Acting Up

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

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

Allie's Journey

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Call HR

I got scared into chauvenism. Makes me sound like a republican, eh? I was at a four hour meeting on Friday, a vendor presentation/pitch and one of the attendees made me focus on her cleavage. She had an attractive, and not terribly immodest blouse, and pleasingly modest, er, attributes. I don't know if she used botox or had a lot of suppressed stress or rage, though I suspect the former. Her voice was even, pleasant and relaxed, so I figured something besides stress was the culprit.

Anyway I realized I was staring at her face, particularly around the brow and upper cheeks trying to figure out how much it took to make expressions show and where. Reminded me of counting holes in ceiling tiles when I was bored as a kid. It occurred to me ceiling tiles never felt awkward when I peered at them, but this pretty red haired lady might feel strange having me stare her down. So I stopped studying her face, turning off the actor's homework urge. It was difficult not to stare at her face, and my eyes ended up straying to the first pleasant, welcoming sight, or site? Wry questions aside, it left me without a business appropriate and comfortable way to look at this person.

So, the blouse was attractive and maybe beckoning. I probably wouldn't have noticed so much, had the face been more open. I understand it is all the rage with sales and marketing folks to get botox. Why? Am I the only one who finds paralyzed faces more than a little creepy, not to mention it counteracts my natural inclination to be trusting of people. Botox comes across as a mask, and hiding behind that mask comes between me and trust. Oh well, at least there was a friendly place for non-pc eyes to wander.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Missing Movies

So, it is good to be writing again. With things like participating in a (mostly) failed intervention, having a nasty bout with the flu, it has been a busy time. Or as the alleged Chinese curse says, I've indeed been living in interesting times.

It's been quite a while since I had a drink. I'm not quitting, but I'm certainly on hiatus. After dealing with my Mom's intervention nearly thirty years ago I didn't drink for about fifteen years. Not having my own identity I took on her addiction. Given my family history it ended up being serendipitous, as I didn't drink during my most susceptible years. It's funny, before the last round I'd lost my taste for booze. I was down to a bit less than a shot in my stock and didn't have any plans to restock. With the weight loss I just wasn't enjoying it any longer, probably because my accustomed double was having too much affect.

Funny thing with the flu. Once I got better, or rather less miserable my sleeping habits changed. For nearly ten years I've gone to sleep with a movie in the VCR or DVD player. Something to focus my attention on so I wouldn't toss for hours on end with a thousand thoughts running through my head. Suddenly, I just don't want anything on. I have trouble watching less than stellar movies as I mentioned earlier. Now, I actually want some thoughts to chew on as I go to sleep, and I can actually fall asleep with active thoughts dancing around.

My dreams are richer, and I'm sleeping better. It's funny, because the movie noise used to help with those, and now it detracts. In the last week there was one night where I was keyed up, and setting a movie to play for twenty minutes was just the trick, but the next night I again found the thought of putting on a movie slightly repugnant. Go figure. And I'm writing. I'm writing a bit about how I turned from a kid with the perfect life into a numb adult at age seven. It's really a celebration, and if it ever gets on it's feet I hope it shows the joy not only in those perfect early years, but in the loss of childhood and how it planted the seeds which made me who I am today. Something I am happy about. I still need to be more socialized, but no more than most of my peers, and probable less than most.

Writing though. I'm going to sign up for an original performance workshop. Something I've really wanted to do, but was scared of the very thought...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Decongesting

What a fun phase of the flu. I'm leaving in a few minutes to rehearse with my scene partner, which is the most daring thing I've done in nearly a week.

The bit I started to write yesterday. I don't know if I'll ever really use it for a show. Right now I feel like it is something I have to write. The things it represents have be clogging up my soul. I've faced them square on the last seven or eight years, but another leap is needed. I have a feeling once I get this out as a story, it will open up some other creative outlets. The last few days it has been screaming to get out, and I have no problem writing it down. Memories flow back in, good, bad, and indifferent. Don't know how much writing I'll be doing on this blog for a while.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Want The Blue Pencil?

Yesterday I had two meals and a snack. Today two snacks and a meal. Oh well, at least I don't have to worry about starvation. The first real meal I had during the week, my throat was kind of sore, like when we were in survival school and didn't eat for four or five days. In this case it was only a couple days, maybe two and a half so it wasn't nearly so pronounced. I'll be happy when this flu is history. It's now at the point where I'm adjusting to the persistent symptoms, and feeling like it is the way things will always be.

Tonight I started to watch Don't Run With Scissors, and one of the interactions sent me here to start writing. So much for going to bed early. I am thinking of a solo piece titled Nice Guys Finish Last, with several acts. All of a sudden I knew the working title for the first act, or at least what could be the opening. This is in a rough, rough state. The only editing I've done this far is to read it out loud once to fix things which are too clumsy to say out loud. Like any first draft parts will likely be tightened mercilessly, and others expanded slightly. If you've ideas on what you think needs either treatment that would be nice. Also, if you find the flow logical and engaging at all that will help me determine whether to develop it further and consign it to the tool box.
Prodigy Mom: Scene 1: First Draft

Friday, February 16, 2007

Google Coercion

I was just forced to change my login to a google account. I gave them one of my hotmail accounts for this blackmail, which I reserve for folks I strongly suspect of privacy invasion or susceptibility to fraud. Kind of redundant in one direction, a rabid thirst to invade your customer's privacy results in a collection of data easily used for fraud. Do I trust Google? Not one damn bit. They've fully moved from providing a service for customers to using customers as a resource to exploit. I strongly suspect they'll do whatever they can to people within the letter of the law, but not the spirit.

Google made a token weak resistance to fatherland security regarding privacy, but that was simply deceptive packaging. "See, we at google really respect your privacy!", they say. "Bullshit!", I say. Again my measure of all crooks and saints condemns them. While talk is great for putting forth ideas, it is actions, not words which ultimately define you. Obviously, this rules me out as ever becoming a conservative :).

One of google's mainstays is the "customized" advertising they get mindless sheep to buy into. In this case "customized advertising" is synonymous with "privacy invading advertising." Don't bother trying to change my mind. Any argument I've ever heard in favor of this invasive advertising is based on the naive belief that handing over your personal and private information to an advertising broker is not really a loss of privacy, but a convenience. Curious that since google took over blogger, support has gotten steadily worse to the point of virtual non-existence. My theory that they have moved nearly completely out of the customer service space to pursue being a full time advertisement broker is given more weight. I don't expect something for nothing, but sometimes I wonder if the struggle for the slightest bit of privacy matters. Nobody else seems to give a flying fuck.

Okay, so we're sheep. Our medical community and regulatory bodies are another typically distressing example. They are primarily run by the pharmaceutical companies, with the second in command being the high tech medical supply companies. As a result we have the most expensive medical care in the world, and I'm not even sure we're still in the top 50% for quality or availability. It amazes me we continue to allow these companies to make up diseases by describing vague, generally non-threatening symptoms for which you desperately need a life long maintenance dosage or unreliable high priced diagnoses executed by poorly maintained but really expensive machines. And the adds say you need only ask your physician to score your drug or high tech Ouija board prognosis. Now the very same business practiced without billion dollar lobbies end up persecuted by the DEA, who are doing nothing more than protecting the immoral monopolies enjoyed by 'legal' drugs like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It is even illegal to produce these items by yourself in any quantity and in most cases at all, even though most of these are tainted with preservatives and extenders of established toxicity. Of course there is not much we can do at this point, except mock the whole corrupt world of managed addictions for fun and profit.

Here's a little mockery. I don't watch much tv, except as my alarm clock, or to catch the evening weather report if I'm up late enough. Still I feel inundated with levitra type ads. I pick on levitra because of their ridiculous quote. "Levitra is only for men healthy enough for sexual activity." I laughed so hard it turned into a coughing fit the first time I heard this. Basically you can't take levitra, because if you need it you're simply not healthy enough to take it.

Maybe I'm not as sympathetic as I could be. I've never been in a relationship where my drive was the limiting factor and didn't have to give myself a regular helping hand, and it doesn't seem to have changed much. Admittedly duration was never my forte, the first couple rounds which I considered to be foreplay anyway. Now, if they had a pill to help save up all that wasted energy and fun until you really wanted it... Of course, that wouldn't help levitra patients. Here's a story with the above quote in it about a fellow who wasn't healthy enough for the needed the drug. I'm not linking it, so you'll be a little careful with it. Speaking of predatory invasion of privacy for ads, this link gave me nine or ten different cookie domain warnings (all of which I denied unconditionally). God knows how many total attempts to create cookies there were, or how many of those were in support of spyware. http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou050421_jt_upclose.1fe6eb9f0.html

At least the new spell checker has bigger vocabulary, though it insists google and gmail should be capitalized and doesn't recognize hotmail. I find it ironic that in my opinion google has gone the american way and taken capitalism an order of magnitude beyond the dysfunctional level, yet they want more capitalization from little old me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Good Break

Well, poodles. It seems I'm in the throws of the flu. The chills I've had since at least Sunday are starting to subside. The gut still hurts, but I was able to sleep in 3 hour chunks last night. The kidneys and back don't hurt nearly as much. Headache and nasty chest cough have made themselves known today.

I'm actually thinking of having a meal. A couple small bowls of rice and an apple don't take you very far for two days. Hope my belly doesn't mind.

Gripe, whine, whimper. Two years ago if you read that far back (2/19/2005) is when I did the nasty job of breaking my leg. Compared to that this is nothing, which is a comforting thought. Not nearly the misery or duration, and I do feel better as long as I don't remember the comparison in too much detail. I'll write more when I can sit up without spinning. I just have to say one thing before I flake back out. George Bush sucks. He's a war criminal on an industrial scale, and should be sitting in Nuremberg reading what Himmler scratched on the wall. Lancing a boil sometimes does feel good.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Wealth of Health in Class

Not much of a weekend. I think I slept all of three hours Friday night. At first I thought it was over-indulging. Cauliflower and broccoli. Not very daring or exciting, but the cramps were more than just gas, and lasted until, well they're not gone yet. At least I was able to sleep in larger chunks the last few nights. Slight food poisoning, a bug, stress, or some insidious combination? I'd planned to get to the library on Saturday or Sunday, but didn't make it, so no African American History themed books for the kids this morning. Back to that.

Because of the training schedule, I read on Thursdays the last two weeks, and because of their schedule, only one class at a time. Last Thursday the second class got their day of Harold and the Purple Crayon. I got my third failed vehicle. To recap, last month the exhaust blew out on the vw, so I was driving the pickup which served as backup as I was having trouble donating it to a theatre (they folded). Then the truck's wheel fell off. After reading to the kids, my motorcycle ignition switch didn't switch anymore. Threes. Yup, three previously dependable vehicles all dead or in the shop. I have a dirt bike which is street legal. Haven't had it out except to warm it up since I broke my leg. I got out of the habit, as it was quite a while before kick starting with the healing leg had any attraction for me.

The brake light on the dirt bike has always been dodgy, so I took it apart and cleaned and tightened the contacts then went to work on the light switch. The linkage was not installed well initially, so I went up to the hardware store and bought some stainless steel wire, and it works better than it ever did. It works like it should have when the bike was brand new. Surprisingly, after a few rides I now love riding it. I was surprised because I expected it to be more squirrelly on the freeway with the lost weight. I must have been past the optimum, as it rides much more comfortably now. I think I'll get some better street tires and make it my primary motorcycle until the end of the Summer. It's not so big and heavy, it weighs just a little more than I did when I bought it, and the Guzzi is a touch more than double the dry weight. It is really tall, so I'm as visible as on the Guzzi which is nice, and I have another gas tank for it, which will give me a range of around 300 miles when I replace the stock tank. I expect I'd get better mileage too. It will give me a chance to figure out if I want to recondition the Guzzi or trade it in.

The dirt bike is not much for cold weather though. It's a 2000 Honda XR600, with a light kit to make it legal and a small windscreen. Stock, it comes without lights or screen. The damn thing is torquey though. At only 282 pounds, the 45 horsepower seems to push it as well as the 74 of the bigger Guzzi. Maybe even better, but I don't have to worry about the Guzzi popping a wheelie. It will be a nice ride for a while, with some better street tires and saddle bags. I’m hoping to get outfitted on Saturday.

This morning I was still in a bit of discomfort, but I wasn't going to miss reading. They were really excited to have another Winnie the Pooh story. The first class which is usually more reticent was chatty and laughing like the dickens today. Go figure. The teachers were especially complimentary about all the different voices. Wow. That is what made me the most nervous about Pooh. I didn't so much copy my Dad's voices, as his characters. I had a ball, and was glad the kids and teachers did too. I may not be my old man, but I passed what for me was the acid test.

Tonight I have an audition. My scene partner asked me to read some sides with her after we rehearsed last night, in preparation for her audition. I mentioned it was the first play I'd ever seen as a child, when my Dad took me to watch the local high school production as a first or second grader. She said she thought the director was still looking for men to audition, and a little later, about 10 PM, I had an audition lined up in for 7 PM tonight. I'm really looking forward to it. Just cold reads, and even if I'm not cast just the chance to read Arsenic and Old Lace with some other actors is something I'm really looking forward to.

The Lure of Pure Cure For Sure

Okay, for an obligatory tongue in cheek political rant. Well, more of a demo of archetypical neo-con thinking. How many scandals are there involving the Catholic and fundamentalist clergies, the very same people holding the torch to light the path for family and traditional values? That in itself is psychotically dysfunctional.

Now, poor Ted Haggard has taken the cure. He's no longer queer. Yes, he's found the way. He locked himself away in private isolation with four fundamentalist preachers. It makes me think the poor fellow is still delusional. Somehow I doubt being powerless and at the mercy of four male ministers privately administering the Holy Paddle, or rather Intensive Counseling, magically 'cured' him. Sounds more like an acute religious fantasy. Just because he is an adult does not mean his honor is immune to the typical proclivities of this brand of power mad proselytizers.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ranting Raves

I rented a couple movies late last week. Attack Force with Steven Seagal was one. I thought a mindless action flick was just the ticket, but I didn't count on totally brainless and sad. Steven Seagal makes me look skinny, and his face looks like the surface of the moon. It could work if he wasn't trying to hide the extra fifty pounds, instead he just comes across a fat Italian looking guy, sadly gone to seed. He looked and sounded like his mouth was full of marbles. He could probably still be a tough guy, the craggy face and heavy build would contribute, but using bizarre camera angles and dim lighting for all the shots he's in was painfully obvious. Idiotic or pathetic? If he owned his body and face I'd probably still like watching him. I watched most of it. I was the mesmerized rubbernecker at the tragic traffic accident. So sad and tragic you can't divert your eyes. Look at the dvd cover picture. It has no resemblance to the guy in the video. Must have taken a dozen airbrushers a dozen weeks to get that alteration done.

I thought You, Me and Dupree would cheer me up after that Action Tragedy. Dull, slow, didn't make it more than 30 minutes. At least it wasn't so bad that I got caught up in the train wreck, and I was able to easily turn it off. Owen Wilson is generally a good choice for me, so I'll still look for his movies, but with a wee bit of discrimination in the future.

Then last weekend I rented two terrific movies. The Illusionist which was a mystery/thriller. I guessed the outcome long before the setup was done. Despite the predictability the journey was a great adventure, with little surprises along the way. I was two for two over the weekend. I finally saw Little Miss Sunshine. It is a terrifically dark send up of the incredibly creepy Jon-Benet Ramsey world of child exploitation beauty pageants. Alan Arkin plays a heroin addict grandpa wonderfully. Now, I was worried at first because that is too damn close to home at the moment, but it was a light touch, not a central plotline. Central to his character, of course. God, the man is a genius.

Sometimes a close to home movie allows you a good release, and this did just that. I was afraid it was going to be like War of the Roses. I saw that at Diego Garcia during the lead up to the Gulf War, in late 1990. I was at the end of an acrimonius divorce myself, and I saw no humor in the flick. It felt like a horror movie. Literally. The way they felt when I was fourteen. It's probably a good thing I didn't remember who dragged me to that thinking it would be great fun. I'd have socked him in the nose during pre-flight. I was thinking of that experience after Arkin's opening scene snorting a line of heroin, and I'm glad I didn't let that affect me to the point of stopping the movie.

I also watched The Illusionist. Nicely done, and I especially liked the cinematography. It was for me very predictable, but I didn't mind a bit, as the ride was fun. I'd watch it again with as much enjoyment. For this weekend I rented Pleasantville which I saw several years ago and look forward to watching. My friend Bob recommended Following by the same fellow who did Memento, and I'm looking forward to that thriller too. In a week another movie Bob recommended by the fellow will be released to dvd, The Prestige.

It's been movie time for me lately. Taking a semi-break thanks to family issues. Class is going well, as I signed up for Advanced Scene Study. We're working on Chekhov at the moment, and I'm doing Andrey in the opening scene of the second act of Three Sisters. Juicy, but very little text. Natasha has almost all the text, so I get to really load the text. One of our classmate has the flu, and I stood in getting a chance to read the infamous Yelena/Astrov scene from Uncle Vanya. We're using Schmidt's translation, and my classmates were delighted with how creepy he was. I'm not sure if it was the translation or just the way the text hit me on a cold read while chasing Yelena around.

Movies and acting class somehow tie together for me right now. Probably something to do with perceptions, especially of oneself, which I believe you have to let go of when you're performing. It's hard, but Steven sure reminded me with that sad viewing experience last week. Now, I'm not really fat anymore, though I'm certainly not slender yet. The weight loss has slowed, but the last five pounds certainly made a noticeable difference, whereas the first five did not. In the movie theme I have going, there are still times when I have my Austin Powers moments. I look in the mirror and say to myself "You are a Fat Bastard!" Other times I quote Austin's other comment, "I am a sexy beast." Then I laugh at myself for feeling more comfortable with the self inflicted insult than the compliment. They are both over the top. Today I'm wearing a polo-style shirt I got on a project at Corbis, around 2000. In only wore it a few times, as it was too snug on the belly. It's loose now, mostly. It's still snug around the shoulders. I'd forgotten that shopping challenge. XL shirts tended to be too tight in the upper torso and baggy around the belly, and long sleeved ones were too short, and XXL's were like wearing a freaking tent. Never thought I'd get anywhere close to that again, and I may have to start buying fitted shirts for comfort again.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thanks Grandpa

Hello my friends. Well, I've been living in interesting times the last couple weeks. I went through an intervention for a close friend or family member which was not successful. The result may have pushed things in the right direction, but I'm not yet optimistic, and I'm generally a glass half full kind of guy. I am going to set up a private (or anonymous) blog for myself to explore and document my feelings, both for healing and writing. Ironically, for the last month or so I have been feeling a strong urge to write again, and this incident fits perfectly into my topics. Hey, it's a silver lining I suppose, but I could sure as Hell do without the clouds. If any of my friends or relatives that are not directly involved want access I'll provide it as I certainly could do with your input. I won't provide access to strangers and those involved for privacy and interpersonal relationship considerations.

There have been several bright spots. While preparing for the event last week I saw the opera and the Freehold Studio Series. There was an absolutely amazing clown piece, and if you live in the area and like to laugh and have ever met or seen a Japanese woman you'll be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing the Studio Series this week. It is part of this weekend's encore performances, and the other encore pieces are all worth the effort as well.

I hadn't seen Rachel in ages, so it was terrific to get together for a great meal and opera. We went to the pre-show lecture which I think enhanced the experience. The man doing the lecture was passionate about the subject and it was catching, enchanting. To top it off, it is now one of my favorite two operas. The first I ever saw was Lohengrin in 2004, and I've not missed one since as a result. It is now tied for my favorite, I suspect partly because it was my first. It now coexists with Don Giovanni as one of my favorite two.

I've been in an intensive database class (Inside SQL Server, Kalen Delaney). It has been terrific and I'm looking forward to bringing this extra knowledge back to the job. It's really exciting. We went Monday to Wednesday, and will go Monday and Tuesday next week. As a result I missed reading to the kids on Monday. One class was available this morning, so I got to start off today with half my fourth graders.

I brought two Harold and the Purple Crayon books. The Amazon pictures are horrible or non-existent, so I'll try to load a scan of a page or two to flickr in the next few days. The covers do show the idea of Harold drawing his adventures, so I'll link them below. The first was a copy of the book I had as a child, my favorite childhood book. I was worried the kids wouldn't enjoy it much, but they loved it. I think there were some silent groans at first, as it is very simple, but the imaginations and magic of these books hooked them, and in turn animated me more. We were having so much fun and laughter their teacher who usually uses the time as a welcome break to catch up on things came to watch and listen too, and she loved the book. After the last two weeks it was a tremendous relief and joy for me. I swear to God, I get as much out of reading as the kids, maybe more. That same deity whoever he/she/they may be has my gratitude. Nothing has been as healing for me the last few weeks. I asked them if they wanted to hear my secret, and were delighted when I told them I still liked reading my Harold book when I was in high school.

They were also delighted when I told them Harold looked like my Grandpa. I remember thinking as a boy that Harold was my Grandpa as a boy. One boy asked if my Grandpa had a purple crayon. Well, they had a big box of loose crayons we played with as kids, the remnants of broken and depleted boxes. I haven't thought of that in 30 years so that was terrific. A girl asked if my Grandpa liked to draw, and I said he drew plans of things he was building. Another question was asked, and I had to say I didn't know because he died a long time ago, but he was my favorite person in the world then and I still like talking about him. I said I bet they could guess my Grandpa's name, and they chorused "Harold!" Smart kids. Then we finished the rest of the second book. They were, in order read today:
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Harold's Fairy Tale

My paternal grandparents were my favorite people in the world in my teens and twenties, and I loved and admired them both very deeply. Getting to reminisce about them was just one more unexpected boon this morning. Life is so full of joy and delicious surprises. I'm certainly glad to be back.