Saturday, October 29, 2005

Earth Belongs To The Living

A family of unicyclers were enjoying today's pleasant Saturday weather, on the nice, expansive pavement of the Old DMV parking lot, just behind my house, and adjacent to St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Meanwhile, in Woodland, Brian Forment is to be cremated by the Neptune Society, whose local branch is based somewhere in Carmichael. Interesting! There will be a memorial service tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the Woodland Senior Center (630 Lincoln, in Woodland). I won't be able to attend because of "Victor/Victoria," but hope to visit Woodland on Sunday evening.

When I saw Brian on Tuesday, he was in a hospital bed in the Forment family room, with Sally's many Nutcrackers arrayed next to the bed. "Isn't it ironic, at the end, that he is surrounded by Nutcrackers?" Sally said. I thought, 'well, he's surrounded by Nutcrackers, but there's nothing ironic about it.' Upon reflection, though, there is a bit of irony. Brian attended the many needs of Sally's Nutcracker for a quarter of a century, and it's ironic, at the end, the Nutcrackers were attending him.

When I die, I expect to be surrounded by rabbits. It'll be random, though - no particular irony.
Cat? Installed!

Instead of a hot tub, try a feline!
A cat was accidentally built into the walls of a new house in Kansas.

"I thought I heard something earlier that morning," a construction worker said.

...The builder estimated the cat had been stuck in the walls at least three weeks.

"The contractor figured out he was just under the tub and got dry walled in," Vano said.

Workers tore a hole in the wall, made some cat calls, and the scared, tired and thirsty animal crawled out.

"Poor little thing. So sorry we built you into the house," Vano said.
Setting The Stage For Sherlock Holmes

Well, show #4 of "Victor/Victoria" is under our belt. It was a little sloppy, particularly with set changes (chairs anyone?) and my dance steps were a little off-rhythm, but for a second Friday, it wasn't bad, and no one got hurt. For the first time, I enjoyed the 'Victor/Victoria' number, and sang loudly, rather than quailing in fear at the top of the steps while jamming through the steps.

There were some minor problems, of course. Before the show, I spilled some turquoise paint on-stage while moving a paint can with an unsecured lid. Both Scott Griffith and I ripped the seams of our 'Le Jazz Hot' skin-tight body suits (and both on the satin side) at exactly the same time. We must be twins! I know Lillian tends to like a lot of exposed skin in her costumes, but this is not the way!

The audience was small, but Richard Spierto (and Mark) were there, and it was great to see them!

As we were leaving, the Runaway Stage folks were dressing the set for the premiere tomorrow of Storybook Theater's 'Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Dark Castle.' Apropos of the season, there is a Halloween theme!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lip Balm Anonymous

One of those pathologically compulsive rituals, it seems:
Eric Writes: I recently saw on your site that your site was featured in '505 Unbelievably Stupid Web Pages' and was interested in knowing why you're considering taking legal action against the author and publisher? Did they do something illegal? I know the title of the book may be demeaning, but still I'm interested in knowing why you say that on your site.

Eric, it's very simple. When a someone includes us in a book of stupid web sites, an organization like LBA needs to defend its reputation. For all of the good we do, helping people overcome their serious addiction to lip balm, you can call us a lot of things but stupid shouldn't be one of them.
(That's the nice thing about gambling - a pathologically compulsive ritual that is demonstrably harmful, rather than this more-ambiguous stuff.)
Merry Fitzmas!

Let's see who's under the tree:
"A Merry Fitzmas to us all, my dears. God bless us."

Which all the staff re-echoed.

"God bless us every one.' said Tiny Scooter, the last of all.

He sat very close to his boss's side upon his little stool. Dick held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he might be taken from him.

"Spirit," said Bush, with an interest he had never felt before, "tell me if Tiny Scooter will escape justice."

"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost of Conspiracies Present, "in a White House chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will be indicted."

"No, no," said Bush. "Oh, no, kind Spirit. Say he will be spared."

"If these shadows remain unaltered by Fitzgerald, none other of my race will find him here," replied the Ghost. "But so what? Aren't you the one who said that if somebody leaked classified information, they'd no longer work in your administration?"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brian Forment, RIP

July 13, 1942 - October 27, 2005.
The Flat Tax, In Utah

Highly amusing and instructive article, why the flat tax is a complete dud in ultra-conservative Utah. I always did like that state (lived in SLC a year)! There is an accompanying Pat Bagley cartoon that was also in the Wall Street Journal article, and is available, in color, over at 'Mangled Cat' (for some reason I couldn't post it), that is exquisite!
Like the old E.F. Hutton ads, when the Mormon Church speaks, the state legislature listens. Frankly, Mormon elected officials worth their salt do not want to be at odds with the leaders of their church.

This held true for the flat tax. There was some quiet speculation about how the idea would sit with the Mormon Church due to its longstanding support of charitable deductions until Sept. 15. That's when the church reiterated its "support of retaining a state tax deduction for charitable giving." The meaning was crystal clear.
You Know Opening Is Close When....

The Hoblit Performing Arts Center women's restroom gets outfitted....

(photo courtesy of Steve Isaacson)
Tropical Storm Beta

I wondered whether this storm in the Caribbean would reach tropical storm strength...evidently so! It's pretty far south, though....
Virtuous "Victor/Victoria"

An exhortation that somehow seemed apropos for this weekend's "Victor/Victoria" shows. As Gabe says, "live virtuously, for thus says Hesiod":
Vice may be had in abundance without trouble;
the way is smooth and her dwelling-place is near.
But before virtue the gods have set toil,
and a tedious and uphill road.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Nighttime Visit To DMTC's New Theater

What is the Hoblit Performing Arts Center (under construction) actually like at night, nearing Halloween, just 2 1/2 weeks before opening?

Top: Steve Isaacson tries to persuade a skeptical Erik Daniells that a new orchestra loft would be safer and more convenient than the new orchestra pit.

Center: Erik Daniells paces through the lobby.

Bottom: Steve Isaacson points out staggered light fixtures in the men's dressing room.

Brian Forment in Woodland

Longtime friend Brian Forment is gravely ill. Brian is well-known for his photography, particularly of Woodland Dance Academy recitals, directed by his wife Sally Forment, Christmas ("Nutcracker") and most springtimes, every year since 1979. I've participated in these recitals since 1993.

Woodland Dance Academy is closing very soon. Do not hesitate to pay respects to Brian while he is still with us.

Monday, October 24, 2005

British Piggy Bank Fatwa

Where then to put the stash? British Muslims are split:

BRITISH banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.

Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reported today....

Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move. "This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers," he said....

Khalid Mahmoud, the Labour MP for a Birmingham seat and one of four Muslim MPs in Britain, ... criticised the piggy-bank ban. "We live in a multicultural society and the traditions and symbols of one community should not be obliterated just to accommodate another," Mr Mahmoud said. "I doubt many Muslims would be seriously offended by piggy banks."
Wilma's Impact on Tampa

So, 1.39" of rain at Tampa, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 31 mph (with 40 mph gusts). Not bad!

Let's all hope this is the very last the 2005 hurricane season has to offer! Floridians need a break!
A Stick

Last Thursday, while walking to lunch, I was accosted by two well-dressed visiting businessmen sporting work-related badges of some sort. "How are you?" one man asked. "Fine," I replied, "how are you?" "You know," one said, as they both came forward to shake my hand, "you are the first person we've met on the streets of Sacramento who doesn't have a stick up their ass. I mean, what's wrong with this city?"

I found the whole encounter to be rather baffling - I mean, it was a nice day, so why not be friendly? But then I wondered, if everyone in Sacramento has a stick up their ass, and I don't - where can I get one?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Victor/Victoria" Weekend

What a brutal weekend! Body parts everywhere! If I didn't know better, I'd think this was "Sweeney Todd" or something! For me, this is the toughest show I've attempted at least since DMTC did "Tommy" in 2001, and maybe it's the toughest show I've ever attempted.

By the time Sunday evening came to pass, Robert had a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, Monica had followed Scott with damaged toes, Bradley had been inadvertently struck in the fight scene, and there were any number of unexplained bruises and aches and pains on people. Earlier in the week, of course, Dian had tumbled over a crate, Kari had twisted her ankle, I had tackled modern-day Hercules (Scott) head-on and lost, etc., etc. And of course, there were the lingering problems from the rehearsal period: Kaitlin's aching back, etc., etc. When I saw the bright red splotch on Bill Trainor's forehead at the end of the show, I naturally assumed it was just another bruise (it was Bob Roe's bright-red lipstick mark).

There are two interrelated problems: the set is too heavy and cumbersome, and there are lots of awkward set pieces to move around. It takes a great deal of energy, nerve, and raw strength to maneuver the set and set pieces around in a timely manner. Set Designer Dave Lack is acutely aware of the set problem, of course. "I guess you guys must hate me," he said. "No, not at all:" I reassured him, "actually, I am in awe!" The set design is clever - even brilliant. Dave sacrificed himself for two weeks, getting only three hours of sleep a night, in a marathon finish, before taking a busy weekend off at Disneyland with his family (how he'll manage to stay awake during the weekend, he didn't say). Dave's profession as a firefighter has prepared him to endure this kind of brutal workload, but even he began to suffer by the premiere, complaining of shakes on the last day. (Mike Mac apparently now has a blog, where he discusses the adventure of assembling the set.)

Constructing this set was a very ambitious project, reasonably-well executed, but the end-result is just too heavy. I'm reminded of a similarly-ambitious project: Howard Hughes' 'Spruce Goose', the largest wooden aircraft ever built, an engineering marvel, but which flew just once.

Friday night's set changes were spectacularly awkward. My favorite part was when I picked up my bar set piece and repeatedly rammed it against the Stage Left set in an ultimately successful but very ungainly exit through the narrowing slot in Act II Chez Lui. I remember doing things I never expected to do, like carrying the baby grand piano set piece offstage, for example, even though I had never been assigned to it. The Chicago bar scene was never set up properly at all. The list of insufficiencies was long.

Just before the premiere, choreographer Ron Cisneros took several of the dancers aside and said what he was looking for the most with the final 'Victor/Victoria' number was a good start. "Everything will flow if you get a good start," he said. The music in the number itself suffered from a couple of false starts, however, and the dancers weren't able to get into position in time for that crucial good start for the dance proper. C'est la vie!

A nice time was had at Lyons' Restaurant after the premiere.

At the end of Friday's show, a set change rehearsal was scheduled Saturday afternoon. Stage management met on Saturday and exchanged views. The set change troubles had damaged cast morale, of course, but I was heartened by hearing of the stage management meeting. Efforts to also incorporate a music and dance rehearsal into the afternoon proceeding failed due to lack of time to address the innumerable set change insufficiencies in adequate detail. Nevertheless, the extra set change rehearsal was helpful.

Things were a little better on Saturday night, but discipline began to break down midway through the second act. For example, the panels were not unlatched and folded properly on the back of the sets during the Act II Hotel Paris scene. We managed to unlatch the panels, and Lauren, Chris, and myself stood in amazingly close quarters as we waited for Marcy to make her exit through the very narrow available exit provided by the unfolded panels, so we could make our own entrances through the narrow slot.

A significant gap between the Hotel Paris set pieces apparently alarmed the audience Saturday night, by exposing Marcy and Mike Mac (and possibly others) to a falling hazard. A friend in the audience said she nearly stormed on stage to halt the show until the insufficiency was set aright. It just goes to show how important it is not to let up discipline, and also how easy it is to lose it.

Discipline also broke down on Sunday afternoon at about the same time in the show as on Saturday, with a bit different assemblage of resulting problems: for example, tables and chairs have yet to be successfully placed at the end of Act II Chez Lui. Nevertheless, the Saturday and Sunday set changes, creaky as they were, and taxing on the audience's attention, ran more smoothly than Friday's.

Maybe discipline is the wrong choice of words....when set changes are not made, despite planning, it usually signifies a deeper organizational problem, like intereference from costume changes that hasn't been adequately accounted for.

The DMTC clan came on Saturday. It was nice to see everyone: Jennifer Bonomo, Julie Kulmann, Chris Neff, Ben and Noel, Ryan and Maria and Melissa, etc. Noel gave me an early birthday gift: a set of coasters arranged in the form of a hamburger: "lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun!" Afterwards, the clan gathered at the Tower Cafe. Roger Clark, who just wrapped up doing percussion for a performance by Lambda Players, came and joined us. Andee Thorpe surprised us with some unexpected hellos.

In the 'Louis Seize' number on Saturday ('seize' meaning sixteen in French, which refers, of course, to King Louis XVI, and his queen, Marie Antionette), I tripped over the base of the Stage Left mirror. In the audience, Ryan Adame described his reaction: "Look, the Fat Man tripped on the mirror! Oh! It's Marc!" (in this particular context the appellation 'Fat Man' doesn't have it's usual sting, because the male RSP dance ensemble is so youthful and trim, almost any middle-aged man set in their midst would become the 'Fat Man', by default). Nevertheless, with just a bit of schadenfreude, Jason said the stuttering trip was unusually amusing, because, I kicked the mirror base, and the mirror moved, and I kicked the base again, and the mirror moved again, and I kicked it yet again: Bah! It was all an unneeded distraction from Marcy, RSP's Mad Marie Antionette du jour.

There was a nice cast party at Bob Roe's house on Saturday night. The high point was Jake Montoya and Chris Scarberry exuberantly throwing cares aside and leaping in the pool for a refreshingly arctic swim.

There were many interesting things going on all weekend long, which would probably require a book to explain adequately, and certainly not by me, since I don't understand it all, given that this is my first show with the company. For me, the most remarkable thing was when orchestra director Joe Velez stated in notes Friday night that the ensemble sang beautifully, particularly in the last number, when that was manifestly not the case. The only thing I could think was that he was overwrought himself, but beats me over what exactly.

As for the show proper, I suspect it was OK: Marcy, Craig, Dave, Lauren, Mike Mac, and Bob all did fine. The audience seemed to have a good time (excepting maybe the Friday audience).

Now, we'll have a few days to recover, before leaping once again on stage!
Wilma Racing For Florida

Here she comes! She's accelerating and seems to be strengthening as she goes (the promised weakening due to wind shear doesn't seem to be occurring). The eye is rather large too, which is generally a good sign: the wind speed is inversely proportional to eye size. Landfall of the Category 2 or 3 storm will be around mid-morning to noon on Monday. Here is a useful satellite picture link.....

The storm will hit further south than previously forecast, probably south of Naples, around Everglades City, or in the Everglades proper. Regarding Key West, I suspect "Fantasy Fest" will be postponed, because the eye will pass just north of there, and Key West will spend a lot of time right in and near the eye wall, and experience pretty much the worst the storm has to offer.

Looks like the first of the rains has started in Tampa. Batten down the hatches, and good luck: the next day will be interesting!

Here is the National Weather Service forecast for Tampa:
Tonight: Rain likely and possibly a thunderstorm, then periods of rain after 2 am. Steady temperature around 76. Windy, with a east northeast wind 18 to 21 mph increasing to between 40 and 43 mph. Winds could gust as high as 63 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Monday: Periods of rain, mainly before 11 am. Temperature falling to around 66 by 5pm. Windy, with a north northwest wind 41 to 44 mph decreasing to between 29 and 32 mph. Winds could gust as high as 64 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.