Monthly Archives: October 2012

Random Tidbits

1.  I just finished opening weekend with some fantastic kids at Enumclaw High School, performing in their production of “The Diviners.”  The role I’m playing is CC Showers.  They are great to work with.  It has been a lot of fun to serve as their guest artist.  Only three more shows of this production left.

2.  After said weekend, I am exhausted.  Mentally, physically, emotionally.

3.  I got a little misty last night at Cinderella’s transformation sequence in Disney’s, “Cinderella.”  I’ve seen that sequence a thousand times, but it was magical.  I forgot how charming that little film was.

4.  I could use a vacation.  An all-expense paid vacation to either sit on a beach somewhere and drink Mai Tais or to perhaps even the Magic Kingdom itself.  Any volunteers want to help this nice guy out and foot the bill?  My current job doesn’t offer any vacation, and so the idea of even taking one is remote.  I’m working myself to the bone.

5.  I’m looking for a new job here in Seattle.  I’m smart, funny, nice, talented, and I will work for a company that values their employees.  But I do NOT want to do sales.  I simply hate sales.  I don’t have that killer instinct.  Something that still allows me to do theatre.  🙂  Any thoughts?  🙂

6.  There was snow on the hills as I was driving to Enumclaw.  It was beautiful.  A small dusting, but something that was perfect.  The leaves were changing still, and yet the winter was coming.  It was like something out of a fantasy movie, where the two worlds meet, and it’s obvious.  It was absolutely amazing.

7.  I got a ticket.  😦  My fault.  I was going too fast in an unfamiliar area.  Though to be fair, 55 to 35 in one second is rude, City of Buckley.  But I will pay my ticket.  And be that much poorer about it.

8.  I’m ready for Christmas.  I love it.  And I can’t wait to start listening to the music.

9.  I need a bedside table.  If I were handy enough with wood working tools, I would build one.  But that would be a disaster for all involved, and so I shall not even attempt it.  That’s what stores are for.

10.  Please see number 4.

Final Political Post of 2012! WAHOOO

This will be my last political thought process/post on this election.  Only because it relates to an experience I had over the weekend.  See?  There’s my justification.  Then I can go back to writing about the moon, failed relationships, cats, Christmas, and whatever else I think might be blog worthy.

I was at a theater event on Sunday.  I stood there, discussing potential opportunities with the artistic director of the company, and a woman walked in.  She was wearing two buttons.  One for Romney (fine) and the other one saying marriage One Man, One Woman.

I didn’t care so much about the Romney button.  I have friends who are Republicans who are very dear to me.  The button that got my blood boiling so much was the Marriage One man One Woman idea.  I laughed a bit to myself, which apparently was audible enough for her to hear, as she turned and caught my eye.  I simply smiled, and that was the end of our exchange.

What this woman didn’t know is that a man who might love another man was standing next to her.  I wasn’t wearing rainbow flags, or proudly announcing who I was, but I was there, sharing her space.  And she, this older woman, held the belief that I should not have the choice to marry whom I choose, be it man or woman.

It was enough to spur me to come home after the show and fill out my early voting ballot, and send it in.  It’s in the mail today.

Referendum 74 in Washington State seems to be gaining enough traction that it may pass and we will have written into our state constitution the ability to marry a man if we so choose.  I hope, hope, hope, hope, hope (a thousand times over) that we do, regardless of my current relationship status.

I don’t know why this woman believes that it should be between a man and a woman only…I didn’t dare ask her.  All I know is it was enough to spur me into action and make my voice heard.  I hope that you, wherever you are, will also jump into the fray and make your voice heard for whatever your issues are.

I remember when George W. Bush was elected the first time.  At the same time, there were a number of ballot measures aimed at preventing gay marriage.  I wasn’t so disappointed that Al Gore had lost (that one was foreseeable) but that so many states in our union, found it necessary to restrict a person’s right to marry the person that they love.  It was disheartening in the worst possible way, and as I watched the returns come in, my heart sank deeper and deeper.

Family members who would deny me that right.  These so-called friends who would also deny me that right.  It was heartbreaking.

I don’t discuss politics with my friends and families.  Nor do I hide my sexuality.  I am a proud gay man, and will continue to be for the rest of my life.  I only wish they saw the consequences of their actions, by denying the freedom and liberty to one particular sect of this country, someone they know, someone who it impacts greatly.

If you are in Washington, please please approve Referendum 74.  The idea that I could choose to spend the rest of my life with a man I love is something that even little gay boys aspire to.  Maybe we don’t need all the trappings of the modern wedding.  Maybe we don’t need bridesmaids and bridegrooms.  But the knowledge that should my partner get sick, should my partner be injured, that I have equal visitation rights under the law is important.

This launches into an entirely different debate regarding family and friends, and who we choose to call family.  Blood is strong, yes, but those people who will stand up for you when they see rights simply being voted away by the majority due to ignorance are the people I would be proud to not only call my friends, but my family as well.

I don’t consider myself a smart person when it comes to politics.  But I know that this election, especially in my home state of Washington, is very important to me.  Personally so.

 

Thank you for letting me write about it.  Now we return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Why I am voting for Obama

Recently, my brother posted on Facebook, asking, “Romney or Obama?  I don’t follow politics that closely, so your thoughts are welcome.”

As a general rule, I don’t post on Facebook about my political leanings, but because this blog isn’t connected to my Facebook feed in any way, I’m posting the entirety of the text that I sent him.

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I’ll try to be as clear and concise as well as rational as I can via qwerty keyboard. It makes it hard to text these thoughts, but I’m sending them because you are important to me. Your question was Obama or Romney.

While i feel Romney may have some attributes that make him a generally decent guy, I believe his mission would be detrimental to our country. For starters, he wants to cut social programs, accusing the 47% of, “not taking responsibility for their lives.”  While there are some people who shouldn’t be on welfare, and abuse the system for their own personal gains, there are those who need those programs to survive. I am one of those people.

I work hard, and put in very long hours, but without the government assistance provided, i would not be here today. The subsidies provided helps it so I can have health insurance by funding state-wide programs to help insure those who may have preexisting conditions, that are not covered by traditional insurance. With that insurance, I am then able to afford medication for my chronic illness, which is literally saving my life.

By cutting funding to those programs, I would have no other recourse or option. I would be forced to choose whether I purchase food and pay my rent, or buy my medicine, as the medication costs along are well over $1,700 per month off of insurance. That is a choice I have made in the past, sacrificing food so that I could live. It is a choice I am not willing to make again.

Second, the party – the Republican party – have made it very clear that they are against abortion. Why this is still an issue in America is beyond me, as it was decided by Roe v. Wade. However, it is something that comes up every two-to-four years and apparently needs to be addressed.

What I find so hypocritical as well as misogynistic is that if men were the ones who carried babies to full term and were faced with the decision on having an abortion, this issue would have been decided a long time ago. As a man, I do not have that privilege of carrying a baby to full term. While I may not agree that abortion is humane or necessary, and once again, a few rotten apples choose to abuse the system for lack of responsibility, they can be sometimes medically necessarily, emotionally necessary in the case of rape, and perhaps humiliating when a woman decides she must have one. I know several people who have had to make the difficult choice, after being raped, of whether or not to have an abortion or not. I could never and would never want to be in their shoes, and thank goodness for that. Because the idea that you had to terminate a living growing thing inside your body is a weighty issue, but should ONLY be decided by the woman in question and her doctor. Not by a bunch of bureaucrats in a room with no skin in the game.

Thirdly, Obama came out as saying he supports gay marriage. As a gay man, I am not afforded the rights that other citizens of this country receive. Being gay was not a choice, it was something that I was born as. There have been numerous times over my lifespan where I wished I was a straight heterosexual male, but to deny who I am at my fundamental being would be a detriment to my family, but ultimately to myself. Life would have been exceptionally easier had I been straight, but the fact is, I am gay. I have always been gay, and always will be. And the idea that the man representing me, a minority but still a part of this nation and its populace, believes that I should have the ability to express my love for another man as Obama does is empowering and lets me know that someone out there gets it.

Even his own political views have changed with regard to the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community. But those views changed based on personal experience, and he was willing to go on record to support a smaller minority of this country who still are denied visitation rights, who are denied the right to marry whom they choose, and the right to simply be in this country. Romney himself, over the course of his political career, has continued to pander to whomever will give him the largest sum of money. And it becomes very clear to me that Romney is simply about the almighty dollar.

What’s so fundamentally discouraging about this principle is that Romney has not shown any humanity, any compassion, nor an ounce of dignity in his quest for the presidency…only that he wants it really, really bad but isn’t willing to recognize what it represents.

Obama is not perfect. There are a lot of things he has done that I don’t necessarily agree with, but the fact that he is our president is something I take very seriously. He has shown his mettle numerous ways, as well as seeing through to completion and saving us from the Republican philosophy of trickle-down economics, which has never worked. Wall Street is a great example. It simply doesn’t work. He inherited a mess, and has worked hard to continue to right this ship. But like any ship that has suddenly found itself moored in the precarious shores of destruction, it will take a lot of money to repair those holes.

The spending was necessary. And the viewpoint that it could be fixed in four years is something that perhaps the President shot his mouth off on. But the fact is, Obama has saved us from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, helped to save the auto industry, which Mitt Romney opposed (and advocated for failing, thereby leaving millions and millions of people without employment, and having to go to the government for assistance), and we have seen job loss stagnation and then job growth meaning that things were getting better. Whereas before, the employment rate was continuing to hemorrhage under the policies of George Bush, and would have continued to do so unless something had been done to correct them.

I don’t believe I will ever be incredibly wealthy. I simply want the opportunity to live my life, as a middle class American, but with the freedoms and rights guaranteed to me under our constitution. All men are created equal. And as such we should have those same rights.

Both candidates are millionaires, but Romney believes his money makes him better than me, you, our children, or anyone else who isn’t in the upper echelon of wealth. Romney hasn’t had to struggle a day in his life. He was born with the proverbial spoon in his mouth.

Obama gets it. His family struggled. He rose through the ranks and is now a top earner in our country, the 1 percent, if you will, but he has been there. He understands what it is like to live the American dream, to rise from nothing to become the most powerful man in the world. He is the living example of what this country, its ideals, and the opportunity afforded to every single American, regardless of sex, creed, or color.

Under George Bush, the ship that is our country had taken on more water through his failed policies that it was necessary to spend to repair the damage and the holes to prevent even more underwater. Obama has done that.

He may be painted as a do-nothing president, but that is an outright lie. He has championed for the people from the first day in office, signing the Equal Pay for Women act, as well as working to reform our education system. And he finished the job that Bush couldn’t do, by getting bin Laden.

Much like a house, if you maintain it all along, repairs will be less expensive to fix. Our health care system, our education system, all of those needed fixing but were ignored under a Bush presidency, and would be under a Romney presidency. His policies and viewpoints are almost ideological to George W. Bush’s, but yet the Republican party is trying to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes by not even invoking their previous candidate/president in their own political convention, simply relying on the statement that Obama is wrong.

To leave things to the finality that they got to under Bush required almost a major overhaul….much like finding asbestos in the walls of a house. Things needed to be gutted and rebuilt. Similarly, we needed to spend money in order to get out of this mess that we’re in. This is a point that the president has failed on, and did not get the message out earlier. Yes, things were going to be expensive. But they were for the good of the country, to rebuild our foundation so we could move forward and upward.

I have never seen so much vitriol and hatred directed towards the leader of our country, but as he himself pointed out, this is something that even he understands. It is our freedom of speech. People can call him a Muslim, people can call him a socialist, people can compare him to Hitler, but the fact remains, Obama stands up for that right. THAT inalienable right guaranteed to us by our constitution of these United States.

Our country was founded on the principles of freedom, of separation of church and state, as well as the liberties to form a more perfect union.

Perfection is a lofty goal but it is something that I believe we should continue to strive for, and that includes all people. Every single person. From the elderly, to each child, to gays, straights, black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jew — it doesn’t matter. To form a more perfect union. Not THE perfect union, but a more perfect union.

The word union means togetherness. Exclusion, denial is simply the antithesis of the foundation of this country.

And my final point. One of my most prized possessions is a letter from Fred Rogers, from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a program that was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of Arts. His program, along with Sesame Street, the Electric Company, and countless others, allowed me to use my imagination, to think outside the box, to be an artist and live a fulfilling life pursuing music, pursuing dreams, and re-imagining the way our world is so often viewed, in black and white numbers.

The composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim said it best, to make a hat where there never was a hat. Or to dive into a world of pure imagination, as Willy Wonka sang. While it seems trivial and trite, these are important points, as out of this imagination comes things that we would never have thought possible. Space travel. Cell phones. The internet. Basic computers. Things we take for granted now, but were once only the dreams of people who had lofty ideas. The fact remains they had the ideas, and without the support of artists and the nurturing of their humanity, some of these things would eventually get here, but not with the rapidity that we saw under the nourishment of the National Endowment of the Arts, and other like-minded organizations like PBS.

Life is not black or white, but filled with so many colors that to not have those colors in my palette is saddening. And idea that children would be denied the opportunity to see things slightly askew and askance from the norm is equally as sad.

I value my imagination. I value Melody’s artistic skill, I value my son’s ability to escape into fantasy, and I value my niece’s ability to draw. To deny them an opportunity to explore that side of their personality, to see what their potential could truly be if they were given the chance to explore, to dream, to create may be denying the world the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Pablo Picasso, Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep. The list goes on and on.

What makes us human is our humanity….there’s a reason the arts are considered uniquely human. To compose a piece of music that makes one cry with sadness or joy, to express oneself in a way that also satirically looks at how we value things, such as Andy Warhol’s soup cans, that allows even horrible films like “Transformers” to be made, is what makes us human. Our expression, our soul, our humanity.

I am not a perfect human being, but by pursuing my dreams and the goals I am working towards that happiness. After all would we even be here if our founding fathers didn’t have the courage to dream of a better loves for themselves and their kin?

I share these thoughts with you only because this is a very personal election to me. While the average citizen may not see the immediate repercussions of what would happen under a Romney presidency, there are very real consequences, there are very scary consequences, and they are very frightening.

Actors Equity

Recently, I found out that Equity was going to be doing away with the Equity members who volunteer their time to serve as monitors. I am disheartened by this news, and would like to take this time to say, as an Equity member, as well as a former monitor, that having someone friendly (such as Douglas, Ashley, Brian, Laura, Marci, David, et al.) on the other side of the door when auditioning made the process somewhat easier…a friendly face, a nice hello, someone who understood the rules, and who consistently played by them not only helped all of the actors, but the folks inside the room as well. They were guaranteed that someone was looking out for their best interests.

And this was all done on a “volunteer” basis. I would monitor sometimes three to four calls a week, depending on availability, and would receive a small stipend of $45 as a thank you for my time. While it was a nice thought, I wasn’t there for the money. Far from it.

I was there because I care about our union, my fellow actors, and because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the table with someone who is less than, shall we say, cordial.

I do not agree with Equity’s current decision to hire outside workers to run these calls. I do not believe they will provide the quality nor the compassion that members over the years have shown me and countless others, ensuring that what is a somewhat stressful/possibly life-changing opportunity is run as smoothly as possible.

The math simply doesn’t add up. My shift often began, well before the appointed time, my lunch break didn’t begin until people were out of the room, and ready to go, and often, I would be the last person to leave the equity building. Over the course of an 9-hour day, it would easily stretch into ten hours, making sure that every member was taken care of, making sure we were on time, watching the clock, being firm but gentle when telling other members that they simply could not be seen that day, and often having to break the news to those waiting in the non-Equity line that they would not be seen, but they were welcome to leave a headshot and resume.

If you’re paying someone even minimum wage in New York State, at roughly 7.25 an hour for an eight-hour day, this will come to 58.00, seven dollars more than what we as monitors made. This doesn’t take into account what the labor laws will require, and will also require a complete revamping of the audition process, thereby allowing either auditions to run later, or — if Equity keeps the same hours, minimizing and shrinking the number of actors who will be allowed into the room to audition.

The EPA process, as I saw it heralded under Keith Howard’s leadership, was always an opportunity for actors to be seen. A chance for us to get out there and continue to get work. By removing those extra time slots in order to take care of a labor and industry break, as regulated by federal guidelines, it will no longer allow actors to be seen, lessening the chance that one of them may be hired, and then creating a domino effect.

It is our union dues that go to pay the Equity brass, as well as the new non-vested-nor-interested parties in who would be serving on the other side of the table. Once this is in effect, and Equity faces a shortfall, only then will the top officials wonder why they’re having a hard time meeting their deadline.

These LORT, TYA, and smaller venues that hire Equity actors really do make up the bread and butter of where the industry gets their money. If there is, in fact, a reduction for actors to be hired, I would imagine that it wouldn’t be too long before Equity finds itself with fewer theatres who are willing to take the time to hire the quality of talent that the member body represents — thus adding to the cycle.

I found my time as a monitor to be rewarding for a variety of reasons, most of all, because I got to interface with the other people in our business — actors and casting directors alike, all without the idea of promoting myself for a call.

My goal as I sat behind the table was to simply be the face of the union, to represent our entire member body, while doing what it was that.

I served as a monitor for three years, working my own schedule, covering those who had a last-minute audition, and sometimes even splitting the day due to a family emergency — and I knew that one of my fellow members, an actor, an Equity member, had my back.

I served for three years as one of the many faces of the union, proud to represent Actors Equity. It’s time Actors Equity recognized this sacrifice made not only by myself, but all the people who have served tirelessly to remain strong as union members.

Picture Perfect Memories

I was doing some work on the computer that involved going through my photos and cleaning them up, organizing, picking out the perfect photo for the project at hand.

It’s no surprise, to those who have been reading this blog, that I recently ended a five-year relationship.  As I combed through each of those photos, a question dawned me.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheekily, the way people used to handle breakups would be to burn pictures with their exes, or cut their faces out, or to even pin them on a voodoo doll and perhaps poke pins into their private parts (A-plus for alliteration!).  Now, with the digital age, it’s simply as easy as hitting the DELETE button, and poof, voila, presto-chango, the picture is gone.  The memory is erased.  It seems like an easy enough solution.

Still, the question begs to be asked…what do you do with those photos?  They’re my memories too.  And if I suddenly remove the photos from vacations, from holidays, from family gatherings that the two of us were in, that’s also part of my past I’m erasing.  Do I simply deny that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (no…not Voldemort) was part of my life?  Do I archive them away somewhere, safe on a CD, so that if i should choose to look at them again, then I’m able?  Print them out, put them in an album, and never look at them again, except when I’m old and gray, or at my funeral service, when they’re hauling my rotting corpse up to the front of the church, and showing off all my pictures above me, as my family weeks inconsolably into their Dollar Store handkerchiefs?  (Seriously…quality over quantity, guys)

It’s a tough call.  Though, not really.  I mean, I don’t deny that the relationship happened.  The end of it was sudden yes.  And I hate that, but I don’t deny the fact that we were together for five times.

Maybe the pictures will serve as a reminder of happier days.  Though, I’ll admit, whenever I came across his face, i got a little overwhelmed.  But let’s be honest — McDonald’s commercials make me cry.    But I digress.

The point is, this is a process, a continual evolving existence I’m in, where every day, every time I see something that reminds me of him makes me long for those moments of togetherness.

I don’t want to deny it.  To deny it would be to deny who I am as a person, and the experiences that have shaped me, helped mold me.  If anything, I want to embrace them.

Maybe I’m not quite ready to embrace them fully, but in time.  When seeing his face, seeing his smile, seeing the moments in time captured forever in pixels won’t bring sadness to my heart, but wistfulness.

Every day gets easier.  And every day, I let go a little bit more.  And finally, when I’ve let it all go — the resentment, the anger, the hurt, the betrayal, the sadness — I’ll be glad I kept those pictures.

This post has turned into a sad tale, so I think I’ll end it by linking to some random things on YouTube.  For your viewing pleasure:

Random thing one

Random thing two

Random thing three