30 March 2005

Speaking of costumes

A PS on the whole costume thing:

Eileen (our director) says that anyone sitting towards the back of the large seating area will find the top of Act II more interesting than the dialogue would indicate. I'm considering investing in some toupee tape to keep my jammie top up close and personal.

Which reminds me of a story that I've told most - but not all - of the free world. Several years ago, a bunch of us did a production of Iolanthe with the Washington Savoyards. The women were fairies and our costumes were basically tights and bustiers with long, diaphanous petals. They were very pretty and we looked very pretty in them, if I say so myself, but they were very low cut and, well, they boosted our yeas quite nicely. I e-mailed Les and suggested that if he was going to see the show, he should sit in the balcony for the best view. The music director's wife attended the final dress rehearsal and had a teeny-tiny conniption fit, stating that we were not going to parade around like that. Kate, our director, saw her point and went out the next day to acquire "modesty panels" for us - swatches of fabric to obscure what the costumes were emphasizing. She got us each a swatch of a pretty gold mesh that went nicely with the costumes, but under the stage lights merely behaved like highlighter. So as we fluttered about, tripping hither and thither, our costumes seem to be saying "And, by the way, you have noticed our breasts, haven't you? Because here they are!"

The show sold pretty well, as I remember, and we got a nice review.

The theater - where art and my real life collide

Everyone remembers that I work with engineers, right? And everyone knows that engineers talk in Greek symbols (as do other scientists, such as, oh, nurses). One of the folks I support is retired Navy *and* an engineer, so he's especially given to talking in engineer, a few phrases of which I've integrated into my vocabulary. (I like to describe my conversation as having a pretty poor signal-to-noise ratio, f'rinstance.) "Clutter" doesn't just mean the junk scattered around my living room, it means - and I quote - "Unwanted signals, echoes, or images ... which interfere with observation of desired signals." "Delta" doesn't mean "a usually triangular alluvial deposit at the mouth of a river," it means "change" or "minor change." (No, not coins.) Jim will give me back stuff that he has reviewed and will tell me that "there are only a few deltas." And when he wishes to make what he calls "happy to glad" changes throughout a document, he could just as well write "Δ happy -- glad."

Sharon, Maura, Martha, and I all have costume plots - lists of which costumes we wear for which scenes - taped to the mirror in the dressing room and to the areas off-stage where we do quick changes. (All of my changes are done just off stage left because there isn't time to run to the dressing room and back.) As we were changing after the first run with costumes the other night, Sharon muttered that she would have to change bras between acts to avoid show-through, and, being a nurse and used to noting things in Greek and Latin, she grabbed a pen and noted on her costume plot "ΔBra."

I told Jim about it the next day and got to watch him struggle with the fact that he'd just heard the word "bra" in our office building.

27 March 2005

Hello, Bacon!

Happy Easter
Happy Spring
Happy, happy everything!

Today is Easter Sunday and Lent has ended, so Christians everywhere are getting back their Lent give-ups. After church this morning red meat rejoined my diet.

Hi, Bacon - I've missed you. Welcome home, Italian Wedding Soup, it's been a long time. You, too, French Onion Soup. Hey, cheeseburgers. How's it going, roast beef?

All in all, it wasn't too bad. I had a lot of chicken, a fair bit of turkey, and many vegetarian choices. But I'm not sorry that Lent's over.

I got up bright and early this morning and took Mom to church. We went to the 9:00 service because I had a reservation to see Night of the Iguana at 2:00. I got to her place around 7:55 and we headed out. For those of you who don't have a mother with Multiple Sclerosis, here's what the the "heading out" process entails:

1. I bring the car around to the front door of Mom's apartment building. She lives in a retirement community, so she can wheel right out of the front door.

2. I pop the trunk, get Mom's chair pretty close to the car, unbuckle the yellow band that keeps her feet from sliding off of the back of the footrests, and unhook the footrests themselves.

3. I get the transfer board from the trunk, make sure that the wheelchair is as close to the car as it can get, and slide the transfer board underneath Mom. She has better strength in her arms than in her legs (which are now merely decorative), so she pushes up on the arm rests and I get the board as far under her as possible.

4. I go around to the driver's side, climb in, and in a move that's not such a good idea if I'm wearing a short skirt, I grab the tongues of Mom's sneakers and maneuver her feet into the car.

5. I run back around to Mom's side and she grabs the "Oh God!" handle inside the car and pulls herself in while I hold the board in place, and nudge her along as need be.

6. I remind Mom to buckle up and then I pull the board out from under her and wheel the chair around to the trunk. I detach the cushion, backrest, and wooden board which are all attached to the wheelchair by the most ferocious velcro ever (many a pair of my pantihose have been sacrificed to Mom's velcro), collapse the wheelchair, and womanhandle it into the trunk.

Pant, pant, pant.

My Mom (much as I love her) is underweight and I have described her to her face as looking as though she summers at Andersonville. When I was a teenager, she was 5'8" and weighed about 130 pounds. Mom always took very good care of herself. She's now closer to 5'6" and weighs about 105 pounds. (Mind you, for a woman of 69 with advanced MS, she still looks very pretty.)

And off we go! When we reach our destination, it's pretty much lather-rinse-reverse. A trip to chuch and back, therefore, involves four transfers. I earn my Easter breakfast.

The upside to this is that I can pretty much lift her out of the car and into her chair once her head clears the door if I have to.

For my sister's funeral, I rented a conversion van and we could just wheel her in and strap her chair down, but at $200/rental, she'd get out even less often than she does now if that was our option. I took her to church for Christmas, we went for Easter, and I'm bringing her to see a Sunday matinee of Independence. That'll be three times in a little over four months, which ain't very often. But, frankly, those transfers are scary and exhausting and Mom doesn't have the stamina she used to.

We had a lovely brunch back at her place and then I headed out to the theater and now I'm home typing. I heard Dennis Day (my favorite professional tenor) sing "Easter Parade" on the Big Broadcast of old radio shows and I had Italian Wedding Soup for dinner, so I feel properly Easterfied.

The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Happy Easter, Joyous Purim, and (coming soon!) a wonderful Passover Sedar to all.

26 March 2005

A sad anniversary

I know exactly when my world ceased to be a safe place. I was in elementary school.

On March 25, 1975 - 30 years ago yesterday - Sheila and Katherine Lyon, who were 12 and 10, walked from their home in Wheaton (about six miles from where I am sitting typing this) to Wheaton Plaza to look at the Easter displays and have lunch. They never came home.

If you want to know if someone grew up in Montgomery County, mention the Lyon girls. It was almost one word for us - theLyongirls - and it was a word to conjure with. Our parents used it as a tag at the end of directives and requests: Get home before dark - remember the Lyon girls. Don't talk to strangers - remember the Lyon girls. Make sure I know where you are - remember the Lyon girls.

The Lyon girls weren't the first children ever to disappear (and, in fact, not much later the cousin of my friends up the street was kidnapped by her father and missing for several months), but Wheaton is right next to Silver Spring and Wheaton Plaza was one of the three places kids would go to spend their pocket money. I could get there easily on the bus, the same way that I could get to downtown Silver Spring. In fact, the same bus went to both places.

The kids in our neighborhood were allowed a lot of freedom and we wandered around in ways that would give me perpetual acid stomach were I a parent. We played in the woods (and there were lots of woods in Silver Spring), we explored Sligo Creek Park, we walked to Jacks (a neighborhood store, if you count as in your neighborhood a store that is 3/4 of a mile away and across the beltway), we rode our bikes all over, we sold Girl Scout cookies door-to-door, we played in the churchyard of the Presbyterian church -- and we were supposed to be home when the streetlights came on.

Our parents largely didn't have a clue as to where we were. We weren't allowed inside each other's houses when no parent was home, a rule that was honored only sporadically. My Mom was the first working mother in the neighborhood because our family's was the first divorce, but ours was only the first of several. By the time the Lyon girls disappeared, houses were empty in the afternoons and we roamed all over the place while our mothers were at work.

But after March 25 the parental version of GPS began. We had to check in. We were not to knock on the doors of strangers houses no matter how badly we needed the bathroom. The stuff every parent enforces now.

Sheila and Katherine's story can be found with a simple Google search. There are school pictures and time-elapsed pictures. The original pictures are frozen mementos of 70s hair and smiles that are changing from baby to adult teeth.

A sad, sad anniversary.

24 March 2005

How dry I am

So after I ruined Kathleen's day by telling her that the water dripping into my pantry wasn't coming from my pipes, she called My Plumber (or maybe Her Own Plumber, I forgot to ask) and he confirmed that, yep, her tax refund will be going towards his next boat payment. She shut off the water to her place and there is no more dripping in my home. Yay!!

Of course, "yay" only applies to me because she will be having plumbers and dry-wallers in and out of her place for the next few days. I've given her my spare key so that Keeping Water Where It Belongs Professionals can look at the pipes without having to rip up her walls to do it and so that she can have access to running water and the bathroom and stuff.

Mind you, when she stops in to use my facilities, Pekoe - The Fabulous Orange Tabby - assumes that she is there to play with him and feed him. When neither turns out to be the case (and Pekoe just can't grok that when one is focused on the bathroom, it really is the only goal, not one of several which could include playing with the cat), he changes his agenda to "let's trip the human." He's really good at this from his years of practice on me.

I stopped in at her place last night and she showed me and Kathy (3rd floor neighbor) the amazingly large hole in her living room wall. (The second bathroom backs onto the living room.) It's a big hole. A really big hole. And there are lots of pipes. If any of the Devoted Readers know a good Dry Wall Guy in the Aspen Hill area, Kathleen would be grateful.

Of course, the Sword of Damocles still hangs over both of us because John, who lives above Kathleen, still has the stupid qwest pipes.

There's lots of borrowed time in Aspen Hill and we're living on it.

17 March 2005

Drip - drip - drip

That's the sound that greeted me when I got home the other night. And it's just not that good a sound to have coming from the pantry. So I turned on the pantry light to investigate and found water dripping off of the light fixture and (thank you, Lord!) into the recycle bin.

Listening carefully I could hear the water dripping out "Good. bye. tax. refund" in Morse code. And I turned off the pantry light, got really depressed, and left a phone message for David. "Uhmm, hi Sweetie, it's Leta. Can you give me a call when you get in?"

You see, my condo has polybutlyene pipes, also known as quest. There was a big lawsuit several years ago and a class action settlement because these stupid pipes are, apparently, only slightly better than cardboard tubing in terms of keeping water where you want it to be. I was very much afraid that I was seeing the result of a (or several) pin-hole leaks in my pipes. Of course, the benefit to living on the ground floor is that only my possessions are in danger. I won't have to buy someone below me new carpets, as John on the 3rd floor got to do a few years ago for Kathleen's predecessor.

I trotted upstairs and asked Kathleen if she was in the middle of a flooding crisis and, nope, there was no standing water at her place. Or dripping water, either. I went back downstairs.

Then I got smart. My recently acquired friend, Bill, is (ta da!!) an actual, I-get-paid-to-do-this, I-know-what-I-am-talking-about plumber. So I called him. And because the breaks can't go against me 100% of the time, he was actually home. And he gave me very good advice.

1. Find something sharp (I own an awl) and poke a couple of holes in the ceiling to give the water somewhere to go.
2. The water shut-off for the apartment is right next to the water meter. Use it.
3. Get a plumber - who is not opening a show in 10 days - out to fix it ASAP.

So I poked 4 holes in the ceiling and water dripped out of three of them. At a rate of about 1 drop every three seconds from one hole and 1 drop every 7 seconds from the other two. My exciting new hobby became staring at the water and timing the drops.

I woke up around 2:00 am and emptied an inch or so of water out of the trash can I put under the holes. By 8:00 am there was another couple of inches. Not a huge amount of water. I went to work and then to dinner with Maureen, Julie, Deb, and Clive and then to rehearsal, and then to Clive's hotel (to drop him off! Geez!) and then home, all the while thinking "please, ceiling, don't have collapsed, please, ceiling, don't have collapsed, please, ceiling...." I walked in the front door about 15 hours after having left for the day and there was about three inches of water in the trashcan and the ceiling was still overhead. Yay!!!*

Bill and I exchanged a millionty** e-mails today discussing the plumbing situation, most of which made me feel better. Like most people who only know the bare minimum about how plumbing works, I was fearing the worst. Like repair bills only slightly smaller than my net worth.

Around 3:00 I called My Plumber and the dispatcher said that they could send someone over right away. So I fled my office*** and met Van the Plumber. Van cut a nice, big hole in the ceiling and told me that the water is coming from Kathleen's apartment. He concurred with all the advice that Bill had given me, charged me only for the service call ($59.50) and not for clearing out the no-longer-dry-wall and insulation, admired my piano, and left. Bill im-ed me a couple more pieces of good advice, and - when she got home - I went upstairs and ruined Kathleen's day.

So there is still dripping water, but now it just sounds kind of monotonous rather than portentous. And there's a 6"x18" hole in the ceiling, but it's the pantry ceiling so no big deal. Anyone wishing to practice their drywall patching technique is welcome to stop on by and give it a shot.

And, Bill, when we come to see Moby Dick Rehearsed, I promise to sit in the back row and I owe you a drink.

Footnotes for drip-drip-drip


Following a comment from David-in-Steamboat-Springs about "yeah" versus "yea."

I totally agree. In my world, "yeah" = "yes, I agree" or "yes, I will" and "yay" = hurray. Because I've sent too many letters, e-mails, etc where I meant to write "yeah" and wrote "yea," so I'd get sentences like "Yea, I'm bored, too." So now I save "yea" for phrases like "yea, verily."


Reading about Mary's little life has been educational in several ways. I got "millionty" from her.

*** I fled my office

Another example of why I like the folks I work with. Today is my boss Laura's birthday. We were going to have cake with her at 3:30 to celebrate, but by 3:30 I was on my way to meet the plumber. So on my way out, I asked Ginni to save me a piece and she said "Oh, we're doing it tomorrow. Laura said to wait until you could come." Let's be clear here. We're talking about one of Ginni's really, really, really good homemade chocolate cakes. This is no small sacrifice they are making for me. Well, for me and Cathy, because she's out today, too, but this is my blog so we're not going to dwell on the Cathy aspect.

Okay. Time to go run lines.

As every week should be

"Yeah, this week it's pretty much all about Leta" - the title over Heather's picture-of-the-day of her daughter, another Leta.

And from my close personal friend John's website:

Well, getting the updates up to every three or so weeks. Blindy speed! I would like to say HI to Leta the only woman who reads this website. When I say the
only woman, I really mean the only living person who reads this website. SO HI LETA!!!!!! I am building a theater set for Leta specifically designed to make her the BEST part of the play.

I love that man. I really do.

And I love that John remembered and took to heart my request to the lighting designer (Don) and his genius helper (Ayun) that the lighting for The Man Who Came to Dinner make me look young and beautiful and make the lovely and talented (and very fun and sweet) Laura look old and haggard. I'm pleased to report that many people told me how pretty I looked under those lights, although I'm sure they were far too tactful to tell Laura that she seemed rather tired.

Yea verily, it's a good week in the Leta Centered Universe.

14 March 2005

Ratting myself out

In the interests of full disclosure:

Because of some of the blogs I read, I have become a very casual follower of the fortunes of the Illini. And following on my post of earlier today, I am now publicly admitting that until yesterday afternoon I pronounced "Illini" as Ill-ee-nee. I learned from ESPN and Kerry that it's Ill-eye-nye.

And my Mom's favorite: when I was about seven, we were driving somewhere and I asked her what a "ped-es-stray-shun" was. "A what?" "A ped-es-stray-tion. And what's an ex-ing?" After she told me that the word was "peh-des-tree-an" and what it meant and that "ex-ing" meant crossing, I pulled together all the diginity a seven-year-old is heir to and announced that from then on, a person who is walking is a pedestrian, but a person who is crossing the street is a pedestration. (I know, the twee-ness of it all is just overwhelming. Tough.)

And, of course, David clings to the futile hope that I will one day abandon my habit of saying "oh, pshaw!" as "oh, puh-sha!" and start saying "oh, sha!" when in fact the opposite is true. I have spread the "oh, puh-sha!" pronunciation like a virus. Heck, I still sometimes express relief by saying "few!" (spelled phew).

Few! I'm glad I got that off my chest.

How to generate calls to a radio station

Jeff Custer obviously didn't grow up around here. In the news update at the top of the hour, he referred to the Wicomico River, which he pronounced Wye-koh-mee-koh. If I were handed a piece of paper, a four-syllable word, and a microphone, I'd probably have the same swing-and-a-miss as Mr. Custer, so I'm not sneering here, but I'm sure that there will be a couple of dozen calls to the station to let him know that the river in question is pronounced "Wye-kom-uh-koh."

David and I have an on-going collection of place name Shibboleths. We recently saw Proof at the Stage and there's a little landmine in that script. Folks familiar with Chicago will know that the street is deh-ver-see, not die-ver-see. Casey got it right, but other local actors may not be so lucky.

Another name that trips up the new folks is a building at my alma mater, the University of Maryland. When I was there, the English Department was housed in Taliaferro Hall, pronounced Tolliver.

Brett, Stacey, Michael, Ken, and other former residents of Hawaii have all told me that the tourist Shibboleth there is the Like Like Highway. Beat me to the punch? Yep, it's pronounced Lee-kee Lee-kee, not Like Like.

I know someone whose last name is Sher. Four letters, one syllable. Pronounced shhh-er, just like it looks. I've heard "share" and "sheer" and a couple of other choices recently.

I know that anyone calling for "Let-uh" isn't a friend of mine. My friends and family all say "Lee-dah."

So what gets mis-pronounced in your areas?

(And please - please - tell me that Karen Hughes said that she had lived "overseas, and in Canada, and in ...." rather than "overseas in Canada and in..." as I heard. Please.)

12 March 2005

Here come the cows!

"It's called 'passion' -- learn it!" From Katie the hostess to Eliza the hostess (or was it the other way around?) regarding being over the top.

I got an e-mail from my friend Sally the other day. Not the usual "distributed far and wide, hey, gang, let's do this!" e-mail, this one was to a more select list. Why? Because it was an announcement for a show at Sally's daughter's school, so it went to the folks that Sally thought were more likely to decide to attend. Or at least not reply with rude jokes. And I'll happily attend an 8th grade play. I go to see the plays at my high school when they're not scheduled against something else (which, I admit, is rare).

So I went down to McLean on Thursday night to see "Here Come the Cows!" It's a melodrama set in the old west with an evil villians, a scheming dance hall girl, an innocent young heroine, a brave hero, a stupid sidekick, overdue rent money, a miser, a poor-but-honest widow, and some very (very) lame jokes. It had it all. And all for five bucks.

Katie and Eliza were the combination hostesses/warm-up act and they got the evening off to a good start. They came out in their dance hall floozie dresses looking as cute as a basket full of kittens and told jokes and made fun of each other and instructed us to boo/hiss the villains and say "awwww" for the sweet young thing. They showed us the light up "Boo" and "Awww" (or - as it actually said - "awe") and "Moo!" signs, all of which came in handy as the evening progressed.

I love watching these sorts of plays because the kids throw themselves completely into it. They're saving nothing for tomorrow. I won't ruin the plot by trying to describe it to you - especially as I don't think I could do justice to this particular plot - but it was great fun. And they served us soup at intermission because soup is a major plot point. There were nine different kinds of soup so I tried the turkey chili and the Italian Mountain soup. Both were very good. And the profits from the evening went to buy cows for Masai kids in Kenya. The set was pretty darned good with better set dressing and costumes than I would have expected. In fact, as I told Sally, I've adjudicated shows I didn't enjoy nearly as much.

Sally's daughter, Sarah, played the scheming dance hall girl, Trilby Tango with focus and charm. She was delightful.

Now if only I could get the "Moo Pah Pah" song out of my head....

11 March 2005

Mercury at Sunset

From an e-mail from Debbie-the-polymath:

Space Weather News for March 11, 2005

SUNSET MERCURY: If you would like to see the planet Mercury, normally hidden by the sun, this weekend is the best time of the year to do it. When the sun sets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Mercury will shine like a bright star through the rosy glow of the western horizon. Pay special attention on Friday, March 11th, when Mercury appears beautifully close to the slender crescent Moon.

Visit SpaceWeather.com for pictures and sky maps.

10 March 2005

My theater rings

Okay, like the Machinal story and the word "fork," this is a tale with more than one part.

Part the first:

Kirk, who I knew from the Georgetown G&S Society, has a really nifty set of freedom rings that he wore on a chain. (Freedom rings are six small-ish metal rings in the colors of the rainbow, if you're willing to pretend that blue and indigo are one color. They stand for freedom and diversity and other ideas I get behind.) I admired them so much that Kirk would let me wear them whenever we were at rehearsal together. We joked, when I wore them, that they were engagement rings that I could have them to keep when we got married. His marrying me, he also liked to joke, was something that would please and greatly surprise his mother. John & Mattie noticed how much I liked them and brought me a set of my own after I cat-sat for them while they were on vacation.

Part deux:

Steve thought I was pretty cute (he can be so perceptive at times) and asked me out. When he mentioned to (Dana, was it? I forget. I mean, this was about a decade ago) that I'd agreed to go out with him she said "So it doesn't bother you that she's bi-sexual?" (And at that point I hadn't started wearing Kirk's rings either...)
"What?," said Steve, "What gives you that idea?"
"Well, she's involved in theater and you know how they are."
"But ...but... you met her when you were doing a show," sputtered Steve.
"Yeah, but I'm just doing it for fun," replied Let's-call-her-Dana, "and Leta seems to take it pretty seriously. So......"

Part three:

I was leaving for an audition one day wearing my very pretty rings (which go with everything I own) and Steve said "You're wearing those rings. You know what people will think, don't you?"
"Sure," I said, blithely, "they'll think I take the theater pretty seriously and they'll give me part."

And they did.

Blushing slightly

Julie's blog has a post that I can't get to (that's so wrong for so many reasons) that mentions that in the acknowledgements for Harry Benford's 3rd edition of the Gilbert & Sullivan Lexicon my name appears! In a real book! A book of actual value to the G&S community. I haven't seen this acknowledgement - I have the second edition - but I trust Julie completely. I'd also like to borrow her copy so that I can see my name - in print - in a book. A book!!

To be honest, I have no idea why Harry (a lovely man, by the way) would include me in the acknowledgements unless he included all 700-some members of Savoynet, although this is lending some credence to the belief held by many of my friends that I know everyone connected to G&S/theater. Or just flat everyone. Brett believes that I went to high school with roughly 80% of the human population.

And, unlike those poor people named Michael or David or Lisa or Debbie, I can be pretty confident that I'm the only "Leta" that Harry has met. There are a couple dozen people named Leta in the world, but I think (mind you, I say "I think") that I'm the only G&S geek named Leta.

Me! In a book! A real book!!

08 March 2005

Our weather is special

Okay, here's how weather works around here:

Last Thursday we were getting predicitons of a big winter blast with snow and sleet. One of those "Run to the store! Buy all the milk, bread, and toilet paper! Save the children!" types of storms. So everything that taught anything to anyone was cancelled and the feds announced liberal leave. It didn't even begin to snow until the late morning/early afternoon. And not much at that. After midnight the snow picked up and by morning we had several inches. Schools were open, but starting late.

Yesterday was a lovely and breezy 68 degrees. Really and truly. I walked the 3 miles from my office to rehearsal.

Today we had rain that changed to snow, but only stuck to the trees and the grass, as predicted. The streets of Silver Spring are completely dry. So, naturally, I just heard school closing announcements.

Don't get me wrong, I don't object to closing the schools if the safety of children is at stake. In fact, I'm totally in favor of it because it drops my commute from 45 minutes to 25 minutes. But just as generals re-fight the last battle, our school systems seem to open or close the schoools based on the previous day's weather.

I bet they don't close the schools in Wyoming unless Jesus personally calls the school board and indicates that the end times are included in the bad weather.

mature and immature audiences

My theater pal, Dave, tells the following story:

In 2003, the Elden Street Players included Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion! on it's schedule. (My own digression - that was the year they scheduled three shows in a row with no roles at all for women. They are still known as the community theater that doesn't like women.) Love! Valour! is pretty progressive and the script calls for male nudity. Well, apparently someone in the Herndon area isn't comfortable with nekkid guys on stage, because someone called some high ranking Herndon official, who called the police chief, who detailed a couple of uniforms to go check out the threat to the morals of the good people of Northern Virginia. The cops arrived around 11:30 on a Saturday morning, right during the children's show. A responsible adult from the company scurried over, "Can I help you, officers?"
"We understand you have naked men in this theater?"
"Well, not now." And LVC was explained. And it was pointed out that LVC is a mainstage production and held in the evening. Same theater, different show.
"Oh. Well, are these naked men all over the age of 18?"
"Yes, sir."
"Okay, folks. Have a good run."

And they did. You can find the review from the Washington Post on WATCH's website or at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A34481-2003Mar26&notFound=true

That's the background. This past Sunday I ran into Rich - an ESP board member - at the WATCH awards and he greeted me with "So I hear you're directing a children's show for us. Which one?" "The Emperor's New Clothes, as soon as Mary Ann and I find a script I like." "Hmmmmm. So we're finally getting naked men in the children's theater."

Oh, my aching head

I woke up this morning with a headache. The kind that goes from the top of my head and down into my neck to my shoulders. That's not uncommon for me, unfortunately; I wake up with one probably once every couple of weeks. I don't know why. I've always been prey to headaches and have had a couple of episodes of what I used to mistakenly call cluster headaches: a period of about a month where I would have a nasty, make-me-want-to-cry headache all day, every day that no amount of aspirin, Advil, or Tylenol would convince to go away. They'd just stop on their own after about 30 miserable days.

But this morning was a just garden-variety, wake up with a headache kind of morning. Mostly. I took an aspirin and went back to bed for a little bit (the headache woke me up before the alarm) , hoping to feel better at actual get up time. No such luck. So I dressed gently, brushed my teeth gently, fed the cat gently, etc and got in the car to come to work. I felt a bit nauseated as I left my neighborhood and by the time I was half-way to work I was afraid that I was going to throw up. You know the feeling - your mouth starts watering a lot, so you're swallowing a lot, you feel very warm, the usual. Unfortunately or fortunately, I eat breakfast at work, so there was nothing in my stomach. Fortunately, I keep a bottle of water in the car and nothing is as easy to throw up as tepid water. (I know this from experience, but that's a story for another time.)

Being a tiny bit of a hypochondriac, I started to wonder if a headache that's bad enough to make me want to vomit isn't really an aneurysm ... Considering that I have a show opening in three weeks, I don't have time for an aneurysm, so it's not that.

So I'm sitting in the sort of traffic we get in this area when white stuff is going to fall from the sky, sipping my tepid water, and contemplating throwing up out of an open car door in traffic (Don't you wish you were me?) when the rain started to get all clumpy and turn to snow.

I love snow.

Now I'm sitting indoors with a nice, hot cup of tea, the nausea is mostly gone, the headache is now just a remnant behind my left eye, and it's snowing to beat the band. Not the kind that sticks to the road - all the preceeding rain put paid to that - but the kind that swirls around in the air like legions of microscopic ballet dancers in white tutus dancing the dances they see in their heads. The snow is falling down and running sideways and vaulting up. There is no gravity for them, just snow revels and snow races and every pattern you can think of.

I can barely see to the next block and the trees and the grass are looking prettier and prettier, but the traffic is still moving. And I'm silently singing my snow song. "It's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing....."

06 March 2005

How to scream like a banshee

"Remember, it's only amateur theater until you offend someone - then it's art." Mike Baker quoting someone else.

David and I went to the WATCH awards tonight. For those of you following along at home, the WATCH program is peer review for community theater and the WATCH awards night is 480 people in one room at the Birchmere saying "You look great!" and "So what are you working on?" to each other while we prance about in our finery and fab-u-lous shoes. (A shout out here to Holly who was wearing the best shoes I saw all night.)

My home team, Silver Spring Stage, received 16 nominations this year and we brought home 3 statues, all for Bedroom Farce. They are our first wins for WATCH, so every time I heard "Silver Spring Stage" announced from the Stage, I screamed in a way that still makes my thoat hurt. Andy won for his amazing set (just try to fit three complete bedrooms into a 20x21-foot rectangle where the lighting instruments are 9 feet above the deck), Pauline won for directing it, and the show itself won for best play.

My pals over at the Providence Players of Fairfax took home three statues as well, for their lovely, lovely production of The Man Who Came to Dinner. It's one of my favorite plays, so I'm pretty darn picky about it, and I just loved what they did with it. So good on you guys! Naturally, I shrieked for them as well. And they heard me and knew it was me. From across a room with nearly 500 people in it.

As always, there were awards with which I agreed, some with which I did not agree, some great speeches, and some terrible ones. But I had a nice scotch & soda and good company, so I even got through songs from the nomiated musicals - "Annie" and "Evita" among them. "Hard Knock Life" and "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" are battling for space in my brain.

I don't know exactly when Todd will post the list of the winners (probably as soon as he gets home), so anyone interested in the results can check www.washingtontheater.org.

02 March 2005

The words were so much alike

From my pal Julie's blog:

Now for something surreal - I saw this (well, the quote is not QUITE exact, but pretty much) on a sign outside of a Bethesda church. "A somber God could not have created a monkey, a camel or a giraffe" - the really funny thing is that the first time I say the sign, I thought it said a "SOBER" God - that elicited quite a double take, let me tell you!!

Still an English major at heart

I took the Commonly Confused Words Test and can continue to be a snot to my friends about usage.

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 55% Expert!

You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.
Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

Hey! If you liked my test, send the link to your friends. They don't need to be OkCupid members to take it. The Commonly Confused Words Test http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=14457200288064322170

Test statistics:
Compared to users who took the test and are and in your age group:
100% had lower Beginner scores.
100% had lower Intermediate scores.
100% had lower Advanced scores.
100% had lower Expert scores.

01 March 2005

Iambic Pentameter

Adam sent this to Savoynet and I liked it so much that I asked if I could post it here.

Iambic Pentameter by Adam Cuerden

Upon noticing that "Iambic pentameter" is actually amphibrachic, I couldn't resist writing this....

Iambic pentameter's all very well,
But verse in iambics is boring as hell
For ev-er-y poet that writes writes with ease
A sonnet, blank verses, whatever you please,
In endless, unchanging, invariant iambs
Incessant repeating for quoting by hams!
There's meters creative, exciting, and fun
And yet, when they write, they will only use one.
Iambic pentameter bores me to tears!
I haven't seen dactyls or trochees in years!

I remembered!

Malory! Nicole's little sister's name is Malory. Whew. Let's not tell her that I forgot her name, okay? I mean, she's only a couple of days old, let's not put that on her. (Or, frankly, on me.)

I wish I could be there

I got an e-mail from the Buxton list telling me that not only has the lovely and talented Rebecca been cast as Phyllis, but VLOC's own Amy and Deb have snagged roles as Leila and Fleta. Hurray!

For the non-G&S portion of the readership, there is a large Gilbert & Sullivan Festival every year in Buxton, England which lasts about 3 weeks. (The festival, not England. There will always be an England.) Different G&S companies from all over Britain and other places bring productions to the festival and Savoynet, the international mailing list for G&S geeks, brings a show as well. Savoynet's show is cast by having the auditionees submit video tapes to one person in their country, that person dubs them for the directors, the directors watch them and e-mail back and forth (the directors are usually in different countries as they are casting – this year’s director, Diana, lives in Australia), and eventually a cast is selected, the lucky winners are notified by e-mail, they accept by e-mail, the "we were so lucky, we wish we had parts for all of you" and the "thank you for your interest in" folks are notified - also by e-mail.

Everyone arrives in England a week before the show - completely off book for all music and dialogue - and the show is rehearsed and polished over 5 or 6 all-day rehearsals. Sets and costumes are rented locally. There's one performance in front of the most knowledgeable and nit-picky G&S audience in the world, it's adjudicated, and awards are given at the end of the Festival. For those people who thrive on detail and organization and not wasting a lot of time, it's heaven. For those who enjoy a leisurely process and need time and reflection, it’s hell on earth. I’ve seen tapes of some of the Savoynet shows and they stand up quite well.

I’ve never been to Buxton, so I’m completely jealous.

Congrats you guys! Way to go!