Archive | December, 2014

Gnome Goes Packing

23 Dec

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Listen, she’s an idiot, but I’ll be the first to admit, The Gnome has had a hell of a hard year. A surprise pregnancy, her van dieing, her apartment catching fire, and this week she’s been evicted…we assume from lack of rent payments. We know she’s signed up with some charities, and her boyfriend does have a job, making bread at a German bakery…but it doesn’t seem to be quite enough to struggle along with. Which made The WHS Pimp feel like a total asshole, when he had to let her go this week from lack of work.

…Hours have been cut to minimums, and since she was a seasonal hire to begin with, she exits the arena first…and will not be returning. Cecil will be invited back when the work need arises…because she can manage three times the output in half the time.

…Which means: no more stories of pink sparkle office letter openers, explanations about alphabetizing, or dumb blonde quotes of the day. Alas, the final office idiot has returned from wence they came… into the ether of screwed up orders, lost packages, no turning signals and other offenses that exasperate and offend you.

…And they can keep her there.

…Hopefully with a full-time position, where color matters more than content…and no one can accidentally die of a peanut allergy.

In Other News: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, felt like a joyride over the weekend, taking what looks like an escape route, directly through our fenced-in lot. It’s totalled on receiving and shipping ends, leaving behind deep tire grooves and a license plate, embedded into the metal gate wire. So they weren’t the smartest hooligans in town, but then with the office “idiot” post now wide open, apparently we seem to radiate equal opportunity employment replacement options.

In Other Other News: After spending the morning talking shop, looking at kid Santa pics and debating office holiday lunch options, I’m told “we’ve decided.” So, me and my snotty nose will now exit this update with a “Happy Holidays,” from us all…before we get too hammered on whiskey and beer chasers to complete full sentences.

Over and out,

-D

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Some Dames

23 Dec

Off hand, I can’t think of anything that links them aside from their sex. Even their talents were in different departments…but this week, when not hitting the books like crazy sauce in biographical prep for a drama, I’ve been spending my down (and sick) time in between, resting my eyes and writer’s cramp on some other dames I know.

…Old friends and teachers all-three. I’ve no idea how I selected this particular stream of films to follow other than, I guess, the ladies were a tonic I needed at the time, and wrapping up my last day off in a row, with sniffles and coughs and general “ick” about, all I can say is, “what a way to go.”

Women who defied and yet defined their particular archetypes, in a swirling dervish of talent.

…One: classy and refined…cast primarily as the elegant English Rose, though she was more of a fiery Scot in actuality.
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The next: one of the top screwball gals who defined the genre as Frank Capra’s favorite Leading Lady, all the while hating both fame and publicity second only to Garbo, in the annals of Hollywood history.
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And last, but certainly not least: a blonde with a voice that could shatter glass, who made bank (and an Oscar) in the ditz market, though in reality was neither blonde nor dim-witted, but sported a cultured mezzo speaking voice, and a recorded IQ of 172.
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These: my playmates for the week, serving up many, many laughs (and some tears too, as needed.) Excellent sport, to watch them at work in their own dynamics with costars, seeing how they cater each role and relationship accordingly. If I’ve seen these movies once, I’ve seen ’em a thousand times. And how you know a performance and the artist doing it is good is: it never gets old. You wait for those best bits of dialogue and looks and interactions, like a kid waits for Christmas. And because it’s saved forever on film, the joy of it landing with perfection…every time…is a surefire guarantee.

…And hot damn but these dames were good at the game. Played the hell out of the stereotype they were prescribed to (as most were in those years in Hollywood), meanwhile managing somehow to one up the system at the same time.

Deborah Kerr owned the entire world of beautifully bone-structured, stately English wife and motherdom…until she decided to flip it the finger, drop the accent, bleach the red from her hair and role in the sand having extramarital sex onna beach, somehow stumping the censors so hard they let it pass…as surely if saintly Deborah Kerr does it, it can’t be immoral in any way…can it?

Listen: nothing is quite as twisted as her end scene in “The Innocents,” as tear-jerky as her pretending she missed the appointment on top of the Empire State building on purpose in “An Affair To Remember,” or as frustrating as her chaste love, refusing to deny her final vows to the novate in “Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.” It’s true what they say about good girls, “when they are good, they’re good…but when they’re bad, they’re better.” Sometimes, you just need some, “From Here To Eternity.”

…And sometimes you need some Jean Arthur…who was virtually a ghost of a celebrity, hating everything to do with it, though one assumes, not the “acting” bit. She was said to refuse most PR responsibilities regardless of the contract, and suffered terrible stage fright, doubting her every choice and needing coaxing to go on often times. But when she was “on,” whatever she touched turned gold…helped greatly by the fact that people like Capra and Howard Hawks and George Stevens knew a good thing when they saw it. And put it up there with people like Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart.

…Awesome as her politically wry and pessimistic Saunders is in, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, ” and emotionally clobbered and confused in, “Only Angels Have Wings,” watching her navigate the physical requirement of fast-paced comedy like her Oscar-nom’d performance in, “The More The Merrier,” on a dime of precision that could stop just shy of a single bat of a wing before the butterfly effect…is fairly amazeballs. Especially knowing her confidence was at like zero, and yet she would still one day teach a class at Vassar, passing on that knowledge (through mind-waves I suppose) to none other than student Meryl Streep.

Finally, then comes my great binge for today: the brilliant blonde bombshell, Judy Holliday. “Bells Are Ringing,” “It Should Happen To You,” “Full of Life,” and “Pfft,” are choice…but nothing touches her “Born Yesterday.” How you know is: she won the Oscar fair and square…but in the only comedy competing in the biggest cinematic year in Hollywood history, since 1939…beating out veterans Bette Davis in “All About Eve,” and Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”

…She was 29 during filming, had nearly lost the role to every eligibly aged actress at the time, as though she had originated it on Broadway…they claimed she had no “star quality” to bank on. Even stranger twist of fate being, the role had been written for Jean Arthur, who in another fit of nerves, had pulled out just before it opened…leaving Judy three days to learn the role, cold. Not even having been an understudy.

…The show opened, as scheduled, and she would perform the role 1200 times, before finally landing the contract at Columbia, and giving a performance on film, so totally fresh and inventive…yet beat-perfect…that it slaughtered the acting competition in a year of diva-supremes.

Her particular “light” burned out far too soon, at 42, from cancer. But not before leaving several killer Comden and Green collaborations, a slew of Broadway performances, and a son behind. Not least of which, she was the only person to face the McCarthy hearings unscathed, beating him so coolly as to not name names or face blacklisting, by acting the part of the dumb blonde everyone still assumed she was, (and totally getting away with it.) Just beginning to finally break free of the stigma roles which made her a star, she had formed a plan, before a second battle with cancer, took her life.

…A sad ending, tragic for the loss of talent, and where else it might have shown. But then, much the same can be said of Jean Arthur’s early retirement after “Shane.”

Either way, I have them now. They belong to me and their performances, from grave to grinning, are glorious. It’s good to visit with old friends, and check in from time to time…and it had been too long. Sincerely glad to have had the chance (even if it cost me a cold) to meet up and check in again.

…The ol’ girls really hold up. They dont look as if they’ve aged even a single day. You should drop in on them sometime, yourself. 😉

– D

Teacher

17 Dec

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“…It is easier for the credulous to say, ‘She is a miracle, and her teacher is another miracle,’ and for the unbelievers to declare, ‘Such things cannot be; we are being imposed upon,’ than to make a conscious study of the principles involved in her education. I therefore, ask you to free your minds from preconceived notions and theories regarding this case, and give it the thought and study which it deserves…While it is unsafe to predict what Helen’s future will be, I know she is destined to be the instrument of great good in the world, not only by drawing forth the sympathies, and putting into exercise the kind emotions of others, but by teaching them how great things may be achieved under the worst difficulties, and how pure and sweet and joyous may be existence under the darkest cloud… So we see, pathetic as Helen’s life must always seem to those who enjoy the blessings of sight and hearing, that it is yet full of brightness and cheer and courage and hope.”

~Annie Sullivan
(Member)
Speech to The American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf
Chautauqua, NY, 1894
Age 28

***

First read in the can and two more rehearsals end-of-the month, before we start slamming into staging hard-core.

…Off book by first rehearsal 13 days from now, the time of which to do this, carved out of a zillion article and archive searches and exercises in finger-spelling, book-reading and even a little touch-n-go on braille.

Research, research, research.

3 Internet Archive Databases

5 Documentaries

5 Academic Theses & Research Papers

3 Books

A curriculum plan for Comprehensive Training for Deaf-Blind Persons, from the U.S. Dept of Education.

…Pages and pages of archived handwritten letters.

…As well as notes and resources from,The National Federation of the Blind, Perkins School for the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, and
Deaf-Blind Service Center of Seattle.

…So far.

I’ve 247 pages of handwritten, highlighted, pasted, charted, Braille-dotted, hand-graphed notations and quotes. Everyone from Inventors, Actors and Presidents…Educators, Historians and Scientists, weighing in on the proceedings, and all to sort and put in proper order so I can follow the through-line from Irish Potato Famine, to being laid to rest in the National Cathedral. From first day of school at age 14, to Honorary Doctorate of Letters at 65. From 20 years-old, fresh off a train, with nowhere else to go, to: a “miracle worker.”

…Thankfully, Gibson did his homework too, and much of the script is line-by-line fact…from letters written now sitting in archives, and autobiographies, and intimate remembrances from Helen of her Teacher, now long out of print. (Thank you Ebay!)

The more I dig in, the more brilliant I find them both, as academics, as politicians, as lobbyists, as humanitarians, as individuals, as women. To know how far they will reach in their life-span and still keep the story simple and in-the-moment almost seems impossible, in hindsight. The entirety of their relationship in the script takes place across only one month of time. The first month of a 50-year companionship, which as deep as I’m in it now, is easily the greatest love story of total devotion I have ever heard:

“…My work occupies my mind, heart and body….I feel in every heartbeat that I belong to Helen, and it awes me when I think of it — this giving of one’s life that another may live…It is a privilege to love and minister to such a rare spirit. It is not in the nature of man to love so entirely and dependently as Helen. She does not merely absorb what I give, she returns my love with interest.”

***

…Yet with all this info…all the working, all the finger-spelling exercises to get up to speed and precision…all the research on how affected and incapacitated her eyes were, how they reacted under strain of hours at study, how constantly undereducated and ill prepared she felt for her task, how to tame the physical beast without breaking the child’s spirit, and the depth of writers cramp in her hand from spelling ceaselessly without end. Plus the politics in her relationship with every member of the household…which her correspondence to mentors and friends told, throughout. Every word of her process from day one with Helen…the drag-out fights and wild-animal explosions of temper…all of it, is cramming into my fingers and head as quickly as I can manage it. With the same amount of eagerness Helen did, once she first learned the aspect of a word being a thing, opening communication with the outside world.

…It’s good, but exhausting, tracing Annie’s steps. Which is as it should be. She warrants the work. She’s done enough to have earned a rest on paper now for others to pick up and pass the torch.

Perspective being what it is, however, certainly doesn’t help keep the humility I’ve got to remember is key. The Annie and Helen of one-month, have no idea in the least what is to become of their lives…they are living from beat-to-beat in an all-out war of wills. Educating Helen required total immersive, physical, mental and psychological exhaustion, day and night, on the part of her Teacher, and instinctual animalized destruction of terror on behalf the student. And the first word which ends the business of the play, was only the beginning of a long, long road to enlighten a newly born being on what it is to be human.

An awesome thought.

And a hell of an education while I study it.

“All I have to teach you is–one word. Everything.”

***

“…What a marvelous thing is language! How seldom we give it a thought! Yet it is one of the most amazing facts in life. By means of the spoken or written word thought leaps over the barrier that separates mind from mind, yet this miracle excites no comment. With simple little words we open our hearts to each other. To think and speak, to have ideas and write them, to make plain to others, to talk with strangers, to learn from acquaintances and the newspapers what our contemporaries are doing, to continue to communicate with the dead through the printed word, to keep their memories alive — surly this is the marvel of existence.”
~ Annie Sullivan

***

~D

Things To Do*

6 Dec

*When Other People Sleep

I’ve been awake since two a.m.. It is now a quarter to five. Last time I’d looked at the clock before the short stint of sleep I actually got was 11:30. So, I’ve had 2.5 hours of sleep. You should be impressed I can do math right now.

…Either way, more is obviously not an option. The alarm goes off at 7:05, my flight leaves at 10:40.

I control none of these things. But I do get to decide how to spend my not-sleep time. And in case you are also having complete-shit sleeping patterns, may I suggest some of the following to fill all your lonely waking hours as the world Zzz’s on:

1. Make hot tea:

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Everyone does it. Cuz it’s supposed to be “calming” and “soothing.” I happen to like tea on an average day, so this always seems a good idea to me when I’m awake before dawn, and freezing my ass off. It works on a hit/miss scale though–warming you, till you’re full of it, and need to get up to pee over and over again, which makes you colder, which necessitates more tea. Sort of a vicious cycle, really…but what the hell else is there to do at two a.m.?

2. In between potty breaks, read this:

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It has pictures. Plus jokes. Plus interactive material. If you’re me, it’s also by your bed right now, so: readily available in a convenient location.

3. Consider eating this:
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A representative of the left-overs currently in my fridge. I can’t show you the real one, cuz I ate it. About an hour ago. In between suggestions 1 & 2. Midnight eating for me isn’t exclusively due to boredom, but more “I’m nauseous from lack of sleep and it’s either this or swigging a thing of Pepto, and this tastes better.”

4. Catch up on this:
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…Then realize the topics only feed your total inability to defreak in any way at all, and move directly into this:

5.
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…Which is good for about 20 minutes, by which time (because everyone you know is asleep) you are entirely caught up on every stream and cat meme.

6. Which leads next to this:
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I suggest 90’s Rom-Coms, or sitcom comedy. They require zero reasoning skills, plot analysis or stress…as you already know how they turn out, even if you never saw them the first time, because they were made in America, and there are rules.

7. Solve this:

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The ultimate pillow pile of perfection. I’m a girl. Which means I have like 47 pillows on my bed…some just decorative, sure…but a lot are main-functioning. I keep them in the hopes of one day solving the perfect combo of body-pillow, neck pillow, back pillow, fat pillow, skinny pillow nesting…which will lead to instant sleep on say nights like this one. I believe there is a key. And I will find it one day.

8. Window shopping in your underwear:
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The internet is never closed. You can always go there and look at stuff, and put it in your wish list, no matter HOW much money it costs. Who cares?! YOU aren’t buying it! But your hypothetical winning Lotto ticket, or sugar daddy, or wealthy admirer might! And they won’t know what the really good stuff is, unless you put it in there!

9. See step 5:
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…Part of you thinks, “hey, it’s almost six now. Somebody’s gotta be awake and posting.” Only, it’s Saturday. So: no. No one is.

10. Do this:
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Write a blog. It helps sometimes. Also: you’ve run out of other activities. Last time the neighbors frowned on your early-morning interior redesigning overhaul. And it’s too early to drink.

The end.
~D

When An Anxiety Attack Keeps You Awake At 3 A.M.

2 Dec

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…So you’ve never had an Anxiety Attack. Bully for you! I think it’s great that you’ve never experienced the cold chill followed by immediate burning rush of panicked adrenaline, at a volume usually reserved for legitimate life and death situations.

…When you are clearly in no physical danger whatsoever…

…And yet your brain actually legitimately thinks you are in the process of your last breathing moments on earth.

…Across minutes that stretch to hours.

Cuz I gotta say, that shit is scary.

…It’s like your whole body is on phantom fire, which no one can see, no one can put out, no one can relieve the pain of.

…And this ball called “earth” that we live on, just keeps spinning at gross speeds which you swear you can actually feel…to the point you get motion sickness and wanna vomit, but can’t, because that too will bring a whole host of new fixating anxieties with it…and what you’ve got going on right now is plenty enough, thanks.

I’ve been up and having one for the past hour, real-time.

An Anxiety Attack.

…I’ve paced, and made my tea, and tried my bag o’ tricks to oust it from my brain…but nothing seems to be working. And so: I blog. (Which was this thing’s first purpose on inception, years and years ago.)

…Thought I’d take you with me, on this one…talk it out, and try to regain my center of calm.

YOU’RE calm. Just lookit you! Sitting there, reading this, at whatever normal time it is to be awake and reading things…

…Bet you aren’t shaking in a cold sweat, fixating on possible fatalisms too numerous to count…until actual physical pains begin to ghost your body as if to say, ” See! I told you I am a total legitimate possibility…!”

Bet you don’t have to pace the floor like Rainman, chanting positive reinforcements to your clearly failing mental state, like you’re in the final moments of coaching it to the performance level of winning an Olympic Gold Medal…and if you fail right now, we’re talking like DECADES of your life’s work will have totally been wasted.

…Down the toilet.

So don’t fuck this up, asshole!

…All meanwhile you physically happen to be in a perfectly warm and serene enviornment, with zero “tangible” worries befalling you, no great stresses you can put your finger on…in essence: freaking out for absolutely no reason at all.

Just: awake!

…Suddenly! And in total mind-coked-out panic! Here! Now! In an awful living-and-fully-conscious nightmare that you can’t shake off.

It must be nice, to be you…

…And not have any of that.

…But I wouldn’t know.

I’m “me.” And I have Anxiety Attacks. And though the world says, “S’all cool here, no need to freak,” my brain is heavily debating that right now.

…It’s a pretty good fighter. So good, that when these happen, no matter how logically I try and work my “process” through it, I’m always secretly terrified that this time: it’s totally gonna win.

The “it” that is my disturbed little brain.

…The same brain, which fixates so easily, that “study” and “learning” become like crack cocaine.

…The same brain that can get lost in a book-world so deeply, I could stay inside while on a bus full of screaming children, in the middle of an earthquake, while Godzilla makes his slow, giant, monster-steps towards us and our inevitable doom.

…The same brain that can multitask like a mutherfucker, retain two and a half hours of non-stop line dialogue, and put in a 40-hour day-job, and still puke out exhausting repetitions of emotional diatribes to paying audiences five or more times per week.

The. Same. Brain.

…Which is my blessing, as well as my curse.

…Like a really shitty Superhero.

…Who doesn’t actually “save” anybody or anything. But could totally tell you the plot in that one story, in great detail. Also: (at the moment anyway) virtually anything in the world about ten or eleven current topics of intense obsession.

Rescue you from a flaming building? Sorry, not my bag. Tell you about mid nineteenth century social, medical and economic conditions among the immigrant Irish: hold onto your damn hat!

Anyway…now you’re all caught up. Well, not “all.” “All” would insinuate you’ve been riding this joyeous wave of terror with me for the past…oh, look at that…hour-and-half now. Actually inside my brain parts, trying to duke it out…shot for shot…instead of just reading my “things to try when stuffs 1 through 45 don’t work” play-by-play.

…And you should be thankful for that, really.

You’re welcome.

~D

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