Acting Up

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

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

Allie's Journey

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hope...

I was going to call this "Damn..." and thought the Hell with that. I hope it will soon be clear.

I'm irritated about my cold and the need to buy some prep H. The second time I've had to do that. Not as bad this time, but it makes the occasional coughing fit for this cold a literal pain in the butt. No serious problems, just a call to rest for one and call to evaluate my diet again for the other. Still I'm a little sour about these annoyances.

I had a reminder I didn't remember adding for Rich DeLorme's birthday. We'd gotten together once trying to get a writing group started. He was a couple years from overcoming cancer, the same type as Lance Armstrong battled. I remembered him as a very likeable fellow, who also had some theatre background as an actor in New York, and a delightfully silly four year old daughter running in circles around the coffee table (I wanted to join her). So I sent him a short happy birthday note. I got back an automated reply that he is out of the office on medical leave until further notice.

I don't think I've seen him since that one meeting, don't think I'd recognize him in a group, and I still feel gutted. I remember thinking this is the kind of person when you meet them, something tells you if they aren't a friend they should be.

During that meeting he shared a couple poems with us about his fight with cancer, and I got his permission to post them. It puts my little cold and discomfort into perspective.

I don't know details, but I'll be sending my hopes and prayers his way.

If I didn't have this damn cold I'd be trying to find a friend to have dinner with. Oh well, I should probably do more Pinter homework anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Fights

I'm still fighting a bug. Quite a balance to strive for, with work, training, and rest. So far I'm doing well, by missing out socially. I just got another large cup of tea, mmm. My folks got me a large mug with "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." from As You Like It on it. Pretty pictures too. A bag of decaf green tea and a caffeine free lemon herb. Even the caffeine in tea gets to me these days, still, it is a little decaf pleasure I am looking forward to.

This is sad. I was looking at the news online while I ate my breakfast yesterday. They had a picture of bush (I can't bring myself to honor him with capitalization), and he looked much older than his years. More like his father's age. If this were a man I merely disagreed with, I'd feel a little badly the years were hard on him. Instead I felt incensed he isn't more ravaged. I can not imagine a punishment which could possibly atone for the damage our vicious little martinet has visited on the world, including our own country. There have been presidents I disliked, but never one I detested to the core of my being. I resent this deeply. I can see the country is finally beginning to open their eyes to his policies of greed and cowardice, but it is a matter of too little, too late.

My father likes the analogy of a pendulum for a democracy. We tend to swing past the optimum spot, but on average we maintain a wonderful balance. I'd say we've somewhat overbalanced the swing to a bizarre and amoral version conservatism. If we ever recover, it will not happen quickly. I do not see how it can happen in my life time. We have willingly given our government and corporations too much dictatorial power, and now that it has been granted wresting liberty back will be a hundred times harder, especially since they have our number. Make us afraid, give us a shopping discount and we'll justify anything. ANYTHING. (for example: Brownie just got a job with FEMA as a consultant on the agencies response to Katrina.) Again a sad situation, when there is no rational way to view your government except as hugely successful organized crime.

Last night was the end of week three for ETI (Ensemble Training Intensive). It was a full eleven hour day, as the acting class ran long. 11:30 AM until a bit after 10:30 PM. Here's a bit of irony. During our speech class we each finished the following sentence. "What really terrifies me is..." I said, "What really terrifies me is getting in a physical confrontation and losing control again." I was thinking of cases where I simply froze and did nothing, and a few others, maybe three or four times in my life where I did some amazing things, responding with incredible and implacable strength. I remember once in the navy in a training situation, and twice in public school. I did things I 'knew' I did not have the strength or knowledge to do, like taking down large numbers of people, or dealing with someone in a way making the rest of my peers cautious around me. Those responses bother me more than the seemingly fearful freezing, because I don't remember what happened in two of them. I've joked about the berserker blood of my Viking ancestors, but it is a worry.

We had our last two classes of the day in the theatre. During the final class, acting, we did our scenes, with one of the seven two person groups preparing while the rest of us waited in or around the lobby. During one of these short breaks one of my classmates said, "Hey, that drunk guy is getting your riding suit." Sure enough, a slender young black fellow three or four inches taller than me was putting on my suit. I just did. I told him you'll have to take that off, it is my suit. And started 'helping' him. He said something about giving some guy ten bucks for it, and I politely said they were wrong as I helped him step out of the suit. Then I firmly and courteously escorted him out of the theatre, making sure he found his way to the stairs safely, and locking the door.

Afterwards I realized the irony given my earlier stated fear, and thought about it. I found it odd I didn't get nervous or scared. I was simply firm and polite. I think I was thinking in terms of presence. I wanted to be authoritative and non-threatening. I didn't want a scene, just wanted to get the fellow pointed in the right direction. As he was leaving he said something which made me think he was a musician and his friends had messed with him when he got blotto. He smelled like a distillery, but he didn't seem like a regular drunk. I'd guess he's got a headache and some embarrassment this morning, and hopefully he remembers getting a compassionate bum's rush. I got a couple during my mispent youth too. Even if he remembers he doesn't know the situation was a demon for me, even if it didn't get tense.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Bit Off

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of when I started the Meisner Progression. The only other class start date I remember is March 25, 1984, when I reported for basic training in the Navy. What do they have in common, that I remeber the date with such clarity? Both those dates mark the beginning a concrete commitment to a large change in my life.

Today I'm feeling more like I did in 1984 Pensacola. We all got nasty head colds the first week of training. Right now I'm fighting a bug, which I think I got from my officemate. There is no good time to catch a bug, but this isn't as bad a time as others. We'll finish work on our Tennessee Williams pieces tomorrow, and next week we'll be starting Pinter's The Dumbwaiter. No rehearsals until after we are assigned scene partners. We'll be spending this week in script analysis. That means I can work on it at home, and will be able to find more time for sleeping. Right when I'll really need it. I hope it does the trick.

Today is full. A couple hours rehearsal in the morning, I'm at work now for eight hours, then to a fund raiser for Exchange Theatre, and to meet Paula, Steve and others for Paula's birthday. The latter two events will be short for me so I can get to sleep. During all this I want to get off book for the scene we'll work tomorrow. It's not required, but it would certainly make the work more fun.

Well, I decided I'm going to have to miss everything tonight, unless I miraculously feel chipper in the next few hours. My friends will miss me a little, but I'm certainly not under the impression their world turns around me. That is the misconception of those without enough real friends. You likely have too much invested in too few relationships, and expect them to have the same unbalance. I realized I was reverting to that very old unbalanced habit, and begged off with Vince, and Steve and Paula. I suppose it's another case where having healthy relationships allows you to be healthier physically.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Finding Pieces for the Whole

I feel pretty drained. I also feel pretty filled. I feel good physically. Then again, I feel a lot of physical pains. I'm wide awake to the world. I'm really tired. I sleep soundly with more dreams. I wake up easily and frequently. I enjoy my day job more. I want to give up my day job. I want to crawl away and rest for a couple days. I want to celebrate for a couple days. My days are filled beginning to end.

My life is in flux. Once again, I don't quite know where it is I'm going but I'm engaged in going somewhere specific, striving to be fully engaged. Not surprisingly I'm using the terms in the theatrical convention, but it certainly applies to my life as a whole right now.

My other blog, which is not indexed is at http://etij.blogspot.com. It ain't a secret, rather a tool totally for myself. It serves a couple purposes. First, is my class journal/notebook, which I'd think is pretty dry and basic for others not in theatre and at a point to distant in their path. One of the instructors, George I think, suggested keeping just such a journal expecting a few of us will become instructors somewhere ourselves and it is a nice reference when preparing for that first class and you're asking yourself, "Where the Hell do I start?" The second is for observations I make regarding art as it applies to the training and theatre. Basically an online version of a class notebook. Pretty dry stuff for the most part, simply a record of what I'm spending most of my energy on these days.

On Monday I finally got to see Steve and Paula again, back a bit over a week from their honeymoon. We saw Frozen at the Empty Space. Wow. Heavy topic, a serial pedophile murderer and the mother of one of the victims, and a psychiatrist studying the killer. The first half hour or more was a series of monologues providing backstory and exposition and drawing the characters together before the first interactions. The topic, the structure of the play, and the stark set made it a challenging production. Any weakness in any one of the actors and the show would have gone to doodoo. I don't know if someone outside of the inner workings of theatre would be aware of that, but they'd certainly recognize something sublime was going on.

One of my voice instructors, Kate, is in the show. She and the other two actors were incredible. It was not easy material, and watching the show I was astounded as it unfolded. I was easily pulled into the world, even while being aware that every one of the actors had to be terrific for the show to work, and work it did. It is a raw psychological and spiritual exploration, and even if that is not your cup of tea I don't know how you could fail to be impressed. And this was the third of four previews. If like most shows it grows during the run it will be truly phenomenal. Seeing work like this makes you feel a little intimidated about calling yourself an actor or artist. There is also a yearning ache to participate in something as powerful. It is not a hopeless feeling, after all I am in ETI something I thought was a decade away a bit over two years ago.

It was wonderful to get out for a show like this. All the discussion of theatre and art in class and here can get to feeling a bit removed. I work with a great ensemble, and instructors for whom I have a great deal of respect, many of whom I've seen do this kind of work. I'm reminded that while I like sitting at the feet of masters and learning, that is not the end goal. That is one of the traps. It is a snare, where you get caught in the mode of growth at the master's feet for it's own sake. At some point you risk becoming an erudite couch potato. There is also the trap of losing touch with the art itself you are working to hone. I can't imagine going through a program like this without getting out to see some productions. I want to be involved in the life blood of theatre, and I crave the breath of that life every so often.

It was of course wonderful to see Steve and Paula as well. I was looking forward to that much more than the show. Afterwards we walked down to Costa's, where they snacked and I had dinner. I was starving, and ate a bit too quickly though not so much that I had trouble getting to sleep. They are starting to build something. Getting married feels like it was a catalyst, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they will go. It will be fun. We were chatting about their honeymoon and got around to ETI. I quipped after ETI I'll either be a broken man or craving a long, long rest. Paula said nonsense. I'd be itching to get back into a show within two weeks. I laughed. I don't know about two weeks, but it likely won't be much longer.

Training takes training. I've upped the training stakes continually. Every time I get deeply involved I figure I'll want a long rest, then it turns out a short rest is all I can bear. I now know from experience the training is not something which will burn me out. That and getting out to see shows serve to keep me motivated and invested.

Every once in a while I remind myself during class to stay tuned in. Something I have never done before. Not during 20 years of public school and college. Not during my ten years in the Navy, most of which it seems was training time. This is a new approach and habit, radically different from my old mode of going into a near trance focused simply on sticking it out. How much of that change is art, how much maturity? I suspect it is a nonsensical question, rather it is a maturity and focus I gained from art.

Where else can I challenge myself in ways I never imagined and commune with fellow human beings? I'd be surprised if there are paths which can make one whole which are devoid of art. I'd be more surprised to find in the afterlife that I stumbled into the only path which would take me towards being a whole being. It is enough I found a path to start upon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Oh, Bother

Austere, that is the word I was looking for. I was reading a blog about Leonid Anisimov, and there it was. I skipped my coffee this morning, deciding I didn't feel like caffeine. I've dropped alcohol, caffeine, uh... herbs, most of my morning ritual, and so on. I didn't say I'm quitting. Just decided I didn't have time. I hadn't set out a course of austerity, it came to me.

Funny thing about that. Right now I'm at work for a bit with a splitting headache. Kind of an interesting switch. Going to work for a while in the evening after a day full of theatre.

Some stuff has gone awry, there's a couple individuals I'd like to practice some aggressive behavior upon. Still, I'm thinking of this unplanned dumping of vices or indulgences. I feel a slightly more aesthetic world view, while at the same time fantasizing about visiting physical violence on a couple people. I feel hard and soft. Understanding and out of patience. Go figure.

G'night. I'm going home, and I can now finish my work tomorrow after rehearsal with my scene partner.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Never Never Land

Okay, this is cool. Yesterday and today my scene partner and I scheduled 11:30-12:30 for working the beats of our scene. I've never had a class or worked on a show where a scene partner was so available, though it was close in Meisner. We both have jobs, at different times, thank you Mr Murphy. Still, we find times that work for us. None of this, "Well I guess it won't work out this week," or "We've done enough for now." Part of it is the nature of the course, and part I believe is the kind of work we're all striving for.

You may remember I mentioned last year a couple actors in Rumors asked if I'd teach them 'stuff' from my Meisner experience, and I said I 'd love to do some flat reads and beat work for the scenes to share some of the process we'd worked in Meisner. They didn't bite after I said that. I think in professional theatre most times the actors have their own processes and don't want to work together outside of rehearsal. So this kind of team work which I enjoy may only be available for a class of this nature, or a true ensemble type theatre.

This is a wonderful space to be in, and underneath there is more of an awareness that work outside of official rehearsal or class is a gift, than I had in the past. I'm more experienced I suppose, so I know this work will generally be done in a more individual way for normal productions. It enhances my appreciation now, and I hope leaves me better prepared for the outside of class experience.

Last night, was plain weird. I had this recurring dream topic. I'd wake up having just dreamt I checked the time and I only had five or ten minutes before my alarm would go off. Once would be okay, but every 45 minutes? If I hadn't been so sleepy and muzzy I'd have cursed like the sailor I once was. Anyone have any messed up dream experiences like that. (PS - this paragraph is an afterthought, and not what the blog title was intended to refer to, though it kind of works.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What's The Difference?
or
Bad Math

I woke at 6:30AM this morning, getting to bed a little after midnight last night. Here's the unusual part. I feel great. Despite the over-full schedule the clean living is doing me good. I'm nicely sore in several areas. The knee and foot on the recovering leg are tender but do not have an injured feeling. I stay conscious of these during or physical training classes, movement and combat, so I can adjust appropriately. My goal is not to bypass work to these areas, but to nurture them back to fullness.

I did indeed go to class with fewer butterflies yesterday. More like the level before an enjoyable show in the middle of a run. It's nice to know my feeling about that worked out.

I started to post comment to Rachel's comment yesterday, then realized it was going to go on a bit. It made total sense and was descriptive of my feelings too, though from a different direction. Sort of an outside->in vs an inside->out process. It got me to thinking about the richness of variety, having a singular passion either resulting from or leading to a diversity of passions (a lovely paradox), and how it varies...

Two precipitous life changes led me to theatre and passion. First was getting the nicotine monkey off my back. I quit a 20+ year Copenhagen habit of no less than a can a day on June 14, 1999. The second started a couple years earlier, and continued throughout. Socializing myself. I'd always been very withdrawn, shy. I started asking people for fun little social get togethers, learning to delight in the people who came instead of obsessing on those who didn't or couldn't. It also taught me to accept invitations, maybe a harder step.

The nicotine was sucking my energy. The isolation was sucking my soul. I stopped withering, and even with the concomitant spiritual reawakening I still felt sere. Still, the deep forest was just trees, though a little greener. Children were only kids, though more engaging. Emotions slight bumps in the road. Existence was muffled, musty.

The growth in getting over isolation and nicotine was a nascent habit. I decided to explore the arts at the Bellevue Community College Continuing Education program. Scheduling and other externals caused me to pick the acting class first. It was a serendipitous start, though I'd still like to do some drawing and painting classes sometime. Through theatre life caught fire. The forest moves me deeply again, and I suspect my first time back to the ocean will make me weep. Children excite and tickle my soul. I love to play in their world with them, and while I treat them as equals I want to protect them, and rend or smite anyone who would assault their innocence and joy prematurely. Emotions are rich, deep, varied. Existence is a continual gift. Theatre is my artistic outlet, maybe my vocation, and it continues to bring wildly divergent experience and loves into my life.

I suspect we're on the same wavelength. Theatre has made my life bigger. It makes me wonder how many experiences we share with our fellow beings which are nearly identical are expressed in very different, but mutually inclusive ways.

Well it's been a long day, doing some firefighting. I won't get a chance to do much of my homework tonight. It's a get home, eat, and get up early day tomorrow. I don't like being at the office this late, but it isn't stopping me from looking forward to tomorrow. Besides, that means I'll have less time to catch up on come Saturday. *Hafa Adai my friends.

*"Hafa Adai" according to a friend when I was on Guam is not simply hello. It is hello, farewell, Blessings Upon You, Live Long and Prosper and so on. My favorite is the meaning behind "Blessings Upon You." The phase is similar to Aloha or the Thai greeting and farewell blessing which for the life of me I can't remember.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Heart

I've been boring and a bit tedious for a while here. Big news, you never noticed, right? Sarcasm is so unattractive. I've been working out some issues of import to myself, and I think I've arrived at a detente of sorts with myself. If I'm not fooled by my own hyperbole, I'll be back to more mundane observations, rants at our amoral and incompetent leadership(?) in dc and maybe even some humor.

I've been thinking about my experience last night and how it provided affirmation for me in a tangible and experiential manner. It became fused with another line of thought I've been exploring the last few days. In different blogs and relationships many people I know are in states of flux or major self-evaluation. Some people moving on to new things, others coming back or expanding. Constant change. Change is not an unusual state and it seems to be especially large for people I'm connected to right now.

Several people are finding their passion is not enough for them. I understand that. All too well. I have had many passions in my life, but they weren't enough to hold me long term. Computer science is one. The industry (Microsoft in particular) glass ceiling for programmers over thirty as well as their and University of Washington's Computer Science Department discrimination against veterans were not insurmountable, not even close. Rather they were pesky obstacles which were more of a pain in the ass than the goal was worth to me.

The Navy's intense effort during flight training to erase the joy of flying, worked temporarily. Then I was assigned to an aircraft which was fun, but not enthralling. I wanted aircraft carrier ops, high g-force nap of the earth high speed low level and dogfight type flying. The intelligence collection was fun, but not wonderful. I'm thinking of getting my private license after ETI, so my joy of flying wasn't killed, it just wasn't available.

These technical passions were finite, and didn't lead anywhere special. Sure you could become a big name in the field like Niklaus Wirth. Would anybody but geeks would know of him? Would it enrich your soul to be like him? No, and I don't know, I can't see it. I thought so at one time, but nothing ever came close in technology. I perceive a pervasive dehumanizing aspect to high tech which gets in my way.

When an artist like Rachel says theatre just isn't enough, I understand. Sometimes your heart or your art needs to be carried to another field, cross pollinating one or both. This isn't something I can say right now. My passion is still alive -- hungry and growing -- hesitance or being conservative would be a denial and limiting for me at this time. So while this is a large change for me in level of commitment, it is perseverance along an already established path.

Last night was personally meaningful because once again I was reminded of the deep joy and fulfillment for me in this work, something I have needed of late. The old confidence doldrums. And I'm not the only one to have made a jump. The people I know in ETI seem advanced far beyond what they would have picked up during Meisner and the time since. I was aware of the beauty of it in those other people, before I had a hint of it in myself.

As they say, I get a little 'heady' in this journal. That is, a lot of times I am analyzing and applying my more logical thought processes. It is helpful and often clarifies issues for me, but it is only a small part of the journey. It is a common thought that ultimately the journey is more important than the goal. Well, a little triumph like I experienced last night is one of those small changes I see in myself which I talked of a couple days ago. They renew my heart, which guides my journey. It is important to stop for refills along the way. Especially, if the journey is the thing. Otherwise you'd lose heart along the way no matter how hard you tried.

Another two threads come together here for me. One is keeping my heart during a journey, because I have lost it a number of times in the past, the Navy and Computer Science only being the two in which I invested the most time and energy. This time I don't want to lose heart, which is the second thread. I want this. I need it. I have worked hard and risked for it. In some way the desire and the commitment in taking this step has changed me itself. I am a better actor, a deeper artist, for taking this step, albeit a small beginning step. Why? Simply because I took the step. That is the second thread, interwoven with the first thread of keeping heart, like fibers twisting together to form twine whose strength is greater than the sum of the fibers.

I decided before I applied for the program it was my first priority. More important than my day job, my savings or anything else, though they still have importance. I will be driven and exhausted much of the year. I knew it then as well as know. As well as all the other issues I wrestled with for the last six months. Once I made the decision it was uncomplicated and unconditional. A big freaking leap of faith for someone with a comfortable middle class lifestyle. Acting is all about making big leaps of faith, trusting. It surely feels that taking the ETI plunge transferred a bit to being able to make leaps on the boards.

I'm not deluded. I'll feel frustrated, untalented, lackluster, and utterly fatigued before this is done, probably many times. I'm as certain as I can be I'll keep my heart, because I know why I want to. This is an epiphany for me. If you don't want to lose heart, first you have to desire heart. It sounds circular but it is not, that is the way the words fall out, which makes it hard to understand. How about If you don't want to give up, first you have to want the goal more than a respite. That is perhaps more literal, but doesn't convey the weight or spirit as well for me.

This probably doesn't make a damn bit of sense. Too bad. I'm in new territory, and it is exciting and terrifying me. Neato.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

That Barrier Wasn't So Sound

We completed the first week of class tonight. Unlike last Tuesday I'm ready to go to sleep now, but I am also famished so I really do need to stay up for a bit. I didn't bring a lot of food to class, and shared some with someone who forgot, and still didn't have enough time to eat everything else. I did eat all my protein during that fifteen minute break, as I knew I needed it the most. Eleven hours of class, movement, speech, voice, and acting. I'm bushed.

I was quite surprised tonight in a positive way. My scene partner and I volunteered to be the class demo for Essential Desire, which for both of us was self worth. We did an improv around the scene which culminates in a rape, or at the very least a very aggressive seduction after all else fails. For those that know me or my work, sensuality is a challenge for me on stage or off. As well as cruelty. It was brutal and sensual, and I did well. I think the instructor was aware of the challenge for me, as he made a point of complimenting my work at least twice.

It was horrifying and delightful, and I'll explore it in another post. That's one of the great things in acting, playing with and being characters you would not admire in the real world, but love in make believe land. I was worried about my walls getting in the way with this kind of work this year. It didn't even feel like a breakthrough, and that in itself is a personal breakthrough. The lingering doubt evaporated for now, and I know this is where I belong. I'll have other doubts and challenges, but dealing with this was a tremendous boon, giving me confidence I'll be able to deal with them.

I'd like to go on, but my meal is nearly ready, and I suspect this is not the best venue right now. Maybe I'll rewrite or archive this in the light of day.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Zowie

Woo hoo a quarter millennial. According my editing interface this is post #250. I hope it doesn't seem like a quarter millennium to those who read. Of course as I said from the outset, this is very much a selfish endeavor. A personal journal. I do try to be a bit aware other's are reading but I don't filter out much because of I'm worried I'll offend people. Neither do I filter out much because it is too personal. Hey there's things I won't talk about, but they are not things I care too dwell on or bring up anyway.

I'm at work for release night, on the second shift rather than my usual first shift. Kid of different. I don't feel the overwhelming need for coffee, and instead of forcing naps so I could make it through the wee hours, I went to bed early and woke up in the wee hours. Luckily we had our first hard workout in class on Friday so getting to sleep before 8PM presented no problem, and I got nearly 7 hours of shut eye. That means a short nap when I get home, leaving me time for homework and a normal night's sleep before class on Sunday. This Sunday will mark the end of week one of the first fifteen week term.

It was back in February when I worked the first shift for release night, and broke my leg the following day changing my lifestyle drastically for a couple months. It is still slightly impacted, as I'm still regaining strength. Funny the old injuries to the knee and ankle of the other leg have left me with a matched set. Well, I hope for no such adjustments tomorrow.

I've been reminded of my time in boot camp, which was eight months long thanks to a badly sprained ankle. I don't think I've talked much about my time in the Navy, which was a good experience for me, though certainly not fun much of the time. It was a life changing experience, putting myself in a scary situation. One of the most intimidating things I could think of was going to basic training, where only aviators got Marine drill instructors. One of the most exciting things I could think of was Naval Aviation. Not unlike what I am pursuing now.

The intimidation factor I'm dealing with now is mostly sense or emotional memory. The radically changed life style and totally full days evoke that feeling, even though it is twenty years later, three thousand miles away, and artistic expansion instead of military indoctrination. It is life altering training, helping you find the discipline needed to perform in an highly competitive area. There are huge differences of course. Pursuing art as a vocation is different than pursuing Naval Aviation as a vocation. My first thought was the danger inherent in flying military aircraft. A lot of my friends and acquaintances died, over one a year on average during my ten years. Art is generally less fatal, but overall I wouldn't say it is less dangerous to the individual.

Your job is to expose the soft underside of your psyche. It is a vulnerable act, and you can be deeply hurt. Like Naval Aviation, the people who find healthy find ways to deal with the dangers are usually among the most solid and true human beings I've had the privilege to encounter. This seems to be a hard concept for those in these professions that are not in themselves solid. If one has ever dealt with a goldbricker or martinet in the military, or a flake in the theatre, one can see where the stereotypes of small minded people come from on both sides.

I dealt okay in the Navy, becoming more solid, but not tremendously so. I plan to deal much better in theatre. I think the first step is to find and hold onto the joy which brought me to theatre. I've not had a problem with that in the past, so I expect to be fine. It is a reminder to myself, so I don't fall into that long ago habit. I think I'd have done much better in the Navy with several things I have now. More maturity, physical strength, and a much deeper passion. I was initially thinking that in the Navy I didn't' have a break, I ate, slept and lived the training schedule. Then I thought about my work schedule, class schedule, homework, and such. It seems I've set myself up for a similar experience. I'm smiling and chuckling as I write this. I remember my days leading up to and starting in the Navy. This is a much different and more joyful anticipatory experience. I'm still worried whether I'll cut the mustard, but not frantic about it.

I'm thinking my concern about reliving my Navy experience is in itself a solution. I lost sight of the goal and passion, and was simply determined to complete the program. I won't be letting that happen to myself again, and I've already found my theatre passion will withstand the test of time and exposure. The drill instructors weren't there to remind me of my passionate desire to flit around in the sky. Most of our instructors in ETI consider a reminder every once in a while appropriate. They are no less demanding the Gunnery Sergeant Crenshaw, USMC or Gunnery Sergeant Washington, USMC.

In a way I'm glad I didn't have that passion twenty years ago. I wouldn't be following what I've discovered to be a greater and more meaningful passion for myself. Not only would I not be training as an actor, I would likely be in that travesty in Iraq because of my specialty, airborne intelligence collection. I would have been due to retire two months after we started the war, and I'm sure I would not have been given the okey dokey. It is interesting how things often work out.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Wow We

Somehow this seemed the first full day of ETI, though we had plenty of class work on Tuesday. Something about working theatre during the work day, and diving straight into everything, very little introduction, even compared to the scant amount on Tuesday. Getting right into it.

It is faded considerably, but I'm still working to subdue that "Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?" As I alluded above, the day time experience was a changing for me. Riding my motorcycle back home across the bridge, I realized I had just spent the day time, a work day, in theatre. Eight hours, including three and a half hours of movement, and I am already notably sore, yet it was a wonderful feeling. It reminded me of why I am pursuing this training. I want it to be my day job. I'm looking at everyone's work already, plus the type of training we're doing already, and can hardly wait to see what we can create. We've not been on our feet acting yet, but voice, speech, movement, and combat has shown I have classmates that are open and eager. Comforting and challenging.

Lots more I could write, and some will go into the class journal blog. Right now I need to eat and get to sleep, as I have to wake up at 3AM for (code) release night at my current day job. One closing thought I'll leave you with, which will show up in my other journal. George the movement instructor was discussing what we do with ourselves on stage, and said something I found very important, "If there is no choice there is no art."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Waiting...

This blog is likely to get shorter and more error prone. Probably a balance of sorts, as I get immersed in the Ensemble Training Intensive, which will be journaled in my other blog. Tomorrow is the second day of class.

I just read yesterday's entry with a critical eye. As I was waking this morning I got to wondering if I gave the impression I had arrived at some fantastical new place. I was worried 'profound' would sound, well too profound. I don't think it did, that the internal nature of the experience lent it the proper feel.

It's a gradual journey, and I'm thinking of a recollection from growing up on the beach. Sitting in a spot on a sunny day focused on something in the pebbles or sand, and observing or working with it. Then realizing the tide had come in to the point where my legs were totally covered. I wasn't oblivious to the rising water, it felt good and wasn't a problem. It was startling to realize I had just experienced the tide, a very slow and implacable force, which made a big change in a seemingly slow and gentle way. My legs weren't suddenly submerged. My awareness of the change was suddenly engaged.

I wonder where I'll be the next time I notice the waters have covered my legs. I've a feeling I've found a place where the tide will be covering more ground with greater speed. It's not an important question, but will the little points where I notice changes in myself happen more frequently, or will they happen at similar intervals and signal greater change?

I'm on the edge. I don't know where I'll be a year from now. Spiritually, artistically, professionally, geographically. Tain't bad though. I could be totally immersed in a high-tech career having dumped ETI, though that is an option I can imagine at the moment. I could be totally immersed in theatre having dumped high-tech, which is more than imaginable. I expect the actuality will be somewhere in between, and off on a tangent somewhere. The tangent is the interesting bit. Probably something I'm not even thinking about now.

Things are exploding. It's a good feeling. Going in many directions at once. The opposite of most pursuits in my high-tech profession. When you're going all directions on a bit of code, analysis, management, etc., things are generally not good. Sure you have lots of projects most of the time, but generally they are very linear when broken down to the specific task at hand.

Art uses both the linear and explosive approaches. I'm thinking of the research and text analysis which goes into creating a character and environment. It is a linear approach. So, once you have all that background, what happens? You get on your feet and see what happens when you mix it all together and let it inform you. The prep exercises and imagery work together to create something that is non-linear. It is where that indefinable something in art comes in for the actor. I've watched artists paint or draw, and there is often a framework, something linear to which the observer can relate. Then magic happens as the framework is filled in, when the soul and heart of the artist creates a reality which is their very own and can't be created by a machine or another person. It can be reproduced with varying degrees of success, but the essence of the initial creation is forever singular.

The real world keeps pushing it's way in. The bush ex machina is kicking into high gear while real people, the ordinary people Bush dismisses, are helping Katrina victims. The Bush weasels are blaming the mayors and governors for the slow (federal) response -- I'm serious they are blaming the victims. It is a proven ploy for despotic personalities. Too bad there will be debate on it, as it is an utter waste of time.

There are so many heart warming stories, yet all the bushies can do is spin. The truly shameless part is not the typical cowardice wrapped in patriotism expressed by the neocons, it is that 74% of the republicans approve of the president's job in handling Katrina. What the fuck has he done so far aside from blatant photo ops, taking credit for what the local organization managed to do, those running down those same victims for his lack of leadership? I guess that is all a republican must do when challenged in today's world. That first republican, Abe Lincoln is probably making more of a stink in the afterworld than all the bloggers on earth combined.

Here's a bit which was posted at work.
While I saw a teeming mass of displaced people standing in hour-long lines to wash encrusted grime off their children in a tiny restroom sink, Barbara Bush saw visitors "overwhelmed with the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this is working (she laughed here) very well for them.''
- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/commentary/columnists.html and The Daily Show

And these classics from Dubya himself:

"Out of the rubble of Trent Lott's house,'' Bush said, "there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."
- and -
"Brownie, you're doing one heck of a job,"[to Michael Brown, head of FEMA, formerly a judge of Arabian show horses (he was FIRED from that responsibility)]
- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/commentary/columnists.html (and many others)
The link is now broken, so I updated with another link. Click on Carlson's story for the original reference, for as long as it is active.

My reponse to this was "Is that the fed's line? It was all the victim's fault, but it doesn't matter since they are better off now. I'd say Barbara had best stay away from the media and chat about things of personal importance with her peers, like how to organize footwear with Imelda."

Our country is run by people who consider conflict of interest a good thing, tragedy a financial opportunity, truth archaic, and censorship and tyranny to be laudable goals which us "unpatriotic" whiners are impeding. These are their good qualities. The only good thing I can see happening is an environment where lasting art will be created, though we are already seeing the early stages of persecution against those who dare think for themselves. Must leaders be festering piles of disease ridden shit for a society to produce serious and truthful art?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Getting Tight

This morning getting up after my first ETI class which was last night, I was thinking about the difference between my attitude starting class this year and previous school experiences in my life. It reminded me of a musing a week ago at the office supply store.

I was at the check out line of the big box store which put a better stocked locally owned store out of business. I was buying supplies for class and for mailing DVD's (for cast the of The Cherry Orchard). I remember how every year in the last half of grade school all the way through college and flight school I got these pretty supplies planning to organize myself like all the good kids with proud mommies so I'd blow away everybody else.

I of course rarely blew away the academic or aviation worlds. I'd get bored to distraction, and coast along spending the minimal effort to get A's and a few B's. My notebooks were never smartly organized and attractive. Mostly they moldered in a drawer someplace, while I used a single notebook for everything, with handouts folded and stuffed in it randomly for later reference assuming it didn't fall out while rushing to a job, class or some social activity.

I wondered how many children were looking forward to a new beginning while they picked out the supplies which would flavor their world view for the next nine or ten months. How many will make it, and how many will become disinterested as I did? I didn't really think much about the difference at the time, as I was simply thinking of supplies and what I wanted.

This morning it hit me. I'm not in ETI to blow away the class, rather to blow away myself. To greatly grow and evolve my world view of myself, creating something new. I think same is true for most or maybe all of the class. Sure, the competitive urge isn't dead, but it seems inane when it becomes anything more than one of the many small urges to keep you going. We were all doing work which for me would have felt silly three years ago. Even two years ago when I was ready for more and starting Meisner it still felt awkward, and did for much of the year. It is a subtle change. You just do it, whether it is making weird noises, physical gestures, or imaginings. There is more of an experiential quality when self-consciousness is more subdued.

The focus is not on dropping walls to accomplish the exercise, it is on what the exercise brings to you. There is still an awareness of where you're resisting or blocking, and often what needs adjustment to reduce it. I was struck by what we were doing in our first day of class. No struggling by the class to be receptive and open, rather an immediate immersion and leaping off. I was aware of the trust of and from my classmates last night which makes it that much easier. A subtle yet profound change in myself, and I'm not sure when it occurred, though I assume it was gradual. I'm much more excited about the class now, but no less nervous. I think in the next week as I get over this freaking cold and get immersed in all the classes, I won't have time to feel nerves. I sure didn't last night once class started.

I've dropped some enjoyable(?) vices or time wasters. During the before class chatter I found I'm not the only one. People have given up drinking, smoking, etc. I think it is a desire for focus and dedication to bring everything we can for ourselves and each other. I did catch myself out last night. After I got home I put my dinner in the oven and fiddled around waiting for it to cook, then cool off while I unwound in a leisurely way. I got to bed nearly two hours after I got home. An old and enjoyable habit from my Meisner class.

Like my evening drink and such, or my longish review of the morning paper, the spool down after class is a luxury I don't consider necessary or more desirable than what I could accomplish if I used the time for something else. Like say, sleeping. As I was heading to bed I realized I didn't need the extra food at that moment, nor did I have a critical need to unwind and assimilate after class. Like the subtle yet profound change in doing the work and exploration it is a relic from another time. I am more in tune with art now, and I don't feel I need a conscious and time consuming effort to switch modes. It is a smoother and less profound transition, if it even is a transition rather than a small shift in focus. This changed world view may be what I experienced subconsciously before I could comfortably state, "I am an artist." This happened just over a year ago, as I completed Meisner. It was only a year or so before that I accepted myself saying, "I am an actor."

Class itself feels different from all the previous schools I prepared for. We are pursuing goals -- things I really want to know, and have just enough experience to know are skills and processes I want to have and use. And more importantly, why I want to have and use them.

I'm reminded of scriptwriting. The most important step for me (and most others) in molding a story, is tightening the script. There's a feeling of doing just that on several fronts in my life right now. In how I use my time to support my goals. How I work artistically on the logical, physical, and creative fronts in class have the feeling too. An enhanced focus and engagement, much as results from tightening a script. Review is good, but learning to crawl needs to be assumed for the time being. We're learning to walk, maybe even run. Don't need to go over the setup again. To follow the simile, that would be exposition which we've done already -- the audition and referral requirements checked for that. I'm sure I'll want to review some of those basics, but that is more akin to a rewrite and not appropriate to the task at hand.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Show w The Money

Bush took credit for everything good in the response to 9/11, blamed Clinton that it happened. Can't have it both ways. Now with Katrina, he can't blame anyone for it happening, and I wonder if he'll take credit for his policies which gutted FEMA and other disaster response or preparation initiatives? The feeble response by the federal government of course cannot be laid at his feet, since he was on vacation. Where the Hell was Cheney then? Too busy counting his Halliburton profits from Iraq? For those of you who remember Magoo, think of Cheney singing "Ringle Jingle (Coins When They Jingle)."

With every aspect of governance reduced to secrecy and "cash and carry" in our current administration, I wonder how many organizations private and public sectors were hesitant to help out more in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Our current administration has defaulted on so many of it's financial promises to international disaster relief efforts, that they must assume no money will be forthcoming for domestic disasters. Even after w gets his head out of vacationland, will promises of assistance be viewed as a safe credit risk? If faced with providing limited assistance or bankrupting their organization, what decision is likely to be made in a culture where money is viewed as the most significant social value, able to overcome compassion, honesty, and promises in a single bound?

Well I'm off to the backwoods for the long weekend. I'm gratified to see the media is already challenging the feds, who are trying to paint a (fictional) rosy picture fo the devastation. The deception is so deeply embedded in the leadership culture they can't break away from it even when the truth is obvious to all. Kind of like Halliburton being unable to stem their fraudulent practices even when they knew they were under scrutiny for the no-bid (conflict of interest) contracts in the questionable war.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Little People

I had no idea crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico was processed and sent to gas pumps in Washington state in less than 24 hours. Judging by the gas price jumps occurring it seems the crude oil flows straight from the Gulf into our gas pumps as gasoline without any passage of time or distance.

Meanwhile we are flabbergasted at the looting. I even saw one article try to paint walmart as a trod upon charity, because they were allowing emergency service folks to get supplies right out of the stores. I was quite surprised the fawning article mentioned the emergency response folks were tasked with keeping inventories so walmart could bill them later. This tells me walmart isn't even willing to provide them with a cashier, they just want to make sales during the tragedy without even having to pay an employee. Kind of puts the walmart looters in a less despicable light.

As Richard mentioned, it is hard to condemn people searching for clean food and water who are trying to survive. The people stealing valuable things like TV's are mostly idiots. The ones shooting at rescue crews, I'd call them scum, but I'm curious if those reports are somewhat exaggerated.

It saddens and amazes me to hear people bemoaning the fact we have looters. There seems to be no realization that today's American character is displayed and strengthened in reality shows. I can't stomach the things, but I could not help but hear how the most dishonest, sneaky, manipulative contestant in the first episode of 'survivor' took home the prize and fawning admiration of the American public. I know nothing of Richard Hatch besides second hand talk, and whether I like it or not he is a cultural icon because of the very worst in human behavior. Is it any surprise people in a real life and death situation would act in the same way as their TV heroes? But Hatch wannabe's are not the vilest looters...

Gas prices jumping long, long before the supply is actually impacted. Now there is true looting on a monumental scale, but about which nothing is likely to be done. The conservatives dare not bite the hand which buys them.