I’m a fan Fridays!

PEANUTS60S4So, every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I break out my favorite Christmas album, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with music by the great Vince Guaraldi.

Instead of sharing something straight from that album, however, I thought I’d share a performance of this music by another one of my favorite pianists, George Winston.

Here’s George playing “Skating” by Vince Guaraldi.  Enjoy!!

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I’m thankful for a day full of thankfulness

CBthanks1I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, not the least of which is that it signals the beginning of Christmas season, and I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!  The main reason I enjoy Thanksgiving, however, has to do with the fact that it has nothing to do with religion and, at the same time, is at the core of my Christian faith.

On this one day of the year in the United States, everyone from every corner of the country is invited to lay down their differences, gather with whatever family they can get to, and reflect on what they’ve got to be thankful for.

Now, there can be a downside to all of this, I know.  Maybe you don’t like your family.  Maybe you don’t like football.  Maybe you have to work (and if you do, that sucks, and I’m sorry!).  Here’s the thing I love about it, though:  There is no “right way” to be thankful; you just are.  You’re either thankful or you’re not.  If you’re a Muslim, you can be thankful.  If you’re Jewish, you can be thankful.  If you’re an Atheist, you can be thankful.  If you’re a Secular Humanist, you can be thankful. If you’re a Christian, you can be thankful.  And, we can all get together and be thankful around the same table.

I think that’s one of the reasons Jesus and many other great religious figures describe the Kingdom of God by using feast metaphors.  Gathering together around a table for a feast is something that’s been done around the globe for centuries.  Eating together in community brings us closer together.  We all need food to sustain us, and sharing a meal is a beautiful way to demonstrate inclusiveness. When we gather together in an attitude of thankfulness, it changes us.  We recognize that we need each other.  We recognize that it is better to be together than alone.

I really don’t care what religion you align yourself with or even if you want nothing to do with religion whatsoever.  What I wish for you on this day, this Thanksgiving Day, is the experience of joy, peace, and love that comes from living with a thankful heart.

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If you find yourself flustered with the burden of trying to make everything perfect, try taking a page from Peppermint Patty’s book.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got the perfect turkey done with all of the trimmings or if you pop a bunch of popcorn and put out a bowel-full of pretzel sticks and jellybeans.  What matters is who you’re with (whether in the flesh or in spirit) and what you mean to each other.

On this day, when we are all invited to the table of Thanksgiving, it is my prayer that you’ll be able to find the time to look around you and see, in the faces you encounter, more reasons to be thankful than you can name.

Peace to you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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These boots hurt my feet

bootsI recently bought a new pair of boots, and it made me think of a movie.  Okay, I’ll explain.

In 1990, a movie called, “Avalon” came out.  It’s the story of a Polish-Jewish family that comes to America at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.  Early on in the film, one of the brothers in the family gets a job breaking in new shoes for his employer.

So, the man’s boss gets a new pair of boots or dress shoes or whatever, and the brother’s job is to walk around in those shoes until they are broken in and comfortable.  The boss doesn’t have to go through any of the pain or discomfort.  No blisters or corns for the boss, just the comfortable feel of the broken in leather.

That’s what I need, I thought to myself.  I need a guy to break in these new boots for me!

But then I thought about it again.

I know what a really nicely broken in pair of boots can feel like, the way they conform to your feet as if they were made specifically for your two dogs.  The thing about that is, no one else has your feet.  So, if someone else is breaking in your shoes, they break them in to their own feet, not yours.

I have a few things in my life that I’d liken to a nice pair of broken in boots, and with every one of those relationships or acquired skills I hold dear, I can say, without hesitation, that there was a significant “breaking in” period that I had to go through myself; nobody else could put in the time for me.  That’s what makes those special things so special–I put in the time.

People often speculate about what success means in this business of being an actor.  Is it how much money you make, or is it how often you work, or is it what size roles you get, or is it some other kind of measuring stick?

For me, I just want to work as an actor and pay my bills doing it.  It’s not an easy road, and God knows my feet have got more than a few blisters from breaking in this career.  It will be worth it, though.  I’ve just got to put in the time.  I’ve got to do the mileage.  Nobody else can do it for me.

But, Jesus, my feet hurt right now!

 

 

I’m a fan Fridays!

doctor-who-christmas-carol-movie-image-matt-smith-01In honor of Sunday’s opening of “A Christmas Carol” at The Media Theatre and tomorrow night’s “Doctor Who” 50th Anniversary celebration, I’m bringing you something very special for this edition of I’m a fan Fridays!

A few years ago, the “Doctor Who Christmas Special” was an adaptation of my favorite holiday story.  What a treat it was to have two of my favorite things mash-up together!  You should treat yourself and find the entire episode this holiday season!  Enjoy!

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I dreamed a dream of times gone crazy

The_Scream_by_nalissisThere’s a bit of anxiety inherent in what I do for a living.

I prepare for a significant amount of time to be able to put on costumes, get up in front of people (the more the better!) and pretend to be someone else (or multiple people, sometimes) for about an average of two hours at a stretch, depending on the job.

It’s the preparation time that gives me the anxiety, especially if it’s a one-person piece like my adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” which, coincidentally, I’m opening at The Media Theatre in Media, PA on Sunday evening.

When I get this close to an opening of a show, things get a little hairy, and I’m really no good to anyone.  I don’t sleep well, so I disturb my wife; I sometimes completely forget about appointments even though I have them in my calendar, so I upset my friends, my kids, and people I do business with; and I sort of wander around, lost in thought like Norstadt in “The Man Without A Face.”

I also have weird dreams like the one I had this morning…

It’s this coming Sunday, and it’s less than a half an hour before curtain on the opening performance of “A Christmas Carol.”  I’ve decided that I need to go out and get something I forgot that I desperately need for the show.  The thing is, I’m not sure what I’ve forgotten, I’m not sure where I’m going, and I’m riding around town peddling my guts out on a tiny tricycle I don’t recognize.  It’s not even my color.  I should have a red tricycle and this thing’s blue!

So I’m peddling around when I get a call from the stage manager.

“Scott?”

“Hi!  Yes. What’s up?”

“Well, it’s time.”

“Time for what?”

“Time for the show to start.  You need to go on.  There are people here and they’re getting restless.”

“Oh, jeeze, right!  Yes!  Uh, okay, I’ll be right there!”

“Where are you?”

“I’m not exactly sure.  But I’m on a tricycle, so I’ll be just a few minutes. I’m on my way!”

And then I woke up.

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I don’t like myself much when I’m not able to run

bwrunner1I haven’t run in three weeks, not a step.  I’ve been suffering from vertigo.  I’ve been dealing with that for over a year now, so I’m not really sure why it’s got me down lately.

In fact, I went to the doctor about it (finally!…I know, I know).  She gave me some meds and told me to up my vitamins, so…

The thing about the vertigo is that it comes on so randomly.  I can never predict when I’ll have an episode.  It only lasts for about ten seconds every time and I can feel it coming on, but it’s just so random.

When vertigo strikes, it comes out of nowhere.  I could never put my finger on what was causing it.  At first, I thought maybe I was dehydrated, so I drank plenty of water and it still happened.  Randomly.  Then I thought maybe I was just looking at my computer screen for too long, but that wasn’t it, either.  Maybe the new vitamins will work.  We’ll see.

I don’t like myself when I’m not able to run.  I think what happens when I stop running for too long is that I start drinking more.  I start drinking more and writing less.  I start drinking more, writing less, and feeling depressed.

That’s what happens when I stop running for too long.

I had been training pretty hard for the Philadelphia Marathon but had to withdrawal because of the vertigo and the lack of down-the-stretch training.  That hurt, having to withdrawal.  I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own body; I couldn’t tell it what to do like I’ve been able to do pretty much my entire life.

I’ve been on the vitamins for a few days now and I don’t feel much different, but I haven’t had another episode, so there’s that.

I’ll get back out there, maybe later today.  Will something bad happen?  Will I have an episode in the middle of a run and have trouble getting back home?  Maybe.  But if I don’t try, I won’t ever know.  What I do know is that I’ll drink too much, write too little and feel too depressed about things I know I can’t control.  I don’t like myself when I get like that.

I don’t like myself when I’m not able to run.

I’m a fan Fridays!

doctor_who__the_day_of_the_doctor_wallpaper_by_skinnyglasses-d6m4e2wIf you’re a Whovian like I am, you already know about The Day Of The Doctor, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.

What you may not be aware of is this mini-episode written by the series show-runner, Steven Moffat, starring the 8th Doctor played by Paul McGann.

So, I give it to you on this “I’m a fan Friday.”  Enjoy, and let me know where you’ll be doing your 50th Anniversary viewing next Saturday night.

You can follow me on Twitter at:  @scotylang

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Press release and promo video for “A Christmas Carol” at The Media Theatre!

christmascarolTHE MEDIA THEATRE PRESENTS SCOTT LANGDON, PERFORMING HIS SOLO INTERPRETATION OF CHARLES DICKENS “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Link: www.mediatheatre.org

Philadelphia native and AEA actor, Scott Langdon, will perform his one-man interpretation of the original Charles Dickens masterpiece, “A Christmas Carol” on Saturdays and Sundays from November 24 – December 22, 2013, at the beautiful Media Theater in Media, PA.

This wonderful one-man production uses minimal set pieces, relying instead on Dickens’ text and Langdon’s ability to portray every character in the story. The actor brought the production to Princeton, NJ in 2009 and the East Brunswick Performing Arts Center in 2011, to great acclaim.

Langdon will play Scrooge, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, the Three Ghosts and every other yuletide Dickensian character this Holiday season in an adaptation taken directly from Charles Dickens’ own cutting of his famous story.

Dickens, famous as an author, of course, was equally popular with audiences as a reader of his works on the stage.  From 1867-68, Dickens brought his enormously successful reading tour to America.  His favorite work to read, and far and away the one most adored by fans, was his little story called, “A Christmas Carol.”  It was from this reading tour in that Langdon took inspiration for his interpretation of the story.

“Everyone from Jim Carrey to Patrick Stewart to The Muppets has had a go at delivering this timeless tale, yet it continues to be relevant even today.  It gets to the heart and soul of the holidays,” says Langdon. “It has been a dream of mine for years to bring this to the stage and this unique adaptation will bring the story to life in a whole new way.”

Running Saturdays at 11:00am and Sundays at 7:00pm from November 24-December 22, 2013, tickets are a very family friendly $15 a piece for every show.  This is a Holiday experience that no one in the family will want to miss!  The Media Theatre is located at 104 State St. in Media, PA. The number to call for tickets is: (610) 891-0100.

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What I’m talking about is bigger than just voting

changetreeI voted last Tuesday.  I voted on who would be the next governor of New Jersey, on some local issues, which included local school board members, and whether or not we should raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour.

As I read through State Question #2, the one about raising the minimum wage, I thought to myself, Of course I’m voting yes to this, but are we serious, here?  What kind of difference is that really going to make?

Give just a second’s worth of thought to this:  If someone works 40 hours per week at $8.25 per hour, that grosses them $330 per week.  After taxes, we’re talking about $250 per week, or so.  Who can live on $1,000 per month in New Jersey?  You’re going to be very hard pressed to find a place to rent for less than that anywhere near where I live.

Here’s my point:  The kind of systemic change we need was not found anywhere near the ballot box in this last election.

Ok, let’s go… here’s what I’m talking about…

Allow me to borrow an analogy from a talk I heard Dr. John Dominic Crosson give, not too long ago.

We all know what a well-run household looks like.  Instinctively, we know the difference between a well run home and one that is poorly maintained.  In fact, when I was a public school teacher, we were instructed that, if we suspected one of our students was being abused in any way, we were obligated, by law, to report this student’s situation to the authorities.  Apparently, we should know abuse when we see it.

So, if you were to see a household where there were ten children, and five of them were starving, under dressed, and deprived of education, while the other five were overdressed, overfed, and going to the elite, private schools, would you not feel compelled to call the authorities?  Would you not, at least, feel that the household in question was in need of some serious intervention?

What if nine of the ten children were overdressed, overfed, and attending the elite, private schools and only one child were starving?  For that one child, wouldn’t we scream loudly that something terrible was going on and demand the situation be fixed?

I had a “Facebook discussion” with a couple of people not too long ago about justice and what it means with regard to God.  Their firm stance was that justice refers almost exclusively to the punitive.  As such, God would be “just” to send us all to “Hell” but has chosen instead to offer a way out of this terrible, inevitable conclusion to each of our lives.  That way, of course, is by believing in Jesus and accepting him as our savior.

But what does it actually mean to “believe in Jesus” and to follow his “way”?

What has become increasingly clear to me as I ponder my faith is that the way of Jesus means far more than affirming a set of beliefs.  In fact, affirming a set of beliefs is the least important thing when it comes to following the way of Jesus.

Christians see Jesus as the decisive revelation of God, meaning Jesus is seen by Christians as what a life filled with God looks like.  When we look to the life of Jesus, we can see very plainly the things that concerned him, the things he was passionate about.  At the same time, then, we can see the very things that concern God and what God is passionate about.  We see the character of God when we see the character of Jesus.

Jesus was concerned with the Kingdom of God–what the world would be like if God were King and the ruling, domination system authorities were not.  What would that world look like?  It would look like a world where everyone had compassion for one another, where we met each other’s needs, and where everyone had enough.

The justice of God is not about the punishing of evildoers in the end, but, rather, about the distribution of God’s gifts so that everyone would have enough.  Clearly, it does not mean that everyone should have the exact same thing.  What it does mean is that everyone should have enough of the necessities of life, what we must have to live–our “daily bread.”

When a system is set up in such a way that an entire family could go bankrupt as quickly as a father or mother gets into an accident or gets cancer, and racks up hospital bills that drain the family of every bit of savings because they don’t have adequate health insurance, there is an injustice in the system.

When rent in a decent neighborhood with decent schools costs $1,200 dollars per month and minimum wage in the same town is $8.25 an hour (net less than $1,000 per month), do those numbers add up to a just situation?

When 1% of the people control over 98% of a nation’s wealth, how can that nation claim to be just, let alone a “Christian nation”?

What I’m talking about is a system that is truly set up with the whole of the community in mind, not just the elite.  What I’m talking about is a system that focuses its resources on education, job training, and shrinking the enormous gap between those who have more than enough and those who constantly struggle to make ends meet.  What I’m talking about is a complete reform, and that was not offered on the ballot last Tuesday.

What I’m talking about is bigger than just voting.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a fan Fridays!

vertigoWell, it’s been quite a week!  We closed “Spamalot” at The Media Theatre on Sunday, and now I’m in full on preparation/panic mode for my one-man “A Christmas Carol” that goes up in two weeks at the same theater.

I’m a bit bummed because I’m going to have to withdrawal from this year’s Philadelphia Marathon.  I’m sad about that because I’ve really worked hard.  Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering from BVVP (aka Vertigo!), and I haven’t been able to put in the miles over the last couple of weeks that I’ve needed.

It’s been more than a little scary the past few weeks, as this condition is no respecter of where you might be and/or what you might be doing when it comes on you like “a bad lobster in a dark cellar” (not exactly sure what that means, but it’s my favorite line from “A Christmas Carol!” Suffice it to say, vertigo happens very suddenly and with very little warning).

It came on me twice while I was on stage and, needless to say, it freaked me out.  The first time it happened, I almost fell into the orchestra pit.  Luckily, I was headed off stage at the time and made it to the wings. Believe me, nobody wants to fall on top of the brass section!  They get upset about stuff like that!

I’ve got some medication and we’ll see what happens, but let me tell you, it’s no fun at all.

So, in honor of this condition that has me spinning, I give you a scene from a classic film, with a classic score and one of my favorite actors.  Enjoy!