GJ Willis' Art Notes

The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Todays, church service was the erriest one I have ever attended. The thing that made it spooky was that the electricity kept going out at inopportune times. Then again it could have been the theme of todays church service. Todays service was to honor those who have died. After the service a former church members ashes were to be entombed in the catacombs of the church. I had no idea that the church even had a catacombs!

This was the coolest service I have ever attended. It felt cool because of the unintentional eery atmosphere of the service. It was very much in keeping with Halloween/Samhain Eve. With the electricity constantly going off and on it made me feel as though the late church member whose ashes were to be buried in the catacombs as well as the others who have passed on was there today in spirit. Then again it could have just been faulty electrical wiring.... However, I have to say that I have never known the electricity in the church to act up like it did today.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

I admit I felt a little let down today when Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald named Scooter the sole Whitehouse staffer to be indicted for Plamegate.

On an up note from the press conference that Fitzgerald held it sounded as though he was not entirely through with the investigation. So there is hope yet that Karl Rove and/or Dick Cheney might be the next to be indicted.

Frankly, I do not believe for one hot minute that Libby acted alone. This makes me wonder if Libby will stoically take the fall or drag the other rats down with him?

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Today, I feel a little disappointed and let down. I woke up this morning with all the jittery eagerness of a Christmas morning. I was hoping to hear who in the Bush White House would be indicted for the Plamegate Scandal. Sadly, I awoke with the news that neither Karl Rove nor Dick Cheney had been indicted......yet. Hopefully, indictments will be handed out some time tomorrow. One things for sure I pray that nothing suspicious happens to Special Prosecuter, Patrick Fitzgerald, or his family.

Plamegate is the case where the name of CIA operative, Valerie Plame, was leaked to the press. The reason her name was leaked is allegedly in retaliation for her husband, Joseph C. Wilson exposing the Bush administrations exaggeration over Iraqs efforts to obtain Uranium in Niger. Wilson first wrote about his misgivings in a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece. Then afterwards allegedly, higher ups in the Bush administration became obsessed with destroying him. Afterall, in 2003 it was downright unAmerican to suggest that the basis for the Iraqi war were dubious.

Plamegate, in my opinion has the potential to bring down the Bush Presidency just like Watergate brought down the Nixon Presidency. In my opinion the deliberate exposure of an intelligence officers name is tantamount to committing treason. Not only are you putting the agent at risk but all her contacts as well. This to me shows how far the Bush administration is willing to go to destroy those who do not tow their company line.

If Cheney and/or Rove are named tomorrow I’m going to be out celebrating. I am going to party like it is 1999.... er.... make that 2999. Yea, I am gonna party like it is 2999!!!

link | posted by gail at 8:56 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Yesterday, I was doing the dance of joy as I finally figured out how to make my new CD burner work. Last week I bought a Lacie Slim Combo CD-RW/DVD ROM drive designed by F.A. Porcshe, the elderly grandson of the late car designer. This is the first CD burner that I have ever purchased.

The disk that came with it is useless to my Mac because it is formatted for Windows. So I had to download something called NTI Dragon Burn for OS X. It worked like a charm however, its freeware and can only be used free for a limited amount of time. I’m not sure if I’m going to buy it or not. I have to admit that the price is nice compared to that of the very popularToast Mac cd burning program.

My only complaint with Dragon Burn is that I am limited to the number of songs and amount of times I can use the program. This limit of course is due to the fact that it is a trial copy.

link | posted by gail at 7:24 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The big event today was attending a Beginnings class given at the church I attend. The Beginnings class is a class to introduce newcomers to the church to Unitarianism. I had signed up for it over the summer without the prior knowledge of when it would begin. I have to say that I was very intrigued when I signed up for it. I thought it would be like Unitarianism 101 or the Beginners Guide To Unitarianism.

When I arrived at the church for the class there was already a couple of people waiting outside the door. They were waiting because the door was locked. Eventually someone came along with a key and opened the door for us. In total there were about ten people in the Beginnings class.

I believe the class was to have lasted for three weeks finally culminating in a pot luck supper held at the co-ministers new house. Everything at the meeting started off pretty good. Then they had us introduce ourselves to the group......

We had to talk for 5 minutes about ourselves with a large stop watch ticking in front of us. This made me very nervous. I am a woman of few words. I could not imagine filling five minutes of time talking....talking about nothing but me! As it got closer and closer to my turn I started to panic. My heart was racing I felt that if I stayed there any longer I would have a heart attack. I felt that if I said anything when it was finally my turn that I would start to stutter and cry. Then everyone there would think I was insane or a basket case of some sort. The pressure was too much. Why did they have to have a stop watch??? In retrospect they probably had the stop watch out because some people are a bit more loquacious than others.

While sitting there waiting my turn I knew that I was in the grip of a panic attack and that I had to leave. I could not take it anymore I felt like I could not breathe. When they got to the eighth person, I was the tenth person, I bolted for the ladies room. I felt that if I went there I would be able to calm myself down enough to introduce myself and talk for five minutes. I never reached the feeling of calmness I was seeking. Every time I psyched myself up enough to walk back in the direction of the meeting waves of panic would grip me. I finally quietly left the meeting and went home.

While home I sent an email to the two co-ministers explaining my quick exit. I hope that they are understanding and do not hold my anxiety over unscripted public speaking against me. I also wrote to them that I would be unable to attend further classes. The pressure of a stopwatch sitting in front you as you talked was too much for me. It made me fear what subsequent classes would be like.

link | posted by gail at 10:19 PM | 1 comments

Monday, October 17, 2005

Right now I’m feeling a little sad. I just got back from visiting my father. I always end up feeling sad after visiting him. It has nothing to do with him. He’s the nicest man on the planet. It’s just my sister, the drug addict, that’s the problem......

You see for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to contact them to see how they are doing. My efforts were fruitless. It appears that there phone has been disconnected. So today I finally got up the gumption to visit them in person. I approached the house with apprehension and fear that something terribly wrong might have happened. As I walked up to the house I noticed that the outer glass and metal door sat on the porch resting against the wooden porch railing. The wooden inner door was still attached to the house. I gasped in fear, fearing what might be behind the door. Maybe they have both been inside the house dead for days because a drug dealer finally wasted my sister. You see for years she has been claiming that if we do not give her money a drug dealer is going to kill her. We all knew that this was just a scare tactic she used to extort money from her family to buy drugs.

I was relieved after a long wait at the door when my father finally came to answer it. He told me that my sister was in jail. Apparently, her 20something year old daughter who is a nurse called the cops on her. He told me that my sister had stepped up her tactics in getting money from him. Her new tactic was to threaten him with a knife up to three times a day. One day her daughter happened to be home and could not take her mothers violent abuse of her frail elderly grandfather anymore. Mother and daughter then started fighting violently. Finally between blows my niece called the police and now my sister is in jail for domestic abuse.

Personally, I feel that that evil bitch, that I am forced to call my sister, stays in jail for a very long time. She has no respect for anything or anyone other than her drugs and her drug dealer. She is the reason I left home. I could not take the constant never ending begging for money. I rarely visit my father because of her. Now that she is gone I will visit my father a little more often.

As I left my fathers house for the cab to take me home, I looked up at my father. He had the saddest look on his face. I had the cab turn back so that I could see that he was ok. When the cab got back he was still standing motionless in the doorway with the saddest look in the universe on his face. I came back and asked if he wanted me to stay over until my niece came back from work. He said that it was ok. He would be alright.

I wonder if he is afraid that the drug dealers will start threatening him. I’m afraid for him.

He told me that two women were killed up the street in a home invasion robbery gone wrong. He also told me of the houses that were recently broken into. This of course has me worried especially with the very vulnerable looking glass and metal front door sitting on the porch. I guess I should not be too worried because they still have the sturdy inner wooden door..... All in all I think I will have to come over tomorrow to see if my niece finally came back from work. Since she is a nurse she tends to work unpredictable hours. Just for my peace of mind I know I have to do it.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

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Monday, October 10, 2005

I am sorry, that I have not posted anything new in the past few days. I have recently recovered from a serious cold. It was so bad that I had to take a day (Wednesday) off from work. I do not know what possessed me to take just one day off. I returned back to work the very next day because my fever went down a little. However, I was still feeling woozy. It seemed like everytime someone passed by my cubicle I felt dizzy as though I was going to faint or vomit because they were moving too fast. I did not feel one hundred percent recovered until late Friday evening.

Right now I’m feeling good. However, I was feeling a bit down over the weekend. It was cold, wet, and rainy. I felt a bit apprehensive carrying on with my regular weekend chores, (grocery shopping, going to the laundromat, going to church, etc.) for fear that I might get sick again by being out in the rain. So all I did this weekend was stay indoors and feel depressed that it was cold, wet, and damp outside. Hopefully, the weather will clear up later this week.

Today, I have on a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a dark multi-coloured sweater, along with NEW black canvas tennis shoes.

link | posted by gail at 10:28 PM | 1 comments

Monday, October 03, 2005


awilson, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

August Wilson

This morning as I was about to take the light rail shuttle bus to work I learned of the death of August Wilson. It was a part of the 98 Rock Josh Spiegel morning news report.

As you can imagine I felt numb as I stepped on to the bus. August Wilson was one of my heros as well as my all time favourite playwright. He is arguably one of the greatest American playwright of the 20th century. The one thing I admired most about his work was the natural sounding dialogue that he wrote. Wilson’s usage of dialogue has influenced my many play-writing attempts by my constant striving to create characters who sound like real people and not like characters on a printed page.

In a way I found it ironic that he died when he did. You see Wilson’s ultimate goal was to write 10 plays about the African American experience in 20th century America. His 10th and final play, Radio Golf, debuted this May at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Then the next thing you know after he’s completed his cycle of 10 plays he’s diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. After his diagnoses Wilson said in an interview, “I’ve lived a blessed life. I’m ready.”

The only thing I can think of writing right now is, Thanks August, for enriching the tapestry of the American theatre.


Today, I have on a blue t-shirt and blue pants. Except, for the tan canvas tennis shoes, I feel very monochromatic today. Oh, I almost forgot, Happy Rosh Hashanah!

link | posted by gail at 8:43 PM | 2 comments

Sunday, October 02, 2005

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Today after church I went over to the movies. The movie I saw was the much anticipated, Serenity.

First off I have to admit that I never watched the short lived Firefly TV series of which the movie is based upon. At the time I was heavily vested in watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the series. All three of these shows have one thing in common and that is that they were created by, Joss Whedon. I was afraid at the time that if I watched another one of his shows I would became either Whedon overloaded or Whedon addicted. In retrospect either one of these prospects would not have been so bad because Whedon is a brilliant writer. In my scourings across the web for additional information about him I ran into either a blog written by the great man or devoted to his work. It is kind of hard to tell from which perspective it is written.


I know everyone reading this will be absolutely shocked to read that I, a near loyal devotee to the evil genius of Joss Whedon, loved the movie. However, I have to admit that coming in fresh from off the street with no prior knowledge of the characters or their relationship to each other it did me a while to figure out what was going on. When I figured out who was who it was smooth sailing.

I will not give a synopsis because if you have seen the commercial you have a pretty good idea what it is about. However, I will say that two characters who were a part of the regular series die in the movie. One of the people that die is in the photo below.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

By the way Whedon is famous for killing off major characters. I think he does it to give the JossVerse a feeling of real danger and uncertainty. Then again since Whedon wrote it there’s a 50-50 chance that the dead characters might come back.

Also I have to say it was nice to once again hear the crisp, snappy, dialogue of a Whedon penned script. I like that he never talks down to his audience. There is usually a sense that you are in on the joke.

The cast in the movie did a really good job. Nathan Fillion was great as a much better scripted Han Solo like character, Mal. I have to say that seeing him on screen coupled with yesterday seeing Stephen Markle on stage as King Lear gave me a feeling of it being old cast members of One Life To Live Weekend. Fillion used to play Joey Buchanan on One Life To Live. I believe he was on the show the same time as Markle. Anyway, Fillion was great as Mal.

Also in the cast was Jewel Staite as the effervescent young ship engineer, Kaylee. While watching the movie I thought she was Asian. After doing a web search on her name I am surprised to find out that she is Native American. Somehow it had never crossed my mind that Native Americans share the same facial characteristics as Asians.

Also in the cast is veteran actor and non Baldwin brother, Adam Baldwin as Jayne, the tough guy with the girly name. One of my favourite comedies as a kid was My Bodyguard. I liked it mainly because I was picked on a lot as a kid and found it easy to identify with the protagonist in the movie. By the way Baldwin played reluctant bodyguard, Ricky Linderman in that 1980 flick. This makes me wonder what ever happened to the cute young star of My Bodyguard Chris Makepeace? When I was 10 I thought he looked absolutely dreamy. Oh, well... Back to Serenity.

In addition to veteran actor Adam Baldwin in the movie is veteran actor Ron Glass as Shepperd Book. Glass is most well known for playing the dapperly dressed Detective Harris in the 70’s police sitcom, Barney Miller.

You know I could sit here all night and list cast member after cast member but I’m getting sleepy. My final verdict is that if you like Sci-Fi and or the world of Joss Whedon see this movie.

Ohh! Ohh! Before I forget Chiwetel Ejioforis absolutely coldly menacing as the Operative. If you have seen the commercials he is the the big bad black guy you see. This is it I swear.

link | posted by gail at 12:19 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Today, was the start of the theatre season for me. My season subscription at Center Stage. The season started off with everyones favourite feel good classic, King Lear. I was being facetious there, King Lear is anything but feel good. In my opinion it is one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays. Well, enough of that on with my quick review of King Lear at Center Stage.

First off it seems like very year I sit next to this little old lady who wears a gherri curl and carries around an oxygen tank. I’m happy to report that the little old lady was back! However, because the play was upstairs in the Head theatre she was seated behind me instead of beside me like she usually is. The upstairs Head theatre has a different seating configuration than the main downstairs Pearlstone theatre. The seating configuration for the Head theatre is changeable so you never quiet know where you will be seated. However, with the Pearlstone you always know where you will be seated.


Written By William Shakespeare

Directed By Irene Lewis

Viewed at:

Center Stage Theater

Baltimore, MD

October 1, 2005

Production Runs September 23 to November 6, 2005

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Stephen Markle and Heidi Armbruster in Center Stage's production of King Lear


David Adkins...................Albany

Heidi Armbruster.............Cordelia

Rod Brogan......................Facilitator

Jon David Casey.............Edmund

David Cromwell...............Gloucester

Jay Edwards......................Facilitator

Karen Hansen...................Musician

Sarah Knowles..................Goneril

Diana LaMar......................Regan

Stephen Markle.................King Lear

Conan McCarty..................Oswald

Laurence O’Dwyer............Fool

James Joseph O’Neil.......Cornwall

Michael Rudko...................Kent

Tony Ward...........................Edgar


The set to this play was on the extreme side of bare. I guess scenic designer, Robert Israel had to do this for budgetary concerns. The play had a large cast and I suppose it was either pay the actors or design a better set. The actors won out.

On the right side of the stage there appeared to be a black trash bag like curtain. Also there was a huge boulder on that side of the stage. The walls were painted white. I didn’t much care for the set. As it appears to have been done on the cheap.

However, I really loved Catherine Zuber’s costumes. I especially liked the dress that Goneril wore. It was this long green dress. It had a nice high fashion look to it. If I were tall and skinny I would buy that dress. I also liked the coat that Cordelia wore towards the end of the play. It was a long fake fur lined coat. It looked spectacular.

I also liked the unusual aspect of the men’s costumes. They all seemed to be wearing long coats. Edmund wore a long black leather coat which I suppose is now modern costuming shorthand for saying he’s the bad guy in the play. Also the majority of the male characters in the first act appeared to be wearing sandals. I found this choice of footwear a bit odd yet endearing. To me this was the men in long coats and sandals play.


Stephen Markle was fantastic as King Lear. I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect from him. My only exposure to Markle was when he played Mel Hayes on One Life To Live. Mel Hayes was a kick ass character. He was one of those rare characters that walked the walk and talked the talk. God, I miss Mel! Markle was outstanding as King Lear!

Clearly, the standout best performer in this play was Tony Ward who played Edgar. I liked how he switched up accents when he was secretly aiding his newly blind father, the Earl of Gloucester. It was seamless how he went from a Shakesperean southern accent to a Shakespearean upper class American accent. The fact that Ward was versatile in his acting choices makes me in awe of his talent.

I really liked Jon David Casey’s portrayal of Edmund. His character was the one I felt most sympathetic towards. I felt that he did a bang up good job in bringing Edmund to life.

While watching the play I got this eery feeling that Casey, the actor who plays Edmund, reminded me of someone. I couldn’t quiet put my finger on it until the second act. This was when he came out dressed in an outfit that screamed U2. Then it came to me the guy is an absolute dead ringer for Bono. I even went back to the playbill and my god even in his headshot he looks like Bono! During most of the second act I almost half way expected him to start singing, Sunday Bloody Sunday or start talking in an Irish accent about third world debt relief. Before the production is over I must get a picture with him!!! Just so that I can play a practical joke on my friends about Bono being in Baltimore and me hanging out with him. “Look Dude, Bono and me are like this...”

The other borderline U2 flashback moment I had was also during the second act where Michael Rudko’s Kent is wearing a cap that’s reminiscent of the kind that U2 guitarist, The Edge wears. I should say right now that Rudko doesn’t look that much like the Edge. The one thing I can say about Rudko is that he’s a great actor. I like the fact that he portrayed Kent with a New York street thug Shakespearean accent.

Diana LaMar was deliciously cruel as Regan, one of King Lears three daughter. My goodness she even shot someone down with a gun. As I’ve written before I loved the costume that Sarah Knowles, Goneril wore. In addition to her character having great fashion sense Knowles turned in a fine performance as one of King Lears Daughter. Then we reach a quandry with Heidi Armbruster’s Cordelia. While watching the play I could see her acting. She seemed kind of cartoonish like an adult character on a children’s show. Then again it might have been difficult to play a pure of heart type character as anything but innocently cartoonish. I mean there really aren’t any heard edges to make a character like Cordelia three dimensional as there are on her sisters, Reagan and Goneril.

Lastly but not least the legendary Laurence O’Dwyer was back again. This time he played the part of the Fool. Over the years O’Dwyer has been in countless Center Stage productions. He turned in yet another solid performancel. Musician Karen Hansen was also back again doing incidental music. The music she composed was nothing to write home about. I wish it were more melodic as it has been in past productions.

Memorable Moment and Awards

The scariest moment in this play was when Markle and Ward were shirtless. They are both slightly pudgy and I though I was in danger of going blind.

The most borderline x-rated moment in the play was when Edmund suggestively put his hand up Goneril’s dress.

Cruelty to a senior citizen moment is the scene where Laurence O’Dwyer and Markle are in a rainstorm. I’m worried that at O’Dwyer’s age he might be in danger of developing pneumonia with this constant exposure to dampness night after night. Senior citizens are not known for having a strong immune system. Here’s hoping that Larry makes it through the run of the play without developing any serious illnesses.

The Bono look alike award goes to Jon David Casey.

The Edge look alike award goes to Michael Rudko.

The trashiest curtain in Baltimore goes to the giant trash bag curtain in King Lear.

Worst stage design so far this year goes to Robert Israel

Best Costume Design so far this year goes to Catherine Zuber.


Today, I have on blue pants, a yellow top and a multi-coloured light cotton jacket of red, blue, and yellow. The shoes I have on are beige canvas tennis shoes.

link | posted by gail at 12:51 AM | 0 comments

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