Monday, October 24, 2005
The play is William Shakespeare's "The Two Gentleman of Verona," in which I play Valentine (also known as Gentleman #2) and it performs Tuesday-Saturdays starting November 9th through the 19th, at which point it breaks a week for Thanksgiving and then returns for a final week of performance, November 20th through December 3rd. So there are plenty of chances to come see this highly original interpretation of a highly skeewampus Shakespearean play. I'm not sure what "skeewampus" means, but its a word my mom uses a lot. And the use of italics should denote a somewhat ironical and wry tongue-in-cheek tone of voice.
No, seriously, its going to be good. Elizabeathean laughs galore, some serious emoting from yours truly and, best of all, a real live dog on stage! You really don't want to miss this!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Because seriously, how cool is Halloween? Its way off the scale on the cool-o-meter. When else can you see even the most pious and sensible people indulging in a little of the supernatural and occult by dressing up their children as vampires, witches, or ghosts? Well, that's how it was back in my day anyway (which was soooooo long ago), but today kids dress up as Jedi, princesses, Harry Potter, or Spiderman. They are totally missing the point! The whole costume tradition started when a group of highly superstitious and paranoid people (inspired by their leader, a man named Rush Limbaugh) thought that by dressing up in scary or intimidating outfits they could scare away evil spirits, sort of like reverse psychology. They hoped that the ghosts would see them and think "Ah! A ghost!" and run away in a marvelous post-modern-esque reversal of roles. But thats clearly not going to work these days! What self-respecting evil spirit would flee from six-year old Sally in her Princess Buttercup get-up? He'd be the laughing stock of the evil spirit community! Everywhere he'd go, other evil spirits would say, "Watch out, Bob, there's a princess behind you, and boy does she look like a mean one!" and he'd say, "Yeah, yeah, enough already! It was two-hundred years ago for crying out loud!" But I digress.
Even if costumes have gotten a little less intimidating, the Halloween festivities still include plenty of dark and creepy stuff. One local tradition involves going on fun and safe group dates at haunted woods or houses where people in costumes jump out and try to scare you. I think this just shows that people like to be scared, within certain limits. There is a sort of thrill of adrenalin when you are freaked out. Plus, I'm pretty sure the reason those haunted places are so popular for dates is so that you have a reason to cling on to each other and cuddle up close. I know thats why I go! Oh wait, I never go.... Ok, I know thats why various friends and acquaintances of mine go! You know who you are... perverts.
Anyway, I've been thinking a lot of frightening things lately because I've been given the assignment to write a scary story for my semi-regular writing group, and I'm a bit worried because I've never tried to write anything like that before. So I'm trying to analyze what is scary so that I can use it in the story. Consequently, I'm very interested in not only why people are afraid, but also what things exactly they fear. My friend Chris is terrified of snakes and of somebody grabbing his butt while he walks up stairs. My mother fears her eldest son will never give her grandchildren. My roommate fears that he might not actually be perfect. As for me, I think what I fear most is the unknown. It used to be the thought of being alone the rest of my life, but I got over that one. Now, its the unknown. The times I've been most scared is when I didn't know exactly what there was to be scared of, when my own imagination made the terror for me.
At scout camp one summer, our troop was taken out into the wild where we gathered around a fire and were told some scary story about a ghost or something like that. The location that this story had supposedly taken place was nearby, and we were challenged to find our way there one at a time and fetch a white feather (which was somehow relevant to the story) to prove our manhood and courage. Sounded like a piece of cake to me. I was a fairly rational and intelligent child (I was! Stop laughing, Mom) so I knew that it was just a story and that there was nothing to be afraid of. However, once I got out into the woods on my own, I remembered that I was also a fairly emotional and dramatic child. All around me was the quiet darkness of the wilderness; I could hear nothing but my own footsteps. The darkness is a blank canvas for the imagination; it gives you nothing to judge your situation with, nothing to build upon or understand. It's emptiness, hiding something but revealing nothing, is what got to me the most. In these sort of situations, I've often had the chilling sensation that I was being followed or pursued or watched, and I felt this then. I found my way to the little house that was haunted, according to the tale, and saw the feathers that were my goal. I stopped about fifty yards away, staring intently at the dim shape for any sign of danger. I could see very little, so imagination began to fill in the blanks with terrifying results. Fear gripped my tiny heart and I felt I could not take another step further. Where I was standing was fine, but the next step into the darkness leading who knows where was impossible. It wasn't what I could see, but what I couldn't that scared me. I have always been inclined to bear those ills I have than fly to others I know not of. Luckily, I found a feather on the ground where I was, so I was saved having to enter the building itself. I ran like a crazy man until I was just within sight of the campfire, at which point I walked suavely and unruffled into camp holding my feather and boasting about how easy the task had been. My feather was small and dirty though, not long and pure white like the ones my friends brought back, so I think it had to be obvious I had chickened out. Serves me right.
So what I want to know is this: what scares you? I'm conducting a little poll. I know there are lots of people who read my blog regularly but who never ever post a comment. Here's your chance, I'm begging you. Everybody who reads this must post a short comment telling me what scares them. You can make it anonymous if you like, and I promise not to tease you. It's very good for the soul to confess what terrifies you. Its called naming your fear. Clearly identifying what scares you is a good step in overcoming it. Or, if thats too uncomfortable, tell me what movie or book or whatever really gave you the goosebumps. I'm just curious. So go on and do it. And I mean everybody!
Sunday, October 02, 2005
I’m sorry for the very depressing tone of my last post. I know it has occasioned some worry amongst my friends and family, and I appreciate their concern for my wellbeing and happiness. Let me just explain that I was having a very bad day. Ok, so maybe it was more of a very bad week.
Strange things were happening. Coincidences kept popping up everywhere. Nearly every day last week, somebody I knew turned out to know somebody else I knew through some tenuous connection that only just came up. Somebody I hadn’t talked to in years accidentally called me. Stranger still, and I am not making this up, for several days last week I could not drive anywhere without every single intersection I came either already having a red light or turning red just as I approached. It took forever to get anywhere. Eventually, I started to become aware that this was a strange phenomenon. Statistically, I should hit a green light eventually, and I eventually did. But I think I had a three day run going of only red lights. It got me a little anxious.
More to the point, my mood was rapidly declining for reasons mostly beyond my comprehension or ability to explain adequately. A large part of it had to do with the job, of course. I can’t explain what I felt at work – words are horribly inaccurate for how complicated and unpleasant that feeling is. I still cannot put a finger on what it is about that situation that just eats me up inside, but I knew I was not happy and, high wage and flexible schedule aside; I just couldn’t go on that way. It was in this mood when I was feeling trapped at work that I wrote the last post. I felt like I had to send a little signal flag for help while imprisoned in this black pit of a job. Every now and then life’s little struggles catch up to me and I start to feel that way. It’s awful. But I digress. It was during this time that the next coincidence happened.
I went to talk to my boss about my dissatisfaction at the same time that my boss had learned that the possibility of me being hired full-time as originally planned were now slim-to-none. The company had decided to try to fill the position with employees eliminated from down-sizing in another department, regardless of whether not they were qualified. Talking with her, I realized clear as day that with no job satisfaction or security, there was little reason to delay the inevitable. She was extremely sympathetic and supportive, and is letting me stay on there with fewer hours a week so that I can have both an income and free time to look for something else. I was extremely enthusiastic about this arrangement, the proverbial load lifted from my shoulders.
At home, I immediately set to work updating my resume and scanning the net for new job possibilities, keeping in my mind everything this job had taught me about what I do and do not want in potential employment. I saw a listing which looked interesting, if a little less of a wage than what I wanted, and made a note to send off my resume at some future time. I went to lunch, and then noticed that there was a voice message on my phone. It turned out to be a message from the very same job I had just been looking at, but which I had NOT yet contacted. They had seen my profile up on the Department of Workforce Services website that I put up months ago and decided to call me, on the very same day I had decided to look for another job and within hours after I had just seen their listing on that same website. As the cherry on top of this grand coincidence, their offices just happened to be in Springville, right across the street from where I am working now.
The interview went well, but I did not get the job. I did not want the job, really. The guy told me I was too good for it. I got a big boost in confidence that I’m in a good position to get a job that I enjoy. I just do not know yet what job that could possibly be. This is what I’ve come up with: 1 – Something with a measure of creativity and analytical thinking, 2- Something that further hones my verbal and written communication skills, 3- Something with a positive, supportive, friendly work atmosphere, 4- Something closer to me than Springville, 5- Something which does not require using the phone or trying to sell things to people. 6- Something which does not feed me fattening food while limiting my physical activity level, thereby making me fat 7- Something where all my coworkers do not listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch King of the Hill, have handgun and pickup truck collections, and believe Fox News. Oh, and 8- Something that lets me have Tuesday afternoons off to be Hamlet. That’s not too much to ask, is it??
If anybody knows of any opportunity that comes up, let me know. I’d appreciate any assistance from my dear friends or, hopefully, one of their influential relatives.