Friday, December 7, 2007

Now, Where is that Secret Knot . . . ?

So, here's a funny story: I wrote this entry almost a week ago and felt CERTAIN I had posted it. I was sure of it. I was so SURE of it, in fact, that when a friend wrote me to ask if I was still trying to blog I pompously replied, "My dear friend, kindly point yourself to my latest posting … here … on my … blog page … Son of a bitch."

Gosh, do I have egg on my face. Right here. Egg. Um, okay so. Many things to cover: Having run the gambit of naming blogs after the six episodes of Star Wars I no longer find it necessary to keep with that particular device. Having said that, I'm out of ideas. The blogs I can now manage on a weekly or so basis, the names may not be so forthcoming. Without a singularity to get behind and rail against so vehemently as The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Show, I don't really have what one might colloquially call a theme or something silly like that. If my last entry was my "Return of the Jedi" (my opus, my Ninth Symphony, as it were), this blog is the Danny Devito in Twins; all the other stuff that didn't quite make the cut. And so. Once again, we delve into Blogging for the Attention Deficient or as I prefer to think about it: BulletTime Blogging!!! . . . (See, it's funny on levels; cause I like the Matrix a lot AND because I use … bullets … oh, nevermind).

Fleas Suck. Somehow, our house became infested with fleas and whilst they seemed to not favor me or my flesh so much; boy did they love my kitten and my roommates. To make things just a teensy-bit worse, the infestation peaked the week before The Show That's Too Horrible for Words to Describe . I was hoping to muscle it out until after the show was up and running and out of our hair and deal with the little monsters then; thus was not to be had, it seems. And I can't fault my roommates for insisting we have it taken care of; the things were eating them alive. I had treated The Kitten once already and was managing to comb her every morning to a successfully diminishing return of pests. The little fuckers hiding in the couch, however, were not so obligingly dying off. We as a house didn't have the time to spray and deal with the things ourselves, so we had an exterminator come in and treat the house. He was the exterminator contracted by the Grundy Foundation (whom owns most of the real estate in Bristol) which means he was probably connected with the mob and had managed to secure a monopoly of service dealing with insects and pests. He grumbled into our house, gave us a retardedly long list of things WE would have to do to deal with them (EVERYTHING has to be washed in extremely hot water; what couldn't' be washed was put outside in the fridgy cold to flash-freeze anything trying to live within), told us The Kitten (and Anna's turtle, Turts) would have to be out of the house for at least four hours and then sprayed some sort of hideous, useless, Cronenburgesque roach powder everywhere that not only completely disrupted our lives but, ultimately, didn't even work. $250 later and we were still spraying and vacuuming and washing and combing well into the following two weeks. opened.

Here is where living under someone else's roof, as it were, really blows the big balls. See, if it were me picking and choosing the exterminator, I would have insisted on an estimate (something Grundy and Bitchy McCan't-Kill-Fleas couldn't – or wouldn't – give us), and insisted on some sort of guarantee of riddance of fleas. Neither of these simple, yet important, items were available as everything that's done around here is done by third and fourth parties. "Don't worry. I know a guy who knows a guy." Oh never fear, though: That bill came right straight to my mailbox. Fuckers.

The Only Thing that Sucks More Than Fleas is Convincing Your Flea-Infested Kitten that a Flea Bath is a Good Idea. This, by the way, is NEVER a good idea. Ever. No matter your good intentions, the road to hell is paved with wet cat fur and your blood. Oh sure, you can prepare as absolute as you like: Pet her. Soothe her with kind words. Trim her claws. Sedate her heavily with elephant tranquilizers. But when that cat hits water, NOTHING can prepare you for the Steve Austin-like strength that suddenly swells from the twelve-pound Fury in your hands. Hell hath no fury like a wet cat.

After two weeks of a poison treatment (the kind you put just at the base of her neck), a flea collar and two weeks-worth of combing, Zelda still had fleas. These little fuckers were fast becoming the Dr Claw to our Inspector Gadget. A last ditch effort to eradicate the continued co-habitation with the Enemies of Freedom was made. Much more washing occurred. Much spraying of anything that couldn't be shoved into the washing machine with a substance I can only describe as Flea Napalm. And then came Zelda. It seemed my efforts to manually pick the little fuckers off of her were only keeping them at bay.

More drastic measures were needed: Immersion. To Stef and I, this seemed like our only option. To Zelda, it seemed the world were ending in a torrential downpour of horrible, terrible, wet, wet, wet creepiness from which escape became her sole ambition. Envision panic. Envision a wet Jake becoming a human tree at the top of which lay salvation from the "scary, scary stuff they're trying to put me in!" To say I had my hands full keeping her still enough to douse her, soap her up and then rinse her would be an understatement. To say I received no wounds for my troubles would be simple lying. It took all three of us to keep her in that sink long enough to finish.

But here's an oddity. After the initial shock and panic and clawing madness of escape faded and her fur dried enough to be combed out, Kitten came up to me not an hour later, mewed hopefully and then leapt up into my lap where she sat the better part of an hour, purring like I had just saved her life.

Ah, fatherhood. Okay, it wasn't the swell of pride at a marriage or a graduation; but for now, it'll do, pig. It'll do.

Stress Relief is Spelled B-A-N-G. Mike Russo took me shooting the other day. This being Bristol there is, of course, a shooting range. Though it's not quite the NRA cock-comparison party I expected, which is comforting I suppose. This was my first time actually handling a loaded weapon of any kind (insert sex joke . . . NOW!). I wasn't really nervous until the moment arrived to actually pick it up. I'd never really thought about it before until my hand reached out and the Panicky Hippy that lives somewhere in the back of my subconscious took over, shouting, "HOLY SHIT THAT'S A REAL FUCKING GUN WITH REAL FUCKIING BULLETS!!! DON'T TOUCH THAT FUCKING THING, MAN!!!!" I hesitated long enough, apparently, for Mike to sigh and mumble something about first-timers before he grabbed my hand and, smiling, gently placed it on the .22 revolver." As long as your finger's not on the trigger and you're not pointing the thing at a person, you'll be fine." You can tell Mike's spent his whole life as a teacher because he has the patience of Job on a bad day. He let me get my sea legs and then I went to town. I really only shot a few hand guns (the .22 Berretta is by far my favorite) and we spent, maybe, two hours there. I was surprised at how empty I felt afterwards. Not a vacuous empty but a fairly Zen kind of empty. I had just held in my hands what ninety percent of humanity generally regards as true power ("Give him one gun and he thinks he's Superman. Give him two and he's God!") and then, after I had ventured aggressions upon the offending slab of target paper, I put the thing down and walked away. THAT is power. I don't know why but I actually felt better about myself when I wasn't impressed with such a thing as Gun.

Oh I admit, I stood there at least once and whispered lines from every gun-totting film out there. Everything from, "What do you need? Besides a miracle?" to "This is my BOOM STICK!!!!" to "Are you talking to me?" I resisted the Dirty Harry lines until I had the .38 revolver in my hands. C'mon, don't judge me. The barrel was eight freakin` inches long and the thing was that grey smoky polished nickel that makes me think of pure unadulterated sleaze. It was cool and dirty all at the same time. I couldn't help it. That was cool. That kind of thing is in my blood.

I might go back again with Mike sometime. I have to admit that it was fun; but I don't think guns are really my thing. I've always felt better strapping on a pair of padded punching gloves and kicking the bejesus out of a heavy bag. Physically pushing my fists through something is so much more a visceral stress-reliever than triggering gun powder to propel a tiny piece of lead through paper. In my opinion, anyways.

Happiness – However – is a Warm, Pixilated Gun. See, the real issue with firing a real gun is that I suck with them. Every one of them. Recoil's a real bitch and after a while your arm starts to hurt like the dickens and you start to think to yourself, "Why would anyone want to keep DOING this?" The eventual pain aside, my accuracy sucked worse than Luke's turret shots at that TIE Fighter outside the First Death Star. Even the shotgun I couldn't do more than hit the broadside of a barn with. And barely that. Lucky for me, with a shotgun, that's all you really have to do. There's no subtlety or precision with the shotgun. There is authori-TAYE, however. I mean, DAMN.

But upon suddenly having the myth known to others as free time again, I find myself rediscovering old passions. I've started reading again. I've gone back to cooking for myself again and I'm even considering exploring other exploits of the kitchen (I'm fixing to make granola some weekend soon, so look out).

And I've rediscovered video games. Hurrah for video games. I don't care how old and adult I get; I, and my generation, will never tire of the sweet, sweet alternate realities offered by the likes of a Nintendo. I'll leave it at that, save this: There is little else in this world so sweet as leveling a .357 magnum at a zombie's head and blowing it the fuck away on the first try. Little else. And perhaps the Nazis, too. Because it's always okay to blow away the Nazis.


The Zen of Strike is Hitting Something with a Sledgehammer. Actually, I'm not sure there's any way I could elaborate further on this one. The show's closed, the stage is clean, the dumpster's full and my hands hurt like a son of a bitch. ". . . I didn't even have to use my AK. I gotta say it was a good day."

That's word. Good Night. And good luck. . . . Oh and Duffy? The count on this one was only 17. Sorry.

Episode VI: Return of the TD !!!

I believe I've stated how I've wanted to make Episode VI of this blog somewhat monumental. Return of the Jedi is, by far and wide, my favorite movie ever. I don't care about bad acting or cheesy lover confrontations on Ewok rope bridges ("Could you tell Luke? Is that who you could tell?!" "I . . . ! ! !"), the film appeals to my Knight in Shining Armor complex yet also inspires in me a kind of resigned heroic comfort; that no matter how far you fall, redemption is always attainable. All you have to do is see it, take it and then throw your master down a energy shaft. Simple, yet complex in its details. The hero shall always arrive to fight for what and for who he holds to be most dear: His friends, his family, his freedoms. And he shall do it with grace, dignity and with a green fucking lightsabre. Evil, in all of its many forms (be it that of a old and enrob-ed master of dark arts, a fat, gelatinous mob boss or a lilywhite pansy princess like Boba Fett), cannot withstand his onslaught, well-intentioned and mighty in its fervor.

And so I need, if only for myself, to make this entry something more than the other five and a half before it. It is by simple coincidence that it also happens to fall just after the opening of the Largest and Most Catastrophic of Productions Ever.

Yet as I sit down to finally write said entry, somehow I find myself unable to focus properly. Either there are too many thoughts floating around in my head, or not nearly enough to coherently form something akin to a sentence; much less many. I suspect it is a little bit of both. There are hundreds of half-formed thoughts floating around up there; most of which can be boiled down to either, "Please," or "Fuck you." Mamet would be proud.

I don't know where to begin, that's obvious. I truly don't. I made a conscious effort not to write this directly after the opening of Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge; mostly because it would have looked like:


Or something like that. And yet, as I sit here listening to Trent croon/yell/scream/beg/oddly harmonize with himself, it seems almost a lifetime away. Strange how something as innocent as vast amounts of sleep can help erase things like mental anguish and pain (okay, the drinking helped, too; I'm not as strong as I used to be). When I close my eyes and go back to those four hellacious weeks, those sensations and feelings come racing back like Ani shooting past Sebulba on the third and final approach to the finish line. Every time that happens a small part of my soul dies as purely reflex action. That scares me, but it's true. I don't think I was suicidal these past four weeks, but there were certainly times when I thought, "If that truck hit me, I could sleep."

Despite the fear the swells at thoughts like that, I can't help but feel I owe my friends and family who have all been asking, "Why haven't we seen or heard hide or hair of you, Jake?" an answer.

Forcefully, therefore my dearest readers, I soldier on.

I do feel that if lack of focus gets the better of me tonight, I'll be plagued with carrying the weight of this whole experience around with me forever. To begin the Purging then, let me first pose to you this: Something as catastrophic as Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge MUST have been planned by some malevolent and evil-hearted overlord of theatrical arts. It is surely impossible that so many negative factors could unite to so wholly and superbly destroy the wills of an entire production staff so perfectly. I do not wholly subscribe to theories such as Manifest Destiny or Intelligent Design or the like but the sheer weight that something so altogether colossally wrong like this production could come about by absolute coincidence staggers not only my imagination but my faith in Art and in my ability to combat the daemons Chaos and Anarchy.

I say the force that brought about such terror and pain upon us must be malevolent and evil purely on the assumption that even innocence has its limits. Surely, even the simplest of minds can eventually grasp upon a certain point that a precipice has been reached? Ye, can not even a child, as pure and as undefiled as an infant can be, not accidentally step upon the cat only so many times before realizing it is causing harm? No, it was the depraved and immoral mind that dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima, hence must it be the same wickedness that devised the circumstances upon which my second show at Bristol Riverside Theatre was built and produced.

To illustrate, allow me to outline, exactly, the timeline that is so wholly and completely opposed to Freedom: Somewhere in the ether it was decided and agreed upon by the Powers That Be that a show with something like sixteen actors (seven of which are kids) should also be the show that has no less than six moving wagons and set pieces (all of which are free-roaming on tri-swivel casters and can therefore go ANYWHERE, including off the front of the stage should they be pushed that far . . .) and that all of the non-eq actors should also be the run crew.

On top of that, it was also decided that this same show should have a week LESS time to rehearse, to build, to install, and to prep. Thanksgiving, apparently, holds a bitter rivalry with BRT not unlike the Joker V the Batman, Lex Luther V Superman or even regular V decaf. Constantly throughout its twenty-one year history, BRT and Thanksgiving have battled, if only in vain, to conquer one another. Alas, neither can be called the victor. Whilst those of us on the sidelines merely ask, "Why not merely schedule Opening a week AFTER Thanksgiving?" those here at BRT know that such simplicity cannot hope to overcome the dastardly wickedness of that holiday which celebrates turkey. Pure Evil it is and the only hope of victory is constant vigilance and a constant blood sacrifice of BRT staff.

But wait, there's more. Beyond even that, the design for this show was enormous. On such a scale that this theatre company simply wasn't in a place to produce in five weeks. Let's ignore for the moment that it was a hopelessly over-budget endeavor. Six moving wagons, four headers flying in & out, a portal that OPENS (what is it with hard scenery that needs to open and move around here? It's not like we couldn't rig a fucking act curtain for Cripes' sake . . .), and then ALL of it covered Christmas lights. Chasing. Christmas lights.

Throw in the fact that this design is four weeks past its deadline. Oh yeah! I said it! FOUR FUCKING WEEKS LATE. And incomplete, on top of being so unacceptably late. Greg Mitchell, . . . you fuck.

All of this could have been avoided had I brought it up at the concept meeting; ONLY THERE WASN'T ONE!!! Or the pre-build production meetings; ONLY THERE WEREN'T ANY!!! Or the budget meetings; ONLY THERE WEREN'T ANY OF THOSE EITHER!!! But that was okay. Most of our questions were answered once we saw the model . . . Oh wait, THERE WASN'T ONE!!! And the paint elevations solved a lot of mysteries NOPETHOSEWERELATEANDIMCOMPLETETOO!!!!!! . . . But I told myself it was cool. I could deal with it. Whew, was I off.

I suppose I cannot wholly blame the designer. If I was designing for a theatre that made absolutely no moves to curtail my inhibitions, why wouldn't I shoot the moon? The whole concept of pre-production seems alien to the good old-fashioned folk here in Bristol. A mistake I don't mean to duplicate again. As much as I detest meetings, some of them actually do serve a purpose and I would be all for muscling through two hours worth of boredom for the sake of hashing out how to build something of this scale on the budget I was almost actually handed by my PM. Apparently, everyone thought someone else was having those meetings. Who knew?

Look, I know I've made some mistakes on this show. I could have built some things stronger, some things cheaper, some things easier. I could have worked harder to have stronger daily plans and I could have kicked some more ass to stick to them. I know I didn't nearly come close to being without sin on this one; but damn. My master carpenter threatened to end my life with a turnbuckle because of this show and I'd like to think she and I normally get along.

Each and every one of us on here broke down into tears at least once because of this devil that is Cratchit. Few shows can claim such trophies. After two separate 36 hour days, I know I myself dropped to my knees center stage screaming, "KILL ME! DO IT!! I'M HERE!!!" on at least one occasion ("Get to the CHOPPAH!").

When the smoke finally clears and all is said and done; when the wounds have been bandaged and all the minor issues have been tallied and dismissed; really, it all came down to one problem: Enforce your fucking deadlines. There is simply no excuse for a designer handing in an incomplete design four weeks late. Simply none. Except that you let it happen. From this one mistake, did snowball every other heartache therein. Every. Single. One.

Susan Atkinson, the theatre's producing director, on numerous occasions pulled me aside during this whole fiasco and assured me that my experiences with these first two shows hasn't been BRT typical. . . . Bet me, Buckwheat. Forgive me, but the evidence proves otherwise.

BRT has three shows left in this season. Three shows left to prove to me that this place isn't the haven of Chaos which gorges itself on the souls and blood of its staff. They fail to prove that it's not, come the end of my contract, I'm out. I'm already fairly certain my scenic's irretrievable. I have doubts now about my master carpenter, too. Just when it seemed our working relationship was getting to a sweet spot, it all comes crashing down around me. Thanks, BRT. Next time just kick me in balls and push me in the river.

Despite all this, however, my will is not completely slain ("I'm not quite dead yet!"). In fact, if nothing else, what remains is only the strongest and most pure of my resolve. That which does not kill you makes you bitter and cynical. Or something. I've seen those who work beside me cry one too many fucking times to go through this again.

And I simply won't.

Reform here won't be easy, but neither has anything else up til now. I tried to do my job your way; well now it is my turn, asshole. Teaching some of the people here that, "Yes, you DO need to have a concept meeting or at the very fucking least a budget meeting," may very well be akin to teaching an old cripple dog to pogo stick across a tight rope; but given the alternative, I'm game for just about anything.

I came into this job trying to be polite and professional and courteous. All I've really gotten for my troubles was asked to build the impossible; without so much as an apology from my designer. If this is what being nice gets me and my crew, then the gloves are off. If I fail, at some point, to do my job the right way: Tell me; it's the only way I'll get better at it. If you're not pulling your own weight from hereon in, you better hear me now and believe me later that I will rain Truth down on you so hard you'll wish for the calm, soft kiss of hail. The gloves are off. Go ahead, push us. Give me ONE plate incomplete. Lemme see you try to hand over a digitally colored, pixilated piece of shyte paint elevation to Stef. I FUCKING DARE YOU. Try us again and we shall bring the Quickness.

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the [TD] when I lay my vengeance upon thee!"

If it means I'm called an asshole (to my backside or to my face), if it means some people won't like to work with me, hell – even if it means I'm ultimately fired: So be it.

Life is too short to take the kind of crap we were given on this show and seeing as those I trusted to protect us from it failed to do so, though neither did they themselves emerge completely whole, it just means the Weak need to step up and take the Earth instead of waiting for the inheritance to kick in. Form Blazing Sword, motherfuckers. You feel like slacking off around here? Great. Best bring your ottoman and a coffin; cause my painter's a feisty, mean little bitch when you piss her off and whatever filter kept Anna quiet and reserved before has long been obliterated by this place. The next time I won't be holding them back. And once they're done tenderizing you, it'll be my turn. Oh, we won't hurt you. Too bad. When we're done, I promise you'll never take for granted an over-worked, under-paid, PISSED OFF production staff again.

"We here don't take too kindly to those that don't take too kindly . . . "

That's word.

Good night. And good luck.

Episode V.V: Shadows of the Empire

This entry doesn't really count because it will be fairly short and because I want Episode VI: Return of the TD to be something a little more . . . monumental. Suffice to say, though, that I had to add a little something this week and though I can't promise to top the image of me racing around my Victorian house in my underwear ala Risky Business; I can add a little something to your day, I hope. For now, this little slice of the Bounty Hunter We Met at Ord Mandel will have to do.

This blog is tapped, so I must be brief. Load in started this week. Actors take stage in less than three days and tech starts nine days after that. Yes, if you're keeping track, that's in less than two weeks. What have I gotten finished? Not a thing. . . . "It's not my fault." . . . "No scenery?" "It's not my fault! . . . Told me they fixed it! . . . I trusted them!!!"

Responsibility aside, this is the second show in a row that I have worked here at BRT where my designer isn't pulling their own weight and it's frustrating me. Whereas Nels (I can only IMAGINE that is short for Nelson, but I honestly have no idea . . .) had busy – but relatively complete – plates from which I could muscle out drafts and thereby actually build a show, Greg Mitchell delivered some (but not all) designer plates almost a month (yeah, a month) late and what did finally arrive were incomplete; some to the extent that I couldn't even begin to build them. What this amounts to is that I have a little over a week until tech with little to nothing actually built, much less painted. And now everyone's looking at me and my crew and thinking (if not outright asking), "When can we expect that?"

Seriously? Folks, we have GOT to begin cutting loose the dead weight. Theatre as an art-form is fragile enough these days with having schmucks, losers and lazy sons-of-bitches filling in the blanks. Look, I'm not saying that we all have to live up to what I'm realizing is my very own gestalt work-ethic. What I'm saying is that it's high-fucking time we – as employees, as artists, as people, dammit – start taking some fucking responsibility for ourselves. You sign on to do something, anything, you fucking do it. Finish it. Even if it turns out to be more than you bargained for; finish what you start, you soulless rat-fuck-bastard.

That kind of irresponsibility is not only disrespectful, it's unprofessional. And a designer with a masters from NY-fucking-U (even one as weird and date-rape-creepy as you are) should fucking know better. You just should. And if you do, and you still do nothing; you're worse than all that, you're an asshole, too. People like you don't deserve life as an artist. If you don't appreciate it, you should have it taken away. I know half a dozen people who would LOVE to have a show of theirs produced at a semi-professional theatre company. And they could get plates to me on time in their sleep. It's not hard. At least, not for the pros.

Learn to shape up. You don't and we're gonna start cutting the cords on you worthless piles of theatrical deadwood. Even if I have to start culling the herd myself. I bought a four-pound sledge hammer today. Don't think for a SECOND I won't use it. Next time, come to the table prepared. Or don't come at all. "Man up. Or go home."

You got that?!?!?!

Episode V: The Empire’s Stripe’s Black

Funny-haha is me coming home tonight and realizing the house is empty. Now, I live with three other people. Co-workers, to be exact. Sometimes there is more depending on who's staying in the backroom (that's not a euphemism, there really is a backroom . . . ) or in the apartment also in the back of the house. Actually, you might call this place more of a hostel than a house. And even then, there's a lot of people here.

Anywho, Law of Averages dictates that with that many people living in one place at any given time you will always come home to SOMEONE already being there. So imagine my surprise when I waltz in the backdoor (no, I mean it – seriously – that's not a euphemism either) to an entirely empty house save my kitten. Once her angry yells expressing exactly how upset and generally displeased she was with being left alone yet AGAIN were sated (usually done by picking her up and snuggling just long enough to remind her she's angry at me), I realized there was only one thing I could do in an empty Victorian house the size of a small Greek city-state: Run around tearing my clothes off and sit upon things inappropriate to sit upon when one is naked. What with the weather turning colder, you might expect this to be a chilly experience but let me tell you that once you start building up a sweat, you really don't notice the breeze. Our new couch has a texture I can only describe as, "sensuous."

See, what's REALLY funny-haha is that I'm fairly certain my roommates read my blog. Right now, as you read this, they're silently trying to decide if I actually DID race around the house buck-ass nude singing, "Magic" by the Cars or not. Not satisfied with simple dismissal, at least one of them will wrestle with this idea (and likely cringe as it sprouts and takes seed in their minds – no pun intended) for much longer than they will ever feel comfortable doing. I can guarantee that right now at least one of them sitting on the same couch, ye likely in the same spot, as sat my unclothe-ed butt only hours before. Right now, she is likely (and quickly) contemplating whether or not it's inappropriate to throw her laptop clear across the living room, leap from that spot yelling, "Unclean! Unclean!!!" then tear into her room to shower, change clothes and then burn the sofa cover. True glee is knowing this - and knowing she is powerless to decipher the truth.

Alright, I won't say what I actually did but I will admit that Bob Seger was playing and I may or may not have actually been in my socks & underwear . . . No one but my kitten knows for sure; and I'm managing to buy her silence with saucers of lactose-free cat-milk. . . . What? Like you wouldn't? C'mon, the floors here are perfect.

I'm trying to keep this entry fairly BRT Comment-free. I do so partly because a person's experience is not solely limited to their experience at their job, even when they've moved to a new area specifically for afore-mentioned job. But mostly because, with my current mindset, the blog entry would be something like, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" and who wants to read that?

Details would bore you, trust me. No one's job is without trials. No one's lives are without hardships. If I spent every blog entry bitching about how this is difficult or working that long to make that silly thing was dumb, I'd have less friends reading my blog and I'd probably have less friends. Frankly, though it solves few problems, I'm tired of crying and moaning and bitching about my job this week (I know, it's only Monday). Yes, it's stressful. Yes, this show will suck. I'll deal with it. Still, not to withhold all details of the ongoing saga of Mrs. Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, allow me to tell you of my job these past two weeks by way of an Expressionist piece:


"When will our garden grow, Jake?"

"You want a garden NOW? It's autumn. Usually perennials are planted . . ."

"When will our garden grow, Jake?"

"Well, the soil's not right here to grow the kinds of flowers you're asking me to grow. Now, . . . "

"When will our garden grow, Jake?"

"See, I really don't have enough seeds to grow an entire garden. A flower bed, maybe; or some nice window treatments. . . ."

"When will our garden grow, Jake?"

"One watering can won't be enough . . . "

"When will our garden grow, Jake?"


"When will our garden grow, Jake?"



On a much brighter note, I HAVE A NIECE!!! I'm an uncle!!! Yes, October 4th my sister-in-law gave birth to Elizabeth Rose Rothermel. Izzy (as I will insist she be colloquially known) weighed 6lbs and 7ozs and looked like a water-logged sponge in most of her pictures. I'm sorry, but newborns are not cute. What we see on television are not newborns. At best they are a few weeks old. Even this past weekend when I went out to
Elizabethtown (my brother swears to me that wasn't on purpose, but I have my doubts) when she had successfully past the one week mark, she still looked a little too pink for my tastes. I thought of asking if she could be put back to cook a little longer but decided that would have been in bad taste.

Still, despite the wrinkle factor, she still managed to be the cutest damn thing I've ever seen. Let me say that while newborns themselves may not be collectively adorable in all their traits, their pinkies are. Izzy has the cutest little hands. It is not often I will become soft and sappy during my ramblings here, but when talking about my kitten or my new niece I will fully avail myself to the more sugary language.

My brother, not usually one to seem soft himself, looks completely at ease and natural being a father. I thought it would weird me out, but I found I was actually very comfortable with the idea. Like many things in his life, my brother has always managed a very Zen outlook. Maybe it was being home with his wife and newborn for a straight week that forced him to come to terms with fatherhood. Maybe he's spent the past nine months really psyching himself up for it all. Maybe it all just clicked. I don't know. But seeing him this past weekend holding his daughter like she was both the most normal thing in his day and simultaneously like she was the most precious commodity he'd ever hold in his life, it became clear to me that Fate chose the right Rothermel to hand a child to. I understand Izzy's martial arts classes start next week. Sam apologized to me for letting them start so late. Under the circumstances, I said I could understand how he could have let them slip this long. She'll just have to train all the much harder to make up for the lost time. He agreed.

Relax Stef, I didn't actually sit naked in your spot on the couch . . . Or did I?

Good night. And good luck.

Episode IV: The Milk Sours

It's been too long, hasn't it?

Updating my blog upon the brink of the weekend after my first Opening Night here in Bristol seems the most logical time to do so. It is, however, not the best of ideas as I'm not in the best of places right now. But as a wiser man than I once said, "What better place than Here? What better time than Now?" . . . I cannot, for the life of me, remember who actually said that but I am sure they were a wiser man than I.

Working to support the Arts. Seems so noble, doesn't it? We work hard. We work long. We work for monetary rewards drastically below that which we know ourselves to be worth. We do it all willingly; simply to feed some deep-seated need in ourselves to be a part of something bigger, more vibrant than ourselves. I could be working privately; in construction, in renovation, in a private cabinet or wood shop. I could. And I could be making more money than I'd know what to do with, too. But I've consciously made choices placing me here. In the Arts. In theatre. In Bristol. Sometimes the work I do feels like I'm trying to shove a square peg in a round hole. Sometimes it's easy ("Hey, we've cut the square pegs in Act 2. Just circular pegs will be used, thanks."), sometimes I need to pull out the sledge hammer, the sawz-all and a combination square then roll up my sleeves in the hopes nothing breaks and the end result is flush. . . . I'm losing you on this analogy, aren't I? I'll start again. Take the time you need to catch up.

Ready? With me again? Okay.

Nothing we do is without the potential to fail. . . . To work long hours for little pay to make something magical happen can be (and most often is) a great reward in and of itself. When it works. To do the same and utterly fail can often make me feel like throwing myself in the river tied to my table saw. It is convenient and probably no coincidence that such a river rests not a stone's throw from here. It's also convenient that my table saw, although worthless in its primary function, still manages to weigh a fucking ton.

I'll spare you details, mostly because I'm tired of thinking about them, but suffice it to say that the big reveal in the opening of my first show here, I Do I Do, will not be happening the way it was supposed to. That is to say, magically with a heavy dose of the "Ooo" factor followed by a sprinkling of the "Aaa"s.

And it's my fault. Yay me.

Now I could rant. I could rave. I could look for scapegoats and probably find quite a few worthy and defendable ones, at that. I could tell you of the concept of a show touring and the reality of a show being built and actually tourable becoming too complicated for its own good. I could tell you how the scope of my budget simply wouldn't allow us to pull off magic of this magnitude ("Jake will have that show built, we've got to give him more time!"). I could (and have, now that I think about it) talk of how the size and equipment of my scene shop are totally insufficient. I could talk of how a new production team who's never worked together before being assembled after a design is approved and put onto paper . . . I could talk of not having the right and rated hardware for the applications, . . .

I could talk of and detail all of these things and probably be pretty accurate about most of them. I could. But I'm not. Ultimately, isn't the captain of a ship responsible for the sinking or sailing of his ship? Alright, yes. I am being rather self-deprecating right now. So what? Suck it. My blog, my thoughts.

I could talk about how my crew bought and installed hardware we all knew wasn't sufficient to do the job but we did it anyways. We did it because I didn't stop them. Nor did I provide an acceptable alternative solution. I could talk of all of these things (and in my oh-so subtle way, I have!) but what good would that do? In the end, it was me who allowed massively insufficient hardware to be used on a set that ended up being heavier than any of us could predict. It was me who didn't do the math to figure out how heavy the fucker was going to be in the first place! Me who doesn't know enough about rigging horizontal pulley systems to open duel-hinging flats; and rather than look up the right way of doing it, I just let anybody with an idea take time and money and resources to try them. And when they fail, look around for the next person with an idea.

Every idea I've had on this show has, at some point or another, failed to work; the work, the time and the energy notwithstanding. And in every instance it didn't have to, given I had taken the time beforehand to figure it out. I had a chance to shine here. I had a chance to walk in the door, make magic this theatre company had never really done before and walk back out looking like some sort of tech god. I say had because that chance is gone. Now I'll spend the next seven months playing catch up whilst I try to convince my superiors that I can do this job in the first place without putting such dismal failures on their stage.

. . . Ah. Now that that's out of my system . . .

In truth, all's well that ends well, I suppose. The house that was supposed to act as a show curtain did in fact end up opening. Partly due to me, partly due to my production manager, my volunteer rigging genius, a master carpenter who still managed to crack jokes at two in the morning, a stage manager and two actors who were as patient as Job during tech weekend and a director who wouldn't take, "I don't know what else to do," as an answer. There was support in place here. Lots of it. And not all for me, but for what we were trying to do. There were compromises, there were victories and loses, there was midnight rigging sessions and temper-tantrums about alcohol. In the end, on Opening Night, the damned thing swung open and people even applauded, myself included. Looking back, I might even laugh at it all. Shake my head and say, "Yeah, we really pulled that one out of our asses." I might even look back rather fondly at a moment when Art was made truly as it is meant to be made: By any means necessary. And I truly hope I do. While I'm at it, I hope I can manage to shake these horrible clichés and the sheer mountain of schmultz I manage to put into this damn blog.

Maybe even, I will.

But the past week and a half has left a bad taste in my mouth. Like someone shot-gunned curdled-milk-dipped cigar ash in my mouth after they had eaten mounds of olives and bad cheese. Something vaguely like that. . . . A bad taste and I'm having trouble washing it out. I'd better do it quick, if I'm gonna at all because Cratchett starts now and I've no time to cry in my V/T. Frying Pan into the fire. No rest for the weary. Running away from five stormtroopers into a barrack or twelve (or thirty, depending on which version you're watching . . .). Call it whatever you like. "Man up!" as some would tell me. And I will, but not without whining a little about it first.

I've gotten the show up and running but I hate how I did it. I'm completely unsatisfied with the process. I put a lot of the blame of that on myself. There are those who live by mottos like, "Done is beautiful," but those people are not me. If it's worth doing once, it's worth doing right, dammit. ("Marcus Aurielius had a dream that was Bristol, Proximo! This is not it! This is not it!!!"). I was lucky on this one. I don't plan on counting on just my luck anymore ("In my experience, there's no such thing as luck.").

Dammit, I just want to do my job well.

That is all. Good night. And good luck.

Episode III: Revenge of the TD

There is entirely too much to post here. I was going to continue my attempts at getting current with all my ideas and writings and thoughts and all that and then post something close to weekly on my progress at ruling Bristol, PA with an iron (yet loving) fist but hey, guess what? I'm knee deep in Load In right now and all of the sudden I care less and less about posting on MySpace. To post as I had intended would take hour upon hour that I simply do not wish to use sitting front of my computer late at night. There's sleep to be had, people. Still. I feel I owe you, my lov-ed ones, at least a little SOMETHING. So then, here is the last three of my intended postings . . . In bullet form.

Lemme explain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up:

  • I Hate my Table Saw. Now, when I say "hate," know that it is not a word I use lightly. My mother always taught me that when you say you "hate" something it is with nothing left. No love, no remorse, no hope for the future. When you stoop to finally hating something, you wish its demise. To kill it. We need reserve the word "hate" for only those things which we truly wish the world now lacked. Rape. Genocide. The Department of Transportation. When we hate, we mean it. So: I hate my table saw. It is old. It is under-powered (single phase power on a 2 HP motor in a professional scene shop is akin to handing a man a knife before entering into a gun fight). It is rusty. It is dangerous (it has an On/Off TOGGLE SWITCH instead of a magnetic starter which means that whilst the blades spins you have to reach underneath the damned thing to find a tiny toggle switch very akin to trying to find the light switch in the pitch black before your toe finds the couch's corner – now imagine this particular couch can cut your foot off). Somewhere in the inner workings of this small but gnarled and angry beast there is a part loose. I know this because every time I switch the fucker on I hear it rattle. I have looked for this piece but it remains hidden underneath the twenty-odd years of saw dust caked on the inner carcass. I know the only day that I will discover this phantom piece is actually some integral part to the belt aperture is the day when it snaps and sends a shudder through the motor's drive shaft that sends the blade whirling up through my kidneys. I can see this happening almost every time I flip the on switch. Clear as day. I kid you not when I say it fills me with a little bit of mounting dread every time I do. I do NOT want to give this thing a nickname of the "Widow Maker." It is high time the damn thing were retired and buried dead in an unmarked grave at a crossroads somewhere but seeing as I lack the $1200-$2000 I'd need to buy a better one, I must wait. Like a cobra.
  • Half of my Shop is Used for Storage. If I had to guess I would estimate my shop's square footage at something around eight to twelve hundred square feet. Nothing too shabby. Very nice, in fact. The ceiling's low (lowest point are garGANtuan i-beams at about twelve feet high) but the floor space is actually quite lovely. Well, it WILL be soon enough. Dumpster Day is coming and the crap in that back corner had better rue the coming of Dumpster Day. Most of the stuff in there is platforming: 4x8s, 2x8s, 4x4s and the like. THEN there are the wacky ones: 2'6"x2'6", 3'x5', 4'6"x7'3" (I'm not making that last one up, I swear to you). Platforms that are rhombus-shaped and therefore conceivably useful in the future but big and bulky and heavy and taking up an ENTIRE CORNER OF MY SCENE SHOP!!! All in all, what with the platforms and the odd pieces of scenery and the crapTASTIC storage rack on the opposite wall (I . . . I can't even go into that . . . I'm sorry) I think I've lost roughly half of my workable space. This might be a slight exaggeration, then again it might be eerily accurate. Only Dumpster Day can tell for sure. My ire is partially due to the fact that I don't have enough room to build the show I'm supposed to be building and partially because I don't believe you can sleep where you shit. Pardon the my crassness but if I'm storing things no one wants to throw away, where am I supposed to put the stuff I've just built? BRT is entering its twenty-first season but in some degrees they are still cutely ensconced in the small theatre mindset of Pack Ratting. "Don't throw that away! It took So-And-So three days and six hundred dollars to build that! We might be able to use it again." . . . "It's a to-scale foam replica of the French Barricade. When the fuck are we going to use that again?" Money not spent on materials is money best spent somewhere else. I realize that. Hell, I support that. Still, there must come a time when you say, "Out with the old!" and cut some fucking cords. Stored scenery, even scenery stored well in climate-controlled, single-unit isolated storage cells, has a lifespan. Scenery stored next to all the saws, hammers, building materials and groggy carpenters is guaranteed to get smacked around and damaged and then it's useless on stage again and then all it's doing is taking up space. My space. And I want some of that back. Dumpster Day is planned to be this Friday. My Production Manager is supposed to order a twenty or so foot dumpster into which just about anything I see fit to throw away gets thrown away into (if you're reading this, Scott – get on that, huh?). Of course, I plan on keeping those things that are truly useful. Those that are not must fight for their survival ala Gladiator. And right now, I've got a lot of lions at the ready.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Sucks. Long story short. I lost my SS card long ago and never bothered to replace it because doing so was such a ridiculous pain in my ass. In order to change my driver's license from MD to PA I NEED my SS card, no exceptions. And my birth certificate. Only, the birth certificate I received at my ACTUAL BIRTH was issued by Harrisburg Hospital (yes, if you're keeping track that IS the capital of PA) and not by the STATE of Pennsylvania; rendering it useless for the purposes of proving to the State of Pennsylvania that I exist. I do have a bill, proving my residency but that apparently is all I'm allowed to do here: Pay bills. After twenty years I have returned to the state of my birth only to be told in no uncertain terms I do not exist. Thanks Pennsylvania. You and your PennDOT can lick my shav-ed balls.
  • My Master Carpenter is Crippled. This would have been funnier if I'd posted it two weeks ago when it actually happened. I have two, maybe four on a good day, people to my crew. Anna is my MC. Scott is my PM and fly-by-night carpenter. Steph is my Scenic and Props mistress and when she's not doing both of those time-sucking jobs she's supposedly a carp as well. And Mike is a retired school teacher/motorcycle enthusiast/ex-military-volunteer-specializing-in-firearms who is bored in his retirement and helps out at the shop whenever he can. Now that you know the cast, let's read their bios: Steph has her hands full with her duel responsibilities and whilst Mike is a godsend and can make or break a successful day, I can't count on him because he's volunteering his time and if he's got other stuff to do that is more important, he MUST do those things. Scott's always going to have Production Managerial responsibilities to tend to and while he certainly can be handed projects with little to worry about, the amount of time he's actually able to put into the shop is part time, at best. I bear none of these people ill will for the other responsibilities. We all have jobs to do and we must all do them. How's that for zen? But that leaves me and Anna. Anna, the miracle worker. Good carpenter. Good instincts. Good work ethic and a sense of humor that'll keep me giggling even through the wee hours of the night. BRT did well to hire her on. But I swear to the heavenly gods who reign from the skies above if at the end of the first week on contract that girl did not slip off a Dag-Burn step and sprain her fucking ankle. Off her feet for two solid weeks; doctor's orders. Now I know shit happens. It was an accident, of course. Something to do with collecting her Chinese take-out for lunch that day and getting lost in the heavenly aroma of her egg roll and down she goes (she tells the story much better than I). But come on. Throw me a bone here, Fates. On the plus side, because I can't give her any real physical labor to do, our tool room is in near pristine condition. Oi . . .
  • There is Vast Room for Improvement. I'm picking my battles. I know Rome can't be built in a day and I know that even if I bitch and moan and cry and fuss I won't get everything I want/need/must have in order to do my job right. The MIG wielder and the metal-working area? Will have to wait. New table saw? As much as I know we need a new one, I'm willing wait until the moment's right and we have the funds or it finally blessedly dies on us and I MAKE them give me the money or some one loses a finger (I'm kidding, Lord – oh, sweet perky baby Jesus, I am only kidding about that). Until then, I'm biding my time. We don't have a speed square? No glue? For serious? Those're battles I can win! I still like a lot of my coworkers and like I said, the right attitude can go light years past where a lot of money can go. I'm wary, but I'm optimistic. The place has a lot of idiosyncrasies that aren't so much problems that want fixing but quirks that need adjusting to. I have to keep reminding myself I'm still technically in a honeymoon period. Give it time, Jake my lad. Give it time. My shop does have a kick-ass stereo system and I got a sweet, sweet drafting machine through a literally overheard freak bar-room discussion that's made my drafting work a breeze by comparison (LOVE that thing!); I practically made love to that thing when I first got it. My office has a couch. Cripes, I have an office! With a phone! Things could be worse. Who knows? In six months, people might not even recognize the place. "Where'd the hole in the wall go? And where'd this fab new scene shop come from?" I can only hope. . . . And in the meantime, sabotage the Widow Maker.

Episode II: More Later is More Now

Written, again, last Thursday evening. I promise I'll start getting current. Be patient, dammit.

"Low tech is the best tech."

These words were first uttered to me by one my mentors, David Kriebs, during one of my last tech classes but in the day whilst attending Tawes Theatre at the U of MD. Words to live by as a technical director. Why spend time money and effort rigging the scenery to fly and move and dance when a stagehand can just as easily do the scenery moving and dancing and dipping? Why pneumatically rig a drop made of china silk to vanish "smoke-like" up into a six inch PVC pipe as an actor makes a pulling motion with his arms when the actor can just make that pulling motion whilst holding onto the damned china silk.

Why indeed.

Sometimes there are wonderful artistic reasons for complex scenery and special effects and when they support the art (ALWAYS support the art) they can work and they can be some of the most satisfying efforts put into a production. Those earth-shatteringly technophile moments aside, "Low tech is the best tech."

"Simplify, simplify" is another saying that strikingly comes to mind. This one uttered by someone perhaps not as all-knowing as David Kriebs but probably just as cranky. Thoreau, I think.

Still, despite the wisdom that abounds in those words, there does come a point where simplifying becomes closer to criminal and "low tech" becomes almost "no tech." We must ask ourselves at what moment does the work we do cease to be "The show must go on!" and become, "This is stupid, I'm going home,"??

I ask these supposed hypothetical questions to preface the remainder of this week's blog entry in order to properly prepare your mind for what lay ahead.

I hate my table saw.

Let me truly begin by stating some positives. I actually like the great majority of those I am working with up here in sunny, shiny scintillating Bristol, PA (those of you close to north of mason Dixon line will note that for the past four days it has been nothing but rainy and cold here; despite this, I refuse to take the weather as any kind of sign or hint of things to come – the Saturday I arrived here there were fireworks; these fireworks had nothing to do with me, per se, but neither does the rain, really – unless you count that I have to walk to work in it . . .).

The vast majority of BRT's staff (such as it may be called for lack of a better term to describe the mish-mash of fulltimers, part-timers, contract employees, interns and other volunteers) have the right attitude about gorilla theatre if somewhat lacking in other realms relating to theatre as any kind of business. I fully support this outlook. We do Art. That's Art with a capital A and some of it's schmaltzy and some of it's riveting and some of it will plain flat-out suck shave-ed balls. But it's Art and Art is only accomplished through a communal effort. Insert sappy cliché` here (ones about chains being only as strong as their weakest links and the theatre that mops the floors together profit-share together may be best fitting).

BRT is a small enough theatre company (in terms of size, not span; I am heading their twenty-first season, after all) that they have still managed to not lose sight of their larger goal: Theatre for Art's sake. That may sound somewhat sappy but it is truly one of central reasons I accepted the position and moved all the fuck way up here; theatre for money's sake was satisfying more for the bank account and the other schlumps on the same ladder rung as me than for a feeling that I created or helped create a piece of something that made a difference in someone's life.

I don't know that I'll do that here. Still, the idea feels prevalent in people's minds here and that ideal and outlook on what you do on a daily basis does impact those around you. At the end of the day that can sometimes make all the difference in the world. Especially if that day constituted swimming through endless odd-shaped "stock" platforms covered in dust three inches thick in a room supposedly used to build scenery. I mean, who keeps a 2'6"x3'8" platform and believes it to be a good idea? I mean, really.

So: People? People, check. People go a long way in making a job worth while. Just think of that asshole down the hall from you who blares his John Tesh at volumes usually reserved for aircraft landings and you'll know what I mean.

The town? Bristol's peaceful, I'll give it that. That peace knows only a thin silk veil protecting it from being just another Anywhere White Trash-ville, USA but the trees are actually quite lovely. I live on Radcliffe street which any Google Maps will tell you is right on the Delaware River. Yeah, the same river that blessedly keeps Pennsylvania and New Jersey from ever actually touching. And I don't mean "on the Delaware River" like saying, "I live near the White House," means living in Petsworth (that's a DC joke, some may not get it; I can't help that, look at Google Maps again and it may make more sense though I usually find a joke that requires that much effort is rarely all that funny oh nevermind . . .); I mean ON THE FUCKING DELAWARE RIVER. I walk outside my front door in the morning to walk the six blocks to work and there's the fucking river. I must admit, it's quite a view. Pretty, even. I can't help but wonder what zen-related peace I may discover staring at the ever-moving body of water. I hope it's more than, "damn the river stinks today," cause that would suck.

Bristol, Pennsylvania can be very quiet. Quaint. Quasi-peaceful, even (that last one's cheating I know but I just wanted the alliteration). At the same time, it suffers as any small town will suffer when constantly compared in the mind of a city boy to the city he just left behind. Quiet, it seems, has its price. There's not much to do. Now, that opinion suffers (as I suffer) from the fact that I've only been here a little under a week. A week where I have been without a car. Now, in Silver Spring no car was no problem. In Bristol, as in many a place in my homestate, this is very much a problem. The car situation is being sorted out but not being much help by the DOT, which sucks. More on that later.

The job? Ah, now the heart of it. Holy shyte, a page and a half. More later, I promise.

Episode I: A New Hope

One of my friends and now ex-co-workers suggested a start a blog here on good `ol MySpace to keep those of you who give a shyte in my loop whilst I am up here in Bristol, PA. Once the laughter died down and I realized she was serious, I actually gave it some thought. In the end, I figured, "Ah, what the hell." Thus, this blog was born.

(I began writing this entry the Sunday evening I arrived and only gained internet access to actually post the fucker the other night. Some of the opinions written here are, miraculously, slightly dated as of August 28th. Still, I will finish this writing in the vein it twas begun and move on to my current thoughts soon enough.)

I have hopes that I'll be able to make this a weekly posting. I've been known to try these types of things before and fail dismally at keeping them current. Perhaps a fervent wish to keep my friends back in the DC area informed on my rather uneventful life will motivate me to keep up. Then again, mayhap I'll just finish that bottle of wine instead and spend the next three evenings telling them all over the phone about it instead. Only time will tell. I have long had a love/hate relationship with MySpace. I appreciate the ability to finally contact Robin and Mandy from high school but the seemingly unsquashable desire to continuously find appropriate music to accompany my growing assortment of inane photos of myself doing even more inane, stupid shyte weighs heavily upon me. I liken it to my love and hate or Starbucks. I love Starbucks coffee; with a passion only surpassed by my love of Star Wars (note the similarity in shared letters) and Romeo for Rosalind. At the same time, I feel I should dislike the Starbucks corporation. Mayhap it is the hippie in me that feels the need to hate any company who suddenly comes into any kind of power. Perhaps it is the continuous drain on my wallet that affects me so (I do still somehow hold to this baseless fantasy that someday soon the Starbucks coffee bean will become public domain and I can walk into any Joe Schmoe joe shop and get an extra venti double-shot RedEye for a buck and laugh all the way to the bank). Yet, I still happily buy and drink coffee from the Green Menace. Such is my hypocrisy. I have no excuse besides that I am weak.

Still, MySpace hasn't been all that bad. I can no more blame MySpace for its members' content than I can blame my country for allowing its morons to continuously populate it. Hmm, . . . Or can I?

Right, but I was talking about Bristol. More specifically my move to it. But first, some stream of consciousness on the current MySpace blog page layout:

Hmmm, interesting. I am, indeed, listening to music. How did you know? Is it merely the first option on a long list of activities Tom believes me to be capable of? Or is it something much more insidious? If you must know, Tom, I'm listening to the soundtrack from It's All Gone Pete Tong, a decent movie in-and-of itself but also a wonder in the mixings of trance by the likes of Pete Tong, the Shapeshifters, Orbital, Graham Massey and ye even the Beach Boys. Makes for excellent writing music, if you must know. But why must you know, Tom? Hmm? Answer me!

I am also curious as to the seemingly endless yet still somehow limited list of Current Moods. Whilst I am, apparently, able to list my mood as thirsty I am unable to tell those interested that I am feeling jaunty this particular evening. Now, I'm somewhat old-fashioned (some would simply call me "old" but we're not listening to them), but if I'm thirsty I can simply stand up, stretch my legs and fetch myself a beverage of choice. Am I not an adult? If I'm old and able enough to pick through webpage after webpage to set a Current Mood to thirsty, can I simply not attend to this need myself? Does the whole freaking world need know of it? Why I would waste the time to tell all of MySpace that I am thirsty (as if I expected someone upon the world-wide server of folk here to message me a drink?) when I would much rather shout from the ramparts that I am without doubt feeling somewhat saucy this even? And if I'm truly feeling apathetic, why would I take the time to let people know this? Wouldn't I just say, "Fuck it" and leave well enough alone? This should be addressed as soon as possible, I feel. Get on that, Tom.

And no, the addition of Other afterwards does not help your situation. I long to see what your animation techs would make of an emoticon dedicated to saucy and until I do, I will not allow weak substitutes to stand in for how I truly feel. So there.

Oh right. Bristol.

PS. Your blog categories are dumb. I'm sorry. But they are. Really? I can post a blog in the category of Blogging? Fascinating. . . .

Ahem. On August 20th, I left my second hometown of Silver Spring, MD and moved up to Bristol, PA (a suburb's suburb of Philadelphia) to become Bristol Riverside Theatre's newest technical director. To say that this was a scary event in my life is akin to saying that the first moonwalk made for some interesting family scrap-booking. After I had moved to the DC area with my mom and my younger brother circa 1988, SS, MD became my second and real home. I finished grade school and the rest of public education there. College was attended a stone's throw away at U of MD in College Park. My career was (miraculously) maintained throughout in the area's theatre scenes as both actor and a scenic carpenter (I'll let you all guess as to which I did more often). Twenty odd years later I find myself thirty and single at a well-paying but trackless job right back at the University of Maryland in a state-run practically state-of-the-art performing arts center, living smack-dab in the middle of a bustling and gentrifying downtown Silver Spring with two of my oldest friends, and I couldn't feel more lost and confused and angry if I concentrated really hard whilst looking in the mirror.

I needed to get out. I didn't know this at the time, of course. Upon applying for and then negotiating my contract for BRT (as we're colloquially known) I was scared shyteless. =""> So much so that I wasn't sleeping and was constantly (for at least a week or so) feeling as though the previous meal would make a Great Escape-esque get away from the confines of my stomach. Luckily, I've some friends who look after me more than I deserve (or ask them to, frankly) and once they talked me down from the ledge, I realized that Maryland – much my home that it was – was not treating me as well as I would hope. Once I was content that my contract with BRT wasn't a sham (reads: "The Technical Director is not responsible for Facility Maintenance."), I took the job, said my goodbyes, packed my kitten in a box and drove up to bright Bristol, PA.

This town is boring as hell. More later.