Sunday, September 27, 2009

New York



  I love New York. I really do. Ever since my first time in the city, I fell in love with it. There's just a vibe there that you don't feel anywhere else. There's such a tremendous energy and weight to everything. Sure, New York has its beautiful places, and, sure, it has its share of "looks and smells like a public toilet" places. But damned if it isn't the capital of the world.
  I went up for three days this week to visit Kendra. We had a great time. I got to see her new place in Harlem, visit a lot with little Colby, see a couple of fantastic shows, eat a lot of good food, and explore the city.
  Wednesday we visited the Natural History Museum, where we saw a lot of huge-mongous dinosaur skeletons. There were a lot of crazy beasts in there that I had never seen before. Typical of NY museums, it was packed to the walls with awesome.
  That night, we were thrilled to attend "A Steady Rain," which is a two-man play starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig that is only running for twelve weeks. It was brilliant, of course. I have to admit to being a little starstruck when the curtain went up and the lights came on and there were these two major actors I admired, sitting only fifteen rows ahead on the edge of the stage. Great, very dramatic performance.
  The next day, I kind of just strolled Manhattan, met Kendra for lunch at a little Mexican place called "Blockheads" and then spent the afternoon walking the great lengths of Central Park. It was a beautiful day for that kind of thing, and I was worn out by the time I got back to the apartment.
  The final day, we shared a little brunch before I set off on my day's adventures. I took the train to Chinatown and walked all over lower Manhattan. Then, I made my way back up the island to museum row and spent a couple of hours at the Guggenheim. There was a pretty interesting exhibit of Kandinsky's paintings going on, and I also saw some works by Monet, Picasso and Degas among others. That evening, I went back down to the Broadway district and bought tickets for that night to see "In The Heights." I can NOT say enough about how good that show is. Every single aspect of the production was brilliant. All the actors were very strong, the set was beautiful, the dialogue was sharp, the choreography was mind-blowing and all the songs were fantastic. I can truly see why it won the Tony for best musical. I highly recommend it and would see it again in a heartbeat. I had a seat 5th row center, and it really was spectacular.
  I polished off the night by visiting Kendra's wine bar "Clo" in the Time Warner building. Very innovative. They've got an interactive display that shows the "menu" on the countertop and you use your hand to interact with it and make your orders. The wines are all around the bar behind glass and each one has a spout that you place your glass under to recieve your pour. I tried several wines (including one from Israel!), all of which were very good.
  I had a fantastic trip and can't wait to go back. At least this time I was there for more than one night, but even at three days it went by in a flash.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fall drops


Unbelievably, fall is upon us once again.

There are so many things I love about fall- the mild temperatures, the colors, the holidays. There’s always a bit of somberness that goes along with it, though, because it’s the death of summer, and it portends the chill of winter.

This fall is hitting me on all fronts. I’m mourning adventures unfulfilled at the same time that I am celebrating forging into new territory. My workload, as of this week, has increased exponentially, which is at once exciting, confounding, dreadful and wonderful.

I can’t complain at all about this banner year. I saw the Moai of Easter Island and dived some of the clearest waters on the planet. I camped in the deserts of Australia and swam with turtles and sharks amongst the bright coral of the Great Barrier Reef. I learned to read music, and began a study of voice. I successfully completed my first classes in dramatic acting. I advanced my career and continued to faithfully serve my country.

Some of my plans didn’t quite make it. I wanted to take more trips; weekend jaunts with the tops off my Jeep. Up the coast to Maine. Down South to Charlottesville’s wine country. North to the ghostly ash-town of Centralia, PA.

I was supposed to go wreck-diving off the coast of the Carolinas with my friend Jeremy. I was supposed to reserve airfare to Egypt for a Spring trip to that country and all its fascinating history. None of that came to pass.

There’s still much of this year left, though, and it’s overfull with its own kind of adventures.

Yesterday was the first day of my second semester at DC Studio Theatre. “Voice I” will be teaching me more about diction, inflection, resonance, projection and levels. “Character and Emotion” will be delving into just that- hopefully bringing more emotional honesty to my work onstage. I’m most especially looking forward to the results of this course, even though the workload is going to be crushing. We were given our first week’s assignments last night, and I literally have no idea how I’m going to fit them all into my life.

My voice lessons with Ms. Winter will continue too, and there will likely be another recital sometime before the end of the year. Practice for this instruction is also a daily regimen, and the corresponding musical theory bookwork will have to fit into my schedule somewhere as well.

As if that weren’t enough, I also have several short film projects planned. I can’t help the ideas that come flooding into my mind, or my desire to continually try something new or push the technological envelope. These are the things that fire my brain. With any luck, I’ll be able to recruit some of my out of town friends to come down and participate.

And then there’s this weekend. I’ve entered a writing competition. Friday night, all the entrants will be emailed a subject, setting, and character breakdowns and will have until Sunday night to write a scene using those elements. 100 writers will then advance to round two the next week where the same rules will apply, only this time the deadline is 24 hours. Then, 10 writers will be selected for a third and final scene the following week where they will be given 90 minutes to complete it. I enrolled in this competition before I knew how much was going to be dumped on me this week from school, and it was probably a foolish move, but I can’t resist a challenge like that. Some of my best work has been done under pressure. Even if I’m eliminated in the first round, it’ll still be good practice.

In closing, I’d also like to mention that I hope everyone joins me in observing “National Talk Like a Pirate Day” this Saturday, September 19th. Arrrrrrrrr ya ready?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember




Saturday, September 5, 2009

Victory!


  If you haven't read the entry previous to this one, do that now. This is the end of the story.

  You guys hear that buzzing sound? Neither do I, because they're all dead.

  At 2042 hours last night, "Lil Stinker" was successfully deployed on target. A BDA (battle damage assessment) was done this morning at 0700, and no wasp-insurgents were seen alive. It would appear that the weapon was 100% effective.
  The lawn was alive last night, friends, let me tell you. I took my flashlight and my giant can of wasp-death and shuffled quietly through the grass over to the nest-hole just before 9:00. There were so many crickets, gnats, jumpies and slimy slugs about that I felt like I wanted to just carpet bomb the whole place. When I turned the beam of my flashlight on the hole, I saw that there was a single wasp at the entrance pulling guard duty. For a second I thought, "You know, it really is an interesting insect society. They have guards, fighters, workers, a queen. There's a whole town under there." Then, I unceremoniously blasted the hole full force, filling it with a dense, white doomsday chemical. I imagine for that guard it was much like catching a neutron bomb in your mouth.
  It's really difficult to tell if the thing was fully effective, because so much of the hive is underground, but when I checked on it this morning, there seemed to be nothing alive. Some kind of flying bug came out of the grass toward me, and I let him have it. Not sure if it was a wasp, but I didn't take any chances. After checking on the hive this morning, I gave it another blast, just to be sure. Nothing like bombing the rubble.
  As for the lawn- it's now been mowed. As for me? I'm a tad itchy in spots, but looking forward to devouring the rack of ribs I just threw on the grill. Happy Labor Day Weekend, everybody!

Friday, September 4, 2009

WAR ERUPTS IN COASTAL EAST


  Cut loose a full four hours early from work, I jaunted home, had a delicious, relaxed lunch, and then decided to mow my recently neglected back yard. I've been seeding it, you see, to fill in some bad spots, and wanted to give it time to grow.
  I gassed up the old grass-chopper, rolled around to the back of the house and began cutting, iPod firmly in-ear.
  Not more than two minutes into the job, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in the middle of my back. Immediately, I knew something had bit/stung me, so I flailed my hand around and tried to knock the offending bug from my backside. Before I could even figure out what had caught me, I was hit several more times on the left side of my body. I immediately let go of the lawn mower, stalling out the dead-man switch. Looking down, I noticed I was enveloped in a cloud of very angry yellowjacket wasps.

                      Artist recreation of attack

  As I realized I was under full attack, I ran for my back door, taking a couple more stings in the process. I stepped over my garden hose and then stopped and picked it up, hoping to blast these insects off of me. Unfortunately, upon squeezing the sprayer, I realized the water wasn't on and I had cost myself precious seconds. Still under seige, I jerked the back door open and ran inside. About fifteen brave yellowjackets came in with me and continued their assault. I swatted at them with my hands and then a dishtowel, but they were too quick. I remembered then that there was a can of Raid under the sink, and I went for it, fogging the place up something fierce. A couple of the little bastards got sprayed directly out of the air and landed convulsing on the kitchen floor. Two or three stragglers were distpatched with the aforementioned kitchen towel of justice.
  I stood there, breathing heavily, heart racing, trying to look myself over. I found another yellowjacket trying to crawl up the inside of my pant leg and crushed him. I brushed my hand through my hair and still another striped kamikaze flew out and then got a dose of the towel.
  I went upstairs to the bathroom and took my shirt off to survey the damage. When I did, a last wasp flew out and met his end under my shoe.
  All in all, I took about fifteen stings.
  After applying a salve of baking soda and water, I decided to visit the local Home Depot and prepare for chemical warfare. I was going to find those responsible for this despicable attack and make them pay dearly. Before I left, I gathered up the carcasses of the wasps I killed in the kitchen and bathroom, threw them in a bowl and set them on the back porch. I wanted the rest of them to see what they were going to look like by the end of the day.

                      Intimidation bowl

  After returning home, I sat down to formulate my counter-attack while I enjoyed some soothing Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream.
  I would scout out their hidden fortress and then wait until just after dark, when the colony was asleep. I would then rain down chemical death on them from above, most likely talking a lot of shit in the process. I would obliterate them and their egg-laying hussy of a queen. That's right, wasps. I said it.
  After formulating my plan, I went outside to retrieve my lawn grooming equipment from the battlefield. It sat, embarrassingly, baking in the sun, abandoned in the initial panic of the attack. As I stepped carefully through the grass, I eyed a nearby bush that I suspected was the yellowjacket capitol. Just then, however, I noticed a finger-sized hole in the ground near my feet. As I peered closer, a lone wasp climbed out of the hole and flew towards me. I made a hasty exit, but I had ironclad intelligence now. Perfect overhead imagery, captured by my own two eyes.
  In the grand tradition of naming weapons of mass destruction, I am calling my genocidal device "Lil Stinker."

                                 "Lil Stinker" device

  Zero hour is approaching quickly. If you'll please excuse me, I have a colony to take down.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cutting room floor


Click to biggify.

  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I was going through my picture archives to find a good shot to submit to the "Photo of the Day" contest over at Earthshots.org. Well, my submission didn't make it, so I'm posting it here. I've previously shown some other shots in this group, but never this one.
  This was taken on the side of Kilimanjaro at about 14,000 ft looking back at Mt. Meru. That's one of my climbing buddies, Mike, down at the lower left, watching a sea of clouds float by beneath us. This was an absolutely breathtaking sunset- easily the most beautiful I've ever seen. The photos don't do it justice. I remember standing there in the chilly evening breeze, camera snapping away, and not hearing a single word of conversation among the group.
  I'm going to add a bunch of pictures from that Africa trip to my Flickr account pretty soon, and you'll see more of this remarkable event.