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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Deep and Profound Joy of Parenting

Last night, I had had a decently relaxing chill-out night, for a change ....although Michael had two friends over . Check that. Michael had two LOOOOUUUUUD friends over.

Which, of course, inspired Mackenzie to have Jackie over. Which ended up with two more scary-looking boys over, hanging with Kenz and Jackie.

So, while it was nice not to go to the damn theatre or baseball or anything, the image of a quiet restful respite of a night is not quite accurate.....

At 1:30 last night, Michael and his two genius friends decide to go out. Mind you, the curfew in Strongsville is 10:30. They're gonna have soooo much fun ringing doorbells, waking people up, and being obnoxious little punks.

At 2:00, they decided to head back home.....not realizing that the police had been called. When the police car came around, their lizard brains kicked in, and they split up and ran from the cops. The cops caught one of the boys, who at least had the common sense to tell them what was going on and to give them the names of the other two boys.

Jan had heard them leave, so was up and waiting to ream them when they got home. When she saw the police cruiser, and the policemen talking to a boy in it, she went out and talked to them. Imagine the joy at hearing they're looking for my son.

Michael, when he took off, found himself a good hiding spot. He intended to chill there for a few minutes 'til the cops left, then beat it home. He, Rhodes scholar that he is, didn't realize that, by now, FOUR cop cars had come and they were patrolling the neighborhood in their cruisers and on foot, looking for them. They had flashlights, and even night vision goggles. So there he sat -- in his satiny shorts (he really is the next Stephen Hawking) in the 38 degree air -- until 5:15 in the morning.

In the meantime, I went out looking for them, too, at about 2:15 (knowing what was going on by this point). I thought they might recognize my car and come to it, even if they wouldn't come to the police. So I had the inestimable joy of being out until 5:15, driving slowly, looking behind cars and bushes for my son. Also looking in the ditches for my son's body. How pleasant.

Eventually, he came home....and then we all got to listen to the policeman's lecture about how stupid it all was, and how many resources the city had just spent in finding them.....and to the fact that he may have to appear in juvenile court; and we may receive THREE tickets -- one for each boy -- for letting them out at night.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Technically Speaking

Our theatre is doing the original Bela Lugosi scripted "Dracula", and it's probably -- make that definitely -- the most technically challenging show we've ever done...besides multiple scene changes (and mind you, we have no wings or backstage area to store extra set pieces); there are lighting challenges; an intense and intricate sound design; and multiple special effects.

Guess who was the technical director for the show? I designed the set (and re-designed (and re-designed the redesign)); designed the sound; designed all the special effects; and (of course) built the damn thing.

It's pretty good, too, all in all. Act I is in a library, and it has a fireplace and large window and a couple of large bookcases, victorian architecture, so forth. In Act II, that scene becomes a young lady's boudoir, with dressing table and french doors and pictures. In Act III, it becomes the library again; and then (in less than a minute) transforms to Dracula's vault -- with vine-covered columns, and a coffin; gargoyles and stone walls and fog rolling across the stage floor.

The library has a special bookcase that swings open to reveal a hidden passage; in the boudoir, one of the pictures (of a pastoral scene with lakes and hills and swans) becomes transparent, and the actor playing Dracula can be seen behind it, threatening and ominous. A bat flies across the stage at one point, flapping its wings and chirping scarily. Dracula appears to walk through a wall, and at one point disappears from behind his cape. These effects all work pretty well.

The one effect that doesn't work so very well is the window bat. Two or three times in the show, a bat flies at a window and hovers there. I basically put together a bat on a stick; but unfortunately there's enough ambient light around that it really pretty much looks like a bat on a stick. Ah, well.....I did the best I could.

Here's the thing, though.....this was untold hours of engineering and design. I figure I spent, easily, 45 or 50 hours in design and drawing, and another 6 or 8 hours procuring all the things we'd need to get it built -- then the actual construction probably represents about 80 hours of my time; and maybe 300 man-hours total. And this cast of semi-talented line-dropping divas does not seem to appreciate it AT ALL. Exactly one member of the cast has so much as mentioned the job we've done for them, and that in passing.

Generally, I don't need the back-pats and such; generally I can derive my satisfaction from knowing that we did a pretty good job within our (many!) constraints. But it would be nice to hear at least an acknowledgement that we worked hard to give the actors a suitable venue to produce a good show.

Tempus she sure do fugit.

I last posted in August. Weather was warm (with a side of hot), school was out, and I was too busy to appreciate it.

It's now, oh, October. Weather is cool (with a taste of winter), the kids have to catch a 6:30 school bus, and I'm too busy to appreciate anything.

You know, in theory, as one ages, one learns.

When's that ship gonna sail on my sea?