Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And the rest

The part of Gilligan is going to go to another actor. No matter, I get to play The Alien (the outer space kind) instead. This way I have almost as much fun with a lot fewer lines to remember. Gilligan has not been cast yet, but a promising fellow tried out tonight. We have yet to meet Mary Ann or the Skipper. Mr Howell is being played by my high school drama teacher Ray Doherty. His wife is playing Lovey.

Tonight we started learning the songs, starting with the hardest one. Lots of harmonies and dialog in the middle of the songs. It will all sound good eventually but at this point it sounds like a bunch of people singing songs they don't know yet, i.e. it sounds bad.

Last weekend was the Colden Golden Gate renfaire, except it was a Tudor Faire really. That means that the ladies wear different hats mostly, and there is a Queen Jane, who gets dethroned and a Queen Mary who gets elected coronated throned made queen instead of a Queen Elizabeth. The coronation ceremony was something of a cluster fuck disorganized affair on Saturday, but Sunday was really pretty good. I took it upon myself to get up on the stage and yell project loudly out to the audience to remind them that they were about to witness the coronation of their new queen. That was fun. Nothing like improvisation at the top of your lungs.

The fair was socked in both days except for literally about thirty seconds of filtered sun on Sunday. This kept all the nobles (like me) from overheating in their heavy costumes. The park where the faire was held has grass instead of weedy dirt so it wasn't dusty either. After paying $15 to join the pub group I got to go into the pub garden and have ale at any time. They had a sign that said that if you are going to drink all day you actually have to start first thing in the morning. Good advice indeed. I was very comfortable all weekend.

The people show at faire is never ending and very diverse. I think I like the little kids the best; the ones to whom the whole thing is just an amazing awesome spectacle and they are at once afraid and excited to experience it all. That's pretty cool. I can do without the drunken louts that come up the queen's party who are obviously dining in character and ask, "Hey! What are you guys doing here!?" Um, duh. We're putting on a show you dork.

Faire takes a lot of time, but it's fun. In a couple of weeks, Casa faire opens. We are not sure how much we'll all be going.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Generic Haiku

First Five Syllables Here
Next Seven Syllables Here
Epiphany Here

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In which I relate the events of the past

Bad movie night was a success, especially because the movie was so freakin bad. There was random sound effects, fishes popping out here and there, nudity where it hardly made sense, and a bad plot I can hardly remember, something about zombies I think.

We had a great time getting drunk ready for the movie, (thanks for the gin Carl!) and a certain guest brought the weirdest host gift of all time, wait for it... mammogram films. Apparently these are the pictures that didn't turn out and they get held for a month and then pitched. So I was gifted a few of them, because I am apparently a boob man. (Shocking I know.) That wasn't enough embarrassment, so she dug out some nipple markers (see illustration) out of her purse, much to the stark amazement of all the guests. These are round nipple sized pieces of tape with a little metal ball, about 1 mm attached. They get stuck on the nipple for the mammogram so the radiologist can determine the location of the nipple in the radiograph. There was much laughter about all of this, with one male guest covering his nipples with his hands and saying softly, "I'm invisible". Dude, you crack me up.

Seriously, mammograms are a good thing, even if as Danielle put it, "it's like having your boob slammed in the refrigerator door". I have a friend that works for a company called R2 that makes a device that scans a mammogram radiograph and highlights the points where the radiologist should take a good look. The scanner uses an algorithm that was developed by analyzing many radiographs and determining how to find the beginnings of tumors. He tells me that around their office they have seen thousands of radiographs and that he has seen some that were really bad cases where the cancer was advanced. In those cases the women had waited too long to get a mammogram and their first news was, "You have a bad case." That's pretty sad.

I mention all of this serious stuff because both my mother and father both waited too long to seek effective medical care for what turned out to be really bad diseases. In dad's case he ignored the pain until he couldn't walk any more. It turned out to be cancer and it had advanced quite a ways. He died two years later after enduring a lot of very unpleasant treatment and really bad days. If he had sought treatment earlier it might have been different. Mom failed to deal with her arterial disease, denying that it was a big enough problem, then had a massive stroke that could have been prevented. She will never fully recover. She lives in an assisted living home. She can't carry on a normal conversation because of the ephasia and short term memory loss; she can't speak very well and she can't remember enough of the conversation to continue it. The stroke took away an enormous amount of who she was at 62, and she'll probably have to live this way for a long time.

I love my mom and loved my dad. It really hurts that they could have avoided some really bad things if they had taken care of themselves earlier. Don't scrimp on the medical stuff. It really can matter a lot. Sorry to go all serious on you there.

So the audition for Gilligan went well, though I haven't heard back yet. I leaned and sang a song, did a few dance steps, and read a couple of scenes. It sounds like a fun show. You'll all be informed as soon as I know. I will expect you all to come see me, clap loudly, and gushingly praise my talent in glowing terms.

So we all (ok the majority of us) went to casa faire today to get our gate passes so we can go there and act like people who died a long time ago in a country far far away. We saw a lot of people we know and there was hugging all around. Then we built the stage which consists of legging up four platforms with varying height legs to make a flat level place on top of the up and down ground. Everyone cheered when it was done. That was nice. I'm excited to be able to be involved in faire because I can finally get in on all the fun that the ladies have been enjoying and I can be there with them instead of home alone. We just need to figure out the kid care.

We're all trying to figure out when exactly we'll be where and the schedule of everything. It seems that we'll all be busy from now until Christmas eve with renfaires then Dickens Fair. There may even be a musical comedy in there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Really bad movie night

If you are within the sound of my keyboard consider joining us for Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels on Friday night. It promises to stink up the whole house so bad that we'll all need to hit the hot tub afterwards.

Grace, this one should be worth tickets out here for you and Barron.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gilligan's Island

I got a call tonight from the director of Gilligan's Island, The Musical who was asking me if I wanted to come and read for the part of Gilligan. I'm intrigued, but it would be a big time committment and I'd have to learn far more lines than I ever have before... On the other hand, it would be great comedy fun.

I'll have to think it over.

I owe you one

Here is where the signage at Disneyland really appears. I know you don't give a rats ass care deeply.
  • The picture of Anne Bonny and Mary Read is from the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square. It is painted on the wall in the lobby area in the right hand line right next to the boat .
  • The laser box is on Tom Sawyer Island just below a tree house. I liked it because it had extremely out of place tek screws holding the sign in place on a plywood box. Plywood and tek screws weren't around in Tom Sawyer times.
  • The mermaids are painted on the wall that faces the rider loading line in the Peter Pan ride in Fantasyland. They recall the mermaid statues at the end of the ride.
  • The For Your Safety sign is on the boat in the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland. Similar signs appear on many rides. Jessamy calls the image on the right the "no disco" icon.
  • The spiel button is (as described in the post) on the Monorail control panel on the platform in Tomorrowland. The driver for the monorail told us that they are getting new monorail cars and (I suppose) controls next year.

I got a new toy!

Just as I was beginning to complain about The Most Important Thing Of All, that the Blogger interface was um, limited; and just after I had tried out Microsoft's new Live Writer tool (which I liked a lot except for it didn't work)... wait for it...

The Googlers came out of the forest with a new management interface to Blogger. Color me ready Sergey. I took a few looks at the new stuff and the issues list, threw what little caution I usually exert to the wind and made the irreversible switch to New Blogger Beta. I'll soon find out if the people at Google really get the web thing or not. I suspect they do.

Here's me with Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl) at Disney's California Adventure last week.

The picture management is still clunky... but I'll try it with Picasa.
The template editing doesn't support editing the html yet so I can't substitute the flames picture for the star up there. I really don't like the star.
I'm having fun with all the widgets.
I like the labels.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Live Wire

Did you ever wish that the Blogger interface would be replaced with something that didn't suck so much? Me too. I'm trying Microsoft Live Writer. So far I like it.

Except for right now when I tried to publish this but it says that blogger does not support publishing the picture... I guess I need another method.

Sunday Drive

The rest of our Disneyland vacation went great. The last night was really fun. We watched the fireworks from right in front of the castle which was the perfect spot. They were awe inspiring. We managed to fit in four rides each in that last two hours, not bad considering the crushing Saturday night crowds.

Sunday we got up a bit later than Saturday and got all ready for a nice drive home. We did a little shopping and hopped in the 'burb. Everything was smooth sailing until we saw a couple of road signs telling us that highway 5 was closed. After getting stuck in the ensuing backup, we headed west through Ventura and then north via 101. We still got home on Sunday, but right at the very end of it. The closure and detour added 105 miles and three hours to our trip. We were on the road for about ten hours, mostly at 80 mph for the last half.

Needless to say, it's nice to be home.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Double Secret Probation

Well today's signage is really obscure, so I'll give you a hint: I found it near the fort that used to have shops but is now closed to the public.

Beyond the obvious we have been having a full and fun day. The highlight was the Aladdin show at DCA. It was fricken great. It is amazing what you can do with a huge budget and lots of talent.

We're heading back in now for the last four hours in the park. It should be just as much fun as the rest of the day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

House of Mouse Extended Dance Mix

Somewhat of a marathon today, fourteen and a half hours in the park. We are in training for tomorrow when we open the park at 7 AM and close it at Midnight, 17 hours. We are getting our money's worth here people. We did take a little break in the middle to go swimming here at the hotel.

Had a fabulous lunch at The Blue Bayou, rode all the rides we could get onto and basically had a really great day. We were right between the Dumbo ride and the carousel for the fireworks show, which is launched from two sites which we were in between! We kept swiveling our heads to see. It was really loud and close and awesome. The we waited more than 30 minutes to get onto Peter Pan then waited 0 minutes and 0 seconds to get onto Star Tours.

Here is today's picture. Tell me where it's from to get the prize.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My feet hurt

We did just about everything today including the character breakfast, the water slide at the pool, California Screamin, Soarin Over California, and this ride pictured here, plus many more. Tell me if you know what it is.

See you all soon!

House of Mouse

Well we made it here, Disneyland, in a record seven hours from our house. We checked in, hooked up with some friends in the park about 2PM and immediately spent $50 for lunch. We rode a few rides once or twice, the crowds being not too bad today, had dinner and closed the park. We boarded Pirates of the Carribbean for the second time at 10:55 PM five miutes before closing.

Here is today's picture, the "spiel" button on the Monorail control console at Tomorrowland station, being pressed by our dashing young ride operator cast member. I think her name was Christy or something. When you press the button it plays the spiel about getting in line.

After careful observation I can tell you that the dominant female fashion here in the park is a spaghetti strap camisole that is a bit too small with your bra peeking out here, there, and everywhere. Everyone who is anyone (like about 64% of the women folk) is wearing this number. The men all seem to be sporting backpacks with water bottles.

What a great day.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Californian Workshop

Well, I'm not Norm Abrams but I did use a router on this project. This table started out as a kida funky weathered picnic table that we've had for like 20 years, most of it spent in the weather. I took off the criss-cross legs with wheels and made a proper pedestal and sanded the last 20 years worth of weather off the top. The pedestal is hollow inside so it holds up the umbrella. A little marine spar varnish and voila, (not quite so) instant pretty table.

Check out how HUGE the plants are getting. Cool.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

(Peaceful Sabbath)

Today we went to a very moving ceremony to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of the son of our friends Sylvia and Andre. He is their oldest child and his was the first Bar Mitzvah for quite some time on Andre's side of the family. The genuine love and affection in their extended family was abundantly obvious. Andre and Sylvia were quite visibly proud of their boy as he was passing into manhood in the eyes of their faith. Andre was so moved in the service that it took him a couple of tries to get through his blessing to his son.

The service itself was rich with symbolism and with many many repetitions of thanks for all that we are and of the devotion to God. Much of it was in Hebrew. There was the rabbi and a canter, a woman who recited prayers and led the congregation in song. She had a beautiful voice, and was clearly and tenderly helping Aaron get through all the recitations in Hebrew.

In the end Aaron read a several page long reflection on his life as a member of the reformed Jewish faith, and how he intended to integrate the teachings of the Torah in his life. It was a well written speech and delivered pretty well for a nervous thirteen year old. Is was clear that he put a great deal of thought into it.

I was moved by the whole thing and very proud for my friends who have obviously made their faith a real part of the fabric of their daily lives and that of their children. Mazel tov Aaron.

I'm still an atheist, but I have to say this was the best time I ever had in a place of worship. I had no idea what lots of things meant, and of course all the references to God were not meant for me. I don't/didn't pray or sing, but I did read along when I could and I tried to understand what was going on. There were some asides in the prayer book that made some explanations of some of the rituals, most of which was fascinating.

Near the end of the service there was a short request form one of the temple members for donations to help relief operations for people injured in the war in Israel. The political message was clear: Civilians were purposely attacked for political reasons by Hezbollah. I've never seen politics in a worship setting like that. It wasn't sugar coated or metaphorical at all. They read out the names of the soldiers and civilians that were killed this week. They used words like killed and dead.

I wish the everlasting conflict between the arabs and jews could be ended. I wish that moms and dads in that part of the world could wake up every day and raise their children in peace and teach them to tolerate and appreciate all of the others in the world, even if you didn't agree with their version of The Truth.

Tell me again, what is the purpose of all the terror and killing? Why do people talk of extermination of other people? What drives them to such hatred? Is the land that you stand on while you believe your beliefs so sacred that your god requires you to kill the others who stand on the same ground? Is the conflict really over specific plots of land, or is it that the arabs need to exterminate the jews so that... I don't even know.

It is all such an obscene waste. Money, lives, families, farms, all lost to war without end and for what? How much good could be done if all the effort and energy that went into the hatred and war and posturing and speeches and rockets and tanks and graves and coffins, could instead be put to some, ANY, constructive endeavor.

As an atheist, the conflict is especially troubling for me. I don't believe in anyone's god and that renders all their religious differences null in my mind. As far as I can tell it is senseless. I want reason to prevail, but I believe that the periodic armed conflict will continue well into the middle of the century and there will be no real peace before I die.

Shabbat Shalom, I wish.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Yeah, I did it. So what?

Last night I played another murder mystery gig, at the swanky Stanford Park Hotel. This time, for the first time, I didn't die. I played Mr. Capwell's flaming gay personal assistant Edward, a stereotype bitch. I made it clear to everyone that I hated Capwell for what he had done to my family by buying out their brewery in Kansas and ruining them financially. I also made up endless stories about how I hated all the other characters, and how I wanted to go and work for the PayPal (the client company). I said I wanted to be the one who wrote all those emails that ask you to update your personal information.

There's too much to tell here. It was great fun. Plus I got to eat a really nice dinner since I didn't die. Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

This man is testing new ways to scare little children. How's it workin?

Tuned to B&W with Picasa taken with my new phone cam. Once I figure out how to take better pictures with this thing the pix will be stunning. I've taken a few that are pretty good, but lots of them are not so stunning.