Tag Archives: Scandal

We’ve Been Outed!

Shhhhh!
Shhhhh!

Shhhhh! I have a revelation, but don’t tell anyone, it’s our secret. Everybody knows that the Ashley Madison Scandal is the gift that keeps on giving. Aside of the big name outings like reality star Josh Duggar, newspapers across the country have been exposing the number of locals involved. In our neck of the woods – ‘lil ole Missoula, Montana (Missoulian Article) – it isn’t any different. Those with .gov email are currently on the firing line. I’m sure the attention will soon shift to the private sector.  In that spirit, Tammy and I agree that it’s best to be upfront.

Outside of our careers, my wife and I give the impression of being reclusive. In reality we’re adventurous souls who are continually looking for ways to sate our wanderlust – or any other of lustful impulses. Everybody knows the allure of fresh meat – the pursuit of fresh meat landed us in our current predicament.

We first met the muse of this behavior in Costco. The allure was immediate and Tammy commented about the twinkle in my eyes. It started with a casual conversation at the meat-counter. Soon I held her in my hands. It didn’t take long to see she was the complete package. With a giggle we rushed through the cashiers on the way to a one-night-stand. But one night wasn’t enough. An obsession developed. Complete packages have a way of casting their spell upon the enchanted. Tammy and I were compelled to do her bidding.

After a dinner of pork-tenderloins, we found ourselves hand in hand, walking under starlight in Missoula’s Caras Park.  Between us, our muse smelled alluring – enough to inspire ravenous desires of the celibate. Our Little Pork Chop was indeed diabolical, especially when it came to the homeless. Many drooled as they stumbled by. One was brazen enough to stop before us and gaze upon her. Unable to help herself, she worked the bum under her spell.

“Yo!” I barked as he moved for her. “She doesn’t give away her affection, you have to earn it.”

“How,” he mumbled.

I looked to our Femme–fatale and then back to the bum.  “You have to fight another bum.”

“Huh?” he garbled.

“You heard me.”

Gazing from our Pork Chop to a vagrant stumbling along the path behind us, blood rose in the bum’s face. With something akin

Homeless Cockfighting
Homeless Cockfighting

to a rebel yell, he charged the other, and half-cursing, half-snarling, and won Pork Chop’s Endearment. Standing over the vanquished, our bum grinned at us. It filled both Tammy and me with voyeuristic pleasure handing our Pork Chop to the victor. Ecstasy reigned upon all of us as the bum ate our Pork Chop in public.

Throughout the next week Tammy and I spoke nothing of our foray. The following Friday we wondered if we should again seek our muse. Exercising restraint – after all, we both have reputations to uphold – we decided to forget about our Pork Chop and  let her exist in the realm of pleasant memory.

The remainder of the weekend our muse managed to seep into our thoughts. Throughout the week she occupied them, making our daily tasks unmanageable. Those around me that week would comment to how suddenly forgetful I’d become. That next Friday, Tammy and I looked at each other, and without a word, walked out the door and traveled to Missoula to fulfill our desire.

Black eyes and jumpsuits always come after Pork Chop.
Black eyes and jumpsuits always come after Pork Chop.

Fridays  soon fell into a routine: A trip to the Costco Meat Counter and then to a public park to grill pork chops – dozens of them. When we finished we headed for the river and to the tent city where Missoula’s vagrants called home. To play, Tammy made the bums dress in chicken outfits. Friday night cockfights were on. It was a win-win-win proposition. Tammy fulfilled her need to dress the tattered, I fulfilled my need to organize sporting events, and the bums got a pork chop – at least the victorious bums.

Like all affairs, this one came crashing down among the participants – all because one uppity bum got carried away and stole a pork chop. It turned into a melee. Tammy and I grabbed the remaining pork chops and scadattled. We’re lucky we did, cause the cops came and we learned our champion was hauled off in cuffs.

Tammy and I were beside ourselves. So much that we sought advice from our minister. Despite his advice to immediately come clean and ask our friends, family, and god for forgiveness, we never said a word. We internalized the lesson that a little piece of tender-loin was more trouble than it’s worth.  Then today this article appeared in the newspaper. And if that wasn’t enough, we also learned today that our minister – Mr. Ask-For-Forgiveness – was outed on Ashely Madison.  But that’s between us, and remember this our little secret, if you don’t I’m going to tell your spouse.

Disclaimer:   No, we haven’t been outed in the Ashley Madison scandal – never went to the site – nor do we promote homeless76526721 cockfights, though I would consider it if my insurance company gave me its blessing. The bum cockfight story might be true in an alternative universe. There was a bum that inspired this story, he was recently given a fifteen year prison sentence for assaulting another bum for stealing his pork chop.  No real bums were hurt in the fabrication of this post.

The Process

The set
The set

For some reason I like to creatively torment myself, or more accurately torment myself with creativity – you know, honor the masochist within. Such is the case with the story behind Bullets, Bounties, and Broken Hearts: a murder-mystery concocted for a dinner-theater/fundraiser done for the Peak Foundation. Warning: this non-profit peddles the crack-cocaine of theater to neophytes, and they do it well. The idea for BB & B arose after my first visit to the corner of Stage and Script. I was told it was a dangerous neighborhood; I didn’t heed the warning.

That first visit occurred last summer during Briar Rose. I must have hit my head on a rock after

In the Green Room
In the Green Room

diving head first into that project, because I got the idea to write and direct a creation of my own. After consulting with Laura, the head-mistress at Peak, the green light was given. A date and venue was set.

And then I waited. The clock ticked, the calendar turned. The general idea slipped through my brain folds, but the details eluded me. I didn’t panic, I procrastinated. I told myself I could start the script around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving came, the ideas didn’t. It’s part of the process. The subconscious needs to percolate, I reminded myself. I’ve been there before, but experience does not alleviate the terror of trying to think and nothing happening.

One of the surprises, Kristi Thissle as Silent Sam.
One of the surprises, Kristi Thissle as Silent Sam.

In early December the water’s muddied when Tammy and I brainstormed and idea for a completely random

Tristan and Jayman, our techies.
Tristan and Jayman, our techies.

ending where even the actors wouldn’t know who was the perpetrator. Great idea, if cast members were masters of improv. Considering there wasn’t a cast, the idea was shelved. Or was it? It led to an important plot device.  I glowed in the false confidence of direction, but I still couldn’t put pen to paper.

Days turned to weeks. When questioned about the progress of the script, I lied. I didn’t want anyone else sharing the angst. In my darkest moments, I almost called Laura to beg for cancellation. As far as I knew, only her, my wife, and a handful of potential cast members knew of the planned show and audition dates. It wasn’t too late to wiggle out of the obligation without much humiliation.

As Christmas approached my to resistance to writing the script continued, until Monday December 22nd at 10:16 PM when I created a word document. A minute later magic happened. I would be remiss not admitting I had characters in mind. Madam Marcy, Lottie the Librarian (Who’s original name was Linda), Dudley Do-nothing, Winston Haigstrom (Haigstrom’s original first name was Walter – it may have been changed to obscure the character’s inspiration), and Reverend Righteous were written with local talent in mind. Silent Sam was a gift from the muse, in the original matrix of characters, he didn’t exist. Silent Sam snuck into the script much as he did onto the stage – his laugh announcing his presence. After two weeks of burning midnight oil a workable script was in hand.

The Station Agent... aka The Narrator
The Station Agent… aka The Narrator

You can read the first act here. Please heed the Script Nazi’s admonition: “No second act for you!” You wouldn’t want to know

Final Preparations on Opening Day.
Final Preparations on Opening Day.

who the murderer was anyway.

With a deep breath, I hid my insecurities and stepped into a role in which I had zero experience – directing. Yes, I’ve done the gunfights, but that’s street theater – street theater doesn’t count. Years of hockey and firefighting coaching gave me the confidence, while osmosis and pilfering the toolboxes of Briar Rose’s brain-trust provided the distinctions.

safe_imageAs audition night approached I was plagued with new worries. What if no one showed up? What if too many people tried out? It turned out that an expected body took a powder and two unexpected souls materialized. The arrival of the expected was accompanied with relief, in the absentees’ place stomach knots arose, and the unforeseen brought possibility. After auditions there was one role to fill, and though I didn’t want to act, I was prepared to step into the narrator role. After a barrage of emails and phone calls, Dudley Do-nothing’s real life wife stepped up. The cast was complete. I could concentrate on directing… and concocting a title. Notice the audition poster? No title. When I was grilled, Bullets, Bounties, and Broken Hearts flew out of my mouth, 10937465_833140336742148_1251811676_nbut I digress.

Dudley and Reverend Righteous
Dudley and Reverend Righteous

With the arrival of the first rehearsal came the first surprise. No Reverend Righteous. Facebook messages flew trying to track down the slippery seminarian. Where could he be? His alter-ego Matt Sibert is a dependable fellow. A picture of a nearly severed thumb arrived in my inbox. It appeared the reverend suffered an industrial accident. Not one to be sidelined by a ‘flesh wound’, Matt served double duty as the show’s special effects wizard. That he made an old railroad depot shake with the rumble of an approaching train and lit up a dark room with the lights of locomotives past was testament of his ability to bring words to life.

From the second rehearsal forward the production enjoyed cast integrity. With each passing rehearsal the bond between cast members deepened as they worked through blocking and script tweaks. Soon they were no longer seven people learning places and lines, but channels for characters struggling to emerge. Practice after practice character traits emerged. Though it was happening, their transformation was a work-in-progress.

Kris Gregory transforming into Madam Marcy.
Kris Gregory transforming into Madam Marcy.

Then a week before opening night, on a Thursday night, we hit our biggest bump. A

The next viral T-shirt?
The next viral T-shirt? Insult your friends with Lottie’s scandalous line; “Shut your cock holster!”

scheduling conflict with the venue left us high and dry mid-rehearsal. We were getting there, put I wasn’t comfortable where we were stood, especially loosing a run-through and an after-action review. After coarse venting on my part towards the powers-that-be, the cast agreed to an additional sacrifice – an extra night of rehearsals. We piggy-backed a Sunday night rehearsal onto the scheduled Monday night rehearsal to make up for lost time, and that’s when the real magic happened. Four run-throughs in a twenty-four hour period transformed their performance from gritty to artistry.

I’m sure some of that had to do with costuming. That’s where my wife stepped in, created her little shop of horrors, waved her

Tammy the artist.
Tammy the artist.

magic wand, and exercised the remainder of the characters from their hosts. The pictures reveal the mastery of her art. Tammy was also instrumental in transforming the normally sterile confines of the Alberton Community Center into cozy-confines for dinner theater.

Lottie the Librarian
Lottie the Librarian

Brooke Barnett, who played Lottie, doubled as the photographer. As you can see, she is a renascence woman. Actress, photographer, and the writer of our town’s coming summer production.

The PEAK Foundation can’t be thanked enough for their will, talents, and vision to bring the arts to a small mountain town in Montana. Without the organization the memories

Cast and crew
Cast and crew

created for the cast, crew, and most importantly, the supporters and fans who sold-out two shows, wouldn’t be possible. I had the easiest job, all I had to do was spin words and share a vision, the rest was up to the wizards who conjured them into reality. It’s the greatest thrill and honor a writer can have.

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Penn State, JoePA and a Bunch of Rope

I’m breaking rank to comment on the sorrow that is  occurring at Penn State. Being a native Pennsylvanian and growing up steeped in the tradition of Penn State football, the news coming out of State College has rocked my foundation.  Autumn Saturday afternoons were spent watching Nittany Lion football and Sunday mornings were kicked off by watching the other Paterno analyzing the highlights of the previous day’s game.  Football was more than a pastime, it was a lifestyle.

With that background one would think I believe Paterno walks on water. Quite to the contrary, I’m taking a harder line – I believe JoePa will, and should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.  It’s fairly obvious the coach used his influence to squelch the investigation. If you’re interested, read the Grand Jury’s indictment , maybe you’ll understand why I think the way I do. The report will turn your stomach.

I’m not going to discredit what the man has done for the university, the sport, and generations of adolescents he ushered into adulthood. What makes this episode so tragic is the one action he didn’t take. Why didn’t he call the police himself?

The image of university and its football program was   more important than the damage inflicted upon Jerry Sandusky’s victims. That’s what makes this so incredibly disturbing. An organization and its figurehead’s image was more sacrosanct than children’s welfare.

I’m not going to recount the step by step progression of events, it has been done before and its all over the internet. That being said, to allow a known pedophile on campus after ‘accepting’ his resignation and allowing him access to the university’s facilities where he went on to commit more egregious offenses is unconscionable. Again, a symptom of the cult of personality –  image is more important than a human being’s welfare.

Read Mark Madden’s article dated April 3, 2011 and you’ll catch on to something: an amazing coverup. If you want to see the effect of the cult-of-personality of Penn State football, read the first three comments, all dated April 2011.  There are further disturbing allegations that Sandusky was using Second Mile to ‘pimp’ out boys for ‘investors.’   Listen to Madden’s radio interview. Hopefully it is unfounded.

The question remains, why now? Why did the entire controversy explode when it did?  JoePa is tied with Alonzo Stagg for 409 victories.  If Penn State beats Nebraska, JoePa stands alone at the top with 410 victories.  Could it be that someone, or some group of people – timed it so the story would come to light at would have been the crowning moment of the coach’s carrier?  Or was it karma?

Whatever it is, my heart aches for the tarnished legacy of a good man who failed to act.  It aches because an organization which I though was beyond the greed of athletics was complicit in criminal activity. But nothing hurts more than scores of young children victimized by a predator,  a predator who was protected by an organization more worried about its image than doing the right thing.