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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

You Knew It Was Coming...

Political vent...

So the mound of festering shit expelled by the puss-ridden bowels of a gleeful cabal of diseased CEO's which we now call president was on tv this morning. Wow, that apt description makes me feel better, something vilely poetic which delights in the writing. Like waking up refreshed after a tedious nightmare.

We have to continue diplomatic efforts in North Korea until they are utterly and totally exhausted, because waging war is the very last option. Um, forgot about Iraq already did we? Of course, back then it was assumed non-christian brown people would not fight back in the face of the combined might of Halliburton and friends.

Reform is needed for Social Security? His idea of reform is turning it over to the very entities it was created to protect people from. Remember? So that in the face of market crashes and depressions when people's retirements are in effect redistributed to the coffers of those who have a long history (hundreds of years) of looting retirement funds, directly or through the breaking up of companies. Doesn't the word reform generally indicate something new, not a return to the dark ages? Something silly, like making the wealthy pay the same PERCENTAGE as everybody else to social security? Of course that would end the manufactured crisis...

'w' whines incessantly about democrats and moderate republicans playing politics by balking at his appointments, without a hint that appointing reactionaries (who even his darlings on the US Supreme Court have harshly criticized) might be divisive politics. And non-judicial appointees like Bolton, Rice, Gonzales, etc.? Another dirty joke.

Life must be protected at all costs, so undifferentiated stem cells must not be touched. Every embryo is sacred. Why then did 'w' refuse to answer the question about the fertility clinics which create thousands upon thousands of surplus embryos? Obviously, these clinics need to stop creating embryo's, even if they are large donors. Then, what about established life like a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians. Of course, they are not christian and white so they really don't count to 'w'.

We must bring democracy to the world? I guess we have to give them ours to do it, seeing how many freedoms we have lost to this administration. At least someone is getting them. Not likely.

Still harping on a few ten's of millions of dollars which were likely scammed by some shady characters at the UN. How about tens of billions scammed by the ruthless mercs screwing our men and women in uniform (Halliburton and friends again) in Iraq? I guess a ripoff at least a thousand times as big doesn't count, since it is all money from the US taxpayers, and committed by US sponsored corporations.

Like the myth of democrats over-using the filibuster, when the gop used it much, much more to thwart Clinton. Have the neocons come to believe their own lies?

I hate to admit it, but we as a nation deserve the looting of the taxpayer, and the loss of liberty and privacy. As a nation we embraced the fear peddled by these goons, and when you act from cowardice, you get what you ask for. Hopefully, someday we can once again make real courage an attribute shared by over half the country.

To finish up on this, the real Memorial Day, we can only pray someday the schemes represented by w's speech will be nothing more than a bad memory. My prayer is that day will come while we are still breathing. Overly optimistic? What the heck?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dream Cruise

The last several evenings have been uncomfortable because of the heat. Even though the weather cooled yesterday, the house was still thoroughly warm. Sleeping was fitful at best, and I had short bits from a couple dreams that persisted. I don't usually retain much, and the short scenes were tableau-like in their intensity and meaning. Last night, or the night prior...

My mother, at the height of her lucidity and meanness was apparently recovered from the physical and mental depredations she's inflicted on herself. This is not my "remembering mom" judgment, but the feeling and observation I experienced in the dream itself. Once again she was living in the modest trailer she'd picked and I purchased for her and Jack. He wasn't there. There she was sitting at the living/dining room end, which was more airy, cheery, and spacious than the actual trailer. I sensed something not quite right. Then I saw it. Several bottles of clear liquor around her, each bottle at a different level. I don't know if any were empty. She'd started drinking again. I knew I had to immediately get away from her for my safety and well-being. She would not be satisfied with the maintenance drinking and ruthless manipulation of old. I don't know how I knew this, but I vaguely recall it coming from something she said.

On thinking about this the following morning, I wondered if it had anything to do with my getting tired of my evening drink ritual. Whenever I drink I remember all close relatives on that side of the family who drink are alcoholics. That wasn't it though, the dream held other meanings, more personal yet slightly contradictory. She stopped drinking in 1981 or 1982, and I should give her credit for that. I don't have any idea how close she came to defeating the problem with prescription abuse; any success was fleeting. I do need to remember when I am around her there was a success. I wonder how closely her meds are monitored now, and if she supplements them with what she can get at the nearby 7-11. It doesn't matter I realized, I should still credit her for getting away from liquor.

The other meaning was what to do about her. Since October 30th, 2002 I have seen her one time, last Christmas at my brother's house when I was pretty cool towards her. Lately I've wondered if I should allow a little reconnection. This dream tells me no, or more likely advises caution. Between the two meanings, I hope I can be more personable if I see her again. Remembering that she has beat some demons, and that she still has the ability and will to wound others can make the next encounter less awkward, maybe even pleasant. It also helped me realize the joy I have now has changed the resentment for losing my childhood at six or seven to a distant memory. It is a part of me, and no longer a living issue. I don't have to deny my hate, it whimpered away into the night. That is nice, because I would like to have the good times as a more prominent memory.

The night before was a dream which holds more important meaning for me. I was taking a shower, and was washing with a large bar of Ivory, somewhere between the normal size and a VHS tape. The soap was sloughing away with something. It wasn't slippery, rather it was slightly difficult to slide it over my body somewhat like rosin. Some invisible grime or filth was rapidly consuming the soap as I washed, without lather. Finally as I got to my last foot the soap was down to the size where you try to decide if it is time to open a fresh bar, but I was all done. I experimented and it slid and lathered and I experienced joy at the way I was able to make myself rapidly sudsy.

That dream just seemed strange for only a second or two when I remembered the following afternoon. I have been in the process of shedding a lot of garbage for several years, metaphorical and physical. I expect to achieve a place where I feel I have done the bulk of the shedding in the next year or three. There will be a joy when I get to the point I am aiming for, as I move onto the next step. That is what the dream meant to me. Partly I'm sure because I've experienced a similar transition already, when I learned to stop living with the blues the vast majority of the time. There was certainly a joy with that, and a moving on to bigger things.

The Artful Venter

Today at the zoo turned out to be productive. It wasn't enjoyable.

A little Spring cleaning was on the docket for this weekend, but didn't happen. Other things were accomplished. The weekend started in a leisurely manner, getting up with just enough time to get ready for rehearsal on Saturday without rushing. There wasn't quite enough time to suit up and such for the motorcycle, so it was a commute in the truck. Rehearsal was good, though it is rough in a play like this where there aren't many lines or appearances, so it's mostly kicking one's heels. It does provide time to daydream a bit, and build the character so it is not wasted time. Generally that kind of work is nearly as productive during rehearsal or backstage as in a more meditative state.

That was challenging. A longish paragraph in my journal without using the word "I."

So, there were some nice discoveries in my characters during rehearsal. Afterwards energy was low, and my stop at the office to work for a few hours was more like 30 minutes, and instead of cleaning when I got home I read for a couple hours. I was in a very weird state. I felt lonely. Can't remember the last time I felt lonely. It has been years and it made no sense, since I'd just come from a five hour rehearsal with a lot of people who enjoy each other. A bit of the past which didn't need to show up. As long as there was that reminder of days gone by I read to relax away the feeling. It served to remind me how enjoyable reading is, though there was no way I wanted to keep it up for as long. Soon, it was time to cook dinner, and contemplation. Aaron is up in Canada this weekend, spending the holiday with Sonya, leaving me the house to myself. Dad suggested I use the time for some thinking about where I want to go with my life right now.

It is all he meant. My folks, Dad and Joyce, are so wonderfully supportive. Whether I continue along as I'm doing now, invest more of myself in theatre and art in general, or pull back doesn't matter. They encourage me to follow my dreams, and if that is art, that is what they encourage me to do. Pretty damn cool, eh?

The more I think on it, the more I want to make a bigger commitment to art. It means tearing down some things I have built, and that makes me apprehensive. I realized at work last week that while I enjoy Expedia and my group more than any place I've worked, it is not enough. The isolation inherent in the high tech world and the isolation it promotes over human interaction does not satisfy. Lord, is that where that feeling of loneliness came from? We insert ourselves into a small office or cubicle, give our life-force to our tasks for the day, go home, stopping on the way to pay for some gas at the pump, bag up groceries at the self-checkout lane, and insert ourselves into our house without having directly interacted with another human all day, where we can shop online. Those with kids put them in this class or that activity, limiting outside exposure as much as possible. It's safer, more nurturing... Good training and conditioning too. It occurs to me a big part of my job is 'shielding' people from human interaction. Matrix is not so fanciful as we think. With these thoughts spinning around in my head, is it any wonder my day job and life in high tech is becoming less attractive?

I had to clear those thoughts before I could think. They are rebellious and independent, but those are not things I want to seek for their own sake. That is a big stumbling block, leading to free floating resentment and anger. It is as much or more of a block to finding my path than the perceived comfort provided by my day job. Obviously there are things I want to say, and once I freed myself from them I could truly think. It didn't take long. Getting there was the challenge. In the quiet I chose art. A lone bird just chirped beautifully, soulfully. Tomorrow I may choose something else. That's a given, but today I know where I want to go.

Saturday evening I didn't feel like having my ritual drink. The night before I'd had a third drink, albeit a very small one, and fifteen minutes later realized I didn't really want it. Wasn't at all difficult to skip the drink on Saturday. Even the normal one or two drinks generally mean I'm giving up a couple hours of the day, just to relax. I was tired of it, and I've learned to listen a touch better. It was just my evening ritual, a habit, and I was bored with it.

Woke a little earlier than I'd expected, especially with the hot evening. We had quite a heat spell with temperatures in the nineties, which finally ended Sunday. Even in my basement it was uncomfortably warm Friday and Saturday night, and I didn't sleep well either night. Still, I woke up in time to get to the zoo fifteen minutes or so after they opened on Sunday. The elephants and patas monkeys resonated, and after rereading my notes since, I was not sure which characters are which.

After the elephants, I was walking and wondering if I'd find another animal. I didn't think so. "Hi Scott." Wow, it was Eric who is taking the Meisner Progression this year. I was wondering how he recognized me from behind, figuring it was a fishing call to see if I'd turn. There is any shortage of big fellows like me, so I was curious. I guessed he was there finding an animal for his final scene for class, and he surprised me again. "What Chekhov play are you working on?" I didn't remember telling him about this project. We chatted a while, longer than either of us intended, and went on our ways. He was having trouble finding an animal, and I was thinking how I was always surprised at what I found. An elephant for the servant role, then I encountered the patas monkeys. Could be either the Passer-By or the Stationmaster, though after today I know it will be the latter.

On the way to the outdoor patas monkey area I realized how Eric recognized me. I pulled my script out of my back pocket to check something. I like to carry my script at all times, even if I'm not reading it, and even put clear packing tape or shelf paper on them for protection. Then, I put it back and pulled it out of my pocket again. This time I pinched my thumb to the cover where the pocket covered the script. Sure enough in the top right hand corner was my name, with the playwright's name, Anton Chekhov, in larger letters below it where it could be seen. End of mystery on how Eric recognized me and knew I was working on a Chekhov piece.

Then dashed off to rehearsal, which was almost cancelled because one of the primary character's plane wasn't in yet. We worked anyway, and I studied my notes on the animals and the daydreaming and there was a transition of sorts. As the characters started differentiating more in my mind the urge to satisfy the future audience faded. Rather the desire, a platonic lust, to inhabit these different characters started to rise. I still want to honor the audience, the means of doing so just became more self-satisfying. Selfish generosity. I nearly used that as my title today.

I was very drained when I got home. I was. Nothing more, just existed for a bit. The weather changes, the characters starting to crack, the big changes I'm contemplating, all landed. I was just getting some food prepared. Sliced potatoes about half an inch thick and marinated for an hour or a bit less in balsamic vinegar, then warm air dried in the oven at about 100 degrees, and brushed with olive oil, then sprinkled with seasoning and salt. I put them on the upper rack of the gas barbecue which was at max. Then the steak. Cooked the steak about eight minutes, the potatoes about half as long. This experiment is onto something. The potatoes need a different spice combination, and a light sauce or butter when served. With the right combo they will be extremely good.

Just as I was getting ready to put things into the heated grill Paula called. Star Wars was about to start and did I want to join them? Yes and no. I still felt drained, didn't want to rush, but my friends were going. Ultimately, I begged off. Good thing, as I wouldn't have been good company. I felt drained the rest of the evening. Still didn't feel like my evening ritual. Maybe I'll change the ritual for a wile.

I got to the zoo about a quarter after ten, 45 minutes after they opened today. A totally different crowd. Yesterday's Sunday crowd was nothing like the last day of the holiday crowd. I found myself getting really cross at the people who talked incredibly loud in the exhibits where big signs told them to be quiet for the animals which were easily startled and upset. Then I started getting pissed at all the people with strollers bigger than my truck who seemingly used them to shove people out of their way, misdemeanor assaults I thought. Plus all the other little pushings and rudenesses. And, I couldn't find another animal. Nothing resonated, and though I got some nice digital snaps of the animals I picked yesterday, they didn't resonate for me today.

There are a couple stone lions along one of the paths, and it struck me yesterday how sad the one I first saw was. Lost, weary, miserably majestic. A tragic figure. I wondered if he felt joy or despair when the children gleefully climbed over him. I wanted to see if I could capture the look, and while I got the same hit today I won't know if I captured the feeling until I load the image. If so, I'll post it here in a few days. I suspect I'll need to return with a tripod. Maybe that was my animal. Then it hit me. My animal was me. The human. The Passer-By is beaten down by life, living among the Russian gentry who are oblivious of the menials around them. I found myself comparing the stereotypical Russian gentry of 1900 with stereotypical (perceptions?) of American behavior today. Good juice for the character, though not a cheerful view of our society.

It was a poignant discovery. Makes me wonder if the people were so distasteful as they felt this morning, or if it was a gift from the muse. A bit of both I suppose. Turns out I was pretty dehydrated too. The last few days have not been so warm, but they aren't cool yet, and the overcast sky also helped me forget to hydrate. Lots of water is helping. It is comfortable in the house now, but I am feeling a little chilled. Bother. I hope it doesn't mean I'm coming down with something.

I'm happy to have had a long challenging weekend. I've got a nice start on some of the character work. I've pushed ahead on my thinking about the Ensemble Training Intensive. I've got some other contemplations done, well started, and got totally lost in a book for a couple hours. I'd forgotten how deeply involved I could get in a book. That is what theatre should do. Involve the audience even more deeply, while still leaving them with the freedom of personal experience you find in the pages of a good book.

Happy Memorial Day from a combat veteran.

Remember:
Honoring the Fallen <> Supporting bush

ps - "<>" is one of the common programming symbols for "Not Equal To"

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Burning Ring of Fire

Three weeks to preview! It seems pretty soon. Of course, we have a short and dense rehearsal schedule for this show. Three or more hours every day except Fridays, though only those that are needed for specific scenes stay for the whole time slot. A very professionally run schedule.

I didn't get to the zoo last weekend. I wimped out because I didn't have my new membership card yet. I know, lame, lame, lame. I was not very motivated after getting up at 6 AM, and having nearly two hours to wait for the zoo to open after my errand. So I went back home and slept instead, which with the weird weather changes, made my weekend great. This weekend I'll have two days to go, Sunday and Monday, and I better motivate myself to go at least once.

On Tuesday I wasn't called, but I went anyway. I hadn't been called to a rehearsal since Saturday, though I showed up for a few minutes on Sunday to be sure. I like rehearsals, and having done enough set and prop design, stage managing and such I don't feel at all weird when I don't have a scene to work in. A show is a community, and I've almost always worked with generous actors. Even so, I like to be a regular participant.

Paula, Steve, and Gregory sometimes call me Peter Pan. I'd no idea why they picked that handle for me, so I asked. When I was in grade school Peter Pan was one of my favorite make-believe games, and I assumed that wasn't the reason I was being called Peter Pan again. They say I'm a kid, and I'll never grow up. Now that is neat. I feel that way and am a little astounded anyone else does.

I need to exercise those kid muscles. I want to have well-defined characters, and need to get the imagination going full out. I'm not called for rehearsal tonight. While I'm tempted to go anyway I decided not to. I need to stop at the library and get some prospective books for my class next week, and more to the point need to do some homework. Do some focused daydreaming around my characters. For one of the characters that have a few lines I've done some voice work, which drives the character for me a bit and also distinguishes them for the audience.

In addition to daydreaming and more back story I realize it is more important to get to the zoo than I was thinking earlier. I have three on stage personas, and one or two more for voices heard off stage . I still have a slight limp, which increases as the day wears on, and while I hope it will be gone in three weeks there is no way I can depend on it. That will make finding different physicalities more challenging for the on stage characters. I need to find some animals, to help me better define the characters physically. I'm still a big fellow, and I'll have a bushy beard, which I'll play with to look slightly different for different characters, but that will be subtle and won't do much. I know I have to work on character and physicality to differentiate the characters. There is no way the audience won't notice the 6'2" 230lb servant, passer-by, and stationmaster are the same actor.

It occurs to me it is a matter of honor. I must honor the audience enough to create real characters, so they'll honor me and let me be different people. If I go out with shallowly defined caricatures I will be asking them to do my work. My goal is for someone to tell me, "Wow your characters were believable and totally different. I was not confused for a moment." Using the same actors for multiple characters is not part of the humor as in Greater Tuna or The Mystery of Irma Vep, and adding that as a gimmick to Chekhov would be a mortal sin. I'm sure the earth would open up, and I'd be sucked into the eternal fiery maelstrom of acting hell. Nope. Don't want to do that.

Monday, May 23, 2005

On The Hook

I've been thinking about mentors for months. A desire to be self-sufficient and not be a pain in the ass pretty much ruled it out in the past. I had one for some down and dirty nuts and bolts c/c++ stuff for a few months when I was at Microsoft, then the guy retired. I'm not sure I've ever had anyone else. I've asked questions, learned mostly on my own, and had a few other even shorter term mentors.

Rachel's recent blog about picking a mentor at work, got me going here. I don't have a desire for one at work, but I have felt the lack in my theatre life. I want to move forward. The goals I'm working towards right now are conservatory/MFA programs in two years. Why? Several straightforward reasons. One, is I'd like to pass on the gifts I've encountered, the joy in finding art in my life, and an MFA provides the credentials to do so. I like the cloistered feel of academia for students, and to return again in the arts sounds like a dream. I've seen the work actors who have invested in MFA programs do, and pushing my craft to that level excites me greatly.

I don't really know where the Hell I'm going. That's not quite true. I want to go back to school. In between lies the morass. I'm assuming to get where I want to be in two or three years I need to get some quality time on the boards, then apply for conservatory and MFA programs, with the idea if I don't get into an MFA program I'll go the conservatory route to build up my qualifications and apply again. Knowing a little from a few admissions departments, applicants who apply more than once are generally looked on favorably, particularly if they keep building their knowledge and experience. It demonstrates dedication, focus, and desire.

Considering the investment I am contemplating, I'd better line up my ducks a little better. I'm going to write to the admissions offices for some MFA programs. I am pretty naive when it comes right down to it, so if any of you know of any grad schools give me your list. I've some in mind, and I want to add to it. I'll be googling during lunches and such too. I want to get myself the information you'd expect from a mentor.

Why don't I have a mentor now? I suspect it is age and experience. I am still not good at asking for help, and I'm going to have to simply do it. So many of the people I know well are in the same general level as I, though most have more experience. I'm older. Many people would feel strange mentoring someone ten or more years their senior. I suspect many of the people in my age group look on me as a peer, a grounded fellow happily occupying the tech and art worlds. For now. Of course, most of it is me. Good old dependable, self-sufficient Scott, doing it all on his own again. Fuck it. I'm going to flat out ask some people to help me map out a course. Fuck it. I can't believe I'm committing to this course of action. Fuck it. Now it's out and if I post this I'll feel obligated to follow up. Neato.

ADDENDUM:
After my proof read and spell check I was about to click the button to post this entry. Then rang the phone. Robin from Freehold was returning a call from a week or two ago about the ETI (Ensemble Training Intensive). I chatted with her for a bit, telling her my quandary. Not surprising, she suggested the ETI for next year as prep for MFA programs. I'm still worried I don't have the experience I need, but my mind was un-made up as a result of the call.

Now I'm again considering ETI for next year. I'm going to prepare for the ETI audition. After I hung up and was clicking the post button I was well aware of the coincidence and whatever meaning it may have. Robin is one of the people I'd like to have as a mentor, and assume it would not work because I know where her schedule is like. (Busier than mine.) Hmm. Left for class, did my best singing ever, and came back and added this note. I'm in one Hell of a turmoil again. Neato.

So Long

Saturday was surprising in a nice way, because it was not traumatic. I picked up an exercise machine from someone at work who is moving, and now I have to make room for it. I'll haul it into a temporary storage spot, and plan to set it up in the next couple weeks.

I cleared a couple storage shelves. Not much of a dent in overall storage space, but a huge psychological step. I filled three moving boxes with paperback books and took them down to Half-Price Books. Books were once my life. I read an average of a novel a day, and could never imagine giving up a book I'd read. Needless to say, this was a small dent. I still have another ten or so boxes to go through, but they are stacked deep in my garage. Just knowing I can get rid of the books without second thoughts was a tremendous step. Anyone who has known me well for more than four years understands how important my books were to me. The only hard part was the pittance from the bookstore, when I know the markup will be well over 1000%. The next couple boxes will go to another bookstore. I don't mind a huge loss but thirty bucks for several hundred books in near perfect condition seemed a bit of an insult. Didn't fuss though, this time around it was more important to simply get the books out of my life.

As I was sorting the books, throwing out well over 90% of the books I realized I could easily find many of them in the library or other used book stores if I want to read them again. I realized too, what good friends they were for me. Here's a partial list of my friends, or rather authors of my friends. All of these represent multiple books, quite a few ten or more, to whom I said farewell yesterday. My reading tastes are eclectic. Thank you my friends.

J A Jance
Robert Ludlum
Robert B Parker
John D MacDonald
Fay Kellerman
John Kellerman
Star Trek Series
Roger Zelazney
W.E.B. Griffin
Lillian Jackson Braun
Louis L'Amour
Len Deighton
Stephen King
Ken Follett
T J MacGregor
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Dana Fuller Ross
Ton Clancy
Piers Anthony
Aaron Elkins
Patricia Cornwell
Harry Kemelman
Anne McCaffery
James Herriot
James Clavell
Frederick Pohl
Michael Crichton
Tim Allen
E E Doc Smith
Jack Higgins
Robin Cook
Dick Francis
Frank Herbert
Clive Cussler
Robert A Heinlein
Terry Brooks
James A Michener
John Grisham
Ursula K LeGuin

A few like McCaffery, Card, and LeGuin represent authors for whom I kept some and tossed others. All in all a terrific start. I've decided to keep the proceeds from things I sell instead of toss or give away for conservatory/grad school days. Not for tuition or expenses if I can help it, but for having fun. Like having Sunday dinners with friends.

Saturday evening we saw an amazing production. Paula and I went to see Seattle Public Theater's production of Three Tall Women, at the Bathhouse, the same theater where I'll be doing The Cherry Orchard with Exchange Theatre. Amazing show, Albee supplied a wonderful script, and Betty Campbell who I have worked with before was amazing, as was Tracy Repep whom I saw in Shock Brigades, and again in Playboy of the Western World where I helped with the auditions, and worked in a promo scene. I was very surprised she remembered my name, and flattered. Erin Day who I do not know was a perfect complement to the others. I'd put this up there with Proof, Rhinoceros, and Our Town, as being one of the best shows I've seen this year, and while I'm not keeping track, I'm averaging over one a week, probably on track to see about 80 shows this year, like I did in 2000 or 2001.

Afterwards we met up with Steve for a late dinner at The Bleu. Fantastic food. We talked about the show, Steve and Paula's wedding plans, and mostly about the recording session the next day, for which Steve had been preparing all day. It was a culmination of a film scoring class which lasted all year.

Sunday morning I rose a little late, but still made it early to rehearsal. As it turns out, I wasn't needed so I hopped on my motorcycle and a couple miles later I was at Music Works in Bellevue. A forty plus piece orchestra was playing the scores the class had prepared. What an amazing privilege. I sat in the studio, where the composers and a few other people sat and were greatly outnumbered by the orchestra. The orchestra was all volunteer, mostly professional musicians. They rehearsed each piece in turn, which ranged from 7 seconds to 2 minutes in length, a time or two then recorded, usually two takes.

There was a feeling of having your own private orchestra. I'm still amazed by the whole experience. The music was all wonderful, and Steve's was among the best, my personal bias aside. He had the only piece over two minutes long, and another longish piece, a bit over a minute and a half. Not only were they lovely, they served the film. I moved to where I could see the monitor even better for Steve's pieces. The music was perfectly timed and appropriate for the scenes. I did not see anyone who did so well, especially on both fronts.

It was an eight hour day for them, six for me. Like I said, it was a magical experience, and I felt incredibly blessed to have been there. Steve, on the other hand, was extremely happy and flattered I came. After the show we had dinner down the street at Thai Ginger. Dinner with terrific friends is still my favorite way to finish the weekend. It followed a day in which we each felt gifted by the other. Perfect.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Old Stories

I saw the ushers who helped me out so nicely at the last opera, when I was freshly injured and took my niece. It turns out the letter I sent complimenting Dale and Michaelo was forwarded to the Seattle Center employees newsletter where it was printed. I was happy to hear they got some recognition after they helped Ericka and I have such a wonderful time.

I finally updated my list of blogs, in no particular order, meaning they are mostly listed in the order in which I started reading them. The last two are new ones I picked to start reading regularly. More or less randomly, a new one from Richard's list, and a new one from Rachel's. I dropped Successlessness, which I stumbled across last year. I was initially interested because it was a fellow from this area who is a fan of reality and formulaic tv. It was during the election, and I'm not generally enthused by those genres, but somehow found it interesting someone who was didn't like the Bush regime. I also dropped RebelKate who had commented on a political blog and interested me for two reasons, first because she had ditched medical school by choice, which I related to. I did the same, but before I actually started. Also, she was another person who had some beliefs which seemed to be more in line with the Bush base, but detested Bush as much as I. They both seem like nice folks, and I still find RebelKate's occasional entry interesting, but there is no interaction. The lack of interaction started to make me feel creepy. There are a number of blogs I've never commented on, which don't bother me. I guess once you comment on a stranger's blog site, no response sends a message. Sort of a passive "Bugger off mate!"

Richard talked about blogs, and the question as to whether or not bloggers are journalists. Are bloggers doctors? Are bloggers actors? Are bloggers crazy? Except for the last they are all ridiculous questions really. A journalist may be a blogger, and if said journalist writes as a journalist, then it is an editorial piece, not a news item. This obvious distinction seems to be missed by the media, demonstrating their current paucity of understanding when it comes to the ethics of their chosen field.

Like Richard says, blogs are simply a means of communication. Some people compete for readers, some could care less, most probably come somewhere in the middle. I consider my blog to be a journal, which doesn't make it journalism. Maybe there are some folks that need to read the definitions of the words they use, to be sure they know whereof they speak. I'm a journalist, one who keeps a journal, not one whose occupation is journalism. So there. My blog is not news.

I do like it a few people read my blog, but it is not my big goal. I like the day to day journal keeping. It serves to remind me of what I've done, reinforcing thoughts and memories, and providing a little focus for where I want to go. It is my platform for exploration. I've made many decisions which were crystallized while writing here. It is a sounding board. I've floated many thoughts about which I'll make decisions here. It is a spleen venting venue. Speaking of which...

What do you think of the Newsweek retraction? Here's what I posted at work:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=765093

Lots of stories going around about Newsweek retracting their story about interrogators desecrating the Koran. Frankly, it is too late. I suspect I'm not alone in believing it happened, with implicit or explicit blessing from the whitehouse. Once again, the story has not been disproved, the source has dried up. Reminds you of witnesses against Gotti type characters turning up missing doesn't it?

Is there anyone who actually believes that this didn't happen? Surely nobody is that naïve.

I revile this administration. Having the US unapologetically committing premeditated war crimes, being the bad guy in a war is not something which sits well with anybody who is a true patriot, and not a whining little sycophant.
Someone at work made the obvious connection to Dan Rather's swan song, about Bush's Guard service, which I had avoided. Again, everybody, pro or con, had to know the story was true. My take in both cases is the whitehouse succeeded in silencing witnesses, which understandably infuriated progressive people, and which conservatives unashamedly reveled in. It is a bizarre situation, the conservatives flex their somewhat less than ethical muscles, quash the truth, and their sycophants chant, "See we're right!" They know they are promoting a lie, and arrogantly proclaim the only meaningful ethic in their arsenal, "Might makes right!"

Whether we are attacking poorly armed non-white non-christians in the gladiatorial tradition, rolling back individual protections against the misdeeds of mega-corporations, or creating a impoverished service class, our primary credo remains "Might makes right!" When you buy at Wal-Mart which is stocked by the same China which brought you Tiananmen Square, when you watch a tv series catering to the idea that 'terrorists' are the greatest threat ever known to mankind, when you buy a Humvee, when you shop at box stores to save a dime and put your neighbor out of business, you are buying into the concept. It is so pervasive in our society I don't think any of us can fully avoid supporting the concept. You don't have to if you don't want to. For myself, I try to be aware of how I can defy the concept and do so when I can. The times I don't are the only guilt I feel these days.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ends And Odds

Had a weird dream last night. Probably because it only a snippet was remembered, and was about my blog. At the bottom of an entry it said "7 comments." I remember thinking in the dream, there must be a discussion going because I'd be surprised if seven people read it, much less commented on it. The picture of the blog and the thought are all I remember. Dreaming about my blog... Maybe I'm too much into blogging?

This weekend I rented a dvd with Poltergeist II and III -- watched Poltergeist III. Pretty impressive cast, including Kipley. The beginning scenes failed to set up the story, and were wooden. I know, I know, Kipley has said it all before. What I found interesting was the middle of the movie had some nice work: connection, flow, and engaging of the audience were there. Again like Kipley said, the end failed to tie up the story. It's like the filming and editing budget was all spent in the middle, leaving the ends sort of frayed. It was especially fun to see Kipley, because I've been reading his blog for about a year which makes you E-friends I suppose. He was still a teenager, and his character was one of the very few which was always engaging, as well as believable.

I wondered about the filming. All sorts of rumors abounded about Heather O'Rourke, the young leading actress who died shortly after filming. It must be a very eerie thought for people who worked on that film to realize she was literally dying during the project. It is not an unusual happening, in fact it happens all the time. What makes me think it must be a poignant thing was that it was a child, and it was captured on film. It still touches me that a boy in my high school died of cancer, and I aside from junior and senior high yearbooks I've no record. It is unexpected for someone so young, and it still affects me. More than the closer friends who died in the Naval Aviation community I was a part of.

Kipley talked about a one man piece he was working on about the show and his character. If you're reading today Kipley, that is something I would enjoy a whole lot.

This Monday we were catching up a new boy in the class I read to, on the longish story we are finishing up, and who I am. Upon mentioning I am an actor one of the other boys in the class asked for my autograph. "I'm not a famous actor." Didn't matter, and then more kids wanted my "autograph." Again, they make you laugh and feel warm at the same time. When I took pictures of the kids so I could remember their names (still in work) I had two prints made so I could give them copies. Well, I guess I'll have to "autograph" the backs of the pictures for them this weekend.

While I was driving in this morning I noticed matching little creases in the nails of my index fingers. Like a very, very faint version of the dent when the nail grows back. After having the nail torn loose, or it falls off thanks to a large blood blister courtesy of something like a well-swung, poorly-aimed hammer. I thought it might be from using crutches for a month or so, then ruled that out. Then I noticed it was present at the same place on all ten fingers. (Haven't checked my toes yet.)

Tomorrow will make it 3 months since I broke the leg, and the crease seems about that far from the nail bed. Maybe the nails were slighted for a week or two while my body focused on the traumatized leg bones and muscles, and did it's emergency repairs. Anybody ever notice similar nail anomalies after a significant injury and/or surgery? Maybe it was from the freakin' percocet which I hated with a passion.

Tonight I'm off to the final opera of the season. You know, I'm think I'm going to do the same thing next year. I suspect in a couple more years when I hope to starting in on conservatory and/or MFA programs the budget won't support that kind of extravagance. Might as well enjoy it while I can.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

zzz

This entry has been slow in the writing and deployment. The weekend before last I had a mild, but several day long bout with something like food poisoning. My gut muscles still ache very slightly. That made me pretty tired, and the spike in some variety of pollen gave me enough hayfever to rob the bit of energy left over. I felt like the walking dead, and this morning finally woke up feeling refreshed. The little things are so nice when the come back.

I went to a meeting at Freehold last Tuesday night, a focus group meeting for the Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) next year. I don't believe I'm ready for this yet. They have worked with Antioch College and now have accredited certification for the course. The program was created because regional professional theatres said they don't use local actors much because they can't handle verse. Well, this is an intensive program that has had great success launching many actors to full-time work in New York, Los Angeles, touring productions, or the competitive MFA programs.

You see, despite my focus on theatre for the last five years, I don't feel I've enough time on the boards. I plan on selling my house and likely leaving Expedia in two or three years to pursue something like this and/or an MFA program. I've been learning the production and backstage ropes, and while I still consider it very important for creating a balanced education and resume, it hasn't worked my chops that much. I've never been a lead, and have only had a handful of significant roles. Well, I was the lead in a 25 minute indie film, but that was not much more than the other roles I've had -- it was definitely a beginner's effort, one all of us beginners worked hard on.

I believe I will get more out of a conservatory program like ETI, if I have more real experience. It is not out of fear about selling my house and giving up my current job, though to be honest that does create an attractive trepidation for me. Rather it is a desire to make the most of the time spent in intensive programs. I'm hoping to get into an MFA program, and something like ETI would be tremendous preparation, as well as greatly increasing my chances.

We started rehearsals for The Cherry Orchard this weekend. Saturday I finally got my copy of the script, so now I've the translation we'll be using. It turns out I'll have three small parts, not two and two of them will have a couple lines. The Passer-By, a Servant, and Stationmaster. The servant makes many more trips across the stage, and the others have a few lines. I think it is a great cast, and it should be a very good show. This Saturday I'm off to the zoo to start researching my characters. That has worked very well for the last three or four productions, and I want to have a different animal for each character. I'll be making a few more zoo trips. There's some other homework I'll be doing, and I'll be organizing my thoughts in the next few days.

Working for professional theatres is so much more fun for me now. It used to be intimidating, now it is just more fun. People will bring interesting choices to the plate right off the bat, and will be off book early in the rehearsal process. I even signed a contract which provides for a stipend. Woo Hoo! I've done it before, and it won't even cover gasoline for the commuting, but this time I feel it is for more than my willingness to carry heavy stuff around -- though that certainly didn't hurt.

I read about a dozen blogs regularly, some updated all the time, some infrequently. I'm going to change my list around a bit. There's some that just don't hold my interest, who just happen to be the same ones who never interact with comments. Sometimes interest is a two way street. Instead I'm going to pick up some blogs listed on the ones I currently read. As part of it, I'm going to put the list of all the blogs I read steadily on my blog. Mostly, so I can find them when I am away from my machine. I'll keep reading the ones that load slow, the ones which have more quizzes posted, basically the one that have engaging personal and art content. (I learned not to follow those quiz links, as too many of them seem to lead back to spyware sites.) I tend to be overly gabby, so I figure I'd best be pretty damn tolerant myself, except for those intolerant people; can't stand the bastards. ; ) So, best not to fuss about what I don't enjoy as much, simply bask in the parts I find enjoyable in people's blogs. Maybe that is the path to keep following to move forward in my journey to live life fully instead of reveling in cynicism.

Food. I made this great salad last Fall or late Summer. Sort of like a potato salad, using sour cream and mayo, I think. A little balsamic vinegar too. But I don't really remember clearly, just that the blend of flavors was similar but left ranch dressing in the dust. I do remember I decided not to punish my readers with the recipe I'd made up, and now I can't remember it. It had lots of beets, plus turnips, potatoes, corn, and other veggies from the end of season with the co-op I joined last year. I saw a fellow with a beet dish in the kitchen at work, and realized my yummy creation is now a vague memory. I'll just have to make up something new. I thought of it when I saw someone in the lunch room with a home made beet entree. My salad also looked suspiciously like a fruit salad because of the beet imparted pink hue.

Goddammit. I still haven't decided how I want to approach the East Side Theatre idea. Greg got me thinking along the right line, asking me what I wanted to get out of it. Well, in thinking about conservatory and MFA programs I'm feeling I really need to have my goals a little more gelled before trying to get this going. I'm still excited by the idea, and want to be able to say it is something I'll work on for a year, or for the next 2-3 years. Tough thinking left to do.

Injury report:
I saw the doctor last Thursday, and my leg is doing very well. Apparently that was about the time a cast would normally be taken off for a tibia. I hadn't realized the big bones took so much longer to mend. It seems obvious, but I hadn't really thought about it. Even though my limp is slight enough my roommate calls it "favoring the leg", the doctor says the pain and inflammation around the break sites will be there until the six month mark, when the healing should be done. Then the bone will be restrengthening for another 4 months or so.

On Saturday I went to the Mariners game with Mike Kawaguchi, and we walked all the way from the international district. It was quite a work out, and my leg was notably achy afterwards. The next morning as I was getting ready for our second rehearsal, I realized it felt really good. So, I've worked more to exercise it and increase the range of motion. I'm six inches away from being able to sit on my heels again. I like doing that for five to ten minutes and breathing into my lower back and pelvic girdle. It relieves stress physical and emotional for me. I envy the old gentleman from Asia and the Philippines who could sit like that for hours. Well, one of my goals is to be able to sit that way again in two weeks.

I can stand on the healing leg and lift the heel off the ground. Not very far, but it was only in the last week that I could even stand with the heel off the ground. It doesn't feel good to lift the heel or stand on the toes of my right leg, but I can do it and that really excites me. I guess I'm easily entertained these days.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Laughs

Except for mild food poisoning it was a great weekend. I think that is what it was, and the generic version of immodium helped. I'm still a bit dizzy, and have only had a half pint of milk for sustenance today. Yesterday, I had a small lunch after the show. We were at TS McHugh's, and I ordered the Sunday special, steak and kidney pie. I only ate a bit over half. I enjoyed it, and have never had a problem eating the full portion before, followed by some dessert. Between the changed appetite and queasiness I didn't consume a great deal. Continued the weight loss, dropping to 228 this morning. Wish I could find a way to drop weight that didn't involve a broken leg or gut. At least I didn't put the weight back on after the break. Hopefully I won't for this either.

I'll be heading home early. I'm just waiting for some database queries to finish, then I'll be on my way. Hopefully I'll get a enough sleep to speed along the recovery, so I don't miss class tonight.

I saw in the Sunday morning paper a write up about some Broadway shows. I remember hearing Hank Azaria was in Spamelot several weeks ago. He caught my attention in America's Sweethearts and Godzilla where he developed wonderful characters. If you want to see something hysterical and disturbing look at the deleted scenes on the dvd for America's Sweethearts. It adds to the character, but it is not something we are comfortable with in a major feature for obvious reasons. Then I found out he is the voice over artist for some of the best characters in The Simpsons.

Yesterday in the paper I saw Tim Curry is playing King Arthur in Spamelot. I, like most of my generation loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail, of which this is a musical adaptation. It was been getting great reviews and I really like Tim Curry. He's frequently cast as over the top characters, and has a knack for picking pretty bad movies. Rocky Horror, which I still enjoy being a good example. His characters are generally big and brash in a similar way, but there is a difference in them which I enjoy and appreciate. I think he was the only redeeming part of McHale's Navy, and he and Joe Pantoliano were the guys who made Congo nearly bearable. If I get to New York I'm going to look for that show. Then more of the drama and dark comedy which I prefer.

The show we saw yesterday was The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful. It was indeed wonderfully dreadful. We had a tremendous time. No special message, just werewolves, vampires, and ancient Egyptian mummies. A thoroughly delightful romp. Two actors playing all the characters, with flawless and complex blocking. When one character turns to a werewolf and is sticking one hand then the other out of sight to return with the claws, and peaking through a door to come out with the wolf head was hysterical. Fun trumps special effects. I didn't expect to have so much fun, even after several actors (one a professor who had instructed one of the actors in California) told me it was a very fun show. If you're local treat yourself to a good laugh at the Intiman.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I'm All A'Itch

I've been overly garrulous the last few days. Yesterday I responded to a couple E-mails with too much jabber. Okay, they were people I like so it was not an onerous task, but I can't help thinking I got too blabby making them feel there was just too much to respond too. In the evening I had dinner at the Lavy's, who are Akropolis. I had a wonderful time, and luckily they were very talkative too. Still I think I was gabby to the point of inanity. I like telling stories.

I was reading blogs this morning, and it hit me. Many, I think most of my friends and close friends are starting new journeys or making big turns in their journeys. I realized that is making me slightly tense at some level. One of those dichotomies of life I enjoy. I am excited and somehow gratified by the changing landscape. Things are changing, and it makes things less knowable. I love and fear the change. It makes me nervous, and I talk when I'm nervous.

I've talked earlier of Gregory preparing to leave for his MFA program at Rutgers, Steve and Paula getting married and thinking of moving for something similar or just a better or new area for the pursuit of their art. A lot of my other friends are contemplating moving or making drastic changes in their lives. Hell, I am too. As I've mentioned before I love it, and the dynamic nature of friendships. I hadn't realized it was causing me any stress. I'm glad it does, and glad I recognized it. It makes me feel. Feel human.

The analytical side of my mind, that simpering bastard, asked, "Well, which means more? Art or friends?" I quickly realized something new. It is an utterly ridiculous question. It is akin to asking, "Well which do you like best? The color of an apple or the taste of a pear?" They are related, but it is a nonsensical question. Yet I ask myself. (It didn't stop me from picking a pear from the fridge either.) Somehow asking that question also implies I should attach more importance to one at the expense of the other. Again a ridiculous question. Utterly self-destructive too. To give up art would close off my friendships, and sacrificing friendships would poison my artistic endeavours.

Frienships are cyclical. I knew that on the last day of Meisner last year, after the guests and spectators had left that those friends were at the end of a cycle. We started, but never really stayed in touch. I'm one of the nudges who sends out the occasional note to everybody without expecting a response. Maybe that is why I am one of the ones who does that. I don't expect a response, don't worry about making a fool of myself, so I'm not very disappointed when I don't hear back. I expect there are some I will never see again, the cycle can be longer than a lifespan. Some I will probably be close to again later. It will unfold when it is time.

Art is cyclical for me as well. I've not done much writing for nearly a year. Just the occasional bit to keep me in the habit, and here. I don't consider this a waste or a squandering of writing energy, rather a way to keep me centered and comfortable with putting my thoughts down. If I didn't journal during slack times it would be more difficult to start back in on simmering projects. I've not been on the boards for a few months. That's the breaks. (I know, pad pun.) I'm getting back into it with a renewed enthusiasm, and a resolution to be less haphazard in my process. We'll see.

Come, my friends.
T'is not to late to seek a newer world.
(ll 56-7)
Maybe there is a reason beyond gifting my father Ulysses appeals to me right now.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas.
(ll 44-5)
I want to be on that ship. I may not be old, and if my parent's families are any indication I will not be for a long time. But I weary of comfort like Ulysses. Gloom. I love the way Tennyson uses that word, as a beckoning. I am called by something I vaguely perceive, my very own dark, broad seas. I am in training right now, and my struggle at the moment is to realize when my training is enough to board the ship. Should I tarry too long I will miss it out of habit.

Today I am giving up my cane. I used the cane to keep from forming a habitual limp, now it is becoming a habit in itself. Actually I started a little early, when I left work for the Lavy's last night. It is said itching is a sign of healing, which means I must be healing in body, mind, and soul. I'm restless physically and emotionally, and in a spiritual searching mode. I'm wondering if breaking my leg changed more than my eating habits. The support from loved ones, friends and family, overwhelmed as much as the pain. The first couple weeks were pretty difficult. Not only the pain, but the forced idleness, once my lifestyle, was also devastating. I recognized it at the time, knew I would adjust even if the pain persisted, but it was frightening. Sentimental memories are not always good. I do not want to live like that again, in fact I don't think I could. It is fearful to think on just the same. Ironic it was an undefined fear that kept me trapped in that place for so long.

I have mentioned my desire to pursue an MFA program here, and with friends and family. I've toyed with the idea, and only started thinking of it seriously in the last month or two. During that old lifestyle of habitual idleness, when I had goals like that I would never think of airing them. What if I failed? What if I changed my mind? When I ask myself those old analytical questions I answer, "So, analytical bastard boy, what's your point?" I know the old fear was people would think less of me if I didn't follow through. I remember, but I simply don't think that way now. Now, I can't imagine not bouncing ideas around with my friends and family. Get a feel for them, feel the texture and the reality of them. Get support in the pursuit and frustrations encountered along the way.

It sounds easy, but it was hard for me to learn to drop those who were not supportive. Why my joys threatened certain friends and relatives is a mystery to me, and that is fine. It's not my place to fix them, even if they want fixing. As expected, not a one of them want fixing, they simply want everyone around them to be fixed. Why were they hard to drop? I've no idea, just a suspicion that it somehow felt like leaving something undone when I didn't live up to their peculiar ideals. I say just a suspicion, because when I look back I can't fathom the good in their expectations or why I accepted them.

Most of my baggage is shed, I think. I know I'll keep finding more things to purge, burdens physical, emtional, and spiritual which are so habitual they still escape my inward search. Maybe I won't apply for an MFA program in two years, but the path which leads that way will certainly take me somewhere. Inertia is the one thing which can kill my soul. It seems everyone has been versing lately...

Itching, itch, Itching
Scratching, soothing, itching, more.
Satisfying urge.

At last the itch scratched
The world opens wide, always.
New itch to savor.

Hello, you're new here
No you've always been right here?
Well, how do you do?

Jennifer asked me what I got out of the mask class last night. I don't know that I'd really thought about it since I blogged about it in December. The pivotal item for me remains that I was able to create a compelling character using only physicality, which made people laugh uproariously. It wasn't the laughter, it was that I was able to do it without relying on self deprecating humor about my size. I still enjoy self deprecating humor, which I use to allow me to be honest with myself. The shock and epiphany was that I could use my body to communicate so effectively. I credit Meisner with giving me a boldness to try things, and Neutral Mask with opening up a whole new way to communicate on stage.

Thinking back on that relatively recent epiphany brought things into focus. An awareness of change and direction in myself, my environment, and in the people I care about most. I feel like I'm having a personal spiritual awakening of the same sort. I'm not unaware I'm once again garrulous today. I like the irony. Exploring my uneasiness and seeing where it takes me. My social and spiritual environs are in upheaval, and realizing that has brought both happy anticipation and calmness. You figure that one out. I'm going to go do some of the chores I've been putting off.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fist Of Futility

Last Tuesday a couple people got on the elevator at work, one an attractive young woman. They were talking about the nice weather and she said "I'm wearing nothing but sandals to work from now on." A slew of snappy one-liners danced through my head, and maintaining my manners I kept them to myself, wondering how many other folks on the elevator were briefly tempted to violate workplace harassment guidelines. I think the tongue biting was being done by folks of all persuasions. I noticed several very subtle, and very slightly humorous frustrated looks.

No reading on Monday, my class was taking their WASL's Mon-Wed. These are the standardized tests (supposedly) measuring academic progress in Washington State. So, I went on Thursday. I'd left my book there the previous week, so we read from Shel Silverstein instead. There were a couple copies in the classroom, and we picked a few randomly, and the kids made lots of suggestions for their favorites. It was great fun, and I think a few kids who weren't familiar with the books got hooked. This week their tests are Mon and Tue, so I'll be there on Wednesday.

Thursday night I saw Death of a Salesman with Paula, where we happened to meet up with Don Carter, one of my Meisner classmates. Some of my favorite work in that class was a scene Don and I worked on. Miller's text is brilliant, but the Thursday's production wasn't quite on. It felt like you were watching an athletic competition, where you inexplicably develop a strong desire for the underdog team to turn things around and do well. They'd get connected, then a shift would break the moment. Paula explained the feeling it gave us quite well, like they were performing several private plays. You really wanted to be in on it, you could hear the text, it just didn't land. It was maddening because you could see the talent and experience of the actors. I hope it was a singular night and the other shows are great. We could sense what could have been that evening.

This weekend I went up to Bellingham for the opening day of trout season with my stepsister and brother-in-law, Laurel and Dennis. It was a stocked lake, but the fish are much larger than when I was a kid. Then most of the stocked fish were 6.5 inches long, but now most of them range from nine to inches to a bit over a foot long. The limit is only five per day, but the size more than makes up for the dozen limit of old. I was surprised, because they are much better than the farmed trout you see in the store. I don't know if it was the freshness, or if the state simply does a better job. Logically I tell myself it is pretty much shooting farmed fish in a barrel, but it is more fun and they are tastier. Dennis sets everything up, so it is like going to a guide service. I did splurge on three dozen donuts for the fishermen, which included everybody. My favorite doughnut shop is up there, which is a good thing, because I won't drive 90 minutes each way, even for great donuts.

My leg has really been hurting since Friday morning. It is funny, but I didn't fully understand why until I was walking through the parking garage this morning. That repeated walk (I stopped using the handicap tag two weeks ago) was long enough and familiar enough that I was very aware of the increased strength and range of motion. I started using the stairs again for one or two floors and noticed I am again able to support my weight on the toes of the bad leg. Not for long, but a huge difference in my mind. Also, I haven't had to unclench my toes today. I've been making a conscious effort since the second or third day using a cane to unclench them, and this is the first day I've noticed I haven't had to do that. I suspect it has been longer, but going from being able to unclench, to not needing to is a nice thing to notice.

The leg is still really bothering me today, enough that I finally called and left a message I am not going to make it to class tonight. I am feeling a bit fatigued from the lost sleep over the weekend from getting up insanely early to catch fish, a bit more from getting a little too much sun yesterday, and even more from the constant discomfort. The pain and tiredness are such that class would not be productive for me today. I agonized over the decision today, because it is a somewhat intimidating class and I worried that was influencing my decision. Likely it was, but maybe not in the direction I worried.

I've been fretting a little bit lately, and it is going to be with me for a while. At some point I might like to attend the Freehold Ensemble Training Intensive, or maybe apply for an MFA program. Both is a possibility, using the ETI as prep for an MFA program, and Freehold is working with Antioch to offer credits for the ETI program. In both cases I need to get more time on the boards. The fretting is my day job. I'm guessing it is possible but not likely I could become a part time worker to attend ETI (or an MFA program on the small chance I get into University of Washington's program).

Going for more advanced training while keeping my day job would create less personal upheaval, and even if I could do it, I'm not sure it is my best option. I may opt not to pursue that sort of training, but like missing Alexander tonight I want to be sure it is not because I'm worried about the scariness of giving up or suspending my current daytime career. I like working at Expedia for lots of reasons, which makes leaving harder to entertain. Admittedly most of these aren't options I'm looking at in the immediate future, though ETI is probably being offered next year.

I've changed careers several times, generally every ten years, and I am in an interesting place at the moment. After five years my passion for theatre has not diminished, and it renewed my interest in the day job, which I've been at for ten years. In the past this is the time when I was tempted to stick with the job out of a perceived financial need rather than any desire. Computer science was actually starting to pale for me until I found art. It also provides a comfortable income, though that is not dependable as the dot com bust showed, and Microsoft's current push to remove immigration limits for high tech workers. (There is not a shortage in this country, it is simply a desire to push high tech pay levels down.) Surprisingly to some I'm not too concerned about my age.

My cousin John, who is fifteen months older, and his wife Linda are finishing their law degrees. I believe they will finish Summer of 2006. At that time John will be 50 or 51. They both work, I believe John is the full time worker right now, last I heard they were both in the top ten of their classes, John has two children from a previous marriage whom for whom he pays child support, and has them with him in the Summer. Not only is he one of my very favorite relatives, he is an example when I try and lie to myself about being to old to pursue a radically different graduate direction. Both he and Linda also have MSW's (Master of Social Work?).

What I really have to decide is whether selling my house, giving up computer science, and pursuing acting is something that will take me in a direction I want to follow for a long while. I can't write it off as a 'mid-life' crisis, as I find the concept bogus in the way it is generally used and rather cowardly, and radical life changes have been a regular pattern for me. This is a passion I have been doggedly pursuing with enjoyment for five years, which also does not fit with the general idea of mid-life crisis. The underlying question I haven't yet answered, will I be happy with a career centered solely on art? Now I have both. Left brain and right brain, high tech and theatre, shallow and deep meaning. Do I need the money grubbing, ultimately soulless, contact with the work-a-day business world to keep my love for art alive? Or is it limiting me? I don't know. Damn it all to Hell. I would like a clear and easy answer on this one. God, whatever he or she is can be a real mean son of a bitch. Or as Serendipity (Salma Hayek) says in Dogma, "Her quirky sense of humor."