Free Solo

So I was channel surfing Tuesday night.

You know, you get home

It’s Tuesday.

What’re you gonna do, hit the club? (as if I even have a “the club”), get trashed, drunk dial an old flame? (as if I even have an “old flame”).

No. You’re gonna have a little dinner, check out Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or Paramount +, or Hulu ( yes, I do. Shut up. I need them all. At least until I’m done with season 5 of “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Then Hulu is gone. Unless I get caught up in another season of “Love Island U.K.”, damn you Melinda!!)…

…but I digress…

So, I’m channel surfing and I see that Amazon Prime has a documentary called “Free Solo”. I’ve seen it before. If you haven’t, do. It’s the story of a climber named Alex Honnold, who decides that he is going to free solo climb El Capitan in Yosemite. 3000 feet of vertical granite.And “free solo” means climb it alone, without any ropes to catch him if he falls. It’s the 2nd scariest documentary I’ve ever watched, second only to a doc called “The Bridge”, in which a camera is set up to focus on the Golden Gate bridge for all of 2004 and records the 24 suicides committed during that year. You see some of them, and get the backstory of some of the people who died. The creepiest thing is that they cut from interviews, etc. to a shot of someone on the bridge. Some walk away, some get talked down and then some just jump. You don’t know who, or when.

Oh, and BTW, telling a friend about this film, while the 2 of us are running across the Golden Gate Bridge, is not a thing to do. I guess it could be interpreted as a prelude to some self destructive act.

I thought it was just a fun fact.

My bad.

Holy crap. A double digression day…

OK. Free Solo. So I’m watching it the other night. And Alex is talking about his preparation. About the need to be perfect for 3-4 hours.

Anything other than perfection is death.

And they showed him writing out his preparation. Longhand. In a notebook. Each section of the 3000 ft. Each area. Each foothold, each handhold. Where he can relax for a second. where he can’t, even for a second. And this part was like 10-15 seconds of this 90 min. movie. But it’s what caught my attention.

He’s writing this out. Step by step. Every detail of this endeavor. Going over each minute detail and making sure he’s sure of what / how/ when. And I thought “I’ll never have to be that focused, that precise, that prepared, with the stakes that high.”

But what if I applied that type of focus to projects that I take on? Maybe it wouldn’t be as intense.


I KNOW it wouldn’t be that intense.

But what if I tried to apply myself, as much as I can, with that as a goal, to projects I take on.

Well. It just so happens that I am in rehearsals for a show. This is a process I know very, very well. I have a method. A tried and true way of learning lines, learning blocking, creating a character. I’ve been doing it since 1976. It’s pretty ingrained.


I went out yesterday. Bought a notebook. Started writing longhand notes; on lines, blocking, things I’ve been struggling with, motivations for my character, questions I need to ask myself as I put this thing together.

Is it going to make a difference?

Don’t know. I just started it. I’ll tell you in a week. Or a month. We run til Dec. 30th, so I’ll give it some time. To equate this to what Alex H. did I’d have to hire a person, give him a gun, pick a performance, and if I made one mistake, one flubbed line, one wrong note, one missed dance step, have him shoot me in the head.

I’m not going to do that.

It’s probably illegal anyway.

But I think it’s an interesting wake up call. To rethink what I do on a regular basis, my status quo, so to speak, and try increase my focus, raise the stakes on myself, hopefully up my game.

Just something to think about.

Talk later,


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