Browsing All Posts published on »March, 2012«

I am Now an Unpaid Verizon (Frontier) FIOS Support Technician

March 29, 2012


I had an experience last night, which left me speechless. I was flabbergasted. Now before you jump to the wrong conclusions, it had to do with Verizon FIOS Customer Support. I could not believe what I heard over the phone and what I was expected to do to resolve my dilemma. What is wrong with companies these days? Unbelievable. Perhaps, I better start at the beginning.

I was turning off the lights, preparing to go to bed when out of the corner of my eye; I caught a glimpse of the FIOS Router which stopped me cold in my tracks. There it old nemeses...the Yellow Light of Death. It glowed fiercely. Unblinking. Impotent and unapologetic, much like the company that made it. It taunted me and I glared back at it, squinting one eye like Clint Eastwood.

Yes, I had seen this before. In fact, I was getting all too familiar with the once a month occurrence which disrupted the household's internet connectivity and wreaked havoc on all those seeking to join with the internet collective to work from home, research school assignments or write up a new theatrical review. I could have ignored, gone to bed and left first thing in the morning for work. Feigning ignorance, but I knew my son would discover it after school tomorrow.

Perspective Makes the Difference

March 27, 2012


Have you ever noticed that in life, perspective can make all the difference on how you act, react or judge a situation or person? I’ve recently rediscovered this principle at work in my life. I am not proud of the fact but when I see someone do something which I would not do or ‘not do’ something which I believe they should do; I have begun catching myself as my first inclination is to judge that action in such a way as to ascribe a negative motivation for the action or inaction.

The reason is that whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, we all have an internal barometer or scale which we use to assess ourselves and others against. The fact that all have such an internal measure guide is not wrong in of itself. The main problem with using our own scale to evaluate actions or inactions is that our scale is fundamentally flawed. There are two primary flaws with using our own scales to evaluate ourselves and others against.

  1. Our scale is flawed in that it is biased in favor of us and biased against others.
  2. Our scale uses the wrong measurement criteria.

Let me explain.

It Shoulda Been You (Village Theatre)

March 22, 2012


You are invited to take a break from your own troubles and spend a laugh filled evening immersed in the pure meshugaas which is the wedding of a Jewish bride and her Catholic groom. Toss in the extended dysfunctional families, the uninvited ex-boyfriend of the bride, two controlling yenta mother-in-laws and the marginalized but ‘please others at all cost’ older sister and you may just begin to scratch the surface of the insanity and drama which is the new musical “It Shoulda Been You”. Written by Brian Hargrove with music by Barbara Anselmi the production runs from March 14th – May 20th at the Village Theatre.

It Shoulda Been You” is a hilarious and entertaining behind-the-scenes view into family life, wedding planning, familial relationships, love, laugher and embracing one’s identity. The songs are catchy and the characters endearing despite their own flawed natures. Performances are top-notch with an equally strong supporting cast. Combined, they will joyfully carry you through all the biting one-liners, plot twists and over the top chaos and quirkiness which is the modern family wedding.

There is a ‘laugh or else you might cry’ mindset which pervades the production, as serious issues are called to light, but dealt with in a comical manner. The emotionally stunted father unable to show authentic affection to his son, the mother incapable of recognizing the beauty and value of her oldest daughter, simply because she’s heavyset and yet unmarried, parents who turn to alcohol and the manipulation of their children’s lives to try to compensate for their own less than satisfying marriages and more are all on display in “It Shoulda Been You” and yet we laugh. Perhaps laughter is the best of medicines and certainly preferable to tears, as we recognize ourselves and others in the characters we see.

The Screwtape Letters (The Paramount Theatre)

March 14, 2012


When the word reached me that Max McLean would be in town for one day, doing two performances of “The Screwtape Letters” at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle, I knew that I had to be in attendance. “The Screwtape Letters” was adapted by Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean from the book of the same name written by C.S. Lewis. It stars Max McLean, who also co-directs with Fisk. McLean has been performing the play since the opening run in New York, Chicago and D.C.; having successfully completed well over 700 performances of TSL.

As a longtime admirer of C.S. Lewis and his writings, I was skeptical that one could effectively convey the nuances of the book on stage, as it’s not your typical fare. It was hard enough for some to read the relatively short book completely through. The book records the mail correspondence between Screwtape, a demon of the highest order, and his fledgling tempter nephew, Wormwood. In their exchanges, Wormwood, a recent graduate of the “Tempters' Training College” describes his first assignment with a human affectionately referred to as the “Patient”. It is Wormwood’s mission to ensure that the Patient is tempted off of the narrow path. In return, good ol’ Uncle Screwtape, reminiscent of an unholy ‘Dear Abby’ or ‘Dr. Phil’ manner, dispenses his malevolent wisdom and insights concerning Christianity, faith and the human condition, in hopes of guiding Wormwood into nefarious maturity and bringing about the eternal damnation of the Patient.

My momentary uneasiness was allayed by the choice of music played while waiting for the curtains to open. My attention was initially seized by Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and I am delighted to say that the performance to follow was wickedly riveting, entertaining and thought-provoking. Max McLean, dressed up like Alistair Cooke’s evil cousin doing a Masterpiece Theatre vignette, held me spellbound throughout. The show, unlike Wormwood, does not disappoint in the end.

Asleep in the Light

March 12, 2012


One observation about life I have discovered is that that you can receive inspiration and insight from anyone, anything and at any time; assuming that you are open to it. The challenge for me has been that by the time I am home and can log the insight, I find that the memory of whatever nugget of truth which surfaced during my day is no longer accessible. The memory of what it was has since drifted from my mind, like a vaporous dream quickly dispersing upon awakening. Life it seems is equally capable of providing to us as it is in snatching back the insights from us.

With that awareness in mind, I have taken to carrying a small notepad with me. The goal of which was to record any observations, insights or newfound awareness’s which strikes me throughout my day before life has the opportunity to snatch the awareness from me. On a more practical note, it also has proven helpful in reminding me of the myriad of commitments, milestone deadlines and the occasional milk purchase required on the way home from work.

Yesterday, I had the need to pull out the notebook and record some thoughts at church. For many perhaps that might be a strange place to take actual notes, but I found myself agitated and disturbed and wanted to capture the thought. The sermon itself was honest, well-thought out and a source of encouragement to me. I much appreciated it, but something else was occurring during the service which distracted me. Three rows ahead of me sat a family. Well, mostly they were seated; all but the son. He must have been around eight to ten years of age. Instead of sitting up like his family and the others which had gathered that Sunday morning, he decided that it was appropriate to lay sprawled out across four chairs. He appeared to be attempting to sleep, as at a regular cadence he would shift and turn over.

Now, let us ignore for the moment, the parents sitting next to the boy which apparently condoned this behavior, as hard as that might be to do right now. I found myself thinking, what message is it sending to that boy that he alone of all humanity could recline such? What message was being sent to the speaker? What influence might it have on other children who witnessed this ill-mannered behavior? What was that boy learning that morning at church? I think it strikes at the heart of matter, which is why do any of us get up early on Sunday mornings and attend church in the first place? I wanted to get up, move over to where the boy reclined, push his feet out of the way and sit down next to him and ask him why he goes to church.

Red (Seattle Repertory)

March 1, 2012


I am struggling with where to start in my review of Red at the Seattle Repertory. I attended the packed house opening night of Red last evening and this morning my mind is still racing, trying to distill the essence of Red; to quantify the take away as it were, but it is just not that simple. You see writer John Logan, director Richard E. T. White and the extremely talented acting duo of Denis Arndt and Connor Toms have conspired with foresight and malicious intent to make anything that I say, good or bad about the play, more indicative of my qualifications as a witnesser of their art, than the quality of the art itself.

Even as the words begin to form in my head, I hear the commanding voice of Denis’ rendition of abstract painter, Mark Rothko bellowing at me, “What do you see?” I am left to question my own understanding, like Connor Toms portrayal of Rothko’s apprentice Ken. Am I human enough to get it? To feel it? I sit here and find myself reminiscing about an earlier time in my own life. A period when time itself seemed limitless and the thought of hanging out at the local IHOP drinking coffee with friends until 4am, wrestling with deep philosophical quandaries, seemed the most important of activities to attend to. I have to wonder; am I just starved for deep and meaningful conversation or is John Logan's writing compelling enough to instill in me a renewed hunger for those college days and to engage in meaningful dialogue with others?

Red compels us to enter and spend an evening treading deep into the forgotten places, Socratic dialogues, rhetoric, discourse and of course, Nietzsche’s profound but fragile balance between Apollonian (reason and logic) and Dionysian (emotion and experience) elements required to create dramatic Art. Before you let that scare you away from attending the show, know that while the show is about Art, it does so through real visceral human interactions, touching upon many of life’s themes. What is Art? Is it truly in the eye of the beholder or is there a more ethereal quality to it? Do we judge it, or does it judge us, the viewer of it?