Thursday, June 25, 2009

Of Summer I Sing

School may be out but I thought a fun quiz about summer songs might just be the ticket for this theme Thursday. I've chosen lyrics to 7 songs that all have the word "summer" in the title. Have fun and no worries, everyone gets an A+.

I'll post answers this weekend.

1: Oh, your daddy's rich and your momma's good lookin'

2: Well, she got friendly, down in the sand.

3: Stranger voices are sayin'
What did they say?
Things I can't understand

4: I got my first real six string. Bought it at the five and dime.

5: Son you gotta make some money if you wanna use the car to go a ridin' next Sunday

6: Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

7: Cool town. Evening in the city. Dressing so fine and looking so pretty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Running Update

I've had a hard time with my runs lately. It's been since the Broad Street run--did I mention that I did it? All 10 miles? Don't worry, I'm sure I'll mention it again.

Anyway, since Broad Street, I haven't seemed to be able to run very far or very well. I swear my body is rebelling: I ran 10 miles what do you want? Isn't that enough? Where's my beer?

Of course, I was doing my show and had a lot of late nights. Not that that's an excuse but boy do I love my sleep. Also, summer came (finally) and the heat and with the kids home, it's difficult to find a good time to run. I mean, my kids actually want me to spend time with them--what is up with that?

I've also, pretty much, given up my yoga practice. While training for the Broad Street Run (did I mention it was 10 miles and that I ran all of it?), I was also rehearsing so I did not have time for yoga and it kind of fell by the wayside. It probably would have helped. I did take a yoga class last week and then spent the rest of the day edging my lawn. I don't have an electric edger so I use that tool that looks like a flattened out hoe (you can tell how much I garden). It was a lot of work because I had to stand on it and then pull up the grass. After that, I couldn't move--let alone run--for three days.

So my new goal is to run a little bit everyday to get used to the weather and so it won't be so hard--you know, what's 25 to 30 minutes? I can do that. I really wouldn't be running at all except that I signed up to do a race tomorrow with Brian. Not a long one, a 5k, but we get a margarita at the end. Hell, I'll crawl 3 miles for a margarita.

I've been doing this run a bit every day thing and tonight I finally had a great run. A run like old times when I felt I could go forever. It's so nice to feel like my old self again. But then I came home and told Brian and he said, "Oh, you burnt yourself out before the race, you won't run well tomorrow."

Yeah, it sounds mean, but he's just talking trash because the last race we did together, I beat him. Yeah, Brian, I went there. And, tomorrow, he's welcome to beat me because not only am I back in running form but even if I come in dead last, I still get a margarita.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dancing King

So I have to write about the House Manager at the Arden Theatre, Thomas Choinacky. He apprenticed last year and has returned to house manage a few shows as needed. He's a great house manager by the way. Our shows almost always started on time or just a couple minutes late which is a pretty big feat. The cast kept complimenting me and I had to correct them because I can't start the show without a cue from the House Manager.

Anyway, he's a great house manager but he also started this project in May where he decided to dance at a public spot in Philly, every day for the month of May. He's not a trained dancer so he just made up his own moves. He had a CD player that randomly selected one of ten songs that he would dance to. He filmed each dance and put it on YouTube. I haven't quite figured out how to upload YouTube videos so here's a link to a video of him dancing by (and in) the fountain by the Natural Academy of Sciences:

Now, admittedly, it's a bit weird what he's doing but yet there is also a sense of playfulness about it. How often do we just stop and dance? When was the last time you splashed in a fountain? And really, he's not hurting anyone, he's just dancing.

I also love the fact that he picked something creatively wacky and just did it every day. He kept doing it through June until he had to leave for Washington, DC but he'll be back. He started a group with two other Arden apprentices called the Anthology Project. I look forward to see what other projects they come up with. Until then, I may just have to dance more, perhaps not in public but we'll see.

Friday, June 19, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes

Found this over at Anxious Moments: list 15 books off the top of your head that have stuck with you. Don't put to much thought into, try to complete it in 15 minutes. I just read Wenderina's post so I'm attempting my own list (albeit without enough coffee):

Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell): I love the movie and read the book in high school and always marvel at the transition from page to film. I also love that first image in the book of Scarlett not being the prettiest girl in the county.

Candide (Volataire): And not because I just did the musical but because as a French major I must have read that book 5 or 6 times. Every time I go to the garden I think of that last line: Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

Rene (Chateaubriand): Again, another book from French history that I had to read quite a lot. It's a short book that ushered in the Romantic age of French literature. I never liked the story but it did introduce me to the idea of "paysage d'ame" or the description of the landscape is really a description of the character's soul.

Little Women (Alcott): "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents!" Enough said.

Little House on the Prairie series (Wilder): Loved the books, loved the series, wanted to be Laura Ingalls in the worst way. I just can't believe my daughter doesn't care for these books!

Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery): Just like the Little House books, I read and re-read them and read them again.

The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster): One of my all-time favorites and this one I am happy to report is one my daughter loves. I can't wait to introduce it to my son.

The Red and the Black (Stendhal): Yet another French classic. I'm not sure if the book stays with me because of the story or because when we read it in high school my teacher liked to make sure we understood everything, and I do mean everything that was going on.

A Woman Broken (Beauvoir): I love Simone de Beauvoir and this story about an older woman whose husband is having an affair is so raw and powerful. I've often thought it would make a great short play.

The Watchmen (Moore): I read this graphic novel at my husband's insistence and I'm glad I did. But now, when I watch comic book hero movies, I judge them against the book. I'm not sure if that's bad or good but the novel certainly left an impression.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Fraiser): I love every biography that Lady Fraiser writes (the widow of Harold Pinter by the way). This was the first and from it I learned the saying: Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

My Life in France (Child): Who doesn't love Julia Child? But this book really taught me that you are never too old to find and follow a passion (Ms. Child was 37 when she took her first cooking class). Also, her way of dealing with life, throwing herself into it and never apologizing: wow, more powerful than any self-help book. Or at least in my opinion.

Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak): Because Max looked at his monsters in the eye and tamed them; talk about your self-help books.

Huis Clos (Sartre): Do plays count? I have to add in No Exit by Sartre because I really got into his claustrophobic description of hell as others. Also, it's probably the only piece of his writing that I actually understood.

Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy (Sedaris): For me, this has to be his funniest book ever and yet you can recognize yourself or some family members in the stories.

Whew! That was more difficult that I had imagine. But now, I'm curious about other lists. So what have you read that has stuck with you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Theme Thursday: Roof

The peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. You work the tip of your tongue up the side, trying to pry it down. It makes you wonder: Who brings a peanut butter sandwich to work? As your tongue works it's way into the back corner of the glob, you add: And then eats it at 11 am?

Smiling, you think about elevenses. Yes, you think, I could so be a a hobbit.

Elevenses are awesome...and the film wasn't too bad. I never really got into fantasy but I did like that film. Oh, I did like Star Wars. Star Wars, well, that was iconic. I must have seen it... according to my mother at least twice. My mother always tells that story about the time I made her watch the movie with me. I had already seen it. Her joy came from watching me explain to her everything that was going to happen.

My mother, who made me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every school day of my 12 year career. She said she was used to it, having made lunches for 6 older brothers and sisters. Still, I was senior with no other kids at home, you'd think she would have taken a break. But no, there she was making my lunch: PB and J on Roman Meal bread, 3 cookies and an apple.

In first grade, I would sometimes mix my lunch box up with Kris Krantz. He had the same Scooby Doo lunch box but his mother packed him a peanut butter sandwich on white bread and an apple. No cookies, no jam. I hated mixing up my lunch because he would always eat mine.

My brother liked white bread without jam as well. Ugh! While we were both in school together, we sometimes mixed up our brown paper bags. But he always found me to switch lunch. He DID not like peanut butter and jelly. We both had the 3 cookies so that was never a problem. He used to make me laugh the way he'd storm into my classroom to switch lunches.

I even ate PB and J in the summer...

You realize you've been day dreaming when a work colleague slams her note pad down on your desk, looking at you, expecting an answer.

With your tongue having almost worked the glob off the roof of your mouth, you mumble, "I hab pe nub bud er on da roof ob my mout."

Your co-worker snorts, stomping off saying, "Who eats peanut butter sandwiches anymore?"

You smile as the glob loosens itself off the roof of your mouth and you can finish your sandwich, because you know eats them. And you know why.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Seafarer, Safely Anchored

So The Seafarer closed this past Sunday at The Arden; it seemed though that the show itself wanted to end a week earlier.

Everything about the show had run so smoothly up to a week ago. Rehearsals were great, tech was, in a word, easy. We had one slight sound problem with a speaker but we were so far ahead in lights, sets, costumes, and props that it didn't hold us up at all.

The performances themselves ran like clockwork; the actors consistently turned in great performances and the audiences loved it.

Then came the final week and all hell broke loose. That's a pun actually. In the play 4 guys gather to play cards on Christmas Eve in Dublin. One of the guys has brought the devil (he doesn't know it). Turns out, the devil is there for Sharky's soul. Sharky and the devil had played cards 24 years earlier and Sharky had won but the devil made him promise they would play again.

So, during the second act in the show, the actors play 3 hands of cards. For the last hand, we hid cards underneath one of the seats so the actor could palm them before dealing, thus ensuring that everyone had the proper cards for the final round. In order to make all this work, we needed two decks of cards. Well, we walked into work last Tuesday and our cards were missing. Our most important prop and it had gone missing. We found 2 other decks but they didn't quite match size-wise which made shuffling and dealing with them very difficult. We did get two matching decks the next day though.

But the troubles were just beginning: one of the most important sound cues didn't play one night; a mirror fell off a wall during a very quiet speech in another performance; and for some reason, the whiskey glasses kept breaking. Then, toward the end of the week, one of the actors lost his voice. He did have an understudy who did a great job but it wasn't the same. This show only has 5 characters and all of them are so intricate to the plot. The actor who lost his voice played Richard, the character with the most lines in the entire show.

Luckily, all the actors were able to handle the fumbles professionally and with grace. But by Sunday, these fumbles had leaked out to the front of house. My walkie talkie that connects me to the house manager broke. Without my radio, I have no way of knowing when to start the show. The Arden was also holding a raffle for a week long stay in Provence, France (not bad right?). The drawing took place after the final show but not before the raffle bowl holding the tickets broke during intermission. Luckily, they saved the tickets and were able to hold the drawing. I didn't win. Bummer.

As I got my new walkie-talkie, the House Manager said to me, "This show is trying to kill me." Truer words were never spoken. We're safely in port now and if I can't go to France, I can have a glass of wine and pretend.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swing Time Theme Thursday

I've been following the blog All I Need is Everything for a while now and every Thursday, she posts a theme following Theme Thursday. I've always been interested in the theme but never played until this week. The theme: Swing.

That got me thinking. When I think swing, I think swing dancing. When we got married, Brian and I took dance lessons for our first dance and then continued with lessons after the wedding. We learned a lot of swing. We tried learning some Latin dances but our instructor, a Russian ex-championship dancer, didn't think Brian's hips moved enough. I don't know, they move fine for me. Anyway, I'm so glad we took those lessons because we break it out at weddings and any other place where space allows and cocktails are served. So when I think swing, I think: music, cocktails and dancing. So here's my contribution to theme:

And, here's the website where you can see other interpretations of the theme and play along yourself. The only rule is there are no rules.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Blogging for me is like exercising - I do it religiously for a while then I take a day off or 2 days off and then it's a week and then it's difficult to exercise or post. It's worse when I sign onto Blogger and start reading everyone's posts and get so absorbed in what everyone else is doing that I forget to post something of my own.

And there's my obsession with Spider Solitaire as well.

Oh, well. The good news is I am back to running semi-regularly. My goal is 5 days a week. It's hard to run on the weekends because I have shows. Weekdays, the kids are in school so that makes it easier. I'm not sure what I'll do next week when school lets out but my show will be over so that will free up some weekend time.

Anyway, I've been meaning to write about Sydney Lumet's Fail-Safe, a movie that came out in 1964. I've been trying to watch more Sydney Lumet films. It's fascinating to watch a movie for the direction. It's odd for me to say, especially since I'm in theater, but I've never really followed a director or his or her direction before. What I mean to say is, I can't look at a piece (a film or a play) and say, "Ah, yes, this is definitely a Sydney Lumet film or a Des McAnuff play."

But as I watched Fail-Safe, I noticed some similarities with 12 Angry Men which came out in 1957 and is also directed by Mr. Lumet. The obvious similarities are that both films take place in one day, both have largely male casts, and both take place mostly in confined spaces. 12 Angry Men is filmed in the jury room while Fail-Safe has a few locations: an underground bunker in DC, a nuclear operations command post in Nebraska, the cockpit of a plane flying over Russia and a few others.

Fail-Safe concerns a malfunction in the computer system that sends a stray aircraft squadron into Russia to drop nuclear missiles. It's a tense day as military commanders and the President (played by Henry Fonda) try to stop the squadron from completing it's mission. Once the squadron has left their fail-safe point, they have been instructed to disregard all voice commands (lest the Russians mimic the President's voice). The President has the added burden of trying to convince the Soviets that this is indeed a mistake. The compromise he comes up with, to gain the Soviets trust is shocking and desperate. I'm glad I didn't know it going to into the film; it gave the ending a greater impact.

It's a well-done movie and many of the camera angles are reminiscent of 12 Angry Men. He juxtaposes long shots with very tight close-ups which can be jarring and yet work well for the suspense of this film. Some of the acting is dated but that didn't bother me or take away from the film itself. Walter Matthau plays a political scientist insisting on bombing Russia in order to preserve the American way of life as at costs. I forget that neoconservatism started long before President Regan. Larry Hagman does a credible turn as a translator.

If you want to watch old Sydney Lumet films, I'd definitely recommend 12 Angry Men over Fail-Safe. But I wouldn't discount this film either. I really enjoyed it. It wall depends on what you like in a film. Fail-Safe came out the same year as Dr. Strangelove and both have very similar plots so much so in fact that when I was watching Fail-Safe I kept thinking, oh Dr. Strangelove must be spoofing this film. But no. So, if you like Sydney Lumet or enjoy black and white suspense films then check it out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's My Obsession

Have you ever played Spider Solitaire? It's a computer card game in the vein of Solitaire and Freecell and it's my latest obsession. I find myself playing it all the time: when I'm supposed to be cleaning, doing bills, running, when I'm in the booth during the show..seriously, I think I need help.

My relationship with computer card games started about 15 years ago when I worked at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I sat next to Kevin Struthers and for a brain break, we would play Solitaire on our respective computers. But we had to make it competitive so we'd race each other to see who would win first. It was ridiculous fun and a great mind vacation.

Then, I discovered Freecell through my family and started playing all the time. Sometimes, when visiting my siblings we'd all play a game together on the computer. Of course that led to squabbles: don't put that card there, put the 2 up on the ace, etc.

Bored one day I tried Spider Solitaire. Using only one deck, it's pretty easy to win the game but now I use 2 decks and I've only won a handful of times. It hasn't stopped me from trying over and over again to beat the game.

I play it in the booth during the show as a way to keep my mind from wandering off and missing my lighting cues. I can listen to the show while clicking on cards and know where we are in the play. Otherwise I'd get so into the show that I'd forget to do my lighting cues and wonder why the lights weren't changing when someone hit the light switch: oh, that's my job! Whoops!

But I am worried about Spider Solitaire taking over my life. I have to cut back or my house will never get cleaned. I'll start today...well, maybe after a quick game.

Monday, June 1, 2009

At Least It's Not January

Last night, all I wanted to do after my two shows was to go home and go to bed. My friend, Joe, had come down to see The Seafarer the night before and he brought with him an excellent bottle of wine. So after the show, we sat on my front porch with Brian, drank wine and caught up. It was great except that I had to get up on Sunday and do 2 more shows.

When I got to the Arden on Sunday morning, the parking lot attendant told me to leave my car and he would park it. This happens often and usually I remember to grab my keys from him between shows. But yesterday, I was so tired that I took a nap instead. So after the evening show, I went out to find the attendant gone, the booth locked up and a note on my car saying, "Your key has been sent call this number."

So I called and discovered that my keys were locked in the little booth in the parking lot and the guy had to come back to open it for me. Of course, he couldn't come right away for some reason or another. I had to wait and I was cranky. My assistant stage manager waited with me which was awfully nice of him. When the guy finally showed up and liberated my keys, my assistant, Bobby, said, "Well, it could have been worse."

Which totally shook me out of my crankiness because he was right. As I looked at him in astonishment he added, "At least it's not January, it is a nice night."

Bobby is an apprentice at the Arden which is a tough job. Each year the Arden selects an apprentice class who work at the Arden for 6 days a week for 9 months (or 10 months I'm not exactly sure) and boy do they work. They have the opportunity to work in every department at the theater: education, production, artistic, development, marketing. They really get to know what it takes to run a theater. But they also have a lot of grunt work to do, namely cleaning. The Arden doesn't sugarcoat this experience at all. During the interview process, they tell prospective apprentices, "You will be doing a lot of cleaning and grunt work and you have to be okay with it."

Bobby told me that when he is immersed in some crappy job like cleaning the bathrooms, he lists all the ways that it could be worse. It reminds me of that line in the movie, No Man's Land:

"What's the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? A
pessimist believes things can't get any worse while an optimist knows they

So I think I tend toward pessimism and the 'why me?' attitude which only brings me down. It's helpful to run into optimists and realize that at least it's not January.