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, August 30, 2005

Deltas Dawning

Last night I stopped and took a deep breath of sorts. I'm taking it easy, letting myself miss three or four shows I wanted to see the last couple weeks. A bit of a forced break from the hectic. I'm following fate in a way. My closest friends are out of town or swamped with other things, I'm not in a class or production, and these unusual evenings of no shows to work on or see have me at a loss.

At one time I thought I loved time alone, and needed lots of it. I believe it was simply a little social anxiety finding a vague bit of justification. I've finished the latest Harry Potter book, read some scripts, and spooled down, getting myself to a calm place. I'm not sure how I like it, but it feels for this short period it is good for me. I've started rising earlier and sleeping earlier -- an unconscious change which will serve me well when classes start.

Thinking about the projects I've worked on in this soft and dedicated way gave me that deep breath and brought me up short. Of all the shows I've seen the last five or six years, the end of term Winter recital and the Summer production by the last ETI class were some of the most meaningful. I saw amazing scene work from people in the recital, who I now know were people that had been working very hard indeed for over six months. The Summer productions of The Tempest and Twelfth Night remain among the very best Shakespeare I've ever seen. I can't think of anything better.

At the time that sort of training and performance was a distant prize. From a land far, far away and a time... I remember watching and thinking, "Oh my God. This is what I'd like to learn to do." It was from seeing this work that I applied for, and talked my way into Meisner two years ago. Paula had talked about Meisner as a great way to get serious from the time I first met her. Watching her work, that of other Meisnerites, and finally seeing the kind of training Freehold offered in the ETI culmination made Meisner something I craved.

There was not a specific moment where I decided, "Yeah I'm ready for the brass ring," for that was how I viewed ETI three years ago, when I decided to apply for Mesiner. I was the first to apply for that by six months. My application was lost, and I resubmitted, still quite early. Knowing the work from ETI students, I never thought we were at the top of the pyramid -- if there is such a place in art -- while in Meisner. Maybe thinking of MFA's will keep me grounded in the same way this year.

The first year I knew and worked with Paula I knew I was not ready for Meisner. I applied before I was comfortable with the idea, but wanting to go in that direction. I'm in much the same position now, with my long range sights moved towards MFA programs. Continuing Education --> Freehold --> Meisner --> now ETI. That is the high level progression of my path.

Two years ago I was quite nervous. I was also unfocused at work, waiting for Meisner to start. It was my life for the next year, and I loved it, and occasionally feared it, the entire time. This time I don't have to wait until September 23rd. Our classes start earlier and run longer than any of the others at Freehold, as it is a 15 week term instead of the 10 or so weeks for other classes.

I'm rambling. Do that when I'm nervous. I started this entry with the premise of being startled when I realized the awe in which I held ETI several years ago, as I get ready to embark on that very course myself. I have the typical actor doubts in abundance. I've talked about facing them numerous times in this blog. I suspect that openness is part of what gives some people the feeling actors are ego-maniacs when most of us tend towards being egotistically anorexic. What has most allowed me to grow artistically is the close association with other artists, and Meisner was the biggest step and commitment so far. It still amazes me to have worked with those people, and now I'm moving forward. Hell yes, I'm a little proud. Excited and scared? More than a little.

I keep thinking of my first few acting classes. The first which wasn't terribly organized, and my two scene partners evaporated, then after a few improv classes my second acting class, from Rachel. I was painfully aware of how stiff and contrived I was. I guess the first truly big step was in Rachel's second class, when I was paired with an experienced and generous actor and willing and hungry to go further. I sometimes shed that awareness of how stiff and contrived I was, which was my biggest wall. I still work to shed that awareness before almost every show or rehearsal. That is how the dreaded "Being in your head" manifests itself the vast majority of the time for me.

I've a feeling all this cogitation and tangential exploration is in fact a bit of an exercise in getting out of my head on a macro scale. My habits are changing the way I want to go, without sitting down and saying, "Tomorrow I need to start getting up earlier and two days later give up my evening drink, then give up my morning time with the paper..." I'm simply losing interest in them. The last two mornings I woke up quite early, and just wasn't motivated to go back to sleep. Didn't think about my drink ritual the last few days (even though I was winemaking). I'm focused on other things and doings I suppose. Or I'm coming down with a cold.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Counting

Yawwwwwn! I woke up two hours early, puttered around, got up, and arrived at work an hour early, though earlier arrivals will be the order of the day when my schedule kicks into high gear. I can hardly wait until I go home. I'm not usually a clock watcher. As of the writing of this sentence I have two hours and twenty eight minutes left.

Yesterday was a good day. Didn't sleep in as much as I'd hoped, and leisurely got ready for an excursion to so the Intiman's production of Intimate Apparel. My guest was my fourteen year old nephew. I'd thought it would surprise my folks, but it turns out they were at my brother's house when I arrived. They had just got back from cruise to Alaska, so they knew their grandson was coming. Jimmy has always been so full of energy that he couldn't sit still, and the last couple years has really focused on hockey and guitar. I've taken his younger sister to the opera, and his older sister to some shows, or at least I've invited her. I'm not sure if we ever avoided schedule conflicts.

Jimmy enjoyed the show tremendously. Several times after the show he said, "Tell me if you want to go to a show again." He's seen ballet and musicals -- he was in the high school production of The Music Man a couple years ago, where he played the little brother Winthrop and had a big growth spurt adding a little humor to the show because he'd grown to be bigger than Marian. I was a little worried he wouldn't enjoy a drama very much. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. He enjoyed it and got it. He and his younger sister are the acknowledged artists. I worry big sister might be a bit like the big brother in my family.

I had a voice mail from Gregory who called during the show, asking after my ETI experience. (I saw his performances in ETI.) I returned his call when I got home. He is getting settled in, waiting for classes at Rutgers to start, and wanted to hear of my ETI stuff thus far. His orientation is Wednesday or Thursday, with class starting the following day. He's been finding free furniture on curbs more available than in Seattle. He also found a used desk very cheap, but paid a premium for it with sweat and blood. He carried it a mile and a half back to his apartment. He's got a couple part time jobs lined up, and I'm hoping he can get some good financial aid so he can spend more time focused on the work of the MFA program itself.

Then I got back to my peach wine. It turns out I had between 16 and 17 gallons of must, and since I was siphoning it into carboys I needed the big bucket off the floor. 130 - 135 lbs. Not a huge weight by any means, but it was not set up for lifting. Lift it to the chair, then the armrest, then the counter. Got my exercise. This recipe calls for adding the sugar in three steps, instead of the usual one. With fruit wines sugar is added because they are not as sweet as grape wine, and to make matters worse it is generally two parts water to one part juice because most fruits have a much stronger flavor. The sugar from last Sunday was almost completely consumed, so I made some light syrup and brought it up some more. So far about 80% of the sugar has been added and in a week or two the remainder will go in with another racking (siphoning) of the wine into clean carboys. I'm thinking of starting some mead too. I think it would be nice to have some unique and tasty libations to celebrate the conclusion of ETI. Knock on wood.

Peach Wine Notes
=============================
Specific Gravity (density, with pure water being 1.000):
21 August: 1.062
28 August: 1.000
28 August: 1.020 (after adding syrup)
This brings the base line to 1.082, and I shoot for 1.100-1.110 which yields a nice dry wine at around 13% or 14% if I remember correctly. The small tastes of the must which is used for the hydrometer readings is very encouraging. I think this might even be better than the peach wine I made seven years ago. I had opened a bottle a month ago and it has aged very nicely, better than any others I think. I've three bottles left, with one of them going to the nice lady (Helen) at the fruit store.

Fifty one minutes left.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

You, Artist

I hadn't planned to write today, though I suppose I should a bit before my energy is taken up by ETI, when I'll be journaling about that in the unadvertised (but not secret) blog. A thought I wanted to write down came up so here I am.

I was finishing an essay by Tennessee Williams used as a preface for The Glass Menagerie, in which he wrote of his emotional meltdown and excursion to Mexico to write A Streetcar Named Desire, after experiencing the sudden success from writing Menagerie. It is a frank and disturbing welcome into his psyche as an artist. He mentioned various types of art and their importance.

I was struck by theatre as I read this. It is collaborative like nothing else. A painter creates a painting, artists display, organize, and light it. Sculpture is much the same. A singer creates dynamically, and much of the support is the same. With theatre there is the writer. There is a director who interprets, frames, and tells the story, and the actors who live it. All artists, more akin to the painter, each creating a piece of art, inextricably entwined with the other artists.

By no stretch of the imagination am I running down the artists who support and display the creative magic, these technicians and crew people are every bit as essential and often beautifully creative. The more creative the better, but I believe that is true in any pursuit. I am one of those type technicians I hope, and I love doing it and am every bit as proud of my accomplishments there. It is the artistic, the acting which I must have for my spiritual and emotional balance. It makes me better at the rest. Serves my writing too (though you'd never know it with the current hiatus).

Thinking of art in this collaborative light I had a realization as to why theatre draws me more than film, and maybe as a way to honor film more. In a theatre there is the 'other' player. The audience. It is my thought they are more in the class of the actor, director, and director than the crew. I've had inklings when I stage managed, tech directed, and/or designed and fabricated set and props. For all of us backstage, cast and crew, there is always talk of a good or dead house. How the audience is responding. It drives the experience on both sides of the apron.

When I saw The Crucible a week and a half ago there was a young couple sitting in front of me, playing with their cell phones a bit, IM'ing. The second half they spent most of the time playing with them, the lcd's creating a cold aura around them. One even made a call, and I hope they were thinking nobody would notice the whispers. After the show I tapped the young woman who was closer to me, and told her I was an actor and we can see the light of their phones from stage. They looked at me slackly, disinterested. "And we talk about you a lot." That caught their interest. I told a couple of the my friends and others on the cast, and one of them (Heather, Cathleen?) said, "Oh I can't believe you did that, you're great!" I was a little taken aback by the enthusiastic response and hug.

People forget they are not watching a television. Understandable, and in the bit above, I was as polite and kind as I could be while delivering the words which in themselves which were admonitory. It became gentle training I hope. I don't care in a movie theater, as long as I can still hear. The audience in live theatre is every bit as important as the cast, so when they check out it can be pretty deleterious. When they are there, it is a joy that makes the work and heartache worth it all. Ultimately, it really is all about the audience.

Didn't realize that audiences were artists before. Even the most sedate and prim audience become that. I don't know if I've clearly communicated the beauty and importance this has for me. It makes me more interested in film. The films that affected me the most have been those where the cast and crew pulls you in. Special effects, editing, acting, directing all play their parts. The truly great films are best in a theater, because that indefinable artistic energy from the rest of the audience is ignited. I don't believe it can ever fully match a good live production, but it is not to be sneered at. It is a bit of lovely trickery in which I would love to participate. Like people who only go to musicals and light comedy thinking they'll avoid the discomfort of audience demand in more dramatic productions. It is a matter of degree, they are still engaged in art, however much they'd like to deny it.

I suddenly find myself no longer disdainful with dedicated movie, musical, light comedy goers. They are still drawn by the art they make, but only in small doses. I have found with the more discerning perceptions of theatre thanks to getting so deeply involved, that the shows people respond to the most are those with the most truth and art. I believe well done drama will enthrall most people, but also when it is done badly it can turn them off for good. Like the fellow in my Kiwanis Club who unconsciously drives the other folks away from shows I've worked on. Nobody came to the last show. I gave up promoting when I was telling people about it and Jeff piped up, "Chekhov is ALWAYS too dark and depressing. No humor. Pure despair." Surprisingly I didn't get upset or hurt about it. He's a bright, generous, and giving person in most ways so I just figured it was one of the bits of stupidity and ignorance which pop up every so often in all of us. I think the concept of audience as artist was percolating even then. All I said was "I don't think you've ever seen Chekhov done right, because he is full of humor, albeit much of it is dark."

I was told I was tone deaf by a teacher and a parent when I was a kid. Absolutely wrong I found out a few years ago, but it kept me from ever taking music seriously. I was told I couldn't draw or paint. Don't go all weepy, it is an absolutely average and common experience for most children. The disservice of artists or non-artists stifling creativity creativity in others. A bad show can do the same thing to an audience member. They walk away thinking "I can't appreciate Shakespeare/melodrama/musicals/fringe/etc." It creates high stakes. If you screw up a show bad enough you could stifle the creative art of a budding audience member. I think about Jeff, and want to thwack the folks who destroyed his art for Chekhov.

Now it's back to The Glass Menagerie, one of the six or seven plays I'm to read before class starts. The rest are short plays, all by Williams or Pinter.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Beginnings

Tuesday morning I saw the bone doctor. Everything is hunky dorey, and no more follow-ups needed. It will always look slightly peculiar because some of the muscles, particularly on top of the tibia, were sliced by the fractured bone ends. The shin looks a little odd. The bone has healed, though it will continue to build up material and break it down to smooth out the fracture, but thanks to the reinforcement supplied by the rod running the length of the tibia it is less likely to break than the other leg. It still needs to get stronger, and remains tender in several places.

That very afternoon was our orientation for ETI. I plan to keep a separate journal for ETI which I've started in another blog, and haven't decided if it will be electronic or not. Probably a bit of both, as there are things I would not want to write, even for a secure blog. In the electronic journal (blog) I will not write anything specific and possibly private about other people in class, simply chronicle my internal experience. A rather dull and tedious thing for anyone else I would imagine, so I don't plan to make it generally available or indexed for searches. Simply a personal captain's log for my journey. I may never read it again, as the act of writing helps things sink in for me.

That reminds me. Several weeks ago I went and read the very first entry for a few of the blogs I read. Very neat. Something about those first entries is indicative of things to come. There is a bit of pretense in some including mine, but it is an initial glimpse and a bit of a personal exposition for most people. For most it was the first time I'd read those long ago blogs, and I could feel how the introduction in those first entries resonate through what I have been reading later on. (By the way, my first entry was in 2004, the 2002 entries are items I archived for but didn't want to post for some reason, I should probably clean them up.)

Back to Tuesday. I met the rest of the class and was delighted with the new and old friends. The class introduction was designed to get us excited and a little fearful. Always that balance.

Yesterday I took Gregory to the airport. Another signal event. I'm more than twenty years older than Gregory, and I never think of it that way. He did Meisner and ETI several years ago (after earning a BFA) so he has been one of my mentors, and a very good friend. He's starting his MFA program at Rutgers. Yup, I'm still a little raw, feeling delighted for my friend and sad I won't see him much, though we may stay in touch through correspondence. I didn't have many close friends in the past, now I've quite a few, and they touch me deeper than those in the past. Making yourself open creates increase in both numbers and quality of friendships.

I asked him what sort of training they do at Rutgers. Well, most of the faculty came from the Neighborhood Playhouse (where Sanford Meisner taught). Right now, according to Gregory, Rutgers is the most Meisner based program around. That really appeals to me. If my goal to attend an MFA program in several years solidifies, I could be once again following Gregory, getting there the year after he finishes. If I still want an MFA, if I audition well, if I am accepted... The future is an adventure for it's own time, which I look forward to. Can't ask much more than that.

PS - I turned on word recognition for comments, rather than disabling anonymous comments. Let me know if it drives y'all crazy and I'll go with the other setting. I'm hoping it stops the spam, though I've only had three so far...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

False Dawn

Shopping, arghh! And I made a major life change. Boxers. No more needs to be said, thankfully for all. I've been either following or missing a demographic for the last 30 years. My inseam has been the same since I was in my late teens, yet stores never have my waist size in regular stock. Always lots a size or two larger or smaller, but rarely one in my size de jour. Thus trousers have never been a matter of choice, but a matter of what the freaking stores have. Sears, Penneys, Costco, Freddie, K-Mart, and even the one time fifteen years ago I wandered into a WalMart, which was just a brand new yet shabby and slightly overpriced eye sore on the outskirts of a depressed area. What's the deal? Do I match a very common size which can't be kept in stock, or do I manage to always be thinner or heavier than the sizes which are worth stocking? I have a dream. To be able to choose trousers because I want them, and not because they fit.

ETI starts in two weeks, which prompted my shopping excursion. I want new informal clothes, especially solid dark shirts. The type I like for rehearsals and classes. Most of my rehearsal shirts are beginning to show some wear, so new shirts and skivvies is sort of a personal commitment to the class. I didn't get everything I wanted, so there will be some more shopping for trousers and socks in the next two weeks.

I get to meet my classmates tonight, we have an orientation meeting at 6PM. I am looking forward to meeting my family for the next year with much anticipation. My nerves have my heart up in my throat a ways. I want to leave the office now, not in three hours. Wait, no, I want three more weeks. Are actors crazy, or does it make us crazy? The latter I suppose. We learn to recognize and embrace it.

The peach wine is coming along. If it turns out we'll crack some for a celebration. I added the yeast just before I left for Steve and Paula's wedding, making it in my mind the official start date. Before that it was simply a (tasty) fruit juice. It didn't do much until yesterday afternoon, and this morning the smell of busy yeast was just beginning to waft about the kitchen. Tonight or tomorrow it will be quite strong, and last for a week. I tried a different yeast strain this time. I don't know if it will make a difference, because I've found the pungent yeasty smell pleasant for about as long as it lasts. It will also be ready about the time ETI is done. I'm thinking about starting some mead too, as it is another that takes a full year, and was quite a hit. I've a few friends that like mead anyway, and like my homemade better than anything they've found in the store.

Well, I've got some processes finishing up and can bury myself in the job again until it is time to go. First meeting of the ETI class, and I have to wait even longer for the first actual class.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Movings

Last week was not one of my best weeks. Nothing seemed to be go right. I'm stalled on my two main projects at work -- though I finally made good progress today. At home I cleaned part of my carpet by accidental flooding. Well, it seems the wine is starting off well -- knock on wood. The shows I saw Thursday and Friday night were fantastic, so not all is woe. As I told my friend George, I saw "The Elsinore Diaries" tonight, which I thought was both more fun, better written, smarter, and more of a comic homage to the Bard than "The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged" which I also enjoyed... It had a bit of the flavor of a Spinal Tap type mockumentary, except it had more energy. I have to be in a very special mood to enjoy the typical mockumentary, as the energy tends to be so low and flat. Anyone else find they turn into something like the drone of a far off jet if you aren't in the perfect mood?

Anyway, The Elsinore Diaries was terrific. Greg was there with Kippy. (Psst, you getting ready for any projects now that you're done with Meisner?) I was the refreshments clerk, and one of the other volunteers was Louise who was in the movement class I took last Fall. Both Greg and Louise look like they have slimmed down. Maybe it will motivate me.

I had a small joke for Heather, who was in The Crucible. She was in the show I worked on in January, and I ended up with one of her stools in my truck. It's been safely stashed in my garage since, and I asked the stage manager to take it back for her after the show. I'd joked I would do so instead of flowers. It turns out I know five people in the show. Heather, Andy, Cathleen, Andy, and Jody. I didn't remember Jody very well, but she remembered me from the ETI audition. Like myself she is looking forward to the class, and a bit terrified too. I'm looking forward to getting to know everybody.

Saturday and Sunday were fantastic. Gregory and I got invites to the rehearsal dinner even though we were not in the wedding party. I was worried they felt obligated, and with all that they were doing with family visiting from Massachusetts... Well, Gregory and I just had to come. Terrific time. The wedding yesterday was even more so. The Quaker ceremony is simply the essence of a marriage, conducted by the bride and groom rather than a clergyman, and a community event. There are only a handful of friends I consider as close and wonderful as Steve and Paula, and it was emotional for me too. I don't want to talk about it much. Suffice it say I am delighted, and that is an understatement. I don't think I have cried at a wedding in my entire life, and it was indeed a surprise (as a guy!) to find myself doing just that because I was happy.

Steve and Paula leave tomorrow for Venice for their honeymoon. They'll be back on the 9th. I'll give Gregory a lift to the airport Wednesday, when he'll depart for his MFA program at Rutgers. Maybe he'll come back. I start ETI in two weeks, maybe I won't stay.

I'm happy and wondering how our lives will change. I'm a bit sad and wondering how our lives will change. That is the joy and pain of friendships, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. With dynamic people, I wouldn't expect anything else. I think I've got an abscessed tooth, which makes me tired and a bit more maudlin. I need to remember to call the dentist tomorrow. I definitely want that taken care before class starts. All I need is to be physically and emotionally drained for a damn dumb tooth.

Well for now, I hope I can catch up further at work in the next couple weeks. I'd like to use a few of the days of vacation I've saved for Labor Day, since I have to use at least eleven by the end of the year if I don't want to lose them. A little extra space to mellow and prepare for the busy year will be welcome. Have I mentioned that before? The first challenge will be simply to adjust to the schedule and drop a lot of my current luxuries.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Where's The Saddle?

So, here I am a little nervous about ETI. In that delicious anticipatory way. The last show I worked finished on July 10th, then there were a couple weeks busy applying for ETI, and now it has been three weeks since I've worked on a theatre project. I'm getting all a-itch.

I'm looking at shows, and I'm thinking of seeing GreenStage's Henry V and The Tempest on Saturday. The Crucible tomorrow, in which several friends are cast. Maybe even Taming of The Shrew next weekend -- this is a fun theatre and even when they are not brilliant they are still a load of fun. Tonight I'm going to The Elsinore Diaries as either usher or ticket seller. Will I see everything and maybe more? We'll see, but I become an avid fan when hands are idle.

Things seem to work out. The Summer class was cancelled, which gives me time to relax, and enough down time so the itch tells me my passion is bubbling away. Theatre is essential in my life. I was delighted during the run of The Cherry Orchard to several times experience the transcendent joy which caught hold of me nearly six years ago. After all the work in Meisner, a couple gigs, then a broken leg, then finally doing Chekhov. It was meaningful for me. It is that joy, along with love of working on productions and training which keep me on this path.

I'm lucky as Hell too. I've a day job which I can rely on, so I have the luxury of being able to pursue art for the love of it. Okay, it is a time intensive luxury. I'm on a path towards opportunities to make a living in the world of acting. If opportunities comes along great. If not, I can live with the tech/art balance. What I firmly believe right now is that if I had to give up one side of that equation it would not be art.

Racing Against Time x2

I started the wine making process on the peaches. In one short year libations will be served, maybe in time for the celebration at the end of ETI.

The recipe calls for 25lbs peaches, and I upped it to around 32. I'll make it a bit dryer than the recipe calls for, so I want more flavor, and it also allows me to add more water to get the carboys (fermenting bottles) to the desired level. This recipe calls for adding syrup several times during the ferment, and I found it tended to settle to the bottom so I'll be making much thinner syrup to ease the mixing, which I think disturbs the must when you agitate it too vigorously. The 'must' being the fermenting mixture. How about that, a wine making vocabulary lesson. The end result is I will have more wine, and the added water should dilute it nearly back down to the recipe recommendation. Just where I want it to be.

One of the challenges is I only have capacity to boil 5 gallons of water at a time. I could break out the old barbecue and use the side burner boil 5 gallons in the kettle, and use my three large soup pots on the stove for the other five gallons. The problem is I forgot to ask if the new bucket could handle boiling water, so I decided not to dump boiling water in it -- fearing potential disaster. In order to us the smaller bucket I filled the bathtub with cold water, so I could cool it after the first round.

So there I am, wiping the fuzz off the peaches, rinsing them, then splitting and pitting. As Helen said the peaches were wonderful on Wednesday, so I had to get done last night. No time tonight, and not enough room in the fridge, which would make them less suitable for wine. It may be urban legend, but most wine-making books recommend avoiding refrigerated fruits. (I wonder why that is worse than using the concentrated juices from kits.) I was tickled with myself for realizing that instead of cutting the peaches straight down the middle to offset to about the 1 O'clock position while still going across the 'poles.' I could still twist one half of the peach off the pit, and it left the edge of the pit exposed so I could easily and quickly flip it out of the other half. While patting myself on the back my roommate Aaron said loudly from the other side of the house, "Why do you have..."

"What? I can't hear you!" Why had I left the bathtub running. Shit. I forgot to turn off the tap and it turns out the overflow drain doesn't work very well. I started mopping up water to keep more from dripping downstairs while Aaron dashed off to get a shop vac. It was raining in my garage, and dripping a bit in the downstairs bathroom. I had another flooding incident about five years ago while making wine, and it was five or six gallons of must. Not as much found it's way downstairs that time, but it was a pretty sticky business. Luckily this time it was plain old tap water. I did some mopping downstairs, and it appears Aaron caught the problem just as it got to full drip. Books and clothes near the area got sopped, and ironically a goodly portion dripped into the washing machine. The tap water was not clear by then, and I had to rewash the brand new shirts for my suit a couple times.

We caught it before any extensive or serious damage, the only sheetrock it dripped on was water resistant and already on my slate for replacing. The ceiling in the garage is plywood, which looks like it will finish drying today, as will the upstairs carpet. So with things back under control I was back to getting the peaches processed. I ate a few slices as I worked. They were so tasty I got a little tingling, a pleasant version of the raising hairs when a breath of icy air touches your neck. Now I've over a dozen spectacular peaches in the fridge to eat, freeze, and dry. Hope they are as good on Friday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wakin' Up

I've been lax here the last couple weeks. Not at work though. Golly, this project is supposed to save time later on. For the geeks out there, our database (MS SQL) Server has been reconfigured so we can get IT support. This means that I will no longer have administrative access (godlike). The upside is that I won't be tasked with anywhere near the administrative overhead. The growing pains while I troubleshoot security and such keeps me busy. There's a little light at the end of the tunnel. Either that light means I'm close to having things ironed out, or we're near death.

I've a rather long blog I started last week, but it will have to wait a bit longer, unless I accidentally delete it. Anyway, on Saturday I rode up a bit past Leavenworth with Richard to get some peaches from a fruit stand he patronizes. Helen whom he likes was there, all five feet of her. She's in her seventies at least, and will tire you out if you watch her too closely! I wanted to try my hand at making some country (non-grape) wine again. It has been several years, and I always had pretty good luck. One of my favorites was the peach wine, and I didn't have terribly flavorful peaches that time. This time I'm hoping for something a little nicer. Helen said the peaches would be ready for canning in three days, and ready for drying or making wine in about four days. Tomorrow I get to wipe off the fuzz and squish 25 pounds of peaches. I think I'll dehydrate most of the leftovers for snacking and cooking later on in the year.

Saturday morning to meet Richard at his house, and we had breakfast on the way, got back, chatted for a bit, then I got a call from my brother. It was a pleasure seeing Richard. We get along quite well, but schedules make more than blog communications quite rare lately.

Then it was off to my brother's for a belated birthday dinner after playing on the jet ski. My second time around on the jet ski, and it was a blast again. I went out for a short five minute jaunt just to get familiarized. Then after people had theri turns I went again, with Jimmy as passenger. We had a good time, and upon returning Jimmy said, "Uncle Scott was rippin'!" Pretty high praise. My forearm was a little sore the following day from gripping the handlebars in order to keep from bouncing off.

While we were sitting in the park waiting for Eric, Ericka, and Cartman the dog to get done Jimmy started asking about my pursuits. He is more interested in my artistic pursuits than most, and he asked enthusiastically to hear the Shakespeare monologue. He loved it, as it was fun being Friar Lawrence lecturing the fourteen year old Romeo. He got most of it, but I think he really likes the sound and rhythm of the verse too. He is fourteen and this year he is forgoing football so he can focus more on hockey and guitar. On Sunday he went up to Vancouver BC for a guitar camp at the university. Very cool, but I couldn't help thinking to myself, "Eh, studying guitar in Canada? What about hockey?"

Ericka and I hung out in the lake for quite a while the others were playing on the jet ski. She's become quite a swimmer, so it was nice. I was the family waterdog when we grew up. She is very excited about going to another opera this year, which I confirmed on her twelfth birthday on the 6th. I discovered something surprising as I floated in the water. I wasn't as buoyant as I expected. I float at about the same point I floated about forty pounds and a dozen years ago, with my nose right at the surface. Is it because I have more muscle mass which drops my actual body fat percentage, or because I've a bar of stainless steel running done the center of my right tibia? Probably a bit of both so I can't beat up on myself too badly or be too sanguine.

Big sister Chelsea is doing quite well too. She was just back from Bolivia, for a gymnastics trip, and the most poignant recollection for her right now was a mangled corpse they saw on the way from the airport. Pretty startling for a seventeen year old who had never seen a dead body before. I didn't get much chance to find out more about the trip, but I'm sure she'll enjoy talking about it for a while to come.

Then, steak for dinner and Tonia's potato salad. Ah, treats. Tonia started making potato salad quite a while back, and it started out a bit dry and bland, and it has evolved into a real treat. After dinner I opened cards and a birthday present, the new Harry Potter book, then we watched Meet The Fokkers, which was more fun than I expected. By then it was quite late, and as I was quietly getting my motorcycle gear on in the other room Tonia brought me a goodly portion of potato salad to take home. I'm really glad she did, I'll be enjoying it for a few more days.

I must have gotten a little sunburned on Saturday. I felt a little off and very tired, so I ended up mostly reading and working on Sunday. (Oh joy.) I haven't had a reading day in quite a while, probably a year or two, and this wasn't a dedicated one, so I only got halfway through the Harry Potter book. Yesterday I was still pretty tired, and read another hundred pages or so. I expect I'll have it finished the end of the week.

On the way home yesterday I stopped at Men's Wearhouse. Time to get a new suit. It's been about eight years, and while that one fits again, I wanted something with matching trousers. It's a darkish gray and should work nicely for Steve and Paula's wedding this Sunday, as well as the opera and big theatre houses. I think it will look good.

A full weekend, and I enjoyed it more because of the busy schedule which starts in three weeks. I'm looking forward to it very much, but I know I won't have many weekends like this until next Summer. It behooves me to savor them now.

Of course this is everybody's busiest time of Summer, so I'll not be catching up with people as I would like. It will make catching up during breaks, or after ETI all that much more fun. I also expect it will be like Meisner, but more so. I will flat out lose touch with some people, and make some new friends. I've gone on about this, and I think it is a good thing. Friends and friendships are dynamic, some you connect with once others over and over. That in itself is not really good or bad, it just is. My challenge is to be dynamic myself. The same drive which sent me in pursuit of art.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Swinging Feet

I'm going to break the post I started Friday into three separate ones. A simple journal entry, a political rant, and a bit about ETI schedule.

Lazy days. I think not having air conditioning can be a good thing. Of course, I live in the Pacific Northwest where temps in the upper 80's and 90's aren't uncommon, but certainly aren't commonplace either. More so than when I was a kid. Two reasons for that, I don't live on the water now and the climate is a bit warmer in these parts.

Go to work, do some tasks afterwards, then relax as the evening changes from muggy to comfy. It is a nice routine, which somehow reminds me of the seasons. A lot of us missed the definite seasons when we were in the Navy and stationed in Key West, Guam, and such places. There was a subtle thing which enhanced our well-being when experiencing the seasons, and we missed it in the tropics or sub-tropics. Probably made up for by not really having grey seasons. These muggy days of Summer have a similar feel. They supply a counterpoint to more moderate days and the evenings which I enjoy.

My evenings have been like that last couple weeks. I did get to watch Unforgiven on my birthday, and I enjoyed it. The following night I watched The 13th Warrior. It's got a plot I like, action, and some good acting. Of course, there is a suspension of disbelief with Antonio Banderas playing an Arab. One of my favorite concepts is the civilized Arab stuck with the Northern barbarians. Stabs at a preconception which we certainly need to shed if we want to end our strife with the middle east.

Yesterday I joined my folks and Beth to go see the current show at the Intiman. If you're local I highly recommend it. The Tricky Part is a one man show about the actor's experience with a pedophile. Uncomfortable material, with the humor balanced perfectly to let the audience breathe, without trivializing the story one iota.

Afterwards we had dinner. My second night out for nice dinners in a row. Saturday it was at Pasta Bella's on Queen Anne Hill (wonderful) with Steve and Gregory celebrating Steve's nuptials (Paula was kidnapped for her bachelorette party), then down to GameWorks and several hours of video games. Surprisingly fun. We were also celebrating Gregory's pending move to New Jersey for the Rutger's MFA program. And finally we were celebrating my acceptance into ETI. An artsy bunch. Dinner on Sunday with my folks and Beth was more of a birthday dinner for myself, and they even brought a gift, which surprised me. Don't know why, except that I haven't associated my birthday with gifts for years.

I'm still on my ice cream kick. I've got my technique down for one recipe, and now I'll start trying other recipes, then experimenting a bit. But I need to be on a kick (or binge) for that to work so the differences are more easily recognized and remembered. I'm going to try a no-cook fresh strawberry batch tonight.

Another year gone
Filled the soul with memories
Grand, warm, not, all grow.

Abominable Feat

Don't you just love these wholesome family value guys? Dick Cheney sets new precedents on the senate floor with his potty mouth. Novak the same on his show. Meanwhile the republicans after telling the democrats for nearly a decade they need to emulate the republicans to succeed, are reviling Dean for hollering in a way which is tame by the standards of vitriol and frequency of their main guys like Newt.

What are some professions we like to run down because of their ethical lapses? Lawyers of course, though mostly it is not fair. It is the clients we should scrutinize more closely. Doctors are getting there, though it is not fair either, but in this case they are getting away with murder. Literally if my experience with some of the corporate sponsored, legalized drug pushers (Dr. Feelgoods) helping my mother destroy her life is any indicator. Car and siding salesmen are pretty low. Getting close to the bottom of the barrel are insurance people. The very dregs, the worst in my mind are marketers.

I know and respect people in all these professions, but they do have their special people. With the possible exception of marketers I'd state positively that the majority of the people working these professions are ethical. Luckily the marketers I work with are all very ethical -- part of the reason I like Expedia. My hesitation with marketers is the deeply entrenched disrespect of other's privacy which makes insurance companies seem positively decent, and their predation on children which is of lesser degree but greater scope than all the bad clergy in all the catholic and fundamental christian organizations and independent pedophiles combined.

Who is the staunchest supporter of marketing and other premeditated deceptive practices (and fundamentalism)? Conservatives. Republicans. The quest for the almighty buck is their highest and only tenet, and any way they can deceive or exercise faith-based power to achieve those ends is desirable. I'm beginning to think we should register conservatives. Protect your children, savings, soul, and privacy from these incurable sharks.

So, I think Dean made an ass of himself, which is not so amazing because I've thought the same of so many conservatives. Like the little weasel sitting in the oval office who has successfully hidden and sealed his military records which undoubtedly show incompetence and dereliction during wartime and pouted or thrown tantrums when challenged. Geesh he hasn't changed much, except the cowardly smiling little turd (and his blossom) started this war. Like Vietnam, he is not serving honorably and is again taking unearned leaves.

It is mainstream marketing tactics which have convinced people w is charming, tough, etc. According to recent polls less than half the country believes he is honest now. We may be slow, but if you steal our lives and lunch money enough times we'll begin to disapprove.

There is not, and never was any justification for attacking Iraq. People are just beginning to see this, and though there will be those tools who will always choose to believe the war criminals running the country. The CIA was ordered to provide bogus information, and now they are blamed by the people making the order for supplying bogus information. The very people who ordered the bogus information also swore to the country we'd have everything sorted out by early Summer, or late Summer at the latest and fired Generals for disagreeing. It is now two years later, and those brave generals are languishing in retirement.

I told people I believed the intelligence was bogus because of my experience in the field and the blatant coercion of the CIA. I told them the same about us getting out by June of 2003. I've never bothered to remind them of what I said, as they have already bought or seen through the transparent alibis and excuses -- the only thing transparent in our government at the moment. I want a new slogan for the liberals. To answer the time honored conservative slogan, "You're with us or you're against us." I want to say "You're against them or you're an avaricious coward." Too long for a bumper sticker, which is also a good measure of the average neocon attention span.

My heart's simm'ring rage,
Cowards screeching for our grit,
Our finite life's blood.

Getting On My Feet

Last week I received my ETI schedule in the mail. It made everything seem more immediate. I asked myself, "What the Hell have I done?" To answer the question with all of it's implied fear, joy, excitement, and trepidation, I sent in the first two payments for the year this afternoon. The third and final is due October 1.

The best thing about getting started with the program. I'll be immersed and working, and no longer stewing about it. I expect it will be like Meisner. Lot's of days I just wanted to skip it. Never did. I knew I'd be disgusted with myself, and each time I enjoyed the class. That's a funny thing. So many people had a love/hate relationship with Meisner. I loved it every day, even the classes where the exercise terrified me like when we all sang a cappella for the rest of the class. It seems that was the one class which terrified the most people, which made me feel a lot better. Other Meisnerites look at me strange when I say I loved the class all the time. I didn't always enjoy it, but I always felt I was going somewhere important and felt the presence of the divine. Something I've only felt a few times in the high tech world, generally in a military jet at flying at forty thousand feet or any altitude doing acrobatics or dogfights. The few transcendent experiences at a keyboard as a programmer pale in comparison to flying which itself pales when compared to what art does to me.

Anyway, I expect many of those frequent struggles this year as much as I expect to love it for the subtly private and profound rapture.

Here is the schedule for the first term. Less than a month away. Oh my God!

September 6 - December 18
Tuesday:
03:30PM - 06:30PM -- Movement
06:30PM - 07:00PM -- Break
07:00PM - 08:30PM -- Combat
08:30PM - 10:30PM -- Speech

Friday:
09:00AM - 10:30AM -- Combat
10:30AM - 12:30PM -- Voice
12:30PM - 01:30PM -- Break
01:30PM - 05:00PM -- Acting

Sunday:
11:30AM - 02:30PM -- Movement
02:30PM - 04:30PM -- Speech
04:30PM - 05:00PM -- Break
05:00PM - 07:00PM -- Voice
07:15PM - 10:30PM -- Acting

Plus two one hour drills without faculty during one or more of the following windows:
07:45AM - 09:45AM -- Monday, Tuesday, and/or Thursday


Around the corner
Fear awaits, routine to be,
Scare me to happy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

Slept in this morning to make up for waking at 4:30 AM yesterday. Don't know why I woke so early and stayed up yesterday, but I nearly caught up on my morning papers and got into the office quite early. I woke just before my alarm this morning, which oddly makes me more groggy that first ten minutes. Checked my work E-mail client to see if I had to rush for any meetings. Nope, but there was a surprise.

My sister who I haven't heard from in about five months had sent me Happy Birthday greetings at one in the morning, which was pretty close the time I was actually delivered. Thanks sis! I had forgotten. It wasn't all that long ago when I woke on my birthday, the 4th, Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving and knew it was that special day before I was even awake. Now my favorite day of the year is when we go off of Daylight Savings Time and I get an extra guilt free hour of sleep time. ;) Maybe I'm not really that jaded, but I can joke about it. After all it's my birthday.

I'm 48 today, and I almost titled this entry as "1/3 Gross." Of course with a strong bent towards dark humor and working as a carpenter through college for six years, where I was a pre-med majoring in biology, then a sailor for ten years, I lost my sense of propriety. Bad words and blood and gore are just part of the job. Ten years in software has not yet made me fit for polite company (THANK GOD!). The point is those with sensitive tummies look on me as being completely gross, so proclaiming I'm only a third gross is a bit of a let down. Raiders is one of my all time favorite movies, and that is one of my favorite scenes, immediately after Indy gets clobbered in the face by the heavy swiveling mirror. Hence the title.

Nothing today. No chiropractor. No rehearsal. No class. (No class either.) No get togethers. I'm so looking forward to a little quiet. My sister in law Tonia keeps track of things, so she might tell Eric who'd get all frantic trying to figure out something, but I doubt it. I hope not. Things are plenty hectic in their household right now. Tonia's mother who had a stroke then a broken hip a few years ago, broke her humerus last week. The worst part, is it was while my nephew was helping her. She is stubborn, which I understand, but she dug in against the physical therapy instead of against the stroke induced limitations. An amazing and strong woman, so maybe she is simply tired. But Jimmy is feeling guilty, and being 14 is bad enough all by itself. It will be a while before we can tell him not to break his grandma again. Our family copes with humor, but you can't introduce it too soon.

My birthday celebration? I think I'll do a little house work, very little, then relax and watch Unforgiven. I've been wanting to watch it for a couple weeks because of the fantastic performances by Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, and Clint. Hackman and Harris play vile characters, and Eastwood as a plain man driven to act even more vile. I rented it the other night, because I can't find my tape anywhere.

Pretty weird, huh? Looking forward to a solitary tranquil evening to celebrate my birthday. (Of course, I've a little ice cream to keep me company.) I think the let down of having the class canceled, getting my sleep pattern messed up yesterday, and knowing how full my life has been since I got back on my feet in April and will be for a long time starting a month from now have all conspired to make a quiet time alone seem like the very picture of contentment.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mean Mr. Mustard

Been pretty busy. Little things, lots of them. Not much of note. I'm getting a few more areas of my house under control, as I don't expect have much time to do it once school starts, and I'm finding the nicer rooms make me feel better. Didn't give a whip a few years ago. I looked at my living room last night and said, "Bleccch!" Funny, as it is less cluttered and messy than it would have been after a good holystoning a few years ago.

Saturday was sweltering, so of course that is the day I tackled the giant pile of papers. It is all gone, with about half going through the shredder. It is an inexpensive little shredder and is now asking, what the Sam Hell were you thinking? Hey I don't have air conditioning, so I felt as miserable. Made money too, as I didn't realize anyone had sent me checks, and found the Navy check I thought was never sent. They changed envelopes this year. It will help me pay for ETI, and this year's check will cover the balance.

I just got a call from Freehold. The Shakespeare Intensive has been cancelled. Too much confusion with the (pregnant) instructor in the hospital with pneumonia, and too many people dropped the course. I was perfectly willing to make up the missed classes and work with a substitute for the first week. I'm a little disappointed people couldn't deal with it. It was a big commitment and a reasonable though costly tuition. If you were willing to take the class, it seems to me you should have been willing to work it out. I think there were a couple people expecting magic, getting something out of the class without working at it, just having a detailed syllabus and paying the money. For me, to really get something down I have to work it several times, burn it in so to speak.

With ETI coming up, I probably didn't really need the Shakespeare course so much right now, but I planned to take it anyway to give me a little more exposure before the conservatory immersion. Maybe I'll take a motorcycle trip this month instead. Ride down to California or up to Canada again. Or maybe be smart and get work done around the house so I have a more tranquil refuge while balancing the day job and intense vocational training, then take a real break after the first quarter.

The ice cream I made for Sunday came out fantastic. I'm not big on chocolate ice cream, except for what I make. I think some of it is the elbow grease factor, like when I make bread which I knead by hand. I think it tastes better because of the more personal involvement when doing things yourself. The ice cream more so, because I cranked the bucket after a sweltering day of sorting papers.

I went to the Lavy's picnic, and Joseph had a bit before I left and was quite enthusiastic. I've had a small bowl as a dessert the last couple days, and I've quite enjoyed it. It also has the benefit of satisfying me quickly. Four to six ounces leaves me as happy as a pint of any of the store bought ice creams. That keeps the intake down. Plus store ice cream is a lot less appealing when I've been eating the homemade. Even less intake, as I don't buy it. So, I make ice cream to keep my weight down. Lovely bit of reasoning, eh?

I just got an E-mail from Stuart, who directed The Cherry Orchard and wrote an ETI letter of reference for me. Last week I'd thanked him, passed on Trina's compliments about the show, and let him know I was accepted. His reply was very gracious and he attached the letter he wrote for my files. Very nice -- it made me blush. It more than makes up for the sour response I got from the other director I worked with this year. One of the things Stuart mentioned was the distinct characters I created! You may remember that was my number one goal, and at least three people I respect have commented on it. It is nice feedback right now because looking at the gruelling year about to start, the recurrent actor confidence crisis is waxing. Here's to waning, may it start soon!

It is a gift to have people who believe in you. Undoubtedly the most important person to believe in you is yourself. It is still important to have that support from others. In the last year I've had significant roles in two productions and it was the director earlier in the year who was so discouraging. Stuart's encouragement and kind words will be remembered and somehow a part of me for a long time to come.

The other fella? Well, he's one of those people I'd be very careful about working with again, because it would be harder to trust him again. To be fair I wasn't focused for that production, as I was trying to do everything I'd learned the year before in Meisner. I should have known better.

Do we choose people who thrive on tearing us down or those who are encouraging and caring? Boiling it down to the essence like this makes it sound like a leading question. It is really hard to live that way. Picking people who are sincere and encouraging is the way to go. People who give sincere encouragement and compliments are almost always thoughtful enough to suggest caution too. People who need to tear down others to build themselves up only seem to give encouragement when they feel coerced. Ever notice how compliments from someone who usually yells, micromanages, and/or manipulates mean less than shit? I think it is because it is simply an artifice meant to put you in their debt for the great effort they made to be gracious.

There are people like this we feel bound to, or have some affection towards, who in reality are life-force vampires. It is so hard to distance or separate from them. Why the Hell is it so hard? One of those human conundrums I suppose. We convince ourselves the guilt or pain of shedding the parasites is worse than dealing with them. Hello! I've finally started shedding some of those people and I have yet to be racked with guilt. Not a one of the soul defilers has caused me any pain once I purged their grip. The trick is recognizing them not for what they are, but for what they do to you. They may not be bad for everybody. If they are bad for you, don't get mad. Get away!