28 February 2005


Congratulations to Karen and Paul. They welcomed Nicole and (oh no! I just this minute forgot the other one's name. It's something with an "M." Oh no....... ) ... uh .... her sister into the world yesterday. The girls weigh in around 4 1/2 pounds each. Still a bit pre-mature, they're spending their first few days in the NICU, but Emily reports that so far, so good.

Of course, this leaves us with the whole Paul-is-someone's-Dad weirdness.

Thanks, Emily for letting me know. In fact, thanks for being the big branch on this particular phone tree.

Good news! Great news!

A rental truck and some friends

"Mary's Little Life" is a blog I get to via Paul's blog. (One day I'll bookmark it, but since it took me several months to bookmark my own blog so that I could get to it without having to use David or Paul's blogroll, I suspect that day won't be any day soon.)

Anyway, she has this neat thing where at the bottom of most posts, she has a summary and a link to a post from that day in a previous year. Sometimes I click, sometimes I don't. Today was a clicking day. I read her post from 2003 about helping "Writer Guy" move and it brought back a bunch of memories of moves in which I have participated. Like ....

Helping Hengist and Kathy move. This has not yet been topped by anyone in my crowd and we've participated in some Godawful moves. Hengist was moving from a house in Wheaton, maybe, that he rented to one somewhere in PG County that he bought. Kathy was his housemate in those days and so she conveyed.

I must mention here that Hengist is one of the nicest people on this planet. They don't come better than Hengist. We love this guy. He's great. Really. But after we looked around his place in horror, we had to inform him that one never, ever, ever gets boxes the size of coffins and fills them with hard-backed books. That's just wrong. Especially as Hengist has more books than your average university library. (All of my moves and all of my friends moves have included dozens if not hundreds of boxes of books.)

Kathy had helpfully emptied out the water in her water bed. Pity that it was January and she had emptied said water from her bedroom window onto the front steps. Ice skating and moving the aforemetioned coffin-sized boxes of books really wasn't compatible.

We still talk about that move with lots of hand waving and eye rolling and scaling up of voices. I think it was probably 10 years ago, too.

Or when we moved Bill and Emily into the adorable little house they bought. For some reason, the house has one area with a really, really short hallway and 5 doors. Well, four doors and an arch. But the hallway is only large enough to accomodate those doors. (The house also used to have a kitchen so small that your choices were two people could be in the kitchen or the fridge door could be open. There is a lovely addition now with the new wonderful kitchen and the old kitchen is a pantry, but "Five Corners" - as I call that hallway - is still there.) Emily has a cedar chest that she wanted in the bedroom. If the living room was door #1, the bedroom was the immediately adjacent and perpendicular door #2. The cedar chest was very large and the hallway was very tiny. In fact, standing on its end, the cedar chest was nearly exactly the same size as the hallway, which would leave an insufficient amount of room for the human beings wrangling the chest. Getting that chest into that room took more time, effort, and ingenuity than the whole rest of the move. Not to mention the temporary repealing of certain laws of physics and geometry. We told Em that if they sell the house, the chest conveys, unless she has an axe handy on moving day.

Neva and Ilana knew that their large sofa was never making it into the elevator. How they got it in the apartment, I don't know. Perhaps it was assembled in there. None the less, it wasn't coming out via the elevator. So the guys threw it off the balcony. And then dragged it to the dumpster.

I've participated in a lot of August moves where either the old apartment or the new one or both were a third floor walk-up. I did one of those this past summer, in fact.

And the fact that my friends can tell similar stories about my moves is why I'm staying in the condo. I like helping other people move.

It's Girl Scout Cookie time!

And remember, folks, they're made with real Girl Scouts...

Maura and I are not in scene 3 in Independence so we let Sharon and Martha do some of the heavy lifting while we sauntered up to Starbucks for a little liquid inspiration. (As any actor can tell you, line retention is directly related to caffeine consumption.) Three young scouts had set up a table outside the store, so we went in, got our coffee, and stopped to purchase some cookies. As a former scout (anyone surprised? I didn't think so), I acknowledge my permanent obligation to buy cookies and I impress upon any scout from whom I buy that as adults they will have the same obligation.

In the past couple of years, oddly enough, my favorite GS cookie has changed. I used to be totally devoted to Thin Mints, but I seem to have hit the saturation point on them. Now I find myself reaching for the All Abouts, a short-bread cookie with a chocolate layer on the bottom. (Don't worry, Brett, a box of Thin Mints is on its way to you even as I type this.) The Lemon Coolers are pretty nice, too, and low-fat. Maura remains commited to the Samoas, but I'm not that big of a coconut-in-my-cookies girl.

Getting hungry? Wanna cookie?

10 things meme

Okay, my pal John did this and I think a couple of other people I read did this, so what-the-heck. Count me in, too. It's certainly easier than going to page 123 of the book nearest me, because there are usually dozens of books near me. Let's hope I do it right.

Ten things that go into making me the unique human being I am:

1. I sang at both the Kennedy Center and the Syndey Opera House.
2. I was born all the way across the United States from my sister (Monterey, California & Annapolis, Maryland). We remained pretty much that close all her life.
3. I played Maggie Cutler three times in 10 years. I'd do it again if they'd let me.
4. I still like Shaun Cassidy songs. And David Cassidy. And Bobby Sherman. And the Cowsills. And Rick Springfield. And especially the Patridge Family.
5. I am extremely susceptible to show crushes.
6. I've done all the extent G&S except The Grand Duke, some of them more than twice.
7. My reply rate for e-mail is approximately 90%. My reply rate for telephone calls is more like 40%.
8. I've spent a lot of time, money, and focus on D&D (high school and college), historical re-enactment (college and up 'til about eight years ago), and theater (since about 1992), all of which have a certain amount of let's dress up and pretend as their basis.
9. I was asked to recite the names of Henry VIII's wives, in order, with their manner of death, on my third day working at a company that does radar engineering. This request came from an engineer. I aced it. So he decided I was cool person and lent me a book. I love it here.
10. My life has been changed by strangers with whom I've struck up conversations.

25 February 2005

The Kennedy Center comes through for me

The Kennedy Center is hosting a 1940s thing with posters of blown up Life magazine covers, reviews of 40's music, and (best of all) cocktails at the refreshment stands in addition to the usual wine and coffee. They have a lovely system where you can pre-order and pre-pay for your intermission treat. Reduces the line and the pressure on them and allows me to simply walk up and pick up my coffee or what-have-you and thus have time to drink the coffee before I have to head back in.

David remarked that I really should have been around for the theater of the George S. Kaufman era - 3 acts and 2 intermissions. Long intermissions at that, so you could go to the bar across the street. Sigh. Time travel, where art thou?

Although one theater pal did tell me that he mourned the closing of a certain bar/restaurant near a certain theater because if the show was dire - and he's a harsher critic than I am, so I suspect that to him a lot of them were pretty dire - he could leg it to the bar during intermission, get a Vodka, and get back in time for further suffering. But I digress.

Anyway, I was so charmed at the idea of cocktails that I immediately jettisoned the idea of pre-ordering coffee and pre-ordered a Sidecar because I'd never had one before.

What, I hear you ask, is a Sidecar? Well, DrinkBoy gives this history:

Colin recites that the Sidecar was developed during WWI, when a certain regular cusomer arrived at the Ritz on his motorcycle (replete with sidecar), and asked the bartender for a cocktail that would help take off the chill. The bartender was caught in a delema, a drink to remove a chill would appropriatly be brandy, but brandy was traditionally an after dinner drink, and his patron was wanting something before dinner. So he combined cognac, cointreau, and lemon juice to mix a cocktail whos focus was on the warming qualities of both the brandy, and the cointreau, while the lemon juice added enough of a tartness to make it appropriate as a pre-dinner cocktail. So a properly made sidecar should betray its roots as a drink that warms your palate if not your bones.

The Kennedy Center listed the ingredients as Hennessy Cognac, Triple Sec, and lemon. Others say Brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice. A quick Google search will find lots of recipes, plus the helpful information that Cointreau is basically a triple sec, which means that it is an orange-flavored liqueur that has been thrice distilled. You learn something every day if you pay attention. Some recipes suggest frosting the glass with sugar.

What did I think? I think I have a new favorite drink! The sugar rim is not optional in my opinion, by the way. I don't have enough expertise to say if Cognac is preferred over Brandy or if Cointreau or any given triple sec is best. I just know that I liked that drink. I'm going out with friends tonight, so I think I'll have another. We'll see if Barnaby's is up to that challenge.

Come to think of it, I have Hennesy Cognac and lemon juice at home. Time to buy some Cointreau.

The ballet was nice, too.

How to apologize

Here, by the way, are links to Summers' actual remarks and his "me so sorry" letter from the Harvard website.

And for the extremely lazy, an outline of the remarks.

Paragraph 1: Don't get your knickers in a twist, we're just talking here.
P 2: Here is what I'll be talking about.
P 3: All high-powered professions have this problem, not just academics and science. All those long hours, you know, and well, men are more likely to commit to that than Moms.
P 4: A relatively simple hypothesis: Men's brains are better at science. "It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population."
P 5: Girls like dolls, boys like trucks. "I guess my experience with my two and a half year old twin daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and found themselves saying to each other, look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck, tells me something."
P 6: Discrimination is not the whole answer, or even the only answer. "So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination."
P 7: What to do? What to do.....
P 8: I could be totally wrong here.

Obviously, Dr. Summers' remarks were far more thoughtful than my outline would suggest. (That's so like a blogger.) And certainly people have had a good time seizing on the quotes I've included and Dr. Summers said repeatedly that he is merely speculating. He could have given the usual canned "here's what we are doing" speech, but he wanted to bring up some topics for actual debate.

I have always felt that the way to disprove incorrect hypothesis is by coming up with better arguments, not by suppression. If Dr. Summers wants to speculate that women just aren't as science minded as men, we need to refute that. Let the debate continue.

“Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell yeah! I’m for debating anything. Rhode Island says yea!” Stephen Hopkins, 1776

Marie who?

Another of those serendipitous things, I guess. David spent some time this past weekend doing First Person Historical Re-enactment at the American Physical Society's annual meeting, playing Erwin Schrödinger for a bit of money, a crack at the open bar, and the chance to hang with some physicists. He explains it much better than I could in his blog entry. But he did mention that Leah and Lori, playing Non-Marie-Curie-Female-Physicists got to mutter a lot about having the credit for their work consistently going to men.

But, meanwhile, we have actual news from the world of physics. It seems that Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, in what he considered the free exchange of ideas and what many other people considered an opportunity for him to polish his apologizing skills made some remarks about women in the sciences. If I recall correctly (and I probably don't) he said something to indicate that there are more men active in science because men's brains were just better set up to excel in the sciences than women's. And launch uproar.

Well, as it turns out, the wife of one of my co-workers, recently finished a study on that very topic. (The paucity of women in science, not the natural science ability of men over women.) Rachel released her findings, Women in Physics and Astronomy, 2005, and has been interviewed by the New York Times , Inside Higher Education, and Talk of the Nation. It seems that women in physics are hired at the rate at which they receive their Ph.Ds.

As I understand it, if 18% of the doctoral degree recipients in physics are women, 18% of the faculty hires are women as well. The same is not true in chemistry and biology, where the number of degrees received is much higher than the hiring. It is also noted that there is still a sharp drop off over the high school to doctorate period for women in physics as well as other sciences, from 46% to the aforementioned 18%.

Coming next - we send David undercover to the American Musicological Society so we can find out what really happend to the score for Thespis.

24 February 2005


Yesterday before reheasal I went to the gym, I did my usual (last amount of time + one more minute) on the elliptical trainer, and I did the upper body stuff. Then I headed into the ladies' changing room, kicked off my shoes, and headed to the scale.

Over the last twelve months, I have lost 17 pounds and gained back 7. Since January I've been working on getting rid of the re-found 7, which considering how many donut-related events we have at work, is going about as well as can be expected.

Yesterday was my first workout in a week. I don't go to the gym when I'm sick, which I was on Wednesday, and last Monday I went walking with Kathy instead of to the gym.

Well. I got on the scale and was pleased with what I saw. Not delighted, of course, there's still more work to do. But if one describes my weight last week as a three-digit number with XYZ representing the numbers, what pleased me is that is I am now at X(Y-1)Z. Yep. The center digit has dropped one. I now weigh less than I have for about the past five years.

How do I celebrate this kind of thing? I mean, besides telling anyone with an internet connection who cares to look? I hop on every scale I pass and admire the lowness of the number. We have a scale here at the office, in fact. I may spend the afternoon, just stepping on and off of it.


“If there’s an empty space, just fill it with a line, that’s what I like to do. Even if it’s from another show.” Ron Albertson Waiting for Guffman

We ran all of Act II on Saturday and all of Act I last night. In theory, we were off-book, which means that we are allowed to call for lines but not allowed to carry our books around and read our dialogue and blocking from them. Not as smooth as a run-through, these rehearsals are generally known as "stumble-throughs." We'll get through a half a page or so and there will be a pause as at least one of thinks "Is that me? Do I have a line here?" Some lines - no matter how declarative - are delivered as a question to David, who, as our stage manager, is sitting on book for us. I think my favorite thing about stumble-throughs is that one can have this sort of exchange: "Am I here?" "No, you're over there." (Regarding blocking.) Sometimes theater is just that surreal.

Director Eileen has declared a moratorium on what she calls "self-critiquing" - comments like "I'm so stupid - I should know this." It is a given that dialogue that one knows perfectly at one's desk or in the car is gone at rehearsal. This makes perfect sense because all the mental cues for one's next line are in the environment where one learns the lines. Over the run of reheasals the environment changes to the rehearsal hall and one's brain can say "You're standing behind the chair, so you're going to say X." Having gotten through both acts once, the next rehearsal will be smoother as will the one after that. Piece by piece, the jig-saw puzzle is being filled in. So we need to stop calling ourselves names and just assume that we each know the next line. Many times this will actually be true.

A "director" that I worked with once - and I use that term very loosely - (Bill, you know who I mean) once did say something useful. He said "If you forget a line, just say 'line.' Don't beat yourself up, don't drop character, don't say 'fuck.' Just say 'line.' We'll feed you line and we'll move on." I leaned over and whispered to the person next to me that I had thought that "fuck" was German for "line."

23 February 2005

Movie trailer

If you happen to be in the Silver Spring area any time soon, buy a ticket at the AFI Silver theater for Vera Drake or whatever plays next in Theater 1. Why? Two reasons.

1. The AFI Silver's Theater 1 is a beautifully and meticulously restored Art Deco theater. Even if you don't care what's playing (and I do recommend Vera Drake), it's worth the $8.50 just to sit in that great big room and look around you for ten minutes.

2. The trailer for Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin, féminin. Lots of scenes of 1960's Paris, lots of loud, energetic pop music. Lots of black and white. Then the text:

A movie about
and the Pepsi Generation.


"Pepsi" and "the Pepsi Generation" are registered trademarks of PepsiCo.

"Paris" and "Sex" are still in the public domain.

22 February 2005

Quiet Riot

"The pagans on-stage made pagans of the audience." -- Thomas Kelly

David and I are going to the Kennedy Center on Thursday to admire the dance stylin's of the Washington Ballet. They will be performing The Rite of Spring, which premiered in 1913 with music by Igor Stravinsky (and pretty darned amazing music it is, too) and choreography by Serge Diaghilev. I have informed David that in a nod to the piece's history, I intend to riot.

I suppose a one-person riot won't be all that notable, especially as I have always been a well-behaved, nice, Episcopalian (a religion where the whole transubstantiation thing is optional, but not creating a scene is a pillar of the faith), good girl. So if anyone can provide me with rioting tips, I'd be grateful. Just remember, I'll be wearing my Bob Mackie heels, so nothing too strenuous, please.

A few months ago I asked David why people rioted over .... a ballet? Well, let's just say that the Kennedy Center's website has a caution that The Rite of Spring contains adult material and is not suitable for all audiences. And according to NPR, The Rite followed Les Sylphides, also by Stravinsky and Diaghilev. Les Sylphides was apparently pretty tame, so an audience that saw Oklahoma! as the first piece saw Oh! Calcutta! for the second. (Please don't make me explain Oh! Calcutta!)

Well, no matter how much I do or do not like The Rite and no matter how much or how little I am shocked by it, I can at least report that the Kennedy Center has a decent coffee maker. So at least intermission is assured.

Any Spanish speakers?

One of the guys who cleans our office always smiles at me and greets me with "Hola, Chella." ("Chella" being what I hear. I can't guarantee that's what he says.) My Spanish is pretty limited. I know about three dozen words and most of them are numbers. I also know a couple of basic conversational phrases, and how to say "trash - please throw away." I know how to call someone a woman of retail affection. I know how to ask for the bathroom. I can say that it's cold out or that I'm going home.

I don't know what "Chella" means. Do any of y'all?


After I've been sitting in a theater seat for about 55 minutes, my fancy turns lightly to thoughts of getting up, moving around, restoring the flow of blood to my lower regions, and having, maybe a treat. By which I do *not* mean green punch and store-brand cookies, although that is the usual fare at many a theater.

The best intermission in this area has to belong to Rockville Little Theater. They have a nice, large lobby and years ago they turned their intermission concessions over to a local high school band's booster club. So we get cold sodas, hot fresh coffee, and homemade treats! I cannot overemphasize what a good idea this is. Everyone returns for the second act happier when they are outside of a homemade brownie.

My home team, Silver Spring Stage, does okay. We have coffee, splits of wine, sodas, and name brand cookies/snacks in individual serving packages. And until we installed the faboo new seats and nice new carpet, I had removed the "no food or drink in the seating area" notice from the program, so I could have a cup of coffee during the second act. After having had one during the first act. I may have been our own best custumer.

Hard Bargain Players performs in an outdoor ampitheater, so when the weather turns chill they serve very good chili and cornbread. Thank you!!

Elden Street, on the other hand, could use an intermission intervention. Their lobby is teeny-tiny, so we overflow into the parking lot. Not their fault, they work with what they got, I completely understand. But when you're hanging around an industrial campus parking lot, in the dark, in 45 degree weather, well ..... coffee just seems to suggest itself. Everyone even tangentially connected to ESP has heard me say that the one thing that stops them from being a really first class theater is the lack of a coffee maker. Enough of their board members have helpfully told me that they have one in the scene shop (or whatever it is) that I may just start regarding that as an invitation to head on back there and make myself a pot. Or I'll ramp up the joking and flirting I do with Dave-the-House-Manager and talk him into letting me keep a thermos tucked away somewhere handy.

What brings all this to mind? Besides that I've been rabbiting on about it for years? The fact that the New York Times must have been listening to me because they ran a fun piece reviewing some of the intermissions up there. (Thanks to the pedantic nuthatch, who found it first.)

20 February 2005

I love my radio

My routine on the weekends - if I'm home - includes puttering around and listening to NPR. Today is one of the day's when my loyalty is rewarded: The Next Big Thing had a short piece with Sam Waterston reciting part of Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech against slavery. I've heard the recitation before but I love it. So here I am, sitting at my computer with a hot cup of fresh coffee and a lap full of warm cat listening to Sam Waterston talk. Such bliss.

And a week or so ago, Scott Simon recited Lord Byron's "She walks in beauty, like the night" which made me decide that the only thing more charming than Mr. Simon's warm, happy laugh is the way he reads poetry. I sent Stacey (who works for NPR) an e-mail letting her know that he had read poetry to me on the air, that, yes, other people could hear it, too, but he was really reading to me.

(Stacey has known me long to enough that she can nod-and-smile by return e-mail. All my friends eventually master the nod-and-smile, a sort of voiceless "yes, dear.")

And here's the poem, just for fun.

"She walks in beauty, like the night" -- Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,—
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

18 February 2005

Pictures of me that I don't hate

I generally don't like pictures of me, but here's a strip that either Mom or Aunt Dotty took back in the day. The top row is Sara and me playing in the backyard. The bottom row is pretty self-explanatory. And anyone who doubted how much Sara looked like Dad, well, see for youself - it's Charlie Jr. We must have been around six and three when these were taken because we moved to the Sutherland Road house a few weeks before Sara turned three.

One day I will find a photographic genius who will be able to get rid of the water stain (or whatever it is) and blow these up and then I'll frame them and hang them on the wall. I'll probably even turn the one with the tree in the right direction.

And I think that the next time I'm asked for a headshot, I'll use the last one on the right. Even though most people would say that the first one on the left is much more typical. (I am so put upon.)

Leta & Sara way back when Posted by Hello

New words!

Here are two recent additions to my vocabulary. Pity I won't be using them around the office very often, but I'm sure they'll work their way into something. They're too good to let get away.

Metathesis: "Linguistics. Transposition within a word of letters, sounds, or syllables, as in the change from Old English brid to modern English bird or in the confusion of modren for modern." My own example is my habit of saying "foe-wer" instead of "four," something I picked up from my southern relatives. (Thanks to Constantine from Savoynet.)


Pleonastic. The use of more words than are required to express an idea; redundancy. Repetition of same sense in different words; " 'a true fact' and 'a free gift' are pleonastic expressions." (Thanks to Ira.)

Of course, "the use of more words than are required" pretty much sums up my approach to life. (Isn't that right, Brent?)

A free evening?

Every now and then even my overbooked calendar has an empty day. I have one such evening tonight. When my calendar has been as full as mine lately and I find a chunk of free time, it literally leaves me standing in the middle of my living room wondering what to do. I have a bit of a cold today, so I cancelled plans to hang with Ira (he has a show opening in a week and doesn't need my germs to make Tech Week even more special) and am now at loose ends.

So.... what to do? What to do?

1. If I ask David or Eileen they will vote for me spending the evening learning my lines. Fair enough.
2. Pekoe, the Fabulous Orange Tabby, will suggest that I sit quietly on the sofa and provide a lap for him. This coordinates well with Option #1.
3. I could stop whining about my condo being too messy and just clean it.
4. I could watch some of the enormous backlog of videos and DVDs that have been waiting for my attention.
5. I could read some of the Terry Pratchett that Deb lent me.
6. I could waste an enormous amount of time on-line and (my favorite time suck of all) playing Freecell.

I suspect that tonight will be a sampling of numbers 1 - 6, going light on #4 and heavy on #1. And I can dump some ingredients into my bread machine and arrange for my place to smell nice tomorrow morning. It's always easier to get up if there's something to get up for.

Tomorrow I have rehearsal in the morning and afternoon and in the evening I'm having dinner with Mitch and Stephanie (hurray!!).

Sunday should include church in the morning and hanging out with John and Mattie in the evening.

Monday is a vast, open, free, uncluttered vista until rehearsal in the evening.

Recently my calendar was up to seven colors, but when The Man Who Came to Dinner closed on Saturday, we dropped back to six. Right now the colors are:

black - normal life
pink - auditions
blue - birthdays (Want to be on my calendar? Tell me your birthday. It doesn't mean you'll get a card - or even an e-mail - but I'll think about you and think "Oh! I should have sent a card!")
orange - David. When my calendar runs out of orange things, we make more plans.
red - Independence. Shows take up a lot of time and, thus, get their own color. My OCD is not yet severe enough to make me color-code based on whether I'm acting, directing, or merely serving as some kind of minion, but I can see that day coming.
green - other people's performances.

How far into the future does my calendar go? Well, Mary Ann asked me to submit a children's show to direct at Elden Street in June 2006, so ..... June of 2006.

So if you've been pining to talk to me, call tonight. I'll be home!

17 February 2005

If you like Jason Mraz, try Gertrude Stein

Another find from The Writer's Almanac.

Read it out loud. People will look at you funny if you do it work, but so what. Just let the words roll around in your mouth and fall off your tongue. (Note: carriage returns are mine, not Ms. Stein's, nor Mr. Keillor's).

from Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein

A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday.
What was the sensible decision. The sensible decision
was that notwithstanding many declarations and more
music, not even notwithstanding the choice and a torch
and a collection, notwithstanding the celebrating hat and
a vacation and even more noise than cutting,
notwithstanding Europe and Asia and being overbearing,
not even notwithstanding an elephant and a strict occasion,
not evenwithstanding more cultivation and some seasoning,
not even with drowning and with the ocean being encircling,
not even with more likeness and any cloud, not even with
terrific sacrifice of pedestrianism and a special resolution,
not even more likely to be pleasing. The care with which the
rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong,
the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing.
The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness,
all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

15 February 2005

"Didn't suck" -- the Washington Post

Ali's lovely production of The Mikado got a glowing review in today's Washington Post. Nice to see my opinion backed by competent authority, as someone once said.

I'd be looking forward to seeing this production ever since Ali outlined her concept to me. She did what I always love to see a director do: she asked why things happen and then she created a show from the answers to those whys. No one ever did anything in that stage because "it's always done this way." There was energy and brilliance in everything. It was clearly a team effort. Everyone was on board. And Julie got lots of stage time and got kissed and everything.

This time I was the one jumping up and down in the lobby and shrieking like a girl.

If I am lucky and very, very good, one day I'll be in a play that Ali directs.

Way to go, guys!!

Calling my office

The best phone call I ever got here (excluding the ones offering me roles I want) was for one of our engineers. The call bounced from her voicemail to the front desk and I answered.

"Is X in today? I keep getting her voicemail."
"I'm sorry, sir, she's on a different floor than me, I really don't know."
"Oh. That's too bad. This is her parole officer." (Engineer X is about as likely to have a parole officer as I am to have a sky diving instructor.)
"Sir, I can't tell you how very sorry I am right now what we don't have an all-office paging system."

Really improved my day.

Then there are the folks who don't improve my day by calling here. Here's how not to be one of them:

1. Don't call here because our number showed up on your caller ID. We have over 100 people here. I have no idea who called you. And it was probably a wrong number anyway. Just move on.

2. Don't call here from the drive-through and expect me to hold while you finish placing your order. (I wish I was making that one up. Especially as it has happened more than once.)

3. Don't call here and when I answer ask "Is this Y?" Y being some member of management or some other staffer who earns three times what I do and is unlikely - at best - to be answering the phone.

4. Don't call here and give me a long intro paragraph on who you are and why you I are calling. I largely don't need to know. I want to know who you are calling, so that I can put you through and take the next call.

And if you are an automatic dialer for a telemarker or a telemarketer pretending to be the guy who services the copier, then just don't call here.

I should read my own stupid note

I have a Post-It note (a rather fetching Post-It note with Winnie-the-Pooh on it) stuck on my front door that says "Is the heater turned off? How about the stove?" Generally, I read this note on my way out the door - because little notes only work if you read them - and I either answer "Yep!" as I head out or I scamper back and check the heater and the stove and any candles I may have lit. Because if I burn the place down, what with living in a condo and all, it would definitely annoy the rest of my stairwell.

This little note usually works a treat. I read, I check, life is good. And you know why I put that little note there? Because of the time I got to David's and, as I was turning into his neighborhood, thought to myself "Did I turn off the stove?" Keep me awake for hours, that did. And woke me up a couple of times later on. I'd be unconscious and my brain would form a pictures of a smoudering ruin, dead cat, homeless neighbors, the whole deal. The sort of thing that wakes you up faster and more completely than all the espresso in the world.

And it's not like it's an impossible event because when I was a teen-ager, I burned several of my mother's pots dry and I'd cost Mollie a couple of tea kettles when I lived with her. It seems that when Princess Oblivious picks up a book, the whole world - including the tangy smell of burnt metal - goes away.

Well, last night I was heading out for rehearsal and whether I would be on time or late depended on the timing of a few stoplights. And I hate being late. I prefer to be early, but that option was already gone. So I zoomed past my little note, went to rehearsal, rehearsed, followed David back to Virginia, and - as I turned into his neighborhood - thought the bad thought: "Did I turn off the stove?" It's like that moment in The Pirates of Penzance when General Stanley claims to be an orphan and all the pirates cry "Oh, dash it all - here we go again!" (Or something like that; I'm usually not in the men's chorus, so their cries de couer aren't completely memorized.)

I spent the rest of the evening - and random pockets of the night - doing mental re-enactments of dinner. I made toast, I made soup, I sat the computer and checked my mail, got an IM from Amy, went back for the second half of the soup which had cooled, turned the stove on and up to high, warmed up the soup, ladled it into my cup, ..... and headed back to the computer. And there's a nice little mental gap between "ladled it into my cup" and "headed back to the computer."

I figured that because I had turned the stove up to high I must have turned it off. I must have. Because it would have burned dry almost instantly if I set an empty pot on a burner set on high.

Only when I said this to David, I could hear in my voice the same lack of conviction that I have when I say "I'm not tired" at work and Tanya asks how I got all those parts when I am such a lousy actress.

So I drove from David's to my house on my way to work to check the darn thing. Of course, it was off. Don't be silly. And I'd put the pot on a different (and cool) burner anyway. Pity that the traffic was of the sort that induces cardiac arrest (stupid toll road). "I'm not stressed out." (Don't the unconvincing tones just leap off the screen at you?)

Must. Read. Note. // Must. Read. Note. // Must. Read. Note.

(PS - Deb and Julie ~ feel free to laugh your butts off at me. I remember sending you 45 minutes out of your way on the way home from NYC to check my stupid stove.)

12 February 2005

My peeps

The Arlington Players (TAP), the producing company for The Man Who Came to Dinner, has a wonderful marketing tool. I don't know if they use it for every show, but they did for this one. They create a post card ad for the show and then do a mail merge for each cast member. Provide Dave the Marketing Guy with names and addresses and TAP will send them a post card for the show that shows your name and headshot.

So I gave them my Christmas card list.

Not the whole thing - Leslie and Naomi are in California, after all - but most of the local names. I'm not very good at telling people "I'm in a show, please come see it" because I used to know someone who started out treating me as a friend and over time just treated me as a potential audience member. I have friends, you know, not ticket holders.

But damn those post cards work. I've had a pretty decent cross section of folks come to see the show, including some who rarely see what I do. (We are fully scheduled people).

So last night John and Mattie came! And this is after I (urk) stood them up for the Redskins/Vikings game. (Not on purpose, I swear.) We haven't seen each other in forever, but they got the post card and said "Let's go!" Color me delighted. And now we have a dinner date for next week. I swear, I will be there.

And Julie & Deb J came with Ali & Pete and Joe & Denise. Julie, bless her, said "Well, you see everything we do, so we thought...." So she gets double friend points. Actually, the whole crowd gets whole handfuls of friend points because when folks who haven't been able to see much of what I've done (and therefore didn't know for sure that I'm one of the finest actresses of my generation) greet me in the lobby by literally jumping up and down and screaming like girls that I was great -- well. How can one not love that? Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes right then.

And Debbie had a rehearsal last night, but it ended early enough that she came to the theater and saw most of the show. This woman had a rehearsal. She had plausable avoidability. But she came. I love that.

So.... those of you who live in the DC area who thinking "Darn! I missed her show!" (We close tonight, there's still time....) and are regretting not being about to jump and down in the lobby and scream like girls, well -- Independence opens April 1st. Y'all come.

11 February 2005

These were a few of my favorite things

Roast beef, medium well; bacon; sausage pizza; cheeseburgers; Mighty Kids Double Cheeseburger meals from Mickey D's; beef barley soup.....

I made my choice. I've been given some wonderful suggestions by the Devoted Readership - and I did consider giving up Law & Order, but as I have rehearsals on Wednesdays that's just collateral damage, not a choice - but I finally selected to give up red meat for Lent. I've gone completely meat-free in the past and trying to combine that with a busy rehearsal schedule is just a bit too daunting. Especially if I'm going to continue going to the gym before rehearsals. (Score on that so far is pretty much three for three. I didn't go to the physical gym, but I did do a long, brisk walk around the neighborhood with my upstairs neighbor, Kathy.)

So sheep (and cows, and pigs, etc) may safely graze for next several weeks. Chickens and turkeys shall continue to live and fear.

Brett suggested I give up auditions. Not likely! Lent is about sacrifice and observance, not about suffering of epic dimensions. Let's have a sense of proportion, shall we?

10 February 2005

A good (delivery) man is hard to find

A man delivering luches arrived here a few minutes ago. He pointed to a pile of bills and coins on the desk and asked "Is that for me?"

"I think so," I said, "You're from -- uhmmm, uhmm" as Tip of the Tongue Disease caught me again.

"The hospital," he supplied, helpfully. "At least, that's what my mother told me."

09 February 2005

The whole thing - PS

Mind you, if anyone does go back and read every post I've written and then tells me, I'll be deeply flattered. Surprised, of course, but deeply flattered.

08 February 2005

I give up

Today is Fat Tuesday and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of Lent.

(Warning: Snotty opinions from the Moral High Ground lie ahead.)

Let's get this part out of the way right at the beginning: Lent is not 40 days anymore. It's 47. But wait, I hear you say, isn't Lent the observance of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert? Why is Lent 47 days? Are you sure?

Of course, I'm sure. Pull out your calendars and count the days between tomorrow and Easter.

Aha! (you say) Jesus's time in the desert ended with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, observed on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Thus 40 days. Well, that may have been good enough for Jesus, but try finding a Lent Give-Uper who thinks that Palm Sunday is the day when we are released from our Lenten vow. Nope, the chocolate or desserts or what-have-you are gone until Easter Sunday.

Hmmmmm, (you think), but aren't Sundays exempt from Lent? Isn't every Sunday (as I was once told) Easter in miniature and therefore wouldn't it be inappropriate to observe one's Lenten vow on Sundays? One could certainly make an argument for that although I don't remember being taught in Sunday school that Jesus took weekends off. How much moral character does it take to give up doughnuts Monday through Saturday? For most casual dieters that just business as usual.

So - for me anyway, the morally lax crowd can make any decision they want - Lent is 47 days.

Along with several other childhood habits, I observe Lent by giving something up. The question every year is what? What to give up? In different years I've given up bread, chocolate, tea, and meat. I gave up tea several years running until Mollie flatly forbade me to do it again. She claimed that I was challenging to live with when I couldn't have any tea. (Which is ridiculous. I am never anything less than a joy to be around. Ask anyone.) Being Meat-Free for Lent works pretty well, but I did that for several years as well. I followed Gordon's rule of not eating anything that had a face.

I like to give things up that are an inconvenience for me, are a discreet thing, and from which I don't derive a benefit. So giving up dessert, for instance, wouldn't work because I'd derive the benefit of fewer calories and dessert is too easy to slide into the "snack" category. This? This isn't dessert. Dinner was hours ago. This is a snack.

Hmmmmm. What to give up? Suggestions cheerfully accepted, although not necessarily acted upon.

Is it warm in here or is it me?

The amazing Gwyn sent me an e-mail with a link to Vosges Chocolate. After I read the description of the item that caught her eye, I moused around the site a bit and found this description of their La Parisienne Cocoa. Oh my. (Note to self: Vosges retails through Zingermans.... Another reason to visit A2.)

Dark Chocolate + Tahitian vanilla bean. A traditional dark chocolate cocoa. Silky swirls of cream gliding, intoxicating and arousing. A winter warming, rich and flowing with Cacao and vanilla. Melting drips of chocolate intertwined with Glorious Vanilla. C’est la Vie! The perfect Hot Chocolate / Chocolat Chaud.

07 February 2005

The whole thing?

A couple of different people have recently told me that they found this blog and went back to the archives and read the whole thing. So as an experiment, I did, too. OMG! That takes hours! I don't find me that interesting......

So I told that story to Brent, who immediately agreed. He said (and this is why I adore Brent), "Oh, I know! I only read, like, three posts before I got bor --- before I, uh, had to get back to work."

06 February 2005

Rule announcement

I didn't want to have to make this a rule - I was hoping a guideline would suffice - but I am left with no choice. Henceforth the following shall be known as Theater Rule #1:

If you get cast in a show, I must be told about it. I want to know what company, what show, what role, when you go up, how long you run, and any other pertinent details. Production gossip also cheerfully accepted. (Why, yes, Amy - this means you!)

I'm glad we had this little talk.

04 February 2005

Thought question

I've been thinking about it anyway.....

Are the e-mails and IMs that get you into the most trouble the ones you type while frowning or the ones you type while laughing?

In my case, definitely the latter. Only I don't LOL, really, I giggle.

I've been pretty lucky because nothing I've e-mailed or IMed has ever really bit me on the butt, but it's probably only a matter of time. Hmmmm. Delete that "probably"; it is only a matter of time.

I mean, I *like* NPR and all

The Washington Post announced on Wednesday that WETA, Washington DC's classical music and public radio station, is planning to eliminate the classical music portion of their programming. Over the last several years WETA and WAMU (a college-based station at American University that played blue grass and hot jazz) have been in a race to see who can have the most news/talk programming. Several years ago WETA dumped their morning music in order to run "Morning Edition," annoying the people who actually wanted to hear Brahms with their coffee instead of news and news analysis.

Right now WETA and WAMU run in parallel at lot of the time. The only NPR-based or APM-based (American Public Media) shows that I can think of off the top of my head that they don't both carry (except for the programs that WAMU generates) are "A Prairie Home Companion" (WETA) and "This American Life" (WAMU).

Frankly, radio in the DC area is pretty crappy. There is a better selection and wider choices in Cleveland than here. (I'm not making that up. There really is.) After the programming change goes through, there will be one DC-based classical music station. WHFS, which back in the day was an alternative rock station that would play stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else, recently changed to a Spanish-language station and the only other alternative station in the area, WRNR (?), has a signal that doesn't carry past its own building. 'HFS was a shadow of its former self and we don't have any Spanish-language stations to speak of, so I can't get too worked up about that one, although they could have given their remaining listeners more than .0001 seconds notice.

The definition of business, as I learned it in my Introduction to Banking course years ago, is "to generate profits while providing a service." And the fact that "generate profits" is at the front of the definition and "provide service" at the back wasn't lost on me. If we won't support classical music, it will go away. Ratings were down and so were pledges.

I listen to NPR a lot. I really like it. Heck, my pal Stacey works for them. But in a listening area with so little diversity, it seems counterproductive for stations to simply ditto each other.

03 February 2005

Oh, Sherry, you know I never read notices...

I haven't posted a recent picture of David's Henry V beard, but y'all can see it for yourself because the show got a nice review in the Washington Post.

Michael Toscano said good things and the Post ran a good picture. And even though Maura is yards prettier than David, it's his picture they ran. Well, him and several other people. The permanently delightful Sally can be seen second from the left. (She's yards prettier than David, too.)

To describe it in "yearbook caption speak": While Mistress Quickly and the Chorus look on, Bardolph comes between belligerents Nym and Pistol.

{Sad comment on our modern society - I was heading for Google to double check the spelling of Mistress Quickly's name until it occured to me that my big, heavy book of Shakespeare is less than 10 feet away from me. Sigh.}

02 February 2005

We'll see how long this lasts

My office and Silver Spring Stage are just about 2.5 miles apart. I leave for the day around 5:00 and rehearsals will begin at 7:30. Between the office and the Stage is ..... Gold's Gym. So my plan is to hit the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays before rehearsal. The only exercise I got rehearsing The Man Who Came to Dinner was drumming my fingers on the steering wheel and shifting in and out of first gear on the beltway, so it'll be nice to get back into a "good for me" routine.

Another reason to like Gwen Stefani

"If I was a rich girl (na, na, na, na, na....)
See, I'd have all the money in the world, if I was a wealthy girl"

I never really listened closely to the lyrics to Rich Girl - and couldn't even have told you title before today - but every time I heard it, I notice how much it reminded me of "If I were a rich man" from Fiddler on the Roof. So having looked at the lyrics and actually listened this time, it is "If I were a rich man."

Pretty cool to hear Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock among the pop music.


Nope, not a homonym

I found it! The phrase for which I was looking, that is. Sarah Caudwell's The Shortest Way to Hades, a lovely, literary, murder mystery, has several plot points based on textual criticism. For all I know, Ms. Caudwell made this one up because I can't find it in any of the references I have at hand, but here goes:

"I could understand it," she said in the tone of one trying hard to be reasonable, "if I had been dictating. Muriel has been typing for us, after all, for only six months, and cannot be expected to be familiar with technical terms. But how does she manage to do it when she's simply copying from manuscript?"
It was, I explained, an instance of the phenomenon known to students of textual criticism as dictation interne: the copyist, mentally repeating the words of the original, copies them not as he sees thems but as he imagines hearing them -- it is a fruitful source of error.
"Most interesting," said Selena. "Some day, Hilary, you must tell me all about it. Some day, that is, when I don't have a plane to catch and three sets of papers to finish."

From the same book I got "haplography": the accidental omission of letters or lines that should be repeated, such as 'mispell' instead of 'misspell'

01 February 2005

Tossed Mickey

Pointless Theater Anecdote:

Long years ago (but not as many as 14), I ordered some lingerie from the Disney catalogue. I got a set they called "Tossed Mickey," which was a white bra and underpinnings with lots of Mickey Mouses on them and I used to wear them for good luck or something on opening nights. So I was doing a show with my G&S family, VLOC, and changing in the women's dressing room, when someone complimented on my cute undies. I said I was wearing them for luck.

"Oh, will you wear them every night?" she asked brightly.

"No...... I intend to change my underthings during the run. I was kind of hoping that would be a general thing that everyone would do."

I think of this story every time I wear my Tossed Mickeys.