Friday, August 31, 2007

Bullets Over Atlanta, part I

  • The Alaska Airlines partner for the Seattle-Atlanta flight was Delta, of course. The service was okay, but the seat in front of mine was broken and made my already inadequate legroom more cramped. The in-flight movie was The Flying Scotsman with Jonny Lee Miller (Byron, Trainspotting), which was good.
  • Airlines have given up providing anything more than carb-laden snacks, so by the time I reached Atlanta, I hadn't eaten anything but water and two meager airline snacks all day. I checked into my hotel (the swank Grand Hyatt Buckhead) and immediately found the local brewpub. Fortunately they were still serving. Had some chicken and sampled their house stout, which was not bad.
  • Northwest micros are still better, so far, but I haven't had much local beer... yet. More field testing is definitely in order.
  • There's a lot of marketing noise about how great the service is in Atlanta. It's definitely true of the hospitality folks, but the servers in the pub were inattentive and not particularly friendly.
  • The shuttle driver was very friendly, very knowledgeable, and had that awful driving style where you step on the accelerator in jerky motions to keep your vehicle exactly 10-feet behind the car in front of you at all times.
  • The room at the Grand Hyatt is nice. Clean, no "this-used-to-be-a-smoking-room" odor, nice bathroom, nice art, lots of soft pillows, lots of soft towels. If I drink the bottle of Evian water left on my nightstand, it'll cost me $7 at checkout. NOTHING here is complimentary. I'm paying extra for wi-fi, whereas that is a freebie in many hotel chains, especially hotels targeted at business travelers. Not even the local coffee house (which I haven't yet sampled) provides free wi-fi. I guess I'm spoiled by the free wi-fi so common in Seattle and the Northwest.
  • The temps aren't as bad as I expected. It's in the mid-80s, but the humidity is higher than I experienced in Greece, in the Virgin Islands, and in Indianapolis in high summer. Breathing fishtank water would be one analogy. But thank heavens the heat is bearable under it.
  • The light rail to Peachtree Center is a block from the hotel. I'll be heading out in a bit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Lost City of Atlanta

Short post tonight. I'm all packed and ready for Dragon*Con. The Ordinary Angels DVDs arrived today (2 days early - can't praise the quality and service of DiscMakers enough!), and they are beautiful. The on-disc printing and the jacket and insert look amazing. Posters arrive next week after I'm back. I will post a big announcement when we're all set up on FilmBaby and anyone who's interested can order a copy.

Kayleigh doesn't want me to go, of course. It's only 2 days since they've been home. Fortunately, Uncle Gavin, Aunt Michelle, Aunt Sara, Grandma Kit and cousin Zadra will all be staying and/or rotating through - so they will have plenty of supervision and family companionship! I tried to tell K that a lot of dads travel far more than I do for their work, and I'll only be gone 3 days and a few hours (and promised to bring her back something from the convention). Some personal emails will also help.

I will check in often from the convention/festival and let you know of any interesting developments... but now, to bed.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ordinary Angels Wins an Accolade Award

I just received notice in the mail that Ordinary Angels has received an Honorable Mention in the 2007 Accolade Competition. Considering the entries come from all levels of the entertainment industry (AFI and ESPN were among the winners), I'll take that as a compliment!

I should mention that about half the Honorable Mention winners are currently not showing up on the Accolade listings for 2007, but maybe things are still being added. I swear I really got a mailed official notification with Despot Pictures, Ordinary Angels (independent) clearly listed under Honorable Mention, Film - and a letter of congratulations, a fill-in-the-blanks-press-release (which I may or may not use) and it was all sealed with a gold foil Accolade Winner label. I'll maybe give 'em a shout next week and try to figure out what's what. In the meantime, I'd like to thank the Academy... har har.

UPDATE: it's listed now. Scroll down to Despot Pictures. Huzzah!

Been getting a lot of work done while the kids are in CA. It was tough, putting them on the plane without me, but they need this trip and I need the quiet time. I've agreed to direct a play for Twelfth Night sometime in '08, but I won't say more until it's firmed up.

I got the home visit from Tyler's new principal and one of the guidance counselors, which was great - I'm super excited that he will have a supportive environment with clear parameters and expectations.

Saw Stardust with Ron last night. I enjoyed it in a Princess Bride (only not as self-aware) sort of way, and only really had problems with the way Robert DeNiro's character was portrayed. Okay, fine. The character is gay. Okay - he's reeeaaaallly gay. Alright, WE GET IT ALREADY - he's BIRDCAGE-level-gay-as-Christmas-morning, quit hitting me with the two-by-four! Just replace [gay] with [any ethnic stereotype] and I bet they wouldn't have gone so far over the top. Other than that, it was pretty cool. Great production design, and any story with an airship gets my vote.

It's raining, and I have my Netflix and a light supper to look forward to. Hasta.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Oklahoma Run

Sorry, not a Burt Reynolds wacky racing movie, but our lives all last week. The first weekend of our run of Oklahoma! was quite good, with moderately-sized audiences. Friday's show was better than opening night, Saturday's was better still, and Sunday's was just about spot-on (or as spot-on as live theater gets). Enter the 5-day break and when everyone reassembled this last Wednesday for the brush-up rehearsal, things were a bit crazy. Crazy with shtick. Crazy with overconfidence.

Photo © Copyright Ron Dugdale Photography 2007

While confidence is good, overconfidence is not - and I think it showed on Thursday's performance (with which the cast and crew will agree). Last night, however, it was ON. The actors were on. Tech was on. The house was packed, and they were full of energy. The orchestra, which is awesome anyway, was even more awesomer. And yes, that's a real word, because it needs to describe how friggin' awesome the orchestra was. All the crucial cues were hit dead-on, the singing and dancing was top-notch. Standing ovation. It's nights like THAT which make community theater worthwhile - it surpassed some professional shows I've seen. Not just equaled. Surpassed.

So tonight the show closes. Tomorrow is a cast & crew BBQ where we have the annual SPAM awards (or "SPAMMIES", as they've become known), where a bunch of traditionally silly prizes are awarded to folks who did stuff. Most of the prizes feature canned meat products. The big one is actually an engraved trophy, The Samantha Downing Memorial Grand SPAM Award. She was the first one to win the thing, and the year we were in Bye Bye Birdie together, I won it. And I've been honored to give the award every year since Sam died. The names on the trophy are this amazing continuity of time, place and person. Kayleigh has decided to take a pass on the cast party, instead hanging with her brother, uncle and aunt in their Star Wars 30th Anniversary "Project Red-Eye", where they have friends over like a Superbowl party and watch all six Star Wars movies in chronological order. The kids are under specific instructions to bring other amusements in case they get bored.

On Tuesday, I will put them on a plane for California and bite my nails anxiously as they take off for a week with Sam's folks. First time traveling without a parent. I'm just a tad nervous. But I will have a mini vacation, in that the house will be really really quiet for a week, and then two days after they get back, I head off to Atlanta for the Ordinary Angels premiere.

My mom went with some friends up to Canada last night to see this guy. First time she'd been to a stadium concert in many years (was it Tom Jones?). Apparently they had their tickets upgraded to fill a section closer in, so she got a really great show!

In other news, the Ordinary Angels DVDs are at the manufacturer and should be arriving at my house about the same time I leave for Atlanta. I'm requesting they overnight a few so I can take 'em along to Dragon*Con. Dan did a great job assembling my menu art and Chris Clement's music clip into a real DVD menu. It looks good!

In still other news, Brian Chase gave me the mastered tracks for the And Tears Fell Requiem CD. Our 20 year-old music rerecorded and reborn. It sounds better than it ever has before, and I wept the first tears in a long while as I drove home from Brian's with my car stereo blasting. Especially "Sometimes", with Caleb's spoken word performance at the end. There are four tracks available to preview over at our MySpace page. I recommend "Tapestry" and "Sometimes". Enjoy.

It feels good to check these long-term projects off the list, y'know?

Finally, introducing our newest family member, Elvis Catsley.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hell Week Cometh

Sorry for not posting at all since Saturday. This week was production week (or, traditionally, "hell week") on Oklahoma!, and as a stage parent and active member of Twelfth Night, I was there every night: helping balance the sound, helping build the set, running errands, watching Kayleigh follow in her mom's footsteps... you know, the usual stuff.

The show is shaping up nicely. The orchestra sounds great and we have the strongest crop of voices I think the organization has ever had all at once. We've got about a dozen miked actors, thanks to the EIGHT additional wireless mics the organization recently purchased. There is a working windmill (made from a heavily modified ceiling fan), a shingled farmhouse, and over thirty actors singing, dancing and fighting. I've done very little professional theater, but I've done community theater where the quality improved when actors and techs were paid. And even though nobody is getting paid, this is still some of the best community theater I've ever seen, much less been involved with. Sam made a good call when she threw in with this little arts organization, with their summer show staged in a church sanctuary. Now, as we enter our 13th season, even though the changes and improvements to our production values are obvious, the same homegrown community spirit pervades.

I'm hoping to post some photos that Ron (as the official photographer) took during the last 2 dress rehearsals.

Opening night tonight - good show, Kayleigh & cast! You can say "good show", btw. THAT isn't bad luck. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

OA Box Art

Dan has the Ordinary Angels DVD ready to go - I just need to test it out. I spent a lot of today getting the box insert art done, and the Oklahoma! program burned to CD-ROM for the printer, and the load-in done at the theater, and taking the dog to the groomer, and then watching 300 in my mini movie theater at home with a couple friends and some beers.

300. Dang, that's a pretty movie, even as brutally violent as it is. There's something elegant and classical about it. It's just gorgeous. A friend of Raff's coined the term gore-nography to describe beautiful yet violent movies like 300 (or Pathfinder, another recent DVD release, which, despite a weak script, is another bloody gorgeous - and gorgeous bloody - film).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

OA Finds a NiCHE

Ordinary Angels was just selected for the NiCHE Film & Music Festival in Portland, OR, August 16-19. I'm working on the DVD box art right now, and Dan should be wrapping up the DVD mastering by the end of the week.

Whenever I work on computer graphics and layout for long stretches, I put these guys on heavy rotation. Thanks for forcing me to purchase Vegas over seven years ago, Steve. Life and work would not be the same without The Crystal Method.