HIS SEEING EYE HUMAN … PART ONE.

Dear Matzo Ball Blogger:

Thank you for logging into yet another exciting episode of As the Matzo Ball Turns. In this edition, I am returning from my long absence on this blog. As some of you may know, I’ve spent the past four and a half years developing an original musical based on the source material As the Matzo Ball Turns the novelThis morning, I was inspired after waking from a brief and fitful night of sleep, to finally get back to it. When I reached the downstairs my inspiration, in the form of a four legged Australian cattle dog named Charlie, sensed my unusual early presence in the room.

For those of you that read the book, Charlie makes an appearance in the final Chapter and, in a way, is one of the last remaining reminders of my time in LA and my failed pursuit of a Crazy Dream (a song in the show). Almost ten years have passed since I left LA and a fairly young Charlie, who was about 6 at the time, has now advanced in age. This post has been punching its way out of me for sometime but I could never find the time to write it. With the sun rising and a cup of coffee to my left, I am finally taking that time.

For those of you who have ever owned a pet, I know you know what I am talking about. Animals bring out the best in us and in certain cases of complete human ignorance, the worst. No matter how shitty our day is or how much the world hates us, they are there for us and are always happy to see us when we arrive home. I once thought that maybe it was because they can’t open cupboards or are unable to use a can opener to access a can of food that propels their tails into a flickering motion when we return home from a long day. Our arrival assures them they are not alone which also means they have the potential to be fed. Although that may be part of their elation, I believe the relationship goes much deeper than that.

Charlie, like myself, was abandoned when he was young. He was found at a road stop rest near Bakersfield off the I-5 in California. When Mary, my girlfriend at the time, brought him home, I was apprehensive to say the least. I mean, I was going to make it Hollywood if it killed me and yet another mouth to feed and the responsibility involved in walking, grooming, and bathing anybody but myself seemed like an overwhelming task at the time. But, Charlie brought something to me that I can never repay him for … unconditional love.

You see, Hollywood is a very tough town. It is filled with constant rejection, backstabbing, ridicule, desperation, broken dreams, and above all loneliness. Everybody is so busy trying to out do the next guy or developing friendships and relationships based on what someone can do for their “career” that it becomes a very void and empty town, despite the 16 million people cutting you off in traffic. What Charlie brought to me was a warmth that started to melt what was becoming a very cold and bitter heart. When the time was right, I made the executive decision to get out of LA in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Travelling across the entire US with my two furry friends (my American Eskimo Tai has since passed) is until this day one of the greatest experiences of my life. We scaled the Rocky Mountains during a blizzard where Charlie experienced his first snow storm, dodged a tornado in Indiana, and trekked through the incredible scenery in Bryce Canyon, Utah before nearly running out of gas. On that journey, which was at times quite harrowing, I felt an intense obligation to keep my co-pilots safe and out of harms way. After six days of travel, we rolled back into my hometown of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania from where I had spread my wings eighteen years prior.

The idea for the book became vivid during this journey across the country and as soon as my feet hit the ground in Pennsylvania, I began penning my ten year Hollywood tale.  Three years later, the book became a reality and As the Matzo Ball Turns was born into the world. In between writing breaks and jobs, Charlie, Tai, and I would also live life to the fullest by hiking, swimming, boating and travelling the beautiful mountainous countryside. When the book was finished, it was Charlie who showed up in a bow tie to attend one of my book signings. Unfortunately, Charlie thought he was there to protect his new surroundings rather than promote my first book and he nearly scared the bejesus out of a gay couple entering the book store to browse a few titles. Even though the situation ended with no further incident, the couple never entered the building nor returned to the out of the ordinary event, and an economic decision was made to leave my bodyguard at home for the remainder of the book tour.

When Tai passed, it was Charlie’s howling that notified me that our pack was down one member. Tai was a tough dog and as sad as it was to see her pass, I believe it brought Charlie some peace. Tai could be quite domineering whereas Charlie is a gentle and sweet soul who, quite frankly, didn’t really enjoy the constant aggravation and barking orders. We became more inseparable as the years passed and when relationships failed or I struggled with disappointments of all sorts my rock was always there for me.

When hiking our favorite spot, the beautiful Glen Onoko Falls in Jim Thorpe, I was confused to see Charlie reaching to find his next step while approaching a familiar but steep incline. When we got home and under closer inspection, I noticed a light film starting to coat his friendly brown eyes. A few weeks later, I took Charlie to the vet when I found him on the floor bleeding profusely through his snout. When I first informed my vet of the bleeding he wanted to x-ray him for fear it could be a cancerous tumor causing the massive discharge. Thankfully, his x-ray returned negative and in hindsight it was probably his decent into blindness that caused the hemorrhaging. It wasn’t long before Charlie, an incredibly sensitive being, was unable to hide his impairment from me which came in the form of intense anxiety about leaving his familiar surroundings.

Just weeks prior, Charlie and I were racing up the street in an all out sprint or tearing up a mountain side like two Bighorn sheep and now he was petrified to leave the comfort of his favorite recliner. Although he could still navigate through the house, thanks to his high IQ and keen sense of smell, Charlie was reverting to his past trauma which I am certain stems from whatever abuse he suffered as a puppy. With a strong, healthy body and many years of high quality life left in him, I was not about to let him retreat in a world of darkness and fear. I decided we were going to do the same things we always did with one exception, I would now be leading the way.

When confronting Charlie with this new proposition, he was less than thrilled. As a matter of fact, he protested vehemently.  As I tried to attach his leash he scrunched up and barked threateningly. The more I tugged on his harness the more he sank into the chair, resisting with every fiber of his body. When the physical struggle failed to gain his compliance, I released the tension in the chord and in the sternest voice possible said, “Let’s go! You’re going!” To my surprise he jumped off the chair and allowed me to guide him to the door.

I have to admit, it was an adjustment for both of us, but mostly for me. Most of the time, I would unhook Charlie from his leash and allow him to run the rest of the way home as it was one of his favorite things to do. Or, if out on a walk, I could be alone with my thoughts as Charlie navigated the way along our usual routes. But now, I would have to see things from a very low perspective in order to build his trust in my ability to lead him through the darkness.

Within a short amount of time, he was courageously racing me up the street in an all out sprint once again. As a matter of fact, his fearlessness and determination to keep going despite his disability has been a constant source of inspiration to me. I knew it from the day we first bonded in California that I would never give up on him for as long as I have breath in my body. I can’t teach him calculus or get his opinion on a section of my new book but there is an unspoken spiritual connection that we share that is beyond words. I will always have his back and as a few recent events have proven those aren’t just empty words … (To be continued)

 

Categories: dog, pet, seeing eye human

PHILLY FRINGE FESTIVAL…

May 29, 2017 1 comment

Dear Matzo Ball Maniacs:

It is official. As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical will be making it’s next appearance at the 2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival this Sept 7th through the 10th. Future posts will have links and ticket information.

We have made many upgrades to the show including new music, new cast members and many behind scene changes that are going to take the show to the next level.

We appreciate your support as we prepare for Philadelphia!!! We hope to see you there!!!

JR

Jozef auditions in LA!!

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AUDITION TIME!!!!

September 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Dear Matzo Ball Faithful:

The musical score is nearly finished and the creative team is moving on to the next phase of the production. I couldn’t be more excited and the following is the information provided on the As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical website at www.asthematzoballturnsthemusical.com on the Casting Notice page.

*** The first round of auditions for As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical will be held on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at DeMelfi School of Music, 711 S. Church Street, Suite 200, Hazelton, PA 18201. Those auditioning are expected to bring sheet music for one song they believe showcases their vocal range and ability. A piano accompaniment will be provided and under special circumstances a karaoke style CD will be permitted. Please submit as detailed at the top of this page. An audition time will be provided upon inquiry. Thank you!!!!

If you are a performer living in the NE Pennsylvania and/or the surrounding tri-state area and are interested in getting in on the ground floor of an exciting, new musical throw caution to the wind, warm up your vocal chords and try out. You never know!!!!

Best of luck to all those taking part in the auditions! Broadway or bust!!!!!

~J.R.

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GOING TO SEE THE DOCTOR!!!

BIG NEWS!!! You can watch producer Gene Duffy’s live interview with Doc Layne Roberts on Wednesday, April 1 (April Fools Day) starting at around 10:30 am. Gene will be talking about the musical and God knows what else but it is sure to be entertaining!!! Thank you for listening and if you haven’t pitched in to the As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical  Kickstarter campaign please do so!!!!  Thanks again!!!!!

 

 

Click here to Watch!

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AS THE MATZO BALL TURNS ~ THE MUSICAL … KICKSTARTER VIDEO GOES LIVE!!!!!

Dear Lovers of the Doughy White Balls:

A Kickstarter video has just launched for what is turning out to be an amazing journey for a book that is now turning into Broadway type musical! So stop sitting there with your jaw open wondering what is this idiot is up to now and please check out the page and donate.

When a band releases a new album they support it with a tour. I guess when I write a book it gets promoted with an all out hilarious comedy romp in the form of a musical. Well, there are worse things in life.

In all seriousness, the production team is going to bring you an awesome show but they need your help in getting this thing off the ground. Here is the link. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1296728313/as-the-matzo-ball-turns-the-musical

There are many cool rewards for your contribution including advanced tickets to shows, signed copies of the book and other cool mementos that will forever remind you of the help you provided in turning this musical into the next Broadway hit! So please donate!!!!

I greatly appreciate your contribution and for spreading the word about this awesome project!

Bailing on the Peace Train for now. Later peeps.

~J.R.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

CHICKS DIG MATZO BALLS …

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Here is a sneak peak at the beautiful and talented Sarah Clayton who stopped by a couple of weeks ago to help us out with the promotion of As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical. Video and Kickstarter project coming soon!!! Stay tuned.

~J.R.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND OR …

Dear Matzo Ball Fanatics:

Due to the popularity of my last book signing at the Penn Kidder Library OR the fact that someone in the office accidentally invited me again (probably the latter) I will be making a rare appearance on Saturday August 30, 2014 from 10am to 12 noon.

Come support the new and improved library and also pick up an autographed copy of the book that made this one lady laugh once. And that lady just so happened to be my mother. So what of it?

A portion of the proceeds will go towards the new facility. The Grand Opening is being held in the Pine Point Plaza, commonly known as Hazel Park, at the intersection of Rt. 903 and Rt. 534 in Albrightsville.

So put your ice buckets down for five minutes and come join in on the fun!!!! Hope to see you there!!!!!!

~J.R.

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COMING SOON!!!!!!

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CHET GOES TO THE LAUNDROMAT …

Come on, man. This ain't funny no more. My leg is falling off.

Dude. Ever hear of a sponge bath?
Waaaagghh! Jane, stop this crazy thing!!!!
Hey man! Wtf?

 

Hey Y’all:

For those of you who had the tenacity and/or high pain tolerance to make it to the final chapter of As the Matzo Ball Turns you may recall my beloved rescue dog Charlie the Australian Cattle Dog and his travel companion and makeshift airbag Chet the Giant Stuffed Monkey. Well, six years have elapsed since our infamous cross country trek that had one journey ending (as well as a book) while another began.

Anyway you look at it, Chet had collected a huge amount of dirt in his snow white fur and was long overdue for a spin in the washing machine along with a nice tumble in an industrial dryer. Remember a clean monkey is a happy monkey!!! Check out the action shots from the local Laundromat that had Charlie taking quite a few whiffs of his now, hygienically compliant friend.

Folks it doesn’t get any more exciting than this. Enjoy!!!!!

~J.R.

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A NIGHT TO REMEMBER!!!!

April 8, 2014 1 comment

Congrats to these very bright students!!!!!

Good times with a great date!!!!
Action shot of me receiving the Maroon and Gold Quill Award!!
Let’s take a pic! Is this guy signing my book or writing his next novel?
Great Music too. First Class All The Way.
Yum. Matzo Ball Soup!!!

To all the fabulous people involved with FOBULA:

Friday April 4, 2014 is a night I will always cherish. It started with a warm reception from the members of the Friends of the Bloomsburg University Library Association the minute my guest Lisa and I arrived and from there the surprises kept coming. While new friendships were being made and wonderful conversations were taking place, two orchestral players, who drove down from Rochester, New York for the event, created a quaint atmosphere inside the lovely Alumni House on campus.

When dinner began I could not believe my eyes … Matzo Ball soup. The eats were amazing and the thoughtfulness involved to include Matzo Ball soup on the menu just blew me away. Members of FOBULA then spoke after specially made cupcakes were passed around for all to nosh on. The speakers were entertaining and very passionate about their respective fields and involvement in the Association. Several students also received awards and financial assistance from the organization.

One of the members, Jim Huber, gave me a warm introduction as the guest speaker for the evening. I forgot to ask him if he’d like to become VP of sales and marketing for As the Matzo Ball Turns. He pitched me and the book better than I ever could have or maybe even more than was deserved.

I felt a real connection to the audience and was very flattered and challenged by the questions that came after the presentation. Then the biggest surprise of all … my first official writing award … The Maroon and Gold Quill Award. I am honored to be in the company of all those before me and all those to follow especially since I was chosen by an amazing group of scholars and individuals. Thank you once again FOBULA!!!!

A book signing took place at the end of the evening which gave me one last opportunity to chit chat with those who hung around to get a personalized copy of the vehicle that has created more great opportunities in my life than anything to date … As the Matzo Ball Turns.

I have included some pictures from the event for your enjoyment. As always, thank you for your interest and support!!!!

~J.R.

 

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