Creative? Not so much…

I’m writing this on the fly, which can only mean one thing – more typos, more poor grammar choices, more run-on sentences, comma splice errors, etc. This post will be filled with all the things that would make my English teachers/professors/English professor friends cry, and then pause and wonder how on earth I manage to communicate. Ehhh, what can you do? Editing is for err… ummm… well, I suppose it’s for everyone, but still… Not today!  Ok fine, I’ll do my best? (I’ve had sugar.  This is my second disclaimer.)

Several months ago a co-worker stopped and said something like, “Beth, you’re always doing something. I love hearing your stories.  What creative thing are you into now?” I hmmed, there was some hawing, and after some not so deep soul searching I finally declared, “nothing.” While adding in my head, “nothing, topped with nothing sprinkles and a huge dash of nothing – I was making nothing pops out of congealed nothing,” and I was actually ok with that.  I thought about writing, but wasn’t feeling it.  I perused new classes, but wasn’t feeling it. Basically, I was quite happy with reading more, and catching up on Netflix series one sitting at a time.

Sometime in February, I think, a friend of mine asked me to help assist with a play. I checked my calendar, moved some of the nothing around, and hopped on board.  Afterwards I sat in character study discussions, table reads, rehearsals, and so far three performances.  Nothing is truly more exciting than watching a production grow from an idea into a live performance with a talented cast who get better every time.

Next week we’ll have the last few shows.  If you’re in Austin (and would love to travel to Georgetown), I encourage you to come see Blame it on Beckett. We have an extremely talented cast directed by one of my favorite people, Jonathan Spear.  It’s well-worth the $15. (There are discounts for Seniors and children.)

The 48 Hour Film Project is also going on (it ends tonight at 7:30).  This is the thing where, on a Friday evening, you get assigned a genre (ours is a holiday movie or an animal movie – OY), an object (a wrapped gift) that must be in the film, a line of dialog (something that had the word “oops” in it, but my memory is that bad that after 36 hours you got me), and a character (Charlie or Charlene Bitters, an author), and you have to write, shoot, and edit it within 48 hours.  AND it’s also something I’ve avoided since we wrapped the last one in 2013 after the unfortunate incident with the neighbor.

Well, it turns out some of the talented actors from Blame it on Beckett were going to have to miss a weekend (thus the weekend break between performances) to participate in the 48 HR project which got me talking about it again.  That’s when the writer from the previous show decided she wanted to see if she could do all of the work: writing, directing, producing, editing, music, etc. – basically, I think she wanted to see if she could get the least sleep of everyone I know and avoid merrily leaping off the ledge (she’s still alive as of this writing).  My job consists (present tense since we’re still in this thing) of turning in paper work and asking the actors if they’d like a cookie.  I mean, who doesn’t want a cookie?!?! (Apparently all the actors since I ended up with all the cookies once we wrapped.  So sad to know cookie-haters walk among us. Even sadder that there are cookie-haters in my peer group. 😦 )

The good news is that our group, Uncle Bob’s Dangerous Pants, lives again!!! (And we still got props for best name from the 48 HR folks.  WOOOT!)

Also, a beautiful thing happened that made this all seem right, yet has zero to do with creativity.  The good neighbors (mentioned in the old post) are buying the evil neighbor’s house, which means the evil neighbor is moving.  I can’t begin to express how hard it was not to do an old lady style cartwheel in the front yard and cheer (after of course crashing to the ground and moaning a bit, because my cartwheels have suffered greatly over the decades).  Instead I took the news calmly only betraying my glee at the corners of my mouth and well, by repeatedly pointing to the evil house and asking, “that house? that one right there? oh that one?”  It seems like closure of sorts.  We did our first 48 HR shoot, had that happen, then did this one, and she’s moving.

Anyway, all of that to say that I’ve gotten to do some creative things with creative people lately, and that has made me pretty happy.

But I do want to add one thing – a friend who isn’t involved with any of my improv/sketch writing life said, “you’re so creative” after I mentioned the play and the 48HR Film Project.  That was really nice, but here’s where I absolutely can’t take credit.  I am good at many things, and the bulk of them include following directions.and wrangling. You also need people like me for the things I do, but I am not creative per se.  I do not “create,” and I’m ok with not being considered “creative.”  I support.  I’m one heck of a supporter.

AND I’m very lucky to be surrounded by amazingly creative people who see the need for a solid supporter. Between all of us, we get things done, and right now I’m having fun doing just that.  Now I need to get ready to go get the paperwork turned in so we can wrap this whole thing up tonight..

Fifi & Mr. Pickles

Another shoot featuring one of my favorite people that was written, directed, and edited by another one of my favorite people, and filmed and sounded ummm soundified? soundied? by more of my favorite people.  And to get Executive Producer, all I had to do was offer up my garage (you’ll soon admire how fancy it is), eat cookies and occasionally shout out a line when needed (only occasionally… sometimes not at the right moment, but meh I made the credits! Go me!

You may remember this shoot was mentioned in a previous post where a crazy neighbor stomped on my porch and let us know she didn’t want this kind of thing in her neighborhood.   “…people popping up and down…”  The scandal!

Well, now you too can enjoy the scandalous shoot that shocked a neighborhood in all its scandalous glory.  Starring Holt Boggs & Jonathan Spear!

Just an Ordinary Day

Our garage is like almost any garage – kind of ordinary in its rectangular-ness mixed with a hint of boring.  It’s a space where only cars and items that aren’t quite loved enough to hangout inside live.  The occasional yard tool loiters aimlessly against the wall. Every day I come home, open the door and am greeted with the sameness – the blandness.  A life tucked away slowly passing through each season.  I spend as little time as possible there.  No particular reason to linger. Just grab everything from the car, close the door and wait for another day.  Ordinary.

Then came Saturday when I opened the door and found…

Photo Bomb! From left to right: Holt Boggs, Topping Haggerty (Director), Jonathan A. Spear

Closeup! Holt Boggs & Jonathan A. Spear

Ahhh! Magic!

Be sure to look for “Fifi and Mr. Pickles” a short by Topping Haggerty coming to you later this Summer.

Doggedly Loyal: A How To Guide

How to be a Better Girlfriend

Jonathan and I were having an email exchange today and he confessed to not knowing “when to say attagirl,” or “OMG, girlfriend! You were wronged! What an (insert colorfully appropriate adjective)!” in support of your female friend. Seeing that I’ve mastered the art of being doggedly loyal, I decided to create a little “how to” guide to help him along.

Here’s the key to being doggedly loyal when it comes to your friends. The most important rule to remember is there is no fence sitting on an issue. You always choose a side and the right side is the one your friend is standing on. If your friend says they were wronged, then it’s 100% gospel, they were wronged. Don’t even worry yourself with trying to see both sides. There are no two sides. There’s the one side. The one your friend is on and let me say again for emphasis, that’s the “right” side.

The only time you need to worry about offering an unbiased opinion is when the problem might split a good friendship. If you tap into your psychic powers where you can divine the future and that future is looking a tad bleak then you might timidly offer up your differing opinion. Do this only after the person has finished venting because differing opinions = bad 99% of the time. Do it in a meek way. Approach the friend quietly, keeping your head low and eyes averted to the ground. If the friend shows any signs of aggression, tuck into a little ball and cover your head. If that doesn’t work, roll onto your back and stick your arms and legs straight up into the air. There’s a good chance the friend will mistake you for dead and just move on.

Let’s assume you didn’t have to play dead and move on to the next tip. Another important thing to do while your friend is venting is to occasionally interject with supportive commentary that proves the friend’s points. You can never go wrong with phrases like “mmm hmmm”, “Amen” or “sing it, sister!” If they say someone is scum of the earth, then you can list types of scum (mold, mildew – anything that Tilex will clean up will do) to show your unwavering support. Don’t go overboard, though. This is VERY important to remember because you can find you’ve said something that your friend doesn’t agree with. Nothing makes you look less informed than interjecting something like “and they’re bad singers, too” only to find out your friend owns all their albums. The next thing you know you’ve stepped in the proverbial “it” and that friend’s anger has just turned on you.

As a doggedly loyal friend, your job is to be a flame fanner – wave your arms around like a fool to keep things going, but keep a safe enough distance so that you’re not engulfed. If the flames start licking your way remember “play dead”. Fire heading your way = bad. Most fires are flash fires and burn out quickly. Just remember it’s best to let it burn rather than trying to stomp out a blaze in your tennis shoes (aka trying to make your friend “see reason”).

Something else to remember is that it’s not enough to go through the motions of being on your friend’s side by flapping your gums in support or putting on a supportive little puppet show, you’ve got to feel it in your gut.

Now off you go! You’re already a better friend!

And April, that woman better not cross my path any time soon because I’ll jerk her head so hard she’ll lose her mullet.