Listen to a master storyteller

If you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix, I’d highly recommend Springsteen on Broadway.

Whether you’re a Springsteen fan or not, I guarantee you’ll enjoy this two and a half hour auto-biographical journey through Springsteen’s life and music. I’d heard of Springsteen on Broadway, but I thought it was some big musical based on his music. I didn’t realize it was the boss himself, intimate, raw, revealed and outspoken on political issues of the day.

The show opened up on Broadway in 2017. In promoting it, the rock legend said “My vision of these shows is to make them as personal and intimate as possible. I chose Broadway for this project because it has the beautiful old theaters which seemed like the right setting for what I have in mind. My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung, all of it together is in pursuit of my constant goal—to communicate something of value.”  

Springsteen undersells himself. He doesn’t just communicate something of value, he weaves golden threads of stories from his childhood, his marriage, the friendships he developed over the years with his bandmates and tales of life on the road. It is master storytelling at its finest.

There were so many things that struck me in the performance, his humour, his openness and honesty about the relationships in his life, but the thing that struck me the most was a new appreciation for his songs and lyrics. The words from classic songs like Thunder Road, Born in the USA, Land of Hopes and Dreams were transformed with new layers of richness and meaning as Springsteen wove his stories through his musical repertoire. At times, he was simply mesmerizing.

Storytelling, in the traditional sense of telling stories through the spoken word has almost become a lost art. But thanks to the boss and Netflix, you can still hear one of the master storytellers of all time.

This week’s #HappyAct is to watch Springsteen on Broadway. I hope some day soon to go to New York and catch it live. What are your picks for Netflix this fall? Leave a comment.

Lyrics from Thunder Road

There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away

They haunt this dusty beach road

In the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets

They scream your name at night in the street

Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet

And in the lonely cool before dawn

You hear their engines roaring on

But when you get to the porch they’re gone on the wind

So Mary, climb in

It’s a town full of losers

And I’m pulling out of here to win

Forgive me/she/her

Pride month poster

June is Pride month. A few weeks ago, I finally changed my autosignature to include my pronouns she/her at the end. I’ve been meaning to change it for almost a year now, but finally got a round tuit at the hardware store when I was on vacation last week.

I’ve always considered myself an ally of the LGBTQ community and am looking forward to seeing a rainbow-filled feed on my social media channels on Tuesday.

But I confess I sometimes do find it hard to navigate this world of diversity and inclusion. It will be only a matter of time before I make a mistake and will have to ask for forgiveness.

For instance, I was writing an email to my team last week. I have a small team and we all know each other pretty well, so our work emails are pretty informal.

I started out writing my normal, “Hey guys, I’ll need to move our regular team meeting…” But then I remembered reading an article that said “guys” is inappropriate since it implies men and excludes others. I say this to my family all the time so hopefully I’m not insulting Grace and Clare the next time I say, “Hey guys, what do you want for dinner tonight?”

I thought about “Hey gang” but was afraid it might be discriminatory against people in actual gangs or imply they were a bunch of miscreants or hooligans.

I tried “Hey folks”, but then wondered if that had southern connotations, even though we don’t live in the United States, or a rural connotation that might be offensive.

I’ve sometimes used “Hey peeps” which seems pretty harmless, but could be racist towards chickens.

In the end, I just went with “Hey team”. Whew, problem solved.

You see my dilemma.

I know I’m being cheeky and there is a good chance someone who is reading this has already taking offence to me making light of an important subject.

I believe people have a right to be called whatever they want, whether it’s he, she, per, ze/ziethey, or they. Addressing people the way they prefer to be called is simply a matter of respect and is no different than when women started challenging the use of Miss and Mrs. as part of the feminist movement.

Personally, I don’t care what I’m called as long as you don’t call me late for dinner.

I know I have a lot to learn. I will make mistakes. I just hope you forgive me/she/her when I make them.

And to all my LGBTQ friends, I love you just as you are. You are authentic, funny and strong, and I am proud to celebrate by your side, a true ally, this month. Happy pride month, everyone!

Ed. Note: The dilemma of how to address people was encapsulated perfectly in the Saturday Night Live skit, “It’s Pat” in the early 90’s. Here’s an episode where the friends of androgynous Pat throw a birthday party for them. SNL was always on the cutting edge of societal issues. While the character of Pat was a caricature, the humour was in seeing how people with good intentions tried to unearth clues as to how to address Pat.

Why not?

kid ready to fly

Special guest blog by Ray Dorey

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Wayne Gretzky

A few weeks ago, I caught up with a good friend over coffee. You might have heard of her. She’s the driving force behind the Happy Act blog, Laurie Swinton.

One of our exchanges was about a course I’ve been taking in genre fiction, which led to a discussion about comedy writing. I brought up the iconic Saturday Night Live, and what an absolute blast those writers must have crafting timely sketches for that particular week’s show.

And then, casually out of left field, Laurie suggested, “(SNL creator and executive producer) Lorne Michaels is Canadian. We should ask him about sitting in on a couple of writer’s meetings.”

I smiled. Was she serious? Surely there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

But then I recalled a time in my life when such a proposal was common.

I grew up captivated by all that was Disney; the movies, the tv programming, and the theme parks. I couldn’t get enough of the Mickey Mouse brand magic. Disney fueled my imagination, and creative passions.

Eagerly, I would scribe my heart out; sometimes conveying ideas, other times making requests, and nearly every time, I received a response. It made no difference that the replies were often form letters. I was still ecstatic.

Rejection letter from Walt Disney corporation

Sometime between then and now, I grew up, at least a little, and perhaps I lost some of that youthful exuberance. Today, I might only execute similar reach-outs when I thought I had a high chance of success. Dreams perhaps died before they ever had a chance to blossom.

But my younger self always had it right. What’s wrong with asking, even though a voice might warn you there’s a slim chance of reward? You could be inaccurate in your presumptions, or you could simply catch lightning in a bottle. Stranger things have happened. Why not to me? Why do people buy lottery tickets? Because the prize is so much greater than the risk–despite the low odds of winning.

Feeling buoyed, I told Laurie I would write to Lorne Michaels with our request. And I did. A brief search yielded multiple mail and email addresses for Mr. Michaels. So I crafted and launched the following missive:

Mr. Lorne Michaels
Creator and executive producer, Saturday Night Live
NBC Studios

30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY – 10112

Dear Mr. Michaels,

No, I am not high and/or mentally unstable, depending on who you ask.

A friend and I, fellow Canadians and aspiring writers, are both long-time fans of Saturday Night Live.

While meeting recently over coffee, our conversation led to speculation about the creative process used to craft and hone material for the show, and how much indescribable fun it must be to participate.

So we were wondering (here comes the crazy part)…

Would it be possible for the two of us to sit-in on one or two writers meetings as observers?

We are not asking for anything else, and we can only offer our undying gratitude in return.

Sincerely,
Ray Dorey

A few days later, I received a response. My heart leapt in my throat.

One of the email addresses had bounced back. Oh well… it wasn’t the response I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a no, and it was still early. Seeds need time to yield mighty oaks.

But whether Mr. Michaels ever responds is really secondary here. The point is that I made the attempt, and knocked on a door that would have never had a chance to open otherwise.

I encourage you, as I re-encourage myself, to dare to defy logic, and to be more creative and optimistic with your pursuits. We’re only here for a short time, and fortune favours the bold as they say, so why not?

You can read more of Ray’s adventures and short stories at storiesfromdoreyville.wordpress.com.