Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Iceman Cometh

It's another chilly one today - and all Seattle schools are closed once again. In all the normal craziness of yesterday, I totally forgot to mention that my grandfather turned 90. We called and sang to him, and he talked about the new furnace he and my grandmother were having installed. That's right - they live in Bellingham, WA and had no heat for some of the coldest days ever. We're supposed to get some more snow this afternoon, followed by rain tonight, which should kill the cold snap just a bit.

I'm going to see poet David Whyte again this Friday with my brother & stepmom. Looking forward to that.

Other than that and finishing up the books on the production part of Ordinary Angels, life is mostly back to a semblance of whatever pitiful excuse for normal we usually cling to. Now I just need to edit the DVDs for the summer musical, and one for The Dining Room.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow Day

...or rather, "ice day". With the wind-chill hitting -15F in some areas, Seattle has become a giant ice rink. All the schools were closed today, so the kids and I walked down to Big 5 to stock up on the winter gear we hadn't replaced yet - hats & gloves, mostly. Then we sat in the Starbucks cafe in Barnes & Noble and had warm drinks before heading home.

Tyler is trying to get his writing placement essay for WAVA done, but is being resistant. Kayleigh is working through her homework packet for the week.

I noticed my buddy Beach put his old college film up. I always thought Tube was a brilliant premise for a short, and I think he executed it well. We were all in the DeAnza film department at the time, Beach, myself, Mark Holmes (now of Pixar) and Rob Wilson, and we often pooled talent and resources, and our time in the editing suites. The guys in the waiting room are Pat Goddard and Edward Havens (nice appearance on Attack of the Show last night, Ed!). The dude in the scrubs is Randy Rhodes, aka Dick Hollywood. I edited the video you see playing on the television during the "mating" sequence (and no, the couple is not from a porno, the segment was from a daytime soap). I'm glad Beach updated the titles and soundtrack, but I kinda miss the old Ryuichi Sakamoto music he had originally.

Maybe someday soon I will post the animated shorts Steve & I worked on at Hyperbole back during the dot com boom. Those were pretty entertaining too.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Although I usually mark certain American holidays (Columbus Day, for example) with mourning for our indigenous peoples, Thanksgiving has always meant more to me as a general coming together of friends and family.

So what would a guy like me be thankful for, given the events of the past couple years?

  • I have two beautiful, intelligent children, whom I love dearly, and who love me.
  • I have a wonderful, close and supportive family.
  • I have some of the best friends anyone could ask for - close friends, who are much more like family.
  • I have a roof over my head - a completely rebuilt home.
  • I've completed my two creative goals for the year - direct The Dining Room and shoot Ordinary Angels.
  • Those projects brought new creative opportunities and friendships.
  • I have kept Sam's memory alive in my art and my associations.
  • I'm in pretty good health, all things considered.

I wish everyone a fantastic holiday. Hopefully with people you love.

Be well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


We finished the shoot yesterday with a half hour to spare. I met my stepmom, brother and kids down at Alki and took them to dinner at Pegasus.

Despite some logistic challenges and a certain amount of sleep deprivation, I think we made it through remarkably well. The weather cooperated perfectly. Thursday & Friday: clear. Saturday: clear. Sunday: pouring down rain, which, although it was miserable to stand around in, lent an ominous look to the final scene, where Micah realizes his mission has failed. The rain broke just in time for us to finish the fallen approaching the house. Lucifer folds up his umbrella, cuing the other fallen to do likewise, and as they clear out, he puts his shades back on, bookending his appearances.

And as the actor turned and walked away down the street - no kidding - the church bells from three blocks away started chiming. Everyone looked at me when the take was over like, "What favors did YOU pull?" It rocked. I've praised my leads many times, but I really have to point out how crucial the background players are. In the case of the final scene, the addict's family: Trina, Wayne and Oliver. Spectacular pathos.

I owe my neighbors gift baskets. And my kids are getting the dedication.

Monday we did the death of fallen angel Ornias, the bad counterpart to Afriel. The sun came out and allowed us to do all we needed while the residue from the previous rain left everything damp and slimy looking. Then we moved inside, and it began to rain. We shot a scene which is probably going to be difficult for many of my family and friends to watch. The death of the cancer patient in the arms of her grieving husband. I stayed pretty well in control until the camera picked up the framed picture of Sam in Bye Bye Birdie on the desk in the background. That was a bit much for me, and tears started flowing. The actors playing the cancer patient and husband - bless them - were incredibly understanding and respectful, and talented as heck. There was absolute awed silence during the few takes we did. Ben and Trish are my heroes. They're fantastic. I can't say enough about my talented cast and crew, my DP and his gaffer, an excellent sound recordist, a small army of dedicated PAs, my assistant director Samantha... and of course the two women without whom the film would not have been made: Sally & Darlene.

The screenshots have now been arranged in script order, some with captions.

Very soon I will take the external drive with the footage on it to Dan Humphrey (of The Addict fame), who will see what kind of editing magic he can work on this monster. In the meantime, perhaps a MySpace page for the film is in order...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Angels Pics and Progress

I have uploaded some screenshots of the footage we've been getting on Ordinary Angels. The pics are straight from Sony Vegas, no color correction or contrast tweaking... but you get the basic idea.

We've been very lucky, with weather and talent, and despite some individual drama behind the scenes (just real life stuff going on in people's lives), everyone is way into the project, and pretty much meshes. I've made some new friends and some potentially long-lasting contacts. Very cool.

One more day. Light shoot, but emotionally draining nonetheless.

More after we wrap...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Angels" Ahoy

With production drawing near, I thought I should get one more post in. I will either be full of energy and posting every day during the shoot, or (more likely) I will post once we wrap on Monday.

It's coming together, last-minute shenannigans aside. What a great word that is. Shenannigans. It has to be Irish. Only the Irish could come up with a word as good as that. It sounds like someone dismissing a concept after far too many pints of Guiness.

And speaking of last-minute shenannigans, Kayleigh slammed her finger in my car door yesterday. Laterally. Fortunately it was a compression and didn't bleed all that much, although the poor girl did have a little bout of shock. I put a temporary band-aid on it from my car first aid kit, took her home, cleaned it, re-wrapped it, put her on the sofa in front of the fireplace/heater, gave her some Tylenol and called the doctor's office. They slipped us in at 5:15 PM, x-rayed her hand, found no fracture (thank heavens), cleaned it again, re-re-wrapped it, and sent us home. It's still waaaay sensitive, so she's taking a home day.

In the shuffle and drama of yesterday afternoon, I neglected to get Tyler's prescription refilled, so now I have to wait until the Rite Aid opens to get that done. Which will then put him about 3 hours behind his med schedule. Since it's early dismissal all this week, I'll probably keep him home to work on his placement exams.

Had a 3-hour meeting with my DP yesterday. He's the guy who shot The Winter of Her, which is a great indie short (directed by our own Heath Ward). We totally clicked on this project, and he's going to make it look good. I think I've moved past a lot of the fear and trepidation of last week, and have gone into excitement mode. I've also decided to kill my Manic Lobster arts blog. It's just sitting there.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 12, 2006


We had the cast & crew meet & greet today.

There were many people in my home.

It was great to see everyone. We had Ron do a photo shoot for the poster.

It's all coming together. I'm exhausted.

Homer sleep now.

P.S. My assistant director's name is Samantha. Go figure.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Party's Over

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up now
The piper has to get paid

The party's over
The candles flicker and stir
You danced and dreamed through the night
It seemed to be right just being with her
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
Take off your makeup, the party's over
It's all over, my friend

- Nat King Cole (as interpreted by David J.)

The long day for The Dining Room went well. Two shows - long, ehausting day (for the actors & tech folks and for me). Both shows were good. Yesterday's matinee was, with the exception of a lost line that blew an entrance cue and another line, quite good as well. Everyone gave the artistic director kudos for the quality of the show. Two folks from Youngstown came to the final show, and were very generous with their praise. Twelfth Night is really known for the summer musical and the winter production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. This was the first contemporary drama the group has staged, and the director of the center commented that it was good to finally see what we were about (and to feel like we were really a resident theatre company).

Sam's parents were up helping her brother move house, and we all went out to breakfast before the show, then they came to the matinee. It was nice for them to see the product of Samantha's work.

The cast party was at the home of one of the castmembers, whose parents have what is simply the best basement rumpus room ever. A full bar - and I mean fully stocked with everything, with a real to-scale bar and stools. Pool table. Slot machines. Bar trivia machine. Plinko. Collections of baseball cards and sports memorabilia, classic model cars and event pins line the walls along with framed vintage magazines and newspapers (like the 1962 Space Needle cover story on Life magazine). Stained glass, disco ball, spinning DJ light. Amazing. Travis walked into the room and fell to his knees in supplication. And phenominally nice people! After pool and drinks, we were served dinner upstairs in their formal dining room, and the cast, the artistic director and I enjoyed some laughter and that kind of melancholy that comes from having done a good show, but wanting to do more. The cast gave me a gift card to a restaurant - I'll take the kids.

There is talk that doing two weekends, like with Mattress, will be a possibility in the future - it costs a lot to rent the stage, even at tenant rates. But it gives the show time to generate word of mouth. The main frustration is that after six weeks of rehearsals, the actors are finally hitting their stride when the show closes. Another three shows would give them room to really shine with their characters.

Anyway, as of now it's a moot point. We struck the stage right after the matinee, and all that's left of The Dining Room is our lone brass chandelier hanging over a blank stage.

It's now pouring rain. I need to get Kayleigh to school and get a few office tasks done before I head out to an Ordinary Angels production meeting. For the next week and a half, work is Angels, then we shoot, then I'm done for the year.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dining Room Rocked the House

Well, opening night came and went with relatively few hitches. The facility does not have a headset sytem, so communication between the booth and backstage is a conundrum. We were resourceful and relied on our cell phones, but nonetheless had a few missed cues and whatnot. Even so, the audience (about half full, not bad for a Thursday night show in pouring rain) seemed to enjoy it.

Last night, however, saw the cast with an improved energy, an audience that, while not numerically superior, was far more responsive, and a performance much tighter and error-free. An acquaintance of one of the castmembers told me afterward that he'd seen a professional production at another Seattle theater and that The Dining Room was a superior production in every way. Now I haven't seen the production in question, but they are a professional company and a respected bulwark of Seattle's theatre community. So his comment made my year, not out of any sense of malice, but because I've basically been in a creative isolation tank and had no objective barometer regarding how good our show was. The audience at last night's show (including some Pandemonium Players) was really thrilled with it.

Not bad for an old hack who hasn't directed for the stage in over a decade.

Now comes our long day. I will be gone from 1PM to 10PM. Two shows. Then a matinee tomorrow, and we strike the set and call it good. As one of the Twelfth Night boardmembers remarked last night, "we're paying the price for being first." That means we're doing a fall show by a lesser known playwright (at least in these parts), in a facility which could really be more patron-friendly in terms of access and signage and is set up more for live music and DJs than a theatrical run - and, quite frankly, Seattle theatre patrons don't know it's even here. Once word gets out that good theatre is happening here, it will no doubt become a destination. In the meantime, I don't know if this show will break even, and I was prepared from the outset that I might be a convenient whipping boy for anything that went wrong with it, but last night's performance was so worth it.

Next week Tyler and I have a conference at his school. He's not being challenged, feels bored and like the work is remedial, and as a result is becoming a barrier to other kids and their learning. He's been on a waiting list for another middle school since the beginning of the school year, but no progress has been made. And I'm afraid simply switching the physical location of his school misses the point. So the two of us began a search for alternatives. I liked the alternative middle school affiliated with the place he and Kayleigh went to preschool, but it's private, and the tuition is out of the question for a guy who isn't a project lead at Microsoft anymore. Then I ran across a state-based virtual academy, where he would have all the challenge and requirements of a brick-and-mortar public school, with the added benefit of a flexible schedule and personalized curriculum. He will still go on field trips with other kids, he will still get PE, he will still be held to WASL standards (actually, academy students are held to higher testing standards). But he will be able to track his progress online and really drive his own education for the rest of this year and perhaps next. I'm not looking at it as a permanent solution, but if it works, it may well be. And the important thing is, HE'S EXCITED about learning again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy New Year...

At least to those who mark the change on the Celtic calendar. It's another long night. We had our second dress rehearsal tonight, while Gavin took the kids out trick-or-treating and Michelle held down the fort.

The play is really starting to gel. Ron came to the rehearsal and snapped a few hundred shots, some of which I've posted to my flickr account. Check 'em out! It almost looks like a real thing!