Monday, February 28, 2011

Would you lend me a Q for my A?

I think I know my issue with blogs. I can't help but feel like I am talking into a vacuum. I'm not used to that, I am used to feedback. On stage, I get instant feedback. Even if there is no sounds of laughing or coughing, I can feel when the room is focused on the story, on the moment of interaction. I hate to admit it, but as much as I pretend to be a writer (I do enjoy being on my own), I am an actor, and I need people, I need conversation, I need interaction. What I've really felt writing this blog is that while I may have an audience in mind (albeit one person, depending on my mood), I'm really writing to no one, at least that is my feeling on this end. Doesn't that sound so whiney and camp? "Ooh, poor poor me, wasting my fingers away on this cold, plastic mat, coated with the most basic elements of language with nobody to share it with." Yeah. Lame. Ignore that bit, that's the actory side of me. Now, the equally vain but deeper part of me wants this to be a dialogue, or conversation. At least less of me talking to the Great Wall of the internet.

Man, I remember my metaphors being much more intelligent. I thought doing a lot of reading today would have helped that bit. Oh well. Here's what it is: I want questions. I want to answer questions. I do have thoughts all day long, but it gets tiring answering my own questions, especially when if I know I'm the only one listening, I won't surprise myself with the answers. I only surprise myself when I'm talking with other [real] people. Like when you have a problem that's bugging you, and the second you ask someone else about it you get the answer. That's what it's like, but I am also aware that when the pressure is on, that's how writing is. When I've truly had pressure to write, the most amazing connections and solutions come out of me, because I can't rely on time and thinking, only on the moment and how brilliantly ideas coalesce, like turning coal into diamonds with heat and pressure. Then again I sometimes get ridiculously long sentences. Short ones too. For effect.

All my ramblings aside, I want questions. Whatever they are. Bring me the heat and pressure.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Growing pains and stretch marks

I've been fighting the pressure to grow up most of my life. I seem to give in now and then as need be (the key part there is need), but never grew up voluntarily. I think that might be how it's supposed to be. I don't want to give up my big dreams, but to make them happen, it seems I have to at least look like I'm a big boy who's responsible. I think the first step would be to stop complaining about it and just do it already.

This must be what normal people feel like.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Time and compulsion

Still trying to figure out how I can say yes to one thing and not say no to another. For a while there I said yes to most everything, but that burned me out, so now I am more selective. This gives me more "free" time, but I also feel like I am missing out on things, which is true. I think I even felt that before, but I have more time to feel it now.

I watched a program on savants on the Science channel. They have this compulsion in their brain that they cannot turn off. I do sometimes wish I had that so I would be compelled to write and create, but I am very glad I have the ability to turn it off. An uncontrollable obsession is not something I desire...that much.

I want to take a few more classes in different things, but I am focusing myself (instead of saying limiting myself) to two things outside of work; writing and improv. Other acting is mildly on hold...or at least limited, and though I see workshops on producing and other things I would like to learn, I have to say no to them if I want to keep my sanity.

Yep. I'm complaining about wanting to do more things. In all honesty, I think this blog is an excuse to not write, which is really what the rest of life is for writers. Even for Russel T. Davies (former showrunner for the new Doctor Who). At least I'm in good company. The question for me now is: how do I up the pressure to write without overtaxing myself? That's my next lesson in self control/motivation. I am open to suggestion (and threats if necessary).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I don't write letters anymore. By that I just mean I haven't written one in quite a while, maybe almost a year or so. I used to write them more.

I wrote one to Stephen Speilberg letting him know he should remember my name because I have big plans, and once they are achieved, he will be very impressed. I wrote a letter to the woman who did the voice of Cortana in the Halo video game series after seeing her in a play in Portland. I said "I was pleasantly surprised to see Cortana playing Elizabeth Bennet."

Yep, I'm a silly little boy at times.

In addition to letters telling people to remember my name because I am going to be big someday, I also wrote letters telling people to remember my name because I wanted them to have it. Love letters. I miss writing those, or maybe the excuse to write them...or just everything about them.

There's something powerful behind writing down words, especially by hand. Maybe it's the whole real world part of it, or the fact that it cannot be deleted, or the other fact that very few things in the real world show evidence of being touched by a human, especially people.

Maybe it's the idea that all that time and physical effort, although it's generally simple, has a very specific audience of one person. Emails can be copied and sent like nothing, and blogs...well, not that more than a dozen people have ever glanced over mine, but it's not very personal to anyone other than myself. A letter though, is a private work, generally a labor of love in some form, which is a special kind of special that only seems rare to those who don't see it often enough. --I think that's where we all are right now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apparently specific

Crap, I forgot I committed myself to doing this every day. I think that was only one or two blogs ago. Life happens. I just need to deal with that, I just need to accept that as fact. The two might look the same from the outside but make all the difference inside. The point is, I'm here saying things when I have nothing to say, but so much I want to say.

I want to talk about my first improv show at the Brody (level 3 class), and compare the art form to Hopi sand painting. Etherial, temporal. You have to be there to see them, because they are not built to last, they are built as a brief experience alone, like life itself. I want to talk about how I am happy to have gotten an email from the Brody people saying I am invited into level 4 performance lab, which means more chances to to this in front of people, but also means new people, which is what it is.

I want to talk about how I'll miss some of the people I've worked with, knowing that even if we all move on to 4, it will be about 16 people strong vs the 5 people intimacy of level 3. I want to talk about the past classes, how through all of them people have come and gone, with only, what, 3 or 4 of us that went through levels 1, 2a, 2b and 3 together? I want to talk about how my life has had wonderful moments with people flitting in and out of it, and that the moment is really all you have...or maybe that's just the song from the recent 30 Rock episode fumbling through my thoughts.

What I really want to talk about is life itself; the mystery. Though I guess I did, looking up at what I wrote. The more specific I am, the more people can relate to it. That's one of my favorite paradoxes in writing, or creating. The sheer volumetric power of specificity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The weight of the world

I love baths. I try to take as many of them as I can. That is my time, alone to think, and read, and create...mostly just to indulge in myself, my body relaxing and my mind minding.

That's my selfish time where I dream about future stories, both my own future (Emmy acceptance speech "...thank you.") and stories I want to tell (how exactly should I beat out that episode? What image can I not separate myself from?). The bath is where the world gets sucked out of me and into the epsom salts (yes, I use them), and bubbles, just for fun (and the scent of pomegranate or cherry blossom is just a nice thing to have around sometimes).

Not sure why I'm using so many parenthesis, these words are being said whether I pretend they're supposed to be a cute secret joke or not.

I just started reading "The Writer's Tale: the Final Chapter", a dialogue between former Doctor Who showrunner Russel T Davies and writer Benjamin Cook. I am opening myself up to that same bold use of honesty. Not sure how this will change or effect my blogs, but I do know that they will be different in some way henceforth. I've just given myself permission, which is..well, just what it is.

The story I was thinking of writing while in the bathtub:
I sometimes enjoy hitting the drain when I am done with the warm water and lie there as it drains, the water lowering in the tub, my body sinking down and down, getting heavier and heavier. What struck me today, is that I've never felt that my body was getting heavier, it's just as I describe it that I think that word. In my mind, every time I do this, I feel the cold air covering more of my front and the heaviness the air brings with it as evidence (in my mind) that I am traveling through space at fantastic speed, accelerating. The weight in my body is proof for that image that I am going faster and faster, and the world is pushing by me so fast I can feel its coldness press against me, waking me up.

What I find is that it is so much harder for me to get up and out of an empty bathtub that has recently been full than it is to get out of one that was empty all along. This is my deep statement that takes me to a million different places. The weight of the world upon re-entry. It's heavy, and worth feeling from time to time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Even knitting became a fad again

I can spell the impending downfall of Facebook. I hear people quitting the site all over, for various reasons, maybe because it's turned into a drug for some, maybe because I live in a city of hipsters and their little site has gotten too big for them to appreciate it, maybe it's the pervasive selling of "personal" information. Either way, it can't last much longer as it is in our world.

Our world changes so fast now. One fad to another. Remember that singing fish? I think that was about five fads ago. How do you stay fresh and hip (other than not saying the phrase "fresh and hip")? I do a lot of thinking on that front, on how people create things that are consistently on the cusp of the next thing. What recently occured to me is the longer, easier route, where you don't worry about the rest of the world. Just keep doing what you do. The world may leave you from time to time, but you know that the cycle will bring it right back to your door, so why move to the next big city when you can renovate your own home and stay right there?

Yep, I think I'm getting old.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A much greater reward

Daily commitments are difficult for, and I bet for a lot of other people too. I can commit to something every day if I know it's only for a week or a month, but I have a hard time committing to something if I know I will have to do it every single day until I die. That seems like a lot, too much to really fathom sometimes. With a blog, I'm just not sure I have something to say, but improv has taught me that even if I don't know what I'm doing or what I am going to say, I will have something to do and say when I need to. I find this true at this moment of time. I'm still not certain if I've committed myself to this every day. I would like to, and maybe I will. This must be the same reason some people live together for decades and never get married. It's the fulfillment of the commitment without making it. Perhaps I should bite the bullet and say I will do this. It would mean I might feel like I've failed if I miss a day, but I guess you can't really succeed if you can't fail. So here I am, opening myself to failure, and to a much greater reward.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14th

I kept forgetting all day that it was Valentine's Day. Little reminders popped in my head like dust particles dancing through a narrow stream of light. Today was special, I just kept forgetting about it. That makes me question what makes a day special? I've had personal days of celebration, we all do, but my birthday is just a normal day for everyone else. Kind of like celebrating the Fourth of July while I was living in New Zealand. It meant something to me, but it was just the fourth of the month there.

Last week my parents had our priest over for dinner. We were talking about recent historical things and how the world changes so much every day. My priest gave me the perspective he has from being inside the Church, how the liturgy is the same in every country, town and parish throughout the world and repeats itself in a four year cycle. From the Church's perspective, no day is special because of politics or wars or treatise. In fact, every day is special as it is a celebration of a saint, a walk through the life of Jesus and carries with it specific readings from the Bible. In effect, the Church is a rock (pardon my weary metaphor), and the events of the world happen as they will, but while they come and go, the Church is. I would like to live this way, to have my life happen, to have the world happen, people come and go (as they will whether I want them too or not), and inside myself remain steady, at all points of my being.

...either that or I'm just lamenting the lack of anyone to give flowers to this year. Either way, today happened to be a special day for many people. For me today happened, and I continue.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The good fight?

This is a self-intervention.

Hello, my name is Vinnie, and I am addicted to Rise of Nations.

I skipped dinner and hanging out to play this game. In all fairness, those things seem rather trivial when you are working on conquering the world. I do have a few nice monuments, they really help out the empire. Crap, doing it again. Dreaming about playing the game while I am awake.


It's not that it's super terrible or something. I don't like the games War or Risk (I loathe them, in fact). So why should I find myself addicted to Rise of Nations now, Civilization: Call to Power a few years ago, and even to Dicewars online? I think it might not just be the lure of world domination, but the thought of not really hurting anyone along the way. All the games that pit one player against all others, I tend to avoid, at least when played against other living people. I think the real reason I enjoy these computer games is that I can rue algorithms while satisfying my desire to rule.

Looking at it, I not only don't like the games where I need to destroy friends, but I really enjoy the ones where we fight side-by-side against, well, generally it's aliens in some form or another. Maybe this isn't a problem afterall. Maybe it's healthy. Well...except for the skipping of meals part, and the avoidance of social requirements because I'd rather be conquering.

Vincent means To Conquer, so perhaps I'm just living up to my name...then again, I need to go out and remember what the sky looks like. The real one.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birds of a feather...swim together?

Last night I hung out with some good friends I haven't had time to spend with for a while, so that was nice. I was talking about how I'm taking the tortoise approach with my webseries Set Theory, because I'd found that more satisfying of a process than the hare's method and madness. After I said this, one of them told me he almost always takes the tortoise route and admired me for pretty much always going for whatever it was I wanted and diving right in.

I thought about that.

I like it. I think what keeps me taking chances is that I don't give myself too much time to look over the edge before I jump. If I do, I know I would get caught in a loop inside my head that would stop me from taking the next small, but vital step. I generally don't jump completely blind, though. I talk with other people about the fall and what's on the other side, so I have a general idea, but I do tend to jump no matter what. Though I think what really frees me to let go and live, is that I know that the fall on the other side won't really kill me (it's actually very serene, I learned from my skydiving experience), and the landing won't kill me either. It may break me, but I always heal. More importantly, I know that I will always have friends and family there, not just at the bottom, but along the way to guide me to safe ground. As long as I stay open to them and listen.

As in life, so it is in improv. A great team working together as one unit, a school of fish sensing when to turn and not only avoid collision, but create forward momentum. did that falling metaphor turn into a swimming metaphor?....meh. I'll take it.

I am with history now

Mubarak is out. I feel the profundity of this moment. Last week I watched Conan O'Brien make a quip about Egypt, remembering that I heard something on NPR about a protest or something. Then I listened. This was an epic, in real time, one I have never experienced in my lifetime, to memory at least. I turned on NPR at work, starting in the back room alone, listening to reporters talk to protesters gathering in Tahrir. They had been massing for days, protesting Mubarak, telling them that the people were done with his tyrany and ready to build their country, their world as it should be. Night was falling, and people were gathering, people not used to the city, people with camels and rocks and guns, people hired by the government to put the protesters in their place. The police remained between the two parties, wavering between supporting the protesters or more often, looking like they were also agents of sameness, paid by the government to maintain the status quo at whatever cost. As an ominous night fell on Egypt, I changed the station as others came to work. Egypt remained in my prayers and thoughts. I then heard about the deaths and terrible acts occurring, but more moving was the proud defiance of the people. They remained. Their voices would not be silenced. The people are stronger than those they were governed by, as it should be. Today, Egypt is free. The proud Mubarak swallowed more than his pride and removed himself. That is over-due, but no less of what it is. Now, a people stand in the maw of the future. Who will fill the hole? They have shown they are strong and have a voice. They deserve an equally fair leader. As they did on the eve when the violence began, my prayers go out to those people, who came together and did what many in other countries need to be reminded they are capable of. All the while the Chinese government pretends that the Great Firewall will keep out those notions of freedom. I'm sorry to break it to you China, those ideas exist, and no amount of ignorance will squash them. Silence is something a government will never truly create. The only voice that will remain is that of its people. This night of mine, the sun shines bright on a deserving people.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who names streets?

That's an honest question. Who names streets? I want to name some. Like Electrica Way, or Gumbo Jones Terr. or Steve.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Everyone knows that animals can sense earthquakes before they happen. My question is: do they really sense earthquakes...or do they cause earthquakes because of all their fidgetyness?

It's not a matter of an animal sensing, but an animal sensei.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Extreme moderation

Improv is a lot more instant than wine. I make wine and I take improv classes. Some of my wine takes two or more years to really start to be enjoyable. Improv however, is fairly instant. Saw the level above me perform last night, and I'm amazed at how differently I watched it than other people, even other people in my class. It's the perspective, I think. A general audience watches it and sees a show, whereas I am in the category of people who watch it for the structure; how all the stories interconnect, how much the players are listening to each other and how important they make gifts they receive.

One of my things, is that my mind fairly instantly goes to an extreme, or at least to the absurd. I saw more than a few scenes go in this direction last night, which nailed down the note I got to make things more real. Basically, to keep the character and the scene grounded. When I first got this note I saw it as being grounded, but now I see it's not a restriction to what I can do, instead it's a note to help keep the audience involved and interested in the show. I can still be in space, but I still have to be grounded in space. Absurdity is still allowable, but only in extreme moderation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spring came early (the cleaning part, anyway)

When things are falling apart I go through a predictable pattern. At first I get sad/angry, which leads to some moments of depression. I know it's my choice at that moment whether to feed it or tell it to shut up. Though I know the next moment will be relief as things work out somehow. They always do that. How do they know how to do that? Must be like fish returning to spawn or migrating birds. They just know how things are supposed to be.

So here's a standing message to that weird second bit I have after I don't get what I expect; you are evicted. You never really paid rent and you kept me up at night with your noise. The whole community is unanimous. Effective immediately. It's harsh, maybe, but fair.

So what do I do with all that extra space I have left? I guess I'll start by renovating. Maybe make that my work-out or writing space. I've always wanted a space devoted to one thing. I have a desk, so it's decided. That's my new writing nook. Phew. That was a lot of work for one morning.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Running through walls

I set out the new year with a plan to create a regimented schedule to assure I would get things done. Turns out I not only need a schedule, but I need to stick with it! That's craziness.

I want to work more seriously on my web series, mainly writing it and getting the pilot episode polished up so I can use it to get funding for the rest of the season. Turns out other people aren't hiring me for my dream job, so I have to conjure it up. I am getting hired for other (non-paying) roles, which take up some time, especially when one is an obscure Shakespeare work.

Work, that's taking up time too, the job, the thing that gives me money and health insurance. Then family and friends. You know, those things that make life happen. I've let all that fog up my path and I've slowed down to a crawl making sure I don't run into anything in a blind run. I think that might be the wrong approach (or at least not the best one). I cannot wait for the fog to lift to keep going. I need to pretend like I know where the road goes already. What I need to do is the scary thing and keep on running into the unknown, knowing it's the right way.

Maybe this is "the wall" all runners who finish the race go through. It's not a solid thing that tangibly blocks your path, but more of an atmosphere that you knew would be there, but are still surprised at finding yourself enveloped by. Okay then wall; you can stay right where you're at, but I am not. You don't need to do anything, I'm just going to run right through you.

Deal with it.

If I hit a tree, it happens. It won't kill me (unless, maybe if it's a whomping willow). One thing I do know, I'm not going to fall off anything. There's ground under my feet and I'm about to discover more every step of the way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Acting at first sight

Yesterday I was involved in the very first audition for Portland's biggest casting agency in their new location. This was great for me, because I wanted to christen in the new digs. I was even the first actor to show up. I helped read for the first auditioners (groups of four), and realized some things I did right by seeing what the other people were doing. For example, staying on script. They also didn't really connect with each other, which is sad. Acting is connecting with people, whether they are there or not. Having just done a film mostly in front of green screen to other actors who were not actually there, it kind of hurt a little to see these people standing right next to each other and not connecting. Though I know I've had these exact moments before, so I can't really complain and not be hypocritical.

Then it was my turn to audition with my group. I knew one of them from a play we had done a year earlier, so that was a good start. The real (mini)stress was wondering who was going to audition as my wife. I feel that it is very important when you play a couple, even in audition, you have to, you know, touch each other. At least pretend that holding hands is small potatoes compared to what you've done with each other in private settings. Luckily, she was great. We had our arms around each other and gently put our hands on each others legs and made those small actions of saying: Hey, there's love here; dig it.

This led me down a whole different meandering mental path after the audition. How strange it really is to walk into a room, meet a stranger, act as if you've lived full lives together, then part ways, maybe only to see each other at another audition months later. Is it strange? I'm not sure I have the proper perspective for this one. I'm an actor, so making things real is what I do, whether they are or not. Acting is not pretending, acting is knowing and exploring what could be and conjuring it into reality. For those five minutes, we were a couple. Then the walking to my car thinking know...the stuff people think about when relationships end.

Life is just strange no matter who you are.