Thursday, September 11, 2014

Piped In

Heard "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" at the bagel shop this morning.  I realized that the oddly tacked on coda of uptempo horns ("Get Away") was the last gasp of the pre-Cetera Chicago. Kinda sad.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

GI is Dead, Long Live GI

Ok, I just can't bring myself to recap stuff that happened months ago, so on to the current events! My theater company, Rising Sun Performance Company is putting on a One-Act Festival, starting next Thursday and running for three weekends (11 shows). Check it out here:

You can even get discount tix with the code TEDDY.

I'm really excited about the piece I'm in, Teddy Knows Too Much. It's the story of a disaffected pair of parents and their neglected children. Some people would say it;s the story of a boy and his confidant, but I'm playing the mom, so I have a different perspective!

Over generations, parents have become scared of their children. Once upon a time, so the story goes, parents kept their kids in line through corporal punishment and good old-fashioned shame. That may be a bit too general, but I'd bet you dollars to doughnuts your mother didn't drop the f-bomb around your grandmother when she was a kid.

When the boomers started rebelling against the Puritanical mores of a post-war society intent on maintaining the status quo, they started to question their parents' child-rearing techniques. When they had kids, they breast-fed and let them express themselves as human beings. That was pretty good, but they also let them run around naked and watch them have sex (in the case of Shia LeBouf, at least) and didn't put rules in place to give their children structure. Kids need some structure. (My mother was a very early boomer. She was never a hippie; she had her first kid in 1966. We had structure, discipline and spankings. We didn't have talks about sex and drugs the way we should have. I think she had a don't ask, don't tell policy as long as my grades were good.)

So those kids grow up with no concept of discipline. They have heard of "time out" but don't know how to use it. They let the children run the house; their needs are primary. The children are wild without structure, demanding, willful, and disrespectful. The parents think the kids should be their friends, that if they are treated as equals they will automatically have the emotional maturity of adults. And when they don't exhibit that maturity -- maybe they are hyperactive or can't focus, or they throw tantrums or act shy -- they must be diagnosed. "Something is wrong with my child! how can it be, when I've given him everything?" Did you give him exercise, boundaries, rules, your time? Did you think about yourself as a child when analyzing what you perceive as disturbing behavior, or have you forgotten about what it means to be a growing human?

Kids are undercooked. Morality, a sense of purpose, a sense of self and mortality, empathy -- these things aren't fully programmed at birth. The seeds can be there; many youngsters show empathy naturally, but they need nurturing to develop. And by the way, parents, your kids don't owe you shit. They didn't ask to be brought into this world. You owe them. You owe it to them the prepare them to live in the world without your help. You don't owe them Ritalin and a cell phone and a Super Sweet Sixteen. You owe them an education in how to get a job, balance a checkbook, treat a girlfriend, treat a friend, serve others, make a bed, buy a house, choose a career. You owe it to them to teach them what is out there, so they can choose which path to take. You owe it to them to help them decide but ultimately make their own decisions. You owe it to them to keep your own affairs in order so they aren't saddled with cleaning up your mess when you die. Once you do these things, then they will know they owe you a lifetime of gratitude and respect.

So, that's kind of what our fifteen minute play is about. Oh, and a Teddy Bear.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Month Later... Memories of Washington State

I know it's been a while since I blogged. Firstly, my computer died in Olympia, WA on March 27. Just as I was watching a video of Prince on the Tonight Show! The irony of it all. So, I was without computer support until early April. Then I was home for a bit and really had no time. Then the tour started again, and I always seemed to be sleepy. But now, as I sit in a passable Days Inn in Studio City (Ventura Boulevard, even), I find the time to write. Of course, I may be interrupted at any moment by an LA friend calling to play, so bear with me.

Moses Lake was a desert, hot in the day, cold at night. The audience was the best we've had yet. They were there to see Gilligan's Island, dammit, and they were determined to laugh loudly and often. It was a real pick-me-up. My dresser, Andrea, was a first time wardrobe worker who came to the theater through Job Corps. I was really impressed! She did the best job I'd had in weeks. I gave myself a mud mask, spa bath and pedicure after the show and relaxed while the gang partied it up in one of the rooms. Sometimes I really relish being the old lady. The Ameristay in Moses Lake was quite welcoming and I was able to run AND swim the next morning. I haven't been in a pool this much since I was a teenager!

Olympia was a brief drive...

Olympia is like the town 1995 forgot. Radical bookstores, thermal/flannel/ski cap combos, and grungy music littered the streets of this little town outside of Seattle. The first evening was just cloudy, but in the morning, a true Pacific Northwest misty shower covered the town, and I really felt I was in Tom Robbins country.

I hadn't brought my rain-running gear, so I settled for the treadmill, but bundled up and went out for a walk shortly thereafter. Right behind our hotel (The Governor Inn, and old converted Ramada) was Marathon Park, surrounding Capitol Lake. For those of you that flunked high school geography, Olympia is the capitol of Washington State. The park is named for the first US Women's Olympic Marathon trials, which didn't take place until 1972! Apparently Olympic officials thought women were too fragile to run 26.2 miles. Walking around the lake, I saw the back of the Capitol building. A garden path had been cut through the hill leading up to it, twisting and turning like a floral Lombard Street. The rain was cold, but it was soft. Most locals didn't even carry umbrellas. They just wore suitable coats and hats. I envied them. The sky and the lake were the same hue of shiny pewter. Unlike in Hawaii, where the green stands out against a blue sky, the green in Olympia springs out in contrast with the gunmetal atmosphere. The word "verdant" truly describes this place. All the moisture leads to a particularly fecund environment for growth on every living thing.

White lichen spread out over many of the trees, at some point sprouting into a sea foam green moss with long fingers like a coral reef. Other trees wore a coat of split-pea green fur. They say moss grows on the the north side of a tree. That is either a myth or every side in Olympia is the north side.

Swimming around the lake were ducks of several varieties. I spied two mallards, one of each sex, swimming in unison along the shore. They looked like something out of Audobon's book. The male's teal head shone metallic, while the females subdued brown tones proved she had the goods underneath. If they hadn't flown away, I would have supposed them to be decoys. Other water birds dominated the lake, many with inky black heads and chalky bills. Gliding through the crowd were a pair of geese, king and queen of Capitol Lake. They seemed to big to be real, or possibly they were boats for children. In fact, I think I just don't see birds that big in Brooklyn. Now cockroaches, that's another story. But I digress.

I scanned the trees, looking for the fabled plant life Mr. Robbins writes about in Still Life with Woodpecker. I saw hundreds of dried cones, very small, which had grown too heavy for their branches and had come down with the wing to nestle in neighboring trees. I picked a few out to add to our tour bus bathroom potpourri. As I rounded the halfway point, I saw it. Blackberry brambles, just like the ones that ensconce the exile home of Princess Leigh Cherie in that best of all possible novels. But now that I'd seen it, there wasn't much to do about it but give a shout out to the Universe: Thanks!

Heading around the last quarter of the lake walk, I saw a totem pole by the side of the road. Why? Who knows? I'm sure all totem poles have a reason. This one had a man at the bottom, topped with a beaver holding a fish (at first I thought it was a necktie!), then a nurse or doctor with a shark on her hat, then some kind of animal god with raptor beak and bear ears, or possibly owl tufts. It was hard to discern. My notes say "owl? eagle? hawk?" with a star by hawk. So there's that.

It was a positively lovely experience. I normally don't like rain, but it seemed so fitting there. Definitely preferable to the unrelenting sunshine I've had to endure in Southern California these past few days. But more on that later.

Our show in Olympia was at a large theater, short on character, but big on acoustics. It's the kind of theater that presents major musical acts to small towns.I don't remember much about the show itself. I think we were all just excited that our revised trip plan was taking us to Las Vegas in two days...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Twenty-Five Hours on the Road, One More to Go!

Bad weather in Montana slowed us down a bit. However, we don't have a show until 8 pm tonight, so we'll just make it. Crew has to go in right away, but cast doesn't have to be in until 5:30. Time to run, take a shower and stretch our legs. The swings have to go in early to assist the local crew, which is tough on them. I'm sure there will be much letting off of steam after the show tonight. Word around the bus is that there's a casino next to the hotel, so I'll be listening to the gentle ding ding ding of slots till the wee hours!

FYI, coming into Idaho on I-90 is one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. It was like riding through a postcard. The mountains rose up dense with snow-frosted evergreens in the rising sun as the ice melted down the bus windows. Once through the snowy mountains, we descended into the foothills at the Washington State border. Spokane presented us with Smacky's, Home of the Finest Sandwiches in Spokane. Their Smuffin (an egg and English muffin breakfast sandwich) came in multiple varieties, including the Pam Special, with bacon, avocado, cheddar and mayo, which I enjoyed with gusto.

The eastern part of Washington is rolling grassy hills. Tomorrow, when we ride to Olympia, the state capital, I look forward to experiencing the rainy paradise Tom Robbins writes of in his novels. I've visited so many new states: Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Missouri! Plus the parts of states I've already been to that I had never seen, like parts of Wisconsin, West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee and even my home state, Ohio. The rest of the trip, I'll see New Mexico and Arizona, and revisit the outskirts of LA and San Francisco. I'm so glad to have the opportunity to get away from the confines of skyscrapers and subway tubes and breathe the air of America. Not that I won't be happy to get home and hug my husband and surrender to the Swedish sleep-monster of my Tempurpedic mattress, but some time away is good for rediscovering the spirit and purpose.

On that note, see ya later, I've gotta pee!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hello, Mountain Time

I've never been to Denver, Colorado before. I should have thought about the high altitude before I worked out as hard as usual this morning! Before I realized it was the altitude, I was very concerned that I had gotten out of shape after two 12 hour bus rides! According to the desk clerk at the airport Comfort Suites, the seats at Mile High Stadium that are actually mile high are painted purple. Purple! A truly fortuitous color.

OK, so I'm a little crazy today. I got up at 6 am and worked out. I think the think air is making me giddy. And maybe the two cups of coffee. But definitely the bunnies.

Didn't I mention the bunnies? I opened the curtains to enjoy the mountain view (snow -capped Rockies!), and noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. There was a drainage ditch off the highway, filled with big gravel -- 2-foot wide glittery gunmetal gray slabs of rock -- and jumping, chasing, and foraging in this ditch were easily a dozen bunnies! They were sandy brown, all the better for camouflage in the short bleached grasses, with fluffy white cotton-ball tails. Oh, it was too cute. I sneaked downstairs to see them up close. Nibble a little grass, chase a friend, run full speed over the rocks, sit completely still for a minute, run again. It was hoppingly fantastic! The sky was blue with streaky white clouds, giving me a great view of the truly majestic Rockies in the distance. How could you not be giddy looking at that?

I guess it's a good thing to psyche yourself up for a nineteen hour bus ride. We got so far behind schedule because of the storms in the Dakotas (you may have heard about them), that we had to fly in another driver and skip a hotel stay to make it to Moses Lake, WA in time for our Thursday evening show. We're three hours in now, and mimosas are being passed around (I'm abstaining -- such the Mom) in preparation for a viewing of The Descent, one of the scariest movies I've ever seen.

The movie may be delayed, however, because we are seeing the most beautiful scenery this side of a spaghetti western. Mesas, snow, plains, brush trees, and the biggest sky in all of creation. Dark clouds are looming on the horizon, as we are driving straight into a big storm, but I have hopes we'll outrun them all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Um... What's Goin' On?

Woke up this morning to snow and ice and the return of the migraine, Day 3! Hooray! We were supposed to head out at 10, but due to weather, we pushed it back to 11:30. Then we pushed it back to 3:30. Now it's 4:12pm and we're still sitting in the Days Inn parking lot! At least the sun is peeking out and all the snow and ice is gone. Also, no tornadoes hit us last night like they did on the other side of Nebraska. Sorry, other side of Nebraska.

The Wind DOES Wave the Wheat When It Comes Sweeping Down the Plain!

Georgia was beyond lovely. Our venue was the Georgia Baptist Convention Center, which is a retreat on Lake Louise in Toccoa, GA, outside Atlanta. We had rooms on site, and they had no TVs or phones or internet, and there was a curfew at 11 pm and lights out at midnight. They also requested we strip our own beds. All this was a bit much for some of our group, but I said "yes" and was down with the Baptists. I walked the grounds a bit with a castmate and got a cup of coffee at the Coffee Shop. They had two sizes, David and Goliath. Goliath was the small and David was the large! The young man running the shop recommended running all the trails I could find, because there wasn't one trail around the lake. After enjoying our coffee looking out over the lake and trading country stories, Chris and I went our separate ways and I strapped on my sneaks. It was in the 50s, perfect weather for running, and I found a nature trail right away. I was so thankful! It couldn't have been more perfect. I even saw the white tail of a deer as it flew away from the sound of my running. I made my way to their fitness center and found the first dumbbells I'd seen in weeks! Thanks, again.

Lunch was only served 12-1, so I had to hurry. The cafeteria was free, although I don't think anyone in our group knew that. I ended up, coincidentally, in line with some of the tech people for the show, so I had a place to sit. I'm not sure what kind of crew they had at the last show that so poisoned the venue's reputation with our production manager, but these guys couldn't have been more friendly or welcoming. No one else in the cast came to lunch.

I spent the rest of the day washing out my wig and reading The Power of Intention. At 5, nearly everyone came to dinner. I was so happy to have everyone joining in and making the best of everything. The venue didn't have traditional wing space, and the lighting was a bit less sophisticated than we're used to, but the crew and our tech team rose to the occasion and made it work! I felt I was in my best voice ever, and really had a great time doing the show. The next morning I ate biscuits and gravy and grits while looking out over ducks swimming in a misty, glassy lake. Not bad! We did leave at 8 am, though, earlier than ever, for a long drive to Colinsville, IL (right outside East St. Louis).

Twelve hours is a long time to ride a bus. You can watch movies, sleep, read, use a slow and spotty internet, eat junk food, and basically sit around. Any rest stop is a chance for some entertainment! I bought some state magnets and an awesome trucker shirt at one. Really accentuates my diesel look! When we finally arrived in Colinsville, we were all starved, so a few of us hit the Mexican restaurant next to the hotel, Zapatas. As soon as the chips and salsa hit he table, I knew there was a maragarita in my future. But just one! I turn into a pumpkin around 11:30 these days! (Speaking of, it's midnight now, so I better wrap this up!) Plus, my migraine pretty much had me down for the count. It had to to keep me from going to the local casino with some of the guys. I sure could use a couple of hours in front of the nickel slots! Hoo-yeah!

We had to split Illinois at 10 am today, so there was no time to hunt down the World's Largest Catsup Bottle. To avoid a snowstorm, we rerouted our next destination from Mitchell, SD to Lexington, NB. I spent the morning on my computer, but my migraine came back and I had to hit the bunk for a while. Thank heavens for Imitrex! I don't know what I would do without it. When I finally got back to normal, I found there was a bit of a music party happening in the front lounge. There was some light dancing, drinking stories and the trying on of other people's shoes. May not seem exciting to you, but after another twelve hours on the bus, I was desperate! We finally checked into the Days Inn in Lexington around 10:45, and that's where I am right now, taking advantage of high speed internet while the kids start partying it up down the hall. In about two minutes, I'll brush my teeth, put on my sleep mask and pass out. Yes, life on tour is glamorous and fast-paced, indeed!

We head to Billings, MT tomorrow, and we're hoping we can make it without hitting the kind of weather that requires us to spend the night in a parking area. Yeah, glamorous. But it's an adventure, and I'm just thankful every day that I'm getting paid to be an actor. Goodnight, children, Mama's tired!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Well, the Cambridge audience was amazing. They were with us from the very beginning and never let us down. My dresser was Melanie, a sweet lady who chatted with me about this and that, and confided that she would love to move to Cincinnati, that hotbed of society. Everyone's attitude was touched by the beautiful Hampton Inn we stayed in that night. A lovely staff, pillow top mattresses, a whirlpool with moving jets and the most expansive breakfast I've seen anywhere will do that to a person.

While I was on the treadmill there, I found an adorable television program called Martha Speaks on PBS. It's about a dog who eats some alphabet soup and gains the ability to speak, although she doesn't know all the words. So, it's a show that combines imagination with subtle vocabulary lessons. I love it!

We took a day drive to Newberry, SC, which was just gorgeous. The weather was perfect, and the houses had an antebellum feel. The little town itself was cute as a button. We performed at the Newberry Opera House, renovated 11 seasons ago and the pride of the town. I stopped into a quaint store called Books On Main that smelled like my grandparents' attic (that's good!). Turns out the downtown is pretty much only open Tuesday-Friday and Saturdays until 3. Most of the shops are owned by ladies who need Monday to take care of their household chores. Did I mention it's mostly antique shops and cake stores? So precious! The matinee crowd was drowsy as usual, but appreciative (thanks, First Baptist Church of Spartanburg!), but the evening audience was fully awake and offered us a back to front stander! (That's where you get a standing ovation, but not because the people up front stood up and the ones behind stood up so they could still see.) The venue fed us a nice picnic lunch and dinner, complete with sweet tea and some nice apples. My dresser was Betty Boozer. Lovely woman, and sporting a shiny gold tooth up front as well!

An overnight drive took us back up north to Glasgow, KY, outside of Bowling Green. A bit chillier! I started out in shorts and had to switch to jeans and a coat! I was well rested, so I hit the grocery store and the Family Dollar for supplies. One sure way to make sure no one eats your food? Buy sardines! I prefer them in mustard sauce on Triscuits, FYI. Did a bit of Singers Forum work, and it was off to the theater. The Plaza Theater in Glasgow may have once been a movie theater. The steep grade down to the stage was in no way wheelchair accessible! But the house was decorated with faux balconies on the side walls as if Romeo and Juliet were on the bill next. It was unique and grand. Then we were served dinner. Pam from the venue had cooked (all homemade) pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn and carrots, as well as chocolate cake and peach cobbler. The tables had lit candles and they served us as if it were a wedding. Salads, rolls, and silverware! It was so nice, and made us all feel so welcome and appreciative. No wonder we were able to deliver a standing ovation performance, even with the technical limitations of the space!

Another overnight drive and we're arriving a bit late to Toccoa, GA and the Georgia Southern Baptist Convention Center. Despite some warnings about redneck attitudes, I am anticipating a warm welcome and a positive energy from the crew (I have to... I get what I expect, right??). There's some trepidation among the cast, but we are all there to keep each other strong. Apparently, they aren't feeding us, either, which makes Glasgow seem all the sweeter! I am looking forward to what will be some primo accomodations, though. Plus, I got all them groceries yesterday, so I'm set.

Let's see what the devil (aka musical theater actors) can stir up in Georgia today!