Acting Up

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

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

Allie's Journey

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oops

As storms go, the hype and unpreparedness were the only notable aspects. I think we had maybe two gusts at work last Thursday, and the first one took out the power. No flickering, or off for a bit on for a bit. Out like someone had flipped a switch. Common sense and a desire to go home early came into play. I figured there was no way to reroute the power, it must have been taken out between us and the nearest substation, otherwise it would have been rerouted. Wherever the interruption took place, it was a single point of failure, and at a minimum that point had to be repaired. After fifteen minutes people started leaving and I was one. Having a lingering cold made the idea of vegetating at home sound very nice too.

I had a post disappear, where I was cogitating over america's deepest and most terrifying fear. Individuality. During the War of 1812 or The Civil War a reknowned and highly respected general, and I believe a baron, was here as an observer. He commented on the personal freedoms which Americans had and were unprecedented in the rest of the world, yet weren't embraced here. Rather, we were driven and drove peer pressure so fiercely individuality was imperceptible compared to other western cultures of the day. Anyone remember who made this oft cited observation? It occurs to me the deep-seated terror of being noticed is with us still, and I wonder if it is manifested in our cowardice when it comes to changing course. To do so would attract attention, and pursuing a deadly error is less bothersome to us, if we can do it without remark. Yup, embarassment is truly worse than state sponsored mass murder.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Biding

My most memorable birthday party was my fourth. I have two in my memory. I suspect one of them was number five, or maybe number three. They all got rolled into, "When I was four..." That was a family joke, as it was my frame of reference for so many things. I wonder if that is when I became well aware of the world outside of me. The extra awareness without the filters we apply as we get socialized and mature made that a memorable year. All this is to say as a result 4th birthday's are special to me.

I missed my niece's birthday party on Saturday. Her theme was "Princess Race Car" which befuddled all the grown-ups. I picked up a pink bicycle helmet for her with wrap-around sunglasses with some pink in the frames. Sort of a princess race car driver picture in my mind. I think they'll make funny/cute pictures so I'll have to drive up for an uncle make-up pretty soon. I wanted to go up regardless, then I thought of the wooziness and the other drivers and the possibility of spreading a bug. A kid's birthday party? Okay, so there's not much in the way of new colds or flus I'd be likely to introduce. Still, I realized it was a selfish desire and stayed home, though it still would have been a pleasant drive. Amazing how much difference driving a newer car makes.

Aaron was visiting too. Sort of. He'd flown out of SeaTac to visit family and go to a niece's Bat Mitzvah. I guess we both enjoy our uncle duties. He likes taking care of people when they don't feel up to snuff, or at least is very gracious and proactive. I certainly appreciated it, though it's not what I have in mind when hosting a visitor. Now I'm hoping he didn't catch it. They say once you really feel a bug like that you are at or near the end of the infectious stage. Those wracking raspy coughs feel catching though.

I thought I had an audition tonight, but it turns out I had my Monday wrong. The good news is it is next Monday. That leaves me free to go see the Intiman's "Conversations With Artists" program tonight with the artistic and managing directors. Problem is I still feel too icky to want to go. Well it has that feeling, that the bug is going away. Maybe it's only hopeful thinking, but it can't help but be right some time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mr. Sound Bite

We are having a few meetings about our office move. At the very best I expect it to be an unmitigated disaster. It of course occurred to me that for the annual lease for the building, we could dump our CEO for one who only earns ten times our salary and us the savings to get another comparable lease. Somehow I think placing people in sub-standard cubes will be viewed as the more desirable option. After all, those harvesting the company want to reap all they can before jumping ship. I've been getting a bit cynical about what was once the best place I'd ever worked. It is still at the top, but the upper management's greed, arbitrary nature, and lack of candor is having a systemic affect. I'm still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but aside from unfulfilled promises it has not been encouraging yet.

Pisser. Most of us believe when things really suck that they will get better, it's just a matter of time and how bad it will get first. At least that's what we tell ourselves, and generally a low point is reached and you start to feel better along with your circumstances. Sadly, the reciprocal is true. If things are terrific, well they can't get better forever. It's nice when they plateau on top for a while. From the inner the-glass-is-half-empty guy, it does seem like we spend more time on lower plateaus.

As we were discussing things the meeting moderator was writing things down, and at one point commented I was creating a lot of quotables he wanted to use for his reports going up the chain. There was one line of thought where they were talking of the move to cubes as an equity thing, where the real estate and expenses per employee were being leveled across all companies. It was immediately pointed out that we weren't hired by Hotels.com or another subsidiary, so our expectations were for the company that hired use. I pointed out even the military realizes that is a ridiculous concept as the cost of living and cost of business varies greatly with geography, even within the US. I said rather than make me feel any better these kind of inane justifications make me feel "commoditized instead of valued."

Somehow that reminds me how my creativity has been promulgated in the past. I was stationed in Key West in the late 80's, when the AIDS paranoia was at it's apex. Believe it or not, but I didn't find that there was a higher degree of homophobia in the Navy, but it was there. Some guys were going on how you were taking your life in your hands when you drove down White Street. Pretty ridiculous stuff, so I thought I'd inject more fear into those who were that idiotic. "You're in more danger here. If you want to be safe you'd best hang around the gay areas. You know, like steering into the point of contact in a car accident is the best way of avoiding getting in the pile up." This drew blank stares as I expected. "Well, there's always a breeze here, so your big danger is being downwind where infected mosquitoes will bite you, but instead of malaria..."

Totally ridiculous if you know anything about malaria. It's a step in the life cycle of the parasite, and it causes the mosquitoes to upchuck while feeding, which is what infects you. That is grossly oversimplified to leave out some boring details and additional grossness. The point being, mosquitoes are not a vector for HIV. Ignorant cowards of course will believe anything (I expect bill o'reilly thinks it's true). I had my fun and forgot about it. About a month later there were announcements on the local radio stations that mosquitoes could not carry AIDS. Of course I'm probably not the only one who came up with that misinformation, but I like to take credit for scaring people who should know better. And who knows, maybe I did start that one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Segue

BD recently talked about a couple who were bickering in his store. It resonated for me, especially because they were both gracious to him on their way out the door.

In July when I was visiting Aaron and Sonya on Denman Island, when the rain poured pretty much the whole time we were sitting in their living room watching a movie. They are both from Massachusetts, and have a little of what we think of as East Coast attitude out here. They were talking about work and the horses. Who needed to do what the next day, and what Aaron needed to do to settle in the horses that evening.

The subtext was totally different, and when it hit me very obvious. They were dancing. It was lovely to listen to. When it turned to seduction, I decided it was time for me to retire. That was not the intent I'm sure, as it was my response to the subtext. It sure gave me a different perspective on their relationship.

To set the picture so to speak, here's their place. You can see the geodesic dome; the square looking protrusion on the right is the kitchen area, the other is a green house. The tv area is in the nook between the two. Towards the top you can see the roof of the barn, and just below that is a good sized motor home, which gives you some scale to appreciate the size of the barn. During the warmer months the motor home is the sleeping area for guests. I think this view is a few years old, because I can't make out their windmill.


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It's a nice place to visit for me, as we've been roommates and so it is easier them to let me entertain myself, and I can go off and do some writing or hang around. I helped a little bit with the lean to they were building for the horses they board. It's to the left of the barn, and is definitely not in this picture.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dull Pricklies

More on the exciting topic of getting my house in order. One big hurdle is getting over my standard behavior. I like finishing things, so I tend to wait around until I have time to clean something completely. Then comes the evil circle. I don't have enough time today, so I'll do it later. Rinse, lather, repeat. Classes, rehearsals, stupid human tricks from the family, too damn tired from work, oh look there's garbage on tv... More excuses for non-action than... Well, I don't really want them anymore, as it soon becomes impossible to do anything in one session.

The light finally comes on. Do something. Get a start. Then the ultimate finish can actually happen, though at a later date. And while the satisfaction is less, it is still there with the incremental approach. Many (maybe most) of you are saying, "Duh, any fool knows you can do chores in pieces." Okay, you're superior to me. You are godly. You're really quite mature. I'm simply not worthy. Oh, and by the way, you suck. Now I've finally made the realization myself, I guess I suck too. That sucks. I guess everything sucks, including the weather. Maybe I should retire to Key West, except the non-local drivers there really suck.

I was thinking of that again as I clipped back blackberry vines after work Monday. It's part of my yard effort, which I've been doing incrementally for a while now. I have a faux goal of sorts, that is to fill up the compost bin for it's weekly pickup, which I've done for well over a month now, with only one week where it wasn't tightly packed. The blackberries are the most challenging in a way, as for the most work they fill the bin the least, but on the up side it clears more space than cleaning up oregon grape or ivy which fill the bin faster. For either there is a great sense of accomplishment. Not so much the amount of work accomplished, but seeing the progress accumulate. Still it is amazing when you get out the little shears and start clipping how much blackberry thicket will fit in a bin.

I need to find something similar inside the house. I have a few areas I keep in good shape (i.e. guest room, shower), and a few I holystone regularly (i.e. kitchen, living room, bathroom). Some of it is being more deliberate in my living. I put things down, and have no recollection two seconds later of having done so. For you aliens that don't relate it's nothing to do with age, I've been the same way since I was four which is as far back as I can reliably remember anything. I suppose my ability to filter distracting things out and shift my focus of attention quickly is the up side to that tendency. My tendency towards holding and shifting a concentrated focus has another aspect. Not only can I totally erase something mundane from my awareness within seconds, I can filter out what I don't like. The house is a mess? Focus elsewhere. It is not even a conscious act, so engaging the conscious to keep awareness of the mess palpable is tricky. Am I just blathering? I feel like I'm making progress.

What was I talking about?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Tripping on Tripe

I watched Underworld and Underworld: Evolution yesterday. Ohmigosh, what fun. Take 50's creature features, update with current tv plots and special effects, and bang you've got it. I was chuckling over the whole thing at Blockbuster when I went to get the sequel, and the clerk pointed out they have Kate Beckinsale. Okay she is right, there is that added dimension. Kate Beckinsale carries on the tradition of of Diana Rigg in The Avengers and Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns of making leather/vinyl looking better than any standard issue male can bear for extended periods of time. (Okay, among others, Carrie-Anne Moss merits mention.)

So beyond leatherbound thought patterns, it struck me there is a huge space for more send-ups of the genre. Something humorous and a bit of an homage. Like Young Frankenstein to the creature features of old. Maybe I'll need to do some research. I'll probably enjoy it, but right now I'm dreading the dreary thought of watching Buffy, Candyman, etc. Just a thought for now, but it sounds like a fun idea for an indie. I have the basic set up for the story line, though I suppose I'll need a plot too. Watching enough of these modern day B horror movies and series should provide me ideas and time for that. If the idea stays with me. It's kind of old now, but I'll have to watch Poltergeist III again as an early one in the new horror genre. ;)

I'm getting the itch. To be working on something. I've gotten a little writing and housecleaning done, not as much as I wanted, but at least with the housecleaning I've the beginnings of some new habits. The house is an unmitigated disaster. I've decided to stop refiling stuff. You know, cleaning and simply stashing/smushing most of the stuff. Nope, now it's time to make decisions and actually toss, or keep stuff for real. It's a slower process, one I've worked up to gradually, but to my eye there is progress. Not to anyone else's. The quicksand looks the same to the untrained, but it's only about five feet deep now. The bottomless pit of quicksand looks the same on the surface, much like my house in fact. But there are little tiny enclaves beginning to pop up.

So, I'm looking for auditions. Looking at classes -- there's a voice over intensive late in November that caught my eye. Thinking about some more singing lessons too. There is another project I am looking at, which I'll talk about more if it pans out. And looking for auditions. Now that my Summer respite is done, the itch is only increased by the current paucity of auditions. One I signed up for never got back to me, they were desperately looking for someone about forty. I look the age, and should not have let on my real age. The fact they didn't bother to acknowledge speaks volumes. I have little respect for those lacking courtesy, so I likely wouldn't have been happy with them. I'll never know for sure, but things do seem to work out in the end. The other recent audition, they changed their mind as they'd cast the role without needing the audition they'd announced. A lame thing to do, but he got back to me which I appreciated.

So, I'm looking to trod the boards before long. I've had a nice break, and while focusing on other things I feel like things from the conservatory program I started two years ago (already!) are clicking into place. Makes me excited about trying them out. The things which feel the most profound, are the most mundane really. That is, they are things which have been harped on starting with the first introductory acting class I had back in 2000. It is connecting to concepts on an intensely personal and meaningful level. Saying "to be affected", "to be in the world", etc. It all makes sense, and at every turn I find room for a magnitude of improvement. I've had tremendously powerful experiences from doing things terribly, and happily more often, for doing things well.

The first thing to get over was worrying about making fool of myself. Simple right? Yet I still work on it, though I've come so far, even carrying it over into my personal and day job lives. Listening. Honesty. It goes on. Terribly simple concepts, which end up being very deep and deadly hard to do on the boards and off.

I've come to realize that is what I love about art. Once you learn the quadratic equation, "x = (-b ± sqrt(b²-4ac))/2a", there's not much else to do. You can rewrite it, with prettier formatting, or resolved in different ways, as long as it says exactly the same thing. That would be death in art. There is a level of art in mathematics, but the defining difference for me is that difference, or lack thereof. If you said exactly the same thing twice in a performance it would not be alive, you would have killed it, and buried it's meaning. However, if you said the equation differently, it would be dead and it's meaning would be lost.

That brings up another thought. A script I started this Spring, has a scene where I'm thinking of having the Grandfather recite Hamlet's soliloquy to his grandson. It's apropos and should build their relationship in a nice way, and what actor over forty wouldn't enjoy the chance to say those words in an appropriate setting? It is the kind of thing someone with more life experience can connect with more personally. Too contrived? If so, what do you think it would hurt?

And in it's own turn, that brings up another thought. I was thinking of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet this morning. In both cases, you have young protagonists verbalizing their thoughts in very mature ways, yet the very situations they are in are dependent upon the inexperience (or folly if you will) of youth. What mature adults would kill themselves because their parents disapproved? Same with Hamlet, who would consider suicide as a viable option for revenge? Older people do make these kind of choices, but you would focus on how they are acting like kids. Shakespeare manages to combine youthful actions and mature thoughts to great effect. Don't get me wrong. Mature folks make their own folly-ridden choices. Medea. King Lear. Bush. Part of it is Shakespeare's style, but he does manage to paint the lovers and Hamlet as callow, without detracting from them or the story. I can tear it apart all I want, and where it might give me some insight, or illusion of it, his genius still eludes me.

Fall Beans

Before I forget. Last week I had the last batch of green beans from my co-op membership. A lot of the regular sort, and a good sized batch of the flat beans. I like green beans but have never been much on cooking them for some reason, so I toss them in soup a bit before it's done. Well the last try of the season was a very nice mix. Black eyed peas and organic ham. Some onion of course, and I had some left over tiny carrots (I think 'baby' carrots is a dumb name). Black eyed peas and ham were the primary ingredients, and complimented the beans wonderfully. Probably because the black eyed peas have a mild flavor somewhat akin to green beans. Next year I'll have to experiment a bit with spices to see if anything works well. I think garlic would be nice, and a hint of cloves maybe.