Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Allie's Journey

For the next several months this will be dedicated to information pertinent to Allene M. Maddock. Her care has been assumed by Hospice as of 06Apr12.

Please feel free to call or write her. If you call be patient and take time to explain who you are. Currently she remembers, but you have to help her focus so she truly knows who she is talking to at the moment. We have to do this too, and I frequently say something like, "Yes this is Scott, your oldest."

Her phone is area code two-zero-six, and the number is 216 3816.

Her Address:
Allie Maddock
c/o Queen Ann Manor
100 Crockett Street
Seattle, Washington
    98109

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bloody Thursday

I commented on a blog I'd never read before. It was a link from another blog I check frequently (I'll let you figure it out:). I think it's nice to let people know they have readers, and his entry about pipes and a loved grandfather stopped me cold. Here's a humorous, I think, aside I deleted from my comments to keep it brief and on target.

I chewed over a can of Copenhagen a day for twenty years, and the only good thing about quitting was being able to get away with giving some well deserved ass chewings at work by blaming the nicotine fits. They were spectacular, the type about which my seasoned old chief petty officer would say, "Lieutenant, that was a thing of beauty! You shoulda' been a chief." The withdrawal thing was a valid excuse, I wandered around Corbis for a couple weeks wanting to bite people. Not little nips like some powdered poodle, but great dripping bloody bites of steaming flesh in the ravenous manner of Tarzan, the way Burroughs really wrote about him.

I stayed in the office longer than I planned writing and reading blogs, and left a little after 6:30. The sun was about to set, and was vibrant red. Beautiful. Blood on the sun or moon! Oh, that's a bad omen. Bite me, I say. Oh it was just the sun shining through polluting particulate matter and gases. Bite me two times, ya' filthy reeking killjoys. It's beautiful, and you ain't.

There, I feel much better.
Sleep tight and have a fucking great night! : )

Beginnings

I tend to be one of the last to leave rehearsals, by habit and safety. I've worked in the production/backstage roles enough times my tech director/stage manager/master carpenter inclination to be around for last second issues and requests persists. On the safety end, I commute by motorcycle most of the time, and always suit up. I get teased about all the fuss once in a while, and usually let it go. They look so hurt when I mention the time I save using carpool lanes and finding parking spots.

The first two rehearsals for Rumors have been great. My initial cautions regarding the director's belief methody work is not suitable for comedy turned out to be baseless. Our understanding of what constitutes method styles are quite different. What he sees as methody is a common perception, which I see as behaving in and indulgent and rigid manner. No conflict there, simply different semantics. Nothing to worry over.

I like Ben's vision and thought processes in developing a production, and am looking forward to it. Last night as I was suiting up for the ride home I was chatting with Ben and his wife Gwen. They complimented me on Monday's read-through because I was so believable as a cop -- they expressed surprise my day job has no relation to law enforcement. I have a load of homework left to do, and it is nice to feel you're going in the right direction.

I also realized last night as we were exploring back story and character it has been a year and a half since I've had a substantial role outside classes. I've done all this formal training, and crew/production/board work as my informal venture into attaining a balanced education. While I have good practical knowledge and academic experience, I am acutely aware of my relative lack of practical experience on the boards.

It is another new beginning for me. I am excited and apprehensive. Those are an actor's constant companions, and heightened for me now. Kind of a coming out and trying out of the tools I have worked for. It was very meaningful to get those compliments from Ben and Gwen. I am happy I have always taken the time to sincerely compliment the actors in the shows I have worked on. Regardless of your experience and training it is good to hear. I deal well with constructive criticism, I thirst for feedback from people I respect. I have learned to deal with positive feedback, which is more difficult for me to assimilate. Another dichotomy, craving positive feedback even though it is harder to absorb.

I had another beginning of sorts this morning. I spoke to my Kiwanis club on the process of developing a new play, covering everything from how we all met, to the plot line, to production nightmares. I was nervous about speaking, and we had a good crowd. A new thing for me. People enjoyed and complimented my presentation. It was by no means an earth stopper, nor anywhere near as good as the speakers I invited. It wasn't bad either, so I didn't feel like I let down the folks who invited me to speak. I prepped too much. When teaching and such I discovered I needed a detailed outline, with lots of text to choose from. This was different.

I was sharing my passion this morning, on a topic I was surprised to find I am actually quite knowledgeable. (Closer to being a professional than I thought?) I would have served myself better with a shorter list of bullets. I was mentally editing and rewriting as I went along, and working the audience for chuckles or stops when I sensed they were preparing to wander. I quickly discovered I could talk extemporaneously, which allowed me to share my passion and interest more effectively. The extra detail I'd prepared made it difficult to follow the outline I had in mind, hobbling me. If I was to do this again I would reorganize slightly, and trust myself to speak for the desired about of time on each bullet without written guidance. I was able to do speak on the fly this morning about half the time, and those were the times I best held the interest of the audience.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tight Makes Might

So there Nietzsche.

I was looking at the haikus I wrote earlier, and while they may not be much, for me nearly every line is a summation of pages and pages of thought, memory, and joy or rage.

I reviewed and made a summary of The Nazi Nearest You, the play I will be talking about for my presentation on Thursday morning. It brought back the power of the play, as well as the structure.

In rewriting a couple scripts I am working on, I am now thinking of writing a summary, then writing them as a series of haikus, to help pick out the parts which are pivotal and resonant; identifying what needs to be cut or enhanced. Basically an ultra-tight version of my work, with more life and juice than I have ever been able to put into an outline. In a couple weeks or months I'll let you know if it helps at all.

Sweet Seventeen

An E-mail discussion group at work, two of the blogs I regularly visit, a couple correspondences. They all have haikus -- a hint for me? I've never been much for writing verse. I thought I'd take a different sort of trip.

Chasm, canyon grand
eyes downcast, heavenly bound
whither do I peer?

Bearing other's pain
strength to habit draining turns
crumples soaring birds

Here I am today
yesterday is memory
make today be all

Forlorn pains of yore,
feasts of death, a phoenix birth'd
roaring life to live

Cowards, crooks, cabals
bloody lust unbuilds nations
razors, fire, are reap'd

Should I stay, or should
I go, Clash defines my clash
finance shame, or shoo

Little girls laughing
impish boys chasing, God smiles
the cycle of truth

Old men whining on
old women harping away
don't miss Charon's berth

An hundred years, canes
dancing, kids too protective;
which be old and small?

Cry, laugh, triumph, err,
ever on, by death surprised
life unending sown

Monday, September 27, 2004

Ahhh...

Art. Almost back...

We had our first rehearsal today, a gouge session as we called it in the Navy, and a read through. Gouge was a term we used to describe the essential information, the central kernel, the heart of the matter. All the critical stuff, and nothing more. "What's the gouge for the test?" "What's the gouge on the new skipper?" Tonight it was phone numbers, addresses, process outline, expectations etc.

The read through was quite fun, though it seems a long time when your lines don't start until p94. It was very, very cool to hear the whole play out loud. It seems a fun group, and I'd forgotten about what the first meeting of cast and crew was like for actors. Every production I've worked on the last several years, even when I was cast, I have been very involved in producing the show, or like Les Liaisons Dangereuses I came into an already well established rehearsal process to fill a need.

It is a special time for me as an actor. Before the first time together it's, "Yeah, I got cast in this show. Sounds pretty fun." This is not bad in any way. After the first meeting or rehearsal you go away knowing who your new family is going to be for a while. It is like breaking through shrink wrap seal. I am already looking forward to seeing everybody again, even if it is not for three more weeks when we get to my scenes. I'll get to see half the group again on Wednesday, when we will do character and back story work together.

I made a few simple choices last night and stuck with them. Not the best, but not total suckage either. I did learn something in the last year, as I didn't have to keep my primary focus on my choices, I simply lived through them and the other actors. Some of my training sunk in, and it was tremendously fun! After watching a few things and being reminded how much room I have to grow over the last few weeks, that little affirmation was very ... affirming. One of the actors asked if I'd help them out. I replied it was very bad for actors to direct each other, but I'd do what I could to assist. A sincere and touching compliment, and looking back I realize there is lots of exercise work I'd like to do, like flat reads so I will be getting back to them tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A broken goal to be?

As I get ready to jump back into the real world, lots of classes, rehearsals, and such I am thinking of a couple things. First, I need to tighten my writing here. I consider it my personal journal, even though it is available to the world. I found there are a few more readers than I thought. I should be kinder to them. Keep it shorter and more focused, that's the ticket. I'll make it my goal starting today, though maybe I'll flip-flop by tomorrow.

My second thought is I have done less with my writing than I did when I was so busy. Lesson learned: I need to be more disciplined when I have leisure, or forget the leisure so I can get more things which are dear to me done. I'd like some middle ground, but I may not be wired for it. Yet.

Last night I went to another birthday party, Cathleen O'Malley's 25th. I almost missed it because I couldn't find the paper invite which she told us was in the mail, but luckily she picked up my voice mail and told me where to go. A wonderful time in a wonderful little place that serves as a photography studio and art gallery by day, and community living room by night. What a great place it would be for putting up working scenes, which is one of the things they actually do.

Again, I met new people, and made a conscious and semi-successful attempt to stay away from venting on our fatherland. Cathleen was in the Meisner Progression, which she called the Meisner Intensive when introducing people. I liked that, because I usually describe it the same way. The group was a nice mix, including nearly half the Meisner alumni, which lent the whole group a feeling of pent up energy. Everybody is getting ready to start new projects and classes, and it energized me hearing about it.

In addition to the Meisnerites there was an added surprise for me. John Hazelwood, an MFA grad from University of Washington was there. The first two or three acting classes I took at BCC five years ago were taught by John, a person I like and respect to this day. He gave me a very nice and sincere compliment on the work I did in the Meisner performance July 1st. It was a wonderful surprise to find he was there. A full circle feeling.

The last time I saw John was several days before Meisner started, a touch over a year ago. He was working at the Baseball Institute in Seattle, and is still there. He was busy with that, Jet City Improve and several projects he was helping to produce. He is rehearsing for Proof, with Seattle Public Theatre. I heard it was going up, and now I'm looking forward to seeing it even more. Especially since John has been looking forward to getting back on the boards for more traditional shows since we chatted last year.

As I was leaving to head home I leap-frogged with Steve, Paula, and Gregory who'd just seen a show. They saw people they knew, popped into the birthday party for a minute, and walked up a couple doors to the Elysian. Steve was the last to go to the Elysian, walking by as I was gearing up for the motorcycle. They had been talking about how it felt a bit off when they were having sushi at Hanna's because I was missing. I told Steve it was a treat to see my best friends at to cap off a great day. A minute later I waved goodbye to the smiling group sitting in a corner booth next to where I parked. I great picture to take home with me. I can hardly wait until the 4th, when I'll be back in the swing again.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Five letters for Fall bloom

'Aster', that's what the crosswords are looking for. I'm thinking more along the line of buddy, mates, or for seven letters I'd pick friends.

We had a get together at the Elysian last night for Paula's birthday, which Steve set up. I don't know how it is Paula was surprised. Paula is not only a fine director, she is a very accomplished actor. Okay despite what you are thinking, that proves she was surprised. We generally just go from place to place in a consensual fog. With our day jobs and theatre related obligations and commitments, I think most of us delight in simply doing without a plan, as long as we're laughing and ranting together. Some (like me) may revel in the randomness more than others. Still, Steve and Gregory got everything set up, and with a guided randomness actually got Paula into the Elysian a little early, only minutes after the last of the group arrived. I was graciously credited with grouping everyone together ahead of time. It consisted of, "You don't need the signs, we'll just bring people to your table."

I replied, "Great, they may be asking for Paula for her birthday, or Gregory who reserved the table."

"Oh, we thought it was Gregory's birthday." Now I think about it, maybe I prevented a bit of confusion. We have a number of friends in common, including Gregory. There were a number of other people I'd met through Steve and Paula, including his brother and sister-in-law. Rebecca and Paul were there, who I know through Spolin, and I chatted with a few new acquaintances. We all had a great time.

The time when the weather turns gray, damp, cool is a time I like. I didn't used to. It used to signal the time I withdrew in every way I could until warm weather returned. Now it brings in new projects and challenges to enjoy. Last year Meisner and a couple workshop shows, the year before some workshopping, and preparing for Meisner, etc. This year I'm about to start the mask class, working on Rumors, a promotional scene from The Cherry Orchard (just accepted that this morning for Exchange Theatre), and a couple more shows. As soon as I am done with this journal entry, it's to the books and dialect CD to work on Rumors and the talk I'll be giving Thursday on the development of a play. I enjoy all the projects for themselves, and anticipate the new acquaintances and friendships which will result.

Last night reminded me of when I first met Paula. Bartlett Sher was teaching a directors/actors lab through Freehold. I was taking it with a couple friends from Rachel's classes as actors, and Rachel was taking it as a director. As usual I arrived early for the first session, as I have a commute subject to epic traffic jams. I said hi to this quiet woman I'd never met, asking if she was in the class. She was almost surly, and I meandered off finding someone I knew to chat with. Quiet and surly are not words anyone would ever associate with Paula. She happened to be in a bad place that day.

Four weeks later we were carrying props and such out of the Intiman rehearsal building, which Bart used for an added class session. Paula, whom I'd had a chance to work with in a scene directed by Rachel, told me Rachel said I was sharp and dependable and asked if I'd be interested in doing some tech directing for her. By that time I knew my initial impression of Paula was atypical, and I also knew she was a professional actor. Well, I said I had no idea what to do, but I'd give it a whorl. A month or two later she called while I was commuting to Port Orchard for You Can't Take It With You. I was feeling pretty busy with the show and two 90 minute trips each evening, and nearly skipped returning her call. I finally did, we met for dinner and a beer few days later where I met Steve for the first time, and after the last performance for the show in Port Orchard, I rushed straight over to audit the Fringe Festival open auditions with her. We have worked on four shows together. I am tremendously grateful for the introduction to the Fringe world and things like Meisner, and her appreciation of my tech directing, stage managing, set design/construction, etc., is reciprocal. Those are the strongest friendships, where there is so much give and accept both ways.

The two friends from Rachel's class I have not seen in over a year, one of them not since that final day of class over two years ago. I don't even know if I'd recognize them. Rachel whom I have come to know since, and develop a very deep admiration for (are you blushing?) is now a very good friend, as of course are Paula and Steve.

I took Bart's class to get some experience with different directors, and it turned out to be one of the many critical steps in my journey. My connections with the fringe theatre community start at that point. I loved my stint with the community theatre, and hope to return, but working with professionals changed my perspective creating a thirst to attain a deeper level, a much higher standard, and curiously a conviction it was not out of my reach.

Last night I was talking to several very accomplished actors whom I have known for a couple years now. They know both my relative level of inexperience, and my dedication and love of theatre. They were treating me as peers as they have for quite a while, and it hit me. It did not make me feel uncomfortable, like I was somehow a fake. I'm wondering if that is the restless feeling which has been nagging me. In the last few months I have been coming to a realization, more of an admission I am not a pretender, and giving up the notion I might or mightn't be a good actor, and simply accepting I am an actor, an artist. "It's not a goddamn competition Scott!" I've been talking and writing about it a lot, boring myself and others as I grapple.

One of the reasons I canceled my medical school interviews in 1983 and ran away to the Navy, was I believed once you were trained as a doctor you had a social responsibility and obligation to practice medicine as long as you were able. I had lost much of my respect and awe of medicine, which I saw becoming a corporate pursuit rather than something human and honorable, and not a pursuit to which I could dedicate my soul and body.

Art touches me in a similar, yet deeper and fulfilling way. I wonder if the hesitation in unconditionally stating, "Hi my name is Scott and I'm an artist." was an avoidance technique. A way to lighten the load of social responsibility and obligation. Now I'm in a quandary, "Shit, what exactly is it I feel obligated to do?" Oh great, more questions. Will it ever end? Hope not.

Well the journey has provided me with friends, without which I would have gone nowhere. More friends than I thought it possible to have, and of all stripes. Intermittent, short term, long term, constant, distant, close, solid, flaky, needy, supportive, taking, giving... All enriching. So here it is, Fall again, and the puzzles are numerous and building, and I think my seven letter word for a Fall bloom is the key to the puzzle.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Daydreams

If I was in the richest 400 Americans list which recently came out I'd look at this town for sale. I'd bring up some artists I trust, feng shui experts, etc. I'd want to be sure it has good spiritual vibes. Why you ask?

My (sort of) secret dream is to set up retreat grounds for artists, with two goals. One to provide a retreat for artists to work, decompress, or even hide from the world for while. Whatever they need. The second is to provide training and workshops for community and fringe artists of all disciplines. I would ask the artists on retreat to help as staff or faculty, either concurrent or following their retreat.

We already have things like that for established and establishment artists at places like Sundance, and I want a more grass roots institutions to assist beginners and as important, people with non-artistic careers. I'm fascinated with the cross-discipline explorations and beginnings, as well as having art as the focus of your life.

Here I am, a programmer, and I'd say art has become the focus of my life, and rather than detracting from my day job I think it is enhanced. It has been fairly recent in the last five years or so. I am still close to the beginning, currently in the cross discipline, and have had art as my focus for several years. It is a journey I'd like to encourage and accommodate for others who want or need it.

As I contemplate becoming an expatriate I wonder if would will kill the dream, make it blossom, or have no real impact. In any case I don't plan on becoming one of the wealthiest 400 tycoons in the U.S., so maybe I'll think along the lines of something a bit smaller than a town. Here's hoping one of my friends makes it big, likes my idea, and remembers. Pretty slim odds, but there's lots of other possibilities, and maybe they all add up to something statistically possible.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bobblehead doll: cost $135,000,000,000

Here's another of my posts to the political discussion group at work.

Did anyone watch the Rose Garden double-header speech this morning? Regardless of your political bent it was simply a rehashing of the same old Bush doctrine. I was truly bothered by Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

It was pathetically apparent they used the same speech writers. It made Mr. Allawi sound like a parrot. Couldn't they have tried some different superlative adjectives for describing Uber-Bush in the second speech?

I did not see Mr. Allawi look straight ahead to the audience once. His eyes were always on the script or looking to the left at Bush. It made Mr. Allawi look like a bobblehead doll. The poor man was so obviously seeking approval I found myself feeling bad Bush wouldn't give him a cookie, or at least a cracker.

It was an atrocious and frightening display. It instills fear which is the Whitehouse's well-proven primary domestic and international policy tool. In this case I don't think it was good strategy.

Thanks,
- Scott

PS - For you Trekkies, Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi was like a clone of the character John Gill in Patterns of Force.
http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/TOS/episode/68764.html

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Little Steps

I actually got some character work done yesterday evening. I reviewed my notes thus far -- I love the lion notes and hope I can get to the zoo this weekend. Then I read about half the script, including the final scenes where my character is involved. I think I'll keep reading my character's portion every day, along with a goodly chunk of the rest of the script. It seems the obvious approach, explaining why I didn't think of it sooner.

The character clicked. I've found at some point when I am doing my homework there is a click. Like a shutter opening. When the words feel like your own. It is a big part of what I spent last year training for. Keep up with the homework, daydreaming, reading, researching, and so on. I was doing so much by habit (yay!) it felt like I wasn't doing much of anything. It is gradual cumulative work, progressing to an "Ah ha!" moment. It felt like a big click, and I'm laughing at myself trying to figure out a better way to explain it.

So, I am excited. No where near where I need to be yet. The character work is just beginning. It is still good and motivating to find the character's voice. Somehow the pending dialect work seems less intimidating, and I am looking forward to how that will shape the character. All the other work shapes the character too, and I look forward to how he/I/we will evolve.

Speaking of work I was doing automatically. A couple days ago I figured out the name of my long dead friend, Nicholas N. Davis. He was killed December 18, 1984, about a year later than I thought. It happened during my first leave, and the details were slightly different than I recalled. I remembered there was a scuffle, but the shooting actually happened several blocks away in a parking lot, not in the restaurant.

We weren't as close in age as I remembered either. He was actually 12 years older than I, and as I thought about those days more I now wonder if I attributed the emergency surgery story correctly. While thinking of Nick and the cops I chatted with in the Little Biscuit, I had a picture of one of the pretty young female officers telling me that story.

It wasn't upsetting at all to find my memories had morphed a bit, making my recollections feel more personal. Somehow getting the facts straightened out was touching. Taking the time to refresh my memory strengthened the old connection and sadness. In some way the journey further eroded my personal walls. Even though I can't use those memories directly, they will add juice and have already helped with my homework.

One of the central concepts of Meisner is to create memories using the imagination. We build walls around our personal memories be they good or bad, and using a potent personal memory can be damaging to the actor, and impossible to keep fresh.
Real people -- okay.
Real tragedies/deaths -- nope.
That is so oversimplified I'm tempted to delete it, and may later on. I hurt or killed off my Dad for class many times in my imagination. He is alive, and one of my very best friends. Don't know what I'll do emotionally or artistically when he is really gone. I just know his strength and ethics live in me, and will always be there for me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Need a Hit

Not blackjack, not a shot, not a toke. I need some art, man.

Friday we're probably going to celebrate my friend Paula's birthday. I'm assuming she doesn't read this, though it's not really a surprise, and I don't recall sending her a link recently.

I have to call Steve today or tomorrow to be sure the birthday dinner is still a go. That will let me hang out with some other artists, which quenches the thirst. Not completely or even close, certainly more than watching tv or reading books.

I haven't been in this state for over a year, as I haven't had a break in three or four years. Even though I have done a lot of production and backstage work the last three or four years, I still felt like I was crawling out of my skin at times, until I got on the boards again. Even did a short indie film a year and a half ago, where I was the male lead and co-producer. It filled the craving, was great fun, a tremendous learning experience, and between you and I, I'm glad it didn't get much exposure.

When I was reading the blogs of Rachel and Kipley several days ago I asked myself, "Am I serious about my art?" Since mid-July I haven't done much except decompress from my busy year and get further enraged with our government. Okay I've done a little research and some writing, when the guilts overtook me. And, I ran lights again for Spolin last Saturday. They had a great show, and a very good sized audience. I didn't expect that in North Bend, at least not so soon. I've also seen a lot of shows in the last couple months.

Am I serious about my art? Well, I am getting progressively edgier. I still have the restless feeling I mentioned several weeks ago. I don't know if this is part of it, or simply adding to it. I know from experience my tendency towards inertia is about to lose out, and I will be getting head's down quite soon in preparing for my part and the talk I'll be giving in a couple weeks. Forty years of sloth loses out to passion, even when I think it is worn out. Maybe I'm not serious enough about my art. Possibly this is a skewed perception, though I'd argue it's not on purely subjective and spiritual bases. It seems art is serious about me and won't let me stray for very long. I think along these lines, concepts and visions which were foreign and untenable to me a few short years ago. I find it harder and harder to remember that life. What a drab and lifeless existence it must have been.

I want to be good, heck I'd like to be very, very good. Most of all I need to be. I love the irony so many of us experience in theatre, in learning to live in and through different characters, and bring life to them we learn to become ourselves. So, bring it on, gimme art, and let me be.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Burning Down the House

I was thinking about my strong belief our administration is guilty of war crimes, in both the justification and prosecution of our war.

If someone buys excessive home insurance coverage for arson, and within a couple years the house burns down under questionable circumstances it is a very strong and dependable indicator of intent and premeditation. Bush pulled the U.S. out of the world court and within a couple years there is a preponderance of hard evidence we are guilty of torture and other violations of the Geneva Convention. You do the math.

A Democratic Police State
         -- or --
The Emperor's Clothes

In the 20Sep04 article on www.misleader.com they talk about how Rumsfeld lied regarding the current number of Iraqis in the security forces, overstating the number by 100%. I believe it glosses over something exceedingly ugly.

We are still working to attain over 205,000 trained Iraqis. That is about 1% of the Iraqi population, and only refers to forces we have trained and classify as security forces. Our total military level in Iraq, combatants and support troops combined, is 130,000.

Take the U.S., we have a population of 294 million. 1% of that is 3 million. It sounds obscenely high. A security force trained by an occupying force of that size could promote nearly anything in the world except for liberty.

Deductions from facts like these appear to me straightforward and as plain as the big old nose on my face. It screams out at me, this vast security force which will be necessary to enforce the Bush vision of democracy upon the 'democracy hungry' population of Iraq. I sometimes feel I am the only person in the world who sees these obvious, self-defeating, and frightening deductions.

I generally get blank stares when I point out something like this. I predict right and left alike will go into a trance when I compare the size of the foreign trained security force in Iraq to numbers we can relate to for our country, and ask how that can possibly encourage liberty. It's really not hard folks, once you let yourself see how naked the emperor is.

Since I have started following politics, I have been startled to find most, or all, of my simplistic observations like this one have proven out. Goodie, goodie, for me. It does not make me pleased or satisfied in any way. It's more like seeing in ultra slow motion so you can imagine the bullet's damage long before it lands. It sucks, totally sucks, for me.

Friday, September 17, 2004

If Turn About Is Fair Play -- We're Screwed

I saw this in the New York Times a few days ago.
The White House asserted that progress was being made in Iraq. "You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done," Scott McClellan, the chief White House spokesman, said at a news briefing. "And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
Our leaders keep spewing this raw sewage for our consumption, expecting a big "Thank you sir, might I have another?" They tell an outrageous lie, and back it up with more outrageous lies.

Every day and in every way they attempt to prove they are the spawn of the "National Socialist German Workers Party." We all know that had nothing more to do with promoting socialism or the German workers than the Republican party has to do with promoting a republic.

It is indeed painful to see our leaders telling one blatant lie after another. It is even more painful how many people lap it up. I'm reminded of a comedian who talked about American's love for batter fried items. He said you could batter and deep fry turds and we would eat it up. Looking at the mini-mart and most grocery deli counters it is hard to contradict him. The way this country has gobbled up the administration's lies evokes the same picture for me. Admittedly the approval rating has fallen to around 50%. I guess some people are noticing what's under the crumbling batter. It just amazes me the rest don't seem to care about what is so obvious and foul.

I also think you have the asshole factor. The majority of the conservatives I have talked to parrot ridiculous statements, but more than that it is simply a jousting match. There is no desire or even willingness to actually consider anything which does not mesh with their world view. The closest they ever get to a discussion is calling you on something, usually an intentional misinterpretation on their part, occasionally a red herring. "Ah ha, you contradicted yourself you!" It is a game, nothing more to them. Whereas I am honestly concerned about thousands of people dying needlessly at home and abroad. As a result our country treats the lives, hopes, and wealth of the rest of the world like a poorly executed game of checkers.

We whine at the top of our shrill little voices if see a dead American or even a dead "terrorist" in the media. We just want to kill them all; we don't want to see the actual dirty work. We are too afraid to even consider what we could do besides killing anyone we can be made to fear. I don't believe our lifestyle would suffer if we took a good honest look at ourselves, and started acting responsibly. It might hurt a few ceo's -- so what? We had better learn to be responsible for our policies before long if we don't want the victims of our free enterprise to continue responding in kind. The number of innocent Iraqis we have killed dwarfs the number killed in the twin towers. Yet we can't see any comparison, and any suggestion it is understandable the Iraqis would like the same sort of pay back is dismissed. Why? If the twin towers is the worst loss of life we see on our soil in my lifetime I will be surprised. I think there is a slight possibility we can avoid it. Not a chance in Hell if the Bushites prevail, and a very slim chance if Kerry does. We need to make reparations, meanwhile we continue to court moral and financial ruin.

Enough doom and gloom. My job finished successfully! I'm going to go home and have a drink with my junk food.

Last Weekend

Well, I think I'm going to be at work a bit late, so I'll gab about last weekend while I wait on the SQL Server jobs to finish so I can check my work. Unless you'd rather hear about SQL code. ... I thought not, though it is written beautifully.

I went over to my folks house Saturday afternoon. Their Kiwanis club was having it's 75th anniversary and awards ceremony. Part of the festivities was an auction. I got a watch in the silent auction and was disappointed when I saw it was used. Then someone pointed out it came with a $50 gift certificate I hadn't noticed. Well, that's a great surprise assuming the shop have something I want. I went to my max on a pair of great tickets for the Seattle Rep, offering 75% of the face value. If anyone had looked closer at the tickets they would have seen they were fifth row dead center -- the best seats in the house. I happen to know that because my folks donated their tickets. They usually give me the tickets for the months they are in Arizona, and I'm pleased to help their charity. Now I have two pairs of tickets.

During the live auction I got two more theatre related items. The first was a Marine Corps sword. It is modern, for ceremonial use, though I believe the marines still train with swords a bit. Any marines out there? The saber is pointed, but the edge is blunt. I like swords for some reason. They aren't practical, I don't know have any sword play or fencing skills, I just like a well made one. As I clean my house I hope I find my dress sword from the navy, it is even better looking than this one, though not as pretty as the marine officer's dress sword.

The final item was a ride along with the Port Orchard police. It's always sounded very interesting, and now it will help me prepare for my role as a cop. Which I need to get rolling on. I am looking forward to the ride, and looking forward to the work.

Well, here's hoping the work at the day job paid off... Then off to the house. Truly shameful confession time. I'll probably be stopping at DQ on the way. Not as good as steak any day of the week, but still comfort food of a sort.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Way Back

I once worked at the Little Biscuit, a small grocery store and delicatessen with some nice seating like today's coffee shops. It was on Madison Avenue, several blocks west of Broadway, on the ground floor of a high rise. First Hill Plaza, billed as the first high end condominium in Seattle.

When I worked during the later shifts and things were slow for everybody, I got to know a number of the police officers who would have a bite to eat or a coffee from the deli. It was a nice place to relax for a few, and a welcome haven in one of their busier parts of town. There was one officer in particular, whom I became friends with. He was about my age, and going to school, thinking of law. We had a mutual admiration thing going. As I recall he liked law enforcement, but the idea of working as a public defender or in a storefront office serving disadvantaged people also appealed to him.

One of his stories was of assisting a paramedic or doctor with emergency surgery; I don't remember if it was on site or in the hospital waiting room. He had to don gloves and apply pressure to a major vessel which was bleeding in the chest or abdominal cavity. I like to remember the patient survived, whether it is accurate or not.

He was fascinated with my upcoming journey to Pensacola, for Aviation Officer Candidate School. Navy boot camp for fly boys, with Marine drill instructors. We had planned to exchange letters...

I was reminded of him, when a guy on one of the discussion groups at work kept referring to cops as pigs. He hates all cops unconditionally -- I asked. His deranged or bigoted attitude reminded me of my one time friend. I called him on being a bigot, telling him the story.

This young officer was waiting in line for the cashier at the IHOP on Madison Avenue, about a block east of Broadway. Someone else in the line managed to pull the officer's sidearm, and shot him dead with his own gun. (I believe the guy at work was quite pleased by the story.)

I wrote to the Seattle PD, asking if they could tell me his name and the date he died. I would like to remember his name, and read up on him in the newspaper archives. It is interesting I should feel a reconnect to a casual friend who died twenty years ago. It may be it helps with my research for playing a cop, and I wonder if that drives my desire to remember or if it is a reaction to the very evil and prominent side of the guy at work. Probably both, and I hope it will serve both my soul and my art.

Murphy, give it a rest

On Monday or Tuesday evening as I was leaving the office I nicked my left index finger on the trunk lock of my motorcycle. The metal tumbler cover was damaged in a mishap a while back. A mangled bit of the lock face which gouged a piece from the finger, about the size of a grain of rice. It still smarts a bit, but nothing drastic. A slice would have sealed, stopped bleeding, and healed more quickly, but no such luck. It was still bleeding fairly freely several hours later when I made up a pan of Kraft macaroni which I've not done in a while.

It is not a complicated task. I was being careful to keep my tender finger out of the way as I poured the water and macaroni into a sieve I was holding. I was not focused where I should have been. I poured a good deal the boiling mixture over the rest of my hand. At least, I didn't get any on the little owie on the finger. I immediately put my hand under cold running water while keeping up a running blue commentary on my intelligence. Then I started laughing at myself. Not as funny as the vandal's cars stuck in the lawn they trashed the other day, but still it was a pretty good stupid human trick, and I got away with nary a blister.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Woo Hoo!

I just talked to George Lewis at Freehold. I was thinking of taking either a three quarter Mask or Stage Combat class this year. Robin, who taught Meisner, recommended movement (and voice) for most of us including myself. I wanted one of these classes this year, because they both sound very interesting, kind of scary, and would help with movement. Mask, which is taught by George, was my first choice. I'd like to do stage combat some time as well, but preferably after I've done some serious Shakespeare work.

Murphy stepped in, and the Mask class had numerous conflicts with rehearsals for Rumors. When George called I told him of my schedule dilemma. It turns out the class now starts on October 4th instead of next week, which removed two conflicts, but there are still five left, where I would be late or miss class entirely. George asked if I was interested in Fall Quarter or the entire year. The entire year says I, we'll make it work says he.

Delicious.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Take It Slow

I drive south on 140th NE for my commute. It is a shorter route than the freeway, and saves time during rush hour. It even saves time when I commute on the motorcycle, though I can use the express lanes. Most of the trip it is two lanes, so it is a more relaxed commute. Most take the freeway. The stoplights and lower speed limits drive them nuts, whereas they don't seem to mind the traffic jams so much. I don't get it, but am grateful they aren't on the surface. It is humorous to me, and I always appreciate being tickled. ; )

Today, just before the light at NE 8th, I saw the lawn in front of an apartment or condo complex was horribly torn up and gouged. A couple cars had gone down there doing donuts, slides, and peel outs on the nicely maintained lawn by the pond. I know for a fact there were a couple cars because they were both still there, covered in mud and sunk to the floorboards in the soft moist earth by the pond. As I pulled up to the light I was laughing.

I pictured some kids in their teens or tweens getting their cars stuck, realizing they were totally screwed, there was no way they could just call a tow truck or a buddy and get away. It must have been a long walk home, and now they are waiting for John Law's knock on their door. Or maybe they're trying to explain to Mom or Dad where the car is, and why they will have to take a taxi to work, then the police station to bail out their kids. I'm betting the little vandals will get community service, likely some to repair the damage they did. I'll be looking for them in the next month as I commute. Somehow I don't think they'll be driving there.

You occasionally see things like that on the freeway, but only occasionally. Maybe those rushing people would see it and only get cross about the malicious damage, not having the time to see the humor. I'm sure my laughter is enhanced by other vandalisms I've seen, a satisfaction knowing they don't always get away with it. It was a lovely sight.

Slow down, it may not take longer and perceptions are both keener and more open. I need remind to myself more often it does not only apply to commuting.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Correspondence

I have exchanged a number of deep correspondences the last week. I didn't keep my rage and hurt about the war limited here to my journal. One of my closest friends wrote back immediately, "I love you. I know you know that, but I thought I'd remind you." I have served as a calming influence and anchor for her in many productions. She and her fiance are very very important to me, probably my best friends right now, and one of the happiest events for me this year was when they told me they were engaged. She is right, I know they love me. The reminder was incredibly meaningful and timely.

Another very good friend wrote with a great perspective. She pointed out my rage was looking for an outlet, and the innate wisdom from letting yourself be open focused the rage on legitimate targets. Not that those targets weren't causing rage of their own. What a great thing to see. Rage from within sharpening anger directed by wisdom from without. Is that a difference between artists and technologists? Technologist tend respect wisdom or knowledge they have developed themselves, whereas artists honor wisdom and knowledge from elsewhere? No wonder us crossovers feel conflicted at times. The point she made and I paraphrased, was freeing and sent me down these different avenues of thought, helping restore some peripheral perception of the world.

She also blogged a list of "100 things about me." It was a fascinating, revealing exercise in which many things I didn't know were shared, and things for which I had a different perspective. One of the things I liked and honored most were the contradictions. I enjoy and am fascinated by dichotomy. Life in tension. Complementary aspects. Inconsistency. Struggle. Frivolity. Any or all of these. If everything were consistent, predictable, dire, and immutable where would you find life? I was in conflict with myself, still am; the note and blog served to remind me it is simply life being lived and moving toward fullness.

Another friend told me to give myself time and permission to grieve and rave. She sent me a quote which I am considering printing up or finding for my bedroom wall.
Mother Teresa's Prayer

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
...Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
...Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
...Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
...Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
...Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
...Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
...Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
...Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

"We can do no great things -
Only small things
With Great Love."

Inscribed on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta.


Another friend thanked me, sharing his concern with a friend about to be deployed to the gulf. There were kind and well considered words from many other friends and family.

Every letter, every note touched me deeply. There is an upswell of feeling I feel at those raw times, like I could break into tears or laughter or both. Like the lightest breath of wind on my body or drop of rain on my head would push me over the edge. I am still on that cusp, and feel the upswell every time I read over one of them again. I have this hope and expectation I will soon be surfing the swell. I wonder where it will take me?

Labor of Movie

I watched several movies I hadn't seen Labor Day weekend. Do a little work around the house, watch a movie for a while, do a very little work, watch a movie. I hadn't planned to do any work, but it would drive me nuts as I sat there. What happened to the good old days?

Formula 51 was a fun romp, though I suspect the drug related plot and the poopy and bloody scenes put off a lot of people. Not a heavyweight film, but a good joy ride. It is hard for me to not enjoy a film with Samuel Jackson. So I watched Basic in which he was a supporting actor, and John Travolta co-starred with Connie Nielsen who I thought did a great job as well. A very good action mystery, while not totally believable it was well cast and acted. So, who cares?

I also watched The Transporter, the only one of the bunch I had seen before. A goofy movie, which I really liked. Not quite as violent, but enjoyable for me in the same way as Snatch or The Boondock Saints. Jason Statham makes the show as the professional wheel man. He is one of those actors who brings something to characters which flavors them in a unique and fascinating way. I was thinking about this as I picked out a movie last night.

The Italian Job has Jason Statham and Set Green, both actors who bring that fascinating and unique aspect to a character. As I was watching it again it occurred to me I think either could have played most any character in the film. There are people that get type cast, and Statham may be -- he is once again the suave wheel man. Then there are roles that are type cast in a certain way. These guys appear to make bold choices which make for strong characters that are not recognizable from a hundred other movies. They are surprising and delightful. There is a silly little scene about 44 minutes into the movie. Statham is off trying to pick up a woman, and Green is sitting in the car mimicking them. I find it hysterical, and there is also something there which arrests me. It is the actors themselves, the characters they have created. Statham's swagger and Green's admiring and envious mockery works so well together. Maybe it is just me, yet I will enjoy it again all the same.

Getting back to Labor Day. Another film I watched was Mystic River. Splendidly cast, acted, directed and cut. Art. I was captured from the beginning. I expected it to be good, though I thought all the hype was no more than hype. I was wrong. It had the feeling you expect more from the stage. How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog with Kenneth Branagh and Robin Wright Penn and The Secret Lives of Dentists are other movies with that feeling. Dentists is the other movie I watched over the holiday, and still affects me.

A pretty good holiday though I've been on a tear since then. "Tear," that is a British usage of the word which I really like. I saw some surprising performances, including two truthful films that would have been at home on stage. It seems I don't watch tv much anymore, so it was a real treat as I approach the end of my break.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Poster Child

I am going to chat up a few photographer friends. I want a picture of someone holding a large pistol that looks as if it has just been fired. A smoldering candle or incense could probably lend the desired affect, as modern powders burn too cleanly. I have a couple pistols which would look pretty scary, and in my vanity I'd be willing to be the model. : )

It would have a caption in something like a 60's psychedelic font, lending it a happy flower child ambiance. It would read, "Who says a bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush?" Do you think I would need a Kerry button and/or a cartridge in one hand to make the dark humor clear? This I may really do.

I'd also like to make a big banner to hang over I-405 reading, "Give Cowardice a chance: Vote Republican!" If I didn't think it would get torn down in a few minutes the effort might be worthwhile. Also, a voice of that timbre would not serve to sway anyone making it self-defeating. Still, fantasizing about it is sure satisfying. Let's just imagine I did it and some Hummer driving neocon had a seizure as he ripped it down.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Family Affair

I just hung up on my little brother. It relates to the way the 1000 casualty mark tore me up this week. I'm not at peace yet.

In the past I have jokingly called him our brown shirt republican. He was trying to tell me how Bush was no worse than Clinton, and how every recent president has taken us to war to manipulate domestic politics and opinion. I have learned to just let it go when he started quoting 'facts' from the conservative pundits he admires. Several times I have looked up his statistics or facts, and one I remember in particular, were some numbers regarding one of the mass transit programs. I found the numbers he quoted, but was not able to find documentation. There were well documented numbers you could use to argue against mass transit, but they were debatable. The made up numbers, and in one case, an utterly out of context statistic, were inflammatory. Sadly, aside from his rabid hate of fundamentalist christians it makes him appear to be a stereotypical neocon. I always figured it was just my brother, who would rather start an argument than be serious any day of the week.

He started off telling me some very nice and interesting things about my younger niece. Then he started going on about the CBS documents on Bush's service record, and how they were obvious forgeries. I honestly don't care about them. I am utterly opposed to Bush to the depth of my being, because I sincerely view him as a war criminal. I believe he took us to war knowing it was unjustifiable, that the torture was premeditated and initiated at the highest level, that the civilian death toll is unacceptably high and largely preventable, etc. And we started this atrocious war. You can argue we have gotten involved in too many wars or in wars where we didn't belong, but this is the first time in my life we initiated a war.

When my brother started justifying Bush and arguing his actions are no different from other presidents it pissed me off unreasonably. It felt like he was saying my time in combat, and those Americans and Iraqis fighting, dying, and being hideously disabled for life right now don't count for shit. I am sure he didn't mean demagoguery preempts all else. I even knew it at the time, and I was about to say some things which would get me in trouble with HR if my officemate heard, and alienate me from my brother for a very, very long time, certainly much longer then angrily talking over him to say I had to get back to work. I did have to get back to work, but mostly I was furious with the whole idea of playing oneupsmanship where massive death and destruction are involved.

I think he learned to discuss politics from the radio. I avoid talk radio, but when I hold the scan button too long I catch little snippets; it is like hearing my brother on playback. 99.5% interruption, shout down, and oneupsmanship, and 0.5% truth and discussion. The last four years or so I learned to just wait for him to run himself out of steam. Then I respond. I usually get tired of being interrupted with familiar comebacks which go off on bizarre tangents to a degree which makes even me seem focused, and sort of politely wander off to another topic or room. Today I was interrupting right back and getting cross.

My political beliefs and opinions change and evolve on a regular basis. My brother's are very solid, rarely swaying. It still amazes me isn't yet certain of his vote for Bush. My point here is not whether 'change' or 'steadfastness' is better, rather that my response to his convictions is the issue, and it is my issue. Until I can deal with his view I had best avoid him. Generally it is the other way around. I get tired around my brother sometimes, because more than anybody else I know I have to watch what I say around him. He is quick to take offense and slower to forget. It seems he has been less touchy lately, but I'm still careful, and drop things the moment I see he is getting edgy.

I am the one who is quick to anger now. The thought of hanging with him when I can't help but feel he is willfully overlooking and minimizing international crimes to humanity and assaults on American liberty is very hard. It is not something I can deal with at the moment. I hope to get myself out of this knot.

Sure, I could blame Bush and the GOP for driving a wedge into my family. It would be a cop out. If I feel so strongly they are leading our country down a path towards cowardice, atrocity, and a profound loss of domestic liberty I should be able to express myself without anger. I have spoken of this before. I should do whatever it takes to share my views in a calm and truthful manner. With family there are hot buttons we aren't really aware of until they are pushed. I think that is the problem. Eric is not particularly sensitive, but as I said above I am always watching out for his big brother buttons. He found a little brother button on me today. I really can't believe he would dismiss my ten years of active duty, and participation in a war in favor of reactionary ideals. That is wrong. I don't want to believe it, and fear it is possible.

I worry more than a little we will have to institute the draft if we allow the current administration to continue. They are already in the process of testing the waters with mentions of Iran, like they started with Iraq a few months after 9/11. Retention in the service is becoming increasingly difficult. The long deployments which are extended, just to support the currently insufficient force level in Iraq does not bode well for retention or recruiting. Lagging retention and recruiting when deployment needs increase calls for a draft. If Bush is elected, I have several nephews who will be of draft age by the time the new term is up. Ironically they all belong to my siblings or step siblings who espouse neocon viewpoints. Regardless of their parent's politics, I don't want any of them in that Hellhole.

I will avoid my brother for now. I'll pray to whatever higher power there is, that his and my step sibling's agenda loses in the upcoming elections, and Kerry if elected will get us out without further damage or needs to augment our military. I don't want my nephews to need prayers in a few short years.

Me Gilligan, You ...

Haven't posted my last couple journal entries, though I may edit and archive them later. They read and felt like Nathaniel Hawthorne, or what I have heard of Proust. There is only so much you should say describing a blade of grass, and it doesn't bear repeating.

I have taken walks again the last two evenings, averaging a little longer than the 4.5 mile walk I took Tuesday. The first one felt like a need, the last two were because I wanted to walk. I do again, and hope I can get out of the office soon enough. Waiting to see if the code fixes I did will do the trick.

The next post, which I started after this one shows I am still in a swirl. I generally get along very well with my little brother whom I greatly admire and love, but I am livid right now. I've no idea why, but right now I'd like to go back to the jungle and break my long period of abstinence with Jane multiple times, right after I beat the living Hell out of the Skipper, and give the professor and Mr. Howell a couple good pops too. Good thing they're fictional characters.

I don't why I am in such a spiritual mess. If there are Gilligans stumbling around in the spiritual world they'd look much like me right now.

I want to watch Star Wars tonight. As much as I'd like to go for a walk, I just noticed a little tightness in my knees and figure I'll give them a break tonight. Avoid the Maddock tendency to overdo everything. I was thinking Yoda, that little prune-like fellow, would certainly be kicking my ass around tonight. So maybe I'll watch him kick Luke's around a bit.

On the bright side, I am about to get a new home computer. My roommate Aaron likes building out machines, and we have a list of hot components we're going to use. It will be nice to have a better machine of my very own again. After that I am toying with the idea of getting a good duplexing color laser printer. I work on or with so many productions that could make use of something like that. I'd not print for free if I get the machine, just enough to cover supplies and maintenance. Maybe a big savings over Kinko? I have been saving the rent from Aaron to upgrade my home systems.

Darn. The job I was waiting on failed. Appears there are network problems. Let it go, and go for a nice evening ride on the motorcycle. I bet it's raining. ; )

I am really subjecting the 2 or 3 people that read this to my tangential and bizarre thought patterns tonight. Oh well, "Deal with it!"
I wanted to say "Fuck off", because it would feel so good right now, but there was no cause and I probably like all of you. At least I sorta got to say it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Diarrhea of the Soul --or-- Spiritual Purging

Not a pretty picture, eh?

I felt weird at the chiropractor yesterday. It is a naturopathic practice, with gradual long-term and cumulative improvement. I understand it is quite different from traditional chiropractics. Lying face down on the bench and letting the arms hang down my entire back ached, which is different from the normal localized ache. I was surprised to hear my spine was nicely relaxed, with all the little pains coming in more and different areas. The ancient big block in the region between my shoulder blades opened up in a big way. Likely the big release revealed tension and tightness in other areas. Like working on a complex character or coding challenge, once one thing is worked out lots more faucets open up. Interesting, I'll have to see if that is related to my restlessness.

Stepping out of the chiropractor I smelled a barbecue, and knew I needed steak. Steak, fresh corn on the cob, and a double size very dark beer. Sheaf, from Australia which I normally use for making chili. Comfort food all the way last night.

Immediately after dinner I swapped motorcycle boots for comfortable shoes. I had been looking forward to a walk since I mentioned about it yesterday. Measuring the distance on my commute, I walked about 4.5 miles. I talked to my Dad on the phone for the first thirty minutes. He was composing an E-mail in response to one I sent to a lot of friends and relatives asking them to think of our troops. I was, and still am upset by attaining the 1000 mark for American casualties. As always, it was very good talking to my Pop.

The entire walk took about 90 minutes, a pretty relaxed pace. I was trying to come to terms with the rage I feel. I still believe we are killing Iraqis and Americans, and destroying both our countries in different and profound manners, for a criminal war we instigated using fear and deception. Not an easy thing to come to terms with, assuming you value the lives of Iraqis or U.S. troops. The appearance that a large majority of our population gives no more than lip service to respecting these lives does not make me a happy camper.

I tried several times to start dropping my shoulders and relax, but it wasn't time. I wanted to find an active meditative state during my walk and once again what I want to do was supplanted by what I need to do. I needed to walk out the turbulence. When I was on the last quarter mile the rage was only beginning to relinquish it's hold. Weather permitting, I need another long walk tonight. It is a bizarre concept for me. There is a nearly palpable need to let this simmering rage run it's course before I can fully get back to art and the day job. Maybe this little journey will propel me; what I do know is dismissing it by focusing on nicer things is not a healthy or helpful option for me at the moment. Ain't that the shits?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Adrift

Three day weekends are a blessing, and linked with the accompanying four day work week another blessing. A respite making two weeks seem better. Refreshes the mind and spirit making day jobs and all else more enjoyable. Still, I feel restless.

I lounged quite a bit this weekend, getting some clean up and sorting done as well. Got to the zoo and did some productive character work. With the exception of some script writing work, I did everything I wanted to accomplish around and out of the house over the weekend. All in all I had a very good holiday, getting lots of loafing and tasks completed. Still, I feel restless.

Right now, I'm upset, and grieving more than I would have expected now we've reached 1,000 US casualties in Iraq. This weekend, I was thinking it would happen soon without having any idea what the current body count was, only that it was over 700. We hit the tragic milestone today, I'm a wreck, and that's not it either, so I still feel restless.

I feel like my character work for Rumors is about to crack. The last performance I did was for Meisner, and it didn't crack open until several days before the performance. It is nice to have the feeling a little earlier, though it doesn't change the need to continue spending more time on the work as rehearsals approach. It gives me more time to try wild things and develop the character. I thought this might be the cause for my restlessness. Alas, it is not.

It is an eerie, though not scary place. It is a feeling of being adrift without rescue in sight, like a caffeine buzz without the caffeine. I have felt it many times. Before I could stand up and say, "Hi my name is Scott, and I'm ... An artist," it was a precursor to one of those particularly dark and extended periods of feeling in the dumps. Now I know it means something is going to happen. Good/bad doesn't apply, just something significant which will affect me and provide a challenge of some sort. A time of growth. There is a catch of course. I must be willing to see whatever it is. I don't claim it is precognitive, rather a heightened awareness of something bubbling and churning around in the subconscious. The subconscious -- well I make no claims there.

What a bizarre day. Something dark and nasty came along, and something new and interesting is on the way. When I get home this evening maybe I should go for a long walk and kick some imaginary(?) demon ass.

One Grand

I just heard we hit 1000 U.S. service casualties in Iraq on our political discussion group at work. I responded,
"F***! This really hurts. Seriously, it is ripping me up inside and I'm shedding tears at my desk. They were my peers for ten years, and those old ties still run very deep in my psyche."
Today it doesn't matter it is a tiny number compared to Iraqi casualties. Tomorrow is soon enough to once again remember the disparity.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Building Blocks

I finally went to the zoo this morning. On the way the joy of being on a motorcycle struck me again. The excess power always lying ready in wait, the balance and smoothness, and mostly the rush of the wind around and through my riding gear reminding me I was not separated from the world around me. Even when it is foul, spitting rain with bad visibility, and achingly cold that feeling is occasionally there, ready to lend appreciation to being in the warm house, office, or studio at the end of the commute. I never search for the feeling, it is simply welcome when it comes along. Typically, it tells me I am more open to inspiration than I thought. A nice reminder with a slight caffeine headache going along for the trip.

I was surprised at the zoo again. My character is a cop who comes in towards the end of the farce and brings everything to a head and resolution. As I was starting down the path a picture of a bald eagle being pestered by a murder of crows or a flock of seagulls came to mind. I have seen it numerous times, and the eagle attempts to ignore them unless they go to far. Then the eagle selects one individual and goes after him to the exclusion of all else. My mother related a story around 1980 of a bald eagle who really got miffed in front of our house. He focused on a specific seagull and terrorized it. He forced the seagull down to the water, and the other seagulls pulled back at the frightened cries of their comrade. The eagle wasn't done with the lesson. For at least ten minutes he dove on the hapless seagull which could only skitter across the water like a freshly molted duck that can't quite get airborne.

I had a preconceived notion of my character being like a bald eagle set upon by noisy pests, and getting fed up in the same way. Preconception -- bad. Screw it, I thought, just go with it, and come back later if needed. I inadvertently followed Robin's advice. By chance, or was it an unconscious awareness of her instruction over the last year? When you feel something blocking you, work your way through it. I decided to look at things like gorillas, monkeys, orangutans, bears, and herd animals. Something where you have an alpha leader. Nothing struck me right away, with the exception of a gorilla who seemed irritated by people looking at her. Maybe I'd go back and watch her some more.

I walked to take a look at the lions for fun. I have always loved lions and other cats, and birds of prey, though I knew lions didn't fit the bill at all. On the way I walked by the Savannah exhibit seeing the giraffes were already out. Even though I arrived right at opening today, the giraffes were not in their enclosure. I suspect they were held back a couple hours last time as one of them seemed to have a minor sore or rash. Had I not viewed them in the enclosure first I would never have picked them for my last character.

I was thinking about the giraffes a bit as I passed the end of the Savannah, and was at the lion enclosure again. I'd walked by earlier on my way to the gorilla habitat, but didn't see them. I was looking at a thicket about halfway down when the male lion emerged. Oh my God, I had never seen and felt the power and majesty of a lion like that before. He owned his realm. A lioness followed, and she was just as powerful though deferring to the larger seemingly more experienced male. Perfect for my scene including the younger female partner in the background. That emergence caught me, and changed my perspective of Officer Welch within a single heartbeat. He is still beset by the other characters, but he owns the world when he walks in. I found my animal when I wasn't looking, after I had worked through my preconceptions. I took nearly a page of notes. I want to go back and take more. Maybe there is a better animal, and I'll keep my eyes peeled. Today I'm a lion.

I want to watch the siamangs some more too. They are incredibly loud primates, barking or hooting together. The act haughty and supercilious, while their movements and puffing throats make them seem more super-silly. They reminded me of the other characters.

I only spent a couple hours at the zoo. The Labor Day crowd was getting distracting. It is so damn fun to watch the people watching the animals, especially children. Back home for a much delayed breakfast, which is cooling right now. Then I'm going to make a nice big batch of gazpacho for the week. I am in the mood for lighter meals right now.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Rocket Scientists Too?

I just ordered an out of print book, Peenemunde to Canaveral, an autobiography by Dieter K. Huzel. I read it nearly twenty years ago. It was one of my favorite books. To become an engineer in Germany he was required to apprentice as a machinist first. He worked at Peenemunde on the V1 and V2 rocket programs. He decided to leave Germany in the nick of time. He was Jewish. I remember he invented variable pitch turbine blades for turbojet engines while at GE. In searching for the book I recalled it was not a novel concept, similar things had been done for steam and water turbines. Different implementation and needs. In the turbojet it increased the effective operating rpm range, making supersonic flight much more feasible. It takes a very creative intellect to see and apply similar solutions for very different technologies.

I have thought about the book ever since reading it. I'm not very happy with the lowest price I was able to find, but I look forward to getting it anyway. His is not the typical story of a German rocket scientist who went to work for the Americans or Russians after Peenemunde was taken by the allies. While many creative people were fleeing Germany, and even more were being rounded up, he was in a creative pursuit that was needed and honored. My memory of specifics is foggy, but I believe he could have stayed in Germany, though he would have had to compromise himself. Whatever the specifics, the book has been on my mind more and more lately. Especially in light of the post yesterday where I talked about artists leaving the country. I think of the creative people I know who feel our government pose a tangible danger to it's own populace and are contemplating emigration, and I pray we won't get close to the situation Dieter Huzel experienced.

Can I Be Of Service?

A friend just told me he signed up for the Meisner Progression. He is a casual friend, who I have run into at a number of shows with Next Step, several of which he was cast in (the company doing Neil Simon's Rumors). I have also seen him at Exchange Theatre where I ushered regularly. I also saw him in a show with Edge of the World. He is a very good actor, and what I have noticed in most of his roles is his humanness. When I saw him in Dancing at Lughnasa and The Foursome there was a compassion appropriate to the roles which seemed palpable. We had dinner several weeks ago, where we talked about the Meisner Progression. I told him the pros and cons from my perspective. I hope he gets as much out of the program, and shows compassion for any encouragement I provided.

I am looking forward to the long weekend. No solid plans so far, though I am thinking of finally going to the zoo tomorrow or Sunday. It looks like the weather may cooperate this time. I want to find an animal, or at least narrow down my candidates. I remember last time I found my animal by surprise, and much sooner than I expected. I also want to read the script a few more times, and maybe even do some script work on my laptop. Now that I have put this down on paper, so to speak, I realize I really am craving these activities. Craving an artistic weekend I suppose.

I saw Google news headlines about a couple Saddam statues which were blown up or torn down and melted down to make a statue of a U.S. soldier in mourning. At first I was disgusted with the insensitive arrogance of making a U.S. memorial in Iraq, then to my relief I saw the statue was dedicated at Fort Hood. That's not so bad. Then I realized it was made of bronze looted from the country we invaded. I understand the sentiment, but find it tragically ironic we couldn't be bothered to glorify our sacrifice with materials which weren't stolen.

The deli lady at the cafeteria here at work called me Trouble today. Normally I'm Cool, which I really like though I don't have a clue why she calls me Cool, it sounds so cool and friendly the way she says it. I suppose it's what I get for showing up at the very end of the lunch hour. She is a black woman a only few years older than I, and we usually chat up a storm while she is making me a sandwich. She gets distracted, so it is always a bit of an adventure to see what I'll bite into when I get back to my office. On the up side, I usually get very generous portions in my sandwich. I tend to get much better than average service from people in service jobs. I like to chat with them, remembering all my service jobs, and truly enjoy the interchanges. A real life win-win situation. More people should try it.

Last year when I was working at Microsoft a man at the cafeteria made a scene because he was unhappy with the way his food was prepared. He was loud, obnoxious, and flat out wrong. I don't remember the specifics any longer. I do remember his dish was prepared the proper way, and quite well. I had the same thing. The server did everything he could to make the man feel better, including an offer to recook his serving, or a fresh serving. He was ignored by the man, who just got louder and started mocking the server's dialect. Eventually the manager came out and managed to mollify the man. When I got back to my office I wrote an E-mail to the food service alias, commending the server for how he dealt with this lunatic. The cafeteria manager wrote back with heart-felt thanks, and I told her I'd be willing to relate the incident to the abusive man's manager or Human Resources if they wanted to follow-up. They considered it, and I suspect she contacted the manager, and confirmation was not necessary. I didn't think anybody there associated my name and face, but I did seem to get preferred service after that.

Why are personnel offices called Human Resources? Personnel and least sounds like personal. In this country resources are things we exploit until they are depleted and/or exhausted. It means Human Resources may be a more apt description, but since when have we had truth in advertising?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Random Thoughts

On the political discussion group at work one woman posted a comment which sums up my perception of the Bush administration when I am at my most charitable. It is dead on the money, while being delightfully pixyish and funny. Enough talk, see what you think.
The Bush administration reminds me of the type of guy who will get into a barroom brawl over a girl, and then is surprised when the girl won't go home with him.

During my break I have been catching up on theatre as an audience member, and more importantly reconnecting with friends and family. I don't think any of my friends are high maintenance; acquaintances and some family yes, but not friends. I am trying to figure out another description. I guess people of inertia and people of momentum. My brother and sister are great examples of inertials. Their priorities, schedules, and/or personalities keep them from initiating contact. They are always glad to get together or chat, but it rarely happens unless someone else initiates. They are not idle people, they simply expect some (or all?) people to seek them out. This is not a judgment or evaluation, rather an observation. I can't make a judgment, because shyness or self-centeredness are just two of many equally likely possibilities. Besides, I strive to be less judgmental -- outside of politics.

I noticed this basic dichotomous tendency last year while most of my time was consumed with the Meisner Progression. My folks, well my Dad and Stepmom, and friends like Paula, Steve, and Beth all kept in touch with me. While I consider these to be wonderful people, judgments are as ridiculous as for the complementary types. It is not static either, as it was not long ago I did not call people, except for family every once in a while. I find it is easier to stay in touch with people of momentum. I have quite a few friends I have reconnected with now class is done, and there is a little bit of awkwardness for me. When it feels like a one way relationship you tend to get tired, and there is a little voice who says, "They think you are a pest." It is probably a built in regulator, so you don't in reality become a pest.

I am looking to starting another one year progression, either stage combat or mask. Not as big a commitment as Meisner, but add it to some rehearsal schedules and aside from class breaks I will lose touch with most of the people of inertia. Again, I'll wonder, "Which ones should I try connecting with again?" It usually happens unconsciously. If I think of someone, I generally contact them at least once. There are little informal guidelines I follow. If they did not respond when I contacted them last, or it felt distinctly cool, I take it as a pretty big hint, and generally I only need a couple hints to figure out there is a trend. I suppose I am risking the loss of potentially good friends, while lessening the risk of being an ass.

Yesterday I heard part of Montel again. People were going on about unruly kids. The videos depicted everyday run of the mill brats having tantrums, not Dahmers in the making. I've seen cousins, nephews, nieces, and kids of friends behave the same way and they still seem to turn into considerate productive people as often as their polite counterparts. What troubled me was parents surreptitiously videotaping their children. It wasn't even part of the discussion. Am I the only one who finds it disturbing in an Orwellian sense? Desensitizing children to constant surveillance?

I just searched my writing for this post for "that" and "just." I overuse those words so much, and even keeping it in mind I still found five or six that's and two just's. Of course in doing that I just reintroduced two, oh damn, three, of each.

You want to hear another nerdly tale? I use the stairs at work. I park in the low level of the garage, and walk three flights to my office on the second floor. For lunch I go down to the first floor, walk over to the next building, and take the stairs to the fifth floor. Same thing when I have a meeting in another building. I look at my belly, and figure elevators are another labor saving device which I don't need for buildings with less than ten floors. Now for the nerdly part, aside from writing about it. I know how many stairs there are between floors, and I count them forwards, backwards, half each way, etc. Something to keep me occupied, and forget about the tediousness of it. I'm thinking of switching to alphabetic counting. If I want to find a nerd, he's no further than the nearest mirror.

I made a post to the political discussion group at work, and thus far there have been no responses. For the one or two people that read this, I'd be curious what response you get to the question.

Artists - who needs them anyway?

I am very involved in fringe and professional theatre in this area, going to many shows, as well as acting, building sets, tech directing, etc. for many shows. Consequently I know lots of artists, not just those directly involved in theatre.

I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are very seriously contemplating a move to Canada or Europe. Four years ago the people considering a move simply wanted to work full time as artists for a few years, then come back home. I know there are people who are bugged because money gets spent on artwork that is not loved by 100% of the population. I am not talking about exorbitant or even reasonable fees for a few individual artists, rather the overall support for the artistic community, and the fact it is harder to make a living as an artist in this country than most, maybe all, other western countries.

Now, it seems more artists are leaving or thinking of leaving because of perceived and real threats from their own government, or simply because of assaults on liberty and privacy. Whether you agree with these people or not, it is a widespread perception, and these people are not contemplating working in other countries for a few years, they are thinking of leaving for good.

Has anyone else heard these murmurs?

Are you concerned we may be losing independent voices?

Are you happy the flakes are clearing out?

I really am interested in people's responses either way.