Log in


I’m not a tourist

I’ve seen the lake, I said
and sighed
It is different
and the same
The waves do not compete here
with the voices who would capture them
compress them down
into bites and bytes
and Alexa-play-soothing-sounds-of-the-seas

Solitude has its place
and silence its time
but the chimes of my friends laughing
the solace of a chance meeting
no schedule to mind
That, too, holds comfort
the thrum of the city is music
and it can hold the sacred
and profane
as well as nature, red in tooth and claw

I long for the passing-by
of familiar block
with new graffiti
as my shoes pace pavement

I yearn to hear the birdsong
of staccato honks of cars
and half-heard conversations
of drunks
percussion in the clack of billiard balls
in bars
with just a hint of danger inside
and out

I pine not always for swishing branhces
but for the strange quiet
of the late night diner
The clink of dishes behind
the swinging door
and the labored breath
of the sleepless staff

I’m not a tourist here
or anywhere
but I can sense my belonging
in this throng
of pressing bodies
sweating booze
breathing smoke
squinting under neon

and my chest rises and falls
with the whoosh
of each car
speeding through a red light

And the lake hugs it all
It is different
and the same
and for now
it can wait for me

Filed under: Poetry | | Comments Off on I’m not a tourist


If I happen upon a Me at the door…

Making another attempt at a “perfect” day. I’ve had several in the past week or so. Perhaps coincidentally, I’ve also had some of the most knock-down, drag-out fights with myself and with M. I’m trying not to see fault, not to assign blame, and instead to see two human beings who are trying to be true to themselves, while making the sadly necessary compromises that come with a union.

In the past few weeks, I feel like there have been a lot of words that I have latched on to that are about not allowing myself to see my life as difficult. Not in the “it’s not coal mining,” or “there are starving children in Africa” sort of way, but rather in the looking directly at my own life, without comparison, and see that the only difficulties are in my mind. Yes, the speeding tickets sucked a lot of energy from me, but I have the means to handle them, and the discipline to overcome them.

AI says frequently to her students to not acknowledge questions about how difficult acting is. Amanda Palmer says, in her Ukulele Anthem, to:

quit the bitching on your blog
and stop pretending art is hard
just limit yourself to three chords
and do not practice daily
you’ll minimize some stranger’s sadness
with a piece of wood and plastic
holy fuck it’s so fantastic

(Obviously, that first line hits pretty hard. I have some Amanda Palmers in my life, too, caring and unafraid to kick me in the ass when I’m too Droopy Dog, so thanks to Root for being the most obvious one.) My guided meditations on headspace.com also aim to remove the obstacles that depression and cynicism build up.

At 40 years old, the brain must already be hardening and locking into patterns. Breaking those down are, indeed, difficult, but it can seem impossible from inside to separate what is cynicism and what is identity. Often, psychology wants one to let go of nostalgia while at the same time spending time with those who “knew you when.” It’s akin to restoring a backup on a computer from when it was not corrupted by a glut of data and malware. The analogy falls down, however, because I always worry when I restore a backup that I will lose something important gained in the time between. Progress, improvement, these are of utmost importance to me, but to be honest, have I gained life lessons in the past few years, or only deepened the grooves of cynicism that will not allow me to open my mind further?

Winston Churchill’s famous quip about gradually becoming conservative makes a lot of sense both scientifically and philosophically. I have no great love for tradition, and I am quite suspicious of nostalgia, but there are some values that I honor that have no place as society marches forward. If I dismiss my values in favor of an ever-changing world, what separates me from the “creepy” college professor who goes to the frat parties? All sexual impropriety aside — and more and more, I feel like there really is no such thing — one still wishes to admonish that behavior as unbecoming and unenlightened. When considering it from an objective perspective, a cosmic perspective of  a more realistic timeline, doesn’t embracing the new become the only intelligent and wise option? In thirty years, those who cling to past ideals will be gone, and the new will replace the old. Well, considering our current political climate, that may not hold true, actually. History repeats.

Too much for one brain to resolve. Back to playing ukulele. History repeats.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on If I happen upon a Me at the door…


Perfect Day

I’ve been using Habitica for a couple of years now, using it mostly as an online tracker for my to-do list. On my daily schedule is a long list of things that I try to accomplish every day in addition to my actual to-do list. Here’s what it typically looks like:

  • leave the house
  • wipe down ginger
  • walk / play with dogs
  • Read
  • take pill
  • Floss at night
  • Write
  • Meditate
  • exercise
  • empty inbox
  • Track food
  • chores

Yesterday, including a few dailies that only appear once a week or so (cleaning the dogs’ teeth, etc.), I managed to get them all done. It felt good. What struck me, though, is how much I put on myself to achieve every day. Now, these dailies are primarily reminders to take care of myself. I don’t tend to forget them; however, because there are so many days — virtually, all of them — on which I achieve less than 100% of these tasks, I tend to feel bad about myself.

I mean, all I have to do is a few dishes or take out the garbage to get the chores check mark. Since I tend to poop every day, the reading is taken care of. I take it as a point of pride that I consistently have an empty inbox; I translate any necessary action from email into my to-do list, rather than leave it sitting there blinking at me. Getting into the habit of tracking food happened back when I was  bodybuilding, so it’s easy enough. Not taking my pill rapidly results in suicidal thoughts, so that one maintains its life or death urgency, without hyperbole.

There are a few I often miss, however, when I need them the most: exercise, write, meditate, leave the house, walk/play with the dogs. Walking the dogs is a hat trick. I get three-in-one. And yet, I find myself making excuses for that simple twenty minutes. Granted, our dogs lack discipline and more than once have nipped at humans or fought with other dogs, so a good deal of anxiety accompanies that task.

I’m often caught between two philosophies. Contemporary wisdom points to an almost self-congratulatory forgiveness; that is, if I give myself a break, I’m meant to take that as a thoughtful and healthy practice. I find myself at my happiest, however, when I push myself to work harder. Right now, fight directing Animal Farm, I over-identify with Boxer and Clover. Arbeit Macht Frei.

Now that I have put myself back on the path of completing all my self-work and any tasks possible before noon, my interest in video games wanes. Still, it took quite some mustering, hemming, and hawing to get myself to write even this pointless self-examination. But really, what else is there?

My therapist suggests that I explore an Epicurean path: reduce conflict, emphasize joy. Since my time with BIG, I have always adhered to our motto of “Practice Responsible Hedonism,” so perhaps that will work for me. My meditations have helped me connect with the world, but my particular brand of epicureanism demands disconnection. Hell is other people, as they say, and since connection, true connection, flees in the face of socialization, I struggle to sense joy rather than conflict.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Perfect Day


Currency – free writing

If I accept the money, then I accept that they own me.

Maybe this is why I feel that art and commerce do not interact. My art is also my craft, so in seeking the sublime, there is likely to be a number of failures. We want that one perfect moment where the pieces all match and the team creates art, touches the divine, but even Michelangelo must have had a thousand paintings that were simply craft pieces.

So… take the money and run? I would charge nothing if it weren’t for my sense of stewardship. If I do not charge — at least, in this society — then they will infer that my craft is worth nothing. I agree, more or less. Art has no monetary value, as it is the most subjective of all. Tangentially, does that mean that only the most accessible of art is actually worth anything? For every person who loves DADA and DuChamp’s Fountain, there are an equal number, if not many more, detractors.

The artist is a not great creator—Duchamp went shopping at a plumbing store. The artwork is not a special object—it was mass-produced in a factory. The experience of art is not exciting and ennobling—at best it is puzzling and mostly leaves one with a sense of distaste. But over and above that, Duchamp did not select just any ready-made object to display. In selecting the urinal, his message was clear: Art is something you piss on.

Stephen Hicks

It is not universal that the Mona Lisa is a masterpiece, but the greater society has accepted it as true. Then, is critical analysis merely masturbation? How can anything have value in a society where value is determined by money?

My therapist wants to give me a prove-ectomy. He says that if I were not in the habit of having to prove worth, specifically my own, then happiness would be easier to come by. A carpenter charges time and materials, but the market sets those values. If we descend into granularity, we can see where certain materials cost a certain amount, but that is also due to profits from other companies. If a company provided free saws to lumber mills, and the government provided free land and labor for logging, knowing that in the end we all have paper and wood and homes, then… but, here we descend into communism. And we only have to wait before along comes Comrade Napoleon to exploit it all so he can sleep on sheets and drink milk all day.

But whence this greed? If we could tomorrow, establish this Marxist Utopia instantly, where no one had need for anything; if we could identify the outliers and give them the mental medicine they need to realize that their value is not to be found in a number or an expanse of holdings or the power they exert over others…

What else is there? Is there a point to life other than the proliferation of one’s own seed, one’s own legacy? Is it really true that the people in power are smart enough to know to keep the working classes down so that their power is unchallenged? Or are they merely products of a system set up by people who did know? I am suspicious of my own nostalgia that somehow people were more honorable in times past. At the very least, the corrupt had to take pains to conceal their deeds. Or was it ever thus?

I do not know from where this sense of honor springs, as I have been given no evidence but that humanity as a whole is a failed experiment.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Currency – free writing


Dream journal

I have to relieve myself, so I knock on the door of my dad’s house. He has finished a new remodel, with lofty ceilings and dark wood. The rustic quality of it all speaks to him and of him, but the restroom is occupied. I know there is another in the basement, so I venture there.

Surprisingly, the concrete is clean, the rooms tidy, but the toilet has no walls, just a shower curtain to conceal me while I do my business. I decide against it, and begin to appraise the basement instead. My dad is making his usual attempts to connect with me, and I am making my usual acquiescent responses. I affirm his work. I agree we spend too little time together. I try to be a good son.

In the house, somewhere nearby, I can sense my brother and sister socializing. When I wake up, I am filled with determination, if not purpose, to live my life well.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Dream journal



My greatest preoccupation? Games. I play games always. My opinion changes monthly, even daily, on whether games stand on their own as literature, or as social dialogue, or as true escape from the drudgery of life. After all, games can tell the most interactive and compelling stories (though they usually don’t), they can inspire people to understand one another (though they usually don’t), and they can transport someone away from their typical trudge through an unending barrage of tasks and demands from outdated systems (though they usually don’t).

I present here a list of games I played in the month of December, and what they held for me.

  • Pillars of Eternity – A throwback to the party-driven, turn-based dungeon crawls that revolutionized gameplay in my college years, PoE echoes some of the best writing of games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate series, while updating the game to play a little more like modern work. A mix of story and tactics, with lots of optional reading, and enough voice acting to keep it from becoming stale.
  • Kid Icarus – A NES classic which I rented several times but could never decipher. In this era of increasing difficulty, it actually plays like a primitive Dark Souls, with equal levels of frustration. I want to defeat it, and the simplicity of the gameplay deceives me into thinking it will happen.
  • Unepic – A Metroidvania-style platformer of surprising depth, Unepic also has a Dark Souls feel, but with a cornball, nerdy sense of humor. The criticism that the protagonist is unlikable is apt, but the game has surprised me many times, and that happens so rarely, that I have boosted this game’s rating in my mind to an A+.
  • Mistfall – This board game throttles me regularly. I can play solo — and I had to, just to learn the rules — but even with my considerable abilities in dungeon crawling, I have yet to succeed even once on its tutorial level. I still come back for more punishment, a credit to the game’s designers.
  • Guillotine - I have to hand it to this game’s designers: everyone likes this game. I have grown weary of it, having had to play it with so many people in this last month. While it has remarkable depth for its simple mechanics — and I truly admire that — it simply holds no real challenge for me. I can’t tell whether the randomness deadens the fun, or whether I just can’t cope with people who can’t see all their options within a few seconds, or who hold winning in such high regard that they plan for too long in a game that demands so little.
  • Mansions of Madness, Second Edition – I have so much to say about this, not because the game itself inspires verbosity, but because it is the first game I have played which utilizes what I think will be the only game play in the future, and I have mixed feelings about it. Should a board game be a video game? I honestly don’t know.
  • Invisible, Inc. – This reminds me of the Shadowrun game for the Sega Genesis, which I always loved; however, I think I will get tired of the procedural generation of it. I love rogue-likes and rogue-lites, but the game started with such an awesome story, and gave me X-Com in a more appealing style for my tastes, that I want the meat to be cooked a little more carefully, rather than simply McDonald’s-style churning out of missions. Is replayability more important than first-play?

I’ve played some other things, too, but they all sort of fall into the headings above, so I’m going to go shower now.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Play

The flitting butterfly that is the mind

I have been replacing meditation with video games and exercise with comfort food lately. As I know from… well, everyone and everything… this is common over the holidays and should be forgiven in one’s self. I would extend that courtesy to others, after all. The frustrating part is that I can remain disciplined for months at a time, checking off my daily list of things, and one month of depression and too many external needs will undo a year of work, both in mental stability and physical fitness. Why fight atrophy? My mind can find no rational response. 40 years old. Settled. Is there really any reason to do anything but wait to die? And isn’t that the most selfish thing? Living? Depleting resources that should belong to the young, the hopeful, and the ambitious?

I read recently that testosterone kills men. If a man “lets himself go,” as it were, he stands a greater chance of living a longer life. Nature created men as drones. Women have all the complex inner workings because only they serve the natural imperative of reproduction, and thus men should, by their own genetic structure, not live beyond their years of reproductive value. No wonder men collapse under the strain of mid-life crises, like the one I have fought for the last five years, maybe ten. The higher suicide rate corresponds directly to the actual purpose of male life: create something or die. By any rational, philosophical standard of modern life, that creation can not be more people. The Earth, and indeed human society, will explode under the strain of any more useless people. How can anyone compel themselves to live knowing that it amounts to nothing more than an obsolete, biological impulse? Why should we accept and indulge that impulse and not the more hedonistic ones that would birth a new Caligula state?

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on The flitting butterfly that is the mind



Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Advice



I only want to say if there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don’t want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me, I have changed
I’m not as sure as when we started

Then I was inspired, now I’m sad and tired
Listen, surely I’ve exceeded expectations
Tried for three years, seems like thirty
Could you ask as much from any other man?

But if I die
See the saga through and do the things you ask of me
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me, nail me to their tree

I’d wanna know, I’d wanna know my God
I’d wanna know, I’d wanna know my God
Wanna see, I’d wanna see my God
Wanna see, I’d wanna see my God

Why I should die?
Would I be more noticed than I was ever before?
Would the things I’ve said and done matter any more?

I’d have to know, I’d have to know my Lord
Have to know, I’d have to know my Lord
Have to see, I’d have to see my Lord
Have to see, I’d have to see my Lord

If I die what will be my reward?
If I die what will be my reward?
Have to know, I’d have to know my Lord
Have to know, have to know my Lord

Why should I die?
Why should I die?

Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain
Show me there’s a reason for your wanting me to die
You’re far too keen on where and how and not so hot on why

Alright I’ll die
Just, just watch me die
See how, see how I die
See how I die

Then I was inspired, now I’m sad and tired
After all I’ve tried for three years
Seems like ninety

Why then am I scared to finish what I started?
What you started, I didn’t start it

God, Thy will is hard but You hold every card
I will drink Your cup of poison
Nail me to Your cross and break me
Bleed me, beat me, kill me, take me now
Before I change my mind

Filed under: Ennui,Found Art | | Comments Off on Gethsemane


Stage Combat

Stage combat is perhaps the most all-encompassing tool that an actor can have. It teaches active listening, physical characterization, and the highest possible level of objectives, obstacles, and stakes; moreover, if one feels safe, one can collaborate to create more engaging and dynamic stories. With a firm grounding in stage combat, an actor increases their presence on stage, much the way a confident martial artist does in real life. No actor worth their salt should turn away such an opportunity.

I consider stage combat to be a modern martial art, focused on storytelling, rather than defense, much like many Eastern disciplines teach that, at the highest levels, violence and destruction are set aside in favor of aesthetic creation. A master becomes an artist, as the understanding of violence reminds one of their human nature (the earth, the id, the beast, etc.) but channeling that directionless passion are the creative and rational drives. As artists in the theatre, the consummation of all arts, we have the ability and responsibility to bring this violence as realistically to bear as we are able in order to confront and discuss — and perhaps, to change — the way in which we accept and cope with our natural tendency toward violence.

To that end, it is essential that we as fight directors, give our actors the tools required to tell these stories. By necessity, we begin to help with precautions against harm; after all, beyond the obvious preservation of the actor, if the actor must hesitate because of a safety concern, then we have hindered the story by whatever fraction that hesitation costs. Contrarily, when we instill in actors the knowledge and practice to free them of the constraint of fear, we not only allow that particular scene to come alive, but we bring the actors to a greater state of awareness and commitment, which can only serve them in all aspects of performance.

The responsibility is colossal for fight directors, as with any teachers, to keep this always in mind. We must understand fear, violence, and all of the darkest parts of our humanity in order to create compelling art, but we must be in command of those forces, and teach others to be in command of them, if that art is to be of value.

Filed under: Ennui | | Comments Off on Stage Combat
Next Page »