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Learning Guitar, Demonic Possession and Chickens. Happy Friday!

*I started writing this blog post with the intention of talking about my Roseville teacher, and the importance of listening. As I was writing, my fingers hijacked the article and have created a....well...mess of this blog post.* I'm learning the guitar. They say it's important to never stop learning. It's also very important to manage, and ultimately let go of anger. Learning a new instrument is a great way to tackle both issues! Two birds, one stone!

Damn, I had no idea it's so challenging. How am I supposed to curve my hand around the neck like that? Do I need to be possessed? Possessed people seem to be able to contort themselves really well. I've seen movies. The devils makes everyone so flexible. Possession is a much quicker way if you're looking for flexibility. Boom! Take that Hot Yoga. Sure, I lose my soul, but I won't pass out in a room 120 degrees.

Gaaahhhhhhh! I want to choke the frets off this guitar.

Frets are tiny nubs on the guitar, and 'nubs' is a great word when you don't know how to adequately describe a fret.

This woman in Roseville is trying to teach me guitar. She's a wonderful teacher, and very knowledgeable. She even makes handouts with drawings of hand placements on the neck of the guitar. This paper is just mocking me. It looks so easy for this stick figure.

My teacher's great! I'm ridiculous. During our thirty minute lessons my eyes can't help but wander about her home. It's a nice home, with knick knacks all over the place. I shouldn't refer to them as knick knacks. Apparently that means "small worthless object," and these objects are obviously not worthless. They're carefully arranged, without a trace of dust, or clutter around. It's a dodad menagerie, a donagerie, and I have a hard time focusing. What do these mean? I feel like an uninvited archaeologist, trying to make sense of an american flag next to a chicken. What does it mean! Were her parents patriotic Midwest chicken farmers? Does she says phrases like, "well that's as American as a hen!"  (after careful observation, she hasn't used this phrase yet. She just keeps saying things like, "prodigy," and "you're Jimi Hendrix 2.0.").

Sheesh. I can't focus. I had this beautiful post all planned out about listening, and hearing what someone is saying versus what they really need. And, here I am, writing silliness. Wait, hold on a second. I listened to myself. I listened to myself! Isn't that what my original post was going to be about? Being true to yourself, and what you need. Sure. I think so. I needed to get out this goofy little piece. I listened to what I needed. Action versus talking about it. Mission accomplished!

Have a great weekend!

And, if you're looking for comedy Sacramento and Placer, may I suggest "Off (the Cuff) Broadyway"? I may, and I will. The premiere last week was a huge success. I'm assuming everyone in Rocklin was there (I can only guesstimate, it was a pretty dark theater). So, that means Roseville, Auburn, and Sacramento...if you're looking for some live entertainment....if you're looking for that amazing date night...if you're looking for a ladies night....and you want to stay local...well....stay local! Blacktop Comedy is right here, and we're producing some live theater that'll blow your mind. It's improv comedy the way it's meant to be.....good.

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An Actor Prepares....for Depression

OK. I should probably add a lot of qualifiers here like: I'm Not a Doctor These Suggestions are Not A Replacement for Medications Consult a Doctor Again, I'm not a doctor

I just want to help. After years of improv teaching and coaching I've noticed a number of improvisers, comedians, and actors deal with depression. That's just my observation.

I've dealt with depression for a long time. It's this little quiet beast that sneaks up on you and drags you down. It used to strike a lot. In fact, it seemed to follow me around 24/7. Then, maybe a few weeks at a time. Then, a week. Now, it might take me down for a few days.

More then being a better improviser, I want you to be happy.

I've had lots of doctors, lots of meds, and lots of suggestions on treatments. Here are the things I've found helpful, that you could use today. I'd love your feedback. If you've dealt with depression and found solutions please let the readers know. Leave a comment. Thank you!

1. Listen to classical music.

Honestly, I forget why this works. I believe it has to do with the chords of classical music being more complex then today's pop hits, and gives the brain something to "work on." I've also heard music has been reported to raise the dopamine levels in the brain, and depression is associated with low levels on dopamine. Whatever the reason it's been an effective antidepressant for me. I try and listen for 30 minutes a day. Easy way to find classical music? Try Pandora or Spotyify. You can listen while at the office. Punch depression in the face! Thanks Mozart!

2. Hydrotherapy

You may not know this, but I'm not a doctor. This treatment might sound a little new age-y alternative medicine mumbo jumbo. I agree. When I heard about hydrotherapy I rolled my eyes (but made sure my therapist wasn't looking). Water? Helping depression? I had my doubts. But, I was desperate and gave it a shot. I'm glad I was desperate, because, I'll be damned, but It works. This mumbo jumbo is helpful. You can find a very lengthy article about hydrotherapy on Wikipedia. Or, just use this quick reference guide.

Step 1 Get into the shower. The water needs to be striking your forehead during hydrotherapy Step 2: Turn the water as hot as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 5 minutes Step 3: Turn the water as cold as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 1 minutes Step 4: Turn the water as hot as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 3 minutes Step 5: Turn the water as cold as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 1 minutes Step 6: Turn the water as hot as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 3 minutes Step 7: Turn the water as cold as you can tolerate. Stand under the water for 1 minutes Step 8: Turn off the water.

Voila! Enjoy. Your brain isn't quite fried, but it's definitely not calm. It's in this beautiful in between space. Hard to describe, but wonderful spot to be in.

3. Sunlight You need 30 minutes of sunlight a day. And, make sure that sunlight hits your eyeballs before noon. If you have a hard time getting 30 minutes of natural sunlight, try the Philips GoLITE BLU Energy Light. It's a little pricey, but for me, it's worth the price of admission. 

I hope you find this helpful!

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Good Day Sacramento and Blacktop Comedy

Last week we had visitors! Melissa Cabral of Good Day Sacramento came out to Blacktop Comedy. We spent some time demonstrating improv, showing Sacramento how supportive improv can be. We shared a couple "rules" of improv: "yes, and," and "don't try and be funny." We even got Melissa onstage to improvise with our cast. We played some of our favorite short form improv games like Freeze, and I'm a Tree. She's good! Though, she thought she didn't do well. Doubt creeps into everyone's mind. She's an experienced reporter, with hundreds of hours of live in-field experience, thinking on her feet, adapting to situations, and even she wasn't immune to, "I wasn't good!" We pointed out her successes, and they were many. She listened really well, and used space objects (mime). She frequently was living in the moment, and helping her partners look good.  It's not that she was initially dismissive of "what" she did well. Melissa, in fact, didn't even consider her sucesses. They weren't on her rader to either acknowledge or dismiss. She was initially demonstrating these improv rules on autopilot, and therefore, after the piece on Good Day Sacramento, as they were packing up their equipment, and ready to shoot off to another spot in Rocklin, she didn't congratulate herself. She didn't even see anything to congradulate.

That's one great thing about improv, and working with your team. They're so quick to notice the things you didn't. It sounds a little, "um, yeah, obvious," but we're with ourselves all the time! What we do becomes unremarkable. Well, unremarkable to us. That's where a fantastic improv team comes in. They can help pick you up, brush you off, and point of what you did well.

Notice that?

No

Notice that?

Oh yeah.

Notice that?

Thanks!

Teams are more then just great confidence boosters. They can see things you miss, can help you recognize parts of your improv game you need to improve. Do you need to work on heightening, characters, or entrances? Maybe you have a verbal or physical crutch you have never noticed. We all have physical and verbal space fillers.

I literally used to try and FILL UP space, by shifting my weight from my left foot to my right foot, and back again. I would just sway onstage. Ever try to looking powerful and sway? It's hard! Fortunately, a member of the team let me know. It was a face palm moment. Of course! That makes sense. I had never noticed.

It was great being on Good Day Sacramento! Want to see our clip with Melissa Cabral? Check it out!

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