30 July 2007

Because I needed more stuff

David and I spent the weekend at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherstown, WV. That is to say, we saw four plays in three days at Shepherdstown and stayed two nights at Casa Dad & Audrey, which meant that I got grits and bacon for breakfast, a comfy bed to sleep in, and the good pleasure of hanging out with my folks. CATF is my favorite weekend of the year.

There is always a certain amount of theater-related stuff for sale at CATF (David and I each have a ball cap and I have a spiffy red t-shirt) but this year they really got with the program. Someone finally figured out that audience members will crack their wallets open faster for intermission treats than for pretty near anything in else theater. And so this year fridges were rounded up and placed in the lobbies of the two theaters and interns sold cold drinks and ice cream treats in addition to the tchotchkes. Oh frabjous day!! Callooh! Callay! If they find a coffee maker for next year I don't think that I'll be able to stand the excitement.

There was also an audience survey which offered a 10% discount on the aforementioned tchotchkes to anyone turning in a completed survey. David and I each completed a survey and then I went shopping. They let me use David's survey to get 10% off of an overpriced - but exceedingly fetching - t-shirt that says (wait for it) "thinktheater", which I already do a lot, so I thought I might as well have it on a t-shirt. And (using my survey) on a travel mug and a director's pen, which has a little light built into it for taking notes in the dark. I also liked that the town gets a look-in, so the complete text on my very important geeky new stuff says:

Shepherstown, West Virginia
oldest town / newest plays / ultimate theater experience

While I am grateful that an American theater festival doesn't spell it "theatre," I am still wondering if everything would have cost more if they had used spaces between the bolded words.

I don't normally buy the sorts of things that are sold in lobbies, and I rarely wear t-shirts, but obviously this week's casual Friday will have to spent inducing people to thinktheater.

* Heck, the Stage probably paid the light bill for a dozen years from the sale of the finest boxed wine in Montgomery County, available before the show and during intermission, thank you very much.

26 July 2007

The best excuse ever

The trés nifty person who posted this response to an e-vite has some really lovely (and enviable) body art and I don't, but that's not going to stop me from heisting his regrets for any future time that I have to decline something.

Especially as all my friends have heard "Oh, I can't - I have rehearsal" way too often.

Thanks for thinking of me, but I will be out of town--vacation and getting my tattoo colored in

The bio I didn't write

Leta ([character]) is thrilled to be making her on stage debut in this production of [show] at [company] at [address and website, and possibly Google maps link]. She is totally blown away by the wonderful cast and crew. You go, guys! Leta thanks all the gods for her talent and thinks that the burnt offerings have something to do with it, but if your pet goes missing it wasn't her! (Hee hee hee). During the day she talks on the phone and answers personal e-mail (jk!). Big hugs to Sweetie and all the peeps!!

23 July 2007

Red Wind

Today is Raymond Chandler's birthday, so I thought I'd post the only bit of his writing that I've known since I was child. (Thank you, Mr. Grant.)

Those hot dry winds that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen.

From Red Wind, which I really must read in its entirety some day.

21 July 2007

For Paul and Kathryn

This is from Gilbert & Sullivan's Ruddigore and it's one of my favorite of their madrigals.

(Rose Maybud)
When the buds are blossoming,
Smiling welcome to the spring,
Lovers choose a wedding day –
Life is love in merry May!
Life is love, life is love in merry May!

Spring is green –
Fa la la la la la la la!
Summer's rose –
Fa la la la la la la la!
It is sad when summer goes,
Fa la la la la la!
Fa la!

Autumn's gold,
Fa la la la la la la la!
Winter's grey,
Fa la la la la la la la!
Winter still is far away,
Far away —
Fa la la la la!
Fa la la la la la la!

Leaves in autumn fade and fall,
Winter is the end of all.
Spring and summer teem with glee:
Spring and summer, then, for me!

(Dame Hannah)
In the spring-time seed is sown:
In the summer grass is mown:
In the autumn you may reap:
Winter is the time for sleep,
Winter is the time for sleep.

Spring is hope –
Fa la la la la la la la!
Summer's joy –
Fa la la la la la la la!
Spring and summer never cloy.
Fa la la la la la!
Fa la!

Autumn, toil –
Fa la la la la la la la!
Winter, rest –
Fa la la la la la la la!
Winter, after all, is best,
After all –
Fa la la la la!
Fa la la la la la la!

Spring and summer pleasure you,
Autumn, aye, and winter too –
Every season has its cheer,
Life is lovely all the year!

My Will

I don't remember how it came up, but the other night after seeing Never the Sinner, David, Laura, Lori, Karen, and I had hit the Royal Mile for a some refreshment and fellowship. Yeah, that was it, fellowship. Anyway, I don't remember how the topic of wills came up, but they did and so I mentioned how much I love the way my will begins. I had it drawn up when I was 22 and moved out of Mom's house (and if you are old enough not to live with your parents you are old enough to have a will). Ed, the lawyer who drew it up for me is another history geek and he used the oldest will form that is still valid in the state of Maryland. And he gave me the then-standard Markland discount, so this will is quite possibly the best $25 I ever spent.

A few years ago I re-typed it to make a few updates and every year somewhere near my birthday I check to make sure that it's still current. If I need to change anything it's a pretty simple matter to correct it, reprint it, and take into to work to be witnessed and notarized.

I used to do dramatic readings of the first two paragraphs (the remaining paragraphs are only of interest to me and the poor souls who will inherit three generations of debts and junk), so if you haven't had a chance to hear it read aloud, here is my



I, LETA {}, of Montgomery County, Maryland, being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, and capable of executing a valid deed or contract, considering the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time thereof, and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs and thereby be the better prepared to leave the world when it shall please the Almighty to call me hence, do hereby make, publish, and declare this my LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, hereby revoking and annulling all wills and testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me, in manner and form following, that is to say:

FIRST, and principally, I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God and my body to be cremated. And my will is that all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid by my Personal Representative as soon after my demise as shall be convenient; the reasonableness of the sum of my burial expenses to be in the discretion of my Personal Representative, hereinafter named, statutory limitation, or the rule of the court notwithstanding.

20 July 2007

Where were they when I needed them?

WikiHow has an article today on how to Hint for a Kiss from a Guy.* I think I spent most of my teenage years trying - and failing - to get kissed because I was a very late bloomer. I have done what I could to make up for lost time since but when you are 16 and your mother and your 13-year-old sister date more than you do, well that's just embarrassing. "Sweet 16 and never been kissed" wouldn't have been so annoying had it not been true.

Here is something to ponder from that piece: You don't have to be really obvious about it. Many guys will take the hint, especially if they've read one of the many articles that lists this as a sign that a girl wants to be kissed.

Yeah, well, subtle I am not.

I've dated a couple of people who have mentioned that I sometimes have a "kiss me" expression that they have found hard to resist and at least once I was told to stop that but I wasn't doing it on purpose. Okay, I was thinking, "gee, I wish he'd kiss me." But that's not on purpose. I mean, try to stop thinking that. See? Now you'll spend the rest of the day wondering if I am wishing that someone would kiss me.** So, obviously, it would be hard for me to stop thinking that.

Now here is advice I could have used a few years later.

And it turns out that the cute girl at Starbucks is not wishing that you would kiss her.

*Number 6 worked pretty well on David.

**Probably yes.

18 July 2007

Desk Dancing

Most people who have met me are aware that I am one lousy dancer. Some times people can tell this within seconds of meeting me and, thus, I am very rarely asked to dance.* And I don't dance voluntarily very often, but I do sometimes desk dance, which is when a great song comes on the radio while I'm at work and I bop along with it. (Desk dancing is very similar to car dancing which is not the same as taxi dancing.) I am actually a pretty good desk dancer.

Anyway, Schelby of 94.7 (The Globe**), played my "e-quest" and we got to hear "A Little Respect" by Erasure. So I turned up my static-y little radio and desk danced. Lots of shoulder and head movement, very little hips or below. My desk dancing karma is good, so I don't usually get co-workers wandering by when I rock out and today was no exception. It was a private little moment for me, Schelby, Erasure, and anyone else who was desk dancing around the area.

But you know the best part? When Schelby announced the e-quest, she pronounced my name correctly. Twice.

*Except at Mike and Shannon's wedding that Steve and I attended several years ago. One of Steve's college friends, whose name is at the very minute escaping me (rats!) (Mike, maybe? Steve's world is as filled with Mikes as mine is with Davids), wandered over to me at one point and said "Two things about this wedding are bothering me. One is that not enough people are dancing and the other is that no one is dancing with you. We can solve of those if you'll dance with me." Lovely, lovely man.

** The completely non-sucky DC-area radio station, of which there are darn few. For a market as large as this one, our radio choices are amazingly poor. So I pretty much listen to either NPR on WAMU or to 94.7

How to sell more tickets?

I got an e-mail from ESP today announcing that tickets are going on sale for Side Show. The part that really got my attention was this note at the bottom of the e-mail:

This announcement of for informational purposes only and no obligation to attend is required on your part.

I hadn't realized that the rest of their shows were compulsory. That probably explains their excellent sales figures...

Perhaps the Stage should consider a similar message on our e-mails. Only without that odd little "of for" construction.

17 July 2007

One I like

Ira sent me a list of "medieval pick up lines." Hidden among the usual run of single-entendres like "Hey, Princess, you wouldn't happen to know where a lonely knight could scabbard his sword, would you?" was this rather poetic bit:

If the Gods would grant me into anything of my liking, I'd become your tears. Born in your eyes, live on your cheek, and die on your lips.

14 July 2007

Now *that's* acting

Actors from time to time say things that would never come out of their mouths in real life.

Two of my favorite examples:

I did a production of California Suite a few years ago and one of my castmates, Russell, was playing Billy, who is seeing his ex-wife Hannah for the first time in several years. All you really need to know here is that the character Billy was played by Alan Alda in the movie back when Mr. Alda was the poster boy for the sensitive male and that Russell is politically somewhere to the right of the John Birch society. Anyway, at one point when Hannah and Billy are talking about their daughter, Billy says "If you respect her as a person, you have to respect her right to make a free choice." Russell came off stage after a rehearsal and I grinned at him and said "Now that's acting!" and he agreed.

When David was in Six Degrees of Separation, his character, Larkin, at one point happily exclaims "We're going to be in the movie version of Cats!" I think David would rather snack on broken glass than be in the movie - or any other - version of Cats. Now that's acting.

In Significant Others, the one-act that David and I will be performing at the Silver Spring Stage one-act festival (first weekend, August 16 - 19), there is not really a "now that's acting" moment, but there is one bit that for people who know the both of us is somewhat unlikely. The run of dialogue goes something like this:

Husband: I have disclosed everything that I have.
Wife: Except for your stock options.
Husband: Which have no value until they're sold.
Wife: They have net asset value. I keep track of it every day. I know the value of your holdings better than you do.

The chance that I would know something that contained numbers better than David is pretty small. And the chance that I would know something regarding finance better than David is vanishingly small.

On the flip side are what I call "no acting required" moments and we have one of those in Significant Others as well. Sometimes talking with my beloved is like testifying in a Congressional hearing as he does a simultaneous fact check on my decidedly trivial conversation, and thus this dialogue was probably written as Steve followed us around and took notes:

Wife: We are on the veranda, consorting ...
Husband: Is this a veranda?
Wife: For our purposes, it is.
Husband: Are we consorting?
Wife: You bet we are.

No acting required. None.

My project after Significant Others is called Taking Leave and I'll play the pain-in-the-butt eldest sister. I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to whether that will be an NTA or an NAR performance.

12 July 2007

A Gift from a Playwright

Steve quotes a couple of lines of this poem in Significant Others and so I had to look it up.

Recuerdo (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

We were very tired, we were very merry-
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable-
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry-
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, ‘Good morrow, mother!’ to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, ‘God bless you!’ for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

11 July 2007

The hardest thing about directing

Without question, the most difficult thing about directing is having to tell a friend - especially a very talented and easy to work with friend - that you are "going another way" with a role.

A director friend of mine is composing several of those messages right now. And I'm sending him a mental hug or two.

10 July 2007

Well, duh

I could have told you this. It costs to be gluten-free. In fact, I did. You read it here first.

The article points out: "The study found that gluten-free food was 240 per cent more expensive on average, and was carried at 36 per cent of supermarkets and 41 per cent of upmarket shops, forcing shoppers online, or to specialty health food shops."

Some Whole Foods (not the ones near me) carry products from their Gluten-Free Bakehouse. The Cranberry Orange Scones and the Peanut Butter cookies are both rather good. (Remember that the gold standard for gluten-free is "not bad" and that the average is "not terrible." So this really is an achievement.)


Here is the ingredient list for the Peanut Butter cookies: Peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, tapioca starch, rice flour, potato starch, soy flour, natural vanilla flavor, salt, xanthan gum, baking soda.

Now explain to me why they cost $5.99 for eight of them. How do I remember the price off the top of my head? Because that's 5.99 American Dollars for eight cookies. How could I not remember?

The Cranberry Orange Scones [Rice flour, tapioca starch, butter, orange juice concentrate, cream, eggs, dried cranberries (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), sugar, potato starch, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), xanthan gum, natural orange flavor, salt] were $5.49 for either four or six of them.

An entire package of Oreos is what? $3.49 or something? And they go on sale sometimes.

So, yes, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, it costs more to be gluten-free.

Next week they follow up on an observation my sister made when she was five: Eat fat, get fat.

Please connect me to JUniper 7-5423

JUniper 7-5423 was my phone number when I was growing up. Or mostly was because by the time that I came along, exchange names were on their way out, although they could still be found in ads and in the phone book. I just never heard anyone say them, or at least not seriously. (At one point in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Maggie is asked for the telephone of the hotel, the Mansion House, which she gives as Mesalia 32, so I've said that on stage a bunch of times.)

Because I'd only read them, in my head my number was "Juniper-7-5423," but I've recently heard people (okay, actors, whatever) running the five numbers together, so it would be "Juniper-75423" which just seems harder to remember to me and I have no idea which was preferred. Perhaps, it was an either/either thing.

David is kind enough to make me calling cards ever since the time he saw me give someone one of my deposit tickets for my checking account because neither of us had any paper handy. (I tore the account number off of the bottom, but he was still appalled.) He lists my contact info and this blog's address and includes a pretty little graphic. They are lovely and much nicer looking than my boss's business cards. And because David has heard me rant about the tiny type on business cards (tons of white space, medium grey print the size of bacteria - what is up with that?), they are in a nice, clear, easy to read, reasonable font.

And now they'll have my exchange on them! David mentioned The Telephone Exchange Name Project the other night and sure enough David Pescovitz posted a link to the TEN Project on Boing Boing yesterday which David forwarded to me. I reviewed Ma Bell's list of Officially Recommended Exchange Names, got all misty-eyed about JUniper, and then selected BLackburn for my mobile number. My office number begins with "57" which was reserved for radio operators which means that it has no historically correct exchange name, so I've "created" KRypton for my office number.

The next time you see me, be sure to check out my spiffy-retro calling cards.

09 July 2007

Why it's time to go back to rehearsing

David and I were on the phone last night and I had just told him something (deeply personal and very meaningful, but no matter) and there was silence at his end of the line because he was distracted by a tv ad for a freakin' big box store. He started to describe it to me.

"Oh, is that the one with the woman who wants to be her daughters' hero because she can put up shelves now?"

"No, but there's a lot of soft focus and people wandering around outside. There is a woman."

"Oh! Does she have lots of red hair?"


"Yeah. That's Sue. She moved into the building a few years ago and the garden was sad and desolate so she went to the store and got lots of gardening advice and bought lots of gardening stuff. The garden has turned their apartment complex into a home."

Dialogue reconstructed from my rather poor memory for that sort of thing because who the hell takes notes when she's on the phone chatting with her Man?

06 July 2007

How to write a pardon

"By My Hand, and for the good of the State, the bearer has done what has been done."

Cardinal Richelieu, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père.


In A Prairie Home Companion's weekly newsletter, Garrison Keillor prints a letter from a listener. This week's regards distribution credit. Geeky as I am, I have still been guilty of public radio conflation and I'm glad to know that Mr. Keillor doesn't hold it against me.

Dear Mr. Keillor:
Does it ever irritate you when people refer to APHC as an "NPR" show? Because, as far as I know, it was NPR that turned down the show back in 1978 and it's American Public Media that distributes it now.

It's astonishing to see how consistently this error is made. I've seen it in AP stories, on public radio station Web sites and even on the Web sites of musical artists who are careful to point out that they have appeared on your show. Or am I wrong?

Edmund M.
Energy, IL

PHC was never distributed by NPR, and you're right about NPR declining to distribute it lo these many years ago, but no, it doesn't bother me. NPR is the organization in Washington and "NPR" is the common term for public radio, sort of like kleenex means tissue and xerox means photocopy, even if you're using Scott Tissue and an HP copier. I suppose the NPR references bother the folks at APM and they probably have someone whose job it is to call up the AP and complain, but I don't care. I am just very very grateful that NPR didn't pick up the show for distribution back then because if they had, I'm pretty sure the show would've died a painful death by committee. They can have all the credit the AP wants to give them, so long as I don't have to report to some vice-president in Washington.

05 July 2007

How to return $5

This works especially well with guys who don't know me well yet.

"It was great seeing you. I'll call you the next time I'm in town. Buy yourself something pretty."

04 July 2007

Personal Shopper

David and I were at Target the other day and I made two purchases: a pair of shoes and a tube of lipstick. As is usually the case with me, the more expensive item was the quicker shop. David pointed to a pair of cute, little platforms (at 5'7", a style I normally don't spend a lot of time on)* which we agreed would look spiffy when we go on a real date**. Tried them on, decided to buy them, moved on. Three - five minutes, maybe.

Back in college Sarah told me that every woman needs a tube of "good whore-red" lipstick. It took me years to realize that in that phrase "good" was modifying "red," not "whore," but no matter; I was out and needed another. The lipstick, of course, required scouring every make-up related rack in the store and comparing and contrasting colors and brands and prices and types. I would hold a tube up to my face and get David's feedback on how it worked with my coloring. I'm a winter, but I still avoid reds that are too blue.

To my great delight, I found a L’Oréal color (#350) called British Red which fits the bill. It's a true red without a blue undertone, it looks fabulous, and it wasn't too expensive. (woot!) How long did it take to finalize this choice? 10 minutes, possibly 15. And he has a better eye for this sort of thing than I do, so having him there probably cut the decision time in half.

David's first real experience with my shopping inversion was back in January when we went to buy me a new winter coat (Christmas present. Isn't he the cutest thing?). We went to Macy's, I think, and he pulled out 3 or 4 coats and I pulled out two. Tried them all on. Chose the dark green, wool/cashmere Ellen Tracy trench. Twenty minutes. Later that day we stopped at the market for a few things, including some body wash for me to keep at his house. So many brands, so many smells, so many attributes.

For the record, I don't really like body wash or lotion that smells like fruits or vegetables,*** so that elimination was pretty quick. I found a nice "clean cotton" smelling one whose price didn't offend me. Twenty five minutes.

Yep. It takes me longer to pick out a $5.99 bottle of body wash that I will use up in a few months than to pick out a $200 coat that I will wear for years.

I will be wearing my spiffy new color today, in case you'd like to admire David's consulting handiwork.

*I was 5'7" by the time I was 12, when platforms were also popular. I bought a pair of 5-inchers, bringing me to 6' at a time when all the boys in my class were 5'4". (Idiot) But David's 6-something (1? 2? Who can tell with his Alan Alda slouch), so the additional altitude is no longer such a bad thing.

**Real date means doing the sorts of things that regular people do instead of the things that theater people do. Like go to dinner somewhere with tablecloths.

*** Herbs, spices, tea, and flowers are all fine. I don't know whether ginger, a root, counts as a vegetable or not, but it smells like a spice to me.

Using his powers for good

John the Flirt and I share a trait. (Okay, we share a bunch.) We talk to strangers and for both of us it usually works out well. Not only does John talk to strangers, but they talk to him. He seems to have met another of our people at a recent Nats game and he was able to combine his superhero level of social skills with his love of the game.

Like almost all tiny children, she thought I was awesome

It ain't just the tiny children, sweetie.

03 July 2007

Local Shmocal

I've been reading a fair bit lately about eating locally lately, which seems to be a good idea. Eating locally, that is, not just reading about it, although they start to lose me when I consider how little tea is grown in Maryland.

And I'm completely off the page during Mt. Rainier cherry season. Forget the lips of painted Maypoles, these darling pink orbs are the real kissing cherries.

When my boss noticed how happy I was that I had some, he asked what the difference is between the Mt. Rainiers and regular cherries (outside of the price), I told him that the MRs are milder, sweeter, and prettier. Sort of like the difference between me and him. And I gave him a couple, both to prove my point and to ensure my continued employment.

I'm having dinner with the lovely Fencergal tonight and guess what I'm bringing to the party?

I wouldn't care if they had to be trucked in from Mars, I'd still be all over 'em.

But then I could never hear it again

My friends and I noticed several years ago that as soon as we buy a copy of a movie, we never see it again. If we're playing flippy-channels and run across it, we don't stop because "we have that on DVD" and we never seem to pop in the DVD. I don't know why, I'm sure, but we don't.

So please don't buy me this.

Every year on Independence Day, NPR staffers* read the Declaration of Independence from start to finish. I more or less plan my 4th of July morning around hearing that and by the time we get to with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, I'm all teary eyed. In fact, I'm a little verklempt just typing that phrase.

There's something about that document that appeals to so many parts of my personality: the need to lay before other nations a tidy list; the "if we don't hang together we shall surely hang separately" teamwork; and the willingness to put their names to it and take the consequences. They were far from perfect, but they were better men, and far more heroic, than I.

The Declaration itself tells us early on that our country will never be perfect or even not hypocritical: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. In the 18th Century the set of "all men" - at least in Virginia - meant all male, white, Protestant, landowners over the age of 21. The rest of us were not so equal. And many of us are still not so equal.

So we'll never be perfect but we keep trying. Jefferson said “I am among those who think well of the human character generally. I consider man as formed for society, and endowed by nature with those dispositions which fit him for society… his mind is perfectible to a degree of which we cannot as yet form any conception.” But now I'm digressing into the Constitution, which for some reason I find less stirring.

Anyway, if you miss the reading tomorrow morning, the text is available on The Archives Declaration page.

Of course, if you're shopping, I wouldn't mind this.

*On-air staffers, of course, I never get to hear Stacey or Bej reciting our grievances, more's the pity. Although if they did, and if I got to choose which one Stacey would read, well, duh, it would have to be For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury because that would sound as though my G&S-hating pal were decrying the absence of that operetta. Which would be so neat.

02 July 2007

How to make a director happy

Send this e-mail before rehearsals begin:

The question marked conflicts that I listed in late August have been resolved. [Brief explanation] so my only conflicts during the during period are: [Three dates, only one of which was scheduled for a rehearsal.]

And, yep, that means I've been cast. Details will be posted in the sidebar, probably tomorrow.

And, yep, that means that you can expect an uptick in my posting rate as I avoid line memorization. Much dusting and vacuuming will also be accomplished.

The Nekkid Scottish Play

Okay, first another Pinter story.

I went to see a couple of Pinter's short plays up at Rep Stage and sitting behind me were a couple of high school juniors (or seniors) and their chaperon. Or just an adult friend, I dunno. Anyway, the scenic design included a big painting. The young lady wondered aloud who the artist was and I said that it was Magritte. "Of course! That's it!" (Okay, sure I could have kept my mouth shut and let her wonder in vain, how likely was that? Get real.)

At which point, after identifying a piece styled after the work of a Belgian surrealist, I became (wait for it), the Pinter expert. So they asked me what they should look for in the two pieces we were about to see. Almost as if they thought the evening was going to be on the final and for all I know, it was. I thought for a minute and then said that perhaps my best advice was that they keep in mind that sometimes what was being said was the least important thing that was happening.

They digested this for a moment and then the young man said, "Oh. Like Shakespeare?"

"Uhm, no. Not like that all. Shakespeare is all about the words." And then I spent the last few minutes before curtain silently trying to come up with a better 180-degree difference than Pinter and Shakespeare.

Which brings me to what I'm calling The Nekkid Scottish Play. The Washington Shakespeare Company decided to do the bard's show which is set in the far north of Britain (you know which one I mean, right?) in the nude. Yep. Naked as they day they was born. The article about the show in the Washington Post was called "Staying Within Their Costume Budget."

I hadn't intended to see the show, but it was lit by my pal, Ayun, and any evening spent admiring Ayun's handiwork is an evening well spent. Even if I am acquainted with some of the actors in the cast and will find myself making small talk with them in theater lobbies in the near future. That won't be weird.

After the first few minutes the nakediddity (or however Radar spells that) wasn't that big a deal anymore. It stopped being distracting by the end of scene one and the direction and performances were both good enough that I didn't much care if they were wearing crowns and tabards or just hairy, dirty skin.

But I am left to wonder why. Not why I was no longer distracted, but why they were naked. I couldn't think of anything in How Not to be King or Even Get Kings that was better expressed sans-culottes. If anything was distracting, it was the why, why, why in my head. My theory is that Shakespeare's history plays could be collected into one volume and "Reigning Justly and Wisely; or Not Coming to a Bad End by Being Evil 101" could be taught from it. (Informally called, of course, How to Be King.)

According to Shakespeare and his rather OCD approach to knowing one's place, kings are chosen by something greater than ourselves and ambitious self-starters like the Thane and R III come to learn that they can't jump the line. And a king is every inch a king even when hairy, dirty, and naked, so a naked king, if a rightful king, is still a king.

And as people have heard that I saw it, pretty near the only questions they asked me about it were "Why?" and "Did it add anything?" My answers: "Dunno" and "Not really."

The only thing that came close to being offensive about it was a tasteless joke posted to the G&S list to which I subscribe and WSC can't be held responsible for that.

Tonight I'm going back for a reading of Measure to Measure, which I am assuming will be fully clothed. In the meantime, here's a story from "The Onion," Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended, that could not possibly be more apropos.

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper an' Snork

I know this so you should, too: According to Kurt Andersen, Bob Marley so loved the theme to The Banana Splits that he incorporated it into "Buffalo Soldiers."

Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la


Woy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy!

Which means that every time I hear "Buffalo Soldiers," the Banana Splits song is brain-gummed into my mind. Really perks up the work day.

For those of you who missed the stoned genius of late 60s "kid" shows, here's the full theme song. If you don't want it stuck in your head, I'd look away now.

The Banana Splits
Written by Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan

One banana, two banana, three banana, four
Four bananas make a bunch and so do many more.
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Comin' to bring you the Banana Split show
Makin' up a mess of fun, makin' up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone

Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la

Four banana, three banana, two banana, one
All bananas playin' in the bright warm sun.
Flippin' like a pancake, popping like a cork
Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper an' Snork


Two banana, four banana, one banana, three
Swingin' like a bunch on monkeys, hangin' from a tree.
Hey there, ev'rybody, won't you come along and see
How much like Banana Splits ev'ryone can be


Makin up a mess of fun
Makin up a mess of fun
Happiness for ev'ryone
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la

01 July 2007

The words were so much alike

As a Christian, a history buff, and a G&S geek, I have three words in my vocabulary over which I always stumble, so I find that I get about halfway through one, back up, and then pronounce it syllable-by-syllable as though I had only learned it ten minutes previously. Another one of them crops up in Never the Sinner two or three times and I am so used to my own issues with them that I cannot be sure that Jacob didn't pronounce it all four ways.

They are:

From the church - Calvary - the hill where Christ was crucified;
From history - Cavalry - horse-mounted soldiers; and
From G&S - Calverly - the Colonel in Patience.

The judge in Never the Sinner - to whom much legal bickering is ostensibly addressed but who is not seen on stage - is a Caverly.