Monday, May 31, 2010

v2, d83: Beach party!!

Went down to the Gulf with the family-in-law today. You know, despite living in Houston for almost five years, I'd never been to Galveston. I'd actually been to the Pacific more times than I'd been to the Gulf since I moved here. Very sad, yet true.

Anyway, today's trip was a blast. My beach-going experiences have all been based on the tourist-heavy beaches of southern California, so the relatively sparsely-attended (even on Memorial Day!) Galveston beach was refreshing. It was also nice that the water wasn't so cold you had to get out after about fifteen minutes due to your toes turning different colors/losing all feeling.

Julie, Christina, and I ventured out far enough that there were fish swimming literally right to us. At one point, two fish leaped out of the water in tandem between Julie and I when we were about ten feet apart. This meant the pelicans also came pretty close. Robbie came briefly out to join us (the water was really only approaching chest-high to me at that point) and couldn't stay focused on one spot long enough to actually see many fish, but he enjoyed it anyway.

That kid LOVED the ocean! He played hard the entire time we were there. He would shriek with delight every time a wave would hit that was high enough to splash him in the face or knock him slightly off-balance. He divided his time pretty equally digging sand into a bucket, digging water into a bucket, jumping over waves by holding someone's hands, wading by himself, running through the lowest-tide area, filling up his bucket with water, and just hanging out in "deeper" water in my arms. I was afraid we weren't going to get him to leave without throwing a major fit, but I said the magic word (McDonald's) and we were off.

Now that I know the beach isn't going to be horribly crowded, and now that I know how much the kid loves it, hopefully we can make the occasional trip down to the coast.

Meanwhile: Remember, everyone, hurricane season starts June 1st! Last year, the only North American hurricane landfall was in Canada somewhere. While I wouldn't mind another mild summer of storms, Experts are predicting the WORST SEASON IN HISTORY!!! Of course, they've been predicting this worst season in history for the last four years, and I think it's only happened once, so we shall see.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

v2, d82: Pool Party!

Today, my entire family-in-law invaded the pool. It was pretty awesome. We kind of took turns passing Robbie around, cleaning debris from Friday night's storm out of the pool, and just sort of relaxing. Even Kim got in the water, and I think the last time I saw her go swimming was when we went to California in the summer of 2008. We decided to get out of the pool when the massive claps of thunder started.

Darn storm.

It also moved our picnic inside.

Tomorrow is going to be a beach day. I don't know what the beach will look like for Memorial Day. I'm guessing pretty crazy crowded. That's okay, though. I generally enjoy big family outings, especially when beaches are involved.

Meanwhile, my back is getting slightly better.

Hm..what else is going on...

I have a new "feature" I want to try, but I'm going to wait until my living room isn't also a guest bedroom so I don't have to worry about being up so late.

As it is, I'm going to finish up a script that I'm sending in for publication. If you can, please pray for this. I really need to find a way for this writing hobby to start paying. Forget college, I got to put this kid through day care, first!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

v2, d81: The Beginning of the End

Tonight, the Stanley Cup Final began. I know I haven't publicly predicted anything much this playoffs, but I'm picking the Blackhawks to win it all. Since they lost in the conference final last year, I thought they were going to win it all in 2010, and nothing has happened over the course of the last year to change my mind. I thought they were the best team all year long, even if San Jose had a slightly better record, and their recent backhanding of the Sharks seems to suggest that I may have been right.

This is to take nothing away from the Flyers. They're a tough, physical, skilled team, and I think they'll give the Hawks a good challenge, but I just think Chicago is better, and I think they'll win the Stanley Cup.

They took game 1 today, 6-5. Figures, the one game I can't watch, and it's a 6-5 thriller. Hopefully we'll have comparably exciting hockey the rest of the way. I'm pretty sure we will. These teams are pretty high-octane, and they're both about as never-say-die as it gets. Plus, you're looking at a lot of tradition in both markets and two fan bases who have waited a long time to see a Stanley Cup champ. Should be great.

The first game of the Final is also always sort of sad for me, because I know it marks the end of hockey season. And while the off-season is fun (draft, free agency), and really, it's not that long till next season starts (thank you, long playoffs PLUS Olympics!), it's always sort of a sad thing to see go.

Don't worry, this'll be my last big hockey post until the Cup is handed to Jonathan Toews. (Okay, okay, or Mike Richards)

Friday, May 28, 2010

v2, d80: Refrain

Well, here we go again.

During this morning's performance of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (in the waiting room of the Texas Childrens' Cancer Center), I pulled something in my lower back. It's not terrible; I can still move. It's certainly not comfortable. This seems to happen to me once a season (though I actually can't remember it happening during 08-09). Kinda ruins my plans to go for a jog on my lunch break, though.

I do have another ILL book at the library. I may walk down there to pick that up.

Kim is home. Had a really nice drive out to the airport to pick her up. Parked on the top level of the parking garage, because I love the night air on the top of the Hobby parking garage (when it isn't terribly muggy). Great view of the city skyline, too. Plus, the moon was ginormous. (Ginormous apparently isn't a problem for this computer's spellcheck. But "spellcheck" is. Odd)

Today is pretty hot. For those out-of-towners who check this blog, it's been in the 90's pretty much every day this week. I know it just gets worse as the summer goes on, but really, the weather the rest of the year is pretty awesome down here, so I can handle the terrible and evil summer months.

It's the end of the month. Payday today! I want to go to an Astros game sometime soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

v2, d79: Bachelor Blog #4: Bye Bye Bachelorhood!

I'm the author of sappy love songs, tradin' in my bachelorhood...

That's a very sad song, actually.

I'm leaving to pick my wife up from the airport in a couple of hours. All things told, this really hasn't been that bad of a week. I haven't been productive at all. I've managed, with the help of my friends, to keep myself busy and entertained so I wouldn't be lonely. Hockey game, Bollywood blockbuster, Chik-fil-A, game night, security guard duty, more Chik-Fil-A, two bookings, some rehearsals, and a comic book definitely have a way of keeping your mind off your empty apartment :-)

Thanks to everybody who helped keep me from being emo.

Still feels like the week is a long way from over. Early morning and late night tomorrow, followed by a Robbie return and a late work night Saturday. Can it be true that Monday is actually a holiday? Is that actually happening?

Probably going to leave early for the airport. For some reason, I love just sitting at airports, waiting for people to arrive, and reading. Is that weird?

Hey look, a Stanley Cup video!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

v2, d78: Bachelor Bloggin' #3

Last night, I took an extra work shift. Figured it would give me something to do and a place where I could be around friends. Was a good choice. We (as a company) forgot to schedule security personnel to patrol our parking lot during the Tuesday night special event performance, so Tarvis got volunteered. I figured, "That sucks. I will stand outside for three hours, too." So I did.

There were no break-ins, no knife fights, and no shady drug deals. Tarvis and I are awesome security guards.

There were, however, kittens. And we got to watch the kittens twice before they hid behind the tires again.

Got Kim's car fixed up a bit today, had a really horrible and frustrating afternoon, met with Dave for Dinner, and then to a get-together at HannahDeb's apartment. A full Wednesday, but an overall good one. Now just getting some laundry done so I can be ready to go for my 6:30 a.m. work call tomorrow. Also, get to pick up my gorgeous wife from the airport tomorrow night! You know what that means...I need to pick up the living room. Admittedly, I've spent fairly little time in the house while the family's been gone, but I still want to leave it at least a little nicer than it was when they left.

Thanks for all the feedback on yesterday's guest blog. I'm sure they won't all be as entertaining as Nikolai's, but it really is a cool exercise to try to force yourself to think and write in another character's thoughts and voice. Oh, and Nikolai told me that it wasn't the real Iron Lung who left a comment, because he texted the Iron Lung this afternoon and the REAL Iron Lung had no idea what he was talking about. Which, admittedly, isn't all that unusual for the Iron Lung, but Nikolai is still pretty convinced it's not the real guy.

One more bachelor blog tomorrow, and then I start eating healthily again! Hooray, longevity!

Oh, one last thing: I'm thinking of doing something wild like taking a trip to Austin next Wednesday night and getting back for work the next morning. Um...any takers??

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

v2,d77: Bachelor Bloggin #2/Guest Blog #1

Last night's strategy for surviving temporary bachelorhood involved Tarvis, an entertaining Flyers/Canadiens game, a large pizza with pepperoni, beef, bacon, black olives, and mushrooms, and the Indian blockbuster Kites at the movies. Enjoyed the movie; I'm astounded they managed to make a 2 hour movie with something like 4 pages of dialogue. (/exaggeration) They sure do love their montages in Kites. Why have a kiss...when you can have a kiss surrounded by a montage? Why show a scene once...when you can show it in its entirety twice?? And by all means, if you can work a good old fashioned wild west-style Mexican standoff, complete with saloon, into your movie, I think you pretty much have to do it.

Entertaining love story that was all over the charts in terms of content. Great dance sequence, great police chase sequence, great wild west shootout, great mobster-style gunfighting, great shadow puppet scene. And then some. It felt like the movie was trying to take a page from every successful Hollywood film ever made, but the result was generally pretty fun, if not entirely original and occasionally a tad on the slower side. The only other foreign films I'd seen in the theater were Passion of the Christ and The Host. Seems like the sort of thing you ought to do once a year if you're going to live in a major, international city like Houston, though.

Speaking of the game last night, you really need to check out this shift from Flyers' captain Mike Richards last night. Montreal had come into Philly and took the raucous Flyers' crowd right out of the game with an early goal and a dumb Philadelphia penalty. During that penalty kill, Richards rips the game right out of their hands. Old-time hockey, coach. Beautiful. And au revoir, les Habitants.

In other news, I think "So Far, So Bad" is one of the most listenable songs Five Iron ever wrote. Man, that ditty is catchy.


Okay, last year on this blog I'd occasionally take a break and introduce a friend or family member to take my place as a guest blogger for that night. I loved it. I thought it was fun to get a different perspective and a different voice than my own on here from time to time. Most of my guest bloggers got fairly stressed out about it and weren't happy with what they wrote. Oh well.

Nevertheless, I've decided to re-institute Guest Blogging for FOMW. Rather than stress out real people, however, I've decided to use the feature as a writers' exercise. Thus, all of our guest bloggers will be fictional characters from one of my plays, stories, or books. It's good practice, I think, to try to think and speak from another voice and another point of view. So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to see where this leads.

And if you won't indulge me, well, stop reading. See you back here tomorrow ;-)

My first guest blogger is a guy I first met in a basement somewhere in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He's since moved to Metro Valley, Iowa, where he's currently hard at work at world conquest. Yeah, he's evil, but then, so are roughly 1/3 of my friends on Facebook, so whatcha gonna do?

Please welcome Full of Misshapen Words' first guest blogger, Nikolai Oshgoshbgoshnikov.

(As always, the views expressed by Guest Bloggers do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of anyone at the FOMW editorial staff)


Hello, Internet! Thank you for reading the mad blogging style of yours truly, criminal mastermind and dancer extraordinaire Nikolai Oshgoshbgoshnikov! What is that, you say? You have not heard of me? Well, that is all right. You will have heard of me very, very soon! Or wait, now you have heard of me, and very, very soon, you will have been hearing much more of me! Or at least, more people than have already heard of me will soon have been hearing much more of me very, very soon. And why? Because I am now on the Internet! And soon, with your help, I am going to be the undisputed ruler of the entire world!

Now, I have prepared a short FAQ, because I am sure you have questions, and I already know what they are, and I already have answers for them. This is because I am efficient, which is one reason I will be an excellent ruler-of-the-world-er.

Q: Nikolai, why do you want to rule the world?
A: Well, that is a good question. I will give you a scenario: let us say you have gone to the grocery store to do some shopping. Say you want something important, like tortillas, or fruit juice, or Lucky Charms, or a Rotisserie chicken. Incidentally, I love Rotisserie chicken. It's like buying a chicken you don't have to cook! One of my earlier ideas for world domination involved raising my own Rotisserie chickens right outside my evil lair, and then I could sell them directly to the people. Take out the shipping company and the grocery store all together. Cutting out the middle man, da? I can offer same product for lower price! And then all the people love me, and I become known as the Rotisserie Chicken King, and pretty soon I have enough money to buy the United Nations. It was such an excellent plan. However, I could not find anyone who was willing to sell me live Rotisserie chickens to raise. They would only sell me the already-killed kind. Somewhere out there, Corporate America has a stranglehold on the Rotisserie chicken market, and they are not sharing! They even try to go so far as to tell me there's no such thing as a live Rotisserie chicken! Fortunately, Nikolai Oshgoshbgoshnikov was not born yesterday. They do not fool me...and one day, they will answer for their deceit, their lies, and the rude tone of their customer service employees over the telephone!

I don't know if this answers the original question or not. Moving on!

Q: You have now convinced me that you are needing to rule the world. I am all gung-ho about that. How can I help that to happen?
A: The answer is really very simple, but it will require dedication, commitment, patience, and a home computer. I, Nikolai Oshgoshbgoshnikov, officially declare myself to be President of the World.

Now, you need to go onto one of those searching thingies on the Internet, like Lycos or something, and type in "President of the World." Somewhere on the list of webbing site results for that search, you should find this blog. You will click on the linking to this blog. Then you will do it again. And again. And you will tell all of your friends to do it, too. Soon, my self-proclamation as the World's President will rise, rise, RISE to the top of the results list! Soon, we will be the #1 web entry for the term "President of the World," and the world will sense the enormous support behind me and will realize that it would be futile to oppose me! The only ones we may have trouble with will be other bloggers. Bloggers are always foiling my evil schemes. So, when you see a blog start to say bad things about Nikolai Oshgoshbgoshnikov, President of the World, I want you to go on their site and leave comments telling them they are foolish and ignorant and possibly little girls. After a week or so of such bombardment, I do not think we will have any more trouble from the rest of the Internet. Once there is no one left to challenge my authority, the world will be mine!

Q: But what if that doesn't work?
A: Meh. It will be all your fault, and we will no longer be Facebook friends. So do not fail me!

Q: But Nikolai, when you are the undisputed President of the World, what is in it for me?
A: Well for starters, I'm going to find those Rotisserie chicken farmers and take them out. That will mean better chicken prices for everyone the world over! I am fairly certain this solves the problem of world hunger, da?

Q: But how can one man, even a strong, handsome, charismatic, wise, and punctual man such as yourself, possibly rule the entire world? I mean, that's a lot of stuff to keep track of!
A: True. There will be some delegating of responsibilities. For example, I plan to fall in love with and marry a female ninja. Partially because you don't mess with ninjas, and partially because I've always had a thing for ninja girls. Ever since my days in Junior College. Remind me to tell you that story sometime! I will also hold a reality television challenge show called "Who Wants to Rule South America," where I will give contestants a chance to win the right to be my right hand everywhere south of Texas. Not only will this be a fantastic means to pick out a trustworthy henchman, I think it will also be a smash-hit in the ratings. People love these reality shows, da? I mean, I know I just can't stop watching Project Runway, America's Got Talent, and that Bobby Flay guy, who will be my emissary over the northern half of Africa. I will personally rule over America, Canadia, Europe, and South Africa, and with an iron fist! As for Australia, I plan to strike a deal with the indigenous kangaroos. I'm pretty sure they're very anxious to take back control of their country. Then, we'll turn the entire island into a mobile island, and I'll have an army of kangaroos with boomerangs that I can dispatch to anywhere in the world!!

You see, I really have thought this out.

Q: When you rule the world, can I have a pony?
A: No.

Q: Will you at least kiss my baby?
A: Of course! Everybody loves babies!

Q: Well, your plan is pretty much perfect. Congratulations on your upcoming reign of terror over the entire planet!
A: You think too small. Just wait until you hear my plans for the Moon! We are going to put big rockets on it and drive it around the solar system. If anybody tries to cause trouble and manage to elude even my kangaroos, my ninja bride, my reality show dictator, and Bobby, they are going to get a face-full of moon! That, my friends, is going to leave a mark!

Thank you for your time, your support, and your love. I look forward to ruling over you and your descendants for years to come.

Monday, May 24, 2010

v2, d76: Bachelor Bloggin #1

First night as a temporary bachelor: Spaghetti O's and tortilla chips for dinner, Sharks and Blackhawks on TV, and an early night to bed (which still results in falling asleep after midnight). Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'd have done fairly well on my own as an adult ;-)

Early morning booking today. Had to be at work at 6:15 to get to the school in Sugar Land by 7. Burger King took a bit longer than expected because the lady who took our order did it wrong, and then she disappeared. It was bizarre. They were trying to track down the lady who'd taken our order, and she was absolutely nowhere to be found. I also had to tell her that this was a To-Go order something like five times during the process.

Conclusion from my 2009-10 touring experiences: Hatcher has a fast-food curse against him. You will not go into a fast food establishment with him and walk out with everything you order. And if you try to correct the mistake, things will just get bizarre.

That said, BK breakfast > Whataburger, McDonald's, and Jack in the Box breakfasts.

By the way, I really feel for Sharks fans right now. It looked like maybe, just maybe, it was actually finally their year. I really wanted this to be their year (now that the Pens and Avs were done, of course), but I didn't actually think they were going to beat the Hawks. But four games to none? That just doesn't seem fair. They were all tight games, and the Sharks probably had the better part of the play for one or two of 'em, but I always felt the Blackhawks were the best team in the NHL all season, and they showed it.

It's been a bad year for predictions in the NHL, especially for me, but I picked the Hawks to win it all this year and I think I'm going to be right on that one.

Habs are down 3 games to 1 to the Flyers. Just the way they like it.

Anyway, keeping my head above water. Doing my best not to feel lonely and sad. Of course, the rest of the touring team had the rest of the day off and fun things planned with loved ones. Couldn't guilt trip them into letting me tag along ;-)

That's a major kid, by the way. I would feel totally awkward crashing someone else's day with parents or being third man in for a romantic afternoon in the sun. If there's anything I've learned from following hockey all these years, it's that the third man in always gets tossed out of the game.

Now, there's never been a rule about the third woman in, so I have to assume that it would theoretically be perfectly legal for a female player to join in a fight between two other players. That little loophole is straight out of Tolkien, and one of these days somebody is going to exploit it.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a walk down to the library for my lunch break, get some work done, and maybe kick out of here a bit early. Since, you know, I've been here since 6:15.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

v2, d75: The Week Ahead

Welcome to Bachelor Week here at FOMW. My wife is going to be in San Diego until late Thursday night on a work trip and my son is staying with his great-grandmother and an aunt or two in Oklahoma until next Saturday.

I've been kind of dreading this week. I don't do well with a lonely apartment, and I really haven't been a in good place lately when it comes to friends and social stuff anyway, and I'm also suffering from a fairly sever case of wanderlust, so I'm also pretty jealous that everyone is having adventures and I'm sitting at home in a very very empty apartment for the next four nights. I was kind of afraid I was likely just going to sit around at home and be in a foul mood, possibly to the extent of turning down perfectly good opportunities to get out, do something, or have fun, so as not to bring down any well-meaning amigos.

But you know what? Screw that. I don't want to be sad or lonely this week. I'm going to find stuff to do that I like to do. I'm going to make good use of whatever time I am at home. I'm going to eat the leftovers that Kim has been storing up for me specifically for this week, and I'm going to like it.

And if anybody has any ideas for a fun reason to get out of the house for an evening, please, give me a call. It would be good to be around people when possible.

You know, we just might see something pop up on the secret blog again soon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

v2, d74: Leaving Wonderland

Well, my show closed today. I got to house manage for the final performance, which had a disappointingly small but encouragingly enthusiastic crowd of forty-five. Now, I spent the next eight or so months or so analyzing, rethinking, re-staging in my mind to see what things I could have done differently, what things I could have done better, which scenes I should have trimmed a bit more (since I had the playwright's permission), what worked, what didn't, good moments in rehearsal, things I should have tried differently. This'll continue until I get closer to whatever the next directing project is going to be, and hopefully it'll all help make the next project better.

At the beginning of the run, one of my coworkers asked if I was going to be "that" director, the one who watches every single performance and keeps his actors nervous, giving notes through the entire run. Well, no, not exactly. I did watch a LOT of performances, but that's because I think you can learn so much about your work from seeing it play repeatedly for a number of different audiences. I think I picked up something new about my work from just about every crowd I observed.

In a lot of ways, this was a fairly difficult show for me to do. It's the first full-scale show I directed that I didn't also write. It's the first musical I've had to direct. It was also sort of an awkward script, and we had to work in a lot of cases in order to make it nice and tight when the writing was drawn out, superfluous, and largely directionless. Also, the story itself is a challenge. It's more episodic than linear, and no one scene really lead into the next at any point in the story. It wasn't really until the second week of rehearsals that I was convinced I was going to be able to do a good job with it. Then, I had actors getting sick and missing rehearsals or sudden calls from the boss to sit in a meeting during rehearsal time. Challenges!

Overall, I'm very pleased with what we ended up with. I felt like everybody gave it their 100% from the first rehearsal, and nobody used any of the challenges listed above as an excuse for a subpar scene or performance. As an ensemble, we acknowledged our obstacles and worked at them until they worked. Were I to start the process anew, there are definitely things I would try differently. If that weren't the case, then I think I'd probably have to consider this project a failure, because it would mean I hadn't learned anything. But I'm not ashamed with the way we did anything. My goal was to make sure every rehearsal was a step forward, and I believe we accomplished that.

Here are some fun facts:

--The choreography, which I was only barely involved with, was wonderful. It was innovative, it was story-driven, and it utilized each of the actors' strengths as a "mover." There were a few numbers that, as Leah and I would review them before teaching them to the actors, I thought would be too much for our cast to handle, but they always had it down within the first rehearsal they learned each dance. Well, except for one. The one dance that was the hardest for us to get right? "Touch Your Toes." The words are "Touch your toes/Touch your nose/Pat your neighbor's shoulder/Pretend you're warm/Very warm/Now pretend you're colder." Etc. We spent more time reviewing Touch Your Toes than any other number in the show. Strange! But true!

--My favorite rehearsal? We were discussing the Mad Tea Party and having trouble tracking Alice's dilemma in the scene, where the Hatter, Hare, and Doormouse all go off on their own conversations while Alice tries to keep up with all three at once. The table-talk was getting circular and frustrating, so we took a break, and when we came back I handed out some basketballs, a couple cones, and a few throw pillows. I told each of the guys to take some stuff and start playing some sort of game with it and told Alice that, while she was talking to one character, she had to be playing the same game he was, and that she had to change games when she changed conversations. The creativity that resulted was not only amazing, but also highly amusing. As the scene progressed, we saw Alice trying to take a nap, dribble a basketball, and play soccer within about eight seconds of each other. And from a dramatic standpoint, we never had trouble with that scene again. Now learning the lines on the other hand...

--I would tell my actors when we'd adjourn for the weekend, "If you think of a question you want to ask about a scene or your character, please feel free to call me. I know some people are like 'Don't bother me about work on the weekend!' but I'm not one of those people." This show is the first time that actually happened. I was getting into my car at Walgreen's when I got a VERY long text from an actor giving me their thoughts on a certain scene. I'm not going to lie, that absolutely made my night.

--The playwright came to see the show early in the run. She didn't like it. She saw the first half of the show again today and said that it had seen great improvements and I'd done a good job of addressing her comments. The only thing we'd changed? The caterpillar now had six arms instead of its original two. Lesson learned: if your show isn't faring well, try adding a couple of arms. That could be all that you're missing.

Thanks to everybody who worked on Alice in any capacity, from building door frames to making masks to being in the flipping show. Thanks also to everybody who came to see it, especially those of you who had to pay, and STILL came! Thanks for all the encouragements, the comments, the suggestions, and yes, the love.

`Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; `Why, what a long sleep you've had!'

`Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, `It WAS a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.' So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

Friday, May 21, 2010

v2, d73: Quick update

Hey all!

No actual blogging, because my sister-in-law is on the couch wanting to sleep. And I was at work at 5:45 this morning. Woohoo for fifteen-hour work days!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

v2, d72: 353

Over on the left-hand side of my blog, there's a little counter that keeps track of how many posts I've written per month. You've probably noticed it. It has the post titles of every post from the current month and the number of posts per month for each past month of the current year. Finally, it lists the number of posts per year for each past year. Now, since the numbers all rolled over to 10, the number 353 has been staring at me from next to the year 2009. The obvious significance is that I wrote three-hundred fifty-three posts during the last calendar year. And yet, something about that number has stuck with me. Since January 1, I've looked at it and wondered what significance lay there beyond the obvious. I knew the number 353 meant something to me, either something from my past, something out of a book I'd read, some long-lost pop culture reference that has stuck with me through the years, SOMETHING. I won't say it's bugged me to the point where I've lost any sleep over the matter, but it has at the very least been a mild annoyance as I've tried to remember why exactly 353 sticks out in my brain.

Tonight, I figured it out. The school district I grew up in was USD 353.

Yup, that's it. I'm not going to lie, I'm a little disappointed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

v2, d71: Really, I just wanna rock

You know what's kind of sad/kind of funny/kind of awesome? Here I am, a moderately successful director/playwright in his late-twenties, aspiring writer of fictions, husband and father, a guy who seems to have a lot of stuff going in the right direction. And yet, there's this part of me that really wishes I could just be in a rock band. I like my job, I like my friends, I love writing and language and plays and children's theatre, but sometimes, I just want to play rock music on some drums for an hour and a half or so and have people dance and jump around and go crazy and have an incredible time just enjoying the music.

In case you're wondering what brought this on, I was just watching some youtube clips of Bat Boy: The Musical--what's that? Original cast performance of Three-Bedroom House? You're welcome--and realizing that my time playing with the band for that show last fall was probably one of the top five most enjoyable experiences I've had working on a show in the past five years. Also, I've just finished Rob Sheffield's great book, Love is a Mix Tape, which is at times essentially a love letter to rock and roll.

Anyway, I miss being a musician. I know I'm not a great musician, but that's one thing I love about music: you don't have to be that good at it to do it. And it doesn't necessarily have to be that good to be enjoyable. Play us a song, please, and make it fast, make it loud, and make it about three minutes long. We'll never know what hit us, and we'll have a dang good time. That's harder to say about a novel. An un-good novel, or even an un-good movie or play, is quite a bit more of an investment than an un-good song. You start to count the hours of life that you'll never get back. And you can't dance to a book, no matter how good it is.

Further, if you've got a good rock and roll crowd, you'll rarely witness a greater display of community and celebration than you will at a rock show. We just wanna rock, we just wanna have fun. If we wanted to criticize, we'd have stayed home and listened to the LP. For tonight, we're just here to rock and roll. All you gotta do is play a song, and boom. Instant party.

Now, don't get me wrong: given the choice, I'd still prefer the sizzle of a theatre on a show night, or the buzz of a group of kids filing in to their seats, ready to have an adventure. But there are some days--and they're becoming more and more frequent lately--where I'd kinda like to chuck some of that responsibility out the window and just rock out for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

v2, d70: Yip.

You know what your day is missing? Do you?

Wait, you don't?

Don't worry, that's all right. I know what your day is missing.

These guys:

Look at that! They're mooing at a phone! I mean come on, that's just awesome!

Also, I love how they hide behind their own lower jaw when frightened or threatened.


I never noticed exactly how similar Guy Smiley is to Kermit. Voice, mannerisms, everything. Geez, Hensen, how did we let you get away with this stuff?!?

I'm kidding.

I very distinctly remember wondering, as a child, how in the world those pigs got into space. Is there just a ring of pigs between the moon and the Earth that I'm not aware of?

Okay, just one more, and then we're done.

All together now: AWWWWWWWW!!!!

There. Now your day is no longer lacking in Yip-Yips.

Thanks to Muppet Wiki for helping me track down the clips.

Monday, May 17, 2010

v2, d69: Whoops. Hey look, pretty pictures!

Hey blog. I forgot about you.

I had a somewhat productive day and a more productive evening. I got a really exciting treasonous idea that may require some serious looking into one of these days. In the meantime, here's a link to some production photos from the show I just directed.

In the words of Superman, it's's like you're there.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

v2, d68: The Playoffs: What You've Missed

I've had a couple of you asking how the NHL Playoffs are going since I've offered far less talk about them here than I have in the past, so I thought I'd just give you one nice big post to get everyone caught up (and let everyone who's not interested at all skip this one and be done with it :-)

The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been weird. They started with a deluge of "History Will Be Made" ads from the NHL, and sure enough history has been made. We've got the #1 and #2 teams in the West still alive and the #7 and #8 teams in the East playing for the right to challenge for Lord Stanley's silver chalice. Not only are the Habs and Flyers the bottom two seeds in the East, but they actually had worse records than (I believe) three teams in the West that did NOT make the playoffs, so it's more like the #1 and #2 seeds in the NHL in one corner and the #19 and #20 seeds in the other.

Like I said, weird. Furthermore, we've had own-goals in overtime, second, third, and fourth-string goalies carrying their teams, the Coyotes moving to Winnipeg next season (and then not), and the two teams that have played in the Cup Final the past two seasons both bounced in the second round.

Rewind about a month. The first major surprise came when the only series of the opening round that failed to go six or seven games ended with the ousting of the #2 New Jersey Devils in the East by the #7 Philadelphia Flyers, who were playing without key forwards and their starting goalie. The guy in net, Brian Boucher, was touted to be the Flyers' goalie of the future...ten years ago. Since then, he's played backup for Phoenix, Calgary, Columbus, Chicago, and San Jose, with two decent years to his credit and a bunch of bad ones. (One year he set the record for consecutive shutout minutes--over five full games--and finished well below league average in save percentage) However, Ray Emery went down with an injury, so the Flyers brought in Michael Leighton--and he went down with an injury, too. Boucher took the reins in the playoffs and stunned the hockey world by shutting down the Devils (plus Ilya Kovalchuk) in five games.

The rest of the first round was pretty tightly-contested. Every single series was tied at 1-1 after two games, and I believe the majority of them were even after four games, too. In the West, the #8 Colorado Avalanche looked poised for a major upset against a San Jose Sharks team that has historically been prone to major letdowns. Colorado goalie Craig Anderson stole the show in games three and four, stopping something like 50 San Jose shots in a 1-0 overtime win that saw Shark defender (and 2004 Cup Champ) Dan Boyle put the puck past his own goalie. It looked like the hockey gods had it in for the Sharks, again, but San Jose took over the series from that point and won it in six. Colorado was banged up and suffered some key injuries, but even when healthy they weren't as complete team as San Jose. Given that they were the worst in the west last year, though, just making the playoffs and giving the Sharks a bit of a scare was quite the accomplishment.

Another feel-good failure happened in Phoenix, where the Coyotes, who were almost sold and moved to Ontario over the summer, lost most of their front-office staff, had a messy break with the head coach (some guy named Gretzky), drew less than 10,000 fans per game the first half of the season, and had sucked for the last seven years, had a chance to eliminate the mighty mighty Detroit Red Wings on home ice in a game seven. They didn't do it, and a few weeks later it was leaked that the NHL had put together a tentative schedule for the next season that had a team in Winnipeg and not Phoenix, and then both ownership groups bidding to buy the Coyotes walked away, and then came back...okay, I'm still not sure what's happening there. But it appears there'll be NHL hockey in Phoenix next year, and hopefully they can build on the momentum they've built this entire season.

The #6 L.A. Kings were another team to come back from seven years of obscurity to put a scare in a Cup contender in round one, leading the Canucks 2 games to 1 at one point, but they dropped it in six. Ditto the Nashville Predators vs. my pre-season Cup pick, the Chicago Blackhawks. In the East, the Ottawa Senators grabbed a quick 1-0 series lead against the defending Cup champs from Pittsburgh, but really, they just made the Penguins mad, and Pittsburgh won that series in six. #6 Boston upset #3 Buffalo and All-American Hero Ryan Miller, leaving only the Montreal/Washington series to wrap up the first round.

You have to keep in mind, the last two weeks of the season, it seemed like neither the Canadiens nor the Bruins nor the Flyers wanted in the post-season, because they kept losing and falling closer and closer to missing the playoffs altogether. All three showed up in the first round, though, and the Habs took the first game in D.C. Alex O's Caps stormed back to take a 3-1 series lead as Montreal couldn't seem to settle on a #1 goalie. Finally, they gave the ball--er, the puck--to Jaroslav Halak and let him run with it. Suddenly, the NHL's highest scoring team simply could not score. It was incredible. It seemed at times like Halak must have had plexi up on the goal line. He pulled a JS Giguere circa 2003, a Miikka Kiprusoff 2004, a Dwayne Roloson 2006, and somehow the smallish-yet-speedy Canadiens forwards put just enough pucks past Seymon Varmalov to come all the way back to win the series in game seven on the Caps' home ice.

When all was settled, the Pens, Bruins, Flyers, and Habs were left in the East while the Sharks, Blackhawks, Canucks, and Red Wings battled it out in the West.

But oh, the surprises didn't end there, as the first team bucked from round two was the Wings, taken out in five games by the suddenly-can't-miss Sharks. San Jose won four one-goal games (Detroit's only win was by a 7-1 score, so technically the Wings outscored the Sharks for the series) and, miracle of miracles, San Jose's big guns showed up to play. Wings fans will probably complain about the officiating in this series for the next six or seven years, but San Jose was the better team, the more poised team, and the deeper team, and they moved on. Meanwhile, Vancouver looked dominant in the first game of their series against the Blackhawks--and then never again. Like the Sharks, the Hawks showed why they'd been a top team all year long, and the two are now matched up to give us one heck of a fireworks show in the conference finals.

Both East series' featured gritty comeback performances and game seven dramatics. Like the Capitals, the Penguins managed to get the Habs down three games to one. Like the Caps, they never did finish the deal. The team had trouble scoring, and their lack of depth at wing was definitely exposed, but it seemed to me like the difference in the series was that Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't able to make the saves the team needed him to make in order to stay in it. Too many soft goals, too many early goals. Maybe the kid's tired from two summers of playing into June. Who knows. The Pens had to play the last three games trailing, and the Habs are just a tough team to claw your way back against. And, of course, Halak has been nothing short of a monster so far in the playoffs.

In the other series, Boston cruised to a 3-0 series lead. For perspective: only two teams in history had come back from down 3-0 to win a series. Well folks, make it three. Despite losing first-round playoff hero Brian Boucher to an injury for the rest of the playoffs, the Flyers again found a way to win four in a row. Game seven in Boston saw the Bruins take a 3-0 lead early in the game, and the Flyers come back to win it 4-3 in regulation. First time in history that's happened in a game seven, too.

Here we are, then. Two rounds to go, four teams left. The juggernauts from San Jose and Chicago trading blows (the Blackhawks won game 1 today, 2-1, in a game that featured lots of great chances and some fantastic goaltending) and the scrappy-dappy-doo Flyers and Canadiens in the East. This has been a tough year to try to predict. Even a lot of experts--Versus, TSN, various Internet celebrities--have looked pretty bad. My prediction: more weird things will happen.

Aha! Case in point: Flyers vs. Habs, game 1: Halfway through the second, Halak has been yanked from the game after allowing four goals. Who knew??

Saturday, May 15, 2010

v2, d67: Random Nintendo Game of the Month!

Today I'll be taking a brief look at the sheer awesome that is Kick Master, an action/rpg put out by Taito in 1991 for the good ole NES.

Kick Master starts out with a backstory screen. I LOVE Nintendo adventure games that give you the back story before you play! Kick Master is one of those long ago in a faraway land sorta things, and the first image you get is of a winged demon flying off with a human girl. That's pretty much all you need to know when it comes to a video game; if something took a girl, you have to go get her back. Heck, that's all Double Dragon gives you, and the sight of that girl getting punched in the stomach and carried off fills you with enough rage to beat the snot out of gangbangers for the next several hours. But I predictably digress.

Kick Master opens with an evil wizard (or was it a sorcerer? I don't remember) named Belzed storming the castle, killing the king and queen, and kidnapping Princess Silphee. The King's guards go after Belzed but unfortunately, they all die except for one, the mighty knight known as Macren. So it's up to Macren to rescue the princess and kill the evil Belzed. Or is it? As Macren rides out on his quest with his younger brother (an aspiring martial artist, according to the prologue), what should they run across but a cut scene??

"There's one of the scummy living skeletons that attacked the king!" Macren cries to his brother Thonalon. "Let's get him!" The scummy living skeleton attacks, and suddenly the great knight Macren is dying. With his last gasping breaths, he tells Thonalon, "My steel is no match for these beasts! Only with your great kicking skills can we hope for victory!" Thonalon implores his falling sibling, "Macren, don't die!!" But of course, Macren does die, and it's all up to kick master Thonalon, with his great kicking skills, to fell the scummy living skeleton that just killed his brother.

Then you get to start playing.

The game play is pretty easy to figure out, and fortunately scummy living skeletons are far more vulnerable to great kicking skills than they are to mighty knights, because they go down pretty easily. I was actually pretty impressed with the number of different kicks you can do in this game. Also, the side-scroller employs some RPG elements. Every time you defeat an enemy, it explodes into three different icons that disappear fairly quickly, so you have to decide which one or two you want to go after. You can collect life, you can collect MP, you can collect EXP, and you can collect...other stuff. I didn't quite figure out what everything was. (I also didn't figure out how to use the magic spells that you pick up, and there was no instruction book. I may come back to this game after I figure that out, because something tells me that'd be crazy helpful) The EXP is valuable, because your HP increases when you level up. You also unlock new kicking maneuvers with each level. It's actually a pretty well thought-out battle system.

The game has just enough variety to keep it from becoming monotonous (fun fact: I accidentally typed "monogamous" the first time) and the music is fairly catchy and adventurous. I could see myself renting this game as a kid and playing it for quite a few hours over the weekend. I mean really, who doesn't want to kick the crap out of living skeletons with swords, grim reapers, bipedal armadillos of doom, and, of course, frogs.

Why are frogs always enemies in this type of game?

Further, I'm always of the opinion that, regardless of how much damage you may have already taken from demons, gunfire, chains, beer bottles, lasers, or whatever, a frog jumping into your midsection should never be the killing blow. Reality fail, Nintendo. Sword-slinging skeletons I can buy. Frog hop of doom? Not so much. And don't give me this "Some frogs are poisonous!" nonsense, either, because A) the coloration of the 8-bit frogs that kill you is almost never right to be a true poisonous frog, and B) if it were really THAT toxic, then punching it in mid-air should kill you, too.

Where was I? Ah, Kick Master. Kick Master Thonalon is pretty hard core. How many people that you know can kick directly over their head with enough force to shatter a boulder that is mysteriously suspended above them while jumping on one leg? I mean, I know a LOT of people, and I can only think of two, MAYBE three who could accomplish that feat. This game is a pretty fun blending of elements from other, better games, so while the outcome isn't necessarily the most original thing that ever hit the NES, it's still a heck of a lot better than some of the things you'll find on RNGOTM.

Friday, May 14, 2010

v2, d66: Adventures!

Last night, not long before blogging, I received a call from my stage manager. Apparently, one of my actors was in pain. A LOT of pain. Debilitating pain, and the meds from the doctor weren't making it a whole lot better. Now fortunately, this actor is fairly close to my size (he's a bit brawnier and a little taller, but of the actors in the cast he's the closes to my size), so in the unlikely event that I should have to play his four characters this morning, we probably wouldn't have to scramble for new costume pieces. Now, there were certain scheduling things to work out to make it possible for me to play the show if necessary, so we worked them out and said "we'll see in the morning."

Well, this morning came, and at about 8 a.m. I learned that poor Marty was having a terrible go of it and was going to have to call in sick. If you know Marty, you know it would take a TON for him to miss a show, so we were convinced it was really pretty bad. Off to work I go a little early, with about an hour to prepare for the performance of the show I spent a month directing and have spent the last three weeks watching at least twice a week.

The funny thing was, I was totally calm about the whole thing. After the call last night, I laid down for a few moments and just ran over the whole show in my head and realized I knew virtually ALL of the lines without any review. That was promising. I was also pretty confident that I could hit all of the musical numbers, save for one, with just one run-through to get them good and warmed up. I was mostly worried about getting down all the scene changes and the costume changes necessary for the multiple characters popping up in consecutive scenes in fairly rapid succession.

The rest of the cast was fantastic in answering all my wardrobe-related questions, and I got the unparalleled honor of playing a show I directed and sharing the extraordinary moment of performance viscerally with the team of actors I worked side-by-side with to get the show up in the first place. I always hate it (as a director) when a show opens because I am for the first time in the process shut out from the continuing of the work. I can watch, I can give notes, I can spread encouragement, but I'm not a part of the team anymore. The well-earned moment now belongs to the cast and the crew, and it's very bittersweet. Today, however, I got a chance to share it with them. Well, all except the poor chap who was doubled over in pain to afford me the opportunity. Truthfully, I do feel fairly guilty to have appreciated/enjoyed this opportunity so much. I honestly do wish he hadn't fallen ill. I'd rather he have played this morning than I. Still, in the absence of that ideal situation, I feel so fortunate to have been the one who got to step into his shoes (quite literally) and play the show.

The performance went well, I think. I only had one major misstep onstage, but I'm pretty sure if you didn't know what was supposed to happen there you wouldn't have caught it. (In fact, I've had that theory confirmed by several folks who saw that part of the show and didn't notice anything was wrong) I actually messed up every single costume change and had to redo some portion of each of them, but I still managed to make each entrance on time properly dressed. I don't know that I turned in a blockbuster performance, because I was so busy concentrating on what I was doing, what happened next, and what I was to do with all of the props during the mad tea party, but I know I did well enough to look like I belonged, and I hope I did a good enough job to honor the work that Marty put in to creating and maintaining all of those zany characters.

And, because Marty's Marty, he was back for the evening show, so my limited engagement run in Alice Now! was just that: limited. There were a few moments I wanted another crack at, but I'm glad the show's cast is back together again. The sad thing about such a whirlwind of an experience is that it happens to fast, when you get to the end you almost feel like it didn't really happen. It did happen, though, and Hannah has the cell-phone-quality video to prove it.

Also of note: during tonight's show, there was a thunderstorm and a petting zoo that featured a baby zebra.

I mean come on. Days like this don't come around all the time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

v2, d65: Possible adventues tomorrow

Teammates is done. The Penguins are golfing. Plenty I could blog about tonight, if not for the fact that I got up at 4:30 this morning after sleeping a little less than four hours last night. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I just put together a sentence there.

Hey, in case the people who live upstairs happen to check out my blog: WHAT ARE YOU MANIACS DOING???? And why does it involve blasting reggae music?

Too much. Brain shutting down. Stay tuned for possible adventures tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

v2, d64: Lunchbreak Shuffleblog

By request.

#1: The Dream from Floyd Collins by Adam Guettal

I love Floyd Collins. And the dream sequence is probably my favorite part of the show. In fact, if we had some more thin top-notch male singers, I'd want us to do it here. The story's a little dull, but the music is beautiful. I saw it staged at Playhouse in the Square (or something like that) in Memphis in February of 2005. (Wow, that's like a lifetime ago!) I had some friends working there, and I was in town for the disastrous UPTA cattle call audition. I've wanted to go back the past several years if for no other reason than to try to redeem myself for my horrible returns from that experience. I'm pretty sure that all of the friends I went with got jobs from the event. They got at least seven or eight callbacks. I pretty much got one. Would have been an awesome job, too. It was really scary to be three-quarters of the way through my senior year, knowing I was going to be getting married in August, and still having no idea what I was going to be doing, work-wise, or where I was going to be living. That became a really trying time for my faith. I had to learn patience through frustration and, eventually, to come to peace with God's provision, even when I didn't see it manifesting in any tangible way.

Truth is, I didn't know what I was going to do until the day before graduation. That was cutting it a bit closer than I'd have liked, but it was really awesome that I got to tell my theatre profs I'd gotten the job here as I walked by them in the line headed to the chapel on the way to graduation. It was like something from a movie: "Whooo! Congratulations!" Hugs. "Yay, Will!" "Hey, I got the job!" "You got it?" Enthusiastic hugs again, then ushered along with the rest of the graduates to the awkward baseball-themed graduation ceremony.

That was a good day.

And, that's a good reminder. Well played, iPod.

Incidentally, this song has a heartbreaking ending. Which takes us to...

#2: 4:12 by Switchfoot

Okay, seriously. What's going on? "I'm so sorry I've been so down and I started doubtin' things would ever come around, but I still can't believe that all we are and that all of our dreams are nothing more than material. Souls aren't built of stone, sticks and bones."

I love this song, by the way. I love pretty much everything Switchfoot's done in the last five years. They make for an interesting trilogy, Nothing is Sound to Oh, Gravity! to Hello Hurricane. Have I blogged on my thoughts on this trifecta of awesome before? Meh, most of you probably wouldn't care anyway, but I find it an interesting examination of themes, both musically and lyrically.

Anyway, this is a great song. I love what it does musically. It's really quirky and bouncy and fun, but not in a cotton candy sort of way. The bass part is particularly catchy, and it makes me want to learn to play bass.

Well, I've still got a good mid-life crisis coming to me at some point. Maybe I'll make that my bass-learning phase. Then I'll be that guy in his 40's who can sort of play bass in cover bands that play songs that nobody really listens to anymore at low-paying gigs.

You know what? That sounds kind of awesome. Maybe because I'm reading "Love is a Mix Tape" right now. But really, I suspect, more because it just sounds awesome.

#3: The Blues by Switchfoot

This playlist is evoking thoughts that are almost painfully applicable to someone in my current state of mind and of affairs. Also, unusual to get two songs by the same artist back-to-back, and yet the second time it's happened in the last half hour. Just before I started shuffling, I got two Pirates of Penzance songs in a row. (Yeah, speaking of happy memories from college theatre!)

This recording of the song is not actually the one from the album. I never managed to get it to let me burn those songs to my iPod. Sony did this weird thing with Nothing is Sound where you couldn't burn songs from the CD without obtaining permission every time, and you only had 3 permissions per song, and ripping them to you computer took up one. And then when I tried to burn it from the compy, it said I needed to insert the CD to gain permission, and then it just ripped it to the computer again and took another permission. One more try, and then I was just out of luck. Boo.

However, Switchfoot recorded all of their concerts during the Oh, Gravity! tour (or "Gravity, eh?" in Canada) and sold the copies immediately following the shows. People set up a web site called Switchfoot bootlegs for people to share the tracks from these limited-edition bootlegged recordings, so any Nothing is Sound tracks I have on my iPod are from this collection.

For their part, Switchfoot knew about the bootleg site, and they loved it. They seem to be guys I'd get along with if I ever actually met them.

"Does justice never find you? Do the wicked never lose? Is there any honest song to sing besides these blues? And nothing is okay until the sky falls down, and the hungry and poor and deserted are found..."

#4: Someday, by The Afters

Have I mentioned how much I love The Afters? They're one of two or three bands I discovered AFTER I started college that I still follow. Their last album, "Never Going Back to OK," is one of my favorites. It's actually the first CD that's ever inspired me to write a particular story. I had in mind a vague sketch of a sequel I wanted to write for the novel I finished for NaNoWriMo back in 2008, but the details of it really didn't flesh out until I got hooked on "Never Going Back to OK." Every song became a character or a plot device. It was so weird/new/awesome. Now, I still haven't written that book, because I need to re-write the first. But I don't have any show responsibilities this summer, and I'm really itching to write about three different stories, so maybe something'll get done in the blistering heat of June, July, and August.

"Someday, someday, your time will come..."

#5: Procrastinating, by Stellar Kart

I'm not really a huge SK fan, but Robbie absolutely loves this song. It's not bad pop-punk, but it is decidedly pop-punk, and that's just not something I'm into as much anymore. This used to be one of the pieces he'd given the distinct privilege of being recognized as a "Robbie song." We'd play this CD on the way to church, and if he didn't care for the song that was playing he'd ask for the Robbie song, and we knew he meant this one. He did that with most CDs for awhile, but now he's started learning that songs have names, and while he doesn't always get the correct name for the song, he definitely has a name for it.

Current favorites: "When We All Get to Heaven," "Dance of the Cucumber" ("peeeeeas!"), and, oddly enough, "Oh, Gravity!"

Short song. Last one:

#6: Surfer's Anthem by Evan Foster

Ha! You know what this is? This is the music we used for the Bottlenose Boys battle scene in Hero Squad last spring. That's funny, because we had an issue today at Alice where it appeared the Cheshire Cat's costume might not actually make it to the theater (from the dry cleaner's) in time for the show, so I was in the costume shop with one of our lovely and talented costume ladies trying to find anything that might work in a pinch. Digging through our rich costume heritage, I came across some of the Hero Squad stuff and jokingly suggested we could have a Cheshire Dolphin for today's show only.

The cat arrived ten minutes before showtime, so there was no Cheshire Dolphin. (Admittedly, we weren't actually going to go with that idea anyway, but with enough Tender Love and Care, I think we could create an Internet meme with that idea!)

Speaking of Internet memes, I'm still kind of sad that our plan of "Our Town with Sock Puppets" never happened. Dave? Hannah? What happened there?

And, true to surf anthem form, a prolonged drum roll will take us out.

Thank you, goodnight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

v2, d63: Rough

Today was rough.

Man, I really just don't know what else to say about it. I've been staring at this blank box where blogging text is supposed to go for the last twenty minutes, and all I've got is "today was rough."

I'm a bad blogger.

Here's some stuff that makes me smile:

Smile, go to bed, try again tomorrow, hope for a better result. Check.

Monday, May 10, 2010

v2, d62: Mondays are slow...

...and don't let anybody tell you otherwise!

I've got a few things left to finish up at the office today and a lot of time to do them in, so I'm going to get a little blogging done now so maybe I don't have to stay up heinously late to get it done. After all, I've got two early, early mornings this week. Fortunately, it looks like I'm not working any evenings this week, so there's a winner.

You know, due to Birthday Mad-Libs and Mothers' Day, I never got around to posting anything about the Red Wings 5-game exit to the perennial playoff chokers, the San Jose Sharks. A 4-1 series win makes it look pretty one-sided, but in reality it was a pretty great series. All four Sharks wins were by one goal. The only Red Wings win was 7-1. Go figure. Unlike in the film, Megashark gets the unanimous decision over Giant Octopus. Now, hoping the Pens can close out the Habs tonight, and that the Bruins/Flyers and Hawks/Canucks all manage beat each other up for a full seven games.

Anyway, if you want to read a severe Red Wings roast, Puck Daddy's annual playoff eulogies series has got it for you. Click here; it's brutal, but probably the best-written eulogy of the bunch so far. Just remember, I warned you. It's brutal.

In other news (or what passes for news on Mondays), I was treated to lunch today by one of only six other coworkers reporting to work today. We had fish tacos from Berry Hill. I'd never had fish tacos before, and they were pretty good. They really pile the cilantro and red cabbage on, though, and I had to water it down somewhat by taking a bit off the top. Also, no sauce, but that's nothing personal. I almost always get my lunch sans sauce. All in all, though, not bad, and apparently fish tacos are on sale on Mondays.

I like fish, by the way, and Houston is a better place to get fish than, say, just about anywhere in Kansas.

Finally: I want to take a trip. I want to get on an airplane and go somewhere for about five or six days. I want to go somewhere either I've never been or somewhere I rarely go. Obviously, I'm not going to do this, but the wanderlust is pretty strong. "Wanderlust" also seems like a good name for a German comic book character.

All righty, back to work!

(Edited to add: this)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

v2, d61: Mothers' Day 2010

Buying a Mothers' Day present for your wife is a little awkward. At least it is for me. I'm sure in a couple years' time I'll be fully acclimated to the mom/wife gift-giving dichotomy, or else I'll just make Robbie pick something and say it's from the both of us. For now, though, it's a bit of a head-scratcher.

Follow me, here.

Valentines Day present = something romantic and/or sentimental + chocolate

Christmas present = something fun/something she wants.

Birthday present = either something fun OR something she needs/has been asking for + dinner

Mothers' Day present = Flowers? Isn't that something you're supposed to get for YOUR mom? Card? Isn't that a bit impersonal? Sentiment? Romance? Practicality? Mom-related? Gah!

Now, I've got a little added pressure on me, because I've done pretty well with gifts since we've been married. They haven't all been home-runs (figuratively speaking), but quite a few of them have, and I think most of the ones that weren't home runs were at least ground rules doubles, so I put a bit of pressure on myself to get a good present.

Wellll, this year I went out and bought the first three books from this here series. I know Kim likes them, because she's checked them out of the library twice in the past year, so I'm pretty sure she'll read 'em through another time or two. It seemed a bit risky to me because, again, I'm not sure if books are an acceptable gift for this particular special occasion, but they went over very well, so I feel pretty good about it.


Other winning Mothers' Day gifts for your wife: a nice nap, an afternoon outside with the child so she can rest, staying up late to help with laundry, and staying up even later to wash dishes and clean out the fridge.

Happy Mothers Day to all!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

v2, d60: New Feature! Birthday Mad-Libs

Features! Features! I'm all about features!

I think I need to do a run of features so I can keep them all straight (and because I haven't done any of them more than once yet, and we're 60 days in). Add to the list that already includes Random Nintendo Game of the Month, Guest Bloggers, Top 7's, and Shuffleblog: Birthday Mad-Libs!

Birthday Mad Libs is a new feature where I honor a friend and reader of FOMW with a Mad Lib on their birthday. All of the words I use to fill in the story will be words that I associate in one way or another with the person being honored.

Bear with me. This may end up being really lame, but that hasn't stopped me yet!

Today's Birthday Mad Lib is in honor of one of my closest allies in the children's theatre world, Hannah. Grab a sprinkle-covered cupcake and take a seat on the Birthday Chair, Hannah, because this mad lib is for you!

(Mad-libbed words are in bold)


Little did the dastardly villain Pretty Pigtail know when he stole my typewriter that he'd picked on the wrong Hannah. For although my intelligent exterior might have you believe I'm an ordinary sort of Hannah, I am in fact that wit of justice, the playful crusader for sass, Brownie Ta-daa!

Quickly, I charged into a three-ring binder and changed into my pink shoes, blue glasses, and my bouncy green skirt. Thus disguised, I danced after Pretty Pigtail and typed him in the foot! We fought, and we pouted; we pouted, and we fought. First I had the upper hand, and then he quoted me and gained an advantage. But then I grabbed a nearby binder clip and speared him through the shoulder knot. Victory was mine!


Happy birthday, H!

v2, d59: Make Me Sleepy

Putting my son to bed this evening ended up turning into a five-hour nap on my son's bedroom floor. Whoops.

Hopefully, that's not the last of the sleep I get this evening. It's 3:06 a.m. right now and I'm about to head to my own bed with my library book. My intention is to wake up at 9 a.m., because I have a performance at HPL of all places and we need to be there at 11:15, and blah-blah-blah load the van, grab lunch on the way, etc.

Enjoyed the midnight showing of Iron Man 2 last night. Pretty sure I only stayed up marginally later than I would have had I not gone to the flick, so no real worries. Also had a very good day at work today, I think. Had our post-production meeting of Alice, which means I guess I'm officially not directing anymore, so that's kind of a bummer. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll know what my next project is going to be. If I'll have a "next project" coming up anytime soon, that is. As always, I'm learning never to take this sort of thing for granted.

Good night, my friends! Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

v2, d58: Make me grateful

Lunch today is a Banquet meal. Not one of the "good" ones, either, one of the ones you left for last because you really aren't crazy about them and you were secretly hoping Jesus would come back before you had to get to that one. (Doesn't say much for the two that are left in the freezer, does it?) The chicken fingers taste kinda like sand sprinkled on dirty rubber, the brownie isn't very good, and the macaroni, this highlight of the dinner, is okay.

I'm mentally preparing for a department head meeting with the boss. These are usually some of the worst times in this place. Nobody leaves happy, ever. People have called in sick to miss these meetings.

So, I sit at my desk with my sandy-rubber chicken fingers about to go into my rather-be-yakking meeting. I place the cheap plastic-ish tray on my desk, and then I do something that instantly shames my entire line of thinking.

I bow my head to pray.

Lord, make me grateful for all that I have. Amen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

v2, d57: Re-re-renewal

Why is it I almost always have to renew every library I check out twice before I finish it?

Take the book I'm currently reading, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Great book. Quick read. Six-hundred-plus pages, so it takes a bit of commitment. Really, though, I should have knocked this bad boy out in the first two weeks with my work schedule. First three, definitely. BUT, I really didn't start it until I'd already checked it twice. And of course, you can't check a book three times, because the library knows that if you really wanted to read it, you would have finished it within SIX FREAKING WEEKS. How does this ALWAYS happen?

The book's due Friday. However, the local library isn't open on the weekend, so as long as I get it in the drop box before they open on Monday, I'm good. I'm a little over halfway through the book.

Off to read.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

v2,d56: Happy Not-Actually-My-Birthday

My track record with planning parties/social events is fairly dreadful. So I was very, very glad that tonight went off so well.

A group of 25 folks, either coworkers or significant coworkers or Dave (who deserves his own category because, hey, he's Dave), joined me for a night of fun at the Astros game. The game itself was a little on the dull side, but I can't think of a ball game I've been to that's been more enjoyable. I'm pretty sure everybody had a good time, and the weather was perfect. I kid you not, perfect.

Fortunately, some of my photo-minded friends got quite a few pictures, so hopefully they make their way to flickr soon. Thanks to everybody who helped make tonight a success. Especially the people who made my burger at the ballpark, 'cause wow. It made me happy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

v2, d55: Top 7 Coasters

Earlier, I said I was going to try to do some more "regular features" this time around. Let's see if I can swing the occasional Top 7 list.

For those of you who don't know this about me, I am a roller coaster FIEND, despite the fact that I haven't had a chance to ride any roller coasters in the last five years except for the Disney rides in Anaheim. Part of that is because there are no theme parks around me anymore, and part of it is that when I go to places with coasters (again, not many options, but Kemah has one and Sea World in San Antonio had one) I'm not with anybody else who'll go with me and I hate to make the rest of the crew wait. Nevertheless, for about ten years or so there, I absolutely lived for scream machines.

With that in mind, I'd like to do a video tour of my top 5 coasters. I'm not going to say I've had a terribly extensive coaster-riding career, and I know most of my experience is limited to southern California (without, somehow, ever getting to the Coaster Capital of the Coast, Six Flags Magic Mountain), but I've ridden enough to have a pretty solid Top 5 and at least a relatively exclusive Top 10, if I really wanted to. So I'll meet in the middle and go with a Top 7.

Besides, I've always liked the number 7.

#7: Queen of the Prairie
Joyland Amusement Park, Wichita, KS

#7 is partially a nostalgic pick, but the fact is that this was actually a dang good ride. It was an old, old, old school wooden coaster from 1949, one of only 33 of the 44 original American Coaster Enthusiasts' specially-christened "classic" coasters. The park is closed down, but the Queen still stands tall, and that first drop is still plenty capable of lifting you out of your seat. Now, admittedly, the thing is in dire need of repair and may have been for the last several years of its operation. The whole place has been shut down since 2005.

Also: until I looked this up on Wikipedia once, I was unaware that this coaster had a name. The sign simply read "Roller Coaster". Even that was more description than most of the rides were given at Joyland.

#6: Medusa
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom--Viejo, CA

Discovery Kingdom was Six Flags Marine World when I knew it (and Marine World/Africa USA before that, but there weren't any coasters there then). Man, watching this video makes me want to ride this ride. It's tall, it's fast, it spins and flips you every way possible without making you sick, your feet dangle giving it the feel of an inverted coaster without the less-than-comfortable over-the-head harness, and it's lime green. Amazing.

#5: Timberwolf
Worlds of Fun--Kansas City, MO

I think I might actually prefer a well-made wooden coaster to most steel ones. You don't have the thrills and the tricks on the wooden tracks; all you have is speed. A well-crafted wooden track banks hard, dips fast, and builds speed with every twist of the track. A poorly-crafted track batters you back and forth and shakes at every turn. Those suck. But when it comes to coasters, I'm all about speed and environment, and a wooden coaster takes you out of one world and brings you into its own, wrapping around and dipping under itself for the duration of the ride, drowning out the sounds of the world around you. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Anyway, I only rode the T-wolf once, and it obviously left an impression. There's a reason it was ranked #2 wooden coaster in the world for something like ten years.

#4: Mamba
Worlds of Fun

Staying with Worlds of Fun for the moment, if you look closely you can even see #5 on this list cowering beneath the might of this monster. The SECOND drop of the Mamba is twice as high as the Timberwolf. The first hill is a full 205 feet, and it reaches a speed of 65 mph on the initial drop. It's a really intense, really short ride. After the first two hills, there's not a whole lot left for you, and that's part of why it's only #4 on this list. Still, the initial thought as you come over the top of the incline and look straight down 200+ feet to the ground is...well, the guy on the video clip pretty much nails it:

#3: Flight Deck (formerly Top Gun) at California's Great America (formerly Paramount's Great America)

The switch from Paramount's Great America to California's Great America meant that the few rides that had movie tie-ins had to drop them. That's okay, the Top Gun element to this ride was kind of lame, but the ride was awesome. It's a suspended coaster that really whips around its curves, and I always preferred to sit in the back because this sucker REALLY felt like you were flying when its back cars whipped around the tight turns and barrel rolls. I would ride this five or six times per visit, because as the park opened newer, fancier, gimmickiers coasters, this one kinda got left behind. Definitely my favorite of the Great America bunch, though.

#2: Roar
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Everything I said I liked about wooden coasters above? It's all wrapped up in this monster. When you're riding it, it feels like you shouldn't be able to go that fast on a wooden coaster. It's so much fun. You're never not turning. You're banking pretty sharply on every drop to add to the speed. It's just fantastic.

#1: Millennium Force
Cedar Point--Sandusky, OH

Of course, you can't keep the roller coaster capital of the world out of this kind of list. I'm fortunate I got one chance to visit Cedar Point, even if my ride on the Mangum XL-2000 had some safety issues that made the ride a little less enjoyable and a little more terrifying, and even if Top Thrill Dragster was closed. This is easily the king. It's kind like Mamba on steroids. (And better design. And more variety. And tunnels) Speed increases exponentially as you fall, so add another hundred feet or so to the first drop on Mamba and you literally feel the force of the wind pushing your cheeks back. My hair was shooting straight back when I stepped off this ride both times. Wait the extra fifteen minutes and ride in the front for your first experience. Then try it again and sit in the back.

Do it.

This post made me HAPPY.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

v2, d54: Twenty-Eight

Twenty-eight oceans, twenty-eight skies, twenty-eight failures, twenty-eight tries....

No, I'm kidding.

Does anybody remember that period in history where everyone found the Switchfoot song Twenty-Four to be unbelievably relateable, and everybody posted it to their Xanga on their twenty-fourth birthday?

Not sayin' anything against it, but it happened. Was sort of an odd phenomenon. I probably would have done the same thing with Let That Be Enough on my twenty-second if I'd had a Xanaga on my twenty-second birthday.

Did I have a Xanga on my twenty-second birthday? Was I still on LiveJournal then? Holly???

Anyway, I found it interesting how things seemed to fit well within my naturally contemplated train of thought on this day marking the passing of another year of, well, me. Our Sunday school (er, I mean Bible study) lesson today dealt specifically with issues relating to a particular crisis that came to light within this last week in part of my family. A lot of it had to do with perspective and growing in wisdom and working through difficulties. And, because we're a young couples class, obviously we were relating it to marriages, and how hard you really have to work to make marriages stay healthy, and how life happens, and all that stuff. Then, today was Senior Citizen Appreciation Day in big church. (I know, isn't every Sunday SCAD in a southern baptist church? ;-) The message was great, and it was all about wisdom, and how wisdom isn't necessarily earned with age but with the willingness to learn regardless of one's age. Then, the pastor passed the mic around the congregation and asked if any of the seniors had anything they've learned through life that they'd want to share with the youth in the church. It was nice, and it left me some place to reflect on how much I've gleaned just from the past five years of my experience. So much I've learned from my marriage, from my son, from our struggles, from my victories, from the unique challenges of my place of employment, from world events, from everything. And I remember thinking similar thoughts in college, too, about how my worldview had shifted so drastically from when I was in high school. Then, of course, when we got into the car after church, Switchfoot's album Hello Hurricane was playing, and the lyrics "If it doesn't break your heart it isn't love/If it doesn't break your heart it's not enough/It's when you're breaking down with your insides comin' out/Is when you find out what your heart is made of/And you haven't lost me yet/No you haven't lost me yet/I'll sing until my heart caves in, but you haven't lost me yet" followed by the song "Red Eyes," which closes with a gorgeous reprise of the album's first track: "In this needle and haystack life/I've found miracles there in your eyes/It's no accident we're here tonight/We are once in a lifetime."

So, needless to say, I've been contemplating the very nature of life itself quite a bit today, for these and other reasons.

And it's good. The contemplation, I mean. And life, even though I currently don't feel well and I can't figure out why and I can't sleep and I can't figure out why, and I'm really wrestling with a couple things at work right now. But really, it is good, even though it frustrates me. See, as I look back, the things that really that really got to me in undergrad are gone. The world is both bigger and smaller. Life is simpler; life is more complicated. I don't view "success" the same way I did five years ago. Or four, for that matter. Or even three. I don't want the same thing I wanted. And it isn't that the person I was then was wrong or bad, but he was just a step toward getting me to be the one I am now. Who is hopefully just another step toward a wiser man with more understanding of, well, everything. Wisdom I'll be able to pass down to my son. And, hopefully, to others who read or watch or enjoy anything I write, should that ever really truly take off.

I wonder how I'll look back at this period in my life? I wonder if I'll re-read these blogs and realize how much the world has changed in such a short time. In five years, Robbie will almost be eight. He'll be halfway to driving. (Incidentally, every time we get in the car now, he tells me that when he's sixteen, he'll get to drive) Who knows, there may be more kids. Maybe not. I may not be in theatre any more. I may only barely be in contact with any of my friends from here. Whatever happens, I pray that I'll be wiser, and not just older.

In the meantime, I'll do everything I can to make the most out of 28. After all, we are once in a lifetime.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

v2, d53: Birthday schedules

According to my work schedule, it will be my birthday from 6-7 a.m. this morning. That's pretty astounding, because I'm pretty sure I was born at around 6:48 in the morning of May 2nd in 1982. That, however, was Pacific Time, so my birthday SHOULD have been from 8-9 a.m. But really, I don't know how the scheduling department could have been expected to know any of that.

Hey, you know what's scary? A Chick-Fil-A play-place around lunch hour. Especially when you're the only adult in the room. They gotta find a way to make those places more sound-absorbent. Not a good place to be if you already have a three-day-old headache. At least they don't have ball pits. I remember loving ball pits. Now, I can't help but think how unbelievably dangerous they could potentially be. Transition from child to parent, I suppose.

Robbie is very excited that it's my birthday. He wanted birthday cake for dinner. We had to tell him there was no cake until tomorrow (today). He didn't like that answer. He also wants to know what kind of cake we're having on his birthday.

Really, though, I expect this to be one of those "just another day" birthdays. The party-type situation will come Tuesday. And I'll count Iron Man 2 as the world's birthday present to me when it comes out next week.

Thanks, the world. It's just what I wanted!