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El Dogo's House of Meat

Jul. 26th, 2012

09:55 am - Another WordPress Blog

Posted on WordPress again. I basically go on about how writing a show for the Minnesota Fringe Festival is hard, and that I shouldn't worry about it.

Other than writer's block fear sweats, and an invasion of fruit flies, life has been decent.

Journey Into Terror

Jul. 2nd, 2012

11:14 am - Wordpress Ketchup

I've written a whopping three blog posts on Wordpress, and I'm so technologically inept I can't figure out how to have them automatically post to LJ. So here are links:

PowerPoint Karaoke April 2012


Stage Match

Also, I've hit the freaking and panic stage with my Fringe show. So much so, that I've basically forgotten about CONvergence. What am I doing at CONvergence again? Oh, right. Another Smackdown panel, the Killer B's, and Iron Artist, plus some Cinema Rex shifts. And, as unlikely as this sounds, some drinking.

Now I'm off to go stare at an empty Word document for another couple hours.

Jun. 14th, 2012

10:16 pm - The Blog of Newness

I've started a new blog, over on WordPress. It'll focus more on comedy bits, like funny essays and maybe glib reviews of old shitty movies, plus plugs of whatever theater or improv I'm doing.

I'm planning on doing most of my blogging over there now, but I won't be abandoning LJ completely. This will probably remain as a mental health safety valve thing. I need a place to gripe about life and work and whatnot, in comparative anonymity. And yes, I understand if that's not the sort of thing you want to experience.

Anyway, the new blog is at http://schroedingersdog.com/ I paid a bit extra and got a URL in the name of my so-called production company, so hey, tax write off. I'm planning on setting up an RSS feed to LJ as well, once I figure out how to do that. So it'll be like I'm still here, only with less whining.

I have one more day of work before summer break, and I can't wait. I need to get the hell moving on my Fringe show. This has been a frustrating couple of weeks. Nothing to do except drive all the way into work and twiddle my thumbs, and I could be doing any number of things. Like, say, writing a Fringe show.

See you in the city, slicker.

May. 2nd, 2012

09:21 pm - Technical Difficulties

I have kinda sorta a head cold, or maybe undiagnosed allergies of some kind, so I'm in a bit of a grumpy mood. Why do I always blog when I'm grumpy? I don't know. What else am I going to do?

Something happened last weekend that has never happened to me before: we had to cancel a show because of technical problems. To Mars With Tesla, our half of Steampunk Delusions, is one of the most technical shows I've ever been in. It's genuinely incomprehensible without the tech. It's done in the style of a silent movie, and there's a crapton of exposition in the first five minutes. Well, there was some mechanical problem with the shutter on the projector, so the silent movie titles weren't projecting. No titles, no show. It wound up being an easy thing to fix, but in the heat of the moment we couldn't figure out what was going on. And thus the show was canned. We were incredibly fortunate to have a small audience of very theater friendly people that night, so it was honestly as nice and kind a disaster as you could have. But it was still a disaster, and no one was happy.

Anyway, said technical problem has been fixed, and the next evening the show went off beautifully. It's really pretty darn funny, and I hope you make an effort to see it.

Otherwise, I've just been playing Batman: Arkham City. Or rather, I was. There's some glitch in my copy where the game freezes in perpetual "think mode" right after a major boss fight with the Joker. Argh! Video game coitus interruptus is maybe the most frustrating thing I can think of, short of actual coitus interruptus. I've been searching for a patch or something, but I haven't found one. It's ridiculous how down in the dumps I am about this. C'mon! Gotham City is in danger here!

And oh yeah, the Fringe Festival. I figure I've got about a week to get a solid idea in mind, or I'm sunk. I'm not too worried, as I pulled Death Perception out of my butt pretty much at the last minute, but I'm worried that I'm not more worried, if that makes sense. Neurotic, I suppose, but I just don't want to get complacent. Death Perception went over like gangbusters, and I need to match that somehow.

Anyway, please come see Steampunk Delusions. Both The Diamond Lens and To Mars With Tesla are top notch, and we've got another couple weekends left.

Open Eye Figure Theater, 506 E 24th St., Minneapolis, 612-874-6338

Friday, May 4, 7 PM
Saturday, May 5, 7 PM
Sunday, May 6, 7 PM
Thursday, May 10, 7 PM
Friday, May 11, 7 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2 PM (matinee!)
Saturday, May 12, 7 PM

Apr. 21st, 2012

10:48 am - Our Silly Little Harry Potter Video

I'll post something more substantial eventually. For now, here's a quick satire of the Pottermore website chebutykin, unclebastard and myself threw together last Monday. I, for one, think it's pretty funny.

Mar. 28th, 2012

10:26 pm - Improv Rubicons

The Track Team had what was almost certainly our last improv set ever yesterday, and we went out on a high note. We chucked all the structures and whatnot and just went for it, a plain old montage concentrating on strong entrances, and it kicked. Tremendously freeing. I wish we had done this months ago. I always felt we didn't work on our weaknesses so much as worked against our strengths. Anyway, it's over now. Meg is moving out of state, about half the group isn't sure they want to come back, and the Six Ring Circus teams are getting reorganized. So auf wedersehen to The Track Team.

Things are changing big time at Six Ring. Most of the changes are very cool. They want to reconfigure Six Ring into more like Brave New Workshop house improv teams, rather than the student showcase it's more or less been. They're moving it to Friday nights, theatrical prime time so to speak. The old Tuesday night slot will be taken up with actual student showcases (as in people currently taking classes, not graduates), which is great, because those people deserve some stage time too.

But. There's always a but. The coaching fees are going up, to cover operation of the Student Union space, because there's no main stage show to bankroll that. And also, the house team concept means more of a commitment from the improvisers. It's unlikely you'd be permitted to miss a few shows in order to do some other theatrical project. And everyone has to re-audition, because they're paring down. I'm guessing about half the current Six Ring line-up will go bye-bye. There's no guarantee I'll make it in again anyway.

I feel awful about this. Basically, I have to choose between improv and regular theater, and I've never wanted to do that. And I don't know if I can afford more fees (Six Ring has always been a "pay to play" sort of set-up). I want to do improv with a shot at a decent audience and a higher profile, but I don't want to sacrifice scripted theater to do it.

It's a painful situation. I'm not exaggerating when I say I owe my entire social life to improv. With a couple exceptions, all of my friendships happened either directly or indirectly from improv. I can't picture my life without it. But I think there's a very real chance I'll never do it again if I quit Six Ring. Improv is something I feel you have to do on a regular basis, or it really dries up on you. Without regular Six Ring contacts, I don't see how I can get any other projects going for HUGE or wherever. Then again, it's not like people were knocking down doors to work with me on other improv projects in the first place. Then again, I'm getting old. It's hard to keep up with it. Maybe I'm done. But I don't want to be done. Argh.

The auditions probably aren't going to happen for at least a month, so I've got time to think about it. I really don't know what to do.

The really hard part is the potential loss of a social life. (Yeah, there's geek stuff, but I'm really burned out on the drama of that. Theater and improv aren't exactly drama-free, but it's a different kind of drama.) The Track Team has plans to get together next Tuesday for drinks and hanging out. I've wanted just to hang with my team for over a year. But I'm in PowerPoint Karaoke that Tuesday, so I'm SOL. I love PowerPoint Karaoke, it's a hilarious show and I'm proud to be in it, but the timing is so disappointing right now. It makes the impending improv divorce seem so much sharper.

This has been the busiest month I can remember, which doesn't help the decision making process. I'm rehearsing a new show that takes a lot of work. I haven't looked at my taxes yet, and they will not be kind. And supposedly I'm producing another Fringe show, but I've spent about three minutes thinking about it. Too much stuff. Too much.

Feb. 26th, 2012

01:17 pm - Occurances

Geez, where have I been? Good question.

I've been wanting to write a summary of B-Fest, because holy crap did I enjoy that weekend, but things keep getting in the way. Like rehearsing for a show, or doing improv. Sometimes, they're not pleasant things, like my computer suddenly not working, or getting flattened with a head cold. But those problems were pretty insignificant and easily fixed. Mostly, it's because of Mass Effect. Everything has been Mass Effect, Mass Effect, Mass Effect. I'm replaying the whole thing from the beginning, trying to build my definitive conception of the story and my definitive version of Commander Shepard, which is tough given how many options exist in the game. It's fairly ridiculous how much it's consumed my free time.

I should be done with Mass Effect I in a couple days, then I can maybe get on with my life, such as it is.

Anyway, before writing up B-Fest, I kind of need to clear the chamber and fire off a quick info dump of other goofiness that has happened.

The big news is that I got into the Minnesota Fringe Festival again. Whoa. The lottery for small venues was ridiculous this year, and I'm stunned I got in. I have no clue what to do this year. But then again, Death Perception could not have been more different from what I planned on doing at this same time last year, so I'm not worried.

I'm also working on a show with Josh and Adrienne Scrimshaw. It's the sort of thing that's pretty hard to describe to most people, a steampunk silent comedy about Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla in a competition to reach Mars. Suffice to say it's not all that historically accurate. I'm playing Edison. It also features John Munger, John Zeiler, and Amy Schweikhardt. That will go up in April at Open Eye Theater.

I've also been continuing doing improv. It's been... off. There have been some tensions and distractions. My Six Ring team wound up doing a structure most of us aren't too thrilled with, and I personally haven't been too happy with the coaching. It's sort of military drill type coaching, where our weak points are endlessly brought up, and there's no real inspiration or sense of fun. It's been run in a bit more dictatorial sort of way, and it hasn't worked for me. In short, I haven't liked any improv I've done in quite a while. Lauren Anderson is teaching a sort of improv graduate refresher course next month, and I'm trying to find a way to juggle my books and take it. I need some fresh air.

All this performing stuff has made me think more and more about another blog, more geared towards self-promotion and comedy. Weird as this may sound, I can't imagine leaving LJ completely. I know grand total of five people are probably reading this, but I need some place for general brain dumping, and I've never really liked the feel of other blogging sites. But I need something more professional out there, and I should get on that.

Things seem to be gelling in my life, and I'm trying to figure out if the gelling process needs more hands on involvement, or should be allowed to form on its own. It's hard to judge this stuff.

Ah well. See you in another month or so.

Jan. 18th, 2012

09:46 pm - January Thaw

Trying to remember what I've done in the past month is surprisingly hard. Things have been pretty snoozy and dull.

Christmas in Jacksonville, Florida was maybe the most uneventful trip to Florida ever. I only left the house twice. Once was a trip to a drugstore to get my Dad some diabetes testing stuff. The other time was to return slippers that didn't fit. Super boring. Partly, it was just a consequence of kids being too young to be taken anywhere, and my parents being too old to want to go anywhere. I just sat around, picked some oranges, and read some David Sidaris and Sarah Vowell. One night, when the kids were asleep, and Mom and Dad were back at the motel, I watched Team America: World Police. I didn't enjoy very much. The Trey Parker-Matt Stone approach to satire just doesn't appeal to me anymore. Maybe I've outgrown it.

I took the path of least resistance on New Year's and went and saw the Scrimshaw Brothers show. A lot of stuff I'd seen before, but fun.

January, despite remarkably unseasonable weather, has been pretty blah. I got a head cold that messed up last weekend. I tried to actually cook some meals for a change, with like a pan and ingredients and stuff. Mixed results, but I need to revisit the chicken with curried yogurt sauce sometime. Also, I've gotten sucked into Mass Effect 2, which has become my crack du jour. Man. I've never lost track of time as intensely as when I'm in the Mass Effect universe. A big, classic space opera that mixes combat and role play, with multiple branching outcomes. I've wanted to play something like that my whole life.

Tomorrow, a notary is coming over and I'll sign the documents for my new mortgage. My interest rate is dropping from 5.875% to 4.25% They say refinancing is worth it if you can lower your rate by one point, and I'm lowering it by 1.625 points. Plus, my monthly payment is dropping by around a hundred bucks, and it looks like there will be no out of pocket fees. Hot damn! Now maybe I can start paying back the small mint I've borrowed from my parents.

Improv with Six Ring Circus starts up again next week. I was a little shocked to see my team lose half it's membership. One person moved out of state, one didn't have time anymore, and I guess the other two just weren't having fun. On the other hand, one of our new members is Courtney McLean. Yep, one of the RockStar Storytellers and the singer-songwriter for the Dirty Curls. I'm really excited about that. Also, I should be starting rehearsals with Joshua and Adrienne Scrimshaw any day now. I'll be in their next show, playing an Evil Steampunk Thomas Edison. Typecasting, I know. That'll go up in April.

And, of course, the end of the month brings us B-Fest. I'll be heading over to Chicago to watching a 24-hour marathon of the most inexcusable pieces of cinematic crap imaginable. Don't ask. You'd never understand. But it's a big weekend for me.

So yeah, I guess the cool stuff at the end of the month makes up for the ennui of the beginning of the month. Now to go back to Mass Effect 2 and save the galaxy some more.

Dec. 21st, 2011

09:05 pm - Let There Be Light

After years and years of idle discussions and whining, my parents and I finally got together and got the electrical updated in my house. Essentially, a bunch more outlets were installed and lighting fixtures were installed in my bathroom. Would you believe I haven't had electricity in my bathroom for years? Dad took the fixtures down to do some painting, then couldn't hook them up again (they were super old, I bet the wires just snapped.) My bathroom light was an old floor lamp I dragged in there, plus an extension cord (the only outlets where those old two-prong kind that were built into the light fixtures over the sink, so I had to plug in the lamp via the stairway. My house was rather like a huge Rube Goldberg machine.)

My computer room and spare room have been rearranged to take better advantage of the space and the new outlets. It's fantastic. I never realized how much constant, low-grade stress I was under, unplugging things to plug in other things, stepping over extension cords, etc. until I didn't have to do that anymore. Not to mention the sense of security that comes with basic safety measures. You really don't want to know how my computer was set up. "Fire hazard" is too gentle a term.

The other day, I made some instant pudding. For the first time ever... ever!... I plugged in the mixer and turned on the counter light... at the same time! I was almost laughing. I'm finally out of the dark ages.

Also, my back steps were replaced. My old back steps were just concrete slabs piled up. Yes, really. No mortar or anything. The new steps are made of wood and this sort of pseudo-wood made out of recycled plastic. Plus there's a 4' x 6' mini-deck, so I can open the back door while carrying groceries without fear of egg and neck breaking. Man alive, was my house substandard. It's so weird how easy it is to go in and out of a door now.

So yeah, huge relief. As to how much I owe Mom and Dad for all this... well, I'm not going to worry about that right now.

Also, I've decided to refinance the house. Should everything work out, my interest rate will drop one and a quarter points, and my monthly payment will drop by about $130. Whew! Of course there will be closing costs. A shit ton of closing costs. I'm waiting to see how much of that they can fold into the mortgage itself. It could be a deal-breaker.

Theater stuff: I caught the Brave New Workshop's Christmas show, Miracle at 824 Hennepin Avenue. It's darn funny. And the new space is great. As far as improv goes, I got my Six Ring Circus group The Track Team into Improv-A-Go-Go. We'll be up February 12, 19, and 26. So that's good. Unfortunately, about half of The Track Team isn't sure they want to come back to Six Ring next quarter. So that's bad. The teams may get reshuffled again.

Christmas will again be at my brother's place in Jacksonville, Florida. Scaled a lot of things back this year. Everyone understands.

Lots of other things on my mind, none of them too positive. But I don't want to go there right now. I'm just going to sit in my house and plug in appliances.

Nov. 28th, 2011

10:09 pm - Days of Dull

Life has been dull. Dull, dull, dull. Not much to fill up the days except stew about the same old crap.

Omegacon was fun, and much-needed, but I don't have much to say about it. It was just sailing for two days on a smooth sea of slack. I have to see what I can do to get there earlier on Friday, and maybe do some of the less social stuff. I've never walked around the lake or the woods, and I never got around to getting into the sauna. It's odd. I really hate being hot, but I love saunas. Some sort of Scandinavian genetic quirk, I guess.

HUGE Theater also held an improv marathon, as a fundraiser. Awkwardly, it was on a Wednesday, but that was so it would coincide with Give To The Max Day, a statewide 24 hour fundraising event to encourage donations to the arts and other non-profits. I don't quite understand how it worked, but matching funds were a possibility, so Wednesday it was. I took the day off and watched a serious buttload of improv. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication, and I didn't perform. I hung around, thinking maybe I could round out someone's team, but that didn't happen. Finally, I just couldn't keep my eyes open anymore (sitting in a dark theater for hours is bizarrely tiring), and left, just when a bunch of people I wanted to talk to showed up. Yay. I was really disappointed for a few days, but so what? It was a huge success for HUGE, and I hope they do it next year.

Thanksgiving was super quiet, just me, Mom and Dad. And turkey and cranberry sauce and all that. Played some cards. Watched a lot of Mythbusters. Finally got around to the Game of Thrones TV series. Finally watched the original The Italian Job. I'd discuss those last two in more depth, but I'm too tired right now.

We discussed getting some more work done on my house, and Mom surprised me with a phone call today. They moved on this a lot faster than I was expecting. Mom and Dad have hired a contractor and he's going to look around the place on Wednesday. I emitted a Will Smithesque "aw hell no!" and rushed home to clean up the place as best I could. Mostly I just hid incriminating evidence, so to speak. So anyway, after way too many years, I may get some more and better electrical in this dump. I've had so much shit plugged into single outlets for so long. It's been a fireman's nightmare, and something I've worried about for years. So that's finally going away.

I should be happy about this, but I'm not. I feel useless and worn out. I've realized in recent months that I am never going to be able to pay back Mom and Dad for all the loans they've given me about my house, my car(s). Everything, really. There's just no way. Money has really been preoccupying my thoughts, and it's been depressing me beyond words. I might scrape together one last fling for B-Fest, but that might be it for any significant recreational spending for... hell, I don't know. Years maybe. Right now I'm wondering if I can even make CONvergence 2012. Oh, and my house lost about 25% of it's value, and my property taxes still shot through the roof. I don't think owning a house has been worth it.

Sorry. I'll try to be less glum. Puppies! Rainbows! Ice cream!

Shoot. Didn't work.

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