Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Tale's End

When I was digging through old folders looking for Snackademics the other day, I came across many more fiction pieces I'd written in pursuit of a college degree. Most of them are quite short, so I will share a few of my favorites.  This one is called "The Tale's End", and while it is not autobiographical, it does feature my apartment on S. Division across from Elbel Field, and a rain storm which really did happen.


     Ting. Yelling and cheering. "Safe!" Ting. More yelling and cheering. Clara sat reading on the couch in her apartment living room. With the slider door wide open, she let in the cool, summer breeze and the sounds of the intramural softball game from the field across the street. Everything seemed right - everything was at peace. There was no homework to occupy her time, last week's blazing heat wave had subsided to tolerable 70s, and a good day at work had brought her back home again free to enjoy the setting sun and a good book.

     Clara liked to read by the fading daylight until she could no longer see the words on the page and she had to turn on a lamp. Sometimes after dark she would sit on the balcony in the night air and read under the porch light, or prop herself up in bed and read until she fell asleep and dropped her book. But always, always she would read. If she wasn't reading that summer, then she was working, showering, or asleep and dreaming about the stories she read.
     Clara read fiction. Short stories, long stories, kids' stories, old stories. She liked to be an observer in the lives of the characters. She liked the vicarious relationship she had with books. If she was reading, then she didn't have to be interesting in her own life. Clara was shy, though she was not unhappy. The thing was, Clara had liked a boy once, last fall, and she had found herself thinking about him all the time. But she had a lot of schoolwork during that time, and often discovered that she had trouble thinking about anything for very long because she only wanted to think about the boy. Now, this was bad, not only because Clara didn't have time enough to do her schoolwork and think about him, but she certainly didn't have time to read on top of all that. And Clara loved to read.
     Months passed, school passed, and the boy remained; he didn't leave her mind and he didn't enter her life. This distressed Clara. It was like a story with no end - and Clara couldn't stand to not finish reading a story, even a boring one. So she gave him up. Life's real stories never tied themselves up in neat little packages with happy endings, or endings at all, so she decided to go back to her books. And it was summer now and she could devote all of her free time to reading.
     As Clara turned the page, she noticed the sky had become very dark, though it was only 6:30. Clouds formed across the horizon and foretold of rain. One drop after another fell to the earth and the wind rushed faster through the trees. Clara could see the softball teams disbanding and heading for their cars as a long, loud, low rumble sounded from the impending storm.
     Clara put down her book and went out onto the balcony. The third floor balcony umbrella-ed her on the second floor as she stood gazing toward the heavens. She saw the flickers of lightning illuminate first one side of the sky and then the other as if they were two factions engaged in civil war. And what a violent struggle it was, as the wind slashed harder and harder through the leaves and caused the trees to bend and shiver. Even the third floor balcony could no longer protect Clara from the barrage of water now pouring down her face and drenching her clothes. The rain fell so fast and hard that the dirt patch that used to be the softball field flooded and became part of a small current following gravity down the street. Right battled left across the sky then receded past the horizon. The volleys of rain sputtered and ceased, and the wind blew away, herding the storm perpetually on.
     But who had won the conflict, was it north or south, east or west? The struggle had passed before the winner had been determined. Had peace been reached? But peace without a winner, without an end?
     The softball teams emerged again from their cars, and pointed at their field, still flooding down the street. One of them turned up a football, so they tossed their mitts aside and organized a muddy football match-up. Cheering and laughing ensued as mud-covered cavorting replaced tinging bats and base running.
     Clara remained drenched and wondering on her balcony overlooking the muddy field. Who had won the game before the sky's civil war? And what of this new game, had the sides even remained the same? She retreated back inside, but did not pick up her book again. Instead she took out some paper and wrote: "Life's stories have no end except for when it is really over, and there is no life left to know it. One tale pours into the next and we never will find out what happens - only one page at a time."
     Clara tacked the scrap of paper to the wall beside the door and went out to play football.



I also found the penultimate draft of this piece in the folder when I was picking this out. I had ended it a sentence earlier, but my teacher had written "Clara needs to get out more" on the bottom, so I must have tacked the last sentence on to appease him. That's probably not what he meant, but I think it's funny.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dans Mon Jardin, Vous Trouverez...

[In my garden, you will find...]:
les voitures
[A selection of unearthed toy cars]

un arbrisseau jaune
[A highly-trimmed forsythia bush Matt nearly eliminated during an aggressive purge (when it was not in bloom) before I stayed his hedge-clipping hands]

les fleurs violettes
[purplish blue members of the Harbingers of Spring Brigade]

une tulipe
[A lone tulip, determinedly emerging from beneath 2" of mulch and a pine tree]

les fleurs jaunes
[a pretty cluster of rain-kissed daffodils]

un gazon avec beaucoup couleurs
[the patchwork yard-of-many-grasses]

les gnomes
[the gnomes, MGoGnome and Derpy Drawers, formerly of "Gnomes Knoll" (the grassy area seen above that was painstakingly leveled last year)]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hulsehorror: Behind the Scenes

Karen's horror-movie birthday party was lots of fun! As I mentioned, my acting resume isn't that robust, and I was shocked to find how hard it is to memorize lines and deliver them naturally (and without looking at the camera!). That 30 Rock episode where Jack is trying to act and says "What do I do with my hands?" makes so much more sense now! When it came time to film my lines, I completely failed to say anything intelligible the first three times we ran the scene. I think I played dead pretty well, at least. Joy made very believable choking noises for her death scene, but as I was dead in the foreground, I couldn't watch! I can't wait to see how Karen edits it all together.

Please enjoy this behind-the-scenes sneak-peek at Karen, Mike, and Andrew preparing a scene filmed by Dead Tim while Dead Matt and Dead Ryan play Yahtzee Free For All; Dead McLaine, Dead Joy, and Dead Mer play on their cell phones; and soon-to-be Dead Ciara hides out of shot in the foliage.  Not pictured: dead-tired Dead Brad.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Remedying an Oversight

It has been brought to my attention that my blog needs more cat pictures. Of course it does! Everyone knows that the internet was created and exists for the main purpose of posting and captioning pictures of cats!
(Unfortunately, cat picture captioning is not my forte. I'm pretty proficient in reading Lolspeak, but whenever I try to caption a picture with it, I end up just quoting something I already saw somewhere. Or in this case, all I can think is "He is mine!" said in the creepy voice of the Duke in Moulin Rouge.  Therefore I beseech you, friends, to help me out by suggesting a caption in the comments.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What I Learned on JoCoCruiseCrazy II

  • Boats rock. Sometimes a lot.
  • There's at least one thing I'm allergic to and it lives in the vicinity of Curacao.
  • Being on vacation with people you really admire but don't know personally can be very distracting from your own relaxation.
  • A lot of questions go unanswered without Wikipedia or IMDB.
  • The nerd fanbase lends itself well to acceptance of other, adjacent things.
  • If you want a reliable, nice place to sit outside and enjoy the weather on a boat, get a room with a balcony.
  • You still feel like you're on a boat long after you disembark.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Should have taken creepier headshots. These ones scream "I probably get killed in the first scene."

Our friend Karen is writing the screenplay for a movie to be filmed at her birthday party this year. We wanted to show her our enthusiasm for the project, and provide her with our headshots and updated theater resumes, in the hopes that we might be well cast. It's going to be a horror movie, but I'm sure she'll be able to see how our 'HMS Gospel' experience uniquely qualifies us for a creepy supporting hand puppet role, at least. If you similarly find yourself in need of thoroughly amateur actors or slightly less amateurish musicians for your next birthday party, please consider hiring us.

Eyes: Hazel
Hair: Brown
Complexion: Computer Glow Bluish

Beauty and the Beast - Cogsworth, St. Theresa 8th Grade Play, 1993 (You should have heard his "wonderful" English accent.)
HMS Gospel - Stern (rat puppet), NLC Kids, 2006

Musician - Clarinet
West Side Story, Saucon Valley Fine Arts, 1997 ("I feel pretty and witty and gay bright!")
Man of La Mancha, Franklin & Marshall Players, 2002 (He still doesn't know what this play is about.)
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Saucon Valley Fine Arts, 1996

Eyes: Green
Hair: Dark Brown
Complexion: Washed Out White

HMS Gospel - Stem (rat puppet), NLC Kids, 2006
The Face on the Barroom Floor, or, Glimpsed Through Sawdust - Juggler #2, Allegan High School players, 1998 (Was cast despite not actually knowing how to juggle.)
Bye Bye Birdie - Mrs. McAfee, Allegan Community Players, 1999
We Like Sheep - A random ewe, First Baptist Church, 1989 (She can still sing most of the opening number! "We like sheep cuz sheep is what we are!")

Musician - Trumpet
Oklahoma, Allegan Community Players, 1995
Lil Abner, Allegan Community Players, 1996
The Wiz, Allegan High School players, 1997 ("Ease on down, ease on down the road!")

Line Prompter
Annie, Allegan Community Players, 1993 (Mostly she just played cards with the orphans backstage.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Phoning It In

This is me with Paul Sabourin (of Paul and Storm) on the last night of JoCo Cruise Crazy II:

This was Paul pretty much the whole cruise. He was difficult to catch for a picture or chat because he was always on the phone/radio, planning events or wrangling 'famous people' or who knows what. In his defense, I asked him to pose with the phone because it just wouldn't look authentic otherwise. He instantly agreed to my request, suggesting also this:

It's my favorite cruise picture and definitely one of my favorite cruise moments.  Thanks, Paul!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cruise Friends

We made some cruise friends! The first night we introduced ourselves to a great couple named Matt and Rachel, after hearing them introduce themselves to someone else earlier. We figured it was really quite strategic to have the first people you meet have your same names. Let that be a memory trick for you at parties.

We met Jim and Kate soon after when the Rachel-Matts joined them at their table for dinner.

Please forgive the picture quality. You can only do so much with an iPhone, on a boat, that rocks, at night, in the wind, when you're taking the picture yourself.
 Clockwise from me: Rachel, Matt, Kate, Jim (in another conversation), Rachel, Matt

Our new friend Matt was really taking advantage of the free booze hour. Or else he was just holding drinks for other people. Who were getting more drinks.

A Big Adventure

After reading on the internet for months about the laughs and intimate musical performances enjoyed on the first JoCo Cruise Crazy, we were ready to commit on day 1 of signups for the next adventure, leaving February 19, 2012, from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and heading to the Bahamas, Aruba, and Curacao.

It would be our first cruise, though, and we weren't sure if a cruise was our kind of vacation. Enclosed spaces, motion on the ocean, foreign lands, norovirus. But the entertainer roster was deep, featuring artists whose work we knew and loved, and performers new to us but not new to their craft. Not to mention the promise of nerds! Movie quoting, board-games-you've-never-heard-of playing, meme-savy, just-as-socially-awkward-as-you nerds! We are probably, at best, only what they call "nerd-adjacent", but tell me, who would you rather cruise with?

A.) Families
B.) Old People
C.) Better-Looking-Than-You Partiers
D.) Nerds

I'd pick 'Nerds' every time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Should Be Allowed to Think

Said Right Brain to Left Brain, quoting the words of Johns Flansburgh and Linnell, "I should be allowed to think. And I should be allowed to blurt the merest idea if, by random whim, one occurs to me."

For many months, the two disparate sides of my brain have been, well, disparate. Unreconciled. Unable to make mutually beneficial decisions. Right Brain (RB) says things like, "I gotta write that thought down, that was interesting," and Left Brain (LB) scoffs, "Where? On that scrap of paper? Great, another random-sized, random-topicked scrawl I have to keep track of and organize somehow so you can find it again."

RB is flustered. "Shut up or I'll lose my train of thought!"

"At least go write it down in one of the nice notebooks we purchased for you. Now let's see, what did you say it was about? A blog post idea? Hmm, where should that go? The 'journal' notebook for random extended thoughts? Or perhaps the 'writing' notebook, for story ideas and other writing practice?" LB is a cataloger and wants to make sure all data points are stored in a consistent and findable manner.

"Argh!" cries RB, "It doesn't matter if I can find it later if don't write it down right now! Just give me whatever is closest!"

"Maybe we should start a new journal for blog post ideas. This is really a different topic than the other two," LB reasons.

Alas, RB forgets the idea.

What follows is the greater-self-appointed relationship counseling and mandatory team building exercise employed to foster unity and collaboration. Together, Right Brain and Left Brain might be able to accomplish something Organizedly Creative. But apart, they are Fickle and Bossy.