Friends, Weddings, Friends’ Weddings, Theater, Memorials, Theater Memorials, Writing, Writing About All Of That Aforementioned Stuff
Monday October 25th 2010, 1:37 am
Filed under: Family, Friends, Health (Not Cancer), Leukemia, NYC, Word Nerd

I’m feeling well, I think. It’s been a while since I’ve felt okay, but I think tonight, right now, I’m feeling well. Turns out there’s a lot to catch up on, so go to the bathroom now and grab a snack on your way back before you start reading. I’ll wait.

Okay, welcome back. Here we go. Remember to keep your hands inside the blog at all times.

This evening, my grandma took my folks, my aunts and uncles, and me to see Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She had already seen the play and thought I would enjoy seeing it so much that she gave tickets to my parents and my aunt and uncle as anniversary gifts. Their gifts also included seeing the show with my grandma, my other aunts and uncles, and me. It made some sort of sense, somehow. And even if it didn’t, everyone had a great time.

This production of 39 Steps was turned into a farce of itself and Hitchcock films in general. It was in one of the DCPA’s theaters I’d never been inside before. It was like a black box, only with good, comfortable seats. The play was great and very funny; it was well re-imagined, well directed, well acted and well produced. The ensemble was fantastic. In many scenes, two or three actors switched between different characters faster than the audience could track. Each actor made clear distinctions between their different characters, so there was no confusion between their split-second changes. They were aided by an array of spectacular hats and, in several cases, entire wardrobes–changed on stage in the blink of an eye. They did a great job–with only four actors–filling the stage with more than a dozen people. I highly recommend seeing 39 Steps if you have a chance.

I feel like I haven’t been writing in my blog as much as I’d like to lately. I think, as I’ve been sick for months and months with little well time in between, it becomes monotonous and depressing to write about how I feel, what the doctor says and what we’re going to try. I’ve been writing (offline) while resting in bed. I have a few things I’m really happy with, and that I have to admit I look forward to having time to work on during the day. It’s that writer’s high I’ve written about before. I’ve never personally experienced a runner’s high, but for all my marathon running friends out there, I figure the principle is the same, at least.

There is one blog post in particular that has been giving me trouble. I’ve been tinkering with it for a week, trying to get across exactly what I want to say about being at Summer and Alex’s wedding in Connecticut and being with our ever expanding family of friends. But, to hell with that: everything was great. The wedding was absolutely wonderful, and I was thrilled to be able to attend. The ceremony was just about as perfect as any I’ve ever attended. Not only was the wedding great, but being around my friends was intoxicating. It always is. Being around this family of friends always seems to refresh my health, my mood and my outlook. All the significant others seem like such perfect fits into our circle. It’s very hard to say goodbye to everyone, but at least we’re already scheduled to have two more weddings next year–several months after the chemotherapy drugs should be out of my system. Maybe I’ll be able to stay up and party past 10:00 pm!

We were down one friend at the wedding, who we missed greatly despite his valid excuse: McDole’s in or near Afghanistan right now, serving our country. He taught me that life is–or can be broken down into–a series of five minute achievable goals. I try to use this as often as I can to get through tough situations. Recently, though, he announced a long term plan for all of our friends that I’m not sure whether or not it was genuine or a joke. One day, he told us, our circle of friends should all live in the same cul-de-sac. That sounds pretty damn great to me. And I think McDole was serious.

Speaking of weddings, Dave Burdick is getting married. That’s awesome, and I’m really excited for he and his fiancee Rachel. For some reason, this news struck me entirely different than other friends’ wedding announcements have. Maybe it’s because I don’t see Dave as much as I’d like to anymore. Maybe it’s because just about everything Dave and I have ever done together would be something 14 year olds would enjoy, and 14 year olds don’t get married, or if they do, it’s usually frowned upon. That’s probably it. I’m really happy for them.

Before traveling to Connecticut for Summer and Alex’s wedding, I caught up with friends in New York City (which was great), and I attended a memorial service for Chris Thomas. Chris was head of Pace’s Performing Arts Department when I was there. He had been there for many, many years, but had to retire last year. He set the Department on the path to offering new majors like musical theater and dance, he set the school on the path to offering an MFA program, which happens to be the Actor’s Studio, with whom Chris opened discussions with. He cared about us, he took care of us and I think he was always very proud of us. The circumstances surrounding his death are incredibly sad, and I just hope he knew how much he was loved. Judging from the memorial and its many speakers (including me), Chris Thomas won’t soon be forgotten.

Finally, I have the Dictionary.com app installed on my iPhone. When I woke up today at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I could only chuckle at today’s word of the day: slugabed. It’s not entirely an accurate summation of my circumstances, but I have certainly announced that I’ve felt like a slug many times through my treatment. And for today, it was entirely accurate. Haha.

All right, I think that’s good enough for one night and eight blog entries.

–Reid.

—————-
Now playing: Guster – Jesus & Mary
via FoxyTunes



Seven Months To Go! AND: I Try This Whole Going To NYC For A Wedding Thing Over Again.
Tuesday October 12th 2010, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Friends, Leukemia, NYC, Word Nerd

I officially have seven months remaining of chemotherapy treatment as of today, Tuesday October 12, 2010. A friend told me how many days are left as of today, but I think the number so overwhelmed me that my brain purposefully did not commit it to memory. And what would a special day like Seven Months To Go! be like without a trip to the hospital and some fear that I would miss the second wedding in ten days? It was that kind of day. Or at least it seemed like it was that kind of day until we played trivia with friends, which was fun, and we saw the first Chilean miner emerge out of the ground after a harrowing 69 days in a collapsed mine, which was very inspiring.

Tomorrow I’m flying to New York City so that I can attend the wedding of Alex and Summer this weekend (which is, unfortunately, not steampunk themed). Aside from catching up to friends I missed this past weekend, the extra days are basically for sleeping off my flight and otherwise acclimating myself to the East Coast. It’s just like putting the bag with the new goldfish in its old water from its old bowl into its new bowl with the new water before dumping it into its new bowl outright. Growing up, my sisters and I went through a lot of goldfish we won at Purim carnivals, so I don’t know how universal this simile is. But the point is: fish fly east for Summer. I think.

The wedding is actually taking place in Connecticut, at a coincidentally familiar location: Candlewood Lake. I spent many happy years around, on and in that lake with Amy. Although neither the bride nor the groom are from Connecticut, it is a very beautiful place, and I certainly understand its appeal. I am just hopeful that the predictions of a nor’easter are all wrong.

I grew up with Alex in Colorado, and I feel like Summer has been a part of our circle of friends for a long time now. I’m also looking forward to seeing a lot of other friends this weekend who have scattered across the country. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had many chances to commune at weddings, which has been great. I think after everyone is married, there are already plans for everyone to get married again, just so we can keep seeing each other for happy occasions.

Those plans could probably use some work, but I think their intent is in the right place.

–Reid.



Accept my regrets; I am unable to attend.
Sunday October 10th 2010, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Friends, Leukemia, NYC

Yesterday I made a very difficult decision: I would not be flying to New York City this weekend. I was supposed to be going to New York specifically to attend the steampunk-themed wedding of my friends Sarah and Tucker, which took place today (Sunday, 10/10/10). Although I’ve been slowly (very slowly) feeling better lately, I did not feel strong enough to fly yesterday (Saturday). I don’t quite understand why traveling–even as a passenger under the most ideal conditions–takes so much out of me; but it does. It drains several days worth of energy out of me, and often leaves my immune system far more compromised than it already is, which, in the past, has lead to months of illness.

When I awoke this morning, I hurt all over. I felt like I had a really intense workout yesterday. A workout that included some time on a Spanish Inquisition-style rack. I considered this pain for some time before trying to move out of bed. I decided the pain could be taken one of two ways: either the universe was confirming that it was a wise decision not to have flown to NYC yesterday, where I would have been in even more pain after traveling, or conversely, that the universe was punishing me for not being in NYC. Unsatisfied with either reason, I came up with a third possibility: maybe there was not any meaning to it whatsoever–it was just a coincidence and I should stop worrying about it and write more about Tucker and Sarah.

I’ve known Tucker since he successfully auditioned for Better Than The Machine at Pace. In our fifth and final show at Pace, Tucker contributed some of the very best sketches we had done: an old lady knitting her way to the top of a skyscraper in “Extreme Knitting,” and Tucker trying to pickup a woman at a bar while underscored by the smooth vibrations of a jazzy ringtone on his cellphone in “Cellphone Pickup.”

Sarah and I met in a “Writing For Film” class at Pace, in which I all but directly accused her of stealing a sketch from Matt Gallo (it turned out he had given it to her; whoops… still sorry about that, Sarah). Over at least the past year, Sarah and my friendship has been primarily the two of us always wishing each other good health because we could both use some.

I got to work with both Tucker and Sarah when they made a feature long movie for Tucker’s honors thesis. The movie was actually broken down into lots of shorts, one of which I was lucky enough to be cast in as the sole actor. I was cast as a man who represented all of mankind and ate lots and lots of yummy, delicious blueberry pie, which I think was baked by Sarah’s mom, if I recall correctly.

It was important to me to be at their wedding and I’m very sorry to be missing it for several reasons:

1) The biggest and most obvious is that I regret not being able to share my friends’ special day with them. I was honored to be invited, and had looked forward to seeing Sarah and Tucker become Sarahandtucker.

2) I would be really, really excited to be invited to a themed wedding of any sort, but a steampunk wedding seemed particularly fun. My mom and I put together a pretty kick ass steampunk outfit for me to wear. Meanwhile, I grew special Victorian facial hair from my actual face all by myself! I really wanted to see what everyone else was wearing (especially the bride and groom), but I won’t lie; I wanted to show off how cool I looked. I’ll take any excuse to wear a costume (so much as it doesn’t involve shoving cards into the arms of passersby).

Quick interjection in the list here for a sec. One of the facts I had to contend with in not flying to New York this weekend was that I will probably never be invited to another steampunk wedding. Which is a bummer. So I got to thinking that perhaps when I’m healthy next year, maybe I can throw a small Sarahandtucker steampunk anniversary party. That way, I’ll have a chance to be adventurer Addison “The Captain” Cobb, the independently wealthy motorist, pilot, and secret private investigator who, despite his many Bransonesque exploits, feels most at home in the steam powered engine room of his mighty airship, the Lionheart. And I’ll get to experience a little tiny bit of the magic I missed.

Okay, back to the list:

3) The wedding ceremony took place today, Sunday October 10, 2010. When I was told this was the date of the wedding, 10/10/10, it seemed especially appropriate for Tucker. Tucker has always been a video gaming/computing/chiptune fanatic. Ones and zeroes are what propel that entire world. They form binary, the base 2 system of counting. 101010 quite frankly seemed like the perfect day to recognize that.

Of course, the date might just have been picked because it looked cool.

4) …except, out of idle curiosity, I decided to convert 101010 from binary into decimal notation, our familiar base 10 counting system. I tried to do it in my head, which helped me fall asleep for the night. Then I tried to write it out on paper, but I kept forgetting numbers. There are literally only two numbers I could write, and I would forget where I was while writing all of this down. I’ve never claimed to be good at math. Finally, I decided to find a converter online, which took about 6 seconds and revealed that 101010 in binary is, in decimal notation:

42.

Which, of course, is the answer to life, the universe and everything. 42. Good work guys.

I wish the best to both of you in this first day of your new lives together. I hope you have a long, wonderful, and healthy life together. I wish the very best for you, and while I am sad I missed the wedding, I couldn’t be more happy for you.

–Reid.



Nine Years After 9/11.
Saturday September 11th 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: NYC

Nine years ago today, I witnessed firsthand part of the most heinous attack ever carried out against the United States of America: the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Late that night, at Amy’s parents’ house in Connecticut, Amy and I wrote our accounts of the day. We sat side by side, but we didn’t speak. There was a thick silence in which only two sounds floated and remained hanging in the air: the staccato tapping of keys as we typed and the sniffling that came with tears as we re-experienced the day over and over in our minds and in our fingertips. In the very early morning hours of September 12, we sent out our accounts of being in New York City on 9/11 to everyone we knew.

We didn’t leave the house for what felt like an eternity. It was the longest day and a half of my life. We were in shock, and very fragile. What could possibly be said the day after walking through streets where tax returns, family pictures, and ashes fell like snow? What could be said, knowing, as we did, that the ash we had breathed into our lungs was actually the remains of people who had been alive an hour earlier?

We finally stepped out on Thursday afternoon. We walked to a general store up the road and realized that we now shared a bond with each other and a bond with New York City that was (and remains) very difficult to put into words. For awhile, it was extremely difficult to even be around people who hadn’t been in the City on 9/11, let alone talk to them. When people weren’t asking us questions about what we’d been through, they were talking about all of America as if it were New York City. In a way, I suppose it was. But, in another way, actually being in New York that day is something I don’t know that I will ever be able to fully share with someone who wasn’t there.

Through all the misery and sorrow that seemed like it would never end, the glint of something beautiful began to emerge. From the scorched and salted earth began to bloom the tiniest of flowers, and for the briefest of moments, for an almost infinitesimal fraction of a second in the totality of all human history, all of America was as one. We were united by our pain and grief, but also by our hope and faith. Hope that we could rebuild and faith in one another. Hope that nothing like this would ever happen again and faith that, no matter what, we were still the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Today, as I do every year, I reread that email I sent out in the early hours of September 12, 2001. I was surprised to find a note below the post that I forgot I had written in 2003. That note seems just as relevant today as it seemed six years ago:

Jan. 17th, 2003 05:49 pm
A lot of people misused my [account of 9/11]. They used it against people. And they used it to hurt people. People who I trusted did this. I think this contributed to me not wanting it to be read for a long time. Despite this, I am ultimately glad to have shared my experience and I hope reading it serves as an opportunity to reflect on 9/11.

Today, tomorrow, and in the coming months and years, let us reflect on 9/11 and how it affected all Americans. Let’s try to remember that blip in time when we were all united as Americans, not as Republicans or Democrats, not as New Yorkers or Alaskans, not as Christians or Muslims or Jews, but as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, and even when wounded, hopeful that tomorrow will be a better, braver new world.

–Reid.



We Miss You, Chris Thomas.
Monday August 16th 2010, 1:32 am
Filed under: NYC

In Memoriam Professor Emeritus Christopher Thomas

Christopher Thomas, Professor Emeritus and former Chairman of Pace University’s Theater Department, passed away last week. Chris was Chairman of the Department during my four years at Pace. There’s a lot to be said about him, and a lot of things to say to him.

Chris, you may not have been one of my favorite professors, but you were always one of my favorite people. You treated theater students as if we were your grandchildren, and I don’t mean because of an age difference, but because there’s a relationship between grandparents and grandchildren that is very different from the one between parents and their children. You were always proud of our accomplishments and you always wanted better for us. You went to bat for me when I needed help, you made me feel at home in a wounded city nearly 2,000 miles from my old home, and you always had a new fascinating and animated anecdote up your sleeve–which you always made time to tell.

We miss you, Chris.

–Reid.



Eleven Months To Go. Thanks For Helping Me Celebrate!
Saturday June 12th 2010, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Better Than The Machine, Friends, Leukemia, NYC

As of Saturday, June 12, I have eleven months to go in my chemotherapy regimen. Performing in New York City at The PIT with Better Than The Machine again, with lots of great friends in the audience who then came to celebrate afterwords, was a great way to mark this day!

Thank you all.

–Reid.



New Video: “Who’s On First” For English Majors! + Analysis
Monday December 21st 2009, 2:35 am
Filed under: Better Than The Machine, NYC, Word Nerd

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a grammar revolution! This revolution will not be won with guns and aero-planes, but with a spin on a classic comedy routine. English Majors, Word Nerds and Grammar Nazis: this one’s for you. Step right up and watch folks, no need to be afraid; you’ll either feel really smart or really confused–either way, you’ve got nothing to lose!

This sketch was written by me and was directed and edited by Ballard. We shot it one night while I was in NYC earlier this month.

I’m very happy with how it turned out. When I wrote this (with the somewhat confusing title “Vaudeville Grammarians”), I had Matt and myself in mind to play the two characters. I consider the two of us kindred Word Nerd spirits. I don’t know if the term “Word Nerd” already exists–but if it doesn’t, here’s one on me, English language. When I say “Word Nerd,” I mean that, for instance, I really like the “gay bar” line at the end of the sketch. It’s a homosexual homonym. So… yeah. Word Nerd.

Matt plays Lou in this sketch and I play Alex. These names are direct references to Louis “Lou” Costello and William Alexander “Bud” Abbott, respectively. The popular Abbott and Costello Vaudeville duo is probably best known for the routine that this sketch pays homage to: Who’s On First?

We shot this in Ballard’s apartment. It was originally to take place in a bar, but a) we’ve had a lot of bar scenes this year and b) we didn’t have access to a bar. It didn’t really matter anyway. Ballard shot from only two angles, which served the sketch very well. I’m trying to pickup on lessons from Ballard so I can start directing some things again soon. I would’ve covered this thing all over the place. Two shots, up shots, down shots, spinning shots, outside shots, shots galore! We would’ve been there all night. Needless to say, I’m glad I did not direct this sketch.

Like I said, we filmed this when I was out in New York earlier this month. It’s the second of three videos we shot. Unless there’s some unforeseen amazing new video that pops up out of the woodwork this week, the third of these Reid videos will be released next Monday. My biggest regret with these three videos is that I waited to get a haircut until after my trip. My extreme shagginess is most apparent in the next video. I felt like a lion! But I don’t know if lions should necessarily be doing sketch comedy.

Actually, I was showing this and the next video to my dad tonight, and while I was queuing up the next video, the first frame of it appeared in QuickTime. My dad responded to the image on the screen with equal parts revulsion and horror. “What is this all about?” he asked. As my shaggy visage was the only thing on screen at that moment, I could only assume he meant, “You look like the bum that sits outside my office who wears really nice Broncos gear and begs for change.” Except, I don’t have any nice Broncos gear.

Oh well. As my dad put it, I’ll have all week to worry about the next video. So I’ll do my best to prepare for the ruthless taunts of anonymous 14 year old Internet bullies. I just have to keep telling myself that they’ll get their comeuppance soon enough, soon enough. I can’t say how, but soon. The plans are already underway. There’s nothing you can do to stop us from turning the tables! Now you will finally die, Mr. Bond! Mwa ha ha ha! Mwa ha ha!

◦—-◦Later, that same night.◦—-◦

Excuse me, hoooo. I’m sorry, I’ve gotta catch my breath. Now where was I? I think I might have gone a little overly megalomaniacal there; the evil laughter just started and didn’t stop until I passed out. I’m just so damn excited for the upcoming comeuppance giving.

Make sure to check http://bttm.net next week for our last video of the decade! It’s another one I wrote, and more so with it than the video this week, Ballard “encouraged me” (with that adorable puppy dog look he knows I can’t resist and also with his brass knuckles) to make some revisions. It’s got a message and it’s very silly. I mean, the message isn’t silly, but the video is. At the very least, you’ll get to see, in beautiful high definition, why I needed a haircut and some beard corralling last week.

–Reid.



New BTTM Video: Prowler, also BTTM readying for Sketchfest…
Monday November 30th 2009, 2:03 am
Filed under: Better Than The Machine, NYC

In Better Than The Machine’s latest sketch comedy video, Christina is running for her life. We have unleashed “Prowler.” Can you resist it?

The answer is, of course, “no, you cannot.” Discover the truth for yourself:

Directed by Ballard C. Boyd last week. Edited this evening. I wrote it and I was the bottle master (I found the bottle, I bought the bottle, I kept the bottle safe, I delivered the bottle to the hands of the director… phew, a hard day’s work)! The sketch turned out different than I imagined it, somehow. Which is fine; I think Ballard and Christina did a really good job of making the whole thing drip with suspense. Matt Gallo looks like the worst wrestler ever, but I’ll let it pass since he has a giant knife. Good work, all three of you!

Despite my wishy washiness (or, perhaps, due to my wishy washiness), I think I want to start directing some sketches again. Not a ton, but here and there, I think it might be gratifying.

We started rehearsing for Philly tonight. We’re gonna do a lot of singing. I think we picked out all the sketches we want to do, and everyone seems in general agreement about them. There were only one or two vetoes that I heard. One was for a sketch from the half of unLEVINed to which I did not contribute any writing or ideas. It features the cast as pigeons. I thought it was really funny and visually interesting when I saw the show. I’m glad I got to see a BTTM show–I just wish everyone else in the group could see one too! It certainly gave me a totally different take on sketches I had been in when we first started writing the show. Even though the pigeons may feel crazy, they looked great and were funny!

Make sure to check bttm.net next week for a brand new sketch comedy video!

–Reid.



A Harder List, Filled With So Much Anger And Sadness
Thursday November 05th 2009, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Family, Friends, Health (Not Cancer), Liberty!, NYC

1) Good news to bring light to a dark day that really needs it should definitely come first. Raquel and James Bedell are the proud new Aunt and Uncle of a beautiful baby girl, who James’ sister gave birth to several days ago. Congratulations to both of you and especially to James’ sister’s family! This is truly joyous, wonderful news! I am glad I found out about it today of all days. Thank you Raquel.

2) Reports on television indicate that the leader of the shootings at Fort Hood was a Major Malik Nadal Hasan. I have few words with which to express the horror and sorrow I feel about this horrendous act of violence. Unfortunately, the 24 hour television news networks seemingly have even fewer words. With no further information available at the moment, news commentators seemingly have nothing else to do beside dancing around this man’s heritage. “I know we should be PC but…” and “I know we shouldn’t speculate about his name, but…” and worst of all, “I know we should wait for more facts, but…”. We get it: he’s Arab. He’s probably Muslim. So what? I fear the tide of racism rising. Whether that wave be visible or under the surface, we must not allow one man’s (or two or three men’s) actions, no matter how horrific they may be, to define an entire group of people.

3) My cousin is in Fort Hood right now. We are awaiting news from her. My thoughts and my prayers are with you, Kristina. Please be safe.

4) Psychological care for the men and women of our armed forces is in pathetic shape. To anyone that knows someone who has been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, this is not news–this is one more in a long list of failures to help those in need of psychiatric help. While today’s slaughter has been far worse than anything we’ve seen at a base in the United States, there have been issues of spousal abuse, issues of the inability to readjust to normal non-military lives and too many issues of suicide among soldiers for many more years than many will want to admit. These are people who risk their lives for us, and today, we have truly failed them.

5) “Absolutely despicable” is the only way to describe Wall Street institutions getting the H1N1 vaccine to inoculate their employees while high risk people across the country are still unable to so much as find somewhere to wait in line just for a chance to get vaccinated. Absolutely despicable.

6) Even as a staunch left-wing, commie, pinko, Jewish, fag-loving, liberal, progressive, Democratic, part-time New Yorker, I would prefer President Obama serve only one term and ensure health care for all Americans, ensure equal rights for all Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Americans, enact measures to ensure the future health of our planet, and ensure that our soldiers get the psychological care that they need–rather than have him serve two terms and miss enacting even one of those four things. No more bullshit about needing 60 votes to do anything. What is needed is the courage and the wisdom to do the right thing, which might mean “the thing that makes you lose your next election”. Step up, Mr. President and step up, Sirs and Madams of the United States Congress. It is long past the time to put your responsibilities to the citizens of this country before your own personal interests.

–Reid.



Irony, I shake my weakened weekend fist at thee!
Friday October 23rd 2009, 11:11 pm
Filed under: NYC, Who Knows?

I did not go to New York City for a long weekend due to fears of my catching H1N1–yeah, way to go Health Department; stir everyone into a panic and then don’t offer vaccinations within any sort of reasonable time frame! Way. To. Go. Right, so anyway, I didn’t go to New York and then I ended up getting sick in Denver. I won’t say sick as a swine, but definitely as sick as a dog! A sick dog. I’m plenty sick! Which is why Congress’s Bill on Irony is great on paper, but no good for daily use.

I have been writing a gay homonyms, homophones and homographs sketch to pass the time or:

Eye halve bin righting eh gay homonyms, homophones and homographs sketch two pass the thyme ore:

I(homophone) have(homophone) been(homophone) writing(homophone) a(homophone) gay(homograph) homonyms, homophones and homographs sketch(homograph) to(homophone) pass(homonym) the(homonym) time(homophone) or(homophone):

I’m sick, I need my sleep, I’m done with this silliness.

–Read.