I was first introduced to Mr. Jackson's writings in the early 1990's when I started experimenting with home brewing, and his "New World Beer Guide" became one of my bibles in terms of developing a further appreciation for the wonder that is top-fermented ales. His notion that beer, like wine, should be recognized for its aesthetic, culinary and cultural qualities made a big impression on quite a few people in this part of the country, and he deserves at least a bit of the credit for the proliferation of the craft-brewing industry in the Upper Left Hand.
I'm not a Believer, so I personally don't think about the presence or absence of beer in Heaven, but I would encourage those of you quaffing a tasty malted beverage this evening (even if it's - ugh! - Budweisser or some-such) to hoist one in honor of the Late Mr. Jackson, who no doubt would encourage you to appreciate your beverage-of-choice for its many admirable qualities; qualities which he in large part was responsible for bringing to our attention.
I'm in the middle of painting the front of our building this afternoon, when this guy who looks vaguely familiar stops beneath my ladder, note pad in hand, and asks me if I'm with the theatre. When I respond in the afirmative, he says he works for the alterna-weekly newspaper the offices of which are just up the block from us. He saw me setting up from his office window, and wandered down to take a couple of pictures and to ask me a few questions. Turns out he's the Arts Editor, Christopher Frizzelle. So, I'm painting, he's asking, I'm answering, and he's jotting down my answers. We do this for about four or five minutes, then he thanks me and leaves.
About 45 minutes later, BenLau, who's been working upstairs editing a soon-to-be-released-on-the-Internet comedy series from our friends at Caution Zero Network comes out and says, "Dude! You're on the Slog!" ("Slog" being the aforementioned alterna-weekly's online Web log.)
And sure enough, there I am, along with our little Q&A Sesson.
But, here's how the front of the building looks now:
- a definite improvement over the earlier multi-colored facade.
And we got a bit of PR out of it too boot.
Now, if we can just get rid of that ugly poster box, it'll look even better.
Four or five hours of climbing up-and-down ladders today and I feel like I was convicted of chewing gum in Singapore (yeah, I know that's a myth, but that's how my feet feel!). Still, each hour of work helps to bring our little theatre space a little closer to being useable.
And while I'm at it, Happy Birthday, Mr. H., who entered his 30's in inimicable fashion last evening:
The cake, was frosted with an outline of the State of Kansas:
(a theatre - or more specifically, an Annex Theatre in-joke. And yes, those are corn-on-the-cob holders subbing for candles. And for those of you waaaay in on the joke, the cake actually "bled")
Sometimes you can learn strange things things about yourself during momentous events in other people's lives. For example: apparently, I have some sort of latent talent when it comes to playing croquet:
Certainly not something with which I was previously aware, but I won all three of the evening's matches - on customized courses, with some particularly difficult obstacles, mostly performed in the dark using flashlights, and despite A Certain Someone stealing my "lucky red ball" just prior to the third match (of which I spent roughly half playing under a significant handicap). My trophy for achieving this incredible trifecta, or hat-trick, or whatever the croquet equivalent may be? No, I didn't take the "Space Mad Libs", or the strange bottle of Portugese wine, or the "cow gun", but instead opted for the sling-shotty goodness of the "Aero-Copter".
(Red Ball Thief - and baker of "Bleeding Kansas Cake" with The Birthday Boy.)
But of course, now I can't help but wonder how different my life might have been, had I only discovered this innate ability a couple of decades earlier, at least in time to have turned pro.
Well, that was a short summer. What with the wettest July on-record, and the dregs of Hurricane Flossie currently drenching us for the past couple of days, it seems like this has been one of the mildest summers we've had around here for quite some time. Maybe we'll get lucky, and the sunny, warm temps will return, but there's not a lot of time left before we get into Fall, and it would be nice to keep some semblance of melatonin production going for a few more weeks before we all start turning into the pasty, fungal winter versions of ourselves.
Ah well, as they say, it could be worse. I could have been T-boned by the crazy driver doing 35 mph who ran the red light just as I was entering the intersection at 40th & Stone Way N this morning. And I could have been on my scooter, instead of wimping out and driving my bus this morning.
Sometimes, even when it's raining, it's good to see the glass as half-full.
And On The Other Side ... The Sign Didn't Say Nothin'
Stopped by the New Space after the end of the State Labor Council Convention this afternoon, to find this brand-spanking new sign adorning the front of our building! The rest of the facing needs additional work, but just having the signage up makes a HUGE difference!
Hard to believe: today is my two year anniversary at The Job. Time flies and all that. Overall, things are going pretty well, and even though August is considered the "slow season", there's still plenty to do, what with day-to-day business, and the state Labor Convention starting tomorrow, plus my boss's imminent retirement and (soon we hope) some sort of interview process for his replacement.
We now have most of our major contract negotiations settled, which means more time to concentrate on organizing and improving member services, and of course a new boss will no doubt come in with lots of new initiatives and projects. I'm still hoping that the transition to a regional office will involve my being able to spend time down in Portland, but the details continue to be hashed out at the national level, and the PDX Exec has been convinced to stay on until the end of the year, so regardless of what's decided, nothing will move forward on that front for several months at least.
In any event, the next 12 months are going to be interesting, to say the least.
Did our final performances of our 365 Plays at the Downtown library last night, to a fairly substantial crowd of both fellow 365 performers, as well as just plain folk. This was a "marathon" of all the 365 Plays done during the month of July (with a bit of spill-over into August) involving five different theatre companies, and employing a variety of performance styles from sit down, book-in-hand readings (for which the sponsors of the event had indicated a preference) all the way to fully staged pieces (which we ourselves preferred - and accomplished with a great deal more flourish IMHO than the readings).
So, that represents the last little performance activity for Annex for the next several months, until we get the new space up-and-running in early October.
Speaking of which, things are progressing, although I think everyone has hit a bit of a lull, both in terms of available energy to expend, and specific tasks that can be accomplished. We spent Sunday afternoon pulling out all the fiberglass ceiling insulation in prepping for the sound dampening that will be going up (hopefully soon). It was messy work, complicated of course by the fact that everyone was wearing layers of protective clothing, filter masks & goggles in an attempt to not breath in too much of the nasty, nasty fibers, and there are now about forty industrial sized garbage bags full of the stuff that will need to be taken to the dump, but it was probably the last of the really super-aweful jobs that Had To Be Done.
In reality, we could probably continue to clean the place until Domesday, but it's a bit futile in light of all the destruction and construction that's going to occur in the near future. Still, I personally would love to see the gross carpeting disappear sometime soon, although again replacing it will probably be one of the last things on our to-do list, after all the dust settles.
It's going to be a fun couple of months, ya' sure ya' betcha'.
Bob Is On The Street Today, He's Scouting Out Locations
Neglected to post about this little blogger meetup I attended last week, but apparently in the somewhat rarified atmosphere of local bloggerdom, it was considered something of a watershed event, and getting an invitation was supposed to have been something of a "big deal".
Which still leaves me wondering how the heck I got one.
The event was put together by one Chris Pirillo, who I'm told is something of a legend in local blogging circles, particularly for the more geekish among us (which evidently lowers my official "geek quotient" considerably, since I'd never heard of the guy before receiving the invite), and hosted at a local TV station (which, coincidentally just happens to be one with which we've been having ongoing labor issues).
Now, my first take upon receiving the invite was, as I mention above, "why me?" I'm not particularly plugged into the larger world of the Blogosphere, aside from keeping track of the handful of friends who occasionally post, and being a daily visitor to a few sites that track national politics, so I was frankly surprised that someone had enough wherewithal to view my site, then decide it made me worthy of receiving an invitation to this event. More likely what happened ,however, is that Mr. Pirillo simply used one of several online web site locating apps (e.g. GeoURL, or Technorati, both of which I have linked on my page) to scope out a bunch of sites within a given geographic radius to Seattle, then sent out a blanket invite to any and all email addresses that resulted from the search. Based on the handful of conversations I had with other local bloggers, most were equally as perplexed as I was with regards to their presence, and just as suspicious about the motives of why a fairly large MainStream Media outlet would be interested in us lil' ole' bloggers.
Being a bit more on the inside of things with regards to KOMO and their parent company I felt I had good reason to look askance at their largess, but Mr. Pirillo assured the seventy or eighty of us assembled there were in fact no ulterior motives, and that he'd been the one to approach them about putting on the shin-dig in the first place - pointedly without mentioning exactly why he'd gone to this particular company to do so.
(On Edit: It appears he was hooked up with KOMO by a media consultant & blogger who lists Fisher/KOMO as one of his clients. And, it definitely justifies my skepticism that KOMO doesn't really have an agenda in all this.)
Still, given the fact that MSM organs are desperately trying to wrap their corporate brains around all this New Media stuff, what it means for the future of their industry, and probably more importantly, "how can they make a ton of moollah off it?" it's probably not too surprising that they'd jump at the opportunity. Certainly the issue of New Media content development has cropped up frequently in recent negotiations with just about every station with which we have contracts, so I simply cannot imagine that management didn't at least consider the ramifications of bringing a bunch of bloggers into their inner sanctum, and how that might figure into their long-term business plans, whatever they may be.
In any case, the event itself seemed to be fairly well attended,, with a mix between established, high-profile bloggers (aside from Mr. Pirillo, someone pointed out Stefan Sharnkansky of SoundPolitics.com, Justin Carder from CapitolHillSeattle.com, and Seattle PI staff blogger, Monica Guzman, among several others), and common folk such as myself. KOMO laid out a decent spread of food & beverages, and even let us run roughshod over their news set (although Fisher CEO Colleen Brown, who was in attendance, might have blanched a bit at the thought of a - gasp! - union rep sitting in her anchor chair!). A couple of anchors - Goertzen & Chapman - actually did put in a brief appearance, but contrary to the official transcript, they quickly ducked out after taking a survey of the assembly and before getting roped into an endless round of "take a picture with me!".
Mr. Pirillo is intimating that he'd like to see more, larger future meetups of this type. The question in my mind is whether KOMO will continue to foot the bill, and if so, what sort of payback will they expect in the long-term, whether it will simply amount to brain-picking, or whether they actually consider tagging some of these folks to provide content on online and/or mobile platforms. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out (assuming for the moment they DO indeed have some sort of agenda on this), because it certainly could impact reporters, writers and editors at the station, but whether for well or ill is still debatable at this point.
It's So Relieving To Know That You're Leaving As Soon As You Get Paid
We're done, finished, finito, out of there. A group of us hauled away the last vestiges of our two year residence at the Old Space: platforms, drapes, drapery tracks, lighting equipment (and not just the few they set aside, but also the many they "forgot" to pull from their grid and storage room), plus a few miscellaneous items, then gave the place a final cleaning and touch-up before turning in the keys and officially saying "hasta la vista, baybee" (the Company did a formal send-off avec several champaign toasts on Monday evening).
Of course, in situations like this, even now it isn't really "over", because we've left behind some equipment that they're renting from us for a few months, and there's the matter of getting our rent deposit back and whatnot, but these don't involve us actually having to deal with anyone in person, which has become, well, increasingly frustrating over time, to put it in the nicest way possible.
Now, the kids running the show for our little theatre company are a pretty amazing crew, if I do say so. They're smart, dedicated, and incredibly organized, just to cite a few of their better qualities, and so it's been disheartening for me personally to witness what several of them have had to endure in the course of this troubled relationship. I've seen people with wills of steel brought to tears; people with the patience of saints brought to the edge of physical violence; friends lash out at friends in anger and frustration; and people who love and cherish their creative capacities taken to the point of wanting to just chuck all of that right out the window. Which was not at all something they deserved, and certainly not what we envisioned when we all decided to embark on this travail oh so many months ago.
I'm not going to dish dirt here, because, well, what would be the point? It won't heal the wounds that have been opened up in the past two years, and it won't salve any of the unpleasant feelings that have been left in the wake of this relationship. But by the same token it's important to acknowledge the considerable toll all this took on a group of people whom I so greatly respect, admire, and yes, even love, for many reasons, not the least of which because they themselves worked so hard to avoid exactly this sort of dysfunctionality from the very beginning.
So, let's just say that all of us are glad to put this chapter of our institutional life behind us, and look forward to a fresh start in a new space that allows us a decidedly greater measure of control over our own destiny.
The Stellner Theater and Stetson Gallery are dead.
Long Live The Stellner Theatre and Stetson Gallery!