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08 May 2012 @ 11:23 am
Once again, a cathartic return.

I suppose I have become bored with FFXI. Just lost interest really. Good friends disappearing; not really having time nor the inclination to make new ones; just disillusionment. 

And now, last night... well, opinions are opinions, but I really feel the need to vent. 

One of the newest events, Neo-Nyzul, has introduced some seriously good gear into the game. It was supposed to be an injection of life into one of the more successful events in the game. And it isn't because of a few things. 

I'm kind of putting a ton of statements together to try and form this argument properly in my head, but it ultimately comes down to cheating. I was invited by a friend to join them on a run but I was forced to bow out because I simply don't use the cheat programs that everyone else in the group would be using. Obnoxiously so. 

Now, I don't really care if you cheat or not. If that's how you want to play a game, I have no problem with it. The issue I have with it is that, ultimately, it segregates other perfectly capable people; in the sense that you can have bad players, you can have good players, and then you have players who cheat. Generally in that order of success. 

I had to bow out of playing with friends because I am not willing to do it. (Well, I say friends but they're more acquaintances at this point. The ones I would without hesitation call friends have backed away from the game, in a similar fashion to myself I suppose.)

I don't really blame them for feeling the need to cheat. The event is atrocious. I don't claim to be a game critic, but it screams of astoundingly poor design choices. An event, in which one can only participate once a day (essentially), have to hold onto faith and luck that they event get a chance to ascend to the top floor, under a ridiculously small time constraint, under the original pressure of the old Nyzul. I don't know why they disregarded the progression element of the old Nyzul or, indeed, Abyssea, in favour of this ridiculous luck-based nonsense again, but it has essentially loosened many people's perceptions of acceptable use of cheats and hacks. 

I am not going to jeopardise my account's safety by implementing the same cheats just so I can participate. I simply am not going to risk it. Aside from the fact I don't feel confident in using this sort of stuff anyway. If something goes wrong, well, I don't know enough about it to confidently resolve it. I'm not computer-savvy. I don't get programming language and I don't really care to learn to be honest. So basically, I'm left with a choice of doing this despite my concerns, or level a job that I no longer care for so I can facilitate our success through other people who have a more lenient attitude towards this. 

It's gotten to the point where my already waning interest in the game has dissipated even further. I mean, cheating essentially governs the game now. People are literally doing what they want, regardless. I mean, something as insignificant as fishing in this game is governed by people watching over bots, who are a million times more successful at catching fish than my lowly self because I don't want to resort to hacking. So, essentially, that means they are richer than I am, they get what they want faster more often, and here I am playing catch-up white knight. I mean, that's fine. Enjoyment comes in all flavours, and I don't resent people for doing it, but when it reaches the point where there is another group of successful people on top of the "good player" category who owe their success to their hacking (and then have the nerve to show off about it), I just can't condone it. It's depressing, exclusive, and undermines the game. 

Not that the game has helped itself. The return of boring, ridiculous, luck-based and huge-group-oriented events has not been well-received either. 

I guess I should just let this game go. I do nothing most of the time anyway; I'm well and truly burned out and disillusioned at this state; and I don't really see any redeeming features of the groups I've assigned to when all my good friends have all but disappeared. 

Incredibly difficult to let go though. Didn't really imagine this day would come, but I suppose it's time, if I can find the courage.
18 November 2011 @ 11:46 pm
So I've been very busy lately. 

With getting a job thanks to the machinations of a good friend, preparations for auditions, and having the panto rehearsals under way, I'm quite... well, occupied. 

I've also had the chance to go to the theatre a few times too, which have, of course, provoked a lot of reflection... 

I saw The Madness of George III, a play by Alan Bennett, in which I found a new stage hero in the guise of David Haig. I didn't recognise him until I saw his actor's photo. He was Inspector Grim in The Thin Blue Line. Needless to say, that primed me to liking him anyway, but his performance of George was spellbinding. So committed, dramatic, funny, powerful, empathetic. I can't find the superlatives that would adequately justify what I thought of his performance. Just brilliant. 

And utterly inspiring. I'm sure I could be on that level one day, given the opportunity. 

However, seeing The Holly and the Ivy today has made me reflect the other way. I wasn't too impressed with the performance; I found a lot of it wooden, plodding, and some of the setting/backdrop a little unfocused, and I wonder if I can come across the same way... 

I mean, I know I have my faults. Restraint, enunciation, and a certain lack of being able to do what I want my body to do are my key weaknesses, and I very much yearn to address those formally. Training would of course be welcome; needed, even. I just hope when the time comes, whatever spark I have, whatever interest I have in the industry will peak its head through and inspire some faith into the powers that be. 

I suppose having a healthy (albeit obsessive) degree of perfectionism and a distinct lack of faith in my own self-worth is a difficult combination to deal with. I wouldn't have it any other way; it's me and it's done me a great deal of good in everything I've done thus far. However, having to play an incredibly bland goody-goody hero in this pantomime, obviously not being wholly inspired by it, and being hyper-critical about professional performances I see, all in the context of preparing for an audition that will make or break me for the foreseeable future has had an effect, to say the least. 

I want to do myself justice. I want to believe and have faith in what I can do and what others have and continue to say to me with what I do. But I simply have to use this to my advantage; to craft and prepare all I can do to win. 

In addition to the actual auditions, I have to select and prepare-ish a Shakespearean sonnet. My love of the bard has grown exponentially over the past few months. I think I've got over the desensitisation instilled by the education system regarding his work. And reading his sonnets is just fantastic. They are beautifully wrought, thought-provoking, and utterly contemporary. It's mind-boggling. 

In fact, I've gotten considerably giddy over a few as I notice that Nightwish has borrowed their essence in some of their songs, e.g. Dead Boy's Poem and Deep Silent Complete. 

For this reason, Sonnet 72 really resonates with me. I think I have found the sonnet I will use. 

It's a painful, hopeful piece in which the poet yearns that all he has written is forgotten with his death, and that even his love must let their love die, to prevent them from saying anything about what he did over his life lest it wrangles the general perception of him and her. To be utterly shameful, to be thoroughly unhappy with everything you achieve, trying to achieve that moment of perfection, just to fail and carry on, knowing your inadequacy; hoping that it does not taint anyone else. 

While my own perception is slightly less nihilistic, it does resonate... to try, to hope it affects someone in some way, however small, being utterly afraid of how it is received, being grateful when it is, but always trying to be better. 

Live for the moment? I guess that sums it up. 

I dearly want the opportunity to do that. I'm sure I can, but I will need someone to be curious enough to reach into that pit of inadequacy in order to pull out something that could be made remarkable, in however small a fashion. 

must make it happen.
14 July 2011 @ 03:34 pm
I guess I've had one of those weeks where I've had a few blows and it's just left me feeling down.

I have signed up to do audiobooks a while ago and, after getting through their "audition" stage, I feel pretty excited about it. The only problem is that although I've been urged against spending money to facilitate this endeavour, it's been unavoidable. I've had to buy a new laptop so I can heft it over to London to get the necessary editing software; I've had to buy a dictaphone that records in .wav format; and, of course, the train fares there and back. This whole week I've been trying to get the first stage of the recording up to a reasonably professional quality, but having to deal with persistent background hiss and trying to find a reasonable place in which I can work and "dampen" sound has been less than successful. I managed to edit out the hiss (although I would only say the quality itself is passable due to the strange intermittent silences it has left) but it's just left me very weary.

Not to mention my interaction with a local acting agency.

I gave it a go, dropping names as I went, showing every enthusiasm to learning and finding out about their company, only to be told completely bluntly that without any accredited vocational training in acting, I was not going to get anywhere (with them, with it at all, who knows?). That, in addition to being told that amateur dramatics is "just messing about" and the insinuation that I'm not dedicated enough compared to people who have known they've wanted to act since they were barely out of their pram, has left me at a loss.

I really do want to get into it, but I don't know if I can go back to spending more time in education -- actually, I would -- but because I've already done a degree, I'd have to finance any further excursions out of my own pocket, of contents of which are rapidly dwindling. I just don't think it's possible.

So now I really don't know...

And because of the whole money issue, I've now cut down the number of singing lessons I have from once a week to once a month. As stupid as it sounds, that half hour was usually the highlight of my week, and I really really like my singing tutor. The decision was mainly prompted by her really, as she has always been concerned that I've continued for so long being unemployed and what-not, but I found myself getting teary over it (and I am now as I write...). The whole parting interaction today seemed awfully final -- "I'll miss you", etc. Ugh...

Nonetheless, I've made a friend out of doing it -- and, as such, now take advantage of her "mates' rates" which was kind of her -- but I found it really hard. I had to leave quickly before I made a fool out of myself.

Oh, and her next student saying that she knew someone who was an actor didn't make it and has now been a cab driver for 30 years didn't really help my wavering confidence.

I need to grow a thicker skin. This industry is defined by getting turned down left, right and centre, but I can't help but think (bitterly, I might add) that I really fucked up choosing psychology back when I started university. I've always avoided thinking that because it just doesn't help, and I still maintain that people who know what they want to do in life from the get-go are probably the luckiest people in the world, but the thought is still there.

Oh well... it's early days. I can only keep chugging away...
20 June 2011 @ 06:17 pm
I came across a moment the other day where I heard something so profound that, well, it's just crystallised the very essence of what I have tried to achieve since I've seriously started to forge an acting career. I wouldn't say it's a revelation or an epiphany -- nothing quite so grand (yet simultaneously insufficient) -- but it's just resonated so deeply that I feel the need to write it down.

I have recently rediscovered Meat Loaf -- the artist, not the food. I used to listen to him as a kid; in fact he was probably the first male artist I ever properly listened to since getting a CD player all those years ago. The golden age of 'Bat out of Hell'. And I also remember that awkward moment when my mum said that the guy who was doing some building work on our house at the time mentioned that he could hear me singing along to Meat... from outside.

Anyway, psh to reminiscences. The thing that makes Meat Loaf brilliant is that he acts with the expertly-crafted songs of Steinman. To see him perform live, you would be treated to an intensely watchable singer as he pours his very soul out into the audience. Now I'm probably sounding sappy, but this is probably the only way in which I can describe his presence. The songs are musically theatrical: they have a story; they have characters; they have it. It's very probably the kind of music I'd characterise myself: why sing for the sake of it? Tell a story. For example, I'm totally enamoured with 'Not a Dry Eye in the House', 'Alive', and 'Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are'; not to mention the classic 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light'.

(There is a point to this lengthy preamble.)

So, in my desire to learn more about what makes him tick, I watch a couple of interviews with him over the years on Youtube. In one in particular, he becomes quite evangelical about his kind of music compared to popular music of the now. Essentially: the emotion.

In saying that, the interview asks him what his message is then.

"...to find the truth in the moment."

And that's it. It's perfect. It is exactly this that I try to do as well, but I've never been able to find the words to describe it, much less how to say it. Crudely, I've eluded to it as a "blur" when people have asked how I feel after a performance. And the reason I say it is crude is because it doesn't adequately convey that I really did enjoy it, or that I found myself living it.

I've had people ask me why I want to get into acting. I've never been able to get the answer out. The bland "I enjoy it" or "it feels right" is crap, frankly. And if I go off on one recanting my "I want to experience, live, interpret another point of view", it just sounds like I hate myself and yearn to be something else. (Thank my mother and my sister for being so honest with that interpretation.)

Not that these things aren't true... the creative side of acting is addictive; the interpretive side keeps the business alive; the conviction gives it weight. But sometimes a scruple of pithy elegance is all that is needed. And I think I've found it.

So, uh, yeah... probably overwrought, but I needed to get that out.
16 June 2011 @ 01:32 pm
I feel in need of some catharsis.

So, yeah. Nothing much of anything has happened recently. Since finishing with the musical, there's been a tangible gap in my life. I told that in passing to one of the parents who were involved the other day, to which she responded, "that's a bit sad". Of course it was in jest, but that's just a couple of things that people have said that have left me extremely agitated.

Yes, I'm chasing the theatrical dream now. It's the only thing that feels right for me now. I don't want to be involved in some stupid retail dead-end aggravation that pays you a set wage whether or not you make the effort to make the company shine. I don't want, as some people may expect given my degree, that I want to get into a career in some aspect of psychology. I also do not want, despite my apparent ability to deal with young children, to be a teacher. Not that teaching is something I would eschew indefinitely; I think I would make a good teacher in certain things. But I certainly do not want to do acting as an aside; "as a hobby". 

I think that's the crux of it really: people have in some way diminished or dismissed my desire to do something I enjoy as a career.

I may be overly sensitive but I find it extraordinarily aggravating that people need to voice their opinions on what I want to do with my life. Yes, I realise it is a difficult industry to get into. Yes, I realise that there is a lot of competition. Yes, I realise -- as it is with everything nowadays -- it's who you know rather than your ability that'll make you successful. I am not stupid. 

Fuck, if no-one tried anything then we'd be living in a very different world.

I will not tolerate ambling through life doing something I do not want to do. If it means I have to endure extended periods of time twidling my thumbs or being broke, then so be it. I will not give up, and I will not deal with people that go through life proclaiming their adage, "everyone is entitled to my opinion".

Right now I'm playing the waiting game. Casting agencies and the like require a casting photo, so I booked myself in to have a photoshoot earlier this week to have that done. It was a great experience. I was most likely a little stiff and it forced me to face my concern with being photogenic and trying to smile nicely, but it was great. Not to mention the photographer and make-up artist were thespians as well, so I got a few contacts with them. Can't wait for those photos to come through so I can really get started.

And that is without the stupidly misguided opinion of a certain friend who feels that just because they have a relevant degree in that arena they should give their opinion. Thanks, but I'll trust the guys from whom I'm getting the service.

24 May 2011 @ 09:52 pm
Since February, I've been working with the local amdram group to put on a production of an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's short story 'The Selfish Giant'. Last week, we finally did our performances.

What a rush... I found my old spark again, i.e. nerves. The sheer amount of positive comments and praise I've received is overwhelming. People are so kind. I'll be honest, it's the recognition for which I yearn when I perform on stage. I have to excel and I hang on every comment people put to me (which is, I know, a very vulnerable position in which to be, but whether you call it attention-seeking or a means through which to learn and better myself, you wouldn't be far off the real visceral reason for it). It was an absolute pleasure to work with everyone in the show, and the real reward for me was the journey. Sappy but true.

I auditioned for it as a massive "well, what the hell" because any experience is good experience in theatre, whether or not I could sing or not. Landing the main part was as exciting as it was terrifying. However, I had a clear goal in mind which I had to achieve during my singing lessons, and my tutor very kindly and helpfully coached me through all the songs.

For people to say that they didn't know I could sing (and some even went as far to say I have a "lovely" voice) is just... amazing. I've got somewhere!

Anyone who knows me knows I'm my own worst critic -- and I haven't heard/seen any recordings of the show thus far -- so for people to say that is just awesome. I'm really blown away. (I realise I'm labouring the point a little here, but I guess that shows just how overwhelmed I am!) And it was possible by the unwavering support of the cast, crew, and my tutor that I finally attained the confidence to just do it.

And that's what it was all about really. Technique aside, the main things I've learned about singing is confidence (this is the biggest hurdle, as the voice is so intensely personal), actually getting into it, and, as silly as it sounds, coming to terms with the fact I may not be a tenor. Yes, coming to terms with the fact that deeper-sounding voices are not "inferior" to higher-pitched tones -- and, thus, trying to be something I may very well not be -- allowed me to say, well, fuck it, if I have a good deep tone, then stick with it. It was a bizarre moment when it twigged in my head and from then on I just went for it. I guess it worked...

So it's only been over for a weekend and I miss it terribly already. I'm now in the throes of auditioning for the next "straight play" that's going on, and I'm now in a weird position, one in which I never imagined being...

I kind of want to take singing more seriously. Or musicals. I've never been a fan of musicals. The prospect of coming down to realistic acting after an experience wherein emotion and action is conveyed openly and dramatically through music and singing is utterly bizarre. Dare I say boring? I'm not even sure if it's because I'm not wholly inspired (at this second) by the next play (which I'm sure will rapidly change if I get a part, as realism needs to be lived rather than, I don't know, taken for what it is) or whether this has been something of an irrevocable change in my whole theatrical outlook... which I doubt, but who knows at this stage?

Maybe a band would be fun? I admit, it sounds great, and heck, I think I'd like to do it now, but I don't know anyone in that scene, so... Besides, I feel like I have a lot more to learn about singing, so I'm not worrying about it right this second.

So difficult to come down after that performing high...

What a fantastic experience. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!
29 April 2011 @ 01:59 pm
Just a quickie while the mood takes me.

An enormous congratulations to William and Kate at the extraordinarily sumptuous royal wedding.

While I'm not particularly enamoured by the intense religiosity of the ceremony -- at times I get a little frustrated that it becomes so much about the scripture and less about the actual couple and their union -- there is no denying that it was exactly how they wanted it to be. At the end of the day, that's all that really matters, and I'm glad for them.

Truth be told, I'm not really a wedding kind of guy anyway. I think the best thing I find about today is not because it's a royal wedding (and where all the money with which it was funded came from!) but that so many people have united to celebrate it. All we seem to have nowadays is a constant deluge of aggravation and conflict in the news and for once we have something that excites and pleases people via that same communication channel.

It is refreshing.
23 April 2011 @ 05:45 pm
Oh look, I find myself saying this again, but... ooh, I found my journal again! Again, can't promise this will be a resurgence, but I seem to find myself more in the mood to blog lately. Posting Facebook status updates doesn't quite cut it and it comes across as quite affected most of the time, so here I find myself again.

In summary, since last time:
  • Still the same unemployed self; not quite as directionless. In November, I joined a local amateur dramatics society, got involved in the annual panto over Christmas as a +1 to the chorus, and found myself loving every moment of getting back into the swing of theatre, even though it was a non-part. 
  • Auditioned for a Master's course in Acting at the Guildford School of Acting after being undecided about its potential worth (considering the money aspect...) for ages, but failed this time around. I stupidly didn't check how long each of my audition pieces were, so they didn't have enough time to interview me, which I pretty much flabbergasted. Not disappointed about the result -- more ambivalent -- as it allows me to get some much-needed experience in the theatre which is the key aspect in anything nowadays.
  • Thanks to my involvement in the panto, a friend pointed me towards a singing tutor, and I've since been learning the ways of singing. It's great fun. Apparently I'm a tenor (although I think I'm between baritone and tenor -- sometimes I catch her mentioning both in passing, but I wouldn't know either way...) and I need to work on projection and enunciation, but otherwise I've got most of the core things already and it's just getting everything focused. She says my tone is starting to come out quite quickly, which is great, and I've learned that all those singers who act all over the top and ridiculous are actually doing it right -- whatever helps you get into the feeling of the music.
  • On the top of singing, I landed the lead part of a musical rendition of Oscar Wilde's 'The Selfish Giant', which we will be performing in May. Terrified, excited, but it'll be a blast. If there's anything else I've learned through my vocal tutoring, it is that I need to be more confident and I need to stop second-guessing myself (blasted perfectionistic tendencies), and I'm getting there! Everyone is very supportive and excited. :D
So, uh, yeah. 8 months summarised, between my usual stream-of-consciousness seasoning. To anyone looking at me from outside, I probably seem like one of the numerous unemployed graduates out there -- but worse, as I'm not doing anything about it -- but I'm exploring my "suppressed" passion (at last!) and I've discovered that it's something I really want to do, which is great progress from that emo post with which I last left this LJ.

Perhaps I'm hoping to get noticed as those fabled success stories describe, which would be nice obviously, but I'm content with getting experience within my comfort zone, and I hope to eventually perform in an actual theatre soon. The next play that is in the works is Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party', which will be conducted at a local theatre -- assuming I get a part! I'm not overly excited about the play as it's very much a female-led production with the male characters -- though vital to the story -- are more symbolic of male suppression (if you'd even call it that) and objects with whom the ladies can bounce off the more comedic moments. Nonetheless, if it gets me on an actual stage, it's invaluable experience. But that's not here yet. 

All good. :D
06 October 2010 @ 11:51 am
The boredom I knew would come is starting to set in.

It's now October. The thing which defined my life for four years ended on July. How long has it been? I'm not regretting my decision to be lazy, have time off, etc. However, I said before that I would eventually get bored and, well, I think it has come. Maybe I should start on something else now, but I honestly feel too lethargic to do anything right now.

Bored and lethargic... what have I become?

Then again, I suppose it's always been that way. I've always been a fairly chilled -- no, wrong word... lethargic still applies -- person, floating along the stream of "you should do this next" and "this is the usual path to take". This was all great, really, because I didn't have to really think. It made sense because I have never had a vision of what I'd be in the future. I just didn't know. I could do anything I set my mind to, because I did.

Doors have closed; still corridors remain open. I find myself remembering being at uni and actually enjoying the good things about it, which, incidentally, is nothing to do with what I learned. Sadly, I think of the routine, coffee with friends, wandering around the campus. Wow, that really is sad, but it was fun. 

No, I must close those doors firmly. It was fun, despite everything, but it has passed. My future does not lie there nor does it lie with the career path it represents.

I think I do really know what I want to try now. There is no other path in my mind, although the path upon which I want to travel has many avenues in itself.

I guess it all really boils down to is that I don't want to think for myself. Because... I don't think I've ever really done it.

25 September 2010 @ 11:47 am
Yesterday was wonderfully productive. In order to maximise (read: extend) the amount of time we spend in Abyssea, we've gone hunting for the last couple of Sojourn abyssites to complete our set. We farmed up some Great Roots from the Rift Treants in Attohwa, popped Mielikki (which we made look like a complete joke) and within three pops we all came away with an abyssite.

Before that, however, we squared off against Ovni in La Theine. I was pretty surprised that Ovni really was as squishy as some people have suggested. It was a complete joke bouncing hate between a few RDM/NINs. Literally nuke your heart out.

But I came out of that expedition really lucky indeed...


I'm chuffed to bits, although I have to say seeing all those negative resistances makes me worry a little bit. But even then, it's only magic evasion which, frankly, never matters anyway unless you're going after specific resistance builds. I'm actually really excited as this means I can reach the equipment-haste cap on DNC. Of course it's not the ideal set-up thus far, but if I manage to get my hands on the AF3+1 toeshoes, I'm there already. If I somehow manage to get all three pieces of AF3+2, I can open up the body piece. And even then I can get "haste" in there too with my DW Mirke.

Heee~ exciting. I so desire to be the premiere diva.

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