First Game Design

There is an amazing website called Coursera Where you can take all sorts of classes designed and taught by college professors for free!  I love having the chance to learn something new just because it’s interesting. Thus far I have taken courses in music, art and most recently game designed. Attached here is my first game free to download. Since 2015 was the 150th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland I used the Jabberwocky poem as the them for the game.   “Beware the Jabberwock” will print on 1 piece of 8×10 paper and can be played by 1 or 2 people, using 2 coins, tacks or other tokens and 1 6 sided die. Enjoy. and any feedback is welcome.

Beware The Jabberwock

“Swan Song”

I don’t believe we’re going to make it as a species.

Not long ago the climate change experts were saying the earth was warming and polar ice melting much faster than predicted. What was expected to take 50 years was taking 10.  There were no explanations for why the temperatures were rising so much faster. Even more recently Volkswagen was exposed as having hidden the fact that they produced higher emission vehicles than standards allow. They programmed the vehicles to register as less polluting than they really were.  That made me wonder, if 1 company was getting away with that for years, how many other companies were doing similar things. How many corporations found a way to appear more green then reality? So decades of climate change research, modeling and suggested counter measures may have been created based on inaccurate data. Today I heard mention that Exxon Mobile despite knowing the truth about climate change used to fund groups that worked to debunk climate change.

How many more corporations?

I think we’re too late. We thought we had time but we’ve been lied to. The individuals who run certain corporations have sold the future of our species for profit, and we’re all going to pay the price. The human race is an endangered species. The planet is going to kill us.

Little Point of Light

As I was on my way to a ritual honoring our recently departed family, I was feeling a panic attack coming on. There were a few things I needed for the ritual and I was buying them at the nearest Wholefoods. I was down to the last item on the list a candle. I was looking at the few votive candles available they were different colors, and fragrances.
I was paralyzed trying to decide which one to get. What fragrance said “mom” to me? What color reminded me of her? Most of them were seasonal scents, pumpkin spice, or cinnamon. I lifted each and sniffed. While these are some of my favorite scents they didn’t feel right.  Then I grabbed a white candle, with a “Pine” label. I don’t connect with Pine scents.  Sometimes I burn them in winter, when I don’t have a real Christmas tree. I don’t buy them often. When I smelled this pine candle, this small white candle, I was transported back to the Christmas 1975. Mom brought home a incense burner in the shape of a snow covered cottage. When she lit the incense and closed the cottage pine scented smoke rose out of the chimney and filled the room with the smell of Christmas magic. I was enchanted. Even stronger than the memory of the fragrance or the little burner, was the memory of my mother’s smile in the warm lights of our home. And the warm feeling of a family still whole.

I found the right candle.

Some songs

Some songs sound like the dawn of days that will never come again.

Black Dog

Black Dog don’t try to sing no more,
Nobody cares what you got to say;

Black Dog don’t try to smile no more,
Don’t try to walk in the light of day;

Black Dog walk with head hung down,
Black Dog walk ’til you in the ground;

Black Dog don’t be begging round my sun,
Black Dog your days of warm be done;

Black Dog go run your Daddy’s trail,
Black Dog a Black Dog’s on your tail;

Black Dog walk with head hung down,
Black Dog walk ’til you in the ground;

Black Dog know you had it all,
Black Dogs can’t fly but they can fall;

Black Dog know Black Dog can’t fly,
Black Dogs can’t sign but they can cry;

Black Dog walk with head hung down,
Black Dog walk ’til you in the ground;

-Alan White

Our Last Day

 

The last day I spent with mom, we were having lunch on the back terrace of the nursing home. The food wasn’t great but it was a beautiful hot day. I picked a tigerlily for mom and put it in her hair.

We sat outside and talked a while. She asked why he was brought there and I explained it to her again. She was on orders to stay in her wheel chair unless someone helped her so I took her everywhere she wanted to go. I walked her around the yard in to the shade and she asked, “What’s going on in your life?”

I said: “Mom, my life is like the story of the empty bag. Wanna hear it?

Once upon a time there was a boy that everyone called Noodle Head who wanted to help people out but always seemed to mess things up. So all he ever heard people say was ‘Get out of here Noodle Head!’ he went to the market and asked the grocery if he could make his day better. But no sooner had Noodle Head asked the question when he accidentally kicked the leg on the grocer’s cart causing it to fall spill the wares in to the street. ‘Get out of here Noodle Head!” the Grocer yelled and Noodle Head ran.

A little while later Noodle Head met a woman buying ice cream for 18 children. ‘I can make her day better.’ Noodle Head thought and ran to catch one of the scampering children. But he in doing so he bumped the woman. She dropped all 18 ice cream cones, and all 18 children began to cry as one. ‘Get out of here Noodle Head!’ The lady shouted and Noodle Head ran.

A while later down the road Noodle Head met a beggar holding an empty bag and crying. He asked why the man was crying.

‘All I have in the world is this bag.’ The man said. ‘When the bag is full I have plenty but when the bag is empty I have nothing and I weep.’

Suddenly Noodle Head snatched the beggar’s bag and ran. The beggar chased him shouting ‘Stop thief! Come back!’ but Noodle Head was too fast. Once he was out of site of the beggar Noodle head dropped the bag in the middle of the road and hid. When the beggar came running and saw his bag on the ground he jumped for joy. ‘ Oh my beloved bag! I thought I lost you forever.’ He walked away happily. Noodle Head walked out of his hiding place and said ‘At least that’s one way to make someone’s day better.’

Mom, I kind of feel like that beggar right now. I sold my house and it didn’t work out so well. I’ve made some big career mistakes. I fell like my bag is empty. But I’m here with you right now so I still have my bag. So this is enough.”

And we sat a while longer in the shade and agreed our bags were empty but we still had our bags and that was enough.

Every Day…

Every Day feels like a relentless grind. Where I once I got out of bed by instinctively moving a series of now it is a conscious decision and focused effort. I feel empty. Mostly numb and heavy until the sadness ambushes with a sneak attack. Then I am rushing out of the bookstore, or mall or wherever to be to find somewhere more private before my emotional breakdown erupts.   I’ve lost any excitement for the richness and glittering prizes that fill my enhance my life. I can speak my blessings aloud but it feels like a lie because the gratitude is in my head but there is nothing in my heart. I feel like a cardboard cutout pretending to be a human being. Until the sadness ambushes with a sneak attack.

The Things I’ll Miss.

Sharing a cup of coffee good or bad.

Spaghetti with meat balls.

Arguing over who gets to sleep on the couch.

Watching “A Muppet Christmas Carol” on Thanksgiving day.

Opening 1 present on Christmas Eve.

Giving her the perfect gift that makes her hands shake as she opens it.

The look of surprised delight when I visit, even when she knows I’m coming.

Her smile.

Her voice.

Coming home.

 

So This Happens

An organization I was working with was creating a project to show the diversity of the Black community. The project was going to include a series of recordings and one of the producers contacted me about auditioning we scheduled a meeting. The day of the meeting the producer never showed up. I sent a follow-up email to reschedule. She never replied. I phoned and left a voice mail. No reply. A week later open auditions were announced for the voice over project, and I called and emailed again requesting an audition appointment and still, no reply.  eventually I gave up confused, frustrated and feeling more than a little insulted.

It was some time before I had a suspicion of the reasons behind this. They didn’t like the way I speak. I speak with what some people call “accent neutral” English. Both of my parents had been English teachers as part of their careers and they understood the power and value of being articulate. So they insisted all their children properly and with as little accent as possible.  I remember my mother tirelessly correcting me to say ” I saw” instead of “I sar”.  I don’t speak perfectly and I still struggle with grammar a times. But I do speak very well. So some people think I “Sound White.” I suspect that this is why I was dropped from consideration for this project. I suspect it was someone over the producer’s head who made the decision and she didn’t want to say it to me directly. So instead she avoided me. I’ve gone for projects since then which have made the same decision but in those cases they actually told me they that I “sounded too White”, or I “wasn’t Black enough”. And there are enough similarities to for me to think the decision process was the same.

There are two points I’d like to make here. One since I am in face a Black man I DO sound Black. Every sound I make even if it is a resounding fart sounds Black.

Second, It qualifies as a fail ,if not an epic fail, when you plan an arts project to celebrate the diversity of a community then execute the project based on a narrow stereotype.

 

The Dash and My first acting gig.

In loving honor of my mother and friend Anna G. White.

Anna White 1978

Anna White 1978

We planned and created much of Mom’s funeral ourselves with a huge amount of help from her church community and friends.  During the service I read a part of the poem “The Dash by Linda Ellis You can read the whole poem here.

After I shared the story of how mom gave me my first acting gig:

I was maybe seven or eight years old and mom took me to McDonald’s ™ for dinner. One of her friends from work came in to the restaurant with 2 other acquaintances and didn’t say hello to us as he passed our table. My mother did not take insults lightly. So she turned to me and said “Alan I’ll buy you an extra ice cream if you go up to my friend and say ‘Hi Daddy, when are you coming home?”

and thus a career was launched.