Categories
poem/poetry touring/travel writing

UPCOMING SHOWS

Here are some live events for you to add to your calendar.

Your hosts who boast the most roasts and toasts!

Go Go Gone Show
Every 3rd Wednesday at 8pm
Mama Kin, San José, California
$5 at the door gets you $5 off food & drinks

Click here for Info, Format & Rules

Categories
fascinating fun quote thoughts writing

The Best 419 Minutes of 1988

Going to the movies in the ’80s was an inexpensive pastime—one I loved more than any other activity. The sitting, the popcorn, the soda, the Milk Duds, the escape, the darkness, the stories, the acting, the special effects, the dialogue and the suspension of disbelief. Holy hell, I loved every part of that experience and I still do. Then discussing the movie with friends and family, comparing interpretation and re-laughing at the funniest parts.

Watching Movies in the 1980s

Thanks to cheap movie theaters that screened second-run movies many months after their release, even my infrequent $2 allowance afforded me the ticket price and a snack. Many films weren’t released on videotape for at least a year after the film came out in theaters. Plus, home rentals were expensive and risky; if you damaged or lost a rental, depending on the popularity of the tape, you were on the hook for $50 to $150 dollars. Most video rental stores were small businesses who were lending out their property to people with kids and pets and liquids and foods. A lot could happen in three days, if the tape came back at all. Signing up for a rental account at most places required a cash deposit, a credit card number and an agreement that you would pay full price for any lost or damaged videotapes. When we lost a tape in 1989, so my mother was charged $89.95.* She paid it, then we found it a few months later buried deep in the couch.

Every single week, my brother, my best bud Art and I would scour the movie listings in the San Jose Mercury News. The Serra Twin Theater in Milpitas, California was our go-to. They always had a tiny box advert with nearly fine print listing double-features for one dollar.

One afternoon in 1988, I noticed Serra Twin was offering an unheard of triple feature that weekend. I confirmed permission from my mother, then immediately called Art to urge him to get permission and square up a ride for us with his dad. It didn’t take much convincing to get permission and to get Art and my brother to go along:

  1. It would get us out of the house for the entire day—a plus for everyone;
  2. Cost was $1.50 for all three movies;
  3. We’d seen all three trailers on TV and were most interested in two of them;
  4. The one we were least interested in was a romantic comedy that looked boring, but luckily, it was the final film in the screening. We could leave if we weren’t into it;
  5. The grocery store across the street had plenty of cheap snacks for us to sneak into the theater.
Image of a small, old ticket stub, torn, worn and faded. Reads JOSE THEATRES.
The original ticket that admitted me into the best time I’ve ever spent at the movies. I assume that Serra Twin was owned by the same folks who owned the Jose Theatre (now home to San José Improv.)

The Triple Feature

Art’s dad picked us up and dropped us off at the grocery store. We stocked up and bought our tickets. The whole excursion cost less than $20.

The first film in the screening was Summer School (1987, 139 min.), a great lead-in to the triple-feature. Directed by Carl Reiner, and starring a rompy cast, including Kirstie Alley, Shawnee Smith and Mark Harmon, the latter of whom was so charming and fun. I really believed the dog in the film belonged to Harmon based on their chemistry. I mean, the dog is on the poster! Plus, Chainsaw’s and Dave’s horror movie sequence is legendary. I was not surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie as it had a perfect blend of immature and mature humor.

Repeat viewings since 1988: Caught it once or twice on basic cable, but not in this century.

The second film in the trifecta is the one I was most interested in seeing at the time. This directorial debut by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire), Adventures in Babysitting (1987, 142 min.) is not the best teen comedy of the ’80s by a long shot, but it is in my personal top 5 favorite films of the genre. The movie introduced me to what a dick Bradley Whitford could play, and in my opinion, the first true cinematic representation of Thor as played by Vincent D’Onofrio, and, of course, the incredible Elisabeth Shue in her first starring role. There are some very far-fetched sequences in this movie, such as the unlikely, but entertaining Babysitting Blues performance in a Chicago blues club, but the scene also features one of my favorite all-time quotes/truths, uttered by blues legend Albert Collins: “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.” Put that on my tombstone.

Repeat viewings since 1988: Several dozen. At one point, I could recite the dialogue along with the movie.

Chicago blues maestro Albert Collins having just uttered one of my favorite lines in all of cinema. Screenshot: Adventures in Babysitting, 1987.

*Of all things, that very expensive videotape my mother paid for was Adventures In Babysitting. She was so frustrated by that expense. We urged my mother to rent it because we wanted to see it again. We ended up watching it a lot. I’m sure we got well over $89 worth of viewings.

Rounding out the trio of films is the one I was least interested in seeing. Based on the trailer alone, I was certain that this romantic comedy was going to be a mushy, medieval vomit-fest. No part of it looked good. However, in the first several minutes of Princess Bride (1987, 138 min.) Fred Savage’s character (my age!) complains to his grandfather (played by Peter Falk, one of my faves!) that he doesn’t like the romantic stuff in the book being read to him. I like this kid! I can relate to him. This allowed me to give the film a chance and I am forever grateful. Princess Bride may be the best romantic comedy I have ever seen. Who believed Westley truly loved Buttercup? I surely did. Who knew André the Giant could be so delightful and funny? Who savored in lovingly hating the film’s antagonists? Vizzini! Humperdink! The Six-Fingered Man! Also, I just put together the fact that this film was directed by Rob Reiner, while Summer School was directed by his father. Neato! ALSO, I often tell people to have fun storming the castle! when they leave my house.

Repeat viewings since 1988: At least a few dozen times.

Serra Twin Theater

Serra Twin Theater was responsible for cementing my love of cinema with good movies and bad movies alike. Now called simply Serra Theaters, they are a much-loved home for films in a number of Indian languages.

I must also credit Serra Twin for my inexplicable love of Kevin Costner movies: In 1992, I saw a double feature of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and The Bodyguard for $1. It was a lot harder to convince Art and my brother to join me on for that combo, so I paid for them. I was 16 and had crushes on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Whitney Houston.

Revisiting the Triple Feature

I have replicated The Greatest Triple Feature on DVD.

All three movies were released in 1987. To recreate this experience—and to properly celebrate their 35th anniversary—I will host a viewing party at my house this Spring.

Categories
poem/poetry writing

POEM | Two Chairs

I have two seats from a minivan
A housemate moved out last summer and into said vehicle
I had stopped them from chucking them into a dumpster
They looked so inviting
two perfectly plush porch chairs
built for butts on long drives
and lives stalled by plagues

During the warmest parts of the pandemic, they sat in my driveway
Always a housemate or two with
nowhere to be
chatting, eating, people watching
from a distance

When the rain finally came, I moved them to the covered patio in the backyard

My whole life, I have always put a second chair next to mine
Anticipating the unexpected arrival of a friend
or a brave stranger looking to chat
The clearest visual for hope I have ever produced

As the weather cools and darkens
Inside and out
I only need one chair
No one is coming
Time to put the second chair anywhere but here
A mere logical move when space is needed

© 2021 Mighty Mike McGee

Categories
thoughts writing

Q+A | Imposter!

“Wondering how you (Mike and/or others) have managed feeling like an imposter when sharing work? I’ve been out of the game for a while and never truly got IN the game and sometimes it feels like I’m sort of a wannabe. It doesn’t help that I did a deep dive into the all-consuming parenthood adventure and it’s so much harder to find even basic words some days. Not necessarily looking for validation, but definitely some advice on navigating the ebb and flow of creativity.” —J

J,

I have been thinking a lot about this subject lately. Over the last decade, I have spoken with very dear friends of mine who have accomplished a variety of successes in terms of their art and/or their careers, and all of them have confided in some way that they still struggle with bouts of imposter syndrome. Most of them find that no matter how “successful” they might be in one aspect of their field, from time to time, they still feel as though it’s unearned, ill-gotten, or fraudulent. I feel it as a “comedian in poet’s clothing,” especially as a spoken word artist/slam poet approaching the worlds of publishing and academia. I’ve never fully felt as though I was universally accepted as a good poet by everyone who has heard me, but that’s life. Not everyone ever will. It’s good to have some folks who are critical of your work, because it forces you to take a third look at what you are creating. To ask yourself why you created it in the first place. To ask yourself about its place in the world. But that imposter feeling is critique on our character and the artist in us. It probably stems from our own self-image and a large part of our identity. So much of it probably comes from guilt and a need to have a simplified self-representation; ‘I am [insert role/artistic identity here]. I am wholly THAT and I must eat, breathe and sleep THAT, because it is what people expect of me. It is what people need from me.’

Guilt may be one of the most destructive forces against even the inception of art. How many folks have given up being an artist because their parents wanted them to be a doctor? How much art never had a chance to exist in the world because being a lawyer pays so much better? I believe that our perception of being unworthy of utilizing the time necessary to create art is influenced by the guilt we may feel because that time must be borrowed from our responsibilities. On top of that, when we do finally borrow time from our commitments to others, we then judge our art to an unfair higher standard. ‘I used this time to make this, but was it a wise use? Will my commitments suffer because of this piece of art? If it is seen by others as poorly made art, then I have wasted my time, and I have now less time for my commitments.’ This is a fallacy. If the desire to create exists, it is imperative to your mental health—and the health of those you are committed to—to create. To be an artist. To identify with art and generate it at a rate that fits your desires. It is also imperative to study the difference between what is good art and what is bad art, and in my convoluted opinion, more importantly, what mediocre art looks like. The world can handle good and bad art. One we hang on the wall, the other ends up at thrift stores. Mediocre art gets saved in garages and attics because, you know, so-and-so made it and they put a lot of time into it and… I don’t know what to do with it.

It comes down to time management. I always have to ask myself: Do I have the time to do both things AND can I negotiate the values between responsibility and desire? How do I destroy the guilt I feel when my desire to create is as strong or stronger than my commitments to others? Can I make a commitment of my desires and create a balance between them and my responsibilities?

I am a funny person. I am a serious writer. I love to cook. But really, deep down inside, there is a huge part of me that wants to dance. If in ten years folks were to say, ‘yeah, you know Mighty Mike McGee, the funny, dancing poet,’ it’s because I managed my time and did what I NEEDED to do. In my 20s, no part of me was prepared to let that become part of my identity. There was no way anyone was ever going to see the dancer waiting to be born. Because I was stuck on this notion that I had established everything I was going to be. I was a stand-up poet. A funny performance poet who only did just THAT. I could dip into just stand-up comedy, or I could slide over into straightforward poetry, but I should not delve into anything else, because. Because? Because what? Because I might jar someone else’s perception of my identity? Because I might have to explain my newly restructured time management to folks?

So if you’re a mother, that becomes a major role for you and those around you. If you were writing before you became a mother, you may find yourself at a crossroads and find it difficult to maintain the practices of writing while also keeping up with the responsibilities of motherhood. If you are a firefighter and you decide to venture into theatre, it pits your identity as first responder, maybe even a selfless hero, against your desire to express yourself and to be seen doing it. Nothing of who we are now should be a hindrance to the fact that our identities are far more fluid than we tend to recognize and that our future selves should only be dictated by responsibility and time management.

It’s becoming more and more unusual and even uncomfortable to me that the things we DO must become the thing we ARE. I “am” a poet, but it really isn’t my identity. I am a primate called Mike who writes all sorts of things (including very long responses to FB posts.) I like words and I play a mean game of Scrabble. I can live without poetry, I don’t want to, but I could stop writing. Over time I do believe it would have a negative impact on my life. As a baby poet in my 20s, I wrote A LOT of poetry. I was hooked. From 1998 to 2003, I wrote about 300 “poems.” Now, I write maybe a tenth of what I did back then. I was confused by this. I recently took a long foraging look into those old poetry files to see what I was writing. I wanted to figure out how in the hell I wrote so much, but just couldn’t be bothered to spend that much time on it now. What I realized was that 90% of those poems were mediocre at best. I was still learning. I was exploring and experimenting. I was falling in love with words and letting them fall in love with me. I was having fun and letting it all out to see what would stick. I discovered that I have 20 more years of experience at not just writing, but at being a better judge of my own work. Twenty more years of being constructively critical of what I can make. In 2001, I would write something, share it with friends and read it at open mics and wonder if it was any good. I don’t wonder 90% of the time now. I am confident that I have developed the skills needed to be a good writer. There is and will always be room for improvement and change. Much like my identity, there will always be shifts in what I need to develop further as an artist. But what there isn’t room for any longer is guilt because I just don’t have time for it. There is writing to be done. Between laundry and gigs and bathing and Scrabble and feeding my cat and visiting loved ones, there is so much writing to be done. As long as I am honest with myself and my work, I cannot be a fraud, because no one else is me.

I highly recommend that you gift yourself whatever amount of time you can every day in doing something with words. You know what inspires you so immerse yourself in those things regularly. Make it inclusive! Bring your family with you if you can. “Fam, I love words and I want to fall in love with them again. Will you join me on this romantic journey?” Re-evaluate your desire to create and explore the idea that the time you spend on your expression is just as valuable as the time you spend with your commitments. You getting better at your craft is a boon to those around you as well. No one else is you, so how can you be a fraud?

Truly,

Mighty Mike McGee

Categories
poem/poetry writing

POEMS FOR LONELY TIMES

Click here to download my free digital chapbook!

Published April 1, 2020.

McGee Chapbook – Poems For Lonely Times

Categories
fascinating quote writing

Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments

  • Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  • Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  • Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  • When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  • Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  • Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  • Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  • Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  • Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  • Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. Read more about Bertrand Russell.

Categories
blog poem/poetry touring/travel writing

Bound for the Pacific Northwest

I have a great story for you. I am making my way up the west coast for some shows and for a Mega McGee Family reunion. I’ll be performing in Redding, California, Portland/Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C. If you know folks in those wondrous places, please let them know I am coming.

After my shows, I will head toward Seattle to meet up with the McGee side of the family. My grandfather is ill, so my father is flying in from Germany as well as my brother Jamie and his wife and kids here in the Bay. My father hasn’t seen his dad since 1988, nor has he seen Jamie since 1990. My uncles, aunts and cousins are all coming together and my grandma will be there. My dad hasn’t been in the same room as both of his parents since the 1970s. It’ll be the first time I’ve been in the same room as my father and brother since 1989, and the first time ever that the three of us will be in the same room with my grandpa. And it turns out we’ll all be together on Father’s Day. That detail was unplanned… I am so excited and I don’t know what more to say about it…

Sun, 6/9 | Redding, CA | An Evening with Mike McGee https://www.facebook.com/events/2265234810402142/

Mon, 6/10 | Portland, OR, with Brian Stephen Ellis and Anis Mojgani | https://www.facebook.com/events/874991716186976/

Tue, 6/11 | Eugene, OR, with Roxy Allen, Devin Devine, Julia Allegretto Gaskill | https://www.facebook.com/events/634235453760883/

Wed, 6/12 | Bellingham, WA | Just hanging out.

Fri/Sat June 14/15 | Vancouver, BC, with Jamie DeWolf & Co. for the final Game of Thrones Live: Fire & Ice, Ice Baby | https://www.facebook.com/events/337064426892306/

Categories
poem/poetry writing

POEM | Things One Should Not Do After A Drunken Dance Party

Things One Should NOT Do After A Drunken Dance Party
an old list poem by Mighty Mike McGee

1a: Drive an automobile or operate heavy machinery.

1b. Text message your ex to let her know you saw her new relationship status on Facebook and it makes sense why she’s ignoring you when you guys were doing great communicating a few weeks earlier.

2. Agree to run for president or city council. Mayoralship is acceptable when inebriated.

3. Miss people who don’t love you.

4. Accept loneliness as your “lot in life.”

5. Miss women who do love you, but live across world.

6. Froget to drink water.

7. Fall for lady poets.

8. Keep wanting to dance at 4 in them morning.

9. Write a list poem.

10. Fanta Size about making out with mouths/vulvas.

11. stop dreamig of getting a mini 2 feet tall girafe as pet,/ Dont EVER stop!

12. dgliytyon 23 elf becuse yo

Categories
poem/poetry writing

POEM | Loss

I wish that losing
the best thing
that ever happened
to me
wasn’t the best thing
that ever happened to me

Categories
poem/poetry writing

POEM | The Push

I saw a river. It made me think of you.
There was a boulder in the middle of it.
I am so sorry I stood in your way.