Blog Archives

Fluent Magazine is NOW AVAILABLE!

Take a look at Fluent Magazine, the on-line Arts, Culture and Events magazine for the Eastern Panhandle area.

Yours truly is one of the Associate Editors on it, having written reviews of the CATF season and an article on CATF Director Ed Herendeen.

What’s more there are articles on art, poetry, fiction and much more. And you can subscribe for free!

I hope you’ll take a look at it.

Sitting over at Mellow Moods…

John Case was still away, so I did the morning radio show alone and unprepared… but it went OK. Now I’m over at the Mood for post-show coffee and talking with local friends who hang out here.

Can’t tell what the weather will be like for the rest of the day. It’s nice out now, but there are some dark clouds rolling over and it is a little windy… if we have rain later in the day I won’t be surprised.

Shepherdstown is setting up for an active weekend. Tomorrow is Eastern Panhandle Earth Day at Morgans Grove Park all afternoon and into the evening. There is the Really, Really Free yard sale on The Wall on German Street both Saturday and Sunday. And, of course, I have my regular WSHC show, Talk To Me, tomorrow from 11 AM to 1:00 PM.

Elly is doing a lot of different things today and, I guess, for the rest of the weekend, so I’m pretty much on my own. We’ll see how it goes.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Looking for a Project…

The hardest part of being a retired guy stuck in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is the lack of creative projects to get involved with that take up a substantial amount of time. So now I’m looking…

I have no current theatre projects to direct or design for, nothing I am currently writing (aside from this blog), no artwork I’m painting, drawing or sculpting, no public commissions or organizations I am participating in. Frankly, this is a boring November, and if it were’nt for family and dogs I’d be at the bottom of a depression.

So I am about to go sit at Mellow Moods to see who comes in that I can chat with who might have something going that I could latch on to.

Another day…….

I’m getting really pissed off with AT&T…

We’ve been setting up our new iPhones connected to the AT&T network that we’ver been on for a couple of years now. I though it might help our calling get better, but it turns out that the problem is god damned AT&T.

Now it used to be worse… we had Verizon, whose coverage here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is even worse than AT&T’s.

At certain times of day (two in the morning, for instance) I have little or no problem dialing up from cellphone using the AT&T network. However, at the height of the day, our connection dribbles off and on and has me walking all over the house to see if any of those little bars pop back up at the top of the screen.

Aside from complaining to AT&T constantly (they have done nothing to improve the situation in the last couple of years), I’m not sure what can be done. I want my iPhone. I don’t want Verizon. I want AT&T to wise up and improve the situation. If a little company like Vonage can do it, why can’t AT&T?

Looks like I’ll be doing the radio show alone tomorrow…

John Case is down with the cold I had for close to a week and now he’s asked me to do the 7:30 – 9:00 AM Winners and Losers show alone tomorrow.

I hope you can tune in to WSHC at 89.7 fm tomorrow ( on line if you are out of the Eastern Panhandle area) and even call in (304-876-5369) if you want to speak your piece.

I think John has someone from a film festival coming in…don’t know much about it but we’ll see. Meanwhile, I’ll be taking calls, complaining about how Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Kasich in Ohio are helping the rich and screwing the workers… stuff like that. You’re most welcome to participate.

Pondering the differences between British and American television…

I guess it started when they put Doc Martin on Public Broadcasting, specifically on WNET in Washington, DC, one of the three PBS stations we get on the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (oddly enough, none of them are West Virginia stations.)

WNET was showing the first season of Doc Martin, a series about an unpleasant local doctor in a seaside town called Port Wenn and the effect he has on the community…and the community on him. It is both funny and serious and has a group of characters which get intellectually deeper every week… and, like the theatre guy that I am, I wanted to get more of it without waiting for next week…so I discovered that Hulu had the three seasons that have already run in the UK (there’s a fourth season coming out this year) and I watched all of the episodes over a two-day period.

One of the things that got me into Doc Martin was the range of interpersonal subject matter, something a doctor show can get you…look at House over here, for instance (something I will refer to again shortly)… with certain repeated elements (Doc became a GP after a career as a great surgeon because he developed a fear of blood; Doc’s Aunt Joan, who he stayed with in the summer as a child, indicates a family cause for the doctor’s unpleasant interpersonal attitude, which leads to a clash with his parents in the third season.)

When I got to the end of the available episodes on Hulu (something PBS won’t be getting around to for at lesast another year), I followed a site recommendation to try another British show called “Kingdom.” Kingdom refers to Peter Kingdom, who is the head of a law office in a small market town. It ran for three seasons in England and then was not renewed by ITV, which was unfortunate because the third season ended with the audience up in the air over who Peter Kingdom’s real father was.

The main character is played by Stephen Fry, an actor who I have come to be very fond of over the years… first as a minor role player in Black Adder, then in sections of the American series Bones, where he played a an FBI psychiatrist who eventually became a chef, and in occasional bits and pieces which have been run from an 80’s series – Fry and Laurie – with Hugh Laurie, who now plays the American doctor House without so much as a hint of a British accent. I had wondered what Fry did with himself when Laurie came over here…where he apparently has moved his family and is going into a seventh-or-so season. What he did was a great deal, and Kingdom is part of it.

Kingdom goes way beyond what I get from American television series. It does not depend on solving murders as a plot device, which most of our hour-long features find der rigeur. It has main characters who have extreme mental problems (Kingdom’s half-sister is a medication dependent schizophrenic, his half- brother, thought dead in the first series, is a lawyer and failed gambler who has apparently crossed the mob, but who appears alive in the second series only to die before the third), legal issues which are alarmingly local to anyone who watches our legal shows, and virtually no dependence on sex as a motivating factor (which doesn’t mean that people don’t have affairs, pregnancies, etc… it’s just a part of life.)

Kingdom led me to a half-hour comedy which ran for two seasons (2002-2003) in England and, while considered a “situation comedy”. is anything but. Created by an American-Born Scottish writer, Annie Griffin, The Book Group takes seven individuals in Glasgow and puts them into a weekly meeting of readers who discuss a specific book each week. The founder of the group is Claire, an American… played by Anne Dudek who also went on for two seasons of House…  who is looking for a way to meet people… and, frankly, to get laid. Then there are three women who are married to or live with football (soccer to us) stars, a starting writer trapped in a wheelchair after a mountain climbing accident who also does wheelchair racing, a minimally spoken football fan who turns out to be the gay lover of one of the wives of the footballers, and a heroin addict who is working on a PhD in literature.

It fascinates me that whole sections, and funny ones, in this series are concerned with masturbating, drug use, splattered with language we’d never get away with here, and unconcerned by nudity and oral sex. Did I say it was a half-hour situation comedy? It ran two seasons and I am halfway through the second season now. I’ll see where the next show is that I am led to, but it is likely to be another British one.

It is so unfortunate that shows like this, in an uncensored form, are not possible over here. Oh, we get Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows with beeps on every other word… but it is my sense that, in the English version, language is language and the bleeps don’t occur. And words like “fuck” and “shit” which we couldn’t use by any means are  common and repeated.

Perhaps it is the age of the culture. Perhaps it is generations more in the development of a society. Whatever it is, it is something we don’t have here. Don’t you miss actual realism?

I dislike living in West Virginia… but I’m stuck!

I have to admit I’m not crazy about living in West Virginia (although, fortunately, the Eastern Panhandle is so little like most of West Virginia that it makes being here almost tolerable.) We have, yes, two Democratic Senators… one a Rockefeller (which means more like a Progressive Republican like brother Nelson was) and the other, just elected, was a “conservative” Democrat Governor and got elected by advertising his conservativeness, his NRA alliance, his opposition to Cap and Trade and his remarkable connection with the coal industry (fortunately his opponent was a loony who really lives in Florida.) When people ash what kind of state WV is, to comment is usually a “Republican State.”

I mentioned that the Eastern Panhandle was somewhat different. It is fairly Progressive and has a population with a higher academic background than most of the state. It often carries for Democrats when the rest of the state goes Republicans… and it has a fairly large number of long-distance commuters who work in Washington DC.

We are a distinctly polluted state… between coal pollution from blowing the tops off our mountains, to Chemical Pollution from big DuPont plants which are, essentially, unregulated… and avoid stopping the large corporations (whose officers do not live in the state for the most part) from polluting us further.

When you look for a job in this state you find that there is not the kind of availabilty you find in the DC area, or the NYC area, or even in the Hartford, CT, area. Oh, there are some construction jobs that won’t last given the economy. There are some retail slots, if you can afford to work for Wal-Mart. There are a few Federal Jobs (National Parks, NCSC and others) which have hard-to-get-into rules. And there are some teaching jobs… but these don’t turn over quickly and are fairly low paying. I suppose, given the outrageous number of churches, there are some religious jobs too… just found your own church and hold your hand out for dough. Not sure how, as an atheist, I could do that in good conscience.

I’m here, however, and it doesn’t look like I have a way out, given the economy, my age and my general health. It’s a good thing I can escape to the Internet.

The future starts today, more or less…

Today I am cooking hors d’oeuvres for the Green Room at the ACFF tonite…vegan dumplings and falafel balls that I’ll deep fry and put in a Sterno tray. I have to bring them over to the Men’s Club by 3:00 PM, so I’ll start cooking at 11:30. It is raining outside (the dogs and I got soaked on their walk) and I’m not sure how the rain will effect ACFF attendance. We’ll have to see.

It’s nice to have the ACFF this weekend… it will help take my mind off the Tea Party Travesty which will put our government into a non-working freeze… or, perhaps, a couple of years of Presidential prosecution as the subpoena-powered Republicans go after Obama and his Administration on any grounds they can. Not since the rise of Newt Gingrich will we see two more hideous years of political destruction.

It does give me an impetus to start working, soon, on the 2012 campaigns… although West Virginia is probably the worst place to begin. As Democratic venues go, the Eastern Panhandle is not like the rest of the State, where existing Democrats are as conservative as New England Republicans… and Republicans are so far to the Right that they are about to fall off their flat Earth.

The blogosphere will be the initial battleground for 2012… it doesn’t cost much to play and there is really no other place to make National connections in such an easy way. I guess I’m warning you folks who don’t want to get politically involved so soon to ignore the posts… but don’t stay away. I’ll keep up the arts and local news coverage and report my feelings and thoughts as well. As well as I can do it, there will still be something for everyone.

Onward and upward.