16 December 2010

A boy sleeps in Brooklyn

It's been a week, and I'm back on a plane, returning home after a trip to NYC. Lovely, but also exhausting. Rather than a narrative description of what I did (which would take a long long time), here are some metrics:

Shows seen: 3 (In the Footprint, Fuerza Bruta, Three Pianos)

Friends seen: 36 (Matty, Darron, Cat, Futter, Hillary, Magic, Dan, Deborah, Will, Pam, Ko, Marc, Zan, Adam, Patrick, Mandy, Sean, Liz, David, Brian, Nastran, Jessi, Alex, Andrew, Sharath, James, Vicky, Ben, Bree, Veronika, Brad, Dr. Thunder, Sandra, Mike, Renee, Karen +)

New friends made: 4 (Jean, Lindsay, Chris, Rachel)

Semi-interviews conducted: 1

Manhattans consumed: 4

Martinis consumed: 0

Days the temperature creeped above freezing: 3

Minutes of field recording conducted: 75

Slices of NY pizza consumed: 1

09 December 2010

I skied this last year. Will do it again. Oh yes, will do it again.

Another cross-country flight

Classes are over.

Final projects are graded.

It should be time to settle into some holiday cheer with friends and family. I got the friends part down (holiday party at the U on Monday, dinner/drinks/show in LA on Tuesday, more drinks with folks on Wednesday), but the family part is still escaping me. S was supposed to return home from her movie on 18 December, but it now sounds like that return date is going to be a few days later. We are quite disappointed.

Right now, I'm in a flying tin can, throttling through the atmosphere from the city of angels to the big apple. I've got a loose agenda while I'm there, mostly social calls, some work meetings, some shows, and a good bit of field recording. My friend Connie is out of town for a show, and she's graciously allowed me to stay at her place while she's gone. I'm looking forward to some serious exploration!

The baby sitting behind me is all sorts of crying.

Last weekend, my capoeira academy had their first batizado. Batizado means 'baptism,' and it's a time where our academy hosts other academies for a few days of classes, training, and playing. At the end of the batizado, we had a cord ceremony, where academy students receive colored cords to signify their advancement in the training. This was my first cord ceremony, so I received a green cord (the color significance is different from karate- green is the lowest rank of cord- beginners wear no cord at all). After receiving my cord, the mestres and professors decided on a nickname for me: 'coruja,' which is portugese for 'owl.' I think its a comment on how wide I open my eyes when playing, but one of my professors thinks that it's uncanny that the other mestres gave the college professor the nickname of the wise owl.

I'm not bringing the SLR camera on this trip, but I am bringing the flip camera. Maybe I'll post some video!

07 December 2010

A Guide to Gift-Giving for Long-Distance Givers

I live far away from much of my family, as does my wife and many of our friends (here in LA, it seems that most of us are transplants from elsewhere in the country). Every January, as the holidays wind down, I hear lots of stories about gift-giving gone awry due to the great distance between gifter and giftee. Of course, the gifts are given with generosity of spirit and magnanimity of soul, but despite the best intentions, the process of giving and receiving can often cause stress and duress. This year, I’m hoping that I can mitigate some of that stress by compiling a small list of gift-giving guidelines for long-distance giving. If you follow these guidelines, the gift-giving-and-receiving process will be more focused on the spirit of the season and less on the stress of commerce and retail.

1. If the recipient will be flying, avoid giving large gifts. This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often someone gives their guests in from out of town a microwave, a case of wine, bulky sports equipment. If you want to give something that’s sizable, consider giving them a photograph to open in person and ship the gift to wherever they live.

2. Unless you see your gift recipients often, don’t assume that you know their taste in clothes or things. Do some research. Look at Facebook photos, talk to their spouses, significant others, friends. Ask the recipients for a wish list (amazon.com has a great wishlist feature). I have a friend who gets, every year, a few articles of clothing from his in-laws. He has never worn any of them; they’re not his style. He always returns them, or, if he can’t return them, he donates them, tags-on, to charity. Which brings me to:

3. Unless you are absolutely sure of the recipient’s taste and size, make sure you give gifts that the recipient can return in THEIR hometown, not yours. National chains (Macy’s, Target, etc.) allow you to buy at one store and return at another. Do you prefer to support the local economy and buy from smaller boutiques? That’s great – I applaud you. Perhaps there are local boutiques in your recipient’s hometown that you can shop at via the internet?

4. Even if the recipient is visiting you, restrain from buying from local boutiques. If the gift doesn’t work out, your recipient will need to spend time during their visit returning the gifts instead of spending time with you.

5. Are you shipping a gift? Confirm the shipping address with the recipient. Many people have different addresses for receiving letters and packages, and if you send packages to a mailbox, they can often end up disappearing.

6. Are you buying for children (grandkids, neices, nephews, etc.)? Avoid the desire to buy every cute outfit and stuffed animal you see, and instead, focus on gifts that are meaningful. Ask the child’s parents for great gift ideas. Says pal Lael Logan: “Many of us are trying to give our kids the joy and excitement of presents while also balancing it with teaching the "true" meaning of this time. Perhaps you could take the kids on a special holiday outing instead - to see Santa, or ride a train - creating traditions and memories is how we'd like to teach our kids about this season.”

7. Can’t think of a good gift for someone? Consider making a donation. It’s a terrific way to give something with meaning for more than just your recipient, and it’s very convenient for weary travelers. Says friend Katherine Resch: “We're doing that for the adults on my side of the family this year, and we're having a lot of fun choosing a charity that will be personal to each family unit.”

8. Don’t give crap. Are you sending your loved one a candy-cane filled with M&Ms? A bobblehead Santa? If so, consider just abandoning the gift altogether. Maybe just send a card, or a gift certificate, which brings me to my last guideline:

9. Gift cards, gift certificates, and cash are always welcome, though they’re admittedly impersonal. You can make them less impersonal by buying a gift card for a specific store that’s local to the recipient. Was there a boutique that you discovered the last time you visited your sister? Buy her a gift card for that place, and when she calls to thank you for the gift, you can have a nice time remembering your trip. See! Much nicer than a boring sweater from Macy’s.

These guidelines are assembled from my experiences as a long-distance giver and receiver, and those of my friends. If you’ve got any additional guidelines, feel free to post them to the bottom of this note, and next year, when I repost, I’ll try to include some of them!

29 November 2010


The plane home after Thanksgiving was just a little late. No worries.

Last Wednesday, after some morning work, I took a nonstop flight to New Orleans to spend the weekend with Sarah. By the time I got to Baton Rouge, we had time to grab some Thai food. Then, S crashed. Me too.

On Thursday, we grabbed a quick bite at Starbucks (the only place open on Thanksgiving morning) before driving down to NOLA. If we drove on the interstate, the trip would have taken just over an hour, but since we had time to kill and a desire to see something new, we elected to follow the mighty Mississippi all the way down to New Orleans. The drive took about three hours, but we passed it quickly with plans for the future.

We got to NOLA in mid-afternoon, a bit peckish, but too close to dinner to merit lunch. Instead, we wandered the French Quarter, snacked on beignets at Cafe du Monde, and took photos. Dinner was at The Bourbon House, on Bourbon St. I had oysters, turducken, dressing, and a sazerac. S had turkey, dressing, and smashed sweet potatoes. The turducken was entirely underwhelming, but the drink and dressing made up for it. After dinner, the Carousel Bar for a nightcap.

On Friday, we walked about 7.5 miles from the French Quarter to Audobon Park, along Magazine St. There were plenty of shops all along the way, most of which we stopped in. The weather was cold and rainy, so we were thankful for the respite. Breakfast at Surrey's was rockin' - shrimp grits and biscuits! We were hoping to get some Xmas shopping done, but the only stuff we bought was for ourselves.

After Magazine Street, we took the streetcar back to the hotel and prepped for dinner: Korean BBQ with friends. After dinner, the Ritz for drinks and desserts and jazz!

Saturday was more low-key. Small breakfast, carriage ride through the quarter and cemetary. We also bought a painting for home. We had eyeballed it in October on my last visit, and this time, we pulled the trigger. Saturday afternoon was a nap, and then to dinner...

...which deserves its own paragraph. The Commander's Palace was epic by every standard. Our waiter knew our names when we sat down. He made good recommendations for drinks (though I think S prefers dark rum in her Mai Tais). I had a harvest salad (greens, cherries, citrus), duck (roasted and crispy, with mushrooms and savory bread pudding), and another world's-best-pecan pie. S declared her dessert to be the best cream-cheese cheesecake ever.

Then, back to the hotel for a siesta (finally getting the hang of how to pace ourselves in the Big Easy) before heading out to hear old timey jazz at The Preservation Hall. We were late to arrive, but standing in the back meant that I could dance. After that, we were going to hear a brass band blow the roof off of a club, but since the club was smokey, we abandoned that plan in favor of meeting up with some pals for a nightcap.

Sunday was a little lazier. We ate at a cafe in the Bywater neighborhood called Satsuma, took a quick disaster-tour of the lower ninth ward, walked in a swamp, and got back to Red Stick in time to watch Harry Potter.

This morning, I met S on set for a few hours. She introduced me to some cast and crew, including her bosses and some actors fro Friday Night Lights. Then, back to NOLA to catch my flight. I tried to find some Rowan's Creek bourbon (a discovery from Thanksgiving dinner), but was unsuccessful. Maybe S will find some next week when her mom flies out for a visit.

Flying now. Spotty internet.

Swamp flower

Swamp tree

13 November 2010

a mild facebook rant

Just got into it with someone on Facebook. I realized that my response was lengthy, rambly, and ornery. So, I thought it'd be a perfect blog post!

The thing that bugs me is that Americans want all of these things but don't want to pay for them. We want universal health care (most Americans do - they just disagree on some details of the current plan - and on the circumstances under which it was passed), good schools, a powerful military, good roads. We want our oil wells safe, our coal mines safe, our cars safe, our gasoline safe. We want a safe place to put our money, we want a good mortgage from a company that's not going to screw us. We want safe airplanes, clean air, clean water, beaches, recreation center. We want safe food.

But we don't want to pay for it! All this stuff costs money. Deregulation doesn't work - corporations go out of their way to find opportunities to avoid compliance, just like how individual Americans will go out of their way to avoid paying what taxes they owe (and by the way, NOT raising taxes 5% isn't going to get you that raise or convince the wealthy lawyers to pay their full tax burden). BP avoided regulation, and look what happened. Exxon did the same thing in '89 with the Valdez and refusing to address Hazelwood's alcoholism. Wall Street is fighting regulation, saying they don't need it. I guess they don't - they can't even follow the simple rules that they have in the first place (like, you have to actually own the mortgage in order to foreclose on it).

The auto industry fought regulation about seat belts. Can anyone say they're a bad thing? The military contracting industry fought regulation on their contractors, and now we have Blackwater employees being protected from accusations of rape in Iraq/Afghanistan (an American soldier, in a similar situation, would be subject to a court martial and penalties).

All of this stuff costs money, but are Americans interested in paying for it? NOPE. We want want want, but reject the idea that we need to pay pay pay. Everyone knows this, but the different parties address it in different ways...

Democrats say 'bite the bullet - we all gotta pay for what we want, but let's ask the rich (who have more disposable income) pay for more.' This makes everyone mad immediately, b/c they hate paying for stuff. But, in the future, when they don't have asthma/cancer/traffic deaths/foreclosures, no one ever says 'thanks, dems!'

Republicans say 'we'll lower your tax burden now, because we know you hate paying for stuff.' This makes people happy in the short term, b/c now I can go to Hawaii or order that extra Double Down, but in the future, when an oil spill destroys an entire ecosystem (and threatens multiple industries), no one ever says 'screw you, gop!'

The Tea Party is selling Americans a bill of goods. They want to lower taxes now, because they know that there's no way to be held accountable for the problems later. Rand Paul says he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act. If he had done that in '64, we'd be an entirely different country now, but without the ability to jump back and forth between universes, how could we evaluate where we are? He'd be a footnote in the history of how we maintained our segregated society. Sarah Palin wants to open up ANWAR to drilling. Really? Drilling for OIL in an unforgiving region, then having to pipe it halfway across a continent? That sounds like a great idea! And we don't need regulation from the government to ensure its safety - the oil companies do just fine policing themselves! And all of those Tea Party signs that say 'Keep your Government Hands out of my Medicare!' - really? Are people that stupid? I don't remember a single Tea Party leader pointing out the fact that Medicare IS THE DEFINITION of Government Hands.

I may be sorry to see money disappear out of my bank account every 15 April, but I'm happy to be able to avail myself of the things it buys: roads, clean resources, parks, schools (yes, even though I have no children), Medicare (even though I'm too young to take advantage of it), unemployment insurance (even though I don't need it anymore), food stamps (which I don't need), military protection (even though I disagree with their policies), police protection, the fire department, vehicle safety tests, safe food, anti-drug campaigns, etc. Some of these things affect me on a daily basis, some not at all, but I think it's part of my responsibility as an American and a human being to contribute towards a better society.

I believe that it was Cain, in the Bible, who asked, incredulously, 'am I my brother's keeper?' after killing Abel. To which God basically said 'yes, you are, you jerk.'

01 November 2010


Red Stick swamp


Baton Rouge and New Orleans

So, Baton Rouge is a hole.

S said as much, but I didn't believe her. It's the capital of Lousiana! And a big city! How could it be so empty?

But it was. Fortunately, New Orleans is close. On Saturday, we went down to the French Quarter for the afternoon. We wandered around, got some food, snapped some photos.

On Sunday, we drove around BR. We went downtown. Nothing. We went to the garden district. Nothing. We drove around LSU campus. Nothing. Finally, we found a swamp to wander through. And then, for dinner, mellow mushroom pizza! And, also, we started our Xmas shopping.

24 October 2010

weekend photos

Took the camera out for a spin this weekend... On Friday, I went to The Huntington Library, a botanical garden and library. I took a weirdo lens that Chris & Dianne gave me for Christmas last year... Here are some shots:

This morning, I went sailing with some friends on a small charter out of Redondo Beach. A beautiful morning!

11 October 2010

High in St. Louis

Back on a plane after a weekend in St. Louis. I got into town on Friday, dropped in on the theatre to check things out, and then went to housing for a run. We were in the middle of a heat wave, and it was weird to have temps in the upper 80s while the trees had red and orange leaves. Still, I was glad for another bit of fall.

Tech went well over the weekend. The show didn't change much from Cincinnati, so there weren't many changes. I had a couple of cue rebuilds, mostly to account for slight changes in entrance/exit times. When I wasn't in the theater, I was usually grabbing a dinner with Ben and Anne, who live pretty nearby. They took me to a great persian place on Saturday night, and we had a yummy breakfast on Sunday.

This morning, I went for a short run before Ben picked me up for breakfast at a nearby creperie. Then, back to the airport to catch my flight. At the airport, there was a mixup with my reservation, which caused me to be a little late through security. As I was about to get into the security line, a guy called me over to a kiosk. He asked me if I was from St. Louis. When I told him I wasn't, he started to hand me a book from his table. They were religious tracts, of the hippie/Christian variety. I told him I wasn't interested, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. Finally, I told him I had to go through security because I was late for my flight. As I got in the line, he called after me: 'maybe if you slowed down, you'd find Jesus!'


On a plane, flying over what looks like the Utah desert. LA soon, then home, and home, and home. S flies from Hawaii to Baton Rouge at the end of the week. Everyone is traveling!

08 October 2010

Another exhausting week

It's another day and another flight. This morning, I'm off to St. Louis to put in another version of HIGH at The Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis. This is the third time I'm doing HIGH, which started over the summer in Hartford. This time, since so much of the work has already been done, I'm only going out for a few days to take care of the put-in and the reinforcement. This particular venue has been tough to deal with, as they've been generally very late in getting in touch, contracting, logistics, etc. I THINK everything is on track, but I won't really know until I land in 90 minutes.

Classes at the U are going well. My undergrads are a blast, like usual, and my grad class is fun too (though it'll be more fun when we move away from the intense lecture days and start getting into the workshop/demo days).

This is my last trip for a while, and I'm really looking forward to spending some time at home. Cooking, cleaning, sleeping...

04 October 2010

Yeah, we hiked that.

It was very very windy.

Diamond Head on the left. Waikiki on the right.

Our hike went along this ridge. You can see the trail.

Rock! Sarah!

Aloha Hawaii

Well, after a great weekend with S, I'm back at home in LA and ready for another workweek.

On Thursday night, I got to the hotel in Waikiki just in time to see S before we turned out the light. On Friday morning, after she left for work, I tried to run Diamond Head again, this time at sunrise. I got to the park alright, but the trail up to the top was mobbed with tourists, so I couldn't get a good stride going. I ended up just turning around and heading back to the gym. Later that morning, a van picked me up to go kayaking on the other side of the island. That was a lot of fun, particularly when we went out to a couple of islets and when we snorkeled. I saw a turtle! Dinner Friday night was traditional Hawaiian food.

Sarah had a two-day weekend, so Saturday started out with a Scuba trip. We had brief training session in the hotel pool before piling into a van to head out to the bay. Once in the bay, we had two dives with our small group of daring doers. The first was down to a reef, which was stunning. Octopi, snails, eels, and tons of fish. The second was down to a small crater, which was not quite as cool as the first dive. Post-dives, we had a nice massage at the hotel spa. Then, off to a fancy dinner for S's birthday!

The birthday restaurant situation threatened to be disastrous. I made online reservations at a highly-regarded restaurant in Waikiki, but when I phoned to confirm the reservation on Friday night, i got a disconnected tone. After deducing that they were in fact closed, i tried to call our second choice, but they couldn't seat us when we were available. Fortunately, one or the guides fro my kayak trip had recommended a place (after poo-poo-ing our original choice), and that place could seat us. Ninniku-Ya Garlic House turned out to be an amazing place, with garlic infused into every dish. Delish! We crashed that night.

Sunday was a day set aside for hiking, and we knew we needed to rent a car. Last trip, we rented from Hertz, but they were pricy (and shiny). Instead, I opted to rent from VIP Car Rental, which rented us a crappy Isuzu Tracker for next to nothing. The car engine grinded, squealed, and the transmission smelled. The tires were virtually bare, and when we got caught in a squall, we discovered that the roof (half of which was missing to begin with) leaked. Actually, we almost got in trouble when I parked too close behind a car facing down a hill in the rain. We couldn't back up, and every attempt to back up just slid us further down the hill, closer to the other car and into the sidewalk. After an unsuccessful neighborhood canvasing to try to find the owner and a failed attempt to push the car up the hill (thanks to a local man for some help), the owner came and drove his car away. Phew!

The hike was terrific! We started at the top of a neighborhood and went deep into the forest. Along the way, we saw beautiful vistas and foliage, and when we turned around, we saw Waikiki and Diamond Head in the distance. We eventually got to see a small waterfall before turning back. Then, a relaxing dinner at the hotel poolside bar, with tons of tourists, 'authentic' Hawaiian music, and overpriced cocktails.

This morning was back to the grind for S, and I went for another sunrise run. I didn't try to climb Diamond Head this time: I just ran around it. Then, home for a shower and packing, a walk across Waikiki in search of coconut pancakes (success!), a phone call to my folks, and back to the airport. Now, I'm en route back to LA. The trip computer says we have four hours of flying time left. That's a lot of time for watching movies handwriting emails.

30 September 2010

Tod Machover in Smithsonian

Laurie Anderson in Smithsonian

Back in the skies

I'm back in the skies after a few days at home. It seems like the only times I get to blog are when I'm flying. Huh.

The Gilgamesh project opened fine and is running well in Minneapolis. It was a hard week and a half, with designs that were over ambitious, load-in and tech periods that were too short, and a show that was perhaps too complex for the resources available. After much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, the show opened and we all went home. Reviews have been great all around, and my design has been called "mind-boggling" and "evocative."

I returned to LA last weekend and began the last sprint towards the end of summer. Sunday was a workday. Monday was a day of fixing notes for High and being on campus for errands. Tuesday was my first day of classes. I like both of my classes this quarter. I'm already in a good place with my undergrads, and the grad class is also in good shape. Wednesday was a day of meetings and a too-hot run, from which I'm still recovering. Today (Thursday) was another teaching day, and as soon as classes were done, I hopped in the car to drive to the airport. I was a bit famished when i got to the airport, so I grabbed a bite at a local ecuadorian place. Pupusas and empanadas! Yum!

Now I'm on the plane, back to Hawaii. It's Sarah's birthday, so I'll get to celebrate that with her tonight. Kayaking tomorrow!

Happy birthday, my baby!

14 September 2010

Oahu photos, September 2010

Okay, the Oahu photos (except for the HDR composites) are up. Check them out here:

(clicking the photo will take you to the Picasa site, where you can view them all)

13 September 2010

Japanese temple

A short weekend in Hawaii

I'm typing this on a plane from LA to Minneapolis, after a lovely weekend visiting S in Hawaii. I got out on Friday morning, took a run up Diamond Head (a big volcanic tuff, or crater-shaped mountain), and met her after work that night. On Saturday, when S went to work, I rented a bike and rode around Honolulu. I hit the farmers market, rode around Diamond Head, went to the royal palace, rode up to the Punch Bowl (a military cemetary) where S was shooting, then to a waterfall hike, and then back home.

On Sunday, we rented a jeep and drove to the windward side of the island, taking small stopoffs as we desired. We ate sushi, saw temples, photographed islands, and had a lovely time. Unfortunately, the day had to end, and S dropped me off at the airport to catch a redeye back to LA. 

I landed at 4.30, was home by 6.30, went for a run, had a breakfast meeting, then a conference call, and then headed right back to LAX for another flight.

I'm headed back to Hawaii in a few weeks, for a longer visit, hopefully with S getting two days off. Wish us luck!

In blog-related news, I'm trying to travel for vacation witness only the iPad. It make blogging a little tough, particularly with regards to uploading photos. The easiest way I can find to upload them now is to do it one at a time, which is why the photos of Hawaii are each in their own blog posting. When I get a chance, I'll send them all to Picasa and share the link.

Waterfall trail

Epic mountain

Tiny flower

Windy day

10 September 2010

An old photo

High in the Sky

The last few weeks of summer vacation are here for UCI folk, and I'm making the most of it with a bunch of work and some last minute travel. On Wednesday, I flew home after mounting the latest production of HIGH in Cincinnati, where I also got to see some old friends and eat a remarkable dessert (goat cheese mousse, basil sorbet). On Monday, I fly to Minneapolis, where I'll finish work on a Gilgamesh project that has been part of my life for three years now. By the time I'm done there, classes will have started at the U, and I'll jump right in.

S left LA four weeks ago to start working on a feature film called Battleship, based on the board game Battleship. She's shooting in Hawaii until mid-October, when the team will relocate to Baton Rouge. Right now, I'm on my first of two trips to see her in Honolulu. Photos to follow, naturally.

All in all, the summer seems to have been a bust. I spent a lot of it working, and the time that I did have 'off' did not, of course, match up at all with the little leisure time that S had. So, we slog through another year with mismatched work schedules. One of these days, we'll take a trip together, for fun.

20 August 2010

when loose becomes huge and tight becomes loose

Since reaching my weight loss goal in May, I've been slowly replacing my wardrobe. Today, I've bagged up the last big batch of clothes to take to goodwill. I've packed up all of my old sweaters (goodbye, dark orange Gap sweater! Goodbye, patchouli-smelling cashmere!), a handful of sweatshirts and pullovers, about 30 tshirts, and a couple pairs of shoes & sandals. They're sitting in bags by the front door, and I'll take them to goodwill on my way out to dinner tonight.

All that's left from my fat clothes is a hand-made suit (can't bring myself to ditch it...yet), a couple of too-large technical tshirts that will layer well under ski clothes, an XXL capoeira tshirt (which I still wear when the other uniform t's are dirty), and a light windbreaker. Everything else from fat Vinnie is gone.


05 August 2010

a few thoughts on gay marriage

Prop 8 has been struck down in CA by a federal judge. Prop 8 was the CA constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The ruling is not the end of the debate (supports of Prop 8 have vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court), but this is a good time to think about the issues and have some clear-headed thought. To wit:

There was a time, not too long ago, when it was illegal for a black person and a white person to get married. Thankfully, in western society, we've moved past that.

There was a time, not too long ago, when a man could have multiple wives. Thankfully, in western society, we've moved past that.

There was a time, not too long ago, when marriages were arranged, and people did not marry for love. Thankfully, in western society, we've moved past that.

There was a time, not too long ago, when pre-teen girls could be married off by their fathers to settle debts, pay bribes, etc. Thankfully, in western society, we've moved past that.

There was a time, not too long ago, when my Northern Italian great-grandparents and my Southern Italian great-grandparents were grumpy that their son and daughter wanted to marry. Thankfully, in western society, we've moved past that.

The anti-gay marriage movement has been talking points lately. They've tried to say that straight parents make better parents, but that's been proven wrong. They've tried to say that being gay is a choice, not a genetic situation, but that's been proven wrong. They've tried to say that love between two men or two women is not as strong as the love between a straight couple, and that's been proven wrong. Now, ultimately, there's only one argument that they have left to use: that marriage has traditionally been defined as between a man and a woman, and we have no right to change that definition.

Except that we do.

First, the definition of marriage is up to society to make. Any Biblical definition of marriage must be taken with a grain of salt, particularly in light of all of the other weird and outdated rules that the Bible holds. We, as humans, get to define marriage, and when our needs change, we are able to change that definition.

Second, we have been constantly changing the definition of marriage for thousands of years. We've outlawed polygamy and legalized interracial marriage. Outside of the courtroom, we no longer look down on marriages outside of geographic areas or marriages for love, even among the rich and royal. We have a long tradition of changing the definition of marriage to suit our current beliefs, and the question of gay marriage is just the latest example of that.

So, I, for one, support the continued redefinition of marriage.

19 July 2010

a well-timed piece of deliciousness

One of the greatest things in the world is a peach, approximately 36-48 hours before it starts to rot. The surface is soft, the skin wrinkles to the touch, and a more cautious eater would compost the fruit. But if you through the risk of spoiled fruit to the wind and take a bite, your daring will pay off. Inside is sweet tender meat. The skin snaps just a bit when you bite. You only get two chews before the flesh turns to juice, and you find yourself licking your hand to not let any of the peach nectar go to waste.

Go eat a peach.

04 July 2010

Independence Day

Happy July 4th!

In honor of our nation's birthday, I:

* ran 6 miles (in the mountains here in central MA). The hills took my normally 8.5 minute pace down to a 10.5 minute pace. It was hard.

* read the Declaration of Independence

* hung out with some pals

* watched the first half of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Williamstown Theatre Festival.

* had sushi

* prepped a cookout

* talked with S and my folks

* ate the cookout

* watched fireworks:

* drank rye whiskey

* had a grand old time!

01 July 2010

OC half-marathon photo

I forgot to post a photo from the half-marathon I did in May! Here it is:

summer travels

The school year ended, and after a short respite in LA, I took off for the first of three trips this summer.

First, I flew to Minneapolis to rehearse 'The Old Story,' a new play based on the legend of Gilgamesh, with Novi Most, a company based jointly in Minneapolis and St. Petersburg, Russia. I spent a week in workshops with the director, performers, and other designers, eating well, drinking well, and exploring various avenues to dig into the play.

Seven days ago, I flew from Minneapolis to Hartford to design/score High, a new play by Matthew Lombardo. Rob Ruggiero is directing, and Kathleen Turner stars. This project has been a little awkward for me, but once I landed in Hartford, I was able to really push through and generate the first draft of the score in a day and a half. After that, there were some big changes and some little changes, but we're in good shape. We are currently in our third day of tech, and we have our first audience the day after tomorrow.

I'll be spending Independence Day (my favorite holiday) in western Mass with my pal Brad Berridge and his family. Eating, drinking, playing around. On Monday night, we'll be workshopping an improv dance piece with our band, The Night I Found Out I Was Adopted (the iphone symphony I blogged about earlier). The workshop will be at Jacob's Pillow, a dance festival summer stock company.

After my time in New England, I'll head down to DC to see one of Sarah's cousins get married. We'll get some time to wander around DC, which always makes me happy. Then, down to Virginia Beach to see my folks and my sister. Plans in VB include heading to Busch Gardens, lazing about, and seeing all sorts of family.

So, today is the mid-point of my trip. I've been gone 2 weeks, and it's another 2 weeks before I get to head back home.

04 May 2010


On Sunday, I ran the Orange County Half-Marathon. One of my colleagues at the U suggested I do it, and when we found out that Sarah was working (and hence unable to travel to some family events over the weekend), I signed up! Immediately, I got in touch with a friend from high school who used to run cross-country. She gave me some advice on how to handle the last week before the race.

I had intended to do some occasional long-distance running to help in the training. I did a 10.5 run a month and a half ago, but nothing that long since. I never got the chance to - I screwed up my back a few weeks ago, so I had to spend some time recovering. Still, I continued to train by running and lifting.

Last week, I slowly pared back my workouts. Instead of running 6 miles, I'd run 3. On Friday, I started carbing up. That was delicious! Pasta, tortillas, meat, mmmmm. Oh, and beer. Delicious beer. On Saturday, I didn't exercise at all; I let my body rest as I continued to shovel carbs and good sugars in. Sandwiches, bbq, sweet potato fries, and another beer! Mmmm

On Sunday, I had to get up at 3.30am to be at the finish line at 4.30. From the finish line, we took a shuttle bus to the starting line, a high-end mall called Fashion Island. While the rest of the racers showed up and the sun rose, I stretched, rested, and waited. The thousands of racers mobbed together, more or less according to their anticipated times. I guessed that I'd do the half in about 2 hours, which put me near the front of the mass.

At 6.30, we took off! One of the biggest pieces of advice I got was to make sure I paced myself, so I took the first mile pretty easy. At the first mile marker, I realized how slow I was, and I picked up my pace. I ran consistently and steadily. My split time at mile 5 was 45 minutes exactly. At mile 6, I walked for a couple of seconds to gulp down some water; I did that again at Mile 10. I could feel myself slowing down during the last few miles, but I persevered.

As the race entered its last mile, we entered into the OC Fairgrounds. Our paces all picked up, as the crowds got thicker and we knew the end was near. With less than half a mile left, I ran past a handful of friends who had come out to cheer me on. They had made a 'Go Vinnie' sign, which gave me an extra surge of energy! The last turn of the race was a sharp left turn, and there the finish line was, just 150 feet ahead! I got a final burst of energy, passed everyone between me and the finish line, and ran across the line in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 00 seconds! I beat my 2-hour goal by a full minute!

Afterwards, I found the friends who had made the sign and Sarah. We hung out at the race for a little while, and then we left to get some breakfast. I was super-sore, but so so proud of myself!

If you had told me a year ago that I'd be running a half-marathon, I'd've said you were crazy. Crazy!

Photos to follow, when I get them

09 April 2010

Here's the process for tenure:

Next fall, I go up for tenure at the U. It seems early to be doing this, but every school has its own way of doing things. The process is extremely complex, and I think I understand most nooks and crannies. Here's how it works (or at least: here's how I THINK it works):

1. NOW: Create a series of documents that summarize all of your academic and creative work at the U and in you research area since you joined the U. This brick of content should include: photographs, audio, video, class materials, published articles, books, etc. My packet will include: two color photograph/press booklets, four scores, four DVDs, one booklet of classroom materials. Optional (but strongly encouraged): a multi-page document outlining why YOU think you deserve tenure. A bit of interesting minutia: the document must lay down flat: no three-ring binders allowed.

2. SOON: Copy that entire brick-of-content six times.

3. MAY: Send the brick-of-content out to readers around the world. 'Readers' means 'tenured faculty at research universities who don't have a personal relationship with you.' Fortunately, I don't have major inroads in academia, so there are plenty of people to choose from. Unfortunately, there are approximately 6 sound designers who fit that bill, and I know 4 of them.

4. SUMMER: Those readers will read through my file and write letters that (hopefully) support my promotion to tenure.

5. SEPTEMBER: Revise my brick-of-content to include the work I did over the summer.

6. OCTOBER: Deliver the brick-of-content to the Drama faculty for their review and (hopefully) support. The faculty will generate a letter stating their view. After that, my department chair writes a letter. After that, the Dean writes a letter. After that, the whole brick-of-content (now accompanied by letters from readers, my colleagues, my chair, and my dean) goes into the bureaucratic mess of the greater U. I'm not really sure what happens there. There might be the reading of chicken bones or tea leaves. Eventually, a final decision will be made.

7. MARCH(ish): I get a response from the U as to whether I've been awarded tenure. If I get tenure, then I get a small bump in salary, a promotion from Assistant Prof. to Associate Prof., and some financial stability (as much as one can have in California). If I don't get tenure, then I finish the school year and am out of a job on 1 August 2011. There's no middle ground. Yikes!

So, this is the kind of thing that I've been working on for a few months now. I think I have a good shot at it, but there's no real way to tell...

05 April 2010

new banner!

So, I changed the banner from yet another beautiful midwest landscape to a flowering branch from The Getty Villa.

Today, after a month of relative stagnation, I'm back on the weight loss wagon. I've got 12 pounds to get to the ubergoal, at which point we celebrate and drop a dime on some new clothes! In the meantime, I'm punching holes in old belts (tonight I punched hole #3) and feeling alternately like a kid in his daddy's clothes or a clown (depending on how S chooses to tease me).

With USITT behind us, we're now thick into the last quarter of classes at UCI. Both of the classes I'm teaching this quarter are ones that I've taught before, so the prep for them is much much less. These days, I'm trying to get some paperwork out to the printer in time for my early May deadline. Yikes!

04 April 2010

An amazing USITT

The annual United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) conference was in Kansas City over the past five days or so. This was my third conference, and I had a terrific time. I flew in on Tuesday night, getting to the hotel shortly before midnight. On Wednesday morning, I had breakfast with Chris and Dianne, my in-laws. They took me to a great locavore restaurant, and we had a nice visit.

Then, the debauchery began.

USITT subdivides itself into smaller topical commissions. There is a lighting commission, a safety commission, a rigging commission, and naturally, a safety commission. Each commission programs a series of meeting sessions (panel discussions, roundtables, product demos, etc.), and conference attendees are free to go to any session at any time. There's also a large showroom floor, where companies and schools set up displays and talk to potential customers and students. Naturally, I spend most of my time with the sound session.

Days were spent in sessions. John Leonard, a sound designer from the UK, talked to us about his career. Students presented portfolios. Drew Dalzell out of LA chaired a whole day on live v. recorded sound effects. Brad Berridge from MA organized a session on sound for dance. Nights were spent eating well and drinking well. We spent a good bit of time in The Drum Room, a historic bar in the Hilton President. We also closed down a bar called Quaff a couple of nights in a row.

Brad and his pal Jeff (who was a classmate of mine in undergrad) maintained a blog for LiveDesign Magazine. There's video, photos, and not too much text. One of the highlights for Brad and I was the sound playback party, where sound designers can make a short presentation of a recent project, as a way to cross pollenate and show off a little bit. Brad and I had been playing with our iphones earlier in the session, and we decided to do a little impromptu iphone symphony. You can check it out here:

All in all, a tremendous trip! Next year: Charlotte! See you then!

18 March 2010

End of the Quarter, Skis, and Emergency Kits

First, Happy 30th Birthday Denise! It's still technically your birthday here, even though it's not where you are...

It's the end of the winter quarter at UCI, traditionally the busiest term of the year. This year was no exception. In addition to producing three shows (one of which was a thesis show for the sound designer, teaching 1 brand new class and 1 halfway-new class, starting to work on my tenure file, recruiting grad students for next year (we got two great ones!), recruiting a sound supervisor (we had two amazing finalists!), and planning next year's season, I also had a show open at SCR. After three years at UCI, this quarter isn't getting any easier. All of the bureaucratic mumbo jumbo is definitely taking its toll: these days, I'm feeling creatively stagnant. Meh.

Still, the end of the quarter feels good. My grading is done, and I'll turn in final grades in the next few days. I've been enjoying my week off of classes. On Monday, I went up to The Geffen to check out the preview of a new play called Through the Night, which was pretty terrific. On Tuesday, I had a bite with an old friend. On Wednesday, I was in meetings with students, and today, I ran errands and had dinner with some friends in LBC. Tomorrow, I think I'll head up to LA in search of the elusive Taco Truck for some authentic lunch chow.

I've also been using my extra time this week to get some more exercise in. The people who see me everyday have almost all noticed the change, and I facebook about it a little bit, but I've been working out a lot and really watching what I eat. And, there are dramatic results! Here's me in late July:

And here's me a few weeks ago:

I hope you can see the change as well as I can!

On Sunday, I'll fly out to Park City for some skiing with my folks and some cousins. I just bought a new pair of skis and am eager to try them out!

Finally, after the strange earthquake we had in LA this week, compounded with terrifying quakes in Haiti and Chile, S and I have decided that it's time to get serious about putting together emergency kits. I've been shopping around for various items to go in there, including water, food, whistles, cash, first-aid kits, crowbars, etc. It's weird preparing something you hope you never have to use, but if we ever need to use it, I'll be glad we did.

That's all for now - I'll try to be better about posting - it's just been a hell of a long winter!

13 March 2010

In a Garden

It's been a long winter, but now, with the beginning of spring (and the impending advance of clocks per daylight savings time), I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel...

Last night, I opened In a Garden at South Coast Rep. I wrote the music and designed the sound, and when we went into the studio to record the music, the PR department from South Coast came along to shoot a short promotional video. Here it is:

06 February 2010

boy, I'm lame

It's been a long long time since I've updated - there hasn't really been much of note happening, so I've been sparing you reading boring stories. However, since it's been over a month since my last post, I guess it's time for an update.

January has come and gone. We're halfway done with the academic term at UCI, and it's going pretty well. Classes are moving right along, and the search for a new Audio Supervisor is going well (slow, but well). My program head and I went to Chicago last weekend to interview prospective students. We saw nine students, only a few of which were really worth considering. I think that in general, this was an off-year. Not sure why - usually when the economy tanks, people head back to school...

I'm working on a new show at South Coast Repertory called In A Garden. I was hired to be the designer and composer, but after talking with the director, it became clear that the music I've been asked to write is to be Middle Eastern in nature. Being neither a scholar nor practioner of that kind of music, I got real nervous real quick. I'm currently seeking out an ensemble to play the music, and I've connected with another professor at UCI who has much more experience with this style of music. She's going to help me make sure that the music is neither embarrassing to me nor a mockery of Middle Eastern music in general.

Today, I'm headed into the U to watch a dance concert and attend a crit for the lighting designer, one of our graduate students. This is his thesis production, the capstone event of his time at UCI. I've heard his work is great - I'm looking forward to it!

04 January 2010

a safe return after a long trip

It's been an exhausting vacation. The kind of vacation that you need a vacation from, you know? In the past two plus weeks, I've traveled to three cities, seen family from both sides of our marriage, slept in four different beds, spent time with friends from childhood, high school, college, grad school, and work around the country. Carriage ride in central park, running on the VB boardwalk, skiing in the mountains of Colorado.

It was a great trip, and we're awful thankful that we have family and friends all over the country that we can visit and spend time with, but we're also very glad to be home, to have some time with each other again, and to catch up on rest a bit before we both go back to work!