Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Moving towards mobility

I had a Specialist appointment on Monday regarding my right shoulder, which according to my last MRI many moons ago is pretty much screwed. The doctor looked skeptical at first when he looked at me. I mean, I'm sure I look pretty young to have the symptoms that my chart says I do. But then we went through the range of motion checklist and he was pretty convinced by what he saw. I mean, I can't even pick up a teapot or put a dish away with my right arm without sharp pains interfering with the movement. We discussed Cortizone injections in the shoulder, and even though I have already tried that once in the past unsuccessfully (in fact, I have had no success with Cortizone at all), the doctor felt it should be tried. I guess when you think about it, the last time it was tried, my Uric Acid levels were off the chart...and now they have reached the range of your average human being. Perhaps there will be better success.
What clinched the decision to proceed with this is he injected my shoulder with a local anaesthetic, and my range of motion improved dramatically in mere minutes. This shows that the problem is definately in the shoulder and not a nerve echo.
So, Monday morning, bright and early, I will head over to the clinic at the hospital to have this done. Guess I'll have to drive Melanie's car that day as it's normally proper procedure to immobilize the arm after an injection...and that would make driving a standard a bit of an issue.
Man...typing that day is gonna be a bitch....but if the injection works, it'll be worth it.
If it doesn't work...I believe a small amount of surgery is involved in the next step. I have faith though.
Next step...both knees. I mentioned them to the doctor, and he said. One day, one problem. After a follow-up with him on the shoulder I will book for the knees. Those probably have to be replaced.
A couple years ago, I was against joint replacement surgery...but now that I have Nathaniel in my life, and see all the things I can't easily do for him...I look forward to those little fixes that will make for a better me. At least in the physical sense.

A Return To Play...and Ideas!

Tonight was the first class of Continuing Improv - Ensemble. I arrived at the Second City training centre about a half hour early, hoping to catch a glimpse of any of my former classmates. To my surprise, none of their names were on the class list. It was a completely new slate for me.
I paced around a bit, and had a conversation with another guy named Kevin who was taking the Writing I class. I asked him about the class and what he thought of it. Honestly, he felt it was a good class if writing is your thing, but unfortunately for him that appears to not be the case. He only took it because it was the only remedial class offered to Level B, which is where he is at. He knows how to write, but felt that he just didn't do funny very well. I suggested he stick with it though, and look to his classmates for the funny. "Be the straightman", I told him. The funny comes later.
He then asked me about the Conservatory auditions, and I told him the sordid story I have touched on in my earlier blogs.
Class was starting though, so I bid him farewell and joined the rest of my new group. When Sandy read off the list, I did discover that one of my Level E classmates would (or should) be joining us. Matt Williamson, who had joined us in Level D, and who is just full of intense ideas and physical humour. For some reason he was a no show, however.
The rest of the class contained a couple faces I have met in my travels during make-up classes, but for the most part it was the first time I had worked with the bunch. It almost feels like starting over, just I have more skills to start with. Should be fun.
One of the skits I created with another student named Eric worked incredibly well, but then I began to break the cardinal rule that I have for some reason been doing for the last couple levels too often. I broke the fourth wall. I found myself laughing during the bit. I have no idea where this is coming from. For years I have worked so hard on remaining in character and not breaking up, but for some reason certain scenarios in improv just crack me up so much that it is a constant struggle to stay in the scene. I will work on that.
I'm not the only one who struggled, though. Everybody has something they need to work on. It is a class, afterall, and hopefully we can all learn together about strengthening our weakpoints. I plan on working extra hard to solidify my own.
Homework for this week is to watch some Film Noir, as that will be next week's genre. Gotta run to the video store and pick up some of the classics. The Maltese Falcon. and D.O.A. are good picks. Maybe even Bladerunner. Gonna get me some Bogart's and Lorre's and sit down with a lovely dame for a drink and a flick. Hopefully she won't try to kill me with an ice pick.
Oh, and as to the ideas part...I have a few short story ideas I'd love to write. Want to do them tonight. But if I did, the dame really will kill me when I am unable to get up for work tomorrow. So, I shall file them away until tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Recognition is nice....again!

About a week or so ago, Melanie called me to say that I had received a call from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration about a returned piece of mail. Apparently they still had us living in Aurora and needed our new address so as to get this letter to me. Now, I immediately wondered...Immigration? Was I being deported or something? If so...umm...to where?
Finally, after a few days of intence curiosity, the letter came in the mail. Apparently, my name was submitted by somebody in South Shore Theatre to have me recognized for my volunteerism efforts. Ten years.
The ceremony was this evening.
I originally thought there might be an issue at home with this, as I'm already out insanely late tomorrow night. But Melanie, in her wonderfulness, gave me her blessing to go out to play. The unspoken but obvious message from her though was....don't stay out to late. In other words, get yer damn pin and get the hell outta there.
When I arrived, I did recognize a few familiar faces. Bruce Morrison from South Shore was there with his wife. Anne Guy, the former Secretary of my third and final public school (Morning Glory P.S.) and the wife of my six grade teacher Bill Guy (who interestingly enough. also originally inspired to take my hand at theatre) was in the front row. Also, the Mayor of Georgina, Robert Grossi was present. Some other faces I had seen around, but not many...it was a big crowd.
The event started with the National Anthem as always. Then we had some speeches from Mike Colle (the Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), Julia Munro (MPP for York North) and others who praised the efforts of all Volunteers in Ontario.
Then they had us go up row by row to get our pins, and each of us was announced along with our years of service and the organization. Longest service by far was one lady from a Church in Ravenshoe, with 60 years of service. Wow.
I found it to be a well run event. It was amusing seeing the poor lady who had to read out the information stumble over a couple names with 20+ syllables in them, but she did incredibly well otherwise. I mean, there were over 200 people called, and I didn't see her reach for a glass of water once.
They actually had a grand total of years for just the people who showed up.
Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Seventy years total service in the room. That's amazing.
I was thinking to myself during the ceremony about volunteering and how I would like to do more. One thing I would like to do is assist organizations like the Salvation Army as a driver around Christmas time. Bringing food and presents to needy families. My grandfather did that, and I remember the warm feeling I had when I went with him one year. I would love to share that experience with Nathaniel, and teach him how important volunteering is.
Kudos go to the Ontario government for providing such an event. People who volunteer don't do it for the recognition, but we do feel really nice to be thanked for our efforts every once in awhile. I will wear my pin and hang up my certificate with pride.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tying up the loose ends

It was a useful weekend that ended on a trying note. I took the time to clean up around the house - putting away the deck furniture so that they don't end up in Kansas along with Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Ray Bolger. Cleaned the garage so we can fit a car in there. Had to dispose of my Canadian Flag - The wind has been getting terribly ferocious lately and it sort of tore my poor patroitic emblem to shreds. Also, my father came over for a visit yesterday and with his help I replaced the snowscreen on our front porch so that we don't get any early-morning surprises of not being able to leave the house due to a snow impaction. This is the one variable we are worried about over the winter...with being on the edge of a huge farmers field, it is guaranteed we are going to get the brunt of the wind and it's drifting effects. We'll survive though.
Melanie and I took Nathaniel up to visit my grandmother today, and the four of us went out for dinner. Nathaniel handled being in a restaurant high-chair fairly well...only minor fussing towards the end of our dinner took its toll on our fellow patrons. Hey, he's less than six months old...it's to be expected. As patient and wonderful as my son is, even he has a boredom threshold. We do not take offence. {grin}.
When we got home this evening...we discovered that one of our cats had left us a less-than wonderful gift (of the aquatic kind) in the living room . Then, when Melanie was starting to clean it up, she discovered to her horror that this same cat had actually been leaving us similar gifts on Nathaniels ABC sponge mat for the last few days, and I guess due to the super absorbancy of sponge we only noticed it now. It has left a massive dark patch (about 2'x3') on the hardwood. We are not amused. This is not her first offence and we are hard-pressed to make an important decision about her. She either has to go permanently, which is a difficult decision to make, or we lock her in our room with her own litter box until she masters the fact that this is the only acceptable place to go. Is it because she is lazy, and the fifteen foot walk to the litter box is unbearable, or is it because she is spiteful about Nathaniel still? The fact that she has been eliminating on Nathaniels mat may leave a hint there. Some people say 'Once a dirty cat, always a dirty cat', and we are unwilling to let this continue, since it is expected that Nathaniel will start crawling in the next few months. Melanie and I will talk about this more in depth and go from there. I don't look forward to the aftermath though if we do decide to evict her.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Toys and Songs, oh my!

Just to keep my life in check, lady luck loves to punch me upside the head sometimes. Today was full of good news, but as usual, timing makes it so that the amount of stress I have to dish out sort of ruins the excitement.
I have two auditions tomorrow. One is a callback for the singing bit I did last Thursday, the other something to do with toys. Truth be told, I love auditions; however trying to fit them in with the day job is a chore I do not enjoy. My boss has been wonderfully supportive over the last few that I have had, however I do not like to push my luck.
Soooo...what I plan to do is go in really frickin' early tomorrow (say 6 or 7 - which, yes I know is on-time or even late for some of you), leave work at 11 to head to the first one. From there, since I'm down there anyway, I will run down to Second City to pay for the next course I'm taking Continuing Improv - Ensemble, then run over to Adelaide and Stachan for the second audition. Then back to work. If my plan works out right, I'll still only be out of the office for 1 1/2 hours.
Well, gotta run. Time to spend some time with the wife and watch House...then hit the sack. Tommorow is going to be eventful and it will be here way too soon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Shot down

{insert whimper here}. Just received my call from Second City, and I did not make the cut. Notes given: Needs more improv training, take further non-conservatory courses and audition again next time. So, between feeling like a puppet with its strings cut, an angry he-beast and the persistantly flexible fellow that I am, I have already looked up my options. My current instructor, Sandy, is offering the Continuing Improv - Ensemble course on Tuesdays from 8-10:30pm, and I may just jump at that.
Melanie and I will chat about it first though. She'll be delighted that I have no Sunday classes now, but may still show reluctance to me being out late once a week. I HAVE to do something, though. Just deciding to take the semester off and auditioning again next time will probably not increase my chances. If Second City thinks I need more training, who am I to argue? Especially when I envision the possibility of working with them some day.
HOLY SHIT - Newsflash. Just received a call from one of my classmates, the esteemed Bindy. Of the five of us that auditioned, only one of us made it into the conservatory! What the hell is up with that?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Auditions Galore

I had two auditions today. One at 9:20am for an American Cable Provider Commercial, later followed by my Conservatory Audition at 11:30. For the first, I don't give out much hope. It is a union gig, meaning the competition will be that much fiercer. Also, the audtion itself was four guys in a room, all singing the highest note possible in harmony. Only one of us will be chosen...which means that they are really only going for looks. It is impossible to tell one persons solo singing ability when you have them doing harmonies. It was also one of the shortest auditions on record. I fought rushhour traffic to get there, parked, walked to the studio and signed in. Totally time: 1:15. Was let into room, did a slate, sang my note and then was released. Total time: 0:45. Kind of sad, really.
So, I had lots of time on my hands before the next one. I fought my way through traffic (some big problem on the Gardiner this morning) to Spadina, then grabbed a parking spot at King and Peter, then chatted for for a couple minutes with Charlene, one my classmates, who had a 10:30 call time. Soon enough, she had to go in to warmup, so I hobbled over to Tim Horton's for a pick-me-up. The reason I say hobbled is that my back was killing me. I had thrown it out the other day, and it worsened that morning while brushing my teeth. Who knew that could be such a vigorous activity? My dentist would be proud. The first audition of the day was not an issue, but I was horribly concerned about the Conservatory audition because of the amount of physicality it may require. Improv is not a sport for wimps.
So, between sipping my coffee I was stretching through the pain, trying to get this damned disc back into place. An entire hour was spent on this activity, and though I didn't perfectly succeed, I did manage to get things to the point where I could breathe without groaning in pain.
Due to the aformentioned traffic problems, another classmate, Chris was actually late for his audition, so he was moved into my timeslot, which I appreciated greatly...somebody I knew to work with. During warm-ups we were instructed to find something topical to use as a lightly prepared scene, so Chris and I chose the story of Air Canada scrapping free meals on flights. Four of us auditioned at 11:30, and it was pretty straightforward. We began with the topical bits, then just did some random scenes. Two people were in the room to judge us...Moira, who runs the school, and one of the Conservatory Teachers, Lisa. Throughout the audition they were completly stoic...showing us nothing...which I kind of prefer. What did surprise me was the comment that we would find out within the next day, whether I get in or not. To be perfectly honest, I don't know what my chances are. Who knows what they are looking for, specifically? I showed my character work and ability to status transfer. I also used the very small room to the best of my ability.
Melanie asked me tonight if I would be depressed if I didn't get it. The honest answer is yes. I would also be depressed if Chris, Brandy, Brian and Charlene don't get in, as they are the rest of my classmates who auditioned. Only 1/2 of the Level E class chose to move forward...and it would be fun to continue as a group, even if the dyamics would be changed.
Well, we shall know for sure tomorrow. I will post once I know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Make-Up - POOF!

Actually, not that kind of make-up. I had to cruise down into the city this evening to make-up one of my classes for Second City. Since while in Level E you are not allowed to make-up a class in another Level E, I chose a Level C to jump into, from 6-9pm.
Different kind of teacher, different agenda, different class size. Only 6 people in the class, including myself, and the instructor ran things quite contrary to what I'm used to. The games, though in some subtle ways were the same, had a totally different take on them then I was ever used to. And I was shocked to be verbally smacked for asking the audience for a Non-Geographical Location from the audience when looking for inspiration in a scene. I was told that is DEATH ON STAGE. Funny how we've been doing that for several levels in my other classes and never seem to have a problem.
I did enjoy the class...it is always nice to see a fresh perspective on things...and I learned that I need to focus on my rhyming skills. We haven't run that exercise much in Sandy's class, and I kind of killed myself on stage trying to do a scene in rhyming couplets. Think I'll look up some games in my spare time to practice with to hone that skill a bit.

Let's hope that don't pull that out on Thursday...when I have my Conservatory audition. Yes, I received the call today, and I have an 11:30am audition set. Nervous energy flows...I really want to continue onwards, and would hate to blow the audition completely. You never know what's going to happen. The dynamics of my fellow auditioners along with myself will tell the tale. For improv is not a solo activity...you need to depend on your fellow improvisors to look good, just as they depend on you. Reality is, I'll never know until I get there...so onwards and upwards!

Ah, Mister Potter.....

You scored as .

Albus Dumbledore

85%

Harry Potter

85%

Remus Lupin

75%

Hermione Granger

70%

Ginny Weasley

70%

Sirius Black

70%

Ron Weasley

65%

Draco Malfoy

60%

Severus Snape

55%

Lord Voldemort

40%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
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