Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ren Fest 2014- Opening Weekend

A recap of each weekend posted here for posterity, for reflection, and for to share the joy.

Opening Weekend: Highland Games (resulting in lots of kilts and bagpipes, both of which I greatly enjoy)

-Saturday was full of greeting Village characters that I haven't seen in the better part of a year. It was satisfying and comfortable to walk around the site once again.

-Performed with Sef as "The Homewreckers" in the first round of Vilification Tennis. We came out strong, and lost our match with dignity. I could feel the difference a year of improv and comedy made in my stage presence and connecting with the audience.

-Our afternoon gig, participating in the Mead Social as the peanut gallery of jokesters and storytellers ended up being great fun. Charles Sutter, Winemaker, gave a naughty limerick where he cuts himself off instead of saying the final rhyming word; "clitoris".  At the back of the crowd, Merry chimes in with, "...her arras?" "What?" sputters Charles. "It's a curtain." Merry explains, as our troupe explodes in laughter, further confusing everyone. When we perform Hamlet, Polonius is stabbed through the "arras" (a rich tapestry, in truth), which the troupe mistakes for part of human anatomy during the show.

-After hours, I sat with friends inside a delicious, air-conditioned trailer to trade stories of our first day. Even managed to have a few good conversations amidst the cacophony of the Tavern-turned-dance-club. Teamed up with friends to assault the Porter with back scratches, temple rubbing, back and hand massages. Because he deserves it, after putting out First Day fires for 12 hours.

-I discovered how much fun it is to share my ice cream cone with friends. As each took their taste, I smooshed the cone onto their face for good measure. One Puppet Troupe girl licked the extra off the other Puppet Troupe girl's nose.

-Sunday's first show ended being a speed-through of "Goldilocks and the 2 Little Pigs". It took longer than expected, because the troupe and audience couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculous situations.

-We had an extra performer for the next fairy tale, so we performed, "Hansel & Gretel & Steve". Steve ate all the breadcrumbs Hansel dropped, so the other children let the witch roast him first as a diversion before shoving her in the oven.

-A shop worker called me in off the street to ask for a taste of my ice cream cone. He might have been just flirting, but I stepped into the shop and smooshed his share onto his face. His buddies crowded in the shop erupted with glee! "You earned that," I quipped, and smiled sweetly before taking my leave.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Funny.

There is some dark stuff in this post. There is also some lovely stuff. I hope it balances out.

Sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning, Robin Williams ended his life. Something was happening to him where he felt there was no better alternative than to die. All the things that could be listed as good parts of his life, career, and reputation didn't fucking matter. For Robin, they probably hadn't mattered in a while. Depression lied to him and convinced him there was no way out of the Screaming Dark, no way but one.

No, I didn't know him. I've never met him, corresponded with him, nor have I any reason to grieve his death over the loss of life statistically happening constantly around the planet.

Still, I grieve.

I can't remember the first time I saw a Robin Williams film, or if I saw him as Mork or doing stand-up, he has always been a ubiquitous, hilarious component of my childhood. My brother and I watched a lot of movies on the Friday nights during Mom's weekend to have us. As much as we bickered about everything else in life, we could always find a comedy that we both wanted to see. So we watched "Hook". Then we'd watch it again first thing Saturday morning.
Slapstick and sword fights? Yes please.

We saw "Toys". It was entertaining enough for kids, sure, but a lot of the absurdity went over our heads. That's why I love watching it now, though; discovering jokes I was too young to comprehend.
Half the time I couldn't even pick up on the plot.

Seeing the film, "Jack", was an absolute--solely because of the name of the lead actor. The scene of Jack exploring in the yard is a brilliant piece of acting. Watching Robin act the child made me realize how astoundingly talented he was. Robin gave Jack wonder, gentle curiosity, and sheer delight that shines in happy children. The movie was not a comedy, but how could a person not be captivated by a character such as Jack?
Ugh. The feels! All the feels!

Becoming a fan of black comedy was like arriving at a great party where I knew everyone and felt completely comfortable. Plus Robin Williams was there. "Death to Smoochy" was this roller coaster ride of hilarity and piteousness. An awkward vignette of the shiny & new replacing the worn & old plays out in the context of children's television entertainment. Naughty things and bad words happening in a "sunshine zone" seemed refreshing, relevant, and perfectly wry.
It's a thin line between "wacky" and "psycho".

I didn't care for the whole Heaven and Hell thing going on in "What Dreams May Come", but I loved the idea that everyone's paradise and punishment is formed by their self. Another dramatic film where Robin's performance inspires both delight and devastation. The pain of the characters really is sourced from the depths of the actors. 
An oil-painted world really is the best heaven, though.

I can't imagine the absolute desolation his family & friends feel now. I can't even begin to conceive how Robin himself felt on the Last Day, nor on the days, weeks, and months preceding. This was a man who, even though he loved his family, career, and comedy, couldn't manage to stay alive one more day.

Within all that craziness, the energy, the hilarity, the imagination, and the inspiration the real Robin sits in the center of it all--Prospero conjuring sprites and storms. He was hurting and couldn't reach out for help. That's something a lot (a LOT) of people recognize in themselves, and losing yet another soul to the Screaming Dark is demoralizing. Considering so many people have been that close to killing themselves, to have been so entirely overwhelmed with even just the natural state of existence, it is terrifying.

 So now I grieve. My heart is broken because a truly brilliant, funny, kind man suffered and succumbed to an insidious disease that I fight and help my friends fight every day. It shouldn't have to be like this. But it is like this. I will never never never give up. There is a hole in the world where a dazzling, gentle, hairy, genius actor should be, and a deep deficit of comedy potential. I can think of nothing better than to always always try to make up for that deficit with levity, wackiness, hijinks, and dick jokes.

That's how I feel. My Facebook feed is choked with people expressing their concern, their sadness, and their shock at the suicide of Robin Williams. I will not apologize for adding one more missive to the queue.

And if you don't like it, why don't you go suck on a dead dog's nose.

Frosted Goofball. Om nom nom.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm Going to Make This Mark.

So I am trying to be an entrepreneur. Well, so is everybody, I guess. Entrepreneurship is the New & Shiny Thing, which replaced Enlightening & Shiny Yoga, which took over from X-treme & Shiny Doritos flavors. I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon for any trend; it's just that I have a really shitty time participating in the "traditional" workforce. 

Side note: When I say "traditional workforce", I refer to the 9-to-5, 40 hours weekly, uniform, dependable career. The ceaseless grinding through decades of one's life, just to earn enough money to buy a camper and drive around the country after retirement. If one can afford to retire before developing health problems. All that? That is bullshit.

I'm not going to pick apart my entire work history, family life, and my current attempt at recovering from depression in order to justify why I'm not searching the want ads for anything that amounts to a living wage in Minnesota (Hint: not fucking much). The long and short of it is: I have crap motivation. None willpowers. Having a job doing the same tasks for the same clients with the same coworkers drains my enthusiasm for showing up to work faster than a Dachshund hearing bacon fall on the kitchen floor.

So I moved into this rickety old house with the Original Manna, set up my sewing space in the living room, and started telling people that I could sew things for them.

...and it worked.

I have had a mostly steady flow of projects since then; friends with burlesque costume ideas, cosplay requests, moms-of-friends with tailoring needs, and Renaissance Festival garb requirements from all and sundry. I have never been more content with a daily job before now. I love all the aspects of my projects, from pattern design for a costume through to disassembling ready-made clothes for tailoring. As I suspected, my schedule is really full with Ren Fest costuming for the next month. This is incredibly awesome....but also horribly terrifying. 

From many, many (many) past experiences I know that when I get overwhelmed with too much to do, I shut down completely. I withdraw from progression on anything, take too many naps, and begin a downward spiral of shame and procrastination. There's less than a fortnight left before Opening Day of Ren Fest, and I can feel the panic setting in. I can feel the sensation of hopelessness bleeding into my waking moments, stealing my ambition. Except there's this tiny, little lizard-brain voice in my head shouting that I cannot go stagnant again, because this time in my independent career is most crucial to establishing a good work ethic and a positive reputation with my clients. It sounds like hyperbole, but to fail now is to die (creatively).

I found a video that sustains me, though. When it seems like I'm about to dive headfirst into the tar pits of my own misery, I watch this, I recite the lines with it, and I try to believe in me all the things ZeFrank is saying for himself: 

And I always, always shake off the things I don't like, just like ZeFrank in the video. **grrrraah**

Then I forgive myself.

Then I get back to work.