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Friday, March 28, 2008


Remember the clusterfuck of a backlog the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services experienced after they jacked up the price of citizenship last year? Eh, you probably don't, but I sure do, because I became eligible for citizenship three days after the price hike, so not only did I have to pay $700 to apply, I was sure that the insane pile-up of applications directly before me would hold up my application past this November at least.

Apparently, however, publicity over the backlog has caused someone to throw money at the problem, because I just got a letter requesting that I appear for my naturalization interview (and civics exam) on May 30! Assuming I pass, I may be naturalized on the spot, or at the worst, at a swearing in ceremony a few weeks later. Holy shit! I'm going to be a citizen! I'm going to vote! I could make money on the side as a notary! I no longer need to fear deportation every time I get a traffic ticket!

I'm so excited. I'm going to find and buy the cheesiest Americana sweater in the world to wear to the interview. And then, as soon as I get my papers, I'm going to buy and wear this shirt as an expression of my FREE SPEECH AMERICAN VALUES RONPAULRPONPAUL:

In cat news, it turns out Hunter does not have hyperthyroidism or any kind of wacky disease that would show up in her blood work. I am relieved that she won't have to take pills for the rest of her life! But in the meantime, I have to keep shoving diarrhoea pills down her throat twice a day, so she hates me, and there's the prospect of paying more money for more diagnostics down the road if it doesn't clear up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hunter the cat is sick

Hunter has lately had blood in her stools. I finally had enough of a break in my schedule to take her to the vet this morning, and discovered that she has lost a bunch of weight since the last time she was in the clinic, and the vet suspects hyperthyroidism. She is having some bloodwork done (poor thing, she has tough veins, and the vet had to stick her so many times to get a sample), and I should know for sure what's wrong in a couple of days.

I am sad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Moving pictures

I still haven't seen There Will Be Blood (cursed time, money, and mood), but like most of the internet, my gleeful attention was attracted by the I-drink-your-milkshake thing. Damon, the actor who plays Pericles, being aware of my glee, agreed to perform the following for the benefit of all:

Speaking of movies, I just discovered that Ron Fricke is making a sequel to Baraka, and it should be out later this year. Delight! The new film is called Samsara, and I will travel to see it if I must.

Pericles is currently in tech - we preview Wednesday and open Friday. A touch of bronchitis and exhaustion have left me slightly demotivated and petulant, but yesterday I bought a Yamaha GO46, so hopefully? I should write some music? Soon? I'd better; I'm supposed to have a computer music piece performed April 5 at West Chester U.

Friday, March 21, 2008


For the first time since I came to the US, I am catching a shit-tonne of public transport. I used to ride the train or bus every day when I lived in Australia, which encouraged a particular skill set, which I describe here because, sadly, 90% of Americans have no idea what it is to catch public transport every day:
  1. People watching. The most basic of skills on public transport, and one of its primary joys. I delight in eavesdropping on other people's conversations and phone calls, and watching the little tics people have when they're stuck in a public place with nothing to do and no privacy. I'm a better actor for it.

  2. The Fuck-Off Vibe. This is more of an art than a skill, and I consider it a mental state, though the vibe can be assisted with physical blocking devices such as sunglasses, headphones, and reading material. As its name suggests, the fuck-off vibe is necessary when you absolutely don't want to interact with anyone. When employed successfully, even the mentally ill, the mentally challenged, and panhandlers will leave you alone. I used to pride myself on my flawless fuck-off vibe in Sydney until the day I took an amazing yoga class, and it VANISHED. I was riding the bus home from yoga with giant headphones clamped to my ears, sunglasses covering my eyes, and obviously reading a book, and nevertheless every person who sat next to me felt the immediate need to engage me in conversation.

  3. Auto-Sleep. When I lived in Summer Hill and worked in North Sydney, my daily train commute was 45-minutes each way, with a transfer in the middle. I trained myself to fall asleep the minute I took my seat, and wake up right before my station each time by willing my unconscious mind to listen for station names. This only failed to work once when I was coming home stupendously drunk from a party. I ended up at the end of the line. I don't remember how I got home that night.

Whenever people have asked me what I miss most about Australia, I say public transportation. And the weather, but mostly public transport. So it's been a pleasure to get back into the swing of it.

The most disturbing incident I have to report so far while riding SEPTA (South East Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) occurred a few weeks ago, when a pretty black girl caught the R5 along with me. I was sewing children's costumes for my YMCA class on the way home, when I turned and noticed her sitting across the aisle, staring at me. I flashed her a smile, and turned back to my stitches.

"Yeah, that's right, you keep sewing, you fucking nigger," she said quietly through her death-stare.
"... Excuse me?"
"You heard what I said. You fucking nigger. You dirty fucking whore."

Then she got up and moved further forward in the carriage. I thought of possible ways I could defend myself against a budding schizophrenic with my sewing scissors, but luckily, although she disembarked at my stop, she instead shone her crazy on the hapless conductor, who received a nice gob of saliva on his uniform.

More recently, it seems I have tapped into some interesting SEPTA karma. My fuck-off vibe is obviously malfunctioning, so I have embraced my accessibility somewhat by attempting to be fairly pleasant on the train. Strangely, it's as though SEPTA is being pleasant in return. After helping a tourist find his way to 30th Street and unload his bags, I realized that my phone, which had been missing for several days, might have slipped from my grasp during my auto-sleep home one night. On a whim, I stopped at Passenger Services on my way to work ... and my phone was there. Someone had handed it in. I mean, really, when does that ever happen?

The next day, I offered a seat to an old man with sore feet who proceeded to have a conversation with me about immigrating from the Middle East (he left Kuwait two days before Iraq invaded) and making tabouleh ... and I enjoyed the conversation -- wondrous strange! Later, I thought I had missed my train home by six minutes and would have to wait an hour for the next one, only to find that my train was exactly six minutes late and waiting for me. Karma.

Things to do before I die, number I forget: Start a SEPTA religion, with an associated martial art and monasteries.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I am sick for the second time in two weeks - I blame theater and kissing. This combination was also responsible for my mono/Epstein Barr infection in 1999, so I have some history with it.

I am so behind in school work, I feel in serious danger of exploding my 4.0 this semester, which is why I am up at two in the morning trying desperately to shift the phlegm-coated and solidly rusted gearstick in my head from "acting" to "composing." Yes, I knew this would happen. But I hoped it wouldn't.

So far, I have opened Cubase, Sibelius, and Word. I am unsure whether this all-in approach will galvanize me into action, or merely dissipate my focus. Perhaps I should instead try to open only one program at a time. I will probably spend at least another fifteen minutes pondering this decision.

I should probably eat something. Maybe go to the toilet again. Oh, I just thought of an e-mail I could send. I would save time if I did all three at once, but that would not be hygienic.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Funniest Story Ever Told

Following the Romeo & Juliet preview on Wednesday night, Mike, one of the actors at Philly Shakes, was unlocking his bicycle outside the theatre when he overheard a conversation between two little old ladies who had just seen the play.

"The girl who played Juliet was so well spoken. She's the best Navajo actor I've ever seen."
"Navajo!? Betty, didn't you hear her accent? She's Australian!"
"Australian? Oh, what kind of Indian is that?"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Two tracks from the Gonzales Cantata

Currently, when I'm not rehearsing with the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, I'm supposedly working on my composition degree. As I think I've mentioned on here in the past, one piece I'm working on is a cantata based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Alberto Gonzales.

Because half the reason I'm writing it is that hardly anyone I speak to in the real world seems to know anything whatsoever about Gonzales, it's pretty unashamedly pop neo-Baroque. It's about half-finished; I guess it will be about 40-45 minutes long when it's done. I created the libretto from the actual transcripts, and for shits and giggles, I reversed the genders of all the performers, so every role (Gonzales, Specter, Leahy, etc, who also all double as the chorus) is sung by a soprano or alto, with the exception of Diane Feinstein, who is a tenor. Instrumentation is chamber strings and harpsichord.

Anyway, I had two pieces from the cantata played at a new music concert at my college the other day, and I recorded a rehearsal:

Freedom Overture (har har har, it's a French overture, geddit?)
Aria: "Differently" (Gonzales)

Text excerpted from US Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, April 19, 2007.

GONZALES: Looking back,
things that I would have done differently?
I should have told him,
And I think he should have --
I should have asked him
I should have told him the factors
that I thought were important for him to consider.
I should have told him,
And I think I would have told him --
I should have told him,
And we should have a list.
I think these are the things --
I think these are the kinds of things, in hindsight,
that I wish would have happened.
I think it's also unfair
(I think it’s all so unfair)
It is clear that we struggled -- not struggled –
Where we made a mistake, clearly -- I think --
is once we said "performance,"
we should have defined that.
Because performance, for me, means lots of things.
It means whether or not you've got leadership skills,
whether or not you've got management skills.
It may mean whether or not
you support the president.
It may mean that you don't have --
that you have a sufficient --
that you have relationships.
And so there are lots of things that fall within
the definition of performance-related.
And I think that we should --
we should have defined what we meant by that.

(This aria comes right before the final chorale of the cantata - "God Bless America" - and is composed of cut up quotes from the hearing -- his stumbles, mostly.)

Anyway, it's just a crappy recording from a rehearsal, but I thought I would put it out there to kick my own arse into finishing it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Reaction video

Today I staged my very own you-know-what reaction video on members of the cast.

Watch Andrew on the left, who was just passing by and seems to have regretted his curiosity.

What's seen cannot be unseen.