24 September 2004

Rainbows and **what**?

Okay, let's start by admitting that I'm a geezer and that I like clear, clean enunciation by singers. I might as well be able to understand what-ever-the-hell they are singing about so emotionally. Good. That's out of the way.

Tom Lehrer did sing that "it doesn't matter if you put a couple of extra syllables into line" but he was being satirical.

In "She will be loved" the singer is trying to sing about rainbows and butterflies, but having lost count of his syllables or something, he actually sings "it's not all rainbows and buttflies." I don't know about you, but I'll take the rainbows and no thanks on the "buttflies."

And in the theme song to Spiderman 2, they sing what sounds a lot like "whose eyes in my behind" or, alternatively, "who's eyein' my behind." Not a huge problem, but not what they were going for, you know? I mean, isn't some of the nobility and angst of the song dissipated by my sophmoric giggling?

23 September 2004

Scots Wha Hae

In case you were wondering ----

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Scots Wha Hae (1794)

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victory!

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power--
Chains and slavery!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!--
Let us do or die!

I've finished "The Warden"

And loved it. Only one chapter didn't hold my interest and only because he kept saying the same thing, and in largely the same way, over and over. I suspect that with sufficient application of Scotch and English Major powder, the importance of that chapter would become clear.

I know that my non-English Major friends truly believe that English Majors pull the arguments and evidence for their papers from their butts, but this is not true. We have a special powder - like the kind they use to dust for fingerprints - that we gently spray onto recalcitrant works of literature. Wait a minute or two, carefully blow the excess powder away, and all is revealed. Had I a larger supply of English Major powder, my whole life could have been different.

Unfortunately, there is no English Major Luminol to definitively reveal the presence of literary merit in a given work. Such a pity.

Anyway, I've finished The Warden and now need to acquire a lot more Trollope. But in the mean time, I'm moving on to A History of Scotland by J.D. Mackie. Expect comments on the Picts, and Duncan, and Malcolm and that crowd in upcoming posts.

Scots wha hae!

(And, apparently, misused and misspelled quotes in Scots dialect as well. Hmmmmm. If Derrick sees this, I could be in some trouble.)

My Blogosphere

Now that I have a blog, I've - not surprisingly - become much more interested in other's people's blogs. I check in with David's a couple of times a day (http://mywebpages.comcast.net/nouveau/blog/) (I know, I know, it's not a real link, yeah, I know); I check Paul's ditto (http://thesunkeepsrising.blogspot.com/); and just by mousing around I've found a lot of blogs written by 14 - 17 year olds. Some have kept my attention, most don't.

There's a young lady in Canada named Alleah (http://pintoisfun.blogspot.com/), who is smart and funny and is working on a production of Bye-Bye, Birdie so her blog is a jumble of what she did with her friends, how rehearsal is going, who said what to whom, who said what about whom. Not to mention her (new?) boyfriend. Kind of like Jane Austen without the honorifics. Sam (http://nacho-elf.blogspot.com/) is a very tired high school student in Cleveland. I thought my schedule was a bit too crowded, but Sam's totally got me beat. I am impressed.

Shauna (http://writingmyheartout.blogspot.com/) is a Buddhist and teaches creative writing to high school students. She loves to write, especially about the little things that make up her life. She loves teaching, she really likes her students, she walks to work, and is an active participant and observer in her own life.

And Cooking for Engineers (http://www.cookingforengineers.com/) is just plain fun. I work with engineers and they are bright, interesting, and - often - deeply weird people. I believe that there is a name for the sort of chart that Michael uses - and I'm convinced that David told me what it is - but I can't remember it off-hand. But ya gotta check it out.

So when I get in at night, I check my mail, I look to see if I have any comments on this blog (I've really enjoyed the ones I've gotten so far), and then I do a blog stroll. I open the "favorites" list and click away, catching up on what's going on with some folks I've never met and some old pals.

Oh, yipes. It's midnight. Time for bed.

20 September 2004

David's dream come true

David has noted in his blog that my having a blog might inspire me to actually listen when he tells me how to do a hyperlink. Which is possible. That could happen. Entirely possible.

Rounding Third

As a former roommate of mine used to say - Oh frabjous day!

Richard Dresser's Rounding Third (a lovely, lovely, funny, and touching play that David and I saw at the Contemporary American Theater Festival this past summer) has been published. Dramatic Publishing holds it and I've ordered a copy for my very own. In among the "too many books" in my condo is a bookcase dedicated to scripts and theater-related books. It is full. Scripts are starting to pile up on the dining room table - the flat surface nearest to the theater bookcase. I want some of my local companies to do Rounding Third so that I can see it again and again. It has two good men's roles and I can think of a dozen men who would be great in it. I ordered my copy ten minutes ago, so now I am anxiously awaiting its arrival so that I can read it a couple of times and just carry it around with me for a while.

Oh boy, oh boy.

My new bud, Anthony Trollope

Reading good. Reading very good.

I've made it to Chapter V of The Warden and I am loving it. Trollope writes words the way that Haydn wrote music - there is a sense of enjoyment, of fun, that pulls me in and makes me feel like a conspirator in his story-telling. We're breathing together, Mr. Trollope and I.

Here is an excerpt that caught my eye:

"Nor is there any good reason why Eleanor Harding should not love John Bold. He has all those qualities which are likely to touch a girl's heart. He is brave, eager, and amusing; well-made and good-looking; young and enterprising; his character is in all respects good; he has sufficient income to support a wife; he is her father's friend; and, above all, he is in love with her. Then why should not Eleanor Harding be attached to John Bold?"

There have been, over the years, men who have caught my attention simply by liking me. What does the Baroness say in The Sound of Music? That there is nothing more irresistable to a man than a woman who is in love with him? Maybe Lindsay and Crouse knew their Trollope.

So I shall be buried in Trollope for a while, instead of muttering dialogue to myself. GLW and the paperwork with Satan going through, I'll resume mutter dialogue sometime in the fall.


19 September 2004

Time to read

When I am not working on a show, I long for the enforced discipline of learning lines. When I am working on a show I long to read for pleasure.

With The Vagina Monologues closing tomorrow night, I'll once again have time to read for pleasure. To say that I have a stack of books waiting for me is the definition of understatement. I own many, many books - enough that there are 12 copier paper boxes of books that I cannot unpack because there would be no place to put them. David's blog a has a picture on it somewhere of someone (Catherine maybe?) who has stacks of books 3 feet high down the hallways of her house. I haven't reached that point, but there is a couple of stacks in my dining room that reach, I guess, 6 feet and every time I buy a new book, it gets added to that stack.

I also have borrowed books. Books by and about Dorothy Parker from Les, Terry Pratchett paperbacks from Deb and Amy, a bio of Broadway legend Jed Harris from Ira, some James Joyce from David. And last year I started a project for myself whereby (what a great word!) I'm reading my own books and reshelving or deaccessioning them at the end of the last page. A lot of books have gone away, but more keep coming in.

Objectively, I own too many books. Hello, my name is Leta and I own too many books...

So now that I have some time to read, I want to just read. I bought a copy of Trollope's The Warden recently and I'm going to dive into it - along with the history of Scotland that I started yesterday. I bought the Scottish history several months ago, but have been continuously distracted by scripts. I read plays as though they were books, but they aren't. I'm going to read Middlemarch and make it past page 20 this time. I really am.

I have bedtime books (the Pratchetts, the Harris bio), books I carry around, books I keep at the office for emergency reading. I read at stoplights, I read Time magazine, I read while standing in line, I read if my dinner partner goes to the bathroom, I read during commercials while watching tv. I read during minor, outpatient surgery. I love to read. I love books - love to read books. I love the way they feel in my hands, I love the way they smell. I love to re-read books I've read before as though they are old friends because they are.

Okay, I gotta go. My books are calling me.

Talk like a pirate day!!!

It's after midnight and now officially "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"

So, avast, me beauties and raise a glass or two to those who remember to talk like Pirates. And raise one to my favorite pirate, Johnny Depp.

When did Leta become an actress?

Such was the question asked of my director (Judie) by a fellow board member. Judie's answer is that I've always been an actress. My answer, about an hour ago.

The Vagina Monologues is going very well. We played to full houses last night and tonight and expect to be at about 90% for the rest of the run. Both audiences so far totally got the material and were warm, friendly, receptive folks to play to. God bless 'em.

Misty and I have a really nice moment late in the show. She finishes the moaner monologue with the "surprise triple orgasm moan," which is a hoot to watch and the audience just loves it. And then she does a little "aftershock." When the laughter and applause has crested, I shoot her a look like "and you're done now? We can go on?" and she nods like "yeah, sure, go ahead" which gets us a nice rebound laugh. Great fun. This is definitely a show that benefits from having an audience.

18 September 2004

WATCH meeting

So what better way to spend a rainy Saturday - or at least part of one - than to attend a meeting?

I adjudicate theater for WATCH (warning - convoluted acronym coming!) - the Washington Area Theater Community Honors - which is basically a peer review organization for community theater. Every participating theater has to provide five judges, who in turn see 8 - 10 shows per year and complete ballots adjudicating what they saw. (Scores from 1 to 10 with 1 = suck and 10 = fabulous, no narrative required.)

So today's meeting will be an orientation thing for incoming companies. Because the Washington Post does a lovely job (Thank you, Michael Toscano!!!!) of demonstrating that getting nominations and awards from WATCH is a good thing, we use the orientation meeting to stress the pain-in-the-butt aspects of participation. Todd leans on "you'll see a lot of bad theater" and I lean on "and you'll drive to hell and gone to do it." In order to belong to WATCH, a company must be within 20 miles of the Washington Monument, but we have "exceptioned" in a couple of companies slightly beyond that distance. Which means that judges from La Plata, Maryland will occasionally find themselves treking through DC area traffic (3rd worst in the nation!) to Fauquier, Virginia. I guess it's 50 miles as the crow flies, but that's not how one gets places in this area. At at recent meeting, I suggested raising the dues and buying a special WATCH helicopter.

Anyway, we figure that if folks are aware of the annoying parts from the beginning, they'll be more likely to stick it out. So far, so good.

And Todd does exaggerate to a degree. In my years doing this, I've seen very few bad shows and almost no really bad shows. Most lump under "fine." Some were great. I love doing it. I really do.

Unconditional Love

From Terrance McNally's "Love! Valour! Compassion!"

"Do you believe in God? Don't worry, I'm not going to fall off this time! Do you? I think we all believe in God in our way. Or want to. Or need to. Only so many of us are afraid to. Unconditional love is pretty terrifying. We don't think we deserve it. It's human nature to run. But He always finds us. He never gives up. I used to think that's what other people were for. Lovers, friends, family. I had it all wrong. Other people are as imperfect and as frightened as we are. We love, but not unconditionally. Only God is unconditional love, and we don't even have to love Him back. He's very big about it. I have a lot of reservations about God. What intelligent, caring person doesn't lately? But the way I see it, He doesn't have any reservations about me. It's very one-sided. It's unconditional. Besides, he's God. I'm not."

The Secret is Out

Or - at David's suggestion - Busted!

David now knows about my blog. As Steve was leaving Barnaby's (a spiff dive in Wheaton, which Chris calls "Sardi's for Amateurs"), he said that he wanted to check out my blog and what's the url again? David was there and I couldn't come up with an infallible "Hey, look, it's the Winged Victory of Samothrace!" to distract him, so now David knows.

On the plus side, it's easier not to have to edit my conversations with him. Just remembering to avoid the topics he finds underinteresting is challenging enough, let alone avoiding any references to The Flibbertigibbet, so I'm totally cool that he knows. Also, now I can ask him technical questions when they crop up.

So - whew.

15 September 2004

Hurray for Casey!

I got a call from Casey today telling me that he's been cast in Proof. To say that I am delighted is an understatement. Casey, Sweetheart, has any one told you today that you rock?! Because you do.

13 September 2004

Sweet Casey Blue Eyes

Yes, yes, I know, the song title word is "Suite." I don't care.

I stopped by Norman's callbacks tonight and there was Casey! He is such a neat person, I love running into him. He was called back for a role in Proof and I got to watch him read a scene with two young women. Now here's the thing I love about Casey as an actor - you can read every thought in the charater's mind off of Casey's face. In Six Degrees there is a scene where he had almost no dialogue at all and spent most of the scene leaning up against a wall, doing the disaffected youth thing. There was all of this acting going on up there and I'd just watch Casey. And I could read Woody's entire life off of Casey's face. Beautiful. (In theory, that's a normal part of acting, but it's not as common as all that. Pretty rare, in fact.)

Several of my actor friends have something like that - something that catches my attention no matter what else is going on in the scene, no matter where I should be looking. Ted's physicality, Dave's four-octave voice, Misty's incredibly expressive mouth. She do things with the letter "t" that would astonish you. She amazes me.

Constant Comment

For years I hated Constant Comment tea. I started calling it (and I still do) Constant Compost. I mean, really, aren't orange scrapings compost? Then, one day, I tried it again and discovered that I now like it. Happens to me all the time. Pizza and Chinese food were two things I hated as a kid that I like very much now.

It's one of the reasons why I try to keep an open mind about things I don't like. The more vehemently I object to them when I dislike them, the sillier I look when I decide that I like them.

Of course, I've been trying to like seafood for years now and haven't made much progress. This saves David (and every other boyfriend I've ever had) mucho dollars on lobster, but it's still inconvenient. And I'm not sure I want to like modern art, so let's just play that one by ear. Ditto opera.

10 September 2004


Okay, another admission. As a former English major I should appreciate poetry more than I do. I let a lot of poetry just sort of wash over me and I'm pretty resistant to the modern prose-with-random-carriage returns school of expression.

[Although, I do like Langston Hughes (thanks to a "Law and Order" episode). Here's an example of his straight-to-the-heart yet musical writing:

"Motto" I play it cool/ And dig all jive / That's the reason /I stay alive. // My motto, / As I live and learn, / is: / Dig And Be Dug / In Return.]

But every now and again, something catches my eye by catching my heart. It comes in the back door and reminds us that - as Jean Kerr said - poetry is an emotional short-cut, not the long way around.

I got this the other day from "The Writer's Alamanc," a project of Garrison Keillor's and American Public Media's.

"Believing in Fate" by Hal Sirowitz

I don't have a telephone, she said,
so I can't give you a number.
I'm not a great fan of planned dates.
But if I happen to bump into you
on the street I'd be willing to go for coffee.
Let's leave it to chance. It brought
us together once. It could work a second time.
You could help fate along by hanging out
in Chelsea. That's where I live. If I
gave you any more information I'd be cheating.

08 September 2004

Jill gets me

I mentioned my blog to Jill the other day - and, yes, I do still feel like an idiot telling folks about it, but oh well - and she asked me what style I followed. Jill has just been directed by me (in 21 Pairs of Sneakers, of course) and is, to her great sorrow, now very familiar with my rambling, anecdote-driven form of communication, so I suggested that she picture it written down.

Jill is a fine actress and managed to hide her horror at that thought very nicely. Just a crisp "Okay, I got it."

05 September 2004

And I'd like to thank all the little people ....

We don't do this for the awards, just making good theater is our reward .... blah, blah, blah, ditto, ditto, ditto, etc, etc, etc.

The last part of the one-act festival is the announcement of awards and the decision about which show will be sent from Silver Spring Stage to represent us at the Maryland One-Act Festival in January. We will be represented this year by "In The Tank," a short, fun comedy about two lobsters in a restaurant aquarium. Congratulations Rosemary (the author), Seth (the director) and Jeff and Matt (our lobster boys).

Second Place went to Ali's lovely production of "Adjacent and Identical" which was a pleasure from first to last. I loved it on paper and I loved it on stage. Great job, guys!

But (!!!!), among the other awards were three for my show. Josh for acting, Steve for script, and I got one for direction. We always say that we don't do this for the awards, butwe also don't give them back if they are offered. I am extremely pleased to have our work recognized this way and only wish that everyone connected to the show had been similarly recognized. It was genuinely a team effort.

Now, where to hang my certificate......

My first CD

Okay, so here's the playlist - as it currently stands - for my first CD.

Belleville rendez-vous - The Triplets of Belleville
When he is here - The Sorcerer (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Extraordinary - Liz Phair
Homeward bound - Simon & Garfunkel
I’ll be there for you - Bon Jovi (acoustic)
If you’re gone - Matchbox 20
I get weak - Belinda Carlisle
All I really want to do - The Bryds
I’m on fire - Bruce Springsteen
Lean on me - Bill Withers
Light and day/reach for the sun - Polyphonic Spree
Marlene on the wall - Suzanne Vega
My immortal - Evanescence
My own worst enemy - Lit
Night swimming - REM
Rest in pieces - Saliva
Roll to me - Del Amitri
Sunday will never be the same - Spanky and Our Gang
Trouble me - 10,000 Maniacs
White flag - Dido
Why - Annie Lennox
Why can’t I - Liz Phair
Beyond the sea - Bobby Darin

The only things I know for sure right now are that the first two songs (Belleville rendez-vous and When he is here) and the last song (Beyond the sea) are in their correct places. The rest are still being mentally shuffled and reshuffled.

03 September 2004

My last tape

So I guess that the last mix tape I made will be my last mix tape, what with that whole technological leap forward I took to CDs. The title for this one came from a blog post that David wrote some time ago, which I quote below. (David is a poet, wrapped in a math major, wrapped in a genius. Wrapped in a burrito. He is also a complete doofus. But that post is what originally caught my attention about him.)


So here is the playlist from the last tape. It’s mostly about show crushes, those short-term infatuations that, in theory, every theater person experiences at least once and to which I am completely susceptible.

Breath and Light:

Crush Story – Too Much Joy
Temptation – Yeomen of the Guard
Tempted – Squeeze
Were You Not to Ko-Ko Plighted – The Mikado
Brush Up Your Shakespeare – Kiss Me Kate
This Kiss – Faith Hill
Breathless – The Corrs
Strip – Adam Ant
Sex-o-Matic Venus Freak – Macy Gray
Just What I Needed – The Cars
Precious and Few – Climax
Joy – Apollo 100 (and J.S. Bach)

Applause – Applause
And We Danced – The Hooters
All Star – Smash Mouth
Vacation – The Go-Gos
I Try – Macy Gray
People Will Say – Oklahoma
An Actor’s Life for Me – Pinocchio
Good Friends – Applause
One of a Kind – Applause
Ordinary World – Duran Duran
Leave Her, Johnny – Clam Chowder

David’s blog post:
“One of the things that I find amazing about theatre is its short-term collaborative nature. It’s something like guerrilla warfare. For a period of about three months, a group of people -- anywhere from five to 105 of them -- work together to make art. What they make is no more permanent than breath and light. And then, the show is over, the sets come down, and that unique team of people is no more. But out of this continual re-forming of teams every several weeks, a genuine community arises.”

The soundtrack in my head

I am woman of my time (more or less), so I don't have a diary, I make mix tapes. I recently moved up to iTunes, so now I can make mix CDs to reflect the current state of my world. My first mix CD will get burned sometime in the next couple of weeks. Probably.

The playlist has been percolating in my head for the past few months. I mentally add and subtract, I ponder, I add and subtract some more, I collect the needed music in various formats. All that is the easy part, really. The hard part is setting the order for the songs. Some songs lend themselves to a particular spot. For instance, for this CD, I know that "Belleville Rendez-vous" will be the opener and "Beyond the Sea" the closer.

Every tape (CD now!) that I've made has had a general theme and captured a particular time in my life and the theme for this one is loss. So the playlist is much more melancholy and high romance than usual, but them's the breaks. It just seems that the last year has been full of loses of one kind or another: my sister died unexpectedly (she was only 38) on Christmas Day, three friends lost their Dads, Ira lost one of his best friends, and Gordon - a good theater friend and all-around good guy - died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day at age 55. A friend is going through a separation that will probably end up as a divorce. Another friend who is particularly important to me is apparently checking out of our relationship. So there's the loss and heartache part.

Another part of the playlist came from some conversations I've had with a new friend. Some of what I call "dumb ass flirting" conversations and some "I'm there if you need a friend" conversations.

And then there are the "I just love this song" additions.

These mix things are like a snapshot of a chunk of my life. Many of them came about when I was trying to puzzle out relationships. Some grew out of crushes. One is built around my love of percussion.

I'll post the playlist as it stands later. Suggested running orders cheerfully accepted.

02 September 2004

Avoiding running my damn lines

I could have predicted that a blog world connected to Google would be a spiffy place to hang out. In theory, as I sit here, I'm reviewing my lines for "The Vagina Monologues" (September 17 - 20, Silver Spring Stage, yes, I go from show to show like some kind of pathetic theater geek), but - eh - not so much. I'm still at work, so I'm formatting proposal documents and forwarding them to Alabama (whence sprang my Dad, actually, so I'm pretty happy about the Alabama part) and when I'm in a holding pattern waiting for new inputs, I'm running my lines. Only I decided that having found a tres nifty blog (http://thesunkeepsrising.blogspot.com/) through the simple expedient of clicking on the "next blog" button, I should take a short break and read a post or two.

Yeah. A post or two. The problem is that Paul, who writes The Sun Keeps Rising, writes in a very "come on, keep on reading, you'll be glad you did" fashion and his posts are long, so one easily falls into a reading rhythm with his stuff. And that makes it harder to go back to droning to myself about shaving my vagina or men who like to look at my vagina or what-have-you. So I read all the recents posts.

And now, of course, my boss says that I am free to leave for the evening, so I'll be heading off to rehearsal with only half my lines run. So I guess I'm running lines in the car instead.

(And I use way too many parenthetical comments.)