Sunday, October 25, 2009

OPH (Other People's Homecoming)

This has been a really wonderful weekend. (I've had several of those recently, and hope to bring the blog up-to-date on a least some of them sometime soon).

I spent Friday afternoon and evening driving home from Kentucky. The trip was pretty pedestrian with the exception of the magnificent fall colors and the discovery that there is a Chic-Fil-A merely a mile or so off of my normal route, in New Albany, IN.

Friday evening (which turned too quickly into Saturday morning) was spent with MU fans at a friend's house, drinking, playing games and generally having a fun time. I knew most of the people there, and was very pleased to make some new friends, too. Apparently, Tracy also discovered that there are a number of gay men, straight women, and gay women willing to take me if she ever abandons ship. It appears I still have some work to do with the straight man demographic.

Saturday evening found us at the CMU game in Fayette, seated next to the school President (very passionate about the game) and the new Athletic Director. (I have known Dick for a while, as he is the husbsand of Tracy's boss. He's pretty funny. At CMU's homecoming, shortly after he was hired, he told me "I'm pretty sure I've got most of the NAIA regs down . . . one of the guys from '85 told me he still has a year of eligibility left, so I'm going to let him play tomorrow . . " CMU played well, but lost. Afterwards, we went to the DQ in Fayette, which was having a 50%-off-of-everything-customer-appreciation sale. We ate big. We also saw a lot of kids from the school, and it made me glad that I had done the operetta the last couple of summers so that I would know so many of them.

This morning was church, and Keith gave what I though was a really good sermon, including telling members of the church to quit living in debt. It was pretty powerful. After that, Mom and Dad took us to lunch, and we had a good time. To end the afternoon, Tracy and I went grocery shopping and have had a tasty dinner with a lot of vegetables. It's just been a very enjoyable, relatively social time.

So, I hope all of my MU friends had a great weekend, despite the loss, and I hope all of my KC improv friends (and Jill Bernard) had a great time at the Roving Imp's Impfest -- I'm sorry we couldn't be there, but I'm sure it was great.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where You Should Be Saturday

Saturday night I will be competing in an improv show in Kansas City: Improv Thunderdome. Come to it, and vote for my team, Team No. Nine. Do it because you like me, or do it because we are awesome. Either reason counts.

Both my team and the entire show should be excellent. I get to play with Trish Berrong (who introduced me to good improv 15 years ago), Nick Rigoli (a dear and funny friend from ComedyCity who has a unique stage presence and an understanding of language that will blow you away) and Erik Johnson (who has a greater understanding of performance than I could ever hope to know). The other two teams each have players that would be worth seeing in any context, but particularly in this competitive form.

So, come see us. Good times. Full info below

Presented by

Season four journeys BEYOND Thunderdome. Thirty-six local improvisers were selected to participate in a random draft to create nine teams of four. Below are the results and schedule.


(Jeremy Danner, Bob Dusin, Sean Hogge & Jim Sturgill)
(Trish Berrong, Erik Johnson, Steve Jones & Nick Rigoli)
(Jared Brustad, Rob Grabowski, Wade Meredith & Jessica Robins)

Westport Coffeehouse Theater, 4010 Pennsylvania
8pm (Doors open at 7:30pm)
Tickets are $10.00
Call 913-375-5168 for reservation

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trip to Tulsa

Tracy and I are headed to Tulsa and I'm trying to post pictures. Feel free to follow along at .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

15 Books

This is a Facebook thingy, but I think it says enough about me that I'm posting it here, too.

Okay, I've been tagged by a lot of these. So, I made the list in 15 minutes, but I've taken a lot longer to explain why each is here. I'm not tagging anyone, but it will be here to look at if you want to see it. I have also ignored the rule about the Bible. It totally counts.

The rules, which I have mostly ignored:
Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, including me. (I sent this to you because I really am curious what books you have read that have stuck with you. Oh, and the Bible doesn't count!

1. The Holy Bible by God and others
As a whole, it's a great handbook for faith; broken into its constituent parts, there are good and bad works of literature. Oh, boy, but the good is so very good, and is amplified by its insinuation into popular culture.

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
I started to include the entire Chronicles of Narnia here, but I decided against it. I've enjoyed the series, but it is the first book that has always been with me. It is one of the first “grown-up” books (that is, a book with paragraphs and relatively few pictures) I remember reading. I think I have always known it as a Christian allegory, but it is so much more – every child wants to walk into a new world, doesn't he? And doesn't every adult? The adult has just been trained to believe it won't happen.

3. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
This is a wonderful piece of historical fiction by Michael Crichton that tells the tale of a convoluted plan to rob a train in Victorian England. In true Crichton fashion it features a handful of characters bound together by a stressful situation. It features terrific storytelling. It is rare for me to read books more than once (although nearly every book in this list is an exception); I've probably read The Great Train Robbery a dozen times since I was 10 and it is always within arm's reach of the bed.

4. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman
Physicist Richard Feynman's wonderful autobiography is full of omitted truths and included lies. I've read more accurate biographies of Feynman, but they are not nearly so interesting as his own retelling of his life. I was given this book in elementary school, and I think it was the thing that let me know it was okay to apply one's intelligence to try to be an interesting person.

5. The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations by Ellen Conford
When I was entering seventh grade, I could not have been more freaked out. That was probably due to great fears of girls, dancing, social interaction and gym class. My sister, 8 years my senior, did two things for me to try to quell these fears. First, she told me “no one actually dances at dances. When they do, you can pony to anything.” I have found this to be true, and my skills have never moved beyond those of Charlie Brown. The second thing she did was give me a copy of this book. It's about a high school sophomore and her year of school. It is dated – it was written in 1976 – but helped me recognize that there would probably be some other people at school who were uncomfortable, too. It also taught me that in social interactions, bluffing is half the battle.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Great American Novel. The Book That Made Me Want To Be a Lawyer. The Book That Became The Play That Made Me Apply To Law School. Every Lawyer Wants to Be Atticus.

7. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
My sister (remember my sister? She got me through middle school) gave me her copy of this book not too long after it was released in English in 1983. She was extremely optimistic – I was a precocious lad, but the Italian translated to English with more than a sprinkling of Latin was a bit much for me. Until high school. I picked it up again, and fell in love with it. It's a classic detective story placed in a monastery. It mixes history, mystery, philosophy and religion in wonderful ratios. And it involves what I consider to be one of the greatest and most important topics in history – the laughter of Jesus. The friends I have who admit to reading Eco have told me (to a person) that they prefer Foucault's Pendulum. I've enjoyed that work as well, but it lacks the mystical quality that The Name of The Rose holds for me.

8. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
The great historical novel of the 80s that changed how writers thought about historical figures and how they could be integrated into fiction. It's also an excellent musical.

9. The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
A children's book which I didn't read (because it wasn't written) until I was an adult. Konigsburg beautifully captures what I recall as being the interactions within an “Academic Bowl”-style environment.

10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This is one of those books that I avoided reading because of its heft and its “classic” status. I don't think I read it until after college. But it was totally worth the wait. A story with war, spying, romance, hangings, faith, loyalty, international intrigue and an opening passage that is architecturally gorgeous. [As I am writing this, I am watching a documentary about a Harvard – Yale football game. I as I wrote the words “opening passage,” Tommy Lee Jones said “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Freaky.]

11. On Writing by Stephen King
I am a bit startled that the only author to make it on this list twice is Stephen King. But he has earned it. I have read a LOT of “how to write” books, by nobodys and somebodys alike. But King's is the one that I recommend without exception. He gives concrete advice – make this list, write for this long, study these things – that aren't necessary to being a good writer, but which certainly couldn't hurt. I find them to be excellent rules to begin with and to vary from as needed. The book was a gift from my father.

12. Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
Although I read a lot of Twain growing up, I didn't read this work until law school. I had a terrific Law and Literature course that had nothing to do with the practice of law and everything to do with the practice of law, was the one law school course I had taught by not-legal faculty, and the one I enjoyed more than any other. The quarterback of my high school football team was named Kelly Wilson and it took me far too long to figure out why his nickname was “Pudd'n.” This book, too, is a detective/mystery novel as well as (like so much Twain) a commentary on racism. I wrote about 4 good things in law school and the paper I wrote on this book was the only really good one. I was also given a copy of this by my grandmother a few years before she died. That association probably is why this book is in this list.

13. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
These books were about the only fiction I read in law school, and I genuinely credit them for helping keep me sane. Rowling's use of language is delicious. The Deathly Hallows is my favorite, but only because it had so much potential to be disappointing and it wasn't.

14. The Black Tower series by Stephen King
This is a series of seven books written by Stephen King, but they are fantasy rather than horror. When I was in high school, I read some Stephen King, and I liked his writing but not his genre. Then I discovered his Richard Bachman stories (books a little less horror-y than his normal stuff, and written under a pen name), which I really enjoyed. Then I re-discovered the first book of the Black Tower series, The Gunslinger. I had been given a copy in Junior High, and had never picked it up. But armed with the new appreciation for King, I read it and devoured it. It took me another 20 years to read the rest of them (and King nearly as long to write them). The series tells the tale of an alternate universe that intertwines with ours, and of a hero who is a cross between a gunfighter and a knight. It covers a lot of territory over the seven books, including King making himself an integral character to the plot. The world(s) and characters are extremely vivid. This, I believe, is the only book that permeates my dreams. I awaken having had intense discussions with the characters. Forced to choose a favorite from this group, I will go with the fourth, Wizard and Glass.

15. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
I listened to this book several months ago, and I don't think a day has gone by when I haven't thought about some element of it. I picked up the CDs at the library and listened to the first few minutes of it, and almost put it away. I'm so glad I didn't. It's a recent novel that tells the story of a pregnant grad student who returns to her familiar home in Templeton, New York. The town of Templeton is the authors' version of and homage to Cooperstown. The story is filled with rich characters, funny beats, great images, and it creates a very satisfying whole.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Home Again

Belated Birthday

This is a bit after-the-fact, but I wanted to thank everyone for their warm birthday wishes, and for the great day I had. My birthday was on a Friday, and it was the opening night (of 2) of the operetta I was performing in at Fayette -- Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. I had court in the morning, and lunch with friends from the office.

I had a lot of friends post messages on Facebook, and that was really moving. I forget that I have so many neat people in my life, and I need to do a better job of staying personally connected with them.

When I arrived at the theater (a little late), there was a beautiful cake that Tracy had brought over, and the cast and crew sang to me and we shared the confection, hoping that it wouldn't clog our chords. It was early enough that there were no issues. The show went well, and was well-received by the audience. From the audience, I had several treats. First, Will and Jason from the office came. It was really nice to have someone from my professional world see me perform. I think they had just enough to drink before the show to keep them fully entertained. There was also a group from Gumbo Bottoms there ( We were only 36 hours away from starting a week of brush-up rehearsals before a show in Jefferson City, and it was really nice to see those familiar faces. (And hear their voices laughing). My Mom was there, and she and Dad also came for the second run.

Finally, I had the wonderful surprise of a woman coming out of the blue and introducing herself as having been one of my English professors at CMU. Of course, I see a lot of my old professors at CMU, but she left for MU a couple of years (maybe just one) after I graduated, so I hadn't seen her since. She was very patient with me as a student who was -- precocious is the word we would have used if I had been in middle school; some combination of bright, lazy, and too-big-for-his-own-britches is probably a closer description to what it was in college. Anyhow, her appearance was totally out of nowhere, and a wonderful treat.

After the show, Will and Jason joined us for drinks and discussion at home, ending a marvelous day.

So thanks to all of you who had a hand in it, and to all of you who continue to love me despite long distances and long silences.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Recent Moment, Both Startling and Funny.

A couple of days ago, I was in court in Beattyville, Kentucky (Lee County). Kentucky, like Missouri, has many county seats that are small towns (but still the largest town in the area). Beattyville is one of those towns. It has a functional courthouse -- I'd guess it was built sometime between the 60s and the 80s; I suppose that's my way of saying that it's much more practical than pretty.

I'd been in court for a couple of hours, sitting through probate and civil matters and waiting for my cases to be called. In this particular court an older deputy will walk around to the attorneys, let you know that they will be ordering lunch, and offer to add you to the order. I've never stayed for lunch, but I think that's cool.

As I left the courthouse, and took my first steps out, I could hear -- perfectly timed with my egress -- the start of the whistled theme to The Andy Griffith Show. It was loud enough that for a split-second I thought that it was being played over louspeakers on the square. A moment later, I realized it was the cell phone of a woman standing on the steps.

There is ALWAYS a soundtrack to my life running through my brain, but it was startling to hear it being broadcast to everyone else, too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jury Ending

Well, I wound up getting to serve on the jury, and it was a pretty good time.

It was a civil case, and we heard testimony on last Thursday and Friday. During voir dire (the jury selection process) it came out that I knew members of the staff of the defense counsel, and that he knew the partners for whom I work, but for some reason (perhaps because I swore that I could be impartial -- and I was), the Plaintiff's attorney didn't strike me. So, with a low number, I was on.

I won't go into detail, but it was a dry and number-intensive trial. I was taking a lot of notes and treating it like a training session. The most entertaining thing was a witness who was old enough to be quite hard-of-hearing. There was a lot of entertaining shouting in the courtroom.

In the end (or actually the middle), the case reached a resolution mid-day Friday without going to the jury. So, we were all released with the state's thanks befor lunch.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Boone County Jury Commission. They did (and, I presume, consistently do) an excellent job of dealing with people like me who asked a lot of dumb questions and required a little extra hand-holding. I knew I was being annoying, but they never let on that they knew, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jury Duty

This morning I find myself in the Jury Assembly Room in Boone County. I have a low number, and I'm guessing that as an attorney I won't be here long. But, it definitely falls under the category of things I've never done. (Althouh I've helped pick a jury as a litigator and helped pick a Grand Jury as a clerk -- both in Jackson County.)

I have to say the the jury folks have been VERY helpful. I got to pick ny preferred week a couple of months ago, and yesterday I realized I didn't know my jury number (some had to be here this morning; some didn't). I left a message yesterday asking to call back with my number if they could, but I'd be there if I didn't hear. This morning I had a very gracious call informing me of my number and that I needed to be present.

So . . . Analysis so far is nice people, uncomfortable chairs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


This morning, as I was leaving the Holiday Inn Express (nice, comfy beds with wonderfully firm mattresses), I passed by the indoor pool. The lights weren't on, and there was just the grayest bit of lihght coming in from the new sun. I could just see dark sillhouettes, but it looked and sounded like a family -- 3 or 4 kids of elementary or middle school age and a grown-up or two.

I was very pleased that my first thought was "wow--wouldn't that be cool to be playing in a nearly-dark pool," and it was only my eighth or ninth thought that got to "wow--that's a lawsuit waiting to happen."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Movie, Musical, Book

These are three works of art that I have really enjoyed in the last couple of weeks:

I was a little bit behind the curve in seeing this (on DVD from Netflix), but it was well worth the wait. Sean Penn is excellent, and it is a story well-told -- great characters, and a terrific script. It serves as a timely reminder of how far gay rights have come and how far society still has to go. Now I want to see Penn in All the President's Men to see how he handles a very different political leader.

The Drowsy Chaperone
This musical was on the MU Concert Series recently, and was hands-down the best thing I have seen in that series. The shows there tend to be inconsistent non-Equity bus and truck companies, but this production was excellent. The case was great, to a person, the direction was crisp, and the set was fun. I was not familiar with the show, other than a single number from the Tonies a couple of years ago, but it was remarkably funny. The songs were workmanlike -- fun, but nothing really to go home whistling. The script was quite elegant (using that term mathematically, I guess). Essentially, the show is a retelling of a '20's-era musical as seen through the mind of a man listening to the double LP in his apartment. I imagine I might have enjoyed it even more if a had more than a passing familiarity with such shows.

Last Night at the Lobster
This short (3 CDs, so 150 pages?) novel by Stewart O'Nan tells of the manager of a Red Lobster as he tries to hold his restaurant and his life together on the former's final night. Like a book one can't put down before going to sleep, I popped the first CD in as I was leaving Columbia for Kentucky, and didn't stop until I pulled CD 3 out on the far side of Illinois. O'Nan does a nice job of assuming his reader gets the jokes and understands the implications of the situations, so doesn't waste words overselling an idea. We have just 12 hours or so to meet each of the characters, but the tips of their icebergs make them entirely clear. O'Nan really manages to tell a story that is based in a place we all know and is about real and interesting people. Apparently, this is his 10th book, and I'm looking forward to finding some of his earlier work.

Peace, and Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I've had a good weekend, but I seem to be in a much darker mood than usual. February and March have held a lot of travel for me and I think it is taking its toll. Also, Tracy is on band tour, so while I am at the house, it is without her. (Also the dogs are gone until tomorrow). As much as I historically have enjoyed time on my own, I think I'm in need of more personal interaction. I'll get some at work tomorrow.

Perhaps I'm also suffering the cumulative effects of Friday the 13th and the Ides of March.


Monday, March 9, 2009

No Challenge

This is from the universe. Essentially, this was a text message sent to Roots, Reading Rainbow and Star Trek celebrity Levar Burton. I have redacted the username of the sender. She didn't ask for my blog mockery:
@levarburton If it came down to you
or Mr. Rogers in a death match for best kid's host, all my money on you!

If it's a death match, how much support are you really showing by risking all of your money on the guy that isn't already dead?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Deal

Hi, everyone. Thanks for so patiently monitoring this space. The reason for my recent absence is neither general negligence nor an increased work load, although those are both present, but rather a technological issue.

The laptop from which I post the videos had an unfortunate encounter with gravity and is currentlu in limbo until I get a little time to give it some TLC. While I have access to other computers, they lack the easy editing software of which I am so fond (fondness=laziness). So, for the time being, I am returning this space to the world of text -- easily viewed on phones, if one so desires.

I will post more soon. Honest. Thanks, Bev and Pete, for your encouragement.

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