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Heroes

June 6, 2014

Because of the 70th anniversary of D-Day today, and events in Seattle yesterday, heroes are much on my mind. Two, specifically.

Grandpa Accola

Grandpa Accola

My grandfather, Carl Accola, has been my hero all of my life. The heroism for which he’s most noted, his service in World War II, is inspiring, but what always made him my hero was his great kindness. The way he has always conducted himself in his daily life has served as an inspiration to me from as early as I can remember. The lasting images I will always carry of him are the way he and my grandmother held hands everywhere they walked, the condensation on his one evening bourbon lowball as I sat on his lap watching the Cubs, the serious consideration he gives any question, and the wrinkles around his eyes as he smiles and laughs.

In WWII, he served in the Navy. On D-Day, his job was to scuttle his ship to be part of a breakwater to ease the landing of troops on the beach at Normandy. Afterward, he and the crew lived on the deck of their ship, just above the surface of the water, and took on board the wounded until they could be medevacked out to hospitals.

Later in the war, he served in the Pacific Theater, helping to secure Japan after the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.

I can’t begin to summarize how proud I am to be his grandson, and how much I look forward to celebrating his 100th birthday with him in Williamsburg in August.

Jon Meis

Jon Meis

On a heavier note, I’ve been thinking a great deal about Jon Meis today. I’d be completely unaware of his existence were it not for his actions yesterday, which put to an end a mass shooting on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. Jon served as a student monitor in Otto Miller Hall. When a shooter (whose name I refuse to repeat, and am doing my best to forget I ever read) stopped to reload, Jon pepper sprayed him, tackled him, and, with the help of other students, held him down until police arrived. At the end of the attack, one was dead, and three were injured. Were it not for Jon, that number could have been far greater.

Since the attack, Jon has not accepted interviews, and has requested of his friends that they not speak to the press, either. And, while this may be due to shock, it strikes me more as the same kind of humility my grandfather has always had. And maybe it’s intrusive to continue the trend I’m seeing in the media and social networking to write more about him, but I hope he’ll understand that perhaps this is the best thing we can do right now. I’m so grateful to see that, at least so far, this shooting seems a little different, in that far more attention is being paid to the hero than to the shooter.

I don’t want to get too deeply into politics here, because it feels as if nothing is ever going to change with regards to gun policy or mental health administration or media sensationalism. But maybe, just maybe, we individually can make a change. We can choose to spend more time focusing on the heroes and the victims, and to turn away from endless coverage of the people who necessitated that heroes emerge and that victims be mourned. Perhaps, if we change the stations of our televisions and radios, if we don’t click through on links about the killers… if we make it unprofitable for the media to spend so much time on the villains, there will be less villains. Certainly, there will still be murders, but maybe delusions of grandeur will have to find outlets that don’t result in bloodshed.

Or maybe not. But today at least, I choose gratitude over anger. Thank you so much, Grandpa. Thank you so much, Jon.

Hope to be around more this year

January 26, 2014

Last year was just a crazy busy year for me: three long-form shows, ComedySportz, playwrighting for 14/48, a new job, lots of travel, and just life in general. Hoping to get back in the habit of writing again this year.

To that end, new improv blog post at Around the Block: Why Improv? Because Everything Matters.

Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow

August 7, 2012

More and more, I’m realizing that I’m too damned concerned with what people are going to think of various posts, how well-written they are, whether they agree with them, blah blah fucking Kristen Kosmas blah, which is ridiculous/hilarious/sad, since a) this was supposed to be a space to figure some shit out, and b) not that many people read it, so just relax already. And, if perchance, I am drawn as one of the playwrights for 14/48 Kamikaze two days hence, I’m going to have to get way the hell over it or turn in blank pages.

So.

I have a lot of things I’m thinking about lately. Too many to condense into one post. And, at this very, very specific moment, I don’t have time to write up any one of them, even all stream-of-consciousness (which I’m beginning to think is the way to go). But! There’s this song. That I don’t hear very often. And every time I hear it, I think, “I have to remember the title of this fucking song so that I can listen to it whenever I want to.” And it just came on Pandora. Rather than relying on my sieve-brain to remember it, I’m just going to post one of its YouTube iterations, and then I can come back to it for always. (And shut up, whippersnappers; I already know all your youthful brains have memorized every word and know all the fingering, etc. I seriously forget the title minutes after hearing it. Every damned time.)

Could I torture some relation between this song and any of the cornucopia of topics in my head? Probably. But I’d rather just listen to this song, because it spanks me.

Oh, also. Go, for Christ’s sake, go read #TheTwitterIssue of FRiGG. I personally don’t really get Twitter, but reading this issue, I sort of start to get it (reading #WhatIsThis? certainly helped). And this issue does, in fact, relate back quite well to the numero uno topic on my mind. Which I’ll get to. Or not. But I hope I do.

Okay. Shutting up and listening now. Keep walking and running and running for miles.

Improv blog roundup

August 1, 2012

Cattle Drive

If blogs were cows, this would be the perfect image for this post. Instead, it just sort of makes me want a Marlboro.

Well, I’ve been sitting here trying to think about what I want to blog about, and it feels like there are just too damned many things, and my thoughts are all over the place. So instead, I’m going to link to some posts by other improvisers that are badass (both the posts and the improvisers are badass, in case you were wondering to which subject that adjective should be attached). Some of these badass people I’ll be seeing tomorrow night, as we have sort of an improv blog summit. I don’t know what’s in the water in Seattle lately, but it seems that a fair number of people are strapping their improv nerd hats on more tightly. And that’s completely awesome. So… here are some recent posts about improv from badass people who have been at it far longer than I. I’m devouring everything they post. My bet is you will, too. (Until I know whether or not people are cool with being identified by name, I’ll only post the titles of their blogs.) Here ya go:

Still Not Elicia. This, in many ways, is what got the blog summit rolling. There was a post by a San Francisco improviser that numerous Seattle folk weighed in on, mostly in the comments. This was the one blog post that was directly spawned by it, though. A Touchy Subject is the most recent post, and deals with physicality (my favorite!) on stage.

Seattle Comedy Nerd. As inspiration for this blog, the author is using the Tao Te Ching. The first such post, The Tao of Improv: Better to stop pouring is up today, and it’s an excellent read.

The Unexpected Blog. The official(?) blog of Unexpected Productions. It looks like at least some posts from Still Not Elicia will be cross-posted there, but there’s also content by at least one other company member. Silence!–How Shutting Up Can Make You a Better Improviser is one such post, and is a good one, especially on a topic that probably scares the shit out of a lot of improvisers.

Tony Beeman. Clearly not shy about his identity. His first post is Quotes from Non-Improvisers That Apply To Improv, which is a great jumping off point to start other posts. In fact, one post on Seattle Comedy Nerd was inspired by a comment about this post right here.

And that’s it for now. Hopefully, I’ll soon be contributing more to the discussion than just oohs and aahs. And the obligatory plug: I’ll be performing at ComedySportz Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30. 2-for-1 tickets available for pre-purchase here.

Three shows to see

July 19, 2012

Dammit, I really should be writing more about improv (or anything for that matter) instead of just dropping in when it’s time to pimp shows. That said, I have three shows coming up that are all kickass. So you should go. Y’know? Not because I want an audience (although, of course I do), but because you’d have a great time. Fair? So, in order of performance date:

Quiz ShowQuiz Show is back again this Sunday (July 22) at Wing-It. Only five bucks at the door if you say, “Trebeck.” There’s a reason that this show has a fairly rabid following of folks who’ve been to numerous performances. You should find out if the reason applies to you as well.

ComedySportz SeattleComedySportz Seattle returns next Friday (July 27) at the Ballard Underground, and runs purty near into perpetuity, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 and/or 10:30 (schedule varies a bit based on other productions using the theater). The preview weekend of CSz Portland vs. CSz Seattle was a huge hit. My older son (he’s 13) and I went to all four shows. He’s seen a LOT of improv, and these shows were by far his favorite. Super-high energy shows. Tix are twelve bucks online or at the door. Not sure which performances I’ll be in yet, but this isn’t for me, it’s for you! Go see any of ‘em!

14/48 Kamikaze14/48 Kamikaze is… well, I’ve talked about how insane and amazing 14/48 is before. The producers are amping up the insane level this time (hence, kamikaze). While there will still be 14 new short plays written, directed, rehearsed, and performed in 48 hours, and while it’s still true that the artists won’t know until their names are drawn who they’ll be working with, another element of randomness has been added. The fifty participating artists won’t know until their names are drawn whether they’ll be writing, directing, acting, designing, or playing in the band. After having been invited to regular 14/48 as an actor twice, I’m beyond honored to be invited to be in the first group of artists participating kamikaze style. Not so secretly, I’m hoping to be in the band. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Get your tickets early—shows often sell out. Shows are August 10-11, at 8:00 and 10:30.

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.

June 26, 2012

In improv, in writing, in life… a reminder to myself.

And to you, should you stumble here. Go dance.

Happy birthday, SmokeLong!

June 25, 2012

SmokeLong Quarterly is nine years old today! Woo! Go celebrate by reading the latest issue:

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