Since I bought my new digital camera some months back, I've taken probably thousands of shots, mostly at various and sundry theatre-related events, but I haven't posted many of them to the website, if for no other reason than it just gets very time consuming and blogger.com probably appreciates me not hogging up all their bandwidth to boot. But, I recently rediscovered my old Ofoto account, and have started archiving most of my photos there. Heck, if Kodak wants to be the permanent repository for all of my digital photos, who am I to deny them the opportunity?
And so, for those of you interested, here are some links to some of my more recent photo albums:
For the next twelve months you may address us as, "His Royal Majesty, Christopher I, King of Schmeaterland" in acknowledgement of our investiture last night at Hold My Hair Back, a fundraiser for Theater Schmeater. Last year's King Joseph Boling I graciously relinquished his crown (evidentally he hasn't brushed up on his Machiavelli recently) allowing us to ascend to our rightful position as absolute ruler over all Schmeaterlanders.
Now, before you-all start with the bowing, scraping and groveling, please keep in mind that we intend to rule as a benificent monarch, and our demands shall be relegated to simple prerogatives, such as taking the best seats at Schmeater productions, free drinks from the bar, and no standing in line for "Twilight Zone" shows.
Oh, and we received some fabulous tribute along with our crown, including a night at the Edgewater Hotel (famous for two rock-and-roll related events namely, a famous photo of The Beatles fishing off their hotel balcony in August of 1964, and as the inspiration for the Frank Zappa song, "Mud Shark"), plus tickets for two to Teatro Zinzanni.
And all it cost us was forty measley bucks! Who knew stealing an election could be so much fun or SOOOO easy! This must be how W felt.
Even harder to believe sometimes that many of the people I know and with whom I work weren't even born on the 20th of July 1969.
There are certain events that shape our lives.
For my parents it was probably President Kennedy's assassination
For their parents, Pearl Harbor
For theirs, Armistice Day
For those born later, it was Challenger
For the next generation it will be 9/11
I feel fortunate that the most memorable moment of my life so far was one that didn't involve destruction or chaos or pain and suffering, but was one of triumph, of excitement, as dark, grainy flickering images on a television screen burst forth with the promise of the future, and however briefly, with the hope that things would always be better than that moment. We'd landed on the moon! And for an eight year-old kid who had only the vaguest notions of things like Viet Nam, or domestic political turmoil or generational conflict, it was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Can you even imagine?
The memory will live with me for the rest of my life: sitting in front of the TV in our living room at 755 Maple St., Lake Oswego, OR, 1:17 p.m. PDT, July 20, 1969. CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite & Wally Schirra (one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts) relating a play-by-play of the events unfolding more than a quarter of a million miles above our heads as Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong guided a spindly, delicate, bug-like craft down to the surface of our nearest celestial neighbor. I was lying on my stomach in front of the screen, my eyes sucking in every image, my ears soaking up each pronouncement like a sponge, as the static-y time-delayed voice of Lunar Module Pilot (an odd title, since the LMP never actually handled the controls) Buzz Aldrin called out altitude, forward and downward velocity, fuel consumption, while far, far away, countless legions of their fellow human beings held their breath awaiting the outcome of their efforts.
After tense moments, the tell-tale "beep" of transmission came across the airwaves: "Houston, Tranquilty Base here. The Eagle has landed." And then all at once we let go of that one held breath, the single most massive collective sigh of relief ever expressed by humanity. You could almost feel the headiness as three billion pairs of lungs simultaneously drew air from the atmosphere.
Can you feel it?
On the screen, Schirra was grinning like a kid who'd just been given the greatest birthday present ever, Cronkite simply took off his glasses and wiped his eyes in an uncharacteristic emotional display, but for those of us raised from infancy on his somber, sing-songy baritone, we shared his sense of awe. Words had failed him, for once in his life, and he (and we) were content to let the impact of the moment settle on us like spring rain. Then the picture switched to the inside of Mission Control Center in Houston, the nerve center of the Apollo mission, where things were strangely calm and business-like. Just because two men had landed on the moon didn't mean it was time to start celebrating; there was still a lot of work to do, and like the trained professionals they were, they followed the minutely detailed sequence of steps required to ascertain the condition of the spacecraft and prepare for the possibility of an emergency liftoff. Plenty of time for cigars and back-slapping when the job was done.
Thankfully, their caution proved unnecessary, despite the fact that Armstrong, in wresting manual control of the LM from it's overloaded computer (which possessed the equivalent computing power of a modern pocket calculator)) had overshot his planned landing site by several miles, and had been forced to guide the tiny craft through a boulder-strewn field before finally locating a suitable alternative, setting Eagle down on the lunar surface with less than 30 seconds of reserve fuel to spare.
There they were, safely on the moon. Two Americans carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire world along with them like tiny butterflies wrapped in rice paper, so delicate that the popping of a bolt or crumpling of a bulkhead no thicker than a beer can could have shattered them forever.
We've known such moments before and since, and no doubt someday will again experience the crushing of a future generation's dreams under the boot heel of history. But some of us will never forget that one special day, when mankind took a giant leap, forever changing the way we look at our world, our universe and ourselves, and we were all able share in the sense of joy and wonder and hope embodied in that one small step. It was better than Star Trek, WAY better than Lost In Space, because it was real, and it was happening right in front of our eyes. And I was there.
And now, 35 years later, I'm hoping that I'll live long enough to experience another moment like it again.
Long weekend makes Monday morning at work feel like a cakewalk in comparison. You know you're overbooked when you look forward to the first day of the workweek because it means a lighter load than the two days before.
This July's editon of 14/48 went swimmingly well, although 12 straight hours of standing on concrete proved to be quite punishing on my two flat feet. And it's been a long time since I spent that long in an almost continuous cooking frenzy. Started with eggs and pancakes at 8:00 a.m., followed by several hours of boiling pasta for lunch, then onto an afternoon bar-b-que, done all the while fending off errant dodge balls from the neighbor's game in the alley behind ConWorks. (FYI if you ever find yourself in a similar situation: A large, round Weber grill lid makes an excellent shield with which to protect the meat and put the balls back in-play.)
Did finally get a break at around showtime on Saturday, but just long enough for me to head home, grab a quick shower, then race up the lake to Fremont to run box office for Annex Theatre's latenite presentation of Principia Discordia - Live!, a wacky, irreverent, and admittedly somewhat confusing primer on the Discordian Movement one of those late 1960's dadaesque satires of organized religion, which in turn inspired Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy as well as similar religious parodies, such as The Church Of The SubGenius. I won't try to explain what it's about, because like any good joke, if you have to explain it, then you've already blown the punchline anyway.
Then, it was BACK to ConWorks to catch the tail end of the second act of 14/48, after which we did a quick clean up, then drank beer until 4:00 a.m. (Although when I left, there were still a fair number of beer drinkers drinking beer, so who knows how long the festivities continued), finally falling into bed around 5:00 a.m. So, it was a roughly 23 hour day, and even though I planned to sleep in on Sunday, not having anything to do until 1:00 p.m. when I was scheduled for another round of box office, I only managed about 4 hours, probably due as much to the lingering effects of one of those super caffeinated, glucose infused "energy drinks" as to the inevitable 9:00 a.m. revelle of floatplanes taking off.
Needless to say I made sure to get to bed on time last night!
And just in case anyone is wondering, this is an extreme, albeit not untypical example of what my weekends tend to be like.
Had another one of those so-vivid-you-can-recall-them-hours-later dreams, or more accurately nightmares at around 4:00 a.m. this morning. I and a bunch of friends were at an old farmhouse. Evidentally, there had been some sort of announcement on the radio, because we were all getting ready to hunker down and ride out a storm or tornado or similar natural disaster, when I suddenly realized I had to go find my father. I left everyone at the farmhouse, and suddenly was in a yellow school bus with my Dad and the driver, whom I didn't recongize.
We decided to go back to where my friends were, but all the roads were blocked by gates or emergency vehicles. By the time we circumvented our way around we got to the end of a road that was blocked by some sort of barricade, but one you could see through. On the other side was a veritable wall of cascading water, a living entity bearing down on us, like the giant waves in a Hokusai woodblock print. Beyond, the landscape had been scoured clean of all vegetation, buildings, any sign of life, leaving only a scarred vista like the side of a volcano. I was driving at that point, and decided, No way am I going to try to cross that! There isn't even a road on the other side! But, when I turned around to drive back, I got lost and ended up taking the bus over the side of a 1,000 foot chasm. fortunately, we fell onto a ledge only a few feet down, landing upside down on some soft turf, which evidentally broke our fall because none of us was injured. I told Dad and the bus driver to get out --
-- at which point I woke with a start, spending a good half hour wide awake and recalling every detail of the dream before eventually falling back to sleep. In what must be a very rare occurance, the dream seemed to pick up again, almost from the previous point. The deluge was over, and I was back at the farmhouse, although there seemed to be a number of new people there, whom I didn't recognize. But, everyone seemed safe, the farmhouse and surroundings unscathed -- even the naked mole rats (!) appeared completely unpurturbed by previous events. We got the old truck behind the house running, although the accellerator seemed to be stuck, because it took off like a bat out of Hell!
Then, my alarm clock went off.
Here it is nearly 4:00 in the afternoon, and although many of the details are a bit hazy, a surprisingly large number are still crystal clear: I can picture the school bus, and the men standing around the firetruck trying to block our path; the foaming chocolate milkshake color of the raging water, the luminescent green of the grass beneath the wheels of the rusted red pickup truck with its driver's side door and separating inner door panelling, the view through the front window as the bus sommersaulted over the edge of the cliff into the mottled brown abyss below, the tooth-rattling "plop" as we landed sooner than expected. The cool breeze through the broken windows.
Some Freudian would probably have a field day with this, but I don't think it really means anything more than maybe I ate just a little too much of that leftover meatloaf for dinner last night.
Still, I've had a headache and a general feeling of listlessness all day as a result.
When I started this blog oh-so-many-months-ago, one of the things I told myself was that what I didn't want it to turn into was a chronicle of the minutae of my daily existence. No I'll-just-write-down-every-mundane-activity-that-occured journal for me! And although I've occasionally slipped into the realm of "metablogging", that is copping items off of other people's blogs or from other online sources, I think I've managed to keep my promise.
But, it does pose a bit of a dilemma; it seems that very often I'll spend my last few minutes of consciousness each evening thinking up great subjects upon which to expound in the next day's entry, only to be stymied by an annying tendency to completely forget these brilliant ideas by the time I wake up eight or so hours later. So, short of keeping some sort of notepad by my head (which in-and-of-itself isn't really a bad idea), I either need to do a better job of remembering these twilight musings or else limit myself to subjects I can dredge up during the other fifteen or sixteen hours of the day.
But, there's a problem with this as well. For example, what I'm writing at this very moment might be considered self-referencial to the point of being not worth the effort it's taking to jot down on a screen. For some people it would probably be stating the obvious, while for others it's simply irrelevent. I'm not saying anything others haven't said before, it's just that occasionally I need to remind myself of the fact, for my own benefit if not for others. But, does that necessarily mean I need to project these rather mundane inner thoughts to a wider audience than the one inside my head? Evidentally, since I've obviously resisted the temptation to just hit the "delete" button and start over.
And Now For Something Completely Different:
I rewatched an old cinema favorite that I hadn't visited in quite some time, Alain Resnais' brilliant 1959 feature debut, Hiroshima Mon Amour, a truly lovely, haunting, sad, and affecting love story about the power of memory to shape our present circumstances. Working from Margaurite Duras' much heralded screenplay, combined with a groundbreaking explosion of traditional filmmaking technique, Resnais manages to put on film a perfect synchronization of past, present and future as they merge to create a timeless moment in each character's life. Perhaps as influencial on later filmmakers as Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Hiroshima is one of those rare films that seamlessly combines the mediums of literature and cinema together, and is still as haunting and emotionally involving on its tenth viewing as it is on its first or second.
There's an old saying in boating circles: "The two happiest days in a boater's life are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it." So, that must make today the second happiest -- the day when the boat loan is payed off.
That's right, as of 11:15 a.m. I made my final payment on the boat loan, so now that little fuzzy yellow thing in the picture above is -- MINE, ALL MINE! BWAHAHAHAHA! Er -- of course, I just spent the past two days stripping, sanding and revarnishing the woodwork on the exterior, I've got about $2,000 worth of repairs, maintenance and upgrades that need to be done just to get her ship-shape again, I'm still trying to figure out the whole solo sailing thing, and I'm seriously thinking about moving back onto land sometime in the next six months or so.
I guess, this all just means I'm 24 hours closer to that other "Happy Day".
Obviously, most of you probably have no idea what this "geckoing" shenanigans is all about, so let me (briefly) relate the history of this little ritual:
Many years ago, my good friend and Theatre Babylon founder D.J. Hamilton ran a little theatre space, The Eastlake Studio, to the north of downtown Seattle. The space had formerly been a pet store specializing in exotic reptiles, and evidentally over the course of time, some of the inventory escaped to roam loose through the shop. When D.J. took over the space, he began noticing a number of these little lizards appearing in various and sundry locations. Sadly, after a few months, the visits from the little geckos became progressively fewer and fewer, to be replaced with little mummified gecko corpses underneath the furniture or in dusty corners. Geckos, being adapted to more tropical climes than is the norm for Seattle, couldn't handle the colder weather, and so eventually they died off.
D.J. however, took their presence as a sign (of what sort, you'd have to ask him), and so adopted the gecko as his combination mascot/totem to represent his theatre. When he moved into the Union Garage space about 10 years ago, the gecko symbol moved along with everything else.
And so a tradition was born. At the end of the run of every Theatre Babylon production, "virgins" -- that is, people who have not previously been involved in a show there -- are inducted into the "Order Of The Happy Gecko" by means of a secret ritual, the details of which we are all naturally sworn to secrecy. However, if you look closely at the pictures, you can probably get at least some semblance of an idea of what sorts of rigors demanded of initiates. Lauren in particular seemed to have more than the customary difficulty with the rite, but I am happy to report, nevertheless managed to pass the test.
So, to Lauren & Jeff, welcome to the Order, may your paths always and forever be guided by the wisdom and perseverence of our little lizard guides!