Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Remembered

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I’m not sure if this is going to be like the classic memorial that I post when people pass. To be honest, I’m pretty disheartened by his passing. But, with all the memorials posted out there, the open letter to him already published, and the hundreds of thousands of devastated fans, what more do I really have to offer that hasn’t already been said?

My first encounter with Phil Hoffman was in 1996 when he portrayed Dusty in Twister. I loved Dusty. His character reminded me of my cousin, John, if he were a storm chaser. Because that’s exactly how my cousin really is. He would be the “caboose”, with a speaker on the roof blaring music down the road and screaming out the window with the thrill of the chase. And when Aunt Meg’s house was destroyed, my cousin John would react just as Dusty did. With overwhelming concern, rushing into danger to get his treasured friend out of harms way. Among other things, the movie actually made me interested in storm chasing and for a time in my life I toyed with the idea of chasing storms for a living.

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Myself and my cousin John at my wedding. Photo Credit: C Cross Photography

My cousin John is probably my favorite relative of them all, aside from my parents (of course.) He’s just like me, one of the oddballs in the family. I’m pretty sure that he and I are the only ones in the family that chose a living dealing with the arts. I’m a Theatrical Technician, John is a Musician. We understand each other.

But I digress. Phil Hoffman was a formidable actor. He could play the goofball, the good guy, the bad guy, the every man. He was especially good at the villain character.

And in the end, he’ll be very missed on the silver screen. I was very excited to hear he would be playing Plutarch Heavensbee in The Hunger Games movies. His performance was exactly as I had imagined the character in my head while reading the series. I thought he was perfect. I’m also very excited to see the next two installments of the final book and how the film makers deal with the loss of this actor.

But, that’s really all I have to add on the subject. I could go on and on and on about what actually killed this actor. Addiction is a thing I understand from an outsiders perspective only. I have stories upon stories to share. So much information I learned the hard way, watching friends make the same mistake over and over again. But I, myself, I’ve never struggled with an addiction to the degree that Phil Hoffman had. I only know what I saw in a three-year span of time with a former addict that was a part of my life. I only know what it looks like to be a friend of someone slowly killing themselves. And that, my friends, is a story I’m not ready to tell.

This post has been submitted to February 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher.

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Denver: Cleveland Understands You

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From one Clevelander to the entire state of Denver: I understand you.

If you haven’t heard, the Cleveland Browns are quite possibly the laughing-stock of all American Football. And watching the Super Bowl was like watching a Browns game.

To be fair, Cleveland has never gotten to the Bowl, so we really don’t know what it’s like to play some of the best American Football only to have the worst game all season be the game that matters most. So, on that count, I don’t understand you. But I understand that sinking feeling when the team you hope to actually do something that matters just doesn’t show up.

I know I’ve shared this video once before, but I’m going to share it again because it really does explain exactly how it feels to be a Cleveland Browns fan.

And if you enjoyed that rant, here’s a more recent one from just two months ago.

And while it’s true, our team is terrible and we will probably never make it to the Super Bowl because we can’t even get a coach to stick around for longer than one season (and yes the team that was formerly the Browns was sold and the year after that they won the Super Bowl…….) the point is that we at least understand watching a team fail. The only difference is, we watch it week after week, month after month, year after year.

The definition of insanity it doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And that’s what Cleveland does best. We get a new coach, or a new owner, or a new something-or-other, at least once a year and then keep on playing shitty football. And the fans have just come to expect it. And, at the end of the season we usually say, “There’s always next year.”

But the brutal fact is, next year the Bronco’s will come back from their Super Bowl and still be a decent team. More than decent, really. They’ll win some games, they’ll lose some games, but they’ll play football like it matters. Cleveland? Well, we’ll just continue to flounder about the field wondering which way the end-zone is. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that at some point in 2014 the Cleveland Browns will score a touchdown for the other team at least once. Why? Because I’m pretty sure we haven’t done that yet, and if there’s one thing the Browns excel at its bad football. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

So, I’m sorry Denver. But you gotta admit it: the Seahawks played one hell of a game. They showed up hungry for the win and they delivered. And to Peyton Manning, I’m extra sorry. You had a great season! And you did something that Cleveland will probably never get to do: play in the big bowl. So, believe me when I say this, I really really mean it: There’s always next year.

This post has been submitted to February 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher. Each month has its own theme. February’s theme is “perspective.”

Perspectives and How They Matter

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From your perspective to someone else’s all the way to perspective drawings – perspective matter. In fact, your perspective makes up who you are and how you see the world.

My perspectives lead me in my writing. My perspective of politics is largely why I’ve determined I’ll never actually make a political statement on this blog and no longer make political statements on other social media forums. I keep my political ideas close to my heart in a private place and choose not to share them with anyone outside of my inner most circle.

It’s the same with religion. I have my ideas, and you have yours, Gentle Reader. And this is not the place for those.

This is a place for writing things that I have learned and want to share. This is a place of sharing things that I feel about the world (religion and politics aside.) And this is a place where I like to remember the people closest to me.

I also have decided to keep my private life shrouded. If my husband and I get into an argument, I don’t rush over here to blog about it. I also don’t post 7,000 things about the argument. I vent to my inner circle, if I need to, and eventually work it out with my hubby in the private of our home.

It’s part of the perspective I have toward this blog. This is not a journal of my life, this is a place of learning. And not just for me, but for you, Gentle Reader. Some of the things I share you may already know, but if we’re lucky I can share something I know with you that you don’t know. That’s fun for me. I like being able to share knowledge, open doors to new information, and be a part of something bigger than myself.

What’s your perspective on your blog?

This post has been submitted to February 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher. Each month has its own theme. February’s theme is “perspective.”

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, America!

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Well, here it is! The biggest day in American Football!

SUPER BOWL XLVIII!!!!

I’m not what you would classify and as huge football fan, but I do love the Super Bowl. I usually pick one team I want to win, for one reason or another.

This year I’m rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.

The arbitrary reason I’ve picked Seattle this year is because I’m almost certain there will be a fantastic episode of Deadliest Catch surrounding this game. Most of the fishermen come from the Seattle region and therefore are actually invested in this game.

I’m a huge Deadliest Catch fan. Like, it’s almost unhealthy. I wear my F/V Cornelia Marie hoodie everyday and I’ve been flying the F/V Time Bandit flag from my front porch since the beginning of King season. (That’s October, just so you know.)

So, enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, America! Eat some guac and build a snack stadium! I didn’t work on my snack stadium set-up this year, so I’ll have to come up with something on the fly before kick-off.

This post has been submitted to February 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher. 

Memorial: Derrick Gable

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Derrick GableDerrick was a maniac. I think I told him that on more than one occasion.

The first time I met Derrick we were working at Kent State University for their bicentennial celebration. He was tall, and carried himself strong.

At first, he just seemed like any other crazy stagehand I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my career, but soon he did something wholly unexpected.

Derrick was a rigger, you see. Part of the job is to go into the ceiling, walking among the rafters and basically defy gravity for a few hours in order to make the truss actually fly. As an OSHA standard, if you go above six feet you need to wear your five-point harness and then use a lanyard to tie yourself off in order to keep you from plummeting to your death. Derrick suited up, climbed the 60 feet into the ceiling as per the usual, but then to my surprise, didn’t clip onto the fall arrest with his lanyard. In fact, the laws of gravity never seemed to apply to him. He just walked among the rafters as though he were taking a stroll through the park.

Derrick let in a rope for the ground rigger to send up the appropriate hardware for him to begin his job. My husband was his ground rigger that day and when Derrick got his hands on the hardware this normally rather quiet man bellowed louder than anyone in the room. Using some choice vocabulary, Derrick explained how he wanted the hardware sent up because he didn’t want to deal with having a rat’s nest of rope and hardware to dig through in the air. My husband never messed it up again.

Could Derrick have been more pleasant when educating my husband at the time? Sure. But, that’s just not how stagehands are. We are crass people. We swear like sailors. We’re dirty, stinky, toothless (in some cases) and generally looked at as riff-raff. But the best part about it is: we don’t really care. It’s our job to get dirty and stinky. If we’ve lost a tooth, it’s probably because something heavy smacked us in the face. And as for the riff-raff, well, we take that as a compliment, thank you very much.

Derrick was no exception to these standards. He excelled at being filthy. And we all loved him for it. He always had some of the best stories and when he spoke I generally tried to listen.

I really respect riggers. They are just fearless and in the case of the crew I work with, they have been in the business a long time. I know I can learn a lot from them. I never want to get in their way, and I am always happy to help out. Another rigger I work with, known as Bike Mike, is another fantastic example of the filth of the stagehand world. When he asks me to help him at a load-out, I do. When he corrects me, with choice vocabulary and a loud booming voice, I understand he’s not yelling at me because he doesn’t like me. It was the same with Derrick. And usually is the case with all stagehands. We don’t yell at you because we don’t like you, we don’t make it personal. We’re yelling because what you are doing is wrong and could endanger yourself or others. And because we care about the general well-being of all crew on the deck, we yell to make sure you never make that stupid mistake again. People’s lives are at stake on the deck when you have thousands of tons of metal dangling from a chain motor, or hundreds of pounds of weight rolling toward you in road cases that could crush you if you aren’t paying attention, we are pleased if we can all come out uninjured.

Derrick eventually moved on to a bigger and better gig and became a trucker for a touring company. But when his company came back to The Nautica he didn’t shy away from getting up in the air and lending his friends a hand. I always enjoyed watching him defy gravity. I felt safe knowing he was up there watching out for us little ants on the ground.

One night I remember passing him and saying, “Man, I wish I had your balls!” He grinned really big and said, “Yea, I wish you did too.” We both laughed. That was the perfect response, and I walked right into that comment.

But I really did wish I was as ballsy as he was. I wish I could step out onto those rafters and take a leisurely stroll 60 feet in the air without worrying about misstepping.

I have my fair share of 60 foot climbs. In the summer months, when I’m lucky, I work as a Follow Spot Operator for the concerts we put on at The Nautica. It requires me to climb 60 feet up and stand in a crow’s nest at the top of the venue. It’s the best seat in the house as far as I’m concerned.

Derrick passed away on December 8, 2013 while hauling gear at night. He lost control of his truck and it rolled, ultimately killing him. His funeral was like a viking ceremony. All the stagehands in the area showed up. So many filthy stagehands just off from a gig, showing up in their jeans and tour shirts. I think there were over a thousand of us in one small room. There was a short message from a Pastor and then they opened the mic for anyone who wished to say a few words about Derrick. It was standing room only. The stories shared about our departed friend from his daughter and other stagehands made us laugh and cry at the same time. And when we were given the opportunity to pay our last respects people left small shackles by the box that contained his ashes.

It was truly a beautiful site. And I’m honored to have been in his presence for the time I was. I learned a lot from him. And this coming summer at The Nautica will not be the same without him.

A few weeks after his funeral I had a dream about him. We were back on the deck of The Nautica, but The Nautica was huge. About seven times the size it actually is in real-life. I saw him and ran up to hug him. And then he told me a story about a stagehand he worked with doing something stupid. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe.

I took that dream as a sign that Derrick is at peace. He is working the big rig in the sky, looking down on us and keeping us safe.

Rest in peace, my friend, my comrade. And know that this young stagehand is forever changed by you.

To Derrick Gable!

This post has been submitted to February 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher.