Saturday, March 23, 2013

THE FUTURE!


Spring is here folks. With Spring comes many exciting things: Warm weather, the color green, but most importantly the opening of Coney Island, much to the chagrin of Hurricane Sandy. As steadily approach this glorious opening in April, I am reminded for some of the 1939 Worlds fair which opened 74 years ago April 30th. This was the second largest of American’s world’s fair, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. 44 million people from many different countries around the world attended this exposition. Remember, this was 1939, planes were not yet a widespread mode of transportation. They got there by boat, car, train, or more likely, horse.

The theme of this fair in particular was based on the future with the slogan of  “Dawn of a New Day”. The depression was entering its 10th year with a hopefully flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, our country had yet to enter The War, so all eyes were on the future of our nation.


The Future circa 1939.
One exhibit stood out amongst the rest in our history books, and that was “The City of the Future” or the Futurama. The exhibit, sponsored by General Motors and designed by Norman Bel Geddes, tried to show the world 20 years into the future:

 “Futurama is a large-scale model representing almost every type of terrain in America and illustrating how a motorway system may be laid down over the entire country – across mountains, over rivers and lakes, through cities and past towns – never deviating from a direct course and always adhering to the four basic principles of highway design: safety, comfort, speed and economy.” 

His ideas of what we consider basic essentials to transportation really struck a chord with the American audiences slowly recovering from the Great Depression and were longing for prosperity.

The Future circa 1964. Complete with Yellow Submarine.
Then in 1964 when the worlds fair came back to New York, An updated version of this exhibit, Futurama II, was created. This version depicted life 60 years into the future, this time 2024. Scenes showed a lunar base of operation, an Antarctic"Weather Central" climate forecasting center, underseas exploration and "Hotel Atlantis" for underseas vacationing, desert irrigation, and land reclamation, building roads in the jungle, and a City of the Future. Visitors rode through the dioramas in 3-abreast chairs on a ride train. The exhibit was again sponsored by General Motors and proved to be the most popular exhibit at the World's Fair with more than 26 million persons attending the show in the two 6-month seasons the Fair was open. Waiting lines were often two hours long and longer.

I think there is a deep-seeded human reason that people flocked to these two exhibits. The tantalizing idea of the future being cleaner, better, more efficient, and more convenient  is a wonderful and captivating thought. I mean who wouldn't want hover cars that don’t use gas and hotels that are 10,000 leagues under the sea, and lunar travel that’s as easy as flying to Chicago?

As I was loading my laundry into the brand-new Samsung washer that my landlords recently purchased I was reminded of the worlds fair and these two exhibits of the future. I pressed the start button and the washer told me it was “sensing the weight” of the load to detect the appropriate amount of water to use. The washer was weighing the load and then would guess at how much water to use. For some odd reason I was struck by that. The washer was guessing. It has enough of a semblance of thought to make a guess… The Washing machine… and it has yet to be wrong.

What struck me is that we are living in the future. The conveniences that the people of 1939 and 1964 dreamed of is here right now. Virgin mobile is about to embark on the very first lunar tourist space exhibition. Our world is intimately connected via radio waves and copper cables, I can and have talked with a person living in Japan, or Afghanistan, or even Canada. Yes. Canada.  Film Director James Cameron recently dove down to the bottom of the ocean by himself in a submersible that he paid for. We have eradicating diseases in the past 40 years that have claimed the lives of millions in the past millennium. There was even a case recently where a baby born with aids has been cured of all traces of the disease. The untouchable wall of death that is cancer is now starting to be torn down and controlled brick by brick with science and medicine. We have little black rectangles that connect us to the world and are controlled by touch. Gene Roddenberry dreamt that technology up in Star Trek 50 years ago and it is here today. 60 years ago you could only listen to music in your home on huge black vinyl records. Now the technology exists to store and play every song ever recorded on a little box that can fit in my backpack.

I dunno, maybe I’m in a nostalgic mood, or maybe its because I’m secretly a 60 year old man, but I am fascinated by the world I live in. We are living in a world that science fiction writers 100 years ago could only dream of.  We are living in the future.

In closing, take a listen to one of the most awesome sci-fi pop songs ever written. Until next time!




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Start

Hey! Remember me? I blog about my life in New York and stuff. It's been awhile hasn't it? My last post was on March 1st and today is March 20th. What the hell happened to March? Where did it go?! That's life though, right? It whisks by faster than you can say "Hey, slow down!" and before you know it's time to bow and exit stage right. 

So lets see, what has been going on since we last talked. Well I am in the second week of rehearsals on Aint No Such Thing As Free Pizza by Analisa veleZ. We had auditions two weeks ago and cast some really talented people. we saw around 38 people for our auditions, and maybe my heart is too big, but fell in love with them all. I saw lots of talented people, and a couple some weird ones, but deciding who to pick was hard because everyone was wonderful. But I ended up casting the four that the playwright and I felt were best for the roles. 

Now we are in our second week of rehearsals and having a blast. We don't get to rehearse in the space we will be performing in, so finding and rehearsing in spaces can be quite an adventure. We have settled down now into a pattern of locations, but its sill quite an interesting experience for a person who came from Iowa where we get a few weeks to rehearse on stage as opposed to one day.

A friend of mine from Clarke came and visited for his spring break. His name is Luke, but you can just call him lumberjack. Its his favorite nickname. Anyways he stayed for seven days and we had many adventures. I realized, with lumberjack here, that I am not an adventurous person. I typically don't go out to bars or eat dinner out very often, but lumberjack was all about exploring and finding new things. It was great having lumberjack here of fun and plus, now I have a list of great places to take people when they come and visit. 

As I write this my mother is in the airport waiting to fly home after a short visit. We got to see the show Once on St. Patrick's day and it was amazing! The story and the music and the acting was all top notch. I highly recommend it. Mom stayed for a few days and it was just really nice to be with family again. Sad to see her go, but I'm sure I will see family again soon.

Other than visitors and directing, I've just been working away at my Full-Time job Actors Equity as an Audition Monitor. That usually take care of my mornings and early afternoons and then I have time to rehearse in the evenings or work on Snappytitle productions.

Speaking of which! The Snappytitle fundraiser is drawing to a close and it looks like we won't reach our hopeful goal of funding, but I am really hopeful for the future. Things like this happen right? We hope for one thing but we don't get what we want, and that can be really disappointing. There were a few days recently where I felt really depressed that we wern't going to reach our funding, but after reflecting on myself and my goals I am now more than ever excited for what my production company will create. So we wont have a lot of money? Thanks to some very generous donations from some amazing people we will still have some. Enough for a start. Then from there I can take that little start and make it grow. Make it turn into something a little bigger, step by step. And in a few years? Who knows what it will be, but I am ever hopeful that it will be something awesome. As George Bernard Shaw once said:
"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." 
In closing, I'd like to leave you with another poem I wrote while riding the subway one day. I am hoping my blogging can return to a more regular schedule so keep checking and keep sharing and thanks for reading and patiently waiting. Until next time!

21cent.

I'm a Twenty First century kid.

I see the world through pixelated glasses,
The people I interact with are just names and passwords.

My family is digital,
At the tips of my fingers.
Distance means nothing,
When you can just upload pictures.

When happiness is signals flying through the air
And coursing the veins of copper wire
weaved so tightly into the earth and sky
one almost doesn’t even know its there.
Blinking, on and off, at the speed of light.

I’m a 21st century kid,
Flying at the speed of imagination.    

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hipster Nomad

Hello all!

It's been a week. I've been traveling like a hipster nomad, living out of my backpack in coffee shops and rehearsal rooms with a flannel shirt and scarf around my neck, getting ready for casting my first show next Wednesday. For those who don't know, I am directing my first play in New York. Its called Aint No Such Thing As Free Pizza by Analisa valeZ, her very first produced play. I excited beyond reason for this amazing opportunity to direct such a diverse play by such an awesome playwright. She's like the Puerto Rican Checkov.  The playwright and I have been in constant communication getting ready for audition, calling each other in the middle of the night with ideas, and being excited for our dual New York premier. 

We signed up for an account on Backstage.com, which I highly recommend for any and all actors to check out. Its a website that helps actors and casting people get in contact with each other. (See. Prisoners dilemma)  For actors you get your own professional profile with a places for resume, experience, headshots, video reels, ect. And you can apply for an audition at the click of a button. As a casting person, you pay a little fee to have your audition listed on their website and then actors can apply to audition. Its is an amazing site that has been super helpful in our casting process. The playwright and I have almost completely filled our audition times with people.

Its exciting and I'm learning a lot about the professional casting world. I don't know what professional casting personnel look for in actors, but I look for people who try and make personal connections. When an actor clicks the button to apply to audition for a show, they can include a little message to the casting person. I found that the people who wrote something about the show and about the reason they wanted to audition were people I wanted to see. But the people whom it seemed just copied and pasted an impersonal carbon copy message seemed distant and unexciting. Now this could be completely different in real life with these people, but I offer that as advice to anyone applying for jobs: The more friendly and personal you make your connection to the person who might hire you, the more interest they will have in you as a person. 

So that's what I am learning. I'm still keeping busy with lots of different projects! Auditions are next Wednesday, March 6th. The Musical I am writing has been getting some awesome feedback and is about to enter the second stage of development. The OTHER play I'm directing with the Rhapsody collective has entered the writing development stage. Fundraising for snappytitlehere is rolling along quite well. Be sure to keep telling your friends about us! 

And lastly, i'd like to leave you with a poem I wrote in a Starbucks one night when I was supposed to be getting work done. Until next time my friends!

Home for Now.

I’m sitting in the corner of a Broadway Starbucks.

To my left are two young students toiling away under piles of books
 in front of laptops and tablets
that churn out data faster than anyone
could have ever imagined.

To the right of me are two young African men
watching a video of an airplane
taking off on their smart phone. 

In front of me is a family from somewhere in Europe,
They have hijacked the scattered tables and chairs
And made this coffee shop their dinnertable this evening.

Three kids run around playing with new found wind up machines
They acquired from a street vendor or the toy store down the street.
For them, this moment is eternity and they are happy.
If the rest of existence was this moment,
They would be content.

The parents sit, finally, and watch their kids
Run around with energy that can’t even
Remember having.

The other relatives stand or wait for their coffee.
They wander about as though the cashier were the living room
And the windows to the world were the Big Game.
Not quite sure what to do or what to say,
They stand waiting for something to happen.

The grandparents sip their mocas and frapps
And discuss things I cant understand
In a language I cant comprehend.

But Tonight.
Tonight we, all of us, are family.
We unknowingly break bread together
And share drink together
under this humble green roof.

My brothers and sisters are students,
My cousins are from African, on their phone,
My mother and father are simply happy to be sitting,
My aunts and uncles wander about, coffee in hand,
My grandparents are speaking in a language I can’t hear.

And tonight, for this moment,
Without knowing it,
We share this starbucks
As family.