You Can Call Me Isaac I

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[If there’s something that the world doesn’t have enough of, it is most certainly A Few Good Men fanfiction.  I’m currently appearing in a local production of the play by Aaron Sorkin, playing the role of Captain Isaac Whitaker — a very minor character who only appears in the first few minutes of the play. I have time backstage, so please allow me to present my humble theory of what happens to the character when he leaves the staqe.]

“This shirt does not fit.” Isaac told his reflection. “Nope. Just doesn’t fit.”

He turned sideways, and looked at himself in profile.  His stomach bulged and pressed against the buttons of his shirt, the second above his belt seemed to be wincing in pain as it strained against the crisp khaki. The rest of his frame still held a warrior’s shape – broad shoulders and thick arms – but the irreverent curve of his gut better suited a comfortable chair, or a plush barstool, or a voluminous couch.

“Just gotta get a bigger shirt.” Isaac told himself philosophically. “All the running just isn’t burning this pooch down.”

He turned back forward, and sucked in his stomach. His men always seeemed a little skeptical when he told them about his morning PT. 2.6 miles at 0600 every morning, from his front door to the end of the farm road on his property. Then a quick shower and chow, hopping into his car and driving into the city for the 0830 morning meeting. He’d tell Kaffee or Weinberg about his morning jog and their eyes would always slowly dip down to his stomach.

“Those fucking guys.” Isaac straightened the points of his collar, adjusting the gold insignia at his collar.

On one side were two gold branches for the JAG Corps, on the other an eagle for his rank. Captain Isaac Whitaker, administrator of the Washington branch of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for nine years — seven from retirement,  gut busting its way out of his tightly tailored uniform shirt.

“Maybe I should eat a salad for lunch during the week,” he mused. “Salads.”

Isaac turned from the mirror hanging on the closet door and sat down at his desk. A stack of legal briefs were neatly organized on the left-hand side, color-tabbed with translucent tape. Blue tape for any Class B misdemeanors or below, green tape for Class A.  He tagged them himself when they were brought to him – he wouldn’t waste any of his men’s time with such menial organization.  It helped him plan his time, work through the stacks. Clean and calm, folders came in and folders went out — assigned to the best available litigator on his staff. Isaac liked to have a nodding familiarity with every case that came through his office. From the most standard Drunk and Disorderly to the occasional more serious offenses requiring a full court-martial. If there was one thing his time in the Navy had instilled in him it was a serious devotion to knowledge of the battlefield. It didn’t matter that now his battlefield was made of paper instead of water and dirt.

“Salads, salads, salads.” Isaac pulled the first green-tabbed folder off the top of the stack, and peered over the rim of his red-gold-tan-black1glasses at the heading.

“Hey, Captain.” Weinberg stuck his head through the door. “There’s some lady here from Internal Affairs. ”

Isaac looked up, the brief still open in front of him. “What?”

“Some lady. Here to see you. From Internal  Affairs,” his officer repeated.

“Oh, yeah. Bronsky called me and said something about her stopping by. Some case they want to reopen. Send her in.” He flexed his hands on the desk and sighed.

Isaac took off his glasses for a moment, and pinched his rubbed his brow with both hands. His eyes fell on the front of his shirt again.

“Just doesn’t fit. Damn thing just doesn’t fit.”

His office door swung open, and he put his glasses back on. He stood to greet his guest from Internal Affairs.

—-

It turned into a long day.

The lady from Internal Affairs, a Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway, had been the herald of a red ball case. Isaac had needed to dig around in his desk for a few minutes before he found the appropriate scarlet tape to mark the folder.  Some Marine in Guantanamo Bay was dead, and two of his squadmates were charged with the murder. Division was giving a lot of attention to this one – the base commander at Gitmo was a favored son, slowly making his grand ascension to the Pentagon. They wanted the case done quick and quiet with no collateral damage. He would need to keep close tabs on this one and make sure his guys didn’t let the whole thing go pear-shaped.

The 1500 staff meeting was quick and to the point. Division had pre-selected Kaffee as the lead counsel for the Defense so it was just a matter of briefing him on the particulars, and letting Commander Galloway fill in the blanks. Kaffee was a good litigator, a whiz at the plea-bargain. No way this thing would ever see the inside of a courtroom. Perfect, as far as he was concerned.

After the meeting he worked through the rest of his case-load for the day, but he went ahead and put in a few phone calls. First a few minutes shitting in Bronsky’s ear for sending this little package for his office to deal with. Bronsky laughed and they made plans to get a drink on Friday — first round on him. Then a few messages with some connections in Division, and to a friend or two at the Pentagon. Just to see how much crossfire his guys would be dealing with.

The battlefield was paper, but he wasn’t going to let his men march out without some covering fire and as much intelligence as he could scrounge up.

5855139554_b27543aa79_zIsaac walked out of the office about an hour later than usual. The parking deck was mostly empty, yellow lights buzzing against gray stone. His white Buick Regal was parked in a corner near the entrance, the rest of the row was empty. He dug  in his pocket for the keys and spent a moment finding the keys as his mind wandered. He was tired, maybe he’d skip his morning jog tomorrow. Get a little extra sleep.  Not doing a damn bit of good, anyway.

He unlocked the door and tossed his briefcase into the passenger seat. He slid into the driver’s seat and leaned out pull the door shut.

A small pop came from the front of his shirt. A sudden looseness.

Isaac looked down and saw that the second button from his belt was gone. “Shit. Goddamn it.”

He slammed the door and began to fish around the floor of the car. He peered all around, lifting his feet to search — but the button seemed to have vanished. “GOD. Goddammit.” he slammed his head back against the seat in frustration.

His eyes came up to the rear view mirror.

That’s when he saw the mask.

The mask that the man in the backseat was wearing. It looked to be made of black wood, narrow slits for the eyes and mouth. Isaac felt the familiar pressure of a gun being pressed firmly to his neck.

“Captain Whitaker, how pleasant to see you again.” the masked man said cheerfully. “Drive.”

” You can call me Isaac.” he replied, and turned the key to start the car.

[To be continued.]

We Move West

And here I am, hey blog. HEY, HEY BLOG.

BLOG. HEY. HEY BLOG.

[This is what I do when I see a cow out the car window. Just replace ‘blog’ with ‘cow’ and it’s the same dialogue. It is incredibly endearing, and never annoys anyone else in the car.]

I know you can HEAR ME COW.
I know you can HEAR ME COW.

So, yeah — let’s shake some cobwebs off.  My production of Pippin is finished, so now I can reroute those system resources back to all of the other plates I have spinning in the ether. Let’s list them! YAY, LISTS.

1. Spell/Sword Zeta Draft.  This would be an amazing name for an anime. This is the big project, my  main focus. Incorporating all the feedback from my Beta Readers, and working my way to the penultimate draft. I’m planning to add about 5000 words to the draft, so I’ll need to get one last set of eyes on the manuscript before I move forward to Self Publishing Ragnarok.

2. Self Publishing Ragnarok. Also an amazing anime title. My goal is to get the book into a buy-able format, through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon. I’m researching all of the technical knowledge needed for doing that, so when I am ready to move forward it won’t be a giant learning curve clusterfuck.

IS THE JPEG OF YOUR COVER ART BELOW THE MAXIMUM PIXEL LIMIT???
IS THE JPEG OF YOUR COVER ART BELOW THE MAXIMUM PIXEL LIMIT???

3. Cover Art.  I’ve seen some early sketches from Mike/Poopbird, and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Got to make sure I have all the specs for pixel limits, image size, etc. to make it easy and painless for him once the design is complete.

4. Titan’s Wake.  My occasional Pathfinder campaign. Time to kick it in the shins and get the PC’s moving toward something approaching the plot. Scheduling has been an issue, leading to some signal loss — gotta get the players on some sort of regular game night schedule, or the campaign is just going to fizzle.

5. The Ocean of Not. New and shiny Legend of the Five Rings campaign! Meeting with the players in early January to make characters, and hopefully kick off the game shortly thereafter. I’m planning on having a forum component for this one, and most of the players are Lodestar alumni —very excited to get back in the trenches.

6. Shadeaux Bros. Christmas Album. Got to jump on this one with both feet, as it does have a built in deadline. Unfamiliar with our previous work? Take a listen and be forever changed.

7. A Few Good Men.  I have a small part in the next Mainstage production at the theatre. I get to play an actual person, which is not my strong suit.

Broad physical comedy is what I do.
Broad physical comedy is what I do.

8. Regular Blogging. I need to get back on a regular update schedule, 3-5 times per week. Maybe I’ll bring back Story on Demand to prime the pump, but I’m hoping now that working on the book is moving back to my main creative focus, I’ll have more time and writerly thoughts to expound upon.

Lot of stuff. Lot of cows. I love the feeling of energy and mind-space coming online – really looking forward to all of these projects!

 

White-Hot Greasefire of Entertainment

Pippin-Anxiety
Josh Darnell as Pippin, with The Players

Pippin opens on Friday.

If you’ve been wondering why the blog has been so quiet — here’s your answer. I’ve been directing a production of this musical at our Friendly Neighborhood Theater, the Town & Gown Players.

Here’s the part — were I a normal human being — where I would gush about the show. Partly from genuine excitement and pride;  partly in a cynical, manipulative attempt to convince you to come see the show.

But as this blog provides ample evidence, I am not a normal human being. I have a complicated relationship with positivity. Most evident in creative projects where I am invested. I have a, shall we say, extreme reluctance to speak without restraint, to truly commit to the excitement. How about a list of your neuroses related to this, I hear you all shouting with animation and curiosity at your computer screens. Okay!

1. Pure superstition. If I say that the show is good, amazing, colossal, etc. etc. I’m calling down the attention of the gods. I live in Athens and hubris-smiting is most definitely on the menu. A musical is a super-complicated, involved creative endeavor with thousands of moving parts. Everything has to gel – the music, the movement, the acting, the vocals. Layered on top of that is the spiritual mumbo-jumbo of any community – you want every person’s chi to align just so. I do not need Hermes to start

This doesn't happen in the show. Only in my heart.
This doesn’t happen in the show. Only in my heart.

feeling capricious or mercurial[HAR HAR HAR] and throw  a wrench up in my show, just for giggle-shits.

2. Cynical Directing Style. I’m not quite sure where I picked this up — but I truly believe that if I tell an actor that what they are doing is good, they will immediately get worse.  As an actor myself, fear is the best motivator. If you believe that you are doing a good job, you will stop working to get better – you will relax, get comfortable. It’s a short trip to Craptown. Every rehearsal, every performance you should be striving to exceed your previous attempt.  Add to that the weird parental aspect of being a director — actor-children work much harder when they are unsure of Daddy’s approval. It’s cynical, but it works. Most of us performers have some sort of approval-need or bone-deep insecurity, as a director you might as well plug in to that and use it to get them to do sharper pirouettes. I’ve actually made a point to get better about this one, giving GRUDGING positive notes. Baby steps!

3. First Impressions. The beginning of a play is a holy moment. The moment when the lights go down — it’s pure, unbridled potential. Anything could happen — a whole new world is being born right in front of you. I treasure that moment, and I hate to pollute it. Especially with generic ‘Rah-Rah Show’s SO AWESOME’ posturing. So, if I started rambling on about how great the show is, or how much I like X scene, or Y song — then I’ve put things in your head. Expectations, judgement, etc. The less said the better. Come to the temple with your eyes unclouded.

So, what can I say about the show – through the net of my psychosis?

The set looks amazing. My designers really outdid themselves – I can comfortably say that it is unlike anything we’ve put on that stage in the past 10 years, easy.

The light design is also excellent. My bacon was Epic Level saved by the last minute addition of our Light Designer.

The choreography is excellent, thanks to my crack Choreography Squadron.

The band is crisp, and the musical director’s re-scoring of several key moments is inspired.

Pictured: The Cast of Pippin
Pictured: The Cast of Pippin

The cast? Solid. I know that sounds like faint praise — but I’ll double-down. This cast is Solid Snake.

I won’t say anything more, due to neuroses listed above. But when the curtain opens Friday night, that’s where you want to be.  I want you to see what the cast has accomplished, has earned through months of hard work.  I believe you are going to see something exceptional.

If you are anywhere within a 50 mile radius of Athens, GA – you should make a point of attending.

Click on the image up top to buy tickets. You can pick your seat and everything, through the magic of the internet.

 

Blather Options

I’ve been noodling over a couple of different blog topics, whilst digesting the mammoth pile of turkey and dressing that I’ve recently consumed. Which sounds the most interesting to you, oh wanderer of the Internet?

1. Why I kind of like that show Elementary, despite it being an empirically flawed premise for a show. [Sherlock Holmes in America?!? Blasphemery!]

2. I recently completed a re-read of the first book of the Wheel of Time series Eye of the World. This was a series I loved as a younger reader, but lost interest in as the years and volumes piled up. I’m re-reading the first book to help me decide whether it’s worth plowing back through now that the very last book is being released. There would be lots of navel-gazing, musing and a de facto review of the book. Who doesn’t love an article on story structure?

3. That show I’m directing at Town & Gown, Pippin.

4.  My nebulous new tabletop campaign, Ocean of Not [placeholder name.]

5. Lodestar.

6. Spell/Sword …you know, my book or whatever.

7. Potpourri. [You tell me what you’d like me to blather on about.]

Any of this sound remotely interesting or palatable?

Director’s Note

[I know it’s been quiet here for the past few weeks. I’m hip-deep in a production of Pippin that I’m directing, plus holiday work volume, plus BLAH BLAH BLAH WRITE US A STORY ABOUT A GRYPHON. I should have some quiet time over Thanksgiving, I’ll try to be a better blog-content producer over the next few days. In the meantime, here’s my Director’s Note for the program of the show.]

The Players

This show is strange.

It’s one of my favorites, and every time I watch it I find another odd little quirk, or strange sequence of lines, or incongruous thematic element. This is the second time I’ve directed this show — and once again I’m left with a vague feeling of unease. Do I really know what this show is about? So many pieces that don’t fit, arcane and vivid.

I think this show is about magic.

The magic of youth. The magic of theatre.

The magic of choice. The magic of love.

And — bereft of descriptor — magic itself.

Who am I to parse the strange symbols and gestures of this incantation? Magic cannot be understood, that is its base element. A resistance to definition, to codification, and to the jaded understanding of maturity. Only the eyes of a child can glimpse the Leading Player’s riddle.

So, take your ease Ladies and Gentlemen. Become children with us tonight, and let us tell you a tale. The spell begins again.

G. Derek Adams
Director

Nerd/Aesthete convergence.

I’m in a production of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, and a friend came to see the show last night. Here is the wonderfully arcane series of texts we traded. Warning: These jokes require a clear memory of the game Bioshock, as well as serious familiarity with the Bard’s text. In other words, this will be funny to no one.

Josh: I’m seeing a definite Bioshock influence in the Comedy of Errors set .Deliberate or unintentional.

Me: Sadly unintended.

Me: No gods or kings!

Josh: Is Antipholus not entitled to the sweat of his own brow?

Me: Antipholus chooses, but Dromio obeys.

Josh: Haha. Well played, sir.

Yes, we are freakish nerds. We also made jokes about sandwiches made by Determinism.  Envy us.