Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Edmund Downing

Edmund. Dad. Grandpa Bear. Robo-Pop. Brother. Son. Husband. Teacher.

He would have been 65 today.

Congratulations, Pop. You'd have been able to retire. [/sarcasm]

I miss you, Dad.

I love you, Dad.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gearing Up

I always go into manic mode before a shoot, with good reason. I want to make sure everything is covered, all the prep-work done. Perhaps more stressful in this case, I'll be working with three actors and a DP I've not previously worked with, our audio guy has to leave early and my fiancée will be there to observe and assist.

Just a little pressure. And I haven't directed ANYTHING in a year. And I haven't directed a SHOOT since Ordinary Angels.

But, for whatever reason, I'm feeling good. Feeling empowered. Feeling competent. And just a few butterflies, which is good.

And honestly, although I've not worked with these folks before, they come highly recommended by folks I HAVE worked with, so there you go. I'm looking forward to shaking the rust of my directorial chops.

Had a visit from JD yesterday. We traded stories and music and generally touched base (and it was a good touching, really). Other than that, it was kind of a rough day. Lots of driving, lots of schedule shuffling, and lots of bureaucracy to deal with from the insurance provider regarding a doctor's appointment for one of the kids.

Went up to Ballard and had dinner with my stepmom, celebrating my dad's birthday (which is on Friday, but she's off to a friend's farm for lambing season). Got to see some recently unearthed video footage of her and dad in England and Sweden on their last trip out there in 2002. It was surreal.

Have I mentioned that I miss my dad?

By the time we got home and retired for the night, I was in a rotten mood for a whole celebrity cavalcade of reasons. That led to stomach issues all night and dreams of the nightmare variety. Not my best night ever.

Awoke this morning to the automated call from the school district, informing us that Seattle Schools were starting two hours late due to snow and ice on the roads. Sure enough, we had what I would call a "heavy dusting" of snow overnight, but it's all but gone now.

It wasn't until I got home from taking Kayleigh to school that I noticed my mobile phone was missing. I kept calling from the land line, but couldn't hear it anywhere in the house. I actually began to panic until I tried one last time and my stepmom picked up. I'd left it at her apartment when we went to dinner last night. Fortunately, I was meeting her and my mom and stepdad at University Village for lunch, and -- crisis averted -- I got my phone back. We talked about my folks' recent trip to California and Mom showed us some pics of old friends on her camera. And of course, we talked wedding. Lots and lots of wedding. Specifically, the rehearsal dinner and accomodations for the out-of-town set. It was nice to see them all and hang out over lunch.

Now I'm home and ready to do my shot list for Saturday. Might not check in until Sunday or Monday, as my focus is going to be elsewhere. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Plowin' Through

I guess I'm better under fire than I give myself credit for when facing down a week as packed as this. But here I am, checking off the to-do list and shuttling people and appointments all around. I feel a bit like The Colonel...

The shoot is this Saturday. I'm a bit nervous, but it's the good butterflies I always get before a shoot.

Rae's innards are apparently not to be worried about at this point in time, so that's nice. We dropped the kids at Tae Kwon Do yesterday and walked across the street to Prost! for a wee happy hour of our own. I had an Oktoberfest and TFMD had a V&T. It reminded us of the picture of our deoderants in the medicine cabinet. And of course of our actual relative dimensions.

Anyhoo, we're celebrating 9 months together today. Doesn't seem like a long time at all, but then again, so much has happened in such a short period. Craziness.

That's all I've got for now. Anon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

(Welcome to) Hell Week

The weekend was a lot fuller than we'd anticipated, even with the subtraction of the Always... Patsy Cline show at ACT (I've never been there, and the Google directions were way off, so we changed our tickets). It meant that we actually had a little down time before running off to dinner at Kyle & Mandi's. I love having them as friends, and talking shop is always fun. Kyle played us some of the new Collider CD, and I complimented him on how "in-his-element" he sounded.

Sunday was coffee with Ron, followed by decorating and prep for the Oscar party I volunteered to host. I have GOT to stop volunteering to host every gathering that comes up - it's just that I love to host gatherings, and it's so much easier to worry about childcare when you're in your own home. We had seven people plus the two of us, all eating, drinking and guessing on the awards.

And now we begin a week so packed with stuff I can't think straight and my head gets all swimmy. Kids start Tae Kwon Do. Both have counseling. Kayleigh has after school programs. Tyler has a doctor appointment and full blood panel. We have a family dinner in Ballard, a Costco run for supplies for Saturday's shoot, and a production meeting for said shoot, plus another dinner on Friday. Madness, I tell ya.

And then there's the issue of TFMD's cervix. I wasn't gonna blog about this, but since she laid it out there, I will just add that it's got me worried. Not because I think anything IS wrong, but due to my experience with cancer, what COULD be wrong. I know better than to dwell there, but I'm not gonna lie and say it hasn't crossed my mind. I offered to take her to her appointment today, but she opted for the best-girlfriend option and that's cool. I knew she was a bit freaked yesterday when she came home from dress shopping. We have a few things on the schedule this evening, but hopefully we can retire early.

Lots going on in both of our noggins, to be sure. I just want to get through the week and burn some tape* on Saturday.

"burn some tape" = shoot a movie

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Time

Well my friend Dave Beach is through his surgery and in recovery. That's one hurdle cleared.

It's been a crazy busy couple days. Auditioning actors, designing graphics for the short film, driving a friend to bail out his impounded car. TFMD orchestrated the schedule and got the kids all signed up for Tai Kwon Do at our local studio. The list goes on.

And of course, there's been a rash of Facebook meme-tagging going on, specifically designed to make designers get less done. The thing I worry about with the whole random CD cover meme is the photo copyright. The text for the challenge should say that the photo owner reserves all rights and the CD cover should be removed if asked by the copyright holder. I should add that.

Coming up on another weekend. Going to see Always... Patsy Cline at ACT on Saturday. Our friend Don (husband of Marcia) plays guitar in the show. Sunday we are hosting an Oscar party. TFMD is wearing a black dress, while I am going all rockstar, with an open white embroidered shirt and charcoal gray jacket.

We also have some potentially exciting news on the Buzzkill Bride front, but we need to get some ducks in a row first and not jinx the heck out of it.

Very much looking forward to a leisurely happy hour this afternoon. Yay.

Oh, PSBTW, it's been getting back to me that some of our readers missed where I spelled out what TFMD means (including my own aunt). Here is the post in question. It's a little asterisked footnote. Don't blink, or you might miss it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Midweek Cavalcade O' Productivity

Wow. Wednesday already.

Three appointments scheduled - check.
Checked on post-op status of friend with cancer - check.
Mail dropped at post office - check.
Bank deposit made - check.
Mother called and chatted with - check.
Audition/screen test planned for tonight - check.
Dinner planned for tonight - check.
Lunch eaten - check.
Whip cracked on kids' chores - check.
Laundry cycled - check.
Store credit reopened at Sleep Country - check.
Pinged mortgage broker about refi - check.
Had exhausting argument with teenager, who is angry that his game privileges were yanked for 24 hours due to his breaking of posted house rules - check.

Wonder if week can be over now - check please.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday and the Gay Salsa Explosion

As I just explained in a very detailed email to TFMD, I crack me up.

Had an awesome weekend with the family. After TFMD awoke on Monday morning, I took her to brunch at Easy Street, and then we did the week's grocery shopping. We moved very slowly, as it was apparent finishing a bottle of port after several drinks at the concert was probably not the best decision. We made a pact to watch each other's back and practice a bit more temperance in the future.

The kids are home all this week for mid-winter break. Despite this, I am getting work done. Finished the audition side for a character in the first Duo short, for which we are casting this week.

I was about to head off to get a shower when a friend pinged me in instant messenger, so I stayed for a short conversation. At one point, however, I got a bit peckish, so I went to grab some chips and salsa. We get this nice, fresh, chunky stuff from the cold case at the QFC. And it lives on the top shelf of the fridge. And when I went to grab it, it slipped out of my fingers, off the shelf and came down on the kitchen floor, splitting the bottom open and spattering salsa everywhere. It looked like a bizarre crime scene. It was on my sweats (from neck to ankle), on the underside of the fridge drawers, on the cabinets across the kitchen. I would love to see a ballistics report on this particular murder.

So, after spending the next ten minutes cleaning said crime scene, I returned to the office, where my friend was wondering what had happened to me. The conversation proceeded, with me apologizing for the delay and assuring my friend that a salsa explosion, which sounds like it should be FUN, strangely was not. My friend then expressed sympathy over the incident, using the term "gay" in the perjorative (which I neither use nor condone, but am totally guilty of uttering "boss", "rad" and "bitchin'" upon occasion, because developmentally I'm still in 7th grade). I then mused how "Gay Salsa Explosion" sounded like a cultural event in south Florida. Kinda like Carnival, only... not.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Valentine's Day Didn't Suck This Year

Let me count the ways...

Saturday arrived, the third anniversary of the fire which had claimed the house. TFMD and I took the kids to see Coraline at the AMC Southcenter. And here's the irony: I have traditionally gone to Southcenter over theaters downtown because of the easy and plentiful parking. But since the rennovation of the mall, it's like being stuck in a traffic jam downtown. So if I venture to Southcenter for a movie theater experience in the future, it'll be at the Parkway Plaza, which has better sets and easier parking.

After the movie, we had an early dinner at Applebee's, then headed home where Rae and I promptly passed out for a couple hours before walking to Westwood for a few necessities. It was a slow-moving Saturday evening, with Must Love Dogs and the first act of Down With Love before we simply had to retire for the night.

Sunday was a leisurely, with both TFMD and me tackling various organizational projects: she, her files, and me, the DVD Wall. I hate organizing DVDs, because I don't like to alphabetize, yet I can't always find a neat category for a specific title. But I got it more or less sorted in the end.

Sunday evening, both kids went off to their respective overnights and TFMD took me out for a (post) Valentine's Day evening. We took a cab to the Triple Door, where we had an amazing dinner and saw Lisa Hannigan and her band, who had completely blown us away when she opened for Jason Mraz. This time, she was the headliner, with her guitarist, Gavin Glass, opening with a short set of his own. It was a busy night for Gavin.

Picked up a copy of Gavin's CD, had it signed (as he was hanging out back by the soundboard) and took a cab home. And of course, what would two adults-in-love do with an empty house and an early evening? We did what anyone would do: we opened some port and played music for about three hours. My fingers are killing me today, but it was totally worth it, because we got another original song out of the jam session. Her words, my music. The collaboration that brought us together in the first place. Seeing a good live band can truly be inspirational sometimes.

After all the Thai food and alcohol last night, I awoke a bit precarious this morning. But I took my supplements and nursed a glass of soda water, and now I'm feeling up to taking TFMD out to breakfast at Easy Street. If and when she feels up to getting out of bed.

It's been a good weekend. And it has created a new concept for me: Valentine's Day doesn't have to be traumatic or ignored outright; it can actually be fun.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tragically Delicious

Lots to cover today. Allow me to get right to it.

Kirby Krackle. Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos just returned from a promotional visit to NYC, where the album was very well received. And Kyle now has the footage I shot of his CD release set up on YouTube. Check it out.

Next up, Sam's birthday was yesterday. It also happened to be a pretty busy one, work-wise. I took a break in the mid-morning and opened up a music file. It's the recording of Fire Inside on which Sam's vocals mysteriously appeared when I was archiving our old music back in 2005, only without the acoustic guitar track and some different drums added. This way, I can play along live, and have a little birthday duet. And you know, it felt pretty good. My mood really improved for about half an hour.

Until I found out that an old and dear friend has cancer.
The same kind Samantha had.
He's having surgery on the 17th. They're gonna crack him and do a lobectomy on his lung, just like they did with my dad and Raechelle's mom.


So that kind of licked me back into that fog. The blank gaze of the shellshocked soldier when confronted with a trigger that makes him remember his own past traumas. And as badly as you feel for yourself, it's totally not about you. It's about your friend/partner/spouse/child/parent with the actual disease, facing the actual surgery. So you just have to be stoic and march on.

With that in mind, after errand-running and kids' counseling and all that goes with that, Raechelle and the kids and I went to dinner at Pegasus. The kids were full of energy and conversation, and neither of us got a word in edgewise. Then we came home and sang Happy Birthday to Sam. The kids blew out the wax 42 on the cake I'd purchased from Safeway while Kayleigh was in her counseling appointment.

Which brings me to the title portion of the story.

I've blogged previously about hairdressers, baristas and other service professionals who insist on striking up conversation with the widowed, having no clue what they're gonna find when you do respond. On this occasion, it was a Starbucks barista at the kiosk/cart/thingy inside Safeway. I had a giant iced tea on order, and I had the chocloate cake that read Happy Birthday Sam on it, and a wax 2 candle, since we already had a 4 at home. Easy enough to mistake that for a young boy's cake, for sure. But once again, it was a case of prying too far. And it went something like this:

Awww, someone's having a birthday.

Sort of.

Are they two?

No. We already have the 4.



I was just going for the more desirable option.


So who is 42?

My late wife. She would have been 42 today. My kids celebrate it.

Sound of a record-player needle scratching, followed by crickets.

(shocked pause & look of sympathy)
Awww. I'm so sorry to hear that. You have a nice day.


I would have liked to say something totally mean and snarky as all hell (which I will not repeat here), and that's why I'm glad my internal monologue filter is firmly in place when I'm out in public. I was also going to spout some battlefield wisdom about how grief is contagious and sometimes becomes more about the bystander's experience than the person actually affected, but you've heard all that from me before.

So let me just finish this up.

Happy birthday, Sam.
Kick it in the ass, Dave.
Good work, Kyle.

Peace out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


It rhymes. Handy, that. It helped me remember Samantha's age as well as her birthday. It's amazing what personal data of hers is still floating around in my head. I can still recite her driver's license and Social Security number, which seems weird to me now. Maybe it's because I had over 20 years to learn it, and she's only been gone for 4.

Sam's birthday has come and gone four times since she took her last breath in 2005. Each time, the kids and I have observed it, celebrated it. We go out to dinner, and we get a cake and put number candles for her would-be age on top. We celebrate a life ended far too prematurely.

I can't speak for my kids, but this year is different for me. Not because she would have been 42. This year, there is someone else in the picture. A partner. A fiancée. A mom-to-be. And it's got me in a weird place.

Let me be perfectly clear: this is all my own neurosis, my own baggage. Raechelle is totally supportive of celebrating Sam's birthday with the kids and me. She suggested continuing the ritual as per usual, with no deviation simply because she was now present. She completely understands missing someone I was with for over half my life, and although I do not put my relationship with Sam on a pedestal, reason dictates there will be days when the loss will be felt more acutely. The woman's birthday is one of those days.

As I said, any guilt I feel for being happily in a relationship on the birthday of my late wife is of my own manufacture. And I'm really working on making it go away. And Raechelle, bless her, is incredibly helpful by lavishing her love upon me and reminding me that Sam would want me to be happy. And she's right. I am fulfilling Samantha's last directive by finding a loving partner and remarrying -- for myself and for the children. And I'm very much in love and full of all kinds of hope for the future.

On the surface, it's a no-brainer. I'm incredibly happy and satisfied in my relationship with Raechelle. I can intellectualize it until the cows come home. But there's a hint of sadness and weirdness in my gut today. Understandably so, I think.

Perhaps it's just another milestone.
One of the last firsts.
And I know Raechelle gets that.

Slàinte, Sam, wherever you are. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Again With The Snow

Yeah, it's dumping on us again. Big, thick, puffy flakes. Fortunately, none of it is sticking. At least not much of it is.

Had a nice dinner of crock pot stew with the family last night, followed by Martian Child with my wimminz. Then to bed.

Awoke this morning with a sense of purpose and in a fine mood. As soon as Kayleigh was at school, I took off to check out Brian Beardsley's studio as a location for the first Duo short. The space is too small, but the facility rents larger spaces by the day, so we can easily dress it. There are some other options too.

Headed back from Lake City Way to the Admiral district of West Seattle, got TFMD a little somethin'-somethin' for Valentine's Day, then hit the post office to mail off the mortgage, then down to Burien to drop Kayleigh's clarinet at the shop for a small repair, then back to Westwood for a brief stop at Target and finally Taco Del Mar for lunch -- because I apparently have a short memory when it comes to food.

Walked in the door into the ready-made conflict Tyler had handcrafted for me. It was a mess. A heated, adrenalized, ugly mess. And suddenly the sense of accomplishment and productivity I'd earned this morning came crashing down. Thank goodness for counseling in about two hours.

As I've typed this, the snow on the carport roof has begun to stick. Although I doubt we're looking at Snowmageddon II: Snowpocalypse Boogaloo, it's nonetheless quite heavy at the moment. And pretty. Fortunately the streets are looking clear, and I only have to drive across West Seattle one more time today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Think John Cusack is Filming My Life

I know it's because he chooses interesting projects, but the last couple films I've seen him in, he's portrayed widowed men dealing with fatherhood.

I had Martian Child on in the background while I ate lunch and did some work today. I intend to sit down and watch again with TFMD and/or the kids. It's a good film, and a character I identify with -- even more so than the character he played in Grace Is Gone. In this case, he plays a widower who was once an outcast child and now makes his living in escapist entertainment, trying to raise a child who is "different" while trying to maintain a career and beginning to find a romantic connection again.

Sound familiar?

I'm going to check my office for any hidden cameras.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Friday

Some bloggers have a set shtick they do every Friday, such as Stephen Rader's Fratboy Friday (fair warning, Stephen's blog is often NSFW) and Lydia Bruno's new Follow Me Friday.

However, when you've had the last couple weeks I've had, it's often all you can do to crawl wheezing and gasping through Friday's finish line.

Awoke to a migraine once again, the first in a couple months. I was having an absolutely scrummy dream about ponies (reference this clip from Blackadder, about 4:05), when my eyes threatened to jump from my skull and run screaming down the street. Totally no fair. I call shenanigans.

Add to that not one, but TWO kids home sick from school (Tyler has actually had a relatively excellent week in that regard), and an ever-growing to-do list, and you have one surly and tired TBFE.

Yesterday was productive. Had a production meeting with Dan & Trish about the series of four Duo shorts being planned. The first one gets shot at the end of the month. I'm itchy to get behind the camera again. I love the process.

It also just occurred to me that I didn't show my loyal readers the new gigging instrument I got for work with Buzzkill Bride.

It's the beast as pictured: an Ovation CC44. Epaulet sound hole design, black finish, brass hardware, 3-band EQ and onboard tuner. Sounds lovely. Raechelle doesn't like to play Ovations because of the round back, but she had to admit it sounds great. I've always loved Ovations. Jeff Lynne's signature guitar sound for ELO and the Traveling Wilburys was an Ovation 12-string with the low-end stripped out. Very lush and crisp all at once. Don't let the 1970s craziness distract you from some really well-crafted songs. Not everyone has to like ELO, but you gotta give 'em their place in the scheme of things.

And if ELO ain't your thang, check out what Glen Campbell can do with an Ovation. Go Glen.

Although the temps have risen, it's back to typical rainy, 40-something Seattle winter. And maybe that's got me a bit down. Plus all the dying. This weekend began to clutter up with all sorts of items on the calendar, but fortunately we realized early on that we'd be hating life afterward, and reduced our social obligations quite a bit. As it stands, things are manageable.

Here's to a safe trip to Cali for my mom & stepdad, and a happy weekend for everyone out there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bleeding Fingers

© 2009 Ron Dugdale Photography

Well not quite, but close. Practiced a lot yesterday. Getting my chops back (yet again).

You see, at the engagement party, TFMD (while imbibing impressive quantities of wine) promised Kyle that we'd have a 20-minute live set together by March. And while I have a good 45 minutes of And Tears Fell material I can do solo, and Rae has a few of her own faves she can do solo, that misses the whole point of Buzzkill Bride. It's all about the collaboration. It's why she answered the Craigslist ad in the first place, after all.

So I practiced for a couple hours yesterday, and after dinner, we both practiced for another hour and a half. The set is shaking out. We have some loyal covers, some originals, and some coffee-house arrangements of songs you'd never expect. And we're getting close to comfortable with most of the material. I like the vibe. It's collaborative without being competitive, and it's different than my usual thing.

But it's also weird having Rae sing any of the And Tears Fell material. Weirder than it was having Muriel sing on the CD. I'm sure it's similar to Rae feels about my contributions to some of her older and more personal material.

I'm looking forward to recording again, and having Kyle producing. Other producers always bring out the better aspects of my music, and Kyle's a guy I've been wanting to work with since we met at Emerald City last year.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cancer Day

Yesterday was surreal. On several levels. I blame Mercury retrograde... or something.

Picked up TFMD at work just after Noon, and we headed up to the memorial service for her ex's father. Being included felt a bit weird, but ultimately I'm really glad I was. The family is really sweet and welcoming -- good people. And they're happy for Rae. And that makes me happy.

Then we came home and I found an email from my old pal Josh. Although we've been out of touch for over a decade, he's the friend I've known longest. We met in Steve Miles' 2nd/3rd grade class at Rio Del Mar Elementary School in 1976, and became best buds. His dad, a professional cartoonist and illustrator, encouraged my own artistic aspirations. I invented the Zingo character on his drafting table, and named both Z's harbor seal and the martial arts hero Stilt after him in homage.

Anyway, in catching up, I found out his mom had died of skin cancer in 2007, and his dad is in remission from prostate cancer. Let me emphasize that when I knew them, they were the healthiest, most stress-free people I'd come across. Vegetarians and into meditation. It felt like I'd lost another family member.

But then I realized this is probably what folks who knew Sam but had been out of touch for years felt when they heard about her death. Beth can speak to that more so than most.

Then I had a couple actors over for a reading/audition/screentest. Devielle Johnson has already been cast as Steve in Duo, but he showed up to read opposite Jeff Benoit as Ian in the first of four shorts set in the Duo continuity. Working with good actors puts me in a very emotionally vulnerable state anyway (as it should), so by the time the guys left, I was done.

It was just an emotionally exhausting day. Can I get a witness?? Amen.

Additionally, Monday yielded a psych diagnosis for Tyler, so that will help us plan, pending the sleep study next month. Still getting him worked around to a daytime schedule. TFMD and I are practicing our live set tonight. Gonna make some noise for a couple hours. With instruments. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Big and Strong

By the time I finish writing this, a bazillion-six bloggers will have blogged about Superbowl XLIII. But because I absolutely do not care about either team, I thought I'd make an observation.

I think John Madden might have a secret.

First of all, it was a much closer, much more exciting game than we thought it might be, going in. This year our division sucked harder than a Venezuelan call girl, evident in the Cardinals going to the big game with a winning record of... 9. Ugh. That's the best the west could do this year. Not a great showing. We didn't think the Steelers would have a particularly tough time beating them, and were honestly amazed that the spread was something like 6.5 points.

But it was a white-knuckle game, despite our pessimism. The officials were not calling for Pittsburgh all the time (a pleasant surprise as a Seattleite), and Warner statistically outplayed Roethlisberger (who is apparently the earthly avatar of the god of football here on Earth, according to the commentators). In all fairness, Pittsburgh's 100-yard end-zone interception return was a truly amazing play -- overall, they actually earned this victory*. But it was because Arizona made them earn it.

Maybe because I really didn't care about the outcome (except we did root for Arizona simply by virtue of them NOT being Pittsburgh) I found I was picking up a lot more of the commentary chatter, and for some reason it took on a distinctly homoerotic dimension. Perhaps it was repeated use of the terms "penetration", or how every goddamn time Madden commented on a play, he would refer to the player thusly:

"He's a big, strong guy, and when you're big and strong..."
"He's got big, strong hands..."
"He's absolutely huge..."
"A big, strong player..."
"Big and strong..."

Swear. To. Gawd. It almost became a drinking game. Of course, the "big and strong" commentary was inevitably followed by Madden drawing two circles on the screen, followed by an arrow thrusting through the middle -- perhaps to illustrate the tight-end penetration he was talking about. In any case, it made me see John Madden in a whole new light, and made for some entertaining living room commentary of our own.

* As opposed to it being handed to them by officials.