Writing Samples: New! Improved!

Remember when that was the most iterated marketing phrase across the commercial board? If it was New! and/or Improved! then it must be good, right?

Well, my list of writing samples are freshened up, if not new, and I think also improved quite a bit, if I do say so myself. Since beginning my search for good freelance copywriting roles, I’ve found a few that, while I’m not still writing for each and every one on this list, I’m nonetheless happy with my work for each. Plus, now I can show a more diverse selection of samples to those looking at booking my writing pen.

I’ve learned a lot during my first foray into the writing world that ain’t academic, and I’m excited to see what this next phase of the search will bring.

So I’ve refurbished my list of samples. Thar they blow! I’ve provided a little description with each, but of course if you have questions about any of them, do drop me a line or hit me in the comments.

One last note: These aren’t all the absolute best of my writing, nor are they the pieces that have been most prestigiously published. What I hope these samples represent is how I work in the type of writings that a recruiter might want to see for things like marketing, brand management, business blogging, and cultural commentary.

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I’ve been doing some freelance work for Study.com and its affiliates, which is a website that supplied informational articles and study guides for all kinds of educational topics. Here’s two of my published pieces for them, one about diversity in teacher populations, and one about gamification.

Why Teacher Diversity is Important

How Gamification Motivates Students

I was a primary copywriter for Your Boulder for a few years before it changed hands and changed its look, then I wrote for them again at their return for a few years after that. Several of my business features, listicles, and blog posts have gotten very successful, SEO-wise, and my weekender articles were among the most popular and searched-for pieces about Boulder. The article here about Boulder’s burger restaurants was one of the most clicked-on of my work. The other two Your Boulder examples I’ve listed here are interviews I conducted with Boulder business owners.

Best Burger Restaurants

Alison Rothman and Embody Life

All Terrain Landscaping

Now-defunct website Nerds In Babeland was one of the go-to hubs of all things geek culture, from around 2012 to 2015. I was a regular staff writer for this site, and my main work there was in writing reviews. Books, comics, and the occasional game were all subject to my critical eye, and my “mini-interview” series of authors and other well known nerds was a big hit. This is an example of one of my reviews, for a new game that had just come out, and for the art book which accompanied it.

Thief 4 Review

The Problematic Tropes series came about as a group of cultural commentary pieces, which began with the Problematic Badass Female Tropes series on Writers’ HQ, and continued with the Problematic Toxic Masculinity Tropes first on Writers’ HQ and then on A Wandering Road. The first PBFT article is below, as is the first PTMT article to appear on A Wandering Road.

The Marion Effect

NERD!

I did some writing recently for pop-culture TV site, Looper. Here’s two articles of mine they published–it’s more of a mainstream, poppy, media style. One is in their popular zodiac signs as characters series, and the other is a listicle about underrated crime shows, which was fun to research!

Law & Order: Organized Crime Zodiac

Underrated Crime Shows

And finally, this article. It’s a personal favorite of mine–another piece that centers on cultural commentary. This one goes a little into messaging, branding, and analyzing a meme. You might also say it’s a calculated rant. It appeared first right here on my personal blog, and was the catalyst for much engagement and dialogue on all my social media.

Actually, Don’t

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Thanks for reading, whether you’re exploring these pieces recreationally, or as a sharp-eyed recruiter.

What do you think? Do I get the job?

Top Ten Sherlock Holmes Moments

“How many? I’ll count them for you, Watson.”

I was sifting through some interesting writings out of my past, lovely lurkers, and I came across some drafts of things that either did or were going to be put up on the Deconstruction Workers’ website. I had appeared with the head Worker, Dr. Chris Bell, at Denver Comic Con a few times, and from there kept connected till I appeared on his podcast also a few times. Just before the website companion to the podcast went defunct, he had a bunch of us regular pop scholars construct articles listing the Top Ten coolest things about a myriad of pop culture and media franchises. It was a sort of closing out of the decade type thing, in 2020, as I recall. My Top Ten Star Wars listicle appeared on the website, but the following Sherlockian one never made it to internet print, unfortunately. And so I thought I’d publish it now, a couple years later, only slightly refurbished. Please to enjoy. (Also, do let me know if you’d like me to reprint the Star Wars one, since the DCW is gone where the woodbine twineth…)

So now, without further ado, here’s the Top Ten of Sherlock Holmes [SPOILER ALERT for a few different Sherlock adaptations]:

Lying down on the job again…

Sherlock Holmes is probably the most highly recognizable literary character in the entire world, and as such, beyond the original canon, there’ve been countless pastiches, illustrations, and adaptations in multiple formats (of varying quality), since the originals were still coming out in the late 1800s and early 1900s, all the way till today. 

There’s such a rich Sherlockian world out there that it is rather a challenge to come up with such a short list of highlights. But some of the (especially more recent) adaptations and remakes have kept the good detective squarely in the middle of even contemporary pop culture, and so I thought it would be fun to delve into what has made (and still does make) stories of Sherlock Holmes’ amazing deductive skills so compelling.

The following are only my own (albeit highly educated) opinions as to the top ten moments, characters, scenes, concepts, thingies, etc. in all of pop culture when it comes to Sherlock Holmes. These are the ten that stand out the most to me, with my extensive literary and theatrical knowledge, as well as full-on nerd-out love of Sherlock Holmes. They’re in no particular order. Don’t at me…

Brett not only stayed faithful to the original text, but also to Sidney Paget’s illustrations.

Jeremy Brett 

Out of all the myriad film interpretations of Sherlock Holmes produced through the years (many of which are excellent), no actor has quite captured the true essence of Holmes like the late great Jeremy Brett.

Brett’s taut, high strung, vibrant portrayal speaks to his (and the Granada team’s) devotion to canon accuracy. His virtuoso performance, coupled with the meticulously reproduced Victorian environment, make the original books come to life in a vivid way that hasn’t been matched before or since. 

The Granada series’ lofty goal of covering all the original stories unfortunately wasn’t reached, on account of Brett’s ill health and untimely demise. In fact, the later episodes are nigh unwatchable; partly because of the screenwriters’ botched attempts to mash several not-so-great original stories into one plodding movie length monstrosity (*cough*”Master Blackmailer”*cough*), but mainly it’s just rough to watch Brett obviously struggling. It’s too bad, too, because if he had been in the pink of health, the Granada Hound of the Baskervilles would be unrivaled.

Also, Moriarty was real…

I Believe in Sherlock Holmes

When Conan Doyle first killed off his creation in an attempt to be allowed to write more serious works, the world famously rebelled. In fact, the Victorian Sherlock fandom was so insistent and outraged, that not only did Conan Doyle publish the famous Hound of the Baskervilles in an attempt to assuage them, but thereafter resumed telling the tales anew, retconning Holmes’ death and carrying on with new stories and novels through the early 1920s.

BBC series Sherlock tackled the death of the great detective in their episode “The Reichenbach Fall,” and, maybe because the Sherlock fandom knew about the comeback in the original canon, or just the mere fact that a fully alive Sherlock is shown just before the final credits, the outcry and fan activity wasn’t outrage at Sherlock’s death, but wild theories as to how he survived his fall. Since the BBC series was structured like many others in the UK, with only three movie-length episodes to a season, and two or more years before the next season’s airing, there was plenty of time between the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3 for fans to spin their wild ideas. In the realm of the show’s world, too, the fandom was similarly obsessed, with catchphrase I Believe In Sherlock Holmes repeated until his public return.

It was really neat to see an echo of the original crazed Sherlock fandom going nuts after the character’s death, even if the focus was different. It showed how powerful these stories (and the character) is, even retold today.

Elementary, my dear Joan Watson…

Watson is a Woman

When modern police procedural Elementary was about to premiere and they announced that it would take place in NYC instead of London, I rolled my eyes. At least they weren’t making Sherlock Holmes American, but an English transplant so I thought ehhhhh still doesn’t sound great, but okay. But when they announced that Dr. Watson was going to be Joan, not John, and played by Lucy Liu, I was VERY disappointed. Oh great, I thought, more false romantic innuendoes for the Holmes/Watson dynamic. Ugh.

But then I watched the series.

Having Watson as a woman in the contemporary setting of this Holmes was actually a spot-on choice—they made her a retired surgeon (just like OG Watson in canon), but instead of a random roommate, she’s Holmes’ sober companion. So having her accompany him to crime scenes, etc. was totally organic, and when she becomes a detective in her own right, it actually worked really well to have Holmes and Watson working in tandem as near equals. Lucy Liu was fantastic as Watson: an intelligent and curious character much like the canon’s original narrator. 

And the best part of that strong relationship that evolved and grew as it spanned seven seasons? They never were romantic. That would have been a cheap and easy thing to do with a woman Watson, and the showrunners didn’t do it. Instead, we got to watch Joan Watson and Sherlock Holmes become devoted best friends and business partners, sharing a rich and complex history together and a deep platonic love for each other by the end of the series.

The woman. Also the villain.

Moriarty is Irene Adler (Oh, and is Also a Woman)

I could write an entire top ten just on the excellent Elementary but I’ll spare you—I do want to note, however, this show’s surprising and novel treatment of two beloved one-off characters: Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.

The thing about both the characters of Irene Adler (the woman), and Moriarty (the Napoleon of crime) is that they’re both quite minor characters, appearing in only one short story each (with brief mentions of the latter in a couple others, but no other appearances), and yet these two are painted with such elaborate backstories by adaptors and pastiche artists alike. Adler nearly always ends up working for Moriarty as well as being Sherlock’s love interest and a minor criminal mastermind in her own right, if not a very capable minion. Moriarty is shoehorned into all sorts of plots he never had anything to do with, and only rarely does this not feel forced (the Granada “Red Headed League” is one that worked out in a subtle and lovely way but it’s the exception). 

Elementary, right there in the first season, just nipped that whole nonsense in the bud. Yes, they made Adler a love interest, but a fraught one and with a demise shrouded in mystery. And their Moriarty was just the right kind of behind-the-scenes sinister presence that evoked Holmes’ canon speech about how he’s the spider in the center of the web that feels every tremor… and then what do they do?

They make Irene Adler and Moriarty the same person! What an insane, over the top choice, and so well executed (and deliciously acted by Natalie Dormer) that I think I might have actually cheered at my screen at the reveal.

“It was a straight left against a slogging ruffian.”

Holmes is a Good Boxer, Remember?

Whatever you may think about the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies, you have to admit they’ve got boatloads of energy and color. I’ve heard many Sherlockian purists rail at the manic, scattered, pugilist of Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Holmes. But to them I’d add: have you read the early canon recently? 

Holmes is described as being quite the accomplished fencer, single-stick fighter, and an almost expert boxer. Seeing the Downey Jr. Holmes in a bare-knuckle match (against prize fighter McMurdo, no less–a character from canon) is not only delightful, but totally faithful to the original character as well. 

Or maybe that’s just me as a stage fight expert, enjoying a good theatrical fight scene or three. I’m not saying the Ritchie movies are great in general, but they’re one of the only adaptations that nails that particular aspect of Holmes right.

Tim Roth is an absolute genius of an actor.

Lie To Me

You might hear Sherlock Holmes lovers touting medical mystery show House as being the ultimate modern Holmes adaptation that isn’t actually Holmes. I’ve heard the same said of the first iteration of CSI. These are okay, but neither holds a candle to the ultimate modern Holmes-not-Holmes of TV: Cal Lightman of Lie to Me.

Based on Dr. Paul Ekman’s scientific studies on micro-expressions and the subtleties of deciphering body language, Lie to Me stars the brilliant Tim Roth as the Sherlockian Lightman, and the mysteries are as fun and the deductions as astonishing as the best of Conan Doyle. 

You can get this series on DVD or stream it on Hulu, and it’s easy to binge—there are only 3 seasons, and every episode is super watchable.

Now where’s the chronologist, Watson? He’s late.

The Grand Game

This is a widespread brainiac fan-game that has been going on a long time amongst people like the Deconstruction Workers (scholars at play in the field of pop culture): it’s a shared willing suspension of disbelief that centers around the premise that Sherlock Holmes was not an invention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but was actually a real person. 

This delightful intellectual game was begun decades ago officially by the Baker Street Irregulars organization, whose scions span the globe. The meticulously researched, peer-reviewed essays that attempt to prove Holmes’ historicity are immensely fun and very creative. And woe betide the n00b that suggests it’s all a lark—this is a serious anthropological, if not historical, study, ya whippersnapper. Now let’s talk about the several proofs that exist of how many wives Dr. Watson had…

One Victorian symbol of feminist power: the bicycle.

Strong female characters 

I noticed how strong the women are in the original Sherlockian canon a lot more since rereading the stories as bedtime soothers during the quarantine. Which is funny (though perhaps not surprising), when you contrast the spunk and real strength of a character like Violet Smith, Violet Hunter, or Helen Stoner with some of the rather falsely forced additions of strength to modern adaptations. Like, did we need Irene Adler to be a dominatrix? Isn’t that just a bit… I dunno, unnecessary? Let alone the “oops I’m not gay” problem with her portrayal. I mean, Kitty Winter is already a badass in the original story, we don’t need to really alter her at all (but in fact Elementary did a great job with her).

It’s also the old sexy, but hey who’s counting…

Brainy is the New Sexy

It’s something I’ve heard called The Spock conundrum, and it’s absolutely true for Holmes, too—something about those characters’ emotional distance, and scintillating intellect, particularly in the realm of deduction and problem-solving, makes those characters hella sexy.

Dax wasn’t wrong (see DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” for context) when she noticed how dreamy Spock was, and the hordes of squee-ing fanfolx swooning over Benedict Cumberbatch are testaments to this as well. “Brainy is the new sexy,” as the BBC Irene Adler said, and isn’t it nice to have a popular protagonist and hero whose superpower is more in his brains than his brawn? What a refreshing break from widespread toxic masculinity.

Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.

Original Bond (hear me out)

Here’s another thing about the original canon I’ve been noticing in each canon reread—there’s an energy and a deliciousness about the travel and the foreign action we get in so many Sherlock Holmes stories that it evokes the starry delirium of a Bond flick (and certainly of a Bond novel, particularly the Fleming ones). 

Now I realize this should probably be a whole ‘nother article (stay tuned); and please understand that I acknowledge that what I’m talking about manifests mostly in exoticism and (particularly in Victorian Holmes but also in the early days of Bond) flat-out racism. But the strange locales, the colorful characters, the tropical passions…all with a supernaturally capable hero jetting about and solving the mystery…Holmes paved the way for the Bonds and the Bournes (and the CSI brains too) to entertain us with the outlandish and the intellectual solutions and the quelling of violence wherever it may pop up.

What are your top ten aspects of Sherlock Holmes? List ’em in the comments.

A retrospective

…and a wise fool keepeth it in only a couple of days.

Well, lovely lurkers, I’ve been back for a few days and have just now managed to begin to settle back in. As you may or may not recall, before my departure I had a big move residence-wise as well as work-wise, so the settling-in isn’t exactly the snug comfy thing you might imagine. But I am very happy to be back in the “bosom of my family,” as one of the scariest villains in the Sherlock Holmes canon once put it. I’m also in a place finally, where I can take a moment to reflect on my 6 week trip to the Pacific Northwest on my quest to produce epic foolery.

Observation 1: the weather was never once gray, and it rained a very negligible amount (so negligible, in fact, that my Washingtonian friends insisted it didn’t count as rain), so. There goes that stereotype.

Observation 2: the cast I worked with was so very good at what they do. They were perfectly cast in their roles, all had fantastic chemistry onstage and off, and the show overall was so very high quality. But you don’t have to take my word for it: the audiences for the run of 12 shows (12 nights of 12th Night—get it?) were the biggest in that company’s history. I believe it was from two factors: one is that they had been on a 3 year hiatus from performing live, and Olympians missed them terribly. The other is that I could tell how much a Shakespeare in the park experience was a craving for all those hundreds of picnic blanketed, camp-chair toting patrons. And of course it’s a very great pleasure to perform for audiences that are that big and boisterous and into it.

Observation 3: I made some good new friends as well as caught up with a couple very old ones. Both experiences were lovely, and as much as I’m glad I’m home, I will miss those strange and beautiful players I had the privilege to work and fool with. Let alone the excellent pub I quickly made into a Third Place, whose Handsome Paul beer and jovial ‘tenders Donnie and Jess especially made my working pub time as well as cast meetups a pleasure. I’ll miss my walks to Well80 Brewery and the bourbon and pints within, muchly.

Will I / would I do such a thing again? I’ve been asked this question more than once since my return, and I honestly don’t know. Of course, best to ask me that question a bit later, when I’m back fully into home mode, but. Yeah, I don’t know. This role was so important to me, such a dream role, and circumstances of timing and whatnot just all fell into place in a particular way this trip. It would have to be something else equally serendipitous and important, which I’m not sure exists. I know all those at Animal Fire Theatre would love to welcome me back, though, and I’d like to finally get over to the cafe that was recommended to me. There’s certainly more to experience up there. But when or for what? No idea.

All I know is, I couldn’t have played this dream part with a better crew of crazy thespians, and I will hold this experience as a pivotal one in my artistic and personal journey ever after. Thanks to everybody who made this happen for doing just that, and I hope that everyone who got a chance to see this show walked away with a touch of the magic that it was.

And now? “Fill for me a parting glass. / Good night! and joy be to you all…”🎶

“Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere.”

Week 6: Oly, we hardly knew ye

Since I did last week’s entry a day early, I thought I’d do the same today and then maybe have a concluding post wherein I talk about the last weekend of the show, and my visit with Friend Andy, and my post-travel musings, etc. Not sure why I’m telling you all this, lovely lurkers, but I guess I’m thinking aloud?

Last week’s show kicked butt, and I find I’m making some interesting observations in this production, maybe because I don’t do full plays very often at all anymore, and so I’m noticing things more. Back, say, in college and just after, when I was in at least one show pretty much all the time, the process of playmaking was second nature, and as much a part of my normal daily labor as any day job I happened to have at the time. But then I took a long theatre hiatus, during which I only took fight direction gigs. (I did this for many reasons; ask me sometime and I’ll attempt to elaborate.) So for about 12 years there, I wasn’t in full rehearsal, full play mode, though my art often appeared on stages. Even lately, the only performing I’m really doing regularly is Blue Dime Cabaret, which involves no rehearsals, only solo acts performed separately. Though our next public show in October boasts a trio with me. But I digress.

Some things I’m noticing during this run of 12th Night. The first is: each audience laughs differently, and at different times. Some are more hooting at the broader stuff (though to be fair, all do this). Some are quietly chuckling for the most part, and will whisper among themselves. Others are obviously more versed in the, well, verse, and laugh at the subtler wordplay and satire, etc. Size doesn’t really correlate to which kind of audience we’ve got, though of course, being herd animals, humans are more likely to laugh oftener and louder when there are more people there. And, theatre being the interactive art that it is, our show will morph to match these reactions.

Another thing I’m noticing is my show-day rituals. Where I place my things, when and where I do various prep actions, and the like. I notice some of my castmates’ rites as well, but not everyone’s. What I’ve been doing is, placing my script open to the cue for my next scene coming up, with a flyer bookmark at the next. I don’t need to look at my lines anymore, but this is an anchor point for me, and it’s something I’m tethered to. I’ll have my iced coffee or my water there at my script, and sometimes I’ll place a prop there too if I know I’ll need to grab it quickly. There’s a string of 2,3 scenes in a row where I don’t have any real pause in between, so there’ll be a moment towards the end of the show where I’ll be flipping a bunch of pages to get to where we are. It’s a solidifying thing for me, and it feels good to do.

Another this-show tradition is the music and fight calls. These are casual yet absolute, and I’m so happy with “my” fighting actors that they began and continue their own fight call without me having to set anything up formally. Which is why it’s looking great. And all I need to do when I’m ready to sing through the songs I have in the show, is chant, “Capo 3! Capo 3!” at the actor playing the minstrel, and we’re raring to go.

I usually despise group warmups in a show. I went through so much formal (and other) acting training that a cast warmup is usually 1) useless to me and makes me more tense not more warm, 2) encroaches on my own warmup needs. This play though? I feel quite differently.

Maybe it’s the disjointed and scattered format that rehearsals took, with so many actors (not just me) in and out and absent, that the bonding process of these exercises are actually doing something for me. All the cast, too, are adults with families and jobs and other shit they’re doing in their lives and so the group rituals (they surely look that way to anyone who might overhear them) are a way to allow all of us to leave behind our busy, critical, adult lives and come into the work we’re there at the park to do. It is all quite ritualistic, religious even, though that term has too much negative baggage hanging on it that I don’t want to associate with this sacred process. But it is that—it’s sacred work, it’s god’s work. Seriously—even though it’s all dick jokes and silliness. Maybe especially because it’s dick jokes and silliness.

Well, here I go, into the final weekend of this extraordinary adventure. We’re streaming closing night, too, so my peeps at home (and other fam elsewhere) can see it if they’d like. It’s not going to have the same caliber of magic as the live experience, by a long shot, but I’m glad for the option all the same. I don’t honestly know whether to encourage people to tune into it or no. It’s a conundrum. I shall think on’t.

For now, farewell as I plunge into this final magic three shows. I’ll post again on the other side, after the labor and the Labor Day is done. In the meantime, “as the blind hermit of Prague, who never saw pen and ink, said to a niece of King Gorboduc: ‘that that is, is.’”*

🎶“No nay never no more / will I playyyyyyy the wild rover / no neveeeerrrrrrr nooooo mooooooorrrrrrre…”🎶

*I did lots of research as I memorized all my lines, knowing that Feste, as a pro fool, would be spouting all kinds of elaborate satire and wordplay and digs into all manner of hot button topics of his time. This is the only reference I could not find an explanation for, not with my schoolbooks which are the Shakespeare Lexicon, not online even. I am baffled, and fascinated. One annotated copy of the play translated this passage as: “the Fool is speaking gibberish.” Yeah, I really, really don’t think so. All his other nonsense isn’t. There is method to his madness, except this passage. I can’t find an explanation. What do you think this refers to? Anyone actually know?

Week 5, Staying alive…

🎶…ah, ah, ah, ah…🎶

Sorrynotsorry for getting that in your head. Remember when that was the ringtone of one Moriarty, in the BBC Sherlock? Good times…

I’m writing about other TV shows, for one of my day job gigs, and that has been quite a challenge this week. Not a style of writing or research that I’m accustomed to. I’m learning so so much though, with each article and each revision, so I am indeed honing skills and so forth. It’s been keeping me mostly out of trouble, off the Olympia streets…

I’m doing this end-of-the-week post technically a day early, but then I started doing them on Fridays and not Saturdays a couple weeks ago so ehhhh who’s counting. You? Are you counting? Course you’re not.

This weekend marks the penultimate weekend of 12th Night, and I’m excited, astonished, and ready to go. To perform, that is. I’m not yet feeling wistful—I have a feeling that’ll kick in once I’m all packed up and my friend is driving me to Seattle. It may hit at the final cast party. We’ll see. Take bets amongst yourselves, lovely lurkers, whether or not I’ll totally start crying at said party. There should be more than a few cast member friends and family in the audience tomorrow, too, which’ll be great. Always makes for a raucous performance. Though I guess it was last… I forget of it was last Saturday or Sunday that they said it was our biggest crowd yet—almost a hundred people, scattered across that lumpy hillside. Cheering. Booing. Laughing. “Awww”ing. Clapping.

I’m in a brief pause between DU quarters—the new one will begin after I’ve returned home, but I’ve made sure those shells are all ready to go. I’m terrible about getting my intro videos done on time, but hopefully that won’t be a problem this time. Yeah, I know, I’m holding my breath too.

I’ve got a brushup rehearsal to get to, and then it’s the show all weekend! I hope to experience the farmers market sometime soon; I’ll let you know how it is once I do. Other than that?

“I am gone, sir / and anon, sir / I’ll be with you again…”🎶

This is quite the profound interpretation of the Fool card, innit? It’s…yeah. Meditate on this one.

Week 4!? Shut the door!

Seriously though…

Okay okay, um…. Yeah what happened this week, let’s see…

It was the first week we all had here in Olympia that wasn’t doing the show every single evening. That was a trip—very unusual. I had enough day job type work to do that I didn’t end up doing anything particularly touristy or special, but I have a feeling that will change soon. Enough of the cast was busy with various things through the week, too, that we didn’t end up having a brushup rehearsal, so now it’s feeling a tad odd that it’s happening again tonight—feels like a long time since we’ve done it. But I’m looking forward to seeing what the second round of audiences are like this weekend.

I’ve been rolling along with the new freelance gig, which so far /knock on wood/ seems to be going well. I got a Columbo article approved so the next week will be a Columbo nerd-fest. I know, I know, you’re wondering, “when is it NOT a Columbo nerd-fest for you, Jenn?” and to that I say…. that’s fair.

It’s funny, how much Fool folklore has popped up in my various creative and media consumption this week, too. A horoscope, a vid by a fave creator talking about court jesters and the 0 tarot card, stuff about sacred clowning, it’s everywhere… it’s funny. Maybe it’s an algorithm thing, listening to me and my activities, but actual creators deciding to talk about this stuff, this week? Nah, that’s more a Jungian collective subconscious thing, methinks.

Blue Dime Cabaret had a great show at a new venue, all nerd-themed, so I hear. And if the pictures don’t lie, they really did. We’ve got this same venue for our November show too, a Halloween themed one. We’re hoping it’ll be a good regular/home venue for us for the future. I’m looking forward to experiencing it. And our September show is a private event, so you don’t get to hear about that one (nyah), but October will be back at Dangerous Theatre, which will be super fun. I’ll be bringing these two lovely ladies back with me to do that one number from Cabaret for it (you know the one: “beedle dee dee dee deeee…”). It’s been a trip, booking and organizing these things, being so far away. Apparently it’s working, though. 💙

DU concludes its last week of summer quarter this week, and the new quarter begins after I’ve returned home from my adventures. This summer it was a section of the Professional Writing Program’s Literary Genres class, which was a good time. Those are masters degree level courses, so they’re fun specifically because I’m engaging with adult students who are at a certain level in their writing. Fun in a different way than undergrads are, though not more or less so. Fall quarter begins mid-September and that one will be another Literary Genres class, this time with sporadic live Zoom meetings, and an online section of Visual and Physical Communication, which is always a good time. Hey, any excuse to nerd out about Lie To Me in an academic setting.

That’s about it for the nonce, lovely lurkers. More next week. Now, to the pub! For, after all, “Give the dry fool drink, then is the fool not dry…”

Dude, Willy Shakes sure knew his bible, didn’t he?

Week 3 concludes with Opening (12th) Night!

The time here in Washington state has been flying by, wowee. Today marks the end of my third week being here, and, fittingly enough, it’s OPENING NIGHT for Twelfth Night, which is both fantabulous and terrifying. Fantabulous because I can tell that this play needs a laughing audience—it’s one of those comedies that, once you get the intricacies of the workings down, you really need that spontaneous laughter. Terrifying, because…. Already???!

There are two more shows happening tonight, which, in a normal year, I’d be at. One is Denver’s Goth Prom, which is a tradition the SO and I have been doing since we first started dating again. I’m kind of wistful about this one, but obviously my trip up here is more important, and he has said he’s not really in the mood for it this year anyway. I guess, since he did win Goth Prom King last year, if we’re gonna go out, we’ve gone out with glory. But also—I’m sure we’ll look into going next year. We shall see.

The other show happening tonight is the August Blue Dime Cabaret show—this one with a Nerdy theme. I am bummed I can’t be there for that one, but I’m sure they’ll be great without me. I can’t wait to see the pictures from that one! There’s all kinds of acts with a nerdy theme, like a Transformer burlesque, an amazing drag queen that we always love to cast, a standup comedian, and our Emcee doing her Professor of the Provocative hot teacher act.

I’ve been writing away for Looper quite a bit still too, which has been a pretty fun gig. I just got a Columbo-centered feature approved for construction, so that’s pretty exciting as well. Still freelance work, which again isn’t the long term goal, but it’s good experience (and beer money) in the meantime.

It’ll be nice, also, now that we’ve opened the show, to have my weekdays open up a bit more. I’ve been pretty focused on the intensive (daily) rehearsal process since I landed. But now I’ll have a lot more mid-week time to tour breweries and cafes, go see the very different landscapes than what we have back in waterless Colorado, and visit friends in nearby cities like Seattle and Portland.

For today, though, it’s 🎶another opening, another show🎶 and I can’t wait to have that audience there! I’ll pop back on here at the end of Week 4 and let you know how it’s been going. If you’re near me, come see this show! If you’re in Colorado, go see Blue Dime. If you’re nowhere near either, keep your eye on this space for pics and news and frolicking and things. Cheers!

Shakespeare or Scooby-Doo? You decide.

Week 2: Woo hoo!

I cannot comprehend how two weeks out here in the PNW (as I now learn it’s called) have come and gone. Holy wow… well let’s see, lovely lurkers, what has this second week living on my friend’s couch entailed?

Said couch has now been honorably dubbed the “Feste Memorial Sofa” in honor of my presence there and my task at hand. I’m quite happy with how this show is turning out, and am also just a little bit terrified as far as how many lines are still not as solidly in my wee cranium as I might like, this close to opening. That I am not the only actor in this situation comforts me slightly (but only slightly). But I was able to choreograph and teach the fighty bits for this show this past week, and they’re all looking great, and hilarious. These fight scenes are some of the best pieces of comedic violence out there, and these actors are executing them brilliantly.

It has cooled down quite a bit this week, making it feel a lot more like Washington than it had before, though I hear this weekend is going to be hella hot again. I’ll have to make sure I stay hydrated, and don’t overwork things. I get to sing a lot as Feste in this production, and I want to make sure my energy and my voice continues to be up to snuff.

Speaking of, I began suffering from some tooth pain very soon after I arrived here two weeks ago, and this week it got pretty unbearable. So my friend took me to her dentist (lovely people over at Lo Family Dental in Lakewood) and they found my wisdom tooth is loose and unhappy. It’s not rotten itself, though, so they gave me some antibiotics for the gum infection and told me if I wanted to come back and get it yoinked, they’d be happy to do it and wouldn’t be either expensive, or an awful involved recovery from same. I decided to see how the meds deal with the pain and, if I can, wait till I get back home to get it pulled. If it gets bad again whilst I’m out here, though, I do trust these guys enough to take it out without fuss. I want to at least wait till we’re in performances, though, so I can have a few days during the week to make sure I’m healed enough to spout Shakespearean prose and verse.

That was not the sort of adventure I was expecting nor wanted from my trip out here, but hey. When you’re in the epic adventure story, you can’t flip the pages forward and see what’s coming next; you just have to deal with each event as it comes. So I’m doing that, and reminding myself I’m not here to be comfortable. I mean, dental issues uncomfortable is not acceptable, but.

I am purchasing a huge soft flannel at the pub I’m frequenting today, speaking of comfortable. It won’t be cool enough yet to wear it but it’s still a form of future comfort, and I can imagine putting it on during a cold Colorado winter day and remembering Donnie at Well80 brew house fondly, as my bartender for my away-from-home 3rd place.

I’ve begun my new writing job in earnest this week, for TV pop culture website Looper. I started by “auditioning” with an article about Law & Order characters and the Zodiac, which was well received. So I’ve decided to continue with the zodiac/police-procedural themed pieces for the nonce, till I get more acclimated. Plus, I’m not a huge TV watcher (Columbo and Sherlock excluded) so it’s comforting to have a topic I’m at least vaguely knowledgeable on.

Okay, I’ve gotta go—I have to finish memorizing these lines; the Malvolio letter scene is really hard to remember right, and to get the pacing correctly. Let alone the Sir Topas witticisms. So. Peace out.

P.S. I heard earlier today that a threat had been given to a few Denver area colleges this morning. Don’t know what that threat was exactly but it caused Metro to shut down for the day, and DU to send out a soothing email saying it was okay. I am (obviously) working online for them only at the mo, but it gave me pause.

P.P.S. This is the end of the last week of Metro’s summer semester, which is also the last semester I’m teaching for that school before I’m out. It feels…very weird. I’ve been teaching there since 2001, and now it’s the end. And I haven’t gotten so much as a “see ya” let alone a “farewell” or even a “thank you” from anyone there, about my departure. I guess I hear my value loud and clear.

For what says Quinapalus? “Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.”

Week 1 and Done

So I’m in the Pacific Northwest right now, playing a dream role in a Shakespeare play. Sleeping on my college friend’s couch, who is co-directing and also acting in said show. It’s a role I’ve wanted since I was a teenager, and my friend and I shared a tiny 1-bedroom apartment way back in our CSF days, so we made this happen. It’s an adventure, and I’m in a very interesting and not exactly stable emotional state withal.

See, just before I came out here (end of June, in fact), I gave up the Birdhouse, that wee Boulder studio that was such a sanctuary for me through the divorce, but that had become something of a very expensive closet during the plague. I moved all my stuff in to the SO’s place, this time officially. And then, only like 3 weeks or so later, I stuffed most of my clothing into a huge suitcase and now here I am, across the country and getting eaten by mosquitoes through every rehearsal (I mean they should at least help set up and break down the sets if they insist on being there).

So to say the least, I’m a bit… I dunno what a good term is. Liminal? Uprooted twice over? Or, as I said to my friends and colleagues last night over excellent Seattle whisky, “I’m fine. I’m FINE.”

The first week out here was a sort of crashing wave of homesickness and disciplined work, back and forth. I reminded myself of how Bilbo Baggins ran off on his adventure, late, without a hat or walking stick or pocket-handkerchief, and ended up with an incredible experience as well as riches without measure. I am not here to be comfortable; I’m not here to be with my favorite person in the world. I’m here to have new and strange experiences, and to work hard on a special role, a dream role, that I never would have been cast in back home.

Once rehearsals are done and the show opens, I’ll have more wiggle room to do things like visit my very good old highschool friend in Seattle, and my good friend from college in Portland. But I did already have my first Pacific Ocean experience. That was misty and moisty and gray and cool. Strange. Bits of half eaten crab and cleaned out oyster shells drifting amid the spume and the aggressive seagulls, who I imagine shriek with angry New Yorker accents for some reason…

I’ll catch you up after Week 2 is done with, lovely lurkers. In the meantime: “Wit, an’t be thy will, put me into good fooling!”

A none-too-peaceful Pacific.

O Metro, We Hardly Knew Ye…

Or, actually, we knew ye pretty damn well, considering I’ve been teaching there since 2001. But. It’s the end of an era. And the era ended with a silence. And the legacy I’ve left? I don’t know. I thought I had left one but I think it’s been taken already.

For more of the story of my …er, storied past working at MSU-Denver, read this old rant about the adjunct plight, from the last Adjunct Walkout Day. Go read that real quick and come back.

I was ghosted by the English Department (after having been wronged). But the other day, I quit the Theatre Department. Also because I was being wronged, but in a slightly different way, and they would have let that go on for as long as I let them. So I dropped the proverbial bomb at our last faculty meeting. It wasn’t pleasant, but I also didn’t relish staying on past my welcome.

I hesitate to go further into detail, like the above article about English. But if you know me personally, you can take me out for a pint and I can go more into detail. I plan to write about the experience in my memoir, too, so (god willing) when that book gets published, you’ll get the lowdown.

So, after this online summer semester, I’ll be leaving Metro. After more than 20 years of excellent service. I feel mixed about this, as I’m sure you can imagine. Leaving is absolutely the right choice, but like any breakup from a relationship that’s that long term, it’s not an unalloyed joy that I feel.

So that’s the main update for me, lovely lurkers. There’s more going on, though:

In theatre news, I’ve done so many amazing fights for so many amazing productions. Unarmed, intimacy, rapiers, silly gladiator shit, boxing, pirate fights to music…. It’s funny, the second me & the SO decided it was okay to quit Metro, I literally got three fight director gigs dropped in my lap. I’m being proven that it was a good choice. Not that my position is any less precarious, but at least I’m working with people that give me the respect I deserve.

Work-wise, I’m still teaching for DU. I’m starting to wind down a Children’s Lit class for their Professional Writing program, and have a Literary Genres course on deck for summer quarter. I have one active and one slumbering copywriting gig going on, and am applying for several more of those per day. Hopefully I’ll rake enough together to replace the Metro income (which I kind of already have if you do the math). It does mean my taxes will be even more royally fucked, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now.

More theatre stuff: Blue Dime Cabaret is going strong—we’re doing one show monthly, which is a good rhythm for me right now at least. Fewer than that would make me antsy, and more would be exhausting, so. The Denver drag and burlesque scenes are hopping, and I’m getting so much talent auditioning for us each time, it’s exhilarating.

Speaking of, I’m playing a dream role this summer, up in Washington state with a company called Animal Fire. I had done some zoom stuff w them before, and my good friend from college is deeply involved. I’m gonna go sleep on her couch and play Feste in 12th Night, a part I’ve wanted since I was a teenager. Like an adult Shakespeare summer camp, it’s at a lovely outdoor theatre not unlike the prestigious Shakespeare festival here in Boulder. That will be wild and wonderful.

Speaking of Boulder, I’ll no longer be living there, in the cradle of my childhood, as of July this summer. I’ve been going back and forth between my partner’s place and there for a few years now, and now it’s time to let that go too. Which I’m also feeling mixed about, though it too is definitely the right choice.

So.

Yeah. That’s me, lovely lurkers. I’m fine, really, everything’s fine here now, thank you. How are you? /big wince/*

*name the movie!

Effin Birds is da bomb.