Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blog About It.

On the web site of the graduate admissions office, they say that applicants will be notified in late March whether they have been accepted or not, so when I got an email from them Thursday afternoon it didn't cross my mind that this would be "the news," and I opened it and started reading, only half-focused because I was in the middle of my anthropology homework, which scrambles my brain:
"We have concluded our review of applications for the Master of Fine Arts in Film & Video Production program at The University of Texas at Austin. We regret that we are unable to offer you admission for Fall 2009." etc.
I had to read it a few times. I was so completely unprepared for the news that I literally couldn't quite make sense of it. My first thought was "Fuck it, fuck college, the only reason I went back to finish my BA is so I could do this MFA program, so why do I need to be struggling with fossils and math now? I'll drop the whole thing, go to New York, and work on my show." That's what I would have done at 23, in fact pretty much was what I did, more than once, quit school because it was annoying and making art was more compelling. But I'm older now, as they say, and if I'm going to be homeless I'd rather be some place warm.

I settled for dropping my anthropology class. I can take something else this summer to fulfill that science requirement, something math-free. There, I feel better now.

When I got home, there was a big zip file in my inbox from A with recordings of 5 songs from his rehearsal with the band. I listened to them and cried. I'm sure my disappointment was in the tears somewhere, and my regret that I'm not in New York, but mostly I was crying because they just sound so fucking great.

I get it. The future contains infinite possibilities. I don't need another reminder.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Everybody's Happy.

T called late last night ecstatic about the show. He was on his way to the subway after the first music rehearsal and he said, "I just have to tell you this show rocks!" You know we hired, they hired, my old friend A as musical director after a lot of lobbying on my part because, well, I've always thought the show needed a musical director because of my limited skills as composer and arranger but the need it seemed to me was crucial and obvious this time since I with my limited skills am not even there. I had this strong feeling that A was the right person to do it. I thought he would understand the story, the approach, the songs. He's played in rock bands for years, he has formal training in composition, plays several instruments, has done a lot of theatre.

He elbowed his way into the score fast, seeming to comprehend the thing whole and know exactly what needed to be done in ways big and small, which took my breath away, not, I have to admit, in a good way at first, because he suggested a lot of changes, some of them pretty substantial. But he has been right about everything. I'm in awe of his talent right now.

So T staged the first three scenes last night, the first three songs. He's thrilled with A, thrilled with the new cast. God I wish I were there.

Meanwhile, here in Texas, JP is finishing the bodies in the garage. He's executing an idea T had for Mr. and Mrs. Borden who have to be hacked to death with an axe on stage. They only appear for moments, but it's the big scene, it's what the show is all about, so it's got to be great. They don't have to look completely real, but it needs to be gruesome.

T's idea was that two big road cases would be wheeled out on stage for the murder scene (you know those big black and silver boxes with oversized hinges and latches that they use to carry stuff around in for rock shows?), and when they're opened, inside are truncated but life-size dioramas of Mom and Dad made out of latex and dressed in period clothes. Mr. Borden is napping on a Victorian settee and Mrs. is sitting at a dressing table, both looking very proper and peaceful until blood starts gushing out of their heads. They are rigged with stage blood that, when Lizzie hits them with a rubber but very convincing axe, will be pumped out through pre-cut wounds in their heads. (The picture above is one of the crime scene photos of Andrew Borden dead on the sofa.)

I also talked the producers into hiring JP to make the props, because the other thing besides a music director that this show needs is great gore effects for the murders, and I just happened to know someone super-talented in that department too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Don't Panic.

I was feeling sort of panicky yesterday. On my to-do list was a pile of reading for my human evolution class, a project that involved a bit of research and a scale rendering for my stage rigging class, study for a Spanish quiz, and a phone call with the Lizzie Borden music director in New York. I couldn't concentrate for long on any of them without the others pushing their way into my brain, so I spent about an hour in the late morning just lying on my bed with my eyes wide open trying to breathe slowly.

I have seriously bit off more than I can chew with this anthropology class. I needed one course from a list of science courses to fulfill a degree requirement, and it was the only course on the list that would fit in my schedule. Since this is my last full semester, I don't have a lot of flexibility. I knew it was a course for science majors, but the course description was a little vague about prerequisites and it's a course on a fascinating subject taught by one of the top scientists in the field, so I just decided to do it.

I was reading from the textbook yesterday morning, and seriously not absorbing ANY of it because it's so full of terminology it looks as opaque as a foreign language. So not only do I not know what I'm reading, it takes me forEVER to read it. I kept thinking I should just stop, it's a waste of time, and I have so much other stuff to do. But then I would tell myself to relax and read it a few times, maybe it'll get clearer eventually. A few times? You mean I have to read this more than once?! And round and round.

The hard thing for me to accept (and the fact that it's so hard makes me even crazier) is that I may not get everything but what I do get will be valuable. When he's not digging fossils, the professor of this course is very involved with creating interactive teaching tools. Besides the book for this course, we have a CD-ROM which is much easier to navigate than the book. Pictures! I spent a little time with it yesterday and suddenly a few basic concepts became clear, and now I feel like I have at least a start of a framework that I can hang all the esoteric information from the textbook and articles on.

It's not that I can't do this stuff. I just need to take it in smaller pieces. My new motto for life. "Don't panic!"

I finished the rigging project, and the Lizzie Borden phone call went well. He's making some big changes in the arrangements of the songs: all improvements, but it's hard to have someone else fussing with material that I created and have become very attached to. Some of those songs I wrote almost 20 years ago.