Chaos Attraction

Recap Day: November 2017, Section 4

2017-12-27, 8:53 a.m.

November 17:
So I got some bad news at work. Not about me, mind you, but it still sucks. (Well, I got a little bad news about me: doesn’t sound like The Wall Between The Cubes is going to happen if the desks we have are no longer manufactured...whatever that means.)
So they seem to have a terrible time hiring anyone. Like one coworker of mine retired last June and a year and a half-ish later, they finally get around to posting that job online again. I read the listing and kind of wondered why they mentioned that the job would be running the call center and front counter and our branch office, since we have someone now who runs the call center again. I fanwanked this or something and assumed they just meant “oh, the public service people do all of that stuff.”
Like I said, we hired someone (finally) to run the call center. I became friends with her and really liked her. However, her manager was ... uh, the difficult one, and at one point I went out to lunch with her (for purposes of anonymity, I’ll call her Burger Buddy) and warned her about ways that this manager is difficult. It sounded like it was something she could handle--she’d dealt with someone like that before and knew how to handle it.
Today I walked in and she was coming in at the same time. We talked about clothes, I showed her some stuff, and I went into her section of the office and was introduced to our new temp, who was sitting next to her.
All was happy.
Within the next hour, I found out she’d been canned. I was told it was an end-of-probation canning and she just wasn’t picking up things fast enough.

I...doubt this.

Not that I can say for sure, since it’s not like I was in there constantly or anything. I did hear one coworker complain about that when Burger Buddy had been there for a few weeks. However, (a) public service here is incredibly difficult, (b) I can say from my own experience it took doing it for a year and a half before I was anything other than useless at it, and (c) Burger Buddy had some whopping challenges such as her manager going on sudden leave for two months a few weeks into her hiring, and pretty much losing almost all of the call center employees (don’t ask me why we’re down to only ten and most of them can no longer work during phone hours, but that happened) and she was almost always running everything by herself in there. And I can say, even though I may be biased, that she was delightful to work with and did very well with me informing her of things and operating on that without causing me troubles. I thought she was great. Fuck if I know.

But “didn’t pick up things fast enough?” I....kinda smell a rat. If we’re being *that* picky, can we afford to turn anyone down? It takes them over a year at the quickest to hire anyone, and like I said, they’re pretty useless without a long stint of training. Now you end up with a whopping three people to do all of this stuff AGAIN, while you wait around to hire someone else. Oh yeah, and while they hired a new temp, this was her second day! Imagine walking in on day two, you sit down with the person who’s probably going to train you, and then she’s gone within an hour. Oh yeah, and your supervisor’s going on vacation for a while! Who’s going to train you now? Hell if I know!

Once upon a time one of my coworkers told me that he was hired in a particular department and found out the hard way that that department cans everyone when their probation was up. Are we going to become somewhere like that now? What happens to the poor next person who gets hired here (if we do hire anyone)? Is that one going to get disposed of after probation too?

I know what it’s like to get canned for the holidays. I can’t imagine she was that bad. I didn’t know of her having any ah, personality conflicts with her manager, but given the manager’s reputation, what else could it be? This just sucks.

November 18:

I saw “Beautiful,” a musical about the life of songwriter Carole King, with my mom and my visiting cousin Bill. The opening and closing of the musical take place during her performance at Carnegie Hall, and she says something along the lines of “Sometimes life goes the way you want and sometimes it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t go the way you want, you find something beautiful.” There’s the motto of the show for you.

The musical starts in the 1950’s, where a precocious, grade-skipping 16-year-old Carole goes off to sell her first song. She attends Queens College, where she meets her future husband and songwriting partner Gerry. They’re making out by the end of the scene and by the next scene (we’re told it’s six months later) she’s already pregnant. Well, that was super fast! He proposes on the spot and she asks if he would have done that were she not pregnant. His response is, “I hope it’s a girl.” Hello, red flag! There’s a rival team of songwriters they become best friends with, Barry the hypochondriac and Cynthia, who is awesome. Cynthia actually sings her audition for working there, changing the lyrics to “Happy Days Are Here Again” to pimp herself as a songwriter. Cynthia is awesome, though I wonder how well that sort of thing would go over these days if one pulled one of those “gumption” moves in 2017.

Most of the first act is switching back and forth between showing Carole/Gerry and/or Cynthia/Barry coming up with song ideas, and then the show showing how the songs were performed, by The Drifters or The Shirelles or the Righteous Brothers. Which is fun to watch, but in a way seems to be distracting you from how there isn’t a huge amount of plot. I had no idea that she wrote so many hits of the 60’s, such as “Locomotion,” and I don’t think my relatives that went to the show to me (much more contemporary to that time period) did either. I never would have guessed that was her (old) style!

The plot of the show is really about Carole and Gerry’s marriage. Gerry may love/care about Carole and the family, but he also wants to be free, he wants to go out and hear new songs, and at the end of the first act he proposes having an open marriage rather than lie about cheating on her. His motif during the show is “I can’t breathe.” He tries drugs, he has a nervous breakdown...clearly this guy is on his way out mentally. This is emphasized by the show when they perform “Chains” and “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” early on in the second act. Meanwhile, Carole grew up thinking that marriage is when the fun in life started, and she always seems to be thinking about how her parents got divorced and how she wants to have a happy family in the suburbs in order to not be like them. This is contrasted with Cynthia, whose parents stayed unhappily married and Cynthia wants to avoid marrying Barry because what if getting married ruins the relationship?

In the end, Cynthia finally agrees to marry Barry, and Carole finds out that Gerry is straight up cheating on her and leaves him, moves to California, writes the music for the “Tapestry” album, and becomes a huge success. It’s interesting how the show is about someone who sees herself as kind of a wallflower and says that she’s just a normal person and who wants to hear a normal person sing? (The response: “other normal people?”) She goes from dressing as a 50’s schoolgirl to Princess Diana around 1980 frumpy in the sixties (at one point Cynthia attempts to politely compliment Carole’s outfit and goes from, “I really love your--that was a good song!”), and even when she grows out her hair and performs at Carnegie Hall, she’s not nearly as blingy as the people she wrote songs for. It’s quite a contrast from the way musicals usually go, especially compared to the iridescent costumes of The Drifters and The Shirelles.

Notable things about the production:
* I enjoyed how they basically flung out the pianos across the stage periodically.
* “When I hear a good song, I feel like someone understands me.” -Carole
* The occasional popping in and out of Neil Sedaka, presumably because no one can stand him for more than a couple of minutes.
* “Even my frog has a crush on him.” --Carole’s friend about Gerry
* “I have the right kind of body, it’s just not organized properly.” -Carole on why a guy like Gerry would never notice her.
* At one point Gerry tells Carole flippantly that she needs to listen to Bach if she’s ever going to get to Carnegie Hall. She immediately bangs out some Bach on the piano and he’s all, “Ok, I’m an asshole.”
* After Gerry and Carole get engaged, they kiss while the piano slowly revolves around and moves them off stage. Very dramatic!
* “I tell all my songwriters to study ‘Little Darlin’”--Donny, the writers’ boss. Cynthia’s response is that “it’s so much easier to hit a low target.”
* A few times during the show the costumes on the performers flip and suddenly become a new dress. I wish I knew how to design that, that was amazing.
* The audience went the craziest for any of the songs played from “Tapestry,” EXCEPT “Beautiful.” Probably because that one doesn’t seem to be very popular and I certainly hadn’t heard it before on the radio myself. It makes me wonder why that was picked to be the name/closing song, rather than oh, “Natural Woman.”

After that, we went out to dinner at Chef Chu’s, Bill’s favorite restaurant near where he stays when he’s out here for work. The food is great, but seriously, we need to order dishes with bigger portions because Mom and I were still hungry and seriously hit the Jack in the Box across the street to fill up afterwards.
And after that, Mom wanted to drop by the uh...VFW hall for “Turkey Bingo,” which was some random thing her friends were doing. We were way too late to actually play bingo, but I did get a free margarita from the guys in the hall and everyone liked my knitting, so there was that. And then after that, we went by the bookstore because I had a couple of coupons that I used on Christmas gifts, and a few gifts for myself.

November 19:

I didn’t sleep all night that night. I had asked Melinda several days before (Thursday, as I recall) about what the hell to do about editing my monologue. I called her on my way driving yesterday to freak out and she said, “Can’t you pick another monologue?” which I was...unthrilled about. Also, at this point I don’t think I could pick another one if I wanted to and this was the best one in it. So she said she’d go look at it. I kept checking my phone off and on all day waiting for her response and didn’t get one... and then was up all night freaking out and worrying.

I need to have two minutes of this all memorized by Wednesday! I am super behind! But how the hell can I memorize this if I don’t know what words I am supposed to be saying? And she’s taking her time about this or whatever, so what if she doesn’t respond and I have to figure all of this out for myself? Do I cut out the end? Or do I cut out the beginning? I guess I’ll have to cut out the end and end on the end of the audition, but that misses the dramatic yet fizzling finish. Or I cut out the start and start when she goes into the audition, but that misses the explanation and the fun of the crazy audition situation. I hate this! Why does he think this is a good idea to just cut one chunk or another again? All of that just ran through my head alllllll night long. Now usually if you’re worrying about some crap thing in the middle of the night, there’s two options: (a) actually get up and Do The Thing like go finish your unfinished homework, or (b) remind yourself that hey, you can’t go to the mechanic until they open at 7 a.m. and there’s nothing you can do about it until then. But in this case, I could have done something but at the same time couldn’t do something because I didn’t know what the hell to memorize. Maybe I should just memorize all the lines and then mentally prune or something? Plus I was at my mom’s house and she might notice if I’m up doing stuff all night.... Repeat, repeat, repeat, I got no sleep.

Finally at 8 a.m. I woke up Mom, did the scene for her in full (she liked it), did the scene without the start (she was confused), did the scene without the end (pretty much same), and did the scene with the cuts I liked (she liked it). I told her my dilemma and she was as stumped as I was. So that was no help.

I got up and drove to the Harvest Festival craft fair in Sacramento, where I ended up not buying much besides hitting my favorite booth. I didn’t see anything I wanted to get for anyone else or anything much else I was in love with, so oh well, that saved me some money. I attempted to hit a Goodwill looking for some kind of red scarf to use as a babushka, then saw a lady with an actual babushka in there and realized that the giant red scarf I have at my house will do as well. I called Melinda and she said she was as stumped as I was, that the Royal Shakespeare Company in England (or um, some name like that that I don’t remember exactly) did internal line edits of Shakespeare all the time, and uh...basically just do what you want to do, I guess.

Okay, fine. If the teacher can’t stand the internal cuts, too bad. It’s not like I need to grade grub at my age when I already have two bachelor’s degrees anyway. (Note: and as it turns out, when I brought this up with him on Monday, he was all “that’s fine, it happens.” All that agita for nothing.)

I then went back to town and attended the Tellebration, which is apparently a nationwide storytelling event held in various places. They had Mark, the Sierra slam-winner/dude putting on a festival in January, as host, and he was wearing a fake tuxedo T-shirt, jeans and Crocs. Very dignified hosting outfit, sir! They had four professional/award-winning people at ours.

Joan Stockbridge: she specializes in “therapeutic healing” stories, she said. The first story she did was about Lee’s surrender to Grant at the end of the Civil War, and the second one was an old myth... honestly, I don’t think I could recap it well, about Susanoo--uh, just read the Wikipedia for the general drift. It’s complicated. But she took the idea of Amaterasu hiding in a cave to get away from her attacking brother and had the people she told the story to write poems about “I went into hiding when...” and “I was sitting in the dark...” and “When I knew I could come out” and “stepping into the light.” Then she and her friend read the answers off their phone. It was quite something.

Ed Lewis (local boy): first he did the story of the ants and the grasshopper except he doesn’t like the ending and rewrote it to have people choose to save the grasshopper because his music fed their souls. Then his second story started out mentioning a restaurant where newlyweds were given a penis-shaped dessert (!!!) and somehow this morphed into a story about going on safari and trying to climb a tree to get away from an elephant--which if you’ve seen this guy, you know he was pulling your leg on that one.

Mindy Myers: Mindy is a Moth winner and you could tell. Her first story was about going on some summer Quaker mission trip a la Habitat for Humanity to get away from her parents. After managing to talk them out of making her go to “Friendship Time” because she’s Jewish, she was allowed to wander around the nowhere they were living in...where she found a big ol’ pot farm and every night she started helping herself. But by the end of the summer she had gotten herself into a habit--so before she goes home, she throws out all her clothes and just packs sixteen pounds worth of pot into her suitcase. (You can tell the time period this didn’t happen in....) Naturally, the airport loses her luggage and finds it and when they called, she was all, “No, don’t open it....” She gets back the luggage and hides her pot stash in some pagoda jar the parents keep in the living room (I guess they can’t smell?) out in plain sight, and one day she finds her dad spooning up some “tea” out of the pagoda pot at breakfast, saying it’s the greatest tea ever!

Her second story was about moving from NYC to SF. She saved a guy’s life via Heimlich in Ohio and that led to her meeting a woman who was moving from SF to NYC and gave her her apartment. When Mindy arrived in SF, she met a blonde California hottie named Tom, they went back to his apartment and apparently banged all over the place in the dark. But when she woke up, she discovered that her period had started during the act and blood was everywhere. Like, in his hair level of blood everywhere. Not knowing what else to do, she starts trying to climb out his window and she’s halfway through when he wakes up and asks what’s going on?

“Now, if I was in New York, the guy would have heped pushed me out the rest of the way.” (Hm, another reason for me to think I don’t ever want to go to New York City.) But in California, he was all, “Let’s take a shower together and tie-dye the sheets!” (And stuff like this is why I like hippies.) They were together for two years, and thanks to Facebook she eventually tracked him down later and he said he still had the sheets. Adorable. Gross, but adorable. I don’t think there were any small kids at this one, right....?

The final official performer (sitting next to me, nice dude) was Kirk Waller, whose first story was about Brer Rabbit, and who doesn’t like a good Brer Rabbit? In this one, Brer Rabbit had been being chased by Wolf all day, but when Brer Elephant asks Brer Rabbit to scratch his back for him, he asks Brer Elephant to make it sound like Brer Rabbit is attacking when Wolf comes around, he’s intimidated.

The second story (sometimes done with musical accompaniment on the banjo) was the story of Stagger Lee, which you may have heard about on various songs. Kirk brought the story of Stagger Lee’s first public murder of Billy Lyons (they were fighting over hats) to life, noting that Stagger Lee kept getting out of prison via pardons...and even though in real life he just got tuberculosis and died, he carried on telling about Stagger Lee’s exploits in hell. Fun times!

In other news, Dawn talked me into signing up for a membership in a storytelling organization (to the point of being all, “Here’s $20, do it and let me know when all the events are,” pretty much) and we talked to a Virgo lady who says she sucks at storytelling because she puts in too many details. I wasn’t sure what to say to that one!

And after that...I went home to work on rehearsing for the monologue--with my own internal edits, teacher’s preference be damned!

Class #11
I called in sick from work this day. Mostly because of the previous sleepless night making me really just want to freaking sleep the next day (boy, was I out of it at the crack of dawn worse than usual), but also because I really needed some time to memorize my dang lines. And work on all of my various drama papers I needed to turn in. And draw up an imaginary floor plan for a scene that only has one chair. Y’know, stuff like that. I seriously put on a timer and for five minutes(!) I’d work on a paper or whatever else and then when the timer went off, I’d run my lines once. I did this for...I dunno, something like 2.5-3 hours straight? And it worked really well for line memorization. Though I suspect other people who probably don’t have ADD are having seizures just reading that I did this. But hey, Shit Got Done, and I got my lines memorized, which turned out to be really good because I went to class and he totally expected us to be off book and to have to do class exercises accordingly. Which is always awkward for the few people who didn’t manage it.

Oh, I also came up with some scarf shenanigans. My character announces that she’s dressed in a peasant apron, red babushka and heavy boots for her audition and I decided to do the same since as far as I’m concerned the scene takes place after she gets out of the audition, later that day. I borrowed a peasant apron from Mom when I was home, I just bought heavy boots last weekend, and I had a giant red scarf already. It is actually a really huge scarf width-wise and I was thinking of trying to do this with something smaller, and I went so far as to hit a thrift store (Sunday) trying out various smaller red scarves. But while I was there I spotted a woman wearing an actual babushka, and I realized that my scarf was probably supposed to be big for that.
But I got the idea to use the scarf as a prop--which hey, he said we could do if it was something on our body at the time. I decided to start off with the scarf just hanging around my neck, to wrap the scarf around my head in the scene when I start talking about the babushka, and then to dramatically remove the scarf during the audition. I decided to swat one side of the scarf off my body like I was telling a kid to shut his mouth in the public library, and then to yank the other side of the scarf out like I was stealing fruit, and then finish the audition section by dramatically posing with my arms out at the end. Then slowly release them and sit back down, then clench my fists in the scarf upon the line “Interesting?” And finally, to tug on the scarf a full times to emphasize the end of “I am special!”
Well, I like it. I don’t know if it’s “too much” or “bold choices!” but I will bet on the latter since he got on me for not being bold enough in the last scene (which to be fair, didn’t have a lot of opportunity to get into onstage fights like some of the dudes were doing). Eh, what the heck, he can always make me redo the scene without it and I can do that.

Oh, for the record: when I got to class, I discussed this internal cuts thing with the teacher again. NOW HE’S FINE WITH IT. All that agita for nothing, y’all.
Also, at one point he said he thought I should be a theater person. I agree! Why won’t a theater take me? He thought ARC was too far for me to go, but... well, my town definitely wouldn’t take me, so.
(Ironically, I just saw auditions listed in my town for a play that’s allowing EVERYONE to audition instead of just students...but I am busy all three days of the audition times. Oh well, it doesn’t look like a play I’d even want to see anyway.)

We had another quiz, I got 100%, booyah. I am getting an A so far in general.

Today’s lecture was on vocal exercises.
vocal variety--think as we talk
projection-soft (a lot of air) to loud
make whatever I ask you to do logical for the character
pitch: high/low
pace- fast and slow
pause- stop and go
word color-allowing word to be what it is (imagery)
(say the word "hot" with sizzle, "rough" with rough sound)

He also did a couple of “puppeteer” games. The first time he had us have to stand there delivering our lines (again, WHEW FOR BEING OFF BOOK TONIGHT) while someone else held up signs saying “fast” or “slow” or whatever kind of directions like that. The second time he handed out pre-written cards with 8 stage directions on them and you were supposed to perform your scene while incorporating those directions into it.

My directions were (a) down left, (b) cross stage right, (c) do a releve (go up on your toes, for the non-ballet people), (d) recover (go back down), (e) c ross upstage center, (f) do a quarter turn to the left, (g) float (yeah, you guess that one), (h) point with both index fingers. This worked out pretty well for my scene because I could do a releve on “Outdoors, in a real forest” to imitate a tree, did the float on “several with sharpened axes” (that was the biggest stretch there, but ok), and pointed when I was talking about my wardrobe. He said “I never would have known you were doing someone else’s blocking.” Huzzah!

More notes on auditions--he handed out the audition flyer for “Lend Me A Tenor” to point things out to us about it.
* Callbacks are there to check your chemistry with others--so you’d better show up to them. You probably can’t ask to just do it at a different time.
* 3 things to build an ensemble: safety first, help your partner succeed, find a way to succeed.
* If you get a callback, these days they may just post it on Facebook or a sign somewhere rather than contact you directly.
* If the flyer says cold reading, practice your monologue because you never know.
* Rehearsals are usually every night, all night, especially ensemble shows.
* Blocking: we’re looking for movine pictures. You have to travel from picture to picture.

Afterwards, I had some questions about his own audition sheet for the “Gumbo” show he is putting together in February. He said he didn’t know the rehearsal schedule but since this one wouldn’t have everyone in one big group it probably wouldn’t be every single night. I could do that, I think...other than crappy weather driving in January, lord knows nobody has much going on then. Also, it sounds like you just...put together some kind of odd act of your own for the audition? Not a typical thing at all. I’m not sure what to do if I do it--the theme is gender. I have some ideas about having to apologize while/for being female but that’s not really an upper. He suggested something historical, like Abigail Adams’s letter to her husband about men being tyrants and I was all, “OOH PETTICOAT AFFAIR,” but upon further reflection I don’t think I can boil 2 years of drama down to 2 minutes, so maybe not. I must think on this a while longer.

November 22:
Class #12
Monologue daaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I don’t think I would have scheduled performances on the night before Thanksgiving even if there’s a time crunch, but I think only four people didn’t show up, so...that’s probably doing pretty good. (Note: I overheard some instructor wandering through the halls wondering if anyone would show up. Uh-HUH.)
Most people’s were....okay to not so good. A few people just completely blanked out on their lines and forgot and just gave up and stopped right there, including my scene partner buddy. She hasn’t had the best couple of days (she was dressed fabulous and had GREAT hair but her face just looked drained today when she finally made it in) and had spent all day long trying to get a new fridge before Thanksgiving...and she came in late so he made her go first. This did not go well and I was sad for her, but...oh well, I guess. She was all, “and I’d been going over my lines all day, too.” Hear, hear.
As for me, I was SUPER PSYCHED to be doing mine but even I blew a bunch of lines at the front, and I’m still very grumbly about this. I can’t even explain why since I knew them and I don’t get stage fright a bit (note: it’s not bragging, it’s just not caring if I make a fool of myself on stage or not). But I managed to recover and did an excellent job with my scarf. The teacher said afterwards that other than diction (he said in a real rehearsal situation I would have had more time to not have this be an issue!) and whatnot, I did great! “You had that thing out!” He even said I should do the scarf in an audition, they wouldn’t expect that. I took some shots of what he wrote down on the paper since who knows when I’m getting the paperwork back--”fair attack, costume utilization, facial expressions, various characters, bold choices, commitment to tactics, climax, end follow through” were all good! Not so great: diction, stay in character (I flubbed on the lines at the start) and slow down. Fair enough. know what? I think I can act! Now what do I do from there....

Now we’re on to the final scene of class--do a 2-3 page scene, don’t do any monologues this time, have to answer ALLLLLLLLLLLL the long questions for this one (ouch!), do the usual script notes and floor plan. We were also encouraged to do research and he said, “you do this work, it’s all a piece of cake.” My scene partner and I are going to do “The Days and Nights of Beebee Fenstermaker,” i.e. the one scene for two women that we haven’t already done that I liked. We liked it upon reading it, so.... here we go! Too bad uh, I really don’t have time to start working on memorization (or at least lord knows I don’t have much access to a printer/scanner until I get to Mom’s) for a few days and I don’t think I’m even starting in on the paperwork for a while....

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