Things I Learned from R. B.


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Episode 6

Opening night for the musical arrived about thirteen days before the cast was suitable for public viewing.

Yes, another fortnight and we might have achieved “adequate” with the possibility of “passable.” But as the maniac once said, “The show must go on.”

The music was learned and the pitches, generally pleasing. But the vignettes that separated the numbers were filled with so much wooden acting that we could have built a fort.

As to the choreography, we should have put a disclaimer in the show’s program, warning parents to cover the eyes of their small children.

There was one saving grace:

Our homosexual producer had gathered all of his flair and had designed and purchased stunning costumes. They were accessible and colorful—and as we found out later, easy to clean. They gave the show the appearance of legitimacy.

During the final rehearsal, which blended chaos with over-optimism, R. B. appointed himself cheerleader for the troupe. Whenever a note was missed or a cue ignored, he stepped in and said, “Don’t worry, guys. We’re going to do great.”

I probably should have stopped him, but before I could, one of his fellow-cast members snarled, “Hey, R. B., just because they’re dance slippers doesn’t mean you need to slip up.”

R. B. laughed, completely oblivious to the fact that he was being critiqued.

During the time of preparation for the evening’s fiasco, I made two requests: don’t drink too much water or you’ll sweat like a pig; and under no circumstances were any of the cast members to go into the lobby in costume—so we could keep the surprise of the quality costumes from the audience until stage time.

R. B. ignored both.

Feeling the need to use the bathroom because of over-watering his hole and not wanting to stand in line with his cast members at the facility backstage, he drifted his way through the halls to the lobby, where he not only used the bathroom donned in his costume, but stopped off to talk to the audience members in the foyer, who were complimenting him for his appearance.

Then, under the influence of the fumes of appreciation, he walked down through the auditorium and jumped onto the stage, where we were all waiting behind the curtain.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been any more infuriated—yet it was hardly the time for a teaching moment.

I took a deep breath, channeling my Knute Rockne, and tried to deliver a pregame speech.

I think I did pretty well, but all the cast members knew there were so many gaps in the training for the show that it was literally impossible for anything to happen short of the Hindenburg.

I still held out hope that maybe the god of dance would send angels to join us. He did not. Instead, arriving on opening night were the devils of dunce.

And I didn’t even take into consideration that the lack of preparation would be further complicated by nerves—great stage fright. There were at least five times when the musical came to a complete halt while the cast members stared at one another, wondering whose turn it was, and the audience giggled uncontrollably at the mishap unfolding before them.

I wanted to run.

The advertising had been so good that the theater was packed. There were two nights scheduled for Columbus before we hit the road—and both performances were headed toward standing room only.

Of course, I realized that once the word was passed about opening night’s bedevilment that few people would show up for the second go-round.

The little boy in me arrived. I wanted to disappear, go back to the rehearsal camp and wait for the cast to join me later. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was stand out in the lobby with my fumbling thespians. For of course, I knew it ultimately would be viewed as my fault. But I came and stood among them.

Back at the rehearsal camp, discussing what to do the next night—how to quickly simplify the choreography so as to not look quite so inept—and which songs to go over, R. B. spoke up, interrupting my instructions.

“Excuse me,” he said sprightly. “Guys, I think we did pretty good for our first try.”

Now, I’ve never been in a room with a lynch mob. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people to become so enraged that they grab someone and rush him into the forest, throw a rope over a tree bough and hang him on the spot. But I would venture to say that the cast came close to putting R. B. in a “neck-tie” that night.

I stepped in to protect him, but also rebuked him.  “Listen,” I said, “there’s nothing wrong with stinking and doing a shitty job, as long as you don’t pretend it doesn’t stink and that it’s not shitty. It was my job to get you guys ready. I didn’t do it. But it was your job tonight to give your best performance. As you go to your beds, you can ask yourselves if you did just that.”

R. B. was offended.

Matter of fact, I found out the next day that he stayed up crying to one of the girls about my “attack.”

I worked with the cast all the next day, and by the time we arrived for the second performance, we were miles further down the road than we were the night before.

Of course the problem was, the audience had decided to stay miles away.

Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 4

A rehearsal camp.

It is what we called the thirteen-day period leading up to the beginning of the tour of our musical.

The cast arrived: Mittie, Dan, Ginger, Greg, Luanne, Dollie, R. B., Matt and Blythe. Unfortunately, we had to axe Blythe and Matt because we caught them sleeping together in one of the bedrooms. We had a “no fraternization” policy for the cast, and Matt and Blythe—well, they screwed it.

Somehow or another, we’d landed an amazing facility for hosting this little shindig, with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a complete kitchen and a small gymnasium including a PA system for rehearsing. The owner of the location was so impressed with our endeavors that he only charged $150 a week. Unfortunately, I think we bounced a check to him. (We made it right.)

The mornings were spent learning music. This went great. Music was what I did. We also worked on some acting. Since all the members of the team had seen movies and television, we kind of wiggled and squirmed our way into understanding the characterization needed for their roles.

But afternoons did not go so well. They were set aside for choreography. Only one of our cast members could dance. All the others were either timid or inept, leaving our three choreographers in a constant, bitchy dismay. Two of this trio were fellows who had performed on Broadway—gay men (this was back in the time when the words “gay” and “men” never appeared in a sentence together.)

The other choreographer was a “mimist” from Miami (say that quickly five times). She was a Lesbian, though our cast was so unfamiliar with the term that they believed she was an immigrant from Lebanon.

So terrible was the movement portion of the play that a reporter from the city newspaper, who came to interview me and happened to sit in on a rehearsal, joked, “Hey. Don’t give up. You can always have the claim to fame that you came up with ‘collisionography.’”

I didn’t laugh. I should have. It might have kept me from crying.

The absolute worst of our dancers was R. B. He had two left feet, and that was just on his right leg. R. B. couldn’t dance. It’s not that he shouldn’t or wouldn’t—it needed to be forbidden.

The terrifying part of the situation was that R. B. was our most enthusiastic hoofer and believed with all his heart that he was heads and tails, if not feet, above the other cast members.

One day, in a fit of frustration, Gay Choreographer 1 screamed at him, “You dance like an elephant imitating a cow!”

The only reason R. B. knew to get offended was that the fellow was spitting angry. That night R. B. packed his bags, preparing to leave—and I consoled him into staying.

I lied.

I told him I had fired the choreographer who yelled at him, when actually the guy had quit in despair. So R. B. stood tall, stating to me, “That guy just doesn’t know talent when he sees it.”

I should have said something. I should have spoken up. But I was so afraid of losing a cast member less than two weeks from the start of the show that I remained silent and let a very cocky guy walk out of the room—setting us all up for a “Great Collision.”

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 25th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Process

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Ineffective

Stalled

Broken

Evaluated

Rejected

Offered

Refused

Presented

Snubbed

Condemned

Abandoned

Worthless

Available

Comical

Revisit

Curious

Concerned

Careful

Courageous

Cleanse

Scrape

Repair

Replace

Restructure

Reinvent

Renewal

Reveal

Tepid

Uncaring

Critical

Short-sighted

Persevere

Time

Chance

Music

Dance

Notice

Appreciation

Praise

Admired

Mine

Our guest reader this week is Janet, who lives in Florida with her family, and is a master musician.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 4th, 2018

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The Jubilee

Cashing in

Stop the buck

Help me win

Wish me luck

Two of a kind

Is easy to find

Believing in three

Can make you free

Life has time and chance

Children with heart join the dance

The music surrounds us every day

A truthful tune can make a way

The troubadour strums the people’s song

The band plays all night long

A rhythm emerges from the blues

As the Psalmist searches for hidden clues

Come hear the sound from all around

The children sing, spirit praise to bring

There is no reason

In any season

To deter the faithful

Or silence the grateful

I play my part

In the symphony

With all my heart

The Jubilee

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Ask Jonathots… September 29th, 2016

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I am always suspicious of superstition–blaming resistance on outside forces and nefarious entities. But at the same time I believe the blessings in life are always wrapped in hassle and difficulty. How can you tell the difference between the resistance that comes from a bad idea and the resistance that come from the brink of greatness?

In the moment of conflict, our personal reaction cannot be controlled.

Even though people insist they can “count to ten, take a deep breath” or “breathe a prayer” to muster a mature response to difficulty, we have already locked in our profile.

This is the essence of “turn the other cheek.”

Jesus is saying that we must literally choreograph our reactions. Otherwise we will spill out the abundance of our emotional turmoil.

Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if something comes from a nefarious source or if it’s just an inconvenience.

Our reaction determines if it will be elongated or eliminated.

So we should be working on an emotional sense of security. We are heart creatures. We don’t answer tribulation from our spirit. All communication comes from the abundance of our heart.

So where should we start?

We should work on the dance–the ability to know how to move when life tries to stop us. To do this we must learn to recognize the triggers that cause us to fall back into genetic or pre-programmed training instead of making our own pure choice.

1. If I’m angry and I do not reveal it, it will turn into frustration, which will make me incapable of handling any unwanted surprise.

2. If I feel cheated and don’t voice my concerns, I will accidentally look for ways to diminish the ego of others to match my depleted profile.

3. If I’m tired of trying, I will stop doing the necessary steps that make my effort productive and start acting entitled.

4. If I believe that I’m supposed to find my enemies in order to isolate and avoid them instead of love them and overcome them with wisdom, then I will become paranoid and find myself making new adversaries.

Even those evangelicals who fear Satan and his wiles need to realize that the punishment of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was to be cast down to Earth. In other words, evil has to work with Earth-bound fussiness to get at the believer.

So any way you look at it, the more you prepare for life by choreographing an emotional outlook that is not shocked by the arrival of setbacks, the better the chance that you can conquer problems–whether you believe they are natural or supernatural.

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 13th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Band Played

The Band Plays

Being snubbed

Wrong way rubbed

Feeling mean

Thoughts obscene

Needing air

Someone care

Trapped in a box

A collection of rocks

Fighting the rage

Turning the page

Sensitive to touch

Missing it too much

Crying for fairness

Probing for awareness

Stop staring at your “me”

And see the one that’s free

Prop open the door

Stop keeping score

Melt the frigid vicious

Warm the tepid malicious

Questing for a smile

Devoid of promotional guile

Spitting on the Earth

Origin of my birth

Escaping the empty proof

Shouting from the roof

“I am here! Please draw near!”

Just give me a chance

To catch up with the dance

Before you change the tune

The band plays too soon.

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G-Poppers … September 25th, 2015

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Practicing: working on something to get it to where you want it to be.

Practicing piano, football, dance, law–each one has a process. Each has a defined path which determines quality.

So let’s look further:

  • Practicing Judaism.
  • A practicing Muslim.
  • Practicing Buddhism.
  • A practicing Republican.
  • A practicing Democrat.
  • A practicing atheist.
  • A practicing Christian.

No difference?

In each case, there is a philosophy, a platform, a journey, an insight, a doctrine or a purpose which has to be acted out faithfully in order for the practitioner to be proven worthy.

G-Pop feels that we err when we think the conclusion of all the organizations and religions listed above are moving in the same direction. As ignorant as it is to be intolerant, it is equally as ignorant to be unaware of what the end result is to the religions, politics and procedures around us.

To find out what a Muslim believes, you have to study Mohammed. He is their prophet.

To find out what a Jew believes, you must combine the Torah with the prophets, and a study of the Jewish kings.

To understand a Buddhist, one must consider Buddha.

A Republican is comprehended by looking at the climate of the Party in its present form and also perusing the platform.

Likewise with a Democrat.

An atheist seems to make it quite clear that his or her pursuits are absent any recognition of a deity.

So it may seem to be intelligent or even high-minded to throw everybody in a big pot and say we’re all the same, but as long as the people in that pot believe they are unique or even superior, then you’re not making a human stew–just a pot with stewing humans.

Even as G-Pop looks at his life as a Christian, he sees that it falls into three categories:

Is he a Judeo-Christian, believing that the Old Testament has as much anointing as the New Testament?

Is he a Catholic Christian, in the sense of finding his solace in the teachings of the Roman Church and the authority of the Pope?

Or is he a Pauline Christian, pursuing the instruction of the Apostle Paul as regards the formation of a New Testament congregation?

G-Pop offers a fourth alternative: Jesonian–basing one’s faith and practice on the heart and mind of Jesus.

So before you condemn others–or condone them–sit down and read up a little bit on what they treasure, and realize that in the eyes of God there are only two standards for a civilized and spiritual society:

1. How do we treat women?

Are they equals or subordinate in any way?

2. How do we educate our children?

Do we lock them into a narrow-minded curriculum, force them into a limited culture or give them more of a world-based view?

G-Pop passes this information along to all of his children.

“Study to show yourself approved unto God.” Don’t make so many blanket statements.

Understand who and what you’re talking about, and realize that what people practice they will not only preach … they will also act out.

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