Other Pages

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stage Presence

Directors and other actors have told me that I have good "stage presence." I think they mean that I have good posture.

In the book, "The Warlock In Spite Of Himself," Christopher Stasheff wrote, "Put tights and a cape on a man, and he begins to strut." Having already spent a couple of years in the SCA, I had to agree.

From that day forward, whenever I wanted a boost of confidence, and to straighten my posture, I imagine wearing a cape and tights.

Psychologists have noticed that people gain a confidence boost, and a slight immunity to pain, by striking a "superhero pose:"  legs slightly more than shoulder-width apart, hands balled into fists, which are placed firmly on hips.  Chest our, shoulders back, chin up.

Terry Pratchett's character, Tiffany Aching, is given a virtual witch's hat by Granny Weatherwax.  She can't see the hat, but she knows when she's wearing it.

The point of all this is, you can psych yourself up, and it works.  

Put on that invisible cape.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Want A Glaive

My D&D group, stationed in Korea, has just watched the newly-released movie "Krull," and the guy playing the fighter is going gaga over the magical weapon featured in the film.  On the way out of the theater, he's badgering the DM.  This entire conversation is OOC.

[FIGHTER]  I want a Glaive!

[DM]  You're not proficient in polearm.

[FIGHTER] No, you know what I mean.  I want the large, flaring shirukin thing from the movie.  (He mimes throwing said weapon). ScreeeOWW!

[DM]  So let me get this straight.  You want me to give you a throwing star with five dagger blades, each of them about eight inches long, that will boomerang back to you whenever you miss?  And you don't see any downside to this?

[FIGHTER]  Hell yeah!  RAWR!

[DM]  You know you're going to lose half your fingers.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Princess Leia's Theme

Back in 1977, lo these many years ago, I bought a read an article in a Star Wars fanzine that lamented the plethora of off-shoot poorly-created fan work.  I don't recall much about the article - heck, maybe it was just a letter from a reader.  But I do recall that the writer bemoaned that "it won't be long before someone writes the words to Princess Leia's Theme."

And I thought, why the hell not?  And proceeded to do just that.

I'm going to share that with you, but don't get your hopes up - I mean, this is a 40-year old poem written by a 15-year-old boy pretending to understand a Princess' pov.  But first, a brief rant.

Why would anyone feel the need to put down fan endeavors?  It seems that this attitude has been around forever.  I applaud those I see speaking up against it lately - back then, it was all too easy to give up.  I shared this bit of doggerel with my best friend and then hid it.  I shared it with my wife and then hid it.  I don't even recall if I've shared it with my children yet.  Even now, I've no idea if I have the the right to presume.

But I'm sharing it anyway.  Because, if for no other reason, it's the only tribute I have for Carrie Fisher.  It's the only thank-you I have for other brave creators out there.  Nobody has to like it.  But I'm not sorry I wrote it.  I'm only sorry I didn't share it sooner.


When life is lost
By someone who's near
It hurts so much;
The price is too dear.
I must forget,
So painful to do.
I don't want to love,
Yet I want to love you.

We must go on,
Keep fighting or die.
Lives will be lost.
It won't help to cry.
There won't be time
For love 'till we're through
But if I could love
Then I would love you.

I'll raise my head.
I won't let them know
What a Princess feels.
Those feelings can't show.
I've built my walls.
I can't let you through.
I wish I could love
So I could  love you.

(you know, to the best of my knowledge, no one else ever wrote lyrics.  if they did, those are probably better.  if anyone wants to record these, though, i'd love to hear it)

(Oh, yeah... copyright John L. Payton)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 30 Pedlarisms

While grating cheese for tonight's pizza meal, my hand slipped and I nearly included some knuckle-skin with the mozzarella.  This got me to thinking about the Pedlarisms, which have not crossed my mind in years.

Our 2001 production of Apology for a Pedlar was, as far as I know, the last stage production of Rodney Whitaker's thesis work.  Whitaker went on to publish several best-sellers under the pen name Trevanian, but Pedlar he published as Nicholas Seare.  I loved this book in college, and when we got the chance to put it on stage I jumped for it.  Robin directed, even though I was originally slated for that job, because we needed more men on stage than we had, and I hate the idea of directing and acting at the same time.

Our Pedlar had some trouble with the lines, which was rather unfortunate considering that the character is primarily described as a wordsmith.  His words are supposed to roll trippingly from the tongue, but often he'd trip over them instead.

In spite of the obstacles, and a few sour memories, I'd love to do this show again.  I think that my agreement with Whitaker would allow it.

My good friend Gus, who played Rapin (the seneschal of the castle) compiled the following list of verbal blunders, which I now share with you.


Here is, I think, the final list of Pedlarism from the 2001 production of
"Apology for a Pedlar." While some of these were deliberate screw-ups
committed during the brush-up rehearsal (a hallmark tradition of Act II),
most were entirely unintentional.

Very few of these made it to production, just enough to add a special taste
of fear to each night's performance.

Let me know if you think I should cc Trevanian - or even Act II - on this.
I'm sorely tempted on both counts.

And now, the top 30 Pedlarisms of 2001:

30. (Pedlar) "You're, like, some old bone croasting about a chastity belt"

29. (Thane) "I'll even throw in the peasant girl...for free"

28. (Thane) "...I'll sign the place right over to you..." (Then Rapin) "Piss off!"

27. (Pedlar) "Pray all abjure of pishing"

26. (Rapin) "To beat this rascal from the castle" "...with the pestle from the vessel...or the flagon with the dragon..."  "who has the next line?"

25. (Pedlar) "Thanks for the memories"

24. (Rapin) "Book 'im Festrel"

23. (Rapin) "I am sorry I heartily offended thee and I..."

22. (Pedlar) "Do you really want this cr-crep-crapusc-carpulent...What the hell does that mean, anyway?"

21. (Pedlar) "There's a girl upstairs, if you're of that inclination."

20. (Pedlar) "Don't get me wrong. I kinda admire you stickin' to your principles like that."

19. (Thane) "That doesn't prevent his name from being Eon."

18. (Thane) "I think you're cracked as a hooer's hymen."

17. (Thane) "It's praying and breastfeeding for me."

16. (Thane) "the sauce of our sadness...the cause of our lamentatious ah-nit-alls..."

15. (Pedlar) "Not diseased, madam, but...sick....to be sure..."

14. (several cast) "Uh...yeah...OK...whatever...."

13. (Pedlar) "And he, having waddled through life with careless steps..."

12. (Pedar) "It's no good leaving more nipple-skin on that greedy door."

11. (Pedlar) "I shall sing to lighten the spirits that have been amused within these walls."

10. (Pedlar) "Unclattered fools!"

9. (Kipance) "'Tis a difficult leader for a peasant step to take..."

8. (Mistress) "Now see here, Pedlar...er...you're a minstrel, aren't you?"

7. (Kipance) "Make sure the sword with which I am blunted is well-knighted."

6. (Pedlar) "Even now the clap is reaching the rim of the midnight bell."

5. (Pedlar) "We won't tribble over quifles." "No, wait...We won't...tribble over quifles."

4. (Pedlar) "The burden of the frau is upon us."

3. (Pedlar) "Wipe the furrowed ashes from your brows!"

2. (Pedlar) "I piddle and spin....diddle and spit...oh, damn..."

And the number one Pedlarism of 2001 is still:

1. (Pedlar) "Rapists will demand precedence over his diddler."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ginger Chicken

Haven't made this since my last trip to Rockaway Beach.  That was an accidental recipe -- I'd intended to use garlic and put in ginger by mistake.  I kept adding more and more, wondering why I was getting no garlic flavor.  By the time I figured it out, the tube was nearly empty.

My daughter asked for the same meal this week.  Here's what I put together from memory.

  • One tube of "fresh ginger."  They are in the refrigerated part of the produce section.  
  • About 3 lbs of chicken.  I used thigh meat, next time I'm using breast meat.
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 24 oz sugar snap pea pods
  • 16 oz portabella mushrooms
  • 36 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz parmesan cheese 

I used my large stew pot for this, it's about a 6 qt pot, because I'm lazy and like one-pot meals.

Melt half the butter with the onion and garlic.  Start the mushrooms soaking in water and white vinegar.  Cut the chicken into strips.

Add the chicken and stir-fry.  Add the turmeric, bouillon, and ginger.

Rinse the mushrooms and cut into large pieces.  Add these and the snap peas.  Cut the remaining butter into pats on top.  Cover and steam until the butter melts.

Add the cream cheese, lower the heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes to soften.

Stir until smooth.  Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 8 or maybe more.  Yes, I cook with the intent of leftovers.  Cut it back if you don't like this.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


It started happening sometime in middle school.  I saw someone on TV and I knew he was going to die. “Who’s that?” I asked.

“That’s ONLY Kurt Cobain,” my older sister answered, her voice dripping with scorn.  But by that time I was already distracted by the sudden overwhelming realization that the other person on the screen (Cobain’s wife, I later learned) was incredibly hot.

And four days later the lead singer of Nirvana had a bullet in his brain.

After that, these flashes of insight kept happening, although not with any kind of predictability.  I’d see someone, and get a strong feeling that they’d be dead soon.  Sometimes, it would be someone I saw on the street, sometimes on TV or the movie screen.  At first I tried telling my parents about it - that sure didn’t last long.  It was bad when they thought I was lying, but horrible when they started to think I wasn’t.

Once I got the feeling about my algebra teacher.  I faked flu symptoms for a week; I couldn’t face her every day knowing what was coming but not when or how.  Or why.  Mrs. Davidson was a favorite teacher.  She had a heart attack that Friday.  She was 43.

But that sick feeling was nothing compared to the time I got my “death sense” in the middle of a makeout session with Stacy Miller.  Stacy’s car got hit by drunk driver the next weekend.  After that, I kept to myself.  A lot.

I spent a lot of the time I wasn’t out having fun, on the computer.  This was early in the Internet, so there weren’t as many pictures (less chance of me seeing a lot of faces), but there were a lot of usenet groups.  Eventually I learned about dead pools.  Not the Marvel character - actual betting pools on when a certain celebrity was going to die.

Morbid?  You bet.  But for a second sibling with a meager allowance, college coming up soon, and a unique…talent…well, a big light bulb might as well have appeared above my head, is all I’m saying.
I started leafing through the magazines at the checkout counters, and in a couple of days had my first bet placed, for five bucks.  Six months later I was banned from most of the pools and had to start making fake account names.  Turns out nobody likes it when you’re never wrong.  I thought I was covering my tracks pretty good though.

I was wrong.

Summer after senior year, the summer I’m supposed to be having fun, getting ready to go off to college, I get this PGP-encrypted email.  When I opened it up, it looked like another dead pool, only I didn’t recognize any of the names on it.  A lot of them looked Russian, to me, anyway.  Okay, so somebody wants me to pick some Russian celebrity who’s gonna die.  I wrote back.  "I don’t know any of those guys. You got any faces to go with the names?“

In a few minutes, I get a picture for every name on the list, and there’s a number too…are those the payouts?  These numbers are huge!

I scrolled down the mail, and halfway through one of them set off my death sense.  Before I got to the end, another one.  I mailed in my picks, and forgot it.

And then six days later, there’s another PGP email, but this one says a lot more.
Incredible work. The boss compliments you.
Your fee is in the account listed below.
Change the password.

There were two links in the email.  One link lead to a news article about someone dying of food poisoning.  The other was about a guy killed in some prison fight.  Both of them were suspected of having ties to the freaking Russian Mafia.  There were pictures.  Both of them the guys I picked.
I checked the bank account, and learned that I was sitting on thousands.  More than my 18-year-old self knew what to do with, and it scared me.  But, what had I done, really?  I mean, betting in dead pools isn’t illegal.  So, I changed the account password.

By the time I started college, I figured out what was going on.  Whoever was sending these emails thought that they were hiring me for hit jobs.  They must have thought that I was really picky or something!  I’d get some names and faces once in a while, and if I got a tingle off one of them, somebody chokes on a chicken sandwich, then I got a payday, otherwise I’d just say, nah, not working this month.  Really, the hard part was figuring out how to enjoy having money without attracting attention.  I decided that pre-law and just might be a good plan for me.

What I’m saying here is, I had a pretty good freshman year.  I mean, yeah, I still didn’t socialize much, but by this time I was mostly okay with that, and the death was kind of…removed.
Then one final email arrived from my mysterious benefactor.
Lay low. There’s a contract on you.
A contract.  On me.  No, this couldn’t be real.  In a daze, I shuffled to the bathroom and flicked on the light, caught my reflection in the mirror.  And screamed. 

Mom, Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t try harder to tell you all this when I was younger.  I want you to know that I’m going to try to fight it.  I’ve bought a fake ID, a gun, a fast car, and emptied that account.  I kept some money, enough for a week of running.  You should get a wire with the rest soon.

 I checked all your pictures.  You and Sis are all okay.  For at least seven days.  Love you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Not The Same

Something I'd like people to think about when they start to think that both political parties are the same.

Only one party is pushing voter ID laws.

Only one party is closing down polling sites.

Only one party is purging the lists of registered voters.

Both are guilty of gerrymandering, but one is much, much better at it.

Only one party is trying to limit voting hours.

Only one party is trying to limit or even eliminate early voting.

Only one party has a standing court order forbidding them from sending out private poll watchers to intimidate voters-- and only one candidate is trying to do exactly that.

In short, my friends, one party - the Republican party - absolutely hates it when you vote.  The representatives of that party do everything in their power to nullify elections that to not go their way, to block the elected representatives of any party other than their own. 

And that should give you pause.