Friday, May 26, 2006

Signs and Omens - 5/26/06

Correction - I originally refered to the director of The Tempest in this post as Giles Scott. His name is Giles Block. I regret the error, and have corrected it below. -TWL

Staunton, VA - Tuesday was a pretty good day. I did something I have wanted to do for some time now, and that's get up early and watch a sunrise over the Shenandoah mountains. I got up at 5:00 AM, got to the main entrance to the park by 5:30, and saw a very beautiful sunrise. Inwardly, I harbor a longing to be a morning person, but all my life I've been a night person, due mostly to working in the theatre. Watching a sunset is nice, but by the time it's ended you feel somewhat reserved and even a bit mournful. Watching a sunrise, though, is enervating. Feeling that dawn light hit you just begins to renew your pysche and helps you get going for the day.

Because I managed to get up so much earlier, Tuesday seemed to be a richer, fuller day than most any other day I've had since coming off the road. By 11:30 AM I had gotten so much done that I could have sworn it was closer to 4:00 PM. In the afternoon I took Sarah shopping for her ingredients for her dinner party, and then went to see the RenRun of the Rez Troupe's The Tempest. They did a good job, with some funny and ingenious choices. Renaissance runs, for those of you who may not have remembered, are complete runs of a show produced and directed by the troupe. They are usually put together in two-and-a-half days or so, and then presented to the company at large. They are meant both to display the initial choices or ideas a troupe might have as they approach the show, and often have some eclectic elements to them. This one had sort of a Hawaiian island feel to it, complete with fishnets, a plastic palm tree, Hawaiian shirt for Ariel, formal wear for the shipwrecked travelers. etc. The show will probably not look like this in its final incarnation, as it will be directed by Giles Block, who is British. It appears the American Shakespeare Center is having a British invasion, what with Jaq Bessell and Giles Block coming in to direct. How "American" is that? Aren't there any American directors of Shakespeare out there with any stature? Later in the evening Sarah had her little dinner party. She made a vegetable pie with mushrooms, onions and such, and some spicy pork meatballs. Wine and champagne was available, and some fruit and whipped cream for dessert. A nice get-together, and a nice gesture on her part.

Wednesday was a two-Much Ado day, with a 90-minute version in the morning for students and a full show in the evening. Matinees are so tough sometimes. I think actors complain about them because students tend not to know how to conduct themselves, and it becomes a competition to get their attention for the show. Some kids like the show, some sleep through it, others continually chatter and find ways to see if they can provoke a reaction from a cast member. You have to do matinees to build any sort of audience for the future, but the practical reality of the whole experience is that few of them will ever go to the theatre again. I still have to say that the Virginia student audiences are far and away much more attentive than any New York student audience I've ever seen. During the evening performance, someone's cell phone went off in the last scene of the show, which Tyler cleverly turned into a good live theatre moment. He does a tiny little dance with Alyssa during "man is a giddy thing," and he used the music of the cell phone's ring to dance to the rhythm of the ringtone. And when he says "play music," he pointed out to the guy with the cellphone, who was most embarrassed, as he was desperately trying to hide his phone. Now, you don't get that in the movies! In between shows I went to Blue Mountain Coffee with Daniel for lunch, and then pretty much slept in between shows.

Thursday turned out to be a fairly frustrating day, because I began to work on my post-ASC blog site, which I hope to move to my own server space. If you want, you can preview it here. Nothing much is there yet, and I don't plan to have it go live until late June. But the frustrating part came when I tried to activate a spam blocker and also to figure out some CSS coding to place a picture in the header. I am going to try to use Wordpress, which is a self-contained blogging system you install on your own server. It uses MySQL and pHp languages, and is pretty powerful. But I don't know as much CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as I should, so I got a bit frustrating trying to translate the code and insert the picture I wanted. After about 4 hours in the morning fussing with the thing, my right thumb became sore, so I gave up and went out for a bikeride, and then treated myself to a sandwich at the NY Deli in town (they specialize in making NY-style deli sandwiches, piled high with meat, and all with a NY Yankees theme). After a shower I got ready for last night's Planet which was pretty good. There was another funny moment in the play with Tyler. One of Tyler's lines is "No shit!", and we've been playing that up where, after he says it, he apologizes to the audience, usually to some little kids in the audience. There have been numerous funny moments with that, but last night someone in the audience actually said "Sorry" before he could, which broke everyone. Greg when downstage and offered the young lady a job, and Tyler could barely recover. There was another little girl on the stools stage left, and during the "trial of Cookie," there must have been another moment with her, but I am offstage then, so I don't quite know what happened (check Tyler's blog, he'll probably have all this in). Q&A followed (I still dislike them), and then home. I've been getting to bed before midnight these days, trying to be able to get up early and get the day going, such as it is.

It occurs to me in writing this that I have no real news about anyone else in the troupe other than what happens backstage. The backstage chatter tends to be innocuous enough. But I don't see everyone most of the time other than at the theatre or social gatherings at 605. When I get home I tend to go into my room, have a cup of tea or a spritzer, check a few things out on the web, catch the end of a ball game, and go to bed. The basketball playoffs are still going on, and sometimes I wander upstairs to catch a little of the action, but basketball is still not my game. Of course, many in the troupe are still pondering their next move. Kevin has his half-brother in town, and more of his family is coming in soon. Several are still trying to set up auditions. As for me, I am still trying to work out my own future of sorts. I did turn down The Birthday Party, because it simply didn't pay to tie up my entire winter break with such a small role for such little money, but I have yet to decide about Forum. I have downloaded the two songs which Senex sings, and talked to Chris about it, who played Pseudolus in college (his signature role) and really knows the show. The money is actually good, but I still don't know whether or not I want to tie up all that time and be cooped up in a theatre again. Because of having to direct the opera at Fredonia that would mean I'd be committed to a production the entire fall, up to Thanksgiving.

The more I think about that and write about that, the less inviting it sounds. I think it's indicative of the changes I've been going through lately in terms of my attitudes towards theatre. Has this gig with the ASC burned me out totally? Or is it just the natural process of aging, that feeling that you've gone so far and there's little point in going further? And yet, there remains the small, shrill but still audible voice of the actor, which can never refuse a part. In this business, sometimes you develop a real fear that if you turn a role down, you'll never get another one. I hate saying "no" to people I like and enjoy working with. It remains to me a constant source of amazement that your life continues to change no matter what transpires. As I was taking my bike ride yesterday I went past one of those church roadsigns, and while I don't recall the exact quote, I do remember it being something about following the changes in your life. I've been trying to be attentive to signs and omens like this over the past few weeks. Does wanting to see a sunset mean that I look forward to a "new day, a new time?" Is it time to become that "morning person" I've always talked about wanting to be? -TWL

Monday, May 22, 2006

No Man's Land - 5/22/06

Staunton VA - OK, I'll admit it - I haven't felt much like blogging over the past week. I sort of feel as if I'm in this no man's land; with three weeks to go it's hard to fend off the feeling that the gig is up. The days have become rather repetitive and routine. It feels as if there really isn't anything to look forward to except the end of the contract and what comes after that. We're playing the shows with the same energy and commitment, but it's no secret that everyone can see the end coming. It's sort of the same feeling I get when I sense the end of a semester coming, but not exactly. I think the difference lies in the fact that, even with the semester ending, each day brings with it something a little new. whether in the classroom or in rehearsal. Here, the only thing different might be which play you're doing on a given day, but it's still one of three plays you've now done about 50 times each. Each audience is new, and of course that's what you always have to remember. That's what being professional is all about.

As always, I am tired by week's end. I've tried to employ different strategies, but no matter how much rest I try to get or energy I may try to conserve, I still find myself somewhat wiped out by week's end. I would love to be able to play volleyball on Mondays with the company, but I find I can't risk adding more physical exertion to my week. So I tend to take it slow on Mondays and get some exercise on Tuesdays to have a reserve of strength beginning Wednesdays. And then off to the races one more time.

So - what's the news? Well, last weekend I was up in New York City to take care of some personal business, and brought Olivia up there so she could do a few auditions. I also went over to Tyler's apartment in Manhattan to get his TV for him. He is moving out of his NYC place because he's joining up with the next tour and all his other roommates are also moving out. It turns out he lives one building away from where my mother used to live with my grandmother while she was going to college, on 141st. St. I was born three blocks away, on 144th St. I went by both buildings, but unfortunately did not have my camera with me. The building on 144th had a very, very mysterious aura about it - so dimly familiar to me. I had no means to get in, but recollections of playing with a slinky down the hallway stairs, a long corridor leading to rooms off the side and one large room and a kitchen at the end (which is the configuration of Tyler's place), the front courtyard - it all had an echo in the back of my head. I took a quick walk up to City College, where my father got his bachelor's and Master's degrees, and also was an assistant wrestling coach for a time. He would take me there on occasion after we had moved to Long Island, and that also had a strong resonance with me. The Jewish deli where we used to get hot dogs after a Saturday's practice is now a Spanish bodega. It was a stroll down memory lane, a time 45 years ago when the neighborhood was filled with small neighborhood businesses. It's still an Hispanic area, and I went to a restaurant called Gundy's and had a bowl of mondongo (beef tripe soup) and tostones (fried bananas) and practiced my Spanish. The soup was good, as were the tostones. I got along OK with the Spanish, but they had some trouble with my credit card, and since I began talking in Spanish they explained the problem to me in Spanish. I understood what they were saying, but I lack sufficient skill to converse fluently in return. But we got it all straightened out OK in the end. Then back to Staunton with Tyler's TV and Olivia for last week's shows.

There was a very cute incident during a performance of Planet this past week, but since Tyler has already blogged it and was onstage when it happened (I have committed "galactic suicide" by this time in the play), you should read his account of it. This little girl was enjoying the play the whole time; it's worth reading. The Q&As this week have sort of irritated me a bit. I never say much at all during them unless directly asked something, because there's just too much competition by everyone else to answer questions. An audience member asks a question, and by the time seven people on stage have answered it and taken 9 or more minutes to do so, very few other members of the audience get to ask questions, and it's hard to ascertain if the question was ever even answered in the first place. We also have begun to do put-in rehearsals for the time when Sarah attends a wedding and will not be here for a performance of R3. It doesn't affect me much at all. Jessica will play Lady Anne and there are some other role shufflings going on. We should finish the process this week. One wild thing did happen: Sarah's friends, who were on this season's episodes of Amazing Race, actually won it! They were a team of two, and they won a million dollars, which comes out to $600,000 after taxes, split two ways. We all tried to talk Sarah and her brother Ben, who was visiting her, to drive all the way to NYC for the celebratory party, but they didn't go. Sarah's brother Bill, who was there, came down from the party and gave us all a report. Bill says they are now in there 16th minute of fame, which is of course nothing, and we both thought a movie entitled The 16th Minute would be an interesting idea for a movie.

As for me, I got offered two parts back in Buffalo over the week. One is the role of Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and the other is Petey in Pinter's The Birthday Party. I am actually having a hard time deciding what to do with these offers. I probably will turn down Petey, since I doubt I can make any money off the offer, but in doing the financial calculations it appears acting in Buffalo anymore might be prohibitively expensive. But two offers in one week; I had thought the year down here would mean I would disappear from the Buffalo radar a bit. Apparently not so - it's casting season there, and if I took both roles, combined with my directing responsibilities in Fredonia I'd be busy from late August until the first week in March. Do I want to be that busy? Something to ponder on. And so I leave you. -TWL

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

Week 47 - 5/12/06

Staunton VA - All of a sudden there seems to be so much to do, and unfortunately most of it keeps me chained to my desk and computer. I've been spending my time trying to get all my photos and movies organized, so I can prepare the troupe's DVD and scrapbook. I started on Yahoo and moved to Flickr and now find I have to re-cation a lot of stuff. O memory, how cruel and fickle thou art!

In the meantime, here's a rundown of the past week's events. Sunday we did the two Planets, and the second one, which was a benefit performance for the Augusta Medical Center's new hospice facility, was probably the best Planet we've ever done. Not only was it a good show, but it raised $33,000 in pledges for a good cause. There was one young boy sitting on one of the stage left stools whose leukemia had gone into remission, and he had a rollicking good time. And after all the Willard Scott/Al Roker jokes that flew around in the dressing room, the report is that he was quite good, very funny. I did not pay attention to him because I was down in the dressing room and just wasn't listening to the monitors, but even Tyler said he was funny, so there you have it. Ralph went before him and gave a pretty good "Shakespeare weather report" to warm up the crowd. So i went home tired, but feeling good about the evening overall. For a cause like that I'd do a double-show day anytime.

The "weekend" of Monday/Tuesday saw some pretty rotten weather. Monday night was a planned "Ochco de Mayo" celebration (since on the cinco we had shows), so I went out in search of some cheese. There is a Mennonite cheese shop in the area, as well as a Trappist convent of nuns who make gouda. I found the convent and got a wheel of gouda, which was sensational. I also squeezed in a hike up at Shenandoah National Park along the Doyle River Trail. Very scenic. I splurged on a new walking stick for its varnish finish. The party was pretty good. Daniel and Andrew slaved over a hot stove and coals and turned out some steak fajitas, BBQ shrimp, and a spicy fish chowder. They were making some rather strong margeritas, but I stayed away from that stuff. There is nothing on earth as bad as a tequila hangover - I know! Tuesday I began the organization of pictures and movies, and posted some of the last movies on my movie web site. I did not realize how messy the Flickr pictures were. I tried to create a set with the Complete Tour, and though I could create it, it is hard to manage because there are over 2,000 pictures in the set. So I've gone back to editing the months, and hopefully that will translate to the complete set, which I can have printed and backed up on DVD. I also did some shopping, and in the evening went down to Marino's for their Tuesday bluegrass night. I brought my spoons and jammed out with the group, and Daniel played his concertina and got in a version of "Johnny Come Lately," which is a song we're doing for the Much Ado interlude. Sarah found a five-string guitar in the bar and joined in as well when she could.

Wednesday we had a matinee of Much Ado for a full house of students. After the show, Chris was supposed to do a tour, but it turned out that one school with 60 kids had asked for the tour and no one told us. So Chris called me up and I got Tyler to go with me to help out with three tour shifts. Then a nap and R3 in the evening. Yesterday during the day I went to see Mission Impossible 3 with Tyler up in Harrisonburg. Not a bad movie - I like action movies and the MI-3 idea. Pretty good cast too for the picture. X-Men is coming out next weekend, trying to get a jump on the summer movie season. And Planet last night. And you're up to date.

I'm going to leave it there for now, as I really have to hunker down on these pictures and such. I know I'm forgetting something, but that's a patter that's been developing over the past few days. I plan to take things with me, like my plug for my computer, and leave them on the desk or dresser. Right now in my dressing room locker are my sweatshirt and my jacket, which I could use at the moment. So hopefully I'll remember what I forgot and add it later. Ciao! -TWL

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cruise Control - 5/7/06

Staunton VA - Well, here it is, Sunday morning, and I've got a little classical music on the XM going, as well as a cup of fresh-pressed coffee. This weekend we have five shows over 51 hours, from Friday night through Sunday night. The extra performance this week is a benefit performance of Planet for a local hospice group featuring an introduction by Willard Scott. So it's a busy weekend, but I find spending some time writing in the blog is actually relaxing and takes my mind a little off the work.

Events of the week are as follows: Wed. morning we had a matinee of middle-school children. There were some of the kinds of reactions you'd expect, but I think they had a good time. We then had Planet, Much Ado, and Planet over the next three successive nights. The Much Ado felt a little stale to me, but the two Planets seemed OK. The music is really settling into a nice place in terms of dynamics. And audiences continue to dig it - the dancing in the seats at the end still gets me every time. We only have one performance of R3 this week, which we did yesterday afternoon. Then another MA, followed by today's two Planets.

The shows themselves are pretty much on cruise control. We have them at a pretty good place, and we basically come in and get them done. Of course, this can as much be a trap as a good thing, and I think I got a taste of this on Thursday's Much Ado. The gulling scene seemed off, and I don't know if we are judging it by audience reaction or how we're executing the scene. Audiences on the road, which generally skewed a bit younger than at Blackfriars, really had large reactions to the gulling scene, but in the Blackfriars it has been a bit more subdued. It might be the scene is exactly the way we've always done it, but the reactions of the audience has changed a bit. I think we have to adjust to this and not have too many expectations going into the scene. I find myself that when I do my "bad actor" bit as Leonato, sometimes I am waiting for a certain reaction rather than just executing the action. But this is one of the challenges about long runs, the attempt to keep everything fresh. I have discovered in the past few days I am losing the ability to surprise myself on stage, as my head seems to be clogged up with anticipation. It's partly fatigue, partly boredom, partly the curse of routine. It can't be denied that, after a while, a long run can become as repetitious a job as assembly line work. Now, doing that well means the audience cannot know that's the case, but I think the only way to guard against that feeling coming on stage with you means you at least have to recognize it exists. I think once I actually walk through that curtain I am present and ready on stage, but I need to take that five seconds beforehand to get in the right place. Cruise control is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you stay alert, and shows have to be repeated so that everyone is on the right page. Staying alive and alert while on that stage is the key, of course, and I think the best tool I have found for getting that done is listening.

With only one school performance this past week, the daytime schedule was pretty open. So on Thursday I finally got to make my pilgrimage to the Cedar Creek Battlefield up in Middletown, VA. It's about a 75-minute drive down the valley, close to the area where Interstates 81 and 66 converge. I have an interest in that particular battle, because the subject of my one-person show, J. Herbert George, Principal Musician 10th Vermont, participated in that battle. The battle is a famous one because it represents the final defeat of the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley and is cited as one of the reasons the election of 1864 swung to Lincoln. Confederate General Jubal Early had launched a successful sneak attack on Federal forces camped in the area, and had succeeded in routing the enemy, but regrettably chose to halt his advance of the Federals and re-group. This gave time for General Phil Sheridan to dash back from Winchester VA (he was heading to a meeting in Washington DC), rouse the Federal forces, re-organized his troops and counterattack. His charge routed the CSA forces in return, and Early was forced to take his troops back up the valley to Fisher's Hill, having lost too many men and equipment to ever become an effective military force in the area again. The war would be over six months later.

I went to the battlefield and first stopped at the Visitor's Center. They re-enact this battle every year on the weekend closest to October 19th, and the visitor's center is across from the open part of the field. The battle itself covered a large area of ground, and much of where the battle took place is actually private property, but a large open area between the visitor's center on the east and Belle Grove Mansion on the west is where the re-enactment takes place. I got a very well-written guide book, which takes you on an auto tour through the area and points out in chronological order the progress of the battle. I concentrated on the area where the 10th Vermont would have been, which was about half the tour. I took a bunch of pictures as well. I also took a tour of Belle Grove Mansion, which was General Sheridan's HQ in the valley and saw a good deal of the fighting. You can follow my tour a little bit through the picture here as well as following the online version of the guidebook here (I started at Stop 8). It was a great experience. Whenever I do these battlefield visits, I can always feel the events inside me, with that sense of being connected to the lives and deaths of the soldiers who once fought here. This particular battle is rightly famous for its tactics and its displays of courage on both sides. It raged from 4:00 in the morning until 7:00 that night, close to 15 hours. There were several significant actions in the battle, most notably the Second Division of the Third Brigade, Sixth Corp of the Federal forces, who held off Early's charge for over an hour with significantly less forces on a hill which is now a cemetery. My man Herbie was probably located with the supply chains and hospital, as musicians also served as nurses, and was thus probably stationed rearward, but no doubt he saw much of the action as it unfolded before him. Anyway, it was a good visit, one I had been wanting to make for a long time.

Friday was nothing but a lazy day, with everything done on the spur of the moment. I went to Lowe's in the morning to get a screen for my broken window, as it appears the landlord isn't going to do anything about fixing it while I am here. On an impulse I was going to go up to Sherando Lake to explore the area, but as I was driving I changed my mind and headed for Crozet, to try to find a convent of Cistercian nuns who apparently make a very good gouda cheese in the French fashion. I did not find them, but I did find an awesome whole foods store, a nice-looking Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, other places to eat, and a back road to the Charlottesville reservoir and a trail leading into the back country of Shenandoah National Park. I later found the trail on a park map, but no indication of the type of trail it is. I have an urge to do some backcountry camping in the park, but they don't allow campfires in the backcountry (WTF?), and Ann Marie says I can't spend any money to buy a tent. So I may have to settle for a hike this coming "weekend," although the weather does not look promising.

Some more illness is starting to creep back into the troupe: Chris has been battling laryngitis all week, and Kevin seemed a bit hoarse last night. Let's hope this doesn't spread too far. Still five weeks to go! -TWL

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Daze Off - 5/02/06

Staunton VA - It's been a good two days off, and there's really nothing to write about except the time off. The only thing I've had scheduled since Sunday evening has been an 11:00 AM tour today, but as no one showed up for the tour, I've essentially had a good chunk of time off with not too much to do. I think it's been the largest chunk of time off where I just stayed in Staunton and relaxed.

The only thing remarkable about Sunday's matinee was the presence of a little girl sitting with her family on the stage left Lord's Chairs. She was so quiet and attentive, couldn't have been more than 4 or so. During the interlude she came out on the stage while we did our musical numbers, and at the end of the play, as I was striking some stuff from backstage, I saw her still there. I couldn't resist going out and congratulating her for being such a great audience member. It was her first play, her parents said, and she really wanted to meet Hero, although she was too shy to talk to me. So I got Olivia out from the dressing room and she went out to say hello. Very sweet.

For the life of me I can't remember what I did Sunday evening beyond coming home and sleeping. The Sunday night baseball game didn't interest me, I know that. I truly can't seem to remember. Usually a performance of Much Ado leaves me little energy for much else. Oh wait - now I remember!! Duh!! We had a poker night at 605. Jake, Susan, Matt and Rene from the Rez troupe came over to play with Tyler, Olivia and me. It was a pretty fun night. Matt went out early, and the rest of the players hung on for quite some time. Lots of laughs. Jake is one of the new members of the Rez troupe (he's an American Indian and he's given me a new Indian name: Sky Mirror. Think about it.), and he tried a Jacks-or-better-Trips-to-win session, and it went outrageously bad. The game went on for 20 minutes with no winner, and I kept shuffling the cards all that time. Finally, after all that time, Olivia and Jake decided to split the pot that was in there and call it quits. Tyler - that lucky bastard - got to win back his money in that game under some rather suspect conditions (I suspect that in the 1870s he would have had to have been pretty quick on the draw) and then went on a win streak. I ended up losing about $4 out of five, so that's a good night for me. Rene took me out on a pretty good hand, and I went downhill from there. But it's hard not to have fun playing poker. The game finished at a good hour - midnight - and THEN I went to bed.

Monday was a hiking day with my hiking buddy Jessica. She had scouted out a trail at the Todd Lake Recreation Area in the George Washington National Forest, which is only about 25 miles from here. We intended to do the Trimble Mountain Trail, but we had some difficulty getting there due to the paucity of directions. The first time we tried to drive up there, one of the roads ended up being a logging road, so we had to turn back and go in from a different direction. Once we got up to the campground, we had an even more difficult time finding the trailhead. We had no map, since the US Forest Service does not have any maps on their websites. The information said only that the trailhead was "near the campground." Well, we walked about the area for at least 90 minutes, covering about 3.3 miles before we finally found the trailhead. Turned out the Todd Lake Trail and the Trimble Mountain Trail shared the same trailhead, but only Todd Lake was labeled. It was also hard to find any trail markers. So by the time we found the correct trail, we'd already put in over 3 miles. But we sucked it up and determined to do the Trimble Mountain trail, another 4 miles, and it was pretty worth it. The trail offered some spectacular views both of the Alleghany Mountains to the west and the Blue Ridge off to the east. It was a ridge trail, following deer tracks, which meant it was narrow and steep. The nice thing about it was it is a circuit trail, so no backtracking. By the time we finished the trail Jessica had a bit of a heel blister from her combat boots. All in all we walked a bit over 7 miles. On the way back we drove some scenic roads for some more great views. The greens around here are really something else, and in the forest the way the light comes through those different shades of green is nothing short of spectacular. Everything is just about in full bloom down here, and the lightness of the leaves in the forest interior and along the mountainsides really looks lovely. Our drive took us to the Natural Chimneys , another natural site similar to the Natural Bridge. I did not know this, but the park surrounding the chimneys hosts the largest jousting tournament in the nation. I got to see the jousting ring, which was pretty nice, although I think the one at the Renaissance Faire in Sterling NY is larger.

After a shower and a nap of sorts, all of Atomic Fission that was in town went to John Michael Shott's house for a dinner party. His housemate, Jenner, is a costume designer at James Madison University, and prepared some outrageously good food. I don't know why this is, but I have never met a costume designer who wasn't an outstanding cook. John Michael has been a house manager for the ASC, and has recently been promoted to Director of Tour Operations, so he'll be the one managing the Tragical Mirth's tour next season and beyond. It was very kind of him to open his house to us. He has a spectacular location for sunsets, and last night's was of high quality. We had a fabulous meal, some tea, and a fire in the firepit. Although I was having a good time I left a little early to be able to bowl one game over at Staunton Lanes (lest you have forgotten from last summer, Monday is dollar bowling night and is a tradition with ASC actors). Obviously I brought some good luck with me, but not for my game. Rez troupe actor Sarah Fallon (Miss Texas) bowled something like a 174 in her last game when I got there. That's pretty awesome! I think the only person who bowls better than her is Chris Seiler, who holds the record somewhere around 235 or so. She looks like she has no idea what she's doing, but she had a triple in the game and several spares. Amazing. So Monday was a pretty active day off.

Today was a much more mellow day. I went downtown to the ASC office and paid off the poster I had made up for my dad of Planet, then basically waited about until my tour was cancelled. I had ordered a refurbished Airport Base Station Extreme, so I picked that up on the way home, as well as getting a haircut and a cigar. I set the Airport network up, so now both houses have good coverage, since I linked up my Airport Express with the network. Then I got my car washed, did a little shopping, listened to the Indians/White Sox game, took a little nap, uploaded some new photos to my Flickr site (click on the sidebar to see them), watched Sarah try to feed her duck again (this duck arrived in the back yard yesterday for no reason, and Sarah has been trying to get her to eat out of her hand), and got set to watch the Yankees/Red Sox game. I discovered that offers a month-by-month subscription to watch baseball games on the web, so I bought a month's worth ($15) and was hoping to watch the game, having missed Monday night's contest. Unfortunately the game was rained out in Boston, so I settled for Blue Jays/Orioles. I wish the picture screen wasn't so small and surrounded by so much other stuff, but it's not too bad. This is going to be a bad thing to have in the dressing room!

And that brings you up to date on my two days off. Tomorrow we start off with a matinee, like every Wednesday, but I think there are no added matinees this week. We do have an added performance Sunday evening, a benefit for a local hospice, with Willard Scott as guest host. So another 8-show week. But after two good days off I feel far more prepared to tackle it. Only six weeks left! -TWL