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Friday, October 27, 2006

How Shall I Complete The Wall?

Friday, October 27, 2006

For Immediate Release

(Seattle) – With deep regret, The Empty Space Board of Directors announced today that The Empty Space Theatre will cease operations effective immediately.

The Empty Space has enjoyed a rich and extraordinary history, producing work that has had a lasting impact on American Theatre. Thank you to all the artists, donors, volunteers, and, of course, audience members who have supported The Empty Space with such tenacity and generosity.

Unfortunately, The Empty Space does not have the financing needed to manage cash flow over the coming months. In January 2006 we completed a successful move to the new Jeanne Marie and Rhoady Lee Center for the Performing Arts at Seattle University. We produced two shows in our new home; both Bust and Louis Slotin Sonata were critical and popular successes. However, while we anticipated reaching breakeven in 2007, efforts by the board to secure donations or other forms of financing to bridge the interim period have not been successful, and the board is deeply saddened to take this necessary step.

“We’re very disappointed to be taking this step,” said Erik Blachford, Chair of the Board. “We appreciate the support we have had from the community and we regret that the board is unable to raise the funds necessary to continue.”

For 36 years The Empty Space has made a commitment to Seattle artists and new work. “We’re incredibly proud to have introduced new playwrights to Seattle, to have nurtured local artists and to have produced shows of lasting impact,” said Allison Narver, Artistic Director. “Founded in 1971, The Empty Space has become a home for bold, provocative, and celebratory new work. While I am deeply saddened by the Board’s decision we are profoundly grateful to the many subscribers, artists, volunteers, staff members, interns, and audience members who have supported us with such loyalty and passion for so many years.”


Posted byCOMTE on 6:15 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

When I Met You In The Restaurant
You Could Tell I Was No Debutante

The past couple of nights I've experienced some extremely vivid dreams, the kind that, not only can you recall them in detail long after waking, but that stick in your head for days at a time. I'm sure some Freudian analyst would have a field day, but here goes:

Wednesday, two food-related dreams:

The first involved an outdoor BBQ cook off competition. I was standing in a tent piled with stacks of savory beef and pork ribs up to my eyeballs, huge, lumpen briskets, tri-tips, whole chickens, sausages; an enormous embarrassment of slow-cooked meat products. As I sampled several of the selections I could taste the sharp, vinegary tang of the sauce as it dripped from mouth to chin; I could feel in my mouth the fat-encrusted chewyness of the meat as I gnawed on the bones. Suddenly, a crew began to disassemble the tent and the display, but there was still piles of meat left over - what would they do with it all?

Fade to black...

The second dream took take place in a library or museum: the design was distinctly European, Louis XVI or similar; lots of baroque accents on the walls and with high ceilings and windows. The main room, roughly 50 or so feet long was filled with dozens of small tables arranged so that there is just enough room to walk between them. Atop each table was a silver platter containing some sort of seafood dish: acres of oysters resting on beds of crushed ice; planks of fillets, some sliced parchment-thin; legions of kippers and anchovies arranged in complex geometric patterns; mussels, crab, lobster, squid; all of it elegantly presented. Beside each platter was a small bowl containing implements such as tiny forks or toothpicks; clearly the food was there to be sampled, but only a handful of people seem to be partaking. I tried several offerings; one in particular, something made with lobster claw-meat in some sort of lemony reduction sauce, and wrapped in lettuce or some similar leafy green tasted absolutely, stunningly divine, like it was the best thing I've ever eaten, and I couldn't stop praising its virtues to some unseen person standing near me.

Another recurring set of dreams that I had both on Wednesday and last night, and one I've had frequently over the years, involves flying, or more accurately, struggling to fly. It seems I frequently have dreams where I possess the ability to defy gravity, but only with tremendous effort, like the air has a tangeable quality, more akin to water, that resists my efforts to rise. I literally have to push both through and against it, like a swimmer in a current, in order to gain even a modest altitude. Usually, I'm only barely able to achieve a height of perhaps 15 or 20 feet; this was pretty much the experience in my dream on Wednesday night. However, last night I actually found taking off to be relatively easy, although I encountered another obstical in that I become entangled in overhead power lines. Also, there was a decided difference in my "flying attitude", as normally I'm in a laid-out, horizontal position, ala Superman, but this time I was floating upright. And even though the air resistence was greatly diminished, I still could not gain much in the way of altitude, being able to only hover at about the height of a three story building. One very different variation in the dream pattern was that I distinctly recall seeing someone else floating off in the distance, which is the first time I can ever recall sharing "airspace" with another person. However, we never made contact, although I'm fairly certain we saw each other.

Like I said, some psychiatrist would probably have all sorts of interesting things to say about these subconscious ramblings, but to me the only real important aspect of them is how specific the sensory experiences were, and how vividly I can still recall details from them, even after a period of more than 30 hours. Most of us are probably used to recalling sights and sounds from dreams, maybe occasionally tactile sensations, but tastes? How often does that happen?

Maybe I just need to go to a really nice restaurant this weekend.

Posted byCOMTE on 10:37 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Would Have Walked Head On Into The Deep End Of The River

Took a couple extra days off from work last week, trying to burn off some vacation time before it gets too close to the end of the year, now that I'm in a "use it or lose it" situation.

Spent Thursday afternoon with my friend Colleen, one of the few people I've managed to stay in contact with from my grad school days at WWU. Even though we don't see each other all that often, we've kept in phone contact at least, although even by our standards it had been quite awhile since last we got together - more than a year.

Our lives have traveled both divergent and parallel courses in the 23-odd years we've known each other: both of us started out doing theatre when we first moved to Seattle, but Colleen quickly dropped out, and spent the next several years focusing on her alcohol issues (she's been clean-and-sober for 20 years now, and in fact Thursday was her anniversary), then having a son, Dorian, who she's been raising as a single mom for the past 14 years. For the last five or six years she's been working in local choral groups, and was just accepted as a member of the Seattle Symphony Chorale, which gives me a really good excuse to attend events there now.

Somehow or other, she's developed the notion that I "saved her life" some two decades back, when her drinking problem came to a head, and she got herself into AA (she actually said as much to someone on the phone while we were driving to try to catch a matinee after lunch, so this isn't just hyperbole on my part). I don't recall a lot of details from the period, but I do know I spent a lot of time talking to her about options, and basically just being supportive as a friend. So, while "life saving" might be a bit of a stretch from my perspective, in this case it's really hers that counts, and that's the way she sees it. Sometimes I guess, just "being there" is exactly what the situation requires.

(We didn't get to see the movie, as strangely the advertised matinee didn't seem to actually be happening, so instead we ended up going to The Frye Art Museum to view the very weird and creepy Henry Darger exhibit, and play the very amusing and percussive Trimpin sound sculpture.)

In any case, things have been going pretty well for her the past few years, or so I thought, so it was a bit surprising to hear about some other things going on of which I was previously unawares. Still, she's come through the other side, once again, and it was just good to spend a bit of time catching up and reconnecting.

Friday night was another box office for The Show, after which I was roped into participating in an impromptu recording session to read the "lost Cherub episode" (look for it on the soon-to-be-released Cherub Season I & II Extra-Super Deluxe Double DVD, coming soon no doubt to all fine purveyors of online merchandizing - or at least this one). On Saturday I attended the annual Genius Awards Ceremony, followed by strike for The Show (wherein all the physical aspects of the production are disassembled) and the traditional "Annex Check Ceremony", wherein we show our love and gratitude to the cast and crew for all their hard work and dedication.

In addition, spent a few hours on Friday and Saturday roaming a couple neighborhoods in the pursuit of a little art project I'm working on for an upcoming "Annex Company Art Show" that we'll be running in our gallery space during the run of our next production. Unfortunately, while I was out-and-about the chill autumn air decided to deposit some wee beasties in my sinus cavities, and I ended up spending most of Sunday fighting off a nascent case of the nasties. Feeling better today, so think I nipped them in the bud.

Still no word on "Little Nellie", although I presume the dealer will contact me when she's back from her near-death experience. Not surprisingly, no word from SPD either; given recent local news articles on City Council proposals to significantly increase manpower levels in the Department, one might conclude that non-injury hit-and-run cases - even those where the perpetrator should be relatively easy to identify - aren't exactly landing at the top of my local precinct's list of priorities.

So, how was YOUR week?

Posted byCOMTE on 11:47 AM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Your Voice Across The Line Gives Me A Strange Sensation

Two somewhat interesting telephone experiences in the past week, courtesy of The Show.

Last Thursday night I was recruited to be part of a recon team for the performance themed around "the shopping mall experience". I'm not big into malls myself, being more of a "know what you want, know where to find it, go in, get it, get out" kind of shopper, but thought it would be fun to describe aspects of mall-shopping behavior to the studio audience, and so gladly accepted the assignment.

For better or worse, you can blame us Upper Left-Handers for the very existence of the regional shopping "mall" (the term was first used to describe Northgate Mall, located just north of downtown Seattle) . Although more than 50 years old, Northgate has undergone numerous renovations over the years, and for all intents-and-purposes is probably completely indistinguishable from any other similarly designed shopping center from the post-war era.

Our crack team of five (three "Line One" cast members, plus two irregulars, including myself) piled into a tiny sedan about 7:00 p.m., checked our cellphones, and made our way north, arriving with plenty of extra time before the show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Once underway, we were each given a series of tasks, culled from several "mission packets" assembled by the show runner for our benefit. I ended up with tasks such as: "introduce yourself to a janitor as a member of a religious organization, and offer to help them with their job", "follow a group of teenagers or 'mall rats' and describe their activities", "find one shop you think will have gone out of business in five years, and describe why you think so", etc.. We also had several group assignments such as: "purchase three items from the food court" and "List, in sixty seconds as many items on the menus of as many food counters as you can", along with providing running commentary on our overall experiences.

It probably all sounds rather strange, and certainly out of the context of the performance, it might seem a little weird to have a group of people roaming up-and-down a mall talking about the experience of mall shopping (although, given the number of cell phone stuck to ears that evening, walking-and-talking ones way through the mall is not an intrinsically foreign concept to many people), especially when doing so for an audience several miles away, who are all vicariously experiencing your adventure by listening to another actor "channel" verbatim your descriptions; but that's part of the charm of the "Line One" concept.

The mall show was a little different from the standard "Line One" process, because most of the show was being "broadcast" as it were by a group within close proximity of each other, all in the same environment, whereas normally the people calling in are scattered all over the city, if not the country - even internationally - and they have no real-time connection to each other, except through the medium of their calls being collected and spoken out in the theatre itself.

The experience of hearing your own words echoed back to you by the "channeller" is a bit disconcerting at first, like those long-distance phone conversations where you hear that faint echo of your call being bounced around the airwaves, but once you develop a rhythm where you speak a few words, then pause briefly to let the person at the other end repeat what you've just said, it can actually go pretty smoothly, so long as you don't talk to fast, and make sure to keep your enunciation fairly crisp. Occasionally, you'll hear the other person drop their volume, an indication that someone else's conversation has taken center stage, and you'll try to imagine your channeller sitting off to the side, their voice perhaps audible to only a few people in the audience, as they continue to verbalize your observations. Really, it's more interesting when you see it for yourself, even with the occasional "dead spots" where no one is talking at all for brief periods.

The second call-in was last night, when I gave a report of the Theatre Puget Sound fundraiser I attended at Teatro Zinzanni; much like the earlier experience, except I had to leave the tent area, so as not to disturb the performance.

So, the show is winding down into its final week, and I think my call-in duties are pretty much over at this point. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to see the video-tapings that was made of the performances, just to get a sense of how it all came together. Having seen several of the performances previously, I have a good feel for the overall structure and outcomes, but it should be fund to see how the cast worked through the calls when I was on the sending, as opposed to the receiving end of things.

Posted byCOMTE on 2:33 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We Have To Shout Above The Din Of Our Rice Crispies

"Syn-chro-nic-i-ty n. synchronism of events that appear to be connected but have no demonstrable causal relationship."

So you've read about my little near-death experience last week (see entry below), and perhaps been wondering where things stand. I left work early on Thursday to go downtown and pick up a copy of the Incident Report filed by SPD, so that I could fax a copy of it to the insurance company, and also to get a check-up, since I was experiencing some moderate back and neck pain (prognosis: no whiplash, just a bit of post-accident stress trauma).

When I was handed the photo copy of the report, I noticed the license plate number of the offending vehicle had been entered incorrectly, and was instructed to contact the officer who filed it in order to get it corrected. Left a message for him at the East Precinct, then went home before my doctor's appointment later that afternoon.

I still hadn't heard back from the officer by yesterday, so figured I'd place another call this morning. On my way home from a meeting up on Queen Ann last night, I ended up taking a #3 bus, having just missed my #2 by about five minutes. The #3 follows a very different route from the #2, but ends up dropping me off about three blocks south of my apartment, instead of a block and a-half north.

As the driver made the turn from E. James St. onto 21st Ave, about two blocks before my stop, I happened to glance out the righthand window (I was sitting across from the driver next to the door), when - lo and behold! - what should I-Spy-With-My-Little-Eye sitting at the curb next to the bus stop, but a mid-1980's white four-door sedan! The bus headlights clearly illuminated the back end, giving me an unimpeded view of the license plate - 341-KZM!

"Holy cow!" (or something more colorful) I shouted, "that's HIM! Wait, let me out! LET ME OUT!" Before the driver thought I'd completely lost it, I very quickly explained my situation.

"Be careful," he admonished, as he opened the doors.

I hopped off the bus, and took a quick glance around to make certain nobody was hanging about. Didn't seem prudent to go over and start peering into somebody's car in front of complete strangers at 10:30 in the evening. Fortunately, nobody was in view, and the driver even held up for a few moments, just enough to allow me a quick visual inspection of the car before he drove off into the night.

Even if the license hadn't clinch matters, it was definitely the same car I had nearly had up my backside a few days earlier: same front grill, same dual square-lensed headlights, same color & style.

Definitely my perp.

I pulled out my cellphone, and considered calling 911 right then-and-there, but figured, since they wouldn't have the correct license on-record, they probably wouldn't do anything about it until the next day anyway. I tried to take a cam photo of the car, but despite the nearby streetlight it was too dark to get a decent image. Instead I jotted down the location and time on the back of a business card, and noted the address of the house in front of which the car was parked. No guarantee of course this was the actual residence, but at the very least, I knew if he didn't live there or at least on that block, he knew someone who did.

Needless to say, I walked the remaining blocks home in a state of - I guess aggitated elation. I now knew the plates were legit, as both front and back matched (I had initially briefly considered the possibility the car might be stolen, or that the perp might think to switch plates, but clearly that would have been giving him far too much credit) and given the time of evening I figured there was a very good chance I had his location pegged to within less than a city block.

But of course, this would never have happened if: A.) I hadn't rescheduled my meeting for a different time-and-location; B.) I hadn't missed my bus and decided to take the next closest route, rather than waiting for the next #2; C.) I hadn't been sitting where I had been; and D.) I hadn't been looking in exactly the right spot at the right moment. Considering that, if there had been even a slight change in any one of these conditions I never would have seen the car, it's enough to make one wonder - albeit only for a moment - if there wasn't some sort of Cosmic Causuality in effect here. Justice Will Be Served, and all that.

Or, more likely, I was just really, really lucky, and that's all there is to it.

This morning, I did finally manage to get through to Officer Williams, noted the incorrect license number on the Incident Report, informed him that I had seen the car, and gave him the location. He said he'd re-run the plates through DMV (naturally, they didn't match the vehicile description previously) and that he'd get back to me.

Now I guess, it's all about the waiting - for the police to inform me they've taken the suspect into custody, to do an I.D. presumably, and for the dealer to inform me as to the state-of-repair of "Little Nellie". Hopefully, all the pieces will click together in the next couple of days.

I'll keep you posted.

Posted byCOMTE on 12:40 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

His Pappy Said, 'Son, You're Gonna Drive Me T' Drinkin' ...
If You Don't Quit Drivin' That - Hot ... Rod ... Lincoln!'

Well, five months of ownership, and "Little Nellie" suffers her first major mishap - not her fault - at the hands of an idiot driver who thought passing me at 35 mph, on a one-lane residential street with cars parked on both sides was a really SMART maneuver.

I'm fine - banged the inside of my left knee against the front cowling & I'm going to have a bruise shaped like Manhattan Island in a day or two - POSSIBLY some minor whiplash; hard to say at the moment, since everything is pretty well clenched up, but otherwise okay.

Little Nellie, unfortunately didn't come away quite so unscathed:

She's got a busted rear fender, busted tail light (lamp still works), busted rear body cover, bent muffler pipe & mounting - and that's just what I can ascertain from a visual inspection. Otherwise, she appears minimally driveable, but there's no telling whether the frame or rear wheel suffered damage until I can get her in for an insurance estimate later this week.

Yeah, at least one of us was insured.

So, quick, detailed account:

I had just dropped off the evening's office mail at the post office about a block from where I live, and was literally 100 yards from parking when a white early/mid-1980's Cadillac or Lincoln comes up from behind and proceeds to try to pass on my left, on - as previously stated - essentially a one-lane street with cars parked on both sides. Needless to say, he clipped my back end, driving his front bumper into Nellie's nether regions. Fortunately, he slowed down enough to allow me to get untangled from his front end, and stop. As soon as I hop off the bike, I've got my Zire out of my haversack and the camera at-ready.

"You okay?" he says, he and his two buddies getting out of their car.

"Yeah, I'm okay, but my scooter - "

"Aw, can't we just forget it?"


The kid has just rear-ended me, practically run me over, made a mess of my brand-spanking new bike - AND HE WANTS ME TO FORGET ABOUT IT?????

"Dude! You just hit me! Less than a block from where I live! In front of my neighbors!" (a couple of whom, having heard the noise, are coming out of their houses - Good. Witnesses.)

"Okay, okay..."

"So, I guess we better exchange insurance, huh?"

"Um. Don't got any."

Okay, right there you know this isn't going to end well, no matter what.

"Right." I take a photo of the front of his car:

- making sure to get a clear view of his license plate. By this time other cars are backing up behind us, and the horns are starting to honk (keep in mind, most of these drivers are now getting upset, because the "shortcut" they thought they were taking to avoid the traffic light half a block away has now become something less than time-saving).

"Um, why don't we pull over and do this?" he says.

Yep, I smell the rat. But, I've already got him pegged with a description, and a photo of the plate, so even if he decides to run, he's screwed.

I hop back on Nellie, and move her over to the curb. By this time, Dude and his buddies have gotten back into their car and -

"I'll be right back!" he shouts, driving off down the street, and turning at the end of the block.

Okay, now MAYBE he's just going to go around the block. MAYBE he'll come back. MAYBE I was born with an extra appendage. Unfortunately, none of those are true.

"Did he just drive off?" one of the neighbors who's been watching all this asks, incredulous.

"Sure looks that way," I reply, pulling out my cellphone and dialing 911.

When the police officer arrived about fifteen minutes later, and heard the story, all he could do was to shake his head in wonder, "Why does this always happen right before I'm supposed to go home?"

Hey, Officer Williams, I can relate.

Posted byCOMTE on 6:20 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

Monday, October 02, 2006

High Water Rising The Shacks Are Sliding Down

We got the show up-and-running last weekend, although not without a bit of extraneous drama to go with the drama onstage.

Turns out one of the performers, my friend P-Ratt, her husband SGNP and newborn Betty George (no website - yet!) were flooded out of their house Thursday evening by a burst pipe that left the entire downstairs under about six inches of water. They managed to get a plumber in, who pumped out most of the standing water, but getting whatever had seeped into the walls and floors was going to necessitate employing heavy-duty industrial drying fans running full-bore for about four or five straight days, meaning they needed to find other accomodations in the meantime.

They're both good friends, and the idea of them spending ridiculous sums of money to stay in a motel didn't set well, so we coordinated amongst several of our fellow theatre-folk and managed to work out a temporary lodging roundel: I hosted them on Friday evening, spending the night on the boat, because the idea of three people PLUS a nursing infant crammed into a 300 sq. foot basement apartment just seemed ludicrous on the face of it, and besides, why NOT stay on the boat?

So, I gave the place a good, thorough cleaning when I got home from work, then went to our Gala Opening, which was quite nice, followed by a faaaaabulous aprez-show party, afterwards scooted off to the boat.

Although I've been maintaining & checking up on it on a regular basis since moving off two years ago, I hadn't done an overnight for quite some time - probably going back to summer of 2005. Not too much of a change; seems a little roomier with some of the day-to-day items removed, and not sharing the small space with two grumpy cats. But otherwise, same-old-same-old. I did, however, have a great deal of difficulty falling and staying asleep. It was quite calm, so there wasn't much motion, but the "firmness" of the 30 year-old berth cushions, even with an extra layer of foam padding on top, was something with which to contend, and I spent most of the night tossing-and-turning, and falling in-and-out of a rather shallow sleep.

On the plus side, my houseguests absolutely enjoyed their brief stay, and had nothing but glowing praise for my tiny living space. Didn't hurt that an original SGNP drawing holds a place of prominence in my "Kitchen Gallery of Space Age Pop Art", or that they're the kind of people who would actually be delightfully surprised by a Tiki-inspired bathroom.

Saturday, they moved to another friend's house, conveniently located just a few blocks away from me, and by now should be relatively comfortably ensconsed in another friend's "Condo Guest Suite", where they'll spend the next several days until their house is dry-and-cool enough to allow them to return.

Thank goodness for Home Owner's Insurance, is all I can say.

Posted byCOMTE on 1:44 PM

0 Scurvy Dogs Have Gathered 'Round The Scuttle Butt

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