Monday, July 30, 2007

Stupid Busy

What the subject line says, folks.

Over the past few days, I have:
  • Finished the opening cast DVD for last year's musical
  • Rendered the last problem bit for the Ordinary Angels commercial DVD
  • Spoken to my rep at DiscMakers
  • Gotten most of the Oklahoma! program laid out
  • Sent out another three OA screeners
  • Received three copies of the Full Life Crisis CD, for which I did the art
  • Gone into Brian's studio to mix the And Tears Fell tribute CD (we are ever so close now)
  • Cleaned out my car
  • Done actual laundry and dishes
  • Showed the kids Garden State and Saved!, and watched The Forgotten with Julianne Moore and Gary Sinese... meh.
  • Booked my trip to Atlanta for the OA premiere
  • Added entire sections of gear to my cafepress shop (Ordinary Angels swag, and Mangled Melon Music swag)
  • Taken the kids to The Simpsons Movie (we loved it)
  • Cleared the brush buildup around the trunk of our giant locust tree and pruned the suckers back
  • Helped the kids pick a bunch of blackberries from our very own yard and made a pie that came out great
  • Taken Kayleigh to rehearsal several times
  • Not fallen into a psychotic rage or a catatonic daze
Go, me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ordinary Angels Gets the Rotten Tomatoes Treatment

No, it's good.

In fact, it's REALLY good. Check out this review on Rotten Tomatoes. A score of 9 out of 10, and great comments like:

"It's the sort of serious, quiet movie that succeeds due to the quality of its script, the steady hand of its director, and the strength of the featured actors."

"The script is to the point and features well-crafted dialogue that gives each character a unique voice. In fact, it's been a while since I've seen an independent production with dialogue so finely written. "


"Downing (who also wrote the script) handles the direction expertly."

I have to thank Steve Miller for his very flattering review! In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Miller and I are on a publishing industry mailing list aimed at the RPG biz, and when I announced the premiere of OA at Dragon*Con, he approached me about getting a screening copy for a Rotten Tomatoes review. I've seen some of his work within the RPG industry, but don't know him outside of that.

That's a really good start!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I was running errands alone today, and so was cranking up the '80s alternative mix CDs, as is my wont. And I was struck by how these songs still give me shivers.

Big Country - Big Country

Anthemic Scottish rockers who made their guitars sound like friggin' bagpipes. Ireland had U2, Wales had The Alarm, England had New Model Army, Scotland had Big Country.

Psychedelic Furs - Heaven
Among the best of the BritWave invasion of the early '80s, at the top of their game.

Echo & The Bunnymen - Under a Killing Moon
Watching Donnie Darko gave me a new appreciation for this song.

Tears For Fears - Mad World

Great song, despite Roland's spasmodic solo dance...

Howard Jones - What is Love?
One of a bazillion radio hits from his debut album.

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
This just rocks.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

This is going to end up being more of a "bullet" style entry, a la David Beach. Enjoy.
  • Had a wonderful lunch at Pegasus on Alki with my uncle Russell and aunt Kendra, my dad's two remaining siblings. My brother and SIL joined us as well. We are all great with child (or at least full of really good Greco-Italian-American food).
  • The house across the street from us was sold to yet another single woman in her thirties - I think it must be a city ordinance I don't know about.
  • Kayleigh is done with summer music. Now it's all Twelfth Night/Oklahoma, all the time.
  • I will book my flight to Atlanta tomorrow.
  • The kids campaigned for a cat today. I don't like having to tell them "no", but I did reason with them about the costs and responsibilities associated with pet ownership, and they finally understood that when they don't follow through with their responsibilities re: the current pets, the one left "scooping the poop" is dear ol' dad.
  • Finished watching season 2 of Ricky Gervais' Extras. Brilliant.
  • Took the kids to the latest Harry Potter movie. Really dark and violent in comparison to previous films, but proportionately cool as well. Not too much for Kayleigh to handle, and totally engaging for Tyler. And me for that matter.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, we just couldn't be one of the 17 families in the UNIVERSE who didn't have a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 50% off at B&N, Kayleigh got dibs. She's plowing through it though, and I'll have my hands on it soon.
  • I'm finally getting the Once Upon a Mattress DVDs edited.
  • No new festival responses for OA.
  • Conor gave me the raw tracks for Good Night My Love, and I did a preliminary mix. Yes, I'm an old skool Cocteau Twins fan, and I do love chorus on an acoustic guitar. While you're there, you can check out the new rough mixes of Tapestry and Demons. That's yours truly on guitars, Mike Berg on bass, Steven Fox on drums, and Muriel Montgomery's lovely pipes. Producer Brian Chase lends his power chords on the Demons chorus.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Emma Grace Alpern

My friend Dave Alpern, a writer and columnist at, is now a father times three. Emma Grace Alpern was born to Dave & Carla Alpern just a couple days ago (I don't see any of the dates, times or vitals in his column, but it was real damn recent).

Congratulations, Alperns!

Oh, and Grace is an awesome middle name (says the father of Kayleigh Grace Downing). Nicely done!

Moving Right Along...

It's been pouring warm, tropical rain here in Seattle. We get several systems off the Pacific (mostly coming up from Hawaii) every year, which is actually nice - cleans the air, keeps all our green from drying up and becoming a fire hazard. This time, it seems like the temperatures have remained the same as when it's not raining. That's a weird sensation for me, to walk outside during a downpour and actually be sweating as well.

Had a nice impromptu family reunion when my aunt, uncle and his wife flew into town on Thursday. We found ourselves at Salty's on Alki with my mom & stepdad (on their way back from Oregon with a desk in the back of a rented SUV), sister (in town visiting her boyfriend), niece (in town visiting my stepmom), stepmom (who lives here in town), brother and his wife (who live here in town), the aforementioned out-of-state relations, and my brood. It was a terrific get together, with excellent food and great conversation. Found myself missing my dad during that lunch - he would have loved it. Afterward, many folks came back to the house and I screened Ordinary Angels for them. Because they are family, and knew Sam (and loved her immensely), the deathbed scene was particularly heavy for me to watch this time. Any other time, I can watch without effect. But this time, as I stood next to where my sister was seated, she reached up and squeezed my hand - both of us letting loose with some waterworks.

Speaking of OA, the festival submission picture currently looks like this:

Seattle International Film Festival - Declined (incomplete rough cut submitted)
Gen Con Film Festival, Indianapolis - Sneak Preview
Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival, Atlanta - US Premiere
Accolade, La Jolla - Registered
International Horror & SciFi Film Festival, Phoenix - Submitted
Toronto After Dark - Submitted
Eugene International Film Festival - Submitted
SoCal Independent Film Festival, Huntington Beach - Submitted
Orlando Film Festival - Submitted
NICHE Film & Music Festival, Portland - Submitted
Hell's Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Bay City - Submitted
Santa Cruz Film Festival - Submitted

I received a visit yesterday from Natasha Sims, the actress who played Eloa in my film. She was getting some footage for her reel, and mentioned that she would try to fly down to some festivals to support the project, which I think is A#1 cool. Then I took Kayleigh up to Mill Creek, where two of my partners in D Constructed Media have just opened their accounting firm (I think between the four DCM partners, there are six different companies). It was a nice grand opening, with a really good buffet, and I got a chance to chat with Sally, Justin, Dan and his wife Valentina in a purely casual context, which was really great. I won't deny there has been some friction in the "boardroom", mostly in the form of our intentions for the production company. Dan & Sally are very driven toward a working commercial model, which I fully support, but have no spare time to participate in, between long-form projects like OA and Life 2.0, my publishing company and my civic/charity commitments. So we are leaving D Constructed Media as the long-form entity, and splitting off a separate entity for commercial and work-for-hire gigs. That one accommodation makes them the best partners "evar".

We met my theater buddy Raff back at the house and watched Reefer Madness - The Musical (OMG hilairous!), and then he watched some of the Jeanne interview footage from last week while Kayleigh watched Peter Gabriel videos - did I mention my daughter has phenomenally good musical taste?

J and I have tied things up pretty neatly. There was some brief venom on both sides, and it made me realize how vastly different we actually are. It's not a question of remaining friends; rather I think we need to start that part over, due to some patterns both of us have in relationships that (for me) would preclude the romantic relationship from evolving (or devolving) into a platonic relationship. So, after being "off to the races" as I wrote previously, now it's back to the starting blocks. And a totally different race.

It's at times like these when I crave the familiar. I knew that as bad as anything ever got with Sam, we were in it for the long haul and would iron everything out as we came to it. That's the connection I really miss - the comfort during the conflict; knowing I was safe to speak my mind and my partner would not take offense because she knew I spoke out of love and solid commitment (because if I didn't, that meant I didn't care), and that she had the same right to speak her mind without my offense. Sam & I knew how to argue productively. Yeah, sometimes it got heated and passionate, but we never judged or disrespected each other, we always listened, and we always got to the root of the issue. In over 20 years together, I only went to bed angry a few times (during our marital difficulties around 2000, and that was my deal, not hers). My goal in my future relationship is ZERO times. :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Carrie & The Loons

I took the kids to the West Seattle Street Fair today for two very specific reasons. Playing consecutive sets at the south stage were two of my favorite Seattle bands: Two Loons For Tea and Carrie Akre.

I took my camera and shot a little of this, and a little of that.

Also wanted to make special note of Stoned Guy, who danced his Jig of Altered Consciousness in front of the stage right speaker stack all day.

We got home in time for a quick dinner before Kayleigh had to be at rehearsal, and then I rendered a couple videos from today's shooting.

Speaking of shooting, I got my first interview on Saturday - for my documentary on widowhood and starting over. Jeanne was in my Gilda's group, and was incredibly forthcoming and candid regarding her experiences. I think I got some good stuff.

A quick appearance at my friend Sharon's get-together (Sharon is another Gilda's friend, who lost her brother the same weekend Sam died), and then it was up to Ballard for swimming and dinner. A full weekend, to be sure!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ordinary Angels Premiere

I just got the email yesterday - Ordinary Angels has been accepted into the Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival, which is a part of Dragon*Con, which is the largest general sci-fi/fantasy convention in the country. Attendance usually tops 30,000. Since this festival is August 31 - September 3, I guess it would constitute a premiere, so I'm checking into flights.

Atlanta in late August... mmmm. Sweaty.

This is the first response to my first flurry of submissions. Let's hope it's the first acceptance of many!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

And That's That.

J and I called it quits today. Well she did anyway... I was more trying to figure out what the heck was going on and reacting to a lot of perceived chaos. I definitely see the wisdom in not continuing any longer, and I'm not trying to vilify J in any way. My heart is breaking, but I know the experience will serve me well in the long run. There's a lot of fallout to process. Apologies in advance if I don't post right away, or if my next posts are incredibly "emo" and introspective. Feeling pretty wounded at the moment.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Lest anyone who reads my kids' blog posts think they are a couple of foul-mouthed sailors, I should tell you that they really do know the difference between hearing a word (or seeing it in print) and saying it in normal conversation. They are incredibly intelligent, and they know what the words in question mean, but they know we don't say them in everyday conversation. They also think it's hilarious to "bleep" themselves when they are being silly.

So, update-wise, Kayleigh finished her 1st week of summer music instruction at West Seattle High. She's doing so well on the clarinet! I was ready to burst with pride as I watched their mini-concert after class yesterday. Which reminds me - I need to get her some reeds.

We had some friends over (an actress from OA and her husband) last night for pizza, wine & movies. It was a much needed respite after a particularly brain-shaking argument with J. That was a surreal experience, to be sure. I won't go into detail in this medium, but I mention it because it's a pretty important occurrence in the grand scheme of things. These things happen; we're working on it. I think it seems more surreal because it's the kind of argument most couples would have several months into a relationship, not 5 weeks.

Tyler is rotating back to a mostly diurnal schedule, which is good. He's been cooking a lot of food and it has been a challenge to keep on him to clean up after his cooking projects. He's taken a fitted sheet and made a tent for his loft (with a TV and Xbox), which is really cool. I remember having "nests" like that when I was younger. A safe place to go and weather the storms of puberty.

Kayleigh had a slight meltdown last night, in the form of missing Sam. These come occasionally to all three of us, but they grow fewer and farther between with each passing month or year. I did what I always do - hold her and let her know I understand her feelings, and let her cry it out.

J and I talked late on the phone, trying to process things. But her phone had trouble finding a signal, so we were forced to end the conversation without closure, which is frustrating. Because of the precarious footing I feel in my new relationship, on top of Kayleigh's crisis, I didn't sleep all that well. Had a disturbing dream about Tyler (the content of which still needs to be processed), which woke me at 3:30AM and made it imperative to go directly to his room and give him a huge hug, tell him how much I love him.

I have a day planned with old friends, and hopefully J and I can make contact later.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Road Trip for Three

You might remember back in May, I posted about attending JD's wedding on Whidbey Island. Here's a photo I obtained of JD himself, Steve, a gym buddy whose name I completely spaced (sorry!) and yours truly. It's a nice shot, I think.

This last weekend flew by. Movie night consisted of Benchwarmers with the kids before J arrived and we watched the Fox production of Robin Hood with Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman (I've always loved this very underrated version).

Saturday was a work day for moi, while Tyler's best friend Miles (they've been tight since kindergarten) came over to hang out. Tyler seems to be having all the symptoms of adolescence at once: he's gone pretty much nocturnal, sleeping 12 hours a day, eating everything in sight, growing out of his clothes like a pissed off Incredible Hulk, breaking out on his face, and his voice seemed to drop an entire octave overnight. My goal through this process is to be available for him if needed, but to really let him have his teenager space and privacy - it's an uncomfortable change!

On Sunday, Kayleigh, J and I drove up to Bellingham on the premise of attending my niece's birthday party (the kids and I had already been up for her real birthday two weeks ago), but it was really to have J meet the rest of my Washington clan. It was great - singing in the car all the way up, partying with a bunch of 10 year-olds, chatting with my mom, stepdad, sister, niece and a bunch of their friends, then going out to dinner at this nice Thai place with my grandparents. The best thing ever occurred when J had excused herself for a trip to the restroom, and my grandfather (who will be 91 in November) looked down the table at me and gave a big "OK" sign.

Kayleigh slept in the back seat most of the way home, and J and I had a nice chat. That's the stuff I miss about being in a relationship - the mundane stuff. We arrived home and J met my neighbor Darlene and her boyfriend James, and ended up hanging out at the house with the kids, my brother and his wife (and me). We watched The Sandlot, drank a beer, J and Gavin had a brief pillow fight with the sofa throw pillows, then everyone went home. I put the kids to bed, and J and I said goodnight. She had to be up early today to take her little sister to the hospital for surgery.

It was a really good day. Now a new week begins and Kayleigh starts clarinet lessons... here we go!