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July 16th, 2011


02:26 pm - A new home for theatre reviews
It's been awhile since I've written here. Long story short: I've been busy with theatre and improv, and enjoying quite a bit of it though at times it has run me ragged.

I want to note that, after much ado, I have decided to start writing about local theatre shows again. The reviews should be far less frequent, maybe a show a week. Along with continuing theatre education, I'm working on shows on my own along with other endeavors and making a concerted effort to get more rest and enjoy some free time, so my previous frenetic pace isn't possible.

The key: I have also decided to post those new reviews at a new blog devoted for that purpose, located here. This gives the reviews a legitimate location while keeping them off your friend's pages (for those not interested). Also on the blog I further discuss my reasoning for getting back into writing about shows.

I will migrate the reviews here over to that new location in due time. Meanwhile, a new review should come shortly, and it'll be at the new blog if you're interested.

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April 19th, 2011


12:24 pm - Links!
http://www.thepelicanpost.org/2011/04/19/higher-education-the-next-asset-bubble/

The Pelican Post thinks Higher Ed is the next bursting bubble. You think the housing market was inflated? It holds nary a candle to the inflation of higher education costs, as what was once considered a higher accomplishment is now seen and financed as a birthright. They blame low interest rates, but honestly much of the blame belongs to the Feds for making so much financing copiously and readily available.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/a-better-way-to-teach-math/

I just don't buy "I'm no good at math". It's one of the only academic disciplines where all of it can be done step by step. Yeah, I was a math whiz in grade school, but I also applied myself. I didn't know how to add and subtract until I started grade school. I didn't know how multiplication and division worked until the 3rd grade. I didn't understand geometry or trig or algebra until it hit me right in the face. Yeah, I failed Calculus twice but I also didn't apply myself like I did the 3rd time I took it. Here's how to make math easy:

1) Pay attention and take notes in class.
2) Do homework every night.
3) ??????
4) PROFIT!!!!

Seriously, I know how flaky all of you were in school because I was flaky too and so were my honors classmates, good grades be damned. All you have to do to be a good student is pay attention and do your homework. And most of it really isn't that tough... it just takes a bit of time and effort. You can get a B (3.0) or better in most classes without much fuss, even if you're slow to pick things up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html

I want to install a standing desk at my office. I often utilize a standing setup in my home and find I feel more alert and can produce more when working standing.

Really, we all need to get up and do more. I include myself in this, and I already move around a lot.

http://sweatscience.com/the-more-you-run-the-less-your-diet-affects-your-weight/

I've seen arguments that long distance running isn't as healthy for you as short sessions of sprinting. I've seen arguments that long distance running is best. Take your pick, but incidentally the amount of activity you put in decreases the negative impact of your diet... not that bad diet is okay when you run, just that its fattening effects decrease with increased activity.

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April 15th, 2011


01:20 pm - All My Sons and the continued lack of progress in theatrical diversity
Last night a date and I took in All My Sons at Intiman. As I've repeatedly heard, the show is extremely well done, yet in an indirect manner illustrated several things I don't like about Seattle theatre. This won't be a review, but elaboration on several ideas it brought up for me.

First of all, I'm glad this production made a concerted effort to utilize minority actors (having a black director in UW's Valerie Curtis-Newton sure helped). Great local talents like Reginald Andre Jackson and Shanga Parker ought to get more opportunities to perform. Reggie in particular was unrelentingly alive and driven as Chris Keller. Shanga did his best with the very confusing role of George, and I liked how his George's nostalgia battled with his anger towards the man that ruined his father's life. And on that note, I was impressed with the stern but emotionally rich presence of Chuck Cooper as patriarch Joe Keller... though at times he displayed a disarming 'faucet on faucet off' approach with emotional moments and at times spoke so fast we lost a few words. That's a trifle, though, in light of an overall commanding performance. And this is a good play by Arthur Miller, one that hooks you with various storylines that play out gradually before the big, often stunning conclusion. This was probably one of the few productions I felt warranted the requisite Seattle LORT Standing Ovation.

That said, I don't like the growing trend of big houses lumping minority actors into a single show, calling that their effort at diversity, and then doing a full remaining season of the usual all-white shows. Intiman has done three all-black (or mostly black) shows recently: Ruined, Black Nativity and now All My Sons. Seattle Rep just did The Brothers Size. I like that Intiman sought several opportunities to use black actors, but I wish the big houses would cast those local minority actors alongside white actors and actors of all races all the time (and no, Daniel Breaker doesn't really count: Does he get those roles if not married to Intiman's Artistic Director? Doubtful).

To me, the sign of true diversity is not when a company does an all-black show or two. It's when minority actors get to share the limelight with white actors in ALL shows. Asian companies like ReAct are noble but allow the community to sidestep and miss the point. Seattle is 70% white and 30% non-white, and yet shows in town are 90-99% white, save for the occasional all-black or all-Asian show. We segregate theatre and marginalize minorities in theatre like it's the 1960's, and we wonder why theatre's relevance is dying? This is not just true of big houses but of the fringe groups too... ESPECIALLY the fringe groups. I actually think the big-houses to their credit make a concerted effort, to engage minorities, that fringe groups don't.

Minority actors in this town deserve better, even given the paper-obstacle of Seattle's marginally whiter culture. Seattle theatre needs to get more colorful, in more ways than one. I don't care for quotas but I'd even suggest going that far, doing a 70/30 casting quota for shows, if that's what it takes for companies to consistently get talented minorities on stage.

Of course, companies would need to stop producing classic retreads, Broadway plays and off-Broadway plays. And that's a whole other issue I've been over many times. This play itself pulled a God Of Carnage and draped a vague 'set in Seattle' motif over a play that was actually set in the middle class Midwest like so many others. Granted, local playwrights tend to fall into the same white-bread characters and settings. So, note to local playwrights, BTW: Write more plays that aren't just about middle class white people. Such plays are a symptomatic reason why directors won't touch minority actors in this town, which furthers the cultural divide that's slowly eating away at theatre's dwindling relevance. White people are only part of the community, not the whole.

Another topic: All due respect to the talent in this show, but once again a good portion of it was imported. Cooper's been all around the theatre/TV/movie business, done ten Broadway shows and even won a Tony in 1996. Nicole Lewis is from Broadway, Margo Moorer has done a few Seattle shows but mostly works from the East Coast and Khatt Taylor's out of LA. If the local houses want more local support, they should predominately utilize local talent.

Granted per my previous point there's a potential dilemma: Perhaps there weren't enough talented black actors in town who fit the roles to put the production together without importing actors. Okay then, but what's your excuse for all the other productions? Local theatre shouldn't be imported. Once it's imported, in fact, it's not local anymore. If you want our support, work with us... don't talk down to us.

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April 2nd, 2011


10:16 am - Hello again
Brief recap: I just finished a weekend show at the Freehold Studio Series, and now I'm rehearsing for a show at Burien Little Theatre (BLT) that runs April 8-17. Pretty much every waking hour of the last month has disappeared into the abyss in preparation for both of these events, as well as work obviously.

******

Yesterday blew.

Yesterday I paid my first visit to a chiropractor. Specializing in holistic health through chiropractice, he came to visit my workplace last week and offer massages. Usually I'd balk at such attempts to upsell. But for a long while I have considered the idea of spinal adjustments to help improve my posture: While I've done a lot of core exercises to try and improve those muscles, I'm sure to some degree my slumping posture is a product of a lifetime of spinal misalignment, and I've long since known of specialists that can decompress or adjust the spine.

I didn't like that he kept me waiting 20-25 minutes during my lunch hour, but the extended series of bone adjustments had me immediately feeling more balanced and breathing easier. Add in some shoe inserts and I walked out feeling much better.

This lasted about two blocks. No, the adjustments didn't fail me at all. See, between the wait and the half hour session, I now had less than five minutes to hike several blocks and get back to work. Trying to streamline things, I hurried across a crosswalk with the signal flashing and cars pushing to turn, and as I reached one sidewalk I planted my right shoe right along a smooth part of the sole, slipped, fell backward and landed BLAM on my ass and right elbow. I slid another couple feet, thankfully not into the road, and took a minute to recover as I got back to my feet.

Surprisingly, what stung the most wasn't my tailbone or my back, but the heels of my hands. Worried for a moment that I had scratched them, I thankfully found that they were little more than dirty and a bit red. As I walked back I began to feel the after-effects on my ass, pain not excruciating but certainly present.

Realizing I was now several minutes late to work, I returned and let my bosses know what happened, not so much for sympathy but to explain my lateness. They offered a blank check to leave early though I told them I felt alright. And then the aggravating crescendo of crap I had dealt with at work throughout the week began to pick up in earnest as I got back to work. Add in a jamming, broken copy machine that has chronically failed us, leading me to crouch down to fix the jams and remind myself that hey parts of my back still hurt from the fall, and an inexplicable crack on the tip of one of my fingernails, and around 2:30 I decided I had had enough. I told my boss I was leaving and he said cool. I caught the next bus Downtown and a subsequent bus uphill to get home.

I spent the remaining afternoon washing my laundry and struggling with my freezing laptop. Recap: A month ago my new laptop stopped turning on. I contacted the manufacturer, which allowed me to send it in for repair as it's under warranty. I got it back in a couple weeks and it worked great. Early this past week the desktop completely froze as I was about to shut down. I dismissed it as a glitch and manually shut down. When I used it again the next day, it froze again, this time after a short while. Though I realized I had a problem I also didn't have a ton of time to deal with it, since I'm rehearsing in Burien every single night along with working days, so I didn't really get to do anything until I ran some diagnostics late Thursday night and found the hard drive was failing the PC's tests. I did some more research after a couple of failed installations and discovered that those failed tests means the HD is completely failing and probably needs to be replaced. Fun! Now I need to contact the manufacturer and have it sent in AGAIN. I'll probably lose any files I don't backup but given I was resigned to losing those files a few weeks ago when it initially died, that's not too big a deal. Thankfully, my previous laptop (which I'm writing on now) still works so I can do without. It just sucks to need repairs on the machine so soon after sending it off for repairs.

Since I had such a mass of laundry, it would not completely dry in the first cycle and since I had to run for TheatrePoems tech I just had to hamper and table it. I hurried down to rehearsal and, after a lengthy wait, we got in there and I just couldn't get my lines right. After a frustrating session to make the piece last Saturday my castmates were thankfully in higher spirits but having been out of gas for days and having dealt with an afternoon of crap I just couldn't get in gear.

Hating myself after that, I walked down to Genki and pounded about $12 of sushi, fried fish and miso soup. I went down to QFC and got some soy ice cream, walked back up that damn hill, pounded a bunch of the ice cream and passed out sometime shortly after 8 pm. I did not wake until about 5-6 am this morning, far and away the most sleep I've had in weeks.

******

Hey, how about some positives?

- My show at BLT has rapidly pulled together over the last few nights of rehearsal. With their lines down, people are really finding the nuances of their scenes and character. The director was real thrilled with a couple of my scenes, two that my scene partner and I really struggled with in the early going. We had last night off and have tonight off, before diving into the abyss of tech and dress rehearsals tomorrow, in advance of next Friday's opening.

- For all the muddled mess of the last two meetings, my group has a decent TheatrePoems piece, probably one of the more put-together offerings in the deliberately slapdash mini-festival.

- I got to pound an excellent assortment of belt-grade sushi.

- I got an extended, deep sleep I really needed.

- Hooray for Cuban espresso!

- Much of my stress right now is a byproduct of getting to do the enjoyable theatre work I want to do.

- I feel little if any after-effects from the fall, and much moreso I feel the benefits of the many adjustments I received at the chiropractor's office.

- After much ado, I went ahead and registered for next quarter's Improv class. I know I have to miss the first week, but it looks like I'm going to make the other sessions and the subsequent showcase after all.

- Once the show concludes, I'm going to focus over the following month on my two classes (improv and the last stage combat class) and on improving my personal fitness. Now that I'm establishing some experience and rapport with the theatre community, I'd like to improve my look and personal health as I think that will help improve my opportunities as well as my performance capabilities.

I'm formulating a plan to start running regularly. Utilizing the Couch to 5K itinerary, I've mapped out routes in the Queen Anne neighborhood in line with the C25K plan that will vastly improve my chances of sticking with it. When I last tried C25K years ago, I couldn't stick with it long due to inconvenient routing in the U District (believe it or not the nearby Burke Gilman Trail didn't make it all that easy, given all the oncoming bikes/runners and the many streets it had to cross) as well as having to refer constantly to a timer/stopwatch, which prevented me from finding a good rhythm. This time, realizing I typically maintain a jogging pace of about 5 mph and a walking pace of about 3 mph, I estimated route distances in line with the needed intervals, and referring to street corners and landmarks for intervals should not only make the running process more natural, but more fun.

- I'm also going to begin doing yoga 1-2 times a week, while resuming my resistance training twice a week, once the show concludes. Once I exhaust my 20-session yoga voucher, I may explore delving into Pilates either in addition to or in lieu of the resistance training depending on where I'm at physically.

- Sunday's BLT rehearsal aside, I will have much of the day free.

******

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March 13th, 2011


05:48 pm - Checking in
Man, I've been busy.

The New New News is over. Not having to squat in the booth and time a few dozen sound cues (among a myriad of other challenges I will not go into) is for me a relief, but my hurricane has by no means passed.

Gated is knee deep in rehearsals, but we are WOOHOO off book (okay, mostly, but I'd say about 80-90%) and we go live in two weeks. We're making excellent progress to the point where, gun to our heads, we could probably stage the piece this weekend if we absolutely had to. In other words, we are totally on top of it.

Super Tuesday is about to go from zero to produced in three weeks and I need to get off freaking book ASAP. They had a midweek read-through without me (I was fully booked last week), and we will probably dive into full rehearsals this week. We will likely spend every possible day between then and opening night in furious rehearsal to get this thing done: This is a full length play (a terrific one, I might add) and our turnaround time's pretty much half of what one usually gets.

The fabulous TheatrePoems group I'm a part of composes our piece one week from Saturday and then we will unleash theatrically poetic hell over one fabulous night on 4/2/2011.

Stage combat's 2nd term of the 3-term sequence is almost over, and we get a couple weeks away, plus the latticework of choreography that will comprise our SAFD certification test, before returning for our 3rd, final, and crunch-time term. The moves themselves are getting easier, but the sequences are getting complex and therein lies my primary challenge.

I have every intention of finishing the entire 100-500 improv class sequence at UP, and I had doubts about my ability to attend 300 this next term due to the possibility of rehearsals for potential productions. But as those auditions have dried up and passed, I'm now becoming more convinced I will have the needed time to apply to 300, which is in some way fine with me. Given my schedule I probably want to continue focusing on smaller opportunities, festival shows and quick one-off productions which won't require a 4-6 day a week rehearsal schedule and will allow me to continue with other midweek commitments like classes while possibly even allowing me to have that phenomenally strange thing other people have... I think it's called "free time".

That's all for now.

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February 28th, 2011


12:38 pm - Emerging from the workaholism cave
- Before Sunday's show in Capitol Hill I tried Pike Street Fish Fry, a little hole in the wall joint on 10th Avenue next to Moe Bar that caters to the late night hipster crowd. They do fish in chips starting at $8 a pop with several varieties of seafood: Cod, catfish, shrimp, calamari... and this week they have talbot and flounder (for a couple bucks more). I went ahead and got the catfish, but given the copious fried breading I may as well have gotten the cod or anything else: Catfish does not stand out when breaded fish/chips style. The fries are not too crisp, not soggy, and seasoned with sea salt, and they offer six varieites of sauce with the fish, the whole shebang served on a newsprint-covered paper basket. It's fish and chips, so I wasn't expecting high culinary art, and at $8+ a pop it's not something I'd eat regularly, but I liked it.

- We followed a buggy but quiet Sunday show (quiet despite the director stepping in for a sick actor... for acting on the fly Dawson did alright) with one of the more efficient strikes I've been a part of, as The New New News heads north to North Seattle Community College.

I've taken part in orderly strikes and in messy, disorganized living hell strikes. This one seemed very much under control, buoyed in part by having done it before with the previous venue. One of the benefits to a multi-venue show is that you strike multiple times, which doesn't sound to a thespian like a benefit on the surface, BUT you can work out the kinks and clean up the process. Most shows strike once and that's it... so that one time is often disjointed and to a greater extent disorganized.

- I had three auditions Saturday, and given I've heard nothing about any of them I'm guessing that salvo of effort was a wash. I felt the efforts were alright with some neat moments though they could have been better; mainly, I think my current conflicts more than anything might have been the dealbreaker. With two quick-hit shows and tech for another eating up a good portion of March, this makes it rather difficult to cast me if they want to mount the show in mid-late April. I guess it would've made sense not to do them in light of that, but the practice and the exposure might bode well if I audition for any of the above later. Also, I need to get some additional monologues, as the ones I did were not a great fit for the roles I auditioned for, even though the roles are within my range, so I need to find pieces that better illustrate this.

- If you've tried to reach me at any point since... well... last Tuesday, and you haven't heard back from me, rest assured I've been buried pretty much every day, with a few pockets of air inbetween, and I'm probably not blowing you off so much as my mind has stack overflowed.

More later as I can purge it from my brain.

 

February 18th, 2011


05:04 pm - So hi.
In the interim I’ve gotten:

- Cast in a Freehold Studio Series piece.
- Cast in a Nebunele Theatre TheatrePoems piece, and an opportunity to do another that I had to turn down due to schedule issues.
- A gig running the sound board for NewsWrights United’s ambitious local-touring production of The New New News.

You could say my theatre life has just taken off into orbit. After months of working just to get in the door, suddenly here comes all these opportunities.

The last item struck me out of the blue on Wednesday. Paul Mullin asked about my availability and while I was totally willing... plus had tech and sound board experience, I also had conflicts that I figured KO’d my chances at the gig. Director Dawson Nichols followed up with me and confirmed with T.D. Dan Schuy that they could cover me during my conflict days, which allowed me to run sound for the show. So now I get to not only be an unforeseen part of a show I was pretty excited about, but I’m also playing a key part.

That done, I then had to clear all non-essential stuff from my calendar. Work and show rehearsals stayed (these actually accounted for all three conflicts). Classes stayed. Pretty much everything else disappeared or got pushed back. I’m going to end up missing a lot of shows (I’m fortunate the U.P. Showcase dodged the production schedule), and in only two nights it’s already required a huge time/effort commitment (starting the run at South Seattle CC has made the commute a bit painful), plus it makes audition prep real tough with such a limited amount of free time, but this is absolutely worth the while... even though the combination of work, south end transport and show nights means I'm in the middle of a tough stretch of 18 hour days.

Some stats from this tumultuous 48-72 hour period since taking on the role:

- $65 in cab fare in the last two days, thanks to one late bus on Wednesday and one inconsistently routed bus on Thursday
- 3 nights worth of total sleep in the last 5
- A couple of kidnapped, important Act II sound cues that derailed a tech run AND the preview
- Panic. Lots and lots of panic. Not mine, however.
- Five protein bars consumed
- 150 called cues in-show, many in stereo between lights, sound and projected video, more than half of which require my focused attention
- One disused all access pass for this weekend’s Seattle Festival of Improv Theater, which thankfully I managed to resell for 72% face value
- A total of 6 waking hours spent in my home in the last 3 days

With Opening Night looming we’re all concerned about key cues in Act II, many that come in rapid succession, that we’ve struggled to pull off without a hitch. I’ll play the uncharacteristic optimist and believe that we’ll get it all right for the paying crowd tonight… or at least make the misses so subtle you won’t even notice ;P

Oh yes, and please come see the show. The New New News plays this weekend at South Seattle CC’s Olympic Hall, but moves to the Erickson Theater in Capitol Hill next week, then closes the final two weeks at North Seattle CC’s Stage One Theater. The show is Pay What You Will, but Brown Paper Tickets will assure you a reservation for $15+fee. It’s multimedia heavy, and this show is a thoughtful, if not at times cheeky, commentary and exploration of journalism’s evolving relationship with the internet.

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February 14th, 2011


12:26 pm - Intiman needs a million dollars.
Seattle Center monolith Intiman Theatre recently announced that they need $500,000 in donations by March, and $1,000,000 total in the next six months, or they will need to shut down.

Here's my problem with Intiman Theatre and why I recommend not giving them a dime.

Now artistically directed by NYC import Kate Whoriskey, Intiman's troubles began years ago with financial mismanagement scapegoated on departed managing director Brian Colburn but which predominately manifested under the watch of artistic director Bartlett Sher, who may or may nor have used Intiman's bank account as a personal ATM while off producing Broadway shows despite his responsibilities back in Seattle.

Intiman's plays are like other LORT houses imported from elsewhere, usually Broadway or London. Their directors are like other LORT houses mostly imported from elsewhere, usually Broadway or London. Their actors are like other LORT houses mostly imported from elsewhere, usually Broadway or London. They are about as local a Seattle institution as a Wal-Mart in Federal Way, and yet the cries to save them are tinted with the threat that their loss will be a blow to Seattle's local theatre community.

But will it be, really?

Intiman produces maybe half a dozen shows a year. There is at any one time half a dozen to over a dozen theatre shows running throughout Seattle at any one time, produced by any of several dozen local theatre troupes. At peak periods there can be as many as 30-40 going at once. To lose Intiman is to lose maybe 2-4% of the local theatre scene.

For the Equity actors, it's a bigger blow as Intiman is one of a small handful of Seattle LORT theatres. But again, Intiman and its one mainstage produces a very limited season, and most of the actors they employ are imported from out of town. Compare this to other houses:

- ACT has two stages and two cabaret spaces, producing a variety of company shows throughout the season, certainly far more than Intiman does... plus they're much better about using local talent.

- Seattle Rep has two stages and the PONCHO Forum, producing 3-5 shows in each stage space per year and doing consistently strong business despite an often culturally detached program of plays and sharing the problem of insistence on importing talent from Broadway.

- Fledgling professional groups like New Century and Theatre 9/12 are growing and producing more shows with local AEA talent, while half/half groups like Strawshop, Seattle Shakes, Village Theatre, Book-It, ArtsWest, Taproot and others regularly employ local AEA actors.

Proportionally, Intiman's demise would make a bigger loss for the AEA community, but still not as big as anyone would imply.

So if Intiman's impact on the local Seattle theatre community is as demonstrated by simple common sense so negligible, why should we as a community spend so much money to keep them on life support for another 12 months? Realize that even if we pony up a million bucks in six months, they're simply going to need more money to continue surviving once that period has passed... on top of all the overpriced tickets and subscriptions they intend to sell to the geriatric* loyalists who gravitate to their tired, familiar work.

* - Yes, much of the subscriber base is elderly in age but in hindsight the label does not paint a complete picture, so away with it.

Plus, and this is an admitted digression... insistence on using outside work, outside talent, is a slap in the face to the talent in this community, every import sending a message that, "These people are better than you. Seattle is an inferior theatre town." To support a theatre that insists on sending that message is to enable and reinforce that message yourself.

However, if you were to take that hypothetical million dollars (we aren't even getting into everyone's economic struggles and the increasingly limited amount of money people and organizations have to give) and give it instead to these other dozens of local theatre companies that for the most part scratch and claw on far less to break even, whose operating budgets are a trace fraction of Intiman's and which exclusively utilize local talent, people like you, me and your respected colleagues instead of importing someone from San Francisco, LA or NYC.

$10,000 could pay several months' rent for some houses. $5,000 could cover a marketing or equipment budget for many troupes, and allow several to produce a new, innovative show they otherwise would not have the resources to produce. Take a million bucks and think about how many troupes that could really help.

What would you rather spend a million bucks on? Helping dozens of theatres do so much more with their limited resources, help make their lives easier, help them realize otherwise unrealizable dreams? Or to keep alive for a few more months a monolithic theatre clearly used as an artistic plaything for NYC-based theatre... before they come and ask you for more money like a crackhead on the street?

******

So that said, there is one latticework of circumstances under which I'd endorse supporting Intiman in their time of self-created crisis:

- Kate Whoriskey would have to immediately resign, pack up Daniel Breaker and the rest of her belongings and shuttle off back to New York City.

- A new LOCAL artistic director (LOCAL meaning someone who has lived and done most of their theatre work here in Seattle) is hired to take her place. Other directorial staff not relevant to the Seattle community are also welcome to tender their respective resignations if this chafes their respective craws.

- Intiman would have to immediately scrap their planned 2011 season and cancel all related contracts.

- Intiman would have to conceive and announce a new, revamped 2011 season predominately featuring plays directly relevant to the local Seattle community. No Broadway, off-Broadway, written by [X famous playwright], Tony Award nominated bullshit that gets peddled and rehashed all over the country. Obviously, it behooves Intiman to intend to produce these plays with vastly scaled down budgets and material expectations.

- Intiman would have to procure the services of LOCAL directors and, if any roles are pre-cast, LOCAL actors. Intiman would need to audition locally for all parts.

No compromises.

Otherwise, I say forget it, and just let them die. Spend your money on other companies that produce work relevant to our community.

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07:58 am - A long recap of a long weekend
So this weekend went a little nuts.

On Friday I finished off a tough workweek that brought forth a few epiphanies about my job I’d rather not discuss but that I will say left my spirits tanked. A combination of coffee/reading at Elliott Bay Book Co, busy ticket taking at Annex Theatre’s sold out Friday run of Duel of the Linguist Mages and catching UP’s Friday run of their latest improv piece Caged Dolls helped me feel better, but I still had to turn in and get up early for….

… stage combat on Saturday morning. I adamantly refused to rouse until absolutely necessary (around 7:15-7:30 am) and made it to the U District by bus just in time to get a quick breakfast/coffee before heading over and battling with some new choreography amidst word that we’re now going to start developing choreo for our SAFD cert test this summer. During the break my classmate Sarah invited us to an afternoon gathering at Gas Works for her birthday, which coincidentally followed my afternoon audition. We finished off a tough morning of work that didn’t leave me as sore as previous weeks despite (because of?) a week off.

I caught the next bus up the Hill, stopped again at Elliott Bay Book Co and had coffee while reading over the sides for the audition. I took a walk through Cal Anderson Park to get some air then headed down the street for auditions. Much like my recent, previous auditions, I felt no nerves waiting for my name to get called. That’s been my biggest improvement to date since getting back in the game: Not letting worries about how it will go psyche me out and instead just keeping my head clear. I went in and gave an alright reading, a bit more one-note than I would have liked, but one I can stand behind… and then caught the next bus back to the U District. I got something to eat and then started walking in the rain towards Gas Works.

Oh yes, the rain. Seattle’s rain for the uninitiated is typically more of a slight drizzle, but sometimes we get a steady, unrelenting rain that will soak anything uncovered over more than a few minutes. With a raincoat but nothing to protect my legs, my pants and my backpack got fairly soaked during the mile plus walk.

I get to Gas Works and get to meet several of Sarah’s friends before we decide to improv a scene with superheroes, a suicidal maniac and law enforcement. We did such a convincing job that passers by actually stopped to watch thinking it was actually happening. I stood in the path of pouring run-off and pretty much got more soaked. And got my leg stuck in police tape. Which made the scene much more fun.

We packed into cars and headed back to Sarah’s neat little pad in Capitol Hill, where (after I changed into some scrubs and tube socks she loaned me) we spent hours upon hours drinking brandy and beer, listening to music, eating snack food (and later cake after several decided we needed to bake one) while shooting all sorts of breeze. We watched a couple episodes of Portlandia and 30 Rock, then the movie Heathers. We got a good ways through the latter before our host announced she needed to pass out, and I tiptoed through the madness of Capitol Hill on a Saturday night to catch a bus home. I miss nights like this, the sort of long, adventurous days and nights I used to have in my UNLV Theatre days. But I realize that they’re better off happening few and far between these days, as there’s so much else I want to do with life as well.

I slept in until after 9 am. I actually had show plans for Sunday but after the previous madness decided to ditch them for Cuban espresso at El Diablo. I tried using my laptop but I carried it with me and as you’d expect it would not operate despite not getting as terribly wet as it could have and having the night to dry out. Funny thing is I hadn’t turned it on in three days anyway (chew on that, those of you who allege I have internet addiction). Instead I read some books on shoestring theatre production I got at Half Price Books last week (which BTW were also in the bag during the deluge and weren’t water damaged at all) and entertained my recurring ideas of starting a theatre company as the text feasible channels for my ideas.

But back to the present… I went to Metro Market and loaded up on various groceries. I decided to try steaming asparagus and broccoli in the rice cooker so I loaded up on those, along with top sirloin, olive oil, bath soap (more on this in a bit), etc. As I was en route I got some e-mail news: The director I auditioned for on Saturday cast me in her play! The short play is part of the Freehold Studio Series on the weekend of March 25-26 and needless to say I’m excited about what is now my 2nd role landed in less than a month. Things are looking up!

Amidst this good news, I caught the next 4 to my doorstep and cooked some lunch, then took a nap and set to cleaning my bath tub so I could take a hot bath. I shower like almost everyone else, but I can’t remember the last time I took a tub bath. I thought a soak would, above all else, help me relax and warm up during these cold evenings. So I got some appropriate lavender soap at the store, scrubbed the tub and shower until it was totally clean, and after cooking and eating dinner I filled up the tub with hot water and enough soap to turn it into a light bubble bath, put some books on the can next to the tub, and tiptoed in.

It’s one thing for hot water to bounce off your back in a shower, but another entirely to immerse your body in it, and it took quite a while to get used to the immersive heat and integrate with the water, but once it did, ohhhhhh man. I felt totally relaxed and did not want to come out, and in all spent about an hour in the tub. Your skin also comes out so warm and much, much softer after a tub bath. I want to make this a regular feature in my life.

So that was my weekend.

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February 9th, 2011


05:03 pm - Audition: Called back!
Despite what happened!

I'm thrilled.

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12:35 pm
Recently I've noticed a spike in my energy during the day. I feel a sort of added strength in my legs. I find running several blocks (thanks, Metro!) surprisingly easy. I notice that my midsection's looking marginally leaner and my ass feels more toned.

Granted, I've made recent changes after a period of relative activity and lacking diet.

- I increased my intake of fruit over the last few weeks. More bananas. Regular pineapple juice and orange consumption.
- I made sure to cook at home more often and pretty much eliminated box dinners.
- When I do eat out I'm seeking out leaner options like sushi or lighter supermarket deli fare. When I do eat anything greasy it's in medias res of a more active day and I try to mix in some fruit to keep things roughly even.
- I'm making it a point to do some sort of workout nearly every day, like the Hacker's Diet workout
- On weekends I'm obviously walking quite a bit, probably a bit more than usual.
- I've started doing exercises and stretches that improve posture by activating key underused lower body muscles.
- My classes (four of them) require me to get active for around a couple hours once a week, and the logistics of weekend shows I see require me to run around a bit.
- When I work at home on my laptop, I set it up on a high counter so I work while standing upright.
- I cut rice out of my dinner meals. I eat a piece of meat (beef, pork, fish) and then something other than rice, whether fruit or more meat/protein.

I think it's helping for now ;P More improvements will come in time but this is a fine start.

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07:38 am - Zero to monologue in 48 hours
Detractors who think I hold myself in too high of esteem get a gift today.

Last night I had my first monologue audition in Seattle. All previous auditions had been reading, movement and improvisation based. I had over the interim prepared a few pieces but over the weekend on a whim I decided to challenge myself: Find two new pieces, get them ready in 48 hours and audition with them both. Partially inspired by 14.48 and partially inspired by an upcoming audition, I decided instead of playing it safe with one of my other pieces (which didn't quite fit the tone I wanted to set in the upcoming audition anyway), I would challenge myself to produce two new ones. The audition in question was interesting enough that I was totally game if cast, but not so crucial that I couldn't accept rejection or failure.

Sunday morning at Elliott Bay Book Co I quickly pluck some plays and in reading them discover two monologues I really liked that fit me. Sunday night I finish reading the plays and run lines like mantras. Monday I run and run and run them, finding I've ingrained a good portion overnight and just ingraining the rest. By the end of the night I've got a good "Gun to my head I could probably do both" handle, being able to perform both with maybe a few words off here and there. Yesterday morning I woke up with a surprisingly complete memory of both pieces, and by lunch I had full command of my monologues, with staging, and no nerves. I ran both pieces periodically throughout the day, did a few full run-throughs on my feet outside during lunch and felt confident.

I had to hurry home (I had forgotten to shave that morning :P ), then caught a long bus ride to the south end. My bus ran late getting to the venue and I hurried in about ten minutes late. I was the last one to go anyway and everyone was laid back and positive. Good vibe. I get the paperwork done, head in feeling harried but okay, greet a relaxed and friendly group of directors, and begin my 1st monologue. Tone and presence feels great.

Three lines in, I totally go up.

Blank. Brain lock. Couldn't even improvise. I ask to start again and do so but now I'm shaken, the way a boxer's shaken when a big uppercut he never sees coming just caught him flush on the chin, and he stays on his feet but he's clearly thrown completely off.

I fight my way about 40% through and go up again. This has NEVER happened to me with a monologue before, not in high school, not in college, not in any previous audition, not even after throwing a piece together the night before.

Dread. Shame. Never mind I had just learned these monologues in two days as a personal challenge: I had these down cold since last night. And I had no nerves about the audition itself: I felt positive, confident and relaxed about it all day, right up to when I walked in the door and began. That's why I couldn't believe what was happening. I could understand being nervous or uncertain: Hell, I would've dusted off one or two of my previous monologues if I didn't feel totally confident about doing these two pieces. All this runs through me in the span of a few seconds.

Keep relaxed and as positive as you can under the circumstances. The directors are as understanding and forgiving as the situation can allow, and we agree to let me do my 2nd mono, and after taking a moment I do it and it goes mostly okay. The director moderating the audition gives me some direction and I nailed it without much trouble. We talked a bit about it, about complications with a possible role, and I was done.

Of course, the ride home from the south end is a long one, the bus took forever to pick me up on top of it, and I had far too much time to dwell. Never mind how the audition itself went. Bad auditions happen, and if I go in to audition for these directors and do great next time this experience will be left behind if not forgotten. This audition itself was more a personal challenge than a push for a big role: Getting a role would have been gravy on top of the accomplishment a strong audition. In 48 hours I did what a lot of people struggle to do in a week or several weeks: Select, memorize, stage and otherwise prepare two audition pieces. People spend months working on pieces because they couldn't do it in less time. The pieces need and will get more work, but a lot of the groundwork is laid to work on them, and putting myself in a pressure cooker compelled me to get a lot of work done in a short time. Safety and security are dramatically benign concepts anyway. As George Lewis says, "There's nothing like a deadline." On that front, this little project was a conditional success.

For me, the upsetting thing was letting an audience down, and somehow screwing up something I had prepared and felt very relaxed and confident about right up to go time. I couldn't believe my mind betrayed me like that. I'm not a man of tremendous pride but I've always prided myself on being able to handle adversity, overcome stumbles, step into the limelight no matter the circumstances and not lock up under pressure. However, I went into this knowing and accepting that risk. Reward has no reward if there is no risk in acquiring it.

The self-doubt that this experience doused me with is by far the biggest personal challenge I'm left with. I can work on and polish these pieces, get the memorization cold, but I'm also now working with the specter of knowing I've gone up in front of an audience and fully realizing it could happen again anytime. I don't remember where I read it, but one author of an acting book tells you that the best way to deal with doubts and similar demons is not to fight their presence, but to accept them. "Here you are, demons. Now you're clouding my mind, and coarsing through my veins(, etc)..." In doing so, in accepting them, you render impotent their power over you. So the best way to conquer that demon is to accept it exists, let it wash over me... let the pangs of fear starve to death and then keep positive and keep working. Easier said than done, but I've got to do it. I see the anger I felt and feel at myself for failing in the moment as motivational fuel to make the next time and every time thereafter a success. I can do it. And I will make sure next time, every line is right there when it needs to be.

I don't think this was a bad, sloppy idea. I really think zero to a good mono audition in 48 hours can be done. Maybe my mind has some faulty or rusty gears that needed a good turn and, akin to the screw that came loose and allowed the bobsled to fall apart in mid-race at the end of Cool Runnings, that missing link never manifested until the moment I happened to need it the most. If I tried to do this again, I totally believe I could succeed.

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February 4th, 2011


11:59 am - It's time
So this has been a long time coming but I've decided now is the time. After reviewing Taproot Theatre's Saturday run of The Odyssey, I will cease reviewing shows on this journal for the foreseeable future.

John Longenbaugh previously noted to me that the community needs good reviewers, that doing so was worthwhile. But I also want to make theatre, and as many have told me over time, you can't really be a productive member of a theatre community AND a critic of said community. And to be totally honest I do want to make theatre far more than I want to commentate on it.

This theatre review-writing is not something I originally got into as a serious endeavor, and I have always looked at it as a finite exercise that would at some point cease.

As you noticed, my blog is for the most part a personal blog, and I only wrote about shows in the first place because hey I write about my life and that's what I was doing/observing. Suddenly people started paying attention and taking them seriously: I even ended up on press lists.

Having the reviews and my personal posts in the same place makes for a difficult combination, and I was never sure about making a separate theatre blog because I was never sure if I'd continue reviewing shows over the long term.

Writing about theatre has also connected me with a lot of the community, but it's also damaged some relationships and created some adversaries. I may lose some friends and colleagues over the lost "relevance" of being a reviewer, but I'd also lose some difficulties in dealing with people... at least I'd hope.

In fact, I've been ambivalent about even continuing this journal itself. As I've repeatedly noticed, blogging about life and ideas has various side effects. Though I've scaled back my recountive transparency in recent years, I still do wear some of my heart on my sleeve. I wish we lived in a more transparent and open minded world where people didn't punish you for sharing a viewpoint, but unfortunately in 2011 this is our reality. This may be the year to stop for good. That itself would be very difficult: I'm an active writer with a lot of ideas and takes, and to lose a forum for those would stunt not just personal growth but a lot of things plus enable some negative realities that this isn't really the space to get into.

In the meantime, there will be one more Seattle theatre review here, for Taproot's The Odyssey, and then that is it for theatre reviews on this journal.

BTW, I've got a spare ticket for Saturday afternoon's 2 pm run of The Odyssey... let me know if you or someone you know is interested in tagging along ;P

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February 3rd, 2011


07:41 am - Egypt
I think little of peaceful demonstrations and protests, amnesty international style letter writing campaigns and candidate donations. It worked for MLK Jr and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's because the racist whites of the time held a stereotype that blacks were uncivilized savages, and by sitting in peacefully Black Americans were physically demonstrating to the public that this stereotype was totally untrue. However, society drew the fallacious conclusion that because this particular modus operandi worked, that peaceful demonstrations in themselves produce cultural results. Um... no, not really.

What we are seeing in Egypt is how far a populace needs to go to incite change: People taking en masse to the streets with forthright, unrelenting expressions of rage and absolutely refusing to budge in the face of the requisite government threats. At the same time, it's indicative of a populace that has had it up to about an arm's length above here with the dictatorship that has run their country and starved them as peasants for over 30 years. It's driven by a riveted desperation most typical activists and protesters in America could never really understand. The best way I can describe the motivating feeling that drives something like this is the punchline to the parable that starts this video.



Video aside, the takeaway point is that a revolution like this requires more than organization to mobilize. It requires a will so desperate that everyone involved wants change as much as a drowning man wants to breathe.

I'm not sure how this will end up. If George Orwell's Animal Farm taught us anything, it's that revolution doesn't always lead to a better government: It can ultimately lead revolutionaries to a life of the same tyranny they revolted against. But whatever happens, herein lies an illustration of millions of men driven to revolt. From here we can only wonder what kind of life drove them to go this far.

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February 1st, 2011


10:46 am - You too can help fight Shakespeare Abuse
http://www.paulmullin.org/just-wrought/2011/01/shakespeare-would-hate-us.html

Like Paul, I love Shakespeare. I love reading the work, love watching it, love performing it... and even I think we as a theatre community need to cut way the hell down on how often we produce Shakespeare. Annual summer park shows are fine: it's community outreach and seeing it play out in a park is refreshing. Otherwise, I think that at most there needs to be one or two Shakespeare productions city-wide per year at most. Greenstage has the right idea: Do two Shakespeare park shows, do one indoor fall show, and table Bill until next summer.

I know a Shakespeare diet won't happen in Seattle because:

- Seattle Shakes makes their money (and good money) from the well-to-doers, rubes and marks off a full slate of Shakespeare
- Ghost Light Theatricals focuses on classics and adaptions, so they hit Shakespeare one or a few times a year. In fact, their annual Battle of the Bards play fest is themed around producing Shakespeare and similar work
- Many artistic directors in town have had their eye on a Bard play for a while and inevitably several of their companies decide in a given year to take their shot
- Since Shakespeare's work is 400 yards old there are no copyright issues, and his plays have minimal set design requirements... companies draw to it because it's cheap and easy to produce and Shakespeare offers name recognition

I agree with Paul that all the remarks and alibis about the beauty of his language and stories and how they've stood the test of time etc., whether individual thespians here and there truly feel that way, are all window dressing to the actual reasons these plays get produced. Though it's an exercise in looking backward as a theatre community instead of moving forward, a Shakespeare production is an easy sell not just for patrons but for actors, directors, supporters etc.

Let's love Shakespeare. Judiciously. Overkill dilutes value.

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January 30th, 2011


11:14 am - Detached timeline of a long Saturday
6:00 am - Alarm goes off, long day commences. Lay in bed refusing to get up while listening to fishing wonks' radio show.

6:40 am - Get up. Get clothes. Shower. Get dressed.

7:10 am - Grab bookbag and put on coat. Walk out of apartment building and downhill. Walk to Metropolitan Market.

7:30 am - Buy breakfast. Walk to bus stop. With bus arriving in six minutes per One Bus Away, consume as much breakfast as possible before bus shows up. Miraculously finish all 0.8 lbs of breakfast in four minutes flat before bus arrives.

7:40 am - Catch bus to U District.

8:10 am - Hop off bus and walk into Solstice. Buy and drink black coffee. Wake up while playing solitaire with deck of cards.

8:40 am - Walk to stage combat class on UW campus.

9:00 am - Warm up with new sequence of lower body exercises designed to activate core and key lower body muscles. Endure three tough and grueling hours in warm conditions meticulously practicing rapier/dagger techniques and sequences, then learning how to deal good looking contact strikes on stage without hurting people.

12:00 pm - Walk out of class to the Ave. Quickly buy and consume Chipotle steak burrito with pinto beans, rice and lettuce only for nourishment.

12:20 pm - Blow off passing classmates going together to lunch, due to my schedule. Catch bus to Seattle Center.

12:50 pm - Hop off bus at Seattle Center and walk to Let's Talk Auditions! talk with Valerie Mamches.

1:00 pm - Encounter friend and fellow actor Jessie from Emperor before sitting down with about 20 others and taking in a surprising amount of useful information for a $10 session on principles and ideas to remember when preparing for monologue auditions.

2:30 pm - Break. Set record time in running downstairs to Center House food court Starbucks, waiting in lengthy line, buying black tea and running back upstairs. Return with enough time in 10 minute break to meet Julia, an intriguing and intelligent actress sitting just to my left who also recently returned to theatre after a long layoff and is struggling to get a foothold in a vibrant scene that's reluctant to use people in our situation. Hope to talk more later as session resumes.

4:15 pm - With session running over time and Chinese New Year firecrackers going off outside, having more to do and most of all having to pee pretty bad, grab things and slip out of session. Utilize restroom facilities, check phone for messages that have yet to arrive, and walk through Chinese New Year crowd to my humble abode.

4:30 pm - Reload water, grab books, leave again.

5:00 pm - Arrive again at Metropolitan Market and pay a hefty sum for over a pound of buffet food, including a few stalks of broccoli, some rice pilaf, Bali style meatballs and herb roasted potatoes. Crush ALL OF IT.

5:45 pm - Walk through Seattle Center and catch 16 Downtown. Hop off at Union and walk to Central Library.

6:00 pm - Drop off slightly overdue library books and walk back to Pike Street. Catch 49 uphill and hop off at Egyptian Theater. Walk to QFC and grab vial of 5 Hour Energy for immediate, required emergency energy reload. Consume half of bottle and walk to Annex Theatre.

7:00 pm - Walk into Annex Theatre to work box office for Saturday night's pay what you can run of Duel of the Linguist Mages. Meet the friendly Stephen McCandless and the busy but attentive Ian Johnston, get quick briefly on Annex box office protocol and hang out with box while taking admission for about 75 people before being relieved and taking a seat.

8:00 pm - Watch and enjoy Scotto Moore's clever and active 100 minute sci-fi romp. Commentary to follow at some point. Meet briefly during intermission with Ahsan and Kira, in tow to see their Sara, during the intermission.

10:30 pm - After a quick gauge of my energy levels and noting my rapid descent in focus and energy, quickly decide to forget my previous plans to see the 11 pm run of Annex's Penguins 4 and just catch a bus home. Immediately following curtain, sneak out through back row and quickly slip out of building, down to Union St and catch coming route 2 bus back up to Queen Anne.

11:00 pm - Hop off route 2 near Galer, walk several blocks to Metropolitan Market and purchase Newman's Own frozen pizza (quickly heated and consumed, covers immense calorie/nutrient needs after very active day, facilitates sleep and delivers less sodium/additive damage than other viable alternatives), as well as apple and banana bunch for tomorrow and subsequent days. Walk home via Galer.

11:45 pm - Walk in door. Heat and eat pizza. Check long-neglected messages.

12:15 am - Shut off lights, lay down and sleep.

End day.

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January 28th, 2011


04:04 pm - Checking in
Eight hours sleep. That hasn't happened in a while, not even on the weekends. I turned in around 9:30, probably the earliest I have turned in for some time, and slept straight through until go time at 6 am.

I finally started cooking my brown rice for lunch again. I had stopped a while due to difficulty getting going at 6 am, but recently I've started jumping the sack right at 6 am and getting moving, even exercising with the old Hacker's Diet exercise plan before hitting the shower and heading off to work. I've just let myself get a little too out of shape and decided I was tired of it (probably literally :P ) and wanted to actively change.

I've also taken to making an hour long round trip on Monday's lunch hour to the U Village QFC for a workweek's supply of produce and all other work-related food. I frequently forget to bring things with me from home, so I figure why not just get and keep all that stuff (bananas, oranges, berries, pineapple juice) while at work so it's there? Most of it stays in my office with only a modicum of stuff occupying space in the fridge. Also, by keeping it within reach, making it part of my daily diet is easy.

I've been digging for dietary information, and first of all it's amazing how politically motivated and thus unreliable I find information on diet principles. There are so many conflicting philosophies, all fueled by a collection of cherry picked data, that it's difficult to figure out who you can and can't trust. Plus in trying to make dietary changes the busy theatre life makes it a bit difficult: Planning a diet around an 8 hour workday isn't too hard, but when you're going to class or auditions or shows and you've got to run around town, there's only so many opportunities to sit down and eat, only so much you can feasibly eat that will nourish you and only so much you can carry on your person when you're commuting on foot. Plus if you're getting home at 10, 11 or 12 o'clock at night and you've got to get up early the next morning, you don't really have time to cook a full meal if you want to get decent sleep.

Yeah, about that... I've cut down a lot on the improv I'm seeing, simply because I'm trying to get in before midnight so I can get some sleep. Friday night Theatresports already made Saturday morning Stage Combat hard enough when the class started at 10 am, but now that the class starts at 9 am and the Saturdays are getting long and busy again, I absolutely need to get in and get some sleep on Friday night. Even Saturday night Theatresports is a fairly dicey proposition if I have planned events on Sunday and stuff to take care of before Monday rolls around again. I'm trying to catch more when I can, but there's a lot to see, a lot to do, and of course a lot of rest to get.

That is all for now.

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January 27th, 2011


05:35 pm - Brief notes on some discoveries in Alexander class
I've had a lot of breakthrough moments in many of my classes but I don't think I've had one quite like last night's Alexander class.

We mostly focus in class on the form of the human skeleton, and how that natural alignment of all our bones facilitates movement. The recognition of this relationship in turn helps you determine how to move your body more efficiently, which can include anything from how you walk to your posture to how you do your job and your hobbies and pretty much everything.

So in last night's class we diverged from the usual free-form movement troubleshooting and discussion and Carol gave us an extended lesson on the bones in the human skeleton and how they all relate to one another. I actually learned, among many other things about how our bones work in relation to one another, a couple of new and useful things about the human skeleton.

- Your arms are connected to your collarbone. Many of us hold our arms back for "good posture". In reality, it's totally fine to let them sit as they are at your sides, as the collarbone and other structural alignment of your body will naturally keep them connected. I too would throw my arms/shoulders back, and found that letting them sit naturally at my sides made it more comfortable to use my arms and let them be involved naturally in movement.

- Your bottom vertebrae are fused together and don't move. They form with several other bones a solid assembly. Your spine towards the bottom is as wide as your fist and very sturdy, well enough to support your frame.

- You move your legs from underneath you, not from the side. And your lower leg bone, the tibia, is perpendicular to the ground and thus goes straight into the ground. Your feet's bones also form a sort of tripod that, in tandem with the above, ensures your balance as a human being when standing.

I then noticed that when you keep in mind the third item, walking backwards becomes easier when you think of the movement beginning by moving your leg forward, not backward. It's when you bring that leg up that it can then easily move back and plant where it needs to go. It's worth noting that, whether moving forward, backward, sideways, etc., your movement begins forward. That's how the body's aligned and how it most naturally moves.

I'm scratching the surface of what we discovered last night, but the combination of observations suddenly made moving, walking, all else... seem so much easier. When you look at a skeleton model and see how the bones are structured and how they relate, you have a spatial reference to how your own body moves and all of a sudden efficient movement makes much more sense.

Basically, go take an Alexander class because you'll get a lot from it no matter what you do.

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12:17 pm - The theatrical Metamorphosis of a morbid Kafka story (with theatrical shadow puppetry!)
This entry has moved! Go check it out at its new location.

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January 23rd, 2011


01:39 pm - It's the Renata Friedman Show!
This entry has moved! Go check it out at Mister Steven Gomez.

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January 22nd, 2011


04:52 pm - If only Nathaniel Porter's playwrought snowflake could start an avalanche of locally produced work
This post has moved to my MSG blog.

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04:02 pm - Rather amazing Spidermann
This post has moved to my MSG blog.

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January 19th, 2011


06:51 pm - Steven Suggests!
Rather than post a schedule, I figure why not post about shows that I'm either looking to attend or that I'd like to attend but can't.

No Snowflake In An Avalanche: Emerald City Scene produces Nathaniel Porter's original play about the family fallout of young Michael's trip to Disneyland. If I make it sound like a comedy, I apologize. Cast includes Russ Kay, Pearl Klein, Fox Matthews, Molly Thompson, and Alec Wilson. This show is at Theatre4 in Seattle Center's Center House this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and next Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15, $10 if under 25.

Spidermann: In response to the embarrassingly disastrous $65 million Spider Man musical on Broadway, "Jose Bold" got a few colleagues together (including Ray Tagavilla, John Osebold, Evan Mosher and a rotation of guests) and threw together a slapdash musical lampooning not just the Spider Man story but the Broadway disaster. This only runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday (8pm) at Satori's Loft in 619 Western and will draw a full house, so if you want to go I'd suggest getting there around 7:00-7:30 and waiting in line. Admission (if you get in) is $5.

Blood Squad!: Fresh off a rompous 2010 and their awesome Slay Bells show, long-form geniuses Blood Squad opens 2011 with a British slasher style show at the Market Theater on Post Alley this Friday at 8:30 pm. Tix are $10. If you're not going to Spidermann on Friday, I certainly recommend coming to this... and sticking around for Theatresports at 10:30.

The K of D, an urban legend: TPSers get free standby tickets to Seattle Rep shows, and I'm probably checking out the bigger-budget revival of Renata Friedman's solo show about a mysterious girl at the Leo K Theatre sometime this weekend. This allegedly is one of the best examples of a successful solo show, with Renata "disappearing" into her 12 characters. I'm actually looking forward to this. It's Seattle Rep, so if you're non-TPS, want to see this and don't have a comp, be prepared to pay out the nose, or sit in the nosebleed seats.

The Metamorphosis at Ghost Light: This is an ensemble-generated adaption of Kafka's famous Metamorphosis and like many Ghost Light shows has a pretty large cast of young actors. They're at the Ghost Light Ballard Underground space and tickets are $15 ($12 for students/seniors/TPS). Show runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm until a final Sunday 2:00 pm run on January 30.

Odd Duck Comedy Workshop (Thu 10:30) and Brown Bag Comedy (Fri during noon hour): Rik Deskin's great comedy experiment continues at the Odd Duck Studio on 10th south of Union in Capitol Hill. If you're working on a stand-up act, an improv act or a sketch with some colleagues, get in contact with Rik (info@eclectictheatrecompany.org) about a Thursday night slot at the Workshop. Space may be limited as its popularity grows but right now I hear it's possible to get a 5-10 minute time slot the same week if you inquire. For the Brown Bag show, yeah it's during lunch but totally do-able to go see if you work around the area. And if you're a professional stand-up comic and have the time free it's a chance to work on your act with a small audience. Tix for either event are $5.

America Wow!: Also at the Odd Duck is this one night only improv duo night at 10:30 pm featuring a handful of experienced performers. I'd go except my budget this week is getting tight and I'm seeing an 8 pm show that makes getting to Odd Duck in time difficult. Tix are $10.

The Misanthrope: Speaking of Rik, his Eclectic Theatre Company is opening a run of Moliere's classic play this week at Odd Duck, directed by Kate Huisentruit and featuring an assorted, young cast much like we saw from One Shot Productions in their production of Troilus and Cressida. Tix are $20, $15 for TPS members and $10 for students, seniors, union theatre people and military/vets. The show runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm plus Sundays at 2:00 pm through February 12.

Evergreen Experimental Theatre's production of The Tempest: This is in Olympia so I highly doubt I'll see it in person. But they're doing a neat deal where they're going to tape and simulcast the Saturday night show on the intertubes! Worth a look if you've got Saturday night free.

A Net: The boom! theatre company returns with this Matrix-like tale of man trying to connect humanity to the internet. Their last show, Taphonomy, was packed with awesome imagery and drama on a shoestring budget and I'm sure they're got more in store with A Net. This is taking place in the aptly named SPACE off of Yesler and Alaskan Way (114 Alaskan Way S #302), nestled against our lovely Ghettoduct, Thursdays through Sundays until February 12 at 8 pm for all shows (including Sunday... an opportunity for those of you stuck in shows right now). Tickets are $15, $10 for students.

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If you're thinking of catching one of these shows and would like to meet up, let me know. Granted, my schedule's kind of tightroped and I might not be seeing some of these shows, but I'll see what I can do.

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06:29 pm - Here's how I am:
Improv is challenging but I've quickly assimilated with Brandon's trial-by-fire learning process, as well as the learn-from-failure lessons that naturally comes with such practice. I'm quickly getting comfortable with pulling scenes out of the collective ass of myself and scene partners, and now more than I have in a long long time I feel like I could get on stage and do short-form scenes if I needed to. Since I've got Alexander classes on Wednesdays for the next month, I'm probably not going to do any Duo scenes until late in the term, but barring developments I anticipate starting and doing the Duos regularly once the Alexander class concludes.

A couple months ago I felt ambivalent about the role improv would play in my aspirations for a stage acting career. Realizing the odds of joining an incumbent company were long I tempered aspirations for doing improv, and focused more on stage acting. But as a series of setbacks have currently flatlined my stage acting prospects, and as I've taken quickly to doing improv scene-work, my interest in improv has quickly re-grown and I'm thinking now that, along with regular improv work, I could look into performing with a group during this year as I gain experience.

While I've been rebuffed by the "we like you but we don't actually want to work with you" theatre community, the improv community remains a warm and receptive group, one I shouldn't take for granted. I can and probably will still seek acting opportunities. But if they're not going to come, why sit around?

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January 18th, 2011


12:27 pm - No schedule?
Oh, I have a planned schedule for this week. I maintain a calendar of all the stuff I plan to do and it's loaded as usual.

But in light of things falling by the wayside for various reasons over the last couple weeks, I'm thinking twice about posting a weekly schedule going forward. Circumstances can and do change, and lately my body's been telling me in several ways that reprising anything resembling the haphazard pace of this past fall probably isn't a good idea right now. That plus some personal setbacks have cut into the passion that kept me going throughout the fall's busy stretch.

So while I do load up the calendar, I now want to give myself room to say no and back off from shows without the accountability failure of telling an audience I'm going to attend an event I end up not attended.

I still honor commitments: Classes, shows I've agreed to help out with, shows I'm attending with friends and shows I've personally promised people I'd see. But I want to leave the door open to decide whether or not to attend other shows without concerning myself with honoring a public schedule post.

You'll still get reviews. There haven't been too many extended theatrical runs to start the year, but serious runs have begun over the past week and you should expect at least a couple reviews this weekend.

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January 17th, 2011


07:56 pm
Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!

When I first moved in I used a in-unit cabinet as a laptop counter and worked on my laptop standing up. I eventually caved in for comfort and starting using my desk again, even though the setup of my old two-tier wooden desk makes it a bit naturally awkward to type since I have to set the laptop on the back-set upper tier.

I eventually got used to it, but I finally tired of how easy the setup made slouching, so last night I cleared some space and went back to working from the stand-up position. It's helping my posture and my legs even feel a bit stronger from the regular circulation. Also, many say working standing up helps brain circulation and helps keep the mind working, so we'll see over the long term how that works.

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I've also taken to:
- Pineapple juice. You are what you eat and, while my odor isn't offensive or anything, I figure it couldn't hurt to try daily consumption of an item many say does more to improve body odor than any other consumable.

- Buying groceries for work in U Village during the first lunch break of the week. Instead of trying to game-plan an eating schedule over the weekend, carry home a double armload of groceries and then try to remember to bring them with me each day... why not go during lunch to QFC, buy a small set of groceries I know I will consume, then bring it back to work and know it's there when I need it?

- 2.2 gallon distilled water jugs. I've always bought distilled water by the gallon (and no, I'm not quite yet in the market for a decent $300-500 distillation machine). But Metro Market started carrying these 2.2 gallon jugs that you can put in your fridge, and now I find it much easier to not just drink more water, since the setup is conducive to drinking 16 oz glasses of water at a time, but to use the distilled water with cooking, which improves the quality of things like rice and tea.

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January 16th, 2011


03:29 pm - Brief update
I'm working on a bunch of writing before heading to my swing dancing class. I've worked on the steps a little bit, though the upper body work and overall coordination still needs a lot of work.

With my writing, I'm working on what's becoming a long, multi-sectioned fantasy baseball writeup. I've long since reached the point where I've fine tuned a successful strategy that cross-applies to any league. Now that my available time to devote to leagues is dwindling, I feel I can give more of it away without worrying about losing any edge, especially given the method to success requires regular attention. A couple of my teams last year tanked when they were forced to auto-draft due to some emergencies. The one team where I could handle the entire draft succeeded as usual, and only when I stopped devoting attention to them due to theatre obsession did they slide (I still finished 3rd and 4th in different 20 team leagues despite this).

Every time I've tried to write a succinct strategy guide on fantasy baseball, it's always blown up into a long piece. The keys to success are rather convoluted and tough to easily sum up without being so trite that the advice is useless. So a series of several articles is a better bet.

I've got a couple other pieces in the pipeline but I'll see which ones flesh out. I've also got to continue work on my monologues as well as finding more monologue material. I want to assemble a portfolio of them.

That is all for now.

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12:16 pm - My current top 40 songs
Every now and then I'll post a personal top 40, songs that aren't by anything other than they're at the top of my playlist, songs I want to hear time and again. As you might notice, taste is not a factor. It never has been. Out of respect for performance art's subjective nature, I won't number my choices. But these songs are roughly in order.

King of Anything - Sara Bareilles
What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Pet Shop Boys w/Dusty Springfield
Feel It In My Bones - Tiesto w/Tegan & Sara
Come On Girl - Taio Cruz w/Luciana
The Dope Show - Marilyn Manson
It's a Sin - Pet Shop Boys
Hang With Me - Robyn
Saturday - Basshunter
Monster - Lady Gaga
We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
Work (Freemasons Mix) - Kelly Rowland
Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson
Hard Habit to Break - Chicago
Temudschin - Dschinghis Khan
Down at McDonnellz - Electric Six
I Like That - Richard Vission, Static Revenger & Luciana
Hands - The Ting Tings
Electric Feel - MGMT
Weekend - Michael Gray
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz
Girlfriend is Better (original) - Talking Heads
Kids - MGMT
Hang Me Up To Dry - Cold War Kids
Infected Girls - Electric Six
Love Will Never Do Without You - Janet Jackson
Wake Up - Arcade Fire
Just The Way It Is, Baby - The Rembrandts
Misery - Maroon 5
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Love The Way You Lie - Eminem w/Rihanna
Bulletproof - La Roux
Ma Baker - Boney M
Connected - Stereo MCs
It's Different For Girls - Joe Jackson
Beautiful - Eminem
Television Rules The Nation - Daft Punk
Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
M.A.D. - Hadouken!

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January 15th, 2011


07:02 pm - On the personal rebound
14/48's Friday show... better than last Saturday, not quite on last Friday's level. Lot more veteran talent and less young talent in the week two cast... with marginally more heavy hitters among the playwrights. Everything was funny. Kelleen Conway-Blanchard's play (which was easily the funniest play of the night) chased a nearby 3 year old and her parents from their seats. Little did they know what KCB brings to the table! In the Bridezilla piece, Benjamin Harris and Kate Kraay's cartoonishly excessive costumes looked like something out of Japanese pro wrestling. The only really heavy play of the bunch was Elizabeth Heffron's play recall, and even that was more funny than serious. Keith Dahlgren and Brian Simmons milked a lot of unspoken comedy from "Force Quit". Despite the morose "Worse Than Death" theme, all of the plays leaned on dark humor.

I went home and turned in early, but the mucus-driven cough woke me around 4:45 am. After a session with the neti pot, I milked another hour or so of fitful sleep before getting up and struggling with bus logistics en route to....

... stage combat. Despite a bit of practice with technique here and there during the month off, I was worried about the same sort of rust curve I ran into during my first 200 improv class. However, I had a surprisingly easy time with the swordwork, even though I struggled to knap during our first exploration of contact punches. I need to work on that technique, but I was surprised at how easy I found the parries and cuts, especially in light of how much people struggled with handling the swords after a month off.

I walked out fairly sore, a good sort of sore. I went home and took a pleasant three hour nap. My illness is still bothering me enough that I backed out of a Sunday engagement, and there's a couple of planned midweek things I may balk at.

Monologues: Even though the Generals appear flushed down the toilet, I'm still parsing and assembling audition material. Right now, I've got three pieces to work on. At this point, it's now about sharpening my skills, getting health and improving myself, plus finding good opportunities to audition and/or perform.

After a couple of weeks of emotional and physical setbacks, I'm once again feeling good about where I'm headed.

Tonight: 14/48, then Theatresports, then sleep. Maybe tomorrow I can get some more practice in on my swing dance steps. I'm not yet comfortable with the basic rhythm and technique.

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January 14th, 2011


01:17 pm - Ear to the Ground's clowns aren't no bozos
Clown theatre's popularity is slowly growing in Seattle but is still in a stage of relative infancy, nothing like the circus-mad world of Argentina, Spain or Italy. Along with George Lewis' ongoing Clown classes at Freehold, the work of the UMO Ensemble, the uncanny sustained run of the pricey Teatro Zinzanni show in LQA, the clown movement finds fuel in Cecelia Frye's Ear to the Ground theatre. Every year she holds an open audition to draw clown and clown-related acts from all over town for a show called Not All Clowns Are Bozos, and has put together a near-two hour show that doesn't have a significantly dull moment for this year's installment at Theatre Off Jackson: Clowning Me Softly.

Clown is one of those performance arts that makes no effort at pretense, opting instead for childlike and often sophomoric silliness, and many people either love it or hate it. It creates worlds derived from a simple, twisted form of reality, and it's best enjoyed with no illusion that you're seeing high art. Some people can't handle the lack of intellectual material (though the art of Clown is itself quite nuanced in its approach). Some can let it go and just have fun watching.

If you're thinking of seeing the show, be warned this run is VERY limited. There is only tonight's show and Saturday (1/14, 1/15) and that is IT.

Clown operates under the element of surprise and discovery, so I'm not doing the show any favors in running down details of the plots or characters. But I will say:

- You'll see Clown at its most basic form in a few pieces (including beautiful results with Xan Scott and Mary Purdy's story-driven pieces).

- The 2nd act will open with a big surprise.

- If you've see the TV show "Big Night Out" on the Seattle Channel then you've seen the opening number "Best Seat In the House" with Janet McAlpin and David Godsey. But even if you have seen it on TV or elsewhere, seeing it live is really neat.

- The stage-hands play an active role in the show.

- Colonel Percy Pithlump's piece with "Wildman" Christopher Bange was my favorite of the night. Regarding the Colonel, you might have seen the guy somewhere else before, but you can't quite put your finger on it.

- Naomi Russell and Jenna Bean Veatch deserve mention for putting on an excellently conceived, creative and very funny finale.

This is a busy time for Seattle theatre and I'm sure a lot of you are booked this weekend. But if you can get to Theatre Off Jackson in the Int'l District tonight or tomorrow night, I encourage you to go see Not All Clowns Are Bozos III: Clowning Me Softly. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and it might sell out the last two nights so make a reservation.

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January 13th, 2011


12:35 pm - New Horoscopes! in light of astrological discovery turning Astrology upside down
The recent discovery by the Minneapolis Planetarium Society of a forgotten 13th Zodiac constellation named Ophiuclus has indicated we got the Zodiac signs all wrong and likely throws off Astrology as we know it.

But fear not! I have done some quick calculations and have come up with some quick revised horoscopes for today:

Horoscopes under the old 12 sign Zodiac:

Aries: You will make a difficult decision today.
Taurus: You will meet a stranger.
Gemini: Your day will take an unexpected turn for the better.
Cancer: Patience will be required in stressful situations.
Leo: You will find disagreement with another.
Virgo: A positive attitude will clear obstacles from your path.
Libra: Your day will take an unexpected turn for the worse.
Scorpio: With your energy sapping, it's time to focus inward.
Sagittarius: Tune out outside influences and focus on what matters to you.
Capricorn: It's time to stop putting things off and get things done.
Aquarius: Generate freedom by tying up those loose ends.
Pisces: Beware of illusions in your life too good to be true.

Your new Horoscope under the true 13 constellations:

Aries: Beware of illusions in your life too good to be true.
Taurus: You will make a difficult decision today.
Gemini: You will meet a stranger.
Cancer: Your day will take an unexpected turn for the better.
Leo: Patience will be required in stressful situations.
Virgo: You will find disagreement with another.
Libra: A positive attitude will clear obstacles from your path.
Scorpio: Tune out outside influences and focus on what matters to you.
Ophiuclus: It's all your fault.
Sagittarius: Your day will take an unexpected turn for the worse.
Capricorn: Today is the day you realize you have no future.
Aquarius: It's time to stop putting things off and get things done.
Pisces: Generate freedom by tying up those loose ends.

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07:45 am - The right conditions to make snow-walking dangerous, and another illness?
Tuesday night's snow and subsequent Wednesday melt didn't seem all that bad. Temps hit the upper 30's before sunrise and the snow was pretty much melted before 10 am. But believe it or not, Wednesday morning's conditions were some of the scariest I have ever walked through. And I'm a proverbial expert when it comes to walking through icy conditions: I even wrote an article on the subject from my experience. The last few snowpocalypses were a pain in the ass but walking through the tundra of sidewalk and crosswalk black ice patches wasn't a serious problem. Not once did I fall and rarely did I seriously slip.

However, I damn near met my match on Wednesday in a perfect storm of conditions. How could such a relatively mild storm cause such problems?

The temps did something weird. They hit 33 degrees and stayed there throughout the overnight snow deluge, close enough to freezing to allow snow to stick but far enough above freezing that the snow began to soften and slush a bit when a strange influx of warm air behind the storm caused the temperature to actually RISE overnight, turning the falling snow to falling rain. We awoke to a sheet of slushy snow (or snowy slush) marinated in falling rain and melted snow-water that, when you stepped on snow/slush-covered ground, caused you to slip. There was literally no snow/slush covered spot on the ground that was safe to walk on. My foot slid with every other step. Walking was a hazard, let alone down hills.

Hills. I had to get to the bottom of Queen Anne hill to catch my bus to work. But I could barely walk safely on slight downhill slopes. There's no way I'd get farther than 10 feet down the steeper hills before losing my feet and commencing an impromptu luge on my backpack to the bottom of the hill and, if any cars were coming, my death.

I took a couple of tenuous steps on what seemed to be the most solid snow on the grass and my foot immediately slid about a foot downhill. The slush was, as I discovered blocks earlier, just as hopeless. My only way downhill was to get into the middle of the street, over the tire-cleared wet ground, where I had full traction, and walk downhill along the middle of the street. Fortunately no cars came and I reached the bottom of the hill without incident.

So yeah, if you work for HAARP, make a note that the easiest way to create fatal pedestrian conditions in Seattle is to create a cold air pattern that brings an hours-long snowstorm at or near freezing, followed by hours of marginally warmer rain that slushes everything up but fails to melt the snow. Cars with chains/snowtires are fine. Pedestrians are not.

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At improv class on Tuesday I strained my voice more than I should have. Too much gravelly yelling and screaming. I just got too much into scenes and didn't let the physicality do the heavy lifting, though I do recall being very physical... just straining too much with my voice.

So when I woke up Wednesday with a sore throat I figured I had just badly overdone it and consider it a lesson hopefully learned. Except I started getting some nasal irritation, my breathing passages felt a bit thin around bedtime, my stomach and muscles started feeling bleh and the sore throat more resembled sickness than strain-related soreness. I actually backed out of last night's Alexander session to get some rest and turns out I needed it. When I got home I laid down, passed out and didn't wake up until midnight. I got up, ate the dinner I didn't eat due to passing out, drank about 20 oz of orange juice, popped a multi, ibuprofen and a garlic pill, went back to bed and exhaustedly tossed/turned in and out of sleep for the next 4 hours.

I woke up with a more raw throat and a bit of muscle soreness (partially residual soreness from a busy Sunday), drank some water, popped another multi and prepared then headed off for work as usual. Right now physically I don't feel too bad, but my nasal passages are inflamed and my throat of course is sore. Basically, I'm unhappy with the prospect of getting sick less than three months after my last illness. I usually go months or years between sicknesses, and here's a 2nd in three months.

I'm hitting it hard, so maybe it passes quickly.

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January 12th, 2011


07:46 am - An idea for the now closed Uptown Theatre in the LQA
Recently, Lower Queen Anne's historic Uptown Theater closed, along with the Neptune in the U District.

STG already plans to spend $500K renovating and turning the Neptune into a live venue, likely a music venue that sometimes hosts other live shows like touring musicals and local elitist events like SIFF. However, no plans exist for the Uptown Theatre. The property holder indicated that a significant rebuild would be required for a non-theater related business to use the property but have given no other indications for the venue's future.

I have an idea: There are a few theatre troupes out there looking for a good home (*coughbalagancough*). Why not have 2-4 troupes band together and co-opt the space as a common performing space? You don't even need to rip out the walls between movie theaters. You have three separate (sound insulated!) theaters that I'm sure could be converted into individual stage spaces for each different company, or even shared between multiple companies.

I'm not saying it's totally feasible and not at all crazy. I know what kind of complications go into simply building out a new space, let alone something so ambitious as this. It's possible the extenuating circumstances and expenses wouldn't be worth the effort. But it may be a realistic possibility if you add everything up and pool resources between companies to buy in. Why not at least consider it?

Building and fire codes would be an issue. However, Erik Lundegaard noted that the theater was renovated in the early 1990's, so it may not possibly require the scope of renovations STG needs to give the Neptune, which I don't recall ever having received any renovations aside from a relatively slight 1994 remodel.

You'd probably have to rip out some seats to create a suitable stage and backstage area (movie theaters for obvious reasons have no stage space), you'd have to install some piping and circuits to facilitate lights and curtains. You don't necessarily have to build a raised stage: Many fringe theatres just keep it at floor level, building elevated floor-space as needed for certain productions.

You'd have three spaces with theater-style seating, booths for operators and SMs (yeah, you'd have to install bigger windows), a fully functional box office and concessions counter with a big, beautiful lobby, plus most of all quite a few seats in an attractive layout for a theatre venue even after removing seats... big pluses for any troupe using the space.

Obviously, companies who co-opt the space would all have to be reliable troupes with solid business sense who can comfortably co-exist. And fringe theatre is not known for its profitability or financial independence to begin with. I didn't say the circumstances would be easy. You'd need to maintain regular revenue streams by running regular shows almost year round, likely multiple shows in repertory e.g. a mainstage show with a late night and/or off-night show... akin to the Market Theater or Annex Theatre. That'll require big, active ensembles full of ambitious creative directors, actors, techs and producers from each engaged troupe. If this is technically feasible, would the love of theatre going to be enough to keep the participants going?

Maybe I'm wasting text on a non-starter. Maybe the property owner isn't at all interested. Maybe the building's not up to code. Maybe it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars nobody has to get the building theatre-ready. Maybe there aren't three or four troupes out there seeking a home that would be able to dedicate themselves to consistently creating awesome theatre that will bring in sizable, engaged audiences.

But I might as well throw it out there. Maybe this bunch of text will motivate somebody to go for it, or motivate somebody to motivate somebody to go for it, etc.

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January 11th, 2011


12:27 pm - Pick Six: My top six shows of (late) 2010
I did mention to friends that I agree with Michael Strangeways about the concept of giving yearly "awards". Singling one production, one actor, one actress, one designer out as the best of a given year is an exclusive disservice to a theatre community that produces a ton of great work year round.

As you've probably noticed, my reviews are generally 90% positive or constructive, with criticism and distaste coming up as needed. The Seattle theatre community does a lot of great work, and for the most part I'm impressed with and proud of the effort I see from theatre groups on a show to show basis. So to make a top whatever list or give out awards seems a bit dismissive given I find most of the shows I see to be good to great in quality. Rest assured that even if I do so, just because you're not on such a list doesn't mean I didn't like your show.

So yeah, I couldn't help singling out six of my favorite shows from 2010. Why six? I went through my list of shows seen, and after singling out all the shows that jumped out at me for being IMO especially great, I ended up with a total of six productions. Plus, six is per numerology my lucky number :P Besides, doing a list of 10-12 seemed a bit much given I didn't actively return to the theatre scene until July of this year... so a portion of 10-12 seemed more fair.

As You Like It - Greenstage

Now, the summer park shows that dragged me kicking and screaming back into theatre affected me collectively: It wasn't any of the individual shows that convinced me to come back.

But of the shows I saw, there wasn't a show that hooked me from start to finish with its characters, the way they worked together to tell a story, the other-worldly environment it created and the moments it created quite like As You Like It, which of the Shaekspearean play's many renditions I saw in my lifetime was easily the best, so much so that Greenstage may have spoiled me for life on the show.

I'll never be able to see a production of As You Like It again without comparing it to the wire to wire excellence Greenstage's 2010 edition, to Kate Kraay's flowing, headstrong but vulnerable Rosalind, Nicole Vernon's clownishly spirited Celia, Alex Garnett's dopishly earnest and physically available Orlando, Nicole Fierstein's adorably shrill Phoebe being chased by Shane Regan's desperately mewling Silvius, the musical camaraderie of Mok Moser and the Ardenettes and the rest of this spirited cast creatively adapting to every new park space in which I saw them.

I say this with all due respect to Greenstage's other park show, Romeo and Juliet, which was very good but not quite excellent enough to make my list. It might have made a top 10 list.

Side Show - ArtsWest (Apprentice Program)

You have to be impressed that ArtsWest got a guy who doesn't care for musicals and doesn't think much of student theatre to consider their Student Apprentice musical one of his favorite shows of the year. (/referring to myself in 3rd person)

But Christopher Zinovich assembled roughly two dozen mostly-teenage students into a production so dramatically airtight, so polished and so passionately, beautifully performed that save for a couple moments, I totally forgot I was watching high school and undergrad kids. This musical looked as good, possibly even better, than most professional or fringe musical theatre productions in town. And best of all, they shot past my general distaste for the present state of musical theatre and hooked me with this production despite using many musical theatre elements I generally find annoying: Stereotypical, shallowly written characters, acting taking a backseat to the energy of the singing and dancing numbers, mostly typical plot points (in an admittedly atypical main plot: Siamese twins escaping the circus to fame), a rehash of a previously done Broadway musical that won awards.

Several of these kids did impressive work and I would not be surprised to see several of them headlining shows in 5-10 years.

Yankee Tavern - ACT

The Charles Leggett as a Paranoid Whackjob Show had me hooked all the way with Steven Dietz's script framing a convoluted main story with simple elements: Four characters, one or two driving storylines, one setting. The simplicity allowed the talented lead actor Leggett to go to rambletown as Ray the Conspiracist and set the tone for this dramatic thriller. Even with a questionable effort by Shawn Telford, the rest of the cast (Jen Taylor, R.Hamilton Wright) totally nailed their roles and sold me on this play's every moment, despite several untied loose ends and an at-times unfocused threads in Dietz's script amidst the general simplicity.

And set designer Matthew Smucker deserves special note: He outdid himself with terrific detail of the elaborate bar centering the Allen Theatre's in the round stage, right down to the NYC phone book nestled under the bar on one of the interior shelves. It looked totally like a bar you'd see in an old NYC tavern.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Balagan Theatre

The Neil Patrick Harris internet phenomenon turned Balagan Theatre smash was one of the hottest tickets I can ever recall in local fringe theatre. After the initial two weeks, you could hardly find a ticket to this show. The lines an hour before the house opened went down the street, and many of those people got turned away. Balagan's 70-80 seats weren't enough to contain the crowds... hell, 150 seats might not have been enough. The hype was validated for this awesome, colorful, dark but passionately played musical.

The internet fame might have drawn casual patrons but the excellence fronted by Erik Ankrim's devious but likable Dr.Horrible and Jake Groshong's hilariously pompous Captain Hammer, along with the work of a talented and tirelessly energetic ensemble and colorful lighting over a textured but spartan set, made for a legitimately good show that validated the production with the experienced theatre crowd and further built an already overflowing audience.

It figures that after an agreement with ACT to re-stage the show this month, ACT let Balagan use the expansive 430 seat Allen Theatre, ACT's largest space. Balagan might be able to fill many of those seats, if not sell the joint out on (Re-)Opening Night.

A Doctor in Spite of Himself - Intiman

Seeing this show was a stroke of luck: George Lewis offered me along with a few others free tickets to a Wednesday night run of this show and I took him up on it. Otherwise, I would have never seen it given the cost and situation at the time. I'm glad I saw the show, as I haven't laughed this hard in years.

That said, everyone I can recall that saw this show either loved it or hated it. A product of clown masters Christopher Bayes and Steven Epp, the show featured a lot of clown, Commedia dell'Arte and similar forms as well as a general circus atmosphere consistent with an episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse and a handful of dated pop culture references (as in early 1990's "WHOOMP THERE IT IS" dated).

I found it funny, as did most of the audience. I was literally crying in laughter at points, and a couple moments were so funny that even the actors on stage couldn't help laughing. Clown is such a natural, animalistically instinctive form of humor that anyone who isn't closing themselves off to the performance can laugh at it. Many others, mostly those with a more high-brow standard of theatre, hated it. Brendan Kiley called the whole effort "Grandma in a Tube Top". I even met people at and after the show who were offended that I liked the show. Who knew Clown could be so polarizing? Maybe clown theatre artists are onto something. After all, truly progressive work is by its nature divisive: Half buy into new points of view and love the work, and half bristle either because they abhor change or because they love the status quo and hate what goes against it.

The only thing I might find fault with was the insistence on importing most of the cast: Daniel Breaker is from NY, Allen Gilmore is from Houston, Steven Epp from Minnesota and Austin Durant and Chelsey Rivas from New England (though Rivas has done some West Coast work as well). Granted, they all were very funny and helped make the show what it was, so in this case I didn't really care. Renata Friedman also deserves mention as the Tim Burtonesque damsel in quasi-distress.

The Suicide - BASH Theatre

Speaking of George Lewis, he directed this adaption of Russian playwright Nikolai Erdman's sociopolitical farce around a cast of colleagues, incorporating a lot of clown elements with funny results. This was a case where the supporting cast built much the mood in tandem for this show. One of my favorite performances was from Ryan Sanders, who played 4-5 minor characters of varying scope to frequently hilarious results, and had several of the play's more memorable moments. Cris Berns as the lead Semyon had a lot of funny moments in a great hybrid of clown and conventional acting, while Amber Rose Cutlip molded a laughably ridiculous but dramatically consistent character out of the seductress Cleopatra. But singling these three out is a bit disservice to the rest of the cast that did a fine job doing their part to make this one of the most dramatically colorful productions of 2010. This is the only show in 2010 that I paid to see a 2nd time.

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07:39 am - Links and stuff
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/110111_tuesday_morning_quarterback

Tying academic records to your BCS rating: Neat idea but flawed in many ways and there's no way the NCAA will ever adopt it. I mean, hell, they won't even fathom the idea of a simple playoff system... how could you convince them to try something this far against the grain?

Also, you think there's a lot of academic cheating NOW? You think academics in college sports is a total fraud NOW? Just wait until it's part of the BCS formula. Everybody would doctor papers and tests left and right. There'd be more grade fixing than a 200-level UNLV class full of Runnin' Rebels.

http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/113249104.html

A Minneapolis beat writer is actually stumping for the Vikings to get Matt Hasselbeck. I'm sure Seahawks fans wouldn't mind Minnesota taking the old, overrated QB off their hands.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-leahy-phd/how-to-talk-to-someone-yo_b_804980.html

Actually, the best response to upset feelings is not to say anything, but to do something constructive. To say any of Robert Leahy's suggested quotes can be in itself as patronizing and impotent as his bad examples. People know when you're using tactics to kill their bad mood and many resent the patronization.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09ap-t.html

Be wary, academic advisors, of higher A.P. scores starting this year. The tests are now easier than they used to be. Not that AP scores should be much of an admissions factor to begin with... but just in case, here you go.

http://www.kirotv.com/download/2011/0111/26438529.pdf

So a UW basketball player apparently raped a 16 year old girl over the last few days and hasn't been rung up but is being investigated. Innocent until proven guilty blah blah blah but given the sequence of given details I highly doubt these accusations were fabricated. Here is the redacted police report. From the few clues along the fringes of redacted details (I'm a master at gleaning from obscured text) it doesn't appear the player is a leading player, but likely a significant role player it would hurt the team to lose. Expect a coverup or stall if this is real :P

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January 10th, 2011


05:15 pm - Theatre developments
To my shock and dismay I discovered this morning during correspondence that TPS eliminated the one requirement that would have qualified me for the General auditions. TPS no longer considers one year in a BFA/MFA program a qualification to participate. Without it, I don't have enough non-university credits (to my knowledge: Remember it's been 11 years) to qualify.

TPS allegedly took their time scrubbing the qualifier, but the qualifier had been posted prominently since info on the Generals went live weeks ago so taking them at their word (and I'm not entirely sold) it looks like an unusually neglectful oversight.

It's equally likely someone on the inside at TPS is still mad at me, whether about comments I made about TPS years back or some other unresolved issue never discussed personally with me and, knowing my situation and knowing the Generals were important to me, saw an opportunity to chop-block my long-term plans out of grudge-wank.

A colleague close to the matter advised me to apply anyway. But even with a good word chances are unlikely they will make an exception, let alone be anything other than difficult about my auditioning. Even with an open door, it would already be nerve-racking and difficult enough to walk into Center House and nail the audition for a skeptical audience without the door-help harassing you over miscommunications (which would be likely in this situation), and inconsistencies on the auditionee list, putting in doubt whether you'll even make it through the door.

So it turns out, barring an incredibly fortuitous development, I will not be auditioning at the TPS Generals this year, pretty much torpedoing my main theatre focus for this initial few months and leaving me with no concrete prospects in Seattle theatre. Much of the theatre community's directors attend these auditions and callback unknown talent from these auditions, and this was easily my best shot to get some serious work in 2011.

Others have succeeded as actors in Seattle theatre without doing the Generals, but the road less traveled is much tougher these days with much greater competition for roles, and getting off the ground with more than a couple of token roles here and there requires a lot of help I'm not sure anyone's seriously willing to give me.

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January 9th, 2011


03:17 pm - And away we go
I shouldn't get too lazy today, because I'm taking a Swing Dancing class that begins TONIGHT.

Also, no more skipping out on things. I backed off of the Jet City Dojo last Monday and I backed out of Theatresports after seeing 14/48 last night. It's time to get serious again and whip myself back into physical shape which begins with better night to night commitment and diligence on my part. Having classes getting me reaccustomed to working on my feet will certainly help.

EDIT: Look at all the events I cancelled. That'll teach me to make proclamations! The first was solely a personal decision. The others were due to illness.

Mon 06:00 pm - Jet City Dojo
Tue 07:00 pm - Improv class!
Wed 07:30 pm - Alexander class
Thu 08:00 pm - Not All Clowns Are Bozos III: Clowning Me Softly (Ear to the Ground) @ Theatre Off Jackson
Fri 07:30 pm - The Cut @ Open Circle Theater
Fri 08:00 pm - 14/48! Week Two, Night One
Sat 10:00 am - Stage combat class
Sat 08:00 pm - 14/48! Week Two, Night Two
Sat 10:30 pm - Theatresports!
Sun 06:00 pm - West Coast Swing class

I prepaid for all the classes on this schedule. I netted myself a reservation for The Cut's free opening night. I have a punch card for the Dojo. With the All Pass, 14/48 is obviously paid for (and BTW thanks to ACT for finally getting those printed last night). Since I'm training with U.P., Theatresports is free for me. The only thing I'm paying for is Not All Clowns Are Bozos, and I've already made that reservation.

A look at the schedule shows that the next three weeks will get me seriously busy once again but it looks clear for a bit after that. One ongoing goal is to get two more monologues staged and ready as I ramp up to TPS Generals, and I'm hoping to take advantage of the little bits of weeknight down-time inbetween work and shows. That starts with not going home right after work: I need to find cafes and hang-out spaces where I can work on my pieces. I've made fair progress on my 1st and have three more picked out with the short-term goal to get two of them polished and by 'short-term' I mean I'd like to have one of those three ready to go by this week, along with my 1st. I'm doing two 50 second pieces at Generals but want to pick the best of a bunch rather than tie myself to two. If I can show peers a few monologues they can give feedback on which ones work best for me.

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01:21 pm - The top is still an empty space three years later
I'm not a big Mike Daisey fan myself, but I'm amazed at how prescient his Feb 2008 piece on the state of mainstage Seattle Theater, from the Stranger, still is nearly three years later.

Better to revive another August Wilson play and claim to be speaking about race right now. Better to do whatever was off Broadway 18 months ago and pretend that it's relevant to this community at this time. Better to talk and wish for change, but when the rubber hits the road, sit on your hands and think about the security of your office, the pleasure of a small, constant paycheck, the relief of being cared for if you get sick: the things you will lose if you stop working at this corporation.

The truth is, the people in charge like things the way they are—they've made them that way, after all. Sure, they wish things could be better. Who doesn't? They're dyed-in-the-wool liberals, each and every one of them, and they'll tell you so while they mount another Bertolt Brecht play. The revolutionary fire that drew them to the theater has to fight through so much shit, day after day, that even the best of them can barely imagine a different path. They didn't enter the theater to work for a corporation, but now they do, and they more than anyone else know the dire state of things. I've gone drinking with the artistic directors of the biggest theaters in the country and listened to them explain that they know the system is broken and they feel trapped within it, beholden to board members they've made devil's deals with, shackled to the ship as it goes down. I've heard their laughter, heard them call each other dinosaurs, heard them give thanks that they'll be retired in 10 years.


A big problem is that we still insist on creating a pecking order in local theatre when there's so much creative, excellent work going on across the board, and such peril facing the existing alleged shangri-la of paid LORT theatre, that it simply is not necessary. The system as we know it is not going to live, so we should give up trying to enable its quasi-farm system and focus on trying to make the ground level a better place for artists.

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11:11 am - Slightly irrelevant thoughts on a 2nd night of 14/48
Went to last night's 14/48, but wasn't feeling up to much after that so I skipped Theatresports and went straight home. The theatre enthusiasm just wasn't there for me this weekend as it's been for the last few months, though I did enjoy the shows I saw. Then again, I'm also coming off a couple weeks of theatre-quiet from the holidays, just started a new slate of classes and had a rough workweek so maybe it was just a one-weekend thing.

Last night's 14/48 had more dramatic material and whoever said that comedy plays better at 14/48 appears to be right: Though comedy requires more actor energy, it allows actors to get more creative and play around with their choices. Plus, it feels good for the audience to laugh and it makes it easy to read and please the audience, and 14/48 is designed in part to be a celebration of the fruits from a pressurized process, so the audience comes in wanting to have fun rather than be challenged. In a regular show I'd like to see challenging material, but in a festival like this you're looking to just have fun, because the fact you're seeing a show that didn't exist in any way 24 hours beforehand is in itself an accomplishment.

I liked Saturday's show, though I had more fun Friday. There were still funny shows in Saturday (the finale was just as hilarious as Friday's, and we had a couple other farces) and even the more dramatic pieces had a few funny moments (the opener was the saddest but also had a lot of funny choices and moments). Friday's more dramatic material had more funny stuff, though, and we didn't see as much humor amidst the drama on Saturday.

Of course, Friday also had the novelty of being my first ever 14/48 show, so you could say I wasn't as impressed in novelty as Friday. But I've seen 10-minute festivals before and the vibe here, save for the excellent band (which went against the grain and sounded even better Saturday than their impressive Friday effort), ACT's luxurious mid-size space and the on-the-fly context of the show, was essentially familiar. The experience is new but the content isn't strange.

Granted, there's also the factor that, knee deep in hours 25-48, the cast and crew were probably feeling burnt and the initial enthusiasm began giving way to exhaustion. Opportunities for comedy may have been there but passed in the name of just getting through the piece. There was also the new theme: "Bedtime Stories" lends itself to darker material than "It's All Part of the Plan". Maybe everyone involved had more fun Friday as well: Again, I'm sure everybody felt very tired in day two while still having to work very hard to get their pieces staged. This isn't easy, even for accomplished thespians with 14-hour-days-all-week stamina.

I don't say this intending to criticize the artists: I am still impressed with everyone's effort in this 14/48 weekend, as everyone put a tremendous polish and performance on pieces they had only a day to put together, and everybody has a lot to be proud of. The only thing I mean to take from the above is a personal lesson that in this situation (maybe even for any 10 minute piece I'd ever write), I would want to write something less serious and more humorous, as while it may be more involving, it'd also be more fun for everyone who has to make it come to life and that'll do so much to keep a tired cast and director going as it all comes together.

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January 8th, 2011


10:51 am - A Friday night of new experiences: Improv and 14/48
Last night I capped off a revealingly treacherous work week with a night of new theatrical experiences. I saw three improv troupes at Odd Duck Studio for the first time, as well as my first look at the semi-annual 14/48 festival. Again, I'm not doing improv reviews, but I will say Ministry of Exuberance did two quick sets centered around odd encounters by rediscovered long lost colleagues and Alfonso Lopez's reactions to dialogue built a lot of funny moments. She Spot (Lauren Skelton and Laura Turner) built a long-ish series of very funny scenes, playing several characters each, but Carskee (Jennifer Cargill and Erin Plischke) made sure not to be outdone with several funny long-form scenes of their own that left both performers laughing between scenes. I'd be willing to see them all again, especially the duos. They're performing again at Odd Duck on January 15 and I'd suggest dropping $10 and checking them out if you like improv.

You don't need me to sell you on 14/48. After much ado I caught the 10:30 show, and didn't appreciate the lack of the all fest pass I paid $50 for, something I'd generally not sweat except others in the house seemed to get their passes and getting treated 2nd class is not something I like paying $50 for. They had to print me a ticket and perhaps when I check in tomorrow night they'll have one ready.

Bip hipster vibe in the lobby. The fest is a who's-who of the high end of the Seattle fringe along with the more involved members of the LORT theatre community, a sociable bunch when they know who you are.

Plenty of great seats available, though, even given the seats were about 60% full for the 10:30 show (most of the in-crowd attended the initial 8 pm show). The show proper, though on paper a conglomeration of the entire theatre community, has Annex Theatre's fingerprints all over it, featuring a lot of Annex-connected talent on the writing and acting ends with the writing showing several flashes of their "LOL right wingers and christians" or "Sci-Fi weeeeee" points of view. Thankfully, Annex's stuff is usually good.

As others have said over time, 14/48 plays almost always end up as comedies, and these plays were all very funny. All these actors threw themselves into their scenes and their commitment and reactions generated as much humor as the material itself, if not more. The backing band had an engaging rhythm and the show carried itself with an understandably organized chaos.

As with improv, reviews for a show you won't get to see seem a bit pointless: The show this cast and crew does tonight will be brand new... and never done again. And the two nights next week will feature a new cast and crew doing brand new stuff you'll never see again. Though the plays are dubbed world premieres (a technically true term that exaggerates the scope of these 10 minute plays), most if not all of them will never see the light of day again, even if anthologized.

If you ever consider going, whether to this festival or future 14/48 runs (next 14/48 run is this summer), go for it... but at $25 a head for individual show tickets consider yourself warned on the price. The $50 all fest pass (whether or not they have one ready for you at the door) is typically your best deal but only if you make sure to see all four editions... and availability of the passes is always limited.

I'll be there tonight. And next week. And it'll probably be a lot of fun each time.

Maybe one day I can do one of these.... Maybe not?Collapse )

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January 7th, 2011


12:14 pm - The two most insincere and overused phrases in American culture:
1. Thank you.
2. I'm sorry.

We have long passed the point where the phrases have ceased to carry true meaning. They are tritely used like car keys as coupons in a lame attempt to compensate for giving you a hard time or screwing you over.

People, whether at work or among friends or at home, give you a hard time and then say, "I'm sorry" or "Thank you" (maybe even give you a token gift) after screwing them over or having them clean up a mess for you, expecting those words to serve as a coupon absolving them for having made you miserable. And later they treat you badly again... and follow the instances up with more impotent apologies and compliments.

Let Dave Horsager explain to you the damage of insincere apologies.

Actions speak louder than words. If you're truly sorry for something you did, the best way to rectify matters is to make a commitment to being a better person. If you're truly thankful for a person working to clean up your messes, make a commitment to being more responsible so you don't put that person in such a position again.

Talking in these situations accomplishes nothing. Making sure not to screw the person over again, pour your messes in their lap and making sure to have their back when needed accomplishes much more. No, it's not easy. And it's not easy for other people to eat your shit. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

And in case you didn't get the hint, these phrases don't mean much to me, and in some situations are even considered insulting and patronizing. For future reference I'd appreciate friends, family and colleagues not using them in lieu of in-kind behavior... or just being respectful and responsible in the first place.

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January 6th, 2011


09:44 pm - A random thought based on something I read in the new a few times
Here's why businesses don't like to hire older people: Even as new hires, they come in with a much greater sense of entitlement than younger people, whether they're executives or drones. I've seen this across the board. They come in with higher salary expectations, higher benefits expectations, more demands than most young people today bring to the table. Older people don't adapt as easily to new circumstances and are more likely to bristle when a new environment and new codes of conduct don't easily side with their incumbent points of view. And most of all, older people are averse to physically active tasks that a younger person is much more likely to take on without a second thought... whether or not those older people have health issues.

Sure, medical concerns and the higher insurance costs of an older worker are a factor, but many young people come in with medical baggage too, and younger people tend to take just as many days off.

Sure, older employees have more experience and thus many command more of a wage for that experience, while young workers don't and come cheaper. But younger people's demands rise at a higher rate than past generations, and chances are more likely as they gain experience that those young workers will jump ship after a couple years and leave the company looking for help all over again.

But ultimately, most older employees with good credentials I've seen get passed over in my decade plus are people who came in with demands, brusque attitudes, a myriad of issues indicating they were going to call out sick a lot, or otherwise showed that they were going to be a pain to deal with. They think their ~20 years of experience gives them a coupon to do things the way they want without taking into account how it affects those around them, maybe even making them think they're better than those around them. The ones that DID get hired were more humble... assertive and smart, sure, but they also understood this wasn't their house and that they had to adapt to the workplace... not the other way around.

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January 4th, 2011


02:30 pm - Link dump
As an aside to this abnormally crappy day, I'm going to post some links that caught my eye over the last day or two.

An extremely long overview by Nicole Potter of different actor development methods. What, no Lugering Method? ;P

Why a Budget Is Like a Diet — Ineffective. I see it.

"The Happy Marriage is the 'Me' Marriage". There's a lot of other undiscussed problems with marriage that get to the root of Tara Parker-Pope's dilemma, but okay.

States Seek Laws to Curb power of Unions. Anti-union lawmakers are making the interesting proposal of barring private sector unions from requiring dues/fees of its members. I'd cry foul if those fees weren't going into legal/lobbying funds and the $200K+ salaries of union execs rather than into benefits for those allegedly represented workers. I would almost get behind this, in fact, if I didn't realize it was simply an attack on unions. Either way, this won't solve the present-day union problem (unions that no longer serve the actual workers, but their own political/power purposes in the name of the workers) but then again I'm not sure there's much of anything people can do to solve it. I think the simple reality of the economy will do more to solve it than anybody ever could.

Internet TV could lead more people to cancel their cable in 2011. I'm sure the networks, with everything to lose, will use their massive legal and lobbying power to try and stop the growth of internet TV (and cable companies are already trying through proposed bandwidth limits and pricing). But as wireless and unaffiliated carriers proliferate, that's going to become more difficult. Their best hope to salvage the status quo is to use their money and acquire key internet outlets like YouTube and Hulu to undermine those channels. But times are changing and I'll even boldly postulate that network television could die within our lifetimes, giving way to the more varied and participatory world of intertubes.

"Now is the time to sell" says L.A. real estate honks to their peers. I don't know... real estate was able to pull the strings on the market with the help of banks and their credit-default-swapped funny money, but with that connection now gone I don't think they have the pull to dictate the market anymore. That housing is cheap and plentiful due to foreclosures belies the state of the economy. You need buyers, buyers need money, and the needed money comes pretty much from banks, who aren't lending like they used to and won't, ever, especially if the needed collateral (jobs with a necessary volume of wages to sustain the needed mortgage plus the various additional costs of owning a home and of course the lifestyle of those living in said home) isn't there like it used to be and is falling due to a sagging job market cause by the manifestation of various economic realities. The days of people comfortably sliding into mediocre $300K homes en masse are gone, because most people back in the day did so hoping to trade up or cash out by flipping the house in three years... an artifical, unsustainable reality. Now, unless you're buying a great home in a great hood that you plan to settle into, and you have a stable career that assuredly will fund the means to comfortably pay off the home over the next 30 years or sooner, it's a very risky bet at best and more likely just a huge, expensive mistake.

You could cross-apply the 15 mistakes young entrepreneurs make, but don't have to into running a theatre company, especially on the crucial marketing and public relations front. I may write more on this later, though of course I'd want to research farther into the matter.

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January 3rd, 2011


07:44 am - Back to life, back to reality, back to schedules!
Here we go again! The holiday season is over and I get back on the horse with several of my classes kicking off this week.

Mon 06:00 pm - Jet City Dojo (maybe) Naw, not tonight
Tue 07:00 pm - The return of Improv Class!
Wed 07:30 pm - Alexander Breathing class
Fri 08:00 pm - Carskee, She Spot, M.O.E. Improv Extravaganza @ Odd Duck
Fri 10:30 pm - 14/48 festival
Sat 08:00 pm - 14/48 festival
Sat 10:30 pm - Theatresports!
Sun 06:00 pm - West Coast Swing dance class

Along with the Alexander class, I hear of a beginning 6 pm yoga class also at Taj Studio in Crown Hill that begins in a couple weeks and costs about as much as the Alexander class. It would fit my schedule perfectly as I can get there in time after work, it's at the same venue as the Alexander class and Alexander would begin right after the yoga class ends. I may consider taking yoga to help improve my physical being and if nothing else so I can vouch to people that yes, I have done actual, formal yoga. I'm still weighing options but I'm leaning towards doing it.

This improv 200 class will get into Theatresports games and we'll do a lot more scene-work than last class. Brandon Felker is also by all accounts a comparatively excellent teacher of improv. The Jet City Dojos will offer chances for extra practice until my Monday Taproot class begins later this month.

I have never been to a full 14/48 festival in Seattle, but I have locked up a full-festival pass and will see all four nights, the first two of which will go down this weekend. And since the Market Theatre's literally down the street, I can just walk down to Theatresports afterward both nights.

TUESDAY EDIT: Rik Deskin just announced an improv event featuring three fringe groups on Friday at 8 pm, so I'll probably see those, catch 14/48's second Friday show at 10:30 and just see one night of Theatresports.

And of course YAY swing dancing. This quick hit five week class is just fun skill expansion.

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January 2nd, 2011


02:30 pm - 2010's theatre experiences, and a bit on my theatre M.O. going forward
Playing off of Agastya Kohli and Kristin Alexander's idea of listing all the plays they saw in a year, I decided to go ahead and make a list of plays I saw in 2010.

Some notes: I don't include improv shows due to the graying between unique shows and regular events. Improv, though having similarities to conventional stage plays, is a distinctly different performance art. Ensemble generative work is included as it eventually leads to a scripted performance. I don't include cabaret nights like whizARTbang! as they often include non-theatre material. This list is purely stage scripted theatre. I also don't include shows I performed in since, obviously, you can't watch a show you're playing in.

The plays:

Pirates of Princess Island - Open Circle Theater
Othello - Wooden O
As You Like It - Greenstage
Greetings From Styx - Balagan Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing - Wooden O
Kindred Spirits - ReAct Theatre
Romeo and Juliet - Greenstage
BJ: A Musical Romp - StageRIGHT
Side Show - ArtsWest (Apprentice Program)
The Laramie Project - Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Troilus and Cressida - One Shot Productions
Eat My Shorts festival - Open Circle Theater
Pageant Play - Theater Schmeater
Clubfoot: Tales from the Back of an Ambulance - Annex Theatre
Penguins 3: The Bishop's Bastard - Annex Theatre
Friend's Enemy - Nebunele Theatre
Her Mother Was Imagination - Annex Theatre
Yankee Tavern - ACT
Much Ado About Nothing - SPT Youth Program
WONDERLAND - theater simple
The Swan - ArtAttack Theatre
Scarecrow For Hire - Unexpected Productions
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Balagan Theatre
The Jammer - Balagan Theatre
reasons to be pretty - ArtsWest
Breaking the Code - Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Rapture of the Deep - Balagan Theatre
A Doctor in Spite of Himself - Intiman
The Glass Menagerie - Theater Schmeater
Working Gurl - Bad Actor Productions
Cannibal: The Musical - Unexpected Productions
Mauritius - Seattle Public Theater
Wedding Belles - Taproot Theatre
Hard Bard Macbeth - Greenstage
H.P. Lovecraft's Pickman's Model - Open Circle Theater
God of Carnage - Seattle Rep
Sextet - Washington Ensemble Theatre
Taphonomy - Boom! Theatre Company
Love's Labour's Lost - UW Drama
Hearts Are Monsters - Macha Monkey
Revenge of the Fun Forest festival - Warp Theater
The Lieutenant of Inishmore - ACT
Money Changes Everything - Annex Theatre
The Wild Party - Microsoft Theater Troupe
Three Tall Women - Seattle Rep
Villains by John Leith
Reckless - Seattle University
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Ghost Light Theatricals
Stings Like Acid - New Amerikan Theatre
Shoreditch Madonna - That G! Theatre
Dancing at Lughnasa - Seattle Rep
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol - Taproot Theatre
The Last Witch - UW Drama
Vestal Virgins - Theater Schmeater
A Child's Christmas in Wales - Stone Soup Theatre
The Judy Garland Christmas Special - Open Circle Theater
Le Frenchword's Fancy Mud
The Suicide - BASH Theatre
Crandal's Bag - Washington Ensemble Theatre
A Mall and the Night Visitors - Cast of Few Productions

60 total stage productions, not including improv shows, not including whizARTbang, staged reading showcases and anything else of the like. And that's in half a year: I didn't start seeing shows again until mid-July. Not a bad catalog.

I'll certainly continue with reviews to start 2011. I'll probably not write reviews of improv shows anymore unless it's a new format or troupe I haven't seen: Reviews of these shows seem to lack relevance since you obviously won't see what I saw if you weren't there that night, though with new acts you may want to know what to expect. Still, I plan to see a fair share of improv shows, if not get involved on stage as I gain scene experience and get more comfortable with the form. Also, I still plan to rack up a high volume of shows seen, but don't expect the volume you saw in late 2010. Not only will I probably do more classes, see more improv and get involved with performing in shows, but I plan to work on other endeavors like my freelance writing and some other creative projects as well as improving my physical training habits and getting into better shape. I'm in relatively decent shape right now but I see definite, reachable room for improvement.

Plus, while I've already held my cards closer and closer to the chest about my personal life over the years, I'm probably going to be even less transparent about personal projects, at least until I'm composed pieces (whether written or performed) complete enough for me to feel comfortable sharing with peers... and only with peers in a constructive setting. Not that I'm going to hold out until they're perfect... but until they're complete works or have enough potential to quickly become complete work.

This is all a fancy way of saying to expect less writing in general, though not too much less. I'll still see a few shows a week, though I may only write about 1-2 of them, if that... or maybe all of them. It depends. And you may once again see more general writing about my life and the random stuff that otherwise interests me.

There's your entry-level manifesto for 2011, with a whole lot more under the surface. Onward.

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January 1st, 2011


01:53 pm - Odd Duck's test driving two new off-the-path comedy shows
Rik Deskin's always trying out new regular features at his Odd Duck Studio, and recently he debuted two stand-up comedy themed weekly events.

Now running Thursdays at 8 pm are the Comedy Workshop, where sketch, improv and stand-up performers of all levels can prepare and/or test out their work-in-progress in a relatively safe performance venue.

Also running is a interesting noon-hour Friday stand-up show called Brown Bag Comedy. over 30 minutes, two professional comedians come up and perform sets, also geared towards testing out new material. The idea is geared towards people who work nights and don't get the chance to see stand-up, and workers in the neighborhood looking for some entertainment during the lunch hour. Obviously, not everyone can take the time to come down but there should be many who can.

I had New Year's Eve off and managed to catch the initial Brown Bag offering with Diana Hassenger and Emmett Montgomery with enjoyable results. There were six of us in the seats despite the flash-notice and the context of the holiday distracting people. It's certainly worth your while if you've got time during the noon hour on Fridays, as Odd Duck should continue to at least test-run this over the next couple weeks if not retain the show as a regular feature.

Obviously, both weekly shows are open to the public and admission is $5, with Odd Duck's concessions bar fully open.

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December 31st, 2010


09:47 pm - Closing thoughts on NYE and 2010
Earlier today I was working on a longish entry about how I don't think much of New Year's Eve or most other holidays, that save for the business and workplace closures that force my hand I don't approach them any differently than any other workday or day off.

But I had to hustle away to see Odd Duck's Brown Bag Comedy show (more on that later), so I didn't take it all the way, and a few of you have chimed in to note that I'm not the only one thinking about the subject, so I don't see the need to weigh in at length.

I'll just say that, despite several opportunities presented to spend NYE out and about, I've chosen to stay home tonight, as I've done during many NYE's since coming of age. Aside from preferring peace and quiet on a crazy party holiday, I'm also concerned about my late night transport situation knowing that much of the city center will be clogged up due to festivities, the cabs will be booked beyond use and of course nobody will really be able to give rides since most everyone out and about will be drinking. Is dealing with the problem logistics along with the high cost of most potential events worth the trouble? As history has shown me over the years, probably not. Besides, I grew up in the NYE party capitol of the West, and I'm not sure you squares could top them ;P

Tomorrow I'll be among the minority waking up early, not hung over, and will set to work on 2011. From what I've taken in, about 99% of you hated 2010 and can't wait for this year to end. Personally, to the contrary, 2010 was probably one of my best years ever, if not THE best. Despite a rough start to the year, I eventually got the best, highest paying job I've ever had, I finally returned to the theatre world and my dive into theatre led me to meet a whole new world of great friends, peers, colleagues, etc. and rewarded me with a life far more active and involving than my previous endeavors. Sure, it wasn't all roses but I don't ask for perfection... just for satisfaction. And 2010 was for the most part satisfying. May 2011 go even better.

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December 30th, 2010


12:44 pm - More about solo shows
So, understandably, many don't take kindly to my notion that a trend towards solo shows is a dangerous trap, or that I'm not a fan of the genre. I'm not going to deny the value and potential in good one person theatre shows, though I also won't deny that big houses are producing more of them not out of respect for solo performers but because they're cheaper for these theatres than paying several actors to produce a full show. Their attempt at saving money (and not even all that much money relatively speaking at that) denies other artists an opportunity to perform, all disguised as an alleged growing respect for the one person show.

There are, as with many art forms, other various artistic issues and risks with the solo show. But I still believe progressive theatre is about taking risks and, as long as you're not too self-indulgent in taking them, taking risks with untested material and difficult formats on stage is totally acceptable. Solo shows are not in themselves unacceptable, so apologies if anyone takes my reservations as such an opinion. Friends of mine have done or are producing solo shows, and I'm sure there are plenty that come off well.

I abhor, however, theatrical self indulgence at the outright expense of the ticket-holder, and as I saw at WET a couple weeks ago, solo shows can fall more easily into that trap than other shows.

Now, that said, I read a solid, well-aged 1990 piece about solo shows that includes commentary from Gene Frankel on essential principles every solo show needs to follow to successfully engage its audience. If you haven't already read this, it's worth a read no matter your opinion on one person shows.

A solo theatre play is no different from a regular stage play when it comes to expectations. You've got to have all the needed elements of plot, character, staging and audience-relative material, or it falls flat. And many people, whether they see the shows or make them, perceive a solo show as somehow different. Respect the form and respect the venue.

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December 28th, 2010


12:55 pm - Why don't I like traveling like everyone else?
You know, as a kid I used to love taking road trips with my family, and the idea of traveling to exotic places excited me like it excites everyone else.

And then I moved to Seattle and my fondness for travel pretty much disappeared. I mean, I still enjoy the chances I have had to see new places around Puget Sound, but I don't carry the wanderlust that I grew up with or that others have. I'm largely indifferent to the idea of seeing Europe, or the Far East, of New Zealand. The chance to hike mountain trails, while an interesting idea should the chance occur, is not something I dwell on at all.

I pretty much enjoy where I am, and part of it could be my cultivated focus on being present in the moment of where I am right now, rather than focusing on a desire to be somewhere else. Even at work, where I am and what I'm doing now is typically first and foremost on my mind, and (aside from requisite planning and prep) what happens later will be addressed when it comes.

I like to joke that the non-stop 60 hour odyssey Turner and I took from Little Rock to Seattle (by way of Las Vegas) when we moved here in 2004 pretty much KO'd any desire I ever had to travel again, but honestly I'm not averse to trips. I've actually taken and enjoyed a few road trips since then. Unless the occasion arises to take one, however, I just don't pine for or seek them out.

Fun fact: I've never been out of the country. Though I'm sure I'll find a reason or ten to at least go to Canada if not go overseas outright, it's not something I'm in a hurry to do.

A big part of it is that travel is expensive. I'm lucky when I travel to Vegas in that all my food, lodging and other accomodations are covered when I visit. If I were to go almost anywhere else it'd cost me to get a place to stay, procure airfare, procure transport around the area, purchase food and water, pay for other things like seeing shows, spending a night out on the town or attending events. And that's if I don't buy anything else while I'm there. You can easily top $1000 in expenses even if you're staying in a hostel or convince a friend of a friend of a friend to let you crash on their couch... and then you run into getting the time off from work and ugh what a pain in the ass... just to go somewhere new. Is that worth it to me? Honestly, not really.

Granted, I don't carry the loathesome ennui and/or hatred for my day to day life that many people have (which is a common motivating factor behind travel) and for the most part enjoy my day to day life. So maybe for me there's no need to go somewhere else when right here is just fine.

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12:26 pm - Notes on a holiday Vegas trip and other relevant things
- I gained 2.7 pounds in the 4+ days I spent in Las Vegas. Nearly three pounds, in only four days. My folks have a working scale in the bathroom and I weighed myself sans clothes daily from the morning after I arrived to the morning I left. That's not necessarily an indictment of my family's habits: We did have several huge meals right up to when I took off as the holiday and my visit were a collective special occasion, and they don't usually eat like that.

- Without getting into TMI my body's already begun purging the relative toxins of that style of eating from my body now that I've had a couple of relatively wholesome Seattle meals :P

- Apologies to any Vegas friends who wanted to see me but didn't. Since transport is a relative pain in the ass (I either have to borrow someone's rig or ask for a ride), I usually don't stray from my family's home (or wherever they're going, like when they stray to Town Square) unless I'm specifically invited to do something. Be on the lookout for the next time I'm in town, and invite me to hang out. You've got to make concrete requests!

- And of course you are ALWAYS welcome to come up to Seattle and visit ;)

- Between visiting with Madika at The Beat on 12/23 and my flight home four days later I literally did not leave the house, nor did I really want to for that matter. Sure, a trip to the bookstore would have been nice but sitting at the house and watching football was fine, even if towards the end I really wanted to get home to Seattle.

- I needed the physical rest, too. Keep in mind I walk long distances pretty much every day in Seattle, so during my trip my legs basically got four days of rest it never gets. I certainly felt rejuvenated, if not a bit rusty once I got back on the Seattle sidewalks.

- Driving on Vegas freeways is difficult because the long stretches of unbending roadway can make you drowsy... not a good proposition when everyone around you is going at least 65-70 mph, some faster, and several people are driving like maniacs.

- My brother in law brought over his game systems for the holiday gathering, and to our collective amusement we discovered why I don't play shoot em ups like Halo as I turned getting annihilated into a running gag. These games were never my thing even when I regularly played video games (I liked sports, RPG and strategy games), but the gamer reflexes that allowed me to beat Super Mario type games 20 years ago just aren't there and would take hours of practice to get anywhere close to back. Needless to say I've currently got more pressing matters.

- I watched a lot of TV. For the uninitiated, I hardly watch any TV. I have limited cable that costs a trifle in addition to my internet, and when I do watch TV at home it's almost always the Seattle Channel. At my folks house I saw a lot of ESPN, Filipino TV news (my father watches it religiously), Man vs Food, the Food Network and similar programming. TV is a very odd phenomenon for me: I can almost feel my brain frying, my energy sapping, if the tube is on for any extended period. Often at my folks house the TV is almost always on. At my home and the homes of friends in Seattle it's almost never on, if there's one out at all (many Seattlites keep their one TV closed up, in a corner den or in their bedroom). We visited my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Sam (LOL I know) and with their TV not on their home had a very different dynamic. The energy came down to social interaction. Yes, there's plenty of social interaction in my folks house with the TV on, but the TV creates a dramatically different dynamic.

- According to my mother, my inoffensive come-and-go snoring in recent years now is giving indications of sleep apnea, as she says I would gasp in my sleep, a common sign of the condition. Granted, I'm still battling the post nasal drip of a past illness and it's possible that my not-quite-healed nasal passages in combination with various allergens (I WAS in a house in the dry desert with three somewhat unkempt dogs) are the product of the problem rather than lingering issues.

On that note, I used my neti pot last night and my nasal passages BURNED on contact with the solution. I also got a lot of clear gunk out, so I could be on the right track. I hadn't used it as much before my trip. Plus, along with getting away from the fried foods in Vegas, I'm also eating healthier than before I left as I'm working more fruit and seeds back into my diet, plus making sure to drink more water. A reduction in allergens and toxins will also help clear things up. I'm not ready to concede to breathe right strips just yet.

- All due respect to those who have either, but being around both pets and young children has reminded me in unambiguous earnest why I never want pets or children. Even when around better behaved pets and kids in Seattle, the warning signs of the near-constant struggles of dealing with both rear their heads. But those problems totally jump out at me in Vegas where I see more ill-behaved kids and dogs.

It takes a near-constant effort by pet owners and parents to get pets and kids to behave well, and when you can't devote that attention for whatever reason, the end result is a giant pain in the ass for everybody. Pets: Incessant barking or mewing episodes, mystery puddles of piss in the house, things getting broken, chewed/clawed up or ruined, etc. Kids: Screaming/crying, ill-advised demands, constant interruptions, mischief leading to messes and broken/ruined things, limits on things you enjoy like music, TV, movies orconversation. You can be a good parent and produce well behaved kids/pets but it takes a lot of work, discipline and good intuition that I'm fairly sure I would never have the time to apply without subverting my entire existence.

- Of my trips to Vegas over the last few years, I've never been happier to come home to Seattle than this time around. No, the trip wasn't a negative experience: I got to hang out and talk more with my older brother Andy (who's been living with my folks a while) than I have... probably ever. My father cooked a lot while I was there and we ate copius amounts of old family staples I've always loved to eat, and my mother treated us all to a massive meal of sushi and roasted meat at Kabuki Sushi. We made Xmas Eve an all day event and several of us hung out over food and drink playing video games and such. I got to chill out and not worry about stuff while I was there.

But after 3-4 days I was ready to get back home and get back to the more involving life in Seattle I'm continuously growing into. Vegas life, aside from the station to station commutes of a sprawling suburban style city, just isn't that involved. There is a lot of sitting around, and not just at my home. I went with it while there but I'm not a guy who naturally sits around. I've got to get out and about. Seattle is a city conducive to getting and staying out, while Vegas is a place that leads you to get home and stay home.

******

So that was the last 4-5 days of my existence. It helped that my circadian rhythms woke me up every morning at 7 am and that unlike past trips I didn't have to work myself back into my sleep schedule. This week, once again, I have no theatre outings planned, and even my plans to go to UP's New Years bash is tentative. I'm going to spend this week getting back into order a life that spent the Fall getting messed up out of order as I immersed myself so heavily in work and theatre that I let the order of my home, my other endeavors and my diet slip.

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