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, May 31, 2006

Lacking Tangent

So, I decided it's been long enough. I want to watch The Return of the King. To refresh myself, I pulled out my dvd of The Two Towers to watch over the last two evenings. I've had the damn thing for a year. I hadn't realized I hadn't seen the movie until I was ten minutes into it. I'm quite familiar with the books having read them so many times over the last 35 years, so maybe that is why I didn't feel the lack. I think I was in 7th grade the first time I read them, and by the time I was out of junior high I'd probably read them at least five more times. I slowed down to once every year or two after that until about five years ago. I'd say this is about the longest it's been between readings.

So in the next few weeks it will be time to watch the final installment. What a treat. I'd have made more of a deal over the second movie, had I realized I hadn't watched the damn thing yet.

Despite being culturally challenged, and not having seen the last of the Lord of The Rings series, or the last installment or two of Harry Potter, nor the last HP book, the world seems to still be dysfunctioning as before.

For the Hell of it, I picked up one of my old Louis L'Amour books yesterday. I know, but I do enjoy them. This one was written 1955, and the protagonist is walking through Dodge or Kansas City after a time in the hills musing to himself, "I never saw so many things I didn't need." (Paraphrased I'm sure.)

We've had mostly shit on the retail shelves for longer than any of us have been around. Yet we, or at least I do, seem to think our race and society have recently plumbed, what were until now, undreamed of depths shallowness and depravity. Maybe not folks. Avarice, out of control materialism, facades aren't so new. We aren't even original in our defects, in either concept or execution. I do like to think that we are at least occasionally finding new territory when it comes to our more admirable qualities.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Leap Year

I'm getting hungry, and I want to go out for dinner. I don't feel like calling anyone. There's an antithesis. I'm re-heating my chili to extend the (refrigerator) shelf life, and will likely have that for dinner. There's lots of people I could call, I just feel kind of blah. Felt a little off last night and didn't sleep well. Still loosing some of that old stress into the cosmos I suppose.

I'm tired, have got my quota of line memorization done. I'll do some more, so I can get into deeper text and character analysis later in the week. I'll swing by my local Blockbuster and see if they have The Merchant Of Venice, so I can get more feeling for the flow of the play. Somehow, I'm not worried about getting caught up in someone else's style. Probably because I have four roles, and with Shakespeare which is so dense it is unlikely the interpretation by myself and my directors will mesh exactly with any of the other productions I'm likely to watch. I may get some character or text ideas, but I don't believe my own ideas will be stifled or overwhelmed, likely the opposite.

This is entry 366 for this journal of sorts. While I'm not making any leaps today, it has been a leap year for me. ETI was a pretty big leap. I'm sure I'll gather myself before the next leap, as this one has been a strain. Reading the Ric, Rachel, Piccadilly, and Kipley blogs I feel in great company. Lot's of big leaps lately. While, I've no idea where or when I'll go for my next leap, they'll be encouragement and a challenge.

When I get done with ETI, I'll have been at Expedia nearly two and a half years, a fair to middlin' long time in high tech. The upper echelons of the company are harvesting massive amounts of profit, an indication we are moving towards the standard American corporate model, where shareholders and top predators (ceo's, presidents, etc.) take precedence over customers and employees. Microsoft moved there at least ten years ago, and is struggling with it, trying to improve their treatment of employees; all the business experts I've talked to say it never happens. Once in the pit, there is no way out. I hope Microsoft once again proves people wrong. A lot of that has to do with the fact that our culture started with and in many ways still mirrors Microsoft.

I still love working at Expedia believing it will be a terrific place to work for years to come, and try to get all my smart friends to apply. It is competitive because I'm not the only one doing it. Well, I made a leap to do ETI this year, and not only did Expedia support me fully, as fully as I dared fantasize, I'll be returning to a promotion. A small one, but great all the same.

Big leaps in both my careers, theatre and the day job at Expedia. Things happen so fast now. Yet I find that life doesn't pass by so quickly. There is still a time expansion of sorts, making me feel like a kid again. The big changes the last year, which have been representative of the last five years, are hectic compared to my previous adult years. It seems I made more changes as a person this year than was typical of five or ten years in my twenties or thirties. I'm in the same house, same job(s), yet moving quickly. Degree and quality vs. frequency of motion.

Friday I saw King John, last night I watched Capote. Both were "Oh my God!" experiences, and examples of the kind of work I hope to do. And that takes leaps. Whatever the next leap, it needs to take me in that direction.


Seduced Again

I was going to give myself a break. I've talked about it here, and yet I just signed up for an audition next Saturday. I was asked to audition for a independent film, through my Theatre Puget Sound (see my favorite links) profile. I spent several hours looking up the director and producer through google, with a degree or two of separation. Wanted to be sure it was legitimate. The director has done a some well received films, several shorts and one feature. He's done well in film festivals, and there was a sense people were frustrated his work didn't get better play and distribution. The producer is also legit, an established local businessman. It sounds like there will be a number of people auditioning, so I've not got high hopes. I will get some indie film audition experience, and that is something I definitely want.

They said for this part (sounds like a small one) there will be a week's worth of shooting in October. Easy to use some vacation time for that. Of course I didn't know it was October when I called. So, on the off chance I am cast I'll still be able to enjoy a hiatus after ETI. Of course, if another interesting sounding opportunity comes along... I really am a whore. But, I do love my work.

Today, I'm working on lines and some kitchen cleaning. I think I'm more dedicated to the lines. If the weather didn't suck, I'd be out walking with the script. I find it easier to learn lines with a physical activity, and they of course stick better when you're on your feet. Most people find lines learnt at the kitchen table are those which most often disappear the moment you're on your feet. I'd wanted to go see King John again, but if that happens it'll have to wait until next weekend. I also want to see Hamlet. I'd also like to see The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow because Seattle Public Theater has been doing such astounding work the last couple years.

Back to the kitchen and the Bard...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Show Must Go...Damn

Last night I met Paula and Noah, a Cornish student who will be a junior next year, at CHAC. They worked together in a theatre lab/training project for homeless kids in the University District. At CHAC we saw an all female production of King John. Kate W one of the ETI voice instructors, and Amy one of the Shakespeare instructors, were in the play, with Amy playing the title role. Kate had a multiple roles, including the Dauphin. Oh my God! It is one of the strongest Shakespeare performances I have ever seen. It certainly served as credentials for our instructors, who also teach at matriculating programs (UW's PATP, Cornish, Seattle University). The staging was great, and though there were a few production choices I didn't care for, none of them were bothersome enough to detract.

Have you ever seen a Shakespeare piece that did not have some weak actors? Of course, unless you've never seen Shakespeare. This is the first time I have ever seen a Shakespeare production where there was not a weak link. There may have been stronger actors, but not a one who wasn't truthful, in the world, etc. I knew several of the other actors. Those I've worked with in the past were Tracy Repep who also did several roles and was wonderful. The other was Peggy Gannon who played the Bastard Phillip. What a juicy role that is, and another phenomenal performance in this cast! I was surprised they both remembered me, Tracy even remembering my name. Of course, the times I worked with them I had my head shaved with the beard trimmed as I'm sporting now. Kind of unique I suppose, and being big and tall makes me stand out a bit too.

show closes next weekend, and if you are in the Seattle area I can't encourage you too much to see this show. I had never seen or read the play before, and it is now among my favorites. Go. See it! The more I think about this show, the more I like it and want to see it again.

Afterwards we went to see Jet City Improv. I hadn't seen them for a year or so. Steve was doing keyboard for them, and his musical skill just keeps getting better and deeper and broader. He was definitely the high point for the show last night for me. It was fun, but certainly not the best work I've seen them do. They were doing all the right improv things, making and accepting offers... "Yes, and..." "Heighten and explore." "No negation." etc. The energy or connection was just a little off. Or is that I'm pickier now that I've had so much more training and exposure? I don't think so. They all seemed to be generous players, and the show warmed up as it went on, but it wasn't one those where things got hot and sublime from the get go.

Stressing It

Well, let's see if going to the office is easier today. There were some issues this week which I was able to quickly address. Making points in the day job, without having to fatigue myself again. The last eight and a half months took a toll on me, physically and emotionally. I'm back to getting by on eight hours or a little less sleep. Getting up before my alarm, even if I have a few drinks.

Stress. I was dealing with it, but the extra effort and rest needed to deal effectively left me without much life outside the studio and cubicle. Okay, I don't' really have a cubicle, but I share an office. My officemate is a nearly amiable, and supercilious grump. I relate to that well. I was insufferably supercilious for a long time because I was intellectually gifted as a kid. The Navy was the first to really put me in my place, and it has continued since. Hard work is more important than the arrogance of gifts. Jocks tend to be buttheads whether they are athletic physically or mentally. Well, after that I was growing into a grump. Sometimes it is hard to dislike someone you relate to on a personal level. I don't much care who thinks I'm smart anymore, nor when people mistakenly think they're smarter than I. (Looking the big dumb farm boy has paid off a number of times.) Even though I'm certain my officemate dislikes me, I still like him.

Back to stress. With fewer things going on sleep is more normal, along with everything else. Though I knew things would readjust, I'd still gotten accustomed to all the little discomforts which plagued me. Slower healing, rashes, flushing blood, overly frequent little colds, not dreaming (or at least not remembering any dreams), back and stomach aches, etc. All the things I've experienced over the years visiting at the same time; a reunion with only your unwanted relatives.

Thursday we had our conferences for last semester/quarter. Each of us in turn faced a panel consisting of John, Kate W, George, Robin, Jack, Hal, and a letter from Kate G. I joked about the conference earlier, calling it the gauntlet. I had mixed feelings about the conferences first term. All we talked about was what I thought I needed to work on in response to the opening question for me, which was both affirming since it validated my internal appraisal and frustrating because it didn't provide additional illumination. This time there was a lot of positive feedback. A lot. Last term most of us did not get any positive notes. Also more variety in what we talked about. The meeting was taped so they could write it up and give it to us, freeing us from taking notes.

Like last term, we started off with an opening question for me, and I brought up the item we talked about first term, my tendency to make myself smaller, with Geof's description of 'diminishing' myself resonating the most. It's been on my mind since, and still needs work, though I felt I'd made a lot of progress. That judgment was affirmed.

Once again as in so many classes and productions, my stage presence was discussed. The difference is this time the topic was built upon. It was harder than the constructive criticism. Being told you have a commanding presence and bring a strong raw power and an incredibly compelling connection to characters is intimidating -- it is expected you should always have it. There was no need for them to talk about how I need to trust these assets, use and exercise them consistently. I was already feeling choked up and yearning for that as they talked of it.

I realized one of the things I do. I accept these assessments and set them on a comfortable shelf. Just another manifestation of the difficulty accepting compliments. It is profoundly stupid, as I need to be more than simply aware of what the compliments are about. I need to grab onto that presence and connection for my work. Screw hesitation. Stop indulging in bemusement that I actually have a gift or two. Stop diminishing...

I have things twisted around. These gifts are not things to work towards. They are already there, if I can allow it. There are plenty of other things to work towards. There is an embracing and accepting which I need to open up myself for. I can and should always work on presence and connection, but they are not the goal. They are tools. Duh. Sounds simple. I bet this realization is another small, but critical step I need to make. I must make realization into actualization, or it is useless.

I got a number of other nice comments. One in particular surprised me. My willingness to go new places, take risks, to step right off the edge. I work on that all the time. Constantly reminding myself anybody can do it, as Yoda said, "Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try." I need to keep that same striving available for the things which seem to come more naturally. It could be the beginning of actualization.

Another comment I received several times, an adjunct to the above, was my ability to do most anything that was asked. My challenge was bringing them all to the plate at once. I felt my frustration in not being able to do just that, especially in our last recital. I've seen and admired the gifts the other actors in the ensemble have. The thought is only occurring now that I may be as gifted, with my unique set of gifts and struggles. Have, do, they struggle as much to acknowledge and accept their strengths? Can sincere embracing of perceived gifts, and using them as a foundation help assimilate training and experience? Specifically will it help me move faster in applying and growing as an artist from the ETI experience?

Yup, I have a long ways to go. When that thought hits me hard, I need to think back several years. I could not even imagine being on stage. Being a professional artist of any type was not even in my awareness. It gives perspective to the adage, "The more I learn, the less I know." I know I can start bringing these different skills and techniques together. Not as fast as I'd like, but in all probability much faster than I give myself credit for. All I have to do is keep scaring myself.

At the end of the conference, all this and more was swirling in my head. Since that was the end of our day I headed out early for my chiropractor. Traffic of course got bad early, and I listened to the The Blair Bush Project news conference. Those two smug war criminals sure talk pretty. After years of constant and egregious lies I don't see how anyone can trust, believe, or even respect one single word coming from their foul mouths. Needless to say, by the time I got to the chiropractor I was feeling tense from all the different stresses. We worked through it pretty quickly, and got into some good work. This naturopathic practice meshes so well with my training -- promoting the same physical self awareness we use in finding characters and warming up -- to help the body resolve it's own issues. The overall stress level being so much lower now that I'm only working one full time commitment makes a huge difference.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Top Heavy

Oh God. This is hard. Coming into the office on Saturday after working full time during the week in rehearsal. The fact it is part of a training program matters not. Things, I'm not sure what things, but emotional ones, welled up in my chest. A warm longing tightness, that feels intensely sad or joyful and you can't quite tell which.

Working as an actor. That is what this final term of ETI is about. Taking what we have learned and experienced over the year and starting to apply it. I was a little struck at how special this experience is, getting me excited about the homework I plan to work on tomorrow.

My very good and close friend from Duncan, BC is visiting, and is off doing some errands and sleeping off a lingering cold as I work. It is wonderful to see Dave again, though his bug and my schedule make things a little tight, though if he were feeling better I'd throw other things out the window for a couple days to be out and about.

I am still overwhelmed at the great treatment and opportunities Expedia has afforded me this year. Whacked out schedule, total flexibility in reporting unpaid leave and vacation while I am out for six weeks, then coming back to a promotion when I transition back to regular hours the last week of June and first week of July.

I need a day job for the near future. It was a hard thing to jump from working as a full time actor for a week, then driving into the cold hungry maw of a high tech parking garage. I do truly thrill working at Expedia. The very attributes which have made me a serious (and I hope good) artist are those which have gotten me an unsought for promotion. Getting along well with others, sincerely liking most people, an ability to run my mind and thoughts on a totally different direction, often too distant to be tangential, and to come up with seemingly simple and elegant solutions to problems. It does sound like I am trying to convince myself I enjoy my high tech job. That is true, and it is not a contradiction, though maybe a conflict. I get a little burnt out with theatre on occasion, and even in the midst of it, I know I have to get back to it, and I remind myself. My hunger and balance demand it. There's the rub. I don't know if I am compelled to work in high tech. The last bit of the commute, driving into the garage and riding in the elevator felt ominous. There was a flash, maybe an epiphany.

If I were to commit my entire life to theatre at some point, I may not be able to return to high tech. I've been able to maintain a balance with my day job and theatre, balancing two full time pursuits, which many cannot. On the other hand there are people like Rachel, who can leave high tech and explore and return as needed. That is a type of balance which I'm not sure I could do. I've made drastic changes numerous times in my life, but I've never gone back. Could I leap into theatre totally full time for a couple years, then go back to the world of programming? I don't know, and that hit entering the parking garage made me think turning back might be especially difficult.

Maybe it was the wonderful Spring day and everything else landing on me at one time. The joy of tasting the experience of being a working actor, seeing Dave (and some of our other friends at a bad movie night get together last night), the appreciation of my situation at Expedia, and the temporary nature of all human endeavors came to a head to remind me of the bigger world. Then there is Spring fever which has me feeling as randy as a teenager added to the mix.

I'm not sure the wallpaper on my computer, a picture of the Royal Shakespeare Company is comforting me. That isn't bad, as it just occurred to me that dreams probably shouldn't make you feel comfortable. That wouldn't be much of a dream now, would it?

Despite this strange feeling, I'm getting a goodly amount done at the office. A couple things to deal with, though there are some other projects I'd like to work on during my hiatus, which will make passing down responsibilities easier. It is an awkward feeling. I am in a job I enjoy with career opportunities. There is an undercurrent. Knowing there is another career I am building which is even more enjoyable, and fulfilling in ways I never imagined. I've been in a similar place before. This time there is a different feeling. In theatre, both the analytical and artistic sides of my mind and spirit are called upon. I've loved the balance working high tech and theatre gives me. There is a quiet question bouncing around within me. Can theatre in and of itself provide the balance I need to be whole? I don't know, but I suspect so.

I'm really curious to find where my journey takes me in the next few years. Will my career at Expedia blossom? Will my growth as an artist zoom? Both? Neither? I'm living in interesting times of my own making, though I don't feel cursed. I do feel like things are going to delightfully turn upside down before long.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Drowning Rabid Puppies

Well, this is my last regular day in the office for a while. Starting Monday I'll be in the rehearsal phase for ETI until the end of June. The last week of June and first week of July I'll be about half time as we'll have day shows about half the time. I'm looking forward to rehearsing as my day job. Admittedly it is the final phase of our ensemble training, but it is still a nice taste. I've really loved the Friday classes, where we go home from the theatre world with regular rush hour traffic. Something different about going home from a day of art, than from one of high-tech.

Expedia has set up a process whereby I'll report unpaid leave as I go. This lets me work when the need and/or opportunity is there, or use the time as vacation. This flexibility overwhelms me. Not what I expected, and at forty eight it is not a job situation I ever expected to have. On the other side of things I have made myself available, and told people I will check critical items within a day. I wasn't asked, but my sense of fairness and karma wouldn't let me do otherwise.

My official title is no longer Database Developer, it is Relationship Manager. I will be moving into these new responsibilities when I return to a regular work schedule. I have a reputation for managing customers in a professional and amiable way, and recognition of that skill led to the unsought for promotion. I'll still get to do some programming, but I'll be tasked with more scoping and analysis. I tend to come up with realistic estimates, another skill needed for this new position.

Basically what I'll do is work to estimate the scope and time needed for database projects which are candidates for rapid development. If too big they'll need to be either scaled back or moved to the standard project pipeline. I'm good at explaining and figuring out how a scaled back approach can supply most of what is needed, and good at negotiating -- by simply working from the perspective that I want to deliver as much as possible to the customer, who wants the same. If the projects fall in our purview I'll work with the customer to see what we can do with budget and prioritization constraints. Sometimes I'll assign to another dev group, sometimes I'll code myself. I never thought I'd want to move away from coding, but this has appeal. If the raise is substantial it will have a little more material appeal too. In the back of my mind is the thought I may want to pursue more training in two to four years, and the more savings I can set aside the better. And this sort of job is the kind of experience that will be more marketable after an extended education sabbatical. In the back of my mind, after so many raw deals there is a little 'this is too good to be true' voice. Well fuck him and the voice he rode in on. I've had other really great deals in the past, so I think right now I'll dwell on those a little more.

The bottom line for me is balance. I'd have burned out on programming several years ago without the balance theatre and art in general bring me. The idea of moving into different responsibilities at work sounds challenging, and scary which makes it sound fun. Pursuing things that scare me in the theatre changed my approach in other facets of my life.

My life is over once again. I'm going into an entirely new phase and level of training. I'm going into a new job. When I started ETI the day after Labor Day it was scary. It would be training similar to what I've had in the past. Deeper, more intense, more time consuming, but familiar. The working hours for my day job would be a little odd, but the job the same. The worry there was whether my employment would survive the leave necessary for the final term. It appears so, and it's scary and delightful.

I've seen a commercial for the IT Technology Institute, or something like that. This fellow says something akin to, "At thirty years of age I was very scared to be starting a new career." I think, "WUSSY!" every time I hear that. I'm on my third career since turning thirty. Navy, contract programmer, full time employee, theatre professional. Or two, or four careers, depending on whether you count being a full time employee as a new career, and whether you'll let me count being an actor and all around theatre person as another. Still, hearing someone thirty years old whine about starting a new career is pretty funny. Until you think about it.

Is our society become such a caste system, that life changes are actively discouraged. Well, yes. I had (conservative) people ask me why I didn't stay in the Navy, instead of competing with people who had started their high tech careers when I started the Navy. The loud and clear implication being I was hurting the weenies who didn't have the cajones to serve their country and were dumber than I. Do people feel like it is a caste system, and that changing things will destroy what they have tried to build? Yup. I remember getting out of the Navy. At the time I had a dull billet. Not challenging, or terribly interesting. I was worried about security, then realized I'd been broke before and as a single fellow it was no big deal. I looked at the worst case, realized it wasn't so bad, and became a civilian without another backward glance.

Okay, it was easier for me. Single. No kids. Male. Able to tie my own shoes most of the time. Etc. My father had a client whom he advised file for bankruptcy back in the late 60's or early 70's. The man would have none of it. He was in a bad position because of events out of his control, but he didn't believe in bankruptcy, because he didn't feel ethically bankrupt. Per his wishes, my Dad helped him negotiate with his creditors, and the man recovered. This was a man in a situation that bankruptcy was created to assist. Instead, they bought beans in bulk, and once in a while some horse meat which was available and cheap at the time. They gleaned newly harvested farms and gardens for fresh fruits and vegetables. His family got tired of beans, cheap meat, occasional fresh veggies and such. I'm sure they bitched, but did it as a team, as a family. They got back on their feet faster than he would have otherwise, with dignity and credit rating in tact. I still think of that story when I get worried about making changes in my life. If he and his family could do that, how can I worry so much about lesser things?

So, I'm apprehensive, but not concerned. Worst case scenario. I wind up living in a cardboard box in some abandoned doorway. At least I would be able to offend the eyes and sensibilities of some of our brave and compassionate conservatives.

Careful. This was to be a mundane post for my last day of work for a while. Not a well-deserved spanking of the spineless greedy cowards who call themselves conservatives. I've been keeping it all inside for a while I guess, and the 'c' word leapt out twice before I got to this paragraph. So for all you vile villainous republicans and other cowards; may you all be dipped in a bottomless vat of aged butt crack sweat before and after every meal and sleep period. Breathe deep Scott. Think happy thoughts ... w choking on butt crack sweat. Stop it, instead think of an ocean beach ... an ocean of said sweat swarming with swimming swindling republicans unsuccessfully trying to keep their double chins and upturned noses dry. No, think of a desert at sunset ... with vultures circling neocons dying from drinking ... Give it up dude.

That wasn't pretty. I'm just not in a tolerant or forgiving mood. Probably the back spasm or cramp that's been irritating me the last two days. Butt crack sweat -- what a disgusting thought. Sending that thought to such deserving people has made me feel moderately better though.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kicking It Back

Monday, I was finishing up with work, not quite ready to start working around the house, so I called Rachel and as luck would have it she was free for dinner. I got to Redmond Town Center a little early, went to Border's Books, which is my first choice when a local bookstore doesn't have what I need, and they had an Arden edition of The Merchant of Venice, which I'm betting is the version we'll use for next term. I still had extra time and I turned around and walked right back into to the store. They had a Riverside Shakespeare. I now have three copies of the Bard's collected works. Yale, Arden (no notes), and Riverside. I'd still like to get a First Folio, and that is the next one I'll start checking on.

Then I ambled over to Desert Fire, to find they were closed in support of the immigrant protest. Cool! I was glad to see an impact. Expedia should have been brought to a stand still, but I guess their better paid compatriots were too afraid or comfortable to support the protest. That thought makes me vaguely sad. We headed over to Cucina Cucina, and got caught up.

Tuesday I called my sister. I was a little surprised to actually get someone. They are as busy as I, so we don't get to chat very often. The last time we talked was in E-mail, and feeling stressed she quipped, "I feel like I'm living with three of our Dad's." Pop is pretty intense, type A, demanding of attention, with a short fused and voluble temper. It has 'tempered' to the point where the description no longer applies. We still remember both the temper and the dedicated hard work he made in bringing it under control. I've mentioned our mom before, and she is a painful subject as well as presence, and has made every effort to be more so. So, I wrote back, "It could be worse, you could be living with three of our moms."

We were talking of everything under the sun, and I mentioned the joke I wanted to make when we were warming up for Saturday's show. Some people were saying, "My mother died on July 28th." "Oh, mine died September 24th." My dark humor kicked in immediately, and I was biting my tongue because I wanted to join in the wistful sentimental journey with, "Oh, my mother will die on August 3rd." But I decided it was too crass, even for theatre folk. I'll just have to keep it for a script. It is probably a risky thing to say, as I ended contact after her first suicide attempt as I'd promised when she used the threat over the years to manipulate. If she tries again, I'd guess my birthday would be appealing, if August 3rd was close and she thought of it, to teach me a lesson.

Terrie got a kick out of my censored quip, and mentioned the response I'd sent her in E-mail a while back. She'd showed it to my folks (Dad and my stepmom Joyce) who thought it was hysterical. She went on to thank me, because she was feeling so stressed when she got it that she laughed without stopping for five minutes, and the laugh helped her find a little of the perspective she was looking for. I was certainly glad to find my joke made her feel better.

I received a request. More voice mails. Now, I didn't even know they listened, but apparently my silly voice mails are a hit with my nephews. I generally use an accent and imagine fantastical circumstances why they are not answering the phone, saying to call me once the aliens are done probing, Fatherland Security is done re-programming them, or they are done burying their folks in the back yard. They are precocious -- they've loved and understood Monty Python since they were six. I haven't left voice mails lately, and now I find they are in demand. Who would have guessed? Apparently not I.

Someone at work was giving away a Laser Disc player, and a little over thirty discs -- I already had fifteen or twenty discs from another source I picked up for a friend who didn't want them all. I wanted to get rid of them all at once, and when this came up at work I said, "Yes please." I thought it would be fun, and have found I really like the limitation of a Laser Disc. I tend to have full days, and since a movie generally uses at least two sides of a disc, it is reminder to go to bed. If it isn't late yet no problem, push the side B button or put in the next disc. I may be the only one who likes having the movies broken up that way.

Last night I got home at a reasonable hour and chilled. No social engagements. No mowing, simply admired the lawn I mowed Tuesday. I walked around a bit, thought about cleaning up around the house and didn't. Thought about doing some homework, and did nothing more than get the script out of the car. I'd picked up a pack of highlighters on the way home, so I could mark the text for Launcelot Gobbo and The Duke which I'll be doing for my 'principal' casting performances, and for Solanio and Tubal which I'll be doing the other half of the time. That bit of shopping was my biggest event for the evening.

Will I be able to be as slothful tonight? Well, I will be seeing the chiropractor after work, and I'm itchy to get the highlighter going, and I want to do a little analysis on a script reading for a friend on Saturday...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Around The Corner?

The media continually reports as news those that whine about the liberal media. As a result they lean further and further to the right. It takes a simpleton to believe the ultra-rich multi-national corporations that control most of the media would take a self-flagellating editorial stand. Like any large business they prefer corporate privilege over individual rights and protections. Of course they're going to help paint an inaccurate picture of a liberal press. The more conservative they can be to make up for their publicized lie of liberalism, the better for their ultimate bottom line. Like all things cowardly, I mean conservative, it will work wonderfully in the short term. In the long term they will ultimately destroy themselves.

Colbert comes out and calls both the media and the president for their failures with searing satire. Reams them unmercifully. What has the mainstream media come up with so far? "Oh, it wasn't funny." Well, it was to most everybody but them. Mostly they simply aren't reporting it. Their biggest and most repeated justification is that Colbert was unbalanced. He picked on the president too much, and not enough on the press. Another lie -- the press was savaged equally. Denying it, doesn't make it so. The media suddenly sounds just like the white house, stand behind the biggest lie you can make up, until the stupid americans take it as gospel. It can only work so long. Eventually the message is received subliminally and people get to feeling their government and media believes them to be slothful idiots. Once that message has been received it can't easily be taken back. It happens under the covers, and there is no way to quickly turn around that sort of intuition. The question I ask is how close are we to that realization?

The president can walk off in a huff. The press can pretend they weren't really attacked. When the lies and blatant spins are fed to us, the fat-assed sleeping giant couch potato, the constant subliminal message from the rapacious corporate/conservative machine edges us closer to the tipping point. It happens over and over in history. The mind is a wonderful thing, and every lie is perceived and stored away, and once the threshold is broken it can't be put back. The hymen is broached. Pandora's Box is splintered. It is the lovely truth about power and corruption. Just like their poor relations, the petty criminals, every time they get away with something they feel more brilliant and invulnerable.

Monday, May 01, 2006

In The Mood

There was a silly dl (E-mail distribution list) at work called "Vents and Denouncements." It was a play on the "Events and Announcements" which I'd guess a majority of the company subscribes to. One of the common vents was about people who send ridiculous items to hundreds of people on the "Events and Announcements" dl, things like anyone have an empty cardboard box?

For the Vents dl, everyone agreed that it was private and posts would go no further. Some people bitched about corporate issues, some about the silly ridiculous company wide E-mails mentioned above, and some about current events or personal experiences. Some people broke their promise (something I consider dishonest in the extreme), and hr started monitoring. I compared the Freedom Tower to a teaching aid for AIDS awareness, and my manager had to talk to me (many months ago). He had trouble taking the issue seriously, because he thought my send up was pretty funny, if dark and insensitive.

We now have a new Vents discussion, but not through work assets. Last weekend I saw a vent from someone who became acquainted with a person that had a bad experience with Expedia. I wrote a longish reply, mentioning this is the best place I've ever worked, and recommending he burn up the internal phone lines making sure the right people know about it and ensuring it was addressed. In my response I included the following:
One thing I've learned over the years is that how we respond when things are messed up is the most critical. In the Navy we used to say, "One 'Ah shit!' cancels out a thousand 'Attaboys!'" On the other hand, if you handle a crisis well, that cancels out as many 'Ah shits!' I found this out the hard way, and was a golden boy in my squadron after such a fowl up, and in a few jobs since then.
I basically suggested giving Expedia that chance, as I have great faith in Expedia, and including the attempt in his next evaluation. I was worried I would upset the original poster or sound pompous. I got a lot of personal responses thanking me for my response including the poster. Not even one bit of unfavorable feedback posted or sent to me. Expedia is still a great place to work, and even us that bitches and vents are great assets for the company.

I'm done with the end of quarter show for ETI (a full-time one year professional acting conservatory program for those you who just joined us), and I did okay even Friday and Saturday when I had a bad food reaction which caused me to miss work on Saturday, and was worried I'd soil myself. It added some interesting personal stakes to the scene. I even had a line of verse in my head if the worst happened, "And thus have my bowels become as water." Sunday was great. I felt I did quite well, though I would have liked to do a hundred times better. It was my first time performing Shakespeare (since my first scene class with Rachel), and I was quite intimidated at first. I loved it, even when I felt bad. Sunday's performance was a great way to end our second term.

So classes went well, and the discussion thread at work reminded me of how much I love working at Expedia. With class done for a couple weeks, I only have one full time commitment. I'm in great spirits right now. Here's wishing some of it somehow rubs off on you. Cheers.