Augustus and Me: My Sexy 2016 Review with the first Emperor of Rome

This is the transcript of a conversation between this doe-eyed devil:

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Don’t judge a book by it’s sculpture.

And this equally doe-eyed whipper-snapper:

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Shall we go back to my place and slip into something a little more comfortable? Because you’ll be sitting for a long time while I show you my extensive Metallica collection.

WILL
So here I am with… where’s Caligula? I was promised Caligula!

AUGUSTUS
Don’t get me started on Caligula. He’s a psychotic, pathological lying narcissist who lashes out (see: murders) anyone who breathes in a way he doesn’t appreciate. You’re lucky you live in a democratic state where you don’t have leaders like him.

WILL
Ahahahahahahahahaha

AUGUSTUS
What’s so funny?

WILL
Nothing. You’re right. So what’s your issue with Caligula?

AUGUSTUS
He stuffed his dead families bones in my tomb, WITHOUT ASKING, and then he spread rumors that I had sex with my daughter.

WILL
Sounds like quite the jokester.

AUGUSTUS
He had almost everyone close to him killed!

WILL
It’s the holiday season. By New Year’s Eve most people will feel compelled to do the same.

AUGUSTUS
Well, Caligula was busy (see: murdering), so here I am.

WILL
Here you are. The first emperor of Rome.

AUGUSTUS
I never claimed that title. It was thrust upon me.

WILL
Said like a true Caesar.

AUGUSTUS
It’s true!

WILL
I never claimed to be called William. It was thrrrrust upon me.

AUGUSTUS
I know you’re mocking me, but you go low, I go high.

WILL
You watched the election?

AUGUSTUS
Certainly did. How fascinating!

WILL
Right.

Will stares off into space as he dies inside.

AUGUSTUS
Hey, man, it’s ok! Rome was very split at one time. Literally! We were split into the Eastern and Western Empires. Our leaders also oppressed a great number of people out of fear and ignorance, and those groups, well… later rose up to be a great force, revolted and ousted Emperor Romulus, sacked the capital of the Western Empire and officially began the fall of Rome. Ok, nevermind. What were we –

WILL
Let’s get back to name etymology.

AUGUSTUS
Right. I was born Octavius, given the name Octavian when I was adopted by the Caesars. Nice bunch! Then I was deemed Augustus because the Senate thought I looked more late-summer than mid-fall.

WILL
Calendar humor.

AUGUSTUS
That’a a bunch of bullshit anyway, the month of August was named after me, so that joke doesn’t even make any sense.

WILL
Moving on.

AUGUSTUS
I was given the name Augustus, by the Senate, which means ‘exalted one’.

WILL
We have something in common! I was Billy when I was a little boy, gave myself the name Bill when I thought I had matured into a fully formed adult (in the sixth grade). Then I was deemed Will when the Senate (consisting of my first serious girlfriend Sam) decided I didn’t look like a ‘Bill’ but more like a ‘Will’.

AUGUSTUS
A Sam does not make a Senatorship.

WILL
A Sam did not make a relationship, either, but let’s skip the semantics.

AUGUSTUS
Skipped.

WILL
I was given the name Will by Sam which means ‘vagina’.

AUGUSTUS
Ha! It does not mean vagina!

WILL
Yes it does!

AUGUSTUS
No it doesn’t!

WILL
Yes it does!

AUGUSTUS
You’re kidding.

WILL
Look it up.

AUGUSTUS
On what?

WILL
On your phone.

AUGUSTUS
My phone? What’s a phone?

WILL
Oh stop. You’ve used the word ‘bullshit’, referenced the 2016 election and called the Caesars a ‘nice bunch!’ like they’re the BC version of the Partridge family. You’ve been hanging around long enough to get a phone.

AUGUSTUS
Ok, fine. I have a phone. But I barely know how to use it. I had my daughter, Julia the elder, WHO I DID NOT SLEEP WITH, set it up for me and the only thing she showed me was how to look at Cosmopolitan’s snapchat feed.

WILL
Exciting.

AUGUSTUS
I read about how handjobs are like bottled water. It said ‘why walk to the store for something when you can just go to your sink and milk the cow for free?’

WILL
I think you’re mixing metaphors.

AUGUSTUS
What’s a handjob? Is that like working with a hammer? Manual labor?

WILL
It’s something that’s only enjoyable if you’re 17 or feeling nostalgic.

AUGUSTUS
That doesn’t answer my –

WILL
Back to the original point, yes, ‘will’ in Shakespeare’s day did mean ‘vagina’, among other things. What it really means, in it’s original German, is ‘resolute protector’.

AUGUSTUS
Idea! From now on you can refer to me as the Exalted One, and I will refer to you as Resolute Protector.

WILL
Handjobs all around!

AUGUSTUS
What?

WILL
Nevermind. So, what’s your story, dude?

AUGUSTUS
What’s my story? You know my story… dude.

WILL
But like, what did you do that I don’t know about. What was it like being a teenager in Rome?

AUGUSTUS
I don’t know. I was Emperor of Rome by the age of 19. How about you?

WILL
I was the Assistant Manager of Dairy at my local Hy-Vee.

AUGUSTUS
Ah.

WILL
COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF HAPPINESS! Ok, fine. It’s not the same amount of power, or whatever, but I did get to eat and drink barely expired dairy products.

AUGUSTUS
Gross.

WILL
No! It was great! Most of that stuff lasts long past it’s expiration date. I was calcium fortified. Now I can’t even drink milk, because I’m lactose intolerant. Which was a bizarre transition in itself. I was fine until I moved to Portland, and then all of a sudden I had this serious stomach cramp –

AUGUSTUS
Are you really telling me how you became lactose intolerant?

WILL
Yeah, so?

AUGUSTUS
I was the first emperor of Rome. I conquered Egypt, Libya, much of Germania and most of Turkey. I doubled the size of the empire.

WILL
Well, why didn’t you conquer all of Germania? Hmmmmmm?

AUGUSTUS
Well, because –

WILL
I know why!

AUGUSTUS
Wait-

WILL
Because the Cheruscan leader Arminius, also known as Hermann the German, betrayed the Romans and slaughtered you in the Battle of Teutoberg Forest! The same man whose sculpted copper likeness stands a mere 3 miles from the Hy-Vee where I worked as the Resolute Protector of all yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs from the rushing hordes of weak-fingered old ladies.

AUGUSTUS
Wait! Wait! Wait!

WILL
What?

AUGUSTUS
Why are eggs in the dairy department?

WILL
Why did you sleep with your daughter? I don’t know. I didn’t make the rules.

AUGUSTUS
I DID NOT SLEEP WITH MY DAUGHTER!

WILL
Let’s just agree that it’s not fair or beneficial to compare achievements. It’s not going to get us anywhere.

AUGUSTUS
When I was 31 –

WILL
Oh come on-

AUGUSTUS
I declared war on Cleopatra and defeated Egypt’s forces in an epic naval battle, after which Antony and Cleopatra went off to kill themselves. Quitters! What fun is that?

WILL
At 31, there was an epic naval battle in the sea of my relationship with my then girlfriend Colleen.

AUGUSTUS
Did she run off with her lover and commit suicide?

WILL
No. But she did take my Cinnamon and Thyme off the spice rack for which I will never forgive her.

AUGUSTUS
That does not seem comparable.

WILL
Well we can’t all declare war!

AUGUSTUS
Shouldn’t we be talking about 2016? Isn’t that why we’re here? Why I’m here?

WILL
I don’t really care to talk about it.

AUGUSTUS
You don’t want to talk about 2016?

WILL
I’m not sure what good it would do to sum it up. To quantify a years worth of experience in a cute list of achievements, or a hilarious and sad diatribe of my dating foibles, or talk about the election again or how so many of everyone’s favorite celebrities have died AS IF THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN EVERY YEAR! DO WE HAVE THE COLLECTIVE MEMORY OF A GOLD FISH!!!

AUGUSTUS
You’re upset.

WILL
No it’s fine.

AUGUSTUS
I should go.

WILL
No, it’s fine.

AUGUSTUS
Are you going to yell?

WILL
No. I’m sorry. It’s been a… growing year. With growing pains.

AUGUSTUS
Alan Thicke! No!

WILL
God damn it. Would you shut up? This is where the blog post gets serious.

AUGUSTUS
Sorry.

WILL
When I was a kid I would wake up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain in my legs. In my calves, and in my thighs. I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep it would hurt so much. I’m not even sure those pains are a result of growing. Anyway, it hurts. I’m growing, but it’s keeping me awake.

AUGUSTUS
Maybe that’s a good thing?

WILL
Probably. If I’m not growing, why be alive? This year was full of lessons. I feel like I’m a brat bursting on the grill.

AUGUSTUS
Now I’m hungry.

WILL
We hear this constant refrain at our school, in this acting program that I’m in, where we’re told that many of the lessons we’re getting won’t sink in until 5-10 years from now. We’ll be walking down the street, or working in some theatre, in god knows where, and BAM, the lightbulb will go off. I want those light bulbs to go off now. I want to be in a room of blinding fluorescence, where a heavenly angel will descend from the ceiling singing ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh’ as I grasp the meaning of life deep in my cerebral cortex. I, like the petulant spaghetti-faced six year old that I am, scream in my head ‘But I want to get it NOWWWWWWWWWWW! Why can’t I get it NOWWWWWWWWW!’ I don’t get it now.

AUGUSTUS
You must get soooome things, right? It’s great to be curious and all, but if you’re 33 and you got one stark torture-room light bulb swinging from the rafters you’ve got some work to do.

WILL
Yeah. I get soooome things. There’s at least three torture bulbs swinging.

AUGUSTUS
Will. I have something to say and I want you to listen to me… You will never be the Emperor of Rome.

WILL
Thanks for ruining my 5 year plan.

AUGUSTUS
I’m serious. You will never be the Emperor of Rome.

WILL
I don’t know what you mean.

AUGUSTUS
I see you, because I’ve been created by you –

WILL
Oh don’t get all self-referential on me now –

AUGUSTUS
– and I can tell you that Rome doesn’t exist. Neither does the role of Emperor.

WILL
So you’re saying that I’m striving for some place that doesn’t exist? That I’m trying to achieve a status that is fictional; that I’ve made it up and I’ll push and push to get there only to be left constantly disappointed?

AUGUSTUS
What do you think?

WILL
Who took the irreverent, intelligent and funny Caesar and replaced him with a dead-eyed Dr. Phil?

AUGUSTUS
Laugh it off! Make jokes!

WILL
What am I supposed to do? Am I trying too hard to become something? Do I wish sometimes that I was someone else? Sure I do. Do I hate that? Yes. Is comparison the thief of joy? Sounds like an inspirational poster that’s on the nose. Sometimes it’s hard to sit in it. To. just. be. in. it. To not look forward and to not look back. I’m sucked into Facebook during the day which brings up the past immediately with it’s stupid ‘share a memory’ option, and then I’m pointed to all the news articles that suggest our future is either fucked or near-fucked. Who was I? Who am I now? Who do I want to be? What good do those questions do me? I want… I know I want to be strong in my convictions, and planted in my vulnerability. I want to be a man who is fierce in compassion and passionate in my intimacy. I want to own all parts of myself, my intelligence, my heart, and my power. I want to no longer be ashamed of being sensitive. I want to give a name to my shame so I can rip out the heart of it’s power. I want to love unabashedly, joyfully, and potently. I want to let the wind of experience rip through me. I want to bike in the rain and feel the pin pricks on my face and know that I’m alive and I better be wearing a helmet or I might die. I want to take action. I want to tell the people that I love them. I want to forgive myself. I want to look at myself in the mirror and say,’I love you. I am listening.’ I want to continue being a smart ass, and pestering my classmates like a little boy. I want to be brave, an embolden bravery around me. I want to continue creating safe, playful places for my students. I want to help people rekindle their imagination, and in doing so ignite mine. I want to say thank you, instead of I’m sorry. I want to live with intention, and not be a slave to my habits. That means putting my phone away, and avoiding the time suck that is the internet. I want to keep asking the question ‘how best can I serve the world?’ I want to deepen my connection with my parents. I want to stop being ashamed. I want to not fade into myself. I want to share what’s going on with me. I want to share with Zach so that twist in my stomach can turn into inspiration and we can inspire each other. I want to do yoga more and meditate everyday. I want to look at people and smile, instead of look away. I want to let go of the people in my life who make me contract and not expand. I want to walk around a lake with Andy until we’re 65 and red in the face from frostbite, ruminating about the intricacies of frozen pizza. I want to eat all of the chocolate and drink all of the coffee. I want to get drunk and play stupid music with Greg in the dojo. I want to love myself first. I want people who didn’t get name dropped to not go ‘why didn’t he name me! Asshole!’. I want to say ‘egh, fuck it’ far more often. I want to create my art, the kind of art that I’d love to see and that I love to do. I want to sit down and peel away the onion layers of embarrassment, foolishness, guilt and shame that have cocooned my heart. I want to listen. I want to –

AUGUSTUS
You want to…

WILL
Do this all in the next three days.

AUGUSTUS
Jokes!

WILL
I want to do those things. I will do those things.

AUGUSTUS
You’ll definitely fail at some.

WILL
Yeah. But I’ll do it. And then I’ll do it again.

AUGUSTUS
‘Have I played the part well?’

WILL
What?

AUGUSTUS
That’s what I said right before I died. ‘Have I played the part well? Then applaud as I exit-‘

WILL
What an actor thing to say.

AUGUSTUS
I also said,”Behold, I found Rome of clay, and leave her to you of marble.”

WILL
So basically you said ‘To be… or not to be… that is the question.’ Then when everyone left, you turned and said,’How was my scansion? Was I playing my action?’

AUGUSTUS
Yes?

WILL
So… 2017.

AUGUSTUS
Thoughts?

WILL
The general opinion is that 2017 couldn’t possibly suck more than 2016, but in 2017 Trump won’t be our president-elect, he’ll be our president. But the election results have galvanized hope and unity in a lot of people.

AUGUSTUS
And in you?

WILL
I had a suspicion that 2016 would be a rough year. I don’t often have hunches about years, but my intuition was telling me 2016 would be full of tests and struggle.

AUGUSTUS
Premonition about 2017?

WILL
… (to be continued)

AUGUSTUS
… did you just say ‘to be continued’?

WILL
No. Well, yes. I mean, no. That’s only for the readers.

AUGUSTUS
Then you gotta do it more like this…

To be continued.

AUGUSTUS
See? Or.

(To be continued.)

WILL
Ok. We are super breaking the blogosphere fourth wall here.

AUGUSTUS
Just trying to help you out.

WILL
Ok. I’m done.

Will struts away into a heavy fog looking cool as shit.

AUGUSTUS
See! That’s how you do it!

Augustus sits alone for a long time before realizing his life will be a long, sad, wait at a chip card reader.

AUGUSTUS
Hey! Stop that! That is not what I’m thinking!

You think what I want you to think.

AUGUSTUS
… this is bananas.

THE END…



for now.

AUGUSTUS
Seriously, stop it! How are people supposed to know when this thing

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Abby Wambach To The Future

Defeat sucks. Whether it’s Robin getting beat to death by The Joker, or my whey-whipped stomach getting manhandled by that she-bitch lactose, it sucks. Suckity-suck-sucks.

Four years ago, I watched the Women’s World Cup from my apartment in Chicago. In the Semi-final game, The American women stunned Brazil with a last minute goal to tie the game, and then won the game on penalty kicks. You can watch the Amazonian Warrior Soccer Goddess Abby Wambach’s game tying-goal here:

 

As Abby and her teammates were preparing for the World Cup Final in Germany, I was working at Best Buy on Michigan Ave. The Magnificent Mile, as they say. So magnificent that they paid me $9/hr to work there! Where’s my Duck Tales Money Bin?! Fill that shit up, a guy’s gonna swim! In all reality, that’s not a lot of money, and I spent most of my time sitting next to defecating crazy people on the CTA (the bus). And for anyone who’s lived in Chicago, you know that the CTA is more Ren & Stimpy than Duck Tales.

 

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Belmont is next. Doors open on the right.

 

After defeating the Brazilians, the American women were up against Japan in the final. The Americans were heavily favored. If they won, they would win their first World Cup since 1999, when Brandi Chastain buried her penalty kick, and struck this iconic sports pose.

 

PASADENA, :  Brandi Chastain of the US shouts after falling on her knees after she scored the last goal in a shoot-out in the finals of the Women's World Cup with China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California 10 July 1999. The US won 5-4 on penalties.  (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/HECTOR MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

PASADENA, : Brandi Chastain of the US shouts after falling on her knees after she scored the last goal in a shoot-out in the finals of the Women’s World Cup with China at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California 10 July 1999. The US won 5-4 on penalties. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/HECTOR MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

1999 turned out to be a better year than 2011. The Americans, as heavily favored as they were, could not muster the strength needed to defeat the Japanese. The Americans lost on penalty kicks, and left for home with second place. It’s an old cliche to say that second place is simply the first loser, but sometimes, that’s all it feels like. We lost, and I sat there thinking, ‘I have to wait four more years to see if we can win this thing?! Four years?!?! That’s like, OMG, an eternity!!!!!’ The lowly Cubs get a shot every year. The Vikings, Twins, Wild, T-Wolves, they all get a shot every year. No matter how unrealistic it is, you can still hold on to the hope that ‘there’s always next year’. ‘There’s always four years from now’, in comparison, is unbearable. Four years? Who knows if I’ll even be alive then! Where will I be living?! Who will I be dating! What kind of job will I be complaining about! I sat there wondering, where will I even be four years from now…

Four years later, and today is the day after America’s birthday. The US women again face Japan in the World Cup Final. I thought mostly about listing all of the things that I’ve done in the four years that have passed, but I balked at that to show one stat that I believe is truly incredible.

Legalized Same-Sex Marriage

2011: Six States

2015: The United States of America

Happy Belated Birthday, Red, White and Blue.

 

Goodbye, Chicago: Saying Farewell to the Windy City

I remember when I was a man buried in the foliage of northern Minnesota, studying theatre and looking at some pictures a friend of mine had taken of Chicago. “Looks interesting,” I said. Subtext: Yuuuuuck! It looks like a never ending maze of concrete, brick, and smoke stacks. Who in the world would want to live there? Let alone visit?

Five years later, there I was, traversing that very same maze of brick and concrete I had degraded on the shores of Lake Bemidji. I was living in Chicago.

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I recently took a week long vacation out to the Pacific Northwest with my girlfriend Colleen. We ate many pounds of seafood and hiked around a few mountains. And I was lucky enough to visit some old friends in Portland. “How is living in Chicago?” they inquired exuberantly. “Great,” I said, “But I no longer live in Chicago. I moved to Minneapolis in February.”

I have been trying to write about my move from Chicago to Minneapolis for sometime; two months to be exact. But I couldn’t it. I was stuck. I was trying to be too sentimental about it. Deeeeeeply sentimental, touching, and moving about my leaving Chicago. Trying to be sentimental about the city made of bricks and concrete. Trying to be sentimental about the city with broad shoulders, gritty ambition in it’s heart, and hard-work mud under it’s finger nails. I am a sentimental person, but Chicago is not a sentimental place. Living in Portland could be described a little like living in a world of fiction, with moss filled forests and snow peaked mountains encompassing your panorama. In that way, living in Chicago was like living in the facts of life.

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No, not those Facts of Life.

There’s a desire in me to fill you in on what I mean by this (the city of facts vs the city of fiction). But I’m afraid I don’t have the words. I trust you can fill in the blanks.

 

I’ll leave you with the most important and non-sentimental fact of all: Pickle spear, relish, tomatoes, onions, celery salt, sport peppers, mustard. That is what you put on a hot dog. And I swear if you put ketchup on my vienna beef sausage I will punch you in the dick. Farewell, Chicago. It’s safe to say you’ve left your mark.

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Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I love Chicago.

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Why So Serious?

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The best part of downtown.

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My Oakley home in winter.

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The Twins beating the Sox at The Cell.

Unexpected Encounters in Seattle

 

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I forgive you for not reading my last blog post. Consider it water under the bridge.

 

Hello, again! Today I’m giving you 5 thingie things from the Emerald City (thingie things? Who am I?). Why 5? Why a list? Because thinking of 10 makes my brain hurt, and lists are fun. Let’s begin!

1. The Troll under the Bridge. Visit this guy in the Seattle ‘hood of Fremont. It’s well worth the trip, as the neighborhood itself is cute and offers a lot of shops and restaurants to check out (note: any borough that extracts the word ‘cute’ from these lips is worth a visit).

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Bug eater.

 

2. Biking until your legs are numb is a genuinely blesséd feeling. Also blesséd? Eating your weight in garlic smoked salmon. These are not mutually exclusive.

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My good side.

 

3. Coffee COFFEE Cofffffee CoFfEe coffercoffeecoffee cccoofffeee COFFEEEEEEEEE! (You get the picture.)

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Pour-over bliss.

 

4. Cows are curious.

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Excuse me? What’d you say to me?

 

5. Colleen loves her saison, and wants you to as well. Cheers!

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This one was so good, I think I’ll have 5 more.

Seattle from the Outside: 10 Observations

10 Ludicrous Snap Judgements of Seattle Formulated In The Last 10 Hours With A Complete Lack of Research:

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1. The main floor of Pike Place Market is vibrant and alive with fresh flowers, produce, and seafood. (Not to imply it’s a literal hot dish of roses, cumquats, and salmon… but how delicious would that be!? I just threw up on my rain coat). In contrast, the level beneath this main floor is filled with junk. Unless, of course, you’re in the market for a Bob Marley poster and a waving gold cat you see in Chinese Restaurants.

2. Financial transactions take place via tennis balls. If you buy some smoked salmon at City Seafood at Pike Place, the man assisting you will stuff your money in a lacerated tennis ball, chuck it at the cashier, yell the amount of change you need, at which time, the cashier will Randy Johnson fast ball that shit right in front of your face back to the man who’s getting you the fish. It’s fantastic.

3. When inside your apartment, it will sound like it’s raining Cats and Dogs. But once you’re outside, you realize it’s only raining Puppies and Kittens. I added this to try and start the saying, ‘raining Puppies and Kittens’. Who’s with me?! Combining precipitation and cuteness, can’t go wrong.

4. Clouds ruin mountains. If I had a cloud in front of me, right now, I’d give it a piece of my mind.

5. “It’s raining,” is something you just stop saying.

6. The coffee is great. I feel it’s best to try multiple cups from multiple establishments in one day. This way, your blood is slowly replaced by caffeine, and thus it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not because you can’t even control your bodily functions.  Yahhhhhhhhhhhh!

7. Seattle has the biggest cinnamon rolls.

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8. Two poached eggs slapped haphazardly on poutine = looks like a warm, split scrotal sac plopped on a bed of fries. Or ‘spermies’, as Colleen put it.

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9. Not necessarily specific to Seattle, but, use airbnb.com. It’s a great way to save money, and you get to meet interesting locals.

10. Not necessarily specific to Seattle, but, when talking to the Costa Rican man who is hosting you, don’t say, “Costa Rica, cool! My girlfriend stayed their for about a month. I don’t remember much of what she did, other than work on a farm, do some yoga, and helped with some shamanistic rituals.” Which is kind of like walking up to someone from Wyoming and asking them if they have internet yet. Sort of. I don’t know. I felt like an ass, and I have to go with my gut on this one.

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Look for more ludicrous observations soon!

What’s your neutral face?

Last Monday in my acting class

a fellow student brought up the idea of a characters/actors neutral face

Or mask

What this refers to is

the face that one displays when we are simply being

listening

waiting

in between

the expression on our face when we are

just sitting there

As an actor this can be an important tool

 

to know what this face looks like

but I think it’s equally important for us as people

as a tool

to be aware of

So what does your neutral face look like?

 

I used to think mine looked like this:

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It really looks like this:

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Be aware

Those times you think you’re giving a charming

serene

bedroom eye

smile to the barista at Starbucks

you’re actually giving them the stinkeye

Or maybe you look like a yearning Brad Pitt

It’s just good to know the difference

Happy Monday!

Leaving Your Mark: Randyn Groebner.

Back in the late 90’s and early aughts, we left our mark everywhere. Didn’t we, Randyn?

First, by digging our heels into our neighbors yard; pummeling the grass so relentlessly that nothing green would grow there. All that were left were two boot sized craters, perfect for planting our feet, squaring up, and preparing ourselves for the first pitch. It’s backyard home run derby! We both know the rules, Randyn, but it’s been over 10 years since we’ve swung at each others fast ball, so let’s recap:

1. A home run must clear over the top of either your house or garage.

2. A tennis ball will be used instead of a baseball. Not that we’re not man enough to annihilate a baseball, but neither of us can afford to pay for broken windows. And we have to save up for the next Metallica concert.

3. On the final out, a very squishy, bouncy, foam ball will be used. I’m fairly certain, Randyn, that you once hit this ball the circumference of the earth. But it still only counted as one home run.

4. This is the best rule. Very loosely followed. Did you start it, or did I? I forget. Anyway, one must yell something ludicrous and inane when crushing the ball into outerspace. Some examples are, “Daaan Aykroyddd!” or, “Bbbbbutt Cheese!” or, “Shaved Pubers!!!”. We were so immature, weren’t we? Yes, yes we were.

Who had the most home runs in the end (I did)? Who’s to say (I did), but we both know you were much better at taking a bouncy ball to the head (sorry).

You left your mark on a couple trees and shrubs in our unified backyards, didn’t you? No, you didn’t pee on them. Remember? You just flat out ran into them. But it was for a good cause. The best cause, really. Perfecting a route. We practiced the ‘Out and Go’ route relentlessly. Over and over and over again. The deal was, it was the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, and this was our last hurrah, hail mary if you will, to win the game. You’d split wide right, and I was under center. Hut! I’d drop back as you shot straight out and then with the deft agility of the one and only Cris Carter, turned to the right toward the sideline. In a savvy veteran move, I’d pump-fake as you nearly reached the sideline/garage, and you’d sell it enough to get the defender to bite. Then you’d turn up field, burning the secondary, as I heaved my desperation pass in between the cornerback/shrub and the safety/kennel. Boom! Touchdown! The crowd would go silent as you would slam into the cornerback/shrub, and fall flat on your back. But as soon as you’d raise your victorious hand, pigskin clutched in the mitt of your backyard greatness, the stadium would erupt. We did this over and over and over again. You got pretty good at avoiding the shrub.

How many times did we chase a basketball into the alley? One of the worst parts of having a driveway that is raised 4 inches above the adjoining lawn, is that whenever the basketball happens to perfectly meet that edge, it catapults – like a cannonball out of a canon- toward the alleyway. One of the best parts, is you maintain great cardiovascular health. When we weren’t chasing the ball, we were playing on the sloped driveway, one on one. For hours. This is where you gained the nickname Big Point. Maybe only three people in your life called you that, me included, for your excellent ball handling skills. You were certainly the best point guard we had.

And so now, you are gone. And I don’t quite know what to say. We hung out, everyday, for close to three years, playing backyard sports. We haven’t seen or heard from each other much since then, in these some 12 years that have passed, but your mark is indelibly left on me. Those crazy scientists claim that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Well, those years we had, that energy we shared, is something I carry with me and into everything I do, everyday. Your energy is everywhere, Randyn. Still is.

Travel safely, my friend. And know…

Backyards will never be the same.

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