Monthly Archives: June 2015

The notion of “better”

If it’s not already out in the open, let me say it right now: I am the passive one of the group. I am the non-confrontational one of the group. I avoid contentious issues, and when I do talk about it, I don’t talk about the issue so much. I try to find that middle ground, if that’s possible. In the realm of politics, I would rather not have my opinions known, in large part because I have no idea what I’m talking about; or, more accurately, I know what the issue is, but I don’t know what I think about it or how to back up my arguments. Most of the time, I don’t think that far ahead. The way I see it, and so be it if I’m wrong, it’s a very passive way of living in the moment.

I have friends and family on all sides of the political, social, and religious spectrum. Who am I to judge anybody who has a different opinion than I do? This is one thing I wish people on all sides of these spectrum would understand. Whatever happened to “judge not, lest ye be judged?” Did our world become so selective that we put on our rose-colored glasses, or blinders, or whatever you want to call it? One of the worst traits the world can have is to lose our objectivity. I’ve been guilty of this, too- I am stubborn to a fault on many things, although these are more psychological reasons than anything else. If there’s a recurring theme with my life, it’s that I base most of my worldview based on psychology rather than politics. They can be mixed together, but they can also exist mutually exclusively of each other. Can I really call myself a “better” person because I’m on one side of a particular issue? In certain contexts, “better” can be a very dangerous word. As an HFA, I’ll say this: how you say it is just important as what you say.

Perhaps there is strength in silence. Maybe it’s better not to know sometimes. The notion of being “better” than anybody is a very dangerous concept. So many times, they say you’re “better” by just walking away. But I don’t want to be better than anybody. I just want to be. When did that become so impossible?

I have many friends that have gone out into the front lines, risked everything – including friendships and reputations – to have a chance to be in the world, on both sides. Maybe this is my way of being in the world. Somebody’s got to do it. We all show strength in our own way. This is my way.

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Milestones

This is a little bit late, but still:

In one of my previous posts, I referred to records and breaking them. Since then, one milestone has been reached and another one is due to be reached.

American Pharoah became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing. I’m still admittedly not that big of a fan of thoroughbred racing, but there’s still something to be said for that. It’s a great story. It seems like more and more, America is in need of its heroes, and how we define heroism is changing. This is the first Triple Crown winner in the Internet age, and the first that many people have seen in their lifetime. When Secretariat won his Triple Crown in 1973, the Watergate scandal was looming large, and would come to a head later that year. Augusto Pinochet took over Chile in a coup. Secretariat not only won those races, but he dominated. The term “heart of a champion” is overused, but I think this time it worked. Now Victor Espinoza becomes the oldest jockey to ride a Triple Crown winner, and finally gets his moment in the sun, as does trainer Bob Baffert. All of us look for that moment in the sun.

The other record is Alex Rodriguez reaching 3,000 hits. I think this one depends on whether you’re a Yankees fan or not. Being a Red Sox fan, it’s not that I don’t want to see it happen, it’s the person accomplishing it. I watched when Derek Jeter had his 3,000th hit on a home run to left field. Regardless of your allegiance in that rivalry, Jeter did it the right way. I’d like to think there was a respect level there between both sides in that regard (similar things happened with Mariano Rivera). But this time, it’s hard to root for A-Rod. It’s not even the PED issue- he’s not the first, nor will he be the last. But you have to admit, there is something very churlish about him. He came to New York under very controversial circumstances, and was already a player with a reputation. Regardless of who achieves it, you do have to do something right to reach 3,000 hits. At the same time, though, how big the fanfare will be remains to be seen. I’m sure I’m not alone in offering congratulations through gritted teeth. Records are meant to be broken, but the right people don’t always break them.

Milestones are occurring all around us. What makes them enduring is who accomplishes them and how. Sometimes, even the best milestones can feel hollow if achieved under the wrong circumstances.

Don’t call it a comeback.

So, Cymbeline ends on what is also my niece’s fifth birthday. Over the last seven weeks, we’ve battled the weather report (and had one show moved indoors due to inclement weather), uncertainty over props, and battled fatigue (walking an hour and back to and from the park in the heat can take a lot out of you). But we finished a little bit after 5:00 today, and the predicted storm clouds never came, so something must have worked in our favor. Most of my castmates I had worked with before, and the few people with whom I was working for the first time made it a great experience. It gave me the healing feeling I needed, which I’ve been struggling to find for a while. Maybe I belong here after all.

It feels good to be back.

Can you feel the butterflies?

Show time always brings out a wide range of emotions in me. One the one hand, I get nervous because I know I have people coming, and I don’t want to let them down. I’ve always felt like that, so to mess up at the one thing I really feel confident in would be a total crusher.

But this is meant to be a rising-from-the-ashes type of post.

On the other hand, there’s something powerful knowing that people are here for you. I draw strength from that. Knowing that all eyes are on you means that you have their attention- they will listen to you, no matter what you tell them. And they know it’s not the real you. Most of the time, they know you’re just a character. There’s something that gives you strength in it. It’s hard to explain to those who watch it from an outsider’s perspective. Not that being an outsider is a bad thing, and that’s a tough word to use in this case, but there’s a method to this madness.

A friend of mine who is also an actress gave me a piece of advice: “Love it, but don’t do it looking for applause.” She’s right, but I’m not sure if I can follow that advice. I go looking for it whenever I can get it. There’s something uplifting about reassurance. Forgive me if I sound a little selfish. I’m on my cloud right now and I don’t want to come down.

We finish a rehearsal process of about six weeks tonight. Audiences come in tomorrow night, including my dad and stepmom, as well as several of my supervisors from work.

There are butterflies in my stomach, but I’ve found I need that feeling. I’ve been looking for a launching pad to larger things. Hopefully, this can be a small step on the way. If the Corps work out, that will be a bigger step.

Five things to remember:
1. The only person to judge you in these things is yourself.
2. Enunciate, enunciate, enunciate.
3. Every performance is another step of improvement.
4. Take a deep breath, and speak from your core.
5. If you love it, it’s always worth it.

Tomorrow’s the night.

Safe haven

I don’t remember which show it was, but a fellow actor once told me, “I feel safe with you knowing you’re on stage.” That’s definitely up there as one of the best compliments I’ve received. I figure that if nothing else, I’d like to let my dedication to the craft of acting carry me through.

Most of the people in the Cymbeline cast and crew are people with whom I’ve worked at least once. I feel like great friendships have been formed as a result of these shows. We have somebody who is making his theatrical debut in this show, which is always really cool. As we were driving home from line-thru tonight, I told him something that I think is very true: actors looks out for each other. We’ve all been there- the failed auditions, the turmoil, the talks from friends/family/others about being practical. I won’t say the same for others, but I can’t do practical very well.

The feeling of safety is mutual. I feel safe knowing they are there to back me up. They will not let me fail, no matter how many times I worry. I know I’m in safe hands.

Many thanks, everybody.

Red Devils upcoming matches- June 7 and 12

The Red Devils play two upcoming matches in the following days- a friendly against France in Paris and a qualifier for UEFA Euro 2016 against Wales in Cardiff. As good as they have been lately, there is a certain nervousness for these matches- a draw with Wales would keep them atop the group, and a top three finish would at least guarantee them a playoff berth. But I feel like if they’re really on the rise, now is the time to prove it. This is also due to the fact that they have now attained the ranking of second in the world according to FIFA (in the wake of the ongoing corruption case, those results may be skewered somewhat, but you take what you can get), so people are coming for them. Wales have been on the rise, and France is eleventh in the world, and will be playing at home in Sunday’s friendly. Belgium has a clutch fixture at Baudoin in Brussels on September 3 against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then a road fixture against Cyprus three days later. After the Wales Bosnia match, they have three easier fixtures- Cyprus and Andorra away from home, and then a home match against Israel to finish qualifying. A top two finish will get them in.

Many have Belgium as a prohibitive favorite in Euro 2016. I worry that they may be biting off more than they can chew, and they shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch. Worry about qualifying first, especially against Wales. They are much improved and Belgium will be without Vincent Kompany, who was sent off against Israel. Belgium will have to solidify in the back, and if they are indeed the second-best team in the world right now, they must prove it. A draw will not hurt their qualifying ranking, but might cost them points in the standings. The same goes with the friendly against France. We’ll have to see what happens. This is why you play the games.

Leve Rode Duivels.

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup group breakdown

With action set to kick off on Saturday, the Women’s World Cup begins in Canada. I hope it’s a good one, if for no other reason than to save some face for FIFA. Say what you want about them, but until there is a better way to adjudicate these things, or unless a new governing body takes over, this is what they have to work with.

The big change is that the tournament expanded from 16 to 24 teams. The top two teams in each group advance, as do the four best third-place teams. The men’s World Cup did this in 1986, 1990, and 1994. Host nation Canada comes in with higher expectations, and most if not all games will take place on turf instead of grass.

My prognostications for the group. Once again, I expect to eat crow for this.

Groups will be listed by how they are seeded, with Canada-China being the opening match in Edmonton.

Group A: Canada, China, New Zealand, Netherlands

Canada comes in as host, and with Christine Sinclair, they should be favored to win the group. They won bronze in the 2012 Olympics, so the host nation can be very dangerous here. China were among the top teams in the 1990s, finishing runner up to the United States in 1999, but fell off slightly in the following decades. Still, I think that Canada and China advance. New Zealand and debutantes Netherlands will have their work cut out for them, but I could see the Dutch sneaking into third place and advancing.

Group B: Germany, Cote d’Ivoire, Norway, Thailand

Two debutantes (Cote d’Ivoire and Thailand) and two former champions (Germany in 2003 and 2007, and Norway in 1995). Should be an interesting group. I think this will be one of the two groups where the third place team will not advance. Germany and Norway should advance; Germany is top ranked in the world for women, and if Norway has slipped a little bit, it’s not by much.

Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador

Japan, the reigning champions, face three first-timers. This should be an interesting group. Japan will obviously be favored, and I can see the Swiss getting second. Ecuador will take third place honors and be one of the four third place teams in.

Group D: United States, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria

This is a group where all four teams have played before. The United States may be the reigning runners up, and second in the world, but this is a deceptively tough group. Sweden beat them to top the group in 2011, and come in fifth in the world. Nigeria and Australia have also made at least one quarterfinal appearances. I think the United States and Sweden take top two, with Australia advancing to the round of 16 narrowly.

Group E: Brazil, South Korea, Spain, Costa Rica

Brazil is probably the best team that has never won; they finished runner up in 2007, beating the U.S. in the semifinals that year. This is an easier group than expected; debutantes Spain should take second, and this is the other group where the third place team doesn’t get in.

Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico

France and England played each other in the quarterfinals in 2011; France won via penalty shootout. Both should advance, with France’s seeding team taking first. Colombia takes the final third place position.

Advancing to Round of 16

Group A: Canada, China

Group B: Germany, Norway

Group C: Japan, Switzerland

Group D: United States, Sweden

Group E: Brazil, Spain

Group F: France, England

Best Third place teams

Netherlands (Group A)

Ecuador (Group C)

Australia (Group D)

Colombia (Group F)

Round of 16 (based on how the draw is supposed to be set up, not randomly selected)

China vs. Switzerland

United States vs. Colombia

Germany vs. Ecuador

France vs. Spain

Brazil vs. Sweden

Japan vs. Netherlands

Norway vs. England

Canada vs. Australia

Advancing to quarterfinals

China vs. United States

Germany vs. Spain

Sweden vs. Japan

Norway vs. Canada

Semifinals

United States vs. Germany

Japan vs. Norway

Third place game

United States vs. Norway

Final

Germany vs. Japan

2015 Women’s World Cup Champion: Germany

June is busting out all over

June may only be four days old officially, but it seems like the unofficial halfway point on the year brings out so much in me. My niece is turning five this month. I have a birthday of my own coming up, in a little less than two weeks. June 21st alone has three things occurring- Father’s Day, the summer solstice, and the final day of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Somehow, it’s appropriate that it concludes a week later this year (it usually goes concurrently with Father’s Day weekend). June 6th begins the Women’s World Cup, the Rode Duivels play a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Wales (without Vincent Kompany, unfortunately, so I’m nervous), and we’ll get to see family friends again.

And, of course, we’re one week away from the show. Deep healing breaths.

Just because it’s June, June, June.