Sunday, June 06, 2010

Theater People

Unlike some ex-performers, I knew which show was going to be my last.  I didn't know it when I auditioned, but before we performed, I knew my theater days were over. 

Before I knew it, I couldn't have imagined it.  After all, I had been in many shows with adults of all ages, nearly all of which held day jobs and careers of their own.  I assumed it would always be a part of my life's spare time.

Though I expected to stay at my original "career" job (one that was several different employers ago) which had a schedule that would prevent me from auditioning, I still kept a hope in the back of my mind that I would one day go back to a lifestyle that would allow me to do theater.

Then of course I had several months of free time in New York, but alas, the competition at auditions would be formidable for even the most obscure productions.  I did take the opportunity to train vocally for a year with fantastic teacher, and easily the most accomplished vocalist that I have known in real life.  I improved, though perhaps not drastically.  That has yet to be tested.

I finally arrived at a time and place where I would have time to act, but found so little theater.  Of course my free time still is not copious, and due to stir craziness and an obsession with paying off debt, I wait tables in my free time from school-work and work-work.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'll even make it back as an old man.  The thought makes me sad.

I guess what I find so interesting about it is that I still find that "theater people" are MY people.  Like any socio-cultural group, having too many in one room can be a bit overwhelming, but for the most part, I find myself most easily relating to strangers who too are theater folk. 

Because very little of my day to day focus is on theater any more and because so very few of my closest friends are truly fans of the theater, I often forget that you are my people. 

One of the things I enjoyed the most when going to Marie's Crisis, a piano bar that plays only show tunes, and Musical Mondays where they screened clips of musical numbers on a projector all night while everyone sings along, was watching those in attendance.  It was like an inverted disco, except I was spinning slowly in middle while a room full of mirrors reflected back at me.

The craft itself has a certain nobility to it, either to entertain and uplift, or to show us the pain in the world as we might not otherwise experience it. 

I am certainly attracted by the talent.  Knowing a thing or two about singing myself only makes fantastic performances that much more thrilling.  I once sat in an auditorium caught off guard and in tears because I felt so privileged to be hearing what I was, live.  It was "Once Upon a Time" by Eden Espinosa from the Musical "Brooklyn" (the show itself is actually kinda terrible, but I couldn't hate it).

But what attracts me the most is how I feel as I perform.  Nailing that song, wearing the costume, doing the dance, getting the laugh.  I love it. 

So when I am around other theater people and have the opportunity to spin as that inverted disco ball, I can see myself more clearly. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#1 - Millie, with Liam Lime

My first podcast!  Okay, so it's a little rough but I will hopefully get better at this with practice.

Please click below and enjoy my first guest!

Millie, with Liam Lime

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I've recently been  toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian, and try it out for a year or two.  It's a long time commitment, so I'm not rushing into it but if I try it, I want to give it a significant amount of time to do whatever it can do so that I can really experience whatever it has to offer.

I put this here, rather than in the diet section because I'm almost positive that my reason for doing so has spiritual motivations rather than dietary. 

I do not have an ethical problem with eating meat, although I do find myself avoiding foods like veal and, I can never order a live lobster at a restaurant.  For some reason I feel that it's okay to eat animals that just already happen to be dead (realizing that my eating meat is creating a demand for meat) but something about signing the individual death warrant is too much for me.

All of that being said, I don't oppose the consumption of meat, and I'm not spray painting fur coats or anything.  I just find myself empathizing with those that do, but can't bring myself to get that worked up over it.  Writing this makes me feel a tiny bit of guilt though.


My real reason for doing so is just so see what it's like.  To put it in religious terms, I have faith that it's the kind of thing that COULD change my life, and I'm curious to find out if that's true.  If it happens to be something great for me, I don't want to be too close-minded to try it.

 Part of why I'm writing this is to avoid having to tell this story too many times.  Invariably when someone tells me that they are a vegetarian, I have to qualify it by asking "why."  I want to know if it's about health, or some "gross-out" factor.  I want to know if it's ethical, and if I should be sensitive to it when around them and not eat a lot of sliders.  I think most people see it as a personal choice for themselves, but c'mon, I think we all know there's at least a 20% chance he or she sees animals as equals and thinks I'm a murderer. 

Even going into it I would know that it was temporary, which is one of the only reasons why I think it could be possible.  I would compare it to the 2 year mission I served which was only enjoyably  endured by knowing it wasn't permanent. WAS enjoyable, and what was experienced during those years shaped much of my current life in one way or another. 

In the end, the benefit I hope to get from such an undertaking would be both fitness of body and the exercise of an indomitable will.  I expect to feel a taste of what it's like for a person who completes a marathon. 

Maybe I should find a partner to do this with so that I have some support.  Any takers?
In the end, I think that I hope it does not do those things.  I think I would like to be able to say at the end that I'm happily returning to meat, and I gave vegetarianism its due try.  BUT, if I find myself thinning out and feeling better about myself and my health, I shall be very pleased as well at which point I would consider making it permanent.

I want to find out if meat is the "bad girlfriend" that parents don't want to see their son dating.  A couple of months (or in my case - years) of separation just might give her the perspective she needs to see how bad he really is for her.

Please let meat be a good girlfriend.  Just typing this makes me want a hamburger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Respecting Others' Beliefs

*the following post is best enjoyed if read in a deep sarcastically droll voice*

We hear a lot of pleas about respecting the beliefs of others, don't we?  But we can't always figure out why we ought to respect a belief that we may find especially distasteful.  

I think respecting others' beliefs is really about respecting others. 

By this definition, beliefs, and the holding of them, falls within the same category as taste in food, art, and fashion.  If I look at a piece of art and absolutely hate it, but my friend beside me loves it, out of respect for him I won't make a mockery of the painting, and while I don't mind telling him, "I don't really care for it... at all.  In fact it makes me feel terrible when I look at it," I'm also not going to mention my hatred for it every time I see him or hear him talk about art.  And I'm certainly not going to spout off my dislike for it if ever I come upon him sharing his heartfelt transcendent experience with someone else, though I might mention to that same person (if he asks what I thought of the painting) that I did not care much for it at all, but perhaps he should see it for himself and make up his mind.  Perhaps he'll even like, and be glad of having found such art that he never knew existed.

Of course that's all well and good if the painting doesn't get very popular and end up plastered all over the walls of every establishment you enter.

Unfortunately some art, however horrific (you should be thinking of Twilight), is not only over-appreciated, but widely evangelized as well.  "Look, I'm glad YOU really enjoyed it, but I think it's absolute rubbish."  As you're right, you soon find yourself politely explaining to person after person that you think it's rubbish until you find yourself wishing to drive a taser into the neck of anyone who brings it up. 

If that weren't bad enough, fans of said art begin to gain a sort of false conviction when they see the swelling of their company, and soon their personal appreciation for "art" becomes confused with being right about art, and anyone who doesn't want sweaty Cullen love must be an absolute imbecile. 

I digress.

When art encroaches upon those who would rather not, it becomes not only less beautiful, but less tolerable, less valuable, and less enjoyable. 


The problem is everyone has a taste and it's not bloody likely that anyone is going to think that what they like is rubbish, so we can hardly fault them for spreading their love of it.  As long as I politely decline, and the art lover politely changes the subject to something we may have more in common, the world can be a lovely place.  Sure, perhaps someone might feel an above average urge to promote a piece of art (i.e. "I'm sorry, I don't care if you're not interested, you are watching at least ONE season of LOST with me") then they bloody better be someone who I love enough to at least try to appreciate something they care about.  After one season I can just as politely say, "Listen, I tried, but it's just not for me" (even though that probably wouldn't happen until season 5 of LOST, which is probably the religious parallel to half of the old testament, polygamy, or speaking in tongues; it's just too weird for a lot of people to accept, but others are willing to hang in there long enough to see if they're able to make sense of it by the end).

The problem with religion is that the people shoving it down your throat are as vigorous in refusing to have anything else shoved down their throat.  There's no tit for tat like there might be in my art scenario.  Today I read your book, tomorrow you read mine.  When I trade books with a friend I cannot wait to mine his for precious instances that I imagine mean something to him.  When swapping religions, we might only endure another's point of view just long enough be counted as due diligence before it's our turn to parade ours around again. 

Of course this entire post presumes that most people are open to the taste and opinion of anyone else, but I think we all know that most people can't even offer that one courtesy; not even to their friends. 

Fights about sports, movie taste, politics, and religion are all the same to me:  this overwhelming feeling of "I'm right, you're wrong, now go leap off a cliff onto a rusty spike."

In short, I think that we can respect others' beliefs if we respect others.  I give respect where I get respect, and have no need to take away anyone's art. As long as they don't take away mine, I don't really mind seeing theirs on display once in a while.  I know I can always go home and stare at my own paintings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Say Cheese!!

Contemplating the tradition of smiling in photographs.  I don't have time to do a load of laundry, but I have time for this.

It seems odd for us to look back at antique photographs and seeing the grim, unsmiling faces of our ancestors.  Of course, we've heard how they were required to sit still for much longer than we do, but the expressions are so drab, I have to assume that it never occurred to them TO smile.  'And why should it?  Capture what I look like, not me making some false mug!'

So when did the smiling start?  Was the first smiling photograph a fluke?  Someone's photo snapped while laughing at a joke.  Or did it start with people who were quite jovial in life, and a picture of them not-smiling would have made them look odd?

I believe that along with the technology for a quick photo, people were becoming accustomed to seeing themselves in photos, and realized that people look the best when they are smiling.

Are all people being photographed happy at the time?  No!  But they will pretend to be even for a photo.
No one pretends to be more sad than they are in a photo.  (I mean, not REALLY).  So It's kind of nice to realize that universally everyone has sort of agreed that everyone wants to smile, and remember the times when they are smiling.  No one is at a funeral saying, "hey, take a picture of how sad I am!"  (I've seen funeral pictures... and people smile even in those)

'When I look back at my life, I want to think I was having a great time ALL the time!'

Monday, January 11, 2010

Love is chemical

Pondering a parent's love for a child.  I don't have time to clip my toenails, but I have time for this apparently.

A phrase I often hear uttered by mothers is, "I never knew what love was until I had a baby" (best when spoken in a falsetto sing-song voice), but it's enough to arouse the curiosity of one yet-to-procreate.  I'm not a cynic, so I don't doubt those who say it.  I just recognize that it is something I've not felt.  I have most certainly felt an earnest love toward nieces and nephews, students, and even pets.  While I think that's a taste of that special kind of love, when you actually care about the well being of someone and want to see them succeed as much as yourself, I question its potency compared to loving one's own child.

Now I'm not saying the bond between parents and children is chemical.  As a future adoptive parent, I had better hope not.  But the reaction to this love is something we feel chemically. Again, I'm not a cynic, so I don't disregard anyone's claim to something on the spiritual level at play here, but I also know that our body is the instrument by which we feel.  Because the body only has so many chemical feelings it can produce, I have to assume that this feeling of love must be comparable to one that I've felt in at least dosage if not genre.

So I began with plain old Love, as it has at least the name in common, and I started to think about types of love and what has felt the strongest to me, (or made me act the most foolishly), because that's obviously the most powerful brand there must be, after the love for a child.

I did not conclude it to be Romantic Love.  I feel as though Puppy Love is more accurate.

It's not the same as romantic love and it has absolutely nothing to do with lust.  Though lust will often obscure it, it is something else entirely independent of attraction.

 I'm talking about that ga-ga, cloud-nine, waiting-for-the-phone-to-ring, writing-your-first-name-with-his-last-name (boys don't really do this), carving-your-initials-into-trees, and tearing-the-petals-one-by-one-from-defenseless-flowers (boys will sometimes do this), pining, sighing, grinning-like-an-idiot, and humming-a-lot; this love that critics and cynics are so quick to disparage as true love's evil doppelganger.  While I am often the first to condemn the foolish actions some take while in the "throes of this madness" (author unknown), only a fool would deny that the feeling is powerful.

So my theory?  Loving your children is like feeling that way ALL THE TIME!  It's going to be like love cocaine, I just know it.  Don't tell me if I'm wrong.  I want to be surprised.

Ugh, and please don't comment with how much you love your children, and reiterate what I've just written.  I get it.  You love your kids.  But you know, sometimes it's hard for the fat homely girl to hang out with all her married sisters.  ;)  Haha!  I'm totally kidding.  But seriously, don't.  Kidding! (is he?)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Sun, the Earth, the Stars.

Contemplating the sun today.  I don't have time to shave most of the time, but found time for this somehow.


The sun is so ferociously brilliant that its light permeates into most dwellings and shallow caves.  In fact extreme measures must be taken to shut out all sunlight as most blinds or curtains aren't successful in blocking it completely, and even if we are, we can still feel its warmth.

And thinking about this extreme presence of the sun, I'm reminded of the seasons.  The size and tilt of the earth is so precise that creature-life can be supported on nearly every surface.  The rotation is the exact speed it needs to be to create the length of day necessary to make the climate as it is, coupled with the revolution around the sun to make the seasons exactly as we experience them.  Any difference in this trifecta of planteary size, placement and rotational perfection and life would not be able to exist.

But it does exist.  And we humans exist. And when I think of how we exist, with all of the art, and culture, beauty, and love and war and passion that exist with it, I become convinced of something.

Now, while this scant evidence is enough to convince me, it may not be enough to convince another and I understand that.  I'm speaking only of my own experience and conviction and don't expect anyone else to feel this way just because I do.

When I think about the vastness of the charted universe, and the fact that life has never been found anywhere else, something else occurs to me that I could take  in one of two ways:  Either I could realize that our earth's perfect placement, rotation and revolution are pure chance, luck against astronomical (literally) odds, or I could decide that the odds are just too astronomical to believe that it all happened on its own.


I am less baffled by the idea of a god's existence than I am by the idea that this earth could be made without one.