Saturday, November 20, 2004

Anything Goes

We opened last night! In general, I thought it was the smoothest opening night I've ever seen at DMTC. The reason for the smoothness is that we are beginning to reap the benefit of investments of time and energy that Michael Miiller, Jennifer Walley, and Mike McElroy have made over the last six months in the nuts and bolts of set design: reusable, sturdy, modular platforms being the principal example. Plus the hard work of Doug Freeman and Don David. And again, Jason Hammond had the set design planned out well in advance (it always helps to be prepared). I feared the size of the set required to simulate a large ship would cripple and distract our available manpower, but that did not happen. And the set design is clever, and it economizes on work required during the show. So, the cast was free to concentrate on the show itself rather than being unnecessarily distracted by the set and furniture hustling. Excellent work by everybody!

As the hyperalert Stage Manager, it doesn't mean the performance was flawless. There were still some issues. Don was flung into running the light board with little preparation, so there were some lighting miscues. Herb and I carefully worked out when I was supposed to call lights on the second scene: it was when "she" came on-stage with him. Only trouble, I didn't know who "she" was, so Kelly and Herb idled away impatiently in the dark as I waited for "she" to make some kind of magical appearance. Noel was carefully trying to move her cart of refreshments backstage, but instead bounced the cart like a pinball off the closely-packed furniture - I thought the strange jangling sound of rattling bottles was some kind of bizarre cellphone ringtone. Megan and Steve would have bumped bellies in the dark if not for the table between them that Megan was carrying, so instead, both merely ended up with gouged shins from the table base. Andy missed a rimshot because of too much backstage conversation. And lastly, Gayle didn't get the memo about wearing gloves in the last scene.

Still, considering some of the nightmarish things that have occurred on opening nights in the past, I am immensely relieved. We've got a great show, and the audience loved it!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Event Moments

There is a wonderful story, in the December 2004 issue of Harper's Magazine. In 1963, Thomas de Zengotita, and a studio full of Method Acting students, mistook fragmentary news of JFK's shooting for the premise of an acting improvisational exercise. On cue, the actors plumbed their souls for the emotions they would express if JFK had been shot. The students were very good at their craft, and their pain was inconsolable. News eventually filtered in, however, that JFK really had, in fact, been shot and killed, leaving the students, who had already been in a state of shock, in an embarrassed agony too deep for their formidable acting skills to express.

I began thinking about the event moments of my lifetime - those moments where you can't help but remember where you were when you heard the news. These are close cousins to the vivid memories associated with crises.

The most important series of events in my lifetime so far have been the dissolution of the Soviet Union. No other events come close in regards to their unexpected surprise and historical importance. There are so many stories to tell, and no time! Here are partial lists of both Crises and Events that come to mind:

Cuban Missile Crisis
1967 Urban Riots
Tet Offensive
Invasion of Cambodia
Apollo 13
Iran Hostage Crisis
1983 S. AZ Floods
1989 E. European Crisis
Berlin Wall breached
Desert Storm
Soviet Union dissolved
Bush vs. Gore
No Iraqi WMD

JFK's Assassination
Apollo 1 Fire
MLK's Assassination
RFK's Assassination
Apollo 11 - Landing On the Moon
Reagan's Attempted Assassination
Challenger Destroyed
1987 Stock Market Collapse
Invasion of Kuwait
Soviet Coup Attempt
OJ Simpson Verdict
Princess Di's Death
September 11th
Columbia Destroyed
A Moment From "Ola Na Iwi"

Larry Lew, Maria Ramirez, and the star of the show, dem bones!
1954 Home Computer

Another urban legend bites the dust.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


With Dick and Jane. Oy gevalt!
Beautiful Things

What exactly do the lyrics of "Beautiful Things" (Andain/Gabriel & Dresden mix: also, DJ Tiesto) mean?

Over at Let's Sing It, the discussion starts wide, but gets very close to the mark. First, there is the general sense that the singer "isn't the same anymore and she thought she was doing the right thing but was wrong and all she is really doing is standing still." Another suggests that she has committed suicide: "she is talking about her regrets and in hind sight looks back at all the beautiful things she's missing out on." A third contributor makes a much better analysis, though:
The words in this song lead me to believe that she is talking about marriage!

She's wakes up early to find her only name is missing. No one sees but she got stuck since forever (marriage is forever) came. Her name must have crept away. No more unpredictability of the single life. No one's calling for her, no more men coming and going in her life.

Take this happy ending away its all the same! Marriage is suppose to be a happy ending. But shes feeling like perhaps this is not what she wanted. "I forgot that I might see, so many beautiful things" Life is beautiful, love is and perhaps having children and those moments. In the chorus, she is saying that it can be so beautiful, but in the lyrics she is questioning all that.

I think the words that really get me is "look straight ahead there's nothing left to see, what's done is done this life has got it hold on me", she is saying that there is no use in looking at what she left behind and her new life has a hold on her, perhaps she's happy with it and is trying to talk herself into not thinking about what she has left behind.

At the end she's doubting she made the right choice, wondering if she could change her mind, looking at the life she had.

This song is about conflict, giving up one life for another and the stuggle in doing that.

I guess it hits me because I have been there. Marriage is beautiful but sometimes it's hard to imagine what you gave up for it.

Myself, I think the song is not just about marriage, but about aging, in general. Distracted by the beautiful things of youth, one day we notice that life has moved on and we remain stuck.

"Beautiful Things" (DJ Tiesto):

Got up early, found something's missing
my only name.
No one else sees but I got stuck,
and soon forever came.
Stopped pushing on for just a second, then nothing's changed.
Who am I this time, where's my name?
I guess it crept away.

No one's calling for me at the door.
And unpredictable won't bother anymore.
And silently gets harder to ignore.
Look straight ahead, there's nothing left to see.
What's done is done, this life has got it's hold on me.
Just let it go, what now can never be.

I forgot that I might see,
So many beautful things.
I forgot that I might need,
to find out what life could bring.

Take this happy ending away, it's all the same.
God won't waste this simplicity on possibility.
Get me up, wake me up, dreams are filling
this trace of blame.
Frozen still I thought I could stop,
now who's gonna wait.

No one's calling for me at the door.
and unpredictable won't bother anymore.
and silently gets harder to ignore.
look straight ahead, there's nothing left to see.
what's done is done, this life has got it's hold on me.
just let it go, what now can never be.

Now what do I do?
can I change my mind?
did I think things through?

It was once my life - it was my life at one time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Chinese Cuisine, Yum!

If Chinese cuisine prizes soup made from the saliva-cemented nests of cliff-dwelling birds, what won't they celebrate? Here are some cheap condiments to die for. Posted on Die, Puny Humans:
Chinese soy sauce manufacturers say they want to continue making human hair sauce because it's much cheaper than using soybeans. But outrage caused the Chinese government to ban the process, although many unscrupulous soy makers continue prowling barbershops for their economic alternative.

A Bit Tentatively...

....washing his hands, he quietly asked, "So, did you bring a book?"

AHA! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
An underground subculture of teenage girls who bond over their eating disorders and glorify bone-thin celebrities has surfaced on the Internet, in a growing trend that experts say frustrates treatment.
As harmful as it is, there is a certain kind of lunar, mind-over-matter glory to anorexia.

I remember once at my relatives, waiting for the arrival of one of my cousins: the "anorexic" one, whom I hadn't seen in quite a while. As we waited, we talked among ourselves about body self-image, healthy eating, peer pressure, and fashion industry imagery.

Expecting an ethereal waif, I was more than a little surprised when a bronzed Amazon strode through the front door. She skipped the inane pleasantries, sallied forth into the kitchen, yanked opened the refrigerator and shouted, "Isn't lunch ready yet? I'm starving!"
An above-ground uberculture of middle-aged worrywarts who bond over their eating disorders and glorify morbidly-obese celebrities has surfaced everywhere, in a growing trend that experts say frustrates treatment.

Doris Browning, RIP

Funeral service tomorrow: rather unusual circumstances. Condolences to the Browning family.
Nov. 17, 1968

A walk down memory lane by the folks at Daily Rotten:
NBC preempts the final 1:05 from a very close Jets-Raiders NFL football game with "Heidi". Two touchdowns were scored during this missing time. Sports fans everywhere applaud and understand the network's decision.

Quatrain Fatigue

Usually lunchtime consists of sitting in the little booth at Subway, and blowing a fuse as I read the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Lately, though, K. has been explaining his theories regarding the proper interpretation of Nostradamus' quatrains as I eat my lunch.

Normally, the predictions of Nostradamus are ominous and portentous, but they make little sense. It doesn't matter whether you read them in French or English.

K. is convinced that a numerologist like Nostradamus would have encoded the true meaning of the text. One should read the quatrains like a page written in HTML, with the various lines as hyperlinks to the true meaning.

When K. arranges the quatrains with the Chaldean numerological system, the predictions of Nostradamus are ominous and portentous, but they make little sense. When K. arranges the quatrains with the Pythagorean system, the predictions are portentous and ominous, but they still make little sense. It still doesn't matter whether you read them in French or English.

I mean, come on Nostradamus, the North African Arabs and the Poles will never be at war with each other. Neither will they ever be allies. It's not personal. It's geography. So why write about it?

And famous bridges that collapse. It's happened many times in the past. It will happen many times in the future. A famous bridge was destroyed in the city of Mostar in the recent Yugoslav wars. Doesn't mean Nostradamus predicted it.

In fact, I predict that a famous bridge will collapse or be destroyed sometime in the next 7,000 years. Guaranteed. Nothing ominous or portentous about it.

All this begins to make me pine for the stupidities of the Wall Street Journal. At least their predictions have to meet the acid test of reality (excepting the economists who use dynamic scoring to measure the economic effects of tax cuts, of course).
Your Stage Manager is Ready to Help

Last night, several of the dancers were standing in the wings, bent over at the waist, vigorously shaking their bodices. D. explained that, with these particular costumes, there was some danger that their boobies would escape and come squirting out the sides.

Well, I'm always ready to help remedy wardrobe malfunctions. If frantic stuffing fails, we can always try duct tape.
A Little "Salt Air" Would Do Me Some Good Too

"Dark Ride": Deborah McMillion-Nering must have the old amusement park on the coast of the Great Salt Lake in mind.
What Osama Wants...

Osama Bin Laden has been granted religious approval to use a nuclear bomb against Americans, according to the CIA's former top Al Qaeda expert.
Iconclastic Icons

(Courtesy of Noel)

Can't They All Just.... Get Along?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Blue-State Secession

Growing up in New Mexico, I was always painfully aware how dependent we were on the kindness of the coasts, and how perilous a course it would be to 'go red'. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, New Mexicans receive two dollars from the feds for every dollar taxed, the highest disparity of any state.

You gotta do what you gotta do. The blue states need to teach the red states some lessons in power (easy for me to say this - I live in California now).

Monday, November 15, 2004

Runaway's Fiddler

Saw Runaway Stage's Fiddler on Saturday. Even though I expected to be bored stiff (having done the show twice), it was actually quite nice to see. I had heard beforehand, through the grapevine, that there were dancing issues, but I didn't see choreographic problems, just a group of dancers with varying levels of experience trying to function in a very crowded space. Our crowd had many issues of varying importance, of course, the most serious of which was the misstep of having Fyedka beat Perchik at the end of the wedding scene (would Chava risk offending Hodel by marrying Fyedka after such a faux pas?) Nevertheless, there were many nice touches: Fruma Sara, Tzeitel, and I liked Bob Baxter's quickness. The set and lighting were fine (the house, small as it was, was nevertheless awkwardly large for the space).
Department of Redundancy Department

Being stage manager for 'Anything Goes' looks like oblivion. By design, many of the normal stage manager functions will not be required: no curtain opening and closing, little furniture shuffling, and not many blackouts to administer. Basically, my role seems to be to make unnecessary conversation, impede the progress of the dancers in and out of the wings, and sweep the floor. Time to bring a book.
Error Message?

(Courtesy of Bruce - I know Gabe, you told me about this a long time ago, but it's still fun)

1) Go to
2) Type in: weapons of mass destruction (DO NOT hit return button!)
3) Hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button.
Strange Women Lying in Ponds
Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

Yes, you are right. Better government comes from friendly women lying communally in ponds:

Deborah McMillion-Nering's Weeki-Wachi Mermaids
Filthy Lucre

Best possible use of stolen greenbacks!

Speaking of cash, E. is on a winning streak again, despite having lost her wallet at Thunder Valley Casino and having it returned intact by an honest person (myself, 25,000,000 times bitten, 25,000,001 times shy).
Generational Touchstones

It can be maddeningly difficult to spot the events in popular culture that truly have an impact on people's lives. Three years ago, in 2001, my 20-some year old friends were agog when I announced that I had no idea what "The Princess Bride" (1987) was all about. How could I have missed the most influential movie in world history? I was importuned incessantly with, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father: prepare to die." But it turned out, when I finally rented this movie to see what it was all about, that I HAD seen it, back in the late 80's: it was just that the movie made no real impression on me at the time, and I had forgotten it. I was not in the real target group (birth years approximately 1977-1980, age range approximately 9-12 when the movie was released) for whom this movie became a touchstone.

My touchstone, when I was that age, was the heroic effort of the U.S. Space Program to send men to the Moon. Sputnik echoed through my childhood. Musicwise, tunes like Tommy James and the Shondell's "Crimson and Clover" caught my imagination. I wrote earlier how I suspect the movie "Xanadu" was Kylie Minogue's touchstone.

So, what are likely generational touchstones for the generation born about 1985-1987? My favorite candidate is "Sally's Song," Danny Elfman's creation from 1993's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Unlike "The Princess Bride," "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is darker, in many ways more powerful, and is even more likely to have left a big imprint on young minds.

I remember how "Sally's Song," sung dolefully by Catharine O'Hara, really took my breath away when I first heard it. It reminded me of the day I listened, as a hummingbird rested nearby, and sang an eerie, high-pitched song of longing and loss - until then, I never knew hummingbirds could sing! The bird was so pretty - what could possibly be sad in its life? Did she miss her home in the cool mountain forests of Mexico? Quien sabe?

Sally, having witnessed an omen of doom, tries to divert Jack Skellington from his dangerous Christmas mission, but fails. She sings of unrequited love, looming loss, and a sense of her own insignificance (eternal themes of childhood and adolescence). Here is a photo, from this Web Site, with lyrics:

I sense there's something in the wind
That feels like tragedy's at hand
And though I'd like to stand by him
Can't shake this feeling that I have
The worst is just around the bend

And does he notice my feelings for him?
And will he see how much he means to me?
I think it's not to be

What will become of my dear friend?
Where will his actions lead us then?
Although I'd like to join the crowd
In their enthusiastic cloud
Try as I may, it doesn't last

And will we ever end up together?
No, I think not, it's never to become
For I am not the one