collisionwork: (philip guston)
We wound up having to cancel last night's rehearsal (too few actors could make it), which was nice on another hand as it meant we could spend a few hours at Coney Island helping Sarah Engelke (who has appeared in GCW's The Magnificent Ambersons and Everything Must Go) celebrate her birthday along with her fiancee Timothy McCown Reynolds (who was in Ambersons and Temptation for us -- and both of the couple are currently in George Bataille's Bathrobe coming up in August) an a couple of other friends of theirs.

It was only actually about three hours of leisure time, but it felt like a long, lovely, incredibly pleasant day at the seaside.

Here's Sarah and Timothy right around the start of the day's festivities:

Sarah's First Birthday Drink

There had been some worry about thunderstorms, which had been predicted to show up at 4.00 pm, right when we were all going to meet, but . . .

And They Said Thunderstorms Were Coming...

. . . it didn't quite work out that way.

I brought our camera, and had a fine old time shooting pictures like I haven't done in years, so, behind the cut, a giant load of shots from a lovely, fun afternoon/early evening had yesterday by Berit and I with friends.

(and this is only a third or so of the shots, all of them can be seen HERE or HERE, the latter with tags and commentary):

Sarah's Birthday at Coney Island - 07/01/09 )



collisionwork: (Default)
So Berit hasn't had a full haircut in at least nine years. I trimmed her mane a few times every now and then a few years back to get the ends even, but pretty much its been untouched for almost as long as I've known her.

At its longest point, her hair had reached about four foot, eight inches.

She enjoyed the long locks in some ways, but really really hated it in others - she said she only didn't get it cut as she didn't want to deal with the hassle of maintaining it (her hair grows faster-than-average to begin with).

I've heard the complaints for years (it's heavy, it's hot), but she seemed a few days ago to be getting more serious about this - again, though, I've heard it before.

Friday night, she was saying that it was all coming off that night. I didn't quite believe her.

We got home from the show that night, she did a little internet research on what she planned to do, and went off to the bathroom to prepare. It took so long, and I got sleepy and ready for bed, so I didn't think anything would be happening that night.

Nope. As 2 am struck, she told me I had to stay up and be the haircutter.
BERIT'S HAIR 1 - combing it out

Here, she has combed out and prepared the stuff for cutting. We laid out a painting tarp and chair in the biggest open spot we could find in our cluttered place, and I got the implementa ready . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 2 - the cutter

(you sure you trust this man with scissors?)

The first, biggest step took very little time . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 3 - nine years worth

We held her hair back at shoulder length and I cut it right across, leaving a pound of hair on the floor (we weighed it later).

And it was a lot lighter up there now . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 4 - after the cut

Hooker the cat had trouble comprehending what was going on, having a tiny kitty brain . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 5 - interlude - Hooker is stunned

Then, out came the barber clippers my mother gave us a few years back . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 6 - the clippers

. . . and the kitties ran and hid for a bit.

I started with a 1" clipper and worked it down, then went to 1/2" in the back and 5/8" on the top, except for the part where she was keeping the full length (she thought this style was a "Chelsea" but it apparently is actually a "Devil Lock").

The kitties slowly came back out during the clipping to watch, warily:
BERIT'S HAIR 7 - interlude - the cats are wary

Mommy . . ? What happened to the Mommy?

Yeah, they weren't sure quite how to react. After the tedious process, Berit took the clippers into the bathroom to work on places I had a hard time reaching without hurting her, and Hooker examined things more closely.
BERIT'S HAIR 8  - interlude - Hooker still confused

So B finished off the clipping . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 9 - final touches

And emerged to stun the cats . . .
BERIT'S HAIR 10 - What The--

What th--?

With her new 'do (here in one hank, it usually hangs loose now) and a pound of loose hair:
BERIT'S HAIR 11 - finale

And she's a lot happier with how her head feels now, believe me.

collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
Today is the birthday of my partner in life and work, co-owner of Gemini CollisionWorks and two incredible cats, Ms. Berit Ann Johnson.

She now has 32 years behind her.

I am very very lucky.

Berit at Xmas

We did a belated birthday celebration the other day for me after Sunday afternoon's rehearsal - Coney Island, Nathan's, skee-ball, soft-serve ice cream and a walk on the boardwalk, watching macho teen boys get scared in the "Top Spin" ride (they never see how bad it's going to be), the shooting gallery (still about the same as the first time I went there in 1979) - and today we'll do something she wants to do.

Norway - August, 2002

She's in the shower now, so I don't have to hide this post ("WHY are you posting about my birthday? No one CARES!"). Then we'll go out to breakfast and drive the car over to the area of The Brick/The Battle Ranch as we have rehearsal over there tonight.

Couch Cuddle

Then we'll train on in to The American Museum of Natural History, which we like to go to, but usually wind up going too late in the day so we get kicked out before seeing everything we want to (always closes at 5.45 pm - keep it in mind if you ever go there).

Rock Band Party - Berit Rocks Out

We want to see all of the Evolution exhibit (which we were just into when kicked out last time) and they have temp ones up now on Horses and Snakes & Lizards that I'm looking forward to.

Berit & Simone

Then, we gots a rehearsal - sorry, hon, should have thought of this when planning the schedule - but we can have a full day to ourselves before that. That will be nice.

Oop, she's out of the shower now and I need to jump in. Should be a nice fun, then productive, day.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Finally got this uploaded . . .

At The Brick's 5th Anniversary party, back in December, Berit and I did a little live performance piece accompanied by a video playing behind us.

The stage was covered with sixteen chairs, evenly spaced in three rows facing the audience (5/6/5). As each of our pre-recorded voices alternated on the video, we would take turns slowly walking around the stage -- each of us ending our little segment by knocking over a chair, one-by-one, until at last the stage was covered with overturned chairs (some had been carefully tipped, some knocked, a couple thrown, and one smashed over and over into the ground and destroyed) and the two of us wound up facing each other over the last chair, which was not overturned, as the lights faded (we had created the light cues in the computer board so that Berit could start the DVD of the video and hit the go button on the light board 5 seconds later - then run down the ladder from the booth and to the stage to perform the piece - and the lights and video would sync up).

It was designed and intended completely as a live video/performance combo, so the video doesn't exactly work on its own (it's basically a slideshow of text with voiceovers), but I'm happy enough with it to share it with you. It was much liked by a number of people there (who might not want me to say so in public), and got a little heckling afterward as well ("More facile statements!").

I created the soundtrack and designed the overall piece. Berit created the text slides (from my design suggestion of copying Godard/Gorin's titles in Tout Va Bien) and put the whole thing together as a movie.

Here it is behind the cut. It's close to 11 minutes long.

Where Do You Stand? )



Enjoy.

collisionwork: (crazy)
Didn't have a chance to upload and share these shots till this morning.


Hooker was the first cat we got, in 2001. He bonded immediately with Berit, and wouldn't leave her alone - I had a day job at that point, so she was at home with him far more often.

Two years later, we got Simone, and I no longer had the day job. Moni latched onto Berit, and completely claimed her (still, she follows her around the apartment, constantly demands attention, etc.). Hooker moved his primary affections over to me.

They're both really lovey, to the point of annoyance - especially after we were gone for a month last Summer. Since we got back then, they won't leave us alone, EVER. Well, maybe for an hour here and there.

To the point of annoyance, yes, but not quite there.


Moni spends time with Berit on the couch:


Berit & Simone


Hooker wants it known that he should be more important to me than the computer:


Forehead Mooshing

collisionwork: (Tulse Luper)
Hip hip hoorah!


Not only do I have the Intarwebs back and working at CollisionWork Central, but we now haves the DSL and the wireless, enabling both our fine fine superfine computers much faster access.


This allows us now to view such fabulous videos as this one, a very special piece promoting the Pretentious Festival:





Which features Berit, myself, and a number of Brick Irregulars. Enjoy, if you must.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Busy few days. Not only rehearsals for Ian W. Hill's Hamlet, but I've been having to put together and run techs for The Tiny Theater Festival in my position as Facilities Manager for The Brick.

As always, being one of the Lord God King Worriers of the world, I spent a good deal of Sunday night sure that I would be worn out and dead after the next few days, but everything wound up going pretty smoothly and, in fact, enjoyably.

Berit's always telling me, "Don't borrow trouble!" But especially after years working in theatres on the L.E.S. for a boss who never seemed to worry about things that needed to be worried about, with me in a constant state of stress and depression, worrying for the two of us and the theatres themselves, doing everything I could to make sure the theatres remained a going concern (and failing, though not-at-all entirely due to any lack of effort from me). I can't help but live, it appears, in anything but a state of assuming at all times that the worst thing that could happen, will happen, and I have to be prepared somehow to clean up the mess.


(Berit says that the worst insult I ever directed at her was calling her by the name of that former boss recently when I was in a funk about something I was sure was going to go wrong and she was trying to stop me brooding about it -- it's true, and was DEEPLY unfair!)


Monday day I went and got supplies that I was going to need to put together the cage for the Festival -- it's a festival of theatre done in no more than a 6'x6'x6' space, so we decided at The Brick to actually build a cage of those dimensions for the pieces to happen in -- well, we thought we all decided on this; it turns out that different people involved had different ideas about what was being discussed (some thought it was to be just a 6'x6' wooden frame downstage), but the cage is what wound up happening. So I got electrical conduit and connectors to make it, and primer to paint it white. Then when I stopped at The Brick to drop off the supplies, I discovered that Berit still had my key from when I was away. Oops. So I left the stuff in the car near the space, and trained up to the U.W.S. to rehearse at Edward Einhorn's place.


The building Edward lives in has a solarium as a public place for residents to use on the top floor. This has come in handy for Edward in rehearsing his shows, from time to time. Unfortunately, they're about to redo the room, which means the rehearsals I was planning to have there this next month are screwed (and Edward will probably have more problems in future working there, as the nice renovations will make the room more popular).

Daniel showed up, and the three of us (and Berit) went over all the Rosencrantz/Guildenstern/Hamlet bits, which were fairly simple tonally, but a little harder than I expected physically -- not easy to block the exact kind of "casual" movement of these three friends around each other. It's mostly there now, in shape, but can't really progress until we're all totally off-book. The movement needs to feel tossed off, easy, but still be rigidly planned.

The arc of the friendship through the scenes became clearer as well -- talk and speculation about their friendship, etc., establishing the whole history for us. The progression of them from two good friends trying to help out an old buddy who's acting weird to two angry members of the court trying to catch a dangerous, murderous madman works well.

Bryan showed up and we did all the bits with R&G and Hamlet and Polonius, together, or near each other. Simple work - first instincts mostly right, just needed focus and specifics to clarify.

Another actor scheduled to show had been working off an old schedule, and couldn't make it, so Bryan and I went on and did the Polonius/Hamlet scene, and then we were able to run a whole nice big chunk, from Polonius telling everyone to get lost, though his meeting with the annoyingly-weird Hamlet, through his leaving in disgust and R&G coming in, though Polonius coming back in to announce the players (and, skipping the players, to the end of scene exeunt of all but Lord Prince Garbagemouth). A good evening's work.


(Sometime I'll explain the whole Lord Prince Garbagemouth thing -- someone refers to Hamlet that way in William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration -- as it's how I've come to think of the snotty little rich boy, as that or, for short, LPG).


So then, Monday night after rehearsal, back to The Brick (with key this time) to set up for the Tiny Theater techs the next day. Jakob, one of the TT directors, was nice enough to come by and help me with the cage and curtains (there's a permanent, and fragile, set by glass artist Megan Biddle in there for the show The Present Perfect, and it has to be curtained off for the TT shows) - a big help, thanks Jakob! - and I was out of the space by midnight.


And back the next morning at 8.35 am (Bryan gave me the exact time - he lives near the space and saw me opening up as he was going to work) for techs all day to 6.00 pm. And, an easy, fun day it turned out to be, despite all worrying. Three techs, all smooth as silk. And looking to be good theatre, too. A happy productive day doing what I like doing. Can't ask for more than that.


Except a good rehearsal in the evening, which I also got. After worrying like crazy about making it from The Brick to La Tea by 7.00 pm, what with evening traffic and finding a parking space, I was there over a half-hour early.

Then, I worked with Jessi on the big Hamlet/Ophelia scene. This is a difficult one, and we will be continuing to do more and more with it. It's VERY sensitive tonally, and with all the ranting Hamlet does in the show, can't just be another one (well, none of them can be "just another one") - there's a delicacy to the emotion here, even in high shouty anger, that must be conveyed and dealt with.

Jessi and I had some serious discussion about the feelings of the two for each other, but mainly about Hamlet. As in, does he actually love Ophelia? There was some slight dissension there, but in the end it came to a good understanding, I believe. I don't think Hamlet is capable of true love, but I think his feelings for Ophelia are just about as deep as true love, his caring for her, but he's so stunted and sick in some ways -- unable to deal with the combination of the perfect lovely image he tries to keep of her in his head, and his wretched, maggoty disgust of sex itself (and he's certainly slept with her) -- that his ultimate feelings toward her (especially combined with his new paranoias) are CONFUSED and NOT GOOD.

So we got to a good place to proceed from, but I'm still walking a line of not making it too similar to the Hamlet/Gertrude confrontation that we've already staged -- a lot of the same internal ugliness comes to the fore there, and actually finally explodes there. So this has to be a particular climax for Ophelia, a huge break for her, while being a step on a larger road emotionally for Hamlet that ends in his mother's closet. I had not wanted to manhandle Jessi in this scene, just physically threaten her, saving the grabbing and throwing for Stacia/Gertrude, but in the end, it just didn't seem to work unless I pushed her around a bit (Jessi really wanted to go there, and seemed to need it, and, yeah, she was right). Ugly. And a start. Yes, a hard scene.


Bryan and Adam showed up, giving us the whole Polonius clan, and we did the farewell to Laertes scene, which I've set at dockside, with people bustling by, jostling the conversation. Polonius has to rush through his speech as the ship horn blows, then he and Ophelia have to shout some of their lines to each other as they wave goodbye to the (LOUD) departing liner. Very nice.

I have had a very clear idea in my head for years about the tonal qualities, pace, and attitudes of this scene, so there was some detail work immediately involved. And there will continue to be. The family dynamic was starting to be there by the last repetition.


Adam left and we did the little bit of Ophelia coming to tell her dad about LPG's odd behavior, a deeper and richer bit than I had figured. We got a lot out of it.

I've been thinking about this play as "a director" for 18 years, and thought I "had it down," but the moment actors are up there doing it, entire other levels become apparent.

Especially with Ophelia. She has remained, for years, the biggest mystery of this play for me.


Okay, I could go on, but I have to get back to The Brick and paint the cage white and rehang the curtains properly before the 4.00 pm tech.

I've made up a CD of house music for before, in between, and after the four pieces on the Tiny Theater program. I chose songs that came up in iTunes based on searches for the words "square," "box," "cage," and "tiny." I'll see how many people notice who didn't read that here . . .

collisionwork: (crazy)
Well, we finally borrowed a camera (thanks, RH!) and got some new shots of the kitties, though none that really show off poor Hooker's new deformed (but cute) left ear.


In any case, the best of what we have thus far:


Moni Is Adorable


Moni wonders what I'm doing, and if she should kill the wrist-strap dangling from the camera.


Sleepy Boy


At rest between crazy periods, newly crumpled ear somewhat visible.


Moni Loves Sleepy Mommy


This is a normal position for hours every morning before Berit gets up. Sometimes, this position is accompanied by kneading of the front paws. Berit is a heavy sleeper.


Hooker and Berit, Happy


Yesterday, Hooker was being especially lovey and sweet with Berit for a while. They were both very happy about this.

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