Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Ok... I know it has been about six billion years since I've written any sort of blog, but it's because I've been very busy with rehearsals for the Neil Simon Festival. For those of you who don't know my wife Whitney and I have been participating in the shows at the Festival this summer and we just opened our season last week. I don't have a lot of time, but I want to take a few minutes to talk about the three shows at the Festival.
Friday, June 5, 2009
We started with an appetizer that was simulationously a great start to a fancy dinner, and the prefect super bowl dip. (See Buffalo Chicken Dip) And soon saw that this was a theme of the resturant. on their home page Haven owners say that "The chefs blend the old with the new. They specialize in making something comfortable and familiar with a contemporary, sophisticated twist." Menu items like Macaroni and Cheese, and Meatloaf speak true to this.
The service there was great and so was the food. I have to tell you that working at a very good steak house has made me incredibly hard to please when it comes to eating steak. But I decided to risk it and I ordered the ribeye. At first I was didsappointed because my steakwas obviosuly over cooked (let me add that for being well done it was surprisingly tender and juicy) but at the first mention of it my server, Paul, immeidietly had the kitchen going on a new steak. This one was perfect. Really one of the best steaks I've ever had. Perfectly cooked and the flavor was beautiful. My hats off to the chef.
The whole evening was very enjoyable. It's a little priceyer than applebees or chilis but much less than scaldonis. Menu items range from $10.00 to $26.00. If you're looking for a new place to tryout I definitely reccomend it.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Like I said I only have a minute, but I recommend going to support these guys. It's great night out with the fam, or a date, or whatever. Check out their website for the schedule.
Oh, and just so you know The Road Runners won 12 - 7.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Well, in keeping with the 'random' part of this blog I thought I'd share this way cool optical illusion I stumbled across. When you look at it up close you should see Albert Einstein. But if you go across the room and look at it you should see Marilyn Monroe. How cool is that! And apparently it's more than cool. Check out this article to see how scientists use images like this to study how our brains process light. It's pretty interesting.
Monday, May 25, 2009
I know this is old news for the majority of you… but I just saw the new Star Trek movie and I thought I would share my thoughts. Before I start getting all analytical and stuff let me just say: Awesome! I’m sorry, I don’t like to shamelessly praise movies but every so often there comes a movie where one just can’t help it. I loved it. Here’s why:
This movie literally had everything the movie-goer could ask for. High energy action, just the right amount of comedy, some genuinely touching moments, and pretty people! Speaking of pretty people… the casting was absolutely brilliant. They managed to find the perfect person to play every role! Some particular favorites were Simon Pegg as Scotty (Love him!) Zachary Quinto as Spock (He was great in Heroes he was great in this.) And Eric Bana as Nero. (Didn’t even realize it was him until the end.) Oh, and of course Leonard Nemoy was also cast spot on. ;) While we’re on the subject of pretty people I need to give a head nod to the make-up crew of this film. Everything from prosthetics, to cuts, shaving eyebrows, to painting bodies green. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nominee for those folks. They helped us believe that these were the younger versions of all the characters we know and love in the original Star Trek.
Now, while I am by no means a qualified ‘Treky’ I do know a little about the original and from what I could tell die hard Star Trek fans should thrilled about the care taken to protect the integrity of the franchise. Everything from the costumes, the sets, the design of the starships, the history, even the dialogue just ‘fits’ into the original. My only qualm on this issue is that Scotty never said “We need more power!” But he did say “That’s all she’s got!” though, so I’m fairly satisfied…
Well, I guess I never got to the “all analytical” part of this review. But I think that’s because while you’re watching Star Trek you just don’t care about that kind of stuff. The movie is just so much fun. If you’re one of the few people left who haven’t seen it yet… you should. And see it in the theatres. It’s just not gonna be as good if you RedBox it.
I give it an A
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Hey, it's Saturday, it's Memorial Day Weekend, you need something fun to do in St. George! Some of you may have heard about the Renaissance Faire that is going on out at the Washington County Fairgrounds this weekend. Well, my acapella group 'Inverted' performed there yesterday and it was actually a lot of fun. I had to work immediately following our set so I didn't have too much time to walk around. But from what I could see it looks like a pretty sweet set up. Very similar to the Dickens Festival. There are games, shops, dressed up characters wandering about, lots of activites for the kids, contests, and of course live entertainment several times throughout the day.
If you get a chance I recomend heading out there today to support this great event. If you happen to head over there around 6:30 make sure to stop by the King Arthur Stage to listen to 'Inverted.' We do abot an hours worth of acapella songs, several of which are original arrangements... but it's not your mom's acapella. (Not that there is anything wrong with your moms acapella.) We sing songs like: I'm Yours by Jason Mraz, Used to Love You by John Legend, Smooth Operator by Sade, and a bunch of other cool stuff. Anyway, it's a great way to spend a Saturday night, whether you're on a date, or spending time with the family. While you're there you might want to check out the Big Dinner Feaste as well. Check out Roger Dunbars blog for more info on that. Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I saw Angels and Demons last night, and I have to say I loved it. I've never read the book, but I thought that the story telling by Ron Howard was phenomenal, and the Acting by Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Stelin Skarsgard, and really the whole cast was suburb. Dan Browns writing is so great at grabbing audiences, and keeping them on the edge of their seats. Angels andDemons had me guessing the whole way through.
I've heard that some book fan's are a little upset about some inconsistencies, and even some major characters being completely left out. To them I say: so what? My wife has read the book and she explained some of the major differences (ie: the description of the bad guy, the wheelchair guy, the love story etc...) and to be completely honest with you if any of those things had been left in the movie it would've been too much. Dan Brown's storys are so complex already that anymore relationships, or plot twists, would've been overwheliming, and too hard to follow for the average movie-goer. I give kudos to Ron Howard and the writers for simplifying and only keeping what was needed to tell the story.
Without giving away too much of the story allow me to tell you some of my favorite things:
1- Tom Hanks. He has always been one of my favorite actors, and I think he can do anything. He nails this younger version (even thoughTom is now older) of Robert Langdon. Without going overboard he subtly makes us believe that this character is actually 'that good'. When he finds the clues we don't say "oh that was convienient..." we say "this guy is awesome!"
2- I have to say that Ewan McGregor was perfectly cast! I can't think of anyone better to play the role of the Camerlengo. His performance was excellent.
3- I think that Catholics will be very pleased with the way thier church was portrayed overall. I know that there was a lot of fuss over The Divinci Code, but I feel that both Ron Howard and Dan Brown were very delicate in the way they handled religion in this movie. This is a fictional movie, I hope people remember that.
4- The ending was great. But then again the whole movie was great. You laughed, cried, cringed, gasped, cheered, and in the end you were completely satisfied. It was $7.50 well spent if you ask me.
I give it an A-
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
10. It's Free!
9. You get to see several new faces in the St. George Theatre World.
8. All the lights were designed by student designers.
7. You'll get see a semester of training come to fruition.
6. There are four great one acts to see all on one night.
5. You probably know the directors! (Crystal Bates, Anisa Bennett, Mellissa Erickson, Brooke Owen.)
4. Tonight (Friday) is the last night.
3. It makes a great date night! (It starts at 6:00 and will be over by 8:00)
2. You'll get to see four new shows that you've never seen before.
1. You'd be supporting your local college arts program. (Good cause.)
Friday, April 17, 2009
Last Wednesday my wife I and went to check out St. George's brand new improve group called 'The Truth About Lies". The meet every first and third Wednesday of each month at 9:00pm at The Electric Theatre.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Some of you may know Ricky Valadez. Well I just want to take a short moment to tell you all to check out his music. He's a student at Dixie State College, a good friend of mine, and a ridiculously talented individual. He just got some songs up on iTunes, check em' out. Or you can listen for free at http://soundsugar.net/ricky. Leave a comment, tell your friends about him, and let's get this guy the reckognition he deserves. He has a great, unique sound that is refreshing to hear. My personal favorites are Rubik's Cube and his rendition of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Hope you enjoy his sound.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Brent Hansen of Dixie State College has been working, along with Ricky Valadez and Ben Stratford, on a new musical based on the life of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale. I don’t know just how long Brent has been going at it, but I’ve known about the play for over a year now. I first heard of it when Brent asked Joel Thomas and I to do a scene from the play for part of a lecture he was giving. I fell in love with the project then, and it’s been an honor to be a part of it since. Dr. Hansen finished the first draft just before the Christmas break and held a public reading of the piece. I read for Nathan and my wife read for Nathan’s love interest Lydia. It was great. People were weeping by the end… and we were in our street clothes sitting behind a table! However, Brent won’t be offended when I say that it wasn’t perfect, because it wasn’t. And that’s why he wrote a second draft and is going to be doing another public reading on the 18th of this month.
There are several things that have made me fall in love with this play. First of all it’s a truly incredible story. Based on the life of an extraordinary man. (Nathan Hale is the man who famously said: “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for my country.”) Secondly, it’s an original piece. And for some reason I get ridiculously excited about new theatre. Especially when it’s good! And this piece is good. I’m obviously biased because I know all of the people involved, and I’ve had the opportunity to work on the project with them, but I really feel that when this script is complete it will have the epic power and quality that will put it in the same category as Les Miserables. And thirdly Brent Hansen is just an incredible human being. He loves writing. And it shows in his work. My first play back off of my mission was another original piece by Brent called ‘A St. George Christmas.’ I learned from Brent that he puts a tremendous amount of care into whatever he is working on. And everyone involved feels rewarded because of it.
The reason Brent holds these readings is to make the project better. He gets to hear the script out loud, and get feedback from his peers. So if you get a chance, come watch us read and sing this amazing work in the art gallery located in the Dolores Eccles Building on the campus of Dixie State College. You won’t regret it. After the reading Brent is humble enough to ask you what you thought. So you’ll have the opportunity to have a hand in creating a marvelous piece of theatre. The reading starts at 7:00, and admission is free. Hope to see you there.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I've been meaning to write a couple blogs lately but I decided that it would be best just to cover both subjects briefly in one blog. The first subject, if course, is that DSC Theatre opens '110 in the Shade' tonight! We had a preview audience last night and the general consensus is very positive. (Unless people were lying just to be nice.) We had around 100 or so people there and they were very responsive. They laughed when they were supposed to, cheered when they were supposed to, and even stood for us at the end. It is always so nice to get your first audience. Towards the end of the long rehearsal process you start to wonder if you're a horrible actor that's part of a horrible show. But it's nice when an audience, seeing it for the first time, seems to thoroughly enjoy themselves. It gives the cast a breath of fresh air, and a little hope that we might actually be doing something right. Anyway, if ya'll get a chance we'd love to have you stop by. If you need some buy one get one free tickets just let me know. Otherwise order you tickets online by clicking here. Or call: 652-7800. We'd love to see you!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
**Let me just add, just in case, that I love SGMT productions and I think it's great that they get the support they deserve. I hope that I haven't suggested anything otherwise in this post.
Friday, February 20, 2009
'Things that Fall from the Sky' - It was a new play that we work-shopped at KCACTF It was very cool.
LAST SHOW YOU AUDITIONED FOR?
The Utah Shakespearian Festival
DID YOU GET IT?
I don't know yet... I sure hope so.
LAST SONG/MONOLOGUE YOU USED AT AN AUDITION:
Monologues: "If you have tears..." from 'Julius Caesar' and one from 'Death of a Salesman'
Hard one... lets see,
A Thing of Beauty, I Hate Hamlet, Foxfire, The Game of Chess.
FAVORITE ROLE YOU'VE PLAYED, AND FROM WHAT SHOW?
Action - West Side Story
FAVORITE ROLE OVERALL THAT I WOULD LOVE TO PLAY:
John Proctor - The Crucible...
I don't know if you can really call this a superstition, but I like to drink half of an energy drink before I go on, and the other half at intermission. I know they're awful... but it makes me feel better.
YOUR GOAL IN SHOW BUSINESS:
I'd really love to find my place in the 'theatre/film' world where I can support my family doing what I love without sacrificing my integrity, or redefining my morals. Whether that's acting, designing, directing, teaching, or all of the above only time will tell.
FAVORITE DIRECTOR YOU HAVE EVER WORKED WITH:
Varlo Davenport and Michael Harding both for different reasons. Though I would've love to have more time working with Jim Holmes... a week just isn't enough. Brent Hanson is right up there as well.
WHAT WAS YOUR VERY FIRST SHOW?
West Side Story... and it changed my life.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A DANCE SOLO?
I've never had a "solo" per se... but I've been in a cluster of "featured dancers" several times.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SINGING SOLO?
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THE LAST PERSON TO TAKE A BOW?
HAVE YOU BEEN TO NEW YORK?
I've been to the state while I was the Production Assistant for The Hill Cumorah Pageant, but never in the city.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO LA?
Yeah... I love the ocean, but I'm not crazy about the city.
WHAT'S THE SCARIEST PART OF AN AUDITION?
When the person who is right before you is in there.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF AN AUDITION?
Being right in the moment. I actually really enjoy auditioning, I view it as another opportunity to perform. And I love performing.
NAME A SHOW YOU WOULD NEVER DO AGAIN:
The Game of Chess... I would do the show again, but not in those circumstances.
NAME A SHOW YOU COULD DO FOR YEARS:
West Side Story, or I Hate Hamlet, and if it wasn't for the make-up I could've done Sweeney Forever.
WHAT ARE YOU AUDITIONING FOR NEXT?
I have a call back for The Neil Simon Festival on the 28th.
DO YOU KEEP IN TOUCH WITH PAST CAST MEMBERS?
Yeah, most of them I see at school. But the others I'm still great friends with. Gotta love facebook.
ON A SCALE OF 1-10, HOW IMPORTANT IS GETTING PAID?
Hmm... well, right now it's not super important because I'm still in school. But as time goes on it's going to be very important. This is how I want to support my family. It's hard to do that without getting paid. So, to balance the two out I'll say a 7.5 ish...
SOMETHING EMBARRASSING OR UNEXPECTED THAT HAPPENED TO YOU WHILE ON STAGE?
Oh geez... the worst moment ever happened during a 1950's musical review show called 'Twist the Night Away.' We had a eight month run so I hate to admit that some nights we were on autopilot. Anyway, I was singing 'That'll be the Day' by Buddy Holly and I was all decked out with the glasses and everything. But as I I came to the verse "You give me all you money and your, your turtle dovin'" I just kept singing 'That'll be the day..." Over and over again. I sang about a minute straight of 'That'll be the day" and I didn't even realize it until I was off stage.
WHO IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PERSON (ON STAGE OR OFF) THAT YOU HAVE EVER WORKED WITH?
In show business you never name names... but I worked with a student director a while ago that had no idea what he/she was doing. The rehearsal process was awful, no advertising was done, so by the time we opened the only people in the audience were our family members. The whole process was extremely painful and I was thrilled when it was over.
WHAT IS YOUR ONSTAGE PET PEEVE?
Greedy actors who try to still focus at the expense of the show. Playing for laughs etc...
WHAT IS YOUR BACKSTAGE PET PEEVE?
Disrespect. Talking back stage, being late for call, back biting, note giving, etc...
EVER BEEN NAKED ONSTAGE? WOULD YOU???
No, and No.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN KILLED?
Yes, in Sweeney I had my throat slit, and my head bashed in... good times.
I've played a drunk character...
PLAYED SOMEONE HALF YOUR AGE?
PLAYED SOMEONE TWICE YOUR AGE?
Twice, three times, and four times my age.
... this is a sensitive subject. I played a character that 'bawled'... but I can't cry. The audience thought I did... but I didn't.
FIRED A GUN?
Actually no... use switch blades and swords. But I've never fired a gun. Sad.
Not yet, but on Monday were rehearsing with rain for '110 in the Shade!'
BEEN IN A DREAM SEQUENCE?
Not that I can recall... The Spoon River Anthology is kind of one big Dream Sequence.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Dixie State College Theatre is opening a new show on Monday that I think is definitely worth mentioning. The concept itself is very unique. Student director Jarom Brown has, for the past several months, used improv workshops to develop a completely original story in the style of Comedia del Arte complete with huge cartoon like characters and genuine Comedia del Arte masks. Jarom even wrote the script... sort of. You see the story is the same every night in as there are key pieces of information that the audience needs to receive every time, almost like checkpoints that the actors must stop at, but the actual lines and blocking that are used are almost entirely improvised... every night.
I had to see it for myself....
I popped in on tonights rehearsal and though I missed most of the first act, I was very very impressed with what I saw. The story is absolutely hilarious, and the actors are all astounding. How they come up with that stuff is beyond me. Every one was really in the moment, because they literally did not know what they were going to say, or how they were going to react until right before they said or did anything! So exciting! I mean, I watched a rehearsal! With no costumes, no lights, frequent interruptions by the director, and I was still laughing hysterically.
I really wish I had better words to describe it, but it really is unlike anything I have ever seen, or will ever see again in a long time. All I can do is urge you to come and see it, and bring some friends with you. Because this is a student production at a college that is experiencing budget cuts the funds for marketing are a bit low so we're relying mostly on word of mouth. This really is a rare opportunity to witness some truly unique theatre.
The show opens Monday February 2nd at 7:30pm in the DSC Black Box Theatre located in the Eccles Building and will run until Saturday February 7th. Tickets are only $5.00! Come and show the school that St. George supports new and different types of theatre! The director has given his word that although the script is improvised the actors are under strict instructions to keep everything G rated and trust me this is a show that will actually hold your child's focus for an hour and a half. Tell your friends, and bring the fam! I hope to see you there!
And keep checking www.DSCtheatre.blogspot.com for updates on the college's theatre schedule!
Just Singin' and Dancin'
The other night my wife and I had the great opportunity to attend St. George Musical Theater's production of Singing in the Rain. And, as many of you know Roger Dunbar usually reviews the plays in the St. George area, and he does a fantastic job. Unfortunately for those of us who enjoy reading †hose reviews Roger is in Singing in the Rain. So I've decided to unleash my secret desire to be a critic and attempt to tell you what I thought about the show. I feel like I should precede this with a disclaimer: I am not a professional. Anything I say is my opinion and nothing more; it's very possible that I'm wrong. I apologize that this took my so long to get to, since the show has since closed everything I say is mostly irrelevant anyway.
Community theatre is an interesting creature. And as I think about attempting to review this show part of me feels a bit cold hearted. With a few exceptions, most of the members of the cast are not professionals, or even want to be professionals. Many cast members are without any formal acting training at all… They're all volunteering their time, and essentially doing the community a service project by sharing their talents. So I'm hesitant to be too critical. However, whenever I'm doing a show I only want honest feedback, because I can't learn from 'polite' feedback. Therefore I'll do my best to provide those involved with my honest opinion, because they deserve it.
Overall I was very impressed with the hard work and dedication of the entire cast. I really felt that everyone involved must have worked their hearts out to get to the level that they achieved. The dancing was definitely not easy, and there are a lot of numbers. If I'm picky I have to say that the big group numbers seemed a bit sloppy… but this is tap dancing… we get to hear every mistake. All things considered I have to say that I looked forward to every dance number, and I was pleasantly surprised with the skill and energy.
Speaking of skill and energy; Roger Dunbar, who played Don Lockwood, was fantastic. It was interesting to see him in a new type of role for him, and when I watched a dress rehearsal earlier I could see some ‘uncomfortable-ness’ in his character, but by the time I saw him the second time around he had mastered the charming yet sensitive character of Don Lockwood. His voice sounded great, though I would’ve liked a little more punch. Or, to be simpler, volume… and his dancing was out of this world. If it weren’t for a few (and only a few) moments where I could see the concentration on his face, I would’ve believed that he had been dancing all of his life. Roger continues to be one of my favorite actors to watch on stage and I can’t wait to see his take on Thomas Putnam in DSC’s production of The Crucible.
I think that I can put Kyle Turman in the same vein of skill and energy. Here is a kid that I can tell loves the stage and is willing to work hard to be there. He appeared very comfortable on stage, and most of the time had good energy. His dancing was also extremely impressive, though sometimes his arms were a bit crazy. His character was sometimes too casual, and I think I caught him playing for laughs once or twice, but most of the time he was great. One of my least favorite moments of the night however was the song “Make em laugh”. But I don’t believe that it is Kyle’s fault... he sounded fine. First of all a joke rarely flies when you say, “I’m going to make you laugh” first. Secondly I just did not think the blocking/choreography was… well… funny enough. It was cliché and punchy and the audience didn’t fall for it. I congratulate Kyle for committing to what he was given.
Tazia Marie (Is that her last name?) was also very good. Her voice was beautiful, her dancing was spot on, and her character was adorable. She really did a good job of capturing that ‘up and coming’ desperateness. If I have to be picky there were a few times when I felt that her responses were ‘pre-planned’ and so I missed some spontaneity. However Taz has always been someone that I love to listen to. Her musical numbers were great.
The last person that I’m going to single out is Sally DeMille who played Lina Lamont. There is a fine line that has to be walked when you’re playing an ‘annoying’ character because you can’t be so annoying that the audience hates it when you come on stage… I think Sally did a great job of walking this line. Her facial expressions were priceless; she got the most laughs out of me because she was actually ‘in the moment’ instead of playing for laughs.
The ensemble / “smaller roles” are so important to a show and they really help to flesh out the stage and create a believable world for the story to take place in. The main note I have, especially to those with lines, is to pick up the pace. Try thinking ‘on the lines’ not in between the lines. Close those gaps, and speed up the dialogue.
Layers, and depth… this is a note for every person in the play. With a story so happy, cheerful, and musical theatre-y I can see how it would be hard to find some depth. But most of time I didn’t believe that these characters on stage were real people. I saw just a little too much of ‘I’m on stage! Laugh here! Clap here!’ I saw really good versions of ‘I’m on stage.’ But those layers would’ve brought this show to a whole new level.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the level of discipline required by all members of the cast. And I was very entertained by the show. There will always be picky things, but especially for a community theatre show I think that everyone involved should be very proud of their work. Great job everybody! And thanks for working so hard so that we could enjoy it!
I give it a B-
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Last night my wife Whitney and I were in McDonald's renting a movie from the Red Box (best invention ever) when the girl behind the counter screamed: 'Oh my gosh! You're the people from the video!' At first neither of us had any idea what she was talking about, but soon discovered that she had seen this video and loved it, and us! We didn't know that anyone other than our friends even knew it existed, but apparently she called all of her friends, and they called all of their friends etc... It was very unexpected, really funny, and kind of made both of our days. Now I know what Ashton Kutcher must feel like.
Monday, January 19, 2009
You should know that I did not vote for you… sorry. However, now that you are our Nations leader I sincerely hope that I was wrong about you. Please prove me wrong. You talk about change, well, I hope that you make me change my mind. But allow me to mention a few things I hope you don’t change:
Don’t change what America stands for.
Don’t change the 2nd Amendment. I have a right to own a firearm.
Don’t change our taxes too much… Just because I’m poor doesn’t mean I want a rich person paying my taxes, that’s degrading. And let me pay my own hospital bills.
Don’t change the meaning of good: It is not good to punish success and reward laziness. (Taxes, Healthcare, etc…)
Don’t change my desire to fight for a better life. If you make living in the gutter too comfortable, I’ll stop trying to get out.
Don’t change the pledge of allegiance, or what it says on our currency. We are one nation under God, and I do trust in Him. I hope you will too.
I am proud to be an American… Don’t change that.
Please remember that you are not a celebrity. It is not your job to be cool. I personally do not think that my Presidents face belongs on the cover of the same magazine that featured Kid Rock surrounded by four naked women, Britney Spears topless, and three very naked Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don’t want your face on my t-shirt, or your name on my shoes. I don’t want my President to be a fad.
I will support you Mr. Obama, I will pray for you, and I honestly hope that if “Yes you can” change anything, I hope you change my mind about you. You have my sincere Congratulations, and my heartfelt wishes; best of luck to you. And by all means change all the bad stuff, just don’t lose the good.
-Travis Cox, St. George, UT
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My ‘Corn-Pone Opinion’ on ‘The Ophelia Syndrome’
Bear with me… I'm killing two birds with one stone here... I'm writing an essay for my ethics class, and writing a blog for my amazing friends to read about two articles that I actually quite enjoyed. In class we're discuss individuality and the effect that our surroundings affects/controls our personalities. The two articles that we were assigned are 'Corn-Pone Opinions' by Mark Twain, and 'The Ophelia Syndrome' by Thomas G. Plummer; both of which address the issue of individuality, or lack thereof. To start things of I'll provide a brief summary of each article, and then I'll give my two-cents worth.
I'm sad to say that Mark Twain's view on the situation is rather depressing and hopeless. He seems to be of the opinion that no one is innocent and that there isn’t any hope for any of us. I'm even more sad to say that he may be right. He starts his article by sharing an interesting quote from a black friend he had as a child, his friend said: "You tell me whar a man gits his corn-pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is." Meaning that if you know where I live and the people I live with, you know what I think. To support his claim Twain accuses religion, fashion, etiquette rules, standards, politics, etc… of being nothing more than fads. He states, very dismally, that people do not think, or reason, they only feel. The reason this bothers me so much is that I see his point manifesting itself all around me... sometimes within me. How many people do you know that are Republican because their dad was/is Republican? How many people do you know that voted for Obama because the media told us he was 'cooler?' How many friends do you have, that won’t wear white after Labor Day?
I'm interested in pointing out, though, that it's not always a bad thing... conforming is not always a negative action. Just because girls are allowed wear pants, and people shop at Abercrombie, does not mean that society has devolved. It is sad however, that where we are has such a major impact on who we are.
Naturally, once accused of being, in essence, mindless almost all of us will refuse to accept it. We will deny ever making a choice simply because somebody else made it first. We will passionately call Mr. Twain a liar when he tells us that we have not weighed all the options, reasoned the pros and cons, and truly decided exactly how we feel about something and why. We’re all individuals! Right? Sadly, a closer look might reveal otherwise.
The second article ‘The Ophelia Syndrome’ is quite a bit more optimistic. After offering some interesting script analysis on Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ Mr. Plummer compares us, or at least Mark Twain’s version of us, to Ophelia; a young person who “knows not what to think.” He then draws a parallel between the media and authority figures to Polonius who answers: "I'll teach you [what to think]. Think yourself a baby." He warns us of what he calls ‘The Ophelia Syndrome’ and gives us several tools that will help us to think for ourselves.
This article is actually one of the best pieces I’ve ever read. It is sound advice, it rings true, and it has hope for the future. Mr. Plummer believes that we actually have the potential to think for ourselves. (Exciting isn’t it?) Although he reminds that escaping the clutches of conformity will require a certain amount of effort. Plummer quotes a S. I. Hayakawa who said something that is very interesting:
What Does It Mean to Be Creative? Most people don't know the answer to the question, "How are you? How do you feel?" The reason why they don't know is that they are so busy feeling what they are supposed to feel, thinking what they are supposed to think, that they never get down to examining their own deepest feelings.
It’s sad, but true. Thanks to Plummer I now know the ways to avoid falling into the category of ‘most people.’ And lucky for you, if you continue reading, you will too. Plummer’s steps (drastically paraphrased) are: 1. Seek out learning from great teachers. They’re great for a reason, and they will often teach you things more valuable than the course material. 2. Dare to know and trust yourself. Write in a journal, write letters, record your thoughts and your dreams. 3. Live with uncertainty. Don’t demand to know every answer to every question. It’s ok to imagine, and wonder. 4. Practice dialectical thinking. Check out another point of view, and try arguing with yourself. 5. Foster idle thinking. It takes time, but allowing your mind to relax and wander can often lead to some very profound and original thinking. 6. Plan to step out of bounds. This step is my personal favorite, and is the reason that I’m doing this assignment as a blog. It doesn’t mean to break the laws and be destructive, but it does mean to think outside the box and mix things up a bit.
So those are the steps to take to avoid being a mindless sheep. Cool stuff isn’t it? I appreciate that someone took the time to do more than say “Think for yourself.” Plummer actually says “Here’s how to think for yourself.” Which is a lot more useful than Mark Twain saying “You don’t think for yourself… in fact, you don’t think at all.”
So here’s to individuality, originality, and not being sheep. If you get the time, check out those articles, and drop me a line about what you think. Plummer mentioned that one of the best ways to see things from another view is to hear it from your peers. So by all means peers… lay those other views on me. And thanks for reading.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I just noticed that it has been almost a complete year since I've bothered to post anything here on this page... That's a long time sure, but considering everything that has happened in my life since then it seems like it has been much longer. I could write a big long comprehensive blog about all the things that have happened... but I won't. For two reasons. One, I don't think anyone reads this anyway. Two, if you did read it, it would bore you.
Instead I'll write about something much more interesting... now. Now is a beautiful time for me. I'm married to a beautiful woman and we're happily going on seven months. I'm part of a show again to the first time in half a year, and it's nice to be back in the game. I'm playing the part of File in 110 in the Shade, and so far so good. What makes it even better is that my wife, and my best friend are both in the show with me. I really think that it's going to be one of the best shows that I've ever been a part of. There really is so much good in my life that I almost feel bad mentioning anything remotely bad. But I will, cause we all need a little drama in our life. Just know, reader, that the good in my life, is definitely trumping the bad.
I auditioned for Crucible on Tuesday and I actually felt really good about my audition. I think I applied all the things I've learned in the past and really had a good go at things. But then I wasn't called back today. And even though I know that a. Just because I wasn't called back doesn't mean I'm not going to be in the show. And b. There are way more factors than just "how good my audition" was that go into making a casting choice. I still feel the sting of disappointment. I was really excited about this show, I mean... it's The Crucible! It's THE SHOW! It's legendary in it's amazing-ness. And it looks as though I'll be in the seats instead of on the stage. I'm trying my best to be a good person, and be excited for my friends who did get called back, but I'm still down about it. Dumb huh.
On a positive note I had the incredible opportunity to watch some of my peers audition for the show. It was so great because I got to put on the eyes of a director and see what things stand out for the good and for the bad. I had three different sections of notes. One section of things for me to remember next time I audition. One section for things that Michael did that I will emulate if ever I direct a show. And one section where I kind of... evaluated each persons performance and recorded what roles I felt they would be good for. It was so amazing that it almost makes up for not getting a callback. I hope I have more opportunities like that in the future.
As for those who do end up in the show, congrats! I can't wait to see it!