Saturday, December 31, 2005

COM: When One Year Fades into Another

The fact is that it's the low points of this year that will make it always memorable.

The losses are heavily palpable in a soul that grew up in an era it did not understand. An era in which it felt like it was not a part of so much so that it finds it incomprehensible to look back and realize it was a part of it.

And so when the gems begin to fade, when the rhinestones lose their silver backing and one begins to realize how many times one was lied to, well, when the real gems go, the loss is devastating.

Then there's the Christmas Tsunami, which was the first issue i dealt with on this version of the blog. And Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, including the maiming of one of my old players. And what we did during Katrina.

And so this one soul took a lot of hits this year.

Johnny Carson, who i've written of, is one of the last memories i connect with my father. Rosa Parks symbolizes everything that i did not know, and how that ignorance comes to shape an eternal shallowness of being that i can't seem to transcend. Pope John Paul II throws me back to another era of my own life, but more reminds me that even in disagreement there are true men of virtue in this world and they will win out. Georgie Best, as fragile and faulty a machine as he was, nevertheless was an idol, and remains so. Richard Pryor, in all the encomia given him for his pioneering (funny how we didn't realize that at the time) and barrier-breaking, will always be the one, who for me, taught me to laugh again.

Rosa Parks, Pat Morita, Don Adams, Simon Wiesenthal, Gordon Delaney, Eudora Welty, Edmund Wilson, Stephen Jay Gould, Sumner Dana, Linda Baumann, John Schmidt, Johnny Cochran, Chris LeDoux, Rinus Michels, Arthur Miller, all are chapters or footnotes in my little excuse for a life, and too damn many were personal friends, and those, of course, hurt the most.

There were small personal moments of victory but they pale. Nevertheless finally gaining some recognition for my stagework means that my work has made a difference, but remains a wakeup call to not relax. Trips, getting more frequent, with old friends, can never be underestimated, for when my time comes, i want it not said that i forgot anyone, even though i know i constantly do, and it pains me so. The reconnections made this year are some of those real gems.

And so where exactly does life go? Where has it gone?

In January and February i was in a dynamite play The Drawer Boy with Art Peden and Phil Kazen, directed by Catherine Babbitt and Cackie Hayes, and managed by Lauren Hayes. It was an incredible experience. The first piece i've done on a non-local stage in decades. It was a moving piece. I was honored to have shared the best actor award with Art, truly a gifted and professional actor. That was the last time i stepped on stage. And that because it was the fourth straight show i had done and i just needed to get off a stage for a while.

I will be doing Our Town in a special production by the Ingram Tom Moore High School Thespians, directed by Holly Riedel this coming January. It's nice to be back on the boards.

My feature film Diogenes/Dionysus was due to wrap filming in the spring, but most of the actors were part of ITMs award-winning UIL One-Act Play The Crucible. Since they came within a mouse's whisker of going to state, and i didn't want to conflict, we kept putting things off and before i knew it most of the kids had gone off to college. We're still trying to film the last few scenes and maybe that'll happen in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile my documentaries Wisdom, Texas and Ode to a River got their first showings and were well received. Odes is already lined up for more showings in Spring 2006, and maybe will head for the festival circuit. A few others are in the pipeline, and i'm especially anxious to get The Extra Mile off the ground and in festival rotation as well.

Two of the films i was in last year premiered in Austin this fall. Sons of the Rodeo i thought was just excellent and am proud to have been associated with. My scene mostly got cut from Everything or Nothing, no great loss. I've been waiting to hear of festival entries for both of those. And Zerosum which i did sound for, and helped film, is premiering two days before Christmas. Lastly in the acting realm, i was awarded the Pointy Award for Best Supporting Actor for my stumbling mumbling Mr. Schulz in Cabaret at The Point last fall.

I was able to spend a week in the Chinati Mountains and west Texas in September with a bunch of old friends and had a wonderful time, if almost no sleep. Mostly we were in search of bugs and snails, but saw some fine birds, and of course, were mesmerized by the landscape. Presidio County never fails to engage me so. I also spent a week in the Valley with Greg Lasley chasing odonates, and presenting at Dragonfly Days in Weslaco.

My writing has been largely limited to blog entries, some of which explore the areas i would have done otherwise. But i have had some papers pick some things up, and i just had a paper accepted for John Abbott's new journal -- The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas. I was also solicited to write a chapter in a new book about birds of the Valley. Both of those pubs are due out in 2006. And finally in publishing for the year, two of my favorite prose vignettes were picked up for publication next summer. I've always considered those two pieces among my best, but it took someone of a similar mindset i guess to pick them from among my other more straightforward pieces. Glad to have found them a home.

Perhaps my big discovery of the year is a couple of hip-hop musicians/bands. Greyt White and Vehicular. That's mostly Austin gigs, but check 'em out if you get a chance.

The summer was pretty fantastic from the standpoint of working with great kids. I gave out ten outstanding service awards, more than double what i've ever given out before. That, more than anything, speaks of the tremendous group of kids i had to work with. One of them, fresh off winning a state championship in lacrosse, William Lawson, has just won a state championship in football too. You'll be hearing from him, and a whole range of others from this group.

In working with the ITM Thespians on various projects over the past couple of years, thanks to great friends Holly Riedel, Roy Burney and Marie Cearley, i got the chance this fall to travel with them to the Texas Thespian Conference in Corpus Christi. It was great time, again with another wonderful and talented bunch of kids. Whitney Wilson got offers from a range of fancy schools including the Chicago School for the Performing Arts. That's another name you should remember. ANd keep in mind too Lillian Beaudoin, off to NYU's Tisch School of Fine Arts, and Meggie Nidever, off to Williams.

Coming up in 2006 will be a presentation of Ode to a River at the National Convention of the North American Bluebird Society. I'll be leading a half-dozen trips around the Hill Country for birds, and working on my usual projects documenting area flora and fauna, at least part of the time with a protege who is looking to become a biologist. And as i said i'm looking to wrap up some film projects also.

The World Scholar-Athlete Games, of which i am an alumni and now a nominator, is gearing up for the 2006 games. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for bright, talented kids. I've nominated 25 kids for this summer's games, and already know of one acceptance -- Thomas Boydston, a bright young photographer will be headed to Rhode Island.

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