25 November 2013

Useful skills

Me:  So Malinda was telling us that she had to go online to figure out how to tie a noose.*  And I told her that I figured that out one night when I was backstage with some rope and some free time.

David:  Huh.  Well.  I guess I'll sleep better tonight knowing that you don't have any rope in this room.

Me:  Oh, that's okay.  I can use always use the tie to your bathrobe.  Or the drawstring from my pajama bottoms.

David:  .....

*For the gifts from the cast to the director and staff of The Pillowman at Silver Spring Stage.  They gave each of us an adorable stuff hedgehog with a noose around its neck.

15 September 2013

A note on the text

“Were there many changes?”
“The play was very much what it was when it was first sent to him. All those scenes were there, the same flow of the play. But he would tweak the beats, and he'd shape the sequences within the scenes.”

“How interested was he in the actors being faithful to his dialogue?”
“Oh, it's not even a question. I think everyone in the room understands that the language the playwright uses is not just the broad ideas. That there can be as much meaning in the syntax, or in the rhythms the playwright has written, as in the broader meanings of the theme. There was never any kind of 'we’ll improvise something here.'” 

On rare occasions Margulies would solicit advice from the actors.

“Did he accept your suggestions?” “He definitely responded to, but it was not like anyone ever went in and said, 'Listen, Donald, this is what I want to say here.'” 

Arye Gross talking about creating the role of Ira in "Brooklyn Boy" for Donald Margulies.

And PS:

“How was working with Dan Sullivan? How did he work with you on your character?”
“You’d just start going through the text, and he’d say 'Why don't you come in from this area over here?' He'd never tell you exactly what to do, but just a couple of broad strokes. And then as rehearsals progressed -- I think after two weeks -- we did a run through of the play. And Dan maybe gave each of us two or three notes. And you'd think ‘I'm doing so much, he only has these comments?’ And you start to wonder, well, maybe he doesn’t like me, he doesn't think I'm good enough that it's worth commenting on. But what you realize throughout the process is that his direction is -- he sculpts. You can do the whole play, and the only note will be 'You know, these two lines that you have, you're putting a little pause in between. Pull those right together.' And when I put these two lines together, boy, you find that one little adjustment is having a subtle shift on some kind of undertone in the scene. Or he'll give a little physical note that suddenly propels you into an entirely deeper meaning.” Dan’s style with the physical staging is similar, Gross explains. “For the most part, there's not a lot of work on staging, unless there's a problem. And then he's making a visual composition, a balance of where the audience’s eye will go, and who they should be looking at in a scene. I think Dan is a masterful director.” 

11 September 2013

Check and check

Only in community theater --

My "to do" list for today includes the following:

1.  Scrounge empty cigarette packs.  Preferably of non-girly cigarettes.  (Check!)

2.  Fall down. (Check!)

Now back to the real world...

09 August 2013

We're moving; I'm not moving

My office is moving from Silver Spring to Crystal City.

And I've been thinking a lot about where I should live, based on what this will do to my commute.  Friends suggested relocating to Virginia.  

So I did some poking around on line for apartments.  The move is not until March, but it never hurts to look.  And I found a place in Arlington that was kinda do-able.

But.  And it's a big but ... *

I can't shake the belief that moving to Virginia and letting my tax dollars go to Richmond would send a signal that I most adamantly don't want to send. 

In Maryland there is Marriage Equality.  In Virginia, there isn't.

In Maryland, capital punishment is rarely applied** and is being considered for abolishment because it is the second most unfairly applied form of punishment in the US.  (Crack vs. powder cocaine is the first.*** )  Virginia's execution rate per capita is 4th in the nation (after Oklahoma, Texas, and ... Delaware).****  

I just can't bring myself to appear to "vote with my feet" that I am for the death penalty and against marriage equality.  

I'm not against the death penalty in all cases and think that it can be a good prosecutorial bargaining chip but it hasn't been proven to be a deterrent, it's really expensive, and it's applied with unsupportable amounts of bias.

I'm very much for marriage equality.  Enough so that I actually wrote to politicians supporting it. Writing to politicians is just asking to be put on solicitation lists which I hate.

Enough so that I bought a special license plate to say so.

I am for marriage equality because I am for equality.  And I'm for love.  And families.

"But your vote would count in Virginia!"  people like to say.  

My vote in Maryland helped pass marriage equality.  All my friends' votes in Virginia didn't stop a law writing homophobia into their constitution.

We are moving our offices to Virginia (among other reasons) because it is "business friendly" but I'm staying in Maryland because it is human friendly.

* ... pause for TWSS ...

** 5 people in 35 years, 25th state per capita with a per 10,000 rate of .0009.  HT to Death Penalty Info

*** IMHO

**** 108 people in 35 years (second only to Texas w 472) and a per 10K rate of .188

12 March 2013

How to make my brain bigger

I took a class in finance via Coursera a few months ago.  Why?  Because I thought that learning something about what my boss knows very well and deals with all the time would help me do my job a little better.  And because learning stuff for free on the internet?  Totes awesome!

My class was taught by Gautam Kaul of the University of Michigan.  Yep, I was an "enrolled" student at the University of Michigan for a semester!  And (ahem) Princeton for my world history class.

Here's the course description:  This course is primarily devoted to the fundamental principles of valuation. We will learn and apply the concepts of time value of money and risk to understand the major determinants of value creation. We will use both theory and real world examples to demonstrate how to value any asset. 

I loved that class.  And worked my butt off.  I found myself repeatedly saying something I do not actually ever remember saying while I going to University of Maryland on my father's dime: I'd really love to, but I can't -- I have homework to do.  I skipped fun stuff to do finance problems sets (and later to write history papers); I chose watching videos of Professor Kaul and his electronic whiteboard over watching sit-coms or reading; and I pounded ideas about present value and future value into my head*.

It was really fun (no, really, it was) and it made my brain a little bigger.  There's still lots of room for brain expansion so I'm going to take some more courses.

Introduction to Finance taught me the following:

1.  The world runs on algebra;****

2.  Finance is algebra with dollar signs;

3.  Finance includes statistics;

4.  Statistics for finance is algebra with dollar signs in Greek.

Oh, and ...

5.  Net present value.

All the rest was commentary.

* To wit:  money now is always better than money later; compounding is the strongest force in the universe after duct tape**; and how to calculate payments versus total cost.***  

**Okay, I actually already knew that one.

***Which means that I will never be at the mercy of a salesman's calculations about what something will cost me.  I can figure it out on my own!!

****As a collateral benefit, I now understand Algebra better than when I was actually taking it in high school.  Sort of the way that taking French greatly improved my knowledge of English grammar.

05 February 2013

Out of one, many

Although I've been to New Zealand twice, I didn't go to church while I was there.  The first time wasn't over a weekend (I think) and the second time ... I just didn't.  Which is rather too bad because if I had spent a morning with a congregation of the Anglican Church in Aetearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia* I could have been part of the communal responses in  the liturgy.  However, this past Sunday I got the chance to make up for that.  

This is from our church bulletin:  "The revelation of Jesus as Lord and Savior was first made known to the wise men, but from there, spread to all corners of the word.  To mark this, our liturgy during the season of Epiphany will come from a different corner of the world:  New Zealand. At our 10:30 service, the confession, absolution, Eucharistic prayer and post-communion prayer come from our sister Anglican Church in Aetearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia."  

I've missed church for the past few weeks for one reason or another and I'll be out again this weekend for a family funeral, but I greatly enjoyed the chance to recite the familiar ideas in a  new way.  A kind of foreign exchange.  And I'll be happy to return to the familiar phrasing as well.**

The confession:  Merciful God, we have sinned in what we have thought and said, in the wrong we have done and in the good we have not done. We have sinned in ignorance; we have sinned in weakness; we have sinned through our own deliberate fault.  We are truly sorry.  We repent and turn to you.  Forgive us, for our Savior Christ's sake, and renew our lives to the glory of your name. Amen.

The absolution: Through the cross of Christ, God have mercy on you, pardon and set you free.  Know that you are forgiven and be at peace.  God strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in life eternal.  Amen. 

The Eucharistic prayer:  
God of past and present,
We your people remember your Son.
We thank you for his cross and rising again,
We take courage from his ascension;
We look for his coming in glory
and in him we give ourselves to you.

The post communion prayer: Father of all, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.  May we who share Christ's body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.  Amen.

I'm rather glad that the Lord's Prayer is consistent across the Anglican Communion.  I'd really miss my mondegreen.

*Aetearoa is the most widely known and accepted Māori name for New Zealand.  It is used by both Māori and non-Māori, and is becoming increasingly widespread in the bilingual names of national organisations.  (per Wikipedia) The full title of the collected Anglican churches in New Zealand is "The Anglican Church in Aetearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia." (per the Church)

**After all, "wherever you wander, wherever you roam, be happy, and healthy, and glad to come home."