Monday, May 29, 2006

And So I Hmmm.....

I just got an email noting open auditions for Lifeline Theatre in a few weeks. Part of me perked up a bit, but I had so much hesitation that I had to stop and think... was it the finances? The fact that my headshots have me with a beard still? Then I figured it out: I'm not an actor right now. I'm a fiancee, I'm a computer geek, and I want to be an actor, but I'm not one right now. I'm not in a position to be able to really do anything with my abilities, due to finances and future commitments, and also, my soon-to-be home will be too damn far away to come into the city for rehearsals all the time. I think working in voiceover will make things easier, but frankly, I don't know when that's going to be happening, and the last thing I want is for my marriage to start out with me being stressed about how I'm going to accomplish X, Y, and Z.

This is an odd time for me right now, I guess. Finances are extremely tight, not because they're actually tight, but because of planned expenses. In fact things are so tight that, without some miracle, I won't be able to afford duplication of my voiceover demo until October or so. Yet I'm doing just fine right now. Last week, my home computer crashed on me in a massive way (this post, and my work, is being done currently on Heidi's laptop, and work is shipping me another system), so my hobbies have changed drastically almost overnight; I still have the Xbox, but I'm not really a "gamer" all that much anymore (a label by which I've identified myself for the bulk of my life). Since finances are as tight as they are, we have to be very careful about the movies we see, right during the summer blockbuster season, and me with a film degree. I'm excited to be marrying Heidi, but we're three months away. To top it off, I'm very pleased with the place I'm moving into, but it's way the heck out in the burbs, and I've really considered myself a city person for the bulk of my life.

So effectively what it boils down to is that I'm in a holding pattern for the next few months, and I'm having to redefine myself. I guess this is a good thing for someone who is on the verge of stepping into the shoes of a married man, especially after being effectively perpetually single. But I'd prefer to learn my lessons quickly, and move forward in a significant way, y'know?

Brew #1: Inaugurale

Mattox was over yesterday and helped me out with my first brew, Morebeer's Irish Red Ale Extract Kit 145. This was my first step into a larger and grander world yesterday, but it will be my last brew in this apartment. But with the move three months away, I'll still be drinking the fruits of my labor when I'm in the new place, which is the way it should be. I've just checked the fermenter, and the fermentation process appears to have started, so yay!

Have some details for those who are so inclined:
Date Brewed: 5/28/2006
Number of gallons in boil: 6
Estimated range for original gravity : 1.050-1.058
Original Gravity :1.043 (OK, it's my first brew, cut me some slack)
Number of gallons in fermenter: Approx. 4 (which is a guess)
Temperature of wort at pitching: Approx 80 degrees F (which is a guess... I need to get a thermometer)
Yeast: White Labs Pitchable Liquid Irish Ale Yeast
Quantity Pitched: 1 vial (approx 35 ml)
Lag time (between piching and onset of fermentation): About 10 hours
Suggested fermentation temperature: 63-72
Actual fermentation temperature: Room temp (significantly warmer)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Panic and Release

So I have recently realized that there are a lot of things sucking me financially dry as of late, and not as many options as I once thought for extra work, and frankly, I haven't been handling it all that well. No, let me rephrase that. Last night I was freakin' paralyzed with fear. I was staring down the oncoming semi truck. I have options, but nothing like I had hoped. But here's the thing. I woke up this morning, and I wasn't worried. Then I started thinking about things and I got worried again, but as I was lying in bed I decided to trace the root of some of those worries and fears. I ended up getting over not only the worst of that fear, but some sense of betrayal that I had felt back in my early 20's, some lingering feelings of self-hatred, and got on to forgiving my father and brother for some crap that went on when I was a wee lad. It's really interesting how our emotions layer, one on top of another, protecting yourself from the agony of the protective layer below it.

Am I still concerned about the next few months? Yep. It's gonna be tight, and I want go on our honeymoon without worrying about how much it's all costing us, but y'know, right now, I'm doing OK. Heidi and I both have pretty good jobs, we just got a freakin' stunningly beautiful place, and we have each other. Besides, uncertainty is all part of the adventure of life, is it not?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Value of Friendship

Every now and then, you have one of those deep, fine powerful conversations that really make you understand why God created us to be in community, and wondering why we so very rarely "get it." I had one of those conversations last night sitting in the Hopleaf with Heidi and Mattox. One of those conversations where the gates are truly opened. It was wonderful. First off, the Hopleaf has spectacular food and even better beer. It's always a culinary adventure going there, but combine that with a great conversation, and that makes the week just that much better.

We were able to discuss the ultimate computer virus, repeat Monty Python's The Argument Clinic, complain about politics, discuss theology, talk about Italy, and, finally, pray. Now I'm used to praying with friends, but it's usually much more shallow and what-can-I-get focused. I think as a direct result of the depth of our conversation, we were able to pray for much deeper things, much more "real" prayers. That evening meant a lot to me. I feel more grounded, more in touch with myself, and more in touch with God. I feel more "full" for lack of a better term.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Funeral Wedding

I recently saw Funeral Wedding at the Athenaeum Theatre, and let me offer this two word synopsis of the play: See it.

Expanding on that a bit, this was the best small theatre production I have seen in 15 years. It was a dark comedy about this guy, Alvin Fisher (no relation, thankfully), who was fraught with anxiety over some stabbed corpses he had discovered on the beach when he was a child. Or so it would seem. In a merely good play, this would be about the murder mystery, but it wasn't so much. It was about the dysfunction of Alvin's family and why they were as messed up as they were, and what each member could possibly do to rectify it. The play was written beautifully, with wit, charm, intensity, creepiness, poignancy, and above all else, skill. Every single performance brought both an intensity and a subtlety that had me engrossed from beginning to end.

If you are in the Chicago area, and have even a passing interest in live theatre, you really owe it to yourself to go see this show. I recommend going to the box office directly, as you'll save yourself a sizeable amount in tickemaster "convenience fees," but freakin' wow. I wish it was a movie, so I could buy it on DVD when it comes out.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A [Lighter/Stolen] Post

So I need to lighten up what has been something of a pissy blog for a month or so. So I'll steal a post from Libby, which I think was a stolen post to begin with. Go to wikipedia and look up your birthday (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births and one death, including the year.

December 6th

963 -- Leo VIII is elected Pope
1865 -- The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, banning slavery
1978 -- Spain approves its latest constitution in a referendum (hence my birthday is now Spanish constitution day)

Births (meh, I'm doing three, because they're neat)
1955 -- Steven Wright (Comedian)
1958 -- Nick Park (Animator, creator of Wallace & Gromit)
1962 -- Janine Turner (Actress)

Deaths (meh, I'm doing two, because they're neat)
1988 -- Roy Orbison (Musician)
1993 -- Don Ameche (Actor)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

BFL Report, Day 66: Dammit, dammit, dammit!

So for the past 66 days I've been psychotically careful about what I ate and when I ate it, I've been obsessive about getting to the gym six days a week, and I've been changing and looking significantly better. Not as good as I'd like, but there's still time. Then my back decides to go nutso on me again. And get this, I'm lifting more weight than I've ever lifted at the gym, but I don't injure myself at the gym, I injure myself putting on my freakin' shorts! And now I'm in too much pain to continue having effective workouts, so 78% of the way through the freakin' program, right when I need to be focused and really push myself, I'm being forced to skip workouts. And probably for the rest of the week. It's pretty likely that I'm going to have to quit the Body for Life Challenge altogether. I can't tell you how infuriating that is. This isn't something I was sucking at, I was doing pretty well. Probably wouldn't have made it to the champion level, but what-the-fuck-ever, I was doing pretty well with this. And then my damn back says, "Um, no." Grrrr. Maybe I should order a pizza.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Back Again Again

So my back has been doing really well since I started working out. A twinge here and there, but nothing maddening. Until Monday. I was putting on my shorts, and lifted my leg to do so, and felt my sacrum move in a way it shouldn't. And yes, ow. Fortunately, it was a fairly minor tweak, nothing that back exercises can't fix, but still, I've been semi-mobile for the past couple days. Most of Monday, I was twisted into some unnatural posture that I hadn't seen in myself for nearly a year (think That Yellow Bastard from the Sin City movie).

I've been taking a lot of hits emotionally lately. Some with friends, some with finances. I'm thinking it could be that sneaking back into my conscious thought life by way of physical pain. I'm pretty sure that was part of what was going on last year when my back went out in the midst of grieving my father (among other things). I'm learning to let a lot of stuff go, but as I learn that, I also learn just how much anxiety I walk around with all the time anyway. Hm.

Don't really have a neat way to wrap this up, but my back is slowly getting better. As far as the anxiety, I'm working on it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

To all those who are of the maternal persuasion (to my knowledge, none read this blog, but someone might), Happy Mother's Day! Yesterday Heidi & I took my mom out to eat (at a Chinese banquet, of all places), then was the time of naps, followed by the packaging of the invitations. Today, we went to church with Heidi's folks at Willow Creek (the largest church in the world, in terms of building square footage), and Heidi made her mom a Tuscan style pork tenderloin. Mmmm mmm! Good eatin!

In other news, I've been back to being really tired lately. Admittedly, I'm busy, and I've started being more faithful with the seizure medication, which wipes me out, but this is kind of concerning. I sleep a lot more than I'm comfortable with, even without caffeine, and with vitamins, and with exercise and good nutrition and yadda yadda yadda. I hope this isn't a sign of something more annoying. Because that would suck.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My world has officially been rocked

So you know how I occasionally rant about George Lucas and his not-so-great film choices? Well, let me now amend this. I still think he's lost his filmmaking ability, but I just found out that he's not quite the complete doofus I previously thought. The tuesday after I get back from my honeymoon, the ORIGINAL Star Wars movies will be released on DVD. Not the changed-so-much-that-they're-painful version, but the real ones. The ones that changed American film history. The ones where Han shoots first. Yeah, the last third of this year will be good. Admittedly, there will still be the Yub-yub song at the end of ROTJ, but I can live with that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

John's Advice: Never get a VW Beetle (#2 in an unfortunately ongoing series)

So my car's going through some fairly minor repairs. It'll only cost $468 this time. I guess the car was uncomfortable with the cost of my loan payments outpacing the cost of my repairs. Of course, I have another car payment coming up in a couple weeks, so maybe, just maybe, the loan can win the suck-John's-wallet-dry race by the end of the year. Maybe I shouldn't tempt fate like that.

Update: I wasn't thinking clearly and overestimated the amount I've paid on my loan this year. In actuality, the loan payments won't catch up with the current repair bill until September.

Inaction Jackson

Introducing Jackson Cash Patterson. Yesterday one of my best friends had his first child (well, his wife did all the work). This is Jason holding his newest addition to the family. Heidi and I managed to get over to the hospital to see him, and that is one heck of a cute baby. A lot of kids, they're nice & all, but not necessarily the most precious thing on the face of the planet. I'm blessed with a lot of friends with truly cute kids. He was a little bit early, so he's small (6 lbs, 5 oz), but he's healthy and his parents are excited to be of the parental persuasion now.

Yay Patterson family!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Net Neutrality

This is not a hoax. I've only recently noticed this on the net, and most recently these posts eloquently described what was going on. The best way to express the whole net neutraliy issue is to quote other people, as I don't have the energy to put these details into as eloquent words as others already have.

Do you buy books online, use Google, or download to an iPod? Everything we do online will be hurt if Congress passes a radical law next week that gives giant corporations more control over what we do and see on the Internet.

Internet providers like AT&T are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality--the Internet's First Amendment and the key to Internet freedom. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. doesn't have to outbid Amazon for the right to work properly on your computer.

If Net Neutrality is gutted, many sites--including Google, eBay, and iTunes--must either pay protection money to companies like AT&T or risk having their websites process slowly. That why these high-tech pioneers, plus diverse groups ranging from MoveOn to Gun Owners of America, are opposing Congress' effort to gut Internet freedom.

You can do your part today--can you sign this petition telling your member of Congress to preserve Internet freedom? Click here:

I signed this petition, along with 250,000 others so far. This petiton will be delivered to Congress before the House of Representatives votes next week. When you sign, you'll be kept informed of the next steps we can take to keep the heat on Congress., which monitors various causes that circulate on the Internet, explained:
Simply put, network neutrality means that no web site's traffic has precedence over any other's...Whether a user searches for recipes using Google, reads an article on, or looks at a friend's MySpace profile, all of that data is treated equally and delivered from the originating web site to the user's web browser with the same priority. In recent months, however, some of the telephone and cable companies that control the telecommunications networks over which Internet data flows have floated the idea of creating the electronic equivalent of a paid carpool lane.

If companies like AT&T have their way, Web sites ranging from Google to eBay to iTunes either pay protection money to get into the "fast lane" or risk opening slowly on your computer. We can't let the Internet--this incredible medium which has been such a revolutionary force for democratic participation, economic innovation, and free speech--become captive to large corporations.

Politicians don't think we are paying attention to this issue. Together, we do care about preserving the free and open Internet.

Please sign this petition letting your member of Congress know you support preserving Internet freedom. Click here:
Also, read the linked posts. I think the biggest issue I have with this is that an ISP can effectively force me into using a service that pays them, because anything else will take 5 minutes to open on my system. This is just flat-out wrong.

From Adam Green's post:
If you are outraged, don't just sit there. ... [T]ake these steps:
SIGN a Net Neutrality petition to Congress:
CALL Congress now:
BLOG about this issue, or put our "Save the Internet" logo on your Web site:
MYSPACE: Add "Save the Internet" as a friend:
WRITE A LETTER to Congress:
VISIT our coalition Web site for more information,

Monday, May 01, 2006

Goal Update 4

Since I posted my goals at the first of the year, I've been keeping folks apprised of how I'm doing with the whole goal business at the top of each month. In keeping with that tradition...

1. Get Married: We're now getting into the less-fun detail stage of wedding planning. Part of me is glad we have four months to flesh this out, part of me is thinking "we have to do all this in four months?", and part of me just wants the four months to be over now, so we can be in Italy and not have to say goodbye at night.
2. Move to a new place: We've been looking online at a few places. I'm a little concerned about living in the burbs, especially considering how hospitable Heidi is (we both feel that a home isn't a home unless there are people over, most of my friends are in the city, and city people generally fear coming out to the burbs for social occasions). Nevertheless, most of our searches end up being in Schaumburg or Arlington Heights or Rolling Meadows, or that area.
3. Get a different job: Done
4. Get back in the gym, and establish a regular routine: Still coming along, but I want to make sure I'm not going to drop it once this program is over before I can mark this as "Done."
5. Get at least one Voice-over gig: Finished recording the commercial demo, and the narrative demo is coming along pretty well. The demo should be produced in a month or so.
6. Brew at least three batches of beer: Brew #1 is scheduled for May 21st.
7. Travel at least four times: 2 down, 2 to go.
8. Write a script: No progress. Might not get this done. Might surprise myself.
9. Read the Bible from beginning to end: Doing a lot better. This month I've read more than the three previous months put together.