3 for Free!

So I somehow managed to finish writing a full one-act play. And somehow they decided to produce it and let me direct.
Come see the finished product tonight! I'm pleased as punch and think you will be too!

The Death of Pericles

I put on my vinyl maroon armor for the last time today. Mark played the piano backstage before the show and his Ben Folds anthems were a perfectly fitting soundtrack for what has turned out to be one of the most epic theatre experiences I have had thus far. 

It all started back in June. I don't think any of us had any idea what we were really getting ourselves into. And looking  back, I'm still not sure that I can really wrap my head around what just happened:
8 Cast Members
Nearly 4 months of Bi-weekly shows.
Roughly 1,250 Miles on the road.
At least 200 tacos from Taco Bell. (costing nearly $1000)
1 Cast member replacement
36 performances.
1 Broken leg.
About 12,000 Elementary aged kids with (hopefully) a greater appreciation for Shakespeare.

Considering the fact that most shows I have done before have run for maybe twelve performances at the longest--this is epic. And I've loved it. I've always worried that I'd never be able to hack it doing the same show over and over again. I wondered if it would get boring or stale--but somehow, I enjoyed every performance. Even on crutches.

The Verdict

Nine screws
and a plate.
Stainless steel.
Lifetime sentence.

Break a Leg!

...and this time I actually did.
I have now officially had my first major stage injury. Who knew theatre could be such a dangerous profession?
Quick recap: Right now I'm touring with the BYU Young Company Shakespeare Troupe--We perform a one hour version of Pericles: Prince of Tyre for elementary schools to give the kids what we hope will be an exciting and entertaining introduction to Shakespeare. For some children it is the first play they will ever see.

For whatever reason, most elementary schools have a set of wide stairs that lead off the front of the stage. We set up a big, colorful curtain at the top of those stairs and use multi-leveled space to perform on.
At the top of the show, I, Pericles am fleeing from the wicked King Antiochus. I burst through the curtain, fly down the stairs and stop just short of barreling into the kids to give the show an energetic and attention grabbing start. Only yesterday, it was perhaps a little more attention grabbing than I would have liked.
I burst through the curtain, flew down the stairs, caught my foot on an edge, and hit the ground with a solid thump. I looked up to see my left foot twisted nearly ninety degrees outwards away from my body. This did not look right. It did not feel right either. It felt loose and wiggly--like it was disconnected. I couldn't move it and the weird angle was putting a lot of strange pressure on things, so I reached down and -griiindCrack- yanked it back to the right angle. Sadly this did not solve the problem.
"Guys, I think we're going to have to stop the show..." I said in front of a crowd of wide eyed grade school kids.

I showed up at the emergency room still in costume. After getting checked in onde of the nurses asked: "So what were you doing?"
"I was performing in a play and..."
"Oh, we were hoping you'd say that. The outfit was a little strange..."

Turns out I fractured three bones near the bottom of my leg and it's going to take a surgery on Monday to put everything back together again. Probably three or four screws and a plate.
Then it will be crutches for the next six to eight weeks until I can get the cast off. Yikes.

I figure after years of well wishers telling me to "Break a Leg!" my body finally obeyed.


While it may seem that I have taken a hiatus from the world of writing, nothing could be further from the truth. I am writing my brains out. There they go--splattered all over the keyboard again. Yuk.
In fact I'm taking a course on writing for stage and screen. And I'm loving it.
I'm forty-six pages into my first play. Take a peek if you'd like. Any suggestions on how it should end?
(But if your attention span isn't that long, you can just tell me how you like the first scene--it's only seven pages)

I've also written a couple of shorter ten minute pieces if you're interested:
A Comedy and a Drama.
I'm really not all that proud of those two, but I'm really too proud to make any sort of formal apology here.


Decision 2008

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

--G.K. Chesterton

My two cents:

Sure, Barack Obama is bound to make a few mistakes as president. Contrary to popular belief, he is only human. He's got my vote all the same.

Also, I'm pretty sure I'd move to Canada if Sarah Palin ever got elected.

Keep it Like a Secret

For a long time now, I haven't been sure what to write.
I struggle with this.
I think part of my problem is that I'm not quite sure who it is I'm writing this for. For awhile I kept trying to package and sell it, like it was a product.
But I don't think that's the point.
I'd like to write--there's something so intrinsically satisfying about writing: seeing thoughts crystallize on paper. Perhaps I'm writing this for myself? But that never seems to be motivation enough for me--I think I lack the foresight for it. There's no need for me to communicate to my present self what I'm thinking and feeling, and I never feel like my future self cares--I want more than anything to connect deeply and immediately with someone here and now in the present.
I rarely bring myself to write until I feel that need.
I don't think I've ever taken more pleasure in writing than on my mission when I would write ____. Nothing has ever felt so urgent, so important. I have never felt before or since that I was so entirely understood and accepted. I feel like I know a good deal about who I am, what I want, etc. But yet I am always changing, re-examining, being shaken up. Not that any of that is a bad thing. It's almost always positive in the end.
In any case, I think the only remedy is one that I've come to time and time again. I just need to sit down and spit it out--and trust that good things will develop.


"Where have you been?" she exclaimed, spilling the armful of books she had been carrying with a cascade of paperback thumps on the pavement.

He felt sheepish and could do little more than shrug quizzically in response while walking over to help her with the mess.
But they were happy to see one another just the same.

For those who stop by every now and again to have a look in this peephole of my brain, it must appear to you that nothing much is happening. It seems I have not been entertaining visitors in quite some time.

But I am happy to report that good things are happening!

Come see my play: Pericles

Intrigue, Famine, Murder, Pirates, Shipwreck, Love, Jousting, and Adventure--all packed into a one hour adaptation of Shakespeare's lively Romance. It's theatre especially adapted for young audiences, but the humor and brillant direction from Chris Clark is certainly not lost on the more mature members of the audience.
ps--I get to play Pericles. How cool is that?
Or, if you catch "Seussical: The Musical" at the SCERA theatre, you will get a good eyeful of my handiwork. I did props for the show--watch out for the Pillberry Bush that Gertrude McFuzz steals from--my pride and joy for this show.
Coming up next month will be another terrific and innovative piece of theatre from Chris Clark--a stage adaptation of the 1922 classic film "Nosferatu" just in time for Halloween. I put together the storyboards that will be used as blueprints for the show--so while you won't actually see any of my work on stage, it's a project that I am really excited about and was grateful to be a part of. I have not been this
excited to see a play in a long time.
Also next month, we start rehearsals for Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" at UVU--I'll be playing Count Orsino. More details to come on that one.
In the meantime, school is going well, and one of my youth theatre classes will be going down to compete in the Utah Shakespearean Festival competition at the end of the week--I wish I could go with them, but Pericles conflicts.
I'm also working on writing a play for the New Script Workshop at UVU. More details as that develops.
And my roomates are really awesome. Carl is studying Italian and Physics, Andrew is a History Major, and Joseph is in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance--Opera. He practices every morning in the shower and I love it.

'True Love Won't Find You in the End'

"How about that" she said under her breath.
And he sat there, numbly saying nothing.
It was the first time he had ever really told his story aloud to anyone. It had been rolled over and over in the churning tumbler of his brain countless times before, but until now had been only a collection of images, sensations, disconnected patches of emotions--nearly all of them wordless and without any sort of real organization. This was the first time he had attempted that difficult transition of stored memories to dry, breathy words and the exchange had left him less sure of himself and of his story. Just hearing the words dissolve into the air had made the images and events behind them seem less substantial. He was worried that she hadn't understood and that she wouldn't understand when he continued. His tongue still felt stiff and his throat was dry and he heard himself mumble something about a drink of water.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" she asked.
"Water" he said.
"Sure. I'll be right back." she replied as she slowly got up from her chair.
He wondered again if he should have said anything at all. Perhaps it would have been better had he kept his mouth shut and kept her out of it. Then again, he thought, who better to tell?
He felt her hand on his shoulder and realized that he hadn't noticed her return to the room. She handed him the glass, which was already sweating, and sat down again.
"So," she began "What happened next?"
He hesitated briefly and considered fabricating the next part. He could make something up--anything to save himself from the shame that would come next, from the look she would give him after he was finished, and most especially from what it would mean for the both of them. But the air in his lungs exhaled on their own and something in his mouth formed the words and strung them into sentences without his volition. Part of his mind wandered away for that part. A small piece of him sat outside and listened while he told her what he never thought he could tell.
After that, they both sat in silence. After a few moments when the echoes of what he had said stopped ringing in his ears, he became acutely aware of the steady ticking of a clock above the mantel.
He looked up at her for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. He searched her face for any clues as to what she might be feeling, but her eyes were still searching the floor as though she might find the meaning hidden somewhere between the woven patterns in the rug.
After a time, her eyes slowly found their way up from the ground and stared back into his.
She may or may not have said something at that point, but he couldn't remember either way because it was all he could do to keep from being swallowed by the depth in her eyes.
"We'll talk more about this in the morning." he finally managed to to whisper.
But he knew full well that they wouldn't, he knew that this was the last time they would ever speak of this. It was in fact, the last time they would ever speak to one another at all.

Latent Images Developing

Dear Friends--
Developments coming soon! Tomorrow is our last day in the UK. We're in Edinburgh performing in the Fringe Festival--I couldn't be more pleased. This has been a long time coming.
In any case, I'm flying back on Thursday and will hopefully have some pics up for you sometime next week!

More Summer

This past week has been both fast and slow, as Summer often is.

Last Saturday, Ashley and Elaine and I decided that a short road trip was in order. We left Monday afternoon. It was hot and we drove fast deeper into the heat and headed south.
We decided to go to Fish Lake--a deep blue lake that sits on top of a mountain and commands the desert for a hundred miles in every direction.

We ditched out on the freeway and took a back road that promised to lead us through the tops of the mountains and to our destination in grand scenic style.

The pavement dissolved in the heat underneath us and gave way to dust and gravel.
We encountered a "Road Closed" sign chained to the trees across the road.
We proceeded to lift the chains and drive under.

We wound up through the hills and into the aspens and pines and through meadows and stopped at a lake that wasn't on the map to hear a chorus of summer frogs rehearsing in the late afternoon.

We saw a moose.

We came to the top of the mountain pass only to encounter another road closed sign--and eight foot snow drifts blanketing the road ahead.

We drove back down, underneath the chains again.

It was dark soon after, so we decided to search out some fabled hot springs south of Richfield and after some help from the nicest cowboy gas station attendant on the planet, we found them. Mystic hot springs. A hippie-owned hot water haven in the desert hills.
We soaked in giant white bathtubs under a nearly full moon.

The next morning we found ourselves in a green pine and quaking aspen valley at nine thousand feet elevation next to a five mile long and one hundred foot deep lake.

We launched the old boat and found ourselves chopping high-speed across the water like a dolphin afraid of the deep.

We cut the engines and took a floating nap.

I nearly ran the boat aground in the lake's only shallow spot.

Later, we took off into the woods and found, among other things, Rust Springs, the High Top Meadow, and a pack of cigarettes dangling on a string from a tree--a lost and found.

The next day was lazy. We woke up late. Cleaned and picked a dot on the map called 'Frisco' that claimed to be a ghost town as our next destination.

We drove through what felt like dozens of small towns, stopped and stood inside Butch Cassidy's house and listened for ghosts.
Pulled over and explored an abandoned gas station and then drove some more into the evening.

We realized that Frisco was farther than we thought and left it to ghost another day without us.

Moon rise came as we soaked in the Meadow hot pots on the way back. Sitting on rock ledges in warm and crystal water over an underground cave we watched bats snatch bugs from the surface of the pond.

Thursday was recovery. Also found out that I got cast as Pericles in the Young Company Shakespeare production of the same name.

Friday was Family Reunion in Heber--catching up with long lost cousins.

Saturday new glasses ordered and lunch with Dad and Andrew at Taco Riendo. Best Horchata of my life. Every time.

Later on, King and I strike, followed by an adventure with Clark and Amy.
We went to the Hollow Mountain up the canyon--a looming quarter mile tunnel that ends on a cliff face. It's entrance is a forty-foot grid of rusted iron bars like a cage over a gaping mouth. I made Clark and Amy walk the whole thing in the dark.

We told ghost stories in the car, almost hit a deer, and landed in my yard sleeping on a spare mattress we had pulled out on to the lawn. It was getting light before we fell asleep, and we woke up scant hours later this morning to the clip clip sound of my neighbor trimming the roses.

Scene I

Int. of apartment of ROGER and

ANNA. Roger is alone. He makes

a cup of coffee and sits at

table. Anna enters from outside, she takes off her coat and:


Where have you been?


Out. I meant to stop by the store and get some milk.


...Well, what happened?


I ended up at the church--stopped to pray. I lit a candle

for your mother. (she checks the sugar bowl)

Are we out of sugar?


I'm sure she'll appreciate that...yes.



Why don't you ever come any more. Your mother would be



She doesn't need to know--


But if she did--


Are you going to tell her?



No. You should at least call her though. She's dying to hear from you.


I will. Maybe.

He goes to do the dishes


I should have stopped at the store on the way back. I got

distracted--there was this girl...


Will you pick up some mustard when you go? Eggs too. And I

think we're out of milk.


Sure...do you remember that bicycle my sister would always

ride? When we went to visit last summer? With the

streamers? It used to be mine.




There was a girl riding in the park. She had long streamers

on her handlebars just like mine did. Do you remember that





I stopped to watch her ride. I sat down on one of those

orange benches near the edge. Then there was this couple, a

few benches down, feeding the birds. I couldn't help

watching them--


I've got to get ready for work.


They looked around, and when they didn't think anyone was

watching, she pulled him in slowly and kissed him...

He has stopped to listen.


Then he opened his eyes for a minute and they saw

me--but he sort of grinned a bit and pulled her

in again...


That's disgusting. There's nothing worse than a couple going

at it in public.


But it wasn't like that--they weren't... You

could see it in the way they looked at each

other. The way they kissed. It was different.


I'm going to be late.


I miss that.


What? The bicycle?


No, the...well, yes that too. But...being like...


I've got to go. I'll see you after. Do you want me too pick

up some sugar?


Yes--but...maybe you could come back here first? We could go together.




After you get off--Maybe we could walk to the store together?


Um? No, it's fine, it's on my way back, I'll just--


Roger, would you kiss me in the park?

Long Pause


Yes. Of course. But I've got to get going--I can't be late. We'll talk about this when I get back. I love you.

He kisses her


I love you too.

He goes


Don't forget the milk too.

He leaves. She is alone

Viva la Verano

Today Ash and I went to the Summer Fest. It was last minute and lovely. We went not because we had any interest in buying things from the booths or waiting in line for hours on end to board an electric whirlygig of whizzing neon splendour, but because we wanted to see these things and smell them and hear the racket of the crowd and be pushed and squeezed and reminded of how many human beings we share these little plots of land called cities and towns with.
The ground was thick with footprints and we almost felt sorry for the grass, but it was just doing it's job.
We weaved in and through and out of bunches of people we've never met and Ash said it made her feel old because there were so many teens that we no longer felt any affinity with, and I said it made me feel young because I saw so many families, parents with little kids running around waving glow swords and cotton candy--I'm not old yet because I don't have any of these little creatures called kids.
And I remembered what it was like to see a carnival when I was six years old--radiating light and resonating color, spinning and shouting into the night, candy and popcorn and games offering prizes that were bigger than I was. And I remember how much I loved my mom, because she hates carnivals but would always take me anyway and sometimes let me ride the rides--even though they were really over priced.
We heard popping and a boom and we ran down the street to find a good spot to tilt our heads back and watch blooming fiery bouquets in the sky--red and gold and purple sparking blossoms opening and fading into crackling cinders overhead leaving nothing but smoke and ashes in the night after a thousand oohs and aahs. Fireworks so big and close that the repeating booms felt like a second heartbeat pounding in my chest.

This experience reiterated the fact that there are some things that will always be filled with a great deal of magic regardless of how old I am:
-Waves on the Shore
-Frozen Lakes
-Mountain Peaks
-The Sound of Crickets
-Cities and Crowds
-The Desert

Every time I experience something on this list I am again brought to a sense of childlike wonder.

After, we went with friends to a giant house in the middle of nowhere in Mapleton to join a freezetag tournament.
Thirty people. Three taggers. Three full floors full of long hallways and winding corners to pursue and evade. At times it felt like watching a heard of antelope in your living room.
Somehow, nothing was broken and no one was injured.
We played the sort of freezetag where you have to crawl between the legs of a frozen comrade in order to free them. My shining moment of the night came when I dove head first down the stairs passing under three arched sets of legs to set them free.
Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that I was too old to play tag.

Tonight I realized that I may never be to old for tag, or fireworks, or a carnival, or even diving down a curving set of stairs head first between someone else's legs--or at least I hope I'm not.

Long live this Summer.


An Eccentric Architect
A Madcap Plan
Jonathan Safran Foer
Puzzles, Riddles, and Ciphers
Secret Panels, Coded Messages, and Hidden Keys

=Every child's dream.

PS-I will build a house like this someday.


Cost per year to effectively end world hunger:

$ 200 billion

United States budget for Military forces during the year 2008:

$ 200 billion


So today my younger sister reminded me of something rather mean I had done to her when she was much younger and more gullible.
I told her that chicken nuggets and patties and tenders all came from a special place.
I told her they came from a boneless chicken farm--you know, where they raise boneless chickens?

The best part is, she believed me.

On a side note though, I think that this is an interesting commentary on modern food consumerism. Everything we eat is so over processed and modified to the point where the final products are often totally unrecognizable as something that once occurred naturally.
Even organic products like grapes and watermelons have been modified through genetic selection to be seedless.
Another evidence of human tampering: bananas are so inbred and genetically homogenous that your common yellow banana is unable to evolve any resistance to disease because they are all basically clones. If one got sick, they would all get sick. If any new diseases were to emerge that affected banana trees, that would be the end. We would have no more bananas.

The processing of meat is another story entirely and goes far beyond centuries of genetic selection. By the time it reaches your plate, it has been so altered that it is hard to imagine that it was ever moving, flexing, blood pumping muscle in a living creature. Bludgeoned, butchered (skin stripped off, muscles ripped and tendons sliced, bones broken) blood drained, then ground up into a red mush, shrink wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, thrown on a searing hot grill and then slapped between two sesame seed buns for your convenient consumption--you'd have a hard time ever imagining your burger peacefully grazing in a meadow.
Do you think people would eat so many hamburgers if they had to kill and butcher the animals themselves?

On a personal note, my mom read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle when she was in high school and became a vegetarian for a while as a result of the graphic descriptions of butchery and meatpacking.
To this day she will still not eat red meat in any form--but she does enjoy fish and poultry.

Due to her warranted disgust with red meat, the only sources of protein in the house while growing up were canned tuna and turkey hot dogs. Even as I write this, there is a 24 pack of the lowest priced turkey hot dogs sitting in the bottom drawer of my mother's fridge. They are disgusting. The first item listed on the ingredients is "mechanically separated turkey". I'm not sure exactly what that entails, but I am sure that I don't ever want to know and that "mechanically separated anything" makes me just a little bit queasy.
(I think I'll stick with the boneless chicken--at least that's natural!)

Not to mention that eating meat is maybe one of the most environmentally unfriendly and intensely wasteful things you could do--in many ways it's worse than driving a car. Consider the following:

Animals fed on grain and those which rely on grazing need more water than grain crops [6]. According to the USDA, growing crops for farm animals requires nearly half of the U.S. water supply and 80% of its agricultural land. Animals raised for food in the U.S. consume
90% of the soy crop
80% of the corn crop and
70% of its grain. [7].
In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1. [8] The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits. (Wikipedia)
Think about it: Driving your car probably isn't causing people to starve to death, but by eating meat you could potentially be depriving another man of his meal.

That's really the kicker for me. Imagine if we took all that soy and corn and grain that we are using to feed pigs and cows for meat and fed people instead? You could feed a lot more people! This isn't hypothetical either--people need food! People are dying! They are starving to death because we are feeding pigs instead of them!

So while I'm not really morally opposed to the use of animals as a food source, I am opposed to the poor treatment of animals and poor management of limited resources.

Food for thought (pun intended) and all the more reason to follow good advice and eat meat only sparingly--if at all.


I really wish I could write in italics.
No, not here on the computer, but with my hands holding a pen on paper.
Have you ever tried? It's really tough!
It would just be useful that's all.

What about umbrellas?
Umbrellas like parachutes--a plane full of paratroopers gliding to earth on unbrellachutes.
Or umbrellas for secret agent scuba divers to catch all their bubbles before they got to the top and gave them away.
What about umbrellas looped like bat's wings with tin bones extended and black nylon stretched tight, hooked feet to hold on to.
How about umbrellas that flap backwards in a gust of wind and try to fly away--what about a flock of migrating umbrellas?

What about fireworks?
Weeping cinder willows white hot in the sky.
What about fireworks from space? What would fireworks look like from space? Would you be able to tell the difference between a war and a celebration?
What about miniature fireworks that you could fire off inside on a rainy Fourth of July--the tiny rockets no bigger than a thimble bursting blooms like a bouquet on your kitchen table as everyone let out little 'oohs' and 'aahs'.

What about rain on a desert day that sets steam off the sidewalk when it hits the hot pavement? Or hot snow that freezes when it touches cold ground?

What about people who love each other and never had to feel differently no matter what happened or how far apart they were or how much time had past? What about love that could grow and grow until there was no room left inside but it stretched you and filled you and made you bigger like a balloon that wouldn't pop.

December 31st, 2007

Photobooth at the Musée Mécanique, Pier 45, San Francisco

Archive: Three Fragments

Heat residual
like burning in the blood
something I once knew
thinking of ---
quiet red coals
encased in white frost
--warmth inside the snow

slowly pulled wider apart
drawn upwards so slightly
--your mouth
in memory slow motion

on the bridge:
red kite on white string
rising above
fast rushing heads
held up by the river's breeze
that no on seems to feel
floating away


It wasn't even mid-april yet, but you could have sworn that July was half over.
The light morning breeze was short lived and gave way to a suffocatingly stagnant heat that cooked emerald green lawns into crisp yellow cinders before the sun had reached it's menacing apex in the sky.
Even sidewalk gutters seemed parched and thirsty--their dusty throated grates gasping at the thought of a burst pipe or a chance summer storm.
Harper sighed heavily as he smeared the persistent sweat beads from his glistening forehead. His rag was soaked and he had now been waiting forty minutes for the inter-city thirty six.
"This heat" he thought "could kill you."
Again he smudged the salty streak on his brow.
Long and fluidly writhing heat waves floated off the radiating blacktop and distorted everything in view to a dizzy, miasmic stumble. Harsh yellow white sunstreaks all but drove quivering shadows into submission, obliterating entirely those not swift enough to take cover. Tops of trees rustled a little in a hot breath of a breeze, their flaglike leaves weakly waving a pathetic surrender.
Images of the heat remained even when he clenched his eylids (though it did little good to keep the sweat from stinging them). Eyes closed, he still saw the heat swirling around him, the timid shadows seeking refuge beneath the soles of his shoes even as he lifted them sticky from the sidewalk, and felt the damp warmth of his rag as it scrubbed his face for the thousandth time that day.
He pictured the neatly lined row of trees across the street, utterly motionless against the thin blue sky that seemed to be rising and stretching like a hot air balloon being filled with fire--then, a deafening blast and a searing white light penetrating every inch of his peripheral like staring into the sun in every direction. A tidal wave of furnace blast air engulfing, scorching, vaporizing. He watched the trees across the street pop in succession like white dandelion globes blown clean by a shotgun--the cindered trunks floating away with the seeds before ashing completely. The ground began to split and bright orange cracks raced along the roadway just before everything melted--sidewalk, buildings, and grass turned glowing magma.
His glasses flew off first, followed closely by his backpack, clothes and skin. His bones held a split second longer--like the frame of a tin shack in the face of a hurricane, before being whispered to ashes: His shadow smeared thirty feet across the pavement.
Then, after the winds and the roaring, the burning and bursting, the cracking and melting, there was nothing but darkness and smoke. A rolling, reeling, and bellowing rumble carried everything away on a desolate wind.
The pneumatic doors hushed and he opened his eyes, once again feeling the hot sting of sweat on the corner of his lids.
How would he tell her what he had seen? What he had been dreaming of night after night?
More importantly, how would he find out what it meant?
He stepped up into the tran car and began the long journey to Anchorage.


I have now been home for two years to the day.

* * *


I don't feel like I have to explain myself. I hope you understand.

* * *

I Am Allergic to Work

But really, I am. In all seriousness.

I have had allergies for a long time. Seasonal ones. This Spring, they haven't been so bad.
That is, until I started working in props.
Guaranteed two minutes after sitting down at my desk in props I will be sneezing and itching my eyes. There may not be a dustier locale outside of the Sahara.
But it's okay, I love it.

(The job, not the allergies.)

Soundtrack to Summer

I cannot get enough of this song:

You! Me! Dancing!--Los Campesinos!

Or these:

Young Bride--Midlake

Vampiring Again--Califone

Burning--The Whitest Boy Alive

The Great Salt Lake--Band of Horses

None of these are new by any means, but have a listen and enjoy all the same!

Archive: 7.24.07

Blind baby hummingbird my grandfather found on the lawn after the rain.

Before he got up close enough, he remarked "What a big bug!" only to realize after bending down to see that it was in fact a small bird.

He brought it inside to live on the kitchen table and bought a hummingbird feeder shaped like a hot air ballon. (which the bird will perch on, but won't drink from) So he feeds it maple syrup on a toothpick which it laps up with it's long, flitting, silvery tongue. Also nectar drops from a straw.

When we walked in, the little bird was on it's back, wings sprawled, tiny feathered chest lightly heaving in and out. But grandpa picked it up and set it down carefully on the perch. It shivered and trembled it's needle beak in the air looking for something to feel before grandfather touched the toothpick to it's mouth.

Apparently, hummingbirds eat every 15 minutes and at any given moment they are only hours away from starvation.
Their wings can beat up to 80 times per minute and and their heart rates have been clocked at over 1,000 beats per minute.
--They are, in essence, little sugar and blood pumps with wings...burning, beating, breathing...

Sometimes I think I'd like a pet hummingbird--but then I cannot imagine few things that would be more cruel than clipping the wings of a hummingbird.

Memorial Day

Five years ago on May 1st, 2003 President Bush made a historic speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared that the majority of combat operations in Iraq were over.

"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

96% of casualties among coalition forces, Iraqi combatants, and civilians, have occured after this declaration was made.

Behind him was a large banner with the words:
Mission Accomplished

We are now in the fifth year of a war that has turned out to be longer than WWII--Longer than any American involvement in a war except for Vietnam. This war is also the longest war fought by volunteer reserves since the Revolutionary War. It has also proven to be an extremely costly war...

"The Iraq war has already cost twice as much, in inflation-adjusted dollars, as World War I..."

(Before the war) "President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that it might reach $200 billion all told, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the estimate as “baloney.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz went as far as to suggest that Iraq’s postwar reconstruction would pay for itself through increased oil revenues.
Rumsfeld... estimated the total cost of the war in the range of $50 to $60 billion, some of which they believed would be financed by other countries."

"For fiscal year 2008 the administration has asked for nearly $200 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan"

And that's just 2008.

"As the total passed US$450 billion, the cost for the Iraq war reached approximately $1500 per person in the United States.[9] If the Iraq war were to wind up costing 1.9 trillion dollars, the cost would be over 4.2 times higher ($6,300 per United States citizen.) This would put the expense at $25,000 for an average family of four, or $32,000 per family if Afghanistan is included.

As a comparison, with this money he estimates[9] that one could have:

built 8 million houses

paid 15 million teachers

paid for the child care of 530 million kids

paid for the scholarship of 43 million students

offered Social Security during 50 year to Americans.

Stiglitz also said that United States help for Africa (an entire continent) is only $5 billion (per year), soon to be superseded by China.

$5 billion corresponds to the spending of only 10 days in Iraq by the United States."

That is to say nothing of the absolutely staggering and inestimable cost of human lives on both sides of the war.

4,000 American troops killed.

30,000 American soldiers wounded.

73,000 civilian bystanders killed.

Upwards of 600,000 Iraqi deaths due to lack of healthcare, starvation, displacement, etc.

Depending on the survey you look at, total deaths resulting from the war range from 150,000 to 1,300,000.

1 in 5 troops returning home will suffer from serious emotional/mental trauma.

That is at least 36,000 former soldiers who will suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, alcoholism, become abusive to family members, or commit suicide.


Is this all because Iraq posed a threat to our national security?

Nope. Weapons of mass destruction were never found. It was concluded that Iraq had ceased it's illegal weapons program in 1991.

Was it because Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

No again. Saddam Hussein held no ties to Al Qaeda.

Excerpted from a press conference August 21, 2006:

Pres. Bush: "Now, look, I -- part of the reason we went into Iraq: was -- the main reason we went into Iraq: at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't.

...Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of a world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.

...The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East. They were --"

Reporter: "What did Iraq have to do with that?"

BUSH: "What did Iraq have to do with what?"

Reporter: "The attack on the World Trade Center."

BUSH: "Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody's ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.

Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq."

. . .

Even if Iraq had been responsible for 9/11, the math just doesn't add up.
Terrorists kill 3,000 citizens--so we decide to send 4,000 more of our troops to die and end up killing more than 70,000 innocent Iraqi civilians? All in the name of bringing down a country that in the end had nothing to do with the attacks? That does not make sense to me.

Are we in Iraq "fighting for our freedom"? Are we afraid that a disabled and destroyed country who cannot even provide basic healthcare, and in many cases shelter or sustenance for it's people should want to rise up and come halfway around the world in an attempt to conquer us?
Is it really necessary for us to spend an incomprehensible sum of blood and treasure to occupy Iraq for another 100 years as John McCain has suggested?

I think not.

This memorial day, we should honor and remember the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country and our freedoms.

We should honor them by promising them and ourselves that the country they fought for was not a country that was fought for in vain.

We can honor and remember them by putting an end to this war that has caused so much unecessary horror and bloodshed.

We can honor them by promising them that we will do our very best not to send more of their brothers to die on our behalves in an unjust war.

This is, after all, a life and death situation.

This is not theoretical.

Hundreds of thousands have already died.

It's time to put a stop to this madness.


We can choose to forget the mistakes of our past and the sacrifices of our forebearers and send more of our own (and others) into the carnage.

The choice is yours.

Reviews: 5.20.08

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time
Last October I was blown away by the beauty of Director Thomas Riedelsheimer's portrait of deaf percussionist Glennie Evelyn in Touch the Sound.
It was only after I was about ten minutes into Rivers and Tides that I realized I was watching another Riedelshiemer piece--his style is distinct and unmistakeable. I've never seen another director use visual symbolism and metaphor like he does--and in unscripted documentaries nonetheless. In Rivers and Tides we see Riedelsheimer's unique penchant for visual storytelling paired perfectly with an examination of earth artist Andy Goldsworthy's creative genius.
I've always been facinated by Andy Goldsworthy's work and have often wondered what his working methods and creative processes were like, and Rivers and Tides gave a satisfyingly unique insight into Goldsworthy's M.O.
This film, like Touch the Sound, was a meditation on one invidual's relationship with their art form and captured well the sometimes elusive language of Goldsworthy's artistic expressions.
But like any meditation, this one requires a good amount of patience and concentration to fully appreciate.
Definitely recommended if you are a fan of Goldsworthy, but check out Touch the Sound first if you're just in the mood for a good documentary--it is without doubt, the better of the two Riedelsheimer pieces.

Here's a short clip from the film:

V for Vendetta

This one came out while I was on my mission and I've heard nothing but raves about how good it was. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed after all that hype.
But there were a lot of things I did like about the film. I thought Natalie Portman gave a strong showing in a demanding role--I was not blown away by any means and there were times when I just couldn't believe her character, but I think a lot of that was mediocre scripting.
John Hurt was an excellent Facist Chancellor--perfect role for him.
Production value and Art Direction were wonderful and provided a rich backdrop for the story.
The action scenes were very well choreographed and masterfully captured. I loved the way that the graphic novel influence was really emphasized in everything from the angle choices to the colors and framing.
I liked the message of the movie: That people must take responsibility for their systems of government. That ideas can be bulletproof and that a system has only as much power as it's people give it.
What I did not love was the way in which this message was delivered. It felt like fighting fire with fire. The film was an anti-propaganda propaganda piece.
I felt at many times manipulated or backed into a corner so that I could be force fed a plot twist. (the whole situation with Evey and the prison is a perfect example of this) I think the characters of the story had great potential, but in the end came out nearly as flat as the comic book pages they were printed on--no real growth, very little nuance, less than believable choices and motivations. I don't know whether to attribute this deficiency to a poorly written graphic novel on which the film was based, or to a mediocre adaptation from book to screen.
In any case, I didn't believe a lot of the things that the characters did or understand why they did them. The whole thing could have been so much less didactic.
In the end, I liked it, but wish that the writer and director had trusted their audience more to come to intelligent conclusions on their own, instead of force feeding them a pre-packaged product.

Rocket Science
Roger Ebert gave this film three and a half stars. The packaging promised that the film was in the tradition of Wes Anderson's Rushmore. For the most part, I trust Roger Ebert and I love Rushmore, so how could I go wrong?

Or so I thought. While I can see why this film garnered high praise from many critics and a Best Director award at Sundance, Writer/Director Jeffrey Blitz will not be the next Wes Anderson, and here's why:
As far as individual scenes go, this was a brilliantly written film. The dialogue was smart, witty and beautifully fitted to the wonderful characters portrayed by a well cast ensemble. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments and poignant realizations.
So why did this film turn out to be utterly mediocre? For one simple reason: Jeffrey Blitz has no knack for storytelling. I was sorely disappointed by the way the characters were handled and the situations resolved. And this was super frustrating because I really did like the characters and the individual scenes--but the overarching storyline was a kick in the groin.
Some stories are worth telling and some are not. The stories that are worth telling are told over and over again and survive the test of time while those that are not will inevitably perish regardless of how beautifully they are filmed or how true to life the dialogue is.
This story ended up being about how frustrating life is and how few things are ever truly resolved; about how in spite of lots of hard work and immense efforts, sometimes people can't achieve their goals. It was about the inability to communicate and the inability to learn. And while many of those statements are often true in real life, those aren't the kind of stories that I enjoy hearing--again, not because there isn't truth in them, but because the values and lessons in those stories aren't values that I share.
BUT if you don't mind open-ended stories and disappointing outcomes, you will in all seriousness enjoy this film and I would recommend it to you. It's worth watching just to enjoy the brilliantly written dialogue and fine acting if you are interested.
It's just not my cup of tea.

Summer Loving

Summer has been very good to me thus far. Highlights include:

-Watching Va Savoir while Lia and Nichole slept. Then having a vigorous conversation til four in the morning after they woke up while the credits were rolling.

-Driving around a lot with the windows down listening to music.

-Watching movies about East Germany in the 80's with Clark and Amy two nights in a row.

-Guerilla Gardening with Ashley and Regan and Davey and Lia and Clark and Andrew etc.

-Sleeping with the window open.

-Having outdoor movie night with Lia and Weston and Regan and Rachel!

-Not having to go to class.

-Enjoying a great meeting of the Modern Mythologists with Clark and Amy and Britt and Haley and Joel and Kyle...

...followed by a campout with Kyle and Andrew and Amy!

-My new job where I actually get paid to do be creative. (But only slightly. Mostly I get paid to be a pack-rat and a list keeper...)

-My teaching job where I actually get paid to dress up like a pirate (which I actually kind of hated...totally ridiculous. (But it did produce humorous results--as pictured below) I know it sounds like a cop out, but it's for the kids...)

(Believe you me, the only thing more fun than having to glue a beard on your face is having to find a way to unglue it. Very unpleasant. Especially without beard glue remover...)

-Stargazing with Nathalie and Lia and Caitlin and Weston!

-Longboarding with Jaclyn.

-Being able to sleep in on occasion.

-Lia and Dina's Garden Dinner Birthday Party!

-John Kovalenko's Senior Recital

-Knowing that I'm going to England again!

-Picnic on a beautiful day with Lia and Weston!

More Please!


It has occurred to me that when I use my electric razor, I am in fact mowing my face.

Small Victories

I've almost finished my first "year" as a youth theatre instructor. I started back in September and my last class is on Friday--it's been a real challenge at times but it's also turned out to be an intensely rich and rewarding experience.
I teach two classes: One for first through third grade, and one for fourth through sixth.

I really had a hard time at first with my older class because I was stepping in as a pseudo replacement teacher--I say pseudo because I wasn't really replacing him per se, he was still around but only came by to teach once or twice during the first semester.
This did not sit well with the kids. They loved him! (and for good reason too, he is a fantastic teacher and is super good with the kids) In their eyes I could never possibly measure up.
At first I was just pissed. I had at least three kids come up to me every class and ask "where was Josh?", and "when was he coming back?" On the exterior I was cool as a cucumber as I would tell them that I did not know, but that perhaps next week he would be there. On the inside I was a little hurt to be honest that these kids didn't seem to want to give me a chance.
Then came the "That's not how Josh did it" and "Josh would have let us do this" etc.

In any case, the transition was perhaps most difficult for a child that for the sake of anonymity we'll just call "John".
Let me back up, John wasn't in class during my first week of teaching and I thought
"Wow, this class is great! They are so well behaved! This is going to be easier than I thought!"
The second week, John shows up and all hell breaks loose.
It was like throwing a firecracker in to a barrel of gunpowder. This kid was a serious instigator of chaos. He would crack inappropriate jokes in the middle of our lessons and send the class into hysterics. Sometimes he would refuse to participate in class activities or exercises, preferring instead to lie on the ground in the middle of the room or yell out distracting comments. Often, he'd make snide or downright mean remarks about other kids in front of everyone else and cause some real commotion. Not conducive to a good learning environment especially when the kids are learning to put themselves on the line as performers.
And to make mattters worse, John made it very clear to me that he did not respect me and was just waiting until Josh came back.

Long story short, I've worked really hard all year to try to make each child in the class feel like they are valued. I've tried my best to be patient and be sensitive to the individual needs of each child. And I think it's paid off!

It helped immensely that Josh came back to co-teach during the second semester. He is great to work with and it helped the kids to see that we were really all on the same page and on the same team.

Our final show of the year was tonight, and after the performance, John came and found me and gave me a hug. That meant a lot to me.

He is a great kid who I think faces some unique challenges, but has a lot of great talent and underneath he's got a heart of gold. I think we've come to understand and respect one another over the course of the year and I would love to have him in my class again. I never thought I'd say that. I think we've both grown a lot.

It's the little things like that that make me wonder if I shouldn't go in to teaching.

Second Chances

I think the real appeal of reincarnation lies not in the prospect of endless lives, but in second chances.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a change of religions, but I can definitely see the draw.
Who hasn't wanted a second chance at one point or another?

Review: Three Euros and a Yankee

Va Savoir (or Who Knows?)
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this movie--the box labeled it as a "farce" and "fiercely comical" while also claiming to be an intellectual romantic comedy.
Turns out it was very little, if any, of those things.
Camille is an actress in Ugo's struggling theatre troupe. They are performing a series of Italian plays in Paris. Ugo meets Do, a gorgeous blond, while searching for a lost play manuscript by the deceased author of the plays they are performing.
Meanwhile, Camille visits Pierre, her former lover, who invites both Ugo and Camille over for dinner with his wife, Sonia.
Turns out Do's brother Arthur is having an affair with Pierre's wife Sonia while Pierre decides that he wants Camille back in his life...
It gets even more convoluted from there, and I'll spare you the confusing details so you can see it for yourself if you like--but realize that you're really going to have to read very carefully while watching this film to get a grip on what's going on.
The acting was really wonderful, everything you'd expect from Director Jacques Rivette, who allows his actors to explore and improvise on set. There were moments so organic and fluid that I forgot I was watching actors--the subtitles became unnecessary because everything that needed to be communicated in the moment came across beautifully.
On the flip side, this movie was far from what it claimed to be--perhaps some of the humor was lost in translation? Some of the situations were quite clever and amusing, but overall, this was not a laugh out loud funny film. Maybe I should learn French?
Another thing that sets this movie apart was the fact that it went almost entirely without a soundtrack. That's difficult work for a director and more importantly, the audience. A soundtrack helps cue us in on how we should feel and react to what's going on and what we should expect. A good soundtrack can also help immensely with the timing and flow of the film. At well over two hours, (154 min.) this film could have benefited a lot from a good score. The quiet, sometimes nearly dialog-free scenes were wonderfully naturalistic, but I would have loved the addition of a score to help keep and direct my attention.
Final verdict: Va Savoir definitely had some wonderful moments and intriguing characters, but failed to really capture my full attention for the full length of the film. I've also got bones with the ending, but you'll have to decide how you feel about that for yourself.

The Lives of Others
This is one I've really wanted to see for a long time and it didn't disappoint. The cinematography was beautiful--subtle lighting schemes and well placed framing gave the story a wonderful canvas. The actors were really well cast I thought, and projected their characters' nuanced inner struggles masterfully.
I was immediately drawn into the world of the story--East Germany before the Wall fell, and the dangers and tensions that existed in this world. This setting was convincingly brought to life in every painstakingly realistic detail and acting performance on screen. I was touched by what the movie had to say about humanity and the fragility of individuals in a larger system, but also the power of a single individual to effect change.
Overall, this movie was brilliantly written. The story was flawlessly told in a way that was accessible, believable, and artful--everything that a good movie should be.

Goodbye, Lenin
Another one I've been meaning to pick up, and perhaps my favorite out of these four. Films about East Germany in the eighties are two for two. So good!
I actually ended up watching this one twice before returning it, and was glad that I did--I caught a lot more the second time around. The film says a lot about isolation--both national and emotional. It explores the fine lines between white lies, propaganda, and outright deception and the various motives behind each.
I loved the way the movie was framed from Alex's point of view; Goodbye, Lenin would have made a wonderful novel that could have easily been written by Jonathan Safran Foer. The characters were delightfully quirky and original but still maintained a gripping sense of realism.
The art direction was impeccable and manifest beautifully in every detail from the yellow wallpaper in the mother's room, to the distinct clothing and fashions specific to the time and place. The cinematography was sumptuous--rich color palattes and saturated processing produced compositions that were filled with depth and gravity.
Some of the scenes in this film contained a real magic, an almost tangible sense of wonder. I was delighted again and again by the juxtaposition of grief and hope, of love and remorse.
I loved the short scene where Alex and Laura discover the abandoned apartment building--haven't we all wanted to find our own place just open and waiting to be claimed?
Also the scene where Alex's mother wanders out into the street only to be confronted by a giant flying Vladimir Lenin half dissembled and suspended from a Helicopter gliding into the sun--riveting.
Other notable scenes were the revelation at the cabin, Alex's trip with former cosmonaut
Sigmund Jahn the taxi driver, and his meeting with his father. All beautifully written and filmed. Just magical--no other words will do.
I think it's rare to find a movie that encompasses the full range of human emotion, and Goodbye, Lenin shows that this is possible in any language and in any time and under any circumstances. Definitely recommend you pick this one up ASAP.

There Will Be Blood
I was a little bit disheartened after watching all of these foreign films about the beauty and strength of the human spirit to see this distinctly American film about how heartless man can be.
I was totally blown away by Daniel Day Lewis performance as a ruthless turn of the century oil man. I was totally convinced that he WAS Daniel Plainview. Everything from his physicality--the slight limp in his right leg, to his complete ease with the American Western drawl (Lewis is an Irishman), and his no-holds-barred commitment to the emotion of the character sold me on his performance.
I heard raves about Paul Dano's performance as well, and while I like him and thought it was good, I was not blown away. He had only four days to prepare for the role after stepping in as a replacement for another actor and I think it shows in spots. He's wonderfully committed, but I think his choices lacked the depth and nuance that showed through so clearly with Lewis.
The sheer size and magnitude of this picture and the skill with which it was executed are monumental and definitely qualify the picture for the shower of accolades it has received. I was impressed with the not only the epic scope of the film, but also the minute attention to detail that was more than evident in every moment of the movie.
Cinematography was of course beautiful. I especially loved the long tracking shots and carefully planned camera moves that seamlessly blended actors with the environment.
But for all the great skill that was poured into this movie, I didn't love it. It was at times cold and dark and uninviting.
When the credits finally rolled, I was relieved that I did not have to linger any longer in Daniel Plainview's dark and opulent mansion.