Archive for the ‘The DC’ Category

No, I haven’t been despondent, I’ve just been adjusting to the new job. I’m 2 1/2 months into it and I’m in that phase of a new job where all the new info is frying my brain and when I get home all I wanna do is stare at the wall and drool. But hey, at least I’m busy, gettin’ paid, and have responsibility at work.

Winter was forever this year. It started freezing much earlier in November, and didn’t quit until this week. Even the birds are late. When I heard woodcock could be spotted at Kenilworth Park in DC I didn’t believe it. I thought the bird was more of a northern species. But yesterday when I was walking to work this guy just landed right in front of me:
Woodcock
I think he was just taking a break. They’re not used to being seen, as their camouflage is so good in their usual environment. And they are generally of the wrong shape to be flying such long distances. It’s hard out there for a woodcock. Anyway, it’s funny because me and Dana had planned on going to Kenilworth to hear their peent and watch their sky dance that evening. Our timing was perfect. We heard at least 6 birds doing their unique spring mating call after sunset.
Anacostia Front
Rugby had started weeks ago when it was still snowing. I wasn’t up for it and now I’m a bit behind. Plus I never know when I’m going to get out of work, and am simply mentally not up for it after a mentally trying day. I’m getting my exercise in, but I think I’m out for the spring. I need some me time at this point with my new job.

In July of 2007 I went up to see Xanadu on Broadway with Aaron during the show’s preview period. The jukebox musical was clever and the music was great, as expected. It featured Cheyenne Jackson, who had been the understudy until the main male lead had a tragic rollerskating accident during rehearsals. 30 Rock’s other star Jane Krakowski was in the workshop productions in its early stages.

After the show a Bear in a trenchcoat approached me just outside the theater doors and asked, “So, what did you think of the show?” His question was so pointed it was clear he wasn’t hitting on me. This guy was looking for feedback. I wished I had a more eloquent response, but all I could say on the spot was, “It was a lot of fun, I liked it.” It turns out the Bear was a producer of the show and was surveying the crowd for feedback.

That encounter stuck with me years later. My only musical theater experience was in high school with time-tested scripts like Annie and Oklahoma. It seems obvious now, but I had no idea the production of a new show was an evolving thing. The script, musical numbers and blocking change over time. You long-time musical fans may say “well duh” but I thought the fact that a producer might change a show based on feedback on the street fascinated me.

Then came “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” on Broadway. Before it was even in production comic book nerds were hysterical with rage, including myself. Spider-Man doesn’t sing for one thing. He cracks jokes, but never exhibited any penchant for song in the comics. But the musical wasn’t for comic fans, it was designed to sell very expensive tickets.

It turned out to be the most expensive musical ever produced, with the longest running preview period due to excessive technical difficulties and numerous stunt-related injuries. There’s a fascinating book written by one of the co-writers of the show that is a page-turner and documents the hubris involved with the show. I didn’t see it, but learned that the writers created a new villainess that was never in the comics. Totally unnecessary in a universe rich with existing options. Plus it was just too ambitious. When the stunts worked, they were fantastic. But when they didn’t, it was awkward at best, but too often dangerous to for the cast.

Dazzler

Art by Chris A. Tsuda

Between Xanadu and Spider-Man, I was like, why didn’t they do a musical about Marvel’s answer to disco in the 1980s, the Dazzler? She is a some-time X-Man with the mutant ability to convert sound energy into light. She is still featured in comics today, and was one of the first to publicly come out as a mutant. Stories were one of the first to focus on the personal life of the hero, and the comics were also the first to be released exclusively in comic shops rather than on the magazine racks at the local convenience store. As you might imagine, the character has a gay fan base and is a popular subject for cosplay.

Dazzler wasn’t always a hero. Her first dream was to be a star, but villains and thugs kept interrupting her big breaks. Eventually she had to make a choice – one that we all face on a daily basis: am I a hero or a star?

Now isn’t that a compelling story? Wouldn’t theater gays go nuts over such a theme, that also involves disco and flashy lights? I think so.

So I did some research. One superfan recently did a Dazzler music video. Back in the 80s, Bo Derek was set to play her, with an insane script idea starring Cher as the Witch Queen, Donna Summer as the Queen of Fire, KISS, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, and The Village People. I applaud their creativity, but I think we gotta scale it back a bit.

So I started writing a script. Yeah I know I’m not a script writer. The most I do are these here blog posts and achingly dry press releases for the federal government. But I had two years of un- and under-employment and looking for jobs only takes up so much time. Plus I had this idea in my head, an idea that was like a pustulent zit that had to be popped desperately, or else it would just sit there and fester. And the idea wouldn’t go away.

The idea is based on the earliest Dazzler comics where the simple theme was her trying to make it big in spite of interruptions by supervillains. It’s about expectations, or the failure to reach them. It was a theme I was – and am – very familiar with. Perhaps this script is therapy. But I’d also like to see it work, if only on a small stage.

In the fall I learned about a theatrical reading of a Batman graphic novel. A reading is when you read from a script without a lot of props or blocking. They did a great job, and I got in touch with the director. Sadly we haven’t gotten together about it yet, but I think he’s one guy who could help me out, if only for suggestions.

I met with a producer friend of mine for some advice. His main tip was that unless this show is satire, I definitely had to get in touch with Marvel for permission, or it is all for nothing. His other advice was that NYC is filled with aspiring writers, and what was I thinking that I could also do such a thing? That was disappointing from a person I had initially introduced to showbiz. But I had asked for advice and for him to read my script, which I’m not sure he’s done yet. Not many have, although one theater critic and Dazzler fan has and gave me some constructive advice that I plan to implement.

I reached out to Marvel Comics’ licensing team, which was surprisingly easy to do. I got a swift response: “Hi Mr. B: We are not interested in licensing out our character for this musical. Thank you.” At least they got back to me quickly. Not sure what to do about that just yet. The show is definitely not satire, and is in fact is heavily based on the early Dazzler comics. Dazzler wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dazzler was an aspiring disco star, and a show without music wouldn’t be right. So I delved into the music from the year the comic was conceived. Much of that music was played at the roller rink where I spent a lot of time when I was nine years old, and I have an eidedic memory for lyrics, especially from when I was a kid. 1979 was a fantastic year for music, many of the songs having to do with light. Perfect for a musical about a person who can transform sound into light. Many cringe at the thought of a jukebox musical, but these songs are appropriately woven into the plot. I’ve even written one original song for The Eleven O’clock Number.

I’ve done a lot of research into script writing, and plan on taking a class once I get my finances back in order. DC has a remarkably thriving theater scene, and there are opportunities for small stage productions. I even have a local 80s cover band I’m in touch with to perform the music. “Glitterlust” seems an appropriate name for a house band doing music for Dazzler.

For the most part I’ve kept this idea to myself for many years. It’s a crazy idea, and putting it out there has been interesting. I’m mostly met with bewilderment and sometimes doubt even from close friends, which has been a little hurtful. But from what I understand rejection and roadblocks are part of the business and I’m going to keep trying. Is it a hobby or a dream? I’m not sure yet. But just like Dazzler it is yet to be determined whether I’m going to be a hero or a star.

It feels odd to start the day without looking at job posts as I have been for two years. I finally got a mothafokkin’ job, accepted an offer last week. It’s taken 26 months, 160 resumes, lots of networking and a lot of resolve. I guess the lesson is: don’t quit your job and move to Portland – it’s a trap! Plus I don’t think I considered the state of the Nation’s economy two years ago. I thought my resume was robust enough to get me work right away.

Anyway the interview process for this one took quite a while. I had three phone interviews and one in-person interview strung out over the course of a month. Strangely they have not called any references. I could be an axe murderer for all they know! It is strange how some workplaces really comb through your contacts and work history, while others rely on vibe. I’m glad they like my vibe though.

The new job is communications work that supports Homeland Security. It involves science and technology innovations that help first responders. So the job is nerdy yet involves my communication skills, which is nice. It’s also less than ten minutes away by bike. Maybe a half-hour walk from my home, which is great. I expected to take a big pay cut as salaries are lower these days, but I didn’t lose much and managed to negotiate up. Interestingly this company bought the company I first worked for when I arrived in DC. Several of my friends still work for this company. But I did not get this job through networking or contacts. I applied to it cold and got it myself, which is a little unusual.

Of course the first year I will be putting my head forward and focus on the new work environment. Plus two years of underemployment has given me new financial burden that I didn’t have before. So no fancy vacations for me for a while. Gotta pay off the debt.

shinerSo it’s been a year since I’ve returned to DC, two years since I moved to Portland. I moved back to DC under the assumption that there were more jobs here than in Portland. That’s somewhat true, but there aren’t as many jobs as there used to be here. Fewer organizations are hiring because money isn’t flowing here due to legislative gridlock and no budget. With the Republicans controlling the senate I think we’re going to get more of the same for at least three years. So nobody has any confidence they’ll have money for new or continuing positions.

The new job reality is in contracting. Fewer companies are hiring “permanent” positions. And salaries are lower, despite all the sunny news you hear coming from the White House these days. It’s ironic that in the past year I’ve had more interviews for jobs outside of DC than in. Two of them were for jobs in Portland. Next week I’ll be interviewing for a job in Madison, Wisconsin. It would be working for the state extension offices marketing their environmental programs. It would be a good fit, but of course the position is a 2-year contract, so that gives me pause and I would probably have to get a car too. But then again everything is contracting these days. But it is the first job interview where they are paying for my travel for an interview in person! However, I owe them a marketing presentation in return.

I had mentally resolved to “be” in DC, to accept the fact that this is where I should be. But opportunities may take me elsewhere. This sorta pisses me off because I felt very empowered to take the leap to Portland, but failed. It makes me feel like I don’t have any control over my destiny. Then there’s the constant anxiety about my career/job/bills. Two years of worry and watching my savings run out. I think a lesser person would be crushed by two years of this instability.

Granted, I’m working now, actually like the job I’m in, but it ends in December. All I’ve been able to get in DC are these short-term contracting gigs, and my resume looks like a mess now. I get interviews when people see my resume, but I think there are still hundreds of people applying for jobs these days and my resume is buried under hundreds of pages and names. It’s really tight out there.

The photo was of the shiner I got during rugby practice last month. It’s all better now. Rugby was fun this season. They have enough players now to form a third team. It’s mostly brand new players and old, decrepit players like me. Still fun to get out there though, but man it takes longer and longer for me to recover from a match.

Well the Miss Adams Morgan Pageant was a lot of fun. Much love to Miss Veronica Blake for doing up Charlene. Actually the process for getting made up was made efficient by an assembly line affair before the show. At one station the heavy foundation was plastered to my face. At the next station the fine details for a fine lady, and finally the wig was put on at the last station. Charlene was a hit, as the people expected and demanded. Don’t be jealous. In the photo to the left we see the lovely Jim Lande and Miss Charlene Hilton in all her smoky glory.

I must note that the production value for this pageant seems to get better every year. It’s quite a DC institution. DC doesn’t have a reputation for being a crazy town or particularly artsy, but when we do put on a show it’s well-organized. In a town full of Type-A personalities this is an inevitability. Like I always say, “Maryland is for crabs, Virginia is for lovers, and DC is for former class presidents.”

Now the beard will grow back again. My dry, featureless face hates me for shaving.

Oh I want to point out that our painfully cisgendered blogger friend BrettCajun is OBSESSED WITH CHARLENE. He was constantly asking questions about her, offering makeup advice, and lewd comments about what he wants to do with Charlene. Brett just do drag already and GET. OVER. IT.

I shaved my glorious russet beard for an upcoming appearance of Charlene, and now the beard gods have punished me with a pox. It’s probably razor burn, but it sure does itch. Beards keep your face moisturized and happy. I will begin the regrowth immediately after Charlene has left the stage. Shaving is bad.

Bryce Harper does not shave, and he is full of testosterone and manliness, as evidenced in this photo:
RAWR!
The beardy Washington Nationals made it to the Major League Baseball playoffs again but they did not make it farther than that. I am sad.

Fuck fuck fuck the proposal I was on to support a major U.S. government website did not win. So it’s back to square one. I have been temping at a great place and the commute – a 10-minute bike ride – has been great. But the pay is crap and I really need to get off the temp train. My resume is a mess from all these short-term contract and temp gigs and I look like a job-hopper on my resume. I have been applying to permanent or long-term jobs since I got to DC. But I rarely get a response, and I’m even starting to see jobs I applied to in the past year opening again. How did that person you hired work out for you? Guess it didn’t work out for either of you. YA SHOULDA HIRED ME!

This week marks the one-year anniversary of my return to DC. I knew it would be tough reestablishing myself but I didn’t expect it to be this tough. Our economy is rotten, money is not flowing through DC, salaries are lower than they used to be, everything is more expensive and firms are reluctant to open new positions. Have a nice day.

I have a new roommate. The other one was great but he followed his girlfriend to NYC. Strangely, this new one was my roommate when I lived upstairs, so I know we get along. BUT he seems to have gathered a tremendous amount of stuff this time around. Either that or the first time he never intended to stay for long. He’s still unpacking and I don’t know where it’s all going to go. I hope he has a toaster because I left mine in Portland somewhere.

I went to the premiere of “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. I know a few of the producers and was contacted by the director for consulting regarding a very brief scene in which Cheyenne Jackson is playing Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a good movie and you should go see it.

I’ve been so busy on the job hunt and travelling, I didn’t realize I hadn’t been biking or going to the gym as much as I usually do. On Labor Day I got to the gym and a long bike ride, and it felt real good. I also got caught in a rainstorm, but there was a rainbow afterwards, even though congress does not deserve a rainbow:

I forgot to mention I’ve gotten back to rugby. Of course I first had to get health insurance, as it would be stupid to play rugby without it. I went through the DC health exchange (“Obamacare”) and I must say that process really sucked. It took about 2 1/2 days to process my application, and that was with a specialist trained in holding people’s hands through the process. That and the website sucked. I mean, I just finished a webmaster gig so I know a few things, and found out I had to log-in or log-out on this or that screen, or clear the browser cache before this screen worked. Extremely user unfriendly website. And what if I was a struggling mother working 3 part-time jobs? I wouldn’t have the time to navigate this system that takes almost three days to process.

Anyway, rugby has been good. I’m slower than I used to be, but my body is still intact. Getting back to rugby has given me a sense of normalcy and practices offer two hours where I’m not obsessing over my career recovery. And the guys are nice to look at, of course.

I was on my way to check out the crowd at Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw and ogled a new coffee joint in the works a mere block away. Compass Coffee will be opening soon at 1535 7th Street NW, and promise a hefty buzz for the local residents. Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) gave me a quick tour and it looks like it’s gonna be a spacious joint with fresh roasted beans.
Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) of Compass Coffee
They’re excited about it and it will surely be a fueling spot for all the residents of the nearby developments. Even better, they promise a mean cold brew. It turns out Haft and Suarez are DC natives and served as Marines together. The Washington Post has an ongoing series about their business development. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Hello again. Been workin’ hard but have adjusted to the new job, just in time for it to end by the close of June. It is a contract position, and while it’s been good revisiting web content management and managing people (I think I’m good at it!) I am told we will likely be done with the web migration by the end of June.

While I have been looking for and applying to jobs this whole time, the push begins again in earnest. Still looking for long-term/permanent public affairs/communications employment, preferably for the government, preferably for a science- natural resources- or ag-based organization. So your help is appreciated dear readers – leads are always received graciously. It has been a rocky and fruitless job situation since September 2012 and I could really use some good news and developments.

Last month I actually had a phone interview for a job I was genetically engineered for: performing public affairs work for a sage grouse conservation program in Oregon. But despite two follow-up emails I have not heard anything back from them. As I recall Portlanders avoid conflict, so bad news is probably not going to be received at all.

We have had some heavy rains in the Mid-Atlantic, and the Potomac has been swollen:flotsam and jetsam
A few weeks ago “ten million ‘real’ Americans” gathered on the National Mall to protest Obama/Benghazi/buttsex or something. I only counted about ten teabagger loons. And for the record I’m tired of hearing these people dictate who “real” Americans are. Teabaggers STFU and go home.
TenMillionMurcans
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, we went for a bike ride along the Potomac River. The shad were running, and we observed herons eating them from this platform (which I think is a flow measurement station):
Flow Station
Under a nearby bridge, me and Bubbles contemplated the meaning of ‘BE’ and the flag of the District of Columbia:
DC Flag, and BE
I celebrated Memoral Day by sleeping in, going to the gym, and another bike ride. I took a picture of John S. Logan in Logan Circle. The dude founded Memorial Day:

I’m going to a Nationals baseball game tomorrow. Sadly woofy Bryce Harper is not playing these days, but super-beardy Jayson Werth will be playing.

Suddenly spring arrived. I went for a hike with friends on the Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Virginia. There was a gun show:

I spotted a bald eagle and a baby snapping turtle.

Later that month, we went to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas in bloom:

Bubbles and me. Photo by GURL.


This weekend, a friend with a vineyard asked us to help plant vines:
I dig alone. Photo by GURL.
I carried the vines on my head:

I did not plant the vines as the Overseer preferred, so I soon changed to watering the plants rather than planting them:

As the sun set and we completed the project, we squinted in unison:

There were cute Jack Russel terriers present: