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Friday, January 28

Tempus fugit
Sadly those are latin words, so I'm not sure I could use them in a Scrabble game. Yes. I'm playing Scrabble more and more at the moment. It's not a terrible thing to be addicted to. Some people are addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, smack... I play Scrabble a few times a day. If I get up to more than a few times a day, I've no time to sleep, which impairs my performance, so it's self-regulating. Given that I'll be waiting about 60 minutes between getting into make-up and getting on stage during Guys and Dolls next month, it's no bad thing that I'll have something to keep me company in the dressing room? Will I be playing internet Scrabble on my laptop in a theatre? Of course not. I wouldn't be that sad... no, I've downloaded a version of it for my mobile phone - you play against an online computer.

I creamed someone last night in a game where I luckily found the word "Maverick" (using an existing K), getting a nice bonus score, and also managed to play a few high-scoring triple-word-scores... I nearly hit a score of 400. My opponent sent me words of encouragement, which was sporting. I sent back the message - "It's just luck", which it is. I'm not destined to be any good at Scrabble... just mediocre. However, I've had a bit of fun with it and I've learned some new words - "Zin" and "Pe" for example. I only know that they exist - not what they mean. Today I finally managed to beat the computer opponent on the mobile phone Scrabble game. I played it twice. Once was a draw and then my first win. In fairness, I only got the mobile phone version yesterday, but I took a severe beating a few times, so it was nice to reciprocate.

Is this boring yet?


I'll soon tire of the wordplay. My nights on the tiles will come to an end in the near future. It's not a bad thing in itself. There are people out there who touch kids for goodness' sake. I just play a bit of Scrabble. The playing of the aforementioned game has filled in most of my time at home this week, which means that I've not put time into Blogging...

So what have I been up to?
Well, since Monday, I have been desperately trying not to write a sequel to The Musical! and I've been failing. This means that I have about 22 minutes of dialogue written. There are several scenes planned, but not yet written. Then there would be the musical numbers, which on first draft should be about 30 or so minutes' worth. Then you take out the dross... hopefully there's a 50-60 minute show left at the end... assuming one is writing a sequel, which I'm not. It would be terrible presumptuous to put a sequel together, given the absence of guarantee that my collaborator is available or even keen on the idea that I'm NOT currently developing - there is no show without him.

Even if I throw the whole thing away, it's made me laugh. It's a perversion of Dickens and everything that's holy.

I have to put more effort into selling tickets for the March run of The Musical!. That is a lot more important at the moment. We're definitely doing that. I've no idea if the Glasgow audience will seek out our tickets or whether I need to start pulling every possible string that I can in order to beg people who know people who know glaswegians to turn out and support the show. If you're reading this blog and can help get an audience to either the Newcastle or Glasgow shows then please sort it out. Click here for details.

Hanging off the end of a rope
A few people read my "mediocrity" rant of a couple of posts ago and got in touch to argue against it, or were worried that I was being harsh on myself and, thus, terribly down in the dumps. I'm not terribly down in the dumps. I've been more optimistic about stuff in the past, but I'm certainly a long way off feeling miserable. The post-Edinburgh-blues last year was a month of angst and agony. I bounced back wonderfully in October and I've not fallen anywhere below "moderately cheerful" since. I am not exceedingly content at the moment, but that's all the more reason to continue with my one-man-quest to make my world a better place. That's my world, not THE world - I have no heady notions of being able to do any significant good. The good news, though, is that my personal relationship with the world tends to be proportional to how much fun is happening around me, and I seek opportunities to create fun, or at least go places where the fun is happening. (I'm the guy who was on stage on my birthday last year and will be on a different stage on my birthday this year... entertainment suits me.)

It's a horrible fact of life that you cannot truly expect all of your desires to be possible. I suppose this is why I like computers so much. Once you've discarded the ludicrous notions that computers could do magical things, and set your sights on realistic things you want to make the machine do, you CAN make it happen - it's just a matter of time and ingenuity. Conversely, in life, in interactions with people, you cannot engineer things as you want them. Social engineering is possible, and it seems that there are some really easily swayed people out there, but every triumph of social engineering is a shallow one. You can't truly win the hearts and minds of folks by faking it. There's a game (and it's not Scrabble) and you have to play it and be satisfied with the participation, regardless of the outcome.

So, as I'm starting to feel my age, some of the time at least (ok, so I'll be 30 for a few more days and it's hardly old), I realise that I still have very high expectations of life and I should not intentionally compromise them, nor should I hold too much hope of achieving them. That's bound to make one feel a bit small. Humility is essential, as is the drive to make more of oneself. Knowing the way I think, which is that every success is worth sitting on admiring for a while, it's quite essential to spend time observing the gulf between my aims and my current position. That's how I drive myself to do better.

This isn't just about superficial triumphs like a good gig, a job well done in the office, or whatever. What counts is being one of the good guys. I'm a foolish, overweight, selfish oaf... and I'm a cheerful, altruistic, creative brain too. These two extremes need balancing. Writing honestly about it helps. Maybe it looks harder in black and white. As I've said, I work better when I can see the challenge clearly.

I'm missing the stand-up. It's a hard life to work a 40 hour week and do more than a couple of gigs in that same week. Beyond 3 gigs in such a week it becomes very very difficult. However, I want to be in tip-top comedic form for the next Edinburgh festival, so I shall be aiming to fill the gig diary from when I become released from the responsibilities of musicals - sometime in March.

The North East comedy scene is undergoing a large shift. We have an experienced Scottish comedian joining our ranks, but we're losing/have lost, half a dozen or so of our major talents recently. It's a pretty poor show when I become one of the more experienced local acts (at least at the non-professional end of the spectrum - there are still some guys whose comedic boots I'm barely worthy of licking - AS, GW etc - I think they might let me lick their boots if I asked... I don't know if it would help).

January sails
The first month of this year is virtually over and I've packed a lot into it. I've been rehearsing a lot. The month's rehearsal count is at 21. I'll have done 3 days' hard labour in the world of DIY as well as my trip to Scotland. Plus I've been trying to work harder in the office. As far as I can see it from this point, January is the calm before the storm that will be February. I think I can spare about 4 hours on Sunday night to prepare for February. I hope it's enough.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this year. It poses a lot of opportunities. I have a trip to the U.S. in March which will be the nearest I'm expecting to get to a holiday, though I have some notion of having a few days in the West End watching musicals... I also have doubts that I'll manage it. Being busy is definitely for me. If I can get some cycling in to boot, I will be a happy, healthy chap.


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