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Confessions of a Dislocated Texan Double Feature

Answering calls from 88 keys
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)

While it could very well be impossible to find many examples of my life where I am ever 100 percent serious, there was a tiny period of time where I found things more interesting than my sense of humor. Perhaps as a way to prevent themselves from being insane 24-hours a day with a hyperactive child, my parents desperately sought as many ways as possible to keep my mind occupied.

As you may imagine, if I found something even the slightest bit interesting that would not cause calamity, they would encourage me to participate in the activity as often as possible. One of those interests was playing the piano and for seven years I pursued music ambition. However, my skills as a classical pianist got set aside as other interests developed in High School and as far as I was concerned, that chapter in my life was a memory.

I must have missed the notice, but apparently coming to Pauls Valley was the key to reviving the connection to that instrument and all through a musical where one of the six main characters is a boy who is known for his piano skills. I didn’t even know if Tim Smith, member of Pauls Valley Art Council who is directing the play, would have a role for me when I made the late decision to try out for “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”

If I would have said I related to any character growing up, it would have been the round headed kid who could never kicked a football and was picked on like in that oldies song of the same name. Then again, perhaps it is poetic that I got cast as Schroeder to remind me that I also knew way more than most kids about guys like Ludwig van Beethoven and encountered girls who liked me (though none of them named Lucy) when I wasn’t quite ready to settle down. Of course, it will be a not quite a peer project, being that I am at least a foot taller and about ten years older than the rest of the cast.

Other than myself, Samantha Robb of Main Street was the only other person not still living with their parents that tried out for a part. I certainly was glad to comfort her in that fact, though I will have to limit my Ezra Mann and the five dwarves jokes until after the play is done in November.

I know I shouldn’t even feel that old since most people my age are just beginning to get the hang of their careers, but when my fellow actors aren’t far removed from Elmo and relate the most with TV shows like “Glee” or Justin Bieber I may be slipping behind sooner than I thought I would. Still, the group of kids selected to perform along side me are a good bunch, who have an opportunity to further put Garvin County on the map. Besides, it’s not every day that people get to hear me speak in a pitch that hasn’t been normal for my vocal chords since I was in eighth grade (it works for the person still playing Harry Potter).

The one thing that will require the biggest leap for me in this musical is the loss of something that has given me the rugged appearance I’ve become well known for. A sacrifice worthy of a ceremony and grieving period for some, will be the removal of my sacred beard.

Since I first began my quest for facial haired awesomeness, I have shaved off the beard only a handful of times, the most recent time a jaw dropping shock for those I met in college and beyond. Yet, I shall bid mount scruffy farewell for a couple of weeks and who knows, perhaps it will mean a whole new realm of beardless activities like Elvis Impersonator or stunt double for Vin Diesel. Though I don’t think either celebrity will make an appearance in the show at the Pauls Valley High School Auditorium November 18-20.

Building on the lessons learned from music

By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)

Look at the history of any great individual from way back when to the stars of today and the most common theme is that they all have someone to thank for their road to success.

I haven’t quite been able to strike my superstardom quite yet, but as I delve further and further into my role as Schroeder in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” I wouldn’t have the talents I have without some tough love along the way.

I might as well begin with Debbie Settler, the person who taught me both to love and at times despise all things musical. I could spend a whole series of therapy columns discussing all the things I learned and got away with under her tutelage, but for now I’ll only make you suffer part of this tribute.

Mrs. Settler is the kind of person who you think is either completely off her melodic rocker or you are fascinated with the things you learn as one of her piano students. I suppose only the nuttiest of individuals survived long term exposure to my childhood hyperactivity, which is why the teaching tenure lasted from the time I was in third to tenth grade.

When I wasn’t busy learning that my right hand was not the left hand she wanted me to play with I learned to appreciate how much more I liked to listen to than play pieces from the masters like Beethoven. She also was the dealer that got me hooked on musical theater at a very young age, treating me to classics like the “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misrables” or “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.” Sure, my sarcasm didn’t need her assistance, but I wouldn’t have traded those moments for anyone else’s life.

On the vocal front, I had a number of sources to gain wisdom from, though the most influential was Kim Clowe, the choir director when I attended First Christian Church in my hometown. My first choral experiences also date back to Mrs. Settler, but the first regular choir experience was in 7th grade, right about when I hit the second most agonizing period of anguish spread to adult-kind.

I will always hold close to my heart the many warm up exercises like “My Mommy Made Me Eat My M&M’s and I am Happy” and though I rarely had more than a bit part back then, it began the realization that my vocal chords could be used for other purposes than just to defy authority. I enjoyed singing so much back then that I joined the adult choir when I was 16, just because I felt I wanted to try ever more challenging music. I’ve rarely spent much time away from my bass to barely tenor range, save some time near the end of college, because even if you move all it takes is one elderly lady in the church to find out you can bolster their choir’s ranks.

Then again, despite all that I have learned, not a rehearsal has gone by where I haven’t been able to take some sort of lesson away from it. I’ve been able to rediscover some of my own creativity, though at the same time discover how much more tired I can get now that I have a full time job. I’m pretty sure the few gray hairs hiding on my head may be a forest by the time it is all over.

In the end, these kids though most likely the beginning of the karma payback for all the torture I bestowed upon adults in my childhood, are becoming like another extended family since I came to Pauls Valley. I could have written a whole series of columns on missed opportunities in my life, but the rest of the Peanut Gallery are a reminder that you don’t have to be a child to keep experiencing those wonders. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a battered brain to finish cramming the rest of my lines into.

Additional info: Musical will be Nov. 18-19 at 7:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. as well as 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at Pauls Valley High School Auditorium.

Previous Opinion: Old People might want to croak early and Rivalry makes life fun.

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