Remembering Ian

I met Ian LeClair 10 years ago when Loaded Gun Theory was in rehearsals for one of my plays.

Ian didn’t act in this particular piece but was a pivotal part of the behind-the-scenes team, and I worked with him in the future in a series of overnight Slapdash events. He was always positive, always gregarious, never judgmental, and a really genuine, sweet guy.

I’d run into him occasionally in a grocery store (where he was sometimes working and sometimes shopping) and his positivity and earnestness never flagged. He always seemed happy to see me.

He’d just turned 40 a few days ago.

His sudden departure has really affected me. He’ll be missed.

A Little Non-Writing Bragging

I re-pulled some muscle in my lower back a few days ago and it’s super annoying and slowing me down, so I thought I’d cheer myself up (temporarily) by recalling a couple of nice things that happened earlier in the week.

1) I hit a home run!

Yeah, at the second game of the season with this new softball team I’m on, I saw a pitch floating out there in front of me. I was going to let it go by because I wanted to get a better feel for the pitcher. But it was so tempting, I let ‘er rip.

The ball flew over the center fielder’s head and I ran around the bases. At third, the coach waved me home. I couldn’t believe it.

First home run of the season on our team. Possibly the only one I’ll ever hit. I’m not really a power hitter. So trying to hold onto that feeling.

2) A colleague of mine left my workplace earlier in the week after a few years at the company and he sent a note to all the company’s leadership without my knowledge. It was forwarded to me later, and here’s what it said:

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Hope Versus Time

I’ve been thinking about this blog post off and on the last week or so because it frames climate change in pretty stark terms.

If you’re really serious, you should also toss out your air conditioning; only heat your house if temps are down in the 40s; never travel anywhere by plane; buy local food; and install rooftop solar.

I could probably have 100 hours of conversation about this in a week: why so few people are doing anything about it, whether doing these things would really matter in the first place, what it would take to actually have an impact, etc.

But just as a thought exercise, I tried to imagine different time frames for mass devastation.

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Home Improvement Accomplishment

I’ve been looking for some motion-sensitive lighting for a while now. It bothers me when I go out of town for several days that I leave my porch and carport lights on the whole time in an attempt at so-called security (so wasteful).

So I’m pleased as punch (punch isn’t even that good, why is that an expression?) to say that I put up these rad solar-charged lights in the front and back of my place which turn on once you get within 20 feet.

And they don’t need batteries, don’t need to get plugged in. They just work.

We’ll see how I feel about ‘em in a year or so (if they’re still as powerful) but I’m pretty psyched for now. I just went outside and waved at them and they shot on at full blast. Thirty seconds later they went dark again. I could do this all night.

It’s the little things…

FronteraFest Follow-Up

A few years ago I wrote about the fickle allure of the fringe festival. I was thinking about that this Saturday at the closing night party after our comic farce didn’t make it past the first night’s performance.

It was a lot of work this year with a talented cast and a number of rewrites. It’s easy to feel bitter about the whole thing and point fingers about why we didn’t move forward.

I definitely wanted a few days to digest the experience. It was nice to have my dad around too who gave me constructive criticism about how I’d put the play together (even if it was a bit tough to swallow).

I asked a lot of the actors to hone the project, so I guess more than anything I feel a little embarrassed that we spent so much time trying to get it right without another opportunity to go onstage.

All that said, it was a good experience; and a lot of other, really talented acts moved forward from our week. A couple of my favorites were Coven and Please Stay, both born from the slam poetry scene about racism and mental health, respectively. Both were moving and important and very well-performed.

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Big Guy Opens Tomorrow

And here we go. Had our final rehearsal last night for this play, and I think we’re in pretty good shape.

It’s a super-competitive week in terms of other shows. There are 4-5 groups that have gone to Best of Fest in the past, so I feel like we have a shot, but it’s not a gimme. If we don’t make it to Best of Week, I’m hoping for a Wildcard slot. But who knows.

I mean I don’t care, of course. It’s only my ego at stake. And it’s not fragile or anything. I’m sooooo thick-skinned.

Anyway, here’s the flyer my Thai buddy helped me with. I like the vagueness and ominousness of it. That’s a shadow of a man under the chair, in case it’s not obvious.

Will report back on the results…

Tennis Lessons this Friday

I can’t believe FronteraFest is here again. I’ve got a new play going up on February 6th, but before that, I’m going to be in a terrific storytelling cooperative, organized by my friend Marla. Her theme over several weeks is Love & Loss. This week, I go up with two other wonderful people.

Tristan is telling a story of meeting her husband online, and the subsequent drama and resolution with his family.

Rich is telling a story of growing older (and older) and looking for partners well into his 70s and 80s (side note: the dude just got married to someone new last month at 87).

And me? I’ll be telling a story of taking tennis lessons in Oakland when I was a kid, and the early twists and turns that took me on.


INTERJECTED UPDATE AFTERWARDS : The show was a lot of fun, and I felt like I had the story down well. We didn’t make it on to Best of Week, but fortunately that wasn’t the primary goal. I did get this great picture out of it (taken by my friend Ava):

Now I’ll be focusing on the Feb 6th show, and hopefully getting some artwork for it together soon, coming from a business associate in Thailand. Watch this space! (and now, back to the original post…)


Oh, you want more? Okay, here’s a draft of the story. I’ll be telling a slightly different version out loud on Friday, but this is the source material.


TENNIS LESSONS

When I was 10 and living in California, the city of Oakland began offering free tennis lessons to kids 12 and under at some of their public parks.

At the time I remember thinking that was really generous of the local government, but now I think it might have been more about displacing skateboarders, bikers and drug dealers that were using the overgrown courts as a place to meet up, especially at parks like Bushrod—named after successful surgeon and philanthropist Bushrod Washington James–which was in my family’s neighborhood.

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The Most Important Thing

[warning: mostly irony-free post]

The “worst year” has officially passed. Though there’s another one ahead soon for his brother.

There were definitely ups and downs this past year: times of indignation, sarcasm, defiance, distraction and–my favorite–plain, outright lying. But all things considered, it could have been a lot worse.

I find this period both rewarding and trying. I also find it such a crucial time to have conviction and to be present. It feels extraordinarily important to be a kind of pillar and stay focused on the kids’ development. It just seems like this is a time when they’re ready to stray and find new paths to follow. This is a good thing in general, but I want them to know that they’re supported and listened to. It feels like the most important thing as they transition to adulthood.

I’m not sure I ever would have realized this without experiencing it. I’ve always felt it was important to stay present and attuned and ready, but now more than ever.

I can’t quite explain it, but I keep coming up with these cheesy analogies, like being there to “right the ship” or “carry the weight” or “catch them when they fall” or…. That’s all I can think of (shakes the clichés off).

Good, solid dudes. Proud of them, even as they occasionally fall and fail.

Now I just have to prepare myself for them getting behind the wheel.

Eyes on the Brooklyn Bridge

So my dad grew up in New York. He was born somewhere around Yonkers, I think, and went to college in Queens. Then after college and a bunch of fun in the army (sarcasm) he hightailed it to California, went to grad school at Berkeley, met my mother, and…. here I am.

Anyway, I’ve been traveling with him the past few years, and keep trying to think of ideas of where to go next.

And now I’ve got something. He’s mentioned a couple times that he always wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge but never got a chance.

So count this as an early 2019 goal. Get to the bridge. Walk across. Become a hipster.

Maybe this summer? You can visit Marc and Darlene of Ride the Mole fame too.

On the list.

FronteraFest Stirs

We had the first read-through of Big Guy this weekend, and it went pretty well!

I think the cast is excellent, and the play’s not too shabby either. I have a bit of work to do to flesh things out but nothing too major. Nhaila, Jenn, David, Cherry and Laura seem like they’ll fit the parts well, and Ellie’s gonna direct this time, which will be a fun experiment for me. It’s a real luxury to sit back and watch someone else struggle with logistics.

We also had a photoshoot at Hyde Park Theatre. I took a few shots while it was going on, and I like the way this one turned out with the mix of blurriness and sharpness.

We debut the last regular week of the festival on Wednesday, February 6th.

Oh, I’m also I’m in another piece on January 18th. I’m a storyteller in my friend Marla’s series about Love & Loss. I’ll be telling a story tentatively titled Tennis Lessons, about my rise to tennis semi-stardom as part of the Oakland public parks program back in the 20th century. I get to be partnered with my old pal Tristan and my new British buddy Rich. I’m excited about that one too (and again, I don’t have to worry about logistics!).

See you there, squared.