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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sleep no more…again...

I arrived home last night with a Venetian mask, fake blood on my shirt, a pocket full of salt, a single playing card and a locket.  And I awoke this morning with strange memories in my head.  Yes, I was at The McKittrick Hotel again last night.  Sleep no More was a total and complete blast and did not disappoint in the least.  I brought my friend Alexa with me and, after we shared shots of Absinthe at the bar, we were separated for most of the rest of the evening to go off and have our own adventures.

Can I just say that I love how everyone is in character the whole time, even the bartenders and the hotel staff?  It's really great and it makes the immersion in the environment seem complete from the beginning.

It was interesting this time, since I've been before, the way my mind operated in that place.  I was constantly trying to get back into certain scenes I remembered from last time.  But, thinking back, I had no idea at what point during the action I was entering the hotel's upper floors, so my strategy was a little hard to implement at first.  All I could do was explore until I saw some action and then latch onto any of the characters that I knew were in those scenes and follow them until those scenes played out.

I did my same maneuver as last time, getting off the elevator first, knowing that the elevator operator was going to let only me off and leave me behind as the doors shut.  However, I ended up on the psych ward just like last time and unfortunately, I wasn't alone like I had been before.  But it was okay, I immediately had a sense I could do something totally different so I didn't even bother to explore the rooms on that floor, knowing already where I was.  I flew up a flight of stairs or two (see, I completely forget what exactly happened at this point).  I was having trouble finding the actors at first, though I was immediately familiar with the space.  Knowing what transpired in that space, made me want to hang around but I felt an immediacy unlike the last time when I had no idea what was and would be happening.

I had a goal to see the scenes with Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, where they are feverishly trying to clean the blood from themselves, the scenes where Lady Macbeth is muttering to herself and "sleepwalking," of course, the Orgy scene with the witches and the goat head man, and of course, I wanted to see if I could reenact the one on one I had with the lady in red (Hecate).  I got to do almost all of those things too.

First though, I calmed down a little and began to explore the set since I wasn't finding any characters and I'm not sure I did a ton of this last time.  There's some creepy stuff between the taxidermy and the random bones hanging from ceilings and the close spaces, the medical tools and jars with strange labels.      Gotta love the candy store, though too.  I actually saw a scene play out here that I missed last time.  I decided, for the moment, that instead of trying to find scenes I had seen, to stay and watch.  There was a gentleman behind the counter in the candy store who looked as though he was closing the shop and primping himself to meet someone.  He gathered up a bouquet of dried flowers and then left the room.  I ate some candy and then followed.

These next few scenes I watched were between a woman who was not part of Macbeth but whom I'm sure was the Hitchcock character.  She was interacting with a private detective in a few of the scenes I followed her into.  Others she was by herself, once packing her suitcase, once nosing around in the detectives office and then writing a note on his desk, something about "plant a seed and it will show you…" something something (I couldn't read her tiny handwriting).  Another scene, the gentleman I had seen in the candy store with a bouquet of dried flowers was handing her the bouquet and I watched as she rejected him.  No doubt this was the same woman who, last time I saw the show, I watched cut pages from the Bible and fold them into a locket. (Different actress this time though)

I say this because I was lucky enough to have a one on one with her, involving that locket, when I came back to that floor a little later.  Before, I was in a small room with her that led to a bedroom beyond a door.  There were others around us and she went for the door but turned and extended her arm.  I went to take it but she looked beyond me to someone at the back of the room.  That person was invited in and no one else.  I left, but upon my return later on, I was luckier.  This must have been on the second run through of the play, for several scenes had played out that I've left out: the scenes with Lady Macbeth, crazed and talking to herself (at one point she turned and grabbed my shirt and spoke a few lines to me), nude in the bathtub in the psych ward (again here, something about "there was so much blood in him!"), and then trying to clean blood off of hers and Macbeth's hands in the bedroom…once I found her I stuck to her like glue because some of her scenes, especially in the bedroom with the raised bathtub, have the best dancing in the show. 

This very bedroom is incidentally, where the fake blood got on me.  As MacBeth storms into the room covered in blood he pushed past me.  When I saw who it was who had pushed me, his hands and face covered in blood (or chocolate syrup…I'm pretty sure it was chocolate syrup), I immediately, reached back and touched the back of my shirt where he had made contact with my shoulder.  Sure enough the same stickiness was on me and I reveled at my first experience of crossing the threshold into the action.

Anyway, back with the Hitchcock character, there I stood, with fewer people in the room this time, and she focused her gaze on me.  My heart jumped because I knew this had to be it, like I had unlocked some secret passageway.  I had no idea what to expect as she pulled me into the room and closed the door.  She took my hands and led me over to her dresser, spoke to me.  It's hard now to remember everything she said to me but there was a good bit about how she went to Manderley again last night and how she can only visit it in her dreams and can never go back (all lines that I now know are from the opening of Hitchcock's Rebecca).   Then she led me over to a wardrobe, removed my mask and spoke to me even more about Manderley.  I listened intently, trying to remember every word.  Then we climbed into the wardrobe, she closed the door, got very close to me and whispered in my ear, ever closer, her cheek resting on mine now, how I'd never be able to return to Manderley and kissed me on the cheek.  She then said, "take my locket, it will keep you safe" and put it around my neck.  This was indeed the same locket that contained a folded up strip of paper from the Bible that she had placed in it in a scene I knew took place earlier (because I witnessed it the first time I came).  She then put my mask back on, turned me around three times and pushed me through the back of the wardrobe.  I thought I was going to come out in Narnia.

I was riveted.  I spun around and came through a door and found myself inside a room with an old radio playing and a desk with papers on it and a book opened up.  I scanned the room for a while and then realized that there were audience members walking by and then it began to occur to me where I was.  I ran out to join the fray not sure where I was heading.  I'm regretting now not exploring the set more and looking more into where I was.  Though, I don't think it was a terribly secret room.  My friend told me she saw someone come through the wardrobe from the other side at some point during the night.

On another floor, I began to haunt the halls where scenes between Lady MacDuff and MacDuff took place.  I saw these last time and found them very intriguing.  The two characters were literally climbing the walls in some pretty stunning acrobatics.  I wanted to witness this again once I realized where I was.  Walking into the sitting room, I realized I was earlier in the action perhaps as Lady MacDuff was by herself.  I witnessed her pull another audience member into a side room and then walked off to see what else was happening on that floor.  I found myself in the graveyard just off of the room where I had watched Lacy Macbeth.  There was a man (possibly one of Duncan's sons) kneeling by a grave digging in the dirt so I stopped to watch what he was doing.  He unearthed a cloth and unraveled it to reveal what looked like a bone, but I think now that it was a letter.  He added another something to the cloth, wrapped it back up, and then put it back in the ground.  At this point, I wandered off to something else.  Now, in the telling, I realize that some of these events are out of order.  Seeing Lady MacDuff pull the audience member off for the one on one may have happened earlier on.

I ended up in that exact same scene later on because I came upon Lady MacDuff, and followed her up several flights of stairs.  Down a hall hung with different mirrors, I followed her and stopped as she peered into one of them.  Seemingly as she saw my masked face in the mirror behind her, she gasped and twisted the mirror around on the wire from which it hung and slammed it into the wall.  She walked on and I followed into the same sitting room from before.  I stood and watched her move around the room, entranced as I took in my surroundings, and then realized that she was looking directly at me, a smile on her face and wonder in her eyes, her hand extended toward me.  I took it and she led me into that side room.  I couldn't believe I was getting two one on ones in one night.  "Fortune favors the bold," said the elevator operator as he brought us up earlier.

In the small side chamber, she pulled me aside and said, "You've come."  I said, stupidly, "I have."  She said, "Let me get a better look at you," as she removed my mask.   She stroked my beard and then grabbed my shoulders, rotated me and made me kneel before an open Bible on the table.  I looked around at the other items on the table as she leaned over me and spoke about how I had always been made fun of by the other kids when I was younger and how she used to put a pinch of salt behind my ear to protect me.  She then put my hand on the Bible and her hand on mine and slowly traced her hand along my right arm.  Then she frantically ripped a page from the book, folded it into a pouch, filled it with salt, handed it to me and then, seemingly frightened, she looked toward the door and ran out.  I realized I also had salt behind my ear at this point.  It was weird but I'm sure there's some symbolism in there somewhere. It was only much later in the bar that I realized I had a pocket full of salt. 

When she left the room, I took chase because she was off rather quickly. Plus, at this point, having already seen the banquet scene play out once I knew that I was in the second run through, at least, and became frantic again to find the one last scene I wanted to witness.  The crazy naked goat head man dead baby orgy scene.   I followed a few more characters that I knew were in that scene, one of them the Hitchcock character whom I watched enact a scene with the bellhop in the hotel lobby involving a tea set and some spilled tea.  This scene was fascinating to watch because I was basically sitting right in the middle of it.  I almost sat down on the arm rest of her chair.  One of the things I love about Sleep No More is how you can sit down right in the middle of the action, or choose your vantage point from across the room.  The characters will move you out of the way casually, if you are standing too close to the action or if someone's about to come running in.  

Again, I moved on and followed a few more characters, getting more and more excited as I started to recognize what was happening.  Then, I saw two of the witches with MacBeth, and heard thumping techno music and knew right away that if I followed them, they'd lead me where I wanted to be.  A group of us followed them down a long hallway and watched as MacBeth and one of the witches lifted the other witch high in the air against the wall.  Suddenly, they took off down a side hall and I wondered how I never saw it there before (I'd been looking for it for most of the night), because this was indeed the hall that led to the room where the orgy takes place.

The lights were low and blue when I walked in and the witch in red (Hecate) stood frozen with her arms outstretched, letting out an audible exhale in time with the music, once every few seconds.  At this point, I stood about five feet away from her, waiting for what I knew would come next: a blood curdling scream, followed by another directly behind me from Macbeth who stood on a table.  Even knowing this was coming, it still gave me goose bumps.  That coupled with the fact that I was so thrilled I managed to not miss this, my favorite scene, put me on cloud nine.  Giddy like a little kid I watched the rest of the scene play out, with the strobes and the frenetic movement, the fake blood flying and lastly, the naked character in the freaky goat head mask.  I knew that the very next scene was the one that led to my original one on one with the lady in red from the time I went back in August.

A full description of that scene is in my other blog that I referenced earlier in this entry, from back in August, so I won't go into much detail here.  (Haha, I know this entire blog is basically detail!).   I watched the following scene between the Hecate and the Hitchcock women.  The lady in red was a different actress this time and she played the scene a tad more comically, pouring wine in a shot glass for both her and the other woman, but only pouring a tiny bit for herself while she poured the glass to overflowing for the other woman.  There was a moment where the Hitchcock woman made a grab for the key on a chain around the witches neck but the witch stopped her.  She began to cry and the witch did the same bit where she held the glass up to the woman's cheek to collect her tears and then she left her there at the table.  I followed swiftly. I had been looking over my shoulder at the audience members trying to gauge both how many there were and if any of them seemed like they also knew what was going to happen and would try to thwart my attempt to follow her.  It had occurred to me that some of these audience members who hung back when the other characters left the room, were probably also trying to relive their prior experiences.   I was at the front of the herd following her and she turned and look at me.  I cocked my head to the side and she did the same.  Then she grabbed my shirt and began to pull me towards her.  Sort of breaking the spell a little bit, one of the black masks who are there to sort of regulate put her hand out to stop me from following.  I realized then that the lady in red was rethinking her choice and grabbed a girl to my left and pulled her inside instead.

I have to wonder if I was too bold.  They can probably tell just by your over eager behavior that you've already done something and they probably would rather give a chance to someone else.  Fair enough.  I admit I was getting a little greedy.

I believe it was at this point, that the black masks started to corral people and I wound up walking up to the end of the banquet scene again.  At this point, I found my friend, recognizable because she had brought a book with her and I could see it sticking out of her back pocket.  I snuck up on her and asked her if she was having fun and then went on my way trying to see what else I could see before going.  I tried to visit the piano on the upper level of the banquet room but a black mask blocked my way.  Finally winding my way down to the next floor, I was allowed to enter but everywhere I went on that floor I was turned aside by the black masks.  Eventually found my way back to the Manderley Bar where I reunited with Alexa and we shared our stories.

We watched the bands and had a drink and I showed her my mementos, the locket, the page of the bible folded into a pouch…and the pocket full of salt that came with it as an unfortunate bi product.  As we sat and talked a hotel employee came over to us and offered to sell us the book they have printed up about the show, complete with photos and interviews with the production team.  I could not resist.  After all, I was told I can never return to the Estate of Manderley.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Being solo, Music work, Music fun...

I can't get my mind off a weekday day trip to the beach these days. It's just something that occurred to me the other day and, with the weather as pleasant as it's been, it almost seems a shame to not be taking advantage of the proximity and plenitude of beaches here.  So, I've got my eye set on one and, unless I find a friend who's off during the week like me, I think I'm just going to go.  Lately, I've been doing things like that, not waiting until I have someone to go with and just going.  Sometimes it's even better to go alone.  You meet people, you can leave when you want and you don't have to worry about whether you enjoy someone's company enough to spend an entire evening/day with them.

I met a new friend at Marie Christine Giordano's dance performance on Saturday night, for example, a dancer who had just moved to the city, and we went out for a beer after the show.  And of course, I went to that networking event solo and made a ton of new acquaintances there.

And MCG's dance was spectacular, by the way.  She collaborated with a visual artist who built a light sculpture, a spherical object made from tubes of, I'm guessing neon, lit up blue, as well as an amazing lighting designer and a composer, Al Comet who worked with samples.  All of it was amazing and I'm glad I made it.  MC and I may collaborate soon too, for one of her open rehearsals.  We met for lunch this Wednesday and discussed me coming by and seeing her rehearsal space next week.

On top of that, I was asked to score another film by a filmmaker that my current director is working with.  Ben, my director, recommended me to this guy and he emailed me earlier in the week.  This is the second such out of the blue recommendation in recent weeks, so it's kind of cool.  This fellow is based in Italy right now and has put together a 23 minute short Samurai flick.  It plays really well and I'm going to have fun scoring it with some traditional Japanese style instruments but it's going to be a challenge.  As with Sides of the Track, learning about the instruments and/or digging deep to recover the tiny bit of knowledge I still have about them, as well as finding people to perform them, is going to be the bulk of the work for this film.

And I still have the Sundance cut of "The Life," the Ballerina scene from "The Life" and any last tweaks to Ben's score that may crop up in the next few days.  It's good to be busy.

Most of my blogs lately have been on the subject of how much work I've been doing, which is a good theme.  I think I like it.  It's not all work though...it is all music though, for the most part (with some voice over thrown in...got another direct invite the other day and submitted a pretty kick ass audition but now I wait...as per usual).  There has been some recreational music based activities as well.  Today I jammed with a new friend from work who is a drummer, and a pretty good one at that.  Murat is moving to NYC from Philly this week and as soon as we all sort out practice space/storage space for all of our equipment, we're all three going to be starting a band.  Lacy and I are still preparing for gigging in the fall as well.  So, it just keeps getting better.

And top all of the above off with the fact that I'm finally on a more human shift.  I just finished my first week of it and here I am chilling on my second full day off in a row after having actually slept, during the night on both Sunday and Monday nights..didn't have to stay up all night, nor sleep during the day.  And, can I tell you? It was amazing to do that after two and a half years of that crap.

So, anyway, been thinking about how much better my life is now compared to, say six years ago, because of how much music is in it.  I'd be languishing if I hadn't come up here to pursue this career.  I was in a rut before I decided to go back to grad school and depressed to boot, couldn't see a way out of it.  And what I have now seemed a million miles away.  A complete impossibility, a vague dream I had.  And now, here I am, not exactly making it, but at least surviving and doing what I love.  All because I stood up one day and realized that the only way I was going to achieve anything was by taking the initiative and doing something about it.  I knew what I wanted to do and I knew that I needed some experience if I was going to do it.  So I put myself in a position to gain that experience, accepted that it would take years, lost a relationship over it but then decided that since I was free, I could really do anything I wanted.  It was a powerful epiphany and after that the rest just fell into place.  I knew there'd be jobs up here, I knew I'd always wanted to live in a big city, I knew that NYC was high on that list of places and I knew that if I didn't throw myself out there that I'd never know if I could have done it.

Now, here I am talking like I've arrived.  I admit there's still a long way to go but in the context of looking back to see how far I've climbed (clumb?), I think it's okay to give a nod to my achievements.  Just a random assessment, as I take note of the fact that music is all around me now, the way I wanted my life to be all those years ago when for a period of time I was too afraid to follow that dream.  Boy am I glad I wised up and got off my ass.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Transit of Venus...

I've been out of the loop for a bit here but I've had tons going on.   This week is just getting started but I'm doing something fun and exciting just about every night.  Today was the most though.  I wanted to witness the transit of Venus across the sun that I've been raving about all week because it won't happen again until 2117.

And I thank grad school again for my badass organizational and time management skills.  I was able to pull off wrapping up some work on a few cues for the sci fi short at a coffee shop near the Highline park, while I waited for the transit to begin and, having brought my yoga mat was able to make it to a yoga class after the transit.  Granted, I had to put off dinner until about 1030 tonight but hey, you gotta make some sacrifices.  After all, like I said, this won't happen again until 2117, when I'm 136 years old!

The Amateur Astronomer's Association of NY was hosting a viewing party on the Highline Park (and one in Inwood at Riverside Park) so I figured, despite the clouds, I had to give this a shot and try to make it.  I've been meaning to join one of their stargazing events for some time now, ever since I heard of them…which probably came about because of my recent obsession, er, lay interest in astronomy and all things astrophysics borne out of my harrowing overnight schedule at work (which, sidebar, is OVER for good now…I worked my last overnight last night!). 

As I came out from underneath the building that the elevated rail line punctures at 14th Street, I couldn't believe how many people were up there to glimpse the transit.  With the amount of cloud cover there was, I thought there might only be a handful of people.  I almost didn't go and figured I would just watch it streaming online from Mauna Kea in Hawaii.  But as I sat in 'sNice on 8th Avenue, sipping my maté and working on my laptop, the sun peeked out a few times and I got excited.  It was really breaking through by the time I got up there, too.  I wandered around at first getting a scope of how many people were actually there and sizing up all the different telescopes.  Having no game plan, I figured I would just cozy up to one person's setup and try to get a look.  I approached one guy and chatted to him a little and peered into his telescope which was filtered and focused on the sun (it even had a battery powered motor to keep up with the rotation of the Earth).  I glimpsed a few sun spots but at that point the transit was still 15 minutes away.  Hearing rumors of someone passing out eclipse glasses, I began to seek her out and eventually found her but she was out of glasses except for 10 that were her own personal ones that she needed for her class.  I decided to hang out by her setup because she was projecting onto a plate attached to her telescope so it was much easier to watch.  I even tried the glasses a few times but it was too hard to actually see the transit that way. 

The clouds really were teasing us but by the time we were about 5 minutes in to the transit, we got a very clear glimpse of the whole disc of the sun on the plate, and there it was, a tiny black dot (well, bigger and clearer than the sun spots but still tiny). 

As I posted on Facebook earlier today, the dot of Venus is the especially round one toward the top of the disc on this plate.  The darker spots near the bottom are just scratches on the plate, but if you peer closely, you will notice a few sunspots even. 

This was such a fun event and it was inspiring to see how many people were interested in witnessing the transit.  It just gets you excited, too, about the incredible nature of the universe, how it works and how big it really is.  Much more exciting than just watching documentaries about this stuff, I mean, actually seeing it in action.  And add to that the fact that this event was so rare.  Mercury will cross the sun again in 2016 and does so more often but because it is closer to the sun than it is to us, it's not as striking.  But now, I'm probably going to have to go and check that out anyway in a few years.  

After making some new friends and chatting about everything from high powered telescopes, fast Fourier transform, and even the Pluto's not a planet debate, I left around 730pm and headed to Brooklyn Heights where I've been taking yoga at a new studio.  

Most of the teachers there seem to be Jivamukti inspired but the one who teaches tonight has some Anusara training, Anusara being the style I'm most recently acquainted with from studying at Abhaya yoga in DUMBO.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do when my 3 week new student deal is up.  I may go back to Abhaya and split my time between there and the new place, Yoga People, because I like the new place a lot.  But I've become really fond of all the teachers I've studied with at Abhaya.  I may, however, just continue investigating other studios out of curiosity just to see what else is out there.  

Anyway, I'm about to head off to bed, because I have to work tomorrow at 10am, a rare Wednesday shift to make up for the change in my schedule next week.  No MORE OVERNIGHTS!!!!!!  Tomorrow, after work, I'm going to a networking event, the NY Spotlight on Success, and then Thursday I may go see Marie-Christine Giordano's dance company. The excitement continues!  Good night.