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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rise & Fall Of the USA

Great experiment
Bliss flying free without care
Flashy suicide

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Where Are We Going?

The best intentions. I didn't get home from work until after 8 PM last night. I wasn't hungry, just tired. Once again, I decided the need to sleep was boss, and put off the next character work and soak until Wednesday or Thursday. What the Hell, I feel better today. Sunday was a horrible night for sleep. I think I'm getting a snooze fetish. It seems that way at least. Maybe it is just this time of year, struggling against the inclination to vegetate.

Did you see the slough of stories about the Tennessee high school principal who ordered the school paper seized because it had an article about birth control? Many Yankees will make the chickenshit stereotypical, tired, and inaccurate observation that it happens only in the South. Forgetting similar instances in Washington state the last few years, including the Secret Service hauling away a Prosser teen in manacles for daring to create artwork irritating to conservatives.

The censorship in Tennessee is a sign of the times, both depressing and uplifting. The depressing bit is the fact that subjugation through controlling information has become the norm. When a president or principal has no respect or compassion for those they are administering, such predatory behavior is to be expected. This high school assault on freedom seems different only in magnitude from the poorly named patriot act. The uplifting side is we are finally questioning this crap.

Since nobody had anything to say about how foreign headlines reflect the world's perception of the US, here are a couple more for today.

Corrupt Bush ally resigns in shame
Bush ally faces 10 years' jail for $2.4 million in bribes (Ironically, Cunningham was recognized by several law enforcement organisations for his tough-on-crime stance)
I suppose this is more of a commentary of how w is viewed, but since we put the sorry son of a bitch in office it rubs off on all of us. The caught crook's name is not mentioned in the headlines, his affiliation with genghis w is deemed more important. No outraged gasps from fellow conservatives in the articles -- I'd guess they are too busy scuttling out of the glaring light which is suddenly pointed the other way. It must be that it is no surprise yet another of the GOP's gangsters in a tailored suit is caught. He's not even the first to break the cardinal rule, and plead guilty. I guess the protection from Gitfather w's machine isn't so impervious these days.

Today my friend Richard writes of a number instances of US government abuse, planned or implemented, including resurrecting more GOP backed death squads and acclimatizing children to incredibly intrusive attacks on privacy.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Frost, Jack

Crikey, it was cold for this area this morning. I'd swear heavy frost generally made it's appearance by September or early October when I was a kid. Global warming, or at least Pacific Northwest warming, has made a hothouse flower of me. Riding the motorcycle doesn't make me feel any warmer. I knew it was likely to be chilly this morning, when there was already frost when I went home at 10 PM after last night's class rehearsal.

I hadn't ridden the motorcycle since last Tuesday. You know that feeling when you are getting ready to jump into cold water? You expect you'll adjust to it, it's mostly trying to decide if the anticipation of the slow wade or sudden jump bothers you more. You don't have as much choice on a motorcycle, but for me it is the same feeling. It isn't so bad after all, just like jumping into the water usually ends up being nearly pleasant after all the futzing around. Are we that way about our lives, constantly in need of jumping into cold water to grow in experience and let ourselves enjoy?

I'm thinking about that hot bath I didn't get around to last time I was feeling the weather. The difference being I don't have a zillion things to do today. After work I want to do character homework. I'm thinking I'll go across the street from my house walk around the track at the junior high a time or two as my character. I may go to the upper field if there are people on the track. I might get distracted working on commedia physicality, feeling eyes upon me. Even if it is that weird energy of people trying not to look at you. It is a bizarre and extended physicality, and while I'd like be able to tune out the outside world, I want to get some work done and the posture burnt in a bit, without working on seeming self-consciousness at the same time. At this juncture I'm doing plenty of other things to get over that.

I got to drill slightly early, and everyone else was late. It turns out two of them had arbitrarily decided on starting at 8:30 instead of 8:00. The other missed, which quite surprised me. I hope he is alright. The room was just warm I didn't feel I needed to go up to our locker for my wrestling shoes, which I use for movement, or simply because they are more comfortable than my riding boots. Being happy barefoot, I swept the floor, and worked for twenty-five minutes or so, mostly doing routines that were a bit strenuous working up a light sweat and deep breathing. We aren't preparing for movement class, but I just felt like doing some of the more rigorous work. Not a life change yet, but a hopeful sign. It felt good, and I expect will help with the physical work we are doing for the commedia piece by Goldoni.

It was a good back to the Monday grind. The break was gorgeous, though I'd have liked to spend more time with friends. As it turns out, I had just enough time to get enough homework done to get the most out of yesterday's class, which was rehearsal. The class is split in two, and I'm in the half being directed by John. Both halves got through about the first half of our blocking, so Tuesday will be much the same. Sunday is a longer class day, but we spent some time doing a read through for George, and then talking logistics and philosophy with George and John.

During the holiday weekend I did no work or homework on Thursday. I left the day job behind the whole weekend, but started back on the homework again on Friday. It was fun to have drinks and, er, organic smokes. Somehow, it was mostly pro forma. Break, yippee, have a drink, have a smoke. I actually looked forward to resuming my abstinent lifestyle last night. I suppose that is a good thing. That I didn't have any trouble or resistance to reboarding the wagon.

Paula sent me some church bulletin/announcement jokes, some of which I'd seen before. My favorite is one I hadn't seen before, or is funnier to me than the last time I saw a similar list three or four years ago. Reading it for my proofread gave me another chuckle.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What Do You Think?

Ever wonder how other people think about you? Of course. Well, these two headlines gave me an uncomfortable insight into how I, as an American, am viewed by the rest of the world.

997 executions on, the US still loves the death penalty (Taipei Times)
One person executed every 10 days in the US (Hindustan Times)

It is interesting in that it is only recently I decided I'm opposed to the death penalty. I was never a strong proponent. Partly because I feel life without parole is worse than an execution, though my mind might change if I was on death row. The whole sanctity of life argument doesn't move me much either. I'm not terribly sympathetic to pleas for mercy from a cold-blooded killer. What I object to, and object to vehemently is the inequity, and the more than likely possibility for errors. Most prosecutors in this country aren't interested in justice, they are interested in convictions. They are happy to pass on the responsibility to the judge and jury. Of course this isn't always the case, and it is my impression that the truly ethical prosecutors aren't in the majority.

More than the possibility of executing an innocent man, it is the inequity I find abhorrent. Minorities are more likely to be executed, and an even bigger bias is social status. How many middle or upper class people are executed? Not very many at all. If we can remove prejudice, be it racial, religious, or economic then there is the possibility of legitimizing the death penalty. Folks, it isn't going to happen any time soon. I'd love to make it an option for the person to be incarcerated. Let them choose between life without parole, or execution. It would sure be fun to watch the right wing churches who are in favor of killing grown ups for vengeance, squirm over the idea of letting the death penalty be voluntary. In effect letting the state grant assisted-suicide for lifers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Building Thanks

Ahhh. Thanksgiving day in America. Relaxation. No work tomorrow. No class tomorrow. No drill tomorrow. Same on Friday. Same on Saturday. I'm feeling guilty already. And looking forward to the guilt. I may even have an organic smoke tonight. I'm already looking forward to a bad movie, some action or fantasy flick, maybe both. Lots of homework to do the next three days in addition to the visiting and celebrating, but the pace will feel so leisurely. Time to actually think about things and savor the process of analyzing the script and starting to memorize.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I am totally enamored with the idea of three days off. I'm not even sure why, or what it is I want to do besides sleep and stare at the wall foggy bliss. It will be the first time I've had a day off since Labor Day, which might not sound like a big deal to a workaholic, but to a healthy mortal with a life it feels like a happening. And, I do consider myself to be a healthy mortal with a life. Part of that life was The Cherry Orchard which kept me busy weekends and evenings after getting over the worst of my broken leg, from rehearsals starting in April until we closed the show in July, then I was preparing for the ETI auditions, and then preparing for class. Even when I had the four day weekend for Labor Day. I still have homework, but it is a known quantity. I enjoyed that Labor Day vacation immensely, but it was very much a preparation time for ETI. I'm now immersed in ETI, and know what to expect.

Another part of that life is of course the ETI training. And, I had a bit of a personal triumph last night. My Lazzi scene partner and I did our presentation. Like most of the presentation exercises it was only three or four hours of development and rehearsal. We chose the 'lint' scenario. I see a piece of lint floating in the air, which lands on my foot. I pick it up and blow it away, it lands on Ben's ankle, he picks it up and blows it away and it lands just above my ankle. Then we move the landing point up the body as the lint delivery gets more energy and focus, from blowing softly to flicking to blowing hard then touching, getting it stuck in my ear, to a self-administered Heimlich Maneuver delivery, to a 1960's karate chop delivery, then delivery by belly punch, then by a big roundhouse slap, and finally a groin kick after which I ran away.

We got a satisfying and surprising number of great laughs. George said he'd never seen anyone go into stage combat with the lint game -- I think he got a kick out of it. We got feedback on how we could improve and build upon it, like moving the floating lint faster, making our focus and the picking up of the lint more specific in some of the switches (which we were working on), exaggerating our size difference, etc. From several other recent exercises I kept finding I need to narrow the scope of the action. Not lessen the action, but keep it more focused and on track. I was thinking about that, and in working with Ben it was easy. We both make and take suggestions well -- he was my Pinter partner and I enjoyed working with him which is why I sought him out as a partner for this exercise. The fact he works extremely close to my office is an added convenience.

The technical and training achievement was in a improved keeping of the focus and extending and building the specific circumstance and action. I felt good about it, and there was no feedback about needing to follow a thought or promise to conclusion. The more personal joy or acheivement was the laughter we got.

I loved some of the suggestions from the class for a reversal at the end, after I've delivered the groin kick and run away. One idea was mine, to come back out and steal his wallet. Another was to mourn over my victim, then stomp or kick him and leave again. Don suggested going back out and picking up the lint and leaving with it. I'd love to combine two, go steal his wallet, do a take or two as I prepare to leave, then turn and pick up the lint put it carefully in the wallet and go.

When we are doing the work in class there are two types of laughter. Ensemble laughter is one sort. It is genuine, and comes from your relationship with and knowledge of the performer(s). The other is audience laughter, things any audience would laugh at. Most the laughter Ben and I got felt like the latter type, or so I'm claiming. Often it had that startled start when something surprises and strikes you as funny before you even process it. On top of that some classmates commented on how well our stage combat bits worked. I should have remembered from Neutral Mask last year that physical work and comedy works well for me. The physical work continues to surprise me in how it serves me in both performance and preparation. Though I'm at last learning to accept I can be physically funny or engaging, it still surprises me. The surprise is most tasty when it is not simply 'big guy' gags.

Growing up I did not think of myself as being physical. Always the last guy picked for teams. I think it's because I'm a bit slow. Didn't find my coordination until my twenties, and didn't get my adult muscle mass until well into my thirties, maybe early forties. Those obsolete adolescent self perceptions are hard to shake.

You know what? This exercise is something I think would be fun to develop. I might ask Ben if he wants to for next year's studio series, assuming both of us still live in this area. A little five minute piece like that would be a blast. Maybe work up several bits, and do them between longer pieces. A woman named Holly did that last year with some delightfully whimsical pieces.

I stopped by the licensing office this morning and transferred the title and renewed the tabs for the Vanagon. Started my insurance too, during lunch. All set up, all legal, and the first time I've not driven to work on a motorcycle since August, maybe July or August. I could actually get a bunch of groceries on the way home if I wanted. I'm thinking of making some of that mango ice cream-like Indian dessert. I was at a baby's introduction party for my co-worker Suvendu, and his wife Asha told me the recipe, which I'll try tonight or tomorrow if I have time. If it works I'll post it. It sounds insanely easy to make and rich. It will last a long time if I don't remember to take it to Thanksgiving dinner, because I think I need to limit my sugar intake. I'm finding it sometimes makes me feel too damn tired. Bother.

This is another non-multi-tasking day. I'm tired and excited about the upcoming respite. I'm keeping a couple programming balls in the air, but no more. While they run, I'm here writing away.

Thanksgiving. So I'm not especially thankful about my country right now, in particular the homicidal lunatics running it at the moment. So, I start trying to think about other things I am thankful for. I get to feeling my blog sounds like Polly-fucking-Anna. I actually enjoy my day job, thanks in great part to the artistic outlet. I love theatre. I revel in my friendships. I enjoy my family. I even enjoy riding my motorcycle more than ever. It seems like I am going from good time to good time. It seems a challenge to think of things for which I'm not thankful.

Okay, so I get a nasty break to the leg bones. People I love die. I'm taken advantage of, and stolen from. Some things simply happen, others because you're not growing roots in the couch, and other's because of the way you choose to live. I broke my leg while out having fun with friends from the theatre community. I get taken advantage of or have things stolen because I choose to be trusting. I'm not a victim. I'm a balancer. I protect myself, but most things are not worth the effort it takes to protect them. My lunch gets stolen from the fridge at work. My garden hose is stolen. I'm ripped off by a doctor or insurance company. It happens, you note it but don't dwell, then you move on.

More Polly-Fucking-Anna. I used to live my life from disappointment to disappointment. Hurt to hurt. Ten years ago today would have been defined by the fact I woke up later than I wanted, and my back hurts like a son of a bitch from some high kicks I was playing with on Sunday and Monday. Now it is defined by the fact I had a great time in class last night, got title to my new vehicle, and am about to have a great holiday. Ten years ago my year would be defined by the broken leg (which still pains), and all the lost or missed opportunities, my failure to holystone my house, and so on. Not the case now, Hell the broken leg doesn't even count as one of the major events, more of a happening I simply had to deal with. Without listing things which contribute to my self-image, I note a hopeful change -- many of the things are in reference to where I'm going, not where I've been. Ten years ago I would have told you I was happy a couple days a year. I could not understand being a happy person, suspected it required a shallowness I scorned. I'm happy.

Thinking of learning to be happy again... I might see my mother tomorrow. I've seen her one time since 11/11/2002. I'm not assiduously avoiding all contact anymore. I just don't care enough anymore to worry one way or the other. Logically I think I should be sad at some level, but I can't seem to connect or get worked up about it. She might be at Eric and Tonia's for Thanksgiving. I don't know how much I've written about her on this blog. I recall doing so a number of times, and deleting rather than posting it.

One of my strongest memories from childhood was sitting down with her in my room when I was six or seven. I was told how my Grandma Seal (short for Lucille) had emotionally and physically abused my mother and uncles. Cigarette burns, cuts, beatings with fists and things like electrical cords and pieces of lumber, etc. At that age I'd never even imagined someone's parents doing anything like that. I had an active imagination, though. I pictured the incidents, even the appearance and smell of charred flesh. I hated my grandma. "Oh, you can't do that Scott. She loves you most. You must act like you don't know so you don't hurt her feelings." I was also assigned the task of protecting my mother from the world.

At that age, I felt honored to be taking care of a grown-up. I had to learn social dissembling, not letting Grandma Seal suspect I knew she was an abuser so vile that the hardened Tacoma cops were in tears after seeing what she'd done to my fourteen year old uncle. I was very proud to be in the grown-up world. I remember huge buckets of guilt when I failed and bickered with my siblings, or let them upset mother with their growing pains. After all I had it easy, I was never even beaten. It was the least I could do.

From that point on I didn't relate to my peers. I was considered precocious because I could talk very easily with adults. I couldn't communicate with the other school kids. I was complimented on my maturity, my ability to understand and cope with adult issues. I didn't understand or fit in with my classmates. Beauty was frivolous. I now understand that memory of sitting in my room with my mother is a strong childhood memory because it is when my childhood affectively ended. It was ended by a person who lived from disappointment to disappointment and thought that was all she had to share. As if she had a child solely to shield her from the pain of her childhood, and from the demands of the grown up world she feared to join. That loss of childhood also happened to her, pushed into the position of being the living mother to her brothers from the time she was only a little older than I.

It's not all bleak. I don't understand racism. Intellectually I do, of course. I understand it in the way that a group of 19 and 20 year old black guys on 1st Avenue late at night may make me feel more apprehensive than a group of similar white guys, who in turn make me feel more apprehensive than a group of similar Asian guys. To actually hate people because of their color or creed, or be willing to claim they are somehow less than me, is not something I easily grasp. I briefly felt that way about queers in an artificial sort of way, until I realized it was simply fear of the unknown. Is racism really an ariticiality? In any case, the lack of comprehending racism comes from my mother, and I am grateful for that and some other things. She had so much more she could have given had she chosen. Had she lived from triumph to triumph. Like her brothers she was a certified genius. I suspect that somehow made it more difficult for them to recover from the abuse. Despite their genius they are still terribly damaged and alone.

I followed that lead for a long time. Beauty, art, theatre more or less clubbed me senseless when I wasn't looking. I started finding myself tearing up at the most inane of sentimental scenes in movies. I cared about things. I started playing. I lost a big majority of self-consciousness. I would not be where I am now, with an intense enjoyment for life had I lived differently. I find I now live from joy to joy. Triumph to triumph. A different world view. Everyone has difficulties growing up. I wouldn't give mine up. Otherwise I wouldn't feel like Polly-freaking-anna.

The worn out adage about the glass being half full instead of half empty only scratches the surface. When I think about my life, it jumps from a delightful early childhood, to the sense of accomplishment around being a top knotch pre-med student, to getting accepted for Naval Aviation, and making that a ten year career, successfully starting a career as a programmer in my late thirties in a Microsoft dominated area, with it's typical conservative bias against age (and I strongly suspect veterans). Meeting with more success as an actor than disaster. There is a doggedness which helps. Still, when I think of my values and lifestyle six years ago, theatre is not where anyone, myself least of all, would have expected to find me now. I'm just accepting the fact that I am a theatre professional. And if it is anything like the previous steps of letting myself say I was an actor, then an artist, I'm way behind myself. If that is the worst I do to myself now, I'm okay with it.

It seems I can't give or take too much from theatre. I nourishes me while it makes me hungry. Sounds like an addiction, with one important difference. It forever makes me more human, whereas addictions diminish the person and the soul.

With gifts like these how can I help but be insufferably thankful? Thanks all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Justice on Holiday

Bush who caters to the right wing bunch who live to force their narrow (and in my opinion amoral) views down everybody's throats regardless of the human cost, nominates a new supreme court justice. Alito likely supports overturning the right to an abortion. Where's the surprise? While I don't agree with this bit of fed control, I'd be very careful about opposing his nomination for that reason.

On the other hand Alito agreed not to hear cases involving Vanguard. He did. Now, there is argument over whether this constitutes conflict of interest. What! Conflict of interest is a bullshit question. He made an agreement to not hear cases involving Vanguard, and did. He is a liar, period. Yet the only thing the congressmen of both parties and the right wing nuts with their scripted talking points seem to be arguing about is whether a conflict of interest was involved. Apparently integrity is such a foreign concept to these groups they can't grasp the fact he lied. Greed they understand quite well as it pertains to conflict of interest. Lying, is not something which even appears on their radar.

Well, the Bush administration team is finally getting the tiniest bit of comeuppance. Their latest round of calling a decorated combat veteran a coward has backfired for the first time in twenty years. The bigger travesty is a majority of voters bought the line from shirkers for so long. Now w is saying, well it's okay to debate the war. Even the obscenity of saying we have to make war on Iraq to honor those who have already been needlessly killed is somewhat muted lately. No, that lying purveyor of filth dick is screeching that suggesting the president lied is "dishonest and reprehensible." I'll do more than suggest the lying chickenshit son of a bitch did indeed lie to Congress and public.

I spent ten years as a warrior in the Navy. I am decorated combat veteran. I feel a comradeship to today's military folks. It is still there though I'd guess only a handful of the people I knew are still active duty, and I haven't kept in touch with any of them. That experience and connection makes me livid about how we are wasting their lives and talent. It has been like watching a train crash in slow motion, while I'm waiting for my friends at the station. I recognized the lies and manipulated intelligence for what they were before the war started, before congress gave even w the authority to start the war.

The strategy of the whole thing makes me as livid. There are things we could do to reduce terrorism. Most obvious would be to attack the actual terrorists and their sponsors. Less obvious, but most effective, would be to curtail the more egregious policies of our international corporations, rather than using the threat of our military might to support their depredations for fun and profit. Right now getting out of Iraq in a responsible manner would be the best prevention. We'll never be able to get out cleanly, and sadly our population is too stingy to agree to a meaningful rebuilding of the country we have razed.

We are creating and encouraging terrorists in a way we have never done before, and the fruits of our labor will take a few years to materialize. I fear this will happen when more moderate and liberal people are in power again. Guess what will happen. The conservatives will blame everybody else for the terrorists they are creating right now, and get back in power and start the cycle all over, creating a more dangerous and vicious world.

War crimes. As if the rest wasn't enough to endanger our troops and our country. It ruins our reputation, but creating motivation for the killing of American troops and civilians is even more abhorrent to me. (It doesn't seem to bother conservatives, who believe in their dark twisted and updated version of manifest destiny, meaning we can do whatever we want to whoever we want, and if they fight back they are of course terrorists.) Not only do our leaders allow war crimes to be perpetrated, they have actively promoted them and are now pleading for a waiver for the CIA. What are the penalties for war crimes? I mean domestically, since we pulled out of the World Court before committing them.

It is ironic. The governor who holds the all time record in Texas for signing death warrants is george w bush. This goes clear back to the wild west days. Not a one of the people he condemned as governor was responsible for even a thousandth of the carnage w has visited upon the world. One of the bush's actions which really inflamed opponents of capital punishment was his mocking mimicry of a woman he condemned, pleading for her life. If I recall correctly he was aping her terrified plea while he laughed and signed the death warrant -- I assume she wasn't present for his mockery. It would be understandable for a child to react in such a way, but a grown up posing as governor? If there truly was justice he would face the same situation on the other side of the signer's desk for war crimes. Reality? The most despicable wholesale killers generally get off with a comfortable retirement, and I expect w will pay for his crimes in the same way.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Getting Out

Wow. All the sudden I'm having dinner with friends two nights in a row. Steve and Paula offered me their Vanagon which I accepted, as I want to get rid of my truck, which I plan on donating to the Port Orchard Community Theatre -- assuming they tell me they do indeed want it. It is in a way a big vehicle give-away trade. They had the Vanagon as a gift from Steve's brother, which they're giving to me, as they now have a nicer car as a (wedding?) gift from Steve's folks, and I'm giving my truck away. Steve called to see if they could bring it over yesterday, which was sooner than I expected, but it worked for me and we went out for dinner afterwards.

I was flattered they wanted to give the Vanagon to me, and it really struck me what a wonderful gift it was last night. Not the van, or it's value, but the friendship behind the gift. Somewhere along the line I dropped the accounting of favors and such in relationships. The only time it makes me uncomfortable is when I feel someone too often comments on how generous I am. (More on this later.) It makes me a little uncomfortable, and I thought it was a tinge of guilt about enjoying the appreciation. It may have been at one time, but now it is more a fear that if I'm reminded I'll start keeping track again or maybe they are. That's now a stupid fear for me. Once you've experienced and embraced freedom it is hard to put yourself back in the cage, and it is inane to worry whether someone else is keeping a tally.

The flattery struck me because I fully realized while they appreciate much of what I've done, as I've appreciated them, they didn't give me the van as payback, but because they cherish our friendship as do I. It's wonderful, and a very trying hurdle for me. There is a little resistance inside which makes it hard to accept I could actually mean as much to other people as they do to me. That resistant little voice has been with me as long as I remember. Is it a burden of just a few, or is it something most people deal with? I suspect the latter, but we always want company, don't we?

It is only relatively recently I truly cared so much about my friends. Doing, rather than professing the importance of friends. The platitudes about loving yourself before you can love others have real merit. It goes further. If you are able to care more for yourself and your friends, they'll care more for you. I wondered how to make people like more happen ten, twenty years ago. I never did figure out how to make it happen. Somewhere along the line it turns out I let it happen. Maybe if I deal with that voice of resistance I'll be able to let more happen.

Generosity, which I said I'd come back to is an example. I often give time, effort, and such to friends and charities because I want to. It makes me feel good, and that is more than enough reward. In the past I had expectations. Payment in kind, special consideration, love, admiration, or something. I don't know what I wanted, and wonder if I did then. Now the act of giving is enough. I'm done. I'm often startled and pleasantly surprised when someone thanks me for something I'd pretty much forgotten about.

Is it really a gift if you are expecting to be lauded and honored? It is not for me, it means I haven't yet given a gift. Rather, I'm still possessive and haven't let go of whatever it was I tried to give. Strings are an encumbrance, and for me they were a bigger encumbrance than for the person or organization I was trying to do something for. Odd isn't it? It turns out that giving into the personal, even selfish, enjoyment of giving I learned to be truly generous.

I marvel anyone reads this. I feel these are basic life skills and habits I'm learning and exploring in my middle age. I probably wouldn't have thought all this out and explored it if I'd learned about friendship, generosity, or art with my peers in my teens and twenties. There are other things I excelled at. Is that how people become wise, by learning when they are past the blur of youth? The things I am learning in my forties have the added layer of being aware of the process as I am educated. The struggle and the steps are part of what I learn. I believe I could help someone learn to be more social or work in theatre better than I could help them learn programming or aviation. I don't remember the struggle, the little steps, the breakthroughs for those older skills. Maybe it is more to do with passion? I suspect wisdom needs the tempering of both age and passion to reach it's full potential and richness.

I wonder where will tonight's dinner take my thoughts? ETI has me thinking about my meetings with friends a lot more than I would with an easier schedule. On the one hand it is teaching me what matters most in my life. On the other hand, I look forward to enjoying them more casually and more often when I again have some leisure time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Belly Laugh

Okay, this jazzed me and will likely go in my class journal too (for the one and half people besides me who read that one). We were doing warm up exercises for movement. Lying down on the floor with our arms and legs stretched out, making our bodies as straight and long as possible. We were rolling a half, a whole, and a roll and a half to the right or left. Part of the exercise was to stay straight and just flip over. George kept saying do it faster, no, no, no, faster! It really was kind of fun.

I was happy to be doing it. Some of the other exercises we were doing were challenging for me today, as I felt something like severe incipient cramps in my upper chest and back. I can't help but wonder if it was a toxic reaction to something, as it was accompanied with nausea. Quite disturbing physically, and frustrating. Maybe some bizarre stress manifestation? I was certainly pleased when the discomfort ebbed, then got onto other exercises.

Back to the rolls. Well we finished, and all of us returned to a belly down position. Then George said to pop our bodies off the floor from that extended lying down position. Yeah, right. We were flopping like fish which had been landed a while back. I decided to try something, a bit of visualization and physical action, and got myself a tiny bit off the ground. A sixteenth of an inch maybe, then a bit over an inch. Meanwhile George goes, "Go Scott! Go!", in his excited voice. He's a very funny fellow and it took me a bit to realize he wasn't simply playing. I don't think I really caught on until we were done and George asked, "Who got off the ground?"

I was the only one to raise my hand, and I was looking around to see who else raised their hand. "I don't think I ever saw anyone do that," George said. Between you and me, I didn't believe him for a second but I was flattered anyway, as I felt like the village idiot on Sunday. I got(?) to demonstrate a few times for the class. There was a feeling of accomplishment for me as the biggest, and one of the older students achieving a physical challenge. There was a bigger and lovely feeling of the absurdly ridiculous. I was flopping on the floor in a way which got me off the floor like a gasping flounder for all my classmates. It made me feel like laughing. I'm still one of my favorite things to laugh at.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Little Ole Rants

I'm fed up with Pat Robertson declaring obscenities in the name of God. He is one of our country's most shameful embarrassments. I sent the following to ABC, and really will block the channels in the next few days.
I am blocking all ABC affiliated stations I can identify in my household.

In my region 700 Club plays on the ABC Family channel of all places, which clearly demonstrates your idea of family values includes calling for the assassination of foreign leaders and nuclear attacks on our own soil.

It is of course your option to carry programming for hate groups. It is my option to let you know what I think about it.
I doubt it will have any affect, unless a few million other folks do the same (figure the odds). I discovered ABC (http:www.abc.com) has persistent pop ups, designed to defeat the blockers I have set. Tells me all I need to know about them.

The little screeching w is claiming debate about Iraq undermines the troops. Um, sending them on an unjustifiable war with skewed intelligence is somehow supporting the troops? This is as evil as arguing to support the war in order to honor the 2000 troops who have already been killed.

The little screeching w is also whining we can't rewrite history about why we went to war. Typical neocon strategy of accusing the opposition of your worst faults. It might be wearing thin this time, as it his rewrite of intelligence (history) which is being challenged.

The little screeching w tells us congress saw the same intelligence he did. Little error there, he saw the same intelligence they did. They didn't see all the intelligence he did, not a bit of that which people like Tenet (if you can remember the old news stories) who advised the w house not to use the yellow cake story.

The little screeching w tells us we have to keep up the war on terrorism. He created a strong terrorist base in Iraq which wasn't there before, that future Americans will have to deal with. I would say there is now a credible threat from Iraq, and it was relentlessly nurtured by w. It will almost certainly come back to haunt us horribly. At what point do we do something to ameliorate the grave threat we have created instead of further exacerbating it?

The little screeching w tells us questioning the war is causing the terrorists he spawned to question America's will. So what? The focus should now be on limiting the number of terrorists for future generations to deal with, which have been created by an utterly corrupt leadership in the US.

The little screeching w tells us a pack of lies and uses the deaths of our troops to justify his agenda, and fully expects America to acquiesce again. After crying "Wolf" 2439 times he seems incapable of fathoming that America is tired of being fooled. The conservative faithful are now openly challenging his integrity.

The little screeching w may be starting to crumble. It does not afford me any happiness. The little bastard is directly responsible for countless American deaths, and I believe many, many more are to come. He's directly responsible for many times that many civilian deaths, though sadly the deaths of these non-christian non-white human beings doesn't seem to generate notable concern among the members of either party.

Ultimately it is the fault of every person who voted for w this time. The evidence of a manufactured war was there for anyone who would use their noodle. His attacks on the courage of commended combat veterans from both parties over the years, and the secrecy shrouding his cushy National Guard service should tell us all we ever needed to know about his integrity. You think daddy, the former president and DCI could have pulled strings to come up with the records? And daddy, what happened to the records in the first place?

Every member of congress who voted to grant him power to start the war is also at fault. Admittedly balanced intelligence was withheld, but if a former Lieutenant (me) who collected and analyzed intelligence could see through the demagoguery at the time, certainly professional demagogues should have as well.

To wrap it up on a lighter note, sort of. So the Turd Blossom scraped some doggie doo off the bottom of his shoe, and ultimately wiped it on the carpet of the oval office. After five years people are finally starting to ask, "Um, what's that smell?"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Did We Step In Something?

I started a rant yesterday, but didn't have time to post it. I was expecting yet another fear and greed driven conservative sweep in the elections, though I had a feeling the blatant power grab by arnie wouldn't fare well. The actual result was not what I was expecting, though not as significant as the pundits are claiming.

Of course our supreme war criminal's home state voted for the gay marriage ban. In Maine, the people scared silly by queers didn't fare so well. The related caption sums up my disgust and estrangement from mainstream christianity, which has become nothing more than a well organized self-righteous hate group. "Supporters of Yes on 1, a group in favor a repealing laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, pray at an election gathering Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, in Augusta, Maine."

Funny in a disturbing way that churches are now the first in line whenever there are stones to be thrown at the disadvantaged. They are praying from the bottom of their shriveled hate filled black little hearts and fear filled milky white livers to re-institute their kind of discrimination. Maybe they temporarily forgot what Jesus said about casting stones. Oh, let's be honest. If He were alive today they'd have us dropping second generation Napalm and white phosphorous munitions on Him. After all He was a middle-easterner challenging the politically powerful religions of the day. Meanwhile the Romans (Italy) would be telling the world what we were doing, while our leaders tried to simultaneously deny and justify it. The only part not happening right now is Jesus is not again walking the earth, as far as we know.

How about the CIA asking the Justice Department to investigate the leak about the secret prisons report? Stupid is, as stupid does. Oops, did they just admit to the world that they do indeed have a network of prisons for torturing and they are deeply embarrassed? (I guess former interrogators for North Vietnam finally have job prospects.) I hope the blatant red herring is seen for what it is by the mainstream. I was happy to see the following.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said Republicans "should be focused on the illegality of these prisons, not the revelation of the illegality."


The conservatives don't seem to get it. They keep squealing about the nasty partisans who are picking on DeLay for money laundering indictments. Picking on Bush, Rummy, et al for ordering the cooking of intelligence to justify an amoral war. Picking on Frist for documented insider trading. Picking on Rove and Libby for orchestrating personal revenge at the cost of national security. Picking on Cheney for tirelessly promoting torture be allowed under the authority of the United States of America.

Contrition, much less culpability for their very own actions, is not comprehended by the right wingers. Is it a lack of maturity or a surplus of sociopathy? They are simply furious at being caught. While I do like seeing them squirm, my cynical side expects they won't face a meaningful reckoning. Remember, these are the get tough on crime guys who are continually whining in shrill voices about how unfair it is they should be caught for simply doing what they are now defining as standard politics. Standard politics for who? If you support these guys you've a view of our country you should be ashamed of, though you'd fit right into the regime Reagan is (laughingly) credited with doing in when the Cold War sputtered to an end.

The democrats stayed in power long after they slapped down the grassroots support which propelled them into power, and instead catered to moneyed special interest groups. That is where the republicans started when they achieved power, reveling in their sycophantic obedience to corporate money. It makes the fact they have sold our collective morals, courage, and future for a pittance less of an issue. It was their indirectly stated goal. Still, I don't expect the republicans to fall from power much faster than the democrats did. Anyone claiming to be surprised by the predation of our current leaders on the poorest, while pushing great blocks of the middle class into poverty at a phenomenal rate where they can be more easily preyed upon, is either lying or profoundly stupid.

Do the elections indicate we're starting to see the big mess we made on the dining room carpet? That were just the tiniest bit embarrassed? I wouldn't bet on it. Maybe, just maybe, we're closer to being able to admit there is indeed a mess, and that someone needs to roll up their sleeves, and grab the disinfectant and a rolled up newspaper.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Neverland

Well damn. I've had insistent nature calls the last two Sunday evenings, having to bolt to the restroom during class at nearly the same time. Both times I'd had Rye cracker sandwiches and hard boiled eggs for my main meal. I had left-over sandwiches so that is what I had for my breakfast today. No problem. Well yes there is a problem, I like eggs and finding out they were a powerful laxative is not making me terribly happy. I suspect there may be other things I need to avoid or consume in moderation.

I've assumed the last several years it was wheat or dairy, and have had little success when trying to remove one or both from my diet. I'm hoping there's nothing else I need to eliminate (ucky pun), but I'm not holding my breath. Having found one of the foods I'm particularly sensitive to is a big step, assuming I'm right. I'm not anxious to test my theory right away, as I'm pretty convinced I've found the first culprit. I guess all this clean living and heightened physical awareness is paying off. Why couldn't I be sensitive to something I wouldn't miss so much, like Brussels sprouts, anchovies, or refined sugar?

I'm so looking forward to the holidays, when I'll take vacation from December 13th to the end of the year. I've only used a three vacation days since I started at Expedia in February 2004, and I'm taking these vacation days so I don't lose them. During that break I hope to visit New Brunswick, New Jersey where Gregory is going to school (Rutgers) and do a little tourist action in New York, see some shows.

There's an urge to write building. Partly because I haven't in a while, partly that side getting fired up by the training I'm immersed in. Ric and Tim are talking of their writing too, which makes me want to scratch the itch a little more. I'm still at that aimless point. Something is screaming for me to write it down, and I can't figure out what. I've got a month to nail it down. I started something inane, inspired by The Dumb Waiter. Whether I really work it later, or just use it to relieve a little pressure I can't tell you. I've several projects in various stages, but none of them are calling to me right now, though they are still living with me. I'm discombobulated. No surprise there. The only surprise would be if I wasn't.

Saturday was an odd day. I worked, with a break to develop/rehearse a 2-2.5 minute piece for Acting, using comic elements, doing a scene based on Cyrano (David) wooing his love (Lori) on the balcony through a stand-in (me). Pretty fun, and we've a cute idea we hope will do alright. Then back to work after a scare about locking my key card in my office. There was no one else working, but after a few minutes I found I'd stuck it in my pocket. Ten minutes of frustration is certainly better than an hour or two of idle waiting hoping someone could let me back into the offices.

Some more work then I left for the Lavy's. The weather was not cooperative, and my gear was soaked by the time I arrived. So was my head, as I'd left their address in the office, and taking off the helmet to call for directions soaked my head. Then the helmet when I put it back on. I was only five blocks or so away, as I remembered the neighborhood. After dinner my gear was still very wet, the weather still sucked, but I enjoyed the ride because of the glow from the evening.

Great food and even better company. I really enjoy talking with Jennifer and Joseph. They are artists with much more training and experience than I. They are gracious and fascinating. The opportunity to share ideas, chat, and break bread with them is a wonderful gift. And the second such break from class and work in as many weeks. I really hope we can find time to get together regularly.

Their daughter Catherine was terribly excited I was coming for dinner. That puzzled me. I know kids tend to like me, usually because I like being silly with them, but I don't think we've played much, if at all. Maybe I'm getting more forgetful than I'd thought. I'd rather think it is because Catherine is very perceptive -- most probably a bit telepathic according to her parents. I've mentioned here before I really enjoy children, and think of them as real people. I was treated that way by a lot of people growing up, so it doesn't seem unusual to me, though I'm told it is.

I don't get to spend a lot of time with young children, as very few of my friends have them, and my youngest nieces and nephews don't live nearby. Would I get tired of children if I was around them a lot? I don't think so, but it may be my own conceit. I just know I surely enjoy talking and playing when I get a chance. They are a lot like actors, only more spontaneous and unrestrained. A great influence on us grown-ups who are trying to relearn that kind of truth. I guess the favor is reciprocated. My step sister was telling me a few weeks back that her kids were still talking about the silly games we played during the Labor Day holiday at the cabin. My nephew regales his friends and anyone who will sit still in his verbose four year old way about Uncle Scott's silly voices and pratfalls while we played. I was surprised. I'm nothing like any of my uncles who I thought were so uber cool. The difference is I focus on them. Instead of trying to show off or get them focused on me I play, and let them make up just as many, or more of the rules and circumstances for our temporary world. I just want to have fun. Logically I understand it would be more fun for the kids, and can see it in practice when others do the same. Still, it bemuses me a little.

I never want to grow up.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lost Right Here

Still haven't had my long hot soak in the tub, though I keep trying. Been getting sufficient sleep instead. I was close the last couple nights, getting everything else I wanted done. Fascinating stuff, eh? Self care can be so inconvenient to one's schedule.

I like the gray season, there is something strangely comforting and calming with the shorter days which here greatly tend toward overcast skies, lots of strong winds, and rain. Is it the remembrance of watching the storming sea from the snug windows of the house I grew up in? Or is it more primal, a feeling of safety going back to my Celtic and Norse roots, feeling more secure when marauding forces were much less likely to be marauding, and when there was no immediate drive to go out marauding either? I like the second possibility better. My martial background or romantic side I suppose. Maybe it's less likely. Who cares. If you think it is all a flight of fancy, that racial memories are all bunkem, well you can... Well, just bugger off mate. Okay, we may be right. Again, so what?

I saw Michael J. Fox's interview on Inside The Actor's Studio last night. Impressive path he's on -- I'll let you watch it. One of the things he said, was something along the lines "Two plus two is four. It's always the same. Where's the discovery or fun in that?" It's at once a simplistic and elegant view of the futility of mathematics. I'm basically a mathematician, and writing code like any applied mathematics is not generally linear and straightforward. Still, to write code against a marketing database targeting certain behavior in customers is finite. Given a dataset, the same rules, correctly written code should give the same results for anybody writing the code. I know there are some database programmers out there, who might quibble, but I'd say you just need a better specification and the results should always be the same.

I totally understood what Michael was getting at. It is what I like about theatre, and art in general. There is no 'right' answer, just truth. Even truth is not something which be described with any sort of mathematical precision. Therein lies the beauty.

I'm feeling a little ache. Not the physical aches from back and legs, but a deeper yearning. ETI is filling that ache a bit, but it is also waking me up to so much more. Today I'm feeling that oh so important question I went on about last month of "What do I want to say?" is rather inane. Right now it seems the mode or level of communication I am striving to learn is what matters. Finding a profound way to express my disgust at the righteous cowards running our country, or getting people open enough to see the painfully obvious amorality feels shallow. Communicating on that deeper level feels like it should be the end. Why? Will it make be better able to push my ideas or insights? Will it make people more open to thinking for themselves? I don't know. I don't know which possibility is more important. I thought I did until I explored the two thoughts. Then I got to thinking is either one really important. I don't know.

We were talking about something during lunch break on yesterday or Tuesday. One of my classmates commented very emphatically that I am extremely smart. It was something in the more tangible realm, some connection or solution I suggested. I nearly went into self-deprecation mode, for other than my old habit. I realized what she was talking about, came up short, and sincerely said "Thank you." That kind of brightness enables me to easily build and design sets and props as well as program away my life force in high tech. I was thinking about art and questions like that in the previous paragraph, which is why I nearly denied the compliment. I do not feel terribly brilliant in that realm. More like I'm lumbering about in total darkness, not even sure if I'm indoors or outdoors. Why don't I feel incompetent? Why do I love careening into unseen walls, sometimes painfully, even when I misinterpret their significance over and over, possibly getting closer to the truth.

I feel like I'm lost in a strangely familiar landscape. Sometimes it is like an old and dear friend, other times an enigmatic and dangerously frightening stranger. I feel blissfully lost in a forgotten landscape.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Fevered for Spring

What a nasty, pissy day out there. I left this morning for drill, just a few minutes late though I woke early. I didn't realize how slimy it was outside, at least not consciously. I suspect I was aware at some level, which is why I unknowingly got going late. Then, I had to turn around just five minutes out of the house as I'd forgotten cash. Exchange Theatre is in a slight bind, and I generally make a donation once a year. So, this will be next year's donation a few months early. I don't have extra in my checking account, but I did have cash on hand, since my roommate likes to pay the rent in cash. By the time I left the house the second time my gloves were already soaked through. That doesn't usually happen until the end of my commute.

I was late and the miserable traffic made me more so, but our drill was kind of laid back. Perfect for me today. After that, back into the wet gear (yuck), and back into the fray. Drivers tend to create traffic jams in pissy weather, which is simply evil Murphyism for those of us exposed to the elements. I've two more rides to make today. To the chiropractor, then home. When I get home the sheets go in the wash, then when they go in the dryer, I'll go to the tub. Going to sleep early looking like a prune with nice clean toasty sheets. Mmm. I feel better already.

John left copies of The Venetian Twins by Goldoni for us to pick up at class on Tuesday. (We don't have acting on Tuesday.) I'd planned to read the first twenty pages last night, and read the first sixty-four, and had to force myself to put it down so I could get to sleep. I may have the whole thing read in time for Friday's class. I didn't expect that.

It seems my life a lot about going to sleep these days. Right now I'm not quite warm after my morning commutes and the hot bath or a roaring fire sound wonderful. I should stop making sleep a solo act in the next year. I had a wretched, short and mean little marriage, which I let destroy my soul for as long again as the relationship lasted, about three years. Maybe a bit longer. I studiously avoided relationships and have not been emotionally or physically intimate since some short flings in the Philippines shortly after the divorce. Been celibate, physically (and emotionally) since late December of 1990 on my way to Desert Shield/Storm.

The last five years I haven't wanted to deal with a committed relationship, as I've been all over the place in my exploration of art and my own soul. It was in many respects a selfish search, and I wanted to focus on me, something I hadn't done since I was seven. I think I let distance become habit in the last year or two or three. I've been stable enough to have a relationship for a while. Meaning my continued growth is beyond the point where I'll be unrecognizable in a couple months.

So I went from avoiding relationships, not wanting to deal with the pain, to not wanting to compromise the self-care and growth I was experiencing. It is past time to move on. I told myself I had to focus in self-growth mode longer than I really needed, though I certainly needed it before attempting to inflict myself on someone in a committed relationship. Habit, my biggest stumbling block, and comfort (stasis). Maybe my new habit of liking to scare myself will pay off.

Bad timing though. I don't have time right now, literally. In truth, I have been open to a relationship for a while, but haven't done anything about it. That needs to change -- the universe won't drop a mate right in my lap. Unless I make myself available. That's way out of my comfort zone, and I want a partner. Hell, sometimes I just want to get laid! I'm not a bar scene kind of guy, and physical relationships for me are either based on a deep emotional bond or nothing. Different ends of the spectrum. Either a committed relationship or a mutual joy-ride where both parties are unashamedly using the other. The little head doesn't care, but the big head doesn't want to hurt anyone, including me, out of carelessness.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

More Animal Cruelty

I felt crappy yesterday. I wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep for twelve hours. I was not looking forward to going to class one bit. I certainly didn't want to miss it either. So, on with the riding gear and out of the office early per my Tuesday routine. I forgot my sweatshirt, and it was cold. I knew it would be colder on the say home. Crap.

What a surprise. Once in the studio and working I felt better, alert, excited. I didn't expect that. I'll take it as a sign that I'm getting a level of comfort with the training. Meaning, I'm not blocking myself. Or at least not like in past pursuits.

You gotta' love the Walmart bargain basement mouthpieces running our country. I can't eat anymore while I'm reading the news. Every time there is some GOP crook whining about the grandstanding and low ethics of the democrats it causes me to choke. Don't want to do that when I'm eating. Suppose I did and totally against character it was some conservative who noticed and tried to administer the Heimlich Maneuver. They'd likely take Coulter's advice about how to treat liberals, and stop upon seeing the little poster on my wall (below). There are better ways to go than others, but having some coward gleefully watch me turn blue is near the bottom of the list:



I've been a little quiet regarding the animals running our country lately. I have better things to think about, or at least to write about. Once you've described something which smells of a hideously decomposing, diseased corpse how can you describe increased putrescence? Long ago it reached the max level our senses can perceive. I suppose you can smell it from farther away, but that doesn't add much to the description. Or that it is so pervasive that oxygen is depleted. Simile amok...