REPORT A PROBLEM
Once every few months I do a Google search on my own name. Every time I'm hoping to find out something about myself that I don't already know. Perhaps some obscure relative, never even dreamed of, has died leaving me the family seat! More modestly, but equally unlikely, I also vaguely hope to find some enclave of netizens who think I'm brilliant and have set up a fan-page. I know it's a pointless past time but it allows me to feel like there is some randomness left in the universe and that I can still be a part of it.
An Ode to My Inbox: O' Netscape Messenger Inbox, inconstant bringer of bounty, why have you been quiet so long? A fortnight or 3 ago, you brought me new work, which if not constant was at least adequate. But now you have lapsed into an ominous silence that, with, each passing day seems less likely to break. I have tried to use you as an instrument of good, to find new work, but alas, I have become paralyzed by the fear that I have lost your favour. Was I not diligent enough in my efforts to woo employment? Seemingly not.
The Hunt for Red October was nothing compared to the Hunt for Cheap Rehearsal Space. I'm directing a Fringe show here in Toronto this summer and am flabbergasted by how insanely expensive rehearsal space has become. Even the kind hearted church down the street wants $30 per hour for one of their meeting rooms! The Hunt for Red October was also nothing compared to the Hunt for Male Actors – we've got 15 women auditioning for 2 female parts and 5 men auditioning for 4 male parts. Nothing's changed since highschool! Dudes! Brothers! Come audition for our show! You'll meet chicks!
As far as I'm concerned humanity began an intellectual decline when we acquired the ability to generate loud noise without having to expound a comparable amount of metabollic energy. What do I mean? Stereos & loud music. Otherwise innert and satisfactorily lethargic people, who probably otherwise wouldn't make much noise at all, suddenly acquire the ability to listen to repetetive, brainless music, especially when they live in the apartment underneath me. Further offenders are the anaemic ravers who sway like seaweed to booming music. And what about the small penised, hockey-haired hoser who guns his engine without being in gear?
It's 11:50. Only another ten minutes to compose and post today's entry. I know, I know – I could do it tomorrow, but it's my own little challenge today. Today's topic is a rather obscure one: the photo chosen as a frontispiece by Ted Sorenson for his biography of President Kennedy. It's a photo taken from a live television image of the President's June 1963 visit to Dublin. The interlaced scanning is highly visible and, as with all images taken from television of this period, the subject looks vertically compressed and rather squashed. Why did Sorenson pick this photo, I wonder.
Later this evening, the first night of auditions for our Fringe show. Oddly enough, I'm nervous. Aren't the ones auditioning supposed to be the ones who are nervous? What am I nervous about? Nervous that I'll do something stupid like forget to go, nervous that all the actors we've e-mailed the sides to will have read the script and decided they don't want to audition after all. Nervous that all the people who audition will suck and we won't be able to put a decent cast together. Actually, I'm sure most of them will be very good. I'm still nervous.
It's two in the morning now. Two-fourteen to be exact. The first evening of auditions has gone quite well in spite of the church where we're renting space apparently having lost our booking for the audition room. Now I'm sitting here with one of those "Use scissors to cut to size yourself", rubber dams covered in tooth-whitening gorp shoved between my upper and lowers. It's quiet time for me needless to say. What with living on my own and having this thing stuck in my mouth there's really not a whole lot of call for talking right at the moment.
I really admire those people who wake up every day with a plan: Montgomery Burns, Darth Vader, The Brain. I wish I could just wake up and have a plan like that, possibly some sort of secret chamber to hatch it in too and a bumbling minion to foul it all up. Then I'd go to bed and wake up the next day and start all over again. Ideally this is what being a freelancer ought to be like. In this particular incarnation of freelancing though (the writing one) I'm finding it just doesn't work that way. Wish it did.
I babysat my God Daughter tonight. Although she's pretty much Pavlovian conditioned to go to sleep as soon as her cheek hits a grown-up's shoulder, she just turned three, which means I had to fool her into putting her head on my shoulder to begin with. We're sitting in the rocking chair, her professing not to be sleepy, so I decide I'll have to outwit her. Thinking on my feet, I say, "But what about just pretending to go to sleep? Pretending is fun." She agreed, put her head on my shoulder and was snoring in a couple of minutes.
I cannot send e-mail right now and even more disturbing than the fact itself is how disturbed by the fact I am. Who'd've thought one could become so reliant on something so quickly? It drives me insane – I feel cut off from the outside world. I wonder if this is what it's like to lose your motor skills? You can still understand stuff, but you just can't make yourself understood. It's utterly bizarre and I don't like it at all. I blame Macromedia Dreamweaver. I opened it the other day and that was when all the troubles began – arrghhhhhhhhh! Damn!
Really, who can resist writing when they're as drunk as I am right now? I think these moments are when some folks decide to become writers. Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Hemingway. I know, I know – they were just using alcohol as a bridge to that inner muse. Ah so fuckin' what – this week has proved to me that whether or not I make money at it, a writer is what I am, by the simple virtue of the fact that I write and then give it to other people to read. Then they read it and either react to it or don't.
A couple of days ago I bought some "unscented" hair mousse. By whose olfactory standards do they determine what constitutes "scented" or "unscented"? Trust me, this stuff is heavily perfumed. Calling this stuff "unscented" is like calling lard "zero fat" or G.W. Bush "low in stupidity". This stuff embarrasses me because it epitomizes our culture's obsession with smell and what constitutes a pleasant experience of smell – I have only one thing to say – all you heavily scented women and suffocatingly aftershaved men out there – yo, idiots, personal smell should have a radius of only eighteen inches - especially in elevators!
I've purchased one of those tooth whitening kits, which seems only prudent since I haven't seen a dentist in over a decade. Not having seen a dentist in over a decade is a function of my willingness to work, but not to settle down to a job. And now the fruits of my undying ambition not to work in an office are that I'm sitting here with a rubber bridle in my mouth for the first time and realizing that I ought to have squirted the gorp more into the front of this little damn thing than into the bottom.
I'm sitting here again with this rubber dam between my teeth while the whitener stuff does its thing. This five to fifteen minutes I spend every morning and evening not being able to speak is kind of soothing. Not that I have to do a lot of talking in my day, but still, it's sort of like being mute – once you know you can't speak, all sorts of extra brain room gets freed up to focus on other stuff (such as, writing). It's comparable to that quiet time in the morning before you've really gotten dressed or raised the blinds.
Diary of a Fringe show: The last 48 hours – the rehearsal space we want has become so booked between when we saw it and now that it's almost useless – the actor I thought just couldn't do a couple of weekends, in fact can't do ANY weekends – the Stage Manager has quit to go do a paying gig – another actor can't do Monday's cause he plays hockey – and the ONLY guy we think can play the mature lead still doesn't know if he can do it or not. These theatrical Fringe Festivals are not for the faint of heart – oh well.
After yesterday's highs and lows, things have calmed a bit. We've gotten a new stage manager who sounds very enthusiastic and have booked slots in no less than 3 separate rehearsal spaces to accommodate the various schedules we're trying to work around. We still don't have a Lothargio, but I'm hoping other members of the cast may know people who'd be into doing a Fringe show. On top of this, I still need to find a friggin' job! My career as a freelance writer started off relatively well last year, but has dwindled to narry a gig to sneeze at.
I'm amazed at how much better a kind word from others will make me feel. In the midst of all this theatrical chaos, one of the actors phones to both offer his help in finding a new Lothargio, but also to say how much he likes the script. I just generally felt better: "Oh right, that script thingy we ourselves wrote – one of the big reasons we're doing all this." It's not pointless afterall. Anyway, it also made me realize how stingy I am in my praise of others – I think I should be a bit more complimentary to people.
I think I'm going to try to hook up with a Temp Agency – this would seem the best solution to the money/flexibility conundrum I'm facing. This after speaking with my friend Tiffany in Vancouver. She and her husband John are that rarest of rare breeds – two fairly steadily working actors, but she was mentioning what a good resource the temp gig was when she wasn't working so steadily. It appeals to me too because it would still give me the status of being an outsider, which is afterall important to me. I guess I'll have to get some new clothes.
I volunteer once a month at Mackenzie House here in Toronto. It was the last home of William Lyon Mackenzie, our first mayor and leader of one of our few notable rebellions. I work the moveable type press and explain the process of newspapering during the 19th century. I was there today and every time I am there I'm reminded of my fantasy of having sex in one of the other heritage houses here in T.O. – Spadina House. It's a giant Victorian pile repleat with red fuzzy wall paper and rich brown carved wood. Sex there would feel so forbidden!
My first audition earlier this afternoon for anything in years. It was so much fun! I actually managed to completely lose myself in it and even got a call back. Funny how it seemed to free me up to do other stuff I haven't done for ages either, such as come home and write a song – I haven't written a song for ages. I find it really strange that all this creative stuff I've wanted to do for years is coming together now when my career is so in the shitter. Maybe that's the balance often missing from my life.
I saw "Attack of the Clones" yesterday. It was definitely better than "Phantom Menace" in terms of the "Less talking, more fighting" factor. Why can't Lucas come up with good dialogue? A parade of worthy actors comes off looking like idiots because Lucas doesn't write his dialogue so much as carve it out of wood with a dull chisel. It's like one of those guys who carves tree stumps with a chainsaw, but without any of the depth or subtlety. Christopher Lee was good – I guess they needed an actor who'd worked for Hammer Studios now that Peter Cushing's dead.
Arggggghhhhh!! Still no Lothargio (the part we're trying to cast). What the hell?! The drought of male actors willing to stand up and be counted continues. I'm losing weight over this and not in a healthy way either. Why are women so much more willing to come out for these shows than men are? Is there some inherent difference in men and women's ego levels? I'm writing rhetorically of course, since I am convinved that indeed there is. What is it about women that makes them so much more willing to try stuff out or do a show for free?
I dressed up in a tie and jacket to go for an interview at a temp agency today. Ick! I have to say I looked pretty good, but I've also realized that men's corporate attire only really looks right if your arms are hanging uselessly at your sides, since even if you raise your arm to gesture the sleeve rides up nastily. What does this say about our corporate culture? It says the most valued ones are those whose arms hand uselessly at their sides and frankly I think that sums up corporate culture quite accurately. Welcome to North America!
Whew! Long day today. Picked up at 4:30 AM to help my friend Liako make the dips he makes for fancy schmancy gourmet food stores. I don't mean to sneer – they're good dips and he works hard to make a good buck with them, but I've been up since 4:30 and it's now 6pm and I have to go hear someone read for Lothargio, who I'm almost completely certain we won't use – I know him – he's a really good actor, but tends to get tongue tied with involved wording. Our show's a Shakespears lampoon, which pretty much says it all.
Another day with Liako, which means it started at 4:00 AM. Today I was working cash at his restaurant. It was actually kind of fun, but now it's 9:30 PM and I'm so tired and so annoyed because I went to band rehearsal at 6:00 PM after being up since 4:00 and I sucked and started forgetting how all the tunes went and managed to disconnnect my bass 3 times in a row by leaden footedly stepping on the cable. The rehearsal room we were in really sucked too. And now to bed and dreams of people ordering Octoberfest sausages.
Okay I promise this will be the only self pitying entry from me you see, but this whole lack of work thing is really starting to depress. I've been freelancing at one thing or another for my whole life and I'm tired of it, but don't know where to turn next. I've truly worked hard at trying to drum up work as a writer, but it's hard to come by and although I know it sounds bitter, it seems to me that other writers I know have been handed (on silver platters) opportunites I have simply never had. Fuck me!
Lothargio Ho! Well my friend who is such a good actor (though not such a good reader) responded really well to direction and I've decided to use him. I feel immensely relieved by this and am about to take off to his place to sit and go over the script with him. Not only relieved, but also excited – he's going to be really good! Excited for him too, since he's glad, I think, to have a project to be involved with. Now the only thing eating away at my guts is where to get some income, but that's a constant.
Our first reading! It went really well. People laughed in all the right spots and I'd say there's about 20 per cent more laughs that will come out when we actually get into rehearsals. The cast is a good hearted one and completely get what we're trying to do with the goofy and rather lewd Shakespeare-esque humour. My only concern is that the show's too long. The reading was exactly an hour long and we've only got an hour long slot. I'm hopeful that the pace will pick up in rehearsal – well I mean really it has to doesn't it?
This evening Ryan and I recorded a song I wrote. Very exciting – I haven't written a song for ages and now Ryan, Tom and I can practice it along with Ryan's tunes. We've also finally named the band "The Time Being". It's an old fave name of Ryan's and since all the songs we do are written by him, it seems only fitting. It's a delightfully ambiguous name and we like it. The search for a drummer is ongoing, but that goes for most fledgling bands. I hope the drummer we find doesn't choke on his or her own vomit.
One of my favourite, but rather vague, sounds is the sound of air moving after a rainstorm. To me it has always suggested distant traffic, but more recently, it's come to suggest, rather inexplicably, that trees are able to glide slowly along the shining streets and after a heavy rain, smoothly lurk into new positions. Truthully I think if trees really did do this it would be much more noisy, but now whenever the rain is freshly stopped I keep an eye out to see if the giant maple in the graveyard behind my apartment may have shifted. Ahoy Ents!
My day today: 9:30 am - Take delivery on Katie, the umpteen year old, obese arthritic Finnish Spitz I'm minding for the weekend. 10:30 am -Meet Kari and Mary for costume meeting. 1:00 pm – Rehearse Lothargio & Rosacea, especially the Radio play – lot's of funny sounds and noises, very fun. 6:00 pm – Jam with Ryan and Tom. Ryan has made the song I wrote sound so much better than it did. We pounded through it 4 or 5 times, me shouting out the vocals passsably well I'd say: Even more fun 9:45 pm – Walk Katie. T'was a good day today.
The Tip Jar