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I took Julianna to her first concert last night–the Beatles’ tribute band, 1964 the Tribute.  My first concert was in 1983, to see Simon and Garfunkle on the first stop on their reunion tour.  Rubber Bowl (I KNOW) in Akron. Apparently it’s a good thing we saw it there b/c things started to fall apart quickly as the goodwill of the Concert in Central Park wore away.  But I enjoyed it and it was a good starter concert.  Julianna got an even gentler introduction, as it was the same crowd, only 26 years later.  The audience was almost all either 60 or 12.  Grandparents and grandkids, from the looks of it.  Entirely white.  Not so much as an Asian.  But, although I was skeptical, it was a terrific show.

These guys have been doing this schtick for 25 years.  From the time the Beatles were so named (1960) until Lennon was shot (1980) was only 20 years.  Hell, John and Paul only knew each other 23 years.  So they have the act DOWN.  When they first came on stage, they looked like a bunch of guys dressed up like The Beatles, but they have every little mannerism down so perfectly that by two songs in, they looked just like them to me.  They don’t play any music later than Revolver and most of it is pre-Help!, so Julianna was spared the later stuff that she doesn’t really like.  Revolver and Rubber Soul are my favorite albums, though, so I would have liked more of that.  Even so, it was a really good time.  They are an incredibly gracious and generous band, always encouraging the audience to sing along, making little jokes, and so on.  They even do the voices perfectly.  But, again, 25 years.  I could probably perfect an impression in that time. How they manage to actually look like touring-era Beatles when they have to be 50 is beyond me though.  I’d like to know.

It was the ideal fogey concert.  Comfy seats, indoors, not too loud.  If only it had started at 6 instead of 8 it would have been perfect.  I am so past standing in a loud club, getting pogo’d on by the drug-addled.  I can only imagine how much this show would have meant to me at 12, so I’m really glad Julianna got to see it.  She was over the moon.  And if you’re going to pick a band that broke up 39 years ago as your favorite…I guess this is as good as it gets.


I was going to call this post “Five Dollar Milkshake” but I see that I made that exact joke when I blogged about my first trip to Sam Wong Salon (you should click the link, it’s damed funny if I do say so myself).  As we often tell the children, jokes don’t usually get funnier the more you tell them…but damn, it really was apt.

Anyway.  Steve, because he is awesome, got me a gift certificate to this salon that I have yammered about ever since I got a haircut there in June of 07.  I’ve been going to The Temple, the beauty school, and have been mostly happy.  But now and again I’d get a kinda crappy cut.  And slowly it added up to Not Nice Hair.  It was okay, but…clumsy.  And the color had gotten cheap looking (because it was, in fact, cheap).  So Steve set me up for a cut and color with The Man (not the one who is always keeping a brotha down.  The one that cuts hair).  So I showed up, ready for the robe and the minor cranial assault and magic.

I had simmering plans for a Big Change but chickened out in the end and just stayed blonde and asked to have the long layers made softer and healthier.  So he went to mix up the color and eventually returned with a tray holding what appeared to be food.  There was a pot of greek yogurt, a pot of mole sauce, a pot of raspberry jam, and a pot of chocolate fudge.  They’ve converted the salon to all-organic, so these were ammonia-free, all natural, made by the fairies hair color.   I admit, it was nice to not breathe the fumes and think “and what bodily system am I damaging today in the name of vanity?”  And oh, it took a long time to get them on.  I read many crap magazines because I’d forgotten my book.  Then I had to bake for 10 min.  Then sit for 10. Then I got to go to the glorious sinks that are essentially beds with a hose at the end.  Seriously, there’s not a dip in the sink, it’s a platform and you turn your head to one side or the other to get the back rinsed.  Heaven.  At the sink bed, the shampoo chippie put “toner” on my head (your toner cartridge recycling program in action!) and I got to lay THERE for 10 min.  Then rinse, wash, and massage.  love that.

The cut was just as bappity-bap and precise as the first one.    I accidentally noticed about halfway through that Sam’s button fly was open on the bottom two buttons.  So then I had to REALLY NOT LOOK b/c I’d hate for him to see me notice and then notice himself.  He has scissors trained on my head.  I could see that the color was great and the cut was going to be kind of choppy and cute, which I like.  But then he got out the asthmatic blow dryer and a round brush as big around as a forearm.  And oh, the things he can do with that.  I had BIG hair.  Big Texas Newscaster Hair.  I totally cracked up and said, “It’s…big.” and he smooshed it down a bit.  But still, can’t you just hear it?

“Does a silent killer lurk in your sock drawer?  Find out at 11.”

In the end, excellent hair cut.  I think the color will wear well, provided the ice cream toppings don’t give out faster than the chemicals of yore.  Totally not so much better than other places as to justify the price, but I’m viewing it as a day at the spa because it was  a THREE HOUR APPOINTMENT (a three hour appoinment…).  I got there at 11 and left at 2 so hungry I could have eaten that hair color.  

Lily, when I picked her up at school said, “Mommy you look sexy!”  

“So, what does THAT mean?” (holding breath)

“You look like a teenager!”

Of course I do.  But thank you honey.  Just for that, I won’t photoshop the lines off my face.

I’ll be sure to let you know what it looks like after *I* wash it.  I know you’re worried.

The kids had off school yesterday–scheduled, not called b/c of a snowflake sighting–so we watched the inauguration together.  Obama, in the end, decided not to go with my speech, which I feel was a mistake, but seemed to do okay nonetheless.  I turned the TV to the local NBC affiliate at around 11:30, and was quickly sent scuttling off to C-SPAN.  Oh my lord, can they not bear any second of silence?  The prattling!  But C-SPAN, bless ’em, is perfectly willing to just give you the video feed with whatever ambient noise it picks up.  I was left to speculate as to who that white guy in black coat and colored scarf might be, not to mention where he bought the scarf, how long ago, what his wife’s name is, and a funny anecdote about someone the newscaster knew with the same name.  Just quiet.  Ahh.  But Steve is in CA this week, which meant I was left giving it the MST3K treatment on my own.  We texted, but I suuuuuck at texting.  I text like someone for whom the technology was not designed.  Like your grandma trying to program her VCR.  But once Cheney was rolled out in a wheelchair, I had to start poking those buttons.  “Cheney is in a wheelchair and they–no lie–just wheeled under a sign that said “Crypt” and had an arrow pointing the way they had come”  Steve responded, “He is sedated.  They had to hit him with a dart to get him out of the office.”  But seriously, a wheelchair?  Was he unable to book a litter?  I think a rick-shaw would have had dash.

Of course, since we were watching C-SPAN, there was no explanation of the chair, and we were free to make up our own stories.  Cheney in a PCP rage throwing office supplies at the admins who’d come to get him?  That’s a good one.  The video feed kept showing shots of the–holy CRAP look at all those people!–crowd and close-ups now and again.  Repeatedly, we got to see an Asian girl in a knit Georgetown hat.  It got to the point that something would happen and Julianna would say, “I wonder what the G hat girl is thinking of this?”  From what we could tell, she mostly thought “This is cool” and “I am cold.”  The temps were too low for thoughts of more than 3 words, even for a Georgetown student.  We were left to notice Bill Clinton’s face as Michelle Obama walked up.  To know that he was thinking, “That should be ME in the pretty green coat.  ME!”  To enjoy seeing George W. Bush looking like he could burst  into song, he was so happy.  “See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!”  To wonder if Laura Bush was going to sue her plastic surgeon.

I had told the kids that by law the President has to be sworn in by noon.  The job of Prez runs from noon Jan. 20th to noon Jan 20th four years later.  So as the clock ticked down and we only had a VICE president, they were getting antsy.  Then, just when there was a minute left until noon, Diane Feinstein announced that she was pleased to introduce…a musical number.  AUGH!  What I heard of it was modern and discordant and if we were going to hear John Williams music, I think the right time was at Cheney’s entrance.  But mostly I didn’t hear it b/c the squids were in an uproar.  “We have no President!  There are no LAWS!”  Ben told Lily to go steal my car keys and that he could drive now.  Lily asked “Is it true?  Are there no laws now?”  Yes dear, anarchy.  We are free to loot.  Except that it is too cold to leave the house, which seems like a good safety valve on the part of the law-makers.  I later heard that in truth, the elected one becomes Prez at noon, sworn-in or no.  And apparently the Crypt isn’t all that cool, either.  Really, there is no magic left in the world.   Well, there IS Aretha Franklin’s hat.

I did get a bit choked up when he finally swore in.  And I thought his speech was terrific, if not particularly surprising (“And as President, I declare that  “In the Air Tonight” is forbidden, upon pain of death!”). And leaving out the part about how our image is as tarnished as a corkscrew implication was a mistake.  But I do love to hear that man speak.  He can use his tongue purdier than a twenty dollar whore.  I know that there are teleprompters right there, but he always makes it seem off the cuff and from the heart.  Which, if nothing else, is a good start.

Thank you, thank you to Andi, who has led me to my calling: Presidential Speechwriter.  Thanks to the Inauguration Speech Generator, I see that I am insanely gifted.  I swear to you that I did not even know how my Mad Libs-style word fill-ins would be arranged  And yet, behold the brilliance!

My fellow Americans, today is a festive day. You have shown the world that “hope” is not just another word for “cracker”, and that “change” is not only something we can believe in again, but something we can actually reject. 

Today we celebrate, but let there be no mistake – America faces diaphanous and effervescent challenges like never before. Our economy is extra-crispy. Americans can barely afford their mortgages, let alone have enough money left over for janitors. Our healthcare system is visceral. If your elbow is sick and you don’t have insurance, you might as well call a assistant crack whore. And America’s image overseas is tarnished like a corkscrew implication. But stewing together we can right this ship, and set a course for Mall of America.


Finally, I must thank my spherical family, my hollow campaign volunteers, but most of all, I want to thank videographers for making this historic occasion possible. Of course, I must also thank you, President Bush, for years of cringing the American people. Without your bemused efforts, none of this would have been possible.

Now go make your own.

I have some slightly annoying virus.  It makes me feel, as my Granny might have said, puny.  A trip into the basement to flip the laundry leaves me shaky and longing to lie down.  I spent most of yesterday in bed, periodically shuffling to the loo or to drink more water so that I could repeat the process.  Holding up my book so I could read in bed made my arms wiggly.  It’s just pathetic, really.  Otherwise, I have my standard sinus problems, and a somewhat oogy tum.  So as ailments go, it’s an okay one, I guess.  Just feels…meh.  And now we’re out of food, so I have to go out.  Smithers!


In less whiny news…Julianna just wrapped up a week with the Missoula Children’s Theater.  It’s an impressive organization–they roll into town with everything needed to put on a show, except the cast.  They hold auditions on Monday night, have the first rehearsal right after auditions and rehearse every night that week.  Then they do a dress rehearsal and two shows on Saturday, pack up, and move on.  About 120 kids showed up for 60 slots and Julianna got one of the leads.   She got to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in their production of Robin Hood.  It was especially nice for her since she hasn’t been feeling that great about landing the part of Cha-Cha in the school production of Grease.  The other leads were teenagers, she was the youngest by several years.  Watching the audition, I cringed a bit b/c she was ACTING!, but that was just what they were looking for–they told her she couldn’t be too over-the-top or silly.  They also told her to imagine the Sheriff as a dog.   Those who knew her as a wee lass know that my child wore a dog collar out in public and asked to be walked through the mall on a leash as late as seven years old.  So she was born to the part.  They should probably just take her on tour with them.

It was impressive to see how they powered out a show–the leads started rehearsing that night.  They got a script and started blocking right away.  Bam!  Each group of characters (there are sorts of character, somewhat broken down by size–skunks are the littlest kids, then there are foresters, aristocrats, the merry band, and the guards are the teens) was set right to work, given a particular character within their group.  Everyone had at least one line.  Holding the show together was a narrator, one of the women from Missoula.  She was able to provide guidance or cover if someone stumbled, but really, they didn’t need it.  The show was every bit as well acted as the shows the school puts on that take months of twice-weekly rehearsals.  It was like magic.  And, of course, the kids had a blast.  Julianna really liked meeting a different group of kids, which made me feel a bit bad for keeping her with the same group of kids since kindergarten, some of them from even further back.  I guess it is hard when everyone has known you for ever…not that I’D know.  We went out to dinner after and as we sat there she went from bubbly and effusive to face down in her enchiladas.  It was a heck of a week.   But she has the bug bad, now.  She wants more auditions, MORE!  And it made me really really want to get back into theater.  I’m almost there.  The kids need to be a bit older before I could leave them with Julianna when Steve’s away…Of course, by then, she’ll have her own stuff to do.  And it’s not like I don’t have enough to do…

Speaking of which, how are those birthday business name ideas coming?  I’ve  come up with EcoMoms Birthday Service, but I don’t really like it.  It has the whiff of those Mommy Moms and while I’d like their business and their sweet, sweet money, I don’t want to BE one of them.  It seems like we’d need one of those horrid logos with the stylishly elongated mom in knee boots and sunglasses with a cake in one hand and a cellphone in the other…nah. 

Anyway.  Here are photos!  First, the cast:

That’s my shy child in the purple:

I should probably tell her about facial waxing, huh?  I was trying to hold out until she’s 12…

They’re in my house.  Why?  Because it’s cold.  School was canceled because of cold.  Now, I’ll grant you, it IS cold out there and I wasn’t really looking forward to standing out in front of the school, opening car doors in my job as car-line-lady (oh, who am I kidding, of course I was.  It’s only 15 min and I get to look macho b/c I just bundle up and take it).  I cut the district some slack when they close in the face of very little snow.  It’s a big county, lots of country roads, maybe it’s too treacherous in some places to send the buses.  Fine.  But cold?  According to Weather Underground, it’s 20.4 out there.  With windchill, it’s 20.  Sure, that’s cold. But it’s not “Do not attempt to walk from your door to a vehicle and from that vehicle to a school building.  Your nose will fall off” cold.  On a snow day, I at least know they’ll be outside playing for much of the day.  But not today.  Because if it’s too frigid to go to school, there’s no WAY they’re headed outside to frolic on the crispy lawn.

So my plans to plug my book into my ears and sew are dashed.  Putting on my ipod alerts my children to all of their needs.  Needs that had been lying dormant.  Right ear…left ear…play…”Mom! I need some tape!”  “Mom! is it lunch time yet?”  “Mom! have you seen my shoes?” “Mom!  Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?”

I need to sew some crap for the birthday party Janet and I are staging for our website-to-be for our birthday party business-to-be.  Which you people have not yet named!  Hello?  I have half a dozen sewing machines and they all suck.  They all need servicing, which is 80 bucks a pop.  I need someone to pretend to be me and go ask the local place if they’ll sponsor our 4-H sewing group and do this at a greatly reduced rate.  But don’t pretend to be me so successfully that you can’t go ask this favor.  Because I have that part down pat, thanks.

I feel cheated.  Which pisses me off.  Julianna’s big Hannukah gift was a ticket to see Les Miserables at the Signature Theater in Arlington, VA.  They have a special “Miz kids” package wherein you get 4 tickets for $125 (plus 4 cookies and 4 drinks at intermission), which is a terrific deal, given that single tix are around 80 dollars.  Still, not small potatoes.  But Julianna had expressed a wish to see Les Mis sometime and I hadn’t seen it since its pre-Broadway run at the Kennedy Center in 1987.  I was so high up in the balcony, I expected an oxygen mask, but it was still a staggering experience.  I was wracked with sobs at the end, along with everyone else in the theater.  It was magical. I was SO excited to go again.

Signature has re-imagined the staging, as the classic bits–the rotating stage, the marching wedge with the big red flag, Javert’s leap from the bridge–are property of the…touring company?  I can’t recall, but you can’t do them.  So Signature, a small edgy-type theater, worked with Cameron Mackintosh to re-stage it.  The theater seats only 280, with a balcony, so the whole feel is going to be different, anyway.  Les Mis is a BIG show, an opera really, so I was really intrigued to see how they would cram it into a black box.

On the whole, the staging and sets were fabulous.  There are runways coming in from the corners so that the audience is seated somewhat in the action.  There is seating on three sides of the stage, and the back wall is made of translucent panels reminiscent of 19th century warehouse windows.  They are lit in various ways to set the mood or simulate explosions during the battle.  They raise in the middle–reminding me a bit of a garage–to allow entrance of actors and chunks of set.  The pieces that become the barricades look like twisted metal and girders.  The center of the stage has grates from which light and/or fog can emerge for ambience and there is a platform of grates that can be raised and lowered to the stage.  And then…there are chairs.  Shiny dining room chairs, on ropes, hanging from the ceiling.  The opening scene is gorgeous–shirtless dirty men in poses gripping these ropes.  It looks like socialist realism (which I love).  But once the song starts, they start hauling those chairs up and down on pulleys, to simulate hard labor. (Other jobs represented in the show–scraping grates rhythmically with metal rollers and stretching cloth and putting it in a bag.  Steve said, “No wonder there was a revolution, these jobs are stupid!”) And I like the pulley thing b/c it’s easy to make it look grueling, but the chairs made it…silly.  The only humor in this show should come from the Thenardiers. And maybe when Grantaire says “it’s better than an oooopera!”  That’s it.    Snorts of derision should be right out.  Having the chairs descend slightly for “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”?  Made me snort.

It’s a dark show.  Thematically and, in this staging, literally.  Most of the set is black, the clothes are blacks, browns, dingy dark blues.  Only Cosette and Marius are allowed a splash of color.  Oh, and Eponine’s coat. There aren’t even stars during “Stars.”  Dark, I tells ya.  But in this small setting, it totally works.  You can see and make out who everyone is without the costume having to telegraph it to the 3rd balcony (and, you know, every time characters appear they sing their names–“My name is John Valjean”  “And, I’m Javert!  Do not forget my name! [but if you do, it’s okay b/c I’ll tell you when I come out again.  Or someone else will mention it.  So it’s okay, really]”)  The lighting was very dramatic, with lots of spots and glowy bits.  I really liked it.  Well done, Signature crew!

Our heroes…well, we’ll get to Valjean in a minute.  Javert was played by Tom Zemon with a real love of the role.  How can you not love Javert, really, but he seemed to relish it, stalking around in his cool black coat.  Sometimes he went…a little nuts, and in the suicide scene, I had the urge to go up to him and brush at his mouth: “Hold on, you have something…right there in the corner of your mouth…Oh, it’s a piece of the scenery!”  But the character can take a good bit of bombast.  The suicide scene’s staging did piss me off, though.  In the “real” show, as in the book, Javert leaps off a bridge into the Seine.  In spite of his morals and dedication to what is Right, he descends in death.  in the Signature staging, he shoots himself in the head, drops to the platform and is raised, bathed in red light.  It felt wrong AND it cut off the last note of his song which should be magnificent.   Zemon has a good voice, and I wanted to hear him do it.  Poo.   On the whole, though, liked the portrayal.  He looked the part and sounded the part and seemed to enjoy the part.  In a couple of places he either dropped a line or sang a wrong word.  You have to feel for actors in Les Miz, because everyone in the audience knows ALL the words.  At least half of them think they coud do a better job that you and secretly hope they’ll suddenly have to fill in.  I know I’m ready if I get the call.

Eponine, my second favorite character in the show, was played by Felicia Curry.  She has a rich, soulful voice, not usually what I expect of Eponine, but really lovely.  She’s black, which should be unimportant, but it does take a moment to adjust.  But you do so, gladly, b/c her voice is great.  Incidentally, Young Eponine was played by an Asian girl, which caused us to make inappropriate giggly jokes later.  She was, perhaps, a bit too smiley for my taste.  I prefer more wistfulness in my Eponine.  She didn’t break my heart the way Frances Ruffele did.  Her dying scene, “A Little Fall of Rain” usually kills me.   I can’t even sing it without crying.  But I was dry-eyed b/c it was awkwardly acted and just odd looking.  Not at all poignant.  I can’t quite place why, but part of it was that Curry herself sounded to be crying through it, barely able to sing towards the end.  Part of what makes Eponine so tragic is that she just takes this stuff.  She’s strong.  So suck it up, babe, and sing me my song.  I’ll do any crying that needs to be done.  It’s an opera, not a movie.  I do not seek realism here.

Marius was played by Andrew Call.  His voice is lovely.  He’s not particularly dashing to gaze upon, but nice enough.  honestly, the character is a snore and Call didn’t do much to put that aside.  He played the role, acted well, sang like an angel, and that’s enough, really.

Cosette was a nice surprise.  I was utterly un-moved by the 1987 Cosette, and I don’t tend to enjoy a screechy soprano.  Stephanie Waters had a lovely clarity of voice that made Cosette a more interesting character rather than the sighing maiden that had bored me before.  She moves well and makes you feel that she really digs that Maruis dude, for whatever reason (sis, there are cuter students, really).  I see in the program that she’s played Cinderella in Into the Woods, which seems exactly right.  If you know that character, that’s her voice.

Chris Sizemore (brutal name, as he’s a short dude) sang Enjolras well enough to make me want to join the rebellion even though I know it goes badly awry.  He moves a bit stiffly, not seeming to know what to do with his hands, but the boy can sing.  I was not ready to lose him on the barricade.  At least he fell gracefully.  One of the students fell backwards and was hanging upside down from the structure.  Which was realistic and all, but given that we all know he’s NOT dead, we were kind of worried about all the blood rushing to his head and were wishing that piece of the barricade would go back into the garage so that he could sit up, poor thing.  The students in general were great, choral parts to the music were blissful and stirring.  The same for the ladies, they really worked well together and their voices came together beautifully.  The kids sang well, but I still loathe Gavroche.  That stupid “Little People” song should have been dropped before the show ever left London.  It’s jarring and brings the show to a stop.  hate it.  No offense to the wee actors.  Whom I never really like b/c kids with stage presence are creepy.

A particular note on Aaron Reeder who played the Bishop and later a student–  His voice was the best in the show.  In group scenes, I could hear his beautiful notes among the others.  I see in the program that he has done a lot of opera–I’d totally go see that.  I’ll join his fanclub.  Gorgeous, gorgeous voice.  Such a shame it was so brief a part.  Or maybe he’s really good in that shallow range, I don’t know, but I loved what I heard.

The Thenardiers!  Christopher Bloch and Sheri L. Edelen were fantastic.  As good as any Thenardiers I’ve ever seen or heard.  Their singing was spot on, their acting the best of the cast.  They were clearly having an absolute blast and it made those scenes the best in the show.  From what I’ve gathered, they’re both well-known in the area and I’d like to see them again.

Fantine, played by Tracy Lynn Olivera, was lovely.  She kind of sang/spoke her first lines in the factory and we were terribly afraid that she was going to chat the whole part, but thankfully she has a gorgeous voice and sang movingly.  Her return at the end of the show is usually the point at which ones gentle sniffles turn to body-wracking sobs.  But alas it was not to be.  All because of:

Valjean.  When we arrived, I noted that we were getting the understudy Valjean.  Greg Stone was out and would be replaced by Russel Sunday.  I think the only time I’ve ever been to a big show in which at least one actor wasn’t out was that Kennedy Center Les Mis.  So even though it WAS the main character, I wasn’t too worried.  I try to focus on how awesome it must be for the actor.  His big break!  Woo!  When the lights came up and I saw the 24601 on the chest very near my face (so, if the actual number is tattooed on them, how did Javert arrest the wrong guy?  Clerical branding error?), I felt a little stir of disappointment b/c he didn’t look like Valjean.  Kinda puffy.  Smallish head.  Steve pointed out at intermission that he held himself like Jack Black–puffy guy pretending his bulk is muscle.  But okay, size-ist of me.  Let it slide.  His movements started pretty wooden, but did get better.  He still isn’t much with the stage presence.  He’d utterly vanish in a bigger theater.  But when he sang, I forgave all, because he had this beautiful rich tenor.  In fact he sounded quite a bit like my dear Colm Wilkinson.  So I was going to run with it.  This show is about the songs, after all.  And all was well.  Until “A Heart Full of Love”  when he had to hit some of those super high notes.  And he…sounded like Tiny Tim.  Steve and I looked at each other with a “WTF?”  But it was just a little phrase and then “One Day More” (which was a bit muddled, which bums), and then intermission. Julianna and her friend Molly were also confused by the sudden falsetto, so I told them that he just missed the note and soldiered on rather than trying to find the right one.  A mistake.  Otherwise a lovely voice.  But there’s a lot of those high notes in Act II.  And “Bring Him Home” is almost all high.  And it wasn’t a mistake.  He sang all of them like Tiny Tim.  It sounded as if he were mocking someone by singing in a girl’s voice.  Then the song would drop back into his range and it was beautiful again.  Angel-Tiny Tim-Angel-Tiny Tim.  I began to wince in anticipation of the coming squeak.  Horrible.  I couldn’t look at him.  He had to know, right?  He had to be thinking, “Holy crap I suck” right?  I began to imagine him going backstage and having the other actors pat him and say, “it’s okay, Russ, you’ll hit it next time!” and dammit, that is NOT what I paid for.  I want to be moved, not embarrassed because the Second Spearcarrier got a promotion he can’t handle.  Oh, and Valjean’s super-human strength?  Not so much, he couldn’t carry Marius into and out of the sewers and ended up kind of dragging him on his back. Which, again, caused me to think about the actor instead of the character.  By the end, Fantine could not drag his squeaky ass to heaven fast enough.  And so I feel cheated.  What was otherwise a really good show has be almost ruined by a performance that was otherwise pretty good.  I need to see it again to wipe this away. Someone send me some money.

As mentioned in the Locked in the Bathroom post (isn’t that R. Kelley song?), Janet and I are trying to launch a kids’ party business.  Our focus is to be “green” parties.  The plan is that we show up well before the party and create the scene–awesome handmade decorations, well-set table, fancy gift table, special birthday kid chair–and give you the cloth goody bags that contain wholesome doo-dads that are not from Oriental Trading Company and were made by fairies, a pinata full of granola (or something green…grass clippings maybe), and tubs in which to return our plates and glasses.  Oh that’s how green we are–no trash.  A week or more before, we provided you with game ideas and supplies for a craft and ideas for food (we’ll offer to provide a cake, but you will pay, my friend.  Cakes not full of chemicals and corn syrup cost money).  We give you a CD of theme-appropriate music.  And we bail.  You are now set up to be the perfect hostess.  Everyone adores you.  We come back the next day or later that day and whisk the crap away.

Here’s where you come in:  We need a name.  I’m shooting for a warm hearth/snuggly/eco-friendly/upscale hippie feel, but nothing like Gaia’s Children or that like that will make me throw up in my mouth.  We need the name, and perhaps a tagline, to get across the following:

Eco-conscious business (no waste)

hand made decor

party in your home

Needs to be easy to remember and search for.

Ideas for names or other aspects of the business are welcomed.  And no, you may not just go start your own company and run us out of business before we begin.

This, my Mac-loving friends, is hilarious.  The real genius is that for just a split second– even though you know it’s from the Onion, and thus, is satire–just for a moment, it almost seems real.  You have to pause the feed when they show the “predictive sentences” and read them.

Whenever really stupid crap happens to me, I think of Amy.  She must be so thrilled.  So this one’s for you, Amy:

I went to Baltimore today to meet Janet at Ikea.  We’re trying to get this birthday party business going (I’ll fill you in later) and needed to get some stuff.  We had a fun, leisurely time.  Had lunch, chatted, checked out, loaded up.  I checked my phone for the time and saw that there was a message.  I hadn’t put it in my pants pocket and had, apparently, missed a call.  I give a listen.  It’s the school, saying that there will be a two hour early dismissal (I’m assuming a fear of icy roads, it was rainy and cold) and that they can’t get ahold of the Talberts, our emergency ride family.  Two hours early is 1:45.  Current time–1:31.  Time needed to get to school from Ikea–about 75 min. if there’s no traffic, which is a ridiculous notion.  First, I call Caroline (mother of said Talberts) and get her voice mail.  Call the school, tell them that I’m in Baltimore and headed for them (“well we called in plenty of time and there’s no aftercare” yes, thank you) but won’t be there for a bit.  Assure front desk that I will keep looking for someone to take the kids and swear that they can go with anyone that looks familiar.  “If the kids know the family, it’s fine!  Just let me know where they end up!”  This does not seem to sit well.  Which is stupid, but that’s for another rant.  I hang up and Ben calls from his classroom, saying that if someone else is picking him up, he needs a note.  I’ll fax it from the back seat, hold on.  I get his teacher on the phone, explain the sitch, she vows to hunt down someone to take my children and I should just hang up and drive carefully.  I vow my love for her.  She calls back, says she can’t seem to find them a ride, but will just stay with them, in her room, until I arrive.  I vow to make her all the jingle balls she can eat.  I get a call from the front desk, Caroline is there, do I want to talk to her?  Yes.  She says she will take the kids to her house, after making a stop at Home Depot to buy a doorknob (that’s important later.  Hold on to that.).  Woo.  Stress dissolves, I put back on Car Talk podcast, and drive on to Frederick.

I arrive at Caroline’s house about an hour after talking to her.  She’s not there yet.  I knock on the door and her 12/13 year old son answers the door.  He is bewildered by my presence.  I assure him that his mom will arrive soon, with my children and his siblings and he lets me in. I am, however, surprised I beat them home, and just the weensienst bit concerned b/c the roads are supposedly icy somewhere and, of course, someone else has my kids which means they are in constant danger b/c of my neglect.  I tell Owen I’m going out to the car to get my phone.  I call Caroline to see where she is–no answer.  They’re in a ditch.   I go back into the house to await the bad news and to pee b/c I’ve had to pee like mad for about 45 min.  I set my phone down and pop into the bathroom and close the door.  Flip the switch and…nothing.  Okay, light’s burned out.  I’ll just pop the door open, secure the location of the toilet and pee in the dark.  There’s  no doorknob.  Just a latch bar, holding the door closed quite nicely.  I wiggle it.  No response.  Okay.  First, pee, then think.  As I sit down and let go I have the fleeting thought “what if the whole bathroom is broken b/c they’re remodeling and there’s no water and the toilet isn’t even hooked up?”  But I am reassured by the sound of water in the tank, do my business, flush (phew) and contemplate my trouble.  I know that Owen has disappeared into the house again to escape the horror of talking to your mom’s weird friend and mother of the girl you most hate (love, who is he kidding?) in the whole world.  It occurs to me that it would probably utterly mortify him to have to free me from the !bathroom! so I set to wiggling that latch again.  As my eyes adjust to the dark, I get Bloody Mary in the mirror, so that’s nice.  But still no dice.  I accept that I either get help or be trapped in the dark, in the bathroom when the police show up to tell Owen and I about the accident.  He’ll need me there.  I must get free.  With visions of trying to talk him through handing me my phone through the little space where the knob goes or of his dad coming home and taking off the hinges to free my lame butt, I call Owen.  I’m on my knees, shouting through that hole and he finally hears me and comes up and opens the door using the doorknob they keep out there so they can use the door.  He is, clearly, horrified to have to deal with Mom’s friend in proxemity to the bathroom, and scuttles away as quickly as he can.

I try again to call Caroline and and her phone rings on the desk next to me. Oops. So even if she’s unhurt in the ditch, she can’t call for help.  Should I go look for them?  Nah, I’ll just settle in with a book.  Owen shows up and calls his dad, who suggests that maybe she went to my house.  I call there, nothing.  And then they’re home, having stopped for ice cream after the doorknob, truck undented by ditch-time. Caroline is mirthful at my tale, I’m glad to tell it b/c lord knows I was in the dark thinking “Well, this’ll make a good blog post.”  We round up and head out, but I yell “Hey Owen, thanks for letting me out of the bathroom!” as I go.


January 2009
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