Friday, February 29, 2008

Good Morning, Good Morning

It's Leap Day, an extra day added to compensate for the fact that we still use an outdated method of recording time. I still think everything in this whole world should go metric, including the time. Break it down into 100 hour days - I think it would make the day go faster.

Think about it. Say you work a standard "9 to 5" job. You'd be getting up at about 25 in the morning, work about 50 hours in the day, and go to bed around 88. You're still doing the same thing, only it sounds like so much more! Perception is 9/10 reality (see, I used metrics there too!).

Anyway, speaking of leaping, I damn near did leap out of bed this morning. I'm laying there asleep when I hear this huge BOOM! Now, I guessed it was a thunderclap, although it seemed loud enough to be thunderapplause - but just it case it was a UPS jet crashing into my neighbor's home, I laid there a bit longer. I decided not to move until I heard more thunder or sirens - fortunately more thunder rolled in so I could roll out of bed.

Here's where I give props to the cats, Max and Princess. When we leave the bathroom window open (it swings left on a hinge), they like to sit on the still and listen to the sounds of the outside world. They did not leave that window when the thunder struck - that's some brave kitties!

Either that, or they were waiting for sirens.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Word

Last week, I learned a new theatrical term. Tonight, before our performance, we're doing an "Italian".

No, it's not inneundo (which is surprising, considering our director), and it doesn't mean they're buying us spaghetti. Appearently, an Italian is "a quick recitation of our lines so we can identify where we might be missing them".

Now I've been acting as a hobby off and on since the first grade, and I'd never heard the term used. None of the other actors seemed to know the term either. I've always just said "lines only", because that's crystal clear. So now I'm wondering whether our director, a veteran of Broadway and the L.A. scene, is just fucking with us.

Let's find out!

First stop, Most of the entries are the same, and as follows:

I·tal·ian (ĭ-tāl'yən) adj. Of or relating to Italy or its people, language, or culture. n.
A native or inhabitant of Italy.
A person of Italian descent.
The Romance language of the Italians and an official language of Switzerland.

Ok, I didn't know about the Switzerland part, so I've already learned something. But nothing about the theatrical term.

Next stop,, and a search for theatre term italian...

Found a university website that lists common terms, and the only ones under "I" are "impressionism", "in the round", "ingenue", and "intermission". Seems like that university isn't teaching "impressionable ingenues" the word either.

Hmm, italian term papers? Maybe I should try a different search - changing term to terminology...

Found a .gov website with more terms, but we've come up short again! The only "I" words on their list - "interlude" and "intermezzo". Well, it IS a .gov site - you didn't actually expect it to be helpful, did you?

I'm about ready to give up - all I'm finding are websites about operas...

A final search under theatre definitions. (a website glossary of glossaries - from the Department of Redundancies Department maybe?) links me up with several spots online to look. The closest I've come is a definition for Irish Acting - coined earlier this century to describe a lack of gestures but confident delivery of lines. That almost sounds rude...

So there you have it! No one on the World Wide Web has ever heard of the term either! Therefore I must conclude that our director is making it up. She's an actor too, so I'm not surprised - you can't trust actors.

And Sharon, if you're reading this, I'll see you tonight for the "lines only" rehearsal. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't Pass Me By

Doing my first professional acting gig, I really only feared a few things: whether or not I hold hold my own with seasoned pros, remembering my lines, and my first review in LEO (the Louisville Eccentric Observer, the local alternative newspaper). One part has been no problem - couldn't work with more gracious people. I've flubbed up a line or two, but nothing too noticeable (but I can definitely tighten it up).

Just one thing left, and it came out this morning:

The LEO Review

As one of my fellow actors pointed out, this is a really good review overall for Alley Theater and for the show itself - it will put butts in the seats. However, for me personally, it kinda sucks.

Without trying to be a diva (seriously, I'm not), there's only one mention of me, and it's lifted straight from the press release. This means one of two things. The reviewer is lazy and/or an amateur writer - trust me, when I worked at a newspaper and wrote reviews, I did exactly this, and I was both at the time.

Or I was not good on stage, and the reviewer is being kind. He listed three actors as being "good", and deviates from the press release three times in delivering praise. The line that really gets me is "if certain actors step it up", because I have absolutely no idea what that even means. He mentions "comic opportunities are missed," but doesn't elaborate on any particular spots. How can I improve if not given an example of what to improve?

On a message forum (about the IT profession of all things), there was discussion on how to piss off an actor - an one of the things mentioned was being ignored. And that's the damn truth. I'll freely admit to my vanity - can't be an actor without it!

Being a manager for over a decade now, I've learned a really simple formula to make someone successful in their field when you're their mentor - praise the hell out of everything they do right, and tell them everything they do wrong with direction on how to fix it. The reviewer did neither for me, so I've got no chance of improving using his words.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very happy for everyone involved with this show for the good review. I just found it lacking, and wished the reviewer had the huevos to tell me I sucked.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Carry That Weight

I was walking from one end of the office to the other today, and felt a bit lightheaded. Then I realized it wasn't me feeling lightheaded - I actually had more spring in my step, and I wasn't used to it.

I thought about it as I walked - I don't feel joyful or anything, just normal. So why was I so light on my feet?

And then it hit me - this is the first moment I actually NOTICED that I'm 16 lbs lighter. My feet and back don't hurt as much, because I'm not carrying the equivilent of a good-sized bowling ball on my person. I actually felt an inch or two taller.

I may get up and walk around a bit more - this shit's almost as good as inhaling O2...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 7

This week was the final rehearsals for the show, which meant I was running quickly from work to rehearsal, and little time to think about what to eat. So I decided to do the same thing every evening - a ham and swiss ciabatta submarino and a garden salad at Fazoli's. It was tasty, filling, fast and not something I would be able to eat in the car (I've come to really dislike eating out that doesn't involve sitting and relaxing).

I ate that same meal Monday thru Thursday. Friday I bought pizza for everyone at work (they busted their ass and deserved it), and I had two slices of ham and pineapple. I was happy that I didn't go back for more. I actually got out early enough that I could take RedFaery out to eat afterward to Steak & Shake. I got one of my normal meals there - pepperjack melt with a side of apple slices and grapes.

We went to the gym Saturday, and my pre-workout weigh-in showed that I hadn't lost anything. I got a little pissed, so I worked out harder than I normally do (took the eliptical up to 20 mph for a short sprint even). After showering, I weighed myself once more and found that I lost another pound. Take that, flab!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-6 Loss: 15 lbs.
Week 7 Loss: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 221 lbs.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Maxwell's Silver Hammer vs. With a Little Help from My Friends

Thursday was a shitty day. But I'm glad it was.

I'll back it up a bit and provide more background info...

I'm in a play at a new theatre in downtown Louisville. It's my first professional acting gig (not counting a haunted house I did three years ago), and my first high-profile show in the big city. Consequently, I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to do this right.

The big drawback in any show I do is when the final week of rehearsals are here, my personal life becomes non-existant. I'm merely a shadow to my wife - I come home when she's asleep, she leaves before I wake up. We barely get to talk right now. She's my sounding board when things are shitty, and I am hers. That's a major part of the "for better or for worse" section of the vows, you know...

Now, enter work. On a typical week, we have enough graphic artists to do a high volume of work when it comes in. However, we had an atypical week - several artists out sick on Tuesday, plus about 100 more ads to design than normal. Me, being a clever manager and turning a negative into a positive, invented a contest with nice prizes to encourage rapid turnaround of work on Wednesday. And like all my brilliant ideas, it worked - by the end of the day, we were caught up and I was a happy camper.

Jump to Thursday. Opening night, and I'm excited to get up in front of random strangers and pretend I'm a Tennessee redneck preparing for WW3 by digging a tunnel and shopping for radiation suits. I'm also thrilled that, for the first time in eight years of working at this place, I won't have to skip out on the high pressure Fridays to do a show - something I've always felt guilty about. Hakuna matata, right?

That's when the ice storm moves in. I've got graphic artists with worried voices looking outside and wondering if they're going to make it home alive. The mayor recommends people go home now to avoid sharing the road with the "frozen death from above" (I'm paraphrasing).

And I'm the asshole that won't send them home. You see, our work comes in from all over the country, and while they might sympathize with our plight, the bottom line is they need our ads back to make the sales - regardless of the frozen conditions around us. I try to help them understand that once the idiots are off the road, it will be perfectly safe to drive if they do so carefully. I don't think they bought it. Hell, I didn't buy it!

Some folks never made it in. Some had to go early to retreive their kids, and never came back. Some had long drives ahead of them, so I had to let them go early. But the majority were unhappy to be there, and as a result were slow workers. All that progress Wednesday, shot to hell.

I wouldn't be able to vent my frustration to RedFaery, since I was going straight to the play - but no worries. Once I got on stage and pour my soul into my role, I'd be washed clean - I've done it many times before.

Then reality sinks in. Ice storm, remember? The opening night's been cancelled because of the dangerous conditions, however it gives us a good opportunity to fix some nagging technical problems, so we are still needed at the theatre.

I got there and immediately go into seclusion until needed. Having no means of venting my spleen, the last thing I wanted to do right before opening is chomp a fellow actor's head off - so rather than risk hurting or offending my new friends that trust I'm a nice guy to work with, I avoided everyone like the plague.

So I raged alone for the better part of an hour, about how this always seems to happen when I do a play. Something at work inevitabily goes "SPROING!" (yes, it really sounds like that, in my head anyway) and I have to figure out how to fix it without compromising the show I'm in. I'm feeling guilty that after telling my staff they have to gut it out thru the ice storm, I head out to my prior obligation and feel like one of those asshole bosses everyone has at some point in their life that like to pretend the rules don't apply to him too. Even with trying to head it off with the contest (which costs my department money, and therefore impacts MY bonus), it looked like my extra work amounted to nothing when all was said and done.

Eventually I came out of my self-imposed exile - not happy, but not a bastard to work with either. A fair compromise. A few of my actors and one of the producers took note and quized me about what was going on, and I did my best to give them the Cliff's Notes version without a helping of drama to wash it down.

We were done in a decent amount of time, and I was able to vent a little to RedFaery before she needed to get to sleep - and as usual that helped. I went to sleep feeling ok, but not looking forward to work the next day.

Friday turned out ok - we weren't as far behind as I thought (the frustration of Thursday probably blinded me a lot), and everything clipped along better than normal. I realize that if we hadn't done the contest on Wednesday, it would have been every bit as bad as I expected - so it still made the impact I wanted. I felt vindicated!

But they best part came from randomly checking my e-mail throughout the day. It started with a couple of pics taken of me in costume, then a simple note of encouragement from our director, and finally some praise from our music director. They took a little time out of their days to send me notes simply because they knew I had a bad day and they thought I could use a few good words. It only made me happier to be a part of the show, and makes me want to act my ass off for them even more.

Everyone needs a shitty day once in awhile, I think, if for no other reason than to get picked up by your pals.

(Just Like) Starting Over

This is the first of many new blogs by me on a new blog site that (hopefully) won't error out and dump everything I just typed. Yeah, I'm looking at you, MySpace!

If you just randomly stumbled across this blog, then it's nice to meet you! Post a comment if you plan on reading often - I like to know that SOMEONE is looking. I'm sure all my info is on here somewhere - once I put it in, this is - but if you have any questions, drop me a line.

This will be a dumping ground for all kinds of brain droppings - my weekly report on my weight loss, any published articles (and unpublished, which are probably far more common), and all kinds of random shit.

I haven't written much lately, and I'm hoping the change of venue fixes that. I really burnt myself out on writing last November when I tried to write a NaNoWriMo novel - I finished the rough draft, but it wasn't long enough to win. I've put it aside to flesh it out better sometime soon. Anyone's welcome to read it in it's current state - again, just write me.

One last change from any of my prior blogs (if you've come here from those redirects, thanks for tagging along!): you will be able to identify the random shit more easily because it will be titled after a Beatle's song - like this post (John Lennon solo work - give it a listen!).

See you on the screen!