29 April 2005

Ful selden indeed

Michael Bérubé gets all English Major-y about Gawain for National Poetry Month.

25 April 2005

Like finding a shiny dime

I don't know how long this shiny dime has been sitting on the street waiting for me to pick it up, but Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner have started a blog about Freakonomics (a Rouge Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything), which is not only their book but their viewpoint.

Leavitt is the economist who noticed (and pointed out) that for all our national angst about guns, more children die in backyard swimming pools every year than by mishaps with the home arsenal.

He seems happy to annoy the entire political spectrum - other research includes a discussion of the correlation between a rising abortion rate and a falling crime rate. (I have not yet read that study, only heard him discuss it, so take that semi-sentence summary with large grains of salt.)

A excellent opportunity to question a few assumptions.

Why is April 23rd different from all other nights? Part II

For years Mattie and Hershel have been inviting me to the great, big "Orphan Seder." It started out with just a few law school friends who couldn't get home for Passover and just kind of grew. Now there are about 35 of us, very few of whom are acually Jewish (or in my case, even a lawyer). John (Mattie's husband) and I have been deemed "Virtual Jews" because we've done this so often that we know it better than the lapsed Jews. (My friend Ira calls me an "Honorary RSP" or "Honorary MOT," depending on his mood. RSP stands for "Red Sea Pedestrian" and MOT stands for "Member of the Tribe.")

I love going to Seder. ("Seder," by the way, does not mean "dinner" or "first night of Passover" or "please pass the Matzo." It means "order," because one of important parts of the Seder is that everything is done in a particular order.) As there are so many of us - and so many dietary restrictions - the cooking chores are distributed among everyone. Long ago I dibs making the Matzo Ball Soup. My friends at Manishevitz make a dandy "Matzo Ball and Soup Mix" and I follow the directions and follow the directions until I have roughly 70 (+/-) Matzo balls.

In real life, I tinker with recipes, but Passover isn't the time for that. I don't instinctively know which ingredients are okay to add and which are a bad idea, so I follow the directions. I have, however, found some really nifty (and Kosher and pareve) bullion cubes which I add to the soup mix. My soup tastes chicken-y, but is actually vegetarian. Not vegan - Matzo balls are made with eggs, after all - but at least containing no meat, no chicken, no milk, etc, etc. Which is good because at any of our Seders there will at least a half dozen vegetarians.

Pareve, by the way, means "neutral" - i.e., neither meat nor dairy and Kosher means "proper" or "fit" and refers to ingredients and cooking methods and utensils. Obviously, something can be Kosher without being pareve.

Hershel roasts a (fab-u-lous) turkey and Mattie makes the best Haroset ever. In general, Haroset is a chopped apple and walnut and Kosher wine dish that represents the mortar of Egypt and that we pile onto Matzo. Yummmmmm. Mattie's is a Lebanese (I think) recipe and has a buncha different fruits in it. Yummmm. I usually find a way to take some Haroset home with me and have it on toast over the next few days. Yummmmmm.

There's lots of wine - Kosher for those who wish it and not-so-Kosher for those who don't.

So after the initial cocktail party style catching up and general conversation, we distribute the Haggadahs (the booklets which tell the story of the Exodus and outline the events of the eveing), gather round the tables, pour some wine, and get started. As our host - and as one very well versed in what we are doing - Hershel gives an overview of Passover, the Seder, and the plan for the evening. He explains some of the symbolism behind what we are doing and what we about to eat and drink.

Each of us reads a paragraph in turn from the Haggadah and each of us pronounces "forefathers" however we are most comfortable. Being a pretty progressive bunch, some say "forefathers," some "forefathers and foremothers," some say "ancestors." I say "ancestors." Pablo likes to say "forefathers." More years than not the question about the bad child will come up when it's Beth's turn to read. She regards this as part of a universal conspiracy. We just regard it the universe making obvious what we already know.

My favorite part of the entire evening, even more than singing Dayenu, is the listing of the ten plagues that befell the Egyptians. Not because I'm pro-plague or Anti-Egyptian, but because as the plagues are recited (in both Hebrew and English), we dip a finger into our wine glasses and remove a drop of wine, symbolizing that no cup of happiness can be complete if that happiness comes at the expense of someone else. That kind of ethical observance is what draws me to Judaism.

But this year the first night of Passover fell on Saturday, April 23rd. And I had a performance, so I couldn't go.

But I do have some "Matzo Ball and Soup Mix" in the cupboard. It won't be the same without all the good folks (or Mattie's Haroset), but I think I'll be making some soup and considering the events of the book of Exodus tonight.

24 April 2005

Getting my ticket punched

Every actor - community or professional - eventually has to perform while sick. And I don't mean sore throat or sniffles because those rip through casts like tornadoes through trailer parks. Everyone's done that. If you're a lead you sing as usual, don't talk off-stage, and drink whatever concoction (tea with honey, tea with whiskey, hot lemonade, water) you believe in. If you're in the chorus you mark (sing at less than full voice), remind people off stage that you are sick and they shouldn't get too close, and drink lots of water.

No, I'm talking about the kind of sick where there are buckets near all the exits. One of our cast members for Independence is pregnant and was having a rough time keeping food down one weekend. Deploy the buckets. (Which, thank you, Theater Gods, were not required.)

A friend was in a show a few years ago and had a bad case of the flu. He threw up every time he left the stage, which - from what I've heard - wasn't often enough for his peace of mind.

Last night was my turn. I woke up yesterday with a simple plan: clean house until I go to meet Eric and Charles for lunch, have lunch and catch up with them, come home and clean house a bit more, go to the theater, perform with several good friends in the audience (Brett, Stacey, Carol, Alice, and Chris), some of whom had never seen me on stage before. A simple plan.

So it's a pity that I woke up feeling like crap. I wasn't sure what was wrong at first, I just knew that cleaning - let alone breakfast - were no longer part of my plan. I did meet Eric and Charles for lunch (and had a lovely time), came home, and took a nap with Pekoe acting like an orange heating pad. Warm was good, cold was bad. Cold would give me chills and shakes. I got up at 6:00 for my 7:00 call at the theater, hit the bathroom a few times, and left the house. The bathroom was my clue as to what was wrong, so I took a Pepto before I left.

One of the good things about a cast of four women is that we can be pretty frank with each other, so the cast and Stage Manager (David) got a heads up about how I felt and I accepted their condolences and Sharon's oyster crackers (bland is good).

There are two reasons that actors can go out there and perform and not have the audience know how they feel: our sense of responsbility to the people who had to go to work to earn the money to buy the tickets and the amazing healing power of stage lights and focus. You hit the stage and you focus and you hope for the best.

And it's good that stage lights and focus are so helpful because I have no bathroom break in this show. I'm off stage for scene 3, but I have to spend it sorting clothes or I'm screwed later on. I change my clothes everytime I come off stage and several pieces get re-used, so I spend scene 3 making sure that I can come off stage after scenes 4 - 8, grab what I need, change very fast, and go.

In fact, I get no bathroom break pretty much from 7:30 when the house is opened to 10:15 when we've curtained down and I change back into street clothes. There's no bathroom backstage and I can't use the one the public uses during intermission because we're not allowed to.

During Act II I was concerned that I wasn't going to get to retain possession of water, tea, and oyster crackers - nausea had kicked in, too - but it was okay.

I made it all the way through the show, begged off of the cast party, and headed home. Can't say it was the best night I've ever spent, but I got through it. Thank you, Pharmacy Industry for Pepto and Immodium. This morning I felt a bit better and by the time I reached the theater, I was at about 50%. Today I was performing for Mom, Bill, Jeff, Laura, Casey, at least one WATCH judge, and people who had to go to work to earn the money for the tickets. Oh yeah, and Nick was taping today. I wanted not to be subpar. The stage lights did their job and I felt better by the end of Act I. I even ate dinner tonight. (Soup and bread and some wine.) It's the most food I've had since yesterday morning.

So now I can say "been there, done that" to the whole acting-while-miserable thing. Thank goodness that's done.

22 April 2005

What is Leta humming?

Mousing around on Markland's website (I love the internet), I found the Markland anthem. It's entirely possible that my next several posts will simply be happy (to me, possibly boring to you) Markland memories.

And now, with no further ado - and, sadly, with no beer:

The Markland National Anthem

By: Attila/ Atli Vathason, First Warlord (Bruce Edward Blackistone)
(Sung to the Czarist National Anthem.
If you don't know the tune, listen carefully to the background of the 1812 Overture)

Markland thy slimey sod, forsook by all the gods
Home of the darkest swamps and thickets of thorn!
Lo, how thy mighty rocks they break our plows asunder,
Making us wish we had never been born.

Markland they noble sons, run from the sounds of guns
Faster than jackrabbits and cunning as rats.
They'll gain the victory, annihilate the enemy
When they can sneak up and stab in the back.

Markland thy daughters dear, make Mongols cringe with fear
Comely as great cave bear and stronger than ox.
See them in the field right now, how gracefully they pull the plow
As with their dainty feet they drop kick the rocks.

Repeat ad nauseum.

A note on my punctuation

In re-reading what I write, I always notice how very many dashes and parentheses I use. I seem to be completely incapable of thinking in a linear fashion; my thoughts are much more fractal. (Note to David: I know, I know, I am simply begging here for a correction on the exact meaning of fractal. Let's just remember that I am making these numbers up!)

Fortunately for me, Leslie's thinking is just as fractal as my own. Our conversations would loop around, ducking in and out of topics and subtopics and tangents for hours at a time. What amazed her was that we'd always manage to go back and tie in the dropped threads. Eventually.
At a recent audition, Chuck the director was randomly asking us questions about what we thought the characters were thinking. (Well, it seemed random to us, but I don't think that there is anything random in Chuck's world. Any dust at his house is probably organized by size and origin.) Anyway, he asked me a question and I thought for a minute. And I started my remarks (yes, plural) with an apology for the fact that my answer would be an extended essay. And then I gave a public display of Leta's Thought Process.

After I finished, Chuck thanked me and Smart-Ass Dave signaled me over. He whispered that my answer had an awful lots of commas in it. I told him that he should count himself lucky because I actually had two semi-colons and a couple of parentheticals that I chose not use. He agreed that, yes, they had gotten off easier than they might have.

All worth it

The endless typing, the (alleged) proofreading, being forced to live in my own stream of consciousness ..... all the pain and dispair .... all the stories I've told here that could embarrass friends and loved ones...

I got a comment from Hjalti!!

I have't seen Hjalti in years. And years. We met in college when I started doing Historical Re-enactment with Markland back Before the Black Ships Came. (Best described by Bork - follow the link - thus: We wanted to become rabble from 1066. We wanted to smell like rabble and act like rabble. Actually, we wanted to act like the Marx Brothers acting like rabble.)

My prime Markland years were after the phase out of black Chucks as acceptable Medieval footwear and before the complete rise of the Authenticity Police. I'm a bit of a purist and never went for the fantasy medieval look (like Ann and Nancy Wilson in the 80s), but it was fun to be there during the less serious time.

Hjalti was a Jolms Viking. Yes, I probably misspelled that, but it is pronouced "yalms." The Jolms Vikings were largely interested in Norse history, knew a huge amount about it, and as a group bore a striking resemblance to the Ramones: lots of black leather; lots of long, dark hair; and kind of a smart-ass Goth vibe. And they were really, really smart, sweet guys, too. Hjalti didn't completely fit the Jolms Viking mode because he was big and strong and broad-shouldered and red-haired. He always looked a lot less dissipated than the rest of his cohort. He was, however, a consumate smart ass. And a truly sweet guy.

He joined the Army and moved around the country a lot and we've fallen in and out of touch, largely through Stacey. He's a wonderful guy. I think he was in the Army during Stacey's prom, and (IIRC), he had promised to take her, so he got leave, travelled to Hawaii (where - duh - she was living), got prom-ready, and took her.

Hjalti's married now with kids and I have a wonderful picture of him in his armour in case he'd like to put it somewhere promiment when his daughter starts to date.

And I'm going to see him tonight!!!!!

Yep, all worth it.

Turns out that the answer is "no"

I sent an e-mail to the 8th floor staff the other day, which I entitled "Is the kitchen *supposed* to smell like that?" wherein I announced that on Monday I am doing a big kitchen purge and anything not clearly labeled with a name and recent date is subject to eviction.

(The first time I sent one of these announcements around I called it "the first annual fall clearance sale" and pointed out that some stuff in the fridge not only predated my move to the 4th floor - I've worked on 6, 4, and now 8 in my nearly six year here - some of it predated my employment with the company.)

So anyway, one of our engineers read the e-mail and suddenly remembered that he had put something in the fridge ......a while ago......was it still there..... ? Sure enough, it was and sure enough, it was the reason the kitchen was getting kinda funky. So (bless him), he dumped out the scary stuff, cleaned the container, and ran the disposal with lots of dish soap. It was a really ugly few minutes in there, but the air seems to be clearing and we'll all be the better for it.

And now I won't need HazMat gear when I do the purge on Monday.

Holes in the brain

An excellent essay on home schooling and "teaching around the bad days." Worth reading even if one doesn't home school or even have any kids. http://mentalmultivitamin.blogspot.com/

Kindergarden teachers often make excellent directors and producers because high levels of organization, being where the buck stops, and knowing how to keep 30 people - adult or child - reasonably productively occupied for three hours is just how their days go.

Home-schooled kids frequently get involved in theater to help fulfill the "commuinity activity" requirement and end up being more mature, better prepared, and better focused than the adults.

21 April 2005

April 18, 1906

My grandfather, Hugo Reichenbach III, was born in San Francisco in August 1904. His parents - Hugo, Jr. & Laura - were still living there on April 18, 1906 when the earthquake struck. Hugo wrote a letter to his mother-in-law, Augusta Kunzenmuller, who was living in St. Louis. (My family is rather peripatetic on both sides, but we keep turning up in St. Louis, San Francisco, and Mobile, Alabama. My grandfather, uncle, and I were all born in or near San Francisco, but the German sur-named family members tend to collect in St. Louis. My grandparents are buried there.)

I was visiting my mother's cousin, June, a few years ago while June's mother was still living with them. Aunt Elsa was my grandfather's younger sister and she had the letter that her father had sent to Augusta. Obviously, she didn't want to give it me, but she let me copy it out, which I very much appreciate. I tried to be as exact as possible, so there are some missing words and many very run-on sentences. Like me, my great-grandfather sometimes thought faster than he typed, although I use a lot more commas than he did.

Every time I read it I am struck by three things: 1. That Hugo must have been very intimated by his mother-in-law. If the stories that I've heard about Laura are accurate, her mother could very well have been hell on wheels. I understand that people didn't cross Laura lightly. 2. He only ever refers to my grandfather - who was about 18-months-old at the time - as "Baby," never by name. That might have been very common back then when men weren't such frequent visitors to the nursery and children and parents lived more separate lives, but it still seems odd to me from my 21st century perspective. 3. He went back into the house - during an earthquake - to make coffee. It's like being desended from the girl who ran back to the car stuck on the railroad tracks in Teen Angel.

Anyway, here it is.

Letter from Hugo Reichenbach, Jr. to his mother-in-law, Augusta Kunzenmuller following the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

San Francisco, Cal. April 24th 1906

Dear Mama: -

You will probably wonder why we have not written more explicitly before this, the fact of the matter is that we have been so upset that we have had no time during the day and it was impossible to do so at night because we were not allowed to have any light in the house. The first note you probably received from us was written the way it was because we had information that telegrams would be sent out and one of our neighbors volunteered to take it over to the sending station but when they got there found that they would not send the message but they would send the paper as mail so they let it go, then the next day I tried again to send a telegram and it was accepted but could not find out if it had been delivered. I am telling you this so that [you] can know that we tried everything to get word to you as fast as possible and if it did not reach you it was not our fault because we did our best.

Now to tell you of our experience, we were awakened about 5.15 by the terrible shaking of the house, it seemed as though everything was being broken, both Laura and I jumped over to the baby’s bed bundled him up and ran out on the sidewalk in our night clothes then after the first fright was over I went back into the house to get some more blankets and clothes for Laura and this way sat for about an hour during which time we had several more shakes, then I [went] back to hurriedly make some coffee on the gas stove but soon realized that this would be the last meal we could prepare this way because the gas pipes had become lose and were leaking a little. About 6 oclock we noticed the big clouds of smoke coming from down town, we then realized that the town had been set afire, and at about ten oclock I went down town but could not go very far as by this time the best part of the business section was all ablase and there was no possibility to get to the office, so I went back home and immediately in company with our upstairs neighbor started to build a house on a vacant lot in the next block. I took a picture of it and will send you one as soon as I can get it finished. We camped in this place almost five nights we started back on the third night because it looked as if it would be very foggy but just as soon as we got into the house a little shake came along and we bundled up and went back to our little shack, then during the fifth night it began to rain so that a further stay in the tent was out of the question we then laid down on the parlor floor near the door, the next night we laid down on the parlor floor again and then because we could see no further cause for alarm we now sleep in our bed as usual. We got off very luckily because we have had only a few pieces of brick a brack broken and some laundry burned that we had given out to washed and our entire loss will not beyond $I0. Our house was n not damaged beyond a few small cracks in the plaster that do not amount to much. The office was entirely burned out in fact the building we were in was one of the first to go however this is no loss to us. Until we know just where we will locate we will have the office in our parlor. It is possible that we will move over to Oakland they have only very little damage there and maybe we would feel a little safer over there, ever the less I do not think we have any thing further to fear from earthquakes, they come about as often as cyclones do in St. Louis. In a few days more we expect to have everything going along as usual. At the present we have no gas and are still compelled to do our cooking out in the street, this is because some of the chimneys may be damaged and until they can be inspected and repaired when necessary the cooking will have to be continued on the street, our water supply is also a little short so that we must economize, it is promised that we will soon enjoy all the city comforts.

Today we received a letter from the Schlosssteins’ they are in Pacific Grove not far from San Francisco and will be [here] as soon as they can get through on the rail road.

Now do not worry about us we are getting along all right in fact the baby got fat while we were camping out.

With love from all we are your children.


Weather Report

It was in the upper 70s Tuesday in the 80s yesterday. We have beautiful springs in Maryland but we pay for them with impressively humid summers. The last couple of summers and winters have actually been rather mild, so I know that Dame Nature is saving up something really memorable for us.

On the plus side, this year's Cherry Blossom Festival actually occured when the trees were flowering, instead of 3 weeks after. Our usual pattern here is to have all the Cherry Trees put out lovely, delicate flowers about the first week of March. As soon as they are all out and pretty (about the second week of March), we get the last cold snap with either sleet or snow or something else cold, white, and lethal to Cherry Blossoms. The Festival is then held the first week of April to a backdrop of bare, ruined choirs. But this year, no final cold snap, so lots of pretty trees for the tourists.

Somehow I know that we'll pay for that.

20 April 2005

Why is April 23rd different from all other nights? Part I

Way back in college, I would go up to Baltimore for the weekends. North and Erica and I would drive up together and I'd either stay with Erica or Leslie and the whole group of us would hang out and be smart-ass college students. (Nostalgic sigh.)

On one of those weekends, I met Erica's grandmother, a very nice woman who thought the world of Erica and who made me promise that I would look after her grandaughter. (Erica gives the rather misleading impression of being frail, largely because she is very petite and fine-boned with big eyes. Erica is actually a strong, intelligent, resourceful, capable woman. She does more of the heavy lifting than people realize. I'm 5'7" and big boned and I could use a lot of supervision, frankly.)

Anyway, I promised that I would look after Erica and as soon as I was out of earshot, Grandmother turned to Erica and said "She's such a nice girl. She's Jewish, right?" "No, Gramma, she's not Jewish." "You sure she's not Jewish? She looks Jewish." "She's not Jewish, Gramma."

One of many occasions when I've been mistaken for Jewish, which I rather enjoy because I've always respected Judaism and - maybe it's the actor in me - I love trying on other people's lives and cultures. (I'm actually Episcopalian.)

Over the years I've acquired a reasonable working knowledge of Judaism.

I read a lot, f'rinstance, and when I was about 10 I read the "All of a Kind Family" books (Note to Paul: they are still in print and are excellent kid lit. Your former employer carries them.) which are about a Jewish family that lived in the NYC tenements during the turn of the previous century. Those books are the reason that I can tell people that Purim is my favorite Jewish holiday.

My sister's first husband was Jewish. His mother makes a to-die-for horseradish that'll open up your sinuses before you ever set foot in the house.

To be continued....

Chad will understand

Mix 107.3 just played Jungle Love by the Steve Miller Band. I turned up the radio and chair danced all the way though it. Even at the risk of being caught chair dancing by engineers, one must move to Jungle Love.

19 April 2005

Havering, thy name is Leta

I sure have been writing a lot of long posts lately.

I once said that Paul's posts were (and here I quote myself) written "in a very 'come on, keep on reading, you'll be glad you did' fashion and his posts are long...."

I completely take that back. His posts are a reasonable length. Mine are long.


Thank Goodness it wasn't drugs ... or jazz and liquor

It was the peer pressure, I know it was.

I went to a WATCH meeting on Sunday and, as is usual for the April meeting, we elected new officers. Officers serve for two years and we are only required to have three: Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.

Kye-Won started the meeting by asking for nominations to replace the outgoing officers and the room got really quiet. Really quiet. You could see people studying the faux grain in the table-top. We were very close to all tunelessly whistling and staring around with big "who, me?"eyes.

Let's be clear here - the people attending the meeting are all responsible grown-ups (plus me). We serve on the boards of our own theater companies, we are representatives to the WATCH program which means overseeing our five judges and X alternates, many of us produce (i.e., are the producers for shows, which in community theater doesn't mean drinking expense account Martinis, yelling fake endearments into our cell phones, and calling everyone "Babe." It means being the responsible adult for the show - lining up staff, getting things done, arriving early and leaving late, and making sure there are the fewest number possible of cracks for things to fall through.) We all also direct and/or act. Many of us have children. Our schedules are pretty full and none of us needs more to do.

So, as I say, the room was quiet. For a long time.

Kye-Won would make an excellent interrogator because she just let the silence stretch out. Finally, Bailey agreed to be the Treasurer. Out of the goodness of his heart and not because he actually believed that the Treasurer "only has to write some checks." Uh huh. Sure.

More silence.

I offered that as the Adjudication Coordinator for 2006, I already have a job. Everyone agreed that this was true.

More silence.

I don't remember if Todd cracked first or if I did. But obviously neither of us should get involved in criminal enterprise because we just couldn't take it anymore.

Todd acts (he's cast in ESP's Dinner with Friends), he directs, he's on ESP's Board, he's the webmaster for at least three different theater organizations (including WATCH), he has a full-time job, and his wife is pregnant. With their first child. Todd is our new Chair.

I have a calendar that is seven colors right now. I'm the upcoming Adjudication Coordinator. I'm performing in Independence, I've been cast in Round and Round the Garden, I'm directing a one-act for the NVTA festival, I'm on the Stage's board, I have a mother who likes to see me (ever) .... And yet..... And yet I heard my voice saying "Okay. Okay, okay, okay, okay. I don't want to do this. And I'm going to have a drinking probem one day. But I'll be Secretary... I drink Scotch."

"She drinks single-malt." Judy helpfully supplied.

Being Secretary isn't so bad. The job largely consists of taking attendance and minutes at the meetings and distributing said minutes to the rest of the board. Too bad I hate taking minutes.

You know, if I didn't provide Todd with a review copy of the minutes before I distribute them, it would be fun to include "let's see if they read this far" stuff, like "Looking rather fetching in his show T-shirt Todd suggested..." or "An obviously drunken Mary Beth proposed.." (Just to be clear, while Todd frequently looks rather fetching, I've never seen Mary Beth even tipsy. I just like the image.)

And, of course, taking minutes is simply the best possible way to demonstrate to the board how poorly I grasp any given issue. They already know that I haver, but I was hoping to keep the whole poor grasp of the issues thing as non-public knowledge. Oh well.

Respectfully submitted
Leta, Secretary for WATCH

I totally haver

I love the Proclaimers "500 Miles" and after hearing the song for years and years my curiosity finally demanded that I find out what "haver" means.

\Ha"ver\, v. i. [Etymol. uncertain.] To maunder; to talk foolishly; to chatter. [Scot.] --Sir W. Scott.

And that's today's lesson in "How to increase your Scot's vocabulary through pop music."

Thanks, Proclaimers!

When I wake up, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next to you.
When I go out, yeah I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who goes along with you.

If I get drunk, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you.
And if I haver, yeah I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who's havering to you.

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles
To fall down at your door

When I'm walkin, yes I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who's walkin hard for you.
And when the money, comes in for the work I do,
I'll pass almost every penny on to you.

When I come home, (when i come home) oh I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who comes back home to you.
And if I grow old, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you.

When I'm lonely, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the man whose lonely without you.
And when I'm dreaming, well I know I'm gonna dream,
I'm gonna dream about the time when I'm with you.

18 April 2005

I knew it!

And so does everybody else, really.

You Are 55% Normal

(Somewhat Normal)

While some of your behavior is quite normal...

Other things you do are downright strange

You've got a little of your freak going on

But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

Not as Southern as I thought

Well, they didn't ask if I say "for" or "fo-wer" when counting...

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English

25% Yankee

15% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

Thanks to the pedant

My favoritest Shakespeare song *ever*

Which is - conveniently enough - from my favoritest Shakespeare play ever.

It was a lover, and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding.
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
Those pretty country folks would lie,
In spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding.
Sweet lovers love the spring.

This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino:
How that a life was but a flower,
In Spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding.
Sweet lovers love the Spring.

And therefore take the present time.
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
For love is crowned with the prime.
In spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding.
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Something Different

Among their other children's shows, Elden Street does an annual show called "Something Different," which is fables and fairy tales from around the world, told by a troup of six or seven actors in a fun and high-energy style. It's theater for kids, so there's at least one chase through the theater and the house. This year's stories included "The Tiger and the Pit," "The Tortoise and the Hare," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Peter Cottontail."

7-year-old Samantha and I headed out with the necessities for the day - I had the car keys and she had her Disney Princess Ariel cell phone (which was much admired at the theater) and $10 in "mad money," provided by Stacey. She took a call on the Toll Road - from Krista, I think - and explained that "I'm going to see a play, so I can't talk right now. I'll call you *after* the play." Krista is probably still waiting for her return call.

Sam likes to sit in the front row, so we got there nice and early, which gave us time to hang out with Mary Ann and Sally, something I always enjoy. This also meant that Sam got to learn about headsets,which will serve her well when she becomes a Stage Manager. She also got introduced to Dave in the lobby (where he was avoiding vocal warm-ups) and he was informed of her Stage Management tendencies.

We took our seats at 10:42 and the first "how soon?" question happened at 10:45. We were joined in the front row by Ashley and her Mom. Sam was showing Ashley her cell phone and mad money and asked me what "mad money" was, so I explained about having enough money to get home if one gets mad at one's date, which led to a discussion among the four of us about how old is old enough to date. Sam opined that 16 is a good age. Ashley - who is nearly 5 - said that she already *has* a boyfriend. (Tragically, this relationship is doomed, as Ashley and her family are moving to Connecticut soon.)

Sam asked at about 4-minute intervals when the show was going to start. I told her that it would start after Miss Holly closed the curtains at the door and the lights went down over the audience, which happened at 11:08. So, basically, Sam and Ashley were pretty darn patient: 10:42 - 11:08 is a long time to wait for something to start. (Next time we'll remember to bring one of her books.) After the show, Dave asked Sam if they'd missed any cues and she said, "Well, you started 8 minutes late." (Okay, in the interests of full disclosure, she wasn't wearing a watch and I was, so she got that piece of info from me. At 11:08. She passed it on to Dave over an hour later. I stand by my assessment of her theater future.)

The show was just terrific. Lots of energy, lots of jokes - both good jokes and dumb jokes - for the kids and the adults, and engaging actors. I think that "Hansel and Gretel" was my favorite of the day, simply for the sight of Dave in a big, pink, fluffy skirt with matching hair thing. (And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here to see Dave in the big, pink, fluffy skirt with matching hair thing.)

Director Holly was committed to cross casting, so the man in the story of the tiger in the pit was played by a woman, the tree was played by a human, etc. And in "Hansel and Gretel," the woodsman was played by a woman as were Hansel and Gretel. Vivian - the woodman's spoiled, nasty fiancee - was played by Dave in the aforemetioned BPFSWMHT. (Note: guys ~ community theater is an excellent way to meet women. Just keep in mind that you may be doing it while wearing a BPFSWMHT.)

After the show, Sam asked Holly if she could go backstage because she got a backstage tour her first time there and as a future stage manager she needs all the behind the scenes info she can get. Holly refused on the (completely legitimate) grounds that the evening shows props were making the backstage area a bit of a hazard, not to mention that Sam might be a hazard to the props... So Sam found Sally and got a tour of the booth. (Another reason to keep bringing her - I'd never been in the places she's getting toured through. Thanks, Sam!) And she got to climb down the circular staircase, too.

And then it was off to McDonalds. Sam, it seems, can navigate the mile-with-four-turns to the McDonalds after having been there twice before. Another data point for that whole Stage Manager thing. Stage Managers are filled to the brim with useful information. We split a couple of Mighty Kids meals and headed home.

The Reluctant Dragon goes up in June. I've already invited Sam.

15 April 2005

No creepier than the rest of modern life, I guess

Deb sent me a link to something called ZabaSearch this afternoon. And like a lot of "How to be a Stalker from the comfort of your own home" sites, you just type in a name and state, hit search, and you're provided with a list of possible hits. ZabaSearch gives you the name, as much as they know of the birthdate, address, and phone number. Click on the name and you can "search the web" for further information, click on the address and you can see a satellite image of the neighborhood. Part of the "search the web" feature is a link to an image search.

So just for fun, after I typed in my own name, I typed in the names of a few other people. I was able to retrieve photos of folks I barely know, addresses of same, some date-of-birth info. Most of the stuff I got was about what I'd expect, some was educational. (Hmmmm. I didn't realize she was older than me.....)

But, you know, outside of feeling like a minor Law and Order character for a few minutes ("Interesting. Can you open his e-mails for us?" "Sure, this system is pretty simple." "Thanks - hey, Ed - look at this!"), most of this same stuff is available many, many places on the web. Heck, as a comparison, a few seconds with Google Image Search gave me the company name, address, and job title of the wife of a friend. I can find out on line how much my neighbors pay for their houses. AOL is happy to tell me when my buddies are on line - in fact, AOL used to tell me how long they'd been on line, so I'd know at a glance if Mollie had been on for 10 minutes or 3 hours. And AOL will still tell me if an e-mail I've sent to another AOL member has been read or not. They aren't yet able to tell me "yep, read that, and deleted it, so forget getting an answer," but that day will come.

There is, theoretically, an opt out on ZabaSearch, but - again - the information is already out there. The only way to truly opt out is to have an unlisted phone number and no e-mail or webpages and to work for a company that doesn't believe in posting its staff's pictures on the internet. Creeped out as I am by the thought of anyone with a few bucks and some idle curiosity (or not so idle) ordering a "background check" on me, there's not that much I can do about it. So I'm going to keep my paranoia in reasonable check.

We don't yet live in glass houses, but, thanks to the web, we all have great big picture windows. And no curtains.

Wave to the people - they're watching you!

13 April 2005

Just a little heads up

I adore finding The Flibbertigibbet on people's blogroll. Outside of the being recognized as an actor off-stage (which has happened to me), finding a link to me - me - ME is the coolest thing ever.

So I'm going to return the compliment and update my own blogroll, which is where the heads up comes in. If I read you on a regular basis, you could end up on my blogroll. If you don't wish to be there because you'd prefer that strangers not read your stuff or whatever, just drop me a note and ask me not to list you.

Why David won't be the very first person I thank when I win a Tony

Because he's only willing to stipulate that I'm the finest actress of my generation if we narrow the definition of "my generation" to the 24-hour period in which I was born.

I will thank him, of course. Probably second or third.

I am so put upon.

12 April 2005

Heading for the pokey

David in Steamboat is raising money for MD - at least that's the excuse he gives for his upcoming incarceration.

He seems like a good guy, so I'm going to chip in to release him back into society. Society can thank me later.


Brush up your Shakespeare

From today's Writer's Almanac. And while they may be the Jeopardy! plays, I'm still glad that I recognized each of them because otherwise the Professional Organization of English Majors would rip off my epaulettes.

(Jeopardy! uses Ockham's Razor - the most obvious answer is usually the correct one. So for years some of my friends and I have referred to obvious answers as "Jeopardy! answers.")

"Shakespearean Sonnet" by R. S. Gwynn.

With a first line taken from the tv listings

A man is haunted by his father's ghost.
Boy meets girl while feuding families fight.
A Scottish king is murdered by his host.
Two couples get lost on a summer night.
A hunchback murders all who block his way.
A ruler's rivals plot against his life.
A fat man and a prince make rebels pay.
A noble Moor has doubts about his wife.
An English king decides to conquer France.
A duke learns that his best friend is a she.
A forest sets the scene for this romance.
An old man and his daughters disagree.
A Roman leader makes a big mistake.
A sexy queen is bitten by a snake.

11 April 2005

Just for Brett

Brett believes that I see people from my high school everywhere I go. Sort of like a Sixth Sense for Blair grads. So here's another one.

I was in the grocery store this evening, picking up a few things and noticed this tall, red-haired man, who looked vaguely familiar. "Boy," I thought to myself, "that sure looks like Charles." We ended up in the same check-out line. He was wearing a lanyard with a badge and according to the badge, it's the same Charles, alright. He's a grad student at Maryland. I'm guessing in one of the "really hard" sciences.

(Of course, the worst day for Brett in that respect was when Olendar brought someone to a party at Brett and Cate's and I looked familiar to her. In Brett's own house, I ran into someone I knew in high school. Really, no where is safe.)

Outside of Google, possibly my best research tool

Savoynet is - ostensibly - an unmoderated electronic mailing list dedicated to discussion of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the operas they wrote, British culture and musical theater of their time, and related matters. Our listowner, Marc, does his level best to keep "related matters" reasonably narrow, but now again something that is pretty much off-topic, but still pretty darned interesting wanders in. Today it was "glass records."

Savoynetter David posted, in response to a question about glass records:

In the rec.antiques.radio+phono newsgroup, Jim Mueller said in 1998:

It sounds like [glass records are] "instantaneous" records. There were two kinds (AFAIK, I'm not an expert). The cheap ones had a paper core with lacquer coatings while the good ones had an aluminum core. They were used with home recording equipment to make records that could be played immediately, just like we use cassette tapes now. Audiodisc was one of the brands that made these.

Cutting a record requires a lot more torque than playing one so the turntables for this purpose had an off center drive pin to ensure that the disk didn't slip. This pin fit into one of the extra holes you mention. There's no magic to three holes, one is enough.

Some of the recorders cut in the conventional way, from the outside in. However, some did it the other way, starting at the center. Try both to find the one that works.

Since these were recordable records, they are soft and easily damaged. If you have any thought of preserving them, play them with a modern low tracking force player. Even then, their life will be a lot shorter than conventional records.

You can find these disks with all sorts of stuff on them. I have a pair that seem to be a voice letter someone sent home during WWII.

If you find one with no grooves, that means it hasn't been recorded yet. Also, during WWII, these disks were hard to get so some inventive souls found a way to record on used X-ray film!

I learn something new every day, I swear.

How to torture English people

I auditioned on Thursday for Round and Round the Garden and, as it's an English comedy, English accents are required. Clare was being kind enough to run the auditions and Clare is English, so she was trapped in a room listening to Americans bringing out their very best "I grew up watching Monty Pyton and I love Ab Fab" attempts to sound English. We ranged from very, very horrible to not all that bad to pretty good. And the director was wise enough to say that he was more interested in acting choices than in vowel sounds, so if maintaining an accent this early on was an issue, just don't worry about it.

Years ago I auditioned for another English accent required show. I could either act or maintain what I thought sounded like an English accent. And even then, it wandered all over Great Britian and up and down the American Atlantic coast. I vowed to improve. So I listen careful to any one I meet (or hear on the radio) whose accent differs from mine. Sometimes I don't remember what they said, just that the word "combatent" got pronounced "COM-ba-tent" instead of "com-BAT-ent."

And I got better. I'm still not great, but on a 1 - 10 scale, I'd give myself a 6: I miss the most obvious traps, but I'm not fooling anyone who actually has the Queen on their money. And my accent isn't specifically located, i.e., it's not Nottingham or Cambridge, or what-have-you. I basically just go for clear vowels and short consonents. And if I'm ever cast in something that requires a very specific accent, I'll beg a boon from one of my England-based Savoynet friends (Bob is Welsh, f'rinstance) and ask them to tape my lines so that I can copy their accent.

I mentioned to Clare later that listening to us all evening must have been special kind of hell for her. And while she didn't say so, the deep breath and lack of comment was all the confirmation I needed.

10 April 2005

Bitter - table for one!

Okay, I stole that from Bridget, but, damn, it comes in handy.

I find that when I don't get something I want I wander around singing You Can't Always Get What You Want to myself. (And following the example I got from The Big Chill, I also want it played at my funeral.)

But the best way to find the entrance ramp for the Getting Over It and Moving On Highway is to recall my favorite Matt Groening cartoon. This guy - or very large, bug-eyed rabbit, I forget which - is spawled on his couch answering quiz show questions. He is obviously a bitter, disgruntled, drunken slacker. Finally he yells at the tv "Idiot! Those prizes are rightfully mine!" So I chant that few times in between choruses of the Rolling Stones. It really works.

But - and this is a big but {fail to insert big butt quip here, just don't do it}, one of the really positive things about The Audition Where I Was Brilliant, The Finest Actress of My Generation, and Yet Not Cast Because the Director Went Another Way is the amount of positive feedback I've gotten, both first and second hand. So no matter what else, thank you and merci to Andy, Bill, Dave, Laura, Lisa, Sally, and a couple of others. I really owe you guys.

....but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need....

09 April 2005

Because Bill is also a guy

Independence closes on April 30th.

I have a matinee on the 24th. You don't.

08 April 2005


I auditioned recently for a show and, although called back, wasn't cast. Here are the two songs (well, one and part of another) that have been running through my head since.

From The Mikado by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan (1885)

(I won't describe the entire plot, but, basically, Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah are bewailing a nasty turn of events.)

The Mikado:
See how the Fates their gifts allot,
For A is happy--B is not.
Yet B is worthy, I dare say,
Of more prosperity than A!

Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah:
Is B more worthy?

I should say
He's worth a great deal more than A.

Yet A is happy!Oh, so happy!
Laughing, Ha! ha!
Chaffing, Ha! ha!
Nectar quaffing, Ha! ha! ha!
Ever joyous, ever gay,
Happy, undeserving A!

Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing:
If I were Fortune--which I'm not--
B should enjoy A's happy lot,
And A should die in miserie--
That is, assuming I am B.

The Mikado and Katisha:
But should A perish?

Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing:
That should be
(Of course, assuming I am B).
B should be happy!Oh, so happy!
Laughing, Ha! ha!
Chaffing, Ha! ha!
Nectar quaffing, Ha! ha! ha!
But condemned to die is he,
Wretched meritorious B!

From Duran Duran's "Ordinary World":

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrow
It's all gone away

I love the Duran Duran because it's the only pop song I can think of that points out that our tragedies are, compared to so many other people's, just unhappiness, not earth-rending at all. And on the plus side, I'll get to hear Maureen sing the first one because she did get cast in her first lead in the show for which she auditioned. Good on ya, Maureen!

Because Casey is a guy, too

Okay, so last year I was the production minion for a show at the Stage. And because I liked the guys in the show and because I liked the production, I saw quite a few of the 14 performances. (To David's unending gratitude, I am no longer off book for most of the text and, therefore, no longer quote it incessantly.) Anyway, the guys were usually pretty glad to see me - I was Mary Richards to their Lou Grant, Ted Baxter, and Murray Slaughter. Or not, but I like the image. Perhaps I was Anybodys to their Riff, Tony, and Action. No matter.

After one Sunday mat, Dave was walking me to my car and he asked me - as he asked after every performance - "Will we see you again?" I looked at him for a moment and asked back "You ask me that every time you see me. Why do you continue to ask the question when you don't listen to the answer?"

"Leta, I'm a guy. What do guys think about?" "Uhm...food, sports, and sex." "Right answer, wrong order."

A few weeks later I was asking my friend Michael to explain something to me and he started his explanation with "Well, what do men think about?" and I told him the above anecdote. He actually said - before I could - the "right answer, wrong order" line. (And not - as many of you are thinking - because I'd told him the story so often that he's memorized it. Ha!)

What brings all this to mind? Sweet, darling Casey is in a show. And every time I talk to him - since he was cast a couple of months ago - every time I talk to him he asks if I'm coming to see it. And I've dutifully told him that yes, David and Maura and I will be there on the 10th. That, yes, I have a reservation, because, yes, I know that the show is selling out. (I was starting to feel like Molly Bloom with all those "yeses.") So I told him the story. And while he says he's not that much into sports, he gets the point. Casey has sworn that between now and Sunday, he will remember that I am coming. On the 10th. With David. And Maura. And reservations.

This can't be true

I've had a couple of occasions in the last few weeks where I have thought that I am the least crazy person I know.

And I am frequently a total mess. So my math must be off somewhere.

Filling the Godzilla poetry gap

Bill Chance attended a poetry workshop and wrote what is probably the finest poetry I've ever read about 600' tall, fire-breathing lizard.


07 April 2005

Okay, I really *don't* need any more t-shirts

But I'm thinking of having one made. It'll quote something Paul said months ago and which I repeat to the computer every time I see that one of the blogs I consistently check has had no recent entries:

Dude! Update!

Words to live by, my friends, words to live by.


At 3:00 am, I woke up. No reason, really, just woke up. It happens when I'm stressed or for no apparent reason.

I've learned that lying there with my eyes closed will get me back to sleep about as fast (and much more boringly, with lots of thoughts of "dammit, I'm awake") as getting up and doing something. I'll be awake until about 6:30 or 7:00 and then be wiped out when the alarm goes off at 7:20. And I'll be tired all the next day. Which really is too bad, because I got in late on Tuesday night and got to bed around 2:00 am, so I'm already short sleeped.

And my boss just loves it when I nap at work, especially at the front desk....

06 April 2005

Embracing my inner priss

Hi. My name is Leta. I am ... a priss. (Hi, Leta!)

I admit it; I'm a priss. A girly-girl. I run and throw "like a girl." I'm not fond of getting dirty. I don't like eating watermelon from the rind because it's sticky. I refer to my undergarments by old-fashioned, faintly ridiculous terms like "underpinnings." I don't wear big, clunky boots unless I'm hiking; don't mind wearing pantihose; like make-up and perfume; and like to wear skirts. I lift my skirts when climbing stairs - even knee-length skirts - giving the odd impression that I believe that I am likely to trip over them. When I express shock, dismay, what-have-you, my hand flies to my throat and my fingers rest on my collarbones for the next couple of sentences.

I refer to my favorite beverage as "a nice, hot cup of tea." I read cozy murder mysteries. Unlike my mother and sister, I have never enjoyed fart jokes. I generally don't belch when people can hear me. I have no problem asking men to open jars after my best efforts have failed. I hate carrying heavy stuff. I give great back-rubs to both men and women. I'm very tactile and touch people pretty often as I talk to them. I call people "Sweetie," and "Honey" more often than a Baltimore diner waitress.

My condo may not relect it often enough, but I enjoy cleaning and I regard the tidiness (or lack thereof) of my living spaces as a reflection on me. I'm territorial about my kitchen and, although I can both use a power screwdriver and clean a kitchen, if I had to chose which one people thought I was incapable of doing, I'd chose the former. It bothers me that David's house is both cleaner and better decorated than mine.

I don't mind spiders and snakes, but I don't like stepping on bugs, especially big ones that make noise when stepped on. I believe in catch-and-release when it comes to tiny wildlife (like bugs). I coo over babies and small children and cute animals. I flirt with most living humans and I bat my eyelashes when I want something. I talk a lot and most of my conversation is, um, not deep.

Let's be clear, though. I don't decorate with angels or embroidered up-lifting twee sayings. "Floral" and "ruffled" aren't featured in either my decor or my wardrobe. I hate fussy clothing (like blouses) and love comfy clothes (like sweaters). My favorite clothes are from The Territory Ahead, Eddie Bauer, and Victoria's Secret. I think that the door should be held by the first person who gets to it, regardless of sex.

In any generation except the one of which I'm a member, none of this would be remarkable, but I grew up in one of the transitions between the girly-girl and the all-around-competant-woman. The guys I know really admire women who wear big boots and use power tools. Especially women who own their own power tools and bring them to strike. (I'd rather clean the dressing rooms than disassemble the set, frankly.) The day of the girly-girl has given way to the day of the grrrl. Like dial telephones and hand-written letters, I'm a quaint holdover, but not cool.

And - outside of wanting to be all things to all people - I'm okay with that. Finally.

The Quotable Me


After being asked if I was going to Buxton, England this year to attend the annual G&S Festival, I replied that I couldn't because "[my mortgage holder] won't let me, for they are a vain and jealous god."


Lisa and Laura and I were sitting together at an audition recently. The room was filled with people with elevated blood pressure, taking things much too seriously. Usually in this sort of situation, we try to remind ourselves that it's only a play and that the worst thing that could happen would be not getting cast. So, I turned to Laura and said, "So, what's the worst they can do to us? ... Well, actually, drag us through the streets behind a huge carriage, covered in tar and feathers, with signs stuck to our butts that say 'Has no talent and wasted our time.'" The three of us found this idea to be pretty stress relieving. Lisa even asked on her way out if she had a big sign on her butt.


In an e-mail exchange with Laura and Sally, after Sally decried her busy schedule and promised to have more available time in the near future, I wrote back:

"You know, that very phrase 'Things should start to calm down for me in another month' is probably the biggest lie I tell on a consistent basis."

Admittedly, this more a statement of fact than an amusing quip, but I'm going to quote myself, I might as well go for it.

01 April 2005

I want a Google Gulp!!

I may now possibly have a crush on each and every Google employee. Geek love.

Google Gulp