Sunday, December 10, 2017

Down Under - Upside down

There is a YouTube post by a seemingly intelligent man who identifies himself as an educated lawyer. He is pleading the case that the Earth is actually a flat disk and not the round ball we have been told it is.  To prove his point he has a model airplane and two models of the Earth.  One Earth is a flat disk, sort of a round map on a table. The other is the traditional elementary school globe we all grew up with.  
With these visual aids he uses the example of an airplane trip from Los Angeles to Sydney Australia to prove the Earth is flat.  This is the part that originally caught my attention since it was my exact itinerary last week. 
Holding the plane over Los Angeles on the flat map he says, “Here is a trip to Austrailia.” He moves the plane across the map as if it was flying to Sydney.  When it arrives he says, “You will notice that the plane is still up right, it hasn’t changed its perspective. That is normal, that is the way planes fly.”
He then moves the model plane to the globe and holds it above Los Angeles, and says, “Now watch what happens when you assume the Earth is a ball” 
The man follows the curvature of the Earth with the plane until it reaches bottom of the globe and the continent of Austrailia. “Look at the plane.” He says with the excitement of turning lead into gold. “The plane is upside down.  It is no longer right side up.  Planes can’t fly like this... we don’t land upside down in Austrailia, therefore the Earth is flat.”  .....  You just can’t argue with logic like that.


I am here to tell you that the Earth is not flat.  Down-under is not upside down, but there are things that are reversed down here.  Of course they drive on the “other” of the road causing me to take my life in my hands everytime I cross the street.  The water does swirl down the drain in the opposite direction, and The Burger King chain is called Hungry Jack. (Some rule about using the word King for a burger joint).  
But nothing has affected me more than my sudden personal reversal. 
When I started doing my act I was most always the youngest person in a  show.  I usually performed with people older than myself, sometimes it was only a few years difference but the younger you are the greater the gap between age seems to be. 
I was cast in the Shazam Show when I was a junior in college. I replaced Sammy King for a week or two during my spring break from University of North Texas.  The show was John Daniels Magic show at the Carillon hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.  One of the dancers was my age but we were the babies of that cast. I grew up a little during the run, but the green had not turned yet.
Other than John’s Magic Illusions there was my act and a vaudeville act called Elza and Waldo.  They were seasoned pros, who did a silent adagio dance act that was hysterically funny. I am guessing they were in their late 50’s or early 60’s which seemed very old to me at the time. Of course this was almost 50 years ago and back then anything over 20 years of age was ancient to me.   Elza and Waldo were amazing to study.  Every stage moment had been polished to perfection and I watched them from the wings every night.   I remember thinking that this kind of skill and polish only comes with the perfection of time.  They just had done it for so long it was as natural as their heart beat.  Perhaps I was peering into the future. 

I am now rehearsing a show that is not that much different from the Shazam Show 50 years ago. It has dancers and singers, a great band, magic and novelty acts.  At the time of the Shazam show, Miami was as foreign to a Texas ventriloquist as Austrailia is to a California Ventriloquist today.  But here is the upside down reversal: I am older now than Elza and Waldo were when they did  the Shazam show. I am the oldest member of this cast and it is a role I am not familiar with.   In my mind I am still a college kid looking for a good audience to play with but that is not the reality.  I have been performing more than twice as long as this cast (and crew) has been alive.  To them I am Waldo and Bob is Elza. (Bob would probably reverse the metaphor).  Thanks to Elza and Waldo, I think I know what I am supposed to do.  Elza and Waldo just did their act, they didn’t try to tell us how to do ours, nor did they try to tout their massive years of experience.  They were nice people who just did the best act they could every night they got the chance.  While I was watching them from the stage right wings every night, I knew I was learning something.... I now know what that something was.  

There may be someone watching me from stage right at sometime during this run.  If there is, I will probably never know about it as I don’t plan to look. It is my job to silently pay it forward and, like Elza and Waldo, use every minute of my stage experience to do the best show I can. I have been learning this part in the Unbelievables all my life.  Perhaps a reversal is no more than a conscious rebirth.  More later,
As you were,
Jay 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

What is a Tam-Worth?


I have been telling everyone for weeks that I was going to Australia to open a new show at the Sydney Opera House.  I am here in Australia now but only saw the Sydney Opera house several miles away from a bus window as we left the city to the  hinterlands of down under.  This is the first chance that I have had to reflect on the journey so far. 
After the fifteen hour flight from Los Angeles I met up with the six memebers of the band outside of customs.  It was two days later than when I left Los Angeles, it is summer time in Australia and I was jet lagged to the max. It is very odd to see snowy pictures of Santa and his reindeer in 75 degree temperature and 60% humidity.  
A driver with a sign led us to a small van in the parking structure and we loaded in.  I was the only one who didn’t know the rest of the this group. They introduced themselves to me.  A couple of the guys started in New York before a quick layover to  board the same plane I was on to Sydney.  They were jet lagged on steroids and still nice people.  We  settled in for ride to our accommodations. No one knew much more than I did about what was happening next. The British composer for the group asked the driver where we were headed.  The driver said, Tamworth.  The next question was how long is the drive to this place called Tamworth. 
I’m not sure if it was the giggle of surprised laughter or the gasp of total shock that reverberated through the van when the driver said, “It’s about a 5 and a half or six hour drive.”   There was silence that fell over the group as we realize this was not a joke.  Some one said, “I thought they said it was an hour and a half”.  We were about to spend the next 5 hours in this van.  Evidently the local plane connections did not work with our arrival time, complicated by the two hour delay we had taking off in LA.  
As we talked about it we realized that we were technically taking the show out of town to prep and rehearse rather than spend the high end money at the Sydney Opera house to work out the details.  Tamworth was the cheapest place that was also big enough to accommodate a show as large as this one.  The ride was every bit of 5 hours, on top of the 15 hours (in some cases the 20 hours for the New York guys) on a plane.  The country side was alternately the look of a coastal California trip with pastures of horses, sheep and the occasional wallaby siting  in the growth of Eucalyptus groves. But no one knew anything about this place called Tamworth.  
Time was passed with alternate sleeping, joking and talk about the adventure of putting together this new show.  The composer had written individual theme music for all the acts and the musicians had put words to all the melodies.  They sang the Jay Johnson theme to me several times.  It was much funnier to them than it was to me, but in context to the adventure I was honored.  
As we get closer to arrival in Tamworth the roadside billboards start to give us the flavor of where we are headed.  It seems that Tamworth is the “country music capital” of Austrailia. It looked like we were headed to Pigeon Forge, or Nashville lite.  Advertised on billboards was a rodeo,  stock show,  and several Aussies in cowboy hats, glittery costumes and guitars.  Although I was having trouble remembering the name of the town it suddenly made since to me.  Tamworth.... like Fort Worth. Worth being the operative subjective noun.  
We arrive at the Best Western Motel which is our destination.  We immediately see a group of older people gathered in a circle outside their motel room smoking cigarettes and drinking beer as if it were a southern front porch.  Their pick up truck is backed into the parking place in front of the room and serves as the buffet and beer bar.  This is a typical motel you would find at any touristy destination in America, but after 20 hours of travel even the Plaza Hotel would have been a let down.  No one says anything as the van finally stops.  There is no great rush to get out and grab our stuff.  Finally the only girl in this group on the bus says, “I see a white butterfly. It is all good”.  I confirm she said “white butterfly” and she said “That is very good luck”.  It was what everyone was waiting for... some good news for the day.  


As we check in,  a lady in the lobby  who identifies herself as the company manager,  gives us per diem cash and we check in.  I am a walking zombie as the very nice girl behind the counter is very chipper and very Australian. She says in an accent that does not translate in my groggy head. “Jez sien yer name, and giv a mobi nooba, in thu squah”. I sign my name and say, “What else?”
She repeats “jez yer mobi noomba”.  I am no closer to understanding the second time.  I look at her very intently and ask again.  She looks as intently back at me, like I was her aging grandfather and repeats two more times, slowly but no more distinctly.  As if my brain was looking for information off the web with a dial up modem it finally comes to me that she is asking for my “MOBILE NUMBER’.  As if I have solved a difficult puzzle I say, “Oh my Mobile Number.” The girl smiles and says “Thatz rit” as the entire band in unison says, “Your cell number you stupid American.” Most of us have a big laugh.
 I say, “I don’t know you all very well yet,  but this is a long tour and I don’t quickly forget things like this.”  They laughed again, but the truth is- they don’t know me at all.... nor the wooden  friends I hang out with.  This is not the last laugh by any means measurable.  More later,
As you were,
Jay

Friday, November 24, 2017

The other Side of the Picture

I don’t know Al Franken.  I have always enjoyed his writing and his comedy. I also agree with most of his politics.  And in my opinion we need him in the Senate as much as Alabama believes they need Roy Moore, and for the same political reasons. I am not drawing the Presidential distinction of who admitted it and who didn’t and pairing that with guilt. However,  all allegations being equal between the two of them, Franken has not been accused by women who were under age at the time.  

 I am certainly not here to defend Franken’s female encounters, especially since  I was not present at the time nor know anything except what has been in the news.  I take him at his word and take the accusers at their word and believe his apologies are sincere.  His first accuser stated that the apology was satisfactory to her. But another woman has come forward saying he “copped a feel” during the taking of a picture.

Today Al Franken released this statement.
 
"I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women -- and I know that any number is too many."

The truth is, I am also a warm person;  and I hug people male and female. Often I kiss friends during that hug, male and female.  Although I have never consciously been aware of crossing a line, there is no doubt that I have put myself in that position.  Add that personality trait to the fact that I am a celebrity, to some,  and I am often asked to take pictures with people I have never met before.  I have never refused an autograph or denied a picture to anyone if it was safe and friendly to do so. In the 30 years I have been trying to accommodate the pictures and selfies of fans, I have been grabbed on the butt, squeezed a little to closely and kissed on the cheek numerous times as the camera clicks.   I assumed it was all in good fun, and part of the job description of the profession I have chosen.  
But perhaps I have a case against some of those fans.  In retrospect I can get my feelings hurt years later and claim all kinds of abuse.  Take this picture for example.  I barely remember this encounter,  and don’t remember her name if she even told it to me. I was just trying to be nice and pose in a picture her friend took.   I have litterally taken thousands of such pictures.  By evidence of the name tags and the background I can date the picture to July of 2009. I have not obscured her face since she is the one who published it on Facebook even tagging my name.  


I wasn’t aware she was making fun of me with an insulting hand gesture as the camera flashed. It was probably one of several pictures taken with others at that same spot on that same day.   Had I never seen it I would never have known. However:
Did I feel insulted and taken advantage of when I saw it posted on Facebook? You bet.  Did it hurt my feelings a little that I had agreed to pose in good faith only to be made fun of in a photo, you bet. Was I demeaned by the fact that I was the only one not in on the joke? Absolutely!  Will it go any further than this blog, Absolutely Not.  In the words of Hyman Roth from Godfather II, 
“It is part of the profession we have chosen.”
I doubt she intended to insult me, to objectify me in a joke, it was just a funny idea, perhaps.  I know for sure I have had a joke go wrong, an action misinterpreted and probably crossed a line I did not know existed.  
I once caught hell from a woman when I held the door open for her.  Didn’t mean it to be insulting, it was the way I was raised, like saying, Yes Ma’am and No Sir. It was something a polite “gentleman” did.  I am now aware this action might offend some,  but in my defense, I don’t want to get yelled at for slamming the door in a lady’s face or pushing past her to get in a building first. It is called being human, and learning from your mistakes.

I am not saying to all the accusers who were abused, “get over it”. I am not saying to abusers “how were you supposed to know”.   I am saying to everyone who takes a “holier than thou attitude” on this matter, look in the mirror, we are all guilty.  We are all unsure of the line, male and female and it is only a matter of severity as to how far we go across. 

If we had a different Political leader we might be able to have a constructive discussion on the subject.  But stuborn denial of facts is his MO. This is coupled with his belief that “if you don’t admit it- it did not happen” .  We can all heal from this and become a better society but not while there is a large orange Elephant in the room that we pretend isn’t there.  
 As you were,
Jay

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Repost from the 50th Anniversary

Kennedy Connection

I am not an avid reader but I have read almost every book on the subject of the Kennedy Assassination. (I can even spell assassination without looking it up). There have been some completely loony theories, some creative theories and some compelling theories on the subject. I have my own opinion based upon the local coverage from WFAA in Dallas immediately after the shooting.  
I am not a "lone gunman" believer.  I will never be sure exactly how Oswald was involved, but think he was more of a patsy than anything else. Once you open up the possibility that it was a planned operation it gets difficult to follow. It is not so important if the secret service driver of the limo pulled a hand gun and shot the President, or if it was E. Howard Hunt who shot the President from a storm drain below Elm Street. Obviously those are crucial details in the murder but what group is responsible for the plot to kill the President. Three groups are usually thought of as suspects.  They are:

1) The CIA. It is true that Kennedy didn't like the CIA and they didn't like him.  He was supposed to support the CIA Bay of Pigs invasion with air support but he didn't and the operation was a disaster.  Kennedy was quoted as saying he was going to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds". 
Side note: Allen Dulles, head of the CIA was fired by Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs incident. Several of his staff resigned in protest including deputy director Charles Cabell.  Allen Dulles was later appointed to the Warren Commission by Lyndon Johnson.

2)The Mafia.  It is believe that the Mob helped Kennedy get elected in a very close race with Nixon.  There were voting districts in the Chicago area that seem to have been as tainted as any in Florida during the 2000 election.  Sam Giancana, the Chicago boss, was said to have "influenced" the ballot boxes in several districts.  However, once in office JFK unleashes his brother as Attorney General who began to crack down on organized crime with a manic passion.  Carlos Marcello, New Orleans mob boss was dogged by Robert Kennedy and is quoted as saying, "Take the stone from my shoe" meaning get Bobby Kennedy off his back.  Santos Trafficante the Miami/Cuba mob boss said, "If you cut the dogs tail off the head will still bite. If you cut the dogs head off the tail no longer wags." The Traficante idea was, kill the president and his brother will no longer be the Attorney General. After he heard that President Kennedy had been killed, Jimmy Hoffa is quoted as saying "Well, that makes Bobby Kennedy just another lawyer, doesn't it?" (Five years later Bobby was assassinated when it looked like he might become president) 

3)Wealthy Texas Right Wing Radicals.  Dallas hated Kennedy and the day he arrived for the visit there was a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News accusing him of treason and calling for his impeachment.  Months before Adli Stevenson was physically assaulted by a protester when he was visiting Dallas, Texas. Dallas in particular, was a hot bed of hatred toward the Kennedys. Earl Cabell was mayor of Dallas at the time of the assassination. He was the third generation of a Cabell as mayor of Dallas. His Father and Grandfather had both been mayor of Dallas. More importantly Earl Cabell is the brother of Charles Cabell ousted deputy director of the CIA.  The fact that the route of the motorcade through Dallas needed the Mayor's approval has always been a curious connection to the tragedy. 

It is possible to make a case that any one of these three "groups" could have motive to plan and execute the assassination. They were all one in reality.  Here is how they connect.
It is easy to connect the Mafia and the CIA. They were both working together to take Cuba back from Castro. For the CIA it was strategic and for the Mob it was business since all their casinos had been nationalized and then closed by Castro. Frank Angelo Fiorini was in several branches of the United States military, aided Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution of 1958, and worked as an undercover operative for the CIA. When Castro won the revolution he appointed Frank Fiorini as "head of national gaming" for Cuba. Fiorini was the contact between Castro and the Mafia operations of the casinos for a year after the revolution.  Fiorini left Cuba when Castro closed the mafia hotels. It is obvious he continued in the employ of the CIA. Frank Fiorini later changed his name to Frank Sturgis and was arrested in the Watergate Break in. He alone proves the link between the CIA, Cuba and the Mafia. 
It is also easy to connect rich Texas Right Wing radicals with the CIA at the time.  In the early late 50's early 60's George H.W. Bush owned the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling in Houston Texas. Although Mr. Bush would later become head of the CIA, Vice-President and eventually President there is no proof that he was CIA during his oil company days. However, two of the ships used in the Bay of Pigs invasion (provided by a wealthy un-named Texas oil man) were named the "Zapata" and the "Barbara" two names closely associated with George H.W. Bush. In the Warren commission it states that private citizen George H. W. Bush was "briefed" on the assassination investigation by the government the day after the event.  This was before Mr. Bush was part of the official government. He was one of the only private citizens to receive an official briefing.  I am not implying that "George the first" had anything to so with the assassination of John Kennedy. I simply point out that the over lap between the prime suspects in this case is more than coincidental. 
So there you have it 50 years later and it is still a mystery.  I suggest it will always be.  There is no smoking gun proof of anything including the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I am pretty sure the Warren Commission got it wrong, but it will be the only story that will survive ultimately.  Twenty-five years from now we will find an empty file that will lead to more mystery.
As you were,
Jay   

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Peacock Theater, Frisco, TX

In a world  dominated by artificial intelligence/ alternate  reality and streaming video I am happy to say,  Variety Arts/ Stage performance is alive and very active at the Peacock Theatere in Frisco, Texas.

If you think Frisco, Texas,  sounds like an odd place for jugglers, ventriloquists, magicians, sword swallowers, mimes and performance artists to gather and display their talents.... Well,  it’s “other worldly”  to a former Texan  like myself.  

When I was living in Richardson, Texas, during high school,  the small town of Frisco was only 21 miles north, but  there was absolutely no reason to ever go there.  It was ranch and farm land of little use to a budding ventriloquist, future Los Angelan, actor and Tony Award winner, like myself.
Well times have changed. Dallas and Fort Worth have become a metroplex which rivals Southern California for its massive urban foot print. Frisco is ranch land no longer, rather it is the very cutting edge of  the DFW juggernaut. When Randy Pitchford was looking for a place to expand his Computer software company, Gearbox, the prairies of Frisco were available
If the name Randy Pitchford, Gearbox or the computer game Borderland is not familiar, then the rest of this blog may not make logical sense to you. But,  if you Google the unfamiliar and connect the dots it makes complete sense.


 The Peacock Theater,  Mecca for  Variety performance, is located in the mind and at the home of Randy Pitchford.
SO, the question is:  Why would a computer game mogul care about the world of variety artists?  Much less build a place for performance artists to  perform? 

I am here to try and explain.
   
Of all of Randy’s credits I did not realize until this last week-end that he worked as a Magician for Wizards on Universial’s CityWalk.  This is the Rosetta Stone of the entire story.  It is crucial to understanding The Peacock Theater.  

Randy Pitchford is a magician. 
As Randy was building his company headquarters in Frisco, he was also building his new North Texas home.  With the same attention to detail, needed to program a computer game, Randy build his new house.  The fact that the Peacock Theater is located at the Pitchford house, is lost in the labyrinth of hidden rooms, secret passages, and built in magical effects that define the home itself.  But this is not an architectual review of the property it is about the meta-concept of the Peacock Theater.
  
Although extremely successful in the digital world, Randy is at heart a  magician.  As a ventriloquist I am allowed admittance to the world of magic so I can comment objectively. Randy loves magic and can trace his lineage to one of the most celebrated magicians in history, Cardini. ( Magicians will not have to Google Cardini, but laymen are encouraged to do so) . Randy understands LIVE performance, and is now using his good fortune to encourage and promote it. The Pichford Plan is to prove that modern day vaudeville is viable.  I have been waiting all of my life and my career for Vaudeville Theater to return to America.

This is only the context for the story I want to tell. In an example of “Variety Arts meets High Tech”, here is how the show down happened.

I am sitting at the kitchen/bar of the Pitchford estate when one of the other invited guests notices I am wearing my Mickey Mouse wrist watch. He says, “I like your watch”
He then proudly shows me that his Apple Watch is displaying a Mickey Mouse Watch face with an  animated Mickey Mouse tapping his foot with the seconds.  
My analogue watch does  not do that.  
The owner of the Apple Watch then says...
“And mine will do this”.
He taps the face of the Apple Watch and the animated Mickey Mouse  says, “It’s 12:40.” 
My analogue watch does  not do that.   
However, since I am a ventriloquist, and not to be out done by a techno geek,  I simply tapped my own watch and it said, “It’s 12:41 - Fuck you”
Fortunately the small audience at the Pickford kitchen bar appreciated skill and understood the context of my come back. 

I hope someday to play the Pitchford Circut. 

As you were,
Jay


Friday, October 27, 2017

How I met JoAnne Worley.

My Friend JoAnne
Great stories always have an unexpected twist.  I have told this one before but another chapter was added just last Saturday evening.
I’ll start there.  
As the MC of an Anniversary Show last Saturday night for CSL-LA, I got the honor of introducing my friend Joanne Worley to those gathered. This is perhaps the easiest job any master of  ceremonies could have.  Everyone knows Joanne Worley, especially this audience. It happens to be the congregation of the church we both attend.  Although I will claim to have known JoAnne several decades others have known her much longer than me.  So I decide to tell the story of how Joanne and I met as part of her introduction.
I have told it many times since it happened in 1978 but I have never told it from stage before.  I did write about it in this blog 7 years ago, here is a link to that story. My introductory version at the Anniversary Show was somewhat abbreviated.

You never forget a story when there is a foreign militiaman holding an automatic weapon on you and has taken possession of your passport.  It was also the first time I had ever been on a cruise ship, and the first time I was cast in an actual film.  I don’t remember much about the plot of the movie, nor much of the cruise itself, and I don’t think I even read the entire script.  I was playing the part of a ship entertainer with a few scenes that connected my act to the mystery plot of the film.  I have never seen it, if it was ever indeed released - even for television. There is a reference to the movie on my IMDB but it also says it was an animated feature with other actors that I have never met.

It was a somewhat hap hazzard production.  They had not taken into account the electrical needs of all the lights and cameras which put a big strain on the aging ship.  There was always the fear that the next take would blow up the ships generator.  It was comforting to hear the director yell “cut” instead of hearing a loud explosion from the engine room.  
All of that is really irrelevant to my meeting JoAnne that morning.  She got the cruise director who eventually got me on the boat and released from dockside detainment.  If I had never seen JoAnne again after that she would still be my nautical heroine forever.
So, I tell this story to introduce JoAnne and was pleased it got some laughs.  JoAnne of course was her charming, bubbly self on stage, the night of out church show, singing parodies and yes even doing ventriloquism with a puppet chicken during her act.  JoAnne can command a stage and control an audience in a way that only comes from her incredible talent and years of experience.

Ah, but every great story has an unexpected twist. Some twists take 40 years in the reveal.

At this show was the wife of a church member.   She said she was a fan of JoAnne and me and had been for a very long time. She always wanted to tell us her story.  This is what she said.

At 12 years old her parents wanted to take her on vacation.  They chose to join the passengers of the Marconi with an ocean cruise from New York to Santo Domingo and back.  It just happened that this was the very cruise I would join mid way through to shoot the movie with JoAnne.  She vaguely remembers a scuffle at the dock in Santo Domingo but didn’t realize I was the instigation of that affair.
 When she figured out a movie was being made on the ship, she became fascinated by the process of film production.  She followed the crew from set up to set up and watched every take.  She lost interest in all the official ship board activities and preferred to spend the days at sea watching grips and electricians make movie magic.  It was a turning point in her life.  She said, “That is the moment I realized I wanted to be in that business.”  She is now a successful union card holding movie crew member.
She said, “When I heard you and JoAnne were going to be here together, I wanted to tell you how much you changed my life.”  Then she said, “I can’t believe you told that very story tonight.”   To be perfectly honest, I can’t believe I told that particular story either.  We took a picture of the three of us to commemorate the evening.
The legendary Marconi cruise proves:
Life is an Adventure and the definition of and Adventure is: An experience for which the outcome is unknown.  We never know exactly what will happen at the next moment of our lives nor how it might change us forever.  The moral here is, make every moment count.
As you were,
Jay 




Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My First day without a Mother


It was difficult to get Mom to smile for a picture.
This is one of her smiles I like the most.
It is a grainy still frame from a video I took
at her 90th birthday before she realize I was
filming.  
Although my Mom has been leaving us for some time now, yesterday she moved on physically. Her last few years were like the journey of many elderly people. We have come to a point where medical technology can keep the old alive, but not necessarily living.   The ultimate irony is that we keep a body alive only to lose the mind inside.

I was last with her two weeks ago when my brother, sister and I went to see her in Dallas.  All three kids together with her, the four of us alone.  There was enough Pampy inside to let us have moments of genuine eye contact and maybe a sentence or two.  Her stories were mostly nonsense to us.  She seemed to follow them quite well for a moment or two.  
At one point she said very clearly, “The Boys are telling me it’s about time to shut this thing down.” Since that is a very Toler family expression and she always referred to her brothers as THE boys we kids assumed she was referring to her brothers who have all passed, two within the last year.  Clearly she was in communication with them and they were getting anxious to have her join Dad and the family.  

I have communicated more with Pampy though my heart than actual conversation over the last year.  As the “middle child” I claim a relation with Pampy that is different from my only younger sister and my only older brother.  Since I left the house at 21 years old most of my relationship with Pampy has been by phone, and more recently by email.  In fact for a long time I wrote this blog for her enjoyment alone. She told me once she felt like she knew what I was doing when I wrote the blog stories. Her exact words were, “I can keep up with you.”  There were a couple of times she took my comedy seriously and I had to explain it was a joke. I suspect that she is able to read it with more clarity now.

I could always call Mom and talk to her, particularly in lonely times on the road.  I would feel better by just telling her where I was.
  
This is what I remember at this moment about Mom/Pampy.

I arrived in Pittsburgh for a corporate show and a couple of my bags did not make the connection.  I was trying to put together an act from what I carried on.  One of the producers was looking to rent a suit for me... all he could find was a tuxedo. It was a long time at the airport waiting for no bags,  now I was pushing it to be ready for showtime. It was April 1st and this all could be some cosmic prank but April 1st is also Pampy’s birthday. In a moment to take a deep breath I called my Mommie. 
I am sure Dad was also on the line so we talked about the kind of cake he got her and what they were doing to celebrate her birthday.  They asked about me, where was I today. I tried to make this corporate show from hell sound as glamorous as I could, but Pampy, in her intuitive way, is not buying it.  She gets the truth out of me.
Pampy was a spiritual woman and what ever way she prayed worked... in mysterious ways.  Her spiritual growth continued all her life and she knew it all from the basics to the metaphysics. My siblings will agree that she had some connection to the mystic and spiritual side.  However, she could make it work more for others than for herself.  She never thought she was good enough to be good enough at something good. If that is a riddle then that could be a perfect metaphor for Pampy. 
She said something like, “Those cases will show up.  God sent you there with everything you need to do your show. I know it, Honey.”  I felt a lot better but,  I had called Pampy to wish her a happy birthday and she ended up giving me a spiritual mind treatment.  We said goodbye, happy birthday, April Fools etc. and I hang up.  I have just enough time to pull whatever I can do together and tell the producer to get the Tux.  The hotel phone rings, I think it might be Pampy calling back but it is Front Desk.  
“Your bags were just delivered do you want us to send them up to your room?”
The bags arrived in 5 minutes. From that moment on it was like every other hotel ballroom show I have ever done before or since.  Everything was there right where it should be at that moment. I had not really needed those cases or what was inside until that exact moment.  
Some might say that Pampy had nothing to do with it and coincidences happen sometimes. Well,  if you think so, you didn’t know Pampy. If only chance is involved once in a while the things that Pampy prayed for would not come to be.  Not to say they all did.  But they happened with greater frequency than any odds maker would ever give.  

There are more stories. They will come to mind again with the spark of some unrelated stimulus in times to come.  We all agree our Moms are magical, creative, imaginative, artistic loving Angels.  No need for me to present more proof here now.  If you had known her for as long as I knew her you would agree with this statement. There is absolutely nothing in her life she has done that would disqualify her from an executive suite at whatever concept of heaven she wants to live in.  The idea of where she would spend eternity was something she thought about a lot.  She loved to contemplate such things on walks.  She was walking the property until she was neither physically nor mentally able to so.  She told me once, “I’m not sure I like this idea of a Heaven with streets paved in gold like they talk about.” She paused and laughed through the next part, “Can you imagine how hot those streets would get. Paved in gold is ridiculous, I’m not walking those streets.” 
It’s been a year since Pampy could call me on speed dial, and that long since I could call her.  Most of our last calls involved me trying to remind her “God sent YOU with everything you need to do your show”.   There is a direct line to my heart that is on Pampy's celestial speed dial now.
As you were,
Jay