31 March 2009

Act, then Write. Or, the Reverse.

I'm attending another open call today, this one for The Folger. If I and my esteemed readers have learned anything about auditioning this month past, it is that it doesn't really matter in a direct sense. Certainly, people have joined casts by finding their way through the open-call process, but it's such an unpredictable blend of circumstances that it would make a statistician wince. No, the way to get work is to know, and thereby work with, lotsa folks. Open calls are a part of that, of being seen and staying on the ol' radar, but not direct lines to the President, as it were. Still and all, every so often one comes up that provokes some dreaming. And, as I've also iterated numerously at the Aviary, dreaming's an important part of the process.

The Folger is one of those D.C. theatres that I grew up visiting. Between that, Arena Stage and The Little Theatre of Alexandria is the space in which I was formed into a young acting enthusiast. I've actually performed there before. They hold an annual festival of short, high school Shakespeare productions, and I was a part of one Winter's Tale that graced their Elizabethan stage. As I'm sure you can imagine, at age fifteen it was quite a thrill. And, lest you be duped by my omissions: It would be quite a thrill today, tomorrow, and when I'm eighty, too. As something of a topper, they're doing two favorites next season -- Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet. My favorite comedy, and my favorite tragedy (though in recent years, King Lear has been giving the Dane a run for his money in the racetrack of my preference). So, I dream. I'll pop in midday and lay out my Romeo for them-what-make-the-tough-choices, and I'll do my best to enjoy the rush.

In the meantime, I'm plenty busy. T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, and I've often wondered how much his opinion had to do with taxes. In addition, work gallops apace, unrelenting in its demands on me as the new office-manager/HR-coordinator/assistant. Finally, I'm traveling for the next two weekends, to such far-off and fanciful locales as Pennsylvania and Virginia. Yet, yesterday, as I was writing Friends Mark and Davey to break the bad news of feeling unable to contribute much to a new writing project . . . I got an idea, and wrote a story for it. Because, dang it, nothing is more motivating than being told, "No."

I love that the universe keeps throwing writing ideas -- nay, entire fictitious worlds! -- my way. Thanks, universe (read: friends).
* * *
Well. That happened. It was fine, apart from some nit-picking on my own part. The start went better than the end, and I thought I'd at least get a chuckle. Alas, no, but I can hardly blame the casting assistant. I lost a little breath control toward the end (it is an awfully long line to carry through) owing to, I think, nervousness and not enough abdominal stretching, but overall I feel pretty good, and it's always nice to know one's resume and headshot may now be occupying space in someone else's files. I don't believe they were casting, however. Maybe a few roles, but I doubt it. Couldn't say exactly why, really. Only the casting assistant was there, and something about her "thank you" -- just a feeling. Of course, as we've already learned, Dear Reader, my "feelings" rather suck.

Lately I've been fantasizing quite a bit about what it might be like to be a professional writer. Fortunately, I just read a book on Neil Gaiman that disabused me of some more fanciful notions. It is hard work indeed, becoming a paid writer, and then even harder work still to stay one. Heck: The high degree of fame and accomplishment that Gaiman has accomplished only makes his life more chaotically busy. The only advantage over acting I see is that most of the rejection that happens is written rather than spoken (and seemingly it actually gets done, instead of letting one drop off the face of the earth, tied to one's own sense of expectation). It would even seem that writers need to do as much networking as actors. Who could have imagined that an acting career would be so much like so many others? I should have, for one. Art imitates life imitates art, etc.

Still, it is a nice fantasy, this idea of doing work that I want to, when I want to, and receiving compliments and praises left, right and center. Plus, I could sit at a nice desk (you can justify the expense and cost of a "nice desk" when it supports your primary income) and drink tea and dream about more fantasies, and more teas, expensive teas, teas that defy you to resist their calming, meditative influence! Dear God! It would be beautiful! There would be affectionately attended potted plants during the day, not the neglected, lonely aloe I have now! At night, candles with subtle musky scents, that I could monitor regularly enough to make them of actual FLAME, and not a flickering LED! I would read and write and read and write and write some more!

And man, oh man, but I'd miss acting. *sigh* Anyway, it appears that fantasy is based largely on soothing things, and if I've learned anything at all in my life to date, it's that soothing things don't generally pay the bills. Hugh McLeod is of the opinion that staying busy with the business of living actually aids one's creativity. Maybe I should teach yoga.

There'd be mats, and Vinyasas, and chanting, and . . . !

30 March 2009


Last Saturday was the day of celebration for Wife Megan's 30th anniversary of the day of her birth and she, being the woman I married, wanted to go see some good, wholesome burlesque. You know burlesque, right? It's that quaint throw-back to a more innocent time, when men were men, women were women, and occasionally they all agreed to meet somewhere with dim lighting to reveal their knees to one another. One of the things I love about living in New York is being somewhere that such nostalgia for the frilly sins of the past exists. Any town that's a friend of anything remotely related to vaudeville and old-timey fun, is a friend of mine, as I always say (or will, henceforth). Furthermore, I specifically love burlesque. It's theatrical, it's joyous, and it usually incorporates lots of humor and props with its boobies. What's not to love?

So we went to The Slipper Room.

We stayed for many acts and several hours.

We left late, and they were still going strong.

Most of us will never be the same.

So from a theatrical perspective, it was a roaring success. I mean, if I can perform in something that really evidently changes people, I consider that a pretty big success. The specificity of that change is something that's even trickier than the change itself, given that all live performance is by its nature collaborative and interpretive. So personally, if you got something out of it, I got something out of it too. This reflects my attitudes on a lot of things. Like . . . dance. Or . . . board games. Or . . . other occupations of one's quest for joyous experiences. Let's not be judgmental about anyone's pursuit of happiness, even if they spell said pursuit "happyness." Hey: Rock on. It brings you joy and, on some level, that makes me happy.

Now there were some things I witnessed Saturday last that did not, per se, make me happy. The responses I had were more along the lines of being made to feel surprised, or confused, or scared. Very, very scared. But others really enjoyed some of these things, and no one got hurt or maligned beyond repair (though of course some audience mockery is part of the idiom), and so we can all look back on it and laugh. Sure, some of us may have gone home and gone directly into the shower, do not pass "GO!", do not bother removing one's clothing. But here we all are, scarless, and with a generally broader view of our fellow man, woman, and all others.

A broader view in a smaller world, I should say. I knew one of the performers -- had performed with her before, in fact. Her stage name is Miss Saturn, and she is a dynamite hula-hoop artist. She is also, it turns out, somewhat uninhibited in her display of God's gifts. When I performed alongside her, it was at a benefit for Friend Melissa's company, Kinesis Project. She hooped it up, I clowned around, and afterward she suggested we work together again some time, but I never followed up. Now I'm left to wonder if following up would have led me to The Slipper Room. It would not have been an entirely unwelcome opportunity, assuming I would have been able to stick to my personal preferences for the content of my act. During Saturday's experience I also had the unexpected mystery of feeling I recognized another performer: one "Harvest Moon." As it turns out, I don't. She's not who I mistook her for, but she has nevertheless reminded me that secret identities are as common in this city as free newspapers.

Some may view my appetite for nostalgia with disdain, but what can I say? I like sentimental sweetness in my indulgences, and could have used a bit more at The Slipper Room. After each break, the acts grew progressively more risque and shocking, and I grew less and less interested. Of course, if I were to run a contemporary burlesque show in New York City, I've no doubt I'd have to make similar allowances. After all, what we saw was probably closer in overall effect to us as the burlesques of old were during their time. These shows were shocking, titillating not just in sensual ways, but in visceral ones. The atmosphere should be one of reckless abandon and in this sense there was nothing inapt about my experience Saturday night. It was just that I had walked into a circa-1930s Berlin burlesque, when I had been hoping for a circa-1889s French one, I suppose. C'est la vie! I regret nothing!

Looking back, it occurs to me that there's an awfully fine line between anticipation and dread, and that line is going to be set at different places for different folks. A friend of mine recently sent me some writing research that discusses the role of feedback loops in sexual experiences. The gist of it was that "healthy" sexuality involves a feedback loop of increasing focus on arousal, and "unhealthy" (or perhaps, unhelpful) sexuality involves a neurotic, self-evaluative loop. Both increase the focus, but one allows you to engage, and the other rather prevents it. If we accept that sexual feelings are erotic in the broader sense, this is a very interesting way of looking at what we as performers inspire in our audiences. Will we fill them with eager anticipation, loathsome dread, or something of a different ratio altogether? In my opinion, neither is bad, just a different effect. And whatever effect, it begs the question: What, if anything, will we make the payoff?

27 March 2009

It's a Gas

Years ago, I promised you all fart jokes. To date, I think I've delivered two. Here, then, is something to make up for it: John Robert Wilson (via Twang of the Void). WARNING: Some language and concepts may be deemed odious, and I don't mean the odorous bits.

26 March 2009


Most of the work I've been doing on my play-in-progress, Hereafter, has lately been confined to my noggin. In particular, when I'm walking the few blocks from the train to the ol' office job. Then I get to the ol' office job, and most if not all of those thoughts go whizzing from out my ears, displaced by insurance rates, supply vendors and other undesirables. So I thought, Hey, thought I, hey, why don't I do some of the same thinking on the Aviary? That way I'll not only better retain it, but open it up for other people to badger and criticize me about it as they may see fit. So here we are. Badger if and as you will.

Interesting to try to communicate my thoughts for people who know what I have written, and them what don't (read: most everybody). I held a reading in December, from which much was learned. Those who participated are about the only people on earth so far who know what my play is about, and odds are it will be about things altogether different once it passes through this nascent stage of revision. The over-arching theme of the various stories has to do with what happens to our bodies after death, and how we separate sense of identity from physical evidence. It's also a comedy, largely; or anyway, it's supposed to be funny. I've got roughly six characters in ten inter-related, but not necessarily inter-connected, scenes, some of which are much stronger than others. The biggest question I had prior to the reading was whether or not this wanted to be a play, rather than a sampling of scenes. It turns out it rather would like to be a whole play, which is great, and also means way more work for me.

Some scenes just don't work, and it's that simple. I have two such set in a gastroenterologist's office (which should have been my first clue, right there) that flounder and waffle mercilessly. These, and their companions in dysfunction, I believe I will rewrite from scratch with new ideas that are influenced by an improved sense of continuity to the whole thing. More importantly, the characters they particularly address are weak. It's going to be a lot of re-imagining, which is fun, even when it's frustrating. This is what got me started on day-dreaming about it, anyway -- the possibility of that freedom to do more than revise, to rewrite.

Along those lines, too, I realize an immediate need to rearrange what scenes I do have fairly strong. As they are arranged now, my eye was more on structural symmetry, not enough on organic cause-and-effect. Which is actually pretty funny, since one of the philosophical arguments I have going in the thing is between linear and holistic perspectives. Philosophy is another little facet that needs rearranging. Just now, some of the characters have perspectives that are too similar for anything terribly interesting to happen between them. This, and the aforementioned, leads me to contemplating the cut of one (or more?) of my dears. The whole thing could really benefit from an outline of some kind, which, again: funny. I'm not very good at or about outlining. I don't like doing it, and I'm pretty crap at it, generally imposing too much logical control and not enough intuitive exploration. Then again, maybe I'm just doing it wrong, somehow.

Expatriate Younce and I, in our recent brainstorming phone call, got to talking about ideas and our rather different relationships to them. To put it mildly, I have a love-hate relationship to my ideas. My ideas have burned me before and, though I try to forgive and forget, I am holding on to the odd grudge, or seventy-eight. Ideas are as malevolent as they are beneficial to me, some resulting in a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, and other resulting in a tremendous amount of wasted time and effort. Of course, as I write this, I realize that I'm a little too focused on product over process here. Younce points out that my urge to fulfill a creative idea's potential is what enables me to get creative things done, but the flip side of that coin is frustration over delayed or (in many dreadful cases) aborted projects. Take, for example, this idea I had of incorporating the three fates into my play (in a gastroenterologist's office, for Pete's sakes). Thought it was great, ended up screwing the story into places it most certainly does not belong.

So outlining, free writing and cuts. Perhaps I hate acknowledging how little I've accomplished on a first draft, and that's why I generally avoid the revision process? Whatever it may be, I'm determined to make this project the one for which I break that habit. Then I am sure I will have still more revisions, but hopefully I'll be slightly more capable of them.

Then, too, maybe Youncey can finally get his werewolf story.

24 March 2009

Dead on my Feet

Last night I participated in a developmental reading of Steve Deighan's work-in-progress, The Last Stand, which was held at his gorgeous apartment on the Upper West Side. I won't say too much about the play itself here, as it's none of my business to go about spilling other writer's ideas. I mean, steal all of mine you want, but Steve's are off limits. I will say that it's a very funny script that takes some familiar stage tropes and turns them lovingly on their collective ears.

The people of this little reading were great; just great. Daryl Boling directed the night and read stage directions (gleefully intoning them with a '40s radio personality's spin), and my fellow actors for the eve were Hank Davies, Carolyn Gordon (Carolyn, if there's somewhere I can link for you, please let me know), Ryan Michael Jones and Laura Schwenninger (Laura: McFadden: WHAT?! I just spent five minutes of my life Google-searching "Schwenninger"! How do you expect to receive anonymous feedback from casting directors like this?). It was largely a reunion. I have worked with Steve, Daryl and Laura on several occasions, and Hank on one. Mike was in Daryl's admirable production of All the Rage, with Steve and Laura, and I believe Carolyn had worked with folks too, though I never got the skinny on that. In other words, all who weren't already friends made strides toward it through the course of the work and discussion.

It was only a few hours, but it was a few hours I very much needed. Just a little contact with theatre work, when I feel somehow deprived of it, can go a long way, and even longer when it's with a group that I enjoy and trust. It was a late night for yours truly. (As an interesting [to me] side note, I don't think I've ever had so much attention paid to my Facebook status as when I wrote this morning that I was too tired for push-ups.) I didn't crawl into bed until midnight, and that's at least two hours past any usefulness from this little bear.

Sometimes, though, more than sleep, one needs the company of a few friends and a play.

23 March 2009

Head Shots

I recently ordered a good batch of prints of my headshots -- a little over fifty, of mixed variety. I easily could have ordered 100, and put them all to good use, but as it's coming up on tax time, I hesitated to make the investment just yet. The turn-around on the order was surprisingly quick. Placed late in the day last Wednesday, they were ready for pick-up Thursday midday. Now there are two fat envelopes of photos featuring my face sitting next to my desk, just waiting for newly printed resumes to be cropped to 8x10 and adhered. What with all my open calls lately, and the need to get myself out there more, I see many unsolicited mailings in my future.

That was a good thing to get done last week, and this weekend I had an incredible series of merely entertaining activities. Not that entertainment is a waste for me -- far from it. It's just that the occasions when it has nothing to do with theatre or my fellow theatre artists are rare, and I just had a whole weekend's worth. It started with an easy evening at home Friday night, and progressed into Saturday, which started with a spa day with Wife Megan. An abnormal luxury for us, to be sure, and we owe big thanks to the groomsmen for it. From there it was a vegan lunch out, a movie, drinks at Friend Geoff's bar and another evening at home (our budget having been busted for the day by all that follow-up to the spa). Then, Sunday, I indulged in one of my most indulgent of entertainments with Friend Adam for four hours or so, and met up with Friend Ken for drinks. All in all, an incredibly rewarding weekend.

I feel depressed today.

The most indulgent entertainment I know of, ladies and gentlemen, is video games. Yes. Video games. Especially now, because they have come a long way since I was thirteen, plugged into my PC in the basement of my parents' house, listening to Nirvana on the ol' single-speaker, tabletop tape recorder. This is why I do not own an Xbox, or PlayStation, or what you will. Time will literally flow by like an endless river. Video games threaten dehydration for yours truly, I kid you not. So I engage in them rarely, as I did yesterday with Friend Adam. We played the demo of Resident Evil 5, and continued a game of Left 4 Dead we played a week before, and playing video games twice in two weeks is the most I have in years. Both games, for the uninitiated, are zombie scenarios, with much shooting and running about.

Friend Patrick has often theorized that I'm a little obsessive (see also the comments on the above link), maybe even a little masochistic about certain things. Certainly my ability in the realm of video games emphasizes my obsessive qualities, as I am largely terrible at them, and nonetheless enraptured by them. What strikes me today, though, is not how obsessed I am with that little entertainment, but how slavishly my emotions are subordinate to the work (or lack thereof) I'm trying to do. In other words, I don't think I'm feeling depressed today because I played video games or had a scalp treatment or because of anything I did this weekend past. I don't even believe it's because now those activities are over, and the work week returns. Rather, it's because of what I didn't do last weekend.

As anyone who presents themselves to be even remotely geeky knows, zombies are guiltless kills. Part of the fantasy is that a zombie hoard gives otherwise moral people ample excuse for depraved violence against their fellow humans. It's an outlet for all the sublimated aggression that's kept us, as a race, alive and killing one another for centuries (and that lives on in more outspoken acts in certain of our pets). Different zombie stories carry different emphases, drawing parallels between the shambolic creatures and drug-users, religious and other fanatics, and even shopping-mall-goers, but what remains consistent is that the zombies can only be stopped by utter destruction. Perhaps significantly, this is traditionally achieved by destroying the head. It makes sense (insofar as zombies make sense) as an act which destroys the brain, home for any animating urges, be they natural or no. But on a psychological level, a metaphoric one, it often signifies erasing someone's face, or identity. The classic zombie crisis is that one's best friend, or spouse, or parent, has been transformed into one of these demons, and it's up to the hero of the story to overcome his or her previous connections and emotions, and do what needs to be done, face-to-face.

Now I wish I had spent at least some small part of the weekend doing something that wasn't irrelevant to my career. This impulse can be confusing to those who relish leaving their jobs far behind at Friday's end, but for those of us who are pursuing an alternate career, our "free time" has a different tang to it. Trimming paper edges and printing mailing labels is not a heck of a good time, but afterward one feels as though he's put something in its proper place, vindicated the time spent doing work he doesn't appreciate by balancing it out, just a little. Ever since I was really young, I've better appreciated my recreation when it caps off a period of good work. That seems like a noble perspective when you put it that way but, turning it slightly, the dark side of it is covered with feelings of guilt and anxiety about personal time that's come and gone. It's spilt milk (to distend the imagery) and it's stupid to regret. It's also tough to let go of. Not the milk, but the time, and . . . oh, cock it. The weekend was fun while it lasted, and I needed some of that "irrelevant" satisfaction.

My mom, she once asked me what in the world I got out of video games. I told her it gave me a sense of accomplishment and control, two things I didn't feel I had a lot of at the time. I'm glad she asked me, because realizing that made me realize how people can get their priorities mixed up and spend half their lives just trying to entertain themselves. Having a sense of purpose is important. You can supplant it for a bit with entertainments; heck, you can do that your whole life these days, if you rearrange here and there. Maybe getting a high score or finishing a level on a game isn't all that different from a pay raise, or finishing a successful project, really. So long as we can look back at it all and feel good about it, good about where we've been and how we got there. Sometimes I get awfully frustrated with where I am and what I'm doing, and nothing seems more gratifying than busting out and mowing down anything and one that gets in my way. So I'm glad there's a virtual environment for this, because it's a terrible emotion to use in everyday life. Everyday life responds better to focused, incisive work, to balanced point-by-point goals and well-aimed means.

Everyday life responds better to headshots.

20 March 2009

Curses: Foiled Again

Lately I've been wanting to write in my 'blog using the voice of Rorschach from his journal: Had phone conversation with Expatriate Younce last night. Brief, but good. Wonder why doesn't happen more often. Talked of writing, ideas. Must remember notes later. PS, senseless debauchery and depravity of malignant tumor of a world makes crave cold beans again...

Doubtless this is due to the really wonderful performance by Jackie Earle Haley in the movie. Definitely in the top-five best interpretations of comicbook characters in cinema. Probably in the top three. Probably commie.

All right. That's enough of that.

One of my more irksome writing habits has to do with creating characters that are mere foils. I believe I can create some really developed, interesting characters, but more often than not I end up with a foil in there somewhere -- someone who fills gaps, quasi-antagonizes broadly, and generally exists as a sounding board for the rest. (Benvolio, for example, is largely considered a foil.) It's weird to me that I'd be inclined toward this, because I've played many foils in my career, and it's always a bit, well, irksome. In fact, when I was younger I was often cast as the "foil character." Not all of these were foils to a fault (i.e., folks devoid of development or consequence; e.g., Benvolio), but they were there to serve the needs of other characters in advancing the plot. I think Frankie in A Lie of the Mind is a fair example of this. If you disagree, then you may have some insight into why I did such a shite job playing him (see 4/5/07).

Perhaps it's my proclivity for such characters that lends to their presence in my writing. It's hard to say. What's easy to say is that they are often burdened by concept. Take for example Jude and Angelo, characters from two plays of mine. Jude is a Mormon cast out of his church for numerous breaches in personal behavior, who continues to believe and do mission work whilst using drugs and foul language. Angelo, from Hereafter, is a former gang-member with a dead son who lives with him in his paranoid delusion. It's as though having a concept answers too many questions about the character for me, in a way, so I feel there's nothing left to explain or develop in its writing. Yet simultaneously, I feel clueless about what the characters need and where they go from where they are.

This habit and its connection to my acting came to mind for me out of last night's discussion. We talked a bit about the writing and idea-generating processes, and in particular I was intrigued with the possibilities and challenges of creating the characters Youncey was contemplating. Of course the discussion eventually touched on my as-yet-owed (and as-yet-written) werewolf story, and talking about it helped me realize that I stalled out in a previous attempt because I had all these exciting concepts for characters . . . but no real ideas about who they were, and where they were going. Well, two of them had direction and identity. Two that weren't remotely werewolfy. *sigh* So I thought the problem was that I just didn't actually want to write a werewolf story. Now, however, I have some ideas (hopefully not mere concepts) about what I do want to write about in a werewolf story. Now it's a question of time and keeping it foil-free.

Wherefore the foil? It's not laziness. Often time I spend much more energy on what turns out to be a foil character than I do on a fully realized, interesting one. Perhaps it's a problem with my perception of structure in a given story. It's true that I've never outlined a plot in my life; the closest I ever come to that is when I somehow know where I want the whole thing to end up. Writing is improvisation to me, or (perhaps more accurately) like just such a conversation as I had last night -- ideas piling up, going exploring down one path or another, accepting everything I can and using it as best I can. It's funny. Younce will continually make claims to not being a writer, yet the very stockpiling of ideas we do equates to the writing process for me. It isn't the same, of course. I take for granted whatever actual writing skills and instincts I may have acquired over the years. Yet that idea-hashing, that collaborative energy, that's what keeps me writing. That's what I really love about it.

When I was a teenager I was quite obsessed with my writing voice, and unique little turns of phrases. Early teachers of mine would kindly describe my prose as being "poetically dense." Thankfully I've rescinded my former enthusiasm for linguistic frippery and syntax of a winding and convoluted manner, the which is not dissimilar from a verbal slalom track (not to mention [since it bears repeating] a certain appreciation for [parenthetical] asides). But seriously: When I was a teenager, it was even worse. Now I value a certain amount of clarity and efficiency in my writing (not too [too] much, mind). Similarly, I want to make efficient stories, with necessary characters, not just cool concepts and dramatic tensions. That's the mysterious quality of really amazing stories, for me: structure. Lean, mean and beautifully functional.

Something made of steel, rather than foil.

18 March 2009

Mysteries and Secrets

Neil Gaiman is an incredible treasure of storytelling, whom I can appreciate largely due to the years-ago efforts of Expatriate Dave to make me experience as much of Mr. Gaiman's work as possible. Since that time (around age 17, this was) I have consumed every iota of his work that I could, and his work includes comics, other literature, movies, a daily 'blog and numerous odds and ends besides. If you don't know his work, you should, even if you don't consider yourself a fan of fantastical fiction. He has very good ideas, and he steals awfully well. By which I mean that one of the things I love about his work is the way he can tie together disparate old ideas and stories with new ones and make something appreciably unique. This could be considered a decent description of what any artist endeavors to do. Neil Gaiman is an artist.

I decided to write about him today because I have noticed many disparate ideas and stories coming together for me lately that point his way. In brief:

  • I'm reading a book about him I received for Christmas.

  • He was just on "The Colbert Report," which I stayed up to see (WAY past night-before-open-call bedtime).

  • He just made Wife Megan's esteemed list of Famous People With Whom She Would Like to Have a Conversation.

  • I've been enjoying the fiction-writing process of late, especially with Friend WHftTS.

  • Expatriate Younce actually confessed some writerly desires to me the other night -- a victory for the cause of Fiction, I assure you.

  • He recently experienced a personal loss that makes me wish I could do something for him, as he's done so much for me.
I had an opportunity to share a word or two with Neil Gaiman a few years back, when he was in town signing copies of his short-story collection, Fragile Things. He was interviewed by John Hodgman, which was hilarious and insightful, and then took a seat at the back of the room to sign hundreds upon hundreds of signatures. I waited my turn in line with my and Megan's books, and I thought about things. I had a signed copy of his novel Stardust that I had won in a costume contest back in my home town, and it seemed unbelievable that I was going to watch him sign a book from my very hand. I wondered what I would say, and suddenly the whole thing felt eerily familiar. Looking back, I realize the panic I felt was the exact same feeling I have waiting for an open call. Suffice it to say, I thought of a million things I could say. When I got to the table, I squeaked. Something. I don't know. I think I've since blocked it out. But I know it was squeaky, whatever it was.

The Zen Buddhists believe that the elimination of desire is a key to enlightenment. When I want something as much as to be cast off-Broadway, or to get into a discussion about mythology with Neil Gaiman, I can see their point. It can be crippling.

Mythology, as a concept, is a very interesting way of looking at our lives. Obviously I would say so -- see name o'blog -- but a few thousand years' worth of actual mythology may be said to back me up on this as well. I used to think of mythology on the whole (and prepare for more sweeping generalizations here) as a way of devising answers to difficult questions. I was taught that these stories came about because primitive peoples needed an answer to things like lightning storms, death and babies. I won't argue against that theory, but it is only one theory. The more I learn about them, the more I see the enduring mythologies as stories and beliefs that return people to essential questions, rather than direct answers. Moreover, I see mythology not as giving us guidelines or neat morals for our living, providing context, so much as it changes our story. Stories influence other stories, and one person's life can be said to be a (hopefully) long, largely sequential story. What I realized while standing in that line was that Gaiman's stories had profoundly affected my life, my story. In fact, just at that moment, it seemed entirely likely that his stories had had the most influence on mine, out of all of them. Thus: Squeak.

I don't know if myth and mystery have any relation, etymologically speaking, but I find them to be very closely related. Brothers, almost. In his famous Sandman graphic novels, Gaiman resurrected DC Comics' versions of Cain and Abel as the keepers of mysteries and secrets, respectively. According to that particular mythology, a mystery is a mystery because it was meant to be shared, a secret a secret because it ought to be forgotten . . . if it can be. Mythology, fiction, stories, they all confront unanswerable questions in one way or another, and it's by sharing them that we fulfill their functions. So I hope you'll share in some of Gaiman's, because it's no secret that they're uncommonly good.

17 March 2009

Running Up the Bill

I've spoken with a few people about the curious case of the open call last week (see 3/12/09) and continue to feel the way I felt about it at first blush. And believe you me: I did blush.

This morning I awoke later, though still ahead of my alarm, and unhurriedly got myself bundled to stand in line for a time slot in an open call again. This time the call was at The Public, for their summer production of Twelfth Night. There is very little reason to believe that I will be cast from an open call for such a thing and, besides that, I have committed to other adventures this summer that would interfere something fierce. The agency with which I freelance claims to be looking into the barest possibility of maybe potentially setting up a scheduled audition for the exact same show, perhaps. So why attend at all? Well, that's exactly the sort of question one asks oneself whilst waiting outside for one's fingers and/or toes to drop off. Add to that the fact that I was potentially losing precious paid hours at el day jobo, and it seems downright foolhardy to stand around for a couple of hours with March's lions raging about you. But Running Girl (where-so-ever she may now be) had an interesting effect on me. In addition to putting open calls into a more sensible perspective, she got me wondering how much I still have to learn.

Intellectual curiosity is a wonderful gift.

I've had every intention of continuing to audition, open call or no, beyond my experience with Shakespeare on the Sound. Somehow, though, embarrassing as it was, receiving a specific response to my experience of auditioning that day made the whole effort seem far more rational, more attainable to me. More human, to put a finer point on it. I had proof that auditions were not just about a monologue, however uneventful they may seem, but a dialogue. It was a weird experience to hear back from someone I mercilessly critiqued -- reminiscent of reading my own reviews for productions, especially when they're written by total strangers. I suppose casting directors don't often hear such direct critique one way or another, and it's probably owing at least in part to Running Girl's acting background that she could have such a grounded response to my ignorant assessment of her state of being. Of course I was embarrassed. I was also inspired. So, if you're reading this, I'm sorry, Running Girl -- and also: Thanks.
More after the audition . . .

* * *

Now was that so bad? (Answer: No, it wasn't.) I've figured out very specifically what my misconception about auditions is. While I know it not to be true from my intellectual side, my emotional side still insists on every instance of minute-and-a-half audition time being my chance to change things for myself. This is a common ailment amongst those who want something so bad they can just taste it. It is a little less common to have made as little progress as I in abandoning this fantasy by my age, but I'll not dwell on that. I've always been a bit of a slow learner when it comes to certain bits of common sense. I live day by day, but I thrive on my dreams, and it can be a simple matter to dwell in one's thriving.

I just made registration for the audition slot, speeding from work at the last possible minute and getting directly on the 6 for Astor Place. The Public was a'sprawl with young actors, and a few older ones, and the proctor was glad to see I made it in time. It wasn't too long before we lined up outside the rehearsal studio, and I was third in line. It was another popular call, and another in which they were fitting in as many people as they possibly could. They had so many alternates, though, that they were turning away non-Equity performers just as I headed inside. Within there was just one of the three casting associates from the billing, but with an assistant. I did the same monologue, and tried to enjoy it. I think I was lacking in my "living in the moment," but that may be my own comparison to dozens of other times doing the balcony monologue. Either way, I was thanked and I left with very little response from the pair one way or another, and I felt . . . like I accomplished something significant. Small, but significant.

Then again, you need a little dreaming, even if you just aim to live. When I auditioned for Spider-Man (see 7/28/08) I had NO hope of getting the part, and I had a fairly terrible audition, but just acting on the dream was fuel for some good work thereafter. I can't say for certain where we find the right balance between the dream and the life, but I can say that I'm pretty happy with what progress I've made thus far toward finding the one in the other. And for that, I actually owe thanks to everyone who has participated in the dialogue.

Thanks, everyone. Luck 'o the Irish to you in your thriving.

16 March 2009

Luminous Dispersion

Back at the start of December, before it was even properly winter, I wrote (see 12/4/08) about Friend Natalia's art installation in Brooklyn: Luminous Accumulation. It has been up all winter and, come Sunday, dismantlement shall begin. In other words -- last chance! Natalia sent out some lovely photographs of this exhibit in the snow as part of her notice of its approaching end . . .

12 March 2009

The Run Down

It was dark out when I awoke this morning, suddenly, and for no particular reason. I woke up with Shakespeare on my lips, "...speak again, bright angel, for thou art...." After almost an hour, I gave up on getting back to sleep, and squinted at the clock hard enough to make out some numerals. 5:00. May as well get up. I take it easy, making my breakfast and lunch and showering and shaving, sparing a moment or two to check in at Google Reader, and then I'm out into the chilly air.

I should have dressed warmer. The predawn temperature is just below freezing, and it's been a few days since I've had to deal with that. I turn my back to the wind on the train platform, and when I get outside of the Actors' Equity building I nestle as well as I can manage against a deli's storefront window. Waiting in line takes on a peculiar atmosphere when it's that early in the morning. Everyone has chosen to be there, and there's nowhere to rush to, only the question of whether they'll consider the weather (or not), and let us into the building much before 8:30. Once my hands warm up a little more, I read my book, pausing here and there to run over my monologue in my mind; not just the words, but imagining it as though I were living it under ideal circumstances. I'm in Italy. I'm in Civita di Bagnoregio, under a balcony that's jutting out from a building on the outskirts of town, where the gardens are, isolated. On the balcony is the most beautiful girl I've seen in my entire life. It's warm.

They let us in (mercifully early) and as we initiated march by the building guard we hold out our membership cards. Once past him, I begin to return it to my wallet, then remember that I'll have to show it again once up the stairs and headed into the studios. I keep it in hand and end up walking past a great many actors who were there to sign up for free tax processing, the fifth past the monitor, the fifth in line to sign up for an audition spot, the fifth to sit, and wait some more.

It was my first audition since arriving back in town. My first, to be perfectly frank, in many months. "Shakespeare on the Sound" is doing A Midsummer Night's Dream and, it would seem, casting all roles. I figured it would be a popular call, and I figured right. Hence my early-morning line-waiting. I needed to get a slot of my choice, to make it work with . . . er . . . work. As the hour of nine steadily advances, they finally start signing people up, and I take 12:30. It's possibly the worst slot in terms of the receptivity of the casting director, just before the lunch break, but they don't start until 9:30 and I haven't run this one by my day job, so I can't come in late. More fool me. I take my slot and a brisk walk from 46th and Broadway to 30th and Park, arriving just in time to start the work day.

It's harried at work. It has been -- economy, lay-offs, etc. I'm making it worse. My temper is edged with a diamond crust of anxiety, but I try to be aware of it and not externalize irrationally. Instead, I channel it into things that need doing around the office that are also physical. Sitting at my desk and working is not at this point an option. I move boxes and clean areas and organize files, but I can only hold on to this for so long until something urgent and desk-related comes my way, so I hunker down. My attention is a bucking horse, as much in danger of slamming into a wall as of throwing its rider. I double- and triple-check assumptions as I work, but my work is not slowed, I'm running at such a pace. Most of my coworkers use this energy all the time. I do not know how they do it. I feel like I'm sprinting toward 12:00.

Then I'm out the door. It's my "lunch break," but that's not what has me rushing. It's a couple of avenue blocks to the N/R, and if the trains screw me I have the potential to arrive late for the call for my time slot. The trains cooperate, I walk in just as they're registering the 12:30 group. I hand over my registration card and headshot/resume, the second to do so, and so the second in line to go in. I've fifteen minutes to kill, and I do so by checking the audition notices posted on the giant bulletin wall and meandering through warm-up gestures. It's awkward to warm up at Equity. The place is a throng of people trying to look more casual than they feel, and you disrupt that when you sit on the floor and twist your spine. I try to loosen up in spite of it all, try to be warm and loose and receptive. As I do so, people from the "alternates" list are being lined up in amazing quantities. It seems this casting director is quite a firecracker; she's getting twice the people in each time slot as is expected. Before too long, the 12:30s are lined up outside the door. The first goes in, and I have 1-3 minutes to prepare.

The proctor has told us the casting director wants brief Shakespeare (check), our best piece (check), and no eye contact (this is irritating when it comes to direct-address dialogue, but standard procedure for auditions -- check). I abandon all pretense of being relaxed, and in that mystical, permissive space just outside the studio door I stretch, and twist, and breathe. It's too late to run over the lines again, but I do anyway, speedy, just for the words. I think of myself walking in and charming the pants off of a new person, easy, calm, likable. This is going to be fun, I tell myself. I get to revisit Romeo for a couple of minutes. This is going to be fun. The first auditionee opens the door and walks out, leaving it slightly ajar for me. I know not to engage her too directly. The switch from audition state back to real life is a halting one for most. I walk through and close the door behind me.

And almost immediately, I see that the hours of anticipation were not, in this case, worth it.

This poor casting director. She looked exhausted, disappointed, disengaged -- stick a fork in her, because she is done. I heave a little mental sigh whilst going straight for the first chair I lay eyes on (it has arms, I didn't anticipate that, what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is an audition studio doing with such a fancy chair) and smiling broadly, saying "Hi, I'm Jeff Wills." I get a deflated "Hi Jeff," Pause. "And what will you be doing today?" It sounds slightly accusatory. "A little Romeo," I reply. Getting no particular response, a hand her my own pause, and begin.

It's a tiny room, and I suddenly realize that though I'm speaking perfectly well for our proximity and the context, it won't do for showing her that I have a voice that can support Shakespeare. Plus, I've overcompensated in my not looking at her, so Juliet on her balcony is to the high upper right, and the "audience" is . . . on an adjacent balcony, I suppose? (Great seats; must have cost a fortune [maybe they know someone in the cast].) The casting director must feel positively underground, which is fine by me, because it's rather how she's made me feel so far. But I haven't given up hope. I'm playing with my choices in the monologue, adapting on the fly, making it far sweeter than ever it was in our raucous production. Too sweet? I up the lust ante on "...that I were a glove on that hand..." and check in with myself to make sure I'm taking my time, in spite of instinct informing me that I have not hooked my audience. I'm doing fine, but not making friends and influencing people, and, dang it, not living it, not getting carried away.

Forget it, I think, though not in those exact words, and as I round third base I rock back on my heels and crane up to the heavens, getting louder and stronger as I proclaim, "...for thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head, as is a winged messenger of heaven unto the white, up-turned, wondering eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him as he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and SAILS upon the bosom of the air!" I carry it through to the absolute end of the line (thanks, Simon Callow), that top it off with a little take to the balcony that says, I hope, "O . . . was that a little loud?"

"Thank you," I announce to my actual audience, who so far as I can tell hasn't looked up from the table the entire time. "Thank you," she replies. I can not tell if the emphasis is automatic, or if she genuinely appreciated my contribution to her day of endless verse, or if she was in fact thinking, one down three more and some alternates to go thank you merciful God. I move the chair back to where I found it, allowing for just the briefest second to gestate into conversation, or at least a question. Ultimately unhindered by such an obligation, I walk out, displacing the next sucker in. Just now it seems weird to me that I didn't add a "bye," but it didn't at the time. It just didn't seem welcome, somehow.

It's on with hoodie, with pea coat, and my various daily props back to my pants' pockets. I'm out the door and headed to the subway, no time now to walk back to work if I'm to get there before 1:00. I don't feel disappointed, of course. I feel only that familiar sense of relief I always have after surviving another open call. It wasn't a bad one to re-enter on.

The thing now, is to keep going.

11 March 2009

"Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

Or: Wabi-sabi.

From the Wikipedia article on Jujutsu:
"The Japanese have characterised states of mind that a warrior should be able to adopt in combat to facilitate victory. These include: an all-encompassing awareness, zanshin (literally 'remaining spirit'), in which the practitioner is ready for anything, at any time; the spontaneity of mushin (literally 'no mind') which allows immediate action without conscious thought; and a state of equanimity or imperturbability known as fudoshin (literally 'immovable mind')."

With regards to anshin and mushin, I've done some significant work in my life. Being ready for anything at any time is applicable to improvisation, stage combat, temping, not to mention simply trying to get acting jobs. Spontaneity, the release of conscious thought, is harder for me but a life in the theatre naturally keeps me in reasonable form. Fudoshin, if I understand it correctly, is one in which I have to date been sadly lacking. I'll try not to judge myself here -- "sadly," it may not be; but "lacking," certainly. For most of my life I've regarded such a quality to be ultimately negative, relating it to stubbornness or narrow-mindedness. As I embrace my adult life, however, I begin to see that it is not only a desirable quality in many cases, but a necessary one, in some.

Of course, the Japanese express the idea more beautifully than I could ever hope to:
"A spirit of unshakable calm and determination,
courage without recklessness,
rooted stability in both mental and physical realms.
Like a willow tree,
powerful roots deep in the ground
and a soft, yielding resistance against
the winds that blow through it."
So how do we cultivate this quality, this ability, this eventual instinct in our lives? That's one of the things I'm aiming to find out.

09 March 2009

Home Remedy


(Though perhaps it won't be such a long one, feels like it wants to be longish at the start.)

First off, thanks to all who have contributed to my last post (see 3/4/09). I meant the questions, and I hope others (even ones I don't know all that personally) will keep posting in the comments. Stories rule, and everyone's a storyteller to one degree or another. Tell me a story.

Memories often make for interesting stories. Sometimes I think stories are motivated in part by a desire for a common experience, for each person to hold his or her life up against others' and ask, "So, does this make sense? Am I alone in this, or is this normal?" I visited my hometown this weekend to compare some stories with old friends and new family. It was a very short visit, arriving late Friday night and returning to the city Sunday afternoon, and I didn't do all that much talking or telling. Wife Megan's family dynamic is still new to me, particularly when extended family are about, and the reason we were home was to celebrate my nephew-in-law's second birthday, so they were. The other major social event was visiting Friends Mark & Lori's house, where along with Friend Davey were assembled various other people I knew or didn't know. So I listened a lot, with which I'm comfortable.

I also did a lot of thinking. These visits to Northern Virginia are usually a bit difficult for me. They're a little natural melancholy, being where I lived for my entire childhood and where I and my family no longer exist. What is more difficult, however, is how circumstantially vulnerable I feel there. I have no space of my own, though of course the Heflins keep their house completely open to me. I have no car, which is how one gets anything done there. (I presently have no laptop, which could mitigate some of that frustration.) My friends always make time for me and Megan's family always seeks to provide, yet there is also always a personal, mounting sense of angst whilst I'm there. It's reminiscent of being a teenager, which is the quick-and-dirty explanation I've leaned on for a while now. I was a teenager when last I lived there, so I have a tendency to revert, so I try to resist it whenever I visit.

This time, however, I realized that the sense of angst was much more immediate than some throw-back to my youth -- and it always had been. I recognized what I needed. This was practically a follow-up to another realization I had the last time I visited, in that both occurred under unusual circumstances: I was watching a movie. (Apparently, these movies combined stories with mediums of expression that agreed with me.) Movies generally get a bad rap for accomplishing anything other than entertainment, and it's a pity, because for someone who's open to it a film can open our eyes in some of the same ways (and some unique ones) that theatre or visual art does. Along with my vows to see more live music and theatre, I'm always telling myself I should take advantage of all the indie film here in New York, too.

Over my Christmas holiday, while waiting to be picked up from the Heflins' by my dad and driven up to my parents' place in Maryland, I was watching Casino Royale (2006). It seemed like a good, entertaining film to be watching. I'd seen it a couple of times before, but many things about it still held a lot of interest for me -- amazingly nuanced performances by Daniel Craig and Eva Green, amazing fight choreography, and rich cinematography. It's a James Bond film; what insight could I possibly expect? Through a series of circumstances best left to memory, while watching this movie it ended up that I got stranded in Burke, in an empty house. It was upsetting, not just frustrating, as my usual angst was. As I found a ride to the DC Metro and traveled up to Maryland on my own, I listened to the theme from the movie. I've always liked it, but it was particularly gratifying to the emotions I was going through. I realized in that moment that what I wanted, what I was so frustrated by every time I visited, was independence. Not just incidental independence, but in my life in general. Here I have this relatively footloose lifestyle, yet it limits me in some ways.

So I've been pursuing that in one way or another since then, and on this particular visit to NoVa, kept in mind the source of my angst. It helped, but I was frustrated (again) to find that it wasn't sufficient. I was missing something. I chalked the feeling up to frustration over having insight with no means to change the situation, and to some extent it was. Then, Sunday morning (whilst exercising some independence by abstaining from a visit elsewhere), I sat down in front of the Heflins' "Fios" (ooooooooooo...) and looked for a movie to order up. I saw that Redbelt, a Mamet-written and -directed movie I had some interest in was available, and fired it up. There's a lot to appeal to me here, some of it rather similar to what's appealing about Casino Royale, and I was probably similarly relaxed about watching it, though certainly my intellect was more engaged with prepping for typical Mamet-ian intricacies. I only got through half the film before having to move on to something else, but in that half was a moment in Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance (and, it must be acknowledged, David Mamet's script) that struck a deep emotional response in me. His character is talking for the first time with a woman who rather violently disrupted his school and situation -- she's struggling to express something to him -- and he says, "Is there some way that I can help you?" There's no attitude to it. He says it very simply; an offer. It's like it's what he's there to do.

It stuck with me. The scene cuts to he and the woman in his dojo, where he teaches her a small lesson in self-defense, then offers her a sign-up form in case she wants to learn any more. The moment I just kept returning to, though, was that single line of dialogue. I spent most of the rest of that day in one way or another trying to understand what I felt about it. On the one hand, it summed up pretty nicely for me what it is about good teachers that I like and aspire to. Good teachers are there to help the students in whatever way the students may need. On the other hand, I saw in this moment something I have been wanting very badly for some time now, without realizing it. Recognizing that, alongside this newly inspired need to be independent, gave me a surprising sense of purpose. The trick now will be to follow through on it.

I need a teacher. So much of my life has been spent looking for one, in one way or another, consciously and subconsciously. Most of my interests to date have been centered around this dynamic, whether I cast myself as the teacher or the student. I want to teach, I want to lead, but I also want to keep learning and keep improving and not just in acting, or circus, or some other skill, but in life. So -- and I'm addressing you directly here, Universe -- I'm looking for my next teacher.

04 March 2009

Remember to Write . . .

Friend WHftTS has been writing. He/She/It is very good about doing it, and also good (though perhaps I should say "grood") about writing about when he/she/it doesn't do it. And thankfully, I have been invited into that rewarding little world of writing writers who appreciate the act of writing and writing about said act. We've made a small collaboration by writing a couple of short stories within the same world -- a world WHftTS created -- and exchanging thoughts and critiques on them. It rules.

Some of my RPG buddies wonder why I can't get thrilled about games that involve a lot of combat and strategy. I think it's because I always have some small voice at the back of my head that says, "I know this story, and it only has two possible endings." I love narrative, and I love storytelling, and I am really enjoying having someone with whom I can discuss the craft behind it all. It's still very mysterious to me, how words (not to rule out images, melodies, etc.) can be built together to create responses in us, and how the best of those creations can work over and over again, personally affecting each reader, or audience member, or writer. Storytelling, I think, is the overlap between my various appreciations for theatre, cinema, reading and writing. It often makes me wish I was a better storyteller, because while I sometimes do well with crafting such things, actually being the one to tell a story is not something at which I usually excel. An actor does some of this, but not alone, not directly. Storytellers, as such, are rather magical people to me.

Expatriate Younce and I had a summer in which we shared these "assignments" with one another. They could be anything at all, really, from scavenger hunt to essay writing. It was pretty awesome. (That being said, I hope and pray none of my completed assignments ever appear on these here internetz [Buddy Younce, I'm looking in your direction...].) It was a way of having new frameworks with which to work in doing something creative, or interpretive. This always appeals to me, whether I complete a given assignment or not, because it keeps creativity in the realm of a dialogue. This idea of dialogue, communication, extroversion, fuels me somehow as a creative person. That's part of why this here 'blog is the best journaling I've ever accomplished, why live theatre is the work to which I've given the most of my efforts. It's rewarding but, more importantly I think, it is shared.

In the spirit of that: Please think of one of your favorite stories. Now, think of the best delivery you ever received of said story, be it a personal telling, a movie, a book, etc. Now, imagine the best possible delivery of that story for you -- the medium, the person or people involved, the environment, the works. Seriously: Please write your responses in "reactions" for this entry. I'm really curious. It doesn't have to be an ultimate answer; it just has to be one of your favorites.
Ever thine,


02 March 2009

'Sno Doubt

We don't have "snow days" here in New York. They don't shut this city down for nothing (short of disaster and/or east-coast-consuming power failure). This morning they actually closed the NYC schools, yet we privileged adults are still at work. It is not so, in my home town of Fairfax, Virginia. They love to close there. You could argue that it's a car-culture thing, and it is, but it's also that they love to close there. They close on weather prediction, sometimes. Wife Megan sees this as a sensible policy, but I fluctuate in my opinion. I like that New York doesn't shut down for snow, that we keep on truckin'. I'd like it better still if my work day was a little more theatre-y, but there you have it.

Today, however, I shake my fist at New York's resilience in the face of the inclement. Durn you, NYC! Durn you right straight to heliotropic heck.

I caught myself a cold over the weekend, when Friends Mark and Lori were up for a short visit on their way to skiing. It's not a bad one, but I nursed the heliotrope from it yesterday (and by "nursed," I of course mean "sat on the couch eating whatever and watching the entire LoR trilogy on the TBSes") in the hopes that it would be banished today. It's better, but not banished, and the snowy commute seems an added burden, in spite of my tremendous snow boots. Would that it were banished. ("Yet, banished?!")

It seems to me that I have been sick numerous times in the past nine months. Every year, Actors' Equity offers free flu shots, and I didn't go this year, so I can't help but wonder whether things might've been different this time around had I opted in on that. Also, there is a noted tendency for we actors to come down with something after ending a long and/or strenuous production process, as I just have. It's like one's system says, "Oh, we're done bouncing around and shouting every night promptly at 8:00? Great. I'ma take a lil' breather now; see you in a week or so." You can add to that the circumstance wherein I astoundingly overestimated the temperature on Saturday (Friday was so warm!) and had my first purging acupuncture appointment in two-and-a-half months. There are, in short (too late), numerous reasons why I might be saddled with a cold right about now.

HOWEVER. However. When I get sick/injured with great frequency, I can't help but recall something a therapist once advised: If you find yourself getting hurt a lot, consider the possibility that it's your psyche trying to get you to pay attention. This therapist used as an example shaving cuts. This may sound a bit nutty to some, but think of a computer, if it seems too far-fetched. When I start having a problem loading a particular program, I always consider it a possibility that something else may be gummed up, and that this is merely symptomatic. Our brains are pretty complex little computers, even without considering emotion (ha ha), and I believe the same possibility exists for we humans, we all-too-humans. So I'm contemplating the possibility that something underlying or over-reaching may be going on for me here. At any rate, it can't hurt to ponder.

Certainly returning to el day jobo has been a stress factor for me, so my default explanation is that I'm unhappy with my work situation and the relative lack of acting therein. Ah, but I caught cold during R&J as well. Prior to that I got ill in the fall, toward the end of September. And in between, there have been various physical aggravations and minor injuries. If my theory is to be believed, then whatever's aggravating me has been doing so -- on and off -- for nearly six months now. Perhaps it's money, that old bugaboo. Certainly those stresses mount daily. If it's a problem with myself, it's feeling a bit unanchored, or uncertain, I think. (See?) I started a daily record of little details from my day at the new year, and it grows spottier and spottier. I haven't used it at all from the end of the R&J run. I'll give it a shot again.

The snow has given me pause to contemplate this as much as the ill health and virtually abandoned office, so there's a silver lining to all this white wash. Conclusion? None. Yet. But I'll mention one other thing -- I finally looked at upcoming NYC auditions today. Perhaps it is the work, somehow. Or perhaps it is frustration with myself for not getting out there more . . .