Archive | July, 2012

Have Gigalos, Will Travel

31 Jul

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The Bunny Ranch is in negotiations for a three-month road show on the other side of the State…about 300 miles away.

…Not that road shows are a new deal for us…our “talent” has played tons of places all up and down the I-5 corridor, Alaska and Canada…but this deal is a unique turn.  This one will suck two of our senior (and best performing Bunnies) away for better part of three months to a new remote location requiring far more resources and head-smarts than Boss has a his command to instigate it all.  Warehouses and equipment are needing to be rented, container loads redirected, docking fees paid, and someone is gonna have to man the temporary House of Ill Repute.  It won’t be me…cuz I already have ten or eleven jobs, here.  Besides which, I start rehearsals again soon…and that takes me off the books for all after-hour hanky-panky, starting mid-August.

…What’s fun about this venture is…well…nothing, actually. It’s doomed before it has even begun. But it is interesting to listen to Boss finagling goods and services in order to attempt it.  Mostly because of the fact that he is actually the cheapest human being on the planet, and if he is gonna do, buy or achieve a thing…it will be severely handicapped from the get-go because a deal must be made to achieve it.  

Real life instances of his famous technique have included:

* One lopsided writing desk that no amount of screwing, squaring and hitching could fix.  It is now our coffee pot stand.  And because of the extreme angle off-center…every time we brew a pot up, it leaks down one side and now we have brown stains all over the carpet.

* A laptop without working screen.  It was cheap, and so was purchased as an emergency replacement computer for me when my last one he “got a great deal on,” tanked. That was two years ago and I’m still using it today. It is nestled up at the base of my desk in the back, acting as my “tower.”  Boss then grabbed a screen from Goodwill for $10 (I know, because the price tag is still on the back) and jimmied it up with extra hooks and bailing wire. (Not really, but he might as well have.)  I don’t know why, but it works and as long as it does: Frankencomputer is what I get.  And I’m grateful.  Cuz the last five versions were ten times slower and passed out from heat exhaustion on a continual basis.

* A perfectly good forklift, that only drove in reverse.  We didn’t know why it wouldn’t go forward, but for quite some time it managed to work out for us, due to the fact it was all we had.  Then it died.  It is still waiting on the dock for it’s wake and burial.  But Boss won’t get rid of it because he’s sure he can use it later to swap for something else…like the kid with a pocketful of broken crap he’s sure will make him an accidental barter-system zillionaire one day.

* The Deep Fryer Debacle.  I think he musta found a bulk deal this one time on deep fryers, cuz he had none one day and I came into the office the next and there were three in the lobby.  He tried to give me one at least twelve times, but unless one is planning to start up a business in fair-foods there was little one could do with them. They were huge bulks, that housed at least five gallons of grease a piece.  He musta sold ’em at some point, cuz one day they just weren’t there anymore.  A sofa was.  But that was this whole other story.

* The file cabinet room.  I walked into this deal, and never really knew what went down with it.  All I know is that there was this room in the other Warehouse before we moved, entirely taken up with file cabinets.  Not a single one of them worked fully…hence the need for an entire room full just to hold the required records of the past three years.  Each one had either one or more drawers that would not open, due to crunching, rust, totally missing drawers or a lock that wouldn’t break.  Some would come off their sliders, so I learned quickly NOT to use them for further archiving…and some would only open part-way allowing about five folders per drawer.   I’ve managed (through bitchy insistence) to get at least three of said cabinets into full-working order, and these are the ones now in service. They ain’t pretty…but I don’t have to battle them like a gladiator anymore just to pull a file out.

* Any number of headsets, cordless phones, printers, faxes and like accoutrements.  When you get things for free because all the “good juice” has already been used out of ’em, chances are…said things are rarely gonna work for any capable amount of time.  We are constantly going through a rash of new gagets and gizmos he has acquired for free (or nearly) that he is super excited about, then bummed two days later when it rightfully dies…waxing poetic about how, “nothing is made to last anymore!” Such items usually include (but are not limited to) office or personal-use electronics, adapters and plug-ins.  Also (from time to time) vehicles.

* Our office TV.  It’s one of those giant floor model flat-screens from about a decade ago?  He saw it at the Salvation Army and thought it would be super awesome in our lobby for informercial-like YouTube movies on our product.  Problem is: we don’t get live customers in real-life like we do in his head.  Also, one of the color tubes is blown or something so that our entire product line looks like it is bathed in blood.  For about a month I had to listen to the same fifteen minutes of musak on repeat across eight hours, day in and day out, as the infomercial he made radiated bloody terror playing non-stop, to no one at all.  Finally I “accidentally” forgot to turn it on one day and he (being a whole office once more removed) had no idea.  Then when I was cleaning about a week later, I noticed he’d pinched the EBay DVD player…prob’ly for his kids or another gig.  We’ve had a giant, dormant dinosaur hanging out silently in the lobby, ever since.

…As you can see, going into this new “Project” of acquiring and stocking a temporary warehouse with stuffs that will prob’ly never be used again after this, yet NEED to last at least the duration of the contract, is just a nightmare of Boss-dome waiting to happen. Nothing good can come of this.  Not the type of building he will choose, not the location it will be in…not the equipment he will find to “work” it, nor the fact it is 300 miles away from us so when shit hits the fan (cuz, it will)…he will be far too removed from it to repair it with his world-class McGyver stylings of plastic paperclips, ducktape and WD-40.

The End-Days are nigh, people.  And the second-coming might inadvertently be the Boss.  I’m just putting it out there as a warning.  I might be wrong…but if a sudden set of disastrous “accidents” occur…like buildings going up in flames with no one around to put them out, because the “extension cord” connecting the do-hickey for the blah-de-blah was actually 99 cents of  stripped, live conducting wire…used mid a lightening storm: you are prepared.

So be it.

~D

Damn Apps & Mosquitos

30 Jul

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My Olympic App has been revised and refreshed three times and it still isn’t working. 

…Since NBC is the only registered network that is allowed to show recaps and footage stateside, (and I don’t have cable), this is really starting to piss me off. 

YouTube postings are all ripped off the web almost as soon as they are put up there.  Only a few have managed to survive, and most of those are Euro country postings recorded with a potato and pixelated all to hell.  I think they are only left up for sheer amusement purposes.  And I think that is sick and wrong.

…All I wanna do is cheer on my country, people!  Things like the Olympics should be free reign to see anywhere at any time, by anyone who wants to…isn’t that kind of the freakin point?!  “Go team world” and all of that?!  Instead it’s been regulated, edited and sold on product lines like the freakin’ Superbowl.  And to top it off, even when you go the “regulated” route, you still can’t watch it, cuz the damn tech doesn’t work!

Way to go geniuses!

…I’d strike all you bastards and your sponsor products if I could!  Only, Coke is delicious! And so are McDonald french fries! But don’t think I haven’t considered it!

To top off these irritations,  a mosquito got caught in my pants the other day and bit me five times on one side.  I just hope the little asshole popped from the binging raid.  I’ve been miserable ever since it happened.

…You can’t scratch through jeans, and lathering up with anti-itch gell isn’t helping, it just makes you walk like you’ve shat a load in your pants. It’s really everything I can do just to make it to a bathroom every ten or fifteen minutes to scratch the hell out of them until they grow to pink welts the size of silver dollars and get hot and start hurting.  Then I cuss at ’em a bunch and lather more anti-itch gell on ’em.  Not scratching is not an option…not when there is that much poison concentrated in one square foot body of area…therefor my leg by day three, looks like it’s contracted the mumps and has more toxins in it than Joan River’s face.

Plus, it’s Monday.  And overcast.  Again.  And I started my show diet.

…Color me surprised that every customer I’ve contacted for the Bunny Ranch bookings today, has been totally incompetent on understanding procedure and prep…sucking time from me like that effing mosquito. Every call has been a twenty-minute frustration…and no I don’t even know how the math works out cuz that would make today something like 320 hours long…which it FEELS like…but they tell me it couldn’t possibly have been.

…Add all these things together and I’m just a regular Mary Sunshine.  You only wish you were around me all day. 

…But it’s almost over now.  I’ll be able to go home, and change back into boxers and scratch my leg until it falls off, if I want.  And I can make my spinach salad and Gollum juice of disgustingness and NOT watch Olympic updates that won’t actually update…and ignore all the stuff that needs doing like sweeping and laundry and all of that.

It’s just been that kind of day.

Fuck it.

~D

Tunnel Tranny

26 Jul

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First of all, this blog is in no way a personal judgement call on those persons who happen to genuinely enjoy decking out in the opposite gender’s accoutrements…for whatever means of pleasure it may provide them.  This is, however, about the appropriateness of time, location and circumstance for those who do it just for money, at my place of work.

…Which may be a little confusing seeing as I have often referred to this place as a public Brothel.  But it isn’t “really.”  The fact that we have our own Tunnel Tranny (like some people have their own Tunnel Troll) is not within the norm of our particular “business”…just so you know.

…It started several months ago.

Our offices take up a sizable plot of land, down in the port.  Busy traffic, and our neighbors, keep it safe and watched…I’ve never for a moment felt “sketchy” about working here, or unsafe in any way.  Ports are busy places.  And what with the rail right by us and the freeway, traffic is at a constant stream, roaring outside the windows and just down the street.

…But when it turns nightfall, I’d say this place would prob’ly turn into one the top ten places that you just don’t wanna be.  Too many shadows and large machines and containers to hide behind and inside and between…too many places to kill you and hide the body in. Too eerily echo-ee.  Also, we have this tunnel, a small overpass for the Amtrak rail that is literally just outside my own office window.  And a couple of months ago, a new phantom resident began pitching camp there, ‘tween whatever hours where we are not present. 

No one has ever actually seen him. 

…Which is really something, considering the span of hours we keep here, at the Bunny Ranch.  But we know “of” him, thanks to the wardrobe he occasionally leaves behind, and various other accessories.  We go on the presumption he is a man, given the size of his shoes, and various intimate clothing articles.  We go on the presumption of his “trade,” given the occasional cast-off makeup, accessories, fishnetting and wigs.

…He prefers being blond, for instance.  Short, curly cuts, most especially, but he does have an ironed “look” option as well. And he takes, “Maybe you’re born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline” to it’s most literal translation.  He’s not the greatest fashion-setter (unfortunately)…the other day we found a pair of brown go-go boots next to a crazy-print black blouse, and sweatpants. And his house slippers don’t match each other let alone his boxer shorts.  Also, he has substance abuse problems involving gross amounts of Rockstar and Wild Turkey (possibly together, possibly as chasers.)

…He doesn’t smoke (from what we can tell), but he does chew…which you would think might screw up his lipstick line at bit.  But I guess that doesn’t bother him too much, as we’ve no detection of mirrors…but he does enjoy a good morning newspaper. After a particularly disturbing appearance of a travel gas container, we’ve also concluded he’s either a sniffer, or a Pyromaniac.

…We still have offices though, so are placing bets on the former.

All in all, he keeps to himself though…his clump piles to his tunnel home.  Occasionally they redistribute into new grouping and staging areas…which we toss up as some kind of tunnel version of a multi-client house party. Occasionally they float a little too closely to our property line, but seeing as you couldn’t pay any of us decked out in full-out hazard gear to touch any of it, the piles remain as they stand…until such time as his next tunnel-cleaning, or orgy.

…Meanwhile, wardrobe comes and goes according to weather and season. This one time, he tried the life of a brunette without (I’m guessing) much success as the wig has never returned. And for whatever reason he sometimes leaves us Happy Meal toys out on the mailbox slab.  I think as a sort of peace offering. 

We don’t bother him, he doesn’t bother us. 

…And somewhere in his head I’m sure he feels more secure in the fact that we are here every day, watching his stuff.

We try to be good neighbors.

…But if he ever bakes us a thing of cookies and leaves ’em on our doorstep, I ain’t eatin’ ’em.

One must draw a line at some point.  And that is mine.

~D

Daphne & Niles Buy Greece

26 Jul

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This one day, I decided  I needed a pet.

…Actually, we know each other too well by now for me to pull that one off. 

This one day, (after hours and days of careful contemplation, weighing every angle, doing tons of research and pretending like it was a life or death decision of epic proportions) I decided I needed a pet.

…But because I’m me, it wasn’t just a simple “trip to the pet store” kinda deal.  Selecting a pet was this whole other thing I had to do.  (Because when you work things up to the level that I do, almost everything is a gigantic deal.)

I don’t have time or the schedule for a dog. Cats and I despise one another openly. Gerbils and bunnys are stinky…rats are rodents (did you know?) and birds are so loud its like having teenagers in the house.  I don’t do reptiles.  Except those tiny, tiny turtles.  Which (after research) I realized are illegal here cuz of this weird bacteria that can kill you (prob’ly.)

…For the record, almost everything can kill you, so one should always gauge these things accordingly.

In the end, I chose NOT to illegally import thumb-sized ancients from China.  Instead, I chose: “fish.”

Now “fish” and I aren’t this thing.  I find them disgusting, and refuse to catch, touch or eat them.  But they don’t mark your furniture, shed hair all over your clothes or poop on the carpet…so they were automatically ahead of the curve by the time I finally walked into the pet store.  I haunted the tanks, refusing “help” because I am a self sufficient human who can do everything herself (excepts some stuff), and picking a damn fish should be one of ’em.

…After about thirty minutes of careful contemplation…of all the tropicals (who I’ve killed before) and gold fish (who I slaughtered on accident in childhood), and giants (who frankly scare me)…I found myself facing the Betas.

Tiny plastic cups.  They sit there barely moving.  They sit on people’s desks in vases next to “contemplation gardens.”  How complicated could they be?

A lot, it turns out. 

…I’ve written about them before, and I obviously will again.  But in the end, it turns out I was fated to get the most stress-out, possibly heart-attack-ridden, suicide-committing, cannibal fish…of all time.

I named her “Daphne.”

…And a couple days later, I added another little isolation tank (for company) and brought home a “Niles.”

They get along pretty well. Neither has jumped into the other’s tank to eat the other one, or had stress heart-attacks from anxiety about having a housemate.  This is good (I’m told.)  Daphne has had a bout of illness that research finds out is a fin fungus (though her baths, water conditioning and feeding exactly matches the totally un-disturbed Niles)…she is at nine-drops-a-day of fish meds, soon ending her treatment regime, and seems totally unfazed about it.  I of course felt the horrible guilt of any parent whose child has anatomy rotting off of them from neglect…but I am starting to get over it.  Mostly because I think my kids might be “genius.”

…First of all, they are both stellar bubble-nesters.  They blow bubbles like a sunofabitch.  And because they practice total abstinence, there have been no fry to worry about…which is good, cuz that includes things like worms and incubators and mothers eating their young (not me, Daphne.) Also, they totally recognize me.  And not just in the “passing fish” way.  We have whole staring contests.  And sometimes they have to let me win, just to make me feel better.  I play them jazz and blues at bath time and they’ve developed an obvious liking to Billy Holliday and Frank Sinatra. Which means they have good taste.

…Also, they do really intricate water ballet to candlelight.  It’s this whole thing.

…They even make good guard dogs, as they watched the house for me while I was on the film shoot two weeks ago…and Ma said the grand-fish ate all their breakfast and dinner when she visited them, over the weekend.

…So can you blame me that I sometimes spoil them?  Various new additions to their environments, from time to time, have arrisen.  Succulent ammonia- eating plants, floaty toys, food-treats, new rock floors and two versions of condo-houses. Today, while picking up more meds and water conditioner, I scoped out with Ma some new real estate additions. 

The Greco-Roman ruins won. 

Bath time, water temp check and conditioning, medicine application and dinner commenced thereafter…and Daph n’ Niles were introduced to their new home editions.  They were a big hit.  Niles likes the part where he can swim in and out of the pillars…like a stealthy super spy.  Daph likes the fact she feels like I’m finally acknowledging her proper Goddess status.

…She’s practicing toga wrapping as we speak.

…And already a cluster of bubble-nesting has collected at the bowl-lips of each “tank.” A sign of, “contented, healthy and happy Betas.”

Best Mother of the Year Award, right here.

I’m just saying…

~D

And Your OCD Today Will Be…

24 Jul

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For those new to the “me,” let it be known that I sometimes have anxiety issues.  I was diagnosed during a breakdown several years ago, and how it works is: you know how people who have had bronchitis once tend to have every cold they get ever after default to bronchitis again?  Your body has established a weakness, and that weakness is now prone to kick in for the rest of your life.  It happens.  So it goes with the mental stuffs. 

…Where before in times of stress, I would be “stressed,” like every other red-blooded American…now I get stressed for a while and if I don’t check it, bounce over into some aspect of anxiety.  Doesn’t mean I start screaming about the Aliens coming to get us and wearing fashionable tinfoil hats to keep the Feds out of my brain…it just means I begin to manifest slight residual signs…which, thanks to a LOT of money in therapy, I’ve become in tune to and can most of the time work my way out of with good old fashioned reasoning and breathing.

…Also, I make fun of it a lot.  Nothing pisses fear off quite like laughing at it. 

…Anyway, cuz yesterday was specifically a life-stress-event kind of day, with no rising prep of it’s reality…just BAM, right there in m’face, it was sorta inevitable that my old friend Le Freakout would stop by for a visit.  And it did. 

Anxiety is a funny animal, too.  It attacks people in different ways.  For me, some form of physical impediment starts it off…kicking in my warning sectors.  In keeping with the body’s natural “fight or flight” reactions, I go into a kind of very pinpointed shock.  Plummeting temp as the blood is sucked in from all the body extremities to it’s panicking heart-center.  Sometimes fingers and toes will go numb.  I’ll flash in random sweat-waves at the back of the neck and forhead, get the shakes near to a lightly diagnosed Parkinson’s  patient, and either sit in wide-eyed panic or burst into tears involuntarily.  One symptom does not always preclude another…and with very few exceptions has it outstretched my well-trained abilities to shut it down before it’s final manifestation.

…But sometime, it hits harder and stronger.  Sometimes I’m just not prepared.  Sometimes it tricks me with side-stepping the issues until it’s too late.  And I gotta live with that.  For the rest of my life.  Its my superpower weakness…my personal Achilles heel.  It sucks, but I can name it, point at it, make fun of it, and survive it.  I already know this…even when in the middle of a total freak-out.  And that helps, lemme tell yuh.

Yesterday, was a sideswipe on a freeway, kind of day.  Not prepared. And it cost me.

…But after I regained myself…which didn’t take long, frankly…I was back doing paperwork at my desk (excellent for keeping nagging thoughts at bay.)

I thought to myself, by the time I got home, that I was pretty amazing to have dusted the whole episode so quickly.  Which is about when it smiled to itself and shook it’s head.

…”Stupid little human,” it said.  “I’ve only just begun.”

So here’s another fun factoid: Most people with anxiety issues also sport a myriad of cling-ons that suck to it’s host and come along for the ride from time to time.  These cling-ons include things like depression or anger…or for people like me: control issues.  My anxiety’s BFF since apparently childhood, is OCD.  Not the totally incapacitating kind…only types which several people who know me have called, “charming” and “quirky.”  I don’t require anyone else to abide by them, but I feel “bad” if I don’t follow the rules myself.  If you’re going to have an OCD, this is the kind (apparently) you wanna have.  And it isn’t always constant, but it will from time to time make an extra special reappearance.  And it is fucking exhausting.

Guess who decided to pack a bag and show up with Mr. Anxiety on this trip?

“Hi! Straighten that table runner,” it said first. And I did because, well…it needed straightening. Then it moved onto: “That’s chair is in the wrong spot,” and “plate the chicken on the left.”

…”I don’t like how you folded that blanket, ” and “six redvines, not five or seven,” came next.  Also: “re-stack the dishes in the strainer by size,” “stop everything at two a.m. to get the spot out of that table cloth,” “Oh God how can you be such a slob with the bed pillows you aren’t using right now, stacked at total random on the chair over there!  We’ve talked about this!  This is not allowed!  Not in my house!”

…My every little “routine” and “ritual” was magnified and ending in exclamation marks!  Like this!  And as time went on!  I began to finally get wise to it!

Holy crap!  Did I just triple check all the doors for the twelfth time?!  And I think by the fourth washing, that cup is clean now!  And, you don’t necessarily have to  worry about how the blanket is folded when you are in the middle of actually using it!  Also, the fish don’t understand that their rapid movement in scattered patterns is freaking you out!  Stop yelling at them to get their shit together and synchronize their movements like they’re “supposed” to!

…When I finally wound down enough to sleep last night…which was actually at around 3:30 this morning…I had exhausted myself into oblivion.  And though I notice, the residuals aren’t as bad as yesterday…I still had issues with the order of my morning routine, and me and the doornob spent some quality time clicking and re-clicking though I already knew well-enough: it was locked.

…Washing out my coffee mug, starting on my paperwork…so my day began. All a little more uptight than usual.

…Which is my cue to call it out.  And why I am blogging right now instead of the paperwork I should be doing.  Because this is a more important job: calling myself on my own shit.

Hey! Me!  Enough!  Relax!  I know you miss the control!  I get that you feel helpless right now!  But this isn’t helping!  Making sure these things are “just so” will not help you at all in the mainframe of your actual difficulties right now!  You’re just making it tougher on yourself!

…So cut it out, dammit! 

Right.  So that’s done now.

…Back to paperwork.

~D
 

Second Chances

24 Jul

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Listen, today has been rough.  It’s personal. It’s family.  Its not something to write about at the moment…but it got me to thinkin’.

…I’ve had a full weekend of events and friends and easily five blogs worth of one-liner similes and metephores to go with ’em.  I could paint you some verbal pictures that might just raise the corner of your mouth, or make you join the “amen” chorus of, “Am I right, or am I right?!”  And those blogs would prob’ly be more fun to read as well as write.  But I just ain’t got it in me tonight.  I know you understand, you’ve had those days too.  Instead, I think I’d like to tell you a story…it’s true.  I heard it first-hand on Saturday, as I joined The BFF on a Grant Writing interview.

…And I pick this moment above all the rest to record for you, because its important for me right now to remember that green grass follows the storm…you just gotta give it some time.  There are alternate purposes to events in life…and it’s never worth a “give up” scenario, despite frustrations and losses that may come.  As long as there is life, there is hope and reason to fight.

***

A little back story: 

There is a family in Poulsbo, WA who is one of twelve certified rescue farms for horses in the U.S..  Now, I’m not much for farms…and aside from the occasional glance or random passing whim, have never thought much about horses…but even were this your stance too, you’d have been impressed by end of a two-hour meeting with the man in charge.  I certainly was.

He’s an “old school” cowboy look…leathery, long hair with a wave to it, deep smile crinkles at the eyes…68 years-old, and has lived at least three lives (the ones we were told about, anyway.)  He is very, in walk and talk and manner, of the Sam Elliot vein…always with a slow grin like he knows something you don’t yet (and let’s face it, prob’ly does), but is self-modest, boastful of his friends, family and peers, and has reached the point where he knows the next heir apparent needs to be crowned and legacy passed on.  We were there, not to supply hand-outs or milk donations…only as part of a “Will and Testament” on his behalf: to leave those who have been in his care for decades, with enough to support the work he has begun. To protect a two-fold project and lifestyle, that began when he was a boy in Colorado, got left by the wayside for the next many decades of his life, and picked back up again…fifteen years ago.

The boy loved horses.  Loved farming.  Love a man he called, “Mr. Peyton” (and still does to this day): A Buffalo breeder on a Halifax County farm who taught the young man everything he would ever need to know about livestock, and being a horseman.  The boy was given a pony little more than a yearling to break on his own and did, managed stables, broke and trained the horses: cared and worked with them. And then the boy grew up, moved away, married, and lived a life.  It was (as usually is) hitting rock bottom, that brought him back to his first love again.

…With no home, no job, no prospects, the man knew he had at least one thing in his mind’s pocketbook to help him: he could be (if he dusted the saddle off again) a horseman.  After all, those were the happiest years of his life, looking back…and why not, (he reasoned), pick that to make your future as well?

So he did.  And has.  For the past fifteen years.  But it came with a catch…an asterisk coda next to the title of profession.  The man did not choose to trade in breeding and breaking and buying and selling.  His life had taught him too many lessons not to share them, with those in need both animal and human alike.

This ranch, which we visited, of which this man and his family runs and owns purely on non-profit basis, is set as a certified horse sanctuary…and one of only a handful of those dedicated to serving as home for the full remaining lifespan of it’s occupants.  They adopt wounded, worn, blind, cast-offs from neglect or ill owners with zero compensation, and specialize in rescuing retired race horses from the meat block. 

…Over thirty-five animals across a host of pasture lands and stalls, today call this place “home.”  Non-solicited donations have given badly needed fencing, renovated stables and exercise arenas off and on across the years.  Dues are paid (when they have the money) by parents seeking significantly cheaper riding lessons for their children, day in and day out.  When dues become issue, a shrug of the man’s shoulders serves as free-pass…so no child within his family of classes is turned away, should circumstances arise which might otherwise require it.  Taught  primarily by teens and twenty-somethings, who themselves grew up on the ranch, they pass on their trade as it was to that boy once, all those years ago. He has now become the much revered and loved “Mister” of the herd (both animal and human versions), showing the children how to keep the land clean, composted, recycled, organically planned and innovative in it’s daily runnings. It is kept healthy by two veterinarians and an ecologist specialist, whose helped the family rework and irrigate their land to the optimum benefit for horse and pasture life, nothing is wasted…and the students are taught to earn their keep, and must work for what money cannot buy: more one-on-one time with their favorite four-legged friends. 

…And the reason this slick-as-bells-and-whistles organization needs help at the moment is part longevity, part general repair, and part the abnormal lifespan of their live-in “guests.”

The average life of a horse is roughly twenty-five years.  Much, much less for those abused in sport, or neglected and abandoned day-to-day.  Horse Harbor Foundation is nearly at half in upper twenties, with a few reaching mid to late thirties.  They won’t die.  Why should they?  Saved from abandoment  or worse, put through health screens and therapy…exercised and re-educated, and then making friends with a handful of special children has given them new leases on their lives…which has grown the herd beyond holding capacities, and made staffing, feeding and housing them more difficult than the original “business plans” had allowed. 

…But a promise is a promise, and this: their home until they choose to leave the earth they stand on. So, the family continues to hang on. 

…And that was why The BFF had been called in: as “fresh reinforcements” to the cause, which even now, the man was uncomfortable in asking help with.

…Which goes even deeper, should the animal-lover gene in you alone, not have been enough to impress you.   And herein is where the story I set out to tell you, really begins.

A rescue place for horses.  A mother with limited funds hears it is in her area.  And she has a son: severely autistic…at age thirteen has never spoken a word or walked one step into a schoolroom.  But he has shown interest, the therapists say, in horses…pointing at pictures in books as a constant repeating theme and indicator.  Perhaps to see one live, meet one, touch one, might give him some secret inspiration of some form of communication or opening up.  The mother decides to reach out and give it a try.

“Might we visit?” She asks, explaining her cause to the stranger across the phone.

“Of course,” the man says.

“We’ve tried it before, but no one will allow it.  Not only because of his handicap.  He’s also a haemophiliac.”

“I have just the horse…a mare, blind, gentle as a lamb.  Come on out.”  The man replies.

…And one day soon after, a boy with no voice was standing face-to-face with an old mare.  He looked.  He touched it.  He was put atop it.  No visual change in facial expression, no noise of communication given.  Then, the man got an idea (knowing boys and horses as he did)…that maybe a little private bonding time was called for, excused the mother to outside of the barn door, and spoke up to the boy.

“I’m just gonna go get a lead from out there and be right back, okay? If she starts getting fussy at all, just rub her neck like this and talk to her a bit.  Keep her company while I’m gone, if you don’t mind.”

…And he walked out.

…And the boy…who had never spoken in thirteen years…when left alone with his horse, decided to make a new friend. 

He spoke. 

…And kept speaking. 

…Through enrollment of his first school, through making up all the grades he’d missed, through graduating the school with honors, through getting his first apartment, and job.

…A second chance for two new friends destined to meet, which created and then became the ranch’s Harmony School of Horsemanship, still pairing up special needs children with retired, abandoned and otherwise less fortunate four-legged friends to this day.

The children are taught to care for and build relationships with the animals, to nurture and be thankful for the bonds they share, to respect one another’s difficulties, and specific needs.  It’s a partnership which has gone on to win ribbons at rodeos and The Junior Olympics, built lifelong horse ownership with the kind of responsibility one should have, has majors in Equestrian sport at colleges, and even while we were there: teenage teachers on the track, handing down the lessons they have learned like a holy passage of rights.

You cannot see these kids without shaking your head in wonder.  You cannot talk to this man without wanting to comb the countryside of every influence within grasp who you know, who might help them.  It isn’t golden paddocks they want.  No hand-outs of charity.  They don’t make any money off of it, and seem perfectly content with the “cause” being reward enough.  What they need are basics: hay feed, and fence extensions, and water irrigation for their herd to stretch out. With a chuckle, the man seems quite tickled with the “Senior Citizens” in his care…pointing to one (the oldest) long retired even from the “school,” who they several times a day have to mix a special mash-up for, on account she no longer owns a tooth in her head.

“Lookit her,” he grins as we stand by a gate looking out to the pasture,” so old she falls asleep middle of eating sometimes, but give her a sunny day, and you’d never know she’s sp’osed to be dead ‘most fifteen years ago.  Just nippin at the grass and loppin’ along, and ‘time to ‘time old friends and new one come on back to pet and remember her.”

“It’s a pretty good set up,” I agree with him.

“I don’t like to toot m’own horn, but it’s a pretty great way to spend your retirement years,” he winks back with the confidence of one who outta know.

…And I just thought you should too. 

“Know,” I mean.

~D

Freebees

21 Jul

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Everything past 1:30 today was a freebee on account that Boss told me to not come back from lunch and drink the week away with his blessings. I chose the sober activity-heavy approach instead…starting with BFF antiquing, manicures, girl-clothes shopping, and eating.

It was mostly a good second half.

…Except they should really consider the crude lighting in dressing rooms I think.  They’d sell more.  And being in the market for “girl-clothes” specifically, only makes it worse. 

I hate clothes shopping in any circumstance, let alone for dresses.  They’re bothersome. And cut weird.  And make you look like a souped up version of yourself who spends the whole night walking funny, worrying about the breeze updraft, and keeping your knees together when you sit. I can wear a dress for shows and things and pull it off, but when I have to be “me” and do it, I feel like a Linebacker in drag.  Except if I totally overdue it and crossbreed a dominatrix  with theme’d ’40’s Noir dame.  Then I can pull it off.

We don’t know why.

…And you’d be surprised how few places stock those kinda things, outside of Halloween and porn stores.

…Anyway, I can’t do either because this is for a classy cocktail shindig.  The kind with printed invitations, and finger foods and wines in actual non-plastic glasses. In truth, it is exciting to me.  Cuz it’s grown-up and very retro in thinking.  But the realization that I would have to also outfit myself, kinda took a little air out of my newly weight-gained sails, as I perused the racks at the mall.

Desperationville starting popping up in the form of panic. 

…Because just NOTHING at all looked even remotely “okay” once it got put on. 

At one point I even started defaulting to my “comfort-zone,” and was sporting what amounted to three whore “almost-dresses” and (I swear to you) a leopard-printed boob number.

…Now, I am fiercely against animal prints and always have been…unless you are ethnic enough to pull it off, and have big tits.  And though I am ethnic (or used to be before I moved to the greater Northwest of white paper-skined-people)…the boobs I’m sportin’ ain’t that great.  But once I put that animal-skinned form-sucker on, it managed to lift, suck, grasp and produced amazement.  I stared at my reflection in horror as my entire life flashed before my eyes . I was suddenly 45, with a bad spray tan, letching on a twenty-something boy-toy, with tits up to my chin and Fran Drescher hair. Also, I was Italian.

…The problem is: I “liked” it.  And I realized that.  And it was terrifying.

For the greater good of all mankind, I immediately got the hell outta the animal print, soon as I saw the freakish grin on my face.  I must be stopped.  No good could come of this. And I put the monstrosity back for another woman of far more…whatever I haven’t got…to fill it and be at peace with her amazing looking breasts and general Cougar splendiforousness. Cuz that was not me.  Anyway…not yet.  Given time and circumstance, God only knows how ridiculous I will get.

…Which was about when The BFF’s fella texted and rescued me by suggesting a dinner of Pho.  So The BFF and I rejoined up for our second meal of the day, and all made plans to break, run errands, and meet up for some bowling, after.

By now, the day which had started with a dead network screwing with closeout and payroll timing…had managed to produce a lunch, some antiquing, clothing depression, nail overlays, a coffee, dinner and some dish washing. Naturally, three games of bowling in shoes sporting every cootie in the nation, and two pitchers of piss-poor beer, would come next. And they did.  And it was fantastic.

…Which brings me here: the lowest scores of double digit accomplishment ever committed in a bowling lane, a clouded left contact who gave up about half an hour ago, and a beer gut slowly depleting with every rush to the bathroom I make.  It’s finally starting to die down now.  Which means, I’ll be able to go to bed soon.  A happiness, as the thunder woke me up first thing this morning, well before the light did.

…So to sleep I go.  Well, first to the twenty-minute ordeal of face and teeth washing, rinsing, hydrating etc, which once accomplished, sets me on my second wind…but will die down of its own accord soon enough. 

Soon to my bed of yay, where nests of pillows swallow me up.  I can turn my alarm clock to the wall, pop in my extra sexy mouth-guard, and float to happy land. No doubt, I’ll be meeting up with that animal-dress-from-hell as I walk the Roman countryside…dark men tossing me cat-calls, the swelling of  cleavage…my  amazingly presented chest…keeping perfect rhythm, with their sing-song accents.

…I purr out,”Ciao, baby,” to my unsuspecting prey: the burly youth in the fields…sweating, and picking wine grapes.

…And I sleep with a grin the size of Texas, pasted on my face.

FYI: tomorrow? We won’t be talking about this.

~D

10,000 Cups Of Tea, And A Gollum

19 Jul

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In keeping with the norm, I’m mid a beaut of a “post-show crash.” 

Every time a show ends, all that adrenaline I’ve been souping up with instantly wooshes out of me, like a pregnant woman whose water just broke.  Really, it depletes that fast.  And with the precise timing of Mother Nature, I spiral dramatically into a hell of a decline: sobbing sinuses, raging fevers, throat feeling like a cheese grater attacked it…you know, the usual misery of a common cold.  It happens because I push myself too hard, get little sleep, and eat crap due to time restraints.  When you’re “on,” the rush of it will help to compensate these things…but when the show is over, it’s a total nosedive.

…Which is what happened little more than 4 hours after I reached home on Sunday night, post-dinner with the group. 

Home!  My bed!  Fresh jammies! 

…This lasted all of a trip to the bathroom.  I was still unpacking after one of the longest, hottest showers ever invented, when I started to feel it all climbing onto me with sticky realness.

…’Member that terrible “Spiderman 3” movie, where the alien black tar animal stuff glunks onto him, inflicting evil?  It was like that.

Alien.  Black tar.  Animal stuff.  Glunked.

It’s exactly what I felt like.  And depending on how much I am physically attempting to do: it still is.

…Monday’s noon call at work, was a wash…because I couldn’t sit up by noon.  I couldn’t even swallow.  By two, I made it exactly as far as my couch. This is where I laid for the next many hours, only moving occasionally to flip like a  pancake in a pan, and boil some more hot water.

…Water.  So much water.  10,000 cups of tea made from about eight different spice, herb and flower varieties…and the magic juice of theatre, which a few of us two shows back decided to call “Gollum Piss.”  It tastes about like what it’s named, and is basically a hot toddy from hell: Hot water, as much straight lemon juice as you can take, ditto on cyan pepper…and if you’re new to it: maple syrup to sweeten.  At some point you just stop adding the maple, because it’s a useless attempt to make it taste better anyway.  And if you are home: a jigger of whiskey every so-many-cups, rounds it out nicely.  With luck, you’ll have burnt through all the mucus, freed your vocal chords and be sporting quite a nice buzz, before the mixture settles in your gut and begins torching holes in the stomach lining. But you will be able to breathe again.  And sometimes swallow.  And it’ll out-burn the fever. Whatever is left over has you happily humming to your bottle of Jack Daniels…so: good all ’round.

…Course, this is just “Day One.”  By “Day Two,” you are at work, gripping your guts with acid indigestion and honking out coughs like a yard animal.  But the important thing is that you made it through the first day.  This is what you tell yourself as you drool all over the make-up paperwork you’re doing, because you had the audacity to be rendered almost dead the day before, and no one saw fit to start on anything from over the weekend…just pile it up on your desk.

…Which brings us now to day four. Because days two, through now, haven’t changed much, really.  Still paperwork hell…only now I can breathe naturally out of both nostrils at the same time, and my guts don’t feel like they’re cooking over an open flame.  Also, I can walk a reasonably straight line again without my head floating ten feet above my body somewhere at the end of a string.  Tonight: I’ll get me some fresh air…try a short walk…drink more fuzzy water.

Tonight: I will defeat the last of this scourage…so I can come in tomorrow, fight my weekly battle with Payroll, turn in the last of the week’s reports, and have me a “weekend” like the normals.

It’s good to have goals.

~D

Scene-By-Scene

15 Jul

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Good day, humans.

…At the starting of this blog, we are less than seven hours away from deadline for turning our film into the 48 Film Festival, and the entire house is “plugged in”…all contributing to some form of the final editing process. Except me. I’m merely on reserve as general consultant…when eyes and ears of designers are so bugged they can no longer process whatever the hell they’ve just finished, and need to know what it looks and sounds like to a person who isn’t bleeding from every sensory orafice.

We’ve learned some stuff…which is prob’ly the most gigantic understatement of the year so far. These things have included the following:

1.  Go Aaron Sorkin On That Shit.
By this, I mean: use people that you will be comfortable living on top of, for an extended amount of time.  People who you have worked with before.  People who have the same sense of humor and personal depravity.  People who you don’t mind seeing you in every possible form of human dilapidation, including complete loss of personal hygiene and dignity.  Because you will be reduced to this point, before the completion of even day one.  In other words: pick “family.”

2. The Pox! The Pox! (And Other Plagues)
Be prepared for the most outrageous of circumstances to befall …because they probably will.  This includes random childhood illnesses, revisiting you in adult form at the most inopportune moment.  Also aggravated allergies.  Also hormonal hot flashes.  They are shameless attention whores, the whole lot, totally willing to make a starring appearance in any film, even if they aren’t getting paid for it.

3. It Was The Greenest Office I Ever Ate
When selecting a location for a shoot, always assume that even the most mundane of things called for (including  mere set-dressing) will need to be provided as props.  It will be a natural inclination to trust that when filming at “an Office,” as stand-in of: ” an Office”…all the incidentals that go with that, will be on location for the picking.  What you would not expect (however), is what comes with working in a nearly 100% green and recycled materials work-place, in which even the cubical walls and carpeting are compostable…no staplers, hole punches, printers or paper are in evidence due to only “online” worksourcing, and I’m pretty sure even the markers for the white boards were made of totally eatable vegetable and rice by-products.

4. My Kingdom For A Cone!
Sometimes you have to “borrow” stuff.  There is just no way around it really. When making a film in 48 hours, your Props and Costume departments are gonna have to be incredibly innovative…because  random lists will be thrown at them from all departments like it’s no big deal that they require things like Horses, Indians with tomahawks, Aliens in a spaceship, a garden gnome, Cup O’ Noodle soup, an S & M Villain, and traffic cones.  Sometimes your department heads will come up with willing donors of said requirements…and sometimes they will not…because the item in question isn’t a readily available resource.    But either way, it is a “Gentleman’s agreement” that said item will be accomplished anyway, and sometimes it’s best not to ask “how.”  Where I’ve sworn to protect our film-family to all ends …I WILL state that (by and large) there were doubtlessly more unguarded potholes and sidewalk cracks than usual in the naked city this weekend.  At least fifty (according to number of film crews.) But it wasn’t our fault.  The prop was a requirement.

5. Hey, Look! Dead Guys!
Filming in public is an interesting and exciting venture.  Especially to people who aren’t your crew.  The Public (in general) will go completely out of their way to watch you do it…and we know this because we tried our best to lose them at the time. Car after car of curious bystanders will roll onto your location, their heads hanging out of car windows like dogs out for a Sunday drive..just to view the action.  And shot after shot will be rendered completely useless because of it.  Understand that by “filming in public” I mean only “not on private property”…this was not anything like sidewalks, or near business buildings, or at a public park.  We were in a removed parking lot off a side side street belonging to a restaurant that had been gutted easily a year ago…down by the docks.  The squiggy end of town.  And though I totally understand the bounds that a human’s curiosity can expand…purposefully driving up to a seedy location where a film crew is shooting dead bodies on the ground, would prob’ly be where I guess the line would be drawn.  It isn’t.  There is no “line.”  People are idiots. Let it be known.

6. Dogs & Babies
People (who are in the know) always tell you that the worst thing to do in this biz is work with animals or children.  After filming (non-stop) across a twelve-hour shoot, I can tell you the real secret of “why.”  Because, they are better on accident, than you are on your best day on purpose.  Also: they are  cuter.  Both our mascot (Rizzo) and our youngest cast member hit their marks and performed perfect takes every single time.  And one had to cry on cue.  The grown up humans needed over an hour of film roll to get across what will edit down to seven minutes of film, in order to achieve the same thing.  This is not to say our grown up humans suck…they don’t.  It just proves what we’ve known for years: we are not the smartest lifeforms, and we don’t like looking bad.  Hence, “never work with animals or children” was born.

7. The “Practice Will Never Prepare You To Throw It All Out Twice And Write It Again” Rule
I did three…THREE mock-ups of this event, following the exact rules as stated in the regulations section.  With the special “secret” requirements and genre each time being sent from our Director…I would write in an appropriate time allotted for what he thought it should take, then send it back.  After reading, came the notes: things to avoid because of tech or other difficulties, ideas that he liked or didn’t…style suggestions and general Q & A. In other words: I beefed up for this shit…I TRAINED…which means nothing at all WHATSOEVER.  Because this isn’t a boxing ring.  So now you know. Where I performed to expectation every time during training, come the big night, I managed a first draft containing twelve pages of confusing crap. So, I grabbed The BFF, and we went off to do some drastic edit and try it again. And then it was two in the morning, we were sitting across the room from everyone else, looking back at collection of totally blank faces, whose abnormally high-pitched voices attempted to assure us that “one more pass” would do it. This is when I started to really flipping panic.  Post Q & A made me even more confused.  I had no idea how to write myself out of or into the notes that everyone had given, and we literally could start doing nothing AT ALL until the fucking script was completed.  So script three was instigated and completed by four.  4 A.M…three scripts and 22 hours without sleep later, we had a winner.  Not because it was particularly good. Only because it wasn’t as particularly bad as the rest. Which taught me that the writing part of the brain isn’t a weight lifter in training. It’s a random receptor to inspiration-at-will. Sometimes it’s a clear night and that shit’ll pick up Oscar and Pulitzer-winning genius.  And sometimes…it only picks up, “better than the last crap.”   The important thing (I’m told) is: I tried.

8. Instant Zombie (Just Add Water)
Sleep is important.  There are plenty of times in your life when you go without it…but if you think about it: those are the extenuating circumstances of being young, or mid some horrible onset of stress or drama.  Being in theatre, most of us get updated booster shots of this in the form of Tech Week for any show we happen to be working in at any given time.  But film, is different.  And the term we’ve come to know as “The 48” is even different-er.  First off: Theatre people are like Vampires…we exist mostly at night. Film people are freaks.  They exist mostly at 5 A.M..  This was bound to launch us into a sticky wicket to begin with.  Add to that the 48-hour angle, and you are awake for both…one leading into the other, and back again.  Time ceases to be a mathematical certainty and becomes a sort of random grab-bag.  “This” hour will feel like it borrowed and ate 35 others…”that” hour will feel like we skipped it altogether.  You aren’t sure what to call “tomorrow” or “yesterday” because usually those are gauged on a sleeping  pattern of some kind, and when you don’t, there isn’t any. Add to that the fact we are now putting the bulk of you on camera, in 1080 HD, after multiple relocation, fight sequences, and weather conditions…and we have a whole new world of epic proportions to deal with.  “It’s just the ’48!’,” becomes the most quoted saying of the weekend…mostly when a room full of anal-retentive perfectionists start sucking time up on things like light gels, set dressing, fight choreo, shot set-up, music scoring and action sequences.  I think what it means mostly is that “When you’re a zombie on a time schedule: something’s gotta go.”  And the “something” will always be “anything but your sense of humor.”  If it isn’t, you should find another hobby to do.

9. Looped And Foley’d
Giggles will set in.  You get to a point where you’re just too punchy to care anymore.  This usually will happen during the last shots to hit, and post-production necessities.  Ours did.  A sadistic German villain threatening our heroine roped in a cellar, was the point where whatever remaining self-edits we had left, flew out the window.  This continued on into the next day with sound build and FX.  Which is fortunate, because at this point if you ain’t laughing…you’re crying.  We did both.  But in the good way.

10. If John Williams Can Do It, So Can I
Sound and Scoring is this whole other deal.  I’ve always been partial to film soundtracks, because if done well…they tell a story all by themselves. When you haven’t got the time to sit and write an entire score (however) you do the next best thing: go trolling the internet for freebee files that match all the sounds in your head.  Problem is: have you been on the internet trolling lately?  You know how it becomes a time suck of the worst degree?  In “The 48” it begins sucking the last minutes of life away that you have left.  It sucks in leaps and bounds.  An hour is only a second, and two hours is less for reasons that I just don’t know or understand. What I do know is that three people (plus looping and foley artists) have been doing nothing but that all day long.  As I write this, we are less than three hours from Film turn-in, and our Sound designer just (literally) ran his collection of built files into the Director for Editing.  28 cues completed in all…3 still being built.

11. Oh, The Clapp
Other than writing I had one other job on the film: Clapper.  That’s the dude who marks the  beginning of scenes on a marked board in front of the camera.  It may seem like a mundane job, but it really isn’t…mostly, cuz they have to work with continuity and the shot list to make sure that every shot we need at each location is captured, logged and numbered.  If you fuck up, the story will not make sense and you will have to do reshoots.  In “The 48” (of course) that is just not an option.  Let it be know that where I lacked in total screenwriting awesomeness, together with the Continuity Dept, we rocked in THIS.  We got everything we needed, logged and in the can.  Over an hour of it.   And this morning when I woke up, my war wounds were evident.  Twelve hours of chalking, hanging, clapping, marking and noting in every POV, and angle possible.  The Boom Mic fella wins me in weight heft held over time…but I still did a job of it…and feel cooler today because my muscles hurt, I learned stuff, and finally got to make the clapboard I’ve had since I was in the eighth grade: legit.  Better late than never!

12.  When Theatre Actors Do Film (And Other Bad Ideas)
Our Director/Editor  has been cloistered in his office since before dawn.  Occasionally someone goes in to check on him, and by breakfast we cleared out the food plate and empty cup graveyard that had accumulated throughout his secluded residency.  Post breakfast, it was mostly chuckles emanating that would bring us to his doorway.  “Even with continuity, these people never say anything the say way twice!” is his basic main quote of the day.  And he laughs at it in both frustration and in amazement, I think.  Because he’s right.  Even if the physical placement was corrected on set…you can’t fix exact inflection and every head turn and smile and look and beat.  And because we are Theatre actors, we think in terms of “infinite.”  MORE ways are ALWAYS “better.”  It’s fresh and playful and plyable.  Film is static, exact and repetitious…the art of it more in editing than anything else.  An actor’s job is consistancy, from scene to scene, even if shot totally out of order, and on a different day, down to which hand they reach out for the cup with and what kind of smile they gave at which beat on which point after turning their head.  And it all needs to look like it’s totally natural. NOTHING about that is “natural.”  And it’s specifically unnatural, to theatre people.  Which is how I know that our Director really likes working with us.  Because though we’ve made his job today like 500 times harder…he is still speaking to us and would like to do this again some time.  Which means he’s either a gigantic masochist….or…we’re such forgivable, charming bastards, he just can’t help but like us.  It’s prob’ly the former.  But we like him anyway…and would work with him any time he yells our way.  I’m pretty sure that’s unanimous.

…And with that, we are at less than two hours to turn in.  And I am off to help clean the house.  It looks like MTV filmed a season of “Real World” in here, (minus the pee stains and impregnated teenagers.)

~D

Your Mission, Should You Accept It…

13 Jul

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In around 18 hours I will magically turn into a screenwriter, through the science and technology of filmdom. 

…Our group has a google chat already set off and binging continually on our phones, with info from every department.  Tech, Location, Costume, Catering…it’s all been arranged like we’ve already done this upwards of 10,000 times…and I am perfectly aware (as everyone is stellar and collected and organized), that until me and the writing department build an actual script…with the actual specifications and genres, (which we will not know until actually half a day from now), there is nothing anyone can actually do.

…So, no pressure.

…Which is good, for anxiety-ridden peoples such as myself.

…But that isn’t the best part.

…The best part came mid-yesterday as a general text went out to all involved, from our Producer.  It stated the following:

“Has everyone had chicken pox?”

Why?

Because our Director/Editor has contracted a case of Shingles. Overnight. (As people do.)

That’s why.

…Which immediately told me that this is not going to be your “average shoot.” (Whatever that is.) And that clearly, I would need to take notes, as the blog that will follow the completion of this process is gonna be straight up ridiculous.

So, I’ve decided to open a note-pad on my desktop and contribute occasional notes  throughout the process, as I see fit.  You know, with all that “free time” I’ll have just lying around.  And sometime mid-week, (when I’ve finally gotten some damn sleep, and this is all a past-tense dream), you will be getting a first-hand record of a gorilla film-shoot in Seattle…the summer of 2012.

Wish us luck.

…Donations of caffeine and alcohol can be made directly through me.  We will light a special candle in Chapel, in thanksgiving. And  I don’t even think a single one of us is Catholic. 

But we will convert. 

…That is how serious we are about it.

~D

When It’s Time For “The End”

12 Jul

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I have a friend, who has been a part of my family for a little over twelve years now. 

…When I first met him, he was a single dude, working in Corporate hell, doing theatre on the side.  Now, he’s married (to one of the awesomest of humans), is Managing Artistic Director of one of our most popular local theatres, and is a proud father of two sons…and a comic book shop. I count it as a privilege to have been there to see the birthing and growing of all these changes in his life, not least of which because he was always, always there to help me usher in mine as well (no matter how totally different they were to his.) 

…And I supposed that is what “family” is about, really. They are the people you support and share these things with…in all life’s infinite alterations.  But as we get older, “time” begins to play in the equation a bit, and it isn’t only the “births” of things you are then present for…but the endings as well.

He’s been there for mine.  I’ve been there for his.  Loss of Parents.  Loss of Grandparents. Loss of sanity. 

…I was there, the first day he quit the Corporate safe-house, and I was there the day he opened his shop.  I was there when he expanded to a new location, and there when he blew the roof off his third.  And because the economy is rough, banks are “Boss,” and people are only (in the end) “human”… today, I was there at 9PM, as the final sell…from his shop.

The receipt said customer number 49,516.

Now think about that a moment, if you will.

I did.

…Hanging out with him behind the register after work today, I couldn’t help but think about it.  Never-ending lines of people, many with their own personal stories to tell about why THIS shop, was THEIR shop…and just what it had meant to them.  An entire new generation of comic readers and gamers and artists were teethed in those walls. A whole collection of fan boys (and girls) began their lifelong thrill of geekdom in the shadow of it’s trademark seal. Careers were launched in it, signings were given in it.  Friends were made in it.  Week, after month, after year. 

…He staffed it with knowing enthusiasts of all things film, art, language, humor, escapist and deviousness. He catered to any group or any club which needed a home to practice their art, their play, their  passions in.  He never let you leave empty-handed, even stocking selves of free-bees, just to get you to give this special world “a chance.”  And he was a walking dictionary of knowledge stacked, shelved and inventoried within it’s walls…because he was just like you: a fan, of some of the coolest outlets of imagination ever invented. 

He cared about his Shop friends and family…and not just as numbers on a sale’s sheet.  Perhaps if he hadn’t so much, he wouldn’t have been in the position he was today. Constant sales and discounts…I helped him clean and collect three cabinets-full of painstakingly archived subscriber files, several to half a year or more in money never collected, for special orders it would certainly have helped not to eat the cost of, which were never sold, but were waiting patiently for the day that their buyers would come and claim them.

…On the other side, however…many an “old faithful” shuffled through the line, looking a little like lost souls with no body now to host them.

…There were College students, reminding him of the first comics they’d ever read as kids, which he had personally put into their hands, starting their imaginations in an entirely new sphere of wonderment. 

…There were gamers whose leagues had been hosted at his tables  for a decade, dropping in to give handshakes and hugs. 

…One longtime customer, (who’d been to the register and purchased several stacks of goods, several times across the evening), watched as even the walls were stripped of their posters, artwork and memorabilia. He got back in line again for the fourth time, and bought his favorite framed piece…one linking back to the original shop location…and after paying for it, gave it back to my bud saying, “Keep this one safe,” before giving a final hug and walking to the door.

… Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen.

Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen sales, stories, games, posters, movies, autographs, art and comic books.  In ten years.

…And though, I know, that closing the doors today was like many of the other deaths me and my friend have seen each other through across these dozen years…he should know that doing so in no way means he is a failure.

A life is lived to the extent that it is supposed to.  When it has achieved all it was meant to, it ends. The end of a lifetime isn’t failure…can you look at anything or anyone you have ever loved that is no longer here today and say it is?  They may be gone in body…but not in spirit.  Not in memory.  Not in the good that it has brought into life and shared with others.  Not in the friends it has made, the stories it has shared.  Not in the handshakes, hugs and tears of the people left behind when “it” is here, no more.

Forty-nine thousand, five-hundred and sixteen separate stories, in the life of one store.  And this one, is it’s last. 

…It was also one of it’s firsts.

I thought I should write it down for “posterity.”

Dear Bud,

…Remember that day you said, “I’m quitting Corporate and I’m gonna open a Comic Book Shop.”

…And I said, “Oh.  How come?”

…And you said, “Because. I don’t like what I’m doing, you only have one life to live…and since I was a kid, I always thought owning a Comic Book Shop would be awesome.”

…And I said (not knowing anything at all about Comic books, or shops), “Why?”

…And you said, “Because they make me happy. They are some of my favorite memories from when I was a kid. And cuz through the years, they’ve tended to get a little seedy with a bad rep.  I don’t like that.  I want to make a place that’s  bright and inviting and friendly…where whole families can come, no matter the ages, where people can spend time with their friends, and meet new ones. It’s like theatre, you know: where everyone is welcome, no matter what they are into or how ‘different’ they sometimes feel.”

Mission accomplished.

Rest In Peace, Comic Book Ink.

…We will remember you.

~D

To Snark With The Best Of Them

10 Jul

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For my birthday this year, a very good friend, (we’ll call her K)…who knows me abnormally well, got me this book

…According to the Preface, it is handbook of biting wit, smartass zings, sly disparaging comments and snide remarks…which is claiming an awful lot really, as it is quite quaint in size.  This diminutive volume, is the type categorized by many as a “bathroom book,” wherein tidbits are stored in a variety of quips, slashes and barbs, edited and chosen specifically for their biting humor, their penchant for little known facts…and the amount of time identified to be “correct” for the average taking of the average poop.  I don’t really know what that means, but prob’ly something between: “sixty seconds,” and “not so long that your butt falls asleep.”

Not being one to enthrone myself in that tiniest of  tiny rooms in the house, I keep it instead on one of my stacks in the living room.  It’s fast-access for lazy moments where I don’t want to put in the effort to read a real book (with plot and all), but can’t be bothered to turn on the TV either.

…And it’s become a slipstream to a happier place. Because it’s bitchy.  And irreverent.  And it thinks like me…(only funnier.)

The real secret of this book, you see, it that it is a collection of some of the greatest verbal spars, comebacks, quips, bites, bitches, (and bastards) of all time.  I’m quite a fan of most of them, and have been for a long while.  Dottie Parker, Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields…Bankhead, Allen, Levant, Rivers, Mason, Burns, & Benny to name a few.  Whatever mood of utter boredom and listlessness I pick the book up in, will be altered with money-back-guarantee within five minute max…because you cannot (I promise you) read the words of these masters of insult and wit, without a childlike wonder at the brilliance of how their minds are wired.

…Oh, to think of a comeback at the exact moment it is needed…and not at home in bed three hours later!  Oh, the bravado of genuinely not giving a shit who you offend in a public bout of completely inappropriate and politically incorrect banter!  Oh to be free to be sarcastic, saucy, and sharp, both hated and loved for it!

The reason these people are so uniformly revered  in their artform, is because they gave a damn enough to have a “go” at anyone, anywhere.  They were brave, they were ball-busters…and they were fucking brilliant.  Plus, they are like the best magic eight-ball of live Q & A brilliance EVER.  Check it:

Me: How old are you?

Oscar Levant:  I can remember Doris Day before she was a virgin.

Me: And how would you describe your life is one sentence?

Dorothy Parker: Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Me: What are your thoughts about coworkers?

Bette Davis:  The best time I ever had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs.

Me: Uh huh…and education?

Dorothy Parker: You can drag a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.

Tallulah Bankead: –I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice.  That’s what I call a liberal education.

Me: Just out of curiosity, hows your Math?

Mae West: A man has one hundred dollars, and you leave him with two dollars.  That’s subtraction.

Me: Any particular thoughts on Politics?

Mark Twain: Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself…

Me:  …And “Corporations?”

Noel Coward:  The higher the building the lower the morals.

Me: Do you have any thought about the “legalizing drugs” issue?

Tallulah Bankhead:  Cocaine isn’t habit forming.  I should know — I’ve been using it for years.

Me: Why do you think gossip is so addictive?

Oscar Wilde: My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.

Me: Aren’t you ever worried about what other’s might think of you?

Bette Davis: I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.

Me: Right.  I see.  How do you pick your next projects?

Mae West: Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.  I’ll try anything once.  Twice if I like it, three times to make sure.

Me: Here’s one for the “gourmets” in our audience…any kitchen recipes to share?

W.C. Fields:  I cook with wine, sometimes I even add food.

Me: And what are your thoughts on the recent health craze?

W.C. Fields: I never drink water, fish fuck in it.

Joan Rivers:  …Don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.

Me: And how’s your dating life ?

Mae West:  I’ve been on more laps than a napkin.

George Burns: …Sex at 90 is like shooting pool with a rope.

Me: Any last words to wrap us up?

Tallulah Bankhead: Codeine…bourbon.

…See what I’m sayin’?  Genius-freaks of awesome.

…And what’s doubly impressive, is that it’s so much more difficult to do comedy than drama.  Ask anyone who does it for a living.  It’s perfectly natural to play to a house of silent patrons doing O’Neill. You get crickets performing Noel Coward, and…well…that’s about the lowest feeling you’re ever gonna feel.  There are actual deaths that are less painful.  I know.  I’ve seen both. 

…When you’re playing the verbal spar of “snark” at the level that these people do though…it’s like a shock and awe equal to any physical feat of an athletic professional.  Only it lasts longer than a mere “era,” ages better than a fine wine, and will survive as long as words are used as an instrument of thought.  Just ask Shakespeare.  He was flippin’ boss at that this shit.

Point is: today wasn’t the greatest, but this little snarky guy, just happened to be.  It “be’d” so much that it got me to dig out my “Portable Dorothy Parker” to play with the big kids at the Algonquin Table for a while. Such a fat company of word-slingers…the whole lot of ’em, with perfect aim.

…Bastards.

I love ’em.

~D

Oh, Canada

9 Jul

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An especially epic Monday at The Brothel, as Boss pulled an MIA, with a twist. 

…He’s really good at doing that.  I’m sure at some point he even lettered in it.  I wouldn’t half blame him for being bummed it never got selected as an Official Olympic Event…mostly because he would be in London right now MIA-ing, instead of here doing it.  And who wouldn’t rather MIA overseas, if given the chance?

…But what made this Monday more epic than the usual was that it featured a surprise guest appearance from our good friends up north, and a sales day of $70,000. (That’s a lotta lap dances, friends.)

It all began before I got there: A truck waiting for product to ship out, which was still literally being assembled in our warehouse.

…I wasn’t aware of this, of course, because why would anyone tell me? All I know is a couple of seconds after logging in, Boss was calling on line one:

Boss: Hi.  I think we have a Canada load.

Me: When?

Boss: Now.  They’re in the yard.

Me: Where are the contracts?

Boss: I dunno.

Me: And the Customs paperwork?

Boss: I dunno.

Me: How many are going?

Boss: Four or six.  I can’t remember.

Me: How many locations?

Boss: Five?

Me: So, four or six might be going to five locations, with no contracts or Customs paperwork and they are in the yard to collect them now.

Boss: Pretty much.

Me: Anything else you wanna “not” tell me?

Boss: Yeah.  I’m working from home today.

…And that was that. 

Not from lack of trying, did this end my attempt to grasp more information. Like squeezing a tube of toothpaste which ran out yesterday, I did my damndest to get more than was apparently a physical possibility.  You try “this” attack, you try “that” one…you eventually grab some scissors and begin to attempt strategic surgical removal, even. But the tube is only a tube.  There’s no toothpaste in it. It can’t help you with what you need.  It’s completely useless.  And at some point, you just have to face this truth, and move  on.

So I did.

…This lead me to five people (by turn) at Corporate who decided to take breaks and go to the bathroom in one simultaneous herding group, all morning long.  Call after call was made, but no human contact could be gained. Eventually, hour two rolled by, while a perfectly nice Russian Teamster waited for the idiot  Americans to get their damn shit together, enabling him to cross into Canada without geting arrested and deported.  Then, suddenly at 10:15…without warning or cause…a “bing” hit my email, and the contracts materialized online.  It was a magical moment for us all. I threw paperwork about, scribbling on them furiously, getting them out the door to our Product Pimp in the warehouse, who by this time was sweating bloody-houses and offering to pay me to slit his throat as a good humanitarian gesture.

I declined.

…Meanwhile, I went back to working on reports.

For a Brothel, we keep a lot of records. 

The Big House, insists on it.

…And I’m the only one who updates them, because lets face it, Boss forgets things like  seven-ton International shipments, and his car keys (on a regular basis)…do you really think he’s gonna remember a thousand-dollar purchase order in Sequim? 

So, I went back to that. 

Reports, I mean.

…The same variety that I have to update every Monday.  Which is a very unsatisfactory accomplishment, end-of-the-day, even if I’ve managed to swim through five or six.  Because the “numbers” are just placeholders, ever-changing.  And because though you have hell to pay if you don’t do themno one (and I really mean no one), will ever open or read them.  Except in random-selection auditing. Once yearly.

…Which is why, by the time I finally arrived at the Open Orders sheet for the weekend…I kinda wanted to cry.

The Open Order report is one of only two, around which my entire work-life is based.  And because it is for “me” and not “other people,” it always comes last.  But in it, is the actual workload for which I was actually (once upon a time) hired to do. If you strip all the Boss’-job crap away, this is what I am legitimately responsible for…but since it is the absolute last thing I get to do, I feel a sick necessity to complete it no matter WHAT the day has thrown my way.  It is, after all, “my job.”  The real one.  Not the fake one I don’t get paid to do.

…Now, one look at the report today (at oh say…3:30…when I was finally able to get around to it), clearly showed that either some dude was out handing pimp flyers on Mall Blvd all weekend, or we had had an ad, which Boss had (big surprise) forgotten to tell me about.  The new orders list, by end of processing, was upwards of 70k.  By the time I got done just printing and coding the jobs, it was 4:15.  Aside from ER’s and Special Orders, not a single call had been made at all.

…Which basically turned today into one giant clusterfuck of non-accomplishment…(aside from the fact Russia doesn’t have a “hit” out on us for setting up one of it’s citizen in what might look to some, like a severely incompetent smuggling ring.)

It was one of those days where I worked my ass off all day long, and have very little to show for it. Only glorified “prep-work” for tomorrow.

…I mean sure, I could have stayed there to finish it.  I could have stuck it out, till about 9:30…where, with no phones to answer, I might have actually finished everything I was supposed to do today…before International trade unions, and cargo embargoes shat all over me.

Instead, I chose home. And dinner. And flashing a giant bird to the Brothel establishment, as a whole, for the remainder of the night.

The paper can wait.

Warning signs that I’m already reaching a tipping point for the week, on the first day back, cannot.

Must rest. 

Must let it go.

Must make it to Tuesday.

…Where no doubt, another marvel of ridiculousness awaits us all.

~D

Wrong Breakfasting

8 Jul

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I’ve just succeeded in ruining breakfast again. 

…Woke up late, due to chronic Mrs. Johnson shenanigans in my guttal region all night, forcing me to grab what few hours I could whenever they came to me.  This ended at 11 a.m., with a sum-total of about five hours if you squish all the separate minutes together into one chunk…resembling a “sleeping” version of canned Spam.

…Anyway, I was lazy, and I’m outta milk. 

Instead to trying to choke down dry cereal pebbles (an action not unknown to me), I decided to take all the pre cut and grated salad fixings, and throw ’em into a bowl.  Then, grabbing my fist-full of drugs, I loped to the living room, sat at the coffee table and tried to convince my appetite that raw onions are delicious and everyone wishes they had kidney beans and garlic chicken staring them in the face first thing in the morning!

I took a few sketchy bites, and decided that “not thinking about it” was going to be the best plan in choking it all down.

…Because I love me some spinach salad, friends! You get some avocado and onions, tomatoes, two kinds of cheese…spiced chicken, couple kinds of beans and throw some cilantro on that shit, and I’m about as mouth-happy as you can get! But I am also here to tell you that as delicious as it is, there are just some foods you shouldn’t face before your morning coffee (whatever time and however late in the day that might be.) And this here, is one of ’em.

…And because we are friends, and I care about you…because I love food far too much to see it wasted in moments outside of its “magic hour” expiration dates,  I thought I would put my suffering to use and share with you several foods with special rules that will help you not repeat the morning travesty I just got finished partaking in.  Please feel free to add to the list as you see fit.  They are, in no particular order:

Exception Foods” Not To Be Eaten Before Morning Coffee

* Leftover chimichangas.
* Any kind of soup.
* Anything containing fish items (which should technically never be eaten anyway…they swim in their own poop.)
* Spaghetti.
* Meat not belonging to a pig. (Unless you’re Irish.  Then corned beef hash is not only allowed, but encouraged.)
* Pizza. (After you graduate College, trade this tradition in for your diploma. Adult-you will thank me for it)
* Raw onions or garlic.
* Anything you ate for dinner last night.  Even if it was “breakfast.” (Your body is still using the first version, and you’ll only confuse it.)
* Savory breads with things like chunks of veggies in it.
* Anything involved in “pickling.”
* Anything which falls under the blanket term of “Fair food.”
* “Hair of the dog.” (Unless you aperitief it with a giant slug of Pepto first.)
* Soda (your guts will explode. I saw it happen once.)
* Spinach salad (with all the fixin’s.)

…Note that I have said nothing of things like Pop-Tart-sprinkled-Captain-Crunch, or Venti Oreo Cookie Fraps with Chocolate Whip.  This is not to assume I think of these as good ideas for breakfast food meal plans.  It just means I’ve taken into account that though you may contract severe diabetes by consuming them, your tastebuds won’t recognize the wrongness as much, merely because sugar is involved. And sugar, (as we know) masks a multitute of sins.

Right. Now that my conscience is clear, and my duty is done…I am off to brew me a fat-ass pot of Kona, and scrub my tongue, pretending this entire episode never took place.

~D

Oh The Misery, Oh The Hysteria

8 Jul

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Classic complete waste of a Saturday, as The Misery arrived four days early and on a sunny day. 

…Because that’s always the kind of trick she pulls, Mrs. Johnson, every month popping up like she owns the place; pitching camp for a week in my guts (and general baby-cooking area), laying waste to the entire region.  Then, after about five days of munching, punching, kicking, hot flashing and general nausea, she departs to visit another sister of Womanity. Because for some reason the bitch just can’t get around to finding her own damn place to live, and leave us all the fuck alone.

The older I get, the worse her visits. 

…The last couple years have seen fit to add extreme lower back pain, extra-intense bloating, and hot flashes to the list.  And the last thing you wanna hear while cramped, folded in the fetal position, bloated out of anything not containing elastic, zitting out, and generally self-disgusted, is that you should just “get used to it.” 

…This morning’s phone conversation with Ma, (though attempting to add solace) only seemed to exacerbate the situation…going something like this:

(I grog-dial the phone, while shooting a dose of Pamprin.)

Ma: Well, good morning!

Me: I feel awful. I feel terrible.  I just wanna puke.

Ma: Oh. Hangover?

Me: Worse. Mrs. Johnson.

Ma: Again? Already?

Me: It’s like, “she knows.”

Ma: How’d you sleep?

Me: Didn’t.

Ma: Pills?

Me: Yes.

Ma: Eat something?

Me: Crackers.

Ma: Heating pad?

Me: The usual.* (* Note: ” the usual” is a cocktail consisting of two Pamprin, a shot of Pepto, two crackers, a heating pad while pinch-hitting a hot tea/fuzzy water chaser.)

Ma: Need anything?

Me: I sweat through all my clothes again.

Ma: Well, that happens.

Me: When you’re fifty.

Ma: For some women, it starts earlier.

Me: It’s crap.

Ma: You’re just starting pre-stuff, is all…

Me: I’m only thirty!

Ma: Well…thirty-two.

Me: Some people might consider that their prime!

Ma:  …That’s your forties.

Me: How the hell is “thirty” supposed to be the new “twenty,” when your junk is already starting to rust up and fall apart?!

Ma: There’s nothing wrong with your…”junk.” It’s not a plumbing issue. Just hormones. 

Me: Well, someone should tell my “just hormones” this ain’t Madrid in August.

Ma: You should see the Doctor. They’ll give you a little patch…it’ll be fine.

Me: I’m not even on the wrong side of my early thirties and I’m already launching peri menopause?!

Ma: Oh it’s fine! It doesn’t really mean anything.  You can have it for something like a decade before you even launch into the real deal. Lookit your Aunt M…and Aunt L…and Aunt G…

Me: That’s supposed to make me feel better?!

…Etc.

I was completely belligerent about the entire ordeal, and by the end of the conversation had given up my “girl card,” cursed and disowned my entire lineage of early menopausal-launching female ancestors, refused flatly to give a flying shit that the sun HAD come out today, and defied all reason by announcing loudly, that the cramps could, “go fuck themselves!” Cuz I was gonna go get, “the biggest fuckall coffee invented!” And, “heap it with twelve kinds of sugar and chocolate sauces!” And, “drink that shit till my gut explodes!” Cuz, “then they’d be sorry!” (The world in general.) Cuz, “it’s what they fucking deserve!” And, “I just HOPED THEY WERE HAPPY ABOUT IT!” Because they were all, “ass-hat-wearing period-Nazi’s, forcing me to commit craze-induced menstrual-suicide just to get even with them!”

…To which Ma said: “Oh, will you pick me up one too?”

It really was the least she could do. Wallow with me in my hated solitude.  I mean, if she’d never birthed me and passed on all those night-sweating, cocktail-needing, pain-hurling genes, I’d never BE in this position, now would I?!  WOULD I?!

…So I hung up the phone, plucked another dry shirt from my drawer, and moaned my way to the bathroom lookin’ like Quasimodo on a bad hair day.  Then moaned my way to the closest Starbucks.  Then moaned myself to her house, where we sat watching Joss Whedon shows all day, tween “cocktail” tosses, and general alternate “other complaining.”

…And now I’m home, bitching it all to you…while sweating through another shirt, trying not to pick at this gigantic should-have-its-own-zipcode zit on my chin.

In short, here is a tip, straight from me to the fellas out there in our television audience: Don’t ever ask why women are assholes during their monthly Misery. It should be blatantly obvious at this point that we’ve earned the goddamn right! We hurt! We’re pukey! We look like shit!

…And some idiot in the Tampax marketing department is slobbering, “Have a happy period” on all their crap, which we’re FORCED to buy, EVEN though we know the politics of it is TOTAL SHIT.

…Being an asshole at this moment, is the only thing we get.

So deal with it.

~D

Wine, Women & Other Delights

7 Jul

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Thursday night, over a spread of summer berries, breads, salad, cheese, wine, chocolate, coffee and Perrier, seven women sat down to feast on a script, and one another’s company.

…Literally at-table, with scripts in-hand, tween fork fulls, we ate and drank and laughed. Restroom breaks at intervals or when reader not in-play, wine corkings and pour-outs at natural segues in topic…we were exhausted with food and our efforts, as coffee was poured out casually during the final scene.  In the end, a tour-de-force and three-course meal was had, and we were each so supremely impressed with the success of it all, that a production of the piece by right of blood-determination and pinky swears, was insisted.

This script must be shared, but the formula was a delicate beast.

…We agreed (all) that the delectable intimacy we had shared over the evening was the same way it should be presented for the audience .  Very limited seating…sometime late summer…wherin everyone partake in food and wine in casual corners, as the audience plays at voyeurism, outside of normal theatrical patronism.  No stage to separate the one from the other, no blocking to suggest “presentation.”  Just a collection of women, living their lives in History, in their houses, in their offices, in their time…which some will secretly have view-access to.

The script: “Top Girls.” Caryl Churchill’s 1982 tribute to feminist power struggles, and their rise and fall of ideals across History and into the future.

The cast: Seven savvy dames who’ve lived the lives of many of the characters…which, if you knew us, would be all but painfully obvious.

The process:  We change nothing from that evening’s presentation of share, sauce, laugh, pick, pour, wink, wine, taste, wit, crunch, smack, tease and play.  Only this time, people will be standing and sitting around the space like patrons at an art gallery, free to view the work from any angle they please.

The rules: Delight in the extraordinary work of truth. Celebrate what it is to be a woman in these (and in any) times, rough though it may often be. Enjoy an unusual evening of theatre that will make you howl, hiss, laugh, sob and say to yourself end-of-the-night: “we really are remarkable creatures, ain’t we?”

Simple.  True.  Real.  Just like the piece.

…I had never read or done any Churchill previous to this, though had heard much talk of her “Cloud Nine” (a sex-politics play of the first degree.)  Mdm. Director of the evening’s festivities, brilliantly likened Churchill’s style of work to that of a female Mamet…in content, topic, politics and most especially beat-work.  Her dialogues follow the true form of conversation, outside of polite society, “we all wait our turn to have our say” dogma.  No one “waits” here.  No one “minds their tongue,” or “keeps it close”…no one holds back their thoughts for a moment’s pause.  Sentences wrap, envelope, cut-off, cut-out, usurp, entangle and define one another continually.  Yet the joke (and truth) lies in the fact that with a room full of women, this is merely the kind of multi-tasking we relish in: we are able to do it all while also listening and responding to one another, throughout.  As opposed to Mamet’s work’s denying completion of thought, information and (often) actual conversation.  The beats are insanity and completely superb when achieved correctly.  The comedy is crisp, tart, acidic and jolly by turn.  The drama is jaw-dropping, in its insistence of righteous self-expression, earnest regret, and truthful grudging.

It’s frustrating.

It’s enlightening.

It’s humiliating.

It’s enticing.

It’s truthful.

It’s a mind-trip.

…After two months away from scripts and stages, lines, and study…the whole evening and it’s process was like that first taste of water following a drought.  You walk around knowing you’re thirsty all the time, but the minute your lips finally touch a water glass, it’s like the most wondrous element of delicious existence you can even fathom.

It’s been a long time.

…And I thought: if you wanna swig of refreshment, you should keep your eyes peeled for our “Save-the-Date.”  I guarantee, it’ll be wondrous.

~D

Miss Scarlet, With The Car, In the Bathroom

2 Jul

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Exactly one week from Friday, I will be amongst many in a throng of humanity, crammed into Seattle Art Museum listening to a series of lectures on the rules and regulations of gorilla-filming for the 48 Hour Film Festival.  Thankfully, some several-year veteran’s are the ones who have built our team, selecting it’s members with whatever crystal ball of weirdness they own.  I know it’s an “iffy” brand, because they want me to be a part of the deal…and I’ve never been on a film set in my life.

…I adore film, don’t get me wrong! 

…I want to make babies with it and pepper the world-over with them…like a Queen Victoria of cinema.  That isn’t the concern.  It’s that I am “of theatre.”  Like the “in my bones” kind.  And I’m not a cross-over when it comes to displays of my talents.  I am particularly unphotogenic…to the point that head shots and archival candids are the absolute bane of my existence.  And this is partly because everything on my face is giant. 

…There is nowhere to GO, no safe haven to retreat to when an entire face is just yelling at you with every feature.  So I consider it fortunate that this is a “good” thing for theatre, and we all get along swimmingly for it, la-de-dah.

But now, two perfectly lovely people want me to do some film.  And I said “yes,” because they are perfect and lovely.  And then I thought about my little “problem” and added a small asterix to my contract clause.  We are working exclusively on “handshake” terms, so not being in exact writing, it goes something like this:

“I will be honored to do this film shoot with you, on the strict understanding that I in no way have to act on screen in it.”

…The addendum clause to the addendum clause they replied back, goes something like:

“…Unless we really, really need you, cuz for whatever reason it’s the only way to go.”

…To which my legal department responded:

“…But what if I had another solid behind-the-screen job that might even make it a conflict of interest in time and schedule budgeting?”

…To which they said:

“Fine.  You’re head writer.”

…To which I said:

“Um…I’ve never written a screenplay in my life!”

….To which they said:

“You’re like a 7-time produced playwright. Suck it up, and learn.”

…So that is what I have been doing. 

I have a job.  I know what it is.  And my giant face won’t be screaming at people on a screen the size of a two-story house afterwards. 

I can work with this. 

…And I have been.

Two practice runs in fully timed and detailed mock-up situations.  And several panicked moments of complete spontaneous inadequacy.  One of the mock ups though has even been claimed by Team Leader to film later, just “because.”  He thinks it’s solid.  He likes the “reveal.” And no one paid him to tell me that.

…Every stumble-effort success, is still a “success.”  So, play on.

Tomorrow, will be my third pass.  A couple notes from Team Leader as an Editor and Director on things to be mindful of from passes one and two, are simmering even now, in my brain.  Just a-waiting.  Married with a couple things I’ve learned on my own, along the way. Here is my mental notebook going into run three:

1)  Less locations, less effects for post.
2)  Shorter.  Always shorter.
3)  It’s not meant to win an Oscar.
4)  Over-“dramaticalness” reads on screen faster than a fart is found out in an elevator.
5)  Maybe find a different way to kill people than with cars.
6)  Find a wine-bitch.  I work waaay better when I stop thinking and editing crap before I’ve even allowed myself to actually write it.
7)  Pretend like this isn’t going to be seen by thousands of people on a movie screen with my name on it.
8)  Pack my toothbrush.
9)  Make peace, right now, that no sleeping will be taking place.
10) Remember: we are having fun.

…So goes my next gig.  Followed quickly by the next two, back-to-back, up on stage.

Rest time is over, friends.

Season’s starting!

Time to get the head back in the game.

…”About fucking time!” Says I.

~D

The Seduction Of Me

1 Jul

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Overcompensation is a large part of why people like me, become people like me. 

…I happen to be spending a great deal of time seducing myself lately, for instance. 

I don’t know why I do this.  I almost always sleep with me, end-of-the-night, regardless of whether any wining or dining has taken place to blur my better judgement. 

…As with nearly every habit I have accrued over the years, it must have happened slowly…bit by bit…like a time-release drug. I certainly don’t recall making a conscious-choice decision about it.  I’m not even sure how the entire routine even came together.  All I know is that one night, not many nights ago, I paused mid-sequence and realized I was having the most intense deja vu  imaginable.  It hit so hard, I actually paused mid-pour of alcohol, to really commune with the moment.

Now, the thing is…before her trip to CA, The BFF and I had just been talking about deja vu’s and what it is that they signify.  I don’t happen to believe in past-lives  (if I did, I was two generations older…and Jewish)…but still have always had an inkling that “time” must have something to do with it.  Maybe a burp in space, or a stutter in the plot sequence the Universe likes to watch…like a royally large and intricate soap opera on reality TV.  But BFF thinks it’s more a “linear existence colliding” kind of thing.  You know, multiple worlds wherein we live our lives unbeknownst to the fact that we are living the same exact existence,  one world over, simultaneously. Only in this one, the chair is green, and in that one: the chair is red.  Times infinity.

…Either way, you can’t deny the strangeness of the sensation when you’re having one.  A deja vu, I mean.  A little like the feeling of someone walking on your grave.  Privy to things you shouldn’t be.

…Well, I was standing there, pouring out a glass of Pinot Noir, when I realized that eery sensation of having lived that exact moment before.  So I stopped.  And with the previous BFF conversation in my head, gave it my full attention to soak up every aspect and clue that I could.

Turns out, on reflection, the deja vu, was considerably less intriguing than I originally thought.  Mostly because as I tried to trace its roots back to an original source, I realized it only reached to yesterday. 

…Or maybe the day before that.

…Or the day before…

…Or…

…Well, shit.

To the best I could compute while standing there with the wine bottle hovering over the glass, (and math has never been a strong suit, so it’s understandable that it took me a while to put it all together)…either I was living all the linear existences of The BFF’s theory (with the only change being the make of alcohol I was pouring out), OR I had to face the fact that I had formed an intricate habitual sequence whose end-game was to get me to bed every night, with a contented smile on my face.

…It goes deeper than that, but ultimately this is the hard fact.

Here is what I found out, using my best Sherlockian cross-examinations:

I’ve taken to routinely coming home from a long day at work, dropping my drawers soon as I pass the threshold in favor of something “more comfortable,” and proceeding to the kitchen to “gourmet” myself something sinful. Fetish viewing of garlics and butters and various meats searing in a pan, having the kind of slow-cooked-sex they put on HBO (usually featuring Vampires), then follows.  And as the smells of warm, caramelized deliciousness fills the apartment and  dusk falls…I begin the lighting of dozens of candles strewn about. Once the whole place looks like the bowels of the Paris Opera house during the Phantom’s reign, I move to the bar and pour out a glass of something that marries well with my dinner’s post-coitus rest from the pots and pans, set some music on  shuffle, and settle in for a candlelit dinner, for one.

…What is so unusual about this deal is that I am not one to cook foods “over time,” and let the meat and veg indulge in brine and sauce saunas.  Usually, the end-of-the-day signifies total exhaustion, where just scrambling an egg and throwing it in a tortilla is about all I can muster.  And usually, in these gray and rainy days of epic Seattle-proportions, I want LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT…in blinding wattage, from every outlet orifice.  And usually, I am merely a “social drinker”…certainly imbibing from time-to-time, solo, but nothing like what calculated to quite the bottle slaughter of late.

Naturally, this got me to thinking. 

Why?

How?

What does it all mean?

…Which brought me ultimately to: “Overcompensation.”

It’s why I do almost everything that is eccentric or bad for me. Either it is to compensate loss of power, loss of control, depression, angst, jealousy, worry or lust.  When you think about it, I suppose this is not outside of the norm.  If you feel shitty: you wanna fix it.  If you lose control: you wanna reclaim it.  If you have a highly stressful job, and no money: you wanna forget about it.  If your emotions tell you its time to start shopping for a significant other again, but  you really just don’t wanna deal with all the crap that goes with it: you wanna reaffirm that you are fantastic catch who needs NO ONE to wine and dine you and complement your ass.

…This is the conclusion that I have come to.

I am spending every evening courting myself into believing that having a crap job, being poor, worrying about waiting for the next shoe to drop, and that I am prob’ly going to die alone as a re-formed virgin because my junk wasn’t used so long it resealed itself up like a skin graft, isn’t my true reality.

…And I am doing this because my entire life is spinning out of my control, on a trajectory promising gross amounts of changes.  And soon. And I Fucking. Hate. Change.

I am doing this, because if you can’t have exactly what you want in this life, you go out and get the best compensation package that you can.

The ONE good realization in all of this, I suppose, is the fact that I now know at least three new things about myself:

1. I can cook. If I really want to.
2. Lessening alcohol units to “one” will save lots on the house bar tab. And my head the next morning.
3. I am a good date.  In case anyone wondered.

~D

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