I’m a fan Fridays!…It’s Opening Night!!

spamaloticonIn honor of Opening Night for “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre, where I am playing King Arthur (one of my dream roles), I give you one of my favorite scenes from the movie on which the Broadway musical is based.

Like so many people, I remember quoting lines from this great classic during my high school days.  Watching these grown men be so silly, and make a career doing it, completely sealed my fate.

From the moment I first saw this film in Pappy Parker’s Shakespeare class my junior year, I longed to play scenes like this one for a living.  Now, I’m not only playing scenes like this one, I actually get to play THIS scene seven times a week!

How does life get any better?

Enjoy the clip, and, if you’re in the neighborhood, come on out to my court at Camelot!  The cast is wonderful!!  We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot, so bring your appetite for laughter!

 

The detours can make for a trip worth falling for

roadblockRunning can teach you many things.  At the very least, it can remind you of something you already knew but might have forgotten, an idea or a little tidbit of life philosophy that gets buried beneath the stress and strain of daily life.

I’m currently staying in a small, country town called Kennett Square while rehearsing for a production of “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre in Media, PA.

The area around where I’m staying is some beautiful countryside, with some pretty tight, two-lane roads.  There are plenty of hills, gorgeous views, and the occasional farm animal like my new friend in the pic below.

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It initially took some time with the map but I figured out this really nice 3-mile run that I could also extend to a 5-miler with a simple turn off.  Yesterday morning I set out on the 5-mile course but got only a mile and a half in when I came upon the road closing.  The workers were paving the road.  I could either turn around and head back to the house or turn left where I would normally head straight on.

I was a little nervous about the turn into the “unknown” as it were, but I figured, Hey, let’s do a little exploring!

My phone (which my wife will never let me run without, bless her) has a nice map system, but I wasn’t sure how far this new route would take me.  As I made my way along the unfamiliar roads, I was reminded of how running can be a sort of microcosm of my life.

When I got to the roadblock, I had the choice to turn back or go on.  After I made the choice to go on, I had the choice to get upset about it and maybe even panic, or I could enjoy the new route and take in all of the beauty that I never expected to see.

I love my job. I’ve been blessed and very fortunate to do what I love and squeak out a modest living.  Sometimes, though, things happen that go in the direct opposite direction of the one I had planned.  This happens to everyone in one way or another, I know.   It’s just that yesterday was one of those days when that lesson got very real.

I am so grateful to have been surrounded by such a wonderful group of people.  How co-workers react to difficult situations can make for a beautifully uplifting experience or an absolute hell.

Yesterday, on the whole, I witnessed the best of what people can be: compassionate, caring, uplifting, and loving.  I was reminded that I always have a choice about my attitude and, most times, that’s the only choice I’m going to get.

In a world where we’re under the terrible illusion that we can have certainty and security about anything in our lives, one thing I know for sure: how I treat other people is entirely up to me.  In every moment, in every encounter, I choose, in a split second, to act in a way that uplifts the other or feeds my own ego.

I have never found that doing the latter has ever done anything for me.

All I know is, I want to surround myself with the type of people who remind me daily that loving somebody is never a waste.

Thank you, my fellow cast mates and crew members.  You reminded me that taking the road less traveled can lead to some beautiful scenery!

 

A Reason To Run, A Love Story

run logo-webPeople run for many different reasons. Often times, the reason to run has to go much deeper than simply running for yourself.  Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to blow off a run on a day that’s too hot and humid, or when it rains, or if you’ve got a headache from the night before.

Running a marathon is no easy task; I’m sure virtually everyone will agree with that notion.  What helps make it a little easier, though, is having a purpose, having a reason to run.

My friend, Van Kapeghian is a runner with a purpose.  When he sets out to put in the necessary miles of training for a marathon, he has a clear vision of why he’s about to put himself through the sometimes grueling exercise of preparation.  Van runs for his wife, Abbe.

vanabbe1When Abbe Meck was just thirteen years old, she had her first seizure at swim practice.  It was something that seemed to come right out of nowhere, as seizures of this kind often do.  Since then, Abbe has had to live with the fact that, with virtually no warning and at any time, she’ll be completely overcome by a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions.

Any kind of seizure is scary, but Abbe’s Grand Mal seizures can be really terrifying.  After Van and Abbe had been dating for a while, Van experienced one of Abbe’s seizures for the first time.

“We were in the car, about to leave her parent’s house, when all of a sudden, Abbe’s eyes rolled back in her head and she blacked out,” explained Van.  “She started flailing her arms and legs.  It was very violent.  Luckily, she had her seat belt on and was protected that way.  I just felt totally helpless watching her.”

Since her first frightening episode, Abbe has tried everything to control the uncontrollable.  Watching her diet and exercising regularly may be helping, but there is no cure for the type of seizure condition that plagues her…Yet!

“She’s only had about five or six seizures in the last ten years, but you never know when one might come on, “ says Van.  “There’s never a good time for them to happen.”

Abbe is also a runner.  Before Van and Abbe met, Abbe ran several events for a fundraising organization called, Team In Training.  Raising money for charitable causes is something that sets the running community apart.  Show up at any type of race, from a 5K to a full marathon, and you’ll find running groups who are running to raise money for all kinds of causes, all of which are attempting to make the world a better place.

In January 2012, Van and Abbe set out to run “The Goofy Challenge” at Disney World in Orlando, FL.  The challenge combines the Half Marathon (13.1miles) on Saturday with the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday.  A collective 39.3 miles in two consecutive days is a great opportunity to raise some good money for special causes.  Van and Abbe were set to run for Team In Training together.

The day before the Half Marathon, Abbe had a terrible seizure.  Needless to say, she was unable to run the race.  Terribly disappointed, she cheered Van on and, being cleared to run the following day in the 26.2-mile race, prepared to run with her team with the love of her life by her side.

After being reminded of how fragile life can be, Van thought long and hard about Abbe during his 13.1 mile trek around the Disney course on Saturday and decided to make his relationship with Abbe more permanent.

“We had talked about getting married, and I thought this would be just the right time to propose.  So, I bought this $29 Tinkerbelle ring from a store in the park and ran the entire marathon with it tucked in my sock,” says Van, chuckling as he recalls the experience to me.  “After we crossed the finish line together, I got down on one knee, pulled out the ring and proposed.  She said, Yes, and we’ve never looked back!”

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Since being married this past April, Van and Abbe have continued to raise money for causes important to them while always keeping one eye out for any symptoms of oncoming seizures.  Last year, Van ran the Philadelphia Marathon for The Epilepsy Therapy Project and is set to run the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA next month in an effort to raise more money for seizure disorders.

Realizing how effective running for a cause can be, Van and Abbe have decided to take a more personal approach to the fundraising end of things by creating their own website where folks from all over the world can visit and donate at any time.

The website, created by Van, who is a website developer when he’s not pounding out the miles on the road, can be found at:

www.werunforyou.com

Check out the website for yourself and learn what you can do to help stamp out not only seizure disorders with The Epilepsy Therapy Project, but also blood cancers through the great work being done by The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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Pheidippides, the man credited with running the first “marathon”, did so with the purpose of delivering the message of a Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle Of Marathon in 490 BCE.  Upon the completion of his 26.2 mile run from Marathon to Greece, Pheidippides exclaimed to the magistrates, “Joy, we win!” and then promptly died on the spot.   This was obviously the last of what must have been many runs for the fateful messenger. What we’re sure of, and what we as runners celebrate every time we run a marathon, is that he ran every run with a purpose.

As Van prepares to run to make the world a better place for his wife, Abbe and all those who suffer with similar conditions, won’t you take just a moment of your time and see how you can become a partner in this noble cause?

It’s my prayer that one day, Van and Abbe will be able to look one another in the eye after a cure for seizure disorders has been found and say, “Joy, we’ve won!”

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I’m A Fan Fridays! (a day late…sorry!)

My new friend, David Jack is playing Patsy to my Arthur in a wonderful production of “Spamalot” opening at The Media Theatre next Friday night.  Every time we sing, “Bright Side Of Life” I think of the great Bing Crosby/Bob Hope movie musicals.  Here’s one of my favorite numbers of theirs from “Road To Morocco.” Enjoy!

A tad bit overstimulated

Waa-cry-baby2It wasn’t too long ago. I was sitting in the food court of our local mall, waiting to pick up one of my children from some activity I can’t recall, when a young woman rolled a baby stroller up to the table next to the one at which I was sitting. Inside the stroller was a baby boy (if one can tell by the color and style of clothing these days), perhaps a year old, at most.

It turns out this was the lad we all heard screaming his head off throughout the mall for at least the thirty minutes prior. He was silent now. All cried out. Who knows why he carried on so?

His mother had positioned the stroller so that he was facing me. I looked over at the boy and, for a moment, our eyes met. Now, I have big eyes, so maybe that’s the fascination but, for some reason, small children like to stare at me if we have made some sort of eye contact. This child was no different. He just stared at me and I stared back. I wondered what had been troubling him. I wondered if he had been overstimulated by all the goings on at the mall that afternoon.

“Is it just too much for you, little fellow?” I thought to myself. “I know how you feel. Sometimes everything just goes way too fast for me, too. I mean, it seems like everybody wants a piece of you and you try so hard to give them what they want, only to find out that you’re coming up short anyway, no matter how hard you try. Your kids are growing up too fast and you’re never going to get this time back. Your wife is amazing but you never feel like you actually deserve her, let alone have the ability to take care of her the way you should. You’re not the athlete you once were and, just because you play in an ‘organized league’ doesn’t mean you can play like you did when you were 18 and not feel it for days. What’s more, you don’t need to be reminded that you’re no longer just ‘flirting’, you’re being a bit creepy. You know what I’m saying?”

We sat there, just looking at each other. I wondered what he was thinking. Maybe his mom knew.

“A bit overstimulated, was he?” I asked his mother.

“Just hungry. After I fed him, he just calmed right down.”

I looked over at Junior and he smiled that puffy-cheeked smile.

“I guess he’s a lad who knows what he wants,” I said, not actually intending it to be out loud.

I winced, knowing that was probably one of those “creepy” moments. Just then, the baby burped. I turned and saw him smiling again. I could have sworn he winked as well.

I’m an idealist and I must always be

idealistI’m an idealist.  I’m afraid I must be.  For, smack dab in the middle of idealism, there is hope, firmly rooted.

If I say I am committed to pursuing a life centered in love, and since love hopes in all things, then I must continue in the hope that the truest essence of Humanity is found in loving one’s neighbor as one loves one’s self.

We don’t see many examples of this notion in the media on a daily basis. We see images of violence, we hear stories of greed and depravity, and we watch “reality shows” that denigrate and leave little room for hope in our future.

As an artist, part of what I believe I am charged to do in “holding a mirror up to nature” is to show things as they are. But I cannot leave it there. I believe the arts must also, in addition to showing things as they are, give our imaginations a chance to dream about and hope in what could be.

I want to share this video with you. It is a beautiful story that gives me hope in the possibility of what could be and what already is. After I watched it for the first time, I wondered how this story might play out in my own life. What “reality show” could I star in where this type of plot would unfold in its own way?

So, I give you some remarkable story telling. Enjoy!

Plantar Fasciitis? … You must be “defeeted”!

runningfeetI’ve been a runner for a few years now, and nothing smells like poop more than Plantar Fasciitis!  I hate it!  There is no other injury that drags down my training more than this pain in the foot!

I have found something, though, that works wonders, and I wanted to share it with you here.  If you’ve been struggling with this problem, stretching, rolling the bottom of your foot with a golf ball, and plain old resting all work very well to get you on the road to recovery.

But, in order to actually stay on the road while you’re in the midst of a training program for a race, you might want to try taping with this specific type of tape.  It’s called kinesiology tape.

My particular brand of tape is called Rock Tape.  I recommend it, but I would use another brand, too.  I’m not picky about the name.

The trick, though, is the proper application of the tape.  In order for it to be effective, you have to put it on correctly.

This video is a great guide!  Have a look and, if you’re feeling it, tape up and get back out there.  The world awaits!