Subway Sketches Part XXXIII

Normally when I sketch I don't really draw that much attention. Occasionally I'll look up and realize that someone is watching me, but they normally go back to their own lives and we never interact. Today I looked up from my sketchbook and into the face of an older gentlemen who gave me look of disdain and shook his head as he looked back to his newspaper. I didn't think much of it until later when I realized that all he could see was these two drawings. On opposing pages of my sketchbook there were two drawings of women's legs and feet. He must have thought that I was a fetishist or something! Lesson learned on that one I guess.

Subway Sketches Part XXXII

Something a little different from my normal bust shot of fellow subway riders.

Subway Sketches Part XXXI

Falling In Love Again

I fell in love on the train tonight.

I do this a lot, when I see some particularly intriguing guy sitting across from me. I suppose that's what the Craigslist Missed Connections are for, but that just seems a little to much like a message in a bottle for me. (Not that I don't LOVE reading them...) I can have very rapid fantasy relationships over and over during my train ride home.

Tonight I was standing in a semi-crowded D train and looked down at the yellow legal pad the guy seated beside me was scribbling on. There, scrawled over pages and pages was a very lengthy and complex looking equation. He was rapidly filling another sheet with line after line of alchemical looking symbols and numbers, with notes in the margins about differentials and what-not. He may as well have been writing in Chinese, as much as I understood, but DAMN was it sexy.

I was instantly in love with him. (It didn't hurt that he was cute) There was something about the fact that he was deeply invloved in this pursuit that is incredibly mysterious to me that made him even more attractive. Math may as well be magic as far as I'm concerned, but here was a guy who was effortlessly solving this enormous equation as easily as I would write a letter. There's a huge dollop of sexy on that.

I've always been that way frankly, guys who play intruments, or sing really well, or play ball, or dance, or speak other languages... they fascinate me. Anyone with a skill that I don't have basically. There's some part of me that is looking for a guy with skills opposite mine, so that I can claim them by some small measure I suppose, or at least benefit by having them near. (Or it might just be that this guy could probably balance my checkbook for me, a bit of math that I can't even do.)

So if you are out there Mr. Equation, email me, and don't forget to drop a couple quadratic formulas into your reply. It will turn me on, I promise.

Subway Sketches: Part XXX

Illustration Friday: Dream

Scott encouraged me to check out Illustration Friday and to consider participating. After looking through a couple dozen of the links today I was very impressed with what was going on over there, so I've decided to join up.

The above image was completed a few weeks ago as part of a suite of illustrations that I created for a theatre in Connecticut. This image, (along with five others) represents their season for this year. This particular play is titled Jonah's Dream and is based on the biblical story of Jonah and the whale. When I saw this week's theme I immediately thought of this image. It's a bit different than the images that I have posted here before, showing a different side of my range of illustration styles.

Subway Sketches: The Return (Part XXIX)

This is going to take some readjustment. My Subway skills are rusty. Four sketches yesterday, and only one that I feel is worthy of you guys seeing. Two others that I started but the models left the train. I have to retrain myself to pick out the models that will be on for a few stops, and regain the speed it takes to get the image started properly, not to mention finished. Practice makes perfect though.

Regardless, I'm back!

Celebrity Watch

I know that as a New Yorker I'm not supposed to be in any way impressed or even aware when celebrities are nearby, but I can't help it. I guess maybe I'm still not truly a New Yorker.

Regardless, I average a celebrity a week most weeks and seeing one today made me feel like I was truly home again. Today's siting? Eartha Kitt. I've always loved her, stemming mainly from her appearances as Catwoman on the 60's Batman TV series.

Eartha, it was nice seeing you!

Real Life Doesn't Wait

I've been in New York City for less than 24 hours and I have a production meeting for a costume design, two interviews for scenic designs, and one open offer for a scenic design that I am debating acceptance of. All of this has occurred since I returned. Some of the preliminary work took place while I was in the mountains, but most of it dropped into my lap since getting back. My professional life has refused to give me even a day or two to sleep before throwing me back into the fray. Not that I'm complaining mind you!

Things Left Behind, Thing Taken Away

I'm back in the city. I crossed the GWB this afternoon about 12:30.

Back in the mountains I have left my mark with the record setting single most successful show in the history of the theatre. More successful that Fiddler, which is huge in a heavily Jewish community. Some performances were over 100% sold.

I also leave a few beautifully built and designed pieces of stock scenery, that I fully expect will end up onstage there again someday.

A little piece of my heart was already missing when Harp left earlier in the season.

Several of my closest friends among the crew are still there, running the last two weeks of the final show.

Anything else that I may have forgotten there I will retrieve next weekend when I go back for the final load-out and shut down of the theatre.

With me I have literally thousands of digital photos taken by everyone there, not only of the sets and shows, but of the crews and actors. I joked today that between this blog, and the photos (and videos) this has been the most well documented period of my life since childhood.

It should go without saying that I've brought home some beautiful memories, and some new friendships, not to mention some great stories for all of those future days comparing war wounds with other theatre technicians.

It feels... odd to be home. It feels somehow temporary, like that little room back in the mountains is my real home. Of course, it's true that at this point I lived there longer than I lived in my current apartment, so that might be part of it. I am sure it won't take me long to settle in beautifully though. Tomorrow I plan to sleep in until my back aches, and I am driven out of bed by hunger (or maybe the need to pee). Then my life begins again. Resumes and portfolios to get out there, Artistic Directors, and theatre boards to hassle for jobs. My next scheduled show is not until October, so I have a lot of time to fill.

And of course, some Subway Sketches to get going!

De Ja Vu

Only once in my life have I ever been angry enough that I had to be physically restrained and removed from the situation by another party in order to prevent me causing someone bodily harm. That event occurred almost 5 years ago at one of the first summer stocks that I designed (rather than working as a painter or a props person) and my intended victim was the lighting designer.

During the first technical rehearsal I had approached the LD with a few simple notes, light that was hitting things that shouldn't be illuminated, or in one case was exactly the right color to make something onstage glow like it was under blacklight. Each time I spoke to him he said, "There's nothing I can do about that." It was my first real design gig, and I hadn't had a lot of experience collaborating with other designers, so I let it slide, and assumed that he was telling me the truth, that he literally couldn't focus the light in any other way that would prevent the problem.

During the second day of tech, I bit my tongue on many other such notes, notes that I have rarely had to give an LD since, but when one glaringly obvious and ugly lighting problem came up I approached him about it. He followed his standard "can't help it" reply with a physics lesson on light. "You know, I can't just make light stop wherever I like, sometimes there are shadows." The attitude and condescension immediately struck a raw chord in me, and the next thing I remember is being seated on the steps outside by the Production Manager. He had evidently gently taken me aside, and out of the situation because I had already clenched my fist and was pulling back as if to swing. He had removed me from the situation, but I was seeing so much red that I was barely aware of it at the time.

All I'm going to say about last night is that I have once again been prevented from committing mayhem, this time because the LD was already in bed by the time I found out what had been said, but the similarity of the situation is striking.

Famous Last Words

"Hopefully this final change over will be part of the time that flies."

That's how I ended the last post. Take a look at the time stamp on this post... I haven't even begun my job yet. As I've reported there was an extra show tonight, so we lost about 5 hours of work time, and all of the actors who ended their contracts today were off at 11p.m., so we lost a big chunk of work crew in our final hour with them. I have always made fun of the lighting staff and called them FITWES, or Fucking In The Way Electricians, because they have to have ladders and things onstage, usually when I need the stage clear to paint, they are really earning that nickname tonight. I slept from 7 until midnight with the anticipation of being able to work because everyone said that this change over was going to be the easiest yet. Lighting estimated 45 minutes for their section, sets estimated 3 hours. I am about to go back to bed with the understanding that they wake me whenever the stage is clear enough for me to paint. 5 a.m. .... 6 a.m. .... who knows. Bacchus is determined to kill me yet with this place.

The Final Countdown

Today's the day... the load-in for the final show begins. We've been pushing hard all week to overcome the fact that the current show is the second best selling show in the history of the theatre, and as such the producer decided to add a second performance today, which is going to subtract from the time that we have to put the last show into place. With five less hours to get it in, and a larger show than than we've done all summer it's going to be a challenge.

After this change over things really begin to collapse in on themselves around here. All of the resident company not cast in the new show, (which pretty much means everyone who is still in school and needs to get back) are off contract tonight at midnight, and most of them are leaving early in the morning. The tech staff contracts end Tuesday at midnight, and the majority of them are leaving on Wednesday afternoon. There will only be 4 tech staff members here after that to keep the next show in shape and running for its two week run.

I leave on Thursday, sometime in the mid afternoon probably. I had to wait until one of the remaining tech staff who had a car was available to take me into the city, so I'll get a day or two more of the country life before heading home.

The atmosphere here is incredibly summer camp-like and today has been dubbed "No Hugging, No Crying Sunday." The actors, who are generally younger and more prone to sentimental thinking are treating it like the last few days of high school, with promises of staying in touch, and "never forgetting." A few of them are moving to New York together, having bonded over the summer and deciding to become roommates in the city. The technicians of course have a much more jaded view. We all know that we'll see one another sooner or later, theatre is too small a world for us not to. Or alternatively we have written off the people that we never want to see again, and will be happy to be shed of them.

I won't try to sum up my experiences here yet, after all I have four more days of them to go, but I will say that it feels strange for it to be ending. Time moved so slowly the first month that I was here, but has flown by for the last. Hopefully this final change over will be part of the time that flies.

Do Not Feed After Midnight

Getting a tattoo has more rules than owning a Mogwai, I swear. For the first five days I am not supposed to soak in water, so no swimming or long baths, and I also have to apply antibiotic ointment four times a day. When I shower, which is allowed thankfully, I have to be sure to not let the spray hit it directly, and to pat it dry, not rub it at all. After 5 days I can switch to moisturizing lotion instead of antibiotic cream, but I have to keep that up for two weeks, and I have to be careful not to OVERmoisturize it. After that week I have to be sure not to expose it to direct sunlight for long periods of time, for a whole month. If I do I have to apply sunscreen. I also can't scratch it, rub it, lie on it, put a great amount of pressure on it, or pick at any scabs that may form. I keep having the fear that I am going to somehow screw the whole thing up and end up with this blotchy red THING on my arm for the rest of my life. Then I remind myself that people have been tattooing themselves for millennia and THEY didn't have antibiotic ointment, or showers for that matter.

This may be one of the gayest things I've ever said out loud but... Was I supposed to tip my tattoo artist? This little bit of protocol slipped right by me until Alison asked. Since then I have gotten dissenting opinions from the people around here that have tattoos. No one that actually went this time tipped them. Have we committed a tattoo faux pas?

Fresh Ink

One of these images now permanently adorns my body, can you guess which?

The other four belong to other members of the technical staff here at the theatre. Three of them had the tattoos done last week, but Alison, (Stage Manager Supreme) and I were busy that day, so we followed suit today and completed the set. I'll post better, clearer pictures in a few days after mine heals a bit, but I thought the guessing game would be more interesting right now.


Everyone makes resolutions at New Years, but I have always made resolutions for myself at the beginning of each semester. Now that I'm out of school and don't have those convenient calendar dates to mark new beginnings it is harder, but leaving here and returning to NYC certainly counts as a new beginning. So, for your perusal, my personal resolutions for this next phase of my life:

Professional Resolutions

1) Begin branching out to regional theatres outside of NYC, where I'll be more likely to get larger shows.
2) Break into theatres in NYC where I am not responsible for building my shows myself.
3) Join, (or at least seriously consider joining) the union.

Personal Resolutions
1) Begin oil painting again.
2) Attend figure drawing sessions, either the alumni ones at SVA, or at the Gay Community Center.
3) Continue the exercise routine that I've begun while I was here.

Childhood Terror

I can't believe they went and did it... they have remade the one movie that haunted my dreams for years as a pre-teen: John Carpenter's The Fog.

The original had Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis, (the queens of 80's horror), and Pirate Zombies (!). The new version has Tom Welling, from Smallville, and Selma Blair, and probably a lot of CGI fog banks that will end up looking like they were left over from The Mummy if the trailer is any indication.

My heart leapt at the title, but the execution is leaving a lot to be desired.

Southern Culture Triumphant

Finally! A sweet tea that actually tastes like sweet tea. Lipton's products are either too weak, in the case of their Original flavor, or taste too much like fake chemical lemon, in the case of Brisk.

Arizona managed to get the formula just about right... I think it it lacks a little body, mainly because it is made with just black tea and not the orange pekoe and black tea blend that my mom used. Ironically this is the blend that Lipton uses in their tea bags, but I don't think they use it in their own bottled tea products. The Arizona tea tastes more like Tetley, in case any of you sweet tea connoisseurs is curious.

Now, in the course of writing this post, I was planning to segue into discussing Duke's Mayonnaise. Duke's is the ONLY true mayonnaise, and every true southerner will tell you that it is what they serve on their table. For the 5 years that I have been living in the north I have been smuggling Duke's across the Mason-Dixon as it isn't sold up here, or having my mom mail it to me. As I was writing I googled Duke's so that I could provide a link for you poor deprived people who don't live in the south and therefore don't know the glory that is Duke's.

What I've discovered has made my day.

Not only does Duke's have a website, but it includes a history of the product, AND (hold onto your chair Michelle!) a company store where you can mail order their goods.

Life is complete. I can stop bugging my mom to buy me mayonnaise, and I can still eat and die happily.

Thank you Arizona, and thank you Duke's!

Double Standards

We just opened "Grease," which even those outside of musical theatre are familiar with I'm sure, and the theatre was shocked by a series of events that followed opening night.

First there was the series of phone calls the next morning complaining because the actress playing Rizzo... get this now... touched her crotch during the show. In a rock and roll musical, full of hip thrusting boys who grab their genitals, and sing lyrics about getting head in their car, one girl touches herself once, in a mockery of a move the boys just performed and we get complaints. The director was asked to adjust the blocking so that it was bit less... raunchy.

Then we got reviewed.

The reviewers came to opening night so they saw the same vagina touching performance that the complaining old biddies saw, and so it was MENTIONED in the review, specifically siting Rizzo and saying that the actress playing her pushed the show into an 'R' rating.

This is a show in which 16 to 18 year olds have sex, drink, smoke, use drugs, commit crimes, have gang fights, display a general distaste for authority, and openly discuss the possibility that one of them might be pregnant. IN THE 50's!! Granted none of this seems shocking these days, but the characters in this show are the definitions of juvenile delinquency for their time. They should NOT be nice kids, singing and dancing. There should be an edge to this show. At least in my opinion. Rizzo specifically should be edgy and dark, she has a whole song about being the town slut essentially. Heaven forbid that she touch her crotch.

Whether it is the movie, or a general cultural blind spot regarding the 50's I don't know, but I find it all a little silly, and incredibly offensive that it was the girl that drew the complaints from every corner.


It seems like years and years since I left New York City for this place. The first month or so crawled by at a glacial pace, the middle month flew away without me really noticing, and now the final month is almost over and I find myself wondering if it will ever be through. 15 days from now I'll be back in the loving embrace of NYC, and I can't wait.

Today I sent off three resumes and letters via email for jobs that I had seen listed in various places, I updated my resume and I am redesigning my printed portfolio to reflect the shows that I designed while I was here, dusting off my social graces and trying to get back into the mindset of a freelancer constantly on the prowl for the next meal. It's a good feeling frankly, something that I've missed without really realizing it. I have already fielded an offer or two from places that I worked at last year, one that I turned down, one that I delayed until I get back to the city to meet with the hiring committee. It also felt good to be able to turn work down, something that I didn't do at all last year because the prospect of a lean month scared me to death, but so far that doesn't look like a problem this year. Let's all cross our fingers and hope!

UPDATE: My Mom's Blog

After some nudging towards a safer net profile, (for both of us) my mom has edited her blog, and I have added it to my sidebar links. Enjoy!

...It Just Goes On and On, My Friends...

12:00 a.m. - Bedtime, I've been up for 24 hours. I have to be up at 6 to paint more, the lighting designer is taking over stage at 8.

8:00 a.m. - Woken by TD, having slept in. The set is nowhere near completely painted, I have not even base painted the car which is a major scenic element. The lighting designer is doing focus notes, so the stage is almost completely dark, with intermittent bursts of light.

10:45 a.m. - The lighting designer finally give me some constant light onstage. I couldn't argue because I had overslept and was supposed to be offstage during this time.

12:00 p.m.
- Quick lunch, car is painted, most everything else is at least underway. (Every previous show this season has been finished, with the exception of notes from the director, at this point.)

1:20 p.m.- The producer stops by rehearsal and pulls me to the side. He is upset that the onstage masking is black, and feels that the show is too morbid looking, and should be more colorful. This is, by the way, the third time he has seen the set, and each previous time he approved of it.

1:45 p.m.
- Final dress begins. I have had no time to address the producer's concerns.

4:30 p.m.- The dress has finished, but the director and choreographer want to keep the stage until 5:30 when they were scheduled to leave. Neither is concerned that I still have work onstage. The director has spoken to the producer, and knows what he asked me to do, but won't release the stage so that I can do anything.

5:30 p.m - Dinner. I take 10 minutes to wolf down what I can get my hands on and then dive back into the painting. I've decided to put stripes of colored tape along the portals to alleviate some of the darkness, so that at least can be done without having to wait for paint to dry.

6:30 p.m.
- I have to leave stage so that there will be time for everything to dry before actors enter stage in costume, and the likelihood of a costume getting ruined occurs. The tape is up, and some other touch ups have been completed. I just accept that some of the more "refined" notes that I wanted to do are not going to get done. (Shikata ga nai!)

7:30 p.m.
- The house is open, people are being seated, I am running around backstage frantically trying to complete tasks that are not my job in the first place. Things that should have been done already, but... well... you know.

8:00 p.m. - The show begins.

Tomorrow there will be time for second coats and final touch-ups and maybe a few refinements, but not too many because there is a matinee. The director for the next show also arrives tomorrow, so I'll have to begin work on that show fairly rapidly. No rest for the wicked.

As the perfect post script to my day the producer announced this morning that the show is selling so well that he added a second performance to the final sunday. The final sunday is normally when change over for the NEXT show begins at 5:30, this time I'll have 5 less hours to complete the set.

Summer Stock as Sociological Experiment

I remember vaguely from a long ago psych class that there was once an experiment where the scientists put a large number of rats into a small cage to see how they would react to limited space. Inevitably they became aggressive and began killing one another off until an equilibrium between population and space was reached and they calmed down again.

I believe that two months is about the limit that humans can withstand similar conditions. The last change over went smoothly with a minimum of strife and bitching. It came just at the end of the two month mark. This change over, and the previous two weeks have been full of back biting and mean comments, snappy responses and snarky attitudes, a general disdain towards one another's work, and an overall feeling of negativity. We have been living, working, eating, playing, bitching, griping, fucking, and whining together for 10 weeks now. The entire crew has spent nearly every waking hour of that time together, in close quarters, and not exactly ideal living conditions. We've passed the stage of polite strangers and come to the stage of dysfunctional family trapped together for a long holiday.

The great news is that this is NOT the end... oh, no... there's two more weeks and another show worth of this. I have my eye on which rats I want to kill off to regain my space, and I'm sure that the rest of them do too. We'll see who comes out on top of the rat heap.

Goodbye Beautiful Boy

In the middle of one of the worst change-overs all season I had to get up this morning to take Harp to the bus station. College starts for him in two weeks, and he is one of the first of the resident company to leave. There will be more and more goodbyes in the following weeks, but this was the first and will probably be the most significant.

He cried just a little at the bus station, and I tried very hard not to cry in response to him. I hid a letter for him in his luggage, and even though I think he had one for me in his pocket, (I'd seen him writing it the day before and he tried but failed to stealthily remove it from his luggage before we put it in the bed of the truck) he said that he hadn't finished it, and that he'd mail it to me in a few days. I'm not sure why he decided at that moment not to give it to me.

I have two more days of load-in hell in front of me, and the pleasantest of my distractions is now gone.

Ex-Files: Casefile 001

Category: Boyfriend, March 1990 to May 1990
Met: Home
"L" Word: No
Age Differential: He-32, Me-18
significance: First Kiss
Reason for Break-up: Age difference

History: For obvious reasons I have been thinking about Ex001 a lot lately. He came into my life at a time when I really needed someone. I was just barely peeking out of my closet door, and living in a town with a population smaller than the average community college's enrollment. The idea of a boyfriend was something incredibly outside my reach.

We met on my 18th birthday. He was a friend of my mom's who had come by the house. At the time I was knee deep in an English paper and paid very little attention to him. About 2 months later, after my senior prom a lesbian friend of mine, who I now realize was trying drag me out of the closet, took me to a gay club a few towns over, and he was there. She went home early because (in typical lesbian fashion) she had to play softball the next day. I stayed, and Ex001 agreed to take me home. Instead we drove all over the county visiting obscure sites that he knew from his days as a county tax assessor. That night was my first gay kiss.

In the days that followed I was wooed in the most romantic ways that I can imagine. Each morning during his morning jog he would pass by my house and leave a small note on my car. I carried the first one with me all day that day, reading it and re-reading it so many times that the crease in the paper threatened to tear. Every time I read it I was almost aroused, and thrilled about the possibilities. It was in no way sexual, or even suggestive, but it was the promise of something to come.

We dated for a few months after that, me spending many nights at his place. He introduced me to gay lit, gay cinema, alternative music, and Anne Rice.

In the end he and I parted ways, mostly because I was on the verge of leaving town for college, and I think he was afraid that I was becoming in some way attached, or expecting to become attached. At the time I didn't understand that reasoning, but now, closer to his age, I can see his concerns.

He remains one of the most romantic guys I have ever dated, and I have every note that he left for me tucked away in a box somewhere.

Current Status:
At last notice still living in the county I grew up in and working at the flower shop that he owned at the time. We have not spoken in over a decade, though I stopped by his shop a few years ago, trying to catch a glimpse of him.

Summer Lovin'

Harp and I continue our summer affair. He's spent nearly every night in the past two weeks at my place, rather than his (company actors get group style dorm housing... us designer types get single, private rooms). Sadly... or maybe happily, I'm not sure... it's one of the best relationships that I've had in a while. He's sweet, charming, highly affectionate, and intelligent. He knows how to return affection, when to snuggle in close, and when to hang back and let me work. We've been to the movies, (one regular, one drive-in, both bad) we've been to dinner, had drinks, flirted with each other across the room while the other was working, and... well... let's just say that my sex life hasn't been this frequent in... well, a while.

The down side? He leaves on Monday. He's 13 years my junior. He lives in another state.

Maybe this is why I never had a summer affair before, the universe knew my heart couldn't take it.

Welcome to the 21st Century

Ladies and Gentlemen, the long age of darkness is over, the growing rises of electronica has peaked, and the age of technology has truly begun: My MOM has a blog.

I am not going to link it here, because she reveals some things about herself that would identify me too closely, (Note to self: discuss net security with her), but it's there, and... well... I dunno. It's odd.

I discovered long ago that my mom reads my blog, but decided not to let it deter anything that I wanted to say here. I have occassionally paused before making posts like this one, knowing that she was going to read it, but in the end I know that she has always been very cool about anything that I wanted to tell her, so I post away.

This seems different somehow... I encouraged my sister to begin her blog but it never occurred to me that my mom would follow suit. I'm feeling an odd sense of pride and fascination and at the same time a bit weird about the whole thing... I can't pin down why it seems so odd, but I'm adjusting to the idea. It will be fun to see where she goes with it.

Still and all... the future is here!