. So it was rather surprising to find myself having a mature, honest and soulful conversation with those 3 guys. And it wasn’t just me. They seemed to recognize that something unique was happening as well. The 4 of us were engaging in the manner of old friends. It was lovely. It was refreshing. It was crazy.

 

And the show? I don’t know what to tell you. Melissa Manchester took the stage, began her first song of the evening, and I started crying. (Gentle, happy tears, mind you.) And I smiled and cried right through to the end of the show. Her voice is as resonant and sonorous as ever. She is a beautiful performer. She kind of blew my mind.

 

Miss Liza Minnelli

 

It turned out that Michael Feinstein was also in the audience. So was Miss Liza Minnelli. That’s her in the hat, barely visible in the center of the above photo. Though you can’t tell from this pic, she was as cute as a fucking button. For reals.

 

Melissa Manchester and Troy

 

After the show, my new pals and I stayed for a meet and greet. That’s Troy with Melissa Manchester.

 

Melissa Manchester and Me

 

And that’s me with her. When you meet an idol, your glee just about cracks your face.

 

So many things that pop up in life require an answer. A lot of the time I say No. And let’s be honest – No is often the correct answer. But not always. Sometimes life invites me to say Yes. And sometimes I do. When I decided to go to that Melissa Manchester show, I didn’t know what the night might hold. I only knew that the kid in me really wanted to see one of my vocal heroes. I didn’t know she would be amazing. I didn’t know I was going to experience a sincere connection with 3 strangers. I didn’t know the 4 of us would be texting one another and trying to plan a get-together in a few months time. I didn’t know I would come away from the night as a better version of myself. Someone whose skin fit a little more than it did the day before.

 

The Stalkers

 

But that’s exactly what I got. Magic. All because I said Yes.

Don’t Change

 

Mikki - Blurred

 

In 1983 or ’84 – I don’t remember which – I was in an elevator, riding to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. How I wound up there is basic: family vacation. I was a teenager in high school and family vay-cays were part of the drill. (I may or may not have been wasted. I honestly don’t remember.)

 

But I digress… Those elevators were freaking fast, even then. But I still had time to read the back of the t-shirt of one of my fellow Sears Tower elevator riders. It was from a concert tour: INXS. And there were the full lyrics (or so I assumed), to “Don’t Change.” Despite the lift’s speed, I was able to read all the text on that t-shirt’s back, the complete lyrics to a song I’d never heard by a band I didn’t know.

 

Cut to last night. I was watching “120 Minutes” on the MTV and the video for “Don’t Change” came on. (I may or may have been wasted. I honestly don’t care to tell you.) In the video, those baby-faced INXS mates looked as young as I probably did when I stood in that elevator reading the back of that stranger’s shirt, all those years ago. And the lyrics were as fabulous last night as they were then .

 

I think I’m molting, friends. At least that’s the pleasant way I’m choosing to see it. And shedding one’s skin to make way for growth is absolutely wonderful. But don’t kid yourself. There will always be parts of you that remain. And those parts are a gift from all the gods. Maybe it’s watching the end of “Romper Room” and waiting in vain to hear your name called as the sweet lady host looks in her mirror and announces the names of all she can see. Maybe it’s running to secure a seat during your very first concert at a general admission venue (Blondie, by the way), and your best friend losing one of her shoes and you yelling, “Leave it!” while tugging at her hand. Or maybe it’s an elevator ride, and liquid poetry that stays with you for all time, since before you heard its tune. There are parts of us that endure, no matter what.

 

And honestly, would you really want to change those parts of yourself?

 

Me, neither.

 

Mikki in Party Mode

Intersections

 

Bathing Beauties

 

Mister and I recently watched “Marwencol” and it left me, well, fucked up.

 

For those who don’t know, this 2010 documentary is about Mark Hogancamp and the world he has created. He was just an ordinary dude until some assholes beat the crap out of him. After that, Hogancamp found he had lost his memory. It’s far more detrimental and detailed than I’m telling (so please go to the link above and read for yourself), but the documentary is quite lovely in explaining the story. It also gives the viewer an eye into the art Hogancamp is now known for making. There’s a new drama out currently (“Welcome to Marwen“), based on Hogancamp’s story, but I’ve not seen it. I got lucky. I was at a different fabulous documentary screening last month (“Kusama: Infinity“) and the director advised attendees to see “Marwencol” before seeing the dramatization. Boy was she right.

 

But back to the fucked-up part. “Marwencol” is amazing. The intersection of art, real life and fantasy shown in the film overwhelmed me. I want to say it was a good thing, but I’m not sure. I mean – it really rattled my brain, y’all. It led me to see that I don’t have much of a clue about the intersections of my own life. That even though I try to stay on my path, I am lost more often than I care to admit. That my path doesn’t come with a map. “Marwencol” hit me pretty hard. I’m working through the triggered feelings, but I think this might stay with me for a while.

 

In trying to ease my mind and soul along, I thought maybe I should take in some art, live and in-person. So I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I freaking love this place. It’s quite accessible and a gal can get through the displayed collection in one outing. I’ve been there a few times recently, and my affection for the place continues to grow.

 

"Tiptoe Down to Art" by Hassel Smith - 1950

 

On this day, my soul fell into a painting and I needed to sit for a while. Hassel Smith’s “Tiptoe Down to Art” grabbed hold and I was done for. The colors seemed to hold me, warmly. The texture stroked my spirit. I spent a good twenty minutes studying this piece and I’m quite certain I still missed obvious aspects. I wish I could tell you why it moved me so, but I have no idea. It simply did. I smiled some, cried some. And when I stood to go, I looked over my shoulder, one last time. I may have to visit it again.

 

"Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece" by Guariento di Arpo - 1344

 

I was listening to music while walking around the museum, and when I got to Guariento di Arpo’s “Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece,” I again found I needed to sit. This time it was Laura Cantrell’s fault. Her song – “Bees” – came through my ear buds and it zapped me. Though the song/album is dedicated to John Peel, I found it astounding how well-suited the lyrics were to the various panels of di Arpo’s work. My eyes moved over the piece, settling on a new aspect with each line of the song. At some point, I actually imagined Jesus missing bees. I’m not kidding. With the song’s final words, “My time is short now, I feel it coming, I’ll see you darling on the other side,” I looked up and saw Jesus on a cross and was awed by the meshing. I was in that shit and it was powerful. When the song ended, I took it as my cue to mosey.

 

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just wandering around. I also wasn’t listening for anything in particular. The playlist keeping me company holds close to 200 songs and was set to random play. It wasn’t odd or even interesting that a Dido song came up in the rotation. Except that it was. For just as the song began, I rounded a corner and saw this…

 

The Legend of Dido

 

The exhibit was lovely. It had nothing to do with the music in my ears, but it made me smile. The gods enjoy a little humor from time to time. This time it was relatively banal, but it was appreciated just the same.

 

After a while, I walked out to the garden. I figured it was my last chance to get some clarity. I searched, but found none.

 

"Reclining Figure" by Henry Moore - 1956-60

 

“Marwencol” really did a number on me. Good art is like that. Sometimes we are centered enough to understand its effects. Sometimes not. I’m feeling a mixture of both right now and may be dealing with the resonance for some time. There’s a lot of life swirling in my mind and in my soul. That’s just who I am. How I am. It’s true I don’t have a map. I often don’t have a clue. But I keep going. That’s also who I am, how I am. I can’t imagine being any other way.

Half In The Dark

 

Just a quick catch-up… Sorry. Sometimes I find I have John Oliver on the brain. (If that makes no sense, too bad for you.)

 

Aretha Franklin. For a while now, I’ve been drunk on her version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Now it seems more poignant. More important. And I adore it.

 

Because I love, love, love Kate Bush, the gods gave me this video of Big Boi, referencing her work. Right to the end, it is everything I love about music and how it can (and should) be universal.

 

I’m stuck on repeat of a playlist of mostly ’80s songs and it’s fortifying my soul. I will never apologize nor regret it. Same for a playlist of slow jams. Both lists go damn well with a glass by my side.

 

I recently finished a first draft of – something. Maybe it’s a book, maybe not. Today, I just don’t know. I’m just giving it some breathing room and trying to love me for getting it out at all.

 

I’ve started writing songs again. (Well – I’ve started writing a song – singular.) That’s a big freaking deal. Honestly – I love me for that, too.

 

Looking over this list, I see a lot of love present. Hmm. The world can jack me up sometimes. So I hide. Okay. But I can’t hide from me.

 

It’s good to be back, even if I’m still half in the dark.

 

Hallelujah.

 

Shadows

So Long, Mr. Dorough

Bob Dorough – the man responsible for some of the music of my childhood – has died.

 

If you grew up watching classic School House Rock cartoons, you know the work of Mr. Dorough. Here’s a list compiled by Jen Chaney at Vulture. It’s a swell stroll down memory lane.

 

Later in life, I came to know the jazz music of Bob Dorough and each time I heard one of those songs, I smiled. Here’s a tune he did with Miles Davis. It comes up on my personal playlist most every year. “Old Devil Moon” bent to Dorough’s will and can’t be unheard, once visited. Take that any way you want, but know that I intend it with a loving smile.

 

I’m so grateful I had the benefit of knowing Bob Dorough’s work. I probably wouldn’t have memorized the preamble without him, and to this day, when I count by 3s, it’s his voice I hear. I say “3 is a magic number” all the danged time. And I have Bob Dorough to thank for that.

 

Here’s hoping Dorough, Blossom Dearie and Miles Davis are making great music together, in infinity.

Lost In a Living Dance

 

Spring has sprung, people. It’s hit near 90 degrees already and since 80 is the new 70, I expect to be getting the vapors any minute now. Such is life in La-La Land.

 

OMD at The Wiltern

 

Anyhoo – I’ve got music on the brain! And here are the 3 creatives holding my attention of late…

 

OMD – This one is easy, because Mister and I just saw them live. I had seen them back in the ’80s, but this was Mister’s first OMD concert. They did not disappoint, y’all, and I think they were just as good as when I saw them – gulp – over 30 years ago. So giving to their audience, so appreciative of being able to do what they clearly love, such camaraderie on that stage. It was a real treat to see them.

 

Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel – This one is easy, too, because Janelle Monae is so friggin’ awesome, I can hardly stand it. I’ve been listening to this song on a loop and I’m still not over it. Now before anyone says something about her trying to emulate Prince, know that this is a song honoring His Purple Highness, and Prince was a mentor of sorts to Ms. Monae. Rumors abound that Prince was even involved with this track before his death. Whatever the truth may be on that one, I do believe Prince would have been proud of this song and of Janelle Monae. I love the song. I love her. Mean it.

 

Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland – Copland, as creator of this beautiful music, may very well be my favorite composer. (Like colors, my mind changes on this fave from whim to whim and today Mr. Copland is tops.) This suite of music has moved me from curiosity to joy to blubbering, on more than one occasion. When I listen to it, I usually find myself seeking solitude at some point, so that I can cry in isolation. It is that perfect. Since the calendar rolled over to this new season, I haven’t yet allowed myself the privilege of hearing it anew. That time has come.

 

It will probably take a while for me to get Janelle Monae out of my system. And then I’ll surely return to it from time to time, just as I do the works of OMD and Copland’s masterpiece. That’s one of the great pleasures of music – renewal. It comes around in our lives and even though we’ve known each note for years, it feels and sounds fresh. Alive. New. Pretty much like spring itself. I am lost in a living dance…

 

Spring in Los Angeles

Strangers

 

Love

 

During the month of February, 12 years ago, I sold my first CD to a stranger. I know this because it was such a pleasant surprise, at the time, that I scribbled a note about it in my then-current calendar. When it came time to transfer significant dates to the next year’s calendar (things like International Talk Like a Pirate Day and Tom Baker‘s birthday), I took that little note along. And I’ve done so each year since.

 

I just got an accounting of digital music sales and it was lovely. Not for the money (of which there was barely enough for a beer), but for the information contained in the report. Canada, Japan, the UK – all were shown as places of downloads of my little songs. It really made me smile and reminded me of that day, 12 years ago, when someone I never met paid for my musical art. My heart really needed that boost this week. And I’m so grateful the world gifted me with that sweet energy.

 

Though the world doesn’t know it, I still carry dreams and ambitions for music. I have plans (that shall remain private for now), I have hopes. I have many new songs. I have the soul of a creator. Denying it doesn’t change the fact. It only gets me down. So I don’t deny it. I own it. I practice voice training and work on songs. I paint things I want to look at. I weld art for my own home. I cook good food to savor and share. I create, when and where I can. If I don’t, my soul shrinks. That’s no good for me, and when I’m not good to myself, I’m of little use in the world. And just as I cannot deny my need for the best me I can be, I also cannot deny the fact that the world needs me to show up every day. To be a good human. A good citizen. A good artist. You know what I’m talking about, I imagine, because you know that the world needs you, too. Desperately.

 

So – this month. I endeavor to move toward creativity, with kindness and purpose. I endeavor to love deeply. I endeavor to be the best me I can. And I do it with gratitude for the global souls – strangers – who have reminded me how it feels to be appreciated. My heart overflows…

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas in Hollywood

 

I have never understood why “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is considered a holiday song. The mere mention of snowflakes hardly seems reason enough to qualify, but the song is about to be all over the danged place, now that it’s December, so I am obviously wrong in my thinking.

 

Anyhoo – I thought I’d share a few of my own favorite things to kick off the last month of the year. Bear in mind that if you ask me next week, my list will probably change. But this is today. And these are some of the things I’m digging on…

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Squares

 

Squares. I’ve been crocheting all kinds of 9-inch squares to be made into blankets for women undergoing serious treatments at a local hospital. I don’t know how to knit, so I crochet. I don’t really know how to properly crochet either, so the squares turn out a little janky sometimes. That’s okay. It’s all done with good intentions and love, and I like to think those sentiments outweigh my lack of skill. I will likely never meet any of the recipients of the assembled blankets, and that’s okay, too. Doing something for others without accolades is ridiculously fulfilling. I highly recommend it.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Pearls

 

Pearls. I don’t own real pearls, but I do have a few strands of fake beauties. I wear them all the time and someone always comments about how they wish they’d thought to wear their own pearls. The large plastic baubles seen here are especially dear to me. I got them when I was 15 years old. I was at a thrift store in Griffin, GA, and when I spotted these, I knew they were destined to be mine. I can’t remember the price, but they were either fifteen or thirty-five cents. Either way, it was a bargain and I’m still smitten.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Sunsets

 

Sunsets. We’ve been having some real doozies lately and I’m loving them. I take as many photos as I can, for painting references. The thing about sunsets is they’re so spectacular, if I were to paint them, no one would believe it. They’re beyond anything I could come up with on a canvas, and yet I desperately wish I could capture some of what I see in the sky. I try, anyway. And I fail. And then I try again.

 

Mister! Mister!

 

Mister. He pretty much makes the list, no matter when. But it’s still nice to actually like the guy. And for some strange reason, he continues to come home every day. To me. I’m no picnic, y’all, and I know that he could change his mind about this whole till-death-do-us-part business and decide to mosey elsewhere in life. (It could happen.) So I appreciate whatever time I get with the fella. It counts. A lot.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - First Christmas Card of the Season

 

The first Christmas Card of the Year. I always marvel that we continue to receive cards each December! Some of that awe comes from the fact that we occasionally don’t send squat, and reciprocity would dictate not receiving anything in return. But come December, that first card arrives and I start grinning. This year’s first-of-the-season greeting was from our mail carrier. She wanted to let us know that she was retiring.  I’ve liked that gal and she’ll be missed. But life keeps going (if we’re lucky and a cheet-o in a slumpy suit doesn’t get us all killed). So I wish our now former mail carrier the best as she embarks on the next part of her journey.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

Friends. The Social Season is in full-swing and I’m already tired. Grateful, but tired. Maybe it’s age, but I am in the throes of deep appreciation for my friends. I, like a lot of folks, know scads of people. But friends, well, that’s another matter. Having friends in one’s life – people we can call on in emergencies or times of need – is a blessing. I don’t get to see these friends nearly enough. But when I do, I catch myself smiling more than usual. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of how much I care for them there folk. What a gift.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas CDs

 

Christmas Music. Even though I don’t get the song referenced in this post’s title being a Christmas song, I still really like when all that great music rolls around. Mister and I have drawers full of Christmas CDs, and will likely add another to the mix this year. It takes a near Herculean effort just to get through them during the month of December. And that is why, Mister, we’ll start listening to them today. I really can’t believe I have to explain my reasons for this year after year, but since you seem to forget from one December to the next, Mister, consider this a written explanation. But I digress… Some songs are loved more than others, naturally, and I’m pretty excited to hear them. Yeah, sure – I may still be wearing flip-flops throughout the month, but a gal can dream. And my dreams are currently taking place in a winter wonderland. Where the soundtrack rules.

 

We’ve got 31 days left in this year, friends. Let’s make it count. I intend to live those days with some of my favorite things keeping me company. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put on my fake pearls, load the car with a few good Christmas CDs, drop off some crocheting to be donated, visit with friends and pick up a Christmas tree with Mister and get home before sunset to start decorating the tree and stringing up the holiday card display. I may throw some Barb’s Boozy Eggnog into the mix. Why not? I’ve got to shake a tail feather though, as those flip-flops don’t do much in the way of keeping my feet warm after the sun goes down.