30 June 2005

L Squared

When I was in college and hanging around with North and Erica, they kept saying how much I reminded them of Leslie. "You two are just alike!" And everyone else from that group, as they got to know me, agreed.

Not physically, mind you. Outside of being 5'7, big boned, white, and female, Leslie and I look nothing alike. She has big brown eyes, tawny blonde hair, and cheekbones like you wouldn't believe.

So anyway. The crowd decided to introduce us because wouldn't that be fun? The idea was put to us individually and we had what was one of our last completely disparate reactions. I loved the idea. She hated it. I wanted to see what they thought I was "like" and she felt that her self was her own and she had no interest in meeting some kind of clone. So at the event (a Balticon, I think, in early April), I pursued and she eluded. Oh well. So much for that.

But Erica's birthday was coming up (in Mid-May). And I wanted to give a party for her and I wanted it to be a surprise. So the cover I devised was that I would lend North a vacuum cleaner. He and Erica would be moving out of the dorms and into temp housing for the summer a few days before or after Erica's actual birthday, so they'd clean and vacuum, etc, and then North would suggest getting cleaned up, returning the vacuum, and heading out somewhere nice for dinner. (Important note: Never, ever, e-v-e-r set up a surprise party for a woman without a cover story that allows her to be clean, non-sweaty, and decently dressed. I've been to several where the guests were in party dresses and the "honoree" was in grubby sweats and kept saying "But you all look so nice." Not good.)

So far, so good. I called the Baltimore folks - including Leslie - to invite them. (I'm very old, you see, and this was before e-mail was common.) By the time we got off the phone - probably an hour later - we were fast friends. And we discovered that we did have a lot in common.

The party went off without a hitch. Erica was surprised, pleased, clean, and festively dressed. Everyone had fun. And at one point, Leslie and I were chatting and the folks who thought it was a good idea to introduce us were gathered around. None of us remembered what got said that Les and I both found interesting, but everyone remembers what came next. At exactly the same time, in the same pitch, with the same smile and eyes lighting up, and, well, pretty much the same everything we both said "Really? Neat!" And you could see the horror in the backs of everyone's eyes: Oh, God. There are two of them. And we put them together.

They have only themselves to blame.

29 June 2005

I got tagged, too!

Thanks to Paul, I have the opportunity to share some embarrassing trivia also.

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?
A. Not transferring out of the geometry class I was flunking because I didn't know that was an option.
B. Believing something a guy told me when his objective (clearly, in retrospect) was to get into my pants.
C. Not asking my parents for help when I could have used it.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?
As always, at least for the past 20 years, my friend Brett. When asked once what his goal was in life, he said it was to be a good man among good men (or something similar). There is no one I respect more than Brett, for his ethics, his loyalty, his strength, and his kindness. A great way to get on my good side is to remind me of Brett.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?
1. Eleanor of Aquitaine.
2. Richard III - the real one, not Shakespeare's creation.
3. Abigail Adams.
4. W.S. Gilbert.
5. Harry Truman.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
A. Peace on earth, good will towards everyone.
B. Mom's MS would turn out to be an easily curable and reversable vitamin deficiency or something.
C. That I was a lot better with money. And had more money to be better with.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.
A. Housing within reach of the city that a normal person can afford.
B. Decent mass transit to some of our better community theaters.
1. Calling Silver Spring "Silver Springs." Silver Springs is in Florida. Silver Spring is in Maryland. There is an actual Silver Spring with a story which Silver Spring natives (like me!) will happily lecture you with if you mistake our town for the one down south.
2. Missing the lovely drive down the George Washington Parkway. Gorgeous views of the monuments, no real traffic, ending up at Mount Vernon, and great dining options in Alexandria. It's the best of DC in 45 minutes or less.

6. Name one event that has changed your life.
My sister's death in 2003. Time is short and life is uncertain. The future is big but we don't know where it goes.

7. Tag 5 people.

28 June 2005

With no ill intent

You know that little list that goes around on e-mail every so often of the things that men wished that women knew? My favorite has always been "If I say something that could be taken two ways and one of those ways hurts your feelings or upsets you, I meant the other."

Well, a blog is basically just a whole world of things that can be taken more than one way. I've been pretty lucky (knock lots of wood) and so far no one (that I know of) has been mortally offended by something I never intended to be unkind and only one person (that I know of) was put out by ditto.

I know that in my casual conversation-o there are things that I find hilarious that others don't. Lord knows I've managed to upset people just by running my mouth because when one considers how much sheer output there is, it would be a miracle - and would defy all known laws of probability - if none of it were stupid or thoughtless.

A couple of weeks ago David blogged about Shauna's running afoul of this. Now, admittedly, I tend to gather up lots of sarcastic folks and the mean sense of humor isn't unknown in my crowd, but it would hard to find a kinder-hearted person of good will than Shauna. Nonetheless, some of the parents of her students were upset. (Re-reading this paragraph, I mean that she ran afoul of someone taking something the wrong way, not that she wrote something stupid or thoughtless. Just clarifying.)

I've been thinking about that lately because when one first starts blogging, one is pretty much talking to oneself. But eventually people start to find one. (I love the non-specific third person.) One's friends check in every so often, along with the occasional relative. Every post is a new opportunity to be misunderstood or (probably in my case) say something dumb.

I love it when people read what I write and I hate upsetting people. And I write a lot here about people I like. (If I've written about someone, I like them.) And there are more people I like that I haven't written about yet. In general I follow one of Brett's rules: treat the folks you don't like politely and treat your friends with genial, well-meant, abuse. Only make fun of the folks you want making fun of you. And - of course - retaliate and escalate. Craig and I have reached such a level with this that for a while Sheilah thought we hated each other.

So, dear friends, casual readers, strangers stopping in, if I ever write something that upsets or offends you, I mean it the other way. I really, really do.

Not a silly internet quiz

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

27 June 2005

Goodbye, Tigger and Piglet

John Fiedler passed away earlier this month at the age of 80 and Paul Winchell passed away on Friday at the age of 83. Fiedler and Winchell were, respectively, the voices of Piglet and Tigger in my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh movie, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Their passing means that all of that cast - except Jon Walmsley (Christopher Robin), Ralph Wright (Eeyore), and Clint Howard (Roo) - are gone. And so is a bit of my childhood. There was no safer place than the Hundred Acre Wood, hanging with Tigger and Pooh.

The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
fun, fun, fun, fun, fun
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I'm the only one
I'm the only one.

TTFN, Tigger and Piglet.

Bragging on my team

The NVTA One-Act Play Festival Champagne Reception and Awards Ceremony was last night. David, Ali, Pete, and I represented the Perfectly Good Airplanes team. (David was, of course, our Stage Manager, Ali played the Daughter, Pete is Ali's SO and ushered, and I .... well, I'm rather chatty and I like champagne.)

Nothing gets an evening like this off to a good start like champagne and nibbles, so we all got ourselves equipped with a bit of the bubbly and some veggies and chicken tenders and stuff. Ali then brilliantly gathered us at a small table near the door so that we could eat and drink without danger of wearing ranch dressing and while we were there Sara Joy arrived (looking faboo in a pink evening dress and lovely party sandals - Sara cleans up well) and came over and congratulated me. "For what?" And then she listed the nominations that our show got. Six! We got six nominations!! We were nominated for almost every category for which we were eligible: Ted was nominated for Best Actor, I was nominated for Best Director, Steve was nominated for Best Original Script, the show was nominated for Best Ensemble Performance and Best Original Production and Best Overall Production. At which point all I could say for a while was "Oh my."

The awards themselves were fun with light-hearted entertainment (Lisa and Andy did a great parody of My Favorite Things with all the shows mentioned, the scholarship recipient recited his comic monologue, and later Lisa sang a knock out rendition of Some People) and the speeches were generally light and friendly in tone. Except for Scott's because (and this still cracks me up) Scott seems to have decided that bitter and brooding make the most memorable theater persona. To play this up, although Scott directed two shows, he wasn't nominated for directing either one of them but was chosen to present the award for best direction, a point he highlighted to good effect in his presentation.

Longish story slightly shorter, Perfectly Good Airplanes won for Best Lead Actor and Best Original Script. Ali accepted Ted's award and I accepted Steve's so we both got to sashay up onto the stage. Ali's speech on Ted's behalf (claiming to be one he had written) thanked the appropriate people and then ".... is the story of a beautiful 27-year-old..... um, I may have edited this a bit..." and my speech for Steve included the appropriate thanks to Ali, Ted, David, and Ira and ".... and I know for a fact that Steve would thank me. If I accept your award for you, you're thanking me." And, of course, we both honored David Ives's description of David Mamet's plays: we kept them short and to the fucking point. I'm pleased to say that even with a live mic in front of me and two glasses of champagne inside me, I was able to be brief, be witty, and be seated. The room marveled. And David told me later that I was dignified and funny, so his boyfriend points are stacking up.

And I got to thank the adjudicators again, who gave me some good thinking points for when we re-mount the show at the Stage's One-Act Festival in August. Good adjudicators are pearls beyond price. If ours is a better show in eight weeks, they deserve some of the credit.

And if we couldn't sweep and win everything - even awards for which we weren't eligible - then the next best thing was that Mary-Anne and Deb got lots of nominations and awards as well. Mary-Anne's husband and Lori's mother passed away at the beginning of the month and Deb stepped up and took on a role in Mary-Anne's show on pretty much a week's notice, in addition to everything else she was doing for the Festival. At its best, theater is my favorite team sport and these two fine women had each other's - and several other people's - backs. Deb also won a judge's descretionary award for the music that she wrote and performed for her own show as well as for Best Production of an Original Play. Mary-Anne took home plaques for Best Director and Best Overall Production. Nano unexpectedly had his gallbladder removed so his show had to be moved to the second weekend but he gave a just-barely-post-recovery terrific performance (which I didn't get to see, dammit!) and his show, The Guys, took Best Ensemble Performance. Nano made it to the reception as well and his ability to flirt with women has not been affected at all by the surgery, so that's a relief.

I think Mary-Anne made me laugh the hardest when, in one of her acceptance speeches, she said that she wanted to direct Bitter Sauce because "I knew that drunk bitch was me!" Mary-Anne is highly quotable, but not necessarily in front of small children.

Being the geeky person I am known to be, no one should be surprised that I made a chart of the awards. There was a good distribution of nominations and awards across the 14 shows. Three shows were nominated for six awards, none for more than six. The average number of nominations per show was about three and a half. Two shows won two awards, no shows won more than two. The average number of wins was less than one. Three companies produced more than one show, but one only company (Go, Castaways!) was nominated for more than one show. (I wasn't a math major, but Mom was...) And, ahem, the Stage was the only company to be nominated for all of the Production, rather than specific person, awards.

There are lots of bragging rights to go around and no matter how you look at it, lots of winners and lots of good theater. And - and I truly believe this, squishy-headed idealist that I am, so call me what you will - if the goal is good theater, then the awards are just a fun excuse for a celebratory party. I'll happily accept any awards people want to give me, but the goal was a good festival for the most important people in the room - the audience, who go to work to earn the money to buy the tickets.

24 June 2005

Added to my wish list

Two intelligent, lovely, accomplished women of my acquaintance have recently become published authors.

Liza's book Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries goes on sale at the ALA conference starting this weekend, but it can be admired on Amazon.com now.
Kim's book The Violent Universe : Joyrides through the X-ray Cosmos is currently available at Amazon as well.

Liza is a lawyer and Kim is an astronomer and rocket scientist. So, naturally, I know them both through theater. Kim and I did Lend Me a Tenor together a few years ago, and I directed Liza's wife, Jill, last summer in 21 Pairs of Sneakers.

Yet another great thing about my hobby: it brings me into contact with some very interesting people.

23 June 2005

A *great* way to spend a few minutes

Go to a blog you like. Click on a link on that person's blogroll.

I am constanly amazed with how much good stuff there is to read on the internet. Lots and lots (and lots and lots) of crap, of course, but some really good stuff. And the easiest way I have found to find the good stuff is to let someone else find it for me and leave me a little "look here" link.

21 June 2005

Mostly harmless

I heard this quiz on the radio this morning and only answered yes to one of them. But I think we should keep in mind that my constant supply of anecdotes is really all my co-workers have in their bleak, empty, horizon-less lives. They depend on me and I am there for them.

Are You Annoying at Work?

Month of Days

And post of links.

Due to our insatiable need for validation, every day is Something Day, but three days in June catch my attention:

June 14 - Dave Day - I know too many people named David for this not to be deeply meaningful to me. Happy Dave Day, guys!!

June 16 - BloomsDay - One David I know lists Ulysses among his favorite books.

June 19 - Juneteenth - Just because.

You are my witnesses

Years ago, when I was still active in Rev. War re-enactment we were camping at Colonial Williamsburg (CW). A couple of times a year CW invites re-enactors to camp out on the big, manicured to-within-an-inch-of-its-very-life lawns and a couple hundred of us would answer that call. We'd pitch tents and live (within a few standard diviations) like Rev War soldiers and campfollowers (watch this space for a long, edifying post about *that*).

Anyway, part of living - more or less - like Rev War soldiers involves sleeping not on air mattresses and modern sleeping bags but on wool blankets with hay underneath. I still insist that the reasons that people who sleep on the ground get up at the crack of dawn is because the cold, hard, lumpy ground makes sleeping a pretty hit or miss affair. I, personally, am grateful for the opportunity to give up the farce of restful sleep and just get on about my day. Wearing stays is easier than trying to sleep with a semi-buried rock under your hip.

Well, because the re-enactment gods sometimes smiled on the First Maryland Regiment (1MR), one of our members, Marty, would usually be the first one up and he would make coffee. He'd boil coffee grounds and chicory and (iirc) a bit of eggshell, which shouldn't have been heavenly, but was. And it was definitely first come, first served. So there I was one fine morning, wandering around with a steaming mug of Marty's coffee. I ambled over to John to say good morning - mostly because I am exceedingly fond of John but also because he wakes up more slowly than I do, so chirping at him in the early AM really entertains me.

He saw the coffee cup. His little ears perked and his eyes opened wide. Even his beard stubble quivered in anticipation. "Is that Marty's coffee? Did you bring me a cup of Marty's coffee? Because if you did, then I'll love you forever."

"Forever? Really?" I started to hand over the coffee. I would have been willing to share anyway, but the promise of eternal love, I mean, who can resist that?

"Well, not forever. For a little while. At least until I finish the coffee."

No coffee for John! I pulled my hand back and moved out of his grabbing range.

"Forever!" he cried "I'll love you forever! I swear to G-d!"

Mollified, I gave him the coffee. And, generally, he has loved me forever ever since.

Of course, this was an informal little agreement between the two of us, so it might have been hard to hold him to it had he been unwilling. But last week, I got an e-mail that included the following:

> Leta,
> Oh wise woman, who I promised to love forever (trying to work in under
> duress, but it never fits) I have a question only you can answer.
(Question snipped because it's irrelevant to this story)
> Help! I promise to love you forever (with a small amount of duress...still doesn't fit)
> John

The question, in fact, is the sort of thing that an information pack rat like me can answer pretty quickly, so I found what he needed and e-mailed back:

> Now I have it in print. And for that ye shall be rewarded.
(Answer snipped, ditto.)
> I'll love you forever, too.

And he wrote:

>Thanks sweetie!
>This message will self destruct in 5 seconds.

But it didn't self-destruct. I still have it. And now I've posted it to entire internet (or such portions of the entire internet can tolerate my logorrheic excesses), so now every one who reads this is my witness that John has promised to love me forever. Such a sense of security I now have about this, you wouldn't believe.

And another friend recently promised to be grateful - very grateful - for some triffling favor I did for him. In writing. And I still have that e-mail as well.

Step on a crack

Liza asked about the superstition surrounding one of Shakespeare's better known plays. Theater people can be a superstitious lot and some of the things that'll give a theater person pause are:

* Whistling in a theater. In the old days, large heavy objects were "flown" in and out of the stage on a whistle cue. So walking across the stage whistling tunelessly to yourself could result in having a LHO land on you. Now it's just seen as asking for bad luck.

* Saying "Good luck!" to someone. From your mouth to G-d's ears. Talk about asking for it! So theater people say "break a leg!" as a cheery pre-show send-off because if you wish someone bad luck, well, they should be innoculated against the worst. Of course, I know someone who slipped on some ice three weeks before opening night and broke her ankle in three places, resulting in someone else playing the part. The show must go on, but if you're on crutches, you won't.

* Cleaning out one's make-up kit. I shudder to consider the grotty condition of some of the theater boxes of some folks I know. If I am at all superstitious it stops dead at carrying around some nasty old box in which I would be keeping a toothbrush and mascara. Eww-yuck.

* And, of course, the Scottish Play (dun dun duhhhhhh.....). There are stories that mentioning Shakespeare's history play - or quoting from it - anywhere near a theater will bring bad luck. Unless one is actually rehearsing or performing it, That Play doesn't get mentioned. The especially superstitious tell stories of actors who have been injured or killed because That Play was invoked. True? Not true? Who knows. But for some of us, referring to it as the Scottish Play is now a pretty unshakable habit. Of course, I also know people who insist on naming That Play and quoting from it backstage just to freak out the superstitious. No one has suffered grevious injury yet. Yet.

* My own superstition: I generally don't tell directors that I will be auditioning for them because I am convinced it just gives them time to think up reasons not to cast me. I like to take them by surprise, sort of ambush my way into a part. Of course, the downside to this particular superstition is that it means that I can't call the director and ask questions ahead of time. So in order to get the information that I need, I've been known to use my friends as covert agents. "Okay, remember, my name has to stay out of this, but find out if he's thinking of doing x or y."

I took this to its illogical conclusion when I was considering auditioning for something that went up this past January. The director for this particular show is notorious for not returning phone calls or e-mails unless the wind is from the north-northwest or some such thing but in the weeks leading up to the auditions we were working on a show together, so if I weren't such an idiot, I could have turned to him at any time and said, "So I'm thinking of auditioning for your show - are you planning to cast Character X traditionally or would you prefer something else?" Traditional casting would have meant that I could go read for him, "something else" - like casting an 18-year-old hottie - would have freed up that evening for me.

But no. I've invested a certain amount of time into being this much of an idiot, so I called in a marker and asked someone else who was working on our show with us to find out what I needed to know. If this guy ever gives up his day job the CIA could really use him. I had all the details in short order and he created a nice, plausible cover story for why he would want them. The phone call - from his mobile to mine - sounded like something from a James Bond movie. No proper names were used, nor were any identifying details. If a transcript fell into enemy hands (i.e., the director's), there was nothing to betray us.

The audition dates were posted on the internet, so no problem. Of course, I had some out-of-town travel on those dates, but that's easily solved. My pal Linda and I debated the best way to get back for the likely start time and decided it would be easiest if I flew. (It is only in my world of actor paranoia that it is easier for this nervous flier to be in the air for 80 minutes than to drive for 6 hours.) I booked the flight.

Annoyingly, as I later learned, these auditions did't follow the normal pattern, so my flight would get me in about an hour after they ended. I considered changing my flight (and paying the change fee) until David made clear to me how very stupid I was being.

So I bit the bullet, pulled up my big girl panties, and called the director to ask if I could read for him outside of the normal auditions. Got his voicemail. Left a message. Which he didn't return.

And three days before his auditions, I got cast in something else.

Fast forward: When I got an e-mail the other day from a director asking me (and the rest of the bcc'd folks) to please audition for her show, I sent an e-mail asking a fairly important question. And I sent it to her instead of a covert agent.

Getting there. I'm getting there.

15 June 2005


This post will probably show why it is that I am a True Neutral rather than Lawful Good, but so be it. I'm in the middle of a couple of quandries and perhaps my Devoted Readers can offer some enlightenment to the path of Truth, Beauty, and Honor.

Quandary #1 - The Max Tax

When my lunch bunch goes to Max's Deli, Trevor or Dave usually brings me a Black & White cookie. They know I love them and I usually can't go along to Max's because they go when I'm covering Tanya's lunch hour and because it's unlikely that they will go there and return in under an hour. (Laura, my boss, doesn't get all hyper about our comings and goings, so I try not to abuse the system.) We call the bringing of the Black & White Cookie to Leta the Max Tax. (If you ever wondered who the conservatives are and who the liberals are in my lunch bunch, just remember that the Max Tax was created by me and is paid by Trevor and Dave.)

Anyway, if the Celiac Disease is confirmed on July 5th (as I assume it will be, darn it), I will be out of the Black & White Cookie eating business. But Trevor and Dave don't yet know about the CD. Here's my Quandary: Do I tell them and repeal the Max Tax or do I just enjoy a little illicit Black & White Cookie goodness now and then?

Quandary #2: My hemline.

I have a blue & green plaid dress in which I look (in my own humble opinion) wicked cute. Really. And I'm fitting back into said dress these days (yay!). Which is all good. The part that isn't so good is that the dress shrank about an inch and a half the last time I washed it, but the lining did not. So as I walk around, the lining peeks out of the bottom, which - if this were a costume - could be fixed with 1" blue lace. But that would look stupid in real life.

My quandary: the dress was on the short side to begin with and now is in the mini range. So if I shorten the lining - the obvious fix - then the lining can't provide some much needed coverage when I drive. When I'm sitting in a chair, I have a decent amount of thigh covered but when I'm sitting in the bucket seat of the Protege, well, the view is more startling. Let's just say that I won't ever get another traffic ticket (unless the cop is female and hetero) if I'm wearing this dress. 'Nuff said?

Getting rid of the dress is not an option because - need I repeat? - I look fabulous in it. And I don't look fabulous in enough clothes to allow the good ones to get away.

I swear, my life is just filled with little issues like this.

Over There

We all know someone in the military, even if remotely. And most of the folks I know are Stateside and until recently one of them was in Okinawa. Exploding Dave (when he and I had lunch together recently, he was Air Force Dave, but that was then. This is now. Try to keep up, okay?) has been assigned to Afghanistan for the next four months and has started blogging so that we can follow along with his adventures in the field. And in the helicopter. And standing by the roadside, shaking his head and muttering fun military euphemisms.

At this point you're probably thinking that the Air Force is pretty safe in Afghanistan, but Dave is with EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and he has one of those t-shirts that says "If you see me running, try to keep up" so I imagine that safety is relative.

So if you want to follow the exploits (and explosions) of one all-around-A-Number-One-good-guy-and-a-real-sweetie-to-boot-and-I-hope-soon-to-be-TSgt, Exploding Dave is your guy. Daves don't come better than this one.

With oakleaf clusters apparently

I took an internet quiz which turns out to be a more accurate reflection of my personality than any astrology chart I've ever seen. This would have been so useful during my college days..

However, I am not short. Getting skinny again, but not short. Frivolous, I'll cop to, but not short.

I Am A: True Neutral GnomeRanger Bard

True Neutral characters are very rare. They believe that balance is the most important thing, and will not side with any other force. They will do whatever is necessary to preserve that balance, even if it means switching allegiances suddenly.

Gnomes are also short, like dwarves, but much skinnier. They have no beards, and are very inclined towards technology, although they have been known to dabble in magic, too. They tend to be fun-loving and fond of jokes and humor. Some gnomes live underground, and some live in cities and villages. They are very tolerant of other races, and are generally well-liked, though occasionally considered frivolous.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.

Silvanus is the True Neutral god of nature. He is also known as the Patron of Druids. His followers believe in the perfect balance of nature, and believe that nature's bounty is preferable to any other 'civilizing' method. They wear leather or metallic scale mail, constructed of leaf-shaped scales. Silvanus's symbol is an oak leaf.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

14 June 2005

Find the German women in this story

Actual converation:

I had dinner with Mom the other night and told her about the preliminary diagnosis of Celiac Disease. Mom's a look-on-the-bright-side stoic, so she said "Well, there are lots of other good foods."
"Oh, I know."
"What can't you have?" she asked.
"Bread, pasta...."
"Uh huh. Cake?"
"Well, fruit is good." (Note the continued focus on the bright side.)
"Uh huh. No gravy, no oatmeal, no prepared soups..."
"Oh. That's too bad." (Still pretty cheery.)
"No beer."
"No beer!!"

Apparently that's what it takes to shock this woman. You can take the woman out of St. Louis but you can't St. Louis out of the woman.

Mr. McGee, don't make me angry

A few minutes ago, I sent a reply e-mail to someone, which got spellchecked. I don't think this has happened before but the e-mail offered me "Lethal" as a substitute for my name.

Just a little heads up, you people who think I'm soooo nice.

Latin - the fun language

Okay, it all started with the posting of this lyric on Savoynet (I don't remember why):

Urbani, servate uxores: moechum calvom adducimus.
Aurum in Gallia effutuisti, hic sumpsisti mutuum.

Which one of our members suggested is just crying out to be included in some light opera somewhere. Anyway, another member gave the following translation (by Robert Graves):

Home we bring the bald whoremonger,
Romans lock your wives away!
All the bags of gold you lent him
Went his Gallic tarts to pay.

And which, after some further discussion, Adam rendered thus:

Hail the great whoremonger!
Hide away your wives!
Rome's children will be stronger
After he arrives!
The money you have paid in
To fight your distant wars
Has gone to keep him laden
In beer and Gallic whores!

I like Adam's version the best and agree that light opera is the poorer for not having it as a lyric somewhere. One day. One day

And Arthur followed up with the this anecdote, which he said I could post.

> > For the classicists (among whom I am not), here's the original:
> >
> > Urbani, servate uxores: moechum calvom adducimus.
> > Aurum in Gallia effutuisti, hic sumpsisti mutuum.

It's not a very literal translation of the Latin verb "effutuo," but that's probably just as well. (Effutuo is a compound of the Latin verb futuo, from which we get an English verb that also begins with the letters fu-.)

In my Latin-teaching days, I told my first-year classes to learn thoroughly the irregular principal parts of the verb "to be"-- sum, esse, fui-- since, if they looked up "fui" in a Latin dictionary, they wouldn't find it. One student, when he came to a homework sentence with the word "fui," didn't remember my tip but did show some initiative. He went to the library, found a Latin-English dictionary, looked under fu-, and found the verb futuo. The next day he volunteered to translate the sentence in class. Luckily the dictionary was also euphemistic, translating "futuo" as "have connexion with a woman."

Arthur (of whom one student wrote "His pedanticism is insufferable")

10 June 2005

Terry Pratchett and I have a bond

From a footnote in Hogfather about a character named Medium Dave. Obviously, Mr. Pratchett would feel right at home here in Leta's World of Men Named David.
Ankh-Morpork's underworld, which was so big that the overworld floated around on top of it like a very small hen trying to mother a nest of ostrich chicks, already had Big Dave, Fat Dave, Mad Dave, Wee Davey, and Lanky Dai. Everyone had to find their niche.

The policeman is our friend

Or so I was taught in elementary school. And, of course, as a polite, middle-class, white girl I've never had an experience with the police to change that for me.

Brett posted a link to a story of a woman being Tasered while resisting arrest. He wondered if maybe the officer over-reacted a bit. Not passing judgment, just asking if perhaps there was a better approach. I don't have anything to add to that discussion because I believe that Brett and Bill covered any good points I would make, so instead, I herewith offer one (with more to follow some time) of my favorite "Well, I got pulled over" stories. Unfortunately, I cannot include the time I got pulled over on the Dulles Toll Road because, like the lyrics to our country's finest rock songs, it really looses something when read instead of heard. Drop by and I'll tell it to you.

"Well, I got pulled over" on my way home from a rehearsal a couple of years ago (tail light out) and as I pulled to a stop, my purse - which was open and on the passenger seat - fell onto the floor and scattered its contents. I pictured what would go through the officer's head if he saw me duck below his line of sight while he approached me. So I put my hands on the steering wheel and waited for him to get to my car. He walked up and I said "My purse fell on the floor. I'm going to reach down there now and pick up my wallet." Pleasantly surprised, he thanked me for letting him know. "Well, I just figured this whole thing would go better if your blood pressure wasn't spiking." He agreed and I got a verbal warning.

As it turned out, I was especially glad that he and I had started off well because as it turned out, my registration was suspended because I had failed to get my emissions check done. (Not as a protest or anything, I just forgot.) Included in his options at that point was impounding my car. I told him that I forgot, that the piece of paper was probably sitting on my desk under some other piece of paper, and that I was sorry. Again, he was pleasantly surprised. "Most people say that they never got the notice," he observed. "Yeah, well, we'd both know that was a lie." "Yep." He found the truth so refreshing that he gave me another verbal warning.

And I got that tail light fixed and the emissions checked right quick.

09 June 2005

The quotable Paul Phillips

If this sounds like madness to you then keep thinking about it until it doesn't. May 25th Live Journal entry.

Jeff said I should get some chips made that say "nice call, asshole" to go with my "I put a bad beat" chips. Good idea. May 24th Live Journal entry.

I sent you email. Where is my reply?
I am almost completely retired from email. I route my email into a folder that I open every two weeks. On email day I answer what I can and file the rest. I will read your email but I am unlikely to give you a personal reply.
From the PaulP FAQ. I know someone who should have this tattooed somewhere noticeable.

I would like to talk about poker or obtain poker feedback.
Best of luck. Play tighter and more aggressively.
Also from the FAQ. I've decided to apply that advice to life in general and probably theater in particular.

Learning something new every day

We should all learn something new every day, right? Well, I figure that once I've done that, I'm done. I can clock out. And today I learned my new thing at 7:27 am.

Yesterday I was reading Liza's blog, which has a link to Wil Wheaton's blog (yes, that Wil Wheaton), who has a link to Paul Phillips' Live Journal. (Here is Wil Wheaton's description of Paul Phillips: There's this guy named Paul Phillips, who the poker pros call "Dot Com," because he made a megatillion quatloos during the dotcom boom. He retired in style, and became a seriously good poker player. He also writes one of the greatest blogs (actually a live journal) that I have ever read, and I don't say that with any hyperbole. He writes about poker, other players, technology, geeky things, and his baby girl with wonderful, honest, prose.)

So I went skipping around the internet and ending up reading some of what PP wrote about playing poker. Any activity that people are passionate enough about eventually has its own language and I don't speak poker. I know the fundamentals of the game - and have even won a few hands now and again - but I'm not one with the jargon. But I know someone who is. So I dropped him a note and asked about the one term I was having trouble parsing: "What is a bad beat?" I wrote.

And bright and early this AM I got the following reply:

A "Bad Beat" is when the percentages are heavily in your favor, but you lose anyway. If I have a straight after 6 cards are revealed, and the only way I can lose is if one of four remaining cards in the deck comes up at the end and gives my opponent a full house, (A one in ten chance) and that happens.... It's a "Bad Beat." It's when the luck of the game rears its ugly head.

Bad Beat. This is a great term. I love it and I intend to use it in real life because -- well, just look at it. I know that there are going to be many times when it will say what I want to say.

Now, mind you, I'm a big girl, so I did put some effort into finding out on my own before asking, but was only being directed to sites where people could complain about their bad beats (failure to suck it up.com). When I tried again this morning using another term that I couldn't quite parse, I got referred to Poker Tips, which has a handy - and very entertaining - glossary. My own vocabulary looks to be expanding pretty soon.

And now you have learned something new for today.

08 June 2005


Then you really feel yourself at liberty to tell me that my elder brother lives? That I may charge him with his cruel deceit, and transfer to his shoulders the hideous thraldom under which I have laboured for so many years! Free? free at last! Free to live a blameless life, and to die beloved and regretted by all who knew me!
(Despard, Ruddigore, W.S. Gilbert)

The Stage had its annual meeting tonight which includes elections for the Board of Directors. Half our board is up for re-election every year and this year finished my term.

Oddly enough, I have never actually been elected to the Board. I've run a couple of times, but never got enough votes. (Which, frankly, can only reflect well on our voting membership.) The Chair, however, can appoint two board members for one-year terms and the outgoing Chair would just appoint me. I've made sure that there is nothing that I do for the Stage that requires me to be a board member so that I won't have to give up any of the jobs that I actually enjoy when my time is up.

So we had the meeting and the elections and, well, if you don't run, you can walk away. I bequeathed my seat across the table from Don to Bridget - and until you've sat across from Don at a meeting and watched him squirm and writhe at the nonsense that every board is heir to, you just don't know how valuable a bequest that was - made light chit chat, scarfed a couple of brownies (because until my stupid diagnosis is confirmed, I can), thanked the current and past Chairs for the opportunity to serve the Stage, and headed out. I didn't actually say "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!" but I didn't not think it either.

There were lots of joking comments about how I wasn't getting off that easy, that they would just reappoint me, but they have well-qualified, bright, energetic, new blood candidates for that. So now I don't have to worry about getting board member tunnel vision. And if there's a problem, well, it's NMP: Not My Problem.

07 June 2005

So he goes and I'm like

Probably the worst thing for David about my theater habit is my tendency to repeat to him the things said to me at rehearsal that I find interesting. It's sort of like listening to a teenager incessently quote her boyfriend, only I'm incessantly quoting *to* my boyfriend. I think you can track the shows I did over the last year just by following the trail of names that preceeded the word "said":

Jeff said....
Ted said....
Dave said....
Ali said....
Josh said....
Jill said....
Ira said....
Judie said....
Eileen said....

et. cet. er. a.

This month David is living in the world of "Craig said." Spare a thought for the poor man.

It could be worse - it could be tea

I went to the doctor this morning for an Undignified Medical Procedure. (If anyone would like the details of the UMP, just let me know. I'd be happy to share them with you over lunch.)

The last time I saw Dr. Doman he ordered some blood work and wanted to discuss the results with me after the UMP. As it turned out, the UMP was the fun part of the office visit because our preliminary diagnosis seems to be Celiac Disease, which, very briefly, is an intolerance to a protein in wheat gluten.

The diagnosis is not definite and I get to have further Medical Procedues to confirm it. On July 5th Dr. Doman will sedate me (and, like the Ramones, I wanna be sedated!!) and then thread a camera down my throat, through my stomach, etc, etc, into my colon. He will then hunt around and take samples looking for "celiac sprue." I'm sure it'll be all kinds of fun and completely dignified.

Because I'll need someone to take me home afterwards, I called David at work and we had the following conversation (some quotes verbatim, some paraphrased, because it's not like I was taping this):

Me: "So they think it's Celiac Disease."
He: "Really? Coo --- uh. No, not cool."

David only thinks the possibility of me having CD is cool is because when I went in the first time he asked if they tested for it and there's nothing more fun than guessing right. Especially when your guess is prompted not from actual professional experience but from something you read on the internet. (Or saw on TV, which is why I get so chuffed when I guess something right based on something I saw on Law & Order.)

Me: "I'll need someone to take me home afterwards."
He: "After that? What kind of wuss are you?"
Me: "Hey! They're going to thread a tube as thick your thumb down my thoat and into my colon!"
He: "Is that all? Yep, you're a wuss. Oh, wait - you're going to blog this aren't you?"
Me: "Well, I am now!!"

The upside to CD is the ability to post fun stuff like that. The down side would be the whole rest of it. An intolerance for the protein in wheat gluten means that if the diagonsis is confirmed I will have to go on a strict diet. No wheat products at all. "A gluten-free diet means avoiding all foods that contain wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley—in other words, most grain, pasta, cereal, and many processed foods. " saith the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. And, of course, beer.

In other words the most common phrase from me - forever - will be "oh, no thanks, I can't have that." The forbidden list is a pretty much a snapshot of how I strongly prefer to eat.

And I have almost no symptoms. Shauna was delighted to discover that she had CD because she'd been feeling so horrible for the past two years. She started to feel much better with in a couple of wheat-free days. Outside of a couple of weeks spent close to the bathroom recently, I am completely asymptomatic. So changing my diet won't bring blessed release but will feel like a punishment for a crime I don't remember commiting.

Unfortunately, ignoring CD and failing to adhere to the "no toast for you, Leta!" diet would be as stupid as ignoring high blood pressure. Or smoking. Because the absence of immediate symptoms has nothing to do with how much damage is or is not happening.

It seems that CD is more common than is realized and NDDIC believes that CD occurs in 1 in 133 Americans. Among the questions doctor Dr. Doman asked me today were if I had European ancestry. English, Irish, Scots, and German, thank you (I am the typical 19th century immigrant, all in one package.) 1 in 300 Irish have CD. (Thanks, Dad.) Dr. Doman asked about diabetes. Dad's Mom was diabetic. Dr. Doman asked if I've ever had any trouble conceiving children. I'm delighted to say that I have no idea, never having tried.

So my fingers are crossed that this ain't the correct answer. Dr. Doman has told me not to change my diet before the test as that would mess up the test results. So I'll be living in bread and pasta land while I can.

Wish me luck.

06 June 2005

The Casey Rule

Named in honor of Casey, who help create it, but it applies to everyone. If I tell you about a show, suggest you audition, give you either the audition dates or the script or both, you get cast and do the fabulous job that I knew you'd do, and then you win an award for your performance --- I get thanked first. You may thank others, but I got the first nod. And probably the most gratitude. Because I earned it.

Right now I'm about 3 for 5 on the "you should audition for this" area. No awards have been given for those roles yet, but it's only June.

05 June 2005

The Bard weighs in

Last night David, Julie, and I saw Amy play Lady MacScottish Play (and a lovely job she did, too - way to go, Amy!!). Anyway, she had entered for her sleepwalking scene and had recited the line "Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two. Why then, 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky." She took a beat and in that beat, a cell phone rang. From the front row. Loudly. She continued with the highly appropriate next line "Fie, my lord, fie!" I wanted to applaud. I really did.

(And, sigh, just to be on the safe side.... Angels and ministers of grace, defend us. Maybe I am superstitious.)

02 June 2005

Finally, they listen to me.

We have a new staffer here and at long last the chain of Davids, Johns, Michaels, Pauls, and Richards has been broken. I have insisted for a long time that I really didn't care much about people's qualifications - that's for the folks higher up the food chain to worry about - but that I insist we stop hiring people who have a first name that at least three of our staffers already have. I have literally told Laura (right before I dutifully distributed the interview forms) that David X or Michael Y was probably very nice, but that we cannot hire them.

When I was hired we had 5 Davids, 4 Johns (insert rude jokes about hookers and bathrooms here), 3 Michaels, 4 Pauls, and 4 Richards. Those 5 names made up nearly 25% of the first names in our 83-person office. Sure, we had identifiers - the Richards were broken into Dick, Rich, Rich, and Rick. Oddly enough, both men named Rich are 6'5", so there was never any thought of calling one of them "tall Rich" or something like that. And they're both musicians. They play guitar in the same band. So context - and last names - are really important around here.

Well, anyway.

At the end of May we hired a new staffer. His first name? Attila. Seriously. Attila. He is the first Attila I've met who was actually named that by his parents rather than having chosen it as a Markland name.

(Marklanders - at least when I was in - create a "persona" around whom we base our historical research and whose "life" we interpret for the public. In a group that also seems to have a lot of men named John, Markland names became useful nicknames. Just ask Chort, Hjalti, Buckley, CooperJohn, or any of the dozens of others. Theater is full to burstin' with men named David. But I digress.)

Now that we have an Attila on staff, I'm hoping we'll branch out into others of the less common names. Why hire a Richard when you can employ a Lucifer? Or a Vlad? Or Kermit?

01 June 2005

No good will come of this

I was up at the front desk and when Tanya got back from her break, she told me that the Kefa Kafe now carries gelato. I've only had gelato once since I got back from Italy and I miss it a lot. Gelato can be described as Italian ice cream but that's like saying that Christmas is a winter-time holiday. Informative, yes, but somehow insufficient.

When I was there (Italy, not Kefa's) in 1999 our little group would sight-see from gelato stand to gelato stand. Unlike here in the United Supersize of America, the Italians will sell you a little bit of gelato at a reasonable price, roughly about a quarter cup for a some small handful of Lira, probably just a few million. Or billion. (Shopping in Italy, pre-Euro was like buying everything in pennies.) Now it would probably be roughly a quarter cup for a Euro, so even though I had a bit of gelato every 40 minutes or so, I left Italy 3 or 4 pounds lighter than I arrived there.

Anyway, I'm hoping to reach a particular weight goal by Friday, so hearing that the little coffee shop around the corner had installed a gelato freezer isn't the kind of news I should have. So I - at first - resolved to be strong and not go there until next week. But then Tanya started mentioning flavors and she said pistachio. I can take or leave chocolate. But pistachio gelato! So I grabbed my wallet and headed out the door, telling Laura (my boss) that I was sneaking out for a treat.

I got to Kefa's and J'accused my way in. "You are evil!" quoth I. "But wait," she said (considering how often I go there and how nice they are to me, you'd think I'd know the names of the two ladies who own the place, but no) "gelato has only 4 grams of fat per serving and ice cream has 12 to 16!" (Further internet research - take that for what you will - tells us that gelato has 4 percent butterfat to ice cream's 12 - 16%. Thanks, Cool Beans.)

"Uh-huh." I said skeptically, not willing to stipulate that a lower fat gram count made her any less culpable here. And - just for comparison sake - let's remember that four grams of fat is David's fat allowance through the end of the world series, more or less. I tried a sample size of the pistachio (Pistachio!!) and then settle on a chocolate/caramel split. (Caramel!!). We agreed that this was entirely her fault and not my own, I paid, I left with my treat.

And I walked back to the office by way of a mental detour to Italy in the summer of 1999.


In a theater near me

Okay, this past weekend I only saw four shows:

Kiss of the Spiderwoman at Kensington Arts Theater
Othello at Tapestry
Pack of Lies at Silver Spring Stage
X-philes Unrequited and Matt and Ben by Accokeek Creek at DCAC.

And this coming weekend I only have three lined up:

Dinner with Friends at Elden Street
The Scottish play at the Rude Mechanicals *
Side Man at Keegan Theatre.

But the really cool thing is that Chris played the title role in Othello (beautifully!) in his second Shakespeare (after Henry V) and Amy will be playing Lady MacScottish Play in her first Shakespeare. How neat is that?

* I haven't decided if I am that superstitious or if I merely respect the superstitions of others, but I'm not writing out the actual name of that play if it means that I'll have to go outside, turn around three times, and spit every time someone reads this post. No way.

Guys throwing and catching things

I love watching men catch things. In the same way that some men find watching women walk down the street in heels to be a wonderful part of the mystery that is women, I find watching men catch things - eyeing where the ball or whatever will go and just reaching a hand out to intercept it without getting behind it and staring at it - to be a wonderful part of the mystery that is men.

(Of course, just as some men - Johnnie Depp, for one - can walk in a charming and eye-catching way, so can some women catch really well - witness Geena Davis in A League of Their Own. But that's not what this is about for me.)

The very best way to watch men catch things is to go to a ballpark. There ain't nothin' like going to a baseball game, acquiring a sufficiency of beer and ball park treats, settling back, and watching men do something they do very well. And giving them the sort of advice that I like to give from 30,000 feet up in the stands: "Okay, get under it. Good." Other dialogue you are likely to hear from me at games: "Oh! Oh!" or "Yes!" or "No!" I am more succinct at ball games than in real life. (I'm chattier at hockey games and lacrosse matches where I'm likely to remind the players that the game remains a team sport and, thus, passing to other members of the team remains a viable option.)

And because the Nationals are better than the Capitals at remembering the whole team sport concept, the Nats won over Atlanta 3-2. Even though we loaded the bases on a walk at least once which I regard as being as stupid and dangerous as cheating on one's wife. The chance for a bad outcome is just too high.

It being Memorial Day, the game included recognition of our men and women in uniform. A bit of the official song of each branch of the military was played and we were requested to stand for our song if we had been in the service or had a loved one in the service. I stood for the Navy because my Dad graduated from the Academy in 1957 and served until 1979, including a tour of Viet Nam and a really nifty posting to SHAPE headquarters in Belgium.

I will always root for the Orioles, and BJ Surhoff will always remain one of my favorite players, but just as a parent can love more than one child, there is room in my heart for more than one team. And besides, we can get to Nats games on the subway, which is a cool and wonderous thing.

And because everyone should learn something every day, David learned that Brett is not teasing when he claims that I could be parachuted out of a plane over China and would meet up with someone I know before I reach a paved road. While trolling for treats, we ran into Susan & Steve and up in our section I spotted Steve (a different Steve) & Heidi & Sarah & Casey & Jordan.

Craig was somewhere over by 3rd base and Seth near first base, but I didn't see them, so I guess that doesn't count.

And, by the way, another thing I really enjoy watching men do is jump over things by resting one hand on the fence, wall, whatever, and just clearing it. That is so amazing. If you can do that - and catch things - let me know and I'll stop by and watch you do it.

Take me out to the ball game,
take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I ever get back.....