Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Trying to keep a blog is hard work, especially when there's so much other worthless stuff to do in the world. Sorry to keep you waiting.

Not much continues to be what's going on. My work is closed for the week because of Spring Break, so this is going to be a good time to catch up on all the stuff I don't usually do. Need to get some routine lab work done at the doctor's office, get a cleaning at the dentist, do laundry (my least favorite chore), and one or two other things.

Regarding the MS Bike Ride, which I'll be doing on May 17th: it really means a lot to me that so many of my friends are going to support this cause. Everyone knows my Dad and really wants to chip in for his sake. The group is Art's Riders and we are going to have a lot of fun. Bax and the Colonel are going to ride the whole 140 miles!! Supporting their craziness aside, the least I could do was pony up and ride as far as my knees can carry me (I'm signed up to do 30 miles, which make me feel lame). Apparantly, Dean and Tim are also doing the 140, which, let me tell you, just really makes me happy. I'm sad for their legs though.

Hopefully that means I will get to do the short ride with Kristina, which should be a lot of fun. Unlike Adam and Dean, I never got a chance to get to be close with Kristina on her own. I think that's fine, but she's a really cool, upbeat person and I really enjoy her company. It should be really great time all around. Plus, we are supporting a good cause.

Allegedly, the money I am owed by Carefirst (my insurance company) for reimbursement of claims is on it's way this week. I find that suspect, but we'll see. It totals almost $3000 in out-of-pocket expenses from almost a year back; money that came out of my savings and has never made it back in. Hopefully this will be one more thing resolved that lets me move on to the next big thing: TAXES.

It's kinda' sad, but I actually find that I enjoy doing them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Small Victories

Okay, so yeah minor failure there for a day or two. The idea of blogging every day is pretty sound, but obviously there will be times when I'm going to be busy or maybe just not have a lot on my mind. I'll rip myself for for it, but for now we'll just have to continue going with the flow. No, you don't get a say in it. I never claimed that the blog was a democracy. If you can't take the heat...you shouldn't throw stones? Whatever.

An exciting job opportunity has come up. Even though I just talked about it a few days ago, a theatrical production/lighting design job has opened up at Towson, working with their Department of Dance. I'm very excited! Dance lighting has sort of unintentionally and unofficially become my specialty. I love working with dancers and choreographers because they're usually just bubbling over with ideas and creativity. They have a vision, but they are often willing to say, "Hey, I kinda' want this to look like this, what can you do for me?" That's great, because it really lets me play around with all kinds of different ideas.

The hardest part about doing lighting for dance is trying not to reuse the same look too many times. Ultimately, you have a somewhat limited pallete for the duration of a single show. This means that it is necessary to reuse colors in different ways so that individual dances are unique. One of the greatest challenges for me is when I look at the choreography and look at the costumes and think, "Damn...I really want to use the exact same colors I used on the dance RIGHT BEFORE THIS ONE!" That's the challenge though, to find something that's both unique and appropriate, and make it exceptional. That's part of why lighting is so fulfilling. Unlike my current job, where I basically just apply the problem I encounter to the template of my knowledge for a solution (like a robot...or a monkey, either of which could be trained to do this job), it requires creativity to make a show that really hangs together. Dance shows have such diverse acts that it is really the challenge and responsibility of the lighting designer to give it a very cohesive feel. Given the chance to be work with the choreographers throughout their creative process, I feel like I am going to be able to make some really awesome looks.

Crap...I still need to try to get the job.

Macbeth continues tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"MacTell Me MacMore!"

I keep promising to give you my take on Macbeth. I want to talk about my take on the script and what Macbeth represents, then I'll talk about the scenic design. It might seem like this is obvious, but it's very important to tie the script into the scenic design in a thematic way. Obviously there is a whole vision for the show, but there should be some sense of the meaning of the story in the setting.

So what is Macbeth about? I've got to take it for given here that you've read/seen/have some idea of what the play is about. If you don't, you really should sit down with it and read it here: http://www.bartleby.com/70/index41.html Basically, this brilliant general and his best friend run into some creepy witches on the way home from a war. The witches tell Macbeth that he'll be king and then tell his friend, Banquo, that he will not be king, but that his children will be kings. Now, you have to understand that all of these nobles are pretty much somewhere in line to be king. Mac's crazy wife then pushes him to murder the king, which he does. Macbeth becomes crazier and more paranoid and eventually starts killing off all of the other nobles and their families and children, including the murder of his friend Banquo. The remainder of the story describe's Macbeth's fall.

Macbeth begins the story as a hero, lauded by his king and beloved by his men. Because of the prophecy, however, he falls ever further into evil and egotism. The promise of invincibility proves to be too much of a lure for even a heroic and moral man. But it should be clear that this story is about degeneration, from a state of good into a state of evil. It is also the story of a man in conflict within himself. Many scholars consider Lady Macbeth to be a representative of another aspect of Macbeth's personality. In the beginning she is mystical and evil, invoking dark magics. Later, however she becomes consumed with guilt over the king's murder. At the same time, Macbeth begins as a man of honor, and becomes less remorseful and more willing to do evil as he becomes more and more overwhelmed by his own invulnerability. In other words, Macbeth is a story in which we can see the conflicted sides of a man as he continually chooses evil over good.

Hmmm...I seem to be running out of time here at work. Okay, so I'll hit up part II, which is my design concept, later on today.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I haven't quite figured out how to deal with weekends yet. I guess I could write on the weekend, but maybe it's good to have the break.

I only own one green T-Shirt and I'm always very careful to save it for St. Paddy's Day. This is the first time since 2004 that I'll be able to drink on St. Paddy's and, ironically, I probably won't. I knocked back a couple at Pip's charity thing on Saturday (just for charity of course) so it's not like it's a conscious thing. I just don't have anywhere to be tonight, so I'll probably chill at home and do laundry. I'm sure a millenia worth of my Irish ancestors are spinning in their graves, or at least fermenting in them. Based on what I know about them, they're probably still drunk anyway.

Speaking an ancestry, I'm still trying to plan a trip to visit my family in Germany. The sort of high feeling from when they were all here has worn off, but not, thankfully, my desire to go home. It will probably not be as wild as the last time I went back, but should still be a great time.

Macbeth next time maybe. Erin go Braugh!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Changing of the Seasons

Lately I've been pretty focused on finding a new job and deciding what I really want to study in grad school. I have some options, which I guess is good. Some of my friends have pushed me toward studying scenic and lighting design and going back into theater professionally. It's something I love and would be happy to get into, but I'm also not sure that it's a viable career choice. It's not like I think there's no money out there, but it does involve long hours and...anyhow it's a bit of a struggle in my mind. I love teaching, and one day I hope to have the change to do that too, but I think you have to do a lot of learning before you can be a good teacher. I'm a pretty talented designer though. I guess we'll see what happens.

I actually thought about the purpose a bit more (you didn't think I would, did you). I briefly considered muddling along about it like I usually do with things like this. A purpose just locks you down in one way or another. But it also focuses you, and since part of the reason I wanted to do this was to regain some mental control and discipline, I need to have a little more structure than that. My plan (subject to change without warning) is to refine the purpose as I go, starting along the lines of "write every day". Once I get that down, well...we'll take it from there.

Next time I'll talk about my idea for a set and lighting for Macbeth. It's something I've had in my head for a long time, so now I'm going to share it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Purpose

Any undertaking should begin with a distinct statement of purpose; unfortunately in the process of typing this sentence I have completely negated the possibility of that. Maybe there's a sense of why I've decided to try writing a blog in that negation though. I've found myself with a lack of direction and an inability to keep my thoughts under control, a skill I've trained over the course of time. Lately I've had some success with keeping a private journal to document my thoughts and ideas, so I feel like keeping a weblog might be another way to try to help organize my mind, or at least make myself look like an ass on the internet.

Let me take a step back. I'm a writer, or I aspire to be at least. For me it's not about getting published or letting people read my writing or even getting some kind of message out. Writing is a visceral process for me, something that can't be fulfilled by just typing on a keyboard. I take notes and do most of my writing on graph paper. This probably sounds crazy, but I find it frustrating to try to gather my thoughts in the process of typing. Physically interacting with the paper helps spur my creativity; it helps me find the words that some way or another belongs.

One of my biggest problems with writing is that I have fragments in my head or things to write, but I get hung up on the individual words. I'm a perfectionist about every word that I set down. That's a bad quality, by the way. Prewriting is an important stage in the writing process that I just can't seem to get a grip on. Rough draft isn't great either. What I know is that writing is important to me and I want to be able to control my thoughts better.

Statement of purpose...right. Gotta' get that down. Remember what they taught us in Elemetary School "Language Arts"? TAPF! Topic, Audience, Purpose, Form. Topic...uh...pass. Audience...uh...pass. Purpose...shit...back to this again. Pass. Form...prose. Paragraphs. 1 out of 4 isn't bad, right? Well, maybe I'll write some poetry or narrative or drama. Form...uh...pass. Topic...the stuff on my mind; that at least is certain.

Back to purpose...damn. Let's talk about that next time.