As I write, we are winging again: this time to San Francisco and our annual journey to the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park.
In four out of the past five years I have spent a column about this good time, crazy event. I won’t belabor it now other than to say our hosts Alan, Maren and Eleanor Hicks make the entire weekend delightful, and the presence of Cy and Julie Fraser of Orcas Island, Wash., make it doubly so. There are a host of family and friends who wander in and out the long weekend adding even more to a pleasant escape.
Another column devoted to this particular weekend just didn’t seem appropriate.
My mind went blank searching for another topic. I wanted to explain Henry Harding did not retire as I wrote last week but extended working for a month. There were other things which slipped my mind.
Then it happened. A magic moment courtesy of Fernando Jay Huerta, movie genius, appeared.
Jay was in the production side of drama at San Diego State when our daughter Sarah was in the acting regimen. Jay has been produced numerous martial arts movies about 20 minutes in length.
They have won some awards. Sarah surprised us all when she starred in a couple fighting bad guys and zombies. We knew she was an incredible actress, but we didn’t know, she could mix it up and do some pretty incredible physical stunts.
Jay was filming of his “Absolute Action Hero” series. Shannon Kirkpatrick was the heroine in this one. She drove down from her job at Universal Studios in Hollywood to shoot some scenes. The problem was Jay needed someone to play her father.No one Jay’s age looks like the father of someone Shannon’s age.
Jay then thought of me. He called and asked if I would play the part. I agreed. As the day approached I was swamped and did not take time to memorize the lines. Early Wednesday morning, I arose early, went over the few lines several times, went to work and returned home for the shoot. I realized my entire minute before the camera included holding a newspaper. So I printed out my lines in big type and taped them to the inside of the newspaper. It was my cheat sheet.
I sat down at our breakfast table. “Camera, roll, action.” Shannon entered in her role as Teri, my daughter – it just occurred to be I never knew my character’s name – we read her lines; she hugged me and left. “Cut.”
We did this about ten times. A couple of takes were to have a backup. Most takes were from different angles or closer in. It took about an hour.
Approaching 70, I have no aspirations to be an actor. But I have to tell you as I sat while the camera rolled, I was recalling days when I would get out in backyard in Lebanon, leap on my make-believe stallion, and ride off in the sunset as the next Roy Rogers. Those kind of ideas kept creeping into my head as the camera rolled.
As Jay, Shannon, and I posed for a group photo at the end of the shoot, I actually dreamed about some producer calling after seeing the scene and asking me to be the good old guy with Danny Vito playing the short villain in some Hollywood extravaganza.
The strange thing about all of this is I am not a movie fan. However, I have watched quite a few of Jay’s efforts. They are enjoyable and the martial arts actions scenes are quite remarkable. Of course, having a daughter in a lead role in several just might slightly skew my evaluation.
I should warn everyone the dialogue is pretty rough. Profanity abounds. Of course, many, if not most of the mainstream movies, are equally profane (this kind of attempt at “reality” is one reason I no longer watch many movies). “Frankie and Johnnie, starring Al Pacino and Michelle Peipher immediately comes to mind.
But last Wednesday as I drove back to my tugboats from the shoot, I kept envisioning a short, pudgy, balding old man recreating Clint Eastwood’s role in the Italian “spaghetti westerns.
Yep. I could be the next man with no name. I sort of like that.
Jim Jewell is a writer and retired Navy commander living in San Diego and working for Pacific Tugboat Service. He was the director Navy’s West Coast leadership training and has been an consultant in executive coaching, teambuilding and organizational development. Jim still calls Lebanon his home.