Where are we going?
November 4, 2018
I saw something interesting yesterday. A little scenario that played out in front of my eyes that I may have been the only witness to, but extremely educational for me. If I have your interest, then stop where you are. . .for one minute. It's important.
Stopped yet? I'll wait.
A crowded downtown. Traffic. Pedestrians. A Saturday farmers market in small town Oregon. Nice weather in between rainstorms, and being taken advantage of by everyone. I'm heading into an old, Main Street America part of downtown, and the traffic light just ahead of me yellowed as I came in over a bridge off of Highway 20. As I slowed to stop before the crosswalk, this is what I saw. . .
A family of four. Mom. Dad. A girl, maybe 12, and a boy, 10 or so. Approaching the crosswalk in front of me. . .all with their phones in front of their face. Mom stopped about 3 feet from the street, and looked around bewildered. . .not knowing where she was, or where they were supposed to go. Dad noticed her stopping, and looked away from his sports scores to find out what was going to happen next. The boy stepped into the street, right in front of me.
They say that girls mature faster than boys, and women have a better ability to multi-task. This twelve year old sister was the only one cognizant enough to grab her brother's arm, and pull him back to the corner. . .before returning back to her chat thread. The boy didn't even blink before heading back to Fruit Ninja. . .
Any day that I learn something is a good day. Anything noteworthy that I learn, I try to share.
My immediate thought was that I would rather deal with somebody that was drunk, or otherwise incapacitated than someone with phone intoxication. Mom and dad had no idea how close that I could have come to pasting their child across the intersection, had I not been paying attention. I have had people stop and glare at me as they jaywalk, on their phones, in the middle of a block. I have missed green lights as the person in front of me completes their text-behind-the-wheel, then speeds through the yellow.
I promised you a one minute read, so, I'll keep it short. Read posts like this when you have time to kill, not walking down the street. Do the Facebook thing from a coffee shop. Play the games in your bedroom. And listen to my audio stuff, with headphones, when you can enjoy a drink and unwind a little bit. I enjoy the creative aspect, and love entertaining. Please don't make me regret it ;)
Been a Long Time since I Rock n Rolled
October 14, 2018
This blog has been neglected for far too long, and there are reasons that have prevented me from doing much with it. For anybody that happens to stumble across these words, I'll go ahead and explain why I chose to quote a Led Zepplin song.
I signed divorce papers this last week, and my wife of thirty years and I have decided to go our separate ways. I would imagine that that line caused one of two reactions; Emotional - but please don't feel sorry or sadness for either one of us- or, Analytical, as in what the hell happened?
I think that we all try to find the root cause of issues, and I know that I've spent the last 8 months going over every moment that we shared; every mistaken emotion or misunderstanding; every inflection or action that may have had a deeper meaning than what we had originally misdiagnosed.
Trust me. I've thought them all over, and even talked with a number of people about them. It always comes down to the phrase, "Well, I wasn't there with you guys," or "I would need to hear the other side of the story." Always. I'll respond to that by saying that nobody should have to go through the levels of emotional hurt that go along with something like this, but so many people (couples) do. It's becoming more and more common, and I had honestly never thought that I would be a statistic for divorce.
I've also noticed that everyone either wants to cast their opinion into the mix, or doesn't want to get involved at all. All or nothing, and the list is short of those that would just be willing to listen, and let me get ideas, thoughts or questions out of my head and off my chest. I'm thankful for those people, and will never be able to express how much their presence has meant to me.
When it's all said and done, though, and when you've run out of questions to ask, or things to ponder or discuss, you come to that crossroad of What Do I Do Now. Left, right, straight. . .I try not to ever go backwards.
So, I go on. New dreams. Different plans. Different ways to allocate my time. New people to spend my time with. Stronger focus, and better attention to life's little details. Time to move on, and go forward.
It's been a long time since I rock n rolled.
It's been a long, lonely lonely lonely. . .lonely time.
The Road Less Travelled
January 20, 2018
My words for this post will be few, although the explanation for it is necessary. The picture is mine, as are the revelations that came from it, and the circumstances surrounding it. You may find the story boring or fantastic, but apply the concept to yourself, and where you are on your journey.
Tuesday morning, 2 AM. PDX airport, and I'm there to pick up two passengers from the red-eye out of Los Angeles. My eyes were bleary on the infamous airport carpet, but realized that, blurry or in-focus, it's the ugliest carpet I've ever seen. The passengers that I was to meet were my son and his girlfriend, who were finishing up the back leg of a flight from Spain, where they had served as English-as-a-second-language instructors in Barcelona, but had been offered jobs with a circus based in Atlanta. (okay. . .a couple of eyebrows raised. That means that you're paying attention.)
Wait. What? Spain?. . .Circus?. . .What?
Kind of my thoughts as I made my way through the airport, and stumbled across the people-movers in the picture. 2 AM in the Portland airport is a blissfully lonely time, and the walkways have an energy-saving device that turns them off when not in use. A motion detector turns them back on as needed, but I had never seen them off before. I stepped on them and made my way towards the gate, as the sidewalk gently shuttled me towards the arrival gate. This is where my mind wandered, and these are the thoughts that made for some interesting life lessons. Use them as you will, but use them for good, not evil.
1) NOTHING happens if you don't step on in the first place, but decide ahead of time so that you don't mess it up for everybody else.
2) You can walk, or not walk, on the people-movers, but exerting some effort gets you there quicker.
3) If you opt to not walk, move your crap out of the way so that others (who have a higher sense of urgency) can get past you. That's called courtesy.
4) A people-mover entered from the wrong direction will not volunteer to carry you the wrong way. (Did I mention that it was 2 AM?)
5) Someone heading to the same destination without the use of the people mover will become stronger in the process, but save NO time, and are a bit winded upon arrival.
There were some other philosophical thoughts that I had, but life-lessons have more impact in groups of five. Feel free to add any additional comments below if you have some, but I'll give you my translations to those points here:
1) Do SOMETHING, even if it's wrong.
2) Give your life some effort, and you'll be rewarded. Nobody owes you anything.
3) Be responsible and accountable, and you'll be appreciated.
4) If a door is shut and locked, it's a good idea to find another way.
5) There's positives and negatives in all of our choices. Focussing on the positives is much better for our attitudes.
My son and his girlfriend are definitely making some bold choices, and are growing in the process. But, they're the type of people who RUN on the people-movers. Safe journeys!!
Don't be Dead, Dude!!
January 2nd, 2018
So, I watered a dead plant today.
At least, I think that it was dead. It's one of those hangy-viney thingys (Leafus extrodrdinarus) that you tend to see in Mexican restaurants, veterinarian offices and old-folks homes. We got it because it seemed like they were super-simple to take care of, and, with little maintenance would thrive to the epic proportions of the Gardens of Babylon!!
Except, somehow. . .in our tiny kitchen, this plant wound up on a upper cupboard top that is usually reserved to display bronze rooster statues; the inherited salt-and-pepper shaker collection from Old Aunt Ruth; or 1950's tin replications for Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima or June Cleaver. (I know. A cleaver should be near the knife block, but I'm utilizing the rule of threes, here. Cut me some slack.)
There is no way that any living thing should wind up on that particular area in our kitchen. My wife, who is cutely under 5 feet tall, doesn't choose to acknowledge anything above 7 feet from the floor. I'm closer to eye-level with the thing, but I'm usually focussed on the thirst-quenching imbibements that I just got out of the fridge, or keeping all of my delectable goodies on my dinner plate. Call it, "balance issues."
So, this plant has been consistently ignored since. . . .oooohh. . .germination. . .and wasn't looking so good. I noticed it because one little leaf had managed to grow into the frame of the cabinet below, which, ironically, is our vitamin cabinet. It's as if the plant had taken on the attitude, "Welp. I'm on my own, I guess," and was trying to find my Flintstone chewables. I happened to notice the plant's gritty determination as I was trying to find my vitamins left over from LAST year's New Years' resolutions.
So, I pulled it down and watered it, not really knowing if the plant is salvageable or not. Out of guilt, I even set it on top of our Culligan water dispenser, so that. . .I don't know. . .it could rehydrate through osmosis or something.
It's not the first dead plant that I've watered; not by a long shot, and here's where I take my usual, cryptic turn.
I've brought a lot of things back to life. A voice acting career that was put on hold for nearly 20 years in order to raise a family is actually blossoming into a wonderful opportunity. Yep. I watered it, and it's alive.
I went for a decade with sparse communication with my own father, and a lot of unspoken thoughts and feelings in there. We've both watered this relationship, (and had fun with the fertilizer. We're kinda like that) and we're discovering the strength of our own roots.
Friendships that scattered like dandelions across the breeze more than thirty years ago, have seeded, and form some of the greatest friendships that I have, and my encouragement and support comes from people that went for 30 years without my presence or attention. Watered from both sides, and doing well.
My past has given me a lot of experience, and things that seem to be dead and dying may just need some nurturing, and may grow to be more vibrant that you could ever imagine.
One of my New Years resolutions this year is to pay attention to things that seem to be decaying in my own life, and to breathe some life into some of those things. Feel free to come along, and bring a watering can.
Are We There Yet?
December 18th, 2017
When I was 10 years old, I didn't have it figured out. I looked at the world with awe, wonder and imagination, and tried to understand, exactly, what my role was and where I fit in. I had a difficult time adjusting in school, as my mind would wander out of the classroom windows into roadtrips in my mind; imagining moments of triumph and victory, and being hailed as a hero. The smartest. The fastest. The best. I was the champion of my own mind. When I was 10, I didn't have it figured out.
When I was 20, I didn't have it figured out. I was supposed to know by this point the direction of my entire life, and although I had an idea or two, they were nothing more than complete guesses. I was getting by in the jobs that I had, and with the schooling that I was going through, but the life that I was destined to live still lay before me. They were baby steps, but I was moving in the right direction.
When I was 30, I realized that I knew even less than I did when I was 20. Smarter and wiser, maybe, but the realization was setting in that all of my planning done to that point in my life hadn't reached the fruition that I had expected. By 30, I was supposed to be wealthy (according to the plan). I was supposed to have been adored, admired and respected in the community; leading my city and neighborhood into a better future. When I was 30, I began to realize that I didn't have it all figured out.
When I was 40, and was well into the raising of my family, there were constant reminders of how much I had left to figure out. Sometimes, the struggle of getting through the schedule of the day, or the payment of bills, or the management of time, or the responsibilities of raising a family. . .what happened to the plan? Where are the statues and the millions of dollars that I was supposed to have? Where was that key to the city? When I was 40, I didn't have it figured out.
I turned 52 in September, and realize that I know even less now, than what I thought that I did.
I'm coming to the understanding, slowly, that I don't think that we're SUPPOSED to know what it's all about. None of us are at the point in our lives that we imagined, and hindsight shows us how far off the mark we are from those targets that we created in our youth. So far from where we thought that we'd be, and so distant from what we had imagined. . .
. . .and so much better.
I'm glad that I was wrong, and am honored to be where I am. I have a fantastic, artistic, creative and quirky family, and lifelong friends that always make me feel special and valued. I need no statues, or keys to the city, and the relationships that I have are worth so much more than those millions of dollars. As creative as I'd like to think that my brain is, I had never imagined how important that would be.
I'm 50, and don't have it figured out. . .and am completely okay with that. Merry Christmas, and enjoy your journey!
Live long, and Prosper
December 4th, 2017
It could be said, arguably, that Mr Spock is the greatest communicator to ever exist, although he exists only in the realm of Science Fiction and in the minds of Trekkies everywhere.
When you think of Spock, he may seem dry and overly critical of anything said or suggested. His mind is centered only on facts, and anything that is hypothetical, imaginative or non-literal is going to seem. . .well. . ."alien". . .to him. Everything needs to be calculated thoroughly, and has to be processed by his mind, experiences and reasoning. You may know people like this, and it can be difficult to try and express yourself in a way that will be understood by this mindset. It's level of logic is kind of illogical.
So, why do I classify Spock as the greatest communicator, when it can be very tiring to try and explain things to him, or to those who think like he does?
I took a Communications course in college, and heard something from my instructor that has always stayed with me, and bears a bit of consideration. The instructor's name was Dr John Crawford, and he had the enviable ability to understand many different ways of thinking. He wrote thesis after thesis on the field of interpersonal communication, and it was he that identified Spock as a great communicator. See, Spock had this shortcut called the Vulcan Mind Meld. He would touch the head of the person that he was trying to communicate with, and would immediately receive insight into the thought process that was taking place inside of that head. Feelings, memories, emotions. . .they were all unlocked through this physical contact. Those images or emotions that he grasped were probably useless to his method of thinking; illogical to anything rational or acceptable, but they were still there, and he tried to process them into something that was usable in whatever situation that the crew of the Enterprise found themselves in. Those tidbits always helped to further the storyline of the episode, and illustrated the need to communicate with others to achieve goals. Communication is important, and quite often, it's more important to listen and perceive than to make yourself heard. The old, "Two ears, one mouth" concept.
The downside to Spock, however, was his inability to experience emotion. Joy, sadness, excitement, fear. . .He could not comprehend. He understood that they existed, but could not share in those emotions, and therefore; fell short of full and complete understanding. And, he could never know exactly how sad that situation was.
If I could go back in time to that college course, and explain something to Dr. Crawford about The Vulcan Mind Meld, it would be this; Those emotions that we experience; from bliss to agony, frustration to accomplishment, the highs to the lows. . .those are human experiences that we have ALL shared. And, something that we have in common with every other individual on this earth. Those emotions are real, and they help us to relate. If we take the time to listen.
Why do I bring this up this week?
Watch your social media trends, and examine what people are posting. People are clamoring to be heard above the noise, and quite often, just need to know that someone is hearing them. Be patient in your communications, and try to get that emotional understanding that people are reaching out on. People might appreciate you as their own, personal Mr Spock.
Live long and prosper!!
Be Careful What You Wish For
November 27, 2017
Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Never count your chickens before they're hatched. Don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. . .okay. So that last one didn't really fit, but I was on a roll with farm animals, and it was the next one that Google suggested. . .
I've always believed that any day that you can learn something has never been wasted. Opportunities for expanding your mind or horizon happen quite frequently each day, and I really do try to make it a point to catch them as they go past. It can be an annoyance to friends and family who might be trying to talk to me at the time that I'm being introspective about something, but it's the way that my mind works; focussed on one particular thing for far, far too long. I feel the need to understand many of the particulars in front of me, and answer the who, what, where, when, why and how's of nearly every situation that I find myself in. You might find yourself being the same kind of person, and even if you aren't, I ask you to bear with me for the next paragraph or so.
Voice acting requires a lot of work. The technical skills, the equipment, the ability and the desire all have to be in place, and it can be extremely overwhelming for the perfectionist types. A lot can go wrong with even the simplest of projects; more can go wrong with the complex ones. I learned that, to my chagrin (along with the meaning of the word "chagrin") this last weekend.
A Persian television show had cast me as the lead in a role to dub a show from Persian (set in Iraq, post Gulf War), into English. It was a great opportunity to receive some recognition for my talent, and an opportunity to learn how to record vocal inflections into pre-recorded physical actions. It also could have meant a bit of coin along the way, which is always kind of nice.
The problems developed with a lag on the internet. (I was trying to download episodes on Black Friday, as everyone in our neighborhood seemed to be shopping online or something.) Download times were brutal. Additionally, my studio is soundproof, and highly resistant to radiation, nuclear fallout, and internet connectivity. I'd be fine in the event of nuclear war, but wouldn't be able to catch a whole lot of Youtube down here. Trying to stream Persian television was tedious, just in case you've never attempted it, and I spent a lot of time watching the little spinny-wheel to catch my next gestures or emotions. It caused a twitch that I may need to talk to my therapist about. . .
Finally, (oh, there's more, but you have a life to get back to. . .) the character that I was to portray had nearly every other line in an hour-long episode, and I lost count of how many actual lines I had to record (with multiple deliveries, inflections, or re-takes to ensure quality.) The recording session lasted five hours for that first episode; with a 2nd episode due by the end of Sunday. Again, a five hour project, and not something that I was willing to subject myself to again.
It seemed like a golden opportunity, and I was excited to have been a part of it. I learned a lot through the ordeal, and have no regrets. Ultimately, I've learned to place a higher value on my own time, and to respect my own abilities at a higher level. I'll do some canvassing today, and will find some other projects to dedicate my time to. I hope that your day is just as productive, and that there's a golden egg (or, Eggo) in your day today.
What's your favorite movie? And why?
November 20th, 2017
I'll start right here by saying that mine is Forrest Gump, but that coming to that decision was NOT as easy as I just made it sound.
I had some fun asking around with this question over the last couple of weeks, and really tried to pay attention to how people responded. A lot of younger people were super-excited about Justice League, and the next Star Wars movie, and that was the first response out of their mouths. Their excitement and enthusiasm for a movie that had not (at that point) been released was truly cool, and I noticed that those people tended to be more excited about the social aspect of seeing those movies; who they were going to go with, how they were going to dress up, where they were going to see it, and what their plans were shaping up to be for the viewing of the movies.
Other people searched through their mental catalogues, and tried to remember every movie that they had ever seen; afraid that they might miss one that they may have liked just a smidge better than one that they might immediately answer with. I tried to encourage them not to think too much about the question, and go with their first response, but most refused to narrow it down to just the one specific answer.
Some people attempted to categorize their answers into Sports movies, Romantic Comedies, Horror or Action films, and dramas; but, again, when asked, they refused to narrow it down to a final answer.
It's just a question that I asked in order to initiate conversation, but realized through those discussions that people hang their own identities onto movies, and get a bit of reassurance with their association to Star Wars, Hoosiers, The Dark Knight, or even Serendipity. Some people re-experienced a bit of emotion when the conversation turned to My Dog Skip, Sandlot or the Passion of the Christ. Forgotten memories resurfaced, and people remembered where they were when they saw the movies, and how much those stories impacted their lives. It was fun to be a part of.
My own answer also came from a process of elimination, as Big Fish, Princess Bride, Saving Private Ryan, and The Visit also made my Top Five, each for a specific reason. Forrest Gump led the list, because it's about a simple guy who changed the world just by being himself; loving everyone, and seeing things for what they really were. I can get behind those qualities. It was also the first movie that one of my sons ever went to in a theater; we have another son who shares the name of Forrest; and I felt overwhelmed when I was hit in the face with the feather.
I'll end this one by passing the feather along to each one of you, and hoping that you find your full range of emotions in the entertainment that you seek, and the values that you maintain in your own lives. They're kind of connected, you know. May your movies never suck!!
Old School Soul in a New Tech World
November 14th, 2017
Imagine your memories as a child. The experience of going to a circus. The thrill of a birthday or of a Christmas morning. The excitement of going to see a movie or a play. The magic enthusiasm of childhood, that made us dream and wonder, and attack our days with boundless enthusiasm.
What happened to that??
At some point, this disconnect develops that causes us to lose our wonder, and like Peter Pan warned us about, we grow up. We miss it, and do crazy things to try to recreate it and embrace it again. From thrill seeking to reliving the golden years; it's all about regaining (or clinging to) that sense of magic, and a quest for that feeling of youth that becomes more and more fleeting as time goes by.
I tried to fight that feeling today. I went and saw the remake of "Murder on the Orient Express," and I will fully admit that I expected to be disappointed. I have a lot of memories and emotions tied up into the version made in the 80's, and am kind of a snob when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, Encyclopedia Brown and Hercules Poirot. I thought for sure that I would emerge from the theater a bitter, disappointed man, cheated out of a 10 dollar ticket to see a cheap remake and theatrical disaster. I'm glad that I was wrong, and was glad that I had a chance to revisit my youth a bit today, and see a movie that sparked the imagination once again. As Poirot himself said, "It stimulated the little grey cells."
Kind of a curveball for a brief movie review, but I hope that, somehow, you found a spark of magic, or a pinch of fairy dust today.
The Creation of the website
November 12th, 2017
Setting up the website as I take the leap into the world of professional voice acting. It's been an experience over the last few years that I hope to articulate a bit on this blog. My goal with this is to inspire new voice-actors to get a bit of encouragement as they embark on their own careers, and to let people know that I'm just another guy who happens to enjoy the characterizations that come from this crazy industry.
I'll make some mistakes, to be sure, but I'll also have some successes to share along the road.
Just a quick "how-do-you-do," and I'll get some more informative and entertaining words out before not too long.