Intergenerational Friendships

My dad and I just spent a week together in Chicago on a kind of theatrical tour. We saw shows at the Steppenwolf (I’ve always wanted to see what it was like there), Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare, Second City and Cadillac Palace (wow, that’s a lot).

We had mixed opinions on all those shows, and generally enjoyed them less than others we were traveling with, but it was a great opportunity to get a taste of the scene and the city.

One element of our trip included occasional panels with actors and directors who would talk about the shows they were in, and about the theater scene in Chicago in general, especially as it compared to other cities like New York, LA, Minneapolis and San Francisco.

One of my favorites of these discussions was with a group of young actors who were trying to make ends meet as they got a footing in the city.

At one point, they were asked what he “biggest surprise” was about joining the theater scene after studying performing arts in school. Most of them talked about how difficult it was to get agents to work for them, or about how expensive it was in the city, or about what kind of jobs they had to get to pay the bills. But one guy named Brandon also talked about how surprised he was by the intergenerational friendships he’d made over time. And it struck me that I feel this is true too, that being involved in the arts scene allows for a much wider breadth of friends at different ages and with different backgrounds than most professions.

Continue reading

Adirondacks and Back

This thing happened over the weekend. Doesn’t quite feel real. Flew up to Albany, met up with some old and new work friends, ran a mess of miles in a beautiful place.

I loved it, feel like I have these great lasting memories of bonding slowly over a few days, getting worn out, running in the middle of the night, dodging lightning storms and drinking local beer with increasingly silly people.

(maybe all these relay races are my making up for never having done summer camp as a kid)

There’s talk of doing more of these races, maybe in Tennessee or New Jersey or wherever else. At this point it’s just talk. And I’m wiped out. And they’re all crazy. But…. it was a good time.


1st leg at Saratoga Lake

a bunch of old-timers (and Sonali) squinting in the sun (our Van1)

Finally made it

Well, I’ve been thinking about this place since February 22nd

At the end of the walk this morning, a couple of hundred yards from the rental car place, I discovered a new brewery I’d never heard of before. I’m going to make a plan to check it out.

Today a friend was doing a birthday bar crawl and we ended up there, so…. made it. And… just for the record, I think this would be a great space for show at some point (see interior shot below).


Speaking of that, little tidbits in the works are:

  • My friend Raul and I are in the beginning stages of planning a benefit show in the spring for Vela Families
  • I’ve got a short fringe piece written for January that’s fully cast with awesome people and I’ve got Ellie M lined up to direct it
  • I’ve got a proposal in for the long fringe which may or may not happen (will figure that out within the next few weeks)
  • I’m slated to tell a story about tennis (probably) in a fringe piece my friend Marla is putting together
  • Got a last-minute call to run another relay race up north, and…. yikes, I think I’m gonna do it?
  • Headed out of town for another jaunt with my old man later this month too

Feels like lots going on this fall. Somehow it’s all holding together for the most part. And then it’ll all crash down and we’ll start over again.

More soon…

look at that clean smooth surface! (and a drum set even…)

Discussing Carrington with my Dad

I’ve been thinking about the movie Carrington lately. It came out over 20 years ago and stars Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce, about the shared lives of painter Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. I’d never heard of either real-life artist before seeing the film.

My dad recommended it to me recently which is why I watched it and why it’s on my mind. It’s a subtle, sort of meandering film focusing on characters and changes in their relationships over time.

My dad thinks it’s a fantastic character study with wonderful acting and nuance and subtle insights into human behavior and interactions.

I…. enjoyed a lot about it, but found it oddly lacking in recognizable shape or plot.

If you look at the Rotten Tomatoes page (52% good reviews) you can see a hint of the differing opinions about it (from “impressive” and “intelligent” to “cowardly and dull”).

Anyway, I get a lot out of the discussions of different types of art with my father. He’s a smart, immersive artist himself, and we’ve talked a lot about the differences between US and British and European films. This one (from the UK) is focused on interactions and emotional behavior, whereas US films (even independent ones) are more often about plot and arc and reaching a certain climax at a predictable stage.

I try to keep a balance of all these things when I write, but I’m quick to question a script when it doesn’t hit key milestones (three-act structure, etc.). I want to hold onto these other values (nuance, subtlety and emotional behavior) and work to draw them out without falling prey to more generic structures. It’s an ongoing struggle for me, and I feel lucky that I’m able to have these discussions with my dad which give me a broader picture of what can be compelling to different people, without dismissing stories that just don’t *feel* right for one reason or another.

Backing up the Back Pack

The Back Pack crew (coupled with their impostors for the night)

So I got this out-of-the-blue message last Friday from one of my favorite performance groups in town, The Back Pack. They asked if I’d be interested in taking a crash course in one of their performances and getting onstage Sunday night for a benefit night they were putting on.

Though I was worried about being able to learn everything that quickly, I figured it was one of those things I’d always regret if I didn’t do.

So I did it.

And it really did feel like a kind of dream come true. I ended up getting to play Katie’s role (we did a full-on gender swap of all the roles) and it was goofy, imperfect, a good workout, and a lot of fun.

I ended up pulling a muscle in my back at the end of it, after kinda dopily running and playing basketball earlier in the weekend, but it was well worth it. Still beaming from it, and won’t likely forget it. I was flattered to be asked and I’m proud of the way it ended up. That crew is awesome and are gonna keep accomplishing awesome things.

(and no, I have no plans to ever do it again, and that’s okay by me…) 🙂

Building Bicycles in Bangkok

one of the beach cruisers my friend is setting up in his new shop

Well, maybe Phuket, actually.

A friend of mine does computer consulting work in Thailand and is trying to open a bike rental shop. He’s invited me over to check the place out, maybe do some work on getting things up and running.

Things seem to be lining up okay for me to do it. Since life can seem pretty short sometimes, I feel like it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of, especially before I over-think it. I’ll be able to do some remote work while out there too so should be able to keep my current job.

So…. Thailand, here I come…. Maybe. The fall is the best time to go (as it always seems to be everywhere). Random opportunity, will probably regret it if I don’t do it.

Logistics, logistics. More to come….


Mr. Richard

This is a sad, kind of personal post, but I wanted to jot it down somewhere.

One of my kids’ preschool teachers, known as Mr. Richard, passed away over the weekend, and it’s really hit me hard.

He was one of the sweetest, kindest-hearted and generous men I’ve known. The whole class loved following him around the yard, climbing on top of him and learning how to drum from him.

One of his creative hobbies was traditional African mask-making (he changed his name to Ngadesa after a long visit to Africa). The kids and I went to an art show of his which was put together by an admirer. He sold every single mask he’d made and seemed completely humbled and overwhelmed by the attention.

I wanted to buy one from him at the show, and had a couple in mind that I thought would fit with my (so-called) décor. But my youngest son had his heart set on this one (pictured) which depicted a kind of gaudy rapper dude. TOTALLY my kind of thing.

Anyway, it’s up on my wall now and it’s fit in pretty well with the house’s style over the past ten years. It’s a nice reminder of him. He was only 44 when he died and we (the world) lost a wonderful human being. His impact on our lives was significant and beautiful and memorable. We’ll miss you and think of you often, Ngadesa.

Cascade Lakes Relay Redux

It’s done. I survived.

Still digesting the event and what it means to me.

My favorite part of it was probably the team camaraderie. Spending almost 40 hours in tight quarters with five dedicated runners (Bruce, Matt, Kamille, Kate & Tom) was like a condensed camping experience. I only knew one of them (Tom) when we started, but now consider all of them friends. We all suffered, we all exalted, we all sweat and smelled and needed help with one thing or another along the way.

Though the journey was difficult, and there were many moments when I questioned why I was running 20+ miles on so little sleep, now that it’s done and I’m {mostly} caught up on rest I feel stronger for doing it, and will probably do it again if I get the chance.

Here’s the team before the start (spotlight, please!).

Here’s me out of the gate in our 8am mini-heat.

And here’s me at the end of leg one (Howdy, pardner).

I know, it’s all me, me, me. But this is my site, so… I’ll post again if there are more after-effects. But happy this one is in the books and in my memory banks.




My Fictional Dream Life isn’t Bad

Sometimes I have unusual dreams—as we all do—and they can stick with me in a creepy, nightmarish way.

But other times, people tell me about their dreams that have me in them, and I enjoy those so much more.

Here’s one a writer friend sent me last week. There’s something comic book-y about it with a hint of Donnie Darko surrealism thrown in, but with a much better ending…

In my dream, my family and I were coming to see your new house… You had just moved in that month and the carpet was a pink pattern like a black base carpet but with bright pink flecks in it as if a woman had lived there before you and you hadn’t had time yet to replace it or paint etc. You were holding court with a group of about 8 who were on the couch and in the kitchen having some kind of political meeting. One of the 8 was your dad.

Continue reading

Public vs. Private Lives

I just got done spending a week or so traveling around with my kids and dad in the northwest. Along the way, my dad was reading a terrific book of collected essays by Paul Theroux (a prolific travel writer I’m sort of embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of before).

As we got accustomed to new rooms in new cities, my dad would read me passages from the essays, most notably one about the friendship between Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. The passages got at the quirky, silly, often warm-hearted affection and loyalty they had for each other. And it made me think about what people do in their public lives versus their private ones. There’s so little we can really know of someone beyond the surface unless we spend time with them in an intimate setting. Another fascinating essay was about Graham Greene who seemed to bounce back and forth between needing affection (read: sex) and needing distance from those he loved.

This, in turn, got me thinking about my own relationship with public versus private messaging. I post things on social media fairly often which anyone can see, and I post things on this blog sometimes too (though I never publicly mention it and only occasionally get feedback about it so it doesn’t really feel public in the same way, even though it’s still available to anyone who seeks it out).

Continue reading