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All Content Written By Mil Scott Unless Otherwise Noted

© Mil Scott                                                                                                                             www.artistinsane.com

Welcome To The December
Issue of Mil Mania!!!

   Volume 3, Issue 10, December 2007


Music Mayhem    

Ravings of a Mad Woman

This column corresponds with the Mad Ra-vings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a  random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.


About Schmidt — If you love great acting, you'll want to see this film for the performance by Jack Nicholson alone.  And, indeed, that performance pretty much is the film.  For, nearly every frame deals with some aspect of self-discovery on the part of the title character.  In fact, one might easily say that more than being "about Schmidt", rather the story consists almost solely of his own discoveries as to "what Schmidt's about".  And, in the process, of course, Warren R. Schmidt also learns what others are about, what life's about...and how these all tie together.
     The film opens with Warren's retirement from his job as vice-president at an Omaha, NE insurance firm.  Having defined his "self" and his purpose in life largely through his work, he suddenly finds himself without a routine, without a purpose, and with instead a lot of not merely unanswered, but rather
unasked, questions.  While flipping through the channels from the clearly uncomfortable position of an easy chair, Warren stops at an advertisement for "Childreach", a sponsorship program for underprivileged children and their families in Africa.   Moved by the images of expressive doe-like eyes and tiny half-naked bodies surrounded by dire poverty, he picks up the phone to pledge $22/month for the care of his very own "foster" child.
     A few days later, an information packet arrives, along with a photo of "his" child, Ndugu, and a request that the new "parent" send a letter of introduction along with his contribution.  In greater need of someone to share with than he himself at first realized, Warren quickly begins taking advantage of this ongoing opportunity to share his true feelings about many topics, feelings he's unable to share with those around him back "home" in the U.S.  And, ultimately, this charitable act that seems at first a small aspect of his life -- in fact, that seems more a clever means of allowing the screenwriter to share some needed exposition than anything else-- turns out to be a wonderfully subtle yet significant plot device as well.  
    As very little happens, really, in terms of genuine action, the bulk of the film's interest lies in what seem such "little things" -- quirky habits, chance and yet routine encounters, etc.  After Warren's car breaks down, for instance, he starts driving his enormous Winnebago (in regard to which vehicle he tells his daughter, "I was willing to go as far as the ‘Mini-Winnie’, but no, your mother had to have the 'Adventurer'!") on even minor errands.  Later, we see him sipping soda from a 44-ounce convenience store cup while chatting with a Native American proprietor, a visit that prompts him to share with Ndugu in his next letter that these people "really got a raw deal".  While staying with his daughter's future in-laws he's introduced to sleeping in a waterbed, and nearly drowns in heretofore unseen sights all too common in this obliviously strange household headed up by the future mom-in-law, Roberta (the always truly amazing Kathy Bates).  
     Ostensibly, Warren's journey is undertaken so he might get to know his soon-to-be-married daughter better, a plan that very quickly goes awry.  Unbeknownst to him, however, by this time he's already begun the process of getting to know yet another familiar stranger...himself.  And, while he's not sure at times that he's so fond of this particular acquaintance, ultimately he's surprised to learn that Warren R. Schmidt has lived a life of more significance than the average Joe -- or rather, the average "Schmidt" this film's "about" -- would've ever

                                 If you missed the announcement in the 
December 2006 issue, as per the precedent
                           set by
Dear Abby which syndicated
MOLLY        column retained that title when passing to
                           its originator’s daughter , so this column
                           continues to retain the name of its  originator now that
Molly has passed on.  The “madvice” currently offered herein, therefore, is that of Keela, one of the “noisy neighbors” Molly spoke of frequently — and who you may have met previously via the photo collection taken during her pregnancy and in the weeks after her fifteen babies were born.  Needless to say, with that kind of experience, Keela, like Molly, knows a bit about life as learned by her adventures as a rodent single mom.  Also like Molly, she has a strong mind of her own with much rat wisdom to share.  I hope you’ll enjoy her commentary. 


E-mail your “Molly Madvises” questions to mil@ artistinsane.com and I’ll pass them on to Keela.  Thanks!


That said, on to this month’s question…


Dear Keela,

     I whole-heartedly agree with Andy Williams' thought that "it's the most wonderful time of the year."  Some of my fellow Chicagoans, however, may disagree considering that it is a bone chilling, incredibly damp, dreary overcast 16-degree Monday that dawned after a weekend snowstorm.  So it is, but I feel the Christmas Spirit is swirling about. Those of us holding It in our hearts are inspired to embrace and share Its wonder.  The frosty elements hold no grip on such peace.  But I realize not all allow the Spirit to settle within, and the season endures its share of unkind actions and behaviors.  Along with the weekend's majestic snowfall came the news of a heart-breaking occurrence at a church.  It was a wicked act of thievery.  Burglars hauled away a huge collection of donated toys that were intended for underprivileged children in town as well as the choir's musical instruments and PA equipment and more
of the church's materials.  In a news report, the two pastors stood strong, expressing that a tragedy as this cannot make them fall.  They added that they are indeed praying that this ordeal will be a turning
point for the thieves.  Keela, the pastors' faith does not surprise me.  Rather it instantly kindles my own belief in the immense power of prayer. These at-large fellow "hu-people" who acted so cruelly are the
recipients of heartfelt positive thoughts by those they hurt.  The spirit of Christmas creeps in when needed most, doesn't It?  In what other unsuspecting circumstances do you see It work Its wonder?  Or, more
so, for those who may be pushing back Its beauty, how might they be turned around? 
     Merry Christmas to you, Keela.

                                                      Walking in a Windy City Wonderland


Dear Walking,


      I know there’s a saying that goes “art imitates life”.  But, it’s kind of funny how that’s been turned around lately by various criminal acts mimicking those per — wait, what’s that word...per...pet-rat...ed in films.  For example, you might have heard about these prisoners in NJ who escaped by copying the break-out shown in The Shawshank Redemption...which is one of my and my mom’s favorite movies, by the way — and one that shares Christmas Spirit in its own way, if you think about it, because the whole thing can be taken as a metaphor for the story of Christ and his love, and how that can lead to hope, which can turn to faith and ultimately salvation of a sinner by an innocent man.  Now it could be argued that makes it more of an Easter kind of story than a Christmas one, but without Christmas you don’t have Easter so I think you see what I mean. 
     To scamper back to the story you shared,  though, it sounds to me almost exactly like the one told in one of my mom’s favorite books — which became one of her favorite movies, too, when she saw the version starring Liam Neeson and Goeffrey Rush.  It’s called...oh boy, this is a hard one...Lay — no, it’s spelled
Les... Miserables.  (The way I remember that is by sounding it out as “less miserable”...which is exactly what we’d all be if we just learn from its lessons.)  Anyway, in the beginning of that tail — I mean tale — Liam Neeson’s character, Jean Valjean broke into a parson’s house and stole his silverware.  And, when he got caught very shortly thereafter by the police and brought back to the parson for his...hmm...oh yes — veratfication — of the crime, the parson told the police he had given the things to Valjean — and then really gave him a pair of valuable candlesticks, too!  The police were pretty skeptical, as you can imagine, but without anyone to press charges there was nothing they could do.  The parson then sent Valjean away with something of a “go and sin no more” ratmonition, and can you believe — Valjean did just that!  The mercy of the parson really turned Valjean around.  What’s more, he went on to do all kinds of good for other people — and to show the same mercy he’d been shown when dealing with them. 
     I think that in itself answers the first of your questions — at least it sure illustrates one unsuspecting circumstance where hu-people lived the wonder you speak of.  As for your second question, however, that’s the  really tough bit to gnaw on.  But, I think the main way to start turning around hu-people’s view of Christmas Spirit — and how to live it all year long — is to try and help turn them inside out.  What I mean is, the natural tendency is to put ourselves and the things we want first in our thoughts and actions.  But, as Molly once pointed out in this column over a year ago, the plays of ancient Greece illustrate how when we “by nature” act “to our advantage” the exact opposite results...that is, we usually lose exactly what we hoped to gain, make ourselves, yes, miserable — and hurt a lot of others in the process.   AND, when we’re the ones hurt we keep adding to that chain by lashing out at those who’ve hurt us (because we’re thinking of ourselves again) and maybe while we’re so preoccupied with how we’ve been wronged we unthinkingly wrong others, too — even if just by acting like a sourpuss as we stew and fret over our quest for justice.  And, chains like that can get pretty heavy to drag around — hey, that’s in another Christmas story!  What’s more, it’s another one wherein love and the season’s Spirit are the very things that turned yet another hu-person (who seemed
really hard to budge) around as well. 
     Now keep in mind I’m not saying we should let all criminals just get away with murder — or thievery, either.  In fact, the dilemma of just when it’s right to show mercy as opposed to justice is the very point of that Less Miserable book.  See, there’s another character in that who’s obsessed with carrying out every letter of the law.  And, no matter how much good Valjean does over many, many years, this character is so blinded by his misguided impression of doing the right thing that he just keeps trying and trying and trying to prove Valjean’s guilt and “bring him to justice”.  Of course, the rest of us know just how
unjust that would be.  In case you haven’t read the book or seen the movie I won’t tell you how that comes out, but it’s pretty exciting and very, very meaningful.
The Shawshank Redemption, though, there’s a man who steals — and keeps stealing — for years.  Worse yet, rather than ever facing his wrongdoing and seeking mercy through kindness to others, he goes on and on doing bad things so he can keep stealing — hurting (even killing) hu-people along the way to protect himself.  AND, he hides all of this behind an outward show of pretending to embrace Christmas Spirit and love for God.  He even has a wall hanging that says, “His justice cometh and that right soon.”  Well, it’s not hard to imagine that the innocent love-filled hu-man who leads his (technically guilty) friend to “salvation” isn’t very merciful when he at last finds an opportunity to bring “His justice” to this particular selfish, hypocritical thief. 
     Now I realize that kind of both-sides-of-the-question answer could create more confusion than it clears up.  After all, how do we know when to show mercy for the good of others and when to seek justice in order to protect them?   Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that’s something one little single-mom rat can be sure of, either.  What I can tell you though, is that I think these situations have to be taken one at a time as they arise (but let’s hope none of us has too many situations of thieves breaking into our homes or churches at Christmastime).    And, the best madvice I can give for each of these is to simply trust your instincts.  After all, there’s a little more to the story of Jean Valjean.  You see, he was an escaped prisoner at the time he stole the silverware from the parson.  But, the reason he’d been imprisoned in the first place was the fact he’d stolen bread from a bakery to feed his starving family.  Now that was indeed wrong, even criminal, but he really and truly wasn’t a bad person to begin with.  I’m not sure what happened between then and his ending up stealing bigger things for different reasons when he escaped from prison...which would make it seem he might have been heading in a way more wrong direction.  But the thing is, who knows that the parson didn’t somehow sense the good in Valjean?  Of course, even if he did, his showing Valjean mercy was an act of love very much rooted in hope and faith.  There was no way he could know that his kindness would result in Valjean turning his life around.  But he believed in the possibility and set an example like none Valjean had ever known.  And, his faith was rewarded — far beyond even his highest hopes, you can be sure.
     To wrap this up then, I’m reminded of yet another literary classic — and one that embodies Christmas Spirit in the form of a love so pure it spawns an act of faith that involves no judgment (instinct-based or otherwise) of any kind.  And, this one, too, involves a thief at Christmas who takes presents meant for children, musical instruments and — so he hopes — the goodwill of their rightful owners.  But, just as the pastors you spoke of couldn’t be robbed of this core care for God and hu-Man, so, too, the wronged characters in this tale retained every bit of their Christmas cheer...and evidenced it — much to the thief’s puzzlement — by raising their voices in joyous song.  The story I’m talking about, as you’ve probably guessed, is Dr. Seuss’s
How the Grinch Stole Christmas —the whole point of which is, of course...he didn’t.  Because love — and forgiveness — conquered all.  And, just as this discovery shocked the Grinch himself, so our own determination to follow  the example of the story’s small heroes just might put us in their truly excellent company... as we shock the hu-man race at large so completely they look at us and ask in wonder “Who”  we are!
     Merry Christmas!




                       Molly Madvises 

         (now by Molly’s neighbor Keela)








Comments from Mil Mania readers
             on the November issue...

In A Nutshell

  Writings From The Asylum

     “Well, I enjoyed your "talkin' turkey" essay very much! And I couldn't agree more...I really don't like turkey either. :) So, how was the chicken?”

     “Just a note to tell you that I... always enjoy what you write.  I LOVED your [Rat-a-Tat-Chat] story !!  You should just go ahead (you know in all your spare time) and write a monthly rattie newsletter.  You would be
great at it.”

     “Wow, Mil!  I absolutely loved Keela's response.  I think this is one of my favorites if not my very favorite...There is so much intensity in it and so valid.  It all weaves along so fluidly!  A huge round of applause and a hug of equal size to you and Keela! 

[Also], very well stated view on the downloading deal [in Music Mayhem].”

“Noah is very cute as a turkey!”

     GREAT article in the R.A.T.S. news-letter!”
Webark Estates Animal Shelter
                         “Webark helps the underdog,
                                even if it’s a RAT.”

Text Box:          As always, feel free to drop 
                by my “space” at

                        Newsletter Spotlight                    








“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christ-mas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays, let them overtake me unexpectedly, waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: 'Why this is Christmas Day!’”
Ray Stannard Baker

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year -- and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority.”
W. J. Cameron

“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
W. T. Ellis


As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column presents the latest chapter in the “prequel” to my screenplay, Taking the Fall. While the script picks up four years after the suicide of the main character (Joshua Gray)’s girlfriend, the novel begins with that act itself, and the portion shared here continues to document events taking place in the weeks after the funeral…(you can catch up on prior chapters by viewing back issues on the Mil Mania Sign-up page).

                         The Leap to Limbo (tentative title)   

                          Chapter 17 “Chicken Counting” (cont’d).



     “You knew! You knew the whole time I was here and you didn’t say a word!  You —”
     “Josh, wait a minute,” Chris began. “What was I supposed to say?”
     “I don’t know.  Something.  How ‘bout the truth?  All the years that we’ve been friends, this is what I get when your shot comes around — at my expense?”

     “That’s not fair, man.  I didn’t ask for this.  The label offered my band a deal.  We’ve been working as long as you guys for the same thing.  I’d already signed the papers before I found out it was your deal.  What’d you want me to do?  Tell ‘em to take me to court for breaking a contract — over something you didn’t even seem to want until yesterday, I might add.”

     “Yeah, well, it wasn’t your place to decide what I could have.”

     “Ay ay ay, Josh, have you been listening to me?  I didn’t decide.  The label did.”  Chris paused and looked away for a moment before continuing.  “Or, if you really want the truth, you did.”

     “Is that so?”

     “Come on, Josh.  You know I’ve been trying to talk you into taking advantage of what you were being offered from the start.  If you’d listened to me then we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.”

     “Yeah, well, maybe I had a few bigger things on my mind — like my girlfriend having just committed suicide.  And, of course, there was the little thing of nearly dying myself in Seattle when your whole takeover of my career began.  So, yeah, I guess it is all my doing… conveniently for you.”

     “Oh, get over yourself,” Chris scoffed, becoming angry himself at last.  “You act like everything in life has just ‘happened’ to you.  As if you didn’t have anything to do with it.  No, you didn’t have control over all the bad stuff’s that come your way.  But you might have had a little to do with the stuff that came before it — the stuff that set you up for — well, not such great things. And, hey, wasn’t this whole line of crap you’re giving me Tommy’s argument when it was you who was risking your whole band’s future?  You didn’t seem terribly worried about how he felt.  Because you were dealing with all these things that had ‘happened’ to you. “

     “Yeah, fine, whatever.  But I know what’s happened to me now.  And I don’t care where it started or who did what to get us here.  All that matters now is where we’ve ended up — ended being the operative word.”

     And on that note Josh turned to leave, without the slightest glance back at Chris, who still stood dumbfounded in the doorway. 
     “Josh, wait — hey, you can’t just… ah sh—.”

     Shaking his head in confusion and disbelief, Chris listened to Josh’s heavy, hurried footsteps on the stairs below, then the sound of the building’s front door being opened and quickly slammed shut.  Feeling like he’d been standing behind it at the time, the same wind-knocked-out sensation prompting him to draw a sharp breath before exhaling in resigned dismay, he retreated into his apartment, disappearing as he at last, very gently, closed the door.


     Josh merged onto the freeway on autopilot, still fuming at Chris, the record company and for the moment the world at large.  Just when  it seemed things might actually be turning around for him, here he was back at square one again, facing another uphill battle...and most likely facing it alone. 
     One thing Chris was right about was Tommy and the rest of the band.  Sure, they’d been getting along great during their recent mini-tour and were bonding again as they worked toward the common goal of creating new music.  But now that the rug had been swept out from under all of them, it wouldn’t be long until the infighting would start again, and fingers would collectively be pointed at their — clearly failed — leader.

     More than that, though, he knew he had also failed himself...and that the bulk of his anger was nothing more than a boomerang that had struck Chris on the way back to its intended target.  How had he arrived at such a state of Hamlet-like indecision?  How had he spiraled into a similar state of corelessness, if that was even a word? He realized it probably wasn’t, but could thinking of nothing more accurate to describe the funk that had overtaken him in the days and weeks following Julie’s death... the central emptiness that had kept him spinning around in hopeless circles,  always pulling him back to this well of echoing apathy inside.  At last he understood the first nightmare he’d experienced after her passing — the one in which he fell endlessly into an unseen black abyss and awoke so utterly shaken.  He had been falling toward a newly defined self he neither understood nor could bear to face.  Or rather, a self newly undefined — no longer was he a local, struggling musician with a — perhaps not stable — but long established domestic relationship.  He was a soon to be national act (in itself no guarantee of “success”, he knew, but which would change his life dramatically for at least the foreseeable future)...and would face all decisions regarding that only as they pertained to him and Sultan.  No longer could he make decisions with Julie in mind, no longer could he try to help her attain a better life.  He had failed her, too.  All he’d ever known had ended...and not well.
     Except the music.  The band, however dysfunctional, was the family, the “domestic relationship, if you will, that remained intact.  And, as he drove, oblivious, miles beyond his intended exit, he became more and more determined to keep this family together...and to battle together for what they’d already collectively fought for over a decade.  How he might go about this, at this second he had no clue.  But, finally, he had something else.  A sense of purpose — and a sense of self.  Even if he wasn’t entirely crazy about that self just yet, at least he had some raw material to work with.  And, imperfect though this new self — or rediscovered old self — or whoever he now was in between might be, for today that was enough.   As for tomorrow, well,  he’d take that when it arrived.  For now, he took the next exit and doubled back on the opposite side of a road he’d already traveled...marveling at how new familiar sights along the way looked from this different perspective.

Text Box: From The Rat 
                  Fan Club:
The Rat of the Week 

     Clancy lives with Mildred Scott in Washington NJ.  Mildred writes, “Clancy is the warmest and most obliging pet anyone could possibly own.  He enjoys life to the fullest by spending countless hours playing ball, offering endless amounts of affection to his people and, of course, engaging in that favorite rat activity...eating! He also shows a truly touching willingness to please—even when he has absolutely no idea why his adoptive mom would want to try disguising a rat as a mouse!  

     As you can see in the photo, however, that doesn’t stop him from silently asking precisely that question when I started dressing him up for Halloween photos.  Still, he proved a great sport as always, and rest assured, when the nasty ‘trick’ of costume modeling was over, he was rewarded with lots of ‘treats!’
     “Personally, I must admit I agree with him on preferring his own ‘everyday wear’ however.   I’m not sure the technical term for his markings—it seems he’s a hooded but the way his dark and white intermingle he looks a bit more like a single saddle shoe!  In any case, I think he’s lovely inside and out—and quite a character…as his sleeping position proves!  

Here he is curled up close to his favorite ball...an object he plays with every single night, repeatedly picking it up in his teeth, tossing it a short distance away, and going to retrieve it.  Beyond question, everyone could use a Clancy – but since there’s only one, I’m sure grateful that he’s mine.”
Also,  you can watch a brief interview with Deb Ducommun, “The Rat Lady”  here:


(Just click on video library and flip through to the June 23rd page.)

Thanks for reading this issue of Mil Mania!  And, remember, this is a work in progress, subject to many and varied changes — all adding up to a new and improved publication...so I hope!  Please drop me a line to let me know what you think, including any and all suggestions.  Thank you!!!

















     I’ve shared a couple essays on my website written as assignments for a Shakespeare course I took a while back.   As the Bard’s works are great favorites of mine, I thought after two years of Mil Mania’s existence it might be time to include an excerpt from another here. 
     The assignment addressed below was merely to share a favorite passage from one of the plays we’d covered.  I chose a conversation between the title character in
Henry IV Part I and his son, Prince Hal (who went on to become the beloved Henry V — made famous in the modern day by Kenneth Branagh in his masterful film of that title.   Henry IV was much less loved — in part because he had attained his throne through treachery rather than rightful succession.)




     To choose one favorite among the countless passages Shakespeare imbued with so much meaning, humor, and intelligence seems a task too great to attempt.  However, of the plays we have read in this course, one for which I have a particular fondness is Henry IV, Part One, and I have thus chosen III.ii.121-159 from that play to herein discuss.  This passage, which begins with the last portion of a speech in which the king is sorrowfully lecturing his apparently degenerate son is especially meaningful as it so clearly contrasts vital traits possessed by the king and Prince Hal, respectively, and, in so doing, shows as well which is more worthy of ruling their nation.

     It is interesting to note that, prior to this point in the play, although much has been said by each about the other, the king and Prince Hal do not appear in any conversation with each other directly.  While this may at first glance seem an insignificant matter, one must consider the opening lines of Prince Hal's response to his father's comments (lines 130-131) before weighing the true meaning of this circumstance and what it reveals about each's character.  In these opening lines, Prince Hal shifts the blame for his father's ill opinion away from his own actions and onto that of others who have reported their interpretation of these actions to the king.  At the same time, it could be added that (although, of course, he does not do so directly) Prince Hal ultimately shifts the blame onto the king as it is the king's willingness to believe the reports of others regarding his son's character and actions rather than believing in his son that is the true cause of the problems they are discussing in this passage.

     Clearly, in a work such as King Lear, where the actions of the villain, Edmund, belie his words when he speaks to Gloucester as the seemingly dutiful son (ironically, however, Gloucester, unlike King Henry IV, believes in his son, unwise though this belief is), words such as those Prince Hal speaks here would, to the reader, seem very obviously insincere and prompt instant contempt. However, Prince Hal's actions in Henry IV, Part One fully support the innocence, loyalty and courage he proclaims, and thus his words increase the admiration for him the reader has already developed.  Although it is, beyond argument, true that the companions he associates with at the Eastcheap tavern engage in activities most worthy of censure, yet his actions are not, a fact clearly illustrated by his unwillingness to participate in the robbery being plotted just after the play begins (I.ii.142) and his many statements attesting to his determination to stick to his principles (I.ii.64-65, I.ii.149-150) regardless of the opinions of his companions regarding these.  In so doing, he (with seeming ease) maintains both the honor that makes him worthy of his position as prince and the youthful enthusiasm that allows him to fit in with his less worthy comrades.

     Likewise, this ability to successfully balance these two apparently conflicting sides of his nature displays an admirable sense of independence in Prince Hal, prompted by confidence in his ability to discern between, and act upon, his convictions of right and wrong.  The king, in contrast, does not share this trait.  As for his convictions regarding right and wrong, one need only think back to the manner in which he obtained the crown, and his willingness to embrace both disloyalty and rebellion, to clearly ascertain how greatly he values upright moral character.  And, as for his level of independence, it is here that the before mentioned fact that he and Prince Hal have held no serious conversation prior to this meeting comes into play as it is obvious from the events of the rest of the play (both before and after this passage) that the king's ill opinion of his son is, indeed, based on what others have told him rather than anything he has himself observed.  This circumstance is particularly interesting for the irony it contains as the king has supposedly not surrounded himself with the "wrong company" as Prince Hal undeniably has done.  It therefore seems that if one were to be swayed from that which he should believe it would be Prince Hal rather than his father, and it is a strong statement regarding the character of each that the opposite is, in fact, the case.

                                      Temporary Insanity








Rat Fan ClubText Box: The ribbons on this card and the “wallpaper” inside
Simulate real fabric’s texture and the threads with which it’s 
      “tied” – 
How each fiber is combined…woven in with other strings
To potentially create any number of new things;
Wholly different combinations changing with each added hue…
As the fabric of Mankind shifts by blending me and you
With our neighbors far and near, friends we may not have yet 
Those we’ve known all our lives, loved ones we’ll never forget.
All together we add up to much more than any one –
For the human tapestry over others favors none.
Rather, each beautiful strand, full and rich in its own right
When sewn in with all the rest does itself appear more bright.
And, at last the season’s here that reminds us of all this
As we stop dashing through snow to beneath mistletoe kiss, 
To consider others’ needs as we contemplate each gift
That will, if we are successful, perhaps someone’s spirits lift.
It’s the time our radios emanate “sounds of the season”
Sharing how one “Silent Night” ushered in the very reason
We still celebrate this date over two thousand years hence
And declare that red and green add up to great fashion sense.
We remember things like joy and peace remain ever in style
And pledge anew – with hope – to guard this memory a great 
So with that in mind may we pick up raw material
That will help us form a pattern never seen before, yet real,
Spinning golden threads by sharing life and love in all we do
As we journey forth this month, Christmas day, and all year 
                         Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes
Text Box:      Now an official member
Text Box:      Vote for “Angel Noah”  in the December photo contest hosted by The Agile Rat (i.e. the site run by Marna, who makes my rats’ lovely outfits!)  You can vote once per day all month long!  
     After all, if that isn’t a “winning” face, what is?!?!?

                                        Greetings, everyone, and
                                 welcome to yet another
                                 madness-filled publication.  As
                                 every December, this
                                 month’s issue includes many
                                 seasonal features; however, it
                                 still offers the year-round-
                                 applicable pieces you’ve come
                                 to expect as well.  First off in
                                 the latter category is a bit of news I’m herein announcing:  my new membership in MENSA.  As most of you probably know, the criteria for joining is merely that one score within a certain percentage of IQ’s tested.   And, while my interest in this “club” began at age 10 when my dad, brother and I all tried out a sample test in our local newspaper simply for the challenge, I’ve wrestled for years with the potential scream of ego represented by soliciting card-carrying proof of one’s intelligence.  Frankly, I’m still not decided on whether having at last taken this plunge qualifies me more completely as a “genius” or an idiot.  Of course, as you already know from prior
Mil Mania writings, I’ve never been particularly (okay, not even minutely) adept at socializing, and I herein confess am even less athletic (if that’s possible...i.e. back in high school when we took those President’s Physical Fitness Tests that required an 880 yard run [among other tortures], I invariably finished behind everyone else — and I do mean everyone...the obese, the blind, the kids with one leg, you name it...in fact, I doubt there’s ever been an Olympics quite “special” enough for me!) The point is, academics have always been my comfort and “claim to fame”, making this merely an extension of that trend.  In any case, I’ve yet to explore the benefits of membership but am most hoping they might open a new audience to my writing, musical interests, pet rat love, etc.  I’ll keep you posted.
     Another item I’d like to make note of in this intro is that the “Ravings of a Mad Woman” film review below is one you may have already read on my website.  With a new work debuting in theaters this month, however (
The Bucket List), which likewise stars Jack Nicholson in a role about self-discovery late in life (alongside another of my all-time favorite actors, Morgan Freeman), I thought the excellent About Schmidt worth a second look — or maybe a first for those of you who’ve never seen it.
     The rest of the issue is pretty much self-explanatory so I’ll add only my usual, most heartfelt thanks to you for reading...and, of course — Merry Christmas!


As noted in the December 2005 edition of Mil Mania, I continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com. However, I now also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here.  And, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.


This month’s featured artist:


Josh Groban — Although
 I gave this artist only brief
mention in last year’s holi-
day issue, I’ve decided to
do so more fully herein as
it seems he’s becoming the
modern standard for re-
cordings of Christmas classics.  And, having already expressed my appreciation for his masterful version of “O Holy Night”, I wouldn’t dispute the likelihood he’s earned this distinction.  I don’t put that forth as a definite , however, as I’ve not yet heard the new seasonal album pictured above… a circumstance that would normally preclude me from honoring an artist in this column. But, having heard enough of his prior work to be certain of his talent — including “You Raise Me Up” and the
Ally McBeal- featured “To Where You Are”, I feel reasonably confident in endorsing this latest collection...and will admit I look forward to checking it out when my own holiday art projects are at last completed.  Of course, given it’s been the top-selling album in the U.S. for several weeks now, I suspect you don’t need me to review it…odds are you could provide one for me instead!  (Should you feel so inclined by all means email me and do just that.)

      For more info about this artist, purchase e-Christmas cards featuring his work, etc. visit www.joshgroban.com. 



Third Eye Blind has announced a couple of year end show dates, including a New Year’s Eve performance in CA.  As usual you can go to The Village Churchyard or 3eb.com for more details.

Brian Fitzpatrick has completed work on his latest album, Worse for Wear — a work those in attendance for his 12/8 Chaplin’s show were privileged to preview as it featured several of the disc’s tracks in live performance form.  Watch for a review page of this great night of music coming to artistinsane.com soon! 
     And, don’t miss Brian when he performs live next month at
Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, where he will be joined on the bill by Michael McDermott.  See you there!

Michael McDermott recently announced completion of a “new batch of tunes” fans will be able to hear on his myspace page in the weeks ahead.  It appears “Mr. Sawyer” (see last month’s issue if you need clarification of that moniker), though still selling prior myspace offerings, has decided to do the right artistic thing and make these new songs available for visitors’ listening pleasure via his page’s jukebox.  The first two— a lovely demo version of recent live debut, “The Celtic Sea” and a lilting, upbeat song called “Where The River Meets The Sea” have already appeared, with follow-ups expected every Monday.  Good news!  THANK YOU, MICHAEL!!!
     In other good McDermott news (for us on the East Coast, anyway) January show dates in PA , NJ and NYC have recently been announced, including the above referenced one with Brian Fitzpatrick at Maxwell’s. 
     Lastly, I’ve finally completed a page on the fantastic 9/28 show at World Café Live and uploaded it to my website. 
Click Here to check it out now!