Monday, December 31, 2001

Christmas Day brought a wonderful collection of gifts - chief among them clothes and books, so I'll be both well-clad and well-read for some time to come.

There were two standouts among this year's bootie, both things I've desired for some time. The first was a digital camera, which I've been yearning after for months. Its delivery has been delayed slightly, but as soon as it arrives, this old site will be peppered with pictures.

The first of those pics will likely be me in the other gift of particular note: a black leather car coat. My brother got one last year, which I helped pick out, and every time I've seen him in it I've coveted the thing. Now I've got one of my own, and I like to imagine we looked like a couple of badasses as we walked down the streets of Manhattan together last week.

For the first time I can remember, my fervor for Christmas and the actual day peaked at the same time. Normally, I continue to be swept up in the season until at least Twelfth Night, usually in a rather melancholy way. Why this year is different, I couldn't tell you.

I can say that I'm glad for it, though. It was a great holiday, and I'm quietly enjoying the tag end of the season without my usual ennui. That in itself makes this a Christmas to remember.

Odd discussion of the holidays: the appropriateness of the word "moist" in various contexts. For example, everybody likes a good moist cake, but you're not going to get any takers for moist salad. In fact, there are very few things for which moistness is a selling point.

That realization has led to the use of "moist" as a pejorative, one so terrible that the mere mention of the word sends shivers of disgust down the spines of those in the know.

Now that group includes you. Aren't you glad you stopped by today?

Have a happy, safe and dry New Year.
Posted @ 1:05 PM

Monday, December 24, 2001

Track the Big Guy's flight tonight!

Here's a bit of Christmas humor I first encountered in my late pre-Internet period. I've tweaked it ever so slightly to suit my tastes. Call it a dash of salt in the funny mix.

Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas!

'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our gender-differentiated nocturnal cranial coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself - thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen - "Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al. - guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved - with utmost celerity and via a downward leap - entry by way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."
Posted @ 5:55 PM

Saturday, December 22, 2001

I hinted at a big, ugly announcement a few days ago, but I've decided to hold off on that until after the New Year. It's one of those good news, bad news things. In the long run, it'll end up being a very good thing, though, so no real worries. Check back here early in '02 for the story.

Speaking of stories, you read plenty of fond words for A Christmas Story, the most recent Christmas movie that can rightly be called a classic*. Here's something much cooler: fond words about auditioning for A Christmas Story.

* I'll spare you the "why 'classic' is a dreadfully overused word" rant for now. No time; I still have to get out and buy some stocking stuffers.
Posted @ 1:35 PM

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

I hadn't given much thought to the fiasco at Sunday's Browns game until I ran across a couple of noteworthy perspectives on the situation in this morning's surfing. The first is a salty assault by buddy and Cleveland-area native John Popa. The second comes from the always enjoyable and cogent Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post.

Further down in Wilbon's column, he washes away some the bad taste left by the actions of the Dawg Pound rowdies with some great news: Washington's Darrell Green, 41, one of the classiest and most honorable people in professional sports, has rescinded his retirement announcement and will be back next year to play his twentieth season. The speedy cornerback has been with the team through the great times and the tough times, and it gives me a warm feeling to know that he'll be around just a little bit longer, helping shepherd the team back to its winning ways.
Posted @ 10:39 AM

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Just put up a little decoration on the front of the House. Not nearly as elaborate as a locally famous real world display, or even that guy down the road with one string of lights around his picture window, but I hope it brings a smile to your face.
Posted @ 12:05 PM

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

If you're like me, you're a tall 31-year-old white Midwesterner with a penchant for Star Trek and community theater. Most folks won't match up exactly with me on all that (thank the Maker), but one only needs to love the very last item in that description, or wish to understand those who do, to get something out of the book I'm currently reading.

It's called The Stuff of Dreams by Leah Hager Cohen, and it chronicles a production, from casting to closing, of David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly at the Arlington Friends of the Drama in Arlington, Massachusetts.

While reading this book, I've been struck by how exceedingly familiar the situations, people and problems of this troupe are to me. Things I had assumed were generally universal appear more and more to be specifically so. Some of this could have come straight from my own experiences doing amateur shows. Phrases I've heard and said ad nauseum over the years are uttered by these folks verbatim. The exact same glories and indignities I've experienced time and time again are spelled out in astonishing detail.

Because of these extremely close parallels, Stuff of Dreams is helping me work out some the questions I've been wrestling with for the last year or so: what's the place and purpose of community theater in a media-saturated age? Why are some people willing to put so much time and energy into behind-the-scenes duties, rarely if ever getting the kudos they deserve? Are the pains and political quagmires that serving on a theater's board of directors bring offset by the potential good a person can do there? Is it better to bounce around from group to group looking for the most fulfilling shows or to set down roots and stick with one playhouse regardless of the slate of plays?

I am, quite frankly, shocked at the direction in which my emerging answers to these questions, most importantly the last two, are leading me. After years of proudly flitting among many different theaters, more than a bit arrogantly declaring that I never do more than two shows in a row with any one group in order to avoid getting caught up in "the real work" (and openly urging others to follow my example), I suddenly find myself growing attracted to the idea of finding a home base and staying put for a while.

I'm not entirely sure how my new motivation correlates with this ongoing internal Q&A session, but the connection definitely exists. Perhaps I like the idea of influencing a group over the long term, helping it be a place for both artistic expression and communal growth. Maybe I've simply been reminded of the many joys I lost when going off to college forced me to leave the one group I'd worked with almost exclusively for the first three years of this now fourteen-year-old hobby. Whatever the cause, the urge is undeniably there.

Finding the right group, the one that both feels like home and has need of the energy and outlook I could bring, will take time, possibly a very long time. There's no guarantee I'll ever find a place that fits well enough. Until and unless that happens, I'll continue on as I have, trying out for the most appealing shows wherever they may be. But while I do so, I'll be keeping my eyes open for that particular spot where I can both spread my wings creatively and be more fully involved in the life of the group.
Posted @ 10:42 AM

Monday, December 10, 2001

I'm a bit self-conscious about posting this, but seeing as it'll hardly be the most uncomfortable thing I'll be imparting over the next few days, I figure what the hell. Barely in time for Christmas, here's my Amazon wish list. Please feel free to shower me with gifts if you so choose.

My second production in a row of The Fantasticks is now history, and I'm quite glad to finally have a break from hot lights, makeup and call times. It was more than a tad odd to revisit a role I'd first done a dozen years before, especially when you consider that I was exactly the right age the first time, and now I'm... not. Still, the challenge was entirely different this time, and that is, after all, the reason to take on any acting role.

But now all that's done, and I look forward to kicking my feet up and enjoying the holidays. Ironically, part of that enjoyment will be theater-based: I'm finally going to catch Patrick Stewart doing his one man A Christmas Carol, in New York on December 28th. My eagerness exists on three levels, as it'll be only my third Broadway show, and it's one of my favorite stories, and it's Patrick. Expect a review before '02 rolls on in.
Posted @ 1:32 AM

Thursday, December 06, 2001

Nowadays I'm a cat person, but that doesn't blind me to the fact that felines, by and large, see their human companions as nothing more than a means to food and shelter. Had I been so blinded, My Cat Hates You would have set me to rights.
Posted @ 11:50 AM


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