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

Monday, June 25, 2007

All In The Timing

Well, I worked for a bit last Saturday. I probably didn't need to, as I got done much faster than I expected, and decided I didn't need to come in on Sunday. It was kind of a lazy day. I was watching Children of Men and sorting through old mail, giving the shredder a real workout.

My gut was feeling a bit queasy, like something I had on Thursday or Friday was trying to make a statement. I was beginning to think I was going to dodge that bullet.

Rachel called on Sunday and would I be interested in dinner? Of course, and we had a great session. Good food (Desert Fire) and terrific conversation and writing. Rachel has great writing exercises she likes to do and we added some of our own. For the warm up I wrote in unrhymed verse, pentameter, but not very iambic. I hadn't planned to ahead of time, I just did. We followed that up with a longish rhyming scheme Rachel suggested (ababab cdcdcd efefef gg), using ten syllables per line. We found it forces us to get out what we want to say. Denser and deeper. Using a constriction in form, you tend to loosen the personal constrictions more easily. Both of us having worked a bit with classical text helped too. Syntax and meanings not in everyday life make you both much more deliberate and liberated. Figure that one out.

It was a beautiful evening, but too chilly for a walk so we went for a drive in the Prius. I'd recited Ulysses and some Shakespeare in the restaurant. It's great to have an enthusiastic audience, and great practice as reciting things for friends is great audition practice for me. First when clarification is asked for it helps focus intention and enunciation, even if you are using a much lower volume voice. And even more helpful is it creates the same internal atmosphere for me. Get past being wooden for a friend/relative or two and it translates directly into less wooden (and of course, better) auditions. On the drive Robert Service and Shakespeare joined us. It sure is nice to have an easy driving and quiet car. Especially fun as the MacBeth monologue and the Service poems I just refreshed myself on the last week. I think I ran through The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee, about half of the Service stuff I know. I just started on some of the Kipling stuff, but one of those is pretty long, so it will take a few more days to get that one going again. I'm taking a few trips this Summer, and when I'm driving I like doing monologues and poetry a good deal of the time instead of listening to the radio the whole time.

Check Rachel's blog for her entry last week. I might visit the theatre under construction on Sunday. It sounds fun and interesting.

This week has been very busy at work, and whatever I tangled with last week finally got to me late Sunday. I've decided if you're going to feel a little peaked it's much nicer after a nice weekend finishing with a nice dinner.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Times

It's official, I'm healthier than I was a year ago. I had my annual physical today. Even so I'm still closer to being dead by one year. Of course with the improved overall health it's not unreasonable to assume I'll have extended my life-span by more than that. Of course, if I'm wrong and it's a predetermined date and time, I'll just enjoy myself more in the time until then. I've been working on Hamlet's soliloquy, so I'm thinking of "the undiscovered country," at least with regards to his speech. Once we're there, and blink out of existence or blink into a different existence, what will this mortal coil matter? I don't know. I think I'll just live in the hedonistic moment for now, and not try to explode or implode my brain with these kind of questions.

A casual (and very attractive) friend of mine scolded me for considering myself past having children. My mind hasn't changed, but it's churning. I'm not about to do anything rash so no need to lock up your daughters yet. Monday was my last day with this year's 4th grade class, so the enjoyment I get interacting with children is front and center. I arrived about five minutes early, to give myself a few extra minutes to chat before and after the reading. The kids were already sitting, waiting for me. Not only that, both classes were together.

I was presented with a stack of cards the kids had made for me, and a generous gift certificate for ACT. I'm thinking David Hare's piece. It's about Iraq, and last year I read another of his plays for an audition piece. So if any of you local readers are interested in his play, Stuff Happens or the long running Late Nite Catechism let me know. I'm getting excited about seeing one or the other, or both. I do go stag to shows on a regular basis, but a gift is much better shared. This is an important gift to me, as along with the cards it shows the kids had fun too. I'm rationing the cards, reading only a few at a time. They are that great to me.

I got all teary when they presented me with the gifts. I told them it took me a long time to read the cards they made for me on Thanksgiving. One boy said, "Oh, we're sorry!" I had to laugh at that, "No I had no problem reading them. Does anyone ever get a bag of candy they like and gobble it all right down?" Lots of hands went up. "How about some that you like so much you only eat a little at a time so it lasts longer?" Hands up again. "That's how it is with your cards. I want them to last longer so I only read a couple at a time."

This has been a terrific reading year. In the past I've been quite circumspect about using character voices, and just jumped into it this year. Using several accents and some really distinct voices. To the point where the voice actually drives the character. I'd always kept voices like that to myself, often using them for running lines, as they always help me discover different things in the text and different ways of treating the text. A grouchy cartoon voice, a southern accent, Russian, Irish, English North Country accents, or whatever pops into your head. I've used all those and more for all the audition pieces and most plays. I've found running monologues that way just before an audition is a great help.

So, fairly early in the year I started really working on and using character voices. Some books they aren't needed or appropriate, but other times they add so much to our enjoyment. I journalled here several months ago, that adapting the voices my Dad uses for Winnie The Pooh, to capture the character instead of the exact sound was a watershed for me. My Dad's reading of Winnie The Pooh is a much loved tradition in our family, and I was really worried. They were still talking about the voices from Winnie The Pooh the last couple weeks. Like my theatre pursuits, I've not had a big desire to outdo my Dad. Rather, I want to honor, cherish, and share what he has given me.

So, right now I'm missing the kids already and looking forward to next year's kids already.

The last couple weeks have been really nice. I've had the blues since mid-winter, another thing I've mentioned in earlier entries. It took me a while to realize it, as when viewed from above, I realize it is closer to my 'up' periods in decades past. That is some comfort. And knowing it will not last forever. Sometimes I get to feeling I'm pretty alone. Silly, as I really have a large group of friends. Sense memory I suppose. I have been seeing my blues fade away the last few weeks. The brand new car may have helped with that a bit. However, even a brand spanking new Prius is nothing when measured against feeling the wonderful gifts from my folks, the kids, and friends.

I'm enjoying the cussedness of life again. Those dichotomies and contradictions I revel in. There's some people who consider me kind of aloof, because I don't often hit the bars after class or shows. It is not an environment I care for. I've never been good at understanding people when there is a lot of ambient noise, so I just avoid those situations. I'd rather spend time with people, so sitting around pretending you can understand what they are saying doesn't do much for me. I love hanging out with people, not sitting around in trendy dens of cacophony.

Other people see me as a very outgoing person. I love that one. I'm basically very shy, and for the last eight or so years I have worked continually to overcome it. I still feel just as shy. Like after work today, I am looking forward to alone time at the house. Maybe watch Tron or some other old sci-fi or fantasy film. Since I was a kid I remember just feeling my skin was crawling in crowded situations, like when I was packed in the back of the Drew's station wagon for too long with our friends. When we finally got the the picnic site I'd unload everything as fast as I could making everybody comment on how helpful I was. Then I let everyone else do set up, and would escape into the woods or down the beach, which were the most common destinations for those get togethers with other families. Just a little time to kind of rinse the soul. To go from that, to a point where some people see me as outgoing is pretty cool in my mind.

I've been hoping for a response to a service request here at work. Nothing yet, so I'm heading home. I'll read a few cards, and maybe scrounge through my old movies...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Son's Day

I went to my folk's house this weekend. I guess I'll start out my musings with the sadly poignant bit to get it out of the way, and maybe set the stage. Sunday morning while they were out, and I was working remotely for a bit and getting a little breakfast I got out one of the bowls I remembered as a kid, part of a set of ceramic dishes we got when I was in high school, a sturdy attractive set my Mom had picked up somewhere. It reminded me of the estrangement in that relationship, which makes me sad. It also makes me appreciate the great healthy relationship I have with my folks. (My folks are my Dad and Stepmom.)

Last week I didn't blog. I was finishing up clown class, and while it didn't require much time outside of class, it had me in the whole theatre production/academic routine. I was also in a course for work, and while I didn't do a lot of work in the evenings, I did do some. It was a great class, C# programming. I know, I know. Most of your eyes are glazing. It gets my hands back into a type of programming I really enjoy, so it was a fun week. The instructor, a former Navy F-4 pilot was not only a great instructor, but a great person to talk to. Similar military background and not surprisingly, similar takes on the current decline of America. We jabbered quite late after class several evenings. So, that was a good week.

Saturday I slept in, went to the office for an hour or two starting to catch up, then headed to Port Orchard to meet up with my folks. We were going to their Kiwanis annual fundraising auction & dinner. I was able to talk to some of the people I knew growing up, mostly those who were my teachers. A few years go by, and now they are quite enthusiastic about talking to old students. Nice. I was a total pain in the ass student. Well, weren't we all teenagers once? Teenagers are in such a hurry to grow up. Remember? At the time teenagedom seemed like an eternity.

We had a good time, and the next day as well when we saw Uncle Vanya at the Intiman, which was a very good production. Joyce went home right after the show, as they'd left their dog at home and he can't be alone for more than 6 hours yet. It was too bad, but it was nice to still be able to have Father's Day dinner with my Dad. We ate at Maharaja's in West Seattle. The booths on the left wall are still weirdly cramped, but the food is still very good too.

Backing up... Saturday evening after the Kiwanis dinner I found some Shel Silverstein on the web and read them for the folks to give them a taste of what I've been doing with the kids this year. (This morning was my last day until next year.) Joyce is familiar with Silverstein's work, but it was new to my Dad. Then after dinner on Sunday Dad and I talked Shakespeare, showing him a bit how the first folio is used to help analyze text, as I had a print of a monologue I'm working on with modern text on one side, and the folio on the other. We then talked of how both our fathers took us to plays in our youth and how that affected us. Quite a nice legacy.

Then I finally recited Tennyson's Ulysses, which I memorized a while back for him. About five years ago I recited quite a bit of Kipling and Service, but since I started studying acting seriously I stopped. I suppose I had enough time doing that sort of thing in class and in productions, plus a desire to get better and not punish family too much. I didn't pick the best time, as we were parked on the end of the ferry pier, with the waiting area blocking the view of incoming boats. The boat arrived as I was trucking along. Quick pause, check to be sure he wouldn't miss the ferry. Trying to really connect with the text for someone in a car is challenging, and it is even harder for a Dad audience, then shifting out and back in to make sure I didn't make him miss the boat. I didn't miss the boat either. I made the shifts, using the interruptions as a challenge instead of letting them defeat me. I realized I'd wanted to do this for a long time because of the wonderful memories I have of him reading and reciting for us as kids. Like a growing kitten showing his folks the mouse he caught, learning from their example.

After I finished the poem he was silent for a beat. Then he gave me a wonderful compliment like, "That was amazingly powerful, and quite appropriate for today." It was not a search for something positive to say like I remembered from six or seven years ago, but heartfelt. I'd surprised and touched him. On the way home I was thinking about what a great Father's Day it was for me. I regaled them with readings and finally Ulysses because I really wanted to. I wanted to share, and enjoyed myself doing so. I got back to my house about the time his boat came in, and I called to thank him for giving his son such a great day on his Father's Day. I wasn't fishing, it was a sincere desire to thank him before the day was over. He strongly reiterated his compliment.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stay The Course

It is a terrible thing. To realize how deep and sincere my disgust is at the decider that I'm hurt and disappointed to hear he got over his tummy ache.

Now it turns out cheney's medical advisors are telling him he needs new batteries for what passes as his heart. What makes them so special that you'd accept their unpleasant news? Who wants to go under the knife anyway? Hey Dick, why don't you get better intelligence? Stay the course, mr. cheney. You've said over and over it is what is good for the country and what we really want. In this one case it may be true for the first time during your reign. Stay course mr. vice pres, and don't waste taxpayer time and money for batteries you don't really need.

Monday, June 04, 2007

For Goodness' Sake

I am now the proud owner of a red 2007 Prius, like the one pictured in my last post. Thursday evening I went to my chiropractor, and then to Toyota of Kirkland. Got my back straightened out, then my transportation.

I chose the cars I would consider at based on an ethics driven personal choice. It is an added bonus to find I keep enjoying the car more and more as I drive. It is the first time I've bought a brand new car. The closest was my '89 pickup, which was about 3 years old when I got it in June of '91. It was also the most recently manufactured, so I've jumped 18 years in automotive technology. And from crappy american quality, to a Toyota. Wow, what a difference.

Short vent... I remember as a kid when it was the other way around -- "Made In USA" meant quality, not arrogantly shoddy. Now the instant gratification culture promoted by the american MBA mentality has us striving to be nearly acceptable in most pursuits as long as you can dupe enough suckers to make a profit, while the long term business plans of Japan's culture has shown to be a more admirable with respect to the initial quality and durability of consumer goods.

I get a kick out of the displays for power paths, and instantaneous and cumulative MPG readings. It is a fun way to train yourself to drive with more fuel efficiency. I think there may be a happy medium between the very gradual accelerations I've been doing and really tromping on it. I accelerated to get in front of a dump truck, still pretty moderate, just enough to get comfortably ahead of him before the merge. Having driven a truck I never cut right in front of a big rig. It gives the driver heart palpitations, and increases your personal risk of highway decapitation. Well, I actually got the same or better efficiency with that acceleration than I've been getting, so I'll have to do some testing.

Here is what I think of as the cumulative display, which is showing 52.1 mpg. I currently 48.1, which includes the time it was running while they detailed it and such. It is still climbing and I expect it to be a bit higher when I reset it when I fill the gas tank later this week. The bar graph on the right is at zero, which indicates that car was stationary when this picture was taken -- these images come from a magazine or dealer site.
Cumulative Display

And here is what I think of as the instantaneous display. In this case the instantaneous mileage is 20.6mpg, which means they are probably going uphill or accelerating. (Looks like it was pretty cold too.) Right now the engine is providing power to the wheels and battery. Lots of combinations pop up. Both the battery and engine providing power to the wheels. Just one providing power to the wheels. Or my favorite when slowing or coasting, the wheels charging the battery. (The electric motor/generator of comes between the battery, and the gas motor and wheels/tranny.) I like this display the best, and wish it showed the cumulative mpg.
Instantaneous Display

I'm enjoying the car for it's own sake, though reducing my carbon footprint and (involuntary) financial support for starting wars in the middle east drove my choice. Thumbing my nose at the mind-numbing dumbing down of American industry and consumerism is just an added bonus.

I've avoided driving for it's own sake, which is hard with a brand new car. I had an errand which was a 120 mile round trip for my financial advisor on Saturday, so that worked out nicely. After class on Sunday it was still around 87 degrees so I took a longer loop home for the sake of driving with the a/c set to a nice 75.