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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.




    It’s not a good sign when the casting director rips the script out of your hand in the middle of your reading.

    Auditioning for a part in a play or movie is very stressful. That’s why some actors drop out before trying out, because they simply can’t take rejection.

    However, the Director,  Max Anton Protzen, and I, knew that auditions were necessary to cast actors for the upcoming staged reading of my play, UNDER MIDWESTERN STARS, which will be performed in Tucson on November 11th.  

    A notice went out that auditions would be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at a central location. My son, Josh, who had been an actor in New York, suggested that it would be well to schedule auditions, rather than ask people to sit from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. So, I began to schedule auditions.

    And, this is how the cast was finally chosen:

    I received a phone call from a woman who said, “I live in Tucson, but I am in Cincinnati, and can’t make the audition. I will be back in two days. Would it be possible for me to audition when I return?” Before I could answer, I heard, “You need to get into the right lane.” I said, “Are you driving?” “Yes, I’m on the expressway, and my cousin is giving me directions.”  Then, I heard, “We need to get off at the next ramp.” Not wanting to cause an accident, I said, “Call me when you get home and I’m sure we can arrange something.” So, the Director and I arranged the audition. It was a smart move! Deanna gave the best reading for the part of the daughter. “Wow!” I thought, all the way from Cincinnati.

    Two more roles to fill.

    That’s when I discovered that some things are not probable, but anything is possible. In the middle of our auditions, an e-mail arrived. “I have recently moved to Tucson, have acting experience, and would very much like to audition for the part of the Father, but I am in Europe. He included his acting resume. Max (the Director) e-mailed him back, “We can audition you by computer.” “I will send you the play and the reading. Send us your audition by audio tape.”
    In the meantime, auditions proceeded.

    We received the audio tape on the computer. No doubt about it, we had our Father—all the way from Italy. There was only one problem. His experience was impressive, and the reading was excellent, but what did Joe look like? Would he be believable to the audience as a family member with the daughter and our mother-to-be?

    I told Max, “If he looks like the Elephant Man, a little make-up can go a long way.” Not to worry, the next day we received a photo of a distinguished looking Father. He can read the words and be believable. Whew!

    Now, on to Mama.

    We had several people auditioning who had extensive experience, some as actors both in Tucson and other cities, but no one exactly fit the role.  It was getting very frustrating.
    In between appointments, Max assured me that, “You never know if raw talent will walk through that door.”

    That’s when Sharna, the last woman to audition for Mama, walked through the door. She said, “I’ve never done this before.”  Max gave her directions for the assigned reading. It was like watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. When she left, Max and I turned to each other and said, “We have our Mama!”

    Max Anton Protzen is a busy and experienced director. He accepted the venture of directing my play, because he wanted the creative challenge, and I wanted him to direct, because he is young and innovative.  In the Spring, he will move to Switzerland for a year, where he was offered a theatrical opportunity.  So, now, I have an international director.

    Deanna is back from Cincinnati. Joe will soon return from Europe, and Sharna—-Well, when I called to congratulate her, she said, “Max didn’t call me, so I thought I didn’t get the part.” I said, “Did you look at your computer?” “No,” she replied. I said, “Go look at it now.” It took her awhile to boot up, but when she saw the e-mail, she came back to the phone and told me, “ I am so surprised and happy, but I can’t e-mail him back to accept the role.” “Why is that?” I asked. “Because I know how to read e-mails, but I don’t know how to answer them.” I gave her Max’s phone number.

    So we have a terrific cast who came to us from Cincinnati, Europe and Luddite Land.  Not so strange, because I figure all of life is just one big audition anyway.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    I recently challenged myself to a name game on my computer, “Can you name these dictators?” I got them all right, except for some sleazy guy from an African Nation that I had never heard of, because he destroyed it.

    So, if I can remember the names of all those dictators—past and present—why can’t I remember the name of the person standing in front of me? A name tag always saves the moment, unless the print is so small that my nose hits the chest of the stranger, whose name I hope to remember.

    Memory experts offer many tricks for connecting a face and a name.

    The first trick is to “repeat the person’s name when you are first introduced,” such as, “So pleased to meet you “Mr. Clemp.” Whereupon, he will say, “It’s Clems, not Clemp.” But now he is permanently frozen in you mind as a “Mr. Clemp.”

    Then there’s the trick of “association.” For instance, you are introduced to “John” as he exits the Mens Room. Reluctantly, shaking his hand, he is always associated with his exit and a damp hand. However, happily, you will always remember his name.

    Last week, I was in a store when a woman enthusiastically greeted me by name. Actually, she screamed my name across the store. My first thought was, “Do I owe this stranger money?”
    Then, she ran across the store and engulfed me in a bone crushing hug. I finally stumbled back,  looked at her and drew a complete blank. She said, “You don’t know who I am, Do you?” “I am so sorry,” I replied. “Please refresh my memory.” “I was your neighbor, 25 years ago.”  Then she told me her name. And, then I remembered her, and her seventeen  household pets. How could I forget? EASY!  She had lost 50 pounds and her hair was a different color. The last time I had seen her, she was climbing a tree in my backyard chasing one of her exotic birds, who had escaped from its cage. The reason I forgot is that our brief meeting in the store was much more pleasant than our brief neighborhood experience.

    If it’s of any comfort, according to an article in PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, “Nearly 85% of middle-aged and older adults forget names.” So what’s the excuse for 25-year-olds? It is awkward to forget a name, but understandable with all of the distractions happening around us during a conversation.

    So, what is really helpful? First of all, it helps when you are genuinely interested in meeting the person standing in front of you. If the friend you do know does not introduce you, it is permissible to introduce yourself, since your friend is probably suffering from momentary brain freeze.

    When introducing yourself, you can make an impression, but spilling a drink on the person you want to impress might not be the impression you want to make.  However, if it’s any consolation, he will probably remember you name forever. Never mind!  When meeting someone, be motivated, focus, be sincere (even if you have to fake it) and make sure you hear the name right..”It’s not Clemp…It’s Clems.”

    My friend, the Southern novelist, Terry Kay, (TO DANCE WITH THE WHITE DOG) was an excellent writer, but had a lousy memory for names, so he’d get away with, “Hey, Darlin’” That worked with women, but I’m not sure what he said to men. On the other hand, when I was signing my book, OH, LORD, I SOUND JUST LIKE MAMA, I asked the woman in line, “To whom would you like this book signed?” And, she replied, “Just sign your name. It’s worth more that way when you are dead!”

    Esther Blumenfeld (“A  rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”)  William Shakespeare



    Recently, I have been thinking about things that make no sense, such as, when someone says;
    “The truth is not the truth,” which I am sure is not the truth. However, some non-sensicals  are more benign than others.

    For instance, I recently had my eye exam, and the technician told me, “With your glasses you have 20x20 vision.” Then she said,”Do you want a new prescription?” When I replied, “Why would I need a new prescription if I have 20x20 vision?” She said, “I am required to ask everyone.”

    My Allstate Insurance Company raises my rates every year because of my age, and then they send me a check twice a year for being a good driver. Makes no sense to me!

    My doctor recommended that I get the new Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles.  It was advertised in magazines and newspapers, and in every pharmacy in Tucson. Good suggestion!
    However, no vaccine has been available anywhere for 6 months.

    Why is it that when someone asks, “What do you think?” and I tell her, She will reply, “Do you really think so?”

    Here are some other things that make no sense to me: When the sign on the bench reads, “Wet Paint,” why do people have to touch the bench to see if it is really wet? Do they have an insatiable desire for green fingers?

    Okay!  Everyone knows that square pegs won’t fit into round holes. So why does it make sense to put round pizzas into square boxes?

    Going through security at airports is a new adventure when you get old. No one used to ask me, “Do you have an artificial hip or a knee?” However, no one ever asks, “Do you have a plate in your head?” I guess a simple “No” covers it all. Years ago, while strolling down a street in San Francisco, a boy, rudely yelled at my husband, “Do you have the time?” Warren looked down at his wrist and shouted back, “Yes, I do,” and we ambled on.  Made sense to me.

    Does it make sense to buy chicken fingers or fish sticks? And I am still confused about artificial intelligence. Either you’ve got it or you don’t! Why does the dental technician ask me a question when she has both a drill and a spit suction line in my mouth? That is non-sensical.

    So, Can I ask my readers a question?  Never mind—-I just did.


    Esther Blumenfeld



    “Sorry, (Hamlet) said, rubbing his temples. I don’t know what came over me. All of a sudden I had this overwhelming desire to talk for a very long time without actually doing anything.” (Jasper Fforde).

    Some people just zigzag from indecision to indecision, and frankly, it drives me nuts! They constantly second guess themselves out of the responsibility of making a decision. I have a friend who can’t order a meal at a restaurant without changing her mind, and she can’t decide, when shopping for an outfit, if there isn’t a better one somewhere else. It is her modus operandi. She does not recognize that indecision might or might not be her problem. Constant indecision—second guessing oneself—can’t be good for a person’s innards!

    The best example of indecision was in the award winning film, MARTY, adapted from Paddy Chayefsky’s play. The story was about a simple butcher from the Bronx (Ernest Borgnine) who didn’t know where he was in life or what to do to change it.  He hung out with like-minded fellows, and they met on the weekends to kill time. The famous dialogue went like this:
    “What do you feel like doing tonight?” “I don’t know. What do you feel like doing?”

    I am not an indecisive person. A few years ago, my friend, Judy called.She said, “I was listening to the radio. They had a contest. I called in and won two tickets to the Neil Diamond show in Phoenix. The radio show’s bus will be leaving in an hour. My husband is on jury duty. Can you be ready for me to pick you up in 20 minutes?” “You betcha!” said I.

    I threw on some clothes, grabbed a flashlight to wave for “Coming to America,” and saw a spectacular show from the best seats in the house. It’s good to be able to deal with the unexpected—to be spontaneous.

    There is a difference between being indecisive when you have all of the facts, and being too spontaneous before you have any of them.  That is being impulsive; “the sudden inclination to act without any thought behind it.” I know the difference. However, why not seize an opportunity when it is offered? Sometimes, the best memories come from spontaneity. However, being spontaneous involves risk.

    Unfortunately, too often, our lives have become too predictable and programmed.  Jeremy Glass put it this way when he said, “We can’t jump off bridges anymore, because our iPhones will get ruined. We can’t take skinny dips in the ocean, because there’s no service on the beach, and adventures aren’t real unless they’re on Instagram. Technology has doomed the spontaneity of adventure, and we are helping destroy it every time we Google, check-in and hashtag.”

    I’m glad I’m not indecisive. Sometimes, out of the blue, I will say something funny and it goes whoosh, over peoples’ heads. Then they will say, “What do you feel like doing tonight?’ and I will respond, “I just did it.”

    Esther Blumenfeld    (“Humor is a spontaneous, wonderful bit of outburst that just comes.  It’s unbridled, it’s unplanned, it’s full of surprises.”) Erma Bombeck



    Isaac Asimov said, “To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.”

    My,  mother-in-law, Fannie was an excellent cook. She said, “If you don’t have an ingredient—-improvise. ” She was a very smart lady, even though she never met Isaac Asimov.  However, I remembered her advise, when I read the instructions for a homemade, therapeutic hot pad; “Put rice in a big sock, tie off the end and put it in the microwave.”

    Since I didn’t have regular rice in the house, I put Rice-a-Roni in the sock. Now, when my neck hurts, it really smells delicious.

    My life has always been a bit improvised, and I have often zigged when I should have zagged, but I have no regrets. Lately, I have discovered that when you get old you improvise a lot. For instance being unable to lift a suitcase to the upper compartment on an airplane involves some improvisation. I play the role of an old lady, and block the aisle until some nice young fellow, playing the role of a boy scout, hoists the suitcase up for me. It works every time! Then I say, “Your MaMa raised you right!” Bingo!

    Improvisation is one of the core techniques used by actors.  It triggers spontaneity and sparks the imagination. One of the classic movie moments was when Jack Nicholson, in THE SHINING, improvised—-“Heeeere’s Johnny.”

    For a time, my son, Josh pursued a career in theatre. He was also a member of an improvisational comedy company that entertained in the U.S. and England. I am convinced that the skill of playing a character, without a script, and seeing how that character reacts in different situations has helped him think more creatively.  Additionally, his wife, Barbara said, “I can’t stay mad at him, because he always makes me laugh.”

    Paul Simon said, “Improvisation is too good to leave to chance.”  I guess he got that from George Burns who said, “If you’re going to ad lib, practice it first.” I would define improvisation as heightened communication with no moral implications such as telling a lie.

    A lie is a statement used intentionally for the purpose of deception, and carries a negative connotation. Big lies trick people into believing false or misleading information.  Big lie or little lie, the truth always comes out. In other words, “When the tide goes out, you’ll see who’s swimming naked.”

    Esther Blumenfeld (“A lie gives you the highest quality at the lowest price.”) anon