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Long Ride

May 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Earlier this week I had wanted to go for a long ride.
Unfortunately life got in the way I couldn’t do it so when I suddenly there was only a matinee and evening free I decided to wave good bye to Seattle and see how far I could go by bike.

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Good Bye Seattle. Hello Lake Forest Park

When i moved to Seattle I lived in the Lake City Neighborhood.
This was a mixed blessing in a lot of ways. For the most part I got to live in a part of Seattle I may not want to live in a gain but I also got to understand that while this was a far away neighborhood that didn’t have a lot of problems it was still not a great place to live. But honestly those 6 months I spent in Lake City weren’t terrible.  Yes I was worried about finding work or using all my savings but it had moments of entertainment. I strolled the neighborhood a lot. Read a lot of odd books and learned many places that offered refills of coffee and didn’t mind if you stuck around all day.
One such place was called Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park. The Honey Bear Bakery had free refills of drip and day old pastries there was an additional plus of a King County Library in the mall area so there were free books or books for buy from the book store. Also nearby was a park.
And the Burke Gilman trail.
At this point I would see bikes go by and wonder who would ride this far.
What manner of person would hop on a bike and go this far?
As I crossed that intersection and looked over I had my answer.
I would.
tt look me almost 8 years but I rode my bike from Capitol Hill, over the University Bridge, through UW, and then North until I got to Lake Forest Park. I had a goal of seeing how far I could go or to 192 Brewing whichever came first but as I passed Third Place Common I knew I could go the rest of the way for a drink and there wouldn’t be a problem.
Sure it I hadn’t gone 17 miles in a go but I beat my previous of 13 miles which I hardly count because it was so flat but so was the Burke Gilman and yet it was so good. Making that distance and not feeling like my body was failing me helped. It was so doable. I had no problems even if I felt out of place when I arrived at 192 and I was the only cyclist in normal clothes. This made me happy.
Sure some may have come way farther than I did or much faster or are training for  a major ride but it was still good to know I don’t require special clothing to bike. And that is the real plus.
Even after 30 miles I contend that my clothing was fine. Sure my legs ache a bit from the strain but it is in a good work out way not in a “I hurt myself through stupidity way” and that is what matters. Good old soreness instead of real pain.

Also my ass does not hurt which means even though I still find a hard leather seat odd I am so happy I’m not butt hurt.

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Good Bye Lake Forest Park. Hello Seattle.

Discworld

March 12, 2015 Leave a comment

I don’t reject Fandoms.
There is an old familiarity and understanding of being a pariah because of a fandom. That bitter feeling of rejection because you liking Star Trek while no one cared about or that the love of Anime when most people only knew is Hentai or complaining about the national expansion of Loveline and the lose of the community feeling.
For much of my life I always felt one step away from a pariah and while many were my friends I was often accepted in the bigger world but I had to be careful.
Or so it felt and attending an all male high school made this all the more obvious.
Still in 1996 or ’97 I was at a Blockbuster video and Carmen, my sister, saw Discworld, felt it looked funny, and told me to rent it. Still learning what this new generation of video game meant I was debating between some shooter, some flying game, or this puzzle game. What made me rent it is beyond me but I did. Perhaps it was the warning that there was sexual innuendo, or Eric Idle, or knowing deep down that Carmen is so much cooler than me I rented it.

Frustration and hilarity filled that rental period.
I don’t believe I had a memory card then or if I did I couldn’t a save file because Discworld required too much space. So I played the first hour or so again and again. Didn’t help that point and click adventure games are not my strong suit. Often I can’t get into the logic of the game and have problems and I hardly would think to look to the Internet. If we even had the internet then.Yet this game intrigued me. I wanted to beat it and liked Dune 2 before it I felt the answer may lay in the source material.

I found “Small Gods” at Borders. The lone Discworld novel in their fantasy section. Not being aware how extensive the series I bought it.  The style of Discworld written without chapters and seeming like Sir Terry Pratchett was telling me the story spoke to my teenage self. Here was something that it seemed like no one else knew about. Later I would find a few other books. Men at Arms at Barnes and Noble,  a forgotten copy of Faust Eric at Waldenbooks, or the UK release of Moving Pictures at Crown Plus when they went out of business. My collection slowly grew but I felt all alone.

None of my friends had heard of this series. No adult seemed aware.  Had I been more into DIY or idealistic I would have made a zine about it.
But I didn’t.
The few people I would talk to about fantasy seemed clueless and I felt alone.
Constantly on the look out in second hand stores for old releases of the early stores. Hunting library sales on the look out for them and hoping there would be a new release.
The Long Beach Public Library filled in the gaps but only as a loan during the summer of ’98. Learning how to use the inter library loan I read my way through the series and found his other books. The Johnny Series, Strata (still a favorite even if I’m not totally sure why),  and the Nome books. That summer despite having to attend summer school and feeling a bit without purpose I dove into the Disc.

Around then my family went from pay by the hour internet to unlimited and I found some community. I joined the Discworld MUD at that point but I tended to play games solo so I was never a big member of that community. Still I learned of upcoming books, or events, and found people that were bigger fans then I could ever be and I checked in now and again as time allowed until college.

When I moved to Las Cruces it was the first time I had to decide what mattered to me.
I packed some clothes but many books.
I read, reread, and escaped into those books again during my first semester. I also played the MUD a lot. Not like some friends that would risk expulsion because of Ashron’s call, Everquest, or WoW but I spent a lot of time logged in. Which may have also been why I was so lonely that first few months.
Sometime in my second semester I drifted away from the MUD. I still read the books but was not as involved in any online community. By sophomore year I had some friends that I would argue fantasy novels with. Most had not read Discworld or dismissed them for other works fantasy but if I made a comment about 1 in a million during an RPG session I would receive caution about setting up a Discworld situation.

And after college I continued to read the books. Bought them on occasion and maintained my collection of the series. I had found other novels as the years past but even today I remember the day I found many of the books in hardcover at Value Village. The shock and wonder at this discovery. Part of me still looking for these novels when faced with a pile of books and on that day it paid off in a way that my 16 year old self would have loved.

But I don’t consider myself part of the fandom.
Nor any fandom for that matter. Yes I am a fan and yes I am saddened by the death of Sir Terry Pratchett but I while I am sad I don’t feel so alone. The days when I would talk about Soul Music and receive looks of confusion are gone. The difficulty in tracking down the latest release are over. Nor do I have to hunt through dusty shelves of a second hand store hoping to find a copy of Witches Abroad. (Which eluded me until I found one at a garage sale by pure luck) Sure I meet people that don’t know the series but it is not exclusive like when I found it.
Not tucked away in a fantasy section but out in the open.  Yes I am sad because of the lose of this writer but I learned things from his novels.
Learned that the Darkness should be feared but be controlled. That containers change what is contained in them or that racism effects people in many unforeseen ways. And that luck can beat fate but you shouldn’t expect luck to save you. These novels challenged me to think and consider other views. It showed me the new ideas through humor and for that I will be forever grateful.

Old Friends

March 10, 2015 Leave a comment

Over the past week I ran into two friends I have not seen in quite some time.
The first was while working a show at ACT. We had opened house and I came back to the booth to prepare myself for a show when I looked out and saw what looked like someone I knew.
Debating if I should go and see if it was them I ultimately chose to see if it was her.
This was a stage manager I had done several shows with years ago.
At a different and a little difficult theatre which was the last place she would work. She had a great passion for theatre but that place was burning her out. Asking so much and giving so little in return and in the end she found that becoming a therapist was a better fit. To hear that she had transitioned to that and enjoyed it quite a lot made me happy.
How things change.
For an example

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So Many Years Ago

That was me years ago wearing the candle hands of Lumier from Beauty and Beast.
A fun show to run except the 48 hours I was trapped in Issaquah Washington when a snow storm set down upon the NW.
Great times even if they had to end.
I look at the folks in this picture and many have moved on and changed. I was force out because I made some bad choices and frankly the theatre did the right thing in getting rid of me. But that is a story for another day.
But damn to run into someone like that was quite interesting.

I am once again visiting California because something happened to my family.
Odd how that works out but I managed to finally see one of the few people that I have been in communication with since high school. Not constant communication but off and on since I was 18. The amount of time we have known each other could now drive which is a frightening thought. Thinking about her I remember either the 14 year old I met when i was 18 or the stoner that she was when I got back from college. She is now a single mother paralegal really getting her life together.
It is a good thing to see and also see someone grow in that fashion.
No idea if she feels the same about me but for her to have aged, changed, grown, and become such an adult has been a great transition to witness.
Yet I am left to wonder about my changes and my growth.
But that is a worry for some other day.

Categories: Memories, Scare Yourself

Once upon an Ice Show

December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

I had difficulties sleeping this morning.
Around 4 am something woke me up and there I lay for a few hours until the desire for breakfast roused me out of my warm cocoon and into a cold kitchen for some eggs and bacon. Not my normal breakfast, mind you, but given I had a lot of time why not have something more difficult than yogurt.

As I sat down to eat NPR informed me tonight would be the 50th year A Charlie Brown Christmas has aired on network tv.
I stopped eating and began to remember my time with an ice show based on that cartoon.
And also my time at Knotts.

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My Last Ice Show

For three Decembers I ran an ice show that had deep inspiration from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
In fact near the end there was a moment where everything stopped, Linus did his speech, low fog filled the stage, and a slow version of Silent Night played as skaters began a slow flowing routine.
Despite not being Christian this hit me right in the meaning of the season. And while I did find it overly religious I enjoyed this moment and felt it was staged well without being too beat you over the head religious .

My last Ice Show was my favorite. Not the show itself and probably saying that is wrong.
From October into February when I turn in my uniform and said adieu was my favorite time there.
That show wasn’t great and ended up being scrapped and the previous Ice Show brought back a year or two later but it was fun… or rather I had fun. Adding quotes to the back of flats, playing Guitar Hero off stage, pictures, slight pranks, and all around good times.

See I knew I was leaving.
I began looking for my way out after seeing my fourth friend get a 5 year certificate and with disbelief at the time spent there and where the years had passed they accepted it. Then with almost regret they would wear their 5 year name tag  while looking for a way out. I didn’t want to be there. The job had been fun, the people some of the best I had met, but when I thought about my future I couldn’t imagine being one of the long time techs. Nor could I imagine moving over to production and being of the guys. My way out was to move to Seattle and either succeed or fail there.

Yet I remember that last winter as the most fun I had at work.
That load in was a pain in my ass and the supervisor I had didn’t make it any easier.
Also I’m sure he felt I was a pain in his ass. In fact I can be sure of that as we had a yelling match one day while I was at height in a lift working on a run light. He came in demanding I finish something that was done.
We yelled back and forth then he went to my manager to complain.
Which lead to a meeting where I explained what happened and ended it by asking if I was being disciplined. When my manager couldn’t confirm that decision I said I needed to get back to work and left.
Good times.

Knotts was a fun place.
And that point in time was a fun time to work there.
I have some regrets but none I would go back and try to resolve.
Still when I hear Linus and Lucy I think back to those days and what fun I had driving a cart backwards through the park as everything was shutting down.

Influences

September 27, 2014 Leave a comment

The other day I found out the scene shop foreman from when I was at Knott’s Berry Farm died.
He wasn’t a great friend or colleague because I worked in the theatre and wasn’t a shop guy but because on occasion I’d have to work in the shop I did encounter him and other members of the shop staff more often than other tech ones.
He did the tech one tool orientation which boiled down to, “If you don’t know how to use a tool then don’t fucking use it”. But my first real memory of him took place my first summer there.
During the load in of The World According to Snoopy (or TWATS on Ice as we called it) I was sent to the shop to either get a tool or work on a project I don’t recall now. I got there, and let us say it was to work on something, I set up and begin laying out my project.
This guy with a big moustache appears demanding to know who I am what I think I’m doing. Now he isn’t yelling but his voice is full of authority and I get a little scarred. This is after all in my first week and I barely know my way around any where so to be thrown to the wolves and I feel like I’ve done something completely wrong.
I stammer out a response about having to work on something for the theatre and who I am.
He took a moment looked me up and down, then at what I was laying out, probably asked me what it was, and told me to check with the shop guys before starting.

Something about that interaction stuck.
After that I would ask permission to use the shop.
Not all the time, mind, there would be points where I was so well known it didn’t need to happen but for the most part that small ritual played out.
Even today I tend to do that.
Without saying a word about it Mike told me that I was an outsider in his space, he wasn’t sure of me and needed to know what was happening. But more than ensuring people didn’t fuck up projects he made it known that I needed to give the most basic level of respect to him and his workers by seeing if there was space or materials for me to do my project. And that lives on in me.
After all if you can’t do anything else you need to respect the people and places you work at.

Mike maybe gone but I will remember him for that lesson.
Also if you know where to look there are monuments to him at Knott’s .

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Schadenfreude

September 20, 2014 Leave a comment

When I moved to Seattle it was under the guise of creating a theatre.
Like many fringe and near fringe companies we had passion, drive, and were going to change the way people looked at theatre. And ultimately we didn’t.
We found something of an audience and produced a few plays but never really got it together.
Often it was just the time we could devote to making the company work.
Also despite our degrees we were woefully unprepared to do the work of running a theatre.
Honestly who knew that advertising was so tough?

Still we were one of the first companies to produce trailers for our shows. In fact some of those trailers were more fun and imaginative than the shows ended up being. One which no longer exists which was a shame.
During that time of trying to make theatre the idea was hatched to perform a show called ““Matt and Ben” which is actually a very fun show and was a good choice for us.
Now we were theatre nomads not having our own space we had to rent, borrow, share, you know what have you.
But we had learned about a company called, “Balagan” which was getting big and was opening a new space. We had talks with them and we were going to use that venue.
Thing is while they swore on a stack of bibles that the space would be ready for us there were doubts.
Doubts about the floor being done, that the electrical would be in place, doubts that it would actually be finished. Even with constant reassurances it still felt doubtful. And when we had posters with locations made we felt ready until an email was sent saying that the space wasn’t ready.

Talk about screeching halt to our plans.
We got mocked in a weekly paper, while on their blog we were called “scrappy”, when we moved production to a new space. But the show happened. It was fun, a bit of a success and we did it.

And I mostly forgot about them.
Mostly except when I’d hear their name and I would mention this story.
When they took over another theatre to the chagrin of other theatres.
And I told my story.
Then they lost that space and I told my story.
They started doing big musicals and becoming a company that did risky, risqué musicals.
And I’d tell my story.

Last night Balagan officially dissolved
They did some good shows.
They had some success but they overstretched.
I don’t hate them but I do take some pleasure in this failure.
Sure Seattle has lost an interesting company that made some good theatre.
Just because I didn’t always agree with them doesn’t mean they were bad.
But I now won’t be able to tell my story of losing a space because of their poor planning.