Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things

I got goaded into putting up this list on Facebook, and I figured that I'd put it here, too, just for the fun of it.

It's one of those things that you're supposed to do and then tag 25 other people for them to do the same. So far, the results have indeed been interesting, as well as the comments on my own.

25 Random Things About Me:

1. I was originally a pre-med major.... so along with my degree in acting & directing, I have a minor in science. Weird.

2. It takes me two hours to wake up and get going after I get up. I am SO not a morning person. Morning people should be severely punished.

3. I'm ambidextrous. I can write illegibly with either hand.

4. My computer/music room is painted royal purple. It's also royally disorganized.

5. I don't get stage fright (unless I have to sing classically; then I worry).

6. I'm a reformed Type A personality. Constant perfectionism takes too much effort, and other people find it annoying. I still have to fight it, though.

7. Few things make me angrier than being told what I think.

8. I like food that hurts (hot, spicy, bring it on!).

9. First, it was a one-book project, and now it's a THREE-book project, and there's nothing I can do about it but tell the story with as much truth and honesty as I can.

10. I don't have much talent for foreign languages. Despite this, I'm trying to teach myself Irish Gaelic.

11. I am a person who cares about cats. I dislike dogs intensely.

12. I hate dressing nicely (unless there's money involved). Ties are a kind of stylized noose.

13. In spite of its incredible simplicity, people misspell and get my name wrong all the time.

14. I'm a Christmas Eve baby. My birthday is September 24.

15. I fractured my skull by falling down a set of concrete stairs when I was nine months old. Some people feel that this explains a lot.

16. My high school nickname: Spock.

17. I'm an unreformed folkie, and I love singer/songwriter/guitarists.

18. I could have stayed in college my whole life, getting degree after degree. I love to learn, am eternally curious, and school beats the heck out of reality.

19. The more I read in the newspaper about the state of our nation, the better the idea of moving to Ireland looks.

20. I met my wife in a men's dressing room. I came in dressed as an Indian; she introduced herself, pulled my clothes off me and stuffed me into a nine-foot-long furry green crocodile suit. Absolutely true.

21. I have a picture of myself with Helen Hayes, first lady of the American theatre. One of us is dead now.

22. There are probably 2,500 books in the house.

23. I took two years of ballet in college.

24. I've picked up many skills as a result of being in the theatre.... For instance, I sew and have had my own machine for 30 years.

25. I can't draw, paint, sketch, or anything like that, and have always wished that I could. I stick to photography.

26. I know the rules call for 25, but I'm a dedicated nonconformist.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Topic Block

One of the problems that comes with not having added a post in a long while is that there is this great inertia behind the idea that the next topic had better be a darned good one.

Indeed, this is one of the many things that has kept me from posting. I can't say much for the part of last year when I had some surgery, things went wrong, and I took months to recover. In any case, I'm not going to talk about it, since it's not a "fun" topic. On the brighter side, I was involved in several artistic projects, which were challenging and rewarding. Those DO bear talking about, but then again, I'm not sure if I want that to be my topic.

Then there's the concept that it's just a blog post, and it doesn't have to be "about" anything. I hated Seinfeld for that very reason; watching a show that was proudly "about nothing" was irritating. I never made it through a whole episode. So, it seems that I ought to come up with some sort of solid idea.

But I digress. Which mostly proves that said idea has not come to me yet.

It is this kind of pressure, to do "something significant", that keeps a lot of people from doing things that they ought to do. Mostly, it's a fear of failure that drives this feeling; who wants to trip, fall down and look like an idiot? Well, I'm an actor and I do that with regularity, so that isn't what's stopping me. In fact, people enjoy watching me fall down and hurt myself. One of these days, I must figure out why that is.

So, here we are. 2009 is upon us. Idiot-Boy has gone home to Texas. The Super Bowl is nigh (though I don't know why I mention it, since I care so little about it that I don't even remember what teams are playing, and they're playing the stupid game in Tampa, which ain't far from this, my exiled cultural wasteland). A guy makes a textbook-perfect ditching of a plane in a river, and nobody loses their life.

Now, that's impressive.

Is this a hint of a topic?

I actually have little, if any, fear of flying, because I know that statistically, the chances of anything going seriously wrong are pretty small. Flying used to be kind of fun, before all this idiocy with taking off your shoes and such. It isn't so much the shoes that I mind, it's the belt. My buckle always sets the metal detector off. So, it isn't bad enough that you have to walk in your stocking feet to the nearest chair to put your shoes back on; no, you have to re-thread your belt, which means re-tucking your shirt.... it feels like getting changed in the dressing room sans the booth. the fact that everyone else is doing the same thing doesn't make it any more fun.

Side thought: Why don't underwire bras set the alarm off?

The whole security procedure is a nuisance that kills off any potential enjoyment of flying. It wouldn't be so bad if I couldn't think of a number of ways to "beat the system", which I think a lot of people can, at least in part. Sure, check my ID, by all means, especially since I don't have an actual ticket (online reservations mean that all you get is a boarding pass. Still, the airlines seem to manage the information all right. The downside to that is that they have an alarmingly large amount of information about you stored in their computers). But they don't look very hard at it. I've yet to have one of the TSA workers cross-check the name, look at the picture, and then look up to make sure that I am the same person. They also miss the chance to snidely observe that my driver license has one of the worst possible pictures of me on it. I wouldn't pass that up, as long as I politely followed it with some conciliatory phrase, such as "you poor, poor thing."

Then come the snake lines. DAMN the Disney people for having invented the snake line. OK, it saves space, I get that. However, it also means that you keep passing that same guy who's apparently never heard of deodorant in his life over and over. "Please," I think, "for the love of God, don't let him be my seat-mate on my flight." Thus far, God has been merciful and it hasn't happened. Then you have to put your bag with all your toys in it through the x-ray machine. I don't like this, because I don't like other people playing with my toys. Call me selfish, or call me the product of a large family. I don't care which.

You know what I miss, though? It used to be that you flew with people. This was before everyone was so self-absorbed in their laptops, their iPhones or their Gameboys. In the "old days", people were actually forced to say hello to one another. One time, I had this fascinating conversation with a woman who flew hot air balloons for Budweiser. She even gave me her card and hinted strongly that I should call her. Well, I never did, being spoken for, but it was nicely flattering and one of the most interesting travel conversations I've ever had. It would never happen today.

I suppose I've gotten just as guilty as other people in this regard, but not purposefully. I'm extremely sensitive to sound, so I have a noise-reducing headset on (not one of the fancy noise-cancelling headsets; would that I could afford them). Even walking the echoing halls of the airport, I have to have them on. People just assume that I'm listening to something, and leave me alone. I guess they're just being polite, when they aren't caught up in their e-devices. But I get my licks in my running my iPod ear buds underneath the headset and I listen to music for nearly the whole flight. I used to read on flights (you'll seldom catch me without a book), but even with the noise dampened, I find it hard to concentrate and enjoy the book.

So, sitting there with my headset and music standing between me and, say, the captain coming on the intercom, I might have missed the announcement to brace for impact that the USAir passengers were treated to just before they got introduced to the Hudson River in a very personal way (not actually; I can still hear such things just fine through my barriers, but it makes for a better example if I say otherwise).

Were I to be informed that my plane was about to crash, I think the firs thought that would run through my mind would be "What a stupid way to die." Then, for the sake of my family, I think I'd turn my cell phone on and text my wife & daughter goodbye and tell them that I love them.

What if everyone did that, which in this day and age seems likely? There you'd be, in with a hundred, two hundred people about to share the ultimate life experience (that is, having it suddenly taken away), and people would STILL be in their insular little electronic worlds. The news reports say that the passengers who crashed into the river didn't scream as it was all happening. Perhaps they were too stunned, or just didn't have the time.

More likely, however, they were all preoccupied with those same devices that are making the world smaller, yet making us more distant from each other every day. An interesting conundrum.

So, in light of that, and the extreme wave of emotion sweeping over the country as we've sworn in a new president, maybe it's not so significant that I couldn't come up with a brilliantly-written blog entry. In the cosmic scheme of things, it's not that big a deal, eh? On the other hand, I would have preferred something more than rambling, even though my rule for writing these things is "One draft, one revision, and post the darn thing." That's the challenge I've set for myself here, and to come up with a reasonably good result in the process. Sometimes, that works out well. The two very first entries I put up when I started The Eye Wit, I'm very happy with. Others, I'd love to go back and delete, but that's one of my other rules: No looking back.

So, if you happen to be reading this several months from its original date (and I hope you are while you've stopped in), let me just simply point out that they can't all be gems. Still, I have to start 2009 somewhere, and at least I have set the initial bar kind of low (he said, laughing bitterly at himself).

2009 is going to be a year where a lot of people are looking for higher "bars" than we've had in this country for a long while. Let's hope that we're all up to the challenges involved.