Tag Archives: science

Kids. Theatre. Art.

14 Mar

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Stumbled on a Tumblr last night, linking to others that, all-collected, formed most of a young cast and their experiences of putting on this show.

…Totally fascinating…reading their processes in raw-thought form, thrown out there with zero editing of  their emotions and frustrations as they fought to balance out school schedules, homework, dating, rehearsals, finals and wrapping their heads around the history of the piece.

Written in 2006, these back-and-forth tagged Tumblrs and blogs are free-formed by High School students, who by now have most likely graduated College and gotten married, and started having children of their own.  Which is kinda mind-blowing, even not having known the kids personally…only because of the knowledge that they have this forever-record of that point in their lives, written down (much like Anne), which others can read and experience, further mirroring the book and show itself.

Really intriguing thoughts, actually. 

…Some in simple questioned innocents, some with down-and-dirty sleeves-rolled-up research, some likening their own personal experiences to Anne and their own characters…and some just excited by the whole process.

The thing that really got to me though, was the point…totally individual to each…when they “got it.”  The point where the full weight of what the show and this girl’s experiences were all about, actually sunk into them…and how each of them dealt with it.

Personal. Raw. Specific.

…These kids, through ART, were given a new way to access and view something from history that they already knew about since middle-school.  That restriction of: “this is a book about a teenage girl, in Amsterdam, in WWII,” was suddenly (and in some cases emotionally violently) altered for them once the process of physical “empathy” was put into place.

To read about a girl from the far-past, in a place they could not recognize, and had no tangible relateable association with at first glance…had limited a lot of them at the book’s first reading. Some were embarrassed by it’s pubescent topics, some shut off by the distant time frame in which it was written, some by the country they didn’t recognize…or the Politics they couldn’t understand…while some did actually take it personally and to heart. But the range there was wide.

…Through the process of ownership in their roles, though…you can actually SEE that begin to change…and the kids changing with it.

What they start out writing about in an off-hand remarks, early in the rehearsal process, begins to change to a kind of hungry obsession over time. They begin pulling out quotes from the script, and matching it to the diary…they write mini-bios, and suck up European political history like sponges. They become in awe of the magnitude in the numbers…which are no longer just “numbers,” but for the first time begin to represent actual “people” to them, now that they are actually portraying one of them…each with lives and families and homes and dreams of their own. They begin to question, and get angry, and become activists for a cause which now has become as real to them as anything they may have to deal with in their current day-to-day lives. They build genuine affection for their “characters”…defending their deeds in posts, and against Anne’s words…and explaining WHY they think and act and say the things they do.

…They become totally engrossed, as the posts move along…building not only on their own, but commenting on one another’s in debate, and agreement, and camaraderie.

And it is fucking FANTASTIC.

You see: THIS is what “Art” does.

THIS is why it is so essential, and why it’s disappearance from our Schools is so completely devastating.

“Art” is not just a “hobby.” “Art” isn’t an “extracurricular activity.” “Art” is “Humanity.” Straight-up. It is our one point of access to all that it is (and ever was) to be human. And without it, we are sorely damaging our future potential…and in severe danger of repeating our greatest mistakes.

And HERE is a prime example.

…Written by school children, grown now into adults, who BECAUSE of “art” experienced something so palpable that “History” became alive to them, “Politics” became important, “Numbers” meant more than mere addition and subtraction, the “Written Word” jumped off the pages at them, and “Science” in the research, reason and attempt to understand why and what it all meant, became totally essential to them.

…And yet, with all of that put together, it STILL could not hold the realization of the emotional strength and repercussions that actual “embodiment” had on each of them. The power of empathy…of PUTTING YOURSELF into another’s place…of FEELING the fear, and hunger, and pain, and sadness…of MAKING IT PERSONAL…it changed them, not just as “children” or “students,” but as HUMAN BEINGS.

…Once taught empathy, education, the difference between right and wrong…passion for history and learning…you can’t un-teach it. You can try, attempt to mind-wash and assault the brain all you like. But if given a good, strong, root to grow…early on…I don’t believe there is anything that can break that. Or the spirit it infuses, like Anne’s, to fight for your right to it.

“There are no walls, there are no bolts, no locks that anyone can put on your mind.”

…It was something Mr. Frank once told Anne, and something she often went back to as a form of solace, a comfort, an outlet…a form of expression.

…Because any form of educated obsession, release, curiosity, excitement, empathy…is a kind of art.

Because SHE was encouraged to release herself in it, we have her diary today. Because those kids were encouraged to release themselves in it, their lives were changed. The same way that mine constantly is. And Meryl Streep. And Picasso’s was. And Steven Spielberg. And Maria Callas. And Leonard da Vinci, and Stephen King, and Gertrude Stein, and Albert Einstein, Billie Jean King, and Stephen Hawking.

…So really, what I’m saying is: people learn and become inspired in so many different ways…going on to inspire and educate others, likewise. I’d like to assume you’d want every opportunity you can grasp onto, to make sure your kids get every option to become the best that they can be…as people and parents of their own children someday.

If you already practice an art of your own, there’s no need to tell you this, but if not: Listen up. I promise…it isn’t just a flippant accessory to life. It is a necessity. It’s brought us our greatest humanitarians, and thinkers, and doers we have ever produced as a human race. It breeds intelligence. It fosters hope. It counters depression, and fear, and anger.

It belongs in our schools.

…If only, to dust off the tired words in old textbook pages, and make all the other academics and political concepts and histories and numbers and sciences more real to the people who will be running this planet some day.

Think about it.

~D

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Conspiracy To Chicken-Dog & Other Things

6 Sep

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Conspiracy Theories.

…It’s one of my favorite things.  I thought maybe I’d share a couple with you and then if you agree, we can form a team and do secret Op investigation on it all.  This has nothing to do with what I’m watching on T.V. lately, btw.  All I know is, if I suddenly go missing (or this blog does), and you only faintly think you remember wasting time reading something resembling this entry… you’ll know I was on the right track and they had to silence me.

My theories are in no particular order:

* KFC chicken isn’t really chicken, that’s why they did the whole new marketing name change in the 90’s.  So what animal with tiny bones are we actually eating then?  I have it down to Chihuahuas imported from Mexico.  And the thing is…I totally still eat there sometimes.

* The term we have come to know as “Aliens” is only the evil kind that they keep covering up, so we don’t freak out all the time. The good kind of Aliens have already adapted into our society, so we can’t really tell the difference.  But I can.  Here is a listing that may help you figure out their patterning:

 Good Aliens                                 
– Elvis                                                                                                                    
– Shakespeare                                               
– Helen Mirren                    
– Abraham Lincoln                                      
– Bill Gates                                                      
– Whoever invented coffee                        

Bad Aliens
– Simon Cowell
– Whoever wrote Beowulf
– Ann Coulter
– Rasputin
– Bill Gates
– Politicians in general

* Almost every disease known in the world already has a cure, but the pharmaceutical companies make more money for endless treatments, versus a single dose of “fix it” meds.

* Somewhere, a CIA agent is reading this blog right now, because it just got dinged as “suspicious” due to the tagging contents. They totally agree with at least half of the things on this list, and prob’ly could add to them.

* Reality TV has nothing at all to do with “Entertainment Programming.” It’s only a monster syndicated product placement program. The joke is totally on you for investing in it emotionally. Even a little bit. All they really want is for you to buy their stuff.

* Secret Agents actually break into your laundry room routinely in order to steal your left socks. This is so you will spend all your time wondering on where they disappear to instead of things like “the government” and real conspiracy theories.

* All advertising is actually in a special code that allows people to sell you old or compromised versions of things that didn’t sell the first time, but without getting sued for it. Here are some of the codes I’ve broken so far:

– All New! = (We painted, dyed, or repackaged it.)
– Fat & Sugar Free = (We pumped that shit with toxins to make up for it’s total lack of flavor.)
– Four Out Of Five Specialists Agree! = (One or the other group we asked about this is right, we aren’t sure which one, so we are covering our asses by including them all.)
– Extra Strength = (Trick advertising. Nothing comes “regular strength” anymore, and hasn’t since sometime in the 50’s.)

* Stupid people herd in groups in hopes of lessening their individual weeding out. This is why when you have “one of those days” where it seems like every person you communicate with is a total asshole or idiot: they actually are. Your aren’t imagining it.

* On another planet in another solar system right now, a little kid version of their world-rulers are looking at us through a microscope, being told that what they are seeing has been dead for thousands of years. And we probably are, we just don’t know it yet.

* If statistics can be applied to patterns, and patterns can be applied to coincidence, and coincidence can be justified by choice, and choice can be based on averages and averages go into the making of statistics, then your life span is totally computable, and “fate” is real because whatever choices you make already have a mathematical path of possibility. (I’m just totally making shit up now, but it sounded like a real thing at the moment, didn’t it?)

~D

Art And Its Wonders

1 Sep

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* A highly informal essay. Just because.

Gram was an art teacher for over twenty five years, and because of this had an entire art room set up in the house that was the wonder of our childhoods. 

…Eventually there would be thirteen grandkids who would pass in and out of it’s doors, gobsmacked with the infinity of possibilities it held.  Every pen, pencil, crayon, marker and craft item in existence, was housed within it’s closets, cabinets and shelves. The gigantic table could sit three butts deep on one side, easily…as we would all lean over our work with tongues poking out the side of our mouths in deep concentration, comparing creations.

It was a breaker of rules, that room.  Just passing it’s threshold, entered you into special “time laws,” that could suck away six or eight hours within the blink of an eye…so consuming and enticing it’s possibilities.  It should be no surprise then, that I would naturally want my own version at home, and after a couple of trial and errors, managed to finally create a serviceable mock-up.

Gutting my tiny bedroom closet…leaving only the naked light bulb on a string, and all my clothes crammed in the far corner…I inserted a mini fold-out table, squished in a kid-sized folding chair, and VOILA! My very own art studio, just like Gram’s.

…Only mine came without windows.

…Sure, I had to crawl in under the table and do a chin-up off the lip at a specific incline, just to ease myself up into the chair. But it had plenty of space for all my art-making stuff…arranged according to size, shape and color. And it had it’s own door that I could hang a sign on, indicating it was a real studio and whom it belonged to.

I spent hours and hours in that “room”…sweating my ass off and nearly passing out from lack of oxygen. Jackson Pollock might have had more manic creation fever than me at that time, but that’s about the only person I can think of. I was totally fanatic about it…even keeping to specific “studio times” where I would lock myself in, staring into the abyss, just waiting for the muse to reach out to me. (This was sometime circa age eight through ten, btw…just in case you were wondering how far back my little anal-retentions actually reach.)

…Every once in a while, Ma would come knock on the door and peek in, just to check on me. The door itself, I kept insisting, had to be kept closed for privacy…”so I could think and things.” Even though I was an only child, with an entire bedroom just on the other side of it, that stood completely empty. Had Ma not done these occasional check-ins (annoyingly always leaving the door cracked open when she left), I prob’ly would have died from asphyxiation.

…Which is prob’ly the only time in all of History that a coroner’s report would have come back, “death by complication of intense coloring.” I could totally have been famous and things. But then, I hear posthumous fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, lookit Van Gough, for instance.

Anyway…the point of this story was to ad more evidence to the fact that I am a highly disciplined person. Even when it comes to my creative work. But minus anything having to do with consuming food. I like it: taking stock of my creative self, holding me responsible to perform up to a certain standard, even if it isn’t really convenient, and I am the only person who ever knows about it or sees the results.

And even if that means literally shutting myself up in a closet in order to accomplish it.

It’s because of these kind of things that I think people often confuse “Artists” as freaks, hermits, irresponsible lushes, moody assholes, or just flighty scribes of bitchy wit. Possibly also, because we often “act” like it. But by and large, we are actually quite manic furies of creative energy, that occasionally just need to blow off steam after a long day of focus, concentration, and dedication. And, I think we’ve earned it. Look at the things we create and set free into the world:

Music is the only language without any barrier of class, race, age, political, religious or educational barriers, that has ever been invented…reaching literally every civilization the world has ever known.

Photography can speak in more silent words that haven’t even been invented yet, per square inch, than the whole of the Oxford Dictionary.

The written word has more power to change relationships, beliefs, theories, insights, affections, enticements…fuel anger, honor, regrets…infuse power, introduce change, and keep safe our History than any other artifact that a time capsule can possibly hold.

Performing Arts, are the lessons of our past, the hopes of our futures, the well-earned mini vacation after a long day. They are the window into our own personal souls, and the opportunity to share our cultures and experiences with one another. With heightened emotions, and physical intent, it empathises with our pains and pleasures. With immediacy and technique, it instantly shows all the limitless kinds of life journeys that exist around us and through all of time.

Culinary Arts, are built to experience every human sensory perception we own and explode them with the infinite possibilities of paired perfumes, textures, tastes, crunches, slurps, visual presentations, and new invented delights.

Architecture represents it’s people and time, with date stamps meant to last for the remainder of our existence…and whatever comes after. “We were here!” It will say in stone for thousands of years after we are all gone.

…And the collective of formal Fine Arts, bring us the ability to actually visualize our past, experience collective movements throughout history from the time they were recorded, see the dimple in stone, the stroke marks on canvas from another era made of berry pigment and indigo…burnt wood charcoal scratched on pulp from ancient trees, forming the yellowed paper where Michelangelo’s sketches cavort in various states of dress, work, love and play. And they give us the opportunity to record the “now,” for future generations to refer to.

…So sure, Artists are kinda “different” from the average guy.

We aren’t wired to accept the normal processes and aspirations of society as a main. We keep odd hours, dress different, think different, focus for far too long on minute details while totally ignoring the obvious. And, we can get depressed because, for whatever reason, we can’t re-create what’s in our head.

…Where a “good day” for a millionaire is making two more millions. A good day for an Artist is making a single perfected sentence that rings just right when spoken aloud. Even if it took twelve hours to accomplish it.

…A “normal person,” understands the concepts of corporate ladder climbing and building a decent 401(k). An Artist is an Artist until death…it isn’t a job description we can ever walk out on. It isn’t something you can “graduate” or “retire” from, just stopping one day and moving on with the rest of your life. When we try, it actually tortures us. When we “can’t,” we get drunk, fall into epic depressions, invent quests, become hermits, battle insanity, and in some extremes even kill ourselves.

Because, it is the only life we know.

…It is the greater part of who we are, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we believe in, and the sacrifices we have made for a life that could depress anyone who wasn’t in Holy Orders. It’s the whole reason that things like money and power and (sometimes self-respect) never seem to matter a damn to us.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying we are all on the same level, together. There are the wealthy of Hollywood, and Award-winners…there are the Intellectuals, and Politicians among our numbers as well. What I’m saying is: an Artist would do it even without the money, power and fame. Most of ’em do.

Here is what I think: An Artist is an idea in human form, birthed for the sheer purpose of inventing relatability, beauty, honesty, horror, hope and communion with one another, as a species. And it all starts with the passion of whatever the hell it is that you know you were put here on this earth to do. Because guess what? Art is everywhere. It’s in a prime number, a theorem, scientific invention, the planting of a garden…the technique of driving a race car, the swing of a golf club…the mixing of a really good Martini.

YOU are an Artist. Even if you don’t know it yet.

…Maybe not in the “conventional” way, (you rebel!) Maybe not with a box of Crayolas or a block of marble…but of something. I promise you. Whatever that “thing” is that makes life’s color seem a bit brighter to you…that is your Art. And you should make time in your life to dedicate to it.

If I learned only one thing so far, it’s this:

Art isn’t an “extravagance” in life. It is a necessity. And it has no “wrong answer,” because it’s expression is a representation from whatever time and circumstance in which it was created.

…From the first cave carvings, to your favorite movie…from architecture in Rome to an Olympian’s performance. From Betsy Ross to whoever sewed the flag that is flying right now on the face of the moon — Art is the only thing that links every human being to every other one…in some way, shape or form.

However you practice it, whatever strange disciplines it requires of you, however “inconvenient” it might sometimes be…make time for it.

Practice your Art.

Hell, practice all fifty of them!

Be brave and explore things.

It is the whole reason we’re even here.

~D

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