Archives for category: Inside my head

I’m not normally the jumpy type, and I haven’t been afraid of the dark since I was 4 or 5 years old. (When I was 9, a had to spend 45 minutes crammed under a stage so I could make an entrance through a trap door. After that, not a lot phases me.) But about 20 minutes ago, all of the power in my apartment suddenly went out, and for the first time in a while, I was genuinely a little freaked out. Have I really become that accustomed to the various LEDs around my apartment that a total blackout is reason enough to get the wiggins? (Well, alright, TOTAL blackout is overstating a bit – my laptop was running on battery, so the display was still throwing SOME light. But even still…)

I just booked my first official business trip…using credit cards that have my name on them, but do not actually belong to me.

I’m going to be 30 in a month. I’m not quite at the point where I’m apoplectic about that, but I’m getting there. And it’s safe to say that I’m not where I imagined I’d be when I got out of college. Don’t get me wrong – my life’s not so bad. I’ve got a nice place to live, a nice vehicle, several friends, and a job that doesn’t make me want to run out into traffic on I-95. But it’s not what I imagined for myself a decade ago.

Earlier in the year I had found out that there would be a huge gala celebration for Stagedoor Manor‘s 30th anniversary on Sunday, July 24. (As a refresher, I spent 8 summers at Stagedoor – 1984 through 1991 – where my passions for acting and stage management were allowed to spiral out of control.) For a brief moment, I considered not going. I wanted to go, but I was apprehensive about how I would be viewed, what with the not working in the ‘business’ any more. Well, if you read this space, you know how I overanalyze everything, so this should really be no great shock. After talking it out with my friend Lee, I came to the inevitable conclusion that I was going to go – I had kicked myself for missing the last big Stagedoor event, and, apprehensive or not, there was no way I was missing this.

30annivbadge.jpgStagedoor, as it turns out, is the great equalizer. Naturally, I wasn’t the only person in the room to find his way into a different line of work. And yes, there were genuine bonafide celebrities present, of the “hey, you’re on that sitcom” or “I really loved your last movie” variety. But none of that mattered. Because for one day, the celebrities weren’t celebrities – they were just alumni, same as everyone else. No one cared if you weren’t still ‘in the biz’. And I wasn’t “M-D November, failed stage manager turned scholarship administrator”. I was “M-D November, everyone’s go-to guy” again. Some of those genuine celebrities were genuinely happy to see me, which felt really good (almost to the point of embarassing – but not quite). I saw people I haven’t seen in ages – in some cases, 20 years. I laughed at old stories and running gags, and reminisced about the highly age-inappropriate shows we did as kids – the good, the bad, and the disastrous. And there were tears, since this celebration was tempered by the fact that we lost Carl Samuelson, one of Stagedoor’s owners (and a fatherly figure if there ever was one) last year.

After the celebration at Kutshers (“come for the golf, stay for the bingo”), everyone went back to camp. We had the run of the place, since the current campers were…I dunno – let’s say they were at a movie. I finally had a chance to see the new theater, which replaced The Barn after it burned down in 1991. (It’s a beautiful facility – everything’s state of the art. Part of me wants to say that the kids today don’t know how good they have it…but part of me would rather have the old Barn back.) We ate in the dining hall, wandered through the theaters, and snuck into our old sleeping rooms, just to see what had changed – and what hadn’t. And then there was the singalong. I don’t know how many people were packed around the piano in the Playhouse that night, or how long it had been since we’d sung the lyrics and the harmonies that used to make up our everyday lives at Stagedoor. (14 years for me, but who’s counting?) And yet, we remembered every lyric (and who had what solo), and the harmonies were all there, and the choreography was still fresh in our minds, as though time had somehow folded in on itself.

And then, all too soon, the day was over, people were saying their goodbyes and getting in their cars, and we all had to return to ‘real life’. The lousy thing about huge gatherings like this one is that you only get a few moments each to see a huge number of people, and you wish time weren’t a factor so you could really talk to everyone. And I’m not going to lie, it was a tough day to get though – I’ve talked about Jack Romano in this space before, so I’m not going to rehash that now (mainly because I won’t make it to the end of the post without getting vechlempt)…but he was everywhere. Thank God I was around friends who feel the same way I do, that’s all I”m going to say.

It’s telling that the day ended in almost traditional “M-D at Stagedoor” fashion – two lovely young ladies, both of whom had attended Stagedoor after I had finished college, needed a ride back to the NYC area for reasons way too complex to go into here. And since I had to go back to the city to drop some people off, well, the more the merrier. We ended up sharing war stories about various productions, I told them a little more about Jack…it was an interesting ride back to the city, and it was gratifying to know that, even if it’s not exactly the same, the Stagedoor Experience goes on.

Pictures from the event – mine and others – have been posted to Flickr. I just want to take a moment to thank Debra & Cindy Samuelson, David Quinn, and Konnie Kittrell for putting the whole event together; Carl & Elsie Samuelson and Jack Romano for putting together something that endures; and Michael Larsen for…well, just for being Michael Larsen. And to everyone I talked to that Sunday afternoon…we cannot wait for the 40th anniversary to do this again.

So I don’t think I’m surprising anyone when I say that gas prices are high. (And when I say ‘high’, I mean “Holy living MOTHERF**KING F**K! $2.10 for REGULAR? You’ve got to be S**TTING ME!” high.) Of course, my current vehicle (a 1999 Ford Explorer) isn’t doing me any favors – filling my 22-gallon tank usually costs over $40, and my gas mileage…well, it’s a six year old SUV, so you do the math. (Suffice to say, it’s not great. It’s not single-digit bad, but it’s not great.)

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss my old ’92 Ford Escort GT – in part because of the insane fuel economy, and in part because when I HAD the Escort (which, I should add, my friend Kimet from college named “Speedy” – I never really thought the name fit), gas was 99 cents per gallon – for SUPER. I could keep my car running for a month for under $20. It was fantastic.

Now, of course, I’m on the wrong end of the equation. And more than once over the last year, I’ve thought to myself, “if I HAD to buy something new (or if I had the MONEY to buy something new, what would I buy?” The easy answer would be ‘another Explorer’, since the Explorer is my comfort zone. Problem there is that I’d still be on the wrong end of the equation – as I learned on my most recent trip to the huge state of Texas, the new Explorers only get about 18mpg – probably a little better than what I’ve got now, but nothing stellar. And while sedans (or, as Kristin calls them, ‘passenger cars’) are more fuel-efficient, I just don’t think I could go back…once you’ve driven an SUV or something similar, you get used to driving from a certain perspective. The few times I’ve needed to get a rental car, the feeling was akin to piloting a luge down a bobsleigh run. (I’ve gone into detail on this in the past.)

hhybrid.jpgLeave it to those magnificent bastards at Toyota. The Highlander Hybrid is finally available, and frankly, I’m drooling. From the outside, you’d never be able to tell the difference between the normal, internal-combustion Highlander and the hybrid version. But inside it’s got all the same good stuff that makes the Prius do what it does, only with a huge honkin’ second battery sitting in the floor of the cargo area to ensure that the Highlander can hold its own with the V8s. (And it STILL gets 32mpg city!) The best part is that a ‘well-equipped’ (ie: fully pimped-out) Highlander Hybrid Limited 4×4, complete with navigation system, is roughly the same price as an Explorer Limited, which has no navigation option. (Sure, the Explorer DOES have leather seats, but…f**k that. I’ll take fuel economy and a spiffy touch-screen over leather seats any day.)

So there IS a vehicle out there that can satisfy my primal SUV-driving instincts, but won’t make me want to go into a blind rage and start stringing together new variations of profanity whenever I pass a gas station. Now there’s just the little issue of limited availability & an inevitable waiting-list, and the fact that I’d rather not have a car payment right now, but hey…I can drool, can’t I?

My last post was WHEN?

Sorry I’ve been dormant for so long. It’s not that I don’t love you anymore. (Really, it’s not.) I’ve just been…well, I’m not going to use the “in a rut” excuse, because I do that too often, and it’s not like I’ve been incapable of posting – I’ve got all ten fingers and so forth, and they’re all in good working order. Part of it, I think, I can trace to what’s been going on at my office – we’re short-staffed, we’re in the midst of our busy season, and there are changes to our program underway (changes for the better, and changes I think are long overdue, but regardless of how you feel about them, changes = more work). Whatever the reason, I just haven’t felt the inspiration to write.

I don’t want to make this sound like a “contractual obligation” post, but I’m not sure I’ve got a whole lot to say now – but I felt like I had to post something.

“Sith” time’s the charm? Not so much.
Warning: spoilers ahead – if you’ve been living under a rock.

I had intended to post more detailed thoughts on Star Wars: Episode III, but I’m reaching a mental vanishing point – I feel like I might need to see it again to accurately write 1000 words about the movie. What’s more, I’m not sure I’ve got anything to say about “Revenge of the Sith” that hasn’t already been said over and over again ad nauseum elsewhere on the internet.

The long and short is that “Sith” is a good effort for a Star Wars film, and probably holds its own against Episode IV: “A New Hope”, but it falls far short of being a great film, due – in many ways – to Lucas’ organization of the story. I don’t think I know anyone who would disagree that Anakin Skywalker’s spiral from do-gooder Jedi to Dark Lord of the Motherf**king Sith should have been the focus of not only the third chapter, but really the whole ‘prequel trilogy’. Instead we get another tale of hackneyed dialogue, poor time management, and an empresario’s total and utter failure to understand what his audience really wanted to see.

I don’t think I’d be rattling any cages by saying that Episode I didn’t need to happen at all. The tale of how Anakin meets Padme and Obi-Wan could have been told in flashback, through exposition, or – let’s face it – not at all. We never found out how Chewbacca met Han Solo prior to “New Hope”, nor did we see how Han and Lando became tight, and we never needed to. The characters of Qui-Gon and Darth Maul ended up being disposable, since they’re both dead by the end of the first movie. (Yes, I know Qui-Gon:Obi-Wan::Obi-Wan:Luke, and we were supposed to see the parallel, but it’s hard to see something when its being shoved down your throat.) Ditto for Count Dooku, and you could ALMOST say the same for General Greivous, except that he was a pivotal character in the “Clone Wars” microseries on Cartoon Network (which, thankfully, Lucas had no part in writing). And let’s face it – the world, nay, the universe, would be a better place without Jar Jar Binks.

No, it was the events in Episode III that the audience was waiting for, and Lucas still somehow managed to take what should have been an easy grand-slam home run and turn it into a sacrifice bunt. (Holy crap – a sports reference? What have I been drinking?) The political wrangling that made episodes I and II so unbearable returned – albeit to a lesser extent, but it was there. The love story that made time and space stop once again slowed the overall plot to a crawl and made me forget that Natalie Portman really is a good actress. And, of course, yet more “digital scenery” that I’ve railed against in the past.

Then there was the end of the movie in which Lucas takes the recurring theme of dismemberment to new extremes. Following the loss of a leg and his GOOD arm to Obi-Wan, Anakin (nee Darth Vader) gets douced with [Dr. Evil] liquid hot magma [/Dr. Evil] and has most of his skin burned off. The Emperor, fresh from having kicked Yoda’s green arse, senses his apprentice’s emminent doom and rushes to his side. (So far, so good.) He and his guards collect Anakin – they can rebuild him…they have the technology…bigger, stronger, more menacing. (And we’ll throw in James Earl Jones’ voice as an added perk.) We get a really cool visual (slightly reminiscent of a Borg assimilation from that other series) of Anakin getting sealed into his walking iron lung. The Emperor gives the command for his apprentice to rise…and Vader’s first question? “Where’s Padme?” UGH! Lucas took the ultimate movie basass and defanged, neutered and, oh, hell, dismembered him by trying to get the audience to PITY him. (This, of course, was followed by the now infamous “Rage Against the Machine/’VADER SMASH!'” moment.) It’s as if Lucas was channelling Belloq from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”: “Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away.”

You know what, Lucas? F**k Padme, Han shot first, and for the love of Brak, don’t EVER write or direct a film again.

Huh. I guess I DON’T need to see it again after all. *phew*

Belated happy-happys
I feel bad for not posting this on Saturday, when it should have been posted, but I want to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Schtacey, who hosted a lovely combo birthday/housewarming shindig at her new house on Saturday.

…and the rest…
The Tony Awards were last night – I’m presuming there were shows that won and lost. Honestly, I was more interested in watching “Family Guy” and seeing what the hell “The 4400” was all about….Apple’s going to use Intel chips in future Mac hardware, and I’m presuming snowballs were plentiful in hell today. I’ve got no love for the PowerPC chip, and I’m no expert, but I have to imagine that there are whole load of issues associated with porting an existing OS to a different processor architecture…went to a Phillies game last Thursday – they beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-5 – although I was mainly curious about their new ballpark, which is a great venue. (I’ve never been in any kind of outdoor stadium with no PA delay whatsoever – kudos to whoever did the audio install…Went to IKEA with Michelle on Friday – figured I’d check out the annual patio furniture clearance, but that ended up being a bust. We DID, however, see an awesome sign. I don’t want to reveal what’s ON the sign, because it would decrease the funny. But we’re going to try and get a picture the next time we go.

And I think that’s about it for now.

Your political affiliation should not define your personality.


“It takes me a while to reboot. I have a lot of extensions.”

So, I’m QCing a roster for a scholarship program earlier today, and – no joke – there are students in this program with the last names “Rath” and “Khan”.

Freakin’ awesome.

It seems that it was my turn to contract the post-SXSW cold. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – being sick sucks. My diet this weekend has consisted of DayQuil, orange juice, chicken soup, and NyQuil (with the occasional round of toast), I’ve been getting plenty of sleep (although, let’s face it, that’s my normal weekend routine anyway…), and needless to say, I haven’t left the apartment since I got home from work on Friday. I’m doing all the things I usually do to shake a cold, but this one seems to be lingering longer than normal. Someone at work joked that ‘maybe I’m getting older’. I prefer to think that the cold viruses are just getting more robust.

On the upside, I have finally managed to catch up on my laundry. And I got the chance to re-watch “The Incredibles” on DVD last night – still an incredible film. (And you MUST watch the “Mr. Incredible & Friends” short with the commentary on Disc 2. Trust me on this.)

Turning to more upbeat news, some ‘happy-happys’ are in order:

  • Happy first anniversary to Julie and Jason! (I can’t believe it’s been a year already! It feels like just yesterday I was in Austin…meeting them both in person for the first time…)
  • Happy housewarming to Stacey, who officially moves into her new house this weekend. (I still haven’t seen the place myself, save for the video tour)
  • Belated happy birthdays to my good friend Margaret (who may or may not even read my blog); to that fast-talkin’ mo-sucka’ Bryan Douglas; to Spike, although he got his on the day of, courtesy of everyone at Break Bread w/ Brad; and to anyone else born in the month of March who I may have forgotten.

One last note: I didn’t accomplish anything with regard to the afforementioned ‘side project’ this week – I’ve been too distracted by the coughing and sneezing and whatnot. I’m hoping to plow ahead this coming week.

That’s all for now. I hear a bowl of chicken soup calling my name.

IMG_1345.jpgI’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I’m going to say to sum up my first trip to SXSWi. I’ve been reading some of the other recaps (Messrs. Smokler and Greenberg do a nice job of summing up the conference as a whole), but I think JessaJune managed to nail it for me with Ian’s Fray Cafe quote:

“It’s like summer camp, but without the inhibitions.”

(Although, come to think of it, I don’t remember too many inhibited people at Stagedoor.)
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