Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ah, the blogsphere

Ah, the blogsphere.

I used to write on this blog sometimes five and six times a day. I was steeped in the digital world, but more so, I was sitting in a cubicle bored to tears most of the time with thoughts and ideas and impressions rattling around in my head and this space was the best outlet for them.

But more and more I'm just living life right here in the "real" world. Not that I'm still not fascinated by the digital space. I still am, probably more than I've ever been. It is my little window to the world. I'm still unemployed, and while for some crazy reason I'm really not worried--how can you worry about something that is so far out of your control, like this financial crisis, as the Europeans so eloquently call it? It's like worrying about the weather. So, while I keep myself so busy sometimes it's almost laughable. I'm out of work yet there still aren't enough hours in the day for me to get everything done, from looking for work to taking care of the apartment and the meals to writing and continuing to just improve myself as a human being. Yes, that last one takes up a lot of time and energy. (That's a joke, son.)

And sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don't write here more. I know there are followers; some people subscribe, some people lurk, and others drop by occasionally to see what's up in my life--idle curiosity, perhaps, but it's nice that people are thinking of me. Just as I think of people in the periphery of my life.

It's not an excuse for not writing here, but I'm busy trying to figure out what to do with my life, how to do the things I want to do, how Sue and I can live our lives the way we want to. There are classes I'm considering including more acting classes and writing classes and auditions. Thursday I have a job interview for contract work that I have to prepare for, which would be great if I could land it because it would be the kind of work I used to do before I quit freelancing and went back to the agency. I loved the freelance life, the freedom, the stimulus from meeting new and interesting people, and learning about new subject matter and details for things I already know about.

Red Dog is out in a few hands now, hopefully being read and not just taking up space on a hard drive somewhere. It's at a few theaters for consideration for readings, and I'm hard at work on another play now that deals with all my favorite themes: abandonment, trust, family. That's all I'm going to say right now, because you don't want to show something to the world when it's still in such a formative state. The air seems to shrivel things. But I'm just as excited about this play as I was about Red Dog. I love the pure joy of simply writing.

And right now I have four pieces of chicken marinading in the 'fridge that I'll cook on the grill later and put back in the 'fridge for a meal later of cold chicken and salad when Sue gets home. I tell you, when she walks through the door, my heart just sings, and I love seeing the look on her face, too, when she sees me. I say I'm lucky, and she says she's lucky.

I try to keep things open. For the longest time I had my Facebook page closed up only to friends. But then it occurred to me that one of the things I like so much about the digital world is the idea of its openness. Again, that shared experience that we all have, whether we want to admit it or not. Being closed is not the way to go in the new world, and so I opened my page up to the world, and have had some good results. I've "met" new people, musicians and artists and actors and others in my field and though we've never met face-to-face we've shared ideas and personally, I've learned and grown from them.

But openness can be a bit creepy, too. There are those who will always abuse anything. I have a lurker on this blog, someone in Australia, and all the signs of a creep are there. He hits the blog pretty regularly, and he seems to be searching for anything relating to Sue. For a while he'd keep going back to pictures I posted of her and used the keyword, lanka, as in sri lanka where Sue lived for awhile. It was weird to see the connections. I removed the pictures, and it seemed when he realized they were missing he immediately used the keyword "sex" to look for things on my blog, which I thought was a rather poignant, primal, word association. Now he sits on the blog for a good hour, pouring over the posts date by date. Anyway, this is the dark side of the Internet, and just like all new things in the world, we have to adjust and learn, which is the one thing I love doing.

As I started with this post, ah, the blogsphere.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time Bandits play at benefit for Parkinson's Disease at Marlboro Fish and Game

Yesterday, just off Rte. 495 North, heading west on Rte. 20, through three sets of lights and a right onto Boundary Street, and after a scant 50 yards turning right onto Elm Street before going a quarter-mile onto Muddy Lane, a good thing was happening in the world. Good people go together for good times and music and food to raise as much money as they could to fight Parkinson’s Disease. It was at the Fish and Game Club in Marlborough, Massachusetts, a place not many people frequent. It's a small club made up of people who are not members of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Symphony, or Club Passim. They enjoy hunting and fishing and family. The lead singer of the band, Time Bandits, a group of friends who play '60's and '70's covers, organized the benefit because one of her parents has Parkinson's. So Time Bandits got a gig (it was their first or second, depending on how you look at things) and it was a beautiful summer Saturday and I wish I could have spent more than the hour and a half that I did spend there because it truly was fun: Fun to see the band up and going, fun to see people enjoying themselves in a very simple way with food on the grill including pulled pork made by the lead singer, and kids having fun, particularly one who's father is the drummer in the band and it must be amazing to see his father playing, and it's even more tender to see the unadulterated love the little boy has for his father, and to see my friend, Joan, wowed by her husband (he's in a real band, she confided to me) who she hadn't seen play yet.

Sometimes the world is pretty simple, and when it is, I love it.

Check it out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Growing up, and the importance of not owning a Blackberry

My father used to tell me to stay in school so I didn’t have to do what he did for a living. He was blue collar, and unloaded trucks for his whole life. He came home dirty and tired every day, and never made more than $10,000 a year. Ten thousand a year was squat even back then when a loaf of bread cost a quarter. So, I went to school and worked in offices most of my life, and didn’t come home dirty and tired like he did. And he would have said I did all right for myself.

And now I tell my kids the same thing my old man told me. Go to school so you don’t have to do what I do. Or more, what I did. I always had good jobs, until recently anyway when this depression has pulled the rug out of every one in five worker. (Those are my numbers and I don’t have any proof of them other than I what I can discern from the media.) But I worked for a lot of companies that I really didn’t like, didn’t like a lot of the people or what the company stood for even though my father would have thought they were pretty cushy jobs.

All this comes to mind as I talk to my two daughters about their summer jobs, and about money. One daughter loves her job, but doesn’t make any money. The other one hates her job, but makes good money. Sounds like the plot of a fairy tale, doesn’t it? And the one who doesn’t make any money decided to buy a Blackberry and be an adult and wants to start paying bills, and the other one texted me the other day to say she now understands why I hated sitting in cubicles all my life.

I said to the one who bought the Blackberry that paying bills isn’t all what it’s cut out to be. That what most “adults” do is simply work to pay bills. All that hard work goes to taking money in one hand and handing it off to someone else with the other. And the more money you make the more you buy (or in the recent past—charged) and you got into a terrible millstream of simply working to keep your head above the water. I told the one working in the cubicle I guess it was best she learned that lesson for herself, as much as I hate knowing she has to learn that lesson.

I wish I could simply put my two kids on a path that I felt was best for them, but we can’t live other’s lives for them, even our kids. The point on this path both my kids are on is pretty standard for white middle-class kids raised in the suburbs. They start out pretty much buying into the status quo--or what used to pass for the status quo. I’m afraid I’d freak my kids out by telling them it’s all gone now, just like I used to tell them the reason not to drink or do drugs was because we know where those roads lead. Be creative, I told them, and make new mistakes. If my kids were really smart they’d do that now: forget jobs and school and bills and Blackberrys and sit back for awhile on some mountaintop or some beach somewhere and figure out where this new world is going, then go there and meet it coming around the bend. But of course, that’s easy for me to say. It’s always easy being an armchair quarterback.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Son Volt--Medicine Hat

Today, one of my Facebook status lines was that I think I'd take Jay Farrar over Jeff Tweedy.

This song is the reason I said that. I had just heard it, and while I love a lot of the innovation that Wilco did/does, I guess deep down I'm just a traditional mofo. I love good, clean, solid American roots music. And I love Farrar's voice.

There will be droughts and days inundated
Unveilings free from saturation
Departures raised with no masquerading
There will be teachers that die by their own hand
Pundits that push headlong for atonement
Friends and followers devoted to living
There will be watchers that ply for new confines
Those committed to society's circles
Unwary cogs with no cadence of virtue
There will be right
There will be wrong

Drop of the hat, and it's already started
Just like that, and the deed is done
What I'd give for that hat to be medicine
The time is now to be on the run

There will be machinations unforeseen
Sleepwalking sense from a bad dream
No promenade walk in the parkway
There will be catchwords filled with infection
Circulars to prop up occasion
No golden mean to prop up the footsteps
There will be levels on high hills that appraise
There will be unchanging certainties
Barometers that follow the stampede
There will be right
There will be wrong

There will be signposts of indication
Semaphore go signs and warnings
Hailstone halos and country-blues wailings
There will be strains that break out of straight time
To pave with grace different roads to the same place
No consequence to repay what's been given
There will be layers of means to an end
Drawn-out days before resolution
Dregs will rain down from all directions
There will be right
There will be wrong

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't keep NXR's Shh quiet. Great new theater in Boston.

I checked out Shh!, New Exhibition Room's latest production, free at Playwright's Platform. Go see it, and not just because it's free, which is amazing. Normally you'd be shelling out somewhere around 25 bucks for theater of this caliber.

Shh! examines censorship. It's all, as they say in this Web 2.0 world, original content. NXR auditioned an ensemble and together they collaborated to write and make this show. Original content, to my way of thinking, is the way to go in this world. I mean, do we really need another production of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? How about breaking some new ground, people?

Shh! is not the end-all word on censorship. I don't think they meant it to be that. Shh! is a series of skits that are very fast-paced, high-energy, and very entertaining with the idea of censorship sometimes obviously and sometimes-not-so obviously holding them together. Sometimes the role of censorship in our society is right out there, as when Shh! lays out the history of censorship in America. And sometimes it's a bit more subtle, as with a series surrounding a nudist, that seem to address the idea of self-censorship. Almost always, though, Shh! goes for the humor, which makes for a very entertaining night. Shock isn't the intent here at all.

Since it is theater and it was written by the cast and producers, Shh!, as you'd expect, has quite the liberal viewpoint toward censorship. Except for one skit where a conservative suburbanite gives a quiet, impassioned, serious argument towards censorship, never does Shh! explore whether censorship has its place in our lives, which might have been an interesting take, given the obvious talent that appears in the show. One wonders what the ensemble, given its obvious intelligence and creativity, would have come up with when challenged with that question.

Bottom line? Go see it, and not just because it's free. At the very least, Shh! is highly entertaining. Prepared to be entertained (there's that word again), and maybe shocked or challenged depending on your own sensibilities.

NXR represents some of the new, younger voices in theater that seem to be growing in the Boston area. Just like years ago when young comics like Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Denis Leary, and Lenny Clark were honing their skills at area clubs and later defined the Boston comic, groups like NXR seem to be doing the same with their performances. If anything, for free, you just might see a bit of Boston theater history in the making.

Shh! is free, but you still need a ticket to get in. Get them here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Exhibition Room: Shh!! -- orignal theater in Boston

From Nora Long, one of the founders of New Exhibition Room in Boston.

Hey Everyone I know (pretty much)

I wanted to take this opportunity to personally invite you to my theatre company’s first show. We’ve worked fairly hard over the last 6 weeks to make a quirky, frenetic exploration of censorship. Everything in the show is true or an abstraction of something true, so I think the show is equal parts hilarious and terrifying. There will likely be nudity, gratuitous violence and definitely adult language and content, so this might not be the best show to bring grandma to. It would be great to see you. For those of you who are too far away to come, I thought you might be interested in what I’ve been up to.

Also, it’s free, it’s T-accessible, and there will be cookies afterwards – what more could you ask for in a night at the theatre? Get tix here.

You are, of course, welcome anytime, but it would be particularly awesome to have some friendly faces (and voices) in the house opening weekend (July 9-11). A few members of the press will be coming, so we want to make sure they see the best possible show, which is, in large part do to the audience.

In addition to the show, there will be a reading of a new play each Saturday at 4PM. The writers include John J. King, Theo Goodell and Rachel Kelsey. These readings are also free, and a great opportunity to hear some new work by some of the most talented local writers we know.

Feel free to forward this email around.

Hope to see you there.

Lots of love,

PS. If you haven’t seen it already, my baby sister made a couple of killer videos of our rehearsals. Check them out.

New Exhibition Room presents Shh!
July 9-25, 2009
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