Letters to Holly

Friday, May 16

Her Night

At the end of each school year, the two district high schools hold a recognition ceremony for staff and students. For, I think, the fifth straight year, Your Sister was named by a student as a memorable educator. She doesn't know who named her until the student stands up in front of everyone to present a gift. The kid also wrote a fantastic letter of gratitude, and Your Sister has to frame it. She just has to. Another student gave her a ton of chocolate and ceramic rabbits. I took her out to dinner after, and we got home in time to watch Lost, which I hope you got to watch on the road. If not, it replays next Thursday night.

The dealership replaced my CD player, and now I shall never ever play a new CD in it. I really believe Warner Brothers piracy software killed it. Thankfully, the dealership warranty covered all the costs. I read half the Inherit the Wind script while I waited, and now, I'm seriously and stupidly thinking of directing the damn thing. I have a way to mount the show without breaking the bank: a staged reading. There's no way they'd give me the reins thought. I'm too new to the club.

Picture of the Day
This is why you don't recycle display stands at Wal-Mart. This never would have happened when I worked there.

Wednesday, May 14

What A Run

I somehow managed a fantastic run when I got home. It may have been attributable to eating an actual lunch a few hours earlier. It may have been the tailwind on the hills. Maybe it was from chancing the route to include more flat spaces. In any case, I ran and ran and ran for more than half an hour, and when I reached my end point, I was running flat out. I felt great. Maybe this is from losing weight in the last few weeks. Maybe it was from finding a relaxed stride. I'll stop writing "maybe" now. If all runs were like that, I'd go out every day.

Picture of the Day
I have no idea.

The Rare Links Subhead

You can read all about NASA's big announcement here. The gist: We found a baby supernova, only 150 years old. It popped during the Civil War, and it's the first time we've seen one so new in this proximity.

Or you can peruse the entire Acme catalog from the Warner Brothers cartoons.

Talking Scripts

The script committee for the theatre met last night, although two of us were not only absent but purposefully left unidentified by the leader, my last director. He compiled a list of audience requests from the previous season and a list of all the shows produced by the theatre. We could then see the requests, debate their merits, and see when the theatre had last mounted those shows. Two shows got five requests each: Moustetrap, which I just read, and Harvey. We also got sheets to organize our notes on the assigned scripts.

The theatre has all but finalized a deal to lease a downtown space for the next five years. That gives the company some certainty of stage space and that opens up the potential repertoire. There are mitigating factors: two plays originally scheduled to run this season, Glass Menagerie and Witness for the Prosecution, were bumped. Their replacements were coincidentally the two shows I acted in. There are at least two actors who wanted the original shows to run, and they have enough clout to grumble and be unpleasant.

However, there's resistance to Menagerie from the committee; it's a long show, and it's a dim drama. When we did the show in Greenville, we managed to inject some humor to it, but that can't assuredly be repeated. There's a perception in the company and the audiences that straight drama is no fun and uninteresting. I obviously disagree, and I plan to advocate such plays. Not necessarily Menagerie, but shows that don't depend on pratfalls and simplistic music to sell tickets.

I recommended that we could have it both ways: if we held a teaser show made up of scenes from a few shows and used that to show off the new theatre space, we could placate the vocal divas and allow the theatre to flex the muscles of the acting pool. That seemed to be accepted well as an example of the kind of new tactics the theatre can try. I also think we should use the new library ampitheatre during street festivals to show non-theatre people what they could be seeing during production.

I don't know what the other committee people thought I could bring to the discussions, but I suspect they didn't think I'd be into marketing the company better. It's crucial. I stayed away because of the perception from the press releases and posters. The theatre has to aggressively present itself as an energetic company to woo actors and audiences. For instance, one play I read has virtually an all-female cast. That's a big selling point.

We considered why types of shows to try in the new season and the possibility of presenting more shows than normal and specifically more fan-favorite shows to help offset costs of the new space and necessary renovations. My concern for running more shows is the probable actor rotation. This group had three huge shows, one after another, last year, and that exhausted the actors.

The group -- us, I suppose -- has to pace shows and actor requirements, and that's going to disqualify good shows. For instance, Inherit the Wind is a great show and timely as ever, but it calls for 30 people. I don't think Asheville could offer a 30-person drama. Musical, yes; every stage parent will drag their kid to fill out a chorus, but dramas, as noted, unfortunately spook people on both sides of the stage. There's also the concern of which shows have been recently offered by other area theatres.

I was handed Wind and five other scripts to read before we meet in two weeks. It's daunting, but I think I can do that. I already know Wind and the Neil Simon (Come Blow Your Horn).

When I got home, I found that Your Sis had invited the school art teacher for dinner. It was a good evening. We talked school and art and the local college, and I got to show my painting to someone else.

Picture of the Day
Um, this doesn't help your argument, sir. Or ma'am.

Tuesday, May 13


Dad has a big chemo session tomorrow (four hours+) and had a pre-chemo checkup today. He's gained six pounds since his nadir in April. Blood looks good, too. He has four small sessions left if his health holds up. and then he can consider going back to work.

I mowed the lawn last night to maintain the exercise from the week of garden preparation. No idea when we'll plant anything, but it has to be before May ends. Your Sis begins the research papers this week, and she's dreading it.

Picture of the Day
The painting in time-lapse form.


Monday, May 12

Mother's Day Weekend

I got home Friday and found the wood chipper and tiller, freshly delivered. It was such a nice evening that I was tempted to crank either one of them up, but hunger prevailed. We ate outside and considered heading to the forest for small-stand ice cream. My point is: The weather was excellent. Which is why the sudden hailstorm surprised us. It came in about 10:45 and tore up the neighborhood. I ran out to the back deck to cover the ferns and gasped when I felt the rain and chunks of ice. It passed quickly, but if we had planted anything in the garden beforehand, the temperature and pounding would have killed it.

We got up early Saturday to work on the yard, but only after I picked up the parents' ├ęclairs from the bakery. The wood chipper is a noisy monster, and it worked great. The wood piles were gone in under two hours, and now we have piles of white mulch. I tilled the garden stretch later in the day, and the company should pick up the equipment Monday morning.

I worked on the painting Friday and Saturday and may be finished. I'm still not sold on the corners though.

Friday night (just before the thunder started)

+ + +

Saturday afternoon

If I do anything to the painting, it will only be the corners. The interior seems OK. Oh, I might add a neutral color to the sides of the painting.

I saw My Parents Sunday. Dad is virtually bald. He has little wisps of white hair, and Mom claims they're new. He doesn't look bad. He's back to his normal weight range, and he still smokes (and why not?). I may attend one of his chemos later this month. They loved the ├ęclairs. I gave them the script from the last show and the playbill. I'll give them the DVD copy when they call the cable folks to hook up their DVD player.

Speaking of scripts, I finally got a call from the director, and the Script Committee is meeting tomorrow night to trade scripts and notes.

I may join the town 5k in two weeks. Depends on if the bizarre weather will let me run. We couldn't sleep last night because of the noise of trees in the wind.

Long Reading of the Day
Here's an elaborate theory about Lost. I can't buy into it because there's some vague spackling over crucial details. But it's a nice try.