Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Bill Van Horn (who I've worked with previously on our production of The Dishwashers and who I LOVE) wrote the script and is also starring as Walt Whitman. I think it's going to be a fantastic show. Not only has Bill written a great piece, but the setting is so interesting that I'm convinced the audience will be absolutely riveted.
As I've said, the play is set in his home, the premise being that Walt has invited 80 or so of his closest friends to come and hear him give a "dress rehearsal" of his Lincoln lecture before he takes it on the road.
So instead of our more traditional seating with the audience on risers, the audience will actually be seated onstage in various period chairs and sofas. Bill as Walt will walk among them and interact with them throughout the whole show.
Since the audience seating is so vital to the spacing of the show, it was paramount that we have all of the chairs and sofas in our rehearsal room the first day.
Have you ever wondered what 80 period chairs looks like in a small dance studio?
A view from the front door:
Now that we're up on our feet and blocking the show, there is barely room for a stage management table and a coffee table. Luckily there's only one actor, otherwise no one would be able to move at all.
Stay tuned... this one's going to be great!
And in other news, I'm totally psyched for 3 things, in this order:
1. New Year's Eve. I have 3 parties to attend: the Walnut's, Dan Kazemi's and the Manton Street girls. It's going to be a whirlwind night.
2. A DAY OFF. kinda.
3. Our famous New Year's Day party where we eat hangover-curing junk food, imbibe some hair-of-the-dog drinks, lounge around & watch the parade on TV and watch the utter craziness that is drunken Mummery on our street. I can't wait to chill with my nearest and dearest.
Happy New Year!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Living on 2 Street, you get pretty used to drunks. The weekends are particularly bad-- when the bars let out there is all manner of fighting, crying, screaming and general carrying on. Deb and I have seen countless fist fights between inebriated, testosterone-laden males and screaming matches between soggy, hysterical females. Sometimes there's even a couple fight-- usually the girl is yelling, chasing after her boyfriend, calling him names. We've called the cops many times.
However, nothing prepared us for last night. Having consumed a few adult beverages ourselves, we opted for a cab ride home from Center City. As the cab pulled up to our cross street, I noticed a woman literally lying in the gutter. Her face was planted against a storm grate, and the rest of her prone body was sprawled out on the sidewalk. At first I thought she was dead, but then from inside the cab we could hear her yelling and moaning.
I hopped out of the cab and ran towards her, while Deb settled up the fare. (Side note: in a tribute to our cab driver, he made sure Deb had a cell phone and offered to call the cops for her. After we got out of the cab, he circled around the block to check on us again. Thanks, man.) As I approached, I could see that she was a relatively young woman (we would later find out she was 29) and that she was dressed like your average Philadelphia hipster, complete with oversized purse, skinny jeans and chucks. I asked her if she was all right, to which she replied that she was very cold. I looked up and down the street for her friends, but the street was deserted. How did she get here?
At this point Deb had joined me, and together we managed to lift the girl off the pavement and learn her name-- I'll call her Jess. Her face was covered with scratches and cuts and the side of her lip was already starting to swell. Jess' hands had the same scratches and cuts as her face.
She could barely stand. Every time we let go of her, she would sway and start to fall back down again. We asked her where she had come from, and she gave the name of a bar about a block away. When asked where she lived, she gave the number of a house just a block away from ours. Not too far. Deb and I decided without communicating that we would take her home.
It was much easier said than done. Although Jess' legs were having trouble working, her mouth certainly wasn't. Deb was talking to her, making sure that she was staying awake, and although Jess was able to answer a few of Deb's questions, she really wanted to talk about Deb. Specifically the fact that Deb was black. And that Deb "looked like a boy". And the fact that we were lesbians. Together. Did she mention that Deb "was a boy"? And Deb was black. And we were lesbians! And Deb looked like a boy.
Man, oh, man, it was tempting to drop this silly bitch on the street again and go about our business. But really, no matter what was coming out of her drunk mouth, there was no way we could leave her like this. Our neighborhood is full of people with bad intentions. She could be really hurt, or worse.
After some confused drunken wandering (she kept insisting that we were on the wrong street when we clearly weren't) we got her to the address she provided. Jess looked up at the house and said in a tone that clearly implied we should have known this all along: "This isn't my house! This is my parent's house!"
"All right", I said "Where's your house?"
She gave another address, just a few doors down. As we got her up the steps, she continued talking to Deb about her race, gender and sexuality. Deb and I did the best we could to deflect these questions lightly-- asked by a sober person, these questions would have made us angry and offended. Asked by this pathetic specimen, we just felt a little sad.
After an extensive dig for her keys in the vastness of her fashionable purse, Jess managed to locate them and unlock the door. She stumbled inside her dark house and the door shut behind her. Deb and I stared after her for a second, unsure of our next move. Just as we took the first few steps back towards our house, we heard her yelling from inside the house. We quickly walked back.
Her cat was trapped between the screen door and the front door and was clawing frantically to be set free. We opened up the screen door and scooped up the panicked kitty, and then Deb carefully opened the front door of the house, saying loudly to Jess "I'm coming inside, okay? I have your cat. She almost got out. Is it okay if I come inside?"
Jess slurred to the affirmative, so we stepped inside and carefully set down the cat. Jess was lying face first on the floor, moaning like she did on the street.
"Should we try to get her to a bed?" Deb asked me.
"No" I replied "She's inside, she's safe, let's just leave her here to sleep it off. We'll lock the door behind her. We don't know her-- I'm not comfortable trying to get her into bed."
We said goodbye, told her to be careful, and left, locking the door behind us. As we walked down the street, we both felt very uneasy about leaving her. She really was in a very bad state. The state she was in and the way she was talking to us we didn't feel comfortable spending too much time in her house. Who knows what she would try to accuse us of in the morning light? But still, she was out of her mind. Possibly worse.
What could we do? We could call 911, or...
In my own tipsy state, I acted with great clarity. I knew what to do. I walked back to the house Jess had indicated was her parent's house, and rapped on the door. Deb stood back, afraid that her race may cause some issue with the occupants of this house. Sigh.
It was by this point around 2:30 in the morning, so I had to knock a couple of times, but eventually I heard stirring in the house. An older man answered the door, peering at me with great suspicion.
"I'm so sorry to bother you" I said "Do you have a daughter named Jess?"
I saw fear and resignation in his eyes. "Yes."
"We were getting out of a cab at an intersection and we found her lying on the sidewalk. We got her into her house, but she is in a bad way. I think you should check on her."
"Thank you" was all he said.
Absurdly, as I walked down the steps and he began to close the door, Deb added "Merry Christmas."
And that was that. We walked home and went to bed. This morning I wrote Jess a note asking if she was okay, letting her know what had happened last night, and also letting her know that we lived close by if she ever needed help. I slipped it through her mail slot on my way to work, wondering if she was still on the living room floor.
The note served two purposes for me-- first, I do want to know if she's okay. And I also want her to know what happened last night. What we did. I doubt her memory of the evening is going to be all that clear, so when she woke up on her living room floor with cuts and bruises and soggy memories of a black lesbian, I wanted her to know exactly what this black lesbian did for her.
Jess, I hope you're okay. And I hope that whoever left you on that street or let you leave that bar in the state you were in gets their ass kicked some day. And I hope that you take some time to examine your prejudices, especially against people who help your drunk ass get safely home.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I would like to propose a few New Year's Resolutions for the citizens of Philadelphia and for the people who run the city government. You know, just a few small things that all of us can do to make our city a kinder, gentler place.
I'll start with my resolutions for the citizens of our fair city:
1. Stop with the littering, already. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people throw trash out of their car windows or just toss wrappers into storm grates. It makes our neighborhood look run-down and trashy.
2. Clean up after your dogs, seriously. I nearly step in poo every day, and not just at the park, either. I often see dog turds just chillin' in the middle of the sidewalk. They can't all be from strays! And on a similar note, get.your.friggin.dog.on.a.leash. I don't care how good they "normally", are-- an unleashed dog is a danger to other people, other dogs and themselves! (I'll ask you to spay and neuter your dogs next year.)
3. Stop signs mean that you STOP YOUR CAR. This Philly slide thing is dangerous and irritating. Coming to a 4-way stop in Philadelphia is nothing but a game of chicken-- who can roll furthest into the intersection, forcing the other car to stop or get hit? And there is very little regard for pedestrians-- I've had countless cars roll through stop signs, almost right into my knees. (This resolution is for me too. I've fallen into the Philly slide myself lately) And on a related note: drivers, be nicer to bicyclists. We have a right to the road too-- it's the law.
4. Text messaging or taking a phone call during a theatrical performance is never appropriate. It's rude during a movie showing, too-- and if you're not careful, this could happen to you in Philadelphia. (Thank god the man didn't die, but I must point out that this happened mere blocks away from my house)
5. Blocking an entire street with your car while you unload groceries/talk to your neighbors/score a girl's phone number/purchase drugs is just plain rude. Just because you have your flashers on doesn't mean you get to do whatever the fuck you like with your car.
And for the city government, here are a few things I'd like you to get on this year:
1. This city needs regular street cleaning and snow plowing. Plus lots more trash cans on the street.
2. More bike lanes! More places to park bikes! More bike-friendly community education! More ticketing of cars parked in bike lanes!
3. These proposed budget cuts suck. Closing down libraries? Cancelling the New Year's Parade? These things are going to lead to more problems for the city, not fewer. And for that matter, let's keep casinos out of the city. That's the sort of traffic/criminal element we don't need. Instead let's support the arts to encourage visitors to check out our city. The cost of a theater ticket or museum admission is so much less than losing your shirt to a casino. People will appreciate that.
Okay, that's all I have for now. What are some New Year's resolutions you would like to see the residents of your city and the city itself make?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Exchanging presents with the circle of friends was a bit scattered this year, but we managed to make it over to Melanie and AJ's house for some festivities.
Amanda is super excited about her wrapping paper:
Cookies, made by Melanie, devoured by all of us.
Deb and AJ share a fist bump:
Home for Christmas! Christmas Eve began with the traditional pomegranate martinis before church, prepared by Judith. (That way we're nice and liquored up for the ceremony...)
Taking pictures in front of the pre-decorated tree. (l-r: Mom, Judith, Joseph, me, Dad)
I didn't get many pictures of the rest of the evening-- presumably I was too tipsy to care. But we went to church and then Matt & Weas came over for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner: marinated flank steak, green beans, twice baked potatoes and croissants. We then decorated the tree (and the rest of the living room, Joseph Isaac) and hit the hay, tuckered out from a long day of driving, eating, drinking and all other sorts of merriment.
We slept in Christmas morning, but finally got around to opening those presents!
I am very excited about my new winter coat:
New T-shirts for Dad:
Deb got a case of her favorite beer!
Joseph is opening up the table foosball set I got him:
Even Hyde got in on the action, unwrapping his own new toy from his "sister", Molly the dog.
After presents, Mom got to work on Christmas morning breakfast. (Look at that ham!)
And Dad enjoyed Jonathan's present to Joseph: Esquire The Rules: A Man's Guide to Life. Perhaps a little too much:
Hyde went for a walk on the very slippery driveway:
And Molly helped Dad get the mail:
Hyde wanted to help with the mail too:
After Christmas morning, we moved to Aunt Eunice's house for more festivities.
Joseph broke out one of his stocking stuffers, a selection of Play-Doh, and he and the girls got to work making fun shapes:
I think this is an alligator that Rachel made. Or maybe a kitty cat. Hard to tell:
Harper was psyched to open her gifts:
Dinner was delicious, but dessert was a triumph: Uncle Jim made apple dumplings. They were AWESOME!
Back from Aunt Eunice's, Joseph and Deb decided to try out the table foosball game:
And naturally we had to play cards. We're really into a new game that Deb taught us at Thanksgiving, called Golf.
I think I won this hand:
Christmas was a crazy time, but it was so good to see the family again. Now I want to sleep for a week, but things are pretty busy here at the theater.
Wake me up January 5th-- that's my next "real" day off. Phew.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Well, I'm officially done. Just a little bit of wrapping to do, and then I say: "BRING IT ON, CHRISTMAS!".
We're leaving tomorrow morning with the dog and many brown paper packages tied up with string (I'm going earth-friendly this year with recyclable wrapping paper)in the back of the Subaru.
And we'll be back on Friday for two shows. My brain is complete mush at this point, but at least I'm done.
Have a very merry, very safe Christmas, all.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
We're getting close to the Big Day. I've been cross stitching like a fiend, so much so that my right wrist is coming down with a mild case of carpal tunnel.
I've spent all my spare time assembling, wrapping and generally getting all of my presents together. I think I'm almost ready.
On top of this, our show schedule is starting to get really crazy. We have shows the next two Mondays (gasp!) to make up for the days lost to Christmas and New Year's. Not to mention that we begin rehearsals for the next show, O Captain, My Captain on December 29th.
Whew. Wake me up on January 5th.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In one of those rare, real life moments, our show brought two people together last night.
About a week ago my boss Roy called me with an interesting quandry... a gentleman had contacted the Walnut asking if he could propose to his girlfriend onstage during a Hairspray performance. Since Hairspray is so big and complicated, Roy turned him down, but suggested that we might be able to do something like this up in the more intimate atmosphere of the Studio. He called me to see what I thought of the idea, and after I ran it by the boys, we were all on board.
I placed a number of calls to this gentleman (let's call him Henry) to sort out the details. He was very gung-ho about everything, really wanting a special, funny, unforgettable moment during the show to make his proposal.
After some thinking, we decided to do it during the very first scene of the show, set in the radio station. It seemed to be the best place for audience participation, and it vaguely made sense within the context of the play. It would would be out of place in say, Bertha's kitchen, but a random proposal in the middle of a radio station seemed at least mildly plausible.
John, Ben and I brainstormed some script additions and some reactions to whatever might happen, and then after confirming everything with Henry, the show began. I realized belatedly that I should have asked him what he looked like, or what he was wearing, but I soon easily picked him out of the crowd as the nicely dressed man twitching nervously in his seat and repeatedly wiping his sweaty palms on his slacks. His girlfriend was the very pretty lady by his side.
As show began my heart started pounding. Scenarios ran through my head. What if she says no? What if it's all some sort of elaborate hoax? What if the boys forget and just continue with the show? What if Henry was too nervous and completely derailed the show? Chrissy the house management apprentice climbed into the booth and we squeezed each other with anticipation as the moment approached.
John handled the script addition perfectly, announcing to the audience that this was the part of the show where we call a randomly selected audience member up to the stage to read a "Public Service Announcement". (We wanted to make it seem like this was something we did every night) John called Henry's name, and I slowly brought up the house lights. Henry took the index card from John and substituted his own. He began to talk about the wonderful life he and his girlfriend (let's call her Gretchen) had made together, with a new house and a "baby", their dog. He said there was only one thing left to make their lives perfect, and then he got down on one knee and proposed to her with a ring that I would later learn had belonged to her mother. Gretchen instantly started to cry, but managed a very clear "YES" before she and Henry kissed and hugged. The whole audience was just busting out with applause and congratulations. John and Ben shook Henry's hand and then we went on very smoothly into the rest of the show.
And let me tell you, I wish we had a proposal like that every night because we have never had such a good audience. During the second act, our sexy waitresses Helen and Inita sat on Henry's lap and claimed him for one of their boyfriends. Everyone loved this, and we received a full standing ovation at our curtain call, something we didn't even receive on our opening night. The boys took time out of their curtain call to shake Henry's hand again and to give Gretchen a kiss.
It was one of the most romantic things I have ever witnessed. You know, working in theater we strive to re-create wonderful spontaneous things every night, try to keep them fresh, rehearse emotion until it becomes rote, simulate extreme situations and our responses to them. I never realized how artificial it all is until something actually spontaneous occurs.
What a rush. I wish Henry and Gretchen the best life ever, and I wish for more romantic, spontaneous things in my own life.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
2. Super-cleaned the kitchen, including taking everything out of the fridge and scouring it so it gleamed.
3. FINALLY got some Christmas shopping out of the way.
4. Got my bangs trimmed.
5. And oh yeah, rushed my dog to the vet after he discovered a (sealed!) tupperware container full of kosher salt and proceeded to chew off the lid and consume god-knows-how-much salt. When I found him, he was covered in salt like a soft, guilty-looking pretzel. The vet said his sodium levels were a little high for their taste so they are keeping him overnight to make sure he gets enough fluids to flush this out of his system.
Just what we needed. Another huge vet bill. Sigh. Two steps forward, one step back.
At least I did all the other stuff before Hyde decided to brine himself from the inside...
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Madi's world-famous Frito pie.
Did you know there are only 3 ingredients in Fritos? It's true, look it up. Corn, corn oil, salt.
Also, as Madi's daughter Franny pointed out, when you open up a bag of Fritos, it smells like cat. Seriously, we didn't believe her, but it's true. Try it for yourself.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Don't Rob and Kelley looked like they just stepped out of a war time movie?
Some classy broads right here: (l-r Kelley, Deb, me, Amanda, Beth)
Oooh, arty photo by the Christmas tree. Check out my noble profile. Heh.
And in an unrelated news story, I was the recent recipient of some delightful bath salts from my lovely apprentice, Melissa. I brought them home and was very excited to take a soak some time this week. Hyde had other plans, however-- when Deb went home yesterday between shows she was greeted with this scene:
Bad dog! Very bad dog! Good thing the bath salts were all natural, so I don't have to worry about poisoning.
Still, he looks impossibly cute and yet incredibly guilty here. BAD DOG!!!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Last night Deb and I went dancing with some of our favorite people at the TLA. I forget what the event was called, but it was sponsored by Dos Equis beer (yum) and featured live circus-like performers (oooh). We watched a lady contortionist (in fetching lingerie) and a girl who was really awesome with hula hoops (also in lingerie) strut their stuff. We also watched the creepy guys line up at the stage to ogle.
And we even did some dancing:
Lindsay and Deb broke it down.
After the dance party we had a couple of beers upstairs at Tattooed Mom's, which has a much more raw punk feeling that the downstairs vibe that I've become so accustomed to. It was kind of perfect, as our ears were still buzzing from the thumping bass a the TLA. We then had burgers at Johnny Rocket's with Dalice and cabbed it home, exhausted but happy to have been out and about with such great friends.
Tonight is Rob's holiday party (with a 40's theme) tomorrow between shows we're headed to Madi's for a Frito pie party and Monday night is Katie's holiday party. Next Sunday is Carrie's A Christmas Story potluck and soon enough it will be Christmas and after that..... MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!
I hope the fun never ends. And my leg is even healed enough for me to wear heels! Life is good.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Here, for your enjoyment, are my two favorites:
Hyde and Riley are good buddies. Hyde loves going over to Mel and AJ's, and as soon as he settles down, Riley is there to annoy him/lick him/snuggle with him. It's friggin' adorable:
When our heat was broken, our bedroom was unbearably cold so we were forced to drag the mattress into the living room. Behold the results:
And on an entirely random note, Tuna Christmas is doing very well. Last night was John Zak's birthday, so he got dressed up and we took him on the town:
Just kidding, of course, here's the actual birthday celebration. The above picture is the character of Helen, flighty waitress/coke addict.
Thumbs up to cute pets and good times!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
But although we're struggling a bit now, I have much in my life to be grateful for. I have a job, I have a wonderful girlfriend, I have a dog and a cat, I have a huge and supportive circle of friends, and of course, I have a loving, amazing family.
My mother, who once was technology adverse, but who is now an avid blog reader and text-messenger sent me this via text this morning after reading Sunday's blog:
"Hey. What's up w/ f-ing Cmas? Life surely has it's ups & downs. I feel ur pain. How can I help? Presents r overrated! XO"
Mom, you've helped just by sending me that text. You help every time you call to check in. You help every time you give me one of your big, squeez-y hugs. You help because you are an awesome mom.
I love you, Mom. I love my friends, I love my girlfriend. Thanks to everyone who helps to keep my chin up when I'm stressed and overwhelmed.
And on that note, Deb and I sat down today and talked about The Future. As in where we want to be career, relationship and money-wise in the next few years. It was good to air all the stress and anxiety and to come up with something of a unified plan. We may be going through some rough times now, but the future holds nothing but promise.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Is anybody else feeling as not-all-that-excited about the holidays as myself? Maybe I'm just a little nervous.
But the fact is, times are tough-- both on a macro & a micro scale. I can't turn on the radio without hearing about bailouts, recessions, foreclosures, unemployment... it's beginning to make my head spin. Meanwhile, things around me keep getting more and more expensive and the bills are starting to pile up. It's hard to keep your head up in this climate.
Not to mention my recent episodes of bad luck that have really been a setback for us, both physically and emotionally. I sometimes feel like I have a dark cloud following me around. Jeez, in the last two months I have sucessfully fucked up both of my legs.
Plus our house is a mess, work is stressful and I'm worried about paying bills and affording Christmas presents for everyone. Too much pressure. This holiday season finds me looking for a rock to crawl under until my 30th birthday in January.
Because I'm so poor and looking for a good stress-reliever, I've been cross stitching like a fiend. Now I'm not really into pastoral scenes or bunnies with cloying sentiments, so I bought me a Sara-style crafting book, Subversive Cross Stitch. Much more my style.
So friends, relatives, workmates: I apologize in advance for my lack of Christmas spirit and Christmas funds. But I'm stitching like a fiend, and hopefully will have some crafty goods to hand out.
Until then, I leave you with my latest work(s) in progress:
I think they sum up my holiday feelings quite nicely.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tonight is our opening night of A Tuna Christmas. It's been a long, strange trip... we all thought it would be so simple, so familiar since it was essentially the same as last year. But of course it's never like that.
This year the set is more complicated, the costumes are different, the lights and sound have been expanded... needless to say, we've all been working non-stop. Working our (padded with tons of foam) butts off.
And it's been worth all the blood, sweat and tears, because the show is good-- really good. It's got more heart than Greater Tuna-- dare I say it, but the characters actually have a story instead of being just the butt of look-at-these-hicks jokes.
I hope you all come and see it, if you can. I'm so proud of all the work Madi, John, Ben, Melissa, Katie, Shon, Chris, Alisa, Meghan, Andrew, Julia, Roy, Bethann and all of the other people I'm not mentioning have put into this one. It hasn't been an easy road, but it's been a good one. And I'm mighty proud of this show. A huge thank you to everyone mentioned above, and to everyone else I forgot.
And remember, if you can find someplace you like better than Tuna.....
And in Sara's left leg news, I got report from the doctor today: no fracture, just a deep bone contusion. So I get a fun pair of crutches to hobble around on. I'm just relieved to know what's wrong with me.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
In a lot of pain today. I got an appointment with the specialist tomorrow-- funnily enough, it's the same guy that Deb sees for her knee. She says he's awesome, so I'm really hoping he can do something for me. Being this immobile and in this much pain really sucks.
On top of that, things at work have grown increasingly... complicated. I just know it's going to be a week of hard work coming up.
Sigh. I'm grumpy.
But just when I get too down in the dumps, my wonderful, WONDERFUL girlfriend cheers me up with a cup of tea or a funny story or just some good old fashioned cuddles. We hung out with our good friend Diane tonight and had dinner at Grace Tavern-- I'd never been there before and I had a blast! The food was awesome, the atmosphere just right, and it was so great to see Diane, who is such a smart, ballsy woman. Diane and Deb went to high school together and Diane moved to Philly for med school around the same time Deb moved here for theater!
After dinner we picked up a pint of Dove Cookies & Cream ice cream and headed to the Mariott, where Amanda McKenna was recovering from her surgery with the lovely and amazing Aunt Suzie. It was so great to catch up and compare war wounds with Amanda. We polished off that whole pint between the four of us and gossiped to our heart's content. Not only is Amanda pretty much the awesomest, bravest person ever, her Aunt Suzie sure is an amazing woman. Deb and I spent the whole car ride home discussing how much we wished Aunt Suzie lived in Philly full time and was our aunt too. That lady rocks!
Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow. I'm really hoping the doctor will tell me a, it's nothing serious and b, here's some thing that will take away your pain. Oh, and I'm hoping that the work situation will resolve itself quickly and happily.
Until then I will continue to self medicate with a combination of amazing girlfriend, some good beer, intermittent ice packs, ibuprofen and a healthy dose of great friends. Doesn't really do much for the pain, but it sure is helping to keep my chin up.