Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Hard to Believe" -- Exhibit B

As I said yesterday, coincidences abound in my life.  Little ones like everyone encounters and big ones that are almost too "hard to believe".  Let me assure you, though, they really do happen to me.  Here's the story on Exhibit B!

When we decided to move to Austin from CA, the decision was made pretty quickly and things moved along at a fast pace.  We came to Austin to look for a house and become acquainted with the city.  It was going to be a quick trip, just four days, and at the end I would be flying out of Austin to Lake Wales, Florida for my 35th High School Reunion.  Then back to CA to start packing!

The gods were really smiling down on us about this move!  We found a house on the very first day we looked!  It was a nice house, but one of the biggest points in its favor was that it was on a golf course with a country club!  A dream come true for the Big Guy!  I think he envisioned a life of non-stop golf! 

We went to the Club to explore, Mikey being interested in the course and the locker room, my interest was more for the dining room and the pool!  They all turned out to be lovely and our enthusiasm kept growing.

As we walked around the grounds, trying to find the entrance back into the club from the pool, a fellow in his early thirties or so was coming out of the locker room door.  We must have looked lost, because he stopped and asked if we needed help.  As we didn't really need help, we struck up a conversation (mostly about what a great course it was and that it was a great place to live --  I don't think he was on the payroll, but he sure gave a ringing endorsement).

He told us a little about his family, including the fact that his undergrad degree was from Univ. of Florida.  I am always interested in talking about Florida, so I said that I had grown up it Lake Wales.  Hey, he said, my Basketball coach in college was from Lake Wales!  Really, I said, what was his name, thinking I might know the family or something.  He said, Aubrey Whitaker.   AUBREY WHITAKER?????  REALLY??   Not only was Aubrey in my graduating class, he had been a friend and I would undoubtedly see him at the reunion I was going to in 3 days!!!  Wow!  It was almost creepy!! 

We chatted a couple of minutes then went on our way.  Even after we moved here, we never, ever saw him again.

Now really, how often does that sort of thing happen to you?   For me, it happens a whole lot!   It seems like I'm always humming the theme from the "The Twilight Zone" for one thing or another.  Well, do you blame me?

Exhibit C coming tomorrow!

"Hard to Believe"

At different times, I have come across several books (mostly mysteries or spy stories) where one of the characters says, "I don't believe in coincidence."  I've even heard real people say it!  Well, it's hard for me NOT to believe in coincidence!

Why???  Because coincidence has always seemed a part of my life!  Some times it's just little coincidences like running into a friend at the library or buying the same dress as your worst enemy, or both you and your husband stopping to pick up a pizza for dinner.  Nothing major there, just kind of serendipity that pops up from time to time.  

A more impressive coincidence I keep experiencing is that Ratchlet and I will unknowingly and frequently wear the same colors or similar outfits.  For instance, we'll meet up for lunch and we'll both be wearing Khaki pants with a Hot Pink sweater; or we'll both be wearing dark blue jeans, with a green t-shirt and a denim jacket!  It's ridiculous!  Mother/Daughter outfits are cute when the daughter is 4, but it's silly with two grown women who really have different tastes in fashion!  Nevertheless, it happens a lot.  It's totally unplanned.  We don't discuss it ahead of time.  We never check out the other's outfit before we leave home!  It doesn't happen all the time, just frequently enough to be noticeable by other people we're with!  Sooo, it must just be a coincidence! 

In the past year or so, sometimes M-t-G joins our little coincidence!  If we are wearing pink or purple, we look like multi-generational triplets!  How obnoxious!!  (Of course that's because M-t-G pretty much ONLY wears pinks and purples!  So I guess that doesn't really count!  LOL!)

But these are small things, just kind of funny.  The sort of thing you just shake your head at and say "Again??  I don't believe it!"   And life goes on!

Other times, things happen that I cannot in any way explain except that it's coincidence.  And sometimes they are doozies!

Exhibit A:

As you know we are from Chicago, then we lived for several years about 50 miles south of San Francisco.  I don't know about you, but in our family no matter where you live, if you have guests from out of state, it's pretty standard to take them to "see the sights".  In this part of CA,  one of the must do's is to take your guests to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.  Everyone wants to see them.  We took a lot of folks there over time.

On the day in question, we took our 2 friends who were visiting from Chicago.  For a little while Cath and I wandered down to water's edge and walked in the sand and dipped our toes into the Pacific, just to say she did!   The Big Guy and Helen stayed up by the bridge talking.  

Then we went back up to re-join the two of them.  As we got closer we could see that Mikey was talking to some people.  There was a man and a woman whose faces I couldn't see, but they didn't look at all familiar.  I said to Cath something about how Mikey would talk to anyone and often did.  When we got there, the woman was looking right at me and had a huge smile on her face.  I thought maybe it was someone Cath knew, but she looked as puzzled as I.  The guy was still turned away when I walked up to them.  I smiled at the woman, sort of half-heartedly.  I mean, I never knew who Mikey would find next!  We didn't know anyone in San Francisco, so who were these people?

I finally looked at the guy with sort of just a quick glance, still smiling my half-hearted smile.  Then I did the classic double-take, I squealed (bursting eardrums all around, I'm sure), and jumped the guy!  We hugged and laughed for a long time.

Okay, have I built up the anticipation enough?  Are you ready for the big reveal??

It was Dan, one of our oldest and dearest friends, and his wife Judy.  Dan was the Best Man at our wedding and he was Ratchlet's Godfather!  Originally from Chicago, Dan had moved to Toledo when he married Judy.  We hadn't seen him in five or six years!  We kept in touch, but not all that frequently, so we had no idea they were coming to S.F. for vacation!!  Nor did they expect to run into us.  What were the odds??  Amazing!

It was one of the biggest and best surprises I ever had.  The sort of thing that is "Hard to Believe"!Totally unplanned and completely unexpected!! It was great!

So, if that's NOT coincidence, what would you call it?

I'll share Exhibit B tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Dear Hearts and Gentle People"

In my lifetime I have personally known four victims of childhood cancer....

Julianne -- Leukemia -- Died at Age 11
Jenny -- Hodgkins Disease -- Died at Age 15
Stacy -- Brain Cancer -- Adult, Survivor, Cancer-Free 25+ years!!!
Maddie -- Hepatablastoma -- Age 9, Survivor, Cancer-Free 5+ years!!!

Four girls, 2 Survivors and 2 Fatalities == That is unacceptable, or at least it should be!!

Every day 46 children are diagnosed with one of the 12 kinds of Childhood Cancers. EVERY DAY!

For 9 of those kids the diagnosis is a death sentence. That is, 20% of those 46 children will die at some point as a direct result of that diagnosis.

Childhood Cancer is the leading cause of death of children from infancy to 20 years old.

The treatments and drugs aimed at children with cancer are, in and of themselves, toxic and debilitating with terrible side effects. Unbelievable as it might seem, there has only been ONE new drug developed for treating childhood cancers in the last 20 years!! ONE DRUG! Meanwhile, children continue to die!

If you are on Facebook you may have seen that there is an effort going on to gather people together who support asking Oprah Winfrey to do one of her programs on Childhood Cancer in an effort to increase awareness, increase funding and increase research for a cure! In the last three weeks, 26,700+ individuals have joined the cause. That's amazing, but there are millions of folks on Facebook, we need more to join up to support this. Attention must be paid and Oprah is powerful and influential enough to bring about great things. We need for her to do this because no one else has that same influence.

“Dear Hearts and Gentle People who populate my  bloggy world, PLEASE read through the posting below. If you want to support the effort, make mention of it in your blog!  Then go to the Facebook page link (below) and hit "Like" and "Share" to add yourself to those 27,000+ followers. Won’t you please help? We need more RESEARCH! We need a CURE! We need less TOXIC treatments! We need these kids to LIVE! We need YOUR HELP!

How can it be that childhood cancer is the NUMBER ONE disease killer of children under the age of 20, yet we hear almost NOTHING about it? It kills more children than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and pediatric AIDS combined. There are no national telethons to bring awareness to it, no major celebrities that we automatically 'connect' to it and most people don't even know what a gold ribbon represents (yet we ALL know what a pink ribbon represents!)

Statistics bore me. They usually just go in one ear and out the other. Then in December of 2007 one of my best friends ended up in the emergency room of Children's Mercy Hospital. (see their story here: Her 3-year old son, Braden, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. Horrible odds - and if it relapses - no known cure. He DID relapse. By the Grace of God he is still with us today - but we don't know how much time he has left. His mom got diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer recently, too. She learned more in her first one-hour doctor's appointment about her breast cancer...than she has in almost THREE YEARS about Braden's cancer! She's thankful for all the research and treatment options available to her - as they will likely save her life. But doesn't Braden and all the other kids who have cancer deserve that same shot at life? Statistics on childhood cancer mean something to me now. (please go to the left-hand side of this page and down to Photos and look under "Wall Photos" where I have posted some VERY eye-opening statistics!)

Along this journey we have met MANY brave children, parents and families who have fought.... or are still fighting this awful disease. Their stories are HEARTBREAKING and their courage is AMAZING. Our mission is plain and simple. We're hoping that OPRAH, during her last season on air, will do a show on some of the heroes who are currently fighting and some who have lost the fight with this nasty disease. The world needs to hear about their courage, their fight, their families and their lack of treatment options because of the lack of funding and awareness. In doing this, we're hoping that a light can finally be shone on something that NEEDS to be seen!

Our hope is that through the power of social networking - we can show the world...and important this issue is! In that light - we are trying to use Facebook AND Twitter to make this happen!!! If you're on Twitter, we appeal to ask you to follow us and help us spread the word. There are 5 of us working toward this cause and you can find all 5 of our Twitter addresses at the top of this info! Follow our tweets and retweet every, single tweet you can!! On Facebook - we hope you share this with EVERY, SINGLE PERSON you know so we can grow this page FAST and show an AMAZING amount of support for this cause! There are many independent childhood cancer causes, pages, foundations, etc. We need to ALL band together now and focus on the BIG picture for childhood cancer in the same way the Susan G Komen Foundation did for breast cancer! We are stronger, collectively, as a GROUP....there is STRENGTH IN NUMBERS! If Facebook can get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live - let's see if it can get Oprah to spotlight childhood cancer!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Happy Birthday to Yoouuuuuu!"

Today, September 23, is my daughter's birthday....that makes it a very special day for me.  I am so proud of her and I always have been!  Right from the start.

I was proud of this little angel they brought me in the hospital.  She was beautiful!

I was proud when my dad held her for the first time....tho I wish she hadn't chosen that moment to wet her diaper!

I was proud when she took her first ballet class.  Is there anything cuter than a 3 year old in a pink leotard?

I was proud when she started school.  She was one of her teacher's favorites! 

I was proud when she got the hang of swimming and diving.  She looked so sleek diving into the pool!  That was something to see!

I was proud when she joined the synchronized swim team.  The things they did flat out amazed me!

I was proud when she graduated from grammar school.  She looked so pretty in her powder blue cap and gown.

I was very, very proud when she graduated from high school, and college, and graduate school.  She was the only person I've ever known whose grades kept getting better and better!

I was so proud that she chose the road less taken in choosing her major (Theater).  I told her some people actually have careers in theater, so why not her?  She told me that she'd probably never make more than $10,000 a year.  I told her money isn't everything!

I was proud when she got her first job offer from the theater department at Cornell University.  

I was proud when, less than a year later,  she got a job offer at UT heading up their undergrad Stage Management program!  It was so cool that she taught college kids how to be Stage Managers.

I am proud that she is still at UT after nearly 20 years and she has been steadily promoted and advanced throughout her entire career!  My daughter got to be one of those people who has a professional career in theater!  (And she makes more than $10,000 too!)

I was proud when she got married.  It was a beautiful wedding and she was a truly beautiful bride, both inside and out.

I was unbelievably proud when our darling Maddie-the-Great was born.  There was so much worry and concern throughout Maddie's early life, but my daughter handled it all. 

I am so proud of the way she parents her daughter.  I am amazed at her patience, and consistency.  She is a great mom!

I am proud of the way she takes care of all the people in her life. I am proud of the love she has for all of us.  I am proud that I can see her strong values in the way she and T.A. are raising Maddie.

I am very proud of my beautiful, talented, accomplished, and completely wonderful daughter.  I am proud of every single thing about my daughter.  She keeps proving over and over that she is a very special person.  I know she will live the rest of her life, being the best that she can be....which is very, very good, indeed.

But more important than all those markers in her life that make me proud is that I love her more every single day.  Not just because of her accomplishments, but because of who she is.  She is my baby girl.  I always have and always will cherish her.  She is simply the best daughter there is!  I am so grateful for all the joy she has brought into my life every single day.

Thank you, my beautiful and awesome daughter, you are the very best thing that ever happened to me.

I love you, Honey Bunny!

Happy Birthday! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Mama Said"

Did you know, that if you are in a restaurant and you manage to tip over a very large cup (32 oz!) entirely filled with iced tea, ice cubes, sweetener, and lemon, about half of it will spill across the pages of one of your favorite authors' HARDCOVER book, bounce off the side of the table directly into your new-ish handbag sitting on the chair, and pool in the the bottom of the purse, after soaking the lining, and splashing around long enough to dampen everything? 

Aaannndd, did you know that the other half of the tea and ice will land directly in your lap, soaking the bottom and sleeve of your sweater, soaking through the napkin, soaking the ENTIRE front AND rear of your jeans, running across your thighs, down your legs, and directly into both of your shoes???

Well, it does!

"Mama said, there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, my Mama said
(Mama said!  Mama said!)
Mama said, there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this, my Mama said"

Monday, September 20, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #6

Tonight's installment is more a collection of incidents showing that actors, and tech people have to be on their toes when doing live theater....because you never know what's going to happen!  Little oddities happen all the time....a prop will go missing, lines will be screwed up or forgotten, late or worse, early entrances will happen, there can be costume malfunctions, wigs that come off, or disturbances and distractions in the audience.  You have to be ready!  A few small vignettes, just to show what I mean:

First:   "The Front Page"

One of the male actors knocked a telephone off a desk.  That sort of thing happens all the time.  It's funny, but when something ends up on the floor, that isn't meant to be there, the audience will spend the rest of the scene watching that item, whatever it is.  It's almost as if it begins to glow or something!  I don't know if they expect it to do something other than just lie there, but watch it they do.  Eventually they begin to whisper and titter. That's why one of the most important rules of stage work is if a prop is dropped or falls, one of the actors on stage must pick it up, as quickly and naturally as possible! 

The actor on stage who knocked the phone over, was one of the most clueless individuals I have ever worked with on stage.  Actually, there were several actors in this show who were just not very experienced and kind of difficult to work with.   There is nothing worse for other actors than trying to cope with the problems created by neophyte "actors" who haven't a clue!!

Going back to the phone on the floor,  it was an old style phone from the 1920's, commonly known as a licorice stick.  So there it was on the floor with the receiver completely off the hook, the cord snaking across the floor, and the brain-dead actor stood there and looked at it for a second, and then turned away and LEFT IT THERE!  A telephone!  If you knocked your home phone, would you not pick it up??  Yet it sat there for the whole rest of the scene, because none of the others on stage were any smarter!   None of the more experienced actors were on stage in the scene, so we couldn't fix it.  Suddenly it was if there was a whole new cast member on stage who was getting all the audience attention.  The dodo bird actor couldn't understand why the director was upset when they came off stage. 

Second:  "My Sister Eileen"

In that show, the character of the younger sister, Eileen, is a bit of a ditz, cute as a button, but just not quite bright.  Just a few hot dogs short of a picnic!  You know what I mean?  Unfortunately the woman who  played the part fit the part to a tee....but she wasn't exactly acting!  She was a ditz too!  Talk about clueless!  Throughout the entire run, she kept messing up her lines, or dropping a cues, moving to where she wasn't supposed to be, or just generally looking lost most of the time. 

As I was playing the older sister,  Ruth, (the smarter, witty, level-headed one, but definitely not  the "pretty one"), I was on stage with my "sister" for practically the whole show, so I was the one that most generally had to deal with whatever the ditz did or didn't do!  

My favorite of her screw-ups took place one night about 10 minutes into the first act.  The two of us were alone on stage having a conversation when for whatever reason, she gave me a line directly from the last part of the third act!  If I had responded with the correct response to that line, the whole show would have been over in about 15 minutes!  I was tempted for about half a second to do that, just to see what she would do!  Of course, I didn't.  I made up some lines to get us back to where we were supposed to be.  The sad thing is I don't think she ever even realized that she was screwing up the lines.  She never acknowledged it, apologized for it, or got any better!!   I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse!

Unfortunately it's not only actors who can cause upsets on stage.  Oh no!  There is a stage manager, people doing lighting, backstage crew, and sound people....we must not forget the sound people!  They, too, can make or break a show!

Third:  "My Sister Eileen"  (Same production, different night)

In the show the sisters have come to NYC to make their fortune.  They end up renting a basement apartment in an old rattletrap building owned by a tightwad, lazy landlord, Mr. Apopolus.  Nothing much in the apartment works right.  The light switches are reversed, there is no water in the shower, the streetlight is right outside the window and one of the panes is broken. Worst of all, a subway is being built right below the building and there are periodic dynamite blastings going on most of the day! Apopolus, of course, ignores all their requests for repairs.

Somewhere in the second act, the telephone rings so Ruth (that would be me) is supposed to cross over from the other side of the stage to answer it, which I did.  I picked up the phone, said hello, and the phone rang again!  The audience laughed a bit; I don't blame them it was funny, There I was talking into a phone that was still ringing!   I am blessed to be able to come up with lines that can save a situation.  It's a gift!  After the laughers had settled down, I shook the phone, looked at it, and said, "Damn that Apopolus!  Not even the telephone works right in this place!"   And we went on.  You can be sure that sound technician paid closer attention from then on!

Oh yes, indeed-dee, anything can happen on stage....and usually does!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Is a Puzzlement"

I don't know if this happens to everyone, but lately I have realized that "multi-task blogging" is hard for me.  You may never have heard of multi-task blogging....that wouldn't surprise me since I just made up the phrase!  So, what do I mean?

In the time that I have been a blogger, I have come to recognize that blogging has several distinct parts: 

***  Reading blogs
***  Commenting on blogs
***  Writing  my own blog
***  Reading comments I get
***  Responding to comments occasionally
***  Discovering new and interesting blogs

If there is a day when I actually accomplish all of the above parts, I consider that a multi-tasking blogging day!  See?

Unfortunately, what I am discovering is that if I spend much time reading, commenting, and discovering blogs, I don't usually write my own!  Sometimes its because I find myself in awe of really winning blogs.  Writers that have a real gift for painting lovely self-portraits in words.  Sometimes it's that I just end up sitting for a very long time and my not-so-little bum gets sore!  Sometimes it seems that I do blog-stuff all day long and that can't be good!. 

Sometimes, it's that I keep finding new blog sites that I love and I add myself as a follower and then I realize I don't have a new posting to invite my new bloggy friends to visit.  Not only that, but the new blog is just one more blog to add to the already long list I read each day. 

Whatever it is, once I read and comment on a bunch of other blogs, I seem to lose my motivation for writing. 

Thus, I find that I incapable of multi-task blogging!

When I analyse the problems, it becomes increasingly clear that I cannot manage my blogging time appropriately.  I just need a better system, right?  One that doesn't end up overwhelming me.  Trouble is, I haven't figured out what that system might be!! 

I have enough difficulty in identifying topics I want to write about in the first place!  By spending so much time on other people's blog, I am basically shooting myself in the foot!   Read first? Write first? Comment first?  I really have to figure this out soon!

Let me tell you, "Is a Puzzlement!!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #5

Yesterday I told you about one of my encounters with theater gremlins.  And I left you with a I would tell you about me and Nelson Eddy (and the gremlins).  So here's story #5.   This one is a kind of triumph for me because I beat the little devils, hands down!

I was in a production of  "Jerry's Girls", an ensemble cabaret show with a cast of 16 women.  The show is a showcase for some of the most well-known of Jerry Hermann's songs and a few of the not-so-well-known songs.  All of his big successes ("Mame", "Hello Dolly", "La Cage Aux Folles") are represented as well as his lesser known shows ("Mack and Mabel", "A Day in Hollywood, A Night in the Ukraine.)  Each cast member was in several musical numbers, but several had their own moments too, where they were the featured soloist.  Okay, you following me??  It was essentially all of Jerry Hermann's favorite songs, with lots of singing and dancing by a bunch of talented women in pretty costumes!
My song was an obscure little ditty that Hermann wrote for  "A Day in Hollywood and A Night in the Ukraine", an even more obscure show.  The song is called "Nelson". 

In it Jeannete MacDonald (that would be me), wearing a bonnet over her blonde curls, sings of the difficulty of appearing opposite the completely untalented Mr. Eddy (“Nelson”).  As we didn't have any men on hand, we substituted a free-standing, life-sized, black and white, cardboard cutout of Nelson Eddy, sporting his Mountie uniform complete with hat.   It's a funny song, that practically no one had ever heard of!  Here are some of the lyrics to give you the idea:

NELSON - by Jerry Hermann

My heart, my love, my life is his alone
But if, but if, but if the truth be known....

My hero must stand on a box in our love scenes
God, does he act like a lox in our love scenes
Nelson, what you're putting me through

And all of his notes above B flat, verbotten!
And all of his notes below B flat are rotten
Oh, Nelson, Don't call me, I'll call you

His love making casts such a pall
It's not hard to sleep through at all
His vocal chords carry insurance by Lloyd's
and so I might add, should his adenoids

The lights wilt his hairdo,
on camera he'll primp, and quite frankly,
his hair isn't all that goes limp.

A symbol of virtue and class
America's sweethearts, My ass!
 "A pair made in heaven," the fans love to say
but each time we kiss I swear that he's gay.

In film after film after film I betrothed him,
we snuggled and smooched,
and oh God, how I loathed him.

My Nelson,
oh so calming you'll never need embalming
Oh Nelson, what you're putting me through!

Not exactly a song about the love affair of the century is it?  But it was great fun to sing and the audiences loved it! .I sang to the cardboard Nelson and danced around him while I sang.  Toward the end of the song there is a brief musical interlude during which I would pick up ole' Nelson, heft him up to my shoulder and carry him to the other side of the stage, arriving just in time to set him down, and pick up the song and sing to the end. 

So you get the picture?

We eventually came, as you always do, to the last performance of the run....and (because no one ever seems to learn NOT to do this!), the show was being filmed.  Naturally, the gremlins appeared....during MY song.

Went through the first part of the song just fine, the audience was laughing and loving it!  The interlude arrived, so I chucked him over my shoulder and marched him to the other side of the stage.  I set him down, took a breath, ready to sing after the end of the interlude. 

Suddenly, before we got any further, Nelson fell face first, about halfway off the front of the stage, falling on top of one of the floor mikes with a loud boom.  There was a collective gasp from the audience, the band stopped completely, and I just stood there looking down in disbelief!   "Oh crap!  What do I do now???" 

It's amazing how many possibilities run through your head at a time like this.  I quickly considered and rejected several choices, when the perfect solution occurred to me. 

I bent down, grabbed Nelson his "ankles" and pulled him back on stage.  As I lifted him into a standing position, I leaned forward a bit toward the audience and said, "I told you he was a wuss!!"  The audience exploded with laughter, giving me time to be sure he was actually settled where he belonged.  The conductor looked at me, raised her eyebrow inquiringly, I nodded, the band and I came in together, at exactly the right spot and on we went. 

The audience clapped for a looong time at the end of the song!!

The tricky little gremlins hung their evil little heads in defeat and exited, stage left!

It actually looks pretty good on the tape!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #4

I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, vampires, witches, warlocks, and all such ethereal beings; but I do believe in gremlins!

A gremlin (at least, in my definition) exists only within the confines of any "stage" upon which actors "play".  They are puckish little imps, who pop out of some hidden cave deep in the caverns of "backstage" at some point during the run of every show!   They delight in creating minor havoc at one or more times during  the most inconvenient times....during a performance when said actors are on stage and right in the middle of the highpoint of their performance!  Always!

Oh, and there are two other conditions that usually exist when the little guys  create their "Gotcha" moment.  One or both of these conditions are almost always true.  The gremlins come out in force when:

1)  It is the very last and final performance of the show before it all disappears forever, never to be seen again;  and/or

2)  A video recording (for Archive and teaching  purposes only--ahem) is being made at that performance and will not be done again.   So that the only record of the show will forever more include whatever mischief these imps come up with!

I do want to make it clear, I'm not talking about the disasters that sometimes occur on stage.  No blood, no collapsing walls, furniture, or actors!  No, what I mean is the little something that never, ever happened before, and rattles the actors a bit, throwing off everyone's timing, or just plain embarrassing the cast.

These kinds of things happen for no explainable reason, except the Gremlins are loose again!  To wit:

I was in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit", a wonderful show about ghosts.  I was playing the medium, Madame Arcati (one of my favorite roles ever!)  All thru the run, every performance ran like clockwork with all the "ghostie" things happening without a hitch.  Until....(duhn, duhn, duhn) the final performance when the video was being made!  The camera was rolling and the little things began to happen:

* someone was late for an entrance, so we had to ad lib a bit to fill some time.
* a table that usually levitated smoothly, made a rather bumpy ascent and descent.
* one of the "ghost" actors, briefly got her costume caught on the edge of a set piece

(So you see what I mean?  Just enough to unsettle everyone.)

During the middle of her "seance", Madame Arcati screams,  falls to the floor in a dead faint, and the lights go "out" (lights "out" on stage is a relative term)   She remains there, in clear view of the audience, but unseen by the actors while there is a lot of other stuff going on.  I had choreographed my fall so that it looked very natural and believable, but I was actually moving sideways to a sofa, that I fell on and then slid gracefully to the floor.  A very controlled movement that kept me from breaking my neck! 

Went perfectly EVERY performance!  Always in control, looking good! 

Well, not that night, because the gremlins were there.

When the moment arrived, I screamed and started my fall.  For whatever reason, I hit the sofa at the wrong angle and down I went, faster than a speeding bullet, flat on my back, with my head hitting the floor with an audible clunk.  It was not a stage fall, but a real fall.  I was "unconscious" so there was nothing I could do to break the fall, except hope for the best.  I didn't break my neck, or start bleeding, and I wasn't at all injured, so the audience didn't realize anything had happened.  Not too bad, huh?  Nothing to be upset about, right?  So why was I upset??

When I started the fall, the different angle did something that caused my skirt to slide up, and up, and up....till it was practically around my waist.  I could feel it, the audience could see it, the other actors could see it, but there wasn't a thing anyone could do but let me lie there flashing my "dainties" at the world for what seemed like an eternity, until I was "found" by the sweet man playing the doctor. During his examination he pulled the errant skirt back down a bit, so that I was no longer X-rated!  Nevertheless, it is saved forever on videotape!   Oh crap!!

If you look closely I think you can actually see the little gremlins laughing and pointing at me from the back of the sofa!   I'm pretty sure those creepy little thugs pushed me!!!

That wasn't the only time I was their target either!  Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you about me and Nelson Eddy!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Do You Remember?"

People remember precisely where they were and what they were doing when major tragedy strikes.  My mother would always remember the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I will always remember the Kennedy assassinations, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the space shuttle disasters, and September 11, 2001. 

When these horrible events occur, they become indelibly etched into our memory and some of the images can be called to mind forever after.  Some times the things we remember are good news, but mostly they are not.  Mostly they are horrifying, unbelievable, and frightening.  Things no one ever expected or wanted.  Very few are natural events like earthquakes or huge fires.  They are more likely the work of insane, fanatical, zealous, misguided, or downright evil people who believe it is vital that they undertake an action that will result in many deaths, injuries, pain, loss, destroyed families, and broken hearts.   Their actions defy understanding, are hard to forgive, and impossible to forget.

Today, it is 9 years since two commercial airliners full of typical passengers, were hijacked by terrorists and flown directly and purposely into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Everyone watched as those buildings came down like some sort of insane chain reaction, first one and then, unbelievably, the other.  Nearly 3,000 people died.....ordinary people who had gone to work on an ordinary morning....firefighters and police who were desperately trying to get people out of the buildings before they, too, were buried in the rubble of the collapsed buildings.....all the passengers and crew of the airliners....and the terrorists who had commandeered the planes. 

We watched it all happen, live, from the safety of our own homes, but afterward, our safety became even more fragile than ever before.  Fear became part of our day to day lives for quite awhile and we are still feeling the effects of that awful morning.

So "Do You Remember?"   Of course you do!  None of us who saw it will ever forget.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (ad infinitum)

Just a little of this, and a little of that:

*** Today would have been my mother's 89th birthday (I think).  Back in the Depression my mom lied about her age in order to get a job; she actually made herself older!  It took years for it all to get sorted out with the SSA, the IRS, insurance policies and even us....well, me!  The result was that even now I'm not sure without looking it up if she was born in 1921, 1922, 1923, or 1924!  To make matters worse, she and my dad were married on September 15.  So when September 9 rolls around, I've  always had to stop and think whether it was her birthday or their anniversary, and I was never sure exactly how old she was.  Sometimes even she forgot!  

So like I said, today would have been her 89th birthday, I think.  She has been gone for nearly seven years now.  Her age doesn't really matter anymore.  I miss her still and will forever!  I sure wish I could hear her laugh again!  Love you, Momma!

*** Each year there comes a day, when the season changes from summer to fall.  No matter what the calendar says, today felt like that day.  There's just something about the angle of the sun and when and how darkness falls, and a certain crispness in the air, even if it is still warm, that moves my perception into fall.  As  I wrote a while back, I will miss this summer.  It was a really good one, the only bad part was that it was over too soon!  Even though fall brings back to school, changing leaves, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, it can also bring cold-ish temperatures that make me think of winter; and I reeeaaally don't like winter, even in Austin!  Nevertheless, that won't happen for a little while yet, I hope, and fall is my 2nd favorite season.  Happy fall!

*** As a former Floridian I would unequivocally like to say that Preacher Jones is not representative of Preachers or the people of Florida.  He is in a class by himself.  Talk about dumb ideas!!  Burning Islam's most Holy Book? public?....with media coverage?  Ohh yeah, that's really brilliant!  Whatever in the world did he and his "congregation" expect to achieve?  The whole thing sounds like a publicity stunt to me.  Sort of like the kid-in-the-balloon parents and the White House party crashers.  If you hear the words "reality show" coupled with his name, you'll know!  If that doesn't happen, then this guy is a World Class Idiot!  Actually, even if it does happen, this guy is a World Class Idiot!

***The media isn't coming off too well in this "incident" either!  They should have just left the story in the oblivion it deserved!  Whatever happened to journalistic and broadcasting standards??  The new standards must be, "If it's stupid, dangerous, outrageous, or deceitful, it's NEWS!"   Bah!

*** September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Every day in the U.S.  46 children are diagnosed with some type of Cancer.  Every Day!   One of every 5 of those diagnosed children will die of the disease.   That's 9.2 children who will die! 

The only thing that will change those statistics is research to find a cure!  Please contribute as much as you can to CureSearch:, or any other research group working on Childhood Cancer.  How many kids can we bear to lose?  

***Hermine, the most recent hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. came by Austin Tuesday. It pretty quickly was downgraded to a tropical storm and then to just a tropical depression.   Whatever it was, didn't actually go over Austin, but we got the rain anyway!  Lots and lots of rain.  Parts of the Austin area got 11-12 inches of rain!  Whoa!  That's a lot of water! All of the normally little, nearly non-existent creeks turned into raging rivers from the run-off.  We had flooded roadways, traffic accidents, even a fatality of someone who ignored the warnings and unsuccessfully tried to drive through the moving water. 

The development in which we live is located at the second highest elevation in Austin, so there was no flooding near our house.  Ratchlet lives in a part of Austin that is not close to any of those raging rivers.  Thus neither of us suffered any damage or losses.   And we are grateful!

And there you have it, "All the news that's fit to print."  See??  "News" doesn't have to be "stupid, dangerous, outrageous, or deceitful" to be interesting!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Sittin' on Top of the World"

Ratchlet had to go to NYC on business on Monday and she was going to come home tonight.  She decided to stay one more night so that she could go an opening night of a limited engagement at  Feinstein's, a Manhattan Supper Club.

When she got back to her hotel, she called me, "Open up your email, Mom."  Okay....  Here is what I found.

You can probably figure out that Ratchlet is on the right.  And she is standing next to Broadway Legend, BARBARA COOK!!!!!  Oh, wow!

My darling daughter, was at Opening Night of Barbara Cook and Michael Feinstein in NYC!   Ratchlet said it was an absolutely  terrific show.

And, completely out of character for her, Ratchlet went to talk with both Cook and Feinstein after the show.  (Really, you don't know how reluctant Ratchlet is about doing such a thing.)  She meets celebrities all the time in her work setting and is usually one of the ones keeping adoring fans at bay!  But not this time!  Ratchlet has loved Cook's voice for years but has never had the chance to see her perform before tonight. 

If you are not familiar with Barbara Cook, check out her website at  This woman is an icon!  Not only is she still singing, she has no plans to stop singing anytime soon.... even though she is 82 years old!!

Can we say that Ratchlet is "sittin' on top of the world" tonight!

I'm just a bit jealous....darn kid never takes me anywhere!        (Just kidding, sweetiekins!)      :) 

Monday, September 6, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #3

Everything about the theater stories that I have or will tell you is true.  Each story  come from my  own personal theater experience....except this one.  The person who told it to me, said that it was true but I have never been able to confirm that, so it probably isn't true; which is too bad, 'cause it's a great story!

It is possible that the story may only be funny to people who have actually been in a show on stage in front of an audience.  I don't know, if anyone doesn't "get it", I'm not sure I can tell why its so funny!  Let me know and I'll try to explain the joke.  Anyway, here it is:

Supposedly, the first family of the American stage, the Barrymores --  Lionel, Ethel, and John, were starring in a play on Broadway.  And, as happens with even the best actors, the three of them were on stage, when disaster struck!  All three "went up" on the lines in a scene where they were sitting at a table playing cards.  ["Going up" on your lines, means the actors cannot remember what comes next, a truly terrifying situation for an actor.]

So, Lionel, John, and Ethel, continued to play cards in silence while they each tried desperately to come up with the next line so that they could move on.  I'm sure there was some sort of  sotto voce communication going on between them, but for whatever reason, they couldn't fix it because none of them could remember.

I have had this happen to me on stage, it is the most horrible feeling of helplessness in the world....well, at least in the theatre world!  Your mind just goes blank and the harder you try to remember, the worse it gets! 

Well, these fine actors continued with the card game a bit longer until finally, John stood up at his place at the table and began to stretch as someone might do after sitting too long.  The other two remained at the table, looked at each other in confusion, but continued the game.  John walked to the back of the set where a window was located.  He lifted up the window and poked his head out, looking very much as though he was enjoying some fresh air.

Of course, what the audience could not see was that the Stage Manager was crouched below the window with the script in hand.  He was desperately giving the line to Mr. Barrymore.  At that point John drew back into the room, closed the window, stretched a little bit more, then went back to his place.  He sat down, picked us his cards then said very softly for the ears of his siblings only, "It's not my line."

I just love live theater!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Little Oops!

I meant to end the previous post with a Happy Labor Day wish, but I forgot!  So I'll post, twice in one day....I'm on a roll!

I hope you all are having a wonderful 3-day holiday weekend filled with whatever activities you love!!!  Keep safe on the roads!

Oh, and just one teeny, tiny, little reminder....Tuesday is the time to put away your summer white shoes.....if anybody out there besides me, actually wears white shoes!  :)

"I Whistle a Happy Tune"

Well, I would, if I could whistle!  But I can't whistle worth a toot, so I'll just tell you why I'm feeling good today.  Drum roll, please..... this is my 200th post!  WooHoo!!  Congratulations to me!

I wasn't sure at the beginning if I would stick with this.  But here it is, proof positive that I value all that blogging brings to me, because I keep doing it!  How about that?

My first 100 posts took me approximately 33 weeks to accomplish.  The second 100 posts only took 27 weeks!  Hey, I'm writing more than I used to.  Even though some days it feels like only drivel spills out of my head, the stats say that 1,794 visits have been made to my blog.  That doesn't mean that 1800 different people have visited; but what it means is that SOMEBODY (or several somebodies) has gone to my page to see if I had posted something lately!  How cool is that?  Nearly 1,800 visits!!  Wow!  Even if it were to turn out that all 1,800 visits were made by only 5 people, that would still be cool!  But it is definitely more than 5 people.

For those of you who check several times everyday (that would include Little Sis and Ratchlet, among others), I wish I wrote as often as you check!!  I'm not an every day kind of writer but I do feel bad that you take the time to visit when I haven't written anything new!   Keep checking though, sometimes I actually manage to post several days in a row.

For those of you who love to see relevant photos accompanying posts, I'm sorry I'm just not very good with pictures!

For those of you who read to the very end of my looooonnnggg  posts, and yet still come back to visit, thanks for your patience and stick-to-it-iveness!!   I try to write short, but it always turns out long!  It's a character fault.....

No matter if you visit here everyday or only occasionally, I am grateful to each of you for contributing to my feeling of accomplishment about blogging.

Thank you all!

200 posts, 22 followers, 1,794 visits!!  Damn, I sure wish I could whistle!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Oh What a Night"

[Despite have the same title, this post has nothing to do with my previous posting about the Big Guy's ER visit.  It's a much better title for this post!  Sorry if that's confusing!]

Last night I visited heaven.  Or at least one facet of what heaven should be.  In fact, if it were actually what heaven is, I wouldn't be quite so reluctant to get there!

No, I didn't have an out of body experience or anything life threatening.  I'm just fine, thank you.  Nope, the heaven I visited was on the stage at UT-Austin; it was one of their Broadway America (I think) shows.    It was the Broadway touring company of  "Jersey Boys"!!

Some of you may not be familiar with the show, "Jersey Boys", but I'd be willing to bet that if you're over 45 or so, "Oh What a Night" should instantly bring to mind those "Jersey Boys".  If not, how about "Walk Like a Man", "Stay", "Sherry".  "My Eyes Adored You"?  Still no??  "Big Girls Don't Cry"?  That's right, it's Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons!!

Oh. My. God.  Totally and Completely wonderful!!  No wonder it won several Tonys!  It was one of the very best shows I have ever seen, really....and I've seen a LOT of shows.

The four young men playing Frankie Valli, Tommy DiVito, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi had the look, had the moves, had the lure of the original Four Seasons.  But most importantly, they had the SOUND!  No one can actually duplicate someone else's voice exactly, but they were so close it was unbelievable.  The show included all of my favorite Four Seasons songs, plus some I'd forgotten were theirs.  The group had a string of Top Ten hits, including many #1 slots on the charts, one after another!  Most of them were in the show.

The show tells the story of how the group came together, found their sound, and got where they were....with all the foibles and problems along the way.  It wasn't an easy ride for those guys every minute.  They encountered some very real obstacles and the show shared those as well as the good stuff.  The show is well-written and moves like a speeding bullet, from great one hit to the next.  I can't tell you what a delight it was.  If you haven't seen it, don't pass up the opportunity if it comes your way. 

The cast of this company was outstanding, whoever did the casting, did a great job.  The actor playing Frankie Valli, Joseph Leo Bwarie, looked a lot like him and sounded a lot like him.  In fact, I thought his voice was a tiny bit better than Valli's.  (Valli has a little bit of a nasal quality, but Bwarie has a more melodious voice.)

The Four Seasons hit the "big time" in 1962 when I was 15 years old.  Frankie Valli has been around ever since.  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons made music back then that helped define my generation and me.   Last night I wanted to sing.  I wanted to dance.  I wanted to cry.  Most of all I wanted to be 15 again, when life was mostly still ahead and the possibilities were endless.

Hearing those songs again last night was heaven all right!  "Jersey Boys" who made good in the best possible way.  "Oh, What a Night!"

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