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Rob & Schuyler
Mike's Blog
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Must Be Crazy....
Mood:  incredulous

I am going to attempt to participate in National Novel Writer's Month again this year. 

Things are rather busy, what with two jobs, full-time school, a kid who's a high school senior and all kinds of other stuff going on, but ... it's NaNoWriMo.  It's become a tradition, and I look forward to it every year now.

The object of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50-thousand word novel in one month.  The month of November, to be exact.  I've only finished this task once -- the first year I tried it, in 2003.  Oh, it was a forgettable novel that wasn't very good -- but it had a beginning, middle and end, fully realized plots and characters and I DID it.

After all those years of saying, "Someday I'll write a book", I did it.  And that's the point of NaNoWriMo: to just write it.  Throw caution to the wind and type away.  

So that's it.  I'm back in the race!

Posted by michaelsawin at 6:18 AM CDT
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Friday, 20 October 2006
hio hop harry

Posted by michaelsawin at 1:29 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 26 September 2006
Get Your Hitler Here!

Posted by michaelsawin at 4:15 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006 4:39 PM CDT
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Monday, 7 August 2006
Netflix Rox!
Most Patient Wife and I started subscription to Netflix in June, and we're loving it.  Given that I have several hours to fill every night when I work, I have the opportunity to watch a lot of movies and TV, and Netflix is a very economical way to do that.  For less than twenty bucks per month, we have access to all the movies we cold possibly watch.  The movies are delivered to our home in about one business day, and we can keep them as long as we want.  That means no late fees!  

I just watched the movie 16 Blocks with Bruce Willis and Mos Def, who are on the run from a bunch of rogue cops.  Willis plays a washed-up drunk of a NYPD detective who is called to transport Def from the Tombs (a jail where he's being held pending trial) to the court building at 100 Centre Street.  It's a trip of 16 blocks, and the two face a gauntlet not only of crooked cops that want to silence Def, but also several conflicts between the two main characters themselves.  In addition, each guy carries his own set of emotional baggage that could derail them at any time.  

16 Blocks is masterfully directed by Richard Donner who keeps the movie tight and accessible, but also intelligent and layered.  David Morse co-stars as Willis' main antagonist, and he does a great job.  There are a few twists and turns in the plot, but the strong part of this movie is the characters and what they have to overcome.  

At first blush, this movie bears a resemblance to a great old Clint Eastwood flick called The Gauntlet.  Don't be fooled into thinking that you've seen this movie before; Def and Willis do some fine work here.

I also recommend watching the alternate ending to this movie on the DVD; it's powerful and almost better than the theatrical release.

Posted by michaelsawin at 9:25 AM CDT
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Friday, 4 August 2006

I was feeling pretty lucky, because as I drove home yesterday, I noticed that gas price in my little town was twenty cents lower than they were in St. Cloud.  I filled up my car, and as I was checking out, the manager told me that I was the last customer to get gas at $2.99 per gallon.  They had just raised their price to $3.20.


Right across the street from this station, another was still showing $2.99, so I zipped home to get Most Patient Wife's car and filled it up as well.  Once again, I was the last customer to get in on that price, because that station boosted it up to $3.20 per.

At first I felt triumph, but the then I was just pissed off.  I can't believe that we're paying this much for gas!  And I don't blame the oil companies that much, because the US government makes more off oil than the companies do -- by a factor of at least seven times!  So when people get pissed about obscene oil profits, I point out that those guys are nothing compared the government.

When Bush says that we're addicted to oil, I think we should look for  the IV stuck in the arm of the US Congress.  

And like every addict out there, they'll deny they're addicted.  They will lie, steal, and screw everyone over for their next fix.  We all see what's going on, but like every other co-dependent sucker out there, we fear change more than we want to stop the cornholing that we're taking every day.

We keep electing them and giving them power, because we're afraid gay folks might get married, or that Bush is soooooo evil that only someone as liberal as he is conservative can save us, or Social Security is going away or criminals get too many rights (or not enough) or whatever.

These guys are all pigs feeding at the same trough.  And we keep filling that trough and wondering why things are the way they are.  H.L. Mencken was right when he said that "we get the government we deserve."

It's the politics of fear, and it's the candidate who wins on the idea that he's the polar opposite of the incumbent and everything will be different if we just put her into office. 

Folks...the system's screwed.  The candidates are too, but we can't just keep plugging different people into the same mess that exists and expect stuff to get better.  And it's not a liberal thing.  And it's not a conservative thing.

It's fear.  It's apathy.  It's taking the path of least resistance and hoping that maybe it won't suck so bad this time.  It's brushing your teeth when your teeth are rotting when you know damn well that you need to have some teeth pulled and a root canal done.  Maybe if you brush enough, the problem will just go away, or at least the pain will lessen to a tolerable level.

That's politics in the US.  Pain, rot, and stink combined with fear, denial and apathy. 

Wowzers, this entry turned out a bit more angry than I thought it would.

Posted by michaelsawin at 3:27 PM CDT
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Wednesday, 26 July 2006
What It Feels Like
I never thought I was all that "good" when I was doing theatre.  Back in my acting/directing/producing days, I was more concerned with doing the best I could at that moment, with the people and resources I had at hand.

I always felt that I could do whatever needed doing - - and I had the confidence that it was adequate.  "Good" can be left for others to define.  But it was art, and it was my best effort in that time. And it was my effort. 

I created, I presented, I nurtured, I did whatever I could to make that art come to life.  And while some may question the quality of what I produced, no one could deny that my grubby fingerprints were on every aspect the final product.

I miss that.  I never thought that I was ever going to be rich or famous or anything, but when I was a working artist, I felt like a different person than I do know.

I've been accused -- by people who know me really well -- of acting and performing because I am an attention junkie.  That I want everyone to look at me, that I want Center Stage.  I suppose that's true, up to a point.

What I miss most is feeling that confidence, I miss being The Guy Who Gets It Done.  On my best days I felt like I was the Orson Wells of central Minnesota theatre -- or at least the Ed Wood of it.  

Acting, directing, producing, forming a team and making sure that everyone was free to make the most artistic choices possible were part and parcel of the game -- but so was selling ads, soliciting donations, pounding the pavement in search of props, working with playwrights who had no idea of how to write a play that could actually be produced, writing grants, and taking care of every detail.  

That behind-the-scenes stuff was as important, as satisfying, as the stagecraft for me.  And few people even knew I was doing all of it; if we needed something, I got it -- by hook or by crook.  

It's fair to say that there is nowhere else in life where I am as competent as I am in the theatre.  In fact, I could go so far as to say that I am incompetent almost everywhere but the theatre.  In no other arena am I The Guy Who Gets It Done.  

When I hear some people talk about acting, or playing an instrument, or doing sports or whatever it is that they do, I hear them say stuff like "It makes me feel alive".  Feh.  At best, that description is inadequate.

Here's what it feels like:

Every nerve is raw, every thought is imperative, every word carries salvation or doom.  When it works you're flying and when it doesnt you're dying. (And sometimes, you're doing both at once!) Even failures are glorious because you're there.  It's windburn and the salty smack of sea spray; it's chocolate and sour vinegar all in one bite. Glory and heartbreak in one breath.  

And sometimes, it's a pitcher of stale beer at a tavern a block from the theatre where you hash out all that day's frustrations with people you toil with.  

And when you're lucky . . . really lucky . . . it's perfect.  For a moment, like in jazz when you're not playing any note but the silence between the notes.  Like one of those rare kisses where everything lines up just so and the kiss you imagine is the exact kiss you get. Of course it's over before it even really starts, but it's perfect.  

Only the theatre has given me that. Some of my jobs have given me a little satisfaction, some have given me security; none have been places where I felt that moment where it's just right.

Mostly, being a working artist is about paying the bills and getting it done, with flashes of exultation.  

And that's what I miss.

Posted by michaelsawin at 12:04 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006 12:06 PM CDT
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Sunday, 23 July 2006

We've  got a busy week ahead at Casa de Sawin.  Today, I have to mow the lawns, move a bunch of furniture, and do a secret shopper assignment.  I won’t name the store, but it’s a sporting goods place, and I am supposed to shop for a sleeping bag.  It’s not a lot of money, but these little assignments pay for coffee and a couple of gallons of gas.  

Monday: carpenter coming out to work on our kitchen cabinets.  We need to tear them up a little to make room for a dishwasher and put in a new exhaust fan.  The electrician is going to put in a new circuit for the dishwasher and also hang a few new light fixtures.

Tuesday:  Going to the college to finalize registration and figure out what books I’m going to need. 

Wednesday: The carpenter is coming back out to hang a new door that connects the house and garage.  The siding guys are coming out for final measurements and samples so we can make the final decision about the color.  

Thursday: Prepare for garage sale.  MPW does most of the work with that stuff, but I get to do all the heavy work.  (Due to a back injury from an accident a couple of ears ago, she’s not supposed to lift more than 8 pounds.)  I get a kick out of doing this stuff, but I have little patience for the garage sale itself, but moving stuff is fun.

Friday:  Garage sale.

Saturday: Garage sale.

So that’s the week ahead ‘round these parts.  I got a heck of an entry planned in a couple of days.   So stay tuned.


Posted by michaelsawin at 9:02 AM CDT
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Monday, 17 July 2006
The Weekend

We picked up Mercurial Girl from camp on Thursday, and the weekend was ... okay.  The cats were happy to see her, and frankly it was nice to have her home.  Most of the time.  We had to have a little teen drama, or it wouldn't be a weekend with Mercurial Girl. 

She's back at camp for another month.  She has some pretty funny pictures, which I will scan and post once we get our office re-organized. 

Most Paitent Wife and I are doing some household stuff.  It's been almost two years since we bought this house, and it feels like we're just now getting a good feel for the place. 

The outside of Casa de Sawin is getting a facelift.  We're putting up new siding and windows, and we are also going to do some landscaping.  It's too late for flowers this year, but I can still make the beds and do the hard work so that next spring we can turn ground and plant.  I can't do any of that stuff until the windows and siding guys are done, which will be in a few weeks.  

The good news is that the harsh part of summer will be over. The bad news is that my opportunity to do yard work will merge with my return to school.   It would be easy for me to just put it all off to next year, but I really want the yard done.  I want our house to look its best, and if that's going to happen, I'm going to have to go out there and sweat. 

On the inside of the house, we're adding a new workstation to our home office.  We picked up a nice used desk for me, and we're in the process of getting the computers to work together with the printer.   Once we get the furniture set up the way we want to and the rest of the physical stuff figured out, networking the computers won't take long at all.

We're also redoing the living room.  We had the piano moved upstairs, and  it has made a huge difference with the look of the room.  Had I been thinking, I would have taken a few "before" pictures.  We're having the last piece of furniture delivered on Wednesday, and I'll be posting some photos of the end result.  I can't wait until we get it all done. 

We switched to DISH network satellite service, because our cable company just wasn't doing its job.  We got a pretty good deal that includes free DVR, and let me just say this for the benefit of those of you who haven't tried DVR yet:

It will change the way you watch TV.  It's not just the fact that you can pause the show for whatever reason, or go back if you missed something.  It's not that you can program the system to record your favorite shows so you can watch them whenever you want -- on your schedule.   DVR is all that and more.  (It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!)  Remember when VCR's hit the big time?  A DVR is a quantum leap over that.  It's simpler to use, stores more stuff and offers more options. 

We're also going to switch our ISP.  The one we have now is ... okay.  The local customer service folks are nice, but for the most part I have had little satisfaction with this company in the past two years.  Until recently, they were the only option in town if you wanted broadband -- and it showed in their service. 

In other news, I'm thinking of getting off of Tripod.  The comments haven't been working for a few weeks now, and I have experienced some other glitches as well -- pages taking forever to load, entries getting eaten, that sort of thing.  While I don't pay for this service, I don't demand much of it, either.  And there are times when the inconvenience of the technical difficulties outweighs the "free" aspect of it.  I've been with Tripod for over ten years, and I am someone who usually stays put.  But with the new ISP and the other new stuff going on ... maybe it's a time for change. 

But then again ... 

We'll see.  There's only so much change a guy can take!  



Posted by michaelsawin at 9:39 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006 9:45 AM CDT
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Sunday, 9 July 2006
Radio, Cats and Glasses
I spent three hours on the radio yesterday. I hosted the Frets program on KVSC because the regular host was out of town at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I had a great time playing some of the old folk music.

The regular guy leans a little more to bluegrass and Americana, and while I like that stuff a lot, I also like to play stuff written and performed by women so I loaded up on Ani Di Mecele, Iris Dement, Suzanne Vega, and Joan Baez. There were many more of course, but those are the artists that I can rattle off at the top of my head.

The few phone calls I get when I guest host is from regular listeners who like my take on the show, and that’s gratifying. I wouldn’t want to do the gig every week (it’s unpaid for one thing), but I jump at the opportunity when it comes up.

Mercurial Girl is coming home in a few days after being gone to camp for a month. She’s going to be here for three days and then she’s heading back for another month. She called yesterday and she sounded happy, although a little worried about a mysterious rash that’s going around the camp. The hope is that it’s nothing more than poison oak or poison ivy.

Given that she hasn’t been allowed to sleep in all this time, I’ll bet that she wants to hibernate in her room for at least one of the days that she’s home. The house has been quiet without her. While that might sound like a good thing, there’s just something missing when she’s gone.

I’ll be interested in how the cats treat her. When we come back from a trip the cats usually give us the cold shoulder treatment, except with their hindquarters.

Ginger, especially, is good at what I call “giving the butt”. The cat will make a point of being in the same room as us but resolutely faces the other way, making sure that we have a good view of her backside. “Yeah I missed you, but I’m pissed” is the message. Sometimes this will last a day or two.

Lovey is much more forgiving, which I’m sure is just another reason that she exasperates Ginger. Lovey will pout and hide a little, but then she has to come out and look for attention. And then of course, she’s a sucker for the laser pointer. A little bit of that and all is forgiven, as far as Lovey is concerned.

Now, I'm off to find my glasses. I took them off somewhere in the back yard when I was out doing some lawn stuff and I can't find them. Grrr.

Posted by michaelsawin at 11:25 AM CDT
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Thursday, 6 July 2006
Back In The Saddle
As you may have noticed, I took a few weeks off from blogging. I had a lot on my mind, but I was still in the throes of writer's block and just didn't feel like it anyhoo.

But now I'm back.

Most Patient Wife and I just returned from a vacation. We visited her friends in a faraway place. Mercurial Girl wasn't with us this time, because she's off at camp. The vacation was filled with good food, friends, quiet moments and all kinds of stuff that would be boring to a 16 year-old anyway. I had a wonderful time, and the ol' batteries have been recharged.

Mercurial Girl is off at a summer work camp. She's been gone for three weeks. She'll come home for a break next weekend, and then it's back to the salt mines for another month. The program is part of Americorps, and I think it's a good deal for her. She's working hard, but it's also camp so there is a lot of fun, too.

So she gets to grow up a bit by being away for two months over the summer, she gets to earn some serious coin, and she's working hard as well. All in all, this is a great deal.

I do miss her, though.

In the time since I last wrote:

-- I became an uncle again. My sister (perhaps the sanest of my family) had a baby girl. I haven't seen any pictures yet, but I'm sure I'll just fall in love with her like I do with all infants.

-- I lost my old nasty cellphone, and replaced it with a newer one that works really well. So if anyone out there tried to call for the last week or so ... try again!

-- I have registered for school. This time for sure. I've toyed around with going back a few times before, but this time it's going to happen. I was recently passed over for another promotion at work and I have had enough. They gave the position to a guy who's been doing the job for three months. I've been with the company for three years, and I've been doing this work for almost 20 years. They've made it pretty clear that this is as far as I'm going in this company, and if I want to do any better, I'm going to need a degree or some sort of certification. So on August 21 is my first day of classes. I'll write more when I have more details.

-- We put up one of those pools that are advertised as "easy to assemble" and let me just say
"nuh-uh". We eventually got it done, but it warn't easy, nossir. The upside is that we now have a nice place to soak, so that's pretty nice.

Well, that's it for now. I've got a bunch of online stuff to do for school and then it's off to bed. Thanks for reading.

Posted by michaelsawin at 10:38 AM CDT
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