Spring ’17

There is no template for navigating the death of a friend. Each loss scrapes its unique hole.  An agitated inner chorus wakes up loudly, and indicates, as a bad actor might, that which is suddenly missing. The recent loss of my friend John Spiers has brought me a spirited gratitude for what I still have.  The funeral was at Immaculate Conception Church, where the boiler had broken down a week earlier, on the coldest day of the year. It was freezing. He would have approved.
John and I shared countless experiences, starting with The Seattle World’s Fair, with few breaks between then and a few weeks ago. I will tell you just one story, my favorite image of him:

John enjoyed chasing down and apprehending criminals, like purse snatchers, and car thieves. I don’t think he was ever in a real fight, other than structured martial arts training, but he would get lawbreakers to submit by using Ai Ki Do tactics and talking like a cop. He did that six times that I know about.

In the summer of 1980, John and I were at Bob Murray’s Dog House at 4:00am, with Kathy Dick and Carolyn Carlstrom, having breakfast. I think we’d been dancing at The Boren Street Disco. Two men at the next table were being mean to the waitress, and then suddenly dined and dashed. To impress the girls, we went after them.

I sniffed them out, over to Denny Park, the sun just rising, where John spotted them, and yelled in a booming voice, Gentllemen, over here!
They split up and ran. I chased one of them down the hill, and was gaining on him, when I had a thought: What will I do if I catch him? I had not been in a physical altercation since the 5th grade, and this guy was a criminal!

So I “let him go” and walked back up the hill. John had frozen his guy with his verbal commands, and had him bent over, clinging to a short bench, frisking him, asking, Do you have any hand guns, fire arms of any kind?

John was tall and super lean, with a severe goatee,  wearing a black beret, black Chinese high-water pajamas, and Chinese slippers.  As he lead the man back to The Dog House, he turned back to him and said, It’s one of our favorite restaurants.

They buried John’s ashes in the ground, at Calvary Cemetery, in a hole just wide enough for the urn. Then they filled the hole, and placed the small patch of green grass back on top. And it was as if he…just.…vanished, like a magic trick. Those guys are pretty good.

Some losses land on you like a heavy coat, and there’s no use trying to take it off. You admit that it keeps you warm and just wear it till it’s threadbare. Because life goes on. And it’s pretty good.

Thursday, Feb 23rd, 6:30 pm, at the Langley Library on Whidbey Island
Create Stories that Stick, running around 90 minutes or a little more. Too late for this one, but I want to mention it, because it was so much fun to go up to Langley.

Sunday, Feb 26th, 10am – 2pm  at Hugo House Improv for Writers
Lots of great narrative exercises.

7-week Intro to Improv at Freehold, at the new space in The International District.
This is a BASIC class.
April 10 – May 22nd, 6:30pm – 9:00pm
registration opens Feb 27th, 206-323-7499

Sunday, April 2, a one-day improv workshop, Photogenic Memory.
This is a series of improv exercises that engage the memory. Very cool. Great for people who have been around a while. And writers say it helps them create complex “wheres”.
9:30 – 3:30 at The Valley School (I hope), in Seattle.
$95  ($20 discount if you’ve taken a class with me before.)

Saturday, April 8th,  There is a festival of workshops at the new Freehold! It’s a fundraiser. My wife, Elizabeth will be teaching a class too. Mine is from noon – 2pm. I’ll be doing  Groundhog Day, a laborious, painstaking riot of an exercise, for expanding your capacity to make varied choices. I think Elizabeth’s is at the same time, Less is More. Communicating an entire scene in 20 words or less. 206-323-7499

Sunday, April 9th, a one-day Basic Improv workshop for anyone. This is an intro to Improv.
9:30 – 3:30 at The Valley School (I hope), in Seattle.
($20 discount if you’ve taken a class with me before.)

I’m also excited about some trainings and workshops you can’t go to: at Microsoft, Woodward Elementary, and The Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference  (wait..you can go to that!)

MOVIE of My Last Year with the Nuns
I kind of assume that you have all seen my film, but if you haven’t, well that’s just silly, and here’s the good news:
If you are a student or teacher, you can watch it on Kanopy: and we get paid a little!
Or, watch the extra and rent it on Vimeo
Or, buy a DVD or Blue Ray from me.

Busy as a bee! The season is full of joyous reunions with cracker jack auction crews, and brand new challenges, to keep it all fresh.
Here’s a plug for another auctioneer (rare!)
AU Dance Collective is having their first auction, March 4. I can’t call it for them, because I am booked, for Youth Theatre Northwest
(where I taught a while ago), so my daughter, Becca Smith is calling The AU auction! She’s also a member of the dance troupe. You should be at one of these two events…right?

The code to let me know you read to the end is It’s one of our favorite restaurants.
Much love. In gratitude…

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