Posts Tagged ‘memories’

The Very Bad Audition

March 5, 2018

When we are young, a lot of experiences can both open our eyes and open paths to our future.  In the end, nothing we do is really all that inconsequential.  When I entered high school at Friends School of Baltimore, I was a total geek.  Now, if you have read this blog you know that geek is a word I use with pride when I refer to myself.  I was really into comics, video games, and letting my imagination run wild.  I was getting good grades and, for the most part, I was pretty much enjoying school.  However, I was still a shy and solitary kid.  I had my friends, two of whom I had spent eighty percent of my social time with for years.  When it came to public speaking, I shriveled up in what was probably a close cousin of a panic attack.  My mother told me point blank that she was worried about whether I would be able to speak in public in the future.  However, thanks to my younger brother, she had a solution.

And so, it was that I was sitting in the auditorium, waiting for my turn to audition for Tartuffe.  On a side note, Tartuffe is an excellent satire by Moliere which is also called The Hypocrite and The Imposter.  I definitely felt like an imposter while I was sitting in the old red-cushioned steel chairs.  I had no desire to perform, I was just there to get over a fear.  I took my turn up on stage, auditioning for the part of Damis, an angry young man.  The monologue I delivered that day was intended to be angry, but I could feel my knees shaking and it must have been clear how scared I was.  Director and English teacher Tom Buck thankfully saw that I was not cut out to be an actor and passed the role onto one of my classmates.  Walking away, I realized that I did not want to act but I realized that I did not need to audition to be on the Stage Crew.

The Stage Crew met after school and on Saturdays.  They welcomed me with open arms and it was cool to hang out with sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  For the first time, I felt like I was actually in high school instead of in the fourth year of middle school.  I started to form friendships outside of my little friend group or the youth group at church.  I started to grow as a person and I realized that I had a passion for the building part of show business. When they asked who would run the lighting board for Tartuffe, I volunteered when nobody else stepped up.  I ran that lighting board for the next four years.  You got up to the board through a Spanish classroom in the rear of the auditorium, so they eventually gave me a key to that classroom.  There were definitely some awkward collections where I had to walk through Spanish or Russian classes.

I eventually became co-Head of Stage Crew and then Head of Stage Crew.  I also started to dabble in the design part of things as I eventually designed the lighting for each show.  Although I was a little distant, I felt a fellowship with the cast of the all of the shows I worked on.  Things really kicked into gear when we all put on Fiddler on the Roof and I teamed with Michael McVey as well.  By the end of my time at Friends, I had kind of become friends with Tom Buck, sadly a teacher I never had in high school.  My only regret was that I realize now that I never trained anybody to take over for me because I wanted to be the go-to guy until the end.

My experiences in Friends School Stage Crew inspired me to seek out more experiences with show business.  I got into community theater down at Fells Point Corner Theater.  I volunteered a lot of my time running sound for all sorts of shows.  Eventually, I started working for Mobtown Theater and, at the age of 16, I joined their board of directors.  Suddenly, I had all these new experiences outside of Friends School and new friends most of whom had graduated from college years earlier.  Those experiences were magical, and I felt like part of the greater theater community of Baltimore City.  It drew me away from Friends, as I spent a lot of my time in Fell’s Point rather than on campus.  I felt a little more disconnected from my classmates which I feel like I eventually remedied but I feel good that this was a positive path that Friends helped put me on.  In fact, that connection to community theater later sparked a connection to the school paper and helped reignite the love of writing that I still have today.

Of course, I then went on to major in Stage Management and minor in Sound Design in college.  I took that degree and I got a job for years and years in a regional theater in New Jersey.  All of that grew from one afternoon I spent trembling on the stage of the auditorium.  I am a little sad that that auditorium does not exist anymore as it has been completely remodeled but I am happy that the Friends students of today and tomorrow will have an excellent facility to experience what I did.  Not because they should all go off and major in theater but because going to that audition ended up accomplishing my goal.  By connecting with the people in Stage Crew, eventually being in charge, and then finding my voice in community theater, I became better at talking to people.  I felt more comfortable speaking in public and communicating my ideas.  I do not hold back like I did as a young kid.  For that, I feel very thankful.

Gaming Chronicles: The Frozen Star

February 10, 2018

(This is going to be an ongoing series where I describe the Tabletop RPG campaigns that I have been a part of and the characters that I chose to play. There are already some short stories and descriptions on this blog but I have not really gone in depth about what the game was actually like. At the end of each description, there will also be a short song playlist that will attempt to capture how my character felt about their situation)

The first actual in-person tabletop gaming game I joined was at my friend’s house and it was a real awakening. You see, I was not actually friends with any of the people I still play with yet. In fact, I had only met two out seven of my new companions. I petitioned to be part of the group through my cousin’s brother in law who said he would ask the group. I was nervous as hell because I had never played at the table before and I really wanted to impress these people. When I arrived, they briefly interviewed me to gauge my experience and desire which came from listening to D&D podcasts and studying Vampire books in high school. They allowed me to join their campaign.

The campaign was a space opera-type adventure already in progress when I arrived. The Frozen Star was a spaceship crewed by a ragtag group of mercenaries in the tradition of a lot of science fiction stories. The ship was captained by a being made of pure energy. The crew also consisted of a computer expert who was of an insect race, a deadly birdperson sniper, a lizard-like engineer, a turtlewoman, and a speedster human. I first joined as a charismatic new “Faceman” but I was too shy and new to pull it off. Instead, I joined the crew as an ex-soldier human who had super strength powers. As James Garen, I wielded a laser longsword and prized loyalty above everything else.

My character had attended academy with one of the crew so that was my “in” so that I trusted them and they trusted me. As soon as I joined, we were off and running. We were dodging a galactic government, dealing with a crime syndicate, and also with terrorists. Along the way, my character got to show off his immense strength and prowess in battle but I was still green when it came to actually roleplaying. The simple character helped as I was still getting the hang of things and I was able to watch the other characters. I also got to know everybody in the group a little better and everybody seemed to become more accepting and relaxed about the new addition.

I saw my first player character deaths as the turtlewoman and the insectman argued until both were brutally killed by a hacker sabotaging the lab they were in. I became enthralled as I watched our story unfold. I learned how to deal with my first Game Master, learning what he was into and also what our group liked to do. We like to advance the story a lot but we also take time out for comedy and a little character progression. Roleplaying is something we do not always actually engage in. However, even if we do not talk out every conversation, we do write full backstories for our characters. Having a backstory really helped me to immerse myself in the story. I had to play catch up but I eventually started to figure things out.

Disturbed – Indestructible

James Garen was a soldier like his father before him and his grandfather before that. At the time, I was drawing on my own family’s history in the military (which thankfully stopped before it got to me). Also, this song hits as hard as James could.

Black Sabbath – Neon Knights

After choosing that my character should be human and that he should have super strength, I was given the choice of what his chosen weapon would look like. The weapon I chose was a laser longsword that I poured some of my energy into to make it ignite. Also, at one point, I hit a space dragon in the face with it.

John Entwistle & Alice Cooper – Space Pirates

James was briefly part of a crew that was killed by space pirates before running into the other player characters. It was also at this point that I learned that you do not blurt out your entire backstory the first time you meet the other characters. I totally blurted out that my former crew was dead which did not inspire much confidence in my character’s abilities. Oh well.

Spring Holiday Memories

March 28, 2016

We have had some holidays lately and, as I sit here, memories are sparked of years gone by.

I have very few memories of kindergarten at Boys Latin. When you think about it, that actually makes sense. I was appropriately too young to form many lasting memories. I do remember it being stuffy and formal especially for a kindergarten. We had to wear these awful maroon sweaters that I remember as being too tight. Anyway, I remember nearing St. Patrick’s day and our teacher was telling us all about leprechauns. I do not remember her but I remember being taught about leprechauns and their affinity for shamrocks and green and all that.

We built an elaborate Lego town and the leprechauns were supposed to come out at night and play in our classroom. Now that I think about it, I can’t imagine we built the Lego town ourselves and she probably built the whole thing. I remember fully believing that little leprechauns were going to visit our classroom when we weren’t there. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that leprechauns were really all Warwick Davis.

I also remember Easter at Maw Maw’s house. Her house was small but very nice and we tended to go down there every Easter. We would wake up at her house and there would be three little Easter baskets right outside the back door. We had always just missed the Easter Bunny. It was just our luck. Since it was morning, we could only look at our candy and size it up for later.

Then we would troop off to Maw Maw’s country church and we would behave because were expected to. At that point, we would meet up with my uncle and my cousin. Church was for Maw Maw. She was a huge devotee to that church and we were there because she was proud of us and proud of her daughter. After church, we would end up back at her house and there would be all sorts of plastic eggs hidden in her postage stamp-sized backyard. We would find our eggs and then sit down for lunch. It was a tradition for a long time.


April 2, 2015

I was born and raised in Baltimore and therefore, by default, I became a Baltimore Orioles fan. I attended games at Memorial Stadium with the dream in my heart that I would catch a foul ball. This was probably unlikely as I was a pretty weak kid who would more likely get taken out by the stray ball. Still, I attended endless games in all sorts of weather at Memorial Stadium which the only stadium I’ve been to with seats behind pillars. Still, it was fun to sit in the stadium and listen to the voices on WBAL call the action. I don’t remember the losses or the wins from back in those days but let’s be fair, they were mostly losses.

Later on I forsook Soccer and became a Little Leaguer, a tradition as American as apple pie, I guess. I was part of The Eagles, the Bluebirds and the Toppers (wat?) the last of which had a better record than the Orioles at the time. The Toppers was actually the one time in my life that I was part of an actual sports achievement when we got into the playoffs. I liked playing baseball for a while but that eventually wore off. I started to hope that it would rain or the other team couldn’t field enough players. Then I started to hope our team couldn’t field enough players. Eventually, I stopped having to play baseball.

During this time I got to go to a lot of free Baysox games after the Orioles transitioned down to Camden Yards. I also got caught up in the excitement of Cal Ripken breaking his now famous record. It seemed like all you could see in my hometown and deep-seated city pride had more to do with my excitement than the actual record itself. That’s not to say I didn’t watch a lot of baseball but it was hard to get too excited about things when the Orioles were still losing a lot. Eventually I got bored and the Orioles were just something that clogged traffic up. Although, if you asked me at the time, I would still claim to be a fan.

I’m just not really a sports fan. I’ll wholeheartedly tout my team as the one true team but I will also turn around and not watch too many games. Baseball is kind of boring or at least that’s how I remember it. I remember spending endless hours in right field that will probably forever color my perception of the sport. I also played catcher and third base which were much more exciting but they had less impression on me. I think it’s really the length of the game that gets to me. There is no time limit to a baseball game and sometimes they tend to drag. Of course, the more people you’re watching with the more fun you have but that’s because I’m focusing less and less on the game and more on my companions.

For the third year in a row I have decided to compete in a fantasy baseball league. I’m greatly outmatched on studying statistics and knowing the players but I do my best. Having a personal connection to the players does draw me closer to the game. I will probably still not watch too many games.

Albums That Stuck With Me

January 12, 2014

Recently I was asked to come up with a list of 10 albums that have stuck with me without researching them.  I provided the list and then thought I’d break the rules and provide a few more words and research.  So here is a list of ten albums that stuck with me.  Each one goes Artist – Title – Time that it was introduced to me.   I also included some honorable mentions.

The Blues Brothers Movie Soundtrack – Probably Middle School

This movie had an enormous impact on me when I first saw it though I can’t pin down which year it was. I remember it was winter break though and it was cold outside and the whole family sat down to watch it on VHS.  It’s not like I was unaware of Blues, Country, Big Band Jazz and Soul but it definitely made me seek them out more.

Metallica – ….And Justice for All – Fifth Grade

The very first album I remember owning. I can’t remember if my mom bought it for me or my dad but understandably neither gave a crap about Metallica.  The cassette was crushed later in a horrible accident that I don’t fully remember. A year ago, I found the replacement cassette crushed in my basement.  I was probably not meant to have an intact copy of this album.  I still like to rock out to some good Metallica though.

The Who – Who’s Next – Middle School

I always loved the Who and encountered it pretty early in my life.  However, when I got a little older I realized that my favorite song from their whole discography is Behind Blue Eyes.  I try to be a good guy and I have been doing better in recent years but I have an anger problem and I can be a real asshole.  In the past few years as I’ve come to grips with this the line “Noone bites back as hard on their anger as I do” means a whole lot more.

They Might Be Giants – Flood – Middle School

This band is catchy as hell and I really fell in love with them over one summer during Midle School.  In fact, a friend and I made two different music videos from their songs at the time.  The one I remember is “Particle Man”.  I played the part of smaller man.  I was always conveniently short in life.  Also, as a young liberal child of two liberal parents, I couldn’t resist “Your Racist Friend”.

The Beatles – Abbey Road – High School

I have distinct and powerful memories of listening to the whole album as I walked home from school.  I have an almost pathological distaste for slow songs but somehow I made an exception for some of the songs on this album and especially “Here Comes the Sun”.  During this time my love affair with “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was born an I still usually choose that when somebody asks for my favorite Beatles song.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-nerd – Middle School/High School

I inherited a love of Lynyrd Skynyrd from my mother and “Gimme Three Steps” has a special importance to our family.  Aside from that, I always liked the fun energy and pace of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs and the fact that I could sing along to almost any song. To this date, the only concert I have ever gone to was Skynyrd at the Maryland State Fair.  I sang along until I was practically hoarse and it was the first time that I smelled marijuana smoke.

Jonathan Coulton – Best. Concert. Ever. – After College

JoCo is absolutely awesome.  I play “I Feel Fantastic” and “First of May” when I feel depressed.  I sing along to “Still Alive” and “Re: Your Brains”.  Alright, I sing along to all of his songs.   I attend his performances virtually over the internets yearly when he performs at PAX.  “Code Monkey” made me never want to work in an office and then I got an office job anyway.  It’s just a great album to throw on when I want to feel good.

Annie Get Your Gun Soundtrack – Middle School

I played this on a loop at many times as well.  There’s not a bad song in the bunch.  I grew up with the Ethel Merman recording but Hutton was great in the movie as well.  Hell, every version I have heard of this is good.  This was one of the first exceptions to my No Musicals rule that has become my No Crappy Musicals rule.

Buckcherry – Buckcherry – High School

I have an anger problem that I have had since I can remember.  When I was  going to blow my top, I would go to my room and crank All Lit Up and sing along.  To this day, Buckcherry feels like letting my anger out.   The album also appeals to the same fun part of my brain that heavy metal music hits.

Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen – High School

I found this left behind in a classroom at Carnegie-Mellon University and after that I really became a fan of Ben Folds. I probably got annoying about it at some points. I do have a tendency to dive headfirst into being a fan of things sometimes.  Still, I maintain that Ben Folds is great music.  One Angry Dwarf and Hiroshima (not on this album) are definitely my favorites.

Honorable Mentions:

Green Day – Dookie
The Guess Who – Greatest Hits
Queen – Greatest Hits I and II
Ozzy Ozbourne –  The Ozzman Cometh: Greatest Hits
Heart – Greatest Hits
The Charlie Daniels Band – A Decade of Hits
Guys and Dolls Soundtrack
Jurrasic 5 – Jurrasic 5

The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

Growing a family

Im just trying to evolve

Panorama of the Mountains

Liam Sullivan's Ideas and Reflections

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Prose, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, writing, books

%d bloggers like this: