Acting Up

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

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

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Where Did That Week Go?

It's been a while. Busy and a little queasy last week, missing about half a day of work all together. Still busy at work and with the Studio Series production. Starting my mask class this week. Sadly I'll have to drop the French class this quarter. Missed last week due to the queasiness (cramps), and will miss this week for the tech run. I'll be signing up again next quarter or the following, and I'm telling myself I'll study a little to be ahead of the ball next time, but knowing myself fairly well I don't think it will really happen.

Last weekend I finished up meeting with Rachel for Sunday dinner for catch up and some writing exercises, shaking loose from accustomed perspectives. I mentioned I had just learned a new monologue, and Rachel asked to hear it. I deferred until I had a bite to eat. We were both starving. Once I had sufficient blood sugar to track reality again, I went ahead. Still pretty raw. I had only had the text down for a couple days, and it is a piece needing a Southern dialect. When working with a dialect I like to learn the text with an over-heavy dialect, then tone down it down to a realistic level which feels more natural, and allow me to bring out the character instead of the caricature.

It is very enjoyable to share monologues and poetry with friends and relatives, but much harder. An theatre audience while larger (we hope), is not so intimidating. The fear of sucking goes up as the number of listeners goes down. To avoid being the bore who tediously recites their projects or what they enjoy I wait for an invitation.

I just called Freehold because I found the tuition check I had written them, but forgot to include with my not, and the Mask Progression was cancelled. Not enough people showed up. Well, damn. From two classes to no classes in a moment. It gives me the opportunity to work harder on something else, say a show and some audition coaching. There is my silver lining.

This weekend was prepping for the Studio Series. Lots of rehearsal, logistics, and socializing. Saturday I made a total ass of myself. Waiting outside the rehearsal space I gave the occupants an extra minute then started carrying my stuff in. Well, it turns out I'd misread the schedule and we were in the studio/theatre directly above it. Even worse, it was my good friend Rachel's rehearsal. It wasn't a total loss. I recognized a script left on the studio earlier in the week as being for her show, and had picked it up so it wouldn't become part of somebody's library. I tracked down the actor who had gotten a new, script but they still needed one for the production so it won't be going into my library either.

There were several people I recognized from Rachel's classes, and it was good to hear them working on a production. The energy as I erroneously waited outside the door for their room was very good. I am very much looking forward to seeing their show.

I didn't want to disrupt them any more so I left my set table in the loft, and came back when they were done to pick it up. I'm not very happy with my finish job on the table I built, but using one of the venue's tables for nearly half our rehearsal was a good exercise for my peace of mind. When the venue's table was struck and immediately replaced with the table I built, I could see the effort was worthwhile.

We did the designer run last night. Because I agreed to come in during work on Tuesday for tech I was able to get our show run at the beginning so I could get home, sleep, and get to work early today. I'll be damned, I actually did it. Woke up at 6 AM, got to work at 8 AM. Even cooler for me was when Dee (played by Heather) brought out the candle I made.

I got candle-making supplies you might remember, so I could put the guts inside of real wax and get a realistic diffusion of light through the wax. The flicker candle light from the theatrical supply was to strobe-like and I built a second one with a steady bulb, which we liked better. Heather went back, pushed the button in the base of the new candle and came out with it. I was looking at it trying to figure out how to make the light look more realistic, and figured out two things. About that time I saw the venue stage manager, Jenny, turn to Paula with some concern and ask, "That isn't a real candle is it?" Paula pointed up to me, "No, Scott made it." I'll still make the next one better, but I'm pretty tickled with that compliment.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Making Up

Last night after work I glued, clamped, and nailed together the frame for a table top. I have two right angle clamps, and had already clamped and glued for the first round. So, I was putting the two 'L' shaped pieces together to form a rectangular frame, into which the thin oak plywood would go to create the table top.

Shortly after my brief task in my makeshift woodshop night my friend Beth came over. We had take and bake pizzas for dinner, and watched Shrek 2. A very enjoyable evening and show.

I'm at the point were I glue and nail just a few pieces and wait for it to dry, then do a few more. Tomorrow I should be able to make more significant progress as I expect to be able to putty, sand, attach the legs, and stain it. Probably won't be able to start applying the finish until Monday after rehearsal, though it would be nice to get the first coat of varnish applied so I won't worry about people getting stain on them.

Slept in a little today, got a little more woodworking done, gluing and nailing the plywood into the frame. Not as perfect a fit as I'd like, but I figured out a couple tricks for the future which will make the fit much more nearly perfect. I know the work is better than is needed for a set piece, but the craftsman/artist in me wants to do it a lot better. Still, once it is puttied, stained, and varnished it should look pretty damn good. Then I'll see if my plan to make an attractive dark woodgrain finished table with fairly thin legs plays out. I'm still hoping it will diminish the tallness of the table.

I'm in the office today, Saturday. Not so bad as it sounds. I wasn't feeling especially great this week, and let myself get extra sleep. Paid off, I feel great today. Got into work feeling chipper and productive before even arriving. My work projects are like the set building at the moment. Start a process then wait a long time. While I was waiting I saw an audition call for a male actor by Burien Live Theatre for Other People's Money. It is the third call I've seen, so I responded with my schedule restrictions. I suspect the big conflict will be the Studio Series piece I am working on, so I don't expect to hear back. I need to get back on the boards, and figure it is best to get a habit started. Acting charges me up for study and working in various crew and production capacities. I like working as td and set designer/fabricator, but if I don't do some acting it quickly loses its thrill.

Now it is time to go watch the Freehold Studio Series, Week 2. I can't remember who I know that is in it this week, but I am looking forward to seeing them and the show. I was very impressed last week.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Clean Spleen

Louise who wrote and is playing one of the roles in the Studio Series piece we are working on, and I saw a fun show last night at the Bathhouse, Quilters. Heather who is the other actor in the show we are working on for the Studio Series was in Quilters. She was the only one over twenty, and I believe a mentor. The rest were 16 to 20 years old. Every once in a while their lack of life experience showed, but not very often and only for a moment. I was impressed with this group of kids.

They had good stage presence, such that you soon forgot how very young they were until the show was over. I remember one girl who impressed me in particular and came out wearing fuzzy boots, cutoffs with a tube top above the midriff. It was quite funny, the transformation from lovely young woman to cute little kid. It also spoke loads for the work they put into the show and their training. I experienced the same thing several years ago when my father played the Friar in Romeo And Juliet at the Bremerton Community Theatre. The girl playing Juliet was tremendous, and after the show was another cute kid wearing clothes which to my older eyes were silly in that young, fun, and free-spirited way. When an actor of any age can break down those walls which result from differing world views they have done some very nice work.

I love Seattle drizzle. It's in the 50's, so it is not too cold and the rain is in small drops, close together. I didn't much care for it when I was working as a carpenter in college, framing houses and such. Now, I have a walk of fifty yards or so to the building where the cafeteria resides. Unlike others who go down to the garage to skip the wet, or use one of the lobby umbrellas I walk right on out, usually in my short sleeves. It is refreshing and cleansing, and just plain feels good. A short respite from the arid, processed air in the office.

I called my brother earlier today, when I saw a brand new turkey cooker for sale by a co-worker for $35. A while back he told me how great deep fried turkeys were, so I gave him a ring. It just sounds a bit too unhealthy to me, though he swore the meat was less greasy. Don't know that I believe it, but my favorite is the dressing, and somehow I think that would be greasier.

Talking to Eric reminded me of his recent birthday and my trip to the sex shop for his wrapping paper. I was reminded of Japan when I was there. The store was run by two friendly and attractive women. There was a news article during one of my deployments to Japan in the late 80's or 1990. To western folks it was very funny, or at least it was to me. That month had marked the first time less than 50% of condom sales were made by door to door sales people. There was some speculation it was even harder for men to buy them in Japan than in other countries, though more for pride (I don't really understand) than embarrassment. The big reason door to door sales were so successful, is the vast majority of the sales folks were women, who put men at ease with courtesy and flattery. I'll let you speculate on the flattery, as your imagination will have much more fun that way.

Venting my spleen on my last blog entry the other day did wonders for my attitude, and provided a few surprises. My ire is not entirely gone, and I couldn't miss Bush's world class irony and dysfunction in today's headline, "Bush Begins New Term, Vows to End Tyranny." I bet the poor bastards in Gitmo and similar situations are quite pleased to hear it.

The surprises were the nice comment from Ric and my friend Richard's link to it in his blog. I was feeling poisonous, and even after writing my rant I thought about deleting it. About the same number of keystrokes, so no difference in physical effort. Still, there would have been a feeling of holding it in had I done that. Threw caution to the wind, and posted. It was selfish, it felt good, and I got positive feedback. That gives me a guilty pleasure. I could not tell you what the guilt comes from, but it is delicious just the same.

I disable cookies on most my browsers, after finding out first hand how they are used. When you run spell check for blogspot it uses cookies, so I get the same words even though I try to add them. The one which amuses me every time is 'blog', and now 'blogspot'. You'd think those would be in the Blogspot dictionary.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Take a Deep Breath

I've been avoiding political tirades lately. I figure to spare you, gentle reader, and I figure I must sound tedious. Every once in a while I gotta' purge. Think of this as my spiritual emetic, and feel free to skip reading the rest.

Goddammit! Last week the biggest news items seemed to be Graner and Gonzales. I think the tsunami is more newsworthy at the moment, but I'm no media mogul. Back to the 'G' men, one a pawn in the most widely publicized torture incident and the other a conspirator in making torture a part of the American Way. One simply an asshole, the other an embodiment of evil. Where do I start? Where do I anchor my rage? The United States becoming an entity we would have adamantly opposed at any other point in our history? Making it more dangerous for our troops when they're captured? Expediency over morality? Cowardice over inconvenience? What the heck!

One of the things which hit me, probably from being active duty for nearly ten years, was what this will do to morale. When I was in the service, senior folks took the heat for subordinates. Oftentimes it was unfair, but it was crucial for morale and discipline in the ranks. Now the little guys get the heat, and the prime instigator gets promoted to one of the most powerful (and easily abused) offices in the world. What the heck?!

Last year I saw a concert at the zoo, and ended up talking to one of the cops assigned for presence before and after the show. He told me how he had dressed up as a sailor as part of a sting operation when the fleet was in Seattle (for Seafair). Just a little over ten years ago, there was very little drug abuse in the service. In a squadron of roughly 1000 officers and enlisted troops, there averaged less than one serious incident a year. Much lower than in the civilian world. Now it is a rampant problem, creating a drug enforcement crisis when the fleet comes in, something we haven't seen since the 60's and 70's. It's pretty much what the police officer in Port Orchard told me on the ride-along. That's a pretty good indication the morale was already in the crapper thanks to the Bush regime.

I've already expounded on how all the discrimination I've experienced as a veteran came at the hands of conservatives. More... A couple weeks ago I wanted to find out more about Gulf War Syndrome. I have a mild recurrent rash on the edge of my hands and inner arm, and someone suggested it might be Gulf War Syndrome. I couldn't find any good descriptions or treatment ideas while googling, because I kept running across conservative pundits and politicians talking with assumed wisdom, explaining it was all a myth. I can't remember the exact names, but well-known folks like O'Reilly and TownHall as well as some Republican U.S. Senators and/or Congressmen who claim moderation and common sense, yet blissfully dismiss over one hundred thousand veterans as people trying to scam the taxpayers. What the heck!

Last week I also read how Bush wants to fix VA funding by denying most claims, to people he says are not deserving. More morale building. Meanwhile, this popinjay who avoided active duty or combat service, collected and secreted away his military records, which likely document fraud and dereliction of duty, feels qualified to judge real veterans? Now he is trying to appoint Gonzales. Well, Gonzales got an appointment to the USAF Academy in 1975, which he abandoned in 1975 for a more lucrative scholarship deal. How long will he stay if appointed, and what the heck!

Graner has been sentenced to prison for ten years for following Gonzales' torture guidance. (It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Gonzales prosecuted Graner in civilian court to give him something to look forward to in ten years, which is not considered double jeopardy.) What next, are we going to appoint a Gotti as the head of the FBI?

As a combat veteran here is what neo-cons, and in particular their republican co-conspirators mean to me. You are words, without substance, action, or integrity. You say you support the troops, yet every one of you in the white house who is allowed to make decisions has not served in an active duty status (I don't think the one time hero Powell, and now tame lap dog is allowed to make decisions), and most of you actively evaded service in ways less affluent people never could. To be a republican today you have to be intentionally ignorant, or a coward in the most despicable and weaselly sense of the word. I have no respect for you. You disgust me with your broken promises, world class avarice, and bigotry. May you be granted a super virulent, pussy (as in "Containing or resembling pus."), seeping, and persistent version of my recurrent rash, over your entire bloated, pasty, diseased, and perverted bodies. And may I be granted a great big salt shaker. You'll hear me laughing at your pain the way you are accustomed to laughing at the depraved pictures of those you consider heathens being tortured.

Now every place I wrote heck, replace with the right word, which indeed ends in 'ck'. I'd like to call each and every neocon a motherfucker, but what they do makes incest pale in comparison. There is no obscenity which sufficiently denounces the neocons, so I'll settle for Kevin Spacey's favorite, "Rat Bastard."

Kipley's blog for January 16th makes a nice Star Wars comparison. And his language is much nicer than mine.

On a less raving note...

As I was leaving the house Sunday I noticed a "For Sale" sign on the telephone pole in my yard. I get this all the time, neighbors, churches, real estate agents, and political campaigns (only GOP so far) put signs up in my yard without asking or leaving a note. Occasionally they use the telephone pole, but more often they pound them right into the lawn. Admittedly it is not a particularly healthy lawn, as I don't care for mowing, and it is horrible soil. I am not motivated to work my tail off, spend a fortune watering, just to mow more often.

Still, I don't care for the signs, though I will let anyone (except politicos) put a sign in the yard if they have the courtesy to ask or leave a note. I live on a corner across the street from a junior high. Maybe it makes people think my yard is public property? At least I haven't found strangers eating breakfast or using my bathroom in the morning.

You know what? I just can't get very worked up over the signs in my yard anymore. Not when we have war criminals running the country, and taking those kinds of liberty and much more with the American population and the population of the entire world. The "For Sale" sign is still on my telephone pole, and I do intend to take it down but it is not worth any extra effort.

I have French class tonight. When I've reviewed the lesson, I'm not sure what I've learned. I think I will get myself a French-English dictionary, if they have pronunciations. It's the "talk it to learn it" method, but for study not knowing how the words should sound is a nuisance. There are very consistent rules for enunciation, but nothing at all consistent in what parts are silent. To make matters worse I left my book and notebook at home, though I remembered the bag from the same table top. Guess I'm still not firing on all cylinders.

Monday, January 17, 2005


My brother hit the big Four Oh. Saturday was his 40th birthday and an accompanying party. My sister-in-law, Tonia, planned it Saturday and it came off wonderfully. It surprised him big time, which is probably a good reason for planning it at the last second. I'm told my nephew and nieces can't keep those kind of secrets very well. The entertainment was a comedian who did a little juggling and roasting. He was good in that he got people involved and seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. Of course the suspenders and tutu added a bit to the show. He was with us ten or fifteen minutes. Very brave and bold.

I brought Eric a couple gifts, one a set of 40 router bits. A cool woodworking tool, and the 40 count went along with the theme. Also a bottle of Chopin, sort of. I bought a bottle for him, but couldn't find the damn thing so I brought him mine which was only 80% full -- pretty cheesy so I promised him the one I actually bought for him when I find it. I never cared for vodka in the past, but this is very nice. I actually like the taste and the after taste, especially when it is chilled in the freezer. Vodka is about the only thing he likes, so it seemed a nice thing to get, and he kept it hidden letting the rest of the guests help themselves to another premium vodka someone had brought for him.

I had the most fun with the router bits. I went to "Love Packages" and got some racy gift wrap. Luckily it was Playboy naughty, and not Hustler. After the present was wrapped I got some gaff tape, and cut out little black squares and strips to put over the naughty bits. I figure the next morning my fourteen year old nephew was carefully peeling off the tape, as I wrapped it so Eric could open the top and slip the case out. My little private bit of humor was honoring his republican bias, thinking of Ashcroft obscuring lady justice's breasts. I know, it's a stretch, but it entertained me and kept me from feeling even more stupid for placing pieces of tape over nipples and butt cracks. My roommate was laughing his ass off at me.

Yesterday I wasn't feeling especially great so I slept in as much as possible. That queasy almost sore throat and belly feeling, that ain't sick but ain't exactly right either. I'm assuming it is not the beginning of a flu, since I had my shot one day before this year's shortage was declared. If it is just a cold that's fine, because the cold is generally not so bad as the onset. After my late morning nap, I made it just in time for the last show of the Studio Series, week one.

Two of my Meisner classmates, Don and Donna, were performing and Mark, Patty, and myself were there to see our old classmates. It is always great to see them, and watching the show got me itching again. I want a meaty role. Office Welch was fun, and I was able to do some decent work, but I want something visceral to work with. I'm watching the audition notices and as our show approaches, shows I can start afterwards should be calling for auditions soon. I hope my M-W class schedule doesn't get in the way.

Watching Don and Donna work I realized I miss deep work, and I only know of one way to find it, and that is to look for it. Let's see, Rumors closed November 21st. My goal is to be cast in something again by February 21st. Scary, as I'm still looking to work in unfamiliar places and making these wild statements here makes me feel obligated.

I got home and did several hours of woodworking, getting ready to build a custom table for The Gift the show I am working on for Week Four of the Studio Series. We want a table slightly taller than standard, for our ghost to sit beneath, and I figured stained oak would allow me to build something with thinner legs and a color that would prevent it from looking too out of proportion. It's a bit extra work, but I'll use the same stain I used for a rolling oak shelf I built a couple years ago for another show. It is now a rolling entertainment center, and the table will match nicely. I'm starting to furnish bits of my house with set pieces, and wearing clothes I buy for costumes. Art nerd.

This morning I got up at 6:30 AM, still felt crappy and went back to sleep. I felt better a couple hours later and decided to go to work. So, I missed my 9 AM goal again. I really want to make that goal. I think, though I suppose time will be the real arbiter.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Four Oh

40%. Not really a 4.0, but my inner republican changed the scale to make me appear divine to fools and knaves. And like all things republican, anyone willing to use the intellect of their inner 10 year old can see through the 'spin'.

I'm not satisfied, but I console myself it had been several weeks since I came into work before 9:00 AM, and I can't remember the last time I did it twice in one week. Our rehearsal ran a little late last night, and since we are having an eleven day break, there was more than the usual gabbing afterwards. Getting home after 11:00 PM, and putting my dinner in the microwave I decided right there I wasn't going to get up early to get into the office by 9 AM.

Even shortly after 9:00 AM it was still cold. I hadn't ridden the bike this week, and didn't want to let that record stand. When I bought my good motorcycle, the Moto Guzzi (my favorite, and the cheapest cruiser or Euro-cruiser available) I commuted by motorcycle at least one day a week for over a year. That seems an admirable resolution for 2005. Resolutions really should be fun.

After work I'm off for the optician at Sears. That is what my insurance lamely covers. It will be touch and go. They take longer than most places, and I'm hoping to have my new glasses by January 26th. I'm going to the opera again, and would like to be able to see the action and the reader board without having to resort to binoculars or contortionist squinting. A lot better for night driving too, as the glare is a little more pronounced now that I'm no longer 20/20.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bigger Life, Littler Ego

So, in before 9 AM at the office two days this week. Tomorrow will be the tie breaker. Will I have made it in early more or less than 50% of the time this week. So far, it pretty much matches the times I skipped my evening drink ritual by count. The odd part, my office arrival times don't seem to map to my when I have my evening rituals in any concrete manner.

Tuesday Paula called, all worried about hurting my feelings. Rather than let her go on I said, "You don't want to use the flats for the show." Yup, I called it. The only thing that would have hurt my feelings with the flats would have been if they looked crappy or didn't stand up straight. I'm pretty comfortable with the vagaries of theatre. In fact I love them.

The worry is for the first time I won't be at all performances of our show, so I won't be part of the crew striking and setting between performances in the Studio Series. I worried that might be the case, but proceeded anyway. I figured having four flats, able to make an eight foot wall fifteen feet long was a good start for the theater I hope to get started this year.

I'm not ego-less, but pretty damn close when compared to what I remember of my earlier years. There is something in me more interested in making a show work, than stroking my ego. Ironically, it ends up getting more strokes for my ego in the long run. Don't know exactly when the change happened, as my feelings were very easily bruised for most of my life. I believe getting deeply involved and invested in theatrical productions on and back stage were the path for me. Canceling a show will upset me, but abandoning a set piece doesn't. The show, rather than my part in it, is my focus. Subtle distinction maybe, but it keeps me sane, and makes it easy to take a big part in the production process.

I'm off to rehearsal again in a little bit, and between you and I, not having the flats is a blessing too. They are a bit awkward for one person, and the constant lugging won't be missed.

Next Step is doing another show, directed by my good friend Rachel. Lani Brockman, the artistic director of Studio East, is directing a community production of The Music Man at the same time. Both sound like fun shows, I'd love working on either, and damnit I don't have the time. Unless they change their rehearsal schedules, and that ain't gonna happen for one guy in a medium or large cast. I'm looking forward to seeing both shows. There is an added pleasure in seeing shows with people you know deeply involved.

I saw Lani this morning when she spoke to my service club. She and Paula are the two who read my script The Lie. I was flattered when she asked if she could use it for her scene study class. I didn't hear back and figured it never happened. What a lovely surprise it was this morning, when she told me she liked it so much she wants to use it again next year! Woo hoo!

Well, traffic sucks today, so I got to launch early. Later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

To Post Or Nuke The Post

Like others, I've been thinking of creating a second blog for writing. Not so much for writing, but as an archive location for projects, and different rewrites. I put up a version of The Thai Getaway, dating it 1999, allowing me to have a clean page, with links to the various projects and versions. Once I get more entries I hope to have all the writings archived, so they can be brought up one at a time.

My hesitation was putting my work out where all can see. Pretty silly, as I've found I have to ask more than twenty people to get one person to actually read and give me feedback on something. Not likely to get a stampede of readers suddenly stomping on my ego. Anyway, I found an old version of a piece on my work computer, and with some hacking got the format 50% of the way there. I believe I've a newer version at home, and I'm doing a total rewrite. The challenge with this one, is it started life as a monologue exercise, and now it is stiff and stilted. Hence the long break and the current radical rewrite. I'll be experimenting with this a bit, and if I don't nuke it I'll try posting my current rewrite progress later. I'd not recommend reading the work unless you like to see a very ucky draft, or are interested in it's evolution.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Resolute ... Sort Of

One of my resolutions, or rather goals in the next year, is to start arriving at work by 9AM. Several reasons and related goals behind this one, mundane and artistic.

I've been arriving around 10 AM, honoring the 10 AM - 4 PM core hour requirement. Before theatre, when I worked in similar situations at Microsoft, I got in around 7:30 AM so I could leave earlier. Well, I want to gain an hour or two in my days; more time for writing and working on my theater idea.

As expected it involves a choice. I lay me down and get me up in a leisurely manner. In the morning I make a quadruple shot of half-caff espresso, cook a small meal, read the newspaper headlines and whatever interests me, do some or all of the crossword, and read the comics. In the evening I usually prepare a drink and such, and relax to a movie or a little web surfing. I could scrap either routine and give myself the added flexibility. I figure on scrapping the drink and such. I like the idea of doing a little research or writing at the end of the day. Now, on to building up a new habit.

I've changed habits in the last few years. I used to read for hours after work, and the drink routine got me to the sack much quicker. Now, I'm tired of that, and want to do something else I enjoy. The dicey part is getting the new routine going. I know from experience I won't miss the drink routine, it's just remembering the new routine...

Related to that goal are the goals of getting more writing done and working towards establishing a theater. Typically I go to work, then straight to class or rehearsal, getting home between 9:00 PM and 11:30 PM. On the later nights I won't get much more done, but my habit is to mix a drink as soon as I get home, and while I'm waiting a half hour or so while it to melts to my taste, prepare dinner. Giving up the drink ritual, which ends productivity for the day should get me more sleep time and more creativity time. Writing, as well as planning and working towards a theater space are artistic pursuits for me.

Now that it's down for you to see, let's see if I really want to do it...

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Night Off

Busy at work. More than usual, and the priority balancing is a challenge of it's own. It's nifty the way a work/life balance makes it easier, almost fun, to deal with. Today was my officemates 25th birthday, and I was just invited to lunch with her and the woman in the next office. A couple time sensitive fires, and I really couldn't leave. Damn.

Wednesday we had our rehearsal. I brought along my first pair of flats. Damn, but they looked better than I expected. The gap for the hinges looked bigger, but much less distracting than I feared. The big surprise was how well the hinged legs and sandbags worked. The wall is fairly sturdy, and looks to be standing perfectly perpendicular. That was my secret wish, I figured I'd next be trying to figure out a way to shim the walls to make them stand straight. Now, I'll be working to be as picky in my measurements and such on the second pair to see if I can repeat the feat.

In addition to tech directing (not much to do here), set design, and set building I'm stage managing the rehearsals. We were caught in the whole actor/director discuss towards the end of the first act, and taking about ten minutes a line. "Okay," I said, "Let's go straight through the last two minutes so we can break for a bit. I want to get something to eat." Paula told me I could go and get food. I don't like to leave a rehearsal, but more important is there was a method to my madness. We needed a break, and stopping right before the end of the act would leave a sense of not succeeding. We were at the point where one discussion was just a counterpoint to the last, because we were on a new line. Lost sight of the forest. I very rarely push hard, but I wanted people to have a sense of completion and to stop focusing on individual trees. Little things, but I believe I prevented some frustration. Once we were out of the over-analysis rut, there was a little, "Oh, now it makes more sense." I smiled to myself on that. I really was getting cranky.

I don't remember getting cranky when hungry. Not until a couple months ago when I started eating breakfast, breaking a habit which went back to junior or senior high school. Now I get impatient, even cranky, when the blood sugar gets low. Something about taking your body out of starvation mode.

Last night I saw Noises Off at the Seattle Rep. I'd seen a lackluster production in nearly four years ago at the Village Theatre. This time it was very well done, and four years of theatrical training and experience made it a very different show. I was trying to remember when I saw it, and did a search, finding an old issue of The Stranger. I noticed a number of other shows I saw, as this was my most active year seeing shows. It was a very good set of shows. For fun I'll tell you what I remember at a high level.

The Master And Margarita Great! It was so good I lost track of the beautiful naked redhead who was on stage for a long time.
West Side Story Great! A friend of mine was cast in this.
Hamlet Very Good. The audience was not respected, and the cuts too deep.
Noises Off Fair. The two worlds were not distinct.
A Raisin In The Sun Great. This aged well, it wasn't as daring today regarding race relations, but it is still a powerful story of people.
Art Great. A wonderful show done very well, with my favorite long (ten minute) monologue to date.
Killer Joe Great! This was my first time at the Empty Space Theatre, and the set, direction, and acting were wonderful and innovative as I have come to expect from them.
Jet City Improv Great. Though this old temporary venue was painful, literally and physically.
Return To The Forbidden Planet Good Fun - I enjoyed it though the lead was painfully off-key.
*I Hate Hamlet Very Good. I went because I'd memorized the closing monologue, and I still love that monologue.

*Okay, this wasn't playing at the time, it was an audition call for a show I saw later on.

So, back to Noises Off last night. It was a present for niece, but the day before the show her gymnastics team told her they had a meet the next day. So, I went with my sister-in-law Tonia, and her friend Mrs. Lee. We had a rushed dinner before the show, because traffic delayed us -- a lot. I loved the show from the opening line.

It had all the subtleties and hysterics I heard in the script the first time I saw it, and wished I could see on the stage. You may remember my recounting of being utterly lost at one point in the last show I did as a principle, in November. My little push to get things rolling in rehearsal on Wednesday, you better remember that. If not, go read the first few paragraphs of this journal entry again. I was constantly thinking of my stories, and those of friends through the whole show. Anyone involved in theatre owes themselves a seeing good production of Noises Off.

Now, I'm off to Bellingham for a bit. I'm in a hurry to leave, so I'll skip proofreading tonight.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Another Fine Mess

Last night I got out my new router to trim the edges of my first flat. No problem except for the one screw which was too close to the edge. The bit didn't have any trouble though the sparks were a bit disturbing. Surprisingly the cutter wasn't damaged or terribly dulled, so I continued on. Worked like a champ. One more to go, then the other two flats this weekend.

I set the router up on a high shelf. Because of the limited space in the garage I had to open the garage door to make things easier. Once I swapped out the flats, I had the next one to trim up on my make do work benches, an old folding table and a rolling counter from a previous show. The rolling 'bench' is the greatest, and once I have room to build some real benches, they will all be on rollers.

Then I closed the garage door. The cord which I hadn't bother to roll up caught on the door, dumping the new router to the floor breaking the sturdy plastic plate on the base. After a little monologue, I saw it was just the three points where the screws attached the plate which broke, leaving the entire thing intact. I drilled three new holes, then re-drilled them part way allowing the screw heads to be recessed. Worked fine, though I'll still replace the plate.

Then I noticed the bit was bent. Damn. I tapped it with the hammer, afraid the tool steel would snap when trying to straighten it. Too cautious, nothing happened. Took a deep breath and gave it a solid whack. It didn't snap, and looked to be perfectly lined up again. Wow.

I started trimming the second flat, got a cut just long enough to tell everything was in order again. Almost. There was a tremendous spark from the router motor a startling bang, then nothing. Damn again. The cord felt floppy, and it slipped easily out of the protective sheath attached to the housing. I was glad for the sheath which kept the short from going through the housing and/or myself. The cord burned off clean and straight, nearly as neat as wire cutters. Looking at the lonely cord on the floor it occurred to me, had it been a messier burn one of the wires could have been sticking out ready to zap me. Given the previous chain of events I was rather surprised I got off without a nasty shock. In a gingerly rush I stepped over the cord and unplugged it from the extension cord.

This is a newer model, very similar to my bargain display model.

It's a Small(er) World

Last night I found out a story I had read involved the tragic death of Beverly's aunt, Mary McClinton. Interesting for several reasons. I don't often read Nicole Brodeur's column because I find it inconsistent. One day she seems mentally acute and rigorous, another more like a radio whine jockey, doing nothing more than stereotyping and mocking things she doesn't like or understand. Sadly, it is my experience the mean and lazy articles have become the norm for her.

Not this time. I thought it was an important item, in both the story of a preventable tragedy and the surprising accountability assumed by a medical institution. When I read it again with the knowledge of Bev's connection I was affected quite differently. For one thing, I didn't feel any tears the first time I read it.

Beverly was one of my classmates in the Meisner Progression last year, and the old class is coming together to give her a hand. She is also in all our thoughts and prayers to our various deities.

The article:

Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist
World will miss Mary McClinton

The holidays have come, life goes on, but none of it heals the death of Mary McClinton.

She died Nov. 23, two weeks after she was injected with antiseptic solution — mistaken for marker dye used for X-rays — at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. During those two weeks, McClinton, 69, begged the nurses to relieve her pain. Her leg was amputated in an attempt to save her.

When she finally died, Virginia Mason made national news for its candor in handling the accident: Its hospital quality chief, Dr. Robert Caplan, publicly apologized to the family, detailed what went wrong and called for increased safety measures.

"... Perhaps the only way we can make our apology real is to do everything we can to prevent medical errors in our system," reads a statement on the hospital Web site.

Extraordinary words about an extraordinary death.

Neither should eclipse the loss of an extraordinary life.

"Let's not lose this in the apology: This was a great woman," said Lawrence Kahn, the Bellevue attorney representing McClinton's family. "This lady could dance between congressmen and beggars without missing a beat."

The family has not begun settlement talks with the hospital. They first want to establish McClinton's legacy.

"All I want to do is make sure that while my mother might have died, the memory of her will not," said Doug McClinton, 32, one of four sons.

So The Mother Mary McClinton Foundation will carry on her work — a litany of generosity and patience too long to list. She raised her siblings, her own children, and countless others as a foster parent. She was a tireless volunteer in schools and churches. She advocated for the poor and women, and against racism. She rode the bus. A lot.

"My mother did a lot for people, and I think they should be more like her," Doug McClinton said.

He told me of Christmases at his mother's house. "There was always somebody I didn't know at our table."

And if someone couldn't make it, McClinton had her sons deliver plates of food.

"I had about 300 people I called 'brother' because I was told to," Doug said. "I had no idea who they were, but they became part of the family."

That family grew big enough to warrant three different memorial services over the past several weeks: one in Everett, one in Juneau, Alaska, and another in Little Rock, Ark., where Mary McClinton was buried beside her father.

The Everett service was attended by Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, Everett Port Commission President Don Hopkins and Sonics Coach Nate McMillan.

"If you knew my mother, you would not have been amazed at the crowd," Doug McClinton told me. "People gravitated toward her because she was strong."

It will take that for the family to get through this season, and to reach another of peace and renewal.

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

She'll pick out a star for Mary.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I'm All Set

When I wasn't out for celebrations I was working on the set for the upcoming show in the Freehold Studio Series. The big project is the flats. For non-theatrical folks, flats are a lightweight frame with a covering, often 1/8" plywood or canvas. They are painted with scenery or to look like walls. I'm using 1/8" hardboard which is a fine, dense particle board. It looks like the ubiquitous pegboard of the 60's and 70's without the holes. I'm using 1"x4" utility lumber for the framework.

I'm building four flats, two 4'x8', and two which are 3'6"x8'. They will be hinged together so I have two pairs. Each pair will consist of one of the wider flats, and one of the three and half foot wide ones. They are to be hinged for folding with the painted sides facing inward, for protection when transporting. The differing widths allow me to add things like light switches and thermostats without having to remove them for folding the flats.

I had to build custom legs, to account for the corner braces, yet allow them to fold into the framework. I am trying to keep the storage space minimal, while keeping them self sufficient. My goal is to be able to carry them into the space, unfold them, swing out the legs, drop sand bags on the legs, and clip the two pairs together giving us an eight foot tall wall, fifteen feet long. My worries? Well, the ceilings in my house are low and I won't be able to see how the damn things look until I get them to the rehearsal space. Will the gaps between the panels look alright, or will I need to recess the hinges to change the tiny gap to a miniscule gap? Will I need to putty the screws before the final coat of paint? Will they line up near enough to perpendicular? I'll only have one pair painted and hinged together for rehearsal on Wednesday. That way I can do the extra preparation up front on the second pair if needed. Typically I am way too picky, and with the time available and tasks to do I don't want to spend the extra time unless it makes a difference.

I also have a table to alter. I built it for The Marlboro Man in 2002. The legs are too short, and the bracing too obtrusive, and it of course needs to be painted. It was built short for a stage on risers, and now needs to be a couple inches taller than standard so the actor can sit under it. The bracing skirt on the front will need to go so the actor can be seen better, and so she won't whack her head.

One of the other bits I need to do is a candle. We aren't allowed to have open flames in this venue, so I'll be modifying a flicker candle. Paula thought all we needed an appropriately painted tube to mount it. I thought about it a little and figured that would be fine for a taper, but for a larger candle I didn't think it would look good. On fat candles the light diffusing through the wax is more apparent. So, I got a mold, wax, and some supplies to pour my own candles. (Guess what I'll be giving away next year for Christmas presents!) The prop candle will have a hollow core to contain the battery and electronics, and should let the flicker light diffuse naturally. I used a flicker candle last year for a peat fire, and it worked great. I had an extra which was broken, but a little solder fixed that, so I didn't have to tear apart the peat log. The theatrical quality flicker candles are a lot more than the Fred Meyer variety and a hundred times better. They actually look like candle flames. So the time to pop it apart and solder the wayward prong back to the little circuit board was time well spent

It's not acting for me in this one, but I surely do enjoy the set design and fabrication work. I think I mentioned before, I've gone from building from rough specs from the director, to actually designing the set. A fusion of my experience backstage, experience and study for onstage work, and my undiminished love of theatre. I may not be going to a matriculating program but I have been getting a well balanced and broad education. It is fun to think of ways to produce an environment, then figure how to implement it. Besides, I keep getting cool tools. Someday, I should look for classes on set design to get more ideas...

Ups And Downs

I haven't been on the internet since my last entry. Hadn't planned on the break, was just happily busy. Just ate lunch and caught up on about half the blogs I read regularly. (Yes Kipley, I'll send you my resolutions. My first is to make some, figuring out my meaningful goals...)

A very strange year it has been for me. Personally it has been a year of tremendous spiritual and artistic growth. Globally it has felt like my country is standing on the street outside Armageddon's window hollering, "What the fuck are you going to do about it pussy!" I pray Mr. Armageddon is busy elsewhere.

The tsunami tragedy is a case in point for the rage and shame my country engenders in me, a decorated combat veteran. When I first heard about it, I thought we should pledge in the neighborhood of $100 Billion over the long term, much less than we are spending to punish the Iraqi population. The initial pledge was $35 Million, about 1/3000th of what I thought appropriate. I can't help but feel the viciously meager offer was intended to make the stingy offer of $350 Million look good. Now the neo-cowards can say, "We gave ten times as much as we should have!" Even so, will we ever make good on the promise?

My commute to Paula and Steve's for New Year's Eve was a case in point for the wonder in my life. I was wondering how many of our other mutual friends would be there as I rode over. I realized how rich and numerous my friendships are, mostly as a result of discovering the inner artist. I remembered when Paula and I started working on Marlboro Man over 2 and half years ago. A couple months into the process the three of us worked together on brochures and posters. Paula kept telling me how much Steve liked me. It was obvious she wanted us to get along, and I was terribly flattered. Anyway, I don't see how anyone could not like Steve. Remembering how we met, and have been very close friends ever since reminded me of all which is worth remembering in this life.