Heath

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Homepage: http://www.heathallyn.com/


Posts by Heath

Farewell And Fair Sailing, Carnival Liberty

1 month of rehearsals in Florida.
52 cruises over 26 weeks.
107 band shows.
5 shows as the only vocalist (co-singer was out sick).
1 show as solo vocalist and guitar player (guitar parts learned in the hours leading up to the show), while the normal guitar player covered the bass parts on his guitar, pitch shifted down an octave because both the bass player and female vocalist were out sick).
1 show as bass player and co-vocalist (bass parts learned in the hours leading up to the show).
2 shows missed due to being sick (I was hoping for none).
A handful of shows with a very sub-par voice due to illnesses.
100 America Rocks Shows (Theater production) .
Approximately 31000 nautical miles traveled.
Approximately 177,000 total guests (No way to know how many actually saw us perform, of course).
We leave as the #1 band in the Entire Carnival fleet of 26 ships.

Personal Accolades (braggy, I know):
Volunteered as the Entertainment Department Safety Representative.
Chosen as “Star of the Month” (Entertainment Department only).
Nominated for “Team Member of the Month” (This one is shipwide).
Multiple trainings such as “Crowd Management and Control” and how to pilot and command a survival craft as well as it’s layout and vital information and such.

I got to turn my brain off for seven months and make a good paycheck doing what I love 6 nights a week. No hustling or wondering about my next job or how much money I would make next month. I got to sing and play great tunes with an amazing band for enthusiastic, appreciative, and hyperbolically complimentary crowds. I performed with an amazing cast and crew in a great theater. I worked alongside an international crew of amazing people all over the ship.

For the first time in my life I performed as (mostly) just a singer and front man, something I had been a little worried about as it’s not normally what I do and I feel a little naked without an instrument, but I settled into it fairly painlessly and rose to the occasion (according to my own self-assessment as well as my evaluations by management). I educated myself on how to treat myself as a “vocal athlete” and trained to do my best at meeting the incredible demands of singing 6 nights a week. I honed my instrument to be the best and sharpest it has probably ever been (when not hobbled by cough, colds, phlegm, etc., but more on that in a moment).

I had my ego and confidence boosted and reinforced and can confidently say that I am good at what I do. I had my ego and confidence bruised and humbled by the fact that I have limits and can’t always do anything just because I put my mind to it or because I want to. I learned how use my voice in new ways. How to best use it when it’s not fully functional. Different techniques and approaches. How to feel out where it was on any particular day and gauge how well it was operating so I could adjust accordingly. I developed alternate strategies and plans for when it was not operating at peak efficiency. I learned how much I could really “go for it” in a given night while still being able to do it again the next night and when to pull it back and take it easy to preserve it.

I learned the huge variety of ways my voice can be adversely affected by cold, cough, illness, phlegm, etc. You open your mouth and only have maybe 40% of your normal voice. While you are normally a belter, that doesn’t work tonight so you have to sing in a completely different way to just eke out as much sound as you can. Sometimes your high range is just gone so you have to do a lot more falsetto than normal (strangely, through all of it, my falsetto was always there). Some nights you just have no stamina, vocally. You start out feeling like your voice has finally recovered, but then as the night goes on, it deteriorates. Some nights your mouth and throat just seem determined to be a barren desert no matter how much water, tea, lozenges,and throat spray (multiple types) you use, and again, your voice quickly deteriorates. One night, the only way I could get a decent performance was to constantly keep Grether’s Pastilles in my mouth while singing, and all night long I was super paranoid and careful about making sure I didn’t suck it down my windpipe. There were just so many different ways in which my voice could be hobbled by illness and each had to be dealt with in its own way. Some nights my voice was just unpredictable and erratic. With singing six nights a week, I could really tell the difference after our one night off. The next night everything would be so much more effortless. So much so that I would sometimes overshoot or overpower a note. I got to know my voice more completely than ever.

I’ve been playing music for 36 years and singing for around 32 years. Vocally, I’ve always been kind of wild, chaotic, untrained and quite frankly, lucky that my voice has performed so well all these years under those conditions. I come out of this journey with so much valuable experience, knowledge and wisdom. I come out of this a better singer, performer, and just overall a better person. It didn’t solve any life problems or banish any ghosts or demons (you can’t run away from those, no matter how hard you try or how far you run), but I think it gave me (mostly) what I was looking for from it and more.

I will miss every single person who I have crossed paths with in this adventure and I emerge from this a richer person than I entered it. Time for new adventures, of which I already have many waiting when I get home.

To quote Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books (a quote I’ve used before and will again as I find it so powerful in its simplicity and context), “Well, I’m back.”

Or, you know, I will be after a week at Disney World and Universal Studios.

Liberty

The adventure ends
New adventures now await
I emerge improved

The Tell-Tale Hose

A true story told in the style of Edgar Allen Poe

‘Twas the third day. The third day that the incessant sound of water being sprayed from a hose onto the echoing metal of the ship stirred me from my sleep and slowly filled my bosom with annoyance. Droplet by droplet, the annoyance accumulated until it was like a Sisyphean boulder made of water that your hands and body can find no purchase to push. Try as you might, the watery gargantuan grows with each watery pebble added to its girth and simply envelopes your hands, arms, body and soul.

How long had it been spraying it’s aquatic taunt? For the previous two days, it must have gone on for several hours, and today seemed to see no end as well. Time skews as I drift in and out of sleep, trying to ignore the aural leviathan. What possibly needs to be sprayed with that much water so often? The walls? The floor? The ceiling? In an echoing metal ship, the sound is impossible to precisely locate and yet sounds as if it comes from within the very walls themselves. It gets softer, as if perhaps they’ve moved on to a section further away. Occasionally it stops, giving me hope that once again slumber might take me in its welcoming embrace, but then it returns and with each subsequent visit, my heart beats faster in my bosom. Is this what going mad feels like?

Each rivulet colliding with a metallic cackle pierces me like a meteor shower to my planetary body leaving me cratered and pock marked and pushing my sanity slowly out of its orbit. Three days of this seemingly perpetual hydrolytic cacophony buffeting my eardrums until my very heart in my bosom has no choice but to fall into a rhythmic duet. This hydra is my master now. I will arise from my bed, giving up my dream of sleep, for the only other choice is madness. I am awake now, resigned to my fate as a slave to the dancing duo of hydrogen molecules in a ménage-a-trois with their oxygen lover, and their countless identical allies. Why, I myself am made primarily of these trios and never stood a chance. They are inside me.

And then silence. Now that I am awake, silence. Where the mocking marine melody once made its music, now an empty, silent, and all too awake space in my bosom, like an empty bed after a lover’s all too abrupt departure. Its work is done. I’m not mad, I’m simply virtually and aurally hydrated. Look into my wide and watery eyes and you will see I’m not mad. The glistening teeth, tongue, and lips of my enveloping smile are well lubricated, but I am not mad. Perhaps you just feel my water calling to yours.

Bosom.

Hose

Incessant Spraying
Keeping me from my slumber
This must be madness

The Story Of Kaylee Ane Me

I’m thinking about my “ex-dog,” Kaylee, tonight for some reason and feel compelled to write about our story together. I’ve always loved animals, but never wanted any myself as I didn’t want the expense or the responsibility. Being a freelance actor and musician, I’m gone a lot as well, so not the best home for an animal. Kaylee belonged to my ex when we started dating and so I started spending a lot of time with her, watching her and walking her a lot (Kaylee, that is…not my ex). When we moved in together (all three of us), Kaylee very much became “our” dog. It was never like “Hey, you need to get your dog some more food,” or anything like that. My ex had a regular day job, and so me being a freelancer, could spend a lot more time with Kaylee at home, on walks, for vet appointments, etc. She was a very quirky dog. Not in any bad way. She was a poop diva. Very particular about where she went, and almost always had to poop twice per walk instead of getting it out all in one go which was slightly annoying and used a lot of doggy bags. She was very enthusiastic and loving in her way but not the most affectionate dog you’d ever meet. Never the less she was sweet, good-natured and I loved her immensely (Kaylee that is, though that also applied to my ex).

When my ex and I broke up, it was the first time I’d ever had to deal with losing a pet in the process (as well as a girlfriend, a home and neighborhood I loved, and such that made it feel like many breakups in one). Now once again, my aim here is not to gain sympathy or paint my ex in a bad light. It was complicated and she had to do what she felt was right so there are no villains in this story, to be clear. My ex soon after got a job traveling a lot so, much to her dismay, was not really in a position to keep Kaylee (and neither was I), so Kaylee went to live with my ex’s parents which is actually a great life for Kaylee. She has another dog to be with who she loves, a great climate, attentive humans, a yard, and wonderful scenery. All in all, her life likely got majorly upgraded.

Maybe all this thinking was prompted by the latest Radiolab episode which had a part about dogs and their behaviors and such (specifically whether they can be “racist”) and it made me wonder how much emotion, thinking, and anthropomorphism we put on them and how much is real. Like, I haven’t seen Kaylee in probably 2 years and I wonder if she would remember me and how much she loved me, or if I would just be like any other stranger to her now. Was it simply that I fed, walked and took care of her? Do we imagine these bonds because we want them to be true? I don’t think so. I do think there’s enough evidence throughout history to support these ideas to some degree, but I just wonder if it goes as deep as we want it to. I hope she would remember me. Sometimes I still send her thoughts. I hope her doggie brain still thinks of me sometimes. You’re a good girl, Kaylee. I know you’re happy. I just hope you don’t forget me. I’ll chew on a squeaky stuffed snake in your honor.

Kaylee

A dog’s step-parent
I loved her with all my heart
Kaylee’s a good girl

Dream Theatre 50

In last night’s dream, I was doing another western themed immersive activation like the SXSWestworld I did last year with MyCoToo and Giant Spoon. I was a sheriff and Andrew Hunter was in it as well as was his wife, Elizabeth Hunter. Andy played a crotchety town drunk and Liz played his wife. It turned out that their characters were con-artists trying to defraud the town. I remembered that I also needed to take an audition for the next immersive activation (This year’s Game of Thrones activation) that was due at 4pm, so Andy and I went to an upstairs room so he could help me film it. I couldn’t remember if it was due at 4 or if I was supposed to record it at 4, and being that it was almost 4 now, I just decided to hope for the best. In the dream, I was actually remembering the monologue that I recently (in the real non-dream world) had thought would have been good if I had been available to audition for the GoT activation.

Dream 50

A western sheriff
A couple of con-artists
An audition due

Dream Theatre 48 and 49

Dream Theatre 48 guest starred Emily Hahn! In this dream, a bunch of us had just finished performing a play and it was super late so Emily let a few of us crash at her place because we were all there after the show. She had a huge husky-type dog who was the cuddliest ever. He actually liked to snuggle up, put his legs around you and rest his head on yours and lick your face. It was the best thing ever.

Dream Theatre 49 was very busy. As in I had lots of work to do so it didn’t feel like a restful night. One dream I remember was that June Griffin Garcia needed a 41 page voiceover by tomorrow and I said I could do it. Then I had another pending project as well so it looked like it was going to be an all nighter. I seem to also remember doing some work in a computer repair type workshop

Dream 48 and 49

Fluffy dog cuddles
Harried voiceover deadlines
Polar opposites