Below you will find writings of all kinds, about theater, climbing, life in general. Perhaps they will find some kind of rational structure at some point, but for now it will be a place for fragments of all sorts.
I do not recognize
Do Not Enter
I walk this land
and so do the deer
if you had not
just one of the many
I do not validate
I step over the boundary
I have been taught to see
that I can identify
but refuse to credit
social and legal
but this fear I breathe through
in spite of you
I’m not taking any of your
Snow-Mountains: Intact and Exposed
Snow-mountains. Why is it that they hold such majesty? In part, topographical variation always holds drama. Be it a dry canyon of the desert, a cliff line along the sea, or high snow-mountains. When the land is not only horizontal, but also spread out vertically, the innards of the earth are exposed, the soul of the land more palpable.
But also diverse topography fends off human incursions. It’s too hard to build there. It’s as if the three qualities are aligned: the more topographical variation, the more the soul of the land is exposed, and the less able humans are to ruin it.
And nowhere is this more true than snow-mountains. It’s just harder to build abominations there, harder to clear cut the forests or to pave roads through–even harder than deserts, sea cliffs, or other dramatic landscapes. Even when human infrastructure does invade snow-mountains, it is forced to work with the land. Roads must find natural passes, buildings must be in storm-protected lees.
Does this mean snow-mountains are worth more than other wild places? No, of course not. The soul of the land in every place is deserving of respect and appreciation, even if it is in a somewhat less dramatic location, say an old growth forest, or if it has been trampled and tortured by humans, like a tree growing on the street in front of my house in Brooklyn. But I do think it’s worth noting that the drama of snow-mountains remains preserved from human adulteration, and that they can be a place where the ancient soul of the land reveals itself to those who’ve never experienced it.
I also have a hunch that snow-mountains will remain the most untouched lands in these last days we humans reign terror upon the earth. And with that thought, I take solace.
Regional Theater Egos
Ideas about the regional theater’s conception of itself have been floating around my head recently, and this morning I read something in City Pages which is precisely the topic. I hope to expand this discussion further in future writing, but I want to begin while this is particular example is right in front of me.
As a part of the City Pages description of this Monday’s Minnesota Theater Awards, in its first year, Jay Gabler says,
These were truly awards by, of, and for the theater community. No representatives of the event’s few sponsors appeared at the podium, there was no teleprompter, and there were no dinner-theater musical numbers. It felt more like a backyard afterparty than a glittery ceremony, and if that meant fewer people showed up (the Iveys were the best-attended theater awards in America outside the Tonys), those in attendance seemed perfectly fine with that.
I include the full paragraph for context, but it’s only four words therein that promted strong reactions from a local actor. Tony Vierling says in the comment section,
I also attended the event on Monday evening and enjoyed celebrating the rich community of theatre artists here in Minnesota. As a professional actor and member of Actor’s Equity for 32 years, I am extremely disappointed in your dismissal of “dinner-theater musical numbers”. I can only assume you are referring to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater and their performances at various Ivey ceremonies thru the years. Here are a few things you may not know about this particular theater. First, it is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year. 50 years of producing theater 52 weeks a year. It is the largest theater of it’s kind in the U.S. According to Actor’s Equity, while it is not the highest paying contract in the state, second to the Guthrie and Ordway, it is the most coveted contract due to the long runs. This means that an actor not only makes a living wage doing theater, but also gets health and pension benefits. At one time the theater had 4 stages, all employing union actors, musicians, and stage managers, and actually employed 1% of all working actors in the U.S. Many of it’s performers have worked all over the world, and some even have 5 Academy Award Nominations. It’s costume shop, wig shop, prop shop, and scene shop are all onsite and employ local artists. Many artists have been able to buy homes, cars, raise children, put children thru college, and retire on a very substantial pension. To say that I am disappointed in your choice of words is an understatement. We are a vital community, and we ALL deserve to be lifted up and recognized. I would ask for an apology to be printed to all of the artists who continue to work 8 shows a week, 52 weeks a year, doing “dinner-theater musical numbers”. Sincerely, Tony Vierling Proud member of Actor’s Equity for 32 years and Chanhassen Dinner Theater Veteran of 42 shows.
Isn’t it remarkable that one nonspecific, noncritical reference to a genre of theater, can elicit such a thoroughly defensive response for a specific theater? Thank you, genuinely, Tony Vierling, for the detailed information that I did not previously know. However, no one is questioning the legitimacy of your theater. Except, it seems, you. You are the only person to raise any question as to that theater’s respectability.
But it just so happens that everyone in Minnesota might not want to watch the shows at that theater, even—or especially—when excerpted for the sake of an out of context awards show performance. I certainly don’t, and, while Jay Gabler doesn’t make clear insinuations when he mentions “dinner-theater musical numbers,” I suspect, as you seem to, that his particular reference to them implies that he might not miss them either. Does that mean I disrespect your theater or the type of plays you do, or any of the artists and other professionals that make them happen? No! Just don’t look for me in the audience.
I point out this single internet comment because it is so emblematic of regional theater’s tender egos. Any reference to a show must be coupled with lavish praise, or it is immediately taken as a slight. The regional theater proclaims over and over, “We are happy with this our life exempt from the national spotlight!” but only, it seems, when coupled with external validation. If anyone should hear a comment about “Making it in New York,” they jump to the defense of their chosen provincial lifestyle. If the regional theater really is to have its own integrity, it must be able to disregard all the fools who think good theater only exists in New York.
Does this all sound a bit harsh? In a way, I hope so. Because I think it matters deeply. Constantly comparing regional work to that on the coasts becomes a terrible artistic inhibitor for the regional theater as a whole.
Obviously there are myriad counter examples, and I am so glad that they exist, those bastions of creativity that couldn’t give a fuck about their potential lack of national attention (which can result in a good deal of national attention, it turns out). But the massive chip on the shoulder of so many regional theater makers is a huge inhibitor of their excellence. Everything from play selection to hiring artists from the coasts to demanding apologies from newspapers for an INFERRED opinion about a theater you “can only assume” they are referencing by way of listing facts–the fact is there was no musical number that had been originally staged at a dinner theater performed at the Minnesota Theater Awards on Monday.
Even if Jay Gabler, or anyone else, really, came out and said, “I was glad I didn’t have to sit through a Chanhassen musical number,” you would have no reasonable grounds to demand an apology. Ask for an apology for someone’s aesthetic preference? Come on. Maybe I should ask for an apology from Chanhassen because they never do Shakespeare. Well, that’s a nonsequitor. Yes, exactly! To conclude, my opinion of your play does not reflect on the integrity of that play.
Next time, how my opinion of the regional theater does not reflect the integrity of the regional theater, and what that can mean for the artists.
So You Want To Hit The Gym
Many friends and colleagues over the years have asked me for some kind of fitness advice. Most common are people who have some experience in the gym, but want to take that next step, to go from doing a few lifts every once in a while to a structured program that can produce perceivable change. So I wrote this up.
This program won’t be perfect for everyone, so I encourage you to get in touch with me so I can help you customize it to your specific needs, as well as monitor your progress and adjust it accordingly. This program is designed for people who are interested in overall strength and fitness, with a goal toward gaining lean muscle mass, improved strength and performance in a variety of athletic applications. What you will see outlined below is only phase one. If you’d like phase two, get in touch with me.
I’ve created a highly structured program that still affords you a great deal of choice in order to cater it to your own needs. Again, this won’t be right for everyone, but if you’ve tried getting into weight lifting before, but couldn’t make it work for your schedule, or found it too controlling, the agency I give you in this program, without sacrificing rigor, may be exactly what you’re looking for.
First Phase Lifts:
Core Compound Lifts:
Additional Compound Lifts:
Triceps: (take 30-60 second rests between sets)
Calves: (take 30 second rests between sets)
Core and Cardio:
Honoring my intention of putting writings on this Crashpad, fragmentary and otherwise, here is a translation/adaptation of ‘The Wanderer’ I made several years ago. You will see the Anglo Saxon preserved in various places.
So quothe the Earthstepper mindful of hardships
of wrathful bloodslaughter, or family’s, friends falls:
“Oft must I alien the hour before dawn
my care speak. There is no one alive
to whom I dare now openly speak
my inner mind. I know it in soothe,
it is in an eorl very noble strength
that he bind fast his spirit-location,
hold fast his hoard coffers, think as he will.
Forthon doomyearners dreariness oft
in hyra breast coffin bindeth fast:
So must I my heart.
Oft wretched with cares, deprived of home,
far from family, he knows who experiences it
how cruel is sorrow as friend
for him who has no one to share it
Wraeclast holds him, not wunden gold.
He remembers warriors of the hall,
how in his youth his goldwinner
feasted him. Joy has all perished!
This he knows, he who must his wine-lord’s
beloved counsel longly forsake:
When sorrow and sleep same atgether
oft a wretched lone-dweller bindeth,
it seems in his mind that his lord man he
clasps and kisses and lays head and
hands on lap, so he sometime ere
in old days embraced the throne-chief.
When the friendless man awakens after,
sihth before him dark waves.
bathing sea birds and broadening feathers.
falling ice and snow mingled with hail:
then are the heartwounds ever more heavy,
sore after sweet. Sorrow is renewed:
when memory of family pervades his mind,
companions of men—always they swim away.
Forþon I can think not, for all this woruld,
for why mind-soul mine does not grow all-dark,
when I think all around eorls’ lives,
how hy suddenly abandoned the hall-floor,
brave maguþegnas. So, as in this middle-earth
all days, each dreoseð and fealleþ;
forþon ne man can become wise ere he has
passed winters in the woruld-realm: wiseness must be patient,
must not be too hot-hearted nor too quick of word
nor too wac warrior nor too reckless
nor too frightened nor too happy nor too money greedy
nor never too eager to boasting ere he readily has knowledge.
A wise warrior must ongietan how gæslic it will be
when all thisse woruld’s wealth stondeþ wasted,
so now in certain places around þisne Middangeard
wind-blown wealles standeþ,
hrime bihrendered, the buildings snowswept.
The wine halls wear, the walden lyað down,
dream deprived, war band all falled,
proud by the wall. Some war fornom,
fared on forth-way, one a bird bore off
over the high sea, one the hoar wolf
deaðe dælt, one sad faced eorl
gehydde in an earth cave.
So yþde/destroyed this earthworld the creator of ælda/men
until, the burg-wara’s revelry lost,
the ent work of old stood idle.
When he who thinks deeply around this
foundation of stone and deork lif with wise thought,
he who is frod in ferðe of remembers afar
many battle-slaughters ond these words acwið:
“Hwær has gone the mare? Hwær the young warrior? Hwær has gone the maþþumgyfa?
Hwær have gone the feast seats? Hwær are the hall-dreams?
Alas bright cup! Eala byrn warrior!
Eala þeodnes þrym! How the time departs,
darkens under night’s helm, as if she were not!
Eorls fortaken by ash-spears power,
weapons hungry for blood, fame of the wyrd,
ond on this stone cliff cnyssað storms.
Snowstorm, attacking, binds the earth,
winter’s woma, when dark cymeð,
nightshadow grows dark, onsendeð from norðan.