1968 – Flashback & Fast Forward

“Memories are not the key to the past, but to the future.” — Corrie ten Boom

Every two years, Madison’s Forward Theater launches a monologue festival with a dedicated theme. From their website, “Forward Theater’s biennial monologue festival is back! Featuring a dozen original pieces written just for us by playwrights from across our community and around the nation, this festival celebrates the many different ways creative authors can approach a common subject. Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, our Two Steps Forward festival will encompass a wide variety of perspectives on and interpretations of our state’s long progressive tradition.” I’ve submitted monologues in the past and did so again this year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t selected. The Two Steps Forward monologue festival will be performed one weekend in June 2019. I suggest you get your tickets now. I have mine! Following is my monologue submission: Continue reading

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Filmgoer’s Wrap-Up: 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival

“A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact, not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again.” — Pauline Kael

The 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival (WFF) #wifilmfest wrapped up a little over two weeks ago. I feel like I’m just beginning to recover from eight days of filmgoing, seeing multiple films each day, standing in queues to secure a good seat in sold out theaters in what amounted to four seasons of weather (winter returning again today), plotting logistics for travel in between venues, finding parking, coordinating plans with filmgoing friends, and grabbing caffeine or sustenance as required. As a person on the eve of becoming a septuagenarian, it also means getting enough rest while still working a part-time day job.  As a cinephile and not a critic, to mix metaphors, I’m more like a filmgoing weekend warrior than a true filmgoing athlete. Continue reading

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Creatures of Habit: Harbingers of Spring

“What I’ve learned, the lessons from keeping and rereading journals, is that I’m a creature of habit. Though I allow my imagination to wander and travel places like a free spirit, I’m pretty earthbound and sensitive to the changing of the seasons, the length of daylight in a day, the heat of the sun on skin, the relationship of the stars and moon to our planet, the color of grass and leaves, the smell of the breeze as it changes from the smoky potpourri of autumn to the chilled neutrality of winter, followed by the musky odor of newly-turned earth and fragrant scent of flowers blooming in spring. And, finally, the conscious and unconscious cycles of life.” An excerpt from the introduction of Seasons/Change, one of my poetry chapbooks. Continue reading

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Celebrating 62 Psychedelic Years of Cindy Castro

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been! In her tie-dyed t-shirts and sandals, with the ‘devil in her eyes’ looks and mischievous smile, Cindy was a singular free spirit, a strong-willed, and hard-headed survivor.”

For readers of this blog and my posts on social media, you’ve been following the journey of our sister Cindy Castro who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Terminal Cancer in March of 2018. She died on January 13, 2019, which ironically was my birthday, reminding me of two things. First, how grateful I am that Cindy was my sister, and second that I was lucky enough to live another year to celebrate the anniversary of my birth.  This date will forever be a reminder for me of beginnings and endings, the cycle of life. Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2018

“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.” — Martin Scorsese 

I include this quote from Martin Scorsese to introduce this year’s A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2018 for a couple of reasons. First, the stories and themes each year reflect the times in which we live and address the issues we face as we look back at history, confront the present, or escape into a future, real or fantastical. Second, filmmaking and filmgoing bridges artist with audience, storyteller and viewer. Continue reading

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Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.” — Khalil Gibran

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The flip side of the question that the title poses is “Who knows where the times goes?” As I age, time seems to slip by faster. An event that happened a month ago feels like it occurred last week. My to-do lists each day grow longer, as if I need to accomplish as much as I’m able to before time runs out. Dreams and plans for tomorrow are aspirational and possess greater value because they may elude me.  In the end, there is no guarantee for tomorrow.

There is only today and a lifetime of yesterdays.  Continue reading

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How I Became the Grinch This Christmas

Or Why I Refuse to Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater   

This year my bio family is deviating from our Christmas holiday tradition and venue. We’ve spent Christmas at Dad’s house, our childhood home, the past few years since our brother Rick ended his Saturday before Christmas Lenzke Family Open House, which was a marathon undertaking of beverage drinking, food grazing, and gift unwrapping by four generations. Some family members stayed overnight for the “afterparty.” Like most families, we have family scattered around Wisconsin and in other states — in our case — Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky, and most recently, Texas. It’s become more of a challenge to celebrate the holiday together. Continue reading

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Hibernation & the Holidays: Retreat to the Hideout

Hibernation definition an extended period of remaining inactive or indoors

Hideout synonyms hiding place, hideaway, retreat, refuge, shelter, safe house, sanctuary, sanctum

First, I’m a creature of habit. I find comfort in my routines. There’s a rhythm to my days and nights. I read somewhere recently that we all experience some degree of OCD behavior. It’s certainly true for me. The gears of my Circadian clock are still trying to mesh with some synchronicity since the ending of Daylight Savings Time (DST) and turning the clocks one hour behind. Who knew that would make such an impact? They’re grinding a little right now as I try to slip back into a sleep cycle.  Continue reading

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Holding On & Letting Go

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” — Rumi

Holding on and letting go is one of the subjects I keep coming back to, a thread in many of my essays and remembrances. It’s an essential element in the cycle of life, a theme in many of my memories, a lesson to be learned and practiced as needed, and today again, present in my journey.

This is not unique to me. It’s a universal truth; it’s what makes us human, mortal, and sentient beings. Holding on and letting go is one of the first things we learn as an infant, one of the first things we teach as a parent, one of the most difficult emotions we experience at the beginning and at the end of our lives, and the lives of loved ones, as we examine what we need to let go of and what we need to hold onto. Continue reading

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You Can’t Go Home Again

Hat Tip to Thomas Wolfe 

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood…back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time…”  — Thomas Wolfe

First, let me go on record that as a memoir writer and someone who writes about family, relationships, and the mundane moments of everyday life — you can return home by remembering. I’ve learned though as a reminiscence writer that memory is malleable and can play tricks on you, sometimes sanding off the rough edges of some memories, while sharpening others. The nation has witnessed this phenomenon the past couple of weeks during the Supreme Court Justice nomination hearings. Continue reading

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