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Remembering Chaim Topol

It was with great sadness that I read of the death of the Israeli actor Chaim Topol a few weeks ago. Topol’s performance as the the impoverished milk farmer Tevye in more than 3,500 stage performances as well as the movie Fiddler on the Roof made him virtually synonymous with the role. The movie confronted me with many questions and issues that I had not thought about before and has had a profound impact on my life.

Bringing Imaginary Circumstances To Life

I was part of an acting workshop recently in which we explored how careful attention and deep listening can result in more authenticity in our stage performances. In this post I write about some of my insights and discoveries from that magical day.

The Sins of the Fathers

The assertion that the mistakes and inadequacies of parents cause significant problems and issues for their children and grandchildren can be found virtually throughout recorded western history. It was an important theme in Greek drama, was referenced numerous times in both the ancient Hebrew Bible books and in the New Testament, and has been the inspiration for countless books and (more recently) movies. What is often overlooked is the real meaning of “visit” in Euripides’ quote. It does not mean that the mistakes and misdeeds of the children are all the fault of the parents but rather that those children will be challenged to deal with the consequences of those inadequacies in a better way than their parents did. In this post, I explore some facets of my own journey in dealing with the challenges of being an adoptee.

The Abandoned Farmhouse

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Paul thought he was going the visit his sister for a couple of months to help out when their mother died. It didn’t quite work out as he expected.

This Is My Story

The companion book to the historical fiction novel “Before We Were Yours” was was a non-fiction work. Entitled “Before and After”, it tells the personal stories of twelve adoptees interspersed with Judy’s journal describing her journey to a reunion in Memphis, Tennessee. In this post I want to add my story. Like all the others in the book, it has many common elements – yet each one is unique and describes a path to a successful life despite the trauma of its beginnings.

Arrogance, The Destroyer of the Good

Lisa Wingate has created a masterful book of historical fiction about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the crimes perpetrated by the principle characters. In this post, I explore the disturbing way in which media treated these principle characters as dedicated angels until the disclosure of their criminal activities – and then, virtually overnight, as the very devil incarnate thereafter. The uncomfortable truth is probably somewhere in that gray area in between – they were neither purely good before nor entirely evil thereafter.

It’s About The Beat

Whenever I watch a performance of Mahler’s second symphony, The Resurrection, I am spellbound by the intense emotional connection to the arc of my own life. John Williams Jaws is inseparable from Steven Spielberg’s story – so much so that the first couple of notes is all that is needed for me to see again that shark attack. What makes music so powerful and how can I learn how to use that power in my own creative life?

On The Road From Me to We

Stephen Colbert once observed that “Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” But what is the focus of the things I make up? Is it mostly about me – my ideas, my money and my goals? Or is it mostly about us – a better and more satisfying life together than any of us could create by ourselves? Trying to become a better Improv actor has helped me to discover the importance of this choice in my real life.

Balancing Understanding and Judgment

It can be really curious how watching YouTube “recommended for you” choices sometimes provoke a long chain of reflections and important insights into your life. I discovered a lot about the cost of my tendency to rush to judgment without understanding by watching a video clip from the movie Amadeus.

Adventures In A Chinese Restaurant

Memories are strange things. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of words, a flash of color or an unexpected image to open the book of my life to an earlier page and a vivid recollection of a special time. This post is about the beginnings of a life-long friendship that began with a mishap in a Chinese Restaurant.

A Dear Friend I Never Met

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The recent announcement of the death of Vin Scully, the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for 67 years, had an emotional impact that surprised me by its intensity. It was like the sudden loss of a dear friend that left me deeply mourning with a large empty place in my soul. I want to share with you some of my life’s memories that involved him, including some that I haven’t thought about for many, many years.

Learning to Live Truthfully Through Acting

I recently got around to watching the 2009 movie “The Blind side”, staring Sandra Bullock in an Oscar winning role as a born-again Christian mother who adopts and cares for a Black athlete from a poor part of Memphis. Bullock was one of the students of Sanford Meisner and she said that her success as an actor stemmed very much from Meisner’s emphasis that “the foundation of acting is the reality of doing.” For me it is increasingly clear that working to become a better actor means working on the skills that will also enable me to live my life more fully.