Gas station without pumps

2023 May 28

Audition Monologues

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:58
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In the post Upcoming public performances, I said “I’m also starting to work on audition monologues, which I will record and post to YouTube once I have polished them a bit.”  I have now recorded two monologues and put them put them on a playlist:

From the “Robert in the library” monologue (from Adam Szymckowicz’s play Kodachrome).

I welcome constructive feedback on monologues (as comments on YouTube, as comments here, or via email). I don’t expect to use these recordings for anything but getting advice from people, as all the local community theater groups seem to prefer live auditions, but I might well use one of these monologues in a live audition.

So far, I’m working on modern comedic monologues, but all the ones I’ve found are really for younger men.  Does anyone know any good comedic monologues (90 s long ±20 s) for older men that are neither misogynistic nor racist?  After I’ve done some comedic monologues, I’ll try recording some modern dramatic ones—again suggestions are welcome!

2023 May 19

Tripod table

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:09
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I wanted to use my document camera and USB microphone for recording a standing video (instead of seated in front of a green screen, the way I’ve mostly made videos).  Unfortunately, both are designed for desk-top usage with no way to mount them on a tripod.  I tried stacking up books and other klugey ways to get the camera to the right height, but the results were very unstable. The pan-tilt head on my tripod was too small to safely support the camera (I dropped it at least once while trying to adjust the camera).

What I needed was a solid tabletop that I could mount on top of the tripod.

It took me longer than it should have to realize that I could make one, just by 3D printing a copy of the foot that fits into the shoe on my tripod, then gluing a piece of MDF markerboard to the foot.

Here is a picture of the STL design file I made (using OpenSCAD with the BOSL2 library).

Here is the foot glued with contact cement to the center of a piece of MDF. The glue surface was the top surface when printing, so it did not need to be roughened for adhesion.

Here are the camera and mic on the table on top of the tripod.

The first print (printed with 15% gyroid infill, 3-layer walls, and no brim in silk gold PLA at 0.2mm) worked fine, though I had to sand the bottom edges a little, as the first layer tends to spread a bit, and I had not allowed extra clearance for that spread. Sanding was probably needed anyway, to eliminate the sharp edge.

The table is not particularly stiff (the MDF is a bit flexible), but it works well to hold the document camera and mic, and I can easily adjust the height of the camera.  I used a bubble level to make sure that the table was level before putting the camera and mic on it.

Update 2023 May 20: The contact cement is not strong enough—I overloaded the table with an unbalanced load and the glue joint failed slowly, breaking 5 minutes after I left the room, crashing everything to the floor.  The mount for the head of the camera snapped, which made this a rather expensive failure.  I’ll probably try gluing the camera mount back together, but I’m not confident of the high-stress glue joint holding when the camera is adjusted.

Update 2023 May21: I glued the camera housing back together with a cyanoacrylate glue—it seems to have worked ok, and I didn’t glue my fingers together, nor get glue on the rotating part of the joint, so the camera is one again usable.

2023 May 17

Upcoming public performances

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:32
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In previous posts (First performances and First performances: experience) I reported that I would have my first performances for NextStage Reader’s Theater. I’ve had a few more since then (28 April 2023, 6 May 2023, and 12 May 2023, all at retirement communities).  The next public performance will be Friday June 2 at  2 p.m. in the Capitola Library, with another public performance on Friday June 16 at 2 p.m. in the Scotts Valley Library. I would welcome more people in the audience—so far only the 23 April public performance (at the Midcounty Senior Center) had what I would consider an adequately large audience.

Both plays I’m in will play on June 2, but only Emotional Baggage on Jun 16. In between, there will be two more performances at retirement communities (May 26 at Brookdale Senior Living in Scotts Valley for Emotional Baggage and June 6 at Bay Avenue Senior Apartments for Ferris Wheel).

I’m also starting to work on audition monologs, which I will record and post to YouTube once I have polished them a bit. So far, I’m working on modern comedic monologs, but all the ones I’ve found are really for younger men.  Does anyone know any good comedic monologs (90 s long ±20 s) for older men that are neither misogynistic nor racist?

After I’ve done some comedic monologs, I’ll try recording some modern dramatic ones—again suggestions are welcome! I’ll only start doing classic (probably Shakespearean) monologs after I’ve got a handful of modern ones prepared.

2023 May 1

US community seeking to reduce car-dependence

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:20

I don’t usually read FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) blogs, but I was recently directed to Mr. Money Mustache’s blog, which had a post Less Cars, More Money: My Visit to the City of the Future. The post talks about the enormous expense of car dependence and shows how much space is wasted on cars (both moving and storing them), then goes on to talk about a new development in Tempe, AZ called Culdesac, that is building 700+ apartments in a “car-free neighborhood”.

The blog post and the advertising website both make the community sound attractive (if you like desert climate and apartment living), but the prices are not low and the amenities may not be in place for a while.  It is also on a busy street surrounded by car-centric development (including a large UPS building with lots of truck parking), and not far from a freeway that divides Tempe.  The area seems like a primarily industrial neighborhood, with few amenities closer than a mile. Unless other parcels in the neighborhood also adopt the car-free philosophy and rebuild, it will probably be too small a development to really form a walkable neighborhood.

It is only 1.6 miles from Arizona State University, so they are likely to be able to rent the units to college students (the renderings of the apartment buildings look like student dorms or apartments). I don’t know whether ASU has the same housing problems that the UC campuses all have, but if they do, then the development may be able to be profitable, even if it doesn’t really live up to its hype.

Incidentally, Mr. Money Moustache is a bit of a hypocrite about car-free living, as he loves to take road trips and his next post after the Culdesac post is about buying himself a $52,000 Tesla.

2023 April 27

First performances: experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:14
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Last week I reported that I would have my first performances for NextStage on April 21 and April 23. This post is about those experiences.

On April 21, I put on my costume for Ferris Wheel and loaded my costume for Emotional Baggage in a backpack and walked down to Garfield Park Village, where the show had been scheduled. The staff were surprised to see me and the rest of the cast—it turns out that our “booking agent” had neglected to confirm the date and time with them, so the event had never made it onto their calendar. The activity manager graciously allowed us to use the space and even went around seeing who was awake to let them know about the pop-up performance.  We ended up with an audience of about 6–8 people, so we treated it as a tech/dress rehearsal, which we desperately needed, as none of use had rehearsed with background music.

For Ferris Wheel, after I made my entrance and sat down in the “ferris wheel” seat, I realized that I had not changed my glasses and was still wearing my distance-viewing glasses, so the script that I shared with the other actor was completely out of focus—just a grey blur. I had to do the entire play from memory, which I had not practiced! Luckily, I could remember all the lines, but I was a bit slow on some of them. I experimented with wearing a straw hat as part of the costume, which looked good for the character, but which the director decided not to use in future, as it hid my face too much. At the end of the play, we had set up a thunderclap to signal the last piece of business for my exit, but the sound person had been up until 3 a.m. the night before setting up the sound tracks for all the plays, and instead of pushing the button to trigger the thunderclap, he tried scrolling forward for it.  After about a 10-second delay, I made my exit without the last piece of business. We also decided to stop the carnival music after the entrance, rather than having it run quietly in the background throughout the play.

For Emotional Baggage, my costume glasses were fine for seeing my script (though I’m pretty much off-book for that one also), and the play went ok (though we had to have an understudy for Amber, as the actor had tested positive for Covid). We had a bit of delay starting that play, as the sound engineer was also one of the actors in it, and he had to change into costume before the play (not having realized how long that took). The exit music did not run quite right for our exit, but no major problems.

On Sunday, I again had both plays. Ferris Wheel went fine—I remembered to put on my computer glasses, so I could see the script. But once again the thunderclap was way too late for the final business.

Another play in the line-up (Paper Walls) had some trouble with the soundtrack (again, the sound engineer had been up to 3 a.m. working on it)—the soundtracks he’d found and put in his Dropbox had not yet been synced to his iPad, and the venue had no WiFi. The play called for some off-stage sexual moans, a clatter, and some indistinguishable chatter. I got a script with the sound effects marked and provided live sound effects when the sound track did not cut in. For the clatter, I knocked over the folding chair next to me, which was very loud and startled the audience, the actors, and the sound engineer.  The director and I did the chatter (mostly vowels).

The final play of the performance was Emotional Baggage, for which we had yet another understudy for Amber.  The actor originally intended for the role had tested negative for 4 days and was in the audience (wearing a mask), but was not yet ready to perform. There was one muffed line (by an off-stage voice), but no major problems. That was our biggest show (7 of the 8 plays—most performances have only 4 or 5 of them), and so we had a cast party afterwards at the director’s house. Her house is at the top of a steep hill, which I have had to walk my bike up a few times for rehearsals. After the performance, because her house was only 1.5 miles away from the Midcounty Senior Center where we performed (rather than about 6 miles from my house), I almost had enough energy to cycle all the way up the hill—I only had to walk the last 50′ or so.

On Wednesday, we were scheduled to perform at Montecito Manor in Watsonville, so I biked to Live Oak to the house of one of the actors and rode in her car with her down to Watsonville. As we were about 2 blocks from the venue, she got a phone call—the performance was cancelled, because our booking agent once again had failed to confirm the schedule. Our director was livid, as she had already told the agent last Sunday to make sure to call every venue the day before to check that everything was in order. So we drove back along Freedom Boulevard (a scenic route) without having done any performance. It turns out that the first person to show up (after informing the director that the performance was not on) stayed to give an informal pop-up musical performance for the residents, which was apparently appreciated.

Our performance for tomorrow (Friday) at the Brookdale facility in Scotts Valley had been cancelled earlier in the week, because of a norovirus outbreak that made them isolate the facility. So someone had the clever idea of moving the Friday performance to Montecito Manor, which the management there was fine with, and it seems like everyone who was originally available for the Friday Scotts Valley performance will still be available tomorrow for Watsonville.  So once again I’ll bike down to Live Oak and get a ride down to Watsonville. I wonder what will go wrong this time.

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