The Time I Shared a Death Scene with Ian McKellen

No, really. I am not making this up. I once shared a theater stage in London with Ian McKellen (yes, that Ian McKellen) for a wrenching death scene. And me with so much to live for! Allysen died, too. It was tragic. I was reminded of this occasion by a panel I was on recently at Boskone, talking about The Lord of the Rings film.

This all happened long before Ian McKellen was Gandalf. In fact, until that evening, I had never heard of Ian McKellen. I think the year was probably 1986 or 1987, not too long after Allysen and I were married. We were visiting with her parents in London, and they treated us to a one-man show by some fellow named Ian McKellen, a Shakespearean actor of some note, we were told, but you couldn’t prove it by me. I remember almost nothing about the show, except that it was surprisingly good. I think he acted scenes from various Shakespeare plays he had been in. And then…

For a close, he invited members of the audience—anyone who wanted to come down—to join him on stage for one final performance. Allysen was out of her seat before he’d finished the invitation, and I said, “You’re not leaving me behind.” I think about thirty of us joined him on the stage. He gave us very explicit acting directions: We were to stand still and do nothing until his monologue came to a certain phrase (which I no longer remember). This we did, quite ably, I think. (Damn, we were good. It was a fight scene, too.) And when he spoke that phrase, we swung into action…

And fell down, dead. All of us.

To thunderous applause. Mr. (not yet Sir) McKellen thanked us graciously for our service and sent us back to our seats.

Little did I know that I had just shared the stage with Gandalf!

 

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Going Out? Cover Your Snout!

Capt Jack - masked up

After all these months of wearing masks and taking proper precautions, I still have trouble remembering to put on a mask when I go out—especially if it’s something quick and routine, like taking the dogs for a walk. It’s not like I’m hiding the masks; they’re hanging right by the door. Am I the only one with this problem? I can’t be.

I decided I needed a mnemonic reminder. So now when I go out, I (try to remember to) chant to myself, “Going out? Cover your snout!”

It helps. Just like “Going out? Don’t go without!” helps me remember to take my wallet when I’m going to the store.

Neither is foolproof. I’m grateful for Google Pay on my phone, which saves me about once every few months, when I find myself at the grocery checkout, patting my pocket, and cursing softly because there’s no wallet there.

Some of us need all the help we can get, these days.

Not everybody likes it, though.

Carver Gothic

posted in: family, quirky 4

I came across this picture—on photo paper! The year was 1998. The year we hung on.

Carver Gothic with wheat crop

This is me with my family, gathered around our one-square-yard wheat crop. We harvested that wheat, and still have the unhusked kernels in a Mason jar, to remind us of when we survived. I take this as a sign that perhaps we should try gardening again this year.

Can you tell that I came from a farming family?

 

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