25 September 2008

Best work quote of the day (so far)

You're screaming at the choir here!

22 September 2008

How to have a successful community theater career

Own enough underpinnings that you don't have to do laundry too often.

Make sure that you have enough big girl panties to get you through the most stressful Tech Week. 'Cause you're never stressed alone.

19 September 2008

How to convince me to go somewhere

5 e-mails:

From Carol in NYC:


Would you have any interest in going to Torquay in November? The reason I ask is that Claire and I have been trying to think of someone who would be a really congenial third person in our rental car...and I KNOW you would enjoy it! Meriel is also a possibility, and you'd like her, too.

Just a thought...happy to provide details.



From Claire somewhere in England:

It would be great if you could join us, Leta. UK Qwerts are extremely silly, with a good deal of fooling about. If you can make a friend giggle in the *middle* of their aria with a smart remark, so much the better.

Driving down, it is obligatory to sing along with whatever I chose to put on the CD player - preferably loudly and out of tune, and also to share as much shameless gossip as possible, and if you don't have any, make it up !


From me to Jackie, our hostess in Torquay

Carol and Claire are doing a very fine job of convincing me to attend Torqwert V, so I'm information-gathering before I give them a solid "yes" or "no" today.

So, uhm, is there room for me? I am willing to share if someone was hoping for a roommate.

And (here's the fun one) I have Celiac Disease, which is an allergy to gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and a few other grains which makes feeding me a special challenge. I can send over a small box with a loaf of bread and a couple of other things that I can have if that would help. And I spend a lot of time reading labels on food. Fortunately, I am asymptomatic, so it's not that I'd need to be rushed to the hospital if I accidentally eat the wrong thing. And think how much beer you'll save, although I'll make it up in Whisky.

I hope all is well with y'all. It's definitely been too long since we've seen each other.



From Jackie in Torquay:

Yes, yes, yes. Of course we have room for you. Please come, especially if you don't mind sharing.

I know all about Celiac Disease as my brother-in-law is a really bad sufferer. Also, running a hotel you do get lots of people with special dietary needs. You don't need to send over a box - we can get gluten free stuff here which I will gladly get in for you.

Book that flight at once.


Jackie and Bob

From me to Carol and Claire:

It looks like I'm in!

I'm am smiling so broadly right now....

Where I'm going: The Torcroft Hotel on the English Riviera
Why I'm going: TorQWERT V

I'm going to surrounded by friends old and new, I'm going to sing a bunch of G&S, I'm going to be able to eat without bringing my own food, and I'm leaving the country again before my passport expires.

It's been kind of a stressful summer but I am really starting to look forward to the Autumn.

18 September 2008

This means something, I just don't know what

The new e-mail notification always makes me happy, thinking that it might be something good, either work-wise or socially.

The phone ringing gives me the opposite feeling, whether it's the phone on my desk or my mobile.

Text messages - even though they come through my phone - also make me happy. Even though I don't usually know who they are from.

Field Trip!

Or "The Humanities Major Infiltrates a Really Cool Government Facility" ...

Every now and then working with engineers pays off. For instance, the other day I got this in my e-mail:

Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 7:02 PM
Subject: You are invited by the IEEE/AESS and IEEE/ GRSS to Tour NASA on 9/16/08

Next Meeting: Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 at 10am

Topic: “NASA Technical Tour, Integration and Testing Facilities & Hubble Cleanroom ”

Presenter: NASA, sponsored by the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing and Aerospace Electronics and Systems Societies

Location: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

About the Tour: See how NASA builds, tests, and prepares for satellite missions.

Cost: Free

Naturally, I wrote back and asked to be included because how often does an English/Humanities Major get to tour science geekery on this level? I billed myself (to my bosses anyway) as the "corporate representative" to the tour and e-mailed the following to my friend Tim who is an astrophysicist at Goddard: "By the way, I'll be at Goddard for the IEEE tour on September 16th. No points for guessing who will be the only non-engineer there." and we made a date for lunch.

Finally, I would be going somewhere besides my office where my badge (or as I call it, my geek tag) would be considered fashion-wear.

The tour invitation got such a good response that the organizers had to break it up and do it over three days, so I got moved to September 17th. My goal was to not stand out as the Humanities Major in the room, so this morning I got up all bright and lark-like and selected an outfit from the non-Jane Austen end of my wardrobe spectrum: Black slacks, black v-neck shirt, maroon sweater, and flats. Good for walking around in, not likely to interfere with eqiupment that might cost multiples of my annual salary.

We started the tour in the Visitor's Center and proceeded to the theater where they have the Science on a Sphere (SOS) display. According to the brochure, SOS is not revolting breakfast fare but "a suspended 6-foot diameter sphere that displays 3D animated data of the planets, moons, and our earth. The GSFC production crew has also made the first movie to be seen on the SOS called 'Footprints'." Very, very cool. We got to see - among other things - weather patterns from over the past couple of months (think Gustav and Hanna and Ike*) up to that morning. When the guy behind me misinterpreted the data and said we were looking at "today" before we were I was the one who quietly corrected, "no, that's August." "Oh, so it is." He is a scientist. My cover remained intact.

After the SOS we boarded a couple of shuttles and were taken into GSFC proper and into Building 7/10 & 29.


The Building 7/10 Spacecraft Test and Integration Facility contains cleanrooms for spacecraft integration and special chambers for environmental test of spacecraft. Nine thermal-vacuum chambers, four large vibration platforms("shakers"), and an acoustic test chamber capable of 150 decibels are located in this facility. There is also a full-scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Building 29 Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility is a 7990 m² facility that contains one of the largest cleanrooms in the world. The High Bay Cleanroom is a 1,161 square metres (12,500 sq ft), class 1,000 (M4.5), horizontal flow cleanroom measuring 30.5 x 38 x 27 meters (100'x125'x89'). Its five 250 horsepower fans are capable of moving 25,388 m³/min (900,000 ft³/min). It has been designed to support the integration and testing of flight hardware and has the capacity to accommodate two full-sized shuttle payloads simultaneously and plays a major role in preparations for the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Missions.

(Thanks, Wikipedia.)

Specifically, the Cleanroom is the largest known Cleanroom in the world. Its 9 stories high, so pretty much everything connected to it just looks freakin' big. I am convinced that I passed a drawer on the tour labeled "Big A$$ Wrenches." (The drawer for sockets, alas, was merely labled "Sockets.") Sort of sums up the experience, right there.

There is a smell common to government facilities. It's not a bad smell, but it is very specific. It's kind of a mix of plastic, metal, and recycled air, with maybe just a soup├žon of ozone. I've smelled it when Dad took me on Navy ships and I've smelled it a few other places and it's there at Goddard. Maybe it's the smell of our tax dollars working very hard for us.**

Anyway, we were also taken to see the vibration platforms, the thermal test chambers, and ... the acoustic test chamber. The rule at GSFC is that if there is something that can be tested before an object is shot into space to roam the galaxies at 172kph, they test it. Hence, the acoustic test chamber. Picture loud. Picture the speakers that your most annoying neighbor ever owned. Now picture that speaker being, oh, 10 - 12 feet across. That huge freakin' speaker was quite a few feet overhead and we could only see the back of it and the several feet of business end that was resting on a platform overhead. We walked into the room that leads to the acoustic test chamber, our guide pointed up to the speaker and the group reaction was pretty much "Whoa!" I still tend to think "Whoa!" as I remember it.

Our guide told us that nearby staffers usually find a reason to be out of the building when things are being acoustically tested.

The last stop on our trip was the cyclatron, which a) is huge and b) can spin things up to a rate of 6g. Yep. Six times the gravity of the earth. Humans tend to pass out at 3g. Oddly enough, our guide wouldn't let us ride the cyclatron, but did point out the big mark on the wall from the last time that someone started the device without being 100% positive that everything was completely secured. We all agreed that a good goal was to not be the last signature on the checklist for that event.

As I was leaving the building it began to occur to me that those payloads must find space very restful after all the testing they go through in Greenbelt.

After our tour, I met my college friend Tim for lunch and although I'm sure that the other people enjoyed the tour very much, they didn't get to have lunch with Tim afterwards, so I can only pity them. Tim, who is both wicked smart and a nearly professional story-teller, is a very entertaining lunch companion. With my theater schedule and his two daughters starting their teenage years, we don't see each other nearly often enough.

Goddard hosted "LaunchFest" this past weekend and from what our guide told us, they had a good enough response that they'll do it again, possibly next year. If you get the chance, go. Maybe they'll let you ride the cyclatron...

*No, no, not "Gustav and Walter and Franz." Be serious.

**It is not, as Apocalypse Now teaches us, the smell of victory, as that has a strong napalm aroma.

Appetite grows by what it feeds on?

Desire has no object, only a singular cause: desire desires its own cause in order ever to perpetuate itself. The ego experiences desire in the form of psychological contents (”wishes”). The subject of the unconscious does not have desire - it is desire.

From Journal of Thieves

17 September 2008

My alma mater, not my year

David likes to check out the antique photos on Shorpy. Today he sent me this one of the archery team, cheekily labeled "I'm With Cupid."

Montgomery Blair High School girls, 1935

16 September 2008

Band Camp for Operetta Geeks

"...the all-time nerdiest thing I've ever been involved in, and I say that as a person who has been involved with public radio and marching band." Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot

I don't know which of my geeky hobbies would win for all-time nerdiest thing I've ever been involved in, but I suspect that the hot money is on either the historical re-enactment, the D&D, or the G&S Sing-Outs.

Or, as I put it in an e-mail to David:

Doug is also talking about coming. Largely, I bet, because in our ongoing "you are such a geek" conversations, he thinks that witnessing me singing G&S will count as a critical hit. As if. Anyway, he'll probably come to his senses and bail but if he doesn't, I can introduce you and you can protect each other from the G&S freaks and their show-themed t-shirts.*

Before I go any further, of course, I must mention that my D&D, G&S, and Re-enactment friends are among the finest, kindest, loveliest people I know. Smart and creative, too. And I do not make fun of them while standing superiorly apart. I am deep in their midst where I am happy and at home. But let's face it, any hobby you have to explain to people...

So the 4th Great Gilbert & Sullivan Sing-Out was held over the last weekend in August and I got to immerse myself in a full weekend with friends who get most of my references and are not only willing but happy to hang around talking about G&S and bursting into song. We infested the Rockville Civic Center's F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater and sang our hearts out.

Some highlights:

- Seeing Long-Distance Kate. I haven't seen Kate since she moved to Louisville nearly a decade ago. Since last we met she has acquired the love of her life and two daughters. Her sons - who I knew as little boys - are men. Good-looking men. One of them is engaged. Where did the years go?

- Seeing Local Kate. She lives less than five miles from me and yet we never see each other. Kate brought her daughter Ali who was 8 the last time I saw her a few minutes ago. She is now 15. Fast few minutes. I caught up with Kate and Ali and asked about Kate's other daughter, Sammy. "So how is the Fairy Princess?" "Exactly." As a toddler and little girl Sammy was dewily emerged from under a drift of flower petals. It seems that at twelve she hasn't changed. Look close in the pictures her mother carries and you can still see the wings, I swear.

- Seeing Debbie. Again, lives here. So we had to pay a bunch of bucks and commit to spending a beautiful weekend indoors to run into each other, but now we have a lunch date for next week. Completely worth it.

- Memorabilia. I finally bought a copy of the third edition of Harry Benford's G&S Lexicon which lists me in the acknowledgements. Why did Harry include me? I dunno. But he did and I feel all famous and learned about it. I've been meaning to pick up a copy for a while (I have an earlier edition), and now I have one. That fact that I am thanked and Larry isn't is probably the most surreal thing about G&S that I can think of.

- Buttons. We - of course! - sold buttons*** that VLOC folks made. When we were planning the last Sing-Out Denise mentioned that we'd need ideas for buttons. "Hand me a pen." quoth I. And a couple of minutes later I had listed a dozen which had sold handily. This time I e-mailed my suggestions in and ditto. Buttons are how geeks self-identify.

- All that singing. We sang all of them. All thirteen operettas. Sometimes I sang from the back of the house, sometimes from the stage, sometimes from the front of the house. But the absolute best was sitting on the risers during Pirates and just listening to the men. The men's chorus music in Pirates is so lovely, so lyrical, and from where I was I could hear those gorgeous, gorgeous harmonies. And this Baritone-preferring soprano just fell in love with the tenors because they earned it. They were glorious. And I could turn around and tune into each voice as I chose, so I got to hear old and dear friends like Les and Lyle because no matter how glorious the tenors are, a baritone's a baritone.

- And more singing. Sullivan might just as well have written in an alto and soprano line for certain pieces. "Cat like tread" and "The March of the Peers" are two of them. Tantantara! Tzing! Boom!

- The re-writes. Gary had a verse as the Major-General's song, which he has given me permission to post here. He and Local Kate wrote the lyrics together and smartly decided that as Pirates would commence somewhere after 10:00 at night, he would sing this instead of the traditional 3rd verse, not after it. Fabulous!!

When I can be a part of VLOC's Sing-Out here in Maryland,
And yodel thirteen op-er-as, from piracy to Fairyland,
When I can wrap my tongue around the issues in this patter song,
And listen as Kate Huntress-Reeve contributes to the Matter song...

When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern scholarship,
When Blair Eig sings the Roulette song and pockets a ten-dollar chip,
And when the Sing-Out's finished, all the fun and games will melt away...
When I am in my Lexus doing 80 on the Belt-a-way!

(When he is in his Lexus...)

It's often hard to think of rhymes that make the lyrics up to date,
But Kate and I collaborated! Now I fear it's getting late,
And so in making up a verse to (hopefully) amuse you all,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

I'm already looking forward to the next one in, I think, 2012. Must start warming up.

*As it turned out, Doug did have to bail, largely because his schedule was OBE. Rather a pity as he missed some damn fine singing** by some damn fine people.

**None of it, alas, by me. I clearly need to sing more as I was sorrily out of voice.

***Or, as I think of them now, "real live Flair."

My favorite thing about Pink's "So What"

She calls her ex a "tool." You just don't hear that enough in pop music.

Mm, cake!

Beth: Oh, that looks so good, what is it?
Gabe: Limone-mandorle-polenta.
Beth: Mandorle?
Gabe: Almond.
Beth: Mm.
Karen: Instead of white flour, you use polenta.
Beth: Oooh, what a good idea.
Gabe: And six eggs.
Karen: It's very eggy.
Gabe: And a ton of butter.
Beth: Mm, it's delicious.

Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies

Okay, so the girl with the annoying food allergy is doing a food show. Specifically, I'm doing a show where cast members drink coffee, eat cake, drink wine, eat salad, etc. In general - and I can do this because I'm asymptomatic, which means that I don't get actively sick if I eat something gluten-y - if my character needs to eat something, I eat it. But if there's an easy work-around, why not take it?

I asked Craig, our director, what he was planning to do about the one of the items that I am required to eat - the cake. He thought that he'd probably just ask the Properties Designer (the person in community theater responsible for things that carried, moved, eaten, etc by actors) to get a yellow cake. "Or I could get a gluten-free cake mix and be responsible for the cake."

I am usually happy to be responsible for: learning my lines, learning my blocking, showing up on time, and, um, performing. I am usually very resistant to being responsible for anything external to that. Why? Largely, because I am very lazy.

But I actually do like to cook and rarely get to do it. So the chance to cook and do a show, well, I volunteered to provide some of the food for a food show.

Gotta love the internet. Go to Google and type in lemon almond polenta cake and then just scroll through the returns (go ahead, I'll wait). Something I'd never heard of before I first read Dinner with Friends back in 2004 and something that had no real resonance for me before I went gluten-free (mostly) in 2005 is all over the web. I read lots of recipes, eliminated the ones that called for "flour", focused on ones that looked reasonably simple, and settled on this one from Nibb'lous.

It's a very easy recipe to make. Frankly, the hardest part was translating the measurements from grams to ounces, which wasn't even necessary as my measuring cup has both.

Some thoughts:

- If the recipe calls for softened butter, than the very first thing to do is put the two sticks of butter (the half-pound of butter*) in the bowl you'll be using and leave it on the counter as you create your mise.

- The Whole Foods near my place doesn't carry caster, or superfine, sugar, so I made my own by running regular sugar through the coffee grinder. This idea may also be all over the internet, but I thought of it myself. (When I am not busy being a complete idiot, I occasionally guest as a genius.)

- If the ingredients are listed in metric, then perhaps the oven temp will be as well. The cake takes an impressively long time to bake at half the correct oven temp. (And, thus, we are back to idiot.)

- I made a glaze for the top but instead of lemons I used key limes (donated to the cause by Mattie), sugar, and titch of cornstarch. Tastes lovely. Boils in nothing flat. Do not turn your back on it.

- None of the recipes I found suggest using a parchment round in the bottom of the pan, but good luck getting the cake out in one piece without one.

- With all that butter and all those eggs, this is one really moist cake, which a good thing as far as eating on stage is concerned.

The second time I made the cake, I set the oven to the correct temperature. Worked out much better. Mattie and I tasted attempt #1 and she gave me some good feedback. Laura, Sally, David, and I tasted attempt #2 and the rest went to the theater for my castmates to try.

I figured that Andy, who actually has to eat his piece would be given a primary veto. If he hated it, we'd use yellow cake or something similar. Andrea has to eat some of hers as the lights go down, so she got a secondary veto. Doug has to plate it but doesn't intend to eat it so his opinions matter less. Craig, our director, got to try some because I like it when people eat my cooking.

They liked it!

So now I only need to make another 15 or so of them.....

*It's a seven-inch cake tin. That's an Alabama-level of butter in this cake. With the three eggs and the corn meal it just needs to be deep-fried to be an official Mobile recipe. And maybe served with a side of bacon.

15 September 2008

Where to find me

The Cameron Highlands Resort.

An interest in tea can take you to the exceptionally beautiful Darjeeling in the northeast of India or Kerala in the south or even to Uganda and Malawi in Africa... And of course, being served afternoon tea in ravishingly lovely hill country -- well, what could be more glorius?

Caroline Grayburn of Tim Best Travel.

My schedule:

Morning - get up, drink local tea. Look at pretty scenery.
Noon-ish (flexible) - have lunch and tea.
Early afternoon - nap.
Afternoon - Afternoon Tea amid the pretty scenery.
Evening - Cocktails and dinner.
Night - tea and a book.

I think I can be packed in about 10 minutes.

14 September 2008

My candidate

After much thought, I've decided to lend my support in this election to the Surprise Party. Technically, they haven't run for office since 1940 and their candidate, Gracie Allen, has been dead for over 40 years, but it would make me feel so much better to Vote for Gracie than anyone else I can think of.

She ran a positive enough campaign even for Brett.

In all seriousness, though, like Brett I'd far rather people try to convince me to vote for rather than against. And Gracie's campaign was no more insubstantial than the 3rd grade bickering we're getting from the current crop.

Vote for Gracie!

13 September 2008

Leta > Leta > Leta

Leta is busier than I am, but I am busier than Leta.

12 September 2008

Just because I miss it so

And because some days the thought of "shipwrecked and comatose" doesn't sound so bad.

The Red Dwarf Theme Song

It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere,
I'm all alone, more or less,
Let me fly, far away from here,
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.

I want to lie shipwrecked and comotose,
Drinking fresh mango juice,
Goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes,
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun
Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.

I’ll pack my bags, and head into hyperspace,
Velocity at time-warp speed.
Spend my days in ultraviolet rays,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun.

We’ll lock on course, straight through the universe,
You and me, and the galaxy.
Reach the stage, hyperdrive’s engaged,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun,
Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun.

Maybe I should just get the DVDs....

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mencken

"When things get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody."

H.L. Mencken, The American Language

11 September 2008

Both parties would say this proves their point

"America demonstrates invincibly one thing that I had doubted up to now: that the middle classes can govern a State. ... Despite their small passions, their incomplete education, their vulgar habits, they can obviously provide a practical sort of intelligence and that turns out to be enough."

Alexis de Toqueville

10 September 2008

This is what comes of allowing poets to write plays

Doug lent me his copy of Under Milk Wood, a play he talks about the way that I talk about Betrayal (except that he has actually directed both of them and knows them better than I ever will). I picked it up to read yesterday in order to clear my "library card" with him (which is written on the front of his script for Dinner with Friends so I remain very aware of it).*

So there I am, sitting in the Starbucks before rehearsal, and I open this thing. As I do so, Laurie swung by on her way to her rehearsal, saw it in my hands and asked "Who's doing that?!" "Nobody. I'm just reading it." "Oh." And off she went.

I read the little essay at the beginning and I read the little guide to Dylan Thomas's Anglo-Welsh pronounciation at the back. And then I needed to head to the theater, so I left the Starbucks and began to read the text as I walked.

Page 1.

To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless, night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
OMG. I coundn't just read it. No way. I had to hear the words and so, in my walking rhythm, I started to read it a bit aloud.

Page 2.
Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nanny-goats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman's lofts like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread's bakery flying like black flour. It is to-night in Donkey Stret, trotting silent with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercoulers done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy.** It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.
By now I was at the theater and tracked Laurie down just to tell her that "Oh, my God, I love this play. I'm on page 2 and I love it." "I know!"

During Andy & Andrea's scene, I curled up with in the back of the room, whispering the words like some kind of postulant with her breviary, stoppping only to poke at Doug and point out the amazingness (which he already knew) of bits like --
Mrs Rose Cottage's eldest, Mae, peals off her pink-and-white skin in a furnace in a tower in a cave in a waterfall in a wood and waits there raw as an onion for Mister Right to leap up the burning tall hollow splashes of leaves like a brilliantined trout.
Why he didn't just swat me away remains a mystery.

As I am reading his copy, I get to see all of his edits, directions, and the occasional thought which is the best part of borrowing someone else's script. Mind you, some of his edits make me sad; for good and sufficient reason, for instance, "sloeblack" is gone from the first paragraph. (Would you like to know the good and sufficient reasons? Ask Doug. It is not for me to reproduce them here because what happens in his reheasal hall, etc.) So no "sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack," alas. I may have to just start saying that randomly to myself to replace in the multiverse the number of times that phrase was not said in its entirety in his production. As always, the multiverse can thank me later.

Another nice thing about borrowing someone else's copy is that - unless that person is all German about her script's and book's spinal integrity the way I am - working copies of scripts tend to lie flat on the desk as one is typing out particularly good bits into one's blog.

He pointed out a few characters that he thought I'd play well. I am immensely flattered.

I'm on page 32 right now. There are only 95 pages, alas. I will probably re-read it before I return it. Maybe more than once.

*David is the only other person who refers to my "library card" in casual conversation about borrowed books.

** The next time that I need a screenname for something, I'm thinking that rosytinteacaddy is the way to go, except that a band in New Zealand thought of it first.

09 September 2008


by Emily Dickinson

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

05 September 2008

The best thing about working with someone named Rob

-- Is that you can move your action item higher up his to-do list by threatening to use your Laura Petrie voice.

At least it worked for me.

04 September 2008

The voices in my head

We had rehearsal this evening - an off-book run of Act I which was less painful than it might have been - so I've been listening to Andrea, Andy, Craig, Doug, and Jason this evening and for the past few weeks. And their voices have imprinted on me.

I find that this is a pretty common thing to have happen. When I did more G&S than just Sing-Outs and Sing-Ins I would end up with the G&S tape loop in my head. I would be trying to fall asleep or in the shower or whatever and, say, the men's chorus would fill my head with 15 1/2 bars of "We sail the ocean blue." That's right 15 *and a half bars*. So no resolution before we're back at the top of whatever section the men felt that I needed to hear right then.

This morning in the shower it was "Welcome, Gentry," in, I am very grateful to say, its entirety. The whole song. But at least it was the whole song. Of course, we got through the whole song several times before the shower was over and many more times on the walk to work.

Normally, one can get rid of brain-gum songs by replacing them with other songs. Worse songs always work the best, of course. But the only music I could come up with right now is other G&S and as "Welcome, Gentry" was playing to completion it seemed the better idea not to rock the boat. I could have had something from The Grand Duke stuck in my head after all.


We were dismissed reasonably early and I was at home, sitting on my sofa, petting my cat, and reading Kitchen Confidential** when I noticed that instead of reading neutrally, the words were in Andrea's voice. Andrea looks nothing like Anthony Bourdain. And she's tons nicer. So I banished her voice from the book.

This was only moderately successful, as Andy replaced her briefly and then Doug. And, in fact, as I was reading an interview at the back of the book, Doug was covering Bourdain and Andy was covering Daniel Halpern. This got to be kind of amusing, especially as I have no idea what Bourdain actually sounds like, so we kept Doug in that role and I started swapping out folks for the interviewer, first Andy, then Craig, then Jason.

I was least successful with Jason because I haven't been listening to him as intently or as long. As either actor or director, I spend a lot of time listening to people talking, saying lines, kidding around. I listen to pace and timbre and rhythm. Eventually the voice imprints on me for the next few weeks. It always starts as I'm reading the script and hear it in the voices of the cast. Eventually they just take over all printed matter and my e-mails are "read" to me by Lorraine or Angie or Cassie or Lori or whomever. Incorruptible had a cast of eight and all eight of them battled for the chance to read Time magazine to me.

It should only take me until about Sunday morning to get the current crowd out of my head. And, naturally, we have rehearsal on Sunday afternoon.....

*"Welcome, Gentry" has my favorite suggestive lyric in all of G&S: "Welcome, gentry / for your entry / sets our tender hearts a-beating." Yeah, don't it just.

**A book that I am finding strangely addictive. I've gulped it down like corn chips, even though Bourdain is pretty much like wasabi peas in terms of his rhetoric.

02 September 2008

Pretty song and pretty pictures

94.7 has gone back to an all classic rock format, alas. But look what I can console myself with after hearing too much Journey, Boston, and Tom Petty. I mean, I like them all but toffee for breakfast, toffee for lunch, and toffee for tea....

Still a bad influence

I got to see my friends David and Gwyn this past weekend at the Sing-Out (more on that later) and I got to hang out a bit with their adorable children.

When last I saw D&G, their daughter Dorrie was about 2-ish and their son hadn't even signed in. Dorrie is now 6 and John is about 3. At two Dorrie was a bit shy around strangers - she had a nicely polished, very effective "I don't know you, why are you talking to me" look, but at six she wants to tell you about her missing tooth and the gold dollar the tooth fairy gave her and how she is not going to spend it. John wants to be physically attached in some way because if you are going to like someone, you should really, really like them.*

And as the Baroness remarked about a man finding nothing more irresistible than a woman who's in love with him**, very few adults can fail to be charmed by small children who seem - out of an entire room of grown-ups - to find one's self the most fun to hang with. I know that I can't.

So we hung out and chatted and stuff.

And then I offered the Box Office Ladies coffee. (They were stuck in the box office most of the weekend, so whenever we had food or drinks or anything, we'd always offer some to them. They are very nice to us.) Dorrie and John wanted to help, so it went thus:

Dorrie added the creamer to the cup at my direction;
I swept up the creamer that chose to land on the table instead of in the cup (not Dorrie's fault - it's powdered creamer and you know how that stuff can be);
John supervised.
Dorrie shook down a packet of sugar and added it to the cup;
I told the children to step back from the table and added the coffee;
John supervised.
I stirred the coffee and Dorrie volunteered to carry it over.
John and I ran interference while Dorrie threaded her way with a hot beverage through a room full of oblivious adults;
I remembered to tell her that if the coffee started to slosh too much, she should just walk slower or stop for a second or two;
Dorrie arrived at the box office with no spillage whatsoever and received a very nice thank you from Kathy the Box Office Lady.

A little while later it occured to me that I might have asked their parents before I turned the children into waitstaff but if they are interested in theater, it's probably a good skill set to have.

And it's probably just as well that they are back home and out of my reach lest I teach them how to make Martinis in that same "think of it, do it, consider the implications later" way.

*Which means that John and I have a real bond because as many people can tell you, that's pretty much my M.O. Or, as I put it to Doug, the castmate playing my husband, when he asked about my boundaries regarding staging a scene "well, I'm rather tactile and I pretty much don't have any, so go for it."

**Not my experience at all, by the way, BLTP.***

***"But let that pass." A little rusty on our G&S acronyms? After this past weekend, I'm not. Not at all.