It's always when you're already busy that unexpected extra work lands on you. Squidoo has been sold. This is the on-line community where I've written a number of articles (including my Greatest-Hit "Theater Set Questions Answered," my Dear-Abby-ish answer to worried high school play designers everywhere). This means that I will have to reformat, rewrite, or abandon a lot of work. Whatever I choose, the new owners, HubPages, can choose to drop any or all of it. Sigh. A polite sigh was not, mind you, my first reaction to this news. If this is having a rug pulled out from under me, it's a rug upon which I set a desk, a chair, bookcases (of course!) stuffed with books, assorted filing cabinets, a drafting board, a sofa, giant ornamental vases full of dried pampas grass, and maybe a stuffed grizzly bear. Grumpy as I feel... maybe the bear's not taxidermied just yet.
A collage from public domain sources, including Amedeo Simonetti's
In more cheerful news, among those books I'll have to virtually move (sigh? snarl?) is a recent read - Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, the author of House and his long-time editor and friend. This is a book I'll need to return to the library... then buy my own copy of. Other books I've enjoyed lately? I'm working my way through Greek Revival America by Roger G. Kennedy, a writer on architecture and related topics whom I've followed for years... since he first introduced me to my role-model, architect/pirate Barthelemy Lafon, in fact. I enjoyed Lindsey Davis' Enemies at Home, the second novel in her new ancient-Roman-detective series. Try her Silver Pigs as a starter. I liked Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel Raising Steam. I think I'll go read a nice calming book.
Just a fast snippet on the topic of the anthropology of interior design.
HERE's a fascinating little piece on that off-white All-American room you see in all those You Tube vids.
Saddening, really, all those bland, bland suburban rooms. I suppose I should put one onstage, but it'd be too boring to stare at for two hours. (The article mentions that problem in passing, actually.) Here's the closest I've come lately to that vanilla room - for Se Llama Cristina at Kitchen Dog Theater.
Se Llama Cristina, Kitchen Dog Theater, sorry, I'm not sure of the photographer.
There's been lots going on here... just not much blogging.
On the theater front, the set for Fun House Theatre and Film's Stiff is about done. Due to summertime theatrical kid camps which run onstage all day, followed by, you know, rehearsals, I've been starting my scenic painting at about 9:00 p.m. and painting until midnight. Last night was, I think, the last of this night-shift.
Theater. Weird hours.
Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, the carpenters are busy building Stella and Lou. Since this play is set in a bar, we've been researching cool equipment like beer taps... Pricier than you'd think! I went shopping today for burnt orange burlap (okay, an unfashionable bar), and found something pretty close. Also faux leather for the faux booth upholstery.
I'm also starting the design process for two other shows: Thinner Than Water at Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas and Godspell for OMG Productions in the San Francisco area. In both cases I've read the text and discussed ideas with the director, but it's Thinner I need to sketch first - like instantly! I'm letting ideas percolate just a bit longer...
Public Domain image - found HERE with explanation of why it's public domain.
In the Studying Computer Lore campaign, I've now had a couple classes on AutoCAD and am relieved to discover I'm not the slowest student in the class. (Huge relief.) In fact, I think I'm going to do fine, if I can only get enough practice time in. Learning Sketchup is still on my schedule... just a bit back-burnered right now.
Comparing the two programs and their more or less intuitiveness, I think an actual artist/designer type person might have been involved in creating Sketchup. (Though perhaps an insane artist, who didn't want to do what I want to do with it.) But I am increasingly convinced that computer drafting is a drawing system invented by a computer guy, rather than computing system designed by a drawing guy. Maddeningly non-intuitive! Plus lotso memorizing for the shortcuts that are the only way to draw quickly. Well, quickER.
If you're not worried about keeping the internet democratic - keeping it open to new voices, unpopular opinions, and innovation - you should be.
The "fast lane" idea that Big Business is pushing, the idea of charging tolls to get information to you (on your machine through services you pay for) means that Little Guys will be seated at the back of the info-bus. This blog, for instance, will be walking behind the bus and will take FOREVER to load. So will the plucky start-up company's website, your family photos, or the whistle-blower's blog. These modest sources seem just as important to me as getting reruns of Lost, but wealthy sites like Big Media's will load in a flash because they can afford to pay for special treatment.
Special treatment because of wealth is becoming THE problem in American democracy.
The internet is - today - one of the few places where people outside of wealth and power can have an equal voice. Let's keep it that way!
Today is your last chance to let the FCC know what you think of Big Biz buying the internet.
Comment to the FCC HERE.
UPDATE: at 12:30pm The FCC have gotten so many comments that their website has crashed! Good going! If you haven't weighed in yet, be sure to try back again later.
UPDATE #2: on 7/16/14 Because of the site crash due to lotso comments, the deadline for comments has been extended. Now's your chance to ask for a Fair and Neutral 'Net!
I just found a funny - and quite true - video riff by Anna Akana on The Muses's role in your creativity:
"Your Inner Muse"
Oh, that Muse... never around when you want her. HERE's a Squidoo page I put together on creativity - it goes with the illustration below.
What else is going on?
I've read my next Circle Theatre script: Stella and Lou and am meeting the director soon to discuss the set design. I've recently met with the folks at Fun House Theatre and Film about that next show, Stiff, which the amazing Jeff Swearingen is writing.
And I'm finishing up the first draft of my next theater book, The Green eBook of Sustainable Theater. There will (eventually) be a paperback edition too... which I guess I'll have to title The Green Recycled-Paper-Book of Sustainable Theater? I tell ya, the research for this is teaching me waaaaay more than I thought I knew about the topic.
Please let the FCC know that not only would you like your Netflix films to stream properly, but you also think your internet provider should not be able to slow - or censor - your on-line access to LOLcats or political speech or free religious association or, you know, all that First Amendment stuff...
The Fourth of July was only a couple days ago. Remember? The internet means more than music videos just like the 4th's freedom means more than annual hot dogs on the grill.
Give the FCC your opinion HERE. (Net neutrality is proceeding 14-28, right at the top of the list.)
I've been diving into the computer rabbit hole lately.
On the serious side, I'm trying to better my tech-skills, getting more fluent in photo manipulation and 3D drawing, with an AutoCAD course starting soon. But on the more playful side, I've been discovering the joys of Portal and enlarging my creative-mode Minecraft kingdom, Blocksterdam.
Travel poster based on Minecraft image - believed fair "adaptive" use
Minecraft in creative mode is pure designer catnip! I don't care much about the survival-mode monsters or the finicky crafting really, but I love the sandbox freedom to build. My biggest project - an entire far-flung kingdom with trade routes by boat, rail, road, and even balloon - was sparked by a game update (in a supposedly survival type game be this noted!)... a game update that included adding colored glass and four kinds of tulips.
My first response was to help build a cathedral with stained glass windows. Natch.
My second was to build Blocksterdam, my Venice of the West. Here dueling tulip princes wage trade wars between themselves at home among the quaint canals of Old Blocksterdam and, abroad, against the Cactus King, the Rose King (war of the roses?), and the nefarious Poppy Cartel.
Portal? Oh, I'm eatin' my cake. * Polishes fingernails on shirt, looking down all humble, humming. * "Anyway, this cake is great. It's so delicious and moist.
Look at me still talking when there's Sciencedesigning to do!"
I just read a very interesting blog post by writer Patricia C. Wrede titled "Six Things I Wish I'd Known." As I've discovered before, writers writing about the act of writing have a knack of hitting on issues that apply to any other creative field. (And they're so darn articulate about it too!)
In this case it was the element of jealousy.
Of other writers, designers, creators. Theater is famously rife with this green-eyed problem. Actors, poor dears, are so bad at pretending they're not envious.
Ha! Designers feel the exact same poisonous stew of envy and competition. There's always someone else who gets the show you wanted or the award you think you should have won or - equally unsettling - you suspect that you don't deserve the show or award as much as they do. It really can be a poisonous snake.
Public domain image
The only thing to do is to do your very best work and then to mutter your mantra to your snakey self. For me it's, "I'm in this for the design." (Not the rewards, fame, popularity, whatever.) "I'm in this for the design." Perhaps others are in it for the poor pay or long hours, but I find the reminder that what I want is just the work to be very soothing.