Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Birthday...

Happy 64th. I miss you, pop.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fair Winds and Following Seas

David Long died tonight. Caleb, my adopted little bro, my anchor for so much of the time when Sam and my dad were sick and after they died, is standing where I was almost three years ago, minus a father.

I was at Dan's premiere and got the call, and spent the rest of the night among friends, toasting the life of an amazing man. I don't mind admitting I have an entire brigade of Highlanders drinking ale and cavorting in my stomach right now - right where they damn well should be.

Because I never went to the hospital to view my father's body, this was an opportunity to look upon a father figure in repose, and to witness the guys come to pack him up (just like Samantha). David died at home in a hospice bed, just like Samantha. It was gentle and peaceful for him, and he was surrounded by longtime friends and family. It was a sort of closure for my own parental cancer death experience.

I received another emotional kick in the nuts tonight, but I need to discuss it with the parties involved before I go into detail here. Now I need to go tell the drunken Scots to disperse.

Ahoy, Captain Long. Fair Winds and Following Seas. And may ye get to Heaven 'fore the Devil knows ye're dead.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Deathtrap, Week 2

Our stunt guy came in last night to rough out the fight scenes in Deathtrap, and ended up pretty much locking everything in. He's amazing. Apparently there's some crossover with several of the troupe members as well as the fact that he knows Aaron Washington from his day job (they both work in social services).

The kids are off this week for "midwinter break", which I certainly don't remember having as a kid, but whatever. We're taking it easy, although I'm still working in the office.

Really tired today. The flu and Seasonal Affective Disorder have been stalking the countryside like two giant stalking things. So far, I've survived one bout of the flu, and have no desire to catch a mutated variant. One of my actors was out last night with a 101-degree fever, so it's lots of prevention this week. Vitamins, green tea, orange juice, plenty of water.

Getting the Deathtrap posters & postcards back today. I got the proofs from Mary last night and they look great. A cropped down version of the graphic is on the Twelfth Night website.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Embrace the Stranger

When shadows cloak
Your haunted heart
And daylight fades away
And echoed voices
Call your name
As night becomes the day

The seasons spinning
Ever faster
Years go by again
Who'll be there to
Catch you falling
Time without end?

Bridge (x2):
Your eyes
A window to within
Your new life
Waiting to begin

Such a graceful
Beauty wasted
Such an empty heart
Your hungry skin
It craves the warmth
Of new love from the start

Where is your star-cross'd lover?
Where is your new best friend?
Who will heal
Your broken soul
Who will take your
Hand again?

Bridge (x2):
Your eyes
A window to within
Your new life
Ready to begin

Let go the past
Many miles you've roamed
Embrace the stranger
You're coming home

Coming home...

Your vision clears
Your heart beats softly
The world is still again
I'll be there to
Catch you falling
Time without end

©2008 Todd Downing

Sometimes I would like nothing more than a quiet evening at home, but too often the Muse (that bitch) has other ideas. The music and lyrics sprang all but fully-formed from my pad, pencil and guitar (with capo way the hell up on the neck, minor chords and Tool cadence and everything). Could be the beginning of a new batch of And Tears Fell material, but I'm in no hurry to push it. I find the best stuff comes when you sit back and let lightning strike.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sound For Sale

And Tears Fell - Requiem is now up for sale at CDBaby. The real, physical CD. It's beautiful, I don't mind saying. Everybody has gushed about the package design. I'm very happy with it. We got an email from a local band called Drizzle (who have a similar sound) asking to share a bill. Even back in the label days, with talk of showcases and various lineups, we were never asked by one of our labelmates to share a bill, so getting a gig offer twenty years later is kind of sweet. Not that we could do anything about it just yet. If I can talk Mike and Muriel into an acoustic set, we could go just about anywhere and play on anyone's bill, from coffee shops to clubs. I just played along with the complete album on the acoustic (14 songs in a row without a break), and my fingers didn't bleed at all, so I know I could do it. Dan Humphrey is going to hit me with some concepts for a music video for one of the tracks. So far, one song is the clear popular fave as far as video potential, but I want to hear Dan's thoughts.

Caleb's dad has had hospice move in and take over. He's on morphine and unable to form complete thoughts or words. This is all too familiar. I'm trying to remain positive and take Caleb's mindset: he's good with his dad, there's nothing outstanding between them, nothing left unsaid. His dad has had a remarkably full and colorful life. It's a tragedy to cut it short, but not unnatural like losing a child or a young sibling or partner. Caleb helped me cut through the brush on my first time down this path. Now I can show him where to walk.

Week one of Deathtrap rehearsals is complete, and Act I is blocked. We're a day ahead of schedule. The posters and postcards are being professionally printed and placed with a distribution service. We have a dedicated PR person now (what Sam always strove for). I've been submerging myself in FM radio hits of 1975-1978, as the play is set in October 1978 and I want to have an intermission CD of historically appropriate music. My cast is fantastic, and I may just have a crush on our Myra (don't worry Dan - it's totally not like that - she's just really fantastic and raises the bar for everyone). If you're not in the Seattle area and want to catch the dynamite Trish Loyd, all you need do is get a copy of Ordinary Angels. She plays Sam (for all intents and purposes), so it's not surprising we bonded over the shoot. Even if you just watch the trailer, Trish is the one in tears saying, "Isn't there any way I can stay?" next to the sobbing Ben Andrews. And her husband Dan is probably the most creatively compatible film geek collaborator I've worked with in ages (my two best friends are Leos, and here comes Dan, a Leo - kind of a natural fit).

Speaking of OA, I'm back to developing the TV series. Have a five-season arc outlined, and a full grasp of the basic story. Now to draft up the pilot. I also submitted the short to STIFF and the Port Townshend Film Festival. In the meantime, Sally and Dan (Trish's Dan) are working on preproduction for Duo, and Dan Humphrey is getting ready to premiere his new film.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dan Humphrey's "Rectify"

I want to share this sprout from Dan Humphrey's film Rectify. I'm super excited for him, for the film... plus it's another opportunity to watch Eric Riedmann bring the crazy. I will also offer mad props to the DP of Rectify, who was also the DP for Ordinary Angels, Anthony Tackett. If you are a film person and want to support indie cinema, hit Dan's blog, grab the sprout and stick it somewhere public (your blog, your sister's blog, your Aunt Effie's blog, you get the gist). Check the trailer...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy Birthday.

Samantha would have been 41 today.

Friday, February 08, 2008


In the past week or so, I've gotten back in touch with three old high school friends. One of them (Ryan) didn't know Sam had died, so once again I find myself staring back at someone's fresh shock and grief, juxtaposed with my current perspective of peace. It's an odd feeling. The person in question was two years my junior and was part of the Paul/Marte/Colin/Clive crowd (forgive me for the dozens of kids I just left out of that list - I don't have all day), and we weren't super close, but we were part of the same California Reagan-era collective teen middle-finger brigade. EDIT: If we'd actually had a club called the Reagan-Era Collective Teen Underground Movement, our acronym could have been RECTUM.

The second person (Valerie) I knew at Aptos High before I even met Sam. Her mom was the guest director during the quarter when our regular theater teacher was on maternity leave, and directed probably the most professional production of The Crucible a high school has ever seen ('80s hairstyles aside). No politics, no bullshit - everyone auditioned and was cast on ability. Anyway, the daughter is now a mother herself (and a brilliant costume designer, if I may say so). Getting back in touch has brought back a whole different era of memory, pre-Sam. It actually gives me a more complete sense of continuity. Yes, I spent half my life with Sam, but I had a life before her, and now I have a life after her.

The third (Amy) was a mutual friend of Sam's and mine. She was Rosaline in the production of Romeo & Juliet at the Palo Alto Children's Theater of which I've spoken many times herein. The production on which I worked tech, and on which a certain slender brunette (all I could see was the top of her head) held my ladder steady while I helped put up the parachute awning for the outdoor theater. She was a fellow student at Paly, member of the drama club, and our Juliet when the drama department toured a modern mixed-race production of R&J through the Soviet Union. Amy had heard about Sam, but we'd been out of touch for awhile. She's coming out from NYC to attend the memorial for Michael Litfin, but I can't afford another flight to Cali right now, so unfortunately will miss her. I'm also going to miss my friend Konrad's wedding in NYC this May. Drat.

Tyler made it to school EVERY DAY this week, on time! :: pinch :: Yep, still awake. This may not sound like much, but it's truly the first solid week he's attended without missing a single period since the first month of school. And today he came home with a fat lip and blood all over his clothes. The school nurse had called to prepare me, explaining that another kid had hit him during an altercation in the locker room. Well that's just GREAT. Here I am, praising him every day for the achievement of getting his sleep schedule sorted out so he can attend school (a major achievement for anyone who has had a sleep disorder and/or depression), and some little shit tries to undo it by pounding him in the locker room. Now granted, early adolescence is when boys and girls both become little animals in terms of social behavior, and I know that administrative disciplinary action is underway, but come on - the universe needs to cut Tyler some slack... thank goodness he's moving into high school at a safer campus with friends next year.

Kayleigh's new thing is filling out all the subscription cards that come in her magazines - not to send in, but to collect.

... ?? ...


She's taking after-school drama, which just goes to show you the power of genetics, or something.

Saturday I have a birthday dinner for my friend Trish ("Sam" from Ordinary Angels), but before that I'm going to go caucus for Obama and then run some computer gubbins up to filmmaker buddy David Choi and his hover tank set. There's a lot to do this weekend, and then Monday we start blocking Deathtrap. Wheeeeee!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Well-Timed Requiem

It seems there's been an awful lot of loss and grief going on in my life again, but I'm not going to dwell there. I will mention these items briefly and move onto brighter things.

  1. Michael Litfin died last Friday. Another notch in cancer's belt.
  2. My bro Steve has been in Texas and Denver to be with his parents, both of whom are in failing health.
  3. My bro Caleb has been hit with his dad having lung cancer. Caleb's dad has the same oncologist Sam did. I saw him at a get together at their house this last weekend, and he looked just like Sam and my dad had looked. Ashy gray skin, crispy hair (where it wasn't falling out), and that weary mantle of physical and emotional exhaustion. Caleb's mom would produce expressions I remember making: that "I must be a rock for my family but I'm terrified" look. I recommended Gilda's Club to all three of them. As long as cancer exists, there is no justice.
  4. We all got that neat flu that everyone's been sharing. It's knocked me on my ass for a good week now and I can't sleep worth a damn.
  5. I haven't been to the gym at all this winter. Need to go back. I'm not gaining weight or anything, I'm just not feeling as good as I do when I get a regular workout.
So that's the bad news. Now for some positive stuff:
  1. Tyler made a complete 180-degree turn from the negative patterns he was exhibiting, and has been at school (on time, not just partial days) all this week. He's also been getting better sleep, and he's getting exercise now that they gave him a gym class for the new semester. Who are you and what have you done with my son? I keep expecting to wake up from this lovely dream, but I'm hoping it's real! Positive reinforcement akimbo, and lots less stress in the house.
  2. Kayleigh is taking an after-school drama elective.
  3. As of next week, I'm in Deathtrap rehearsals.
  4. Not that there are any prospects, but I have a really positive feeling about my romantic future, and it's not the far future, if ya know what I mean. Nothing specific, just a feeling.
  5. Work progresses on RADZ. JD keeps sending me some of his best work every day. Jason is cranking out the world detail.
Oh yeah, and REQUIEM came back from Discmakers. They's gorgeous AND purdy. And the sound quality is really sweet. Me = happy. Those who are interested can buy it online at DigStation currently, and it should be filtering onto iTunes and Amazon in short order. As soon as CD Baby gets caught up with their new inventory and lists the album, you'll be able to order a physical CD online. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Gilda's Club. I sent some to Randy in California, and he was blown away.

Hey Bro,

I’ve been sitting here with the headphones on listening to Requiem (got them today), second time through. It sounds fucking amazing man! I am really pleased at the quality of this piece of work. You need to pat yourself on the back for bringing this all together and making such a beautiful piece for Sam. I am so proud of you Bro. I will get a disk over to the radio station ( program director next week and see if we can get some California airplay. You were right about the case too, it is gorgeous. God I love that mix of Devil’s Lullaby. Well I better shut down and get to bed.

Love ya Bro,


That means the world to me - given Randy's association with And Tears Fell over 20 years, as our producer, manager and co-conspirator. That note right there made the project worthwhile.

May the blessings in our lives cancel out the negatives. Be well.