Had a great first interview with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday afternoon. Ironically, two of the three temp agencies I'm signed up with wanted to send me to interview for the same position, but even if I don't get this one (a three to six month assignment), there are two more similar positions available that I might get a shot at.
Last night my bus was broken into - again - while attending a charity event; this time they smashed out the right front wing window, stole some CD's (which for whatever good it's worth I had already backed up to MP3 files in light of previous break-ins), tore the CD player out of the dashboard, and generally made a big ole' mess of the interior. This morning I drove it to an auto glass shop, but due to the age of the vehicle, they can't just replace the glass, but need to R&R the entire wing window assembly, which unfortunately is no longer available after-market. Managed to track down a used unit, which I'll pick up tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm having a car alarm system installed; after two breakins and a significant amount of body damage inflicted on my vehicle in less than six months, I figure it's time to bite the bullet and make the investment. This IS why we own credit cards, right?
Finally, just got a call for a second interview on the AFTRA job, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
So, maybe I'll soon be able to afford all these darned car repairs...
Is He Strong? Listen Bud, He's Got Radioactive Blood
(Sent via Moblog)
This little guy (or gal, hard to tell) hitched a ride on the spare tire attached to the front of my bus. (S)he's about 1/3 of an inch across, so this is a pretty phenomenal accomplishment considering I just now got back from driving around town running some errands.
Discovery had a flawless liftoff from Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, clearing the launch tower at 10:39 EDT this morning. The seven members of the STS 114 crew will spend the next two days checking out shuttle systems and practicing experimental repair techniques that are intended to prevent an accident similar to the one that doomed the crew of Columbia two and a-half years ago. On Thursday they'll dock with the International Space Station, bringing much needed supplies and spare parts, then return to earth on August 7th.
Normally, I don't get all gushy about music and such, but for the past several weeks I've had one CD basically on "continuous play mode" in every musical playback device I own (which, surprisingly, is actually quite a few):
Don't let the title of this solo debut album by Chicagoan-by-way-of-Florida musical nerd Devin Davis fool you into a false sense of expectation for some maudlin, cryin' in the basement sort of musical downer; quite the contrary. From the jaunty, surreal juxtoposition of Social Realism meets "The Music Man" pop references on the cover to the exquisitely crafted paeans to '70's power pop anthems contained beneath it, Davis nails the concept of the One Man Band for the 21st Century.
After spending more than two years literally single-handedly laying down all but a mere three instruments on the eleven tracks of this album, sleeping on sofas at the recording studio where he worked in order to be able to snatch the odd few minutes of unused session time, and honing each number down to a glittering diamond of musical and lyrical precision, Davis has crafted music that is so infectiously upbeat and optimistic as to make even the most hardened, jaded cynic jerk in surprise at the sheer exhuberant toe-tappingness of it all. Simply put, it's an entire album's worth of Summer Hits, all rolled into one meticuluously assembled, lovingly nurtured, ruthlessly edited, and irressistibly joyful package.
For all his single-minded sense of purpose, Davis' accomplishment could easily be pointing to both the future of independent music and the future of independent artists in general. Today, anyone can record their own CD, shoot their own film, stage their own play. Individual artists, compelled not by fame or fortune, but by the unsuppressible urge to create are out there utilizing every erg of energy, skill and technology at their disposal and pouring it into their vision. And with the confluence of a ready-made communication and distribution system, now anyone with a will has the ability to share their work with literally billions of potential purchasers. It's the Free Market without the middleman; producers selling directly to consumers, and Davis could become one of the first true breakout artists to owe their success directly to the New Medium.
Apparently, this CD has been slowly garnering both popular and critical praise all over the InterWeb, but even if Davis turns out to be a one-hit wonder (and one hopes for all our sake's that's not the case), then he - and we - can still be cheered by the thought that for the Summer of '05 at least, all the lonely people of the world knew where they all belonged.
And that's a very good thing to know.
(MP3 samples from the album can be downloaded from here)
Another reason to commemorate today: 36 years ago, two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the surface of another world. Their feat opened a new door of discovery, the first small steps away from our tiny little world, and into the vast frontier of the cosmos.
I just hope get to see us take the second step, and perhaps even the third. It would be good to live long enough to know we've really learned to walk.
Veteran character actor James Doohan died early this morning at his home in Redmond, WA, where he'd resided for the past dozen years. He'd been suffering from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's for several years, and except for a few brief appearances had been pretty much out of the public limelight for most of that time.
Doohan was always a sort of inspiration and role-model for me as a performer; the consumate character actor, he had a long and distinguished career in television and film dating back to the early 1950's. You could be watching some old rerun of "Gunsmoke" or "The Man From UNCLE" or "The Outer Limits" on late-night TV, and suddenly there he'd pop up, usually in some thickly-accented supporting role (he was a master dialectician, something for which I have a personal affinity), pulling yoeman's duty backing up the series lead.
Even in his most famous role, the irrascible Chief Engineer Montgomery (his actual middle name) Scott on the original "Star Trek" series from the 1960's, he always played second or third fiddle to the show's leading-man trio, but as is typical for the seasoned character actor, he rarely called attention to himself at the expense of his fellow actors, which ironically granted him the freedom to deliver quirky performances that in their own way were as memorable as the stars he supported. After all, Bill Shatner's Captain Kirk, for all his bluster and bravado would have been literally "up shit creek" countless times if it hadn't been for the exertions of his in-house "miracle worker" constantly pulling his ass out of the fire at the very last second, and furthermore, letting his boss take most, if not all of the credit when it came time to hand out the medals or get the kiss from the busty alien babe.
That's the lot of the character actor, and it was Doohan's great good fortune to be one of the best, eternally underrated, yet always adding that little touch of color, the slight twist of humor, the subtle period to the exclamation point of a scene that made his work stand out, even when he was relegated to the background.
So, if you happen to have occasion, drink a toast to the passing of Jimmy Doohan, actor, and to his eternal alter-ego Montgomery Scott, miracle worker:
"Thou man of crazy care and ceaseless sigh, Still under bleak Misfortune's blasting eye; Doom'd to that sorest task of man alive- To make three guineas do the work of five: Laugh in Misfortune's face-the beldam witch! Say, you'll be merry, tho' you can't be rich."
Everybody Talks About The Weather, But Only Those Mind-Controlling CIA Satellites Do Anything About It
Overheard on the #2 bus to downtown this morning (and only slightly paraphrased):
A man and woman sitting across from me: she of the three-inch long neon green fingernails and highlighter-yellow-with-color-coordinated-green-stripes jogging suit ensemble; he of the scruffy, but otherwise clean not-quite-sure-if-he's-a-homeless-guy variety.
HE: Sure is humid!
SHE: We've had horrible weather this summer!
HE: Yeah, usually it starts getting real nice after 4th of July, but this year --
SHE: I heard those space guys crashed a satellite into a meteor or something, that's what's causing it.
HE: The weather always goes haywire when they shoot one of those things up.
SHE: They shouldn't be messing around like that - they don't know what they're doing!
HE: I heard they've got machines up there to change the weather. That's what's causing all this global warming.
SHE: All those satellites crashing into things - who knows what they're doing to us!
HE: Yeah, you'd think they could at least tell us about it.
Waking up to the radio headlines yesterday morning brought that sickening sense of deja vu -- we've all been through this before, as unfortunately, have the people of London. As terrible and tragic and senseless and cowardly as these actions were, as many lives have been cut short, ruined or traumatized, at least there's some small solace in the knowledge that Londoners are a hardy, resilient people; they've survived the Bubonic Plague, The Blitz, The IRA, and the Thatcher Regime, just to name a few, and they'll survive this too.
Just received notice a few moments ago that my temp assignment will be ending the middle of next week. Things evidentally get pretty slow around here in the summer, and although the person I've been supporting is going on a month's vacation, the owner also just hired a new research assistant who will be picking up the slack. So, it's back on the hustings again, with resultant severely reduced income for the short-term, which is problematic as my cash reserves are dwindling - the $300 worth of auto body work I had to pay for last month not helping matters. Guess that means boat repairs are going to be put off -- again, and if things don't turn around within the next month, putting her up for sale may become a necessity.
In slightly better news, I do have at least one promising interview on the 18th with the local office of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the broadcast and commercial performers union, for a position as their business affairs manager & assistant to their executive director. I think I've got a good shot at it, and it would pay something close to my former position. Keep your fingers crossed.
We got The Show up on its feet last night, and so the extra-curricular portion of my life will be winding down, along with the workaday side; still things to do, but the constant deadline pressure is gone, as is my ongoing struggle to get people to turn things in to me in a timely fashion. The show could use a teensy bit of settling, but otherwise its quite enjoyable, although if you're planning to see it, I highly recommend bringing an extra seat cushion, along with bottled water.
You can go to these links to see some of the results of my efforts:
From here on out, it's a matter of selling the show with the (presumably) positive reviews that will be out next week, promoting the Gala event, dealing with a possible extension, and generally trying to get paying customers in the seats.
It's been a rewarding experience, a real stretch for me, and one wherein by all accounts, based on the incredibly generous feedback I've received, my efforts have been been greatly appreciated. Who knows? Maybe it's a completely different direction to pursue.
And Now For Something Completely Different -
Playing (With A) Possum
Finally, this amusing little anecdote: I got to bed way past my bedtime last night, due to post-opening performance celebrations, and was quite rudely awakened at about 4:30 this morning by both of my cats engaging in (for them) an uncharacteristic pre-dawn hissy fit. Keep in mind, my cats have never gotten along; 15 years together and they still act like that old, bickering couple from down the block, the ones whom you can't ever quite figure out why they got together in the first place, only in the case of these two they really didn't have any choice in the matter.
So, they've started in with the hissing and the whining -- you know the sound, that low, sustained growl that communicates in no uncertain terms, "BACK OFF!". Usually, I just thrust out with a foot beneath the covers in hopes of startling one of them into jumping off the bed and thus quelling the argument. For once, this didn't have the intended effect. In fact, one was still on the bed, but now I could clearly discern the other was under the bed, yowling unabated, ergo they aren't yowling at each other.
Then I remembered I'd left the kitchen door open before going to bed. It had been cool outside, and when I had gotten home, both cats had immediately leapt through the door for some nocturnal adventures practically before I could get it open, and I hadn't felt like waiting up for their return, just to close it.
So, the first thought that burbled into my sleep-addled brain was, there's another cat in the apartment. On rare occasions one of my upstairs neighbors' cats have ventured inside my abode, willfully ignoring the old saw about curiosity and what it does to cats, and so my assumption was this was probably causing the ruckus. Reluctantly I got up, switched on the lights, and performed a cursory inspection, but no intruder was to be found. Still, the agitated caterwauling continued, and it took me a minute to realize their ire was being directed at something still underneath the bed. I grabbed a flashlight, moved a couple of boxes aside, and sure enough I could finally see the culprit: a fair sized native North American marsupial, cowering in the far corner, grinning its rictus-like "Nightmare Before Christmas" grin, its pink rat-tail stretched out like a wire, grey fur puffed out so that it looked like one of those fuzzy things you use to dust behind furniture.
Okaaaaay - there's an opposum under my bed. No big deal. It didn't appear rabid, just frightened, and not inclined to make a run for it with two angry felines at the ready and a large hominid blinding it to boot. Still, I couldn't just leave the thing there, so I needed a plan to extricate it. I grabbed a broom, moved a few more boxes, tried to corral the cats out of the way on top of the bed, and began a systematic sweeping to pursuade the critter to vacate its current sanctuary, which after several well-placed swats it did, having decided that taking its chances out in the open was probably better than continuing to get whacked with the broom bristles.
Out it scooted, blindly careening across the kitchen floor, bouncing off furniture and mop boards and recycling bins like a furry pink pinball, until it finally managed to escape to the relative safety of the great out-of-doors.
Problem solved. Back to sleep. But not before making a mental note to self:
Next time the cats are out when it's time for bed, they takes their chances on Mr. Opposum's home turf.