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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

House Work

Among the gifts we gave were a ping-pong table to the twins. It was mostly Michael's, but both will use it.

Which means we now have mondo incentive to (finally!) get that basement in order. My goal -- before the end of January (when we're hosting a Super Bowl party) -- is to get the basement decrappified, get two new circuits wired into the breaker box, and to wire one of those circuits into the overhead lights (so we'll actually be able to see to play). When the basement is decrappified, we'll then have a foosball table, a dartboard, and the ping-pong table to play on. Not bad.

Then, of course, comes the big job of actually finishing the basement...but once it's decrappified, that will be easier (and it will be more fun, too).

It's a win-win proposition, all in all.


You know, call me a fool, call me a cockeyed optimist, flatten my feet and call me 'copper'....but I love Christmas.

I love the music, and the paper, and the cheesy decorations, and and and....all of it.

Mine was nice -- spent Saturday with my sister and her family; opened gifts with my family on Saturday night (Sunday morning) before going to bed; spent Sunday with my wife's family. Nice times, all of it.

Of course, if I never hear "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" again, my life will be fine....but otherwise, the holidays were beautimous.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

There's Always An Other Hand

I did have a really good day at work yesterday. I stayed focused, and was monumentally productive, creating some new, original, and pretty darned cool stuff.

It does feel good to be productive -- maybe I have that old Puritan work ethic neurosis, but still, it felt (and feels) good. I'm looking forward to a similarly productive day today.

Even though I'm the director of the department, due to space considerations I share my office with one of my employees. He's (thank God) a really terrific guy, but still, it gets annoying, sometimes, having to share my space. He's been on vacation all week, though, so I've had the space to myself. It's been good for me -- productivity-and-serenity-wise.

My shopping is all done -- I do need to take my son out tonight, though, so he can buy something for his sister. He's such a guy -- his preference would be that I just go pick out something, pay for it, wrap it, and let him write his name on it. Such a guy. I'm making him go with me, though -- I'll surely end up paying for whatever he gets, but at least he'll be in the process.


It's getting to be Christmas time.

That just may not be a flash in anyone's news pan, but still, it's getting to be Christmas time.

Which means both of my choirs are gearing up for the big day of music.

Which means I rehearsed last night for 3 1/2 hours straight.

Which means my voice hurts bad. I mean really bad. I mean like a band of barbed wire around my throat, slowly tightening.

This depresses me. Why can't I just sing like I used to? I've really been trying to take care of my voice for quite a while now, yet I sound like crap and it hurts a lot. I see all these other people, smoking, drinking, singing without warmups and yelling and doing all these horrible things to their voices, and they're fine.

Singing is about the only thing I used to think I was good at....and now that's been taken away from me.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Time for Me

Actually, following the previous thought, I really need to find a way to clear up some of my life. It is my life, after all.

Among my responsibilities are two choirs, theatre board, theatre technical direction (including all set design and construction), play reading committee (which involves reading about 20 plays (usually this is a springtime push)), theatre program preparation (for three shows), theatre marketing committee, boy scout video preparation (three times a year), boy scout high adventure committee, ushering, projector operation (about once a month), directing and producing the Christmas pageant..... all these (and, really, a host of other smaller tasks that I didn't list) are in addition to trying to keep a house, and be a dad, and take care of my cars, so forth.

So when do I have the time to continue my hiking goals (last year, I walked the complete (60ish miles) Metropark system -- next year, I want to begin the Buckey Trail (Cleveland to Cincinnatti (250 miles)); and when do I have time to finish re-writing my novel; and when do I have time to work with my scroll saw, or practice my guitar, or actually perform in any shows, or finish my basement and remodel my kitchen? All these are things that I consciously chose to put aside while I did stuff for everybody else this year.

It's too much....especially when you consider that a lot of the items are not tasks I enjoy -- I'm simply doing them to be helpful.

So. Next year....I am committing right now to drop some of these things. I'm definitely going to drop at least one commitment from the theatre, and from the scouts, and from church. At least one from each. I don't mind being busy (it's pretty much who I am, I think), but I want to be more busy doing things for me. Doesn't seem too much to ask, does it?


Last weekend marked the last of the major tasks/responsibilities/promises I was trying to get done. The Christmas pageant (that I, um, wrote, directed, and played a major role in) went off on Sunday hitchlessly -- in fact (dare I (humbly) boast?) it was darned good.

For a Christmas pageant, mind you. It may not go into anyone's annals of great (or even good) entertainment -- it was not the opening of "Oklahoma!" or the denouement of "Hamlet" or even the premiere of "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'" (and I really can't believe I just referenced the King of Weird Pop) -- but it accomplished its goal.

I had one little old couple -- easily in their 80's -- come up and tell me it was the best they'd ever seen (and the wife winked, adding "...and we've seen a lot of them!").

So. I still have some software to finish and other folderol to deal with, but the crush is now completely and utterly over....and it all came out all right.

I am going to set some New Year's goals, however. I just can't let myself get into such a crush again.

Dat soon?

I cannot believe that Christmas is coming this weekend. The feeling is not so much a "man, time passes so quickly now that I'm oooooold" feeling as a "Christmas is 5 days away, and I still don't have all the decorations up? What am I waiting for -- Easter?" feeling.

Still, I largely don't care. Christmas (Warning! Warning! Sappy Sentiment Alert!) is a time for family, and I can't wait to spend the time with mine. Decorations schmecorations (to coin a (really sloppy) phrase).

My shopping is done (save for one or two minor stocking-stuffer type items)....and I even have about half of 'em wrapped.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Because I'm eeeeeasy....

Easy night last night. Put up some more Christmas decorations; did a little housework; so forth...

Mackenzie is running for Student Council president, and I'm so proud of her. Not only that she has the chalupas to put herself out there, but she genuinely wants to serve....and she's showing real leadership, too. She's already taken on the teacher/adviser about the voting process. She has real ideas about how to make the voting more fair, and I'm impressed she's gutsy enough to confront the adviser(s) about them.

I helped her put together some (pretty darned nice, actually) posters last night. Today she unveils her "campaign". To me, win or lose, just taking part in the process will be a real growth and learning experience for her.

Of course, in the real world, Student Council has about as much chance to effect change as do the Spiders from Mars, but that's (very much) beside the point. Wanting (and striving) to serve in a leadership position is the point, and she makes me proud.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Makin' up for lost time

The (stupid) responsibilities of (my) life have slowed down (a bit), and since I felt more like a human (and less like a germ-nuked washrag) yesterday, I finally got a chance to do some Christmas decorating.

The tree be up!

Be beautimous, too.

Not sure why I'm suddenly talkin' like the cajun chef, but it works for me, so I'm leavin' it.

I'll get up (most of) the rest of it tonight. I love Christmas decorations and Christmas music and all the me a cretin, I love it.


One of the reviews for "The Foreigner" spent a whole paragraph admiring my set (which really rarely happens in a review), mentioning me by name and saying how lucky they were to be working with me.

I take it as just so much window dressing, but it was cool nonetheless.


The hunting was great, though.

I'm not really much of a hunter (I'm a terrible shot), so generally speaking, my only hope is to make enough noise with my gun to cause a heart attack in the critter. That really hasn't worked yet, but one can live on hope, can't one? And frankly, the fresh air and walking in the woods is far more important to me than the actual hunt, anyway.

Ah, but on Friday.....early in the morning while rabbit hunting, the 40 mph winds were bitter, and I was pretty darn cold. We saw nothin' -- no self-respecting bunny was going to be hopping about in such conditions. Around noon, a few of my buddies and I decided to go pheasant hunting instead.

Now, pheasant hunting is hard -- much harder than rabbit hunting -- so I knew I didn't have a chance....but any excuse to be in the fresh air is worth it.


My Elmer Fudd certificate juuust might be gone. I got two -- 2! -- pheasants.

Doin' the bull dance; feelin' the flow.


Well, it was probably inevitable.

I went down to the cabin last weekend -- did some hunting on Friday. Drove home Friday night, because I had to direct the Sunday School Christmas Pageant rehearsal (and play the lead role in it (sheesh, I'm a maroon)). Well, during the drive home, my minor headache escalated into a massive brain-melter...and when I got up Saturday morning, I thought I was dying.

I was dizzy, my hands were shaking, I ached all over, I had a difficult time focusing my eyes....I had caught a pretty nasty flu. But I had to do the rehearsal -- it all depended on me.

So I sucked it up, and drove myself hard on pure adrenaline. I think it went fine -- I don't suspect anyone there had any idea I was as sick as I was -- but I spent everything I had. When I got home a little after noon, I went right to bed....and didn't get up until 9:00 Sunday morning.

I really never sleep like that -- I doubt that I ever spent that much time in bed. Ever. But I couldn't move.

Sunday I slowly felt better, but even yesterday I was feeling it. Today, too, a little -- if I bend over, I feel dizzy and my wee noggin barks...but at least I'm at work and managing some semblance of productivity.

Sick sucks.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Well, my review didn't make the paper. Kinda ticks me off (for a couple of reasons (as pre-mentioned)). I really wasn't given the real length parameters (although, to be fair, she probably didn't expect me to provide "War And Piece (of my mind)", either).

Anyway, the show I reviewed runs for a couple more weeks, so (I assume (?)) it'll run next week.

They did review the show I've been working on, which is nice (and the review was very complimentary (which is more than I can for my shoes and belt)) -- but from the viewpoint of a (fledgling) reviewer, his review also ticked me off. First of all, his review was given way more space than she said I would be given -- for the good of our show, I'm glad about that, mind you -- and he spent at least half the review simply quoting things from our program (which, I might add, I wrote). What a lazy review.

And shouldn't I get paid, then, for doing (most of) his work for him?

I knew this would be a learning experience (and, um, yep -- I'm learnin')!

Gettin' outa here

I'm taking tomorrow off, and taking a long weekend to get the heck out of Dodge (or whatever this city is that really ought to be Dodge).

I'm going right from work tonight to a cabin in southern Ohio....where I will get some fresh air, some peace, and maybe have a beer or 7. Or 27. Maybe a shot or 7, also. Something about snowy days with bourbon that is floating the Tedboat right about now.

I might terrorize the occasional wabbit, as well, although most rodentia feel pretty safe in my presence, sad to say. Still, that's hardly the point -- peace and air are the real draw.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


We've already had two (two, I tell you!) slam-em storms (and it's only early December), and the third (which promises to be the worst so far) is falling as I type this.

Last winter was the snowiest (and ickiest) in Cleveland history. I'm fondling my worry beads (and no, that ain't talkin' dirty) right now that this one doesn't try to match that one.

It took me 2 hours to drive home last Friday; it would be nice to make it home with something resembling timelinessiosity today.

I may have mentioned it before -- I'll most certainly mention it again -- but I hate Winter.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My First Review

I submitted my first feature under my new heading as "Theatre Reviewer" for the local rag. I thought it was pretty good, all in all.

I was afraid it might be a bit too long, but when I first met with the editor, I asked her -- twice! -- how long the reviews could/should be. She was evasive, and simply told me to make them "as long as they needed to be". So, given the size of the cast and the unusual structure of this show, I sent her almost 1100 words.

She then tells me today that it is WAY too long, and that it may not make the edition. She probably needs roughly 600 words, tops. Sheesh -- mighta been nice to know that up front. I looked at one of her previous reviews, and it's probably 1500 words or more.

I re-edited it to exactly 600 words and sent it, but I don't know if it's too late.

Ah, well, live and learn. I just hope I didn't tick her off or look like a fool.


Last night was the 7th and 8th grade choir's Christmas Concert.

Never believe that it's not painful to be a parent.

Seriously, they sounded pretty good, all in all. It is amazing, though, how much better the girls sound than the boys -- puberty really raises heck with the voice, I'm thinkin'.

I also had a beer (or three) watching Monday Night Football. Having the occasional quintessential guy night out ain't a bad thing, either.

Too bad the Eagle, due to their almost unfathomable ineptitude, caused me (yet another) fantasy football loss. I can't wait until the fantasy football season is over. I'm quitting the hobby after this -- gonna take up Mah Johngg, or denuding rabbits, or anything! else instead.

Monday, December 05, 2005


The show opened this weekend, to (moderate) success. It's pretty funny (which is a good thing for a comedy), but I think it should be/could be FUNNY!!!, so I'm (moderately) disappointed in that. It's not overtly bad -- in fact it's pretty good -- it's just that it could have been so much better.

Still, my work on it is done, and that's a good thing indeed.

The videos went off yesterday without a hitch (despite the hitchiness of making the final copies on Saturday).

Now all I have to do is find the time to put up the stupid tree and decorations and stuff.

I missed out on my scheduled collapse yesterday, too -- so I need to find the time to fit that in as well.

Skin of Leather, Soul of Ice (I need 'em)

Well, I wrote my first review this weekend. It was a very tough gig.

For one thing, the show was a musical review (a form I (generally) don't care for). In addition, it was conceived and written by the director -- and I didn't much care for the script (or the direction).

I thought the performers were, for the most part, good-to-excellent. I just think the script and direction didn't do them many favors. Yet under the aegis of being kind to local amateurs, I didn't want to slam the script itself.

Nor did I want to lie.

So, I found (and played up) the many good points, and consciously downplayed the weaknesses (while still mentioning them).

Since I do work in community theatre myself, I'm now sitting here hoping I won't be making too too many enemies....

Friday, December 02, 2005

I did it!

I did it.

I did it I did it I did it!

The theatre programs are done. I probably put in 35 - 40 hours on the stupid thing, but it's done.

The set is done (did the final touches on Tuesday).

I set up our new sound system, and built pre-show, intermission, and curtain-call music sets.

The scout videos are done. Had some rough problems getting the (stupid) software to burn the (stupid) things. Stupid it was. Finally got 'em burned, though, and check! -- they're off my list. I had to reburn one, though -- the boys supply me with the music they want for background....and one of the boys gave me one with lyrics peppered with the word "sh!t". Geez -- what was he thinking? Cursing in a Boy Scout video (intended for family viewing) is probably not the best choice. But I cleaned up the music, and re-rendered the video, and that's another task done. I easily put in 30 hours on these -- probably more like 50. Should not have been this big a deal, but computers are stupid.

The High Adventure invitations have been prepared and sent out. Check.

In addition to all the other tasks I (foolishly) took on and already completed, this is a huge load off my mind. Done done done.

I was thinking about it last night -- I have not had one single day -- including weekends -- in which I didn't spend several hours on this stuff since at least late August. There has not been a single night in which I simply came home from work, had dinner, watched a little TV or read a book, in months....but tonight I'm taking the family to see our show; and tomorrow I'm seeing the show I'm reviewing. Other than that, I ain't doin' no work this here weekend.

Unless, of course, you count massive Christmas shopping as work.