Letters to Holly

Friday, November 7

Rehearsal Four: No-Shows

I bring my cassettes of a full-cast recording of Hamlet made for BBC Radio. I've had these for years and years -- hence, cassettes -- and the director requested them to help folks with their accents. I hope to see the tapes again, but I'm half-resigned that they are cast to the winds.

The costume expert gathered some Victorian clothes for us to try, and I find a suit that fits just about perfect. It's my first time with a high-waist button-fly, and slapstick ensued. The suit lapels are tattered, and I like that; it fits Cratchit. She also bought a Halloween costume for the Future Ghost to wear, and I try it on. It's small. The hem is at my shins, the belt is laughably tiny, and the gloves don't fit (you must acquit). I suggest a trip to the remaining Halloween stores for cheap clearance sales. I'd like gloves with skeleton designs to make my hands visible and spooky.

The ghost is a comic character here. He speaks in a vague spectral yodeling until Scrooge unveils the ghost scam: They didn't show him his future; they made it up to spook him. My ghost faints when the jig is up, and he blanches at direct questioning. We play with my voice for the best comic effect. The translator actor isn't here tonight, and another person reads along with me. In fact, a lot of folks aren't here tonight, and we run a full act with four people and the director. It's disappointing.

I'd like to memorize my Act Two Cracthit lines this weekend. That's five pages. The ghost has eleven-ish pages of noises, but all my pages combined are still barely a quarter of the entire play.

+ + +

You can follow the presidential transition at change.gov.

Picture of the Day
This is the ghost costume as it's sold. We're ditching all the purple and probably the mask. The hood will cover my head entirely. The pimp medallion is gone too. I'd also prefer to have the robe drape the floor to hide my shoes.

Thursday, November 6

Dumb-ass Rebuttal

Those who lost Tuesday count among them those who must redeem themselves. For instance:

+ Your Sis said that her and other classes were beset by white students vocal and angry about the election. One class had white kids claiming -- out loud, mind you -- that the black kids would be getting all the white families' money because of welfare.

We grew up in this region, and we know that high-school students tend to repeat what they hear at home (in kind, a repeat of what the parents might have gotten from elsewhere). But even in middle-school, I knew what was racist horseshit. Her school has a huge white majority; this whole region is a big white majority. They felt safe showing their ass because the black students are simply outnumbered. And sore losers fall back on racism pretty damn quick.

+ The local radio preacher claimed this was the end times. He also compared his flock to Christians in China and Russia -- persecuted and threatened.

+ Mike Duncan, the head of the Republican National Committee, claimed yesterday that Obama won on a moderate Republican platform. Just one day ago, Obama was a radical and the most liberal Senator in Congress. Now, he's Eisenhower.

+ Limbaugh well and truly lost his shit. It was fun to hear.

Your Sis spent the entire night, from when she arrived at home to bedtime -- with a short supper break -- editing a beast of a paper written by an administrator. It was apparently a disaster. In fact, Your Sis said she was the second teacher to be given this paper to fix and that the first teacher's notes were rejected, presumably because the administrator's feeling were hurt that there were so many. I remind her of stuff like this when she asks me to consider being a teacher.

I spent much of the day taking in talk shows dissecting the election. I've just about reached my saturation point, and I ended the night watching a mixed-martial arts show. It was a compilation of one foreign-born black guy beating a string of white guys. Coincidence? Probably.

I wish I could find a certain editorial cartoon from the beginning of this year. It showed a white kid in the early '80s with a Michael Jordan poster, the same kid a few years later with a Tiger Woods poster, and the same guy now in his 20s with an Obama poster. I think there's gospel truth here.

More than any previous American generation, those born after 1976 have grown up with prominent black cultural figures. Sure, some of them were throwback minstrels -- the Wayans Brothers, for instance -- but when music, sports, TV, and movies are dominated by black participants, the shock of color is diluted. So, no, Obama doesn't scare us. Considering he follows two black Republican secretaries of state, his pigment scare any thinking conservative either.

Picture of the Day
Just the thing for winter.

Wednesday, November 5

Well Holy Shit

I come from a family where racism is a cultural habit. I never saw it displayed as hate, but I heard the constant jokes. I heard the long stories that ended with some black man being stupid. I grew up with this. Most of those people are gone now, and I had formed my own opinion about those comments when I was pretty young. I remember my dad telling me in fifth grade that he was most surprised by my ability to have black friends. Given that I was surrounded by institutionalized racism, he couldn't figure out how I had escaped it. Here's the trick: When you grow up as a frail, sickly kid with noticeably wonky eyes and teeth, you think before you call names.

Anyway, as I watched ABC's Charlie Gibson literally count down the seconds to 11 p.m, when the west-coats polls closed, and heard him say a few moments later that the network was officially calling the race for Obama -- when I flipped the channels to see Spelman College erupt in joy on MSNBC, Chicago's Grant Park turn into Woodstock, New York City's Time Square behave like it was New Year's -- I had to admit that I never thought this day would happen so early in my life. We have a black president, and he earned the office with a goddamn walloping of the previous national polticial map.

The black correspondents for the news networks, to a man, all said the same thing: my family would never believe it. Even FOX News's Sheperd Smith was caught up in the seismic shift. And then our state did it's level best to turn bright blue. The first female governor, Dole booted, a full Democrat contingent on the Bumcombe county council. Our county voted a straight Republican ticket for county commissioners, and our top school-board vote-getter is a hairdresser, but you can't win 'em all.

But you can be prepared to roll up the sleeves when you do win, and that's what comes next. Work will ensue, and it won't be pretty.

Rehearsal Three:
We learned earlier in the day that our Marley -- the backstage reporter from the courtroom show -- was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Luekemia. His email said he would pull out of the Christmas show, but he announced at the rehearsal that he would gut it out. Good for him. He felt good after his first chemo treatment, but subsequent doses will only become more difficult. I don't know if he can stay in the show. I don't want to see him weaken to that point.

The director emailed me last week to say Monday's rehearsal was canceled. I answered that I would have my Act One lines memorized by then. I could fire them off at whim all weekend. But it's always a different story to try those lines from memory for the first time in a rehearsal. I was nervous. I also spent much of my commute listening to a Neil Gaiman audio CD in hopes of picking up his accent. After a quick soup supper (when I try out the accent on the cats), I arrived at the warehouse and chatted a bit with Marley. He's trying to stay positive, and I want to see him perform this show's full run. The script calls for Cratchit and Marley to be played for the same actor, and this was altered by the director. I don't want to play Marley at his expense; I don't want the role that way.

We learn that we will indeed perform the show on the stage at our new home because the lighting would not accommodate a floor performance. This requires us to rework the set a bit, but it will remain a group of simple furniture and props. The director hopes we can rehearse on that stage before Thanksgiving. Doc uses a copy of Christmas Carol to affirm how much of our script quotes the story. Our script, however, skips Fezziwig, Scrooge's childhood boss. We also have a new stage manager; she's a friend of the director.

My Act One lines span six pages, and I get them out pretty well. Not perfect, but good enough considering I'm a week into the role. I try out my accent, and the director shocks me by calling it delightful. Scrooge jokes that I make everyone else look bad. I'm trying to keep Cratchit nervous around Scrooge -- the witness stand is right next to his courthouse desk -- but I don't want to turn into Hugh Grant.

We run through Act One and call it a night. Everyone is eager to get home to watch the election coverage, and I'm home around 8:30.

Picture of the Day
This is a close approximation of our local radio preacher upon hearing the news.


Tuesday, November 4

I Almost Forgot

No, not the election. I set my clock early to arrive at what I suspected would be a jam-packed polling station. I had a book to read and extra cough drops and everything. But I was the only one there. No line. I double-checked my registration card to verify I went to the right place. The volunteers said I missed the crowd at 6:15. I voted for the names I definitely preferred, relied on my notes for the local school board candidates, and randomly picked names for the half dozen races I had never heard of. And out the door I went. I was the first one to show up at the office. I intemd to stay up tonight until the election is called, and that might be as soon as 11:15. If Virginia, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania go for Obama, it's over.

No, I forgot to mention another mentoring session on Sunday. The student had met with the church folks to talk logo ideas, and I showed him quickly how to cobble that design together in Illustrator. He isn't taking notes, and I doubt he can retain most of this, but that's not my concern. I would of course prefer he heed my every word and soak up as many masterful skills from me as possible, but he's got that teenage blase attitude. I do what I can.

We have our first rehearsal this week tonight, and we have learned that our Marley -- the backseat director from the courtroom show -- as Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The average life span after diagnosis is 18 months. He's backing out of the show. I certainly don't want this for the man. He apparently still plans to direct the next show, the hotel noir drama.

Andrea is on Facebook now under her full name.

Picture of the Day
Fanboys is about a gang of guys trying to sneak in their terminally ill friend into Skywalker Ranch to see a print of Phantom Menace before he dies. The poster was released this week.

Monday, November 3

It's Almost Over

Here's what happens when you are a registered independent in a swing state: Everyone wants to be your friend. Not only did we have two live callers woo me for Obama, but an Obama volunteer drove to our house from Buncombe to win my vote. We got one robocall for McCain in the same time period. We're buried in mailers and robocalls for local elections and the governor and senate races. Your Sister voted Friday before school, and Your Brother called to discuss voting last night. Your Sis delighted in tossing him all my pro-Obama talking points (Why would a Muslim attend Rev. Wright's church for 20 years? Either he doesn't believe in Wright or he doesn't believe in Allah. Please pick one conspiracy theory to disregard.), and their debate stayed good-natured.

I just want it to be over, and from the CNN coverage, it might be over very, very early on Tuesday. According to their Saturday projections, McCain can only win if he wins swing-states Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Hampshire, and splits the electoral votes from Maine. In that case, according to their numbers, McCain can only tie Obama with 269 electoral votes and hope a newly GOP-led Senate will vote him in. Obama can cruise to a win; McCain has to work for it.

I'm voting tomorrow. I await the Christmas Eve atmosphere of the crowds.

I have fought a cold for a week but managed to memorize my dialogue spread out over six pages in Act One. I can't tell you how easy this is compared to the last two plays. Actually, I can. It's DELIRIOUSLY easy. I even took the time to start memorizing my first Act Two pages. I intend to go to the rehearsal tomorrow and shocking the other actors. And I will happily congratulate any others who learned their lines. I still have to iron out a credible accent.

We sadly tucked away the Halloween items and happily gobbled leftover Halloween candy. We watched 300 from the safety of our couch, and Your Sis did the usual schoolwork.

Picture of the Day
Starbucks is giving away a tall cup of brewed coffee tomorrow to anyone who says they voted. All you have to do is say you voted; no proof required.