Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When A Dog Catches Gopher That's Like a Guy Catchin' What?

Intelligence photograph depicts
enemy infiltration. Source: CIA
Despite the Obama Administration's intensified drone strikes, the Gopher-ban regrouped during the winter and formed an alliance with the Paka-Squirrelies (aka "Squirrels") to launch a spring offensive discovered in the Tempranillo zone by local intelligent assets on the ground.  The Squirrel-tribe possesses biological weapons of mass destruction including rabies virus and plague virus. Intelligence photographs of the site show enemy penetration threatening soft targets. A person of interest code-named "Mr. Gopher" was identified. Assets were deployed to render, capture or eliminate said Mr. Gopher "with extreme prejudice."

Assigned to the mission was a canine asset code-name "Bluey." When I gathered the tools I would use for the mission (a shovel, gopher trap, and latex gloves to protect me from the biological viruses), Bluey became as excited as a marine on leave walking through a red light district. We studied the photographs and set our traps where we expected Mr. Gopher to strike. Day 1, Mr. Gopher approached target, found our trap and disarmed it. Day 2, Mr. Gopher found our reset trap and disarmed it. Day 3, Bluey went on reconnaissance to the trap area, took up position and waited as I went on a search and destroy mission in the area to clear out enemy combatants (namely Mr. Mildew, an ally of the Gopher-ban).

"Bluey" waiting for "Mr.
When I returned to the Tempranillo block I saw Bluey with a prisoner, taken alive. To my surprise, it was a member of the Squirrel tribe and not Mr. Gopher. Since Abu Ghraib, we've been cautious about photographing enemy combatants and their treatment.  To protect his cover and recriminations from  ACLU lawyers, Bluey was sent back to his handler and I dealt with the prisoner, who now, according to his faith, is surrounded by a harem of squirrel virgins in heaven, while his earthy, headless remains have been shoveled into the squirrel caves, as a warning to other squirrels who would trespass on our lands, steal our grapes, steal our avocados and dare align themselves with the Gopher-ban and organize safe havens for rattlesnakes.

When you take a dog out to hunt gopher and you catch a squirrel, that's a pretty good day.

Once a dog has tasted gopher, he's just a guy out hunting for pussy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Aglianico or Ugly Hanako? Help Us Name That Wine.

2009 Aglianico wine. Label from
a 2001 portrait.
The grape is called Aglianico and it's originally from Italy where it's a noble grape and you can find Aglianico wines on wine lists at Italian restaurants in and around New York City that typically sell for $75 or more. We planted Aglianico vines in our vineyard when we couldn't get Nebbiolo the king of Italian grapes.  Sam from Nova Vines (the vine nursery that supplied our certified vines) recommended it and we had tasted Aglianico from Baja Mexico which was good so we said why not.  It's not something that everybody grows and there's nothing wrong with having a niche when it comes to marketing. The Aglianico grape produces a very deep dark rich purple juice, one of the thickest, purplest, chewiest wines you'll every see, at least as it grows in our vineyard in San Diego County. Sam at Nova Vines had it on a moderate root stock that would in theory control vigor because the soil where we were planting it looked pretty fertile and we wanted to slow down the vine's growth. It turned out the soil was not that fertile; it was sandy decomposed granite without clay and water doesn't hold and since the root stock is not aggressive the Aglianico vines have not matured fast.  On the other hand the Aglianico block at the top of the hill is the most tame part of our vineyard and we like the vines which is more than I can say about some of the Tempranillo vines planted over the leach field which are growing out of control into a jungle.

Because it would be several years before our vines (planted in 2007) matured, in the year of our Lord 2009 we decided to purchase Aglianico grapes from Guadeloupe Valley in Baja Mexico because the wine we had tasted from that region was pretty good and this would allow us to begin producing and marketing Aglianico wine. When the grapes arrived I tasted them and detected salt and we discovered I was a super taster for salt. To me, the grapes from the git-go were salty and the wine was salty and I never liked the wine and we contemplated throwing it out but one day at a wine tasting I had it out there and Coyote Karen tried it and said "this is the best wine you ever made" and she said it was "very earthy" and I learned that day she likes earthy wines. I had given a couple of bottles to my ex-boss John from my daytime job who had opened one when a company president he's consulting was dining at his house and I got a phone call from the CEO who said he wanted to order a couple of cases immediately over the phone and he gave me his credit card.

This is proof that what I like is not necessarily what you like when it comes to wine and that's a good thing because instead of dumping this wine we've been selling it and people who like "earthy wines" love it.

The Princess in May, 2013.
The TTB gave us trouble when we tried to design a label for this wine. We wanted to call it 2009 Aglianico but they wouldn't let us call it that because the grapes came from Mexico.  So, we added the appellation Guadeloupe Valley to the label and that wasn't approved. Getting desperate for a label that the Obama Administration would permit I submitted a design for "Ugly Hanako" that was approved. Before there was a TV show called "Ugly Betty" there was an Ugly Hanako and we must now tell you that our daughter, aka the Princess of this blog, is named Hanako which is the most popular girl's name in Japan and means "beautiful flower child."  The vineyardista my wife decided early on to put the princess in charge of the Aglianico vines and she quickly called those vines "uglyhanako" which rhymes with "Aglianico" and reminds us of the frown she made every time we asked her to help us in the vineyard. To make the label, I took a snapshot of a portrait done of the Princess when we were in Paris in 2001 which is the time she had her first flower and was becoming a woman and the artist drew her how she would look when she was 21 although she was only 11 at the time.

How does she feel about having her picture on a wine label called "Ugly Hanako?"  I'll let her answer that. But as there was no harm meant and we know she is a beautiful person we as the parents see no harm and it's worth a good laugh and she's a good sport and seemed to enjoy pouring the Ugly Hanako in the tasting room when she came back from Africa and even autographed bottles. The label reads: "The wine is beautiful and complex just like our daughter" and that's a compliment.

The salty, earthy, briny 2009 Aglianico is almost sold out and in a French oak barrel is aging wine made from our 2010 Estate Aglianico (15 gallons of our first harvest on 4th leaf vines which was a little high in acid), 2011 Estate Aglianico (30 gallons produced from 2011, which is quite good but not enough to fill a barrel). And how did we fill the barrel?  I uncorked and poured wine from bottles and cases of the 2009 Aglianico which I didn't like and which I was ready to through away but I thought it would add some complexity to our estate grown grapes and it did. So those wines, combined with a new French oak barrel and topped with a few bottles of  rich, dark 2012 Aglianico, we have quite an interesting, powerful wine with fruit and acid and body and nose and beginning and middle and finish and it's tasting pretty good and we're getting ready to bottle it and the question is what should we call it: Aglianico? More Ugly Hanako? Something else?

Normally, I would offer to send you a complimentary bottle for suggesting a name we end up using but the last two times we did that the vineyardista ended up in the emergency room so let's just say if you have the honor of submitting a name that we use you're invited to taste it at our tasting room.  Cheers and thank you for your suggestions!

(Winemaker's note August 29 2015 - two weeks ago I opened a bottle of the Aglianico made with our "estate" grapes and my eyes were opened. It is indeed a complex wine, with fruit, acid, beginning, middle and end. At the San Diego Wineries wine tasting event this spring our good friend, mentor, and winemaking teacher Lum Eisenman had a sip, came back for a pour, then, came back for a glass. He was hooked. This wine is unique, special, good, and has grown into something that even the winemaker likes. It is living up to the same great expectations we have for our daughter - and like life itself, just as complex. Cheers!)

("Ugly Hanako" wine is produced by Blue-Merle Winery, located in Escondido, San Diego County, California. It may be purchased by contacting the winery at http://www.bluemerlewinery.com on Twitter @bluemerlewinery and on Instagram @blumerlewinery. As a postscript (9/22/13), the 2013 Aglianico has been harvested and the grapes were beautiful and the new wine is as dark and purple as it ever was. the grapes were harvested at 24.5 brix and we were able to cold soak the grapes for 4 and 1/2 days extracting all of those dark colors and fruit flavors, and then the wine was slowly fermented - in the cool, airconditioned winery, for another 7 days. This year, 2013, as the vines have matured, the crop yield increased. We harvested close to 1,000 lbs and pressed 65 gallons of wine, enough for a barrel. New barrels have been ordered and we will rack the wine into barrels in November, after a "battonage" - stirring up the lees -- in late September or early October. P.S.S. - the 2014 Aglianico harvest produced an amazing dark and full bodied wine. Because the yield was small - about 30 gallons - we blended it with a deep Estate Zinfandel. It's still aging, as is the 2013 as o 8/29/15.  Cheers!)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Laborer's Life

"Ask Fidel what he did with my loppers," she said. "He stole them from the shed."
"Yes dear."
"Ask him what he was doing in my shed."
"Yes dear."
"Take the fruit picker away from the orange tree or he'll steal all the oranges."
"Yes dear."
"Did I tell you, he's taking one ounce of pesticide from everyone in the neighborhood and using it to spray vineyards in other parts of town and charging them for the chemical."
"He's a thief."
"He took my eye goggles. Ask for them back."
"Yes dear."
"And don't let Bluey outside when he's here."
"Yes dear."  There's no use arguing with her. "Should I ask him to catch the gopher in the Tempranillo block?"
"No. He'll just pull a gopher out of his truck that he caught at Merlot Mike's and tell you it's your gopher and charge you $10 for it."
"He'll be arriving soon. Why don't you go shopping at Costco?"
"That's a good idea. If I see him, I'll get angry. Just thinking about him makes my blood pressure boil," said the woman who was hospitalized earlier this year for hypertension.
She leaves. He arrives in Mike's Gator, gets out and waddles over.
"Hey amigo, buenos dias."
"Buenos dias my ass Señor."
Craig, how's the little vineyardista?" he asks.
"Pretty good. How's your blood pressure?" He was hospitalized a month ago with high blood pressure. You'd think they would become blood pressure buddies.
"Not too bad," he said. "Craig, may I take some oranges for my wife? She loves your oranges."
Every time he says my name, I cringe. "Yes," I say.  I note he's asking permission.  "Please don't take them all."
"OK. Have you seen Pedro recently?"
"I saw him last year at the Seven Eleven. How's he doing?"
"Not too good."
"What happened."
"He went to Mexico."
"Why did he go there?"
"I don't know."
"How's he going to get back in?"
"He paid some Coyote $5,000. He's back already."
"I'm surprised he would leave."
"His mother is there, or something. He's limping and has pins in his leg."
"What happened?"
"The police stopped him when he was driving. He didn't have no papers no license no anything."
"The cop called the Border Patrol and Pedro started running."
"He ran away from the cops?"
"They chased him all over. Through peoples' backyards. Everywhere."
"When they caught up with him he jumped off a wall and broke his leg."
"They took him to the emergency room. Put pins in it."
"Did they deport him?"
"No, they were nice to him. They weren't supposed to chase him."
"He's not so young anymore. With an injury like that he won't be the same."
He went back to work and I finished up some weeding and shoot thinning and when it was time to go he pulled the Gator up to the entrance of the property. I saw a 5-gallon bucket three-quarters full of oranges.
"Did you pick some oranges?"
"Si, my esposa likes your oranges."
"So does my daughter and my colleagues at the office. You can't find oranges like that in the store. Let me have one," and I take one from the bucket and start peeling it. No avocados in the bucket today. No apples. "How's your wife?"
"She's no good. Always complaining."
"Isn't that normal?" I ask. "Isn't that what wives do? Do you have the eye goggles?"
"Si, here they are." He hands them over.
"I'll put them in the shed so you can use them next time. What about the vineyardista's loppers?"
"I don't have them. Where's your son?" he asks changing the subject. He always calls Bluey (the Australian Shepherd canine) "my son."
"He's in the house." Fidel puts his fingers to his mouth and lets out a whistle that sets the dog off barking.
"There he is," Fidel says. He waddles back towards the gator and clips the dead branch of a tree with his clippers and with oranges aboveboard and who knows what under the canvas cover drives off.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Winemaker's Dinner

As the sun set the cool marine layer slipped in up to our bones and we finished tucking the growing vines behind the top wire. There was perfume in the vineyard but it wasn't hers. The grape buds of the Grenache vines were flowering and fragrance was in the air as we nipped and tucked the fat foliage with surgeon's skill trying to prevent the onset of powdery mildew.

It has been a long day from dawn to dusk and she asks, "What's for dinner?"

"Uuhhhh..." I stall. "Wine?"

Monday, May 6, 2013

Portrait of the Actor as a Young Man: Kevin Gray, Rest in Peace

You know him as The Phantom, Mr. Saigon, Pontius Pilate, the King of Siam. This is a portrait of Kevin Gray as a young man, before all that. And perhaps some clues to the answer: What experiences forged him into such a powerful actor?

Act I, Scene I. Football Field, Coleytown Junior High School, Westport, CT.  (September 1972)

Hot, humid, muggy. Temperatures and humidity both in the high 90s, on a football field, Coach Ron Weir calls for the stick drill.  The dummies are placed 30 yards away, we sprint towards them, diving head first, face up, neck forward, grunts, face mask hits bottom of dummy, forcing it backward along the ground. "Stick!" we scream.  Next, 10 yards farther. Repeat. Next, 10 yards farther. Repeat. Next, running the full length of the field: "Stiiiiiickkkk!" Says Coach: "Good thing you're tough."  It made us all tough. Remarks Bob Wiggins, who went on to play college sports, of those practices: "They would be illegal today." On the field that day is a tall lanky kid with jet black hair and a broad white smile who would play Slot Back in the Belly Offense--Kevin Gray.
Coleytown Jr. High Football Team, 1972. Kevin Gray, # 90 (standing,
 8th from right) played Slot Back.

Act I, Scene II, The Locker Room (October '72)

We have lost another game and what promised to be a good season is very mediocre. The coaches are pissed and they show it. Fists are banged against lockers. There is one road to redemption. Win the final two games against all odds.

Act I, Scene III, Jr. High Football Game of the Century vs. Long Lots (October '72)

The Long Lots Jr. High School team was undefeated, ranked high in the State and a heavy favorite. If our school was the “freaks” Long Lots was the “jocks” and it would be an away game on their field.  During practices that week the coaches inoculate us with a positive spirit, a belief in the possibility that we can win. When the weather forecast is questionable, Coach says, “I wish it would rain – rain is an equalizer.”  He knows we need any break we can get.

On game day our team came to play and neither side is able to put points on the board.  Kevin is even taller in spikes and helmet,  mean and lean with shoulder pads.  In the huddle “Belly Right” is called. “Ready, break” the offense chants in unison as it breaks huddle and Kevin takes his position in the slot between right tackle and wide receiver. The quarterback takes the hike, pivots counter clockwise and carries the ball off tackle behind Kevin and two running backs who create a wedge in the defense. Kevin buts heads with a defender then leaves his feet to throw the “stick” block we had practiced so many times that summer. He rises from the dirt and this antelope trots back to the huddle for the next play.

We run the ball into the end zone and make the two point conversion for an 8 – 0 lead.  “If they score, remember you made the extra point,” says Coach. Indeed, they do score, but our defense thwarts their run for extra points short of the goal line.  We are ecstatic! We hold on to win and Kevin and our team have been part of the greatest upset in junior high school football history (at least in our minds, at least in our town). Despite the odds, we emerged victorious.  On the way back to school, Coach asked the bus driver stop at Carroll’s the fast food burger chain (there was no MacDonald's in town those days) and purchased burgers for all of us, including the driver.

Act I, Scene IV  The Jr. High Championship Game

There was one last game to play for the town championship that would pit the “freaks” against the “greasers.” As their stereotype indicated, the kids from Bedford were from the rough side of town (if there was such a thing in our suburban community just 50 miles from Broadway). Again, we were underdogs. Again we beat the odds and emerged victorious. Again, Coach ordered the bus to stop at Carrolls for another feast of burgers.

Coach instilled in Kevin and all of us toughness, confidence and the knowledge we would succeed when the odds were against us. One other memory: At the end of season banquet, Kevin’s mom made egg rolls for the team and our parents.

Act II, The Gymnastics Team (1973)

Ron Weir also coached the Gymnastics Team where the competition was against ourselves, to perform as best we could. Football was violent force. Gymnastics was strength, elegance, concentration, grace. Self-improvement and excellence required practice, practice, practice.  In the opening number, younger members of the team march in and perform simple, coordinated tumbling routines, while Kevin and the seniors walk 50-ft on their hands without losing balance.

Kevin’s main event was the pommel horse. He, my elder by one year, was the master and I the younger apprentice. “Justice, come here,” he called to me one day. “Hold your hands out with your fingers up,” he said and when my arms were raised and my hands showed 10 outstretched fingers he interlocked my hands to his and bent mine backwards into the patented “Kevin Gray death grip.”

Kevin Gray (standing, 5th from right) and the Coleytown Jr. High
Gymnastics Team (1973). His main event was the "horse."
 “Do you give up?” he asked, applying more pressure. “No,” I said defiantly. He applied more force twisting me down to the floor in agony.  I gave up to fight another day and remember telling him “Someday when you’re famous I’m going to tell everyone you used to torture me.”

I observed Kevin’s routine on the horse so many times I have it memorized. His signature move was making his body perfectly level, toes pointed. He removes weight from his left hand and while remaining perfectly balanced and level raises his left arm in the air – with all of his weight supported by one hand and his back and legs still ironing board straight. (This is not easy.) Then, he brings his left hand back to the horse’s pommel and from a level position extends his body into an erect handstand which he holds. A demonstration of strength, grace and athleticism. He dismounts to applause, one of his first acting roles.

Bobby Lyon, Co-Captain of the gymnastics team with Kevin, recalls that time: "Coach Weir recognized that Kevin was truly a performer. He was so much more than a kid barreling down the mats with reckless abandon. Coach Weir recognized the elegance that was Kevin. He saw a very modest kid who was beautiful, a body with graceful lines that he held with great posture. Kevin was steadfast and tackled things like the Horse which was one of the most difficult and disciplined apparatus. I have to give coach Weir a lot of credit, he knew about Kevin's presence."

At the end of our performances and the season we hold a celebration dinner at the Gray household. Two memories remain fresh – the sight of one team member completing 19 continuous back handsprings --  and a serving plate full of egg rolls. Kevin’s family is introduced. Is his mom Chinese?

Act III, Scene I Duke University, Branson Theater (Fall, 1978)

By coincidence or fate, Kevin and I attend Duke University and I arrive on campus 16 months after him. (I never asked him why he selected Duke? I will ask at his memorial.) He has already had a lead role in Godspell and has earned a reputation as a good actor before I matriculate. I hear he’s acting in a play set to the verses of Dylan Thomas. I go and remember seeing Kevin, whom I've always known with a gregarious Cheshire-cat smile, with an actor’s animated voice and an actor’s serious stare into the audience, frozen, as lights fade to black. He goes to London to study.

Act III, Scene II, Duke University, East Campus Quad (Spring 1979)

The Spring of Kevin's return from London I’m helping organize “Joe Baldwin Day” events, games and entertainment.  We invite Kevin to perform on the Quad and he graciously agrees. He will be singing.  I’m on stage assisting set-up and Kevin tells me he’s developed his own singing style. His performance starts and it’s not what you’d expect from a college performer. He sounds (to my uneducated ear) like a young Frank Sinatra belting out a Cole Porter tune. He’s making his own way in an era of rock and roll.

If there had been “American Idol” in those days I suppose Simon Cowell would have said, “Kevin, you have a good voice, but it sounds a little too much like Broadway for me.”

Act III, Scene III, Duke University, Page Auditorium (Spring, 1980)

Kevin Gray played Perchik in
"Fiddler on the Roof." 1980.
The Hoof ‘N Horn production Kevin’s senior year (1980) was Fiddler on the Roof. I’m friends with the director who needs a Stage Manager so I volunteer. Kevin auditions and is offered the role of Perchik - the intellectual -- which seems to fit Kevin’s sometimes brooding nature.  For most of the cast and crew, it is a tough few months as we try to balance a rigorous academic load with rehearsals and personal lives. (One of the actresses has married a Russian and was trying to get him out of the Soviet Union). The musical conductor for this production is Michael Kosarin who already seems to us to be a living legend. Everyone knows Koz is going to be famous someday. My memory of Kevin at that time are his seriousness – there are times as we near performance he spends off to the side, practicing by himself, improving, perfecting his role, getting himself into performance mode. There is one time he steps out of line – I can’t remember exactly what it was – perhaps late to a rehearsal or clowning around at an inappropriate time – and I ask myself, “Who am I to discipline my master?” I realize the best way to “manage” Kevin is to let him be, give him his space. His performance during Fiddler was strong. Everyone came through. We didn’t use microphones to amplify the performers’ voices. Kevin’s lyrics are heard at the back of the 2,000 seat auditorium. Like the victories of junior high football, the challenges and fun of the gymnastics team, and being a member of the Fiddler cast and crew, these are some of the best memories of our lives – as I’m sure they were for Kevin too.

Our adult lives were just beginning then, weren't they? The day after the last performance of Fiddler, Kevin graduated from college and we never met again. At least not face to face.

Act IV, San Diego, CA "Eggroll Deja Vu"

Kevin Gray 
Over the years, I heard about Kevin’s rise in the theatrical world and many of our classmates were able to attend his performances and report back. I remember hearing about the Phantom, remember hearing about some controversy with Miss Saigon and why wasn’t Broadway using more Asians in Asian roles? Then there was a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, and more. Life seemed to keep me from seeing him perform on stage.  I celebrated the year 2000 by making the trip back to Kevin’s 20th college reunion – to see him and his classmates I knew a year ahead of me. Yet he didn’t make it. His friends told me about his accomplishments and we were so proud of him, the man who almost broke 10 of my fingers simultaneously.

My own life journey brought me to the land of the Rising Sun and to a woman who could have been Madame Butterfly but unlike Pinkerton I married this cherry blossom and from that marriage a child was born, a 200% baby: 100% American and 100% Japanese. As she grew I encouraged her to participate in school plays and she attended college in Connecticut which was as far away from her parents in San Diego as she could get and yet Connecticut was still a home to me, as it was in ways for Kevin. Our daughter continued acting in college plays and even wrote her own and when she graduated from college she said, “Dad, I want to be an actress."  Her Asian education-mama protested and pleaded with her to  become a doctor while I advised her you need to pursue your dreams and my thoughts turned to Kevin.

The daughter is working as an intern at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego and invites the cast to our house among the vines for a party and my wife the Butterfly is sautéing the vegetables in a pan and then placing them in wrappers and plopping them into the deep fryer and when golden brown extracts them and pats the oil and stacks them, a pyramid of Egypt on a serving plate.  Harumaki in Japanese. Chun Juan in Chinese. Spring Rolls in English. 40 years ago as kids in Connecticut we called them “egg rolls” and now my wife has become the Egg Roll Mother to my daughter’s generation.   I take a picture of the spring rolls and log in to Facebook and search for Kevin Gray and send a friend request. We haven't spoken in 30 years. Kevin has just joined Facebook that week. The date is May 9, 2010. Kevin, forever gracious, accepts.

Act V "Reunion & Reconciliation"

I write to Kevin about my memories of his mother's Spring Rolls and that we have become the Spring Roll parents of San Diego and that our daughter responded to a YouTube contest by a director of Miss Saigon asking people of color to submit a video exploring “What does Yellow Face Mean to You?” 

I write to Kevin, "It never occurred to me you were partial Chinese."

"I think that's been the case for most of my life -- people being a bit surprised when they learn my background. It's an interesting issue for many mixed ethnicity young adults, and seems especially so for Asians, reportedly the least assimilated of the major races in the U.S." he wrote.

"The 'least assimilated'?" I shot back. "Certainly not in California's major cities. Perhaps that's the exception. Perhaps we will be beyond race by the end of our lifetime ...."

I reminded Kevin of that kung-fu move he performed on me that almost crippled my hands.

“Did I do that?” he writes in Facebook. “Sad.” I thought it was pretty funny, but I always had a mean streak in me.

Kevin is new to social media, a subject I know something about, and it's time for the student to repay the teacher so I encourage him to use Facebook and YouTube as a way to post videos of his performances and information about his career, so people like me who have never seen him live on stage can experience his performances and follow him.  

I make plans to attend his 35th high school reunion in 2011 to see Kevin and his high school classmates but once again life comes up and I need to leave Connecticut early and head back to San Diego so we miss each other again. From living in Japan and learning to speak Japanese and Chinese and experiencing Confucianism I have an understanding of the important relationship between “senpai” and “kohai”, between the upper classman and the freshman and to me Kevin is my senpai and I owe him and his classmates my respect.

When I heard about his passing and his memorial on Broadway I realize this is Kevin’s last performance and this one I will not miss. As a winemaker, when it comes to weddings and funerals and special occasions my gift is wine because wine is my art and it comes from my soul. I send bottles of wine to two of Kevin’s classmates (Peter Byrne & Mark Miller) who are also my “senpai” as a gesture of thanksgiving for their guidance and friendship in earlier days. I have not seen them in 30+ years and it's time to catch up. A student should always pay tribute to his master. Kevin would have understood that and if you see me in the theater with a backpack there is likely a bottle or two of wine in it and if I know you then there's a bottle with your name on it that will be delivered in the fullness of time and if we haven't met yet then life's short so let's share the wine together while we're here.  "L'Chiam to life!"


After I've suggested how he can use social media to promote his professional career Kevin writes,  “You won’t remember this, but you already helped steer my career once. We were playing football at Coleytown and I was running down field on a kickoff and you cleaned my clock. As I lay on the ground and saw you run off, I clearly remember thinking, ‘Maybe acting will work.’”