Thursday, May 3, 2012

I get nervous at parties but I'm like bedrock at hospitals

When I look back at most of my oldest son's life, I think what he really learned from me is how to fight.  Not physically, mind you. I've never been one for physical violence.  But combat with everything around you as a way of moving through the world.

I know that it was all well intentioned at every step and seemed right at the time.
I fought hard to be there for him like I should and tried and make sure he didn't suffer or go without just because I was a stupid teenager that had him earlier in life than I should have.  
I had to fight with people that had certain assumptions about the irresponsible kid in front of them so I could finish school like I should.
I know that I fought with his mother time and time and time again in an effort to protect him from all the damage she was actively or thoughtlessly trying to do to him.

But in the end, when I think about what he's seen most from his dad - it's fighting.
Fighting to finish school. Fighting people. Fighting his mother. Fighting with him.
I don't think it matters so much what the intent was or what the end result is - he saw the man that raised him being combative constantly - and I think as a result of it all, that is the thing he is most equipped to do in this world when he doesn't know what else to do.

These are the things that take work over the last several years - to stop fighting everything and stop letting that define who and what I am.  Hopefully Anthony can see his dad working hard and the twins will see their dad fighting to just be a good dad.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I saw your reflection in the bell of my horn

[cross posting some of my bigger posts on G+ here, even though G+ is my primary outlet these days]

Things I learned as a tech that are important or I still use today in running a space, or just when I'm in the booth or building a space to be as flexible as possible. Many of them took a long time to learn, even when someone was trying to teach them to me.

1 a) If you are doing your job right, nobody in the audience will ever know that you're in the room - you need to accept that you aren't going to get applause for your work, no matter how good it is. In fact, the better your work is the less people will notice it. Get used to that idea.
I have seen plenty of people that get into the booth that know this and repeat it back to me but their instincts are all very 'look at the tech!' because they haven't actually grasped it.

1 b) You are performing for a different audience. 
Your audience is the people on the stage. They will notice that you take care of them. They notice the smart moves and the good instincts. They don't have time to applaud for you because they're busy doing a show - Perform for your audience, not theirs.

2) Don't talk about how much/hard/late you work.
I know it's always been there but I blame Anthony Bordain for the rise in popularity of the "you'll never know how hard we work" attitude that also sounds a lot like "notice how much you never notice us. pay attention to how much attention we don't need from you" - Stop it.
Your work is behind the scenes for a reason, keep it there.
You wouldn't want to go to a magic show and have the guy that built the illusions sit next to you and explain how they were made and how hard it was or how late they were there the night before getting ready for the show. The performers don't need to hear it, the audience doesn't want to know or care.
Your work makes the fun possible.
Explaining your work makes the fun go away.

3) Your work can have a massive impact on the personality of the show or the space and how easy they are to enjoy. That is your job. 
Make things easy to enjoy.

4) Beat the paths, then lay the sidewalks - how you intend for things to be used means nothing at all in terms of how they will be used.
Pay attention to how the space really flows and gets used and help make that work really well - You can't fight it, don't spend all your time trying to redirect people into systems you think should work. Let it go.

5) Gestures mean something - When we came out of tech week the theater had to be put back into show condition before the cast arrived for preview. And that was a big deal, even if the cast never noticed it. 
It meant something to us to make sure the cast walked into a theater that day, not into a construction site, because they were going on stage that night.

6) Re-use everything. Absolutely everything - Money is a replacement for having to do things yourself, but a poor one.

7) Find something you love to do, that gives you energy or a chance to relax, and keep it.
I mop the floors, it's a ritual. It gives me time to think, to take a look at the little corners of the space and notice things that might otherwise get lost in the blur. It also reminds me that I'm taking care of the space, not the other way around. 
Volunteers ask if they can help clean and maintain the space all the time, that's the one thing I won't give up and people understand that it's mine, even if they don't know why.

8) Character is what you are when no one is looking.
You get to be laid back and casual when you're showing up on time and nobody needs to check on you or wonder about the quality of your work because you're kicking ass like a professional - and not a moment sooner.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

As the pieces come together, there's these things that I keep hearing about the hero that you are when no one's watching

So this has been eating at me for a while now and I need to put it out there so the truth is circulating as well as the theories and the bullshit.  Everything you read here comes from me.  This is Butch, not HUGE.  HUGE is a happy place that overflows with positivity, but Butch is furious and has to address this - I hope you understand.

We fired Cody - I had to do it but WE had to fire him, take his keys and eventually ban him from the building entirely.  He will never be allowed inside our theater ever again.

It began as simple customer service problems because of his rampant exaggeration, which started as just being overly dramatic about every tiny thing and quickly turned into outright lying and just fabricating whole events, some of which were important to theater operations - like just making up "fights" with customers or people that were "pissed off and drunk" that he always managed to talk down or fend off in his stories.
That was irritating and got to be worrisome but we chalked some of it up to immaturity and some to just trying to impress people.

We also had to do it because he was putting the theater at risk by:
- not carding people (read: pretty girls) at the bar
- giving away free beer to people (read: any performers he wanted to like him and random pretty girls) to the tune of dozens or more drinks in a single shift, despite being told directly by Board members that it was not allowed under ANY circumstances.  He claimed to be buying drinks for people, which I will get to in a moment, but even when told directly to stop he gave away at least 12 drinks not an hour later.
- Drinking (sometimes heavily) while working, when confronted he began hiding it better but was drunk by the end of his shift more than once

Once we started trying to address his behavior and talking to people that worked with him we started getting bits of information that we hadn't before - little things that nobody thinks to mention because they're seemingly normal until you put them together with other seemingly normal and completely contradictory stories.

Then we realized that he had been stealing from the theater by:
- Stealing the drinks he was sneaking during his shift
- Skimming from the bar when bar tending - he would "buy" drinks for people that totalled more than what any other bartender at HUGE makes in tips during a shift and still walk out with more cash in "tips" than any other bartender we have here makes.
- Sneaking back into the building after the staff was gone - either claiming he was staying to clean (but would then text me saying he was tired and would clean up the next day) or coming back to the theater drunk after going to the bar or a party, letting himself into the beer room where he stole alcohol and drank alone in the theater after hours.
- Stealing out of people's lockers
- Stealing cash out of the safe at least once

He wasn't working any other job and claimed to pawn things when he had money, but when stories came together it was obvious that he had even skimmed money from the theater to "donate" back to the theater to get his name on a plaque.  Yes. That's some low shit.

So - why am I posting all this?

I've listened to all kinds of reasons why I am "not supposed to" or how I need to "be the bigger person" or how this is "nobody's business" and it would be unprofessional to make this public.  It all sounds like the Winklevoss dude from the Social Network, going on about some social code and how things "just aren't DONE" while getting soundly fucked over and just taking it and thinking he's holding the moral high ground - which always makes me ask myself why the hell I would ever do something that stupid.

The problem is, shit like this continues to happen in the absence of someone saying something - that is precisely what allows someone to float from person to person, or group to group and claim one lie after another.  While I know it's not my (or HUGE's) job to put a stop to some mentally ill kid's endless parade of bullshit - I feel I do have a responsibility to the people that he continues to interact with.

I know that if we say nothing and keep it to ourselves and only tell people something neutral, that allows him to keep trying to deceive our people - and I feel bad enough that we made our people put up with his behavior for so long because I thought he was just a misguided but dedicated kid - I hate sitting here quietly holding onto information that people should have out of some antiquated and misplaced notion of how I should not air dirty laundry in public.
I have always been open about every part of what I do here, why do I have to suddenly be less open and honest because someone else is a compulsive liar?  I cannot accept that.

And it's not like I didn't try it the other way - after we let him go and took his keys, but before we had found out the extent of what had been happening - he was allowed to come see shows at HUGE like any member of the public - and it was just more and more lying to people here to try and stay in their confidence - People that I wanted very much to protect from having to put up with it anymore by letting him go.

He was told that our statement on the matter would be neutral, and it was.
We simply said that he was no longer volunteering for HUGE.
He came in with stories of how he just needed time off and decided to give his keys back.  When confronted by people that knew the truth, it turned into a lie about being caught using drugs in the theater - because if he couldn't appear innocent, he had to try and appear hardcore or something - and even sent me messages complaining that I had put him in an awkward position because what I told people didn't match what he was telling people.
I told him to try telling the truth.  He is unable to hear advice like that.
His prime concern was and still is finding out how much people know so he can continue doing the same shit.  It continues to snowball because nobody thinks to ask about things and someone like me - in the unlucky position of having to be in the middle of a lot of his lies and knows the truth - isn't "supposed to" say anything and doesn't.

The good news is, once we acknowledged that something wrong was happening, people started taking notice and asking about things that just didn't seem right - and the more that happened the more we found out.  I want very much to be done with this and put it behind me, but I keep finding out more and more shit he was pulling here and I can't stand it.

People still continue to check with me about his lies - because he's telling people some outlandish shit - and lies upon lies have started to turn up about even the simplest things about himself.
People come ask me if he's bullshitting them because he said that he works for some anime company, that he's in a TV series, that he's playing the main room at First Ave, that he got invited to do stand-up, that someone flew him out to Las Vegas, that he's moving away - and they end up finding out that he lied to them about who he is and where he was from and they never thought to check stuff like that

That is why all this is being posted here - if you know the kid and have contact with him, you should know there's a reason to mistrust absolutely everything you hear.  Everything.  Not just the big stuff that sounds too crazy to be real.  Everything.

I hope he stops, because I don't want him doing this to anyone else.
People keep asking me if I'm worried about him and saying they hope he gets better.
I can honestly say I don't care.
I care about this place and our people and he is no longer one of our people.
That is his doing but I had to do this part.

He came into this place under the guise of helping out and we thanked him while he fucked us over.  He was (and most likely still is) stealing from people that have given us everything.  I am aware that what we have here at HUGE and what I am able to do with my life has been given to me by those people.  I appreciate it, and the people that make it happen, every single day - And he stole from them.
There's no end to how angry that makes me.
So I'm trying to put a stop to it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You gotta dance with who you came to dance with

I'm admitting some kind of defeat here - I keep feeling that pull of Blogger's guilt but I'm posting everything on G+ these days and I don't know what I would post here that I wouldn't just post there.
I think the readership is probably a little higher but the discussions are certainly more active.

I may yet still post here if there are bigger missives that need a home but please read my posts at your leisure over here :  Butch's G+ Profile Page

The vast majority of my posts are public so it should be a million times more active than this lonely place where words go to die.  If you're a G+ user feel free to Circle me, comment, etc.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I said I must be fine because my heart's still beating

I wanted to try and actually capture some of this while it was happening - if nothing else, this blog can serve as One Man's Descent Into Madness as things get less and less coherent over the hours....

Tuesday night was an absolute blast - it was strange, as it didn't feel like a marathon yet and most of the evening was over perfectly normal improv hours, it wasn't until Mustache Rangers had the punchiest set I have ever seen them do that it really started to sink in.

The Minneapples arrived at 8am for their set, thanks to the generous donations of everyone Tuesday night - they were unanimously voted for by those in attendance so we got to see the "before" and "after" of a Minneapples sleepover.  It was STRANGE.

Then into a bat with Batarang -  better to sit in the dark in the morning when everyone is having coffee than in the middle of the night when eyelids get heavy.
Miss Coco Belle did her pageant-improv set, in case your morning wasn't uncomfortably weird enough yet and now Bunnies In A Cup are absolutely killing a musical form at 9:30am.  All of this just goes to show what it is I love about this place and this art - it is stranger than you could ever predict, the performers are some of the most quietly talented people I have ever met and the performances are far more funny and beautiful than you could possibly prepare yourself for.

Wednesday mid-day has been unusual - on a normal night it can feel awkward for everyone involved when you perform for 2 or 3 people in the house, during the Improv A Thon it's been remarkably fun and casual and never lacking energy.  We know people have jobs and things they have to take care of on a Wednesday afternoon and we appreciate the Iron Audience Members that have been here watching all the madness we are churning out.
Bree, Krefting and Sid - we love you guys.
The numbers in the room have ebbed and flowed but things have never dragged.
Time has ceased to have any meaning for a couple times when I was shocked to walk into the lobby and see daylight - when you're doing what you would normally do at 10pm, with people that you normally only see around 10pm it can be easy to forget that's actually 11 o clock in the morning!

I will end up posting a recap and thank you with the results on the HUGE blog, since it's official business and all, but there is a personal side as well - with personal thanks in order.
Tane Danger came up with this idea and as soon as he did it made so much sense.  He was absolutely right on about the vibe of the event and the whole day and I'm glad he saw what we should be doing well in advance instead of us waiting until too close to the day and suddenly saying "y'know what we SHOULD do?!?" - what little planning and organizing time we had was because he put us in motion early.

Molly Chase is amazing.  Any time I say "planning" or "organizing" you can assume I mean Molly Chase.  She's our Managing Director out of the goodness of her heart and the extra time and work she has put into this in addition to putting HUGE Theater on track is truly stunning.

I just came off stage for the .... seventh time today and there are only 5 hours and some change left to go before I get to wearily try and express my deep, deep gratitude to everyone that make HUGE a place where things like this happen.

On top of all the other amazing things I have gotten to see and be part of today, Ferrari McSpeedy is on our stage and Splendid Things is up next.  Find me a better line up and I will tell you that you are mistaken.

I am the luckiest idiot there is.

We've got a long way to go but we'll get there.

Give To The Max Day Blog

I hate asking for money.  We all do.
We would all rather focus on the fun and the laughs and the shows.
Nobody wants to be the person to interrupt all the fun with the plea to give, but we have to.
The good news is that anything you give today has a chance to go a lot further - GiveMN is awarding prizes up to $10,000 to the non-profit that brings in the most donations, plus hourly drawings for "golden tickets" that give an extra $1000 to the cause of your choosing - plus a special $10,000 Grand Golden Ticket just before Midnight.

Plus, HUGE is giving prizes to the group that raises the most money to help them go to improv festivals elsewhere in the country.  Help them.  Help HUGE.  Help HUGE help them.

Go here - pick your favorite group and give.

While you're there, become a Member of HUGE Theater and support us all year long - it counts towards out GTMD totals and gets you free tickets, discounted drinks and a ton of stuff.  Maybe if we do well enough at this we can spend less time asking for money and more time just having fun.

And we have fun like nobody else.