Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ignorance can be cured. Stupidity is forever.

The utter stupidity of people never ceases to amaze me.

I have a friend, a local actress, that was working with a local theatre's comedy improv company. I say was, because as of today, she was let go. Mind you, she's probably the most trained member of that group, has formal and informal credits up the wazoo, takes her art very seriously, and therein seems ot have been the issue. She was evaluated as being too serious for comedy improv.

What a load of crap.

I have seen her perform, and she was one of the best up there during the skits. (She probably was number two, behind this one guy who was very good.) It seems as though the powers that be that run this circus act seem to think that during rehearsals, she was too serious, and that she didn't loosen up enough. Excuse me, but, at the end of the day, what counts is what happens on stage during performance, period. From what I can tell, she was just fine, very loose, not nervous, and very quick as far as the routines were conencerned. (Short-form improv, a la "Whose Line Is It Anyway?")

Now, there was a small problem with one skit that they were planning to do, based on horror movies. She had an incident happen to her many years ago in which a friend of hers was killed, and while she was willing to participate in the skit, she just asked that nothing be directed at her eyes or neck. Of course, the heads of the troupe were a little shocked by what she told them, but, she never expected them to react the way they did.

So I get a phone call from her today, and she tell me they let her go. No explanantion other than what I described above, refusing to give her any other reason.

In essence, they fired her for being human.

So, they let go someone that could have been an asset to them with just a little more time to adjust to this style of performing, (she had been there about 8 months.) instead of trying to approach her and extend a hand to help. They blew it, and as I also found out, they never really made her feel totally welcome in the group, which didn't help matters any.

I am here to listen to her, but I know this has killed her self-esteem big time. She is a talented childrens educator, she uses improv and theatre to create innovative programs for kids, and I have seen the letters of commendation and outright gushing over what she has created for a variety of children's organizations. Oh, and in case you were wondering, she's acted in off-Broadway, regional, and London West End shows, so she's no slouch.

As far as I'm concerned, this improv group is run by a team of trained monkeys. For now, the best I can do for her is lend an ear, and hopefully offer some suggestions.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nighttime disturbances.

I'm not sure why this is happening, but for at least 3 nights this week I have been having a series of pretty violent nightmares. Nothing cohesive mind you, and hard to remember them after I wake up (not the I really want to remember them anyway). I'm not sure why these are happening, as I don't get nightmares on any sort of regular basis. There is only one relevant factor I can point to, that being my blood sugar being somewhat lower than normal before I go to bed. I have to give myself a dosage of long acting insulin prior to bedtime, so I am wondering if it is dropping lower during sleep than normal, hence causing my neurons to fire wildly, and causing my brain chemistry to play nasty tricks on me.

Unfortunately, there was no constant theme throughout these horror images, other than the fact that all involved a woman that was trying to do me harm. As I have read Jung in the past, I am tempted to try and find the symbolic nature of what all this represents (I'm staying away from Freud. Don't even want to go there.). Female looking to destroy me...hmm...will have to look this one up.

I did however have one moment of terror, in which I woke up practically hyperventilating. It took me a good 2-3 minutes to get my bearings, and when I did, the entire imagery of what got me into this state was gone. I couldn't remember what exactly it was I was dreaming about or why. Maybe this is the brain's way of protecting itself against trauma, or maybe I unconsciously chose not to remember.

Ah well. Maybe it's true that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ok, you can stop peeking now... this is National De-Lurking Week. I had no idea there was such a thing until Jay over at The Depp Effect clued me in. So please, pop in, say hello, and have a coffee on me. I know there are peekers (yeah, I know, it's not a word) out there, so please, let's see you.

Through my mind, darkly.

"I caught sight of my reflection
I caught it in the window
I saw the darkness in my heart
I saw the signs of my undoing
They had been there from the start
And the darkness still has work to do
The knotted chord's untying
They're heated and they're holy
Oh they're sitting there on high
So secure with everything they're buying

In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
With the man in the woman
And the woman in the man
In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
We wanted the union
Oh the union of the woman
The woman and the man

My grip is surely slipping
I think I've lost my hold
Yes, I think I've lost my hold
I cannot get insurance anymore
They don't take credit, only gold
Is that a dagger or a crucifix I see
You hold so tightly in your hand
And all the while the distance grows between you and me
I do not understand


At my request, you take me in
In that tenderness, I am floating away
No certainty, nothing to rely on
Holding still for a moment
What a moment this is
Oh for a moment of forgetting, a moment of bliss

I can hear the distant thunder
Of a million unheard souls
Of a million unheard souls
Watch each one reach for creature comfort
For the filling of their holes

In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
With the man in the woman
And the woman in the man
In the blood of Eden
We wanted the union
Of the woman and the man

In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
I feel the man in the woman
And the woman in the man

In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
I feel the man in the woman
And the woman in the man

In the blood of Eden
We've done everything we can
In the blood of Eden
Saw the end as we began
With the man in the woman
And the woman in the man
It was all for the union
Oh, the union of the woman, the woman and the man."

Peter Gabriel - "Blood of Eden"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Since hell has frozen over, I'm moving to limbo where it's warmer.

By even western NY standards, it is really cold. I mean freeze your butt off cold. I mean the kind of cold that makes you think that living in a western state like Arizona, even with the possibility of it having no water in the future, looks like a good idea.

Please take note of the image above. While you can't see it, the temperature is 9 degrees. (That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius, for all my European and other worldly bloogers.) That's the temp right now, and it is expected to dip even further tonight, and in the coming days. It will even enter negative territory with the wind chill. In short, my kitchen freezer will seem like a tropical paradise compared with being outside.

I had to go into my basement just to make sure the sump pump is not freezing up, and it seems to be okay. We haven't had this kind of cold in several winters, so I suppose we were due for it, but still, it is annoying. I blame Canada. Why? Well, first off, it's easy. Secondly, they always seem to dump their weather down on us here.

I suspect I will now get a tongue lashing from Violet Sky about this. Must be the cold.

You know that old saying; "It'll be a cold day in hell when...(insert your favorite action here)"

If you live up this way, you had better start making good on those promises.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another interview meme.

Julia, over at In Java, Literally, has answered an interview meme, and passed along her willingness to do the same. While I did this a few posts ago, I thought it might be nice to try a different one, but will make it my last for a bit.

1. You walk into a room, what do you see?

A mess. A bloody, awful mess. This is my home office, and I really need to make more headway in getting it into shape. The funny thing is, when I was the director of QA back in my medical center in NYC, having a messy office was so anathema to me. I kept it very organized, so I am trying to remember back to my days of yore and figure out what I need to do to get organized.

2. What year changed your entire life?

Easy. 1997, the year I had my liver transplant. Everything changed after that, mostly good, some bad.

3. What are you proud of?

The work I did as a NYC paramedic. I did things and helped people in ways that most others only read about. Of all the titles I may carry, that of NYC-EMS paramedic will always be my proudest. I also am proud of what I see as my growth as an actor. I have been asked to do plays and movies without needing to audition, which tells me I must be doing something right. I also am proud of the things I have written, even though there are many times I really don't believe I'm any good at it.

4. Why do you live where you live?

Quieter life, and because while I miss many things about NYC, I simply can't live there anymore.
I needed to slow down.

5. What is your favorite hobby and why?

Not to beat a dead horse, but acting. It is very, very freeing. It allows me to express things that I have hard time doing in my everyday life. It is also the thrill I get from feeding off the energy of an audience, or the sensation of what can only be akin to an orgasm when I do or say something that makes an audience laugh. I love taking the printed word, creating a character with it, and bringing it to life.

Want to be interviewed?

Follow these instructions:
  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Another coffee post.

Back in June, I posted this about my semi-obsession with a good cup o' joe. I have been meaning to post another one of my java hangouts, Starry Nites Cafe, in the city of Rochester at the University Ave/Atlantic Ave. split.

While I don't get there as often as some other places, I do enjoy the atmosphere here, and they have an excellent wireless connection, which makes for some good work when I do get here.

This is technically a coffee shop and wine bar, and they have an excellent selection of food and desserts as well. (The brownies are to DIE for.)

They are in the Neighborhood of the Arts, which you can find out more about here. It is also a favorite hangout for a lot of the RIT filmmakers, and after doing a staged reading of a fim script late last September, we all piled into cars and took over the place.

So, when you come to visit, I'll be more than happy to take you there, and feed you a brownie. Oh, and as the name suggests, it has a bit of a Van Gogh theme to it, but you don't have to give up an ear to enjoy the place.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Changez I argument.

I didn't go to school to become a writer. I did it by writing a piece for a professional journal for paramedics in 1989, and it sort of took off from there. Along the way, I was guided by an editor at the magazine that taught me by simply taking my articles, and pointing out what had to be changed and why. With each succeeding article I got better and better, and learned my craft the old fashioned way; I just did it.

Of course, she could be brutal at times, and this earned her the nickname of "The Chainsaw," among the rest of us that wrote for the magazine. She could be merciless on articles when needed. I remember one particular time when I submitted a book review on a non-fiction novel about life as a NYC paramedic, and promptly tore the book to shreds in the review. Barbara called me up and said that she loved the piece, but, she couldn't print it.

"Why?" I inquired, somewhat devastated. I was so very proud of the piece, especially as it came out of a stream of consciousness, one of the first times I had ever done that while writing.

"Well, it's very good, but it borders on libel." she explained.

"Oh." I said, realizing that maybe I went just a tad too far in my criticism of that piece of shit that was passing for a "real look at the life of a NYC paramedic," an opinion I hold to this day.

So, she kept the good bits and in true chainsaw fashion, made it more palatable to the legal department at the magazine. I still felt as though I had my heart torn out, but I understood the reasons why.

So today, I came across the feline above , and thought to myself, "This was probably the kind of cat Barbara had." Yeah. Editor Kitteh.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

You need a time out!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand the way these things work, career centers are supposed to be full of helpful, knowledgeable people that can assist a person in their search for a new job. I mean, these are supposed to be human resource professionals that understand the issues facing today's economy, and the struggles that people go through in order either to find work, or to improve their current job situation.

This is what it is supposed to be, right? Tell that to RochesterWorks.

I used this service some years ago when I was out of work, and was very unimpressed. It was with a jaundiced eye that I considered going back there when it was suggested to me to give them another go to see if they might offer some assistance, at least regarding re-tooling my resume. I was told that they actually had improved their services.

So with trepidation, I signed up for a resume review session for today at 11:00 am. I made several different copies of my resume available, in different formats that would be arranged depending on the type of position I was trying for. It turned out to be a group session with six people and a moderator. We would all get to see each others resume's and critique them. Not a bad idea, I have done this sort of thing before.

Then the moderator opened her mouth. What came out were some of the most condescending, shrill, and trite statements that I have not heard in a long time. This was a human resources "professional?" I use the term professional very loosely, you see. She was about as unprofessional as it gets. First, she would make comments such as "I love you for it," or other such drivel to people when making observations about things on their resumes. Her interaction style was that of a parent to a child. She really jumped into the deep end of the pool when it was time to look over my resume.

After everyone took time to make some notes on my resume, she started to make a point regrading my opening summary, something that I disagreed with and was trying to explain why. She then proceeded to put her index finger to her lips, and shushed me as though we were in church and I was making too much noise. I simply lifted an eyebrow, and threw daggers at her through my eyes, which was enough for her to realize she had just made an enormous faux pas.

It took all of my resolve not to let my inner Bronx-boy out and let her know what I thought in an old school fashion. Normally, this would involve many four-letter words and references to the sexual exploits of her mother. I decided that this would not achieve my main objective; to get her in so much trouble, that she would have no recourse but to fall on her sword in remorse. A few minutes after her attempt at silencing me, she apologized, but the sincerity that should have been there was sorely lacking.

She pulled another bonehead move; she implied that I had "returned to Rochester as a result of something happening to me in NYC." She came to this stunning conclusion after seeing that I listed two of my former health care jobs from my paramedic days in Brooklyn.

"I didn't 'return' to Rochester. I moved here. I'm from NYC, and those were jobs that I held back then."

I think I saw the blood drain from her face as she realized she screwed up yet again.

So, on it went, until it mercifully ended. I went home madder than hell, then got together with a friend for coffee. The look on her face when I told her what happened was enough to tell me that I knew I was in the right. My friend is a former business owner, and she is far too familiar with HR people. I went home after calming down enough, and wrote a scathing (but professional) letter to the executive director of this organization, and e-mailed it to him. I am hoping for an answer tomorrow.

What I'm really hoping for is that this moderator gets sent to her to her room without any supper. Well, not really of course, but a good tongue lashing couldn't hurt, could it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beyond the beyond.

I think my patience with my employer has hit critical mass. While I made the decision a few weeks back to start looking for another job, it was not until Friday that it really hit me how badly I need to get out of it. It's bad enough that one is treated like so much cattle, expendable, and can be culled from the herd without so much as a second thought, but when they start messing with my hours, then I have a problem.

The time system that they have is quite frankly, a piece of shit. It's not uncommon for it to screw up, and basically punch you in/out incorrectly, which is what happened last Wednesday. I worked an extra hour during day, and the system misplaced the punch in time. Not all that unusual, so you just send a note to the supervisor and he/she corrects it, right? BZZZZT! Wrong answer, thank you for playing! It seems that whoever corrected it simply decided to totally delete the extra hour, thank you very much.

This is typical of the type of nonsense we all have to put up with there. Some months back, I had a problem with my computer that basically put me down for an entire shift. Since I work from home, this can be a bit of a problem. I don't have the luxury of walking over to another cube and logging on to another computer. I called the supervisor to place a ticket for me, and then waited for IT support to call, and waited, waited, waited... You get the picture?

Well, they never did call, and I waited up until the end of my shift at 3 am. So, I naturally spoke to the boss the next day, and told him what happened. You see, they weren't going to pay me for the shift. Excuse me? It's not my bloody problem that your computer screwed up. It's not my bloody problem that your IT help desk can't call me back within a reasonable amount of time in order to get me back up and running.

He eventually saw the sense in my argument, and they agreed to pay me for the shift, and put in place some procedures to avoid this in the future. It's a shame that it took my having to state the obvious to them in order to get them to wake up. We now finally have a dedicated help desk team just for the work from home people.

Too little, too late.

Now, regular readers will know that I am working towards being a full-time freelance writer. I took a nice step in that direction last week as well, with my first big job; I wrote up a press release for a local film company that is having one of its short films made into an internet webisode for Atom TV, and is being produced by Comedy Central. You can check it out here:

While this is a good start, I still have to think about a regular income until the writing business really takes off. I've retooled my resume, and Tuesday am taking it in for a review by a career counselor. After that, I'll start using whatever connections I can, plus the usually sources of, Linkedin, etc. You know the drill.

While I have no desire to get fired, I would, quite frankly, not be upset if they did. I would collect unemployment, and throw everything I had into my business, not that I am not doing that already. Health insurance would not be an issue, as I would go back onto Mrs. Nighttimes' coverage.

Of course, Mrs. Nighttimes' opinion on this is not quite the same, so for now, issues aside, I look for another job while staying employed. Common sense says it's the best position to be in; my brain however, is melting away like fondue. I don't want to stick a fork in it and call it done.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Role reversal.

Being a freelance writer, usually it is myself that does the interviewing, but thanks to Violet Sky, now I've become the interviewee. It's something new, where fellow bloggers join in, and then you e-mail them back with 5 interview questions, and so on, and so on, and so on...

So, without any further adieu, here are the five questions posed to me:

1. What foreign language do you wish you were fluent in, and why?

This is a bit of a tough one, as there actually are two, French and Japanese. French is a beautiful language, if you can get past the part where they simply ignore certain consonants, and Japanese is a very nuanced language. I used to be conversational in Spanish, having taken 6 years of it and having half my friends be from Puerto Rico when I was growing up. I also used it a lot working as a paramedic, especially in Brooklyn.

2. It's vacation time! Seaside or Mountains?

Seaside, as I miss it very much. The shore of Lake Ontario just doesn't cut it compared to the Atlantic.

3. You have inherited from an eccentric gentleman his entire possessions which include a vast collection of papers and artifacts from his travels. They were bought for his personal taste rather than as an investment, but some may be museum worthy and all have been cared for and meticulously catalogued. The only instructions are that you must never sell any of the pieces. What will you do with them?

Keep what I like, insure them; donate the rest, or give them to a relative as a present on the condition that they sell it for me.

4. The complete series of any tv show ever produced is available to you on dvd, You can choose two, and assuming that you already have Battlestar Galactica, which shows do you choose?

LOL, actually I do have Battlestar Galactica, but only season's 1 and 2, and "Razor." Well, if I had to choose, I would probably pick Prime Suspect. What an amazing series with Helen Mirren. After that, it would be "I Claudius."

5. Which part of the newspaper do you always read first?

The front section. I prefer to get through the big stories first.

So, if you'd like to play along, here are the rules:

Send me an email saying: ”Interview Me” (see my profile page for address)
I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
You can then answer the questions on your blog.
You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you wanting to be interviewed.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm resolute on not making any resolutions.

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." ~Mark Twain

As usual during this time of year, the standard question that is asked by friends and family is "So what resolutions have you made for the new year?" While I hate to sound moribund, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that making resolutions for the new year is the easiest way to break promises to yourself. I think having goals are a good thing, but, when ironclad resolutions are set-up, I think it is a recipe for failure, and extreme disappointment.

Even the term "resolution" carries with it the air of a non-committal attitude. Let's take a look at Congress. How many times have you read about them making "non-binding resolutions" regarding a particular issue? It is basically a way of saying "This situation sucks, we hate it, and we want to do something about it but don't have the power to." You can see the same thing done at the UN, the Hague, and just about every other governmental entity on the planet.

If we can't expect governments to stick to resolutions, why should we expect them in ourselves? I know, I know, we're better than the politicians, but still, we procrastinate, and we make excuses, and in the end, we don't commit to making the resolutions real, no matter how much we want to. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and even I fulfilled at least one resolution in my life, and that was to return to acting after my transplant. I don't know, maybe the whole "staring death in the face" thing had something to do with it.

There is a Zen saying: "When you seek it, you cannot find it." I think that this is what happens when you set resolutions.

I think maybe a better approach is to think; "What can I accomplish today that will mean something for this moment?" While I certainly have goals I would like to accomplish, I think that if you stay too focused on the far goal, you lose track of what is immediately important.

So, starting Monday, my two immediate goals are to look for a new job, and get my daily schedule in order with regard to my writing business. That, is the immediate concern.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, it was amazing to see Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey getting the Kennedy Center Award. (Ok, just ignore the fact that Bush is introducing them. That they're getting the award is what's important.) They rarely do it for non-Americans, much less not one, but two rockers.