Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Withdrawal

I feel like shit. Maybe it's partially the cold I'm getting over and I'm tripping on cold meds, but I really physically miss Sam's presence. Even just occupying space would be of some comfort. But then, I recall how bad things were for her the last few months of her life, and wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Got a well-timed phone call from my "big bro" in California, Randy. Helped me put some thoughts in order. Allowed me to talk about the crap I feel. Thanks bud.

I apologize if this post isn't entirely coherent. I'm posting this from the laptop in bed, just prior to hitting the sack. Got a scene written for the Ordinary Angels script. JD should be happy with some progress when he comes over tomorrow.

More later. Homer sleep now. Yaaay, sleep! That's when I'm a Viking!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Brothers Grimm

Went with Caleb and Jonas to check out Terry Gilliam's new film, The Brothers Grimm. As expected, the art direction and production design is breathtaking. Gilliam's flair for recreating the Napoleonic era is always worth watching.

The performances by Matt Damon ("Matt Damon!") and Heath Ledger (The Patriot, The Order) are adequate, but mostly uninspired. Ledger is definitely the more interesting to watch of the two. The real standout is Lena Headey as Angelika - subdued, not wacky, and very genuine (and not hard on the eyes, even covered in mud). Peter Stormare (Minority Report) is mostly obnoxious as the Italian torturer whose heartfelt alliances seem to switch arbitrarily, and Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies) is simply regurgitating every villain he's ever played - it's almost as if his character from Gilliam's Baron Munchausen switched sides and got promoted. His douchebaggery is legendary and it shows.

Of course Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Brotherhood of the Wolf) is gorgeous, but does little... except look gorgeous. Richard Ridings (Erik the Viking) and Mackenzie Crook (The Office) are fun to watch as comic relief and never cross the line into obnoxiousness. Thank God. We get enough of that from the villains.

What the film mostly lacks is heart, and I place the blame for that squarely with a weak script. Aside from that, the film is watchable, even enjoyable in parts. I really wanted to like it, and I guess I didn't feel cheated - it is after all the setting of our upcoming Deep7 RPG, Grimmworld. The story actually does run somewhat like an adventure game session, with stupid asides and arbitrary motivations. But it is missing some really key points like consistency and coherency. The mood is all over the place, and anachronisms are everywhere in the dialogue.

The parts that resemble an old Vincent Price witch hunter film are very enjoyable - the weird tech, the costumes, the sets. The first sequence with the witch battle is quite good! And there are nuggets of coolness throughout. It's nowhere near as bad as Van Helsing, but it's not as good as Baron Munchausen or Time Bandits either. Stick to a matinee if you can. I will probably get it on DVD to join Sleepy Hollow and Brotherhood of the Wolf in my Grimmworld collection.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last Impetus

I finished the last of the final Impetus CD tonight. Triskelle is the third in a trilogy; there will be no more Impetus after this. Where the first 2 albums were a way for me to deal with the plight of my wife and father, this one is definitely all about the aftermath. It's a bit angry, sullen, mysterious and scary at times, merging my penchant for big beat with acoustic guitars and synth pads. I even sampled a vocal riff from our old And Tears Fell track, Chamber of Light, so Sam could have a vocal on one piece, Long Road Home.

I'm proud of the work, but moreso of myself for finishing it. It's a huge catharsis, and as painful as pouring rubbing alcohol in a deep cut. I'll finish mastering tomorrow.

Impetus - Triskelle
1. Everlasting
2. Aquarian Eyes
3. We Made a World
4. November Kiss
5. Stay
6. Embrace
7. Last Touch
8. Long Road Home
9. Skin Hunger
10. Another Time
11. Haunted

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sick as a Sick Dog

EDIT: This is me if I were a South Park character. I don't really wear an eyepatch, but I do carry around a beer and a chainsaw.

Ugh. Picked up a nasty head cold right after the show. It's kicking my ass currently. Haven't had the energy to catch up on all the crap that's been staring me in the face since before the show.

Some of the Pandies started a MySpace community, so now I'm over there too.

Also took this survey:







Heidelberg, Germany

Current Location:

Seattle, WA

Eye Color:


Hair Color:

Blonde, red, brown, black, copper, gold


5'16" (you do the math)

Right Handed or Left Handed:


Your Heritage:


The Shoes You Wore Today:

Haven't put them on yet - probably Vans

Your Weakness:


Your Fears:

Killer bees

Your Perfect Pizza:

Black olives & mushrooms

Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year:

Figuring out this widowed parent thing

Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger:


Thoughts First Waking Up:

"Ugh. Five more minutes."

Your Best Physical Feature:

Late wife loved the smile and the ass

Your Bedtime:

Way too late

Your Most Missed Memory:

The hell does that mean?

Pepsi or Coke:

Neither - I avoid pop (occasional root beer)

MacDonalds or Burger King:

Both will kill you

Single or Group Dates:

One on one

Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea:

Home-brewed sun tea

Chocolate or Vanilla:


Cappuccino or Coffee:

Iced caramel mocha

Do you Smoke:

Used to be in a native pipe circle, but not now

Do you Swear:

Way too often (but rarely in front of the kids)

Do you Sing:

All the time - in fact, I feel a song coming on now...

Do you Shower Daily:


Have you Been in Love:

Oh hell yeah

Do you want to go to College:

Again? Eventually.

Do you want to get Married:

Again? Eventually.

Do you belive in yourself:

Inebriato ergo sum

Do you get Motion Sickness:


Do you think you are Attractive:


Are you a Health Freak:

Less than I probably should be

Do you get along with your Parents:


Do you like Thunderstorms:

Love em!

Do you play an Instrument:

A variety - used to record for an indie label

In the past month have you Drank Alcohol:

Probably more than I should

In the past month have you Smoked:

Only second-hand

In the past month have you been on Drugs:

What qualifies? Excedrin Migraine - yes.

In the past month have you gone on a Date:


In the past month have you gone to a Mall:


In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos:


In the past month have you eaten Sushi:


In the past month have you been on Stage:

Oh yes - best show the group had ever done!

In the past month have you been Dumped:


In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping:

Haven't had the opportunity

In the past month have you Stolen Anything:

Aside from a friendly grope backstage, no

Ever been Drunk:

Oh hell yeah

Ever been called a Tease:

Only by my gay friends

Ever been Beaten up:

Only once - then I got big

Ever Shoplifted:

In my troubled youth

How do you want to Die:

Painlessly, a long time from now

What do you want to be when you Grow Up:

That really should be IF... maybe an astronaut

What country would you most like to Visit:

I want to go back to Scotland!

In a Boy/Girl..

Favourite Eye Color:


Favourite Hair Color:


Short or Long Hair:

Around shoulder length, but not too much longer


Tall enough not to strain my back when we kiss


I like curves - a little junk to hang onto

Best Clothing Style:

Whatever looks good

Number of Drugs I have taken:

Alcohol, pot, shrooms

Number of CDs I own:

Can't count that high without an abacus

Number of Piercings:


Number of Tattoos:

None, although I have one coming

Number of things in my Past I Regret:

Too many little things to list - move on


Monday, August 22, 2005

Record-Setting Show

We closed Fiddler on the Roof with full house on Sunday afternoon. In fact, most shows were pretty packed. The only thin house was Saturday's matinee, and that was not unexpected. We averaged 50 more seats filled per show over last year, or about 250 more people (almost like doing an additional show). Unfortunately the video crew decided to shoot the show on Friday night, which was the weakest performance (still not bad, just not as good as the others). Saturday night's show rocked.

In terms of scale, ambition and quality, this was far beyond anything Twelfth Night/Pandemonium has ever done. And the audience reaction (and post-show commentary) said exectly that.

I just got back from strike, and need to prep dinner and some Tyler-Daddy time tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fiddler in the Hizzy!

I'd better post now while I have a minute. Chances are I won't be posting again until after we close the show on Sunday. Tonight is final dress, and the improvement from last Sunday's rehearsal is nothing short of astonishing. The vocals are sounding good, the orchestra is sounding good (I'm a sucker for lots of strings), and even the shaky dance numbers are getting better. My beggar costume rocks (I'll post pics when we have them). Kayleigh looks like she could run off with Gypsies at any moment. The Dream number is really cool now that we have a rotating gobo throwing psychedelic color patterns on the cyc. UPDATE: Here's a pic of K & I from the finale, Anatevka.

No matter how the show does, this is a great crowd of people - and one with which I am proud to associate. This is also Kayleigh's second show with the Pandemonium Players (she was in one song in Bye Bye Birdie last year, but now she's on stage quite a bit - and at least 3 songs to boot!). It's a good group for her to get involved with while she hones her talent. She wants to be a performer, something Samantha and I have always encouraged.

The last week has been really difficult for me emotionally. Everything seems to trigger a memory of Sam - no doubt due to our theater history and the fact that we've been practically living at rehearsal. This will also mark the first production since 1983 in which I've been involved and she either didn't see, didn't work on or wasn't in with me. That's a rough concept to accept. I don't want to accept it.

Today consists of swimming lessons for the kids, a trip to the drugstore for makeup supplies, and a trip to the trophy shop to have the Samantha Downing Grand SPAM Award engraved. Sam was the first recipient of the award on record, and I was last year's recipient. It is given by the Pandemonium Players to the participant whom they feel has contributed most mightily to the production in time, talent and/or skill, which is no small feat. There are other awards, but the Twelfth Night artistic director and I agreed since Sam was the first to win this thing, her name should go on it as a way to keep her memory alive in this wonderful group she loved so much.

Been listening to the latest Telepopmusik CD. Probably not the best thing to be listening to, but as I said, I'm a sucker for strings. And techno. And techno with strings.

Sit still
And close your eyes
What’s behind the other door?
No more silence,
Don’t kill this thing we got called love
Just searching for the perfect drug

When Love comes calling
Don’t look back
When love comes calling
Don’t look away

And I’m standing over here
Watching you over there
Smiling, happy, unaware
Oh, life is spinning round
You’re going underground
Forgetting who we were
Let’s try and keep it just one more day

When Love comes calling
Don’t look back
When love comes calling
Don’t look away

You take your love
And throw it all around
Like it’s nothing special
Just a sound
Let me say one more thing
I don’t think you realize
That a day is like a year sometimes

When Love comes calling
Don’t look back
When love comes calling
Don’t look away

- Telepopmusik, Don't Look Back

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Wow. Four months just snuck up on me, hit me with a hurley stick and left me in the gutter. Don't know what it was exactly. A cocktail of factors, probably. Was listening to Seether in the shower this morning, which probably wasn't a good idea to begin with. Just really missing Sam's physical presence in my life. The photos, the video, the songs she left behind... they're not enough, and they never will be. This kind of wound can only be tended by Samantha, and she's gone. I want to call my dad and cry on his shoulder, but he's gone.

I now have family members asking when I'm going to start looking for work with another company. As if all the work Sam and I did over the past 6 years growing our own company was just a waste of time. Hello? When has this ever been an issue before, and why is it suddenly an issue now? I am still running the business, and although it's not quite back to where it was in 2003, it's coming back, and it will support me again. If I quit and go to work for someone else, I will not be able to give it the focus it needs. I will be giving up on the work Sam & I did - the product cycles, authoring, editing, the long hours, the finances, the conventions...

Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. I have a shitload of products in half-gestated conditions that I need to get out. As we've learned in the past, you need to keep putting out product to keep your positive cashflow. Last year, Sam was so sick we only got 2 products out (as opposed to 6 the previous year). That's the difference between a small business that survives on momentum and a small business that supports you.

I did 9 years in the videogame biz, and it sucked my soul dry. I've been a professional artist since my late teens, and made a living (frequently a decent living) at it since my early 20s. My dad was the ultimate entrepreneur, and set a great example for me to follow. It's who I am, and if I didn't change that when I had Sam by my side, why the fuck would I want to change now, when I have the added stress of solo childrearing and a company that needs the coal to be shoveled?

God, I miss you Sam. I miss you so much.

Broken - by Seether (the single has Amy Lee from Evanescence singing on it)

I wanted you to know I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain away
I keep your photograph and I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

‘Cause I’m broken when I’m lonesome
And I don’t feel right when you’re gone away
You've gone away, you don't feel me here, anymore

The worst is over now and we can breathe again
I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away
There’s so much left to learn, and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

‘Cause I’m broken when I’m open
And I don’t feel like I am strong enough
‘Cause I’m broken when I’m lonesome
And I don’t feel right when you’re gone away

'Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away

You've gone away
You don't feel me here anymore

Postscript: Andrew got home safe and sound, and sans his shampoo, which he left in our upstairs shower.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping....

Apologies to Steve Miller. It just seems the week has flown by. We've watched apprioximately three metric assloads of movies, eaten far too much and drunk more beer than I think I ever drank in college. It's been a blast. Andrew is a lot of fun and a good conversationalist, despite my having to ask for repeats due to his lost voice.

Last night, I made Andrew watch Free Enterprise, and Darlene came over in the middle. Just as we were finishing up, Caleb and Jonas arrived. Showed Darlene some of the Will Ferrell DVD, then she went home and the guys chatted until 2:AM.

So Andrew has eaten at some of the fine restaurants West Seattle has to offer, and has seen Alki at sunset. Last night he accompanied us to a pizza party hosted by Camp Erin, the weekend camp my kids will be attending this month. It focuses on the kids' grief from losing a parent or sibling. This week has been kinda hard for me in that regard. As much fun as I've been having, I really miss Sam and wish she could have been here for Andrew's visit.

Today, we're grabbing an afternoon ferry to Bainbridge Island and heading over to the winery. Hopefully be back at a reasonable hour and go over to JD's place for a little birthday party for Steve. Tomorrow, Andrew is back on the plane for Old Blighty. Hopefully I'll be hooking up with my old pal Dave Beach and his family, who are in town for less than happy reasons (a friend just lost a newborn baby). On that same tangent, a good friend of the family just died. She had the same kind of cancer my dad had. In fact, she'd been fighting longer than he had, longer than Sam too. As my brother said in his blog, just knock it the fuck off.

I've pretty much played hooky from rehearsal all week. I'll go back Sunday night, just in time for hell week. We open the show one week from yesterday. I plan to devote Sunday to finishing the playbill layout. Didn't have the bandwidth to do a banner this year. Oh well...

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Okay, here we are, Monday morning. Haven't posted since Tuesday. We set out early Friday morning for Florence, Oregon. My sister, her daughter, my kids, and the dog all crammed into Sam's former primary vehicle, the Taurus wagon. I'd been driving it around town for weeks, and had the tranny fluid checked Thursday afternoon - no problem. We decided to caravan with my mom and stepdad, which turned out to be a good call. We made it across the Oregon border and as far south as the north Eugene area, when suddenly the wagon started losing power.

Fortunately, we were at an offramp, and the vehicle was easily pushed off the road and into the parking lot of a quasi-1950s theme diner - a bunch of Ricky Nelson, Johnny Mathis and Elvis memorabilia lining the walls... high cheese factor, but charming people. We had shakes and floats and waited for my stepdad to return with some tranny fluid. After sucking up 6 quarts of the stuff, it was decided to tentatively press onward. We made it about 10 more miles but there was just no power. We ended up in a Home Depot parking lot in Eugene, checking the state of the tranny leak. The wound bled like a stuck pig. Main seal kaput.

So I got on the phone and got a rental car (actually an SUV) for $400 - my rental car budget being $0. Stepdad ran me out to Eugene airport to pick it up, and we transferred passengers and cargo back at Home Depot. Even with the transmission debacle, we were only 2 hours late. Had dinner at Mo's (kind of like a posh, family-owned Skippers). Our reservations at the good motel on the strip right outside Florence proper had not gone through, so we were booked in a cabin across the road. Very nice upscale thing, crammed full with the 5 people from my car, plus my brother and SIL (and the dog). I got about 4 hours sleep. Motel beds and I don't get along.

Breakfast at a nice country kitchen there on the motel grounds. Yum.

Went into Florence and headed out to the retirement community where my great aunt resides. The sister of my grandfather, the 80 y/o birthday girl. Still smokes like a chimney and swears like a sailor, but by the time you get 80 I kinda figure you've earned some vulgarity points to spend. Ducked out for lunch with my sibs and our cousin we've not seen in over 20 years (and her hubby). They redeemed much of the trip. We checked in at the motel we were supposed to stay in the first night, I managed a 15 minute nap, and we congregated at the Florence Elk's Club for dinner.

Dear Lord.

Where to begin... The first thing we were told was that they were out of prime rib, oysters and baked potatoes. Good start, as it was only 7:PM. We were seated at a long table with vinyl rolling chairs circa 1971. Sea shells and sand dollars hung from the brandy snifter chandeliers. A duet of keyboard and guitar performed renditions of old standards with a disturbing country/lounge vibe. Open mic karaoke would have been an improvement. The "bread" consisted of packaged dinner rolls with a foot of flour on them. Their beer on tap selection consisted of Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light and MGD. Sis, cousin, cousin's hubby and I all got bottles of Widmer Hefeweitzen. Hearing they had that was like finding an oasis in the desert.

After we ordered, we were informed they were out of rice. Let me repeat for effect... Out. Of. Rice. How exactly does one run out of rice, at a restaurant on Saturday night? It's not exactly hard to stock up ahead of time, and it keeps for a long while. The "garlic mashed potatoes" were from a package. My brother's fried chicken was still frozen on the inside. Just amazing. Even the veteran Elk's diners said we were getting the dregs.

Took my sis and the kids to Dairy Queen for blizzards afterwards. Went back to the motel and fell into bed. Slept better, and awoke early to take a shower before heading home... three guesses what was wrong with that plan. The power was out. And the water was on a pump system, so no luck there. Found out my grandfather had gotten a bad case of bowel trouble from the food the previous night. At that point, my sister and I were more than ready to hit the road. Bro and SIL were not far behind. We drove almost straight through, and the kids were great together the whole trip. We left at 8:AM, had lunch in Vancouver, WA by Noon, and were back home in Seattle shortly after 3. Sis still had a 2 hour drive back to Bellingham, so she didn't stay long. My back was severely shot. But I arrived to find Caleb taking out my garbage and his German friend Jonas vacuuming the carpet. They even went out for Papa Murphy's pizza. Thank you C & J. You guys rock. Grabbed a shower and took some drugs for the spine.

Soon after, Ron arrived with Andrew in tow. He'd blown out his voice on 2 days of chatting with Ron over beer and/or Krispy Kremes (thanks for the clarification, Andrew!), so we were quite the pair. Watched a great deal of Justice League and Will Ferrell SNL videos.

This week, I get to take the kids to swimming lessons and figure out what we're going to do with Sam's wagon. Hooray for road trips.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Shite State of Affairs

And so it goes. Seeing those videos of Samantha really kicked me in the gut, and I still haven't recovered from the assault. One of the tracks for the final Impetus CD is called November Kiss, and every time I listen to it, I'm taken back to that night in 1984, the two of us alone on the sidewalk in front of my house. Our platonic hugs became awkward teenage kisses, and she looked dreamily up at me and said, "I think I'm falling in love with you." That was over 20 years, two children, an interstate move, a whole world ago. And I can still remember what her hair smelled like, and what her lips felt like. That's the craving right there.

I guess it's good that the music is so powerful. I've had friends listen to it and cry because they know the story behind it.

I hate having to grow out my full beard for the show. Somewhat because it's never exactly been "full", but mostly because it's currently at the "itchy sandpaper" stage, and my moustache is getting in my mouth. Bleh. Gimme a neatly-trimmed Van Dyke any day. But then I guess turn-of-the-century Russian Jews didn't often wear neatly-trimmed Van Dykes. Oh well, it's only for a couple more weeks, then I can go back to my Sir Francis Drake.

Which reminds me - this is my favorite bit from Trainspotting:

TOMMY: Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish?

RENTON: I hate being Scottish. We're the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete arseholes. It's a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world will not make any fucking difference.