Wednesday, March 31, 2004

When I moved into the house, the previous owners left behind one of those Air Wick air freshners with the lovely scent of "green apple" plugged into it. Well, the green apple ran out a few months ago and I finally got around to replacing it this afternoon. Didn't go with the green apple - instead I chose the vanilla scent. That thing is working overtime. My entire house now reeks of vanilla. Thankfully I enjoy the scent or else it would be driving me mad. I looked to see if I could turn it down a notch or two, but there didn't seem to be a controller on it. This is how technically deficient I can be at times - I can't even figure out how to work an Air Wick.

For those of you into new music, I highly recommend Ryan Adams's latest, "Rock N Roll". Mr. Adams has mainly worked in the country-rock genre, but on this latest release he's dropped the country and embraced the rock. (Hence the title.) I listen to a lot of new music - you gotta love working at a library with a killer AV department - and this is the first new disc that's grabbed me this year. (The last one was the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Fever To Tell CD. Good stuff, that.)

Ryan Adams, as you can figure out, bears a similar name to Canadian rock star Bryan Adams. Once at a Ryan Adams concert, an audience member yelled out "Summer of '69!!!" in a futile attempt to be funny. Ryan got pissed off, gave the guy $30 - the cost of his ticket - and kicked him out. I know this happened because I have a bootleg of it. You can find anything on the Internet!

Why must people shout out song titles during concerts? That's one of my concert-going pet peeves. I can kind of see it happening at small clubs, but when people are yelling out song titles while standing at the back of arenas, they are seriously deluded. However, it's still funny to hear people yell "Freebird!" to bands that suck. Not that I would ever do that...

Staff meeting this morning. (Andie, remember those?) Our main speaker talked about her personal experiences with book banning in schools and how she, as a high school librarian, deals with censorship. She was also a school librarian in Warsaw, Indiana in the late 70's when that community went crazy and began burning books they deemed objectionable. I wish she had more time to speak, as censorship is a topic I find totally reprehensible. I never thought I would want to spend more time in a staff meeting. I guess there is a first for everything.

And the bagels were good, too. Mmmmmm, asiago cheese bagels.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Another night of rehearsal, this time concentrating on choreography for "Comedy Tonight". It's pretty simple, so I'm not that worried about it. No waltzing, tap dancing or other complicated styles are involved. In fact, for the most part, it mainly involves...walking. I don't want to give away too much for those of you who are planning on seeing it, but suffice it to say, it should be a lot of fun.

Our choreography could also seriously harm someone if they did it wrong. Again, my lips are sealed on the details. You'll just have to come see the show to see what I mean.

Speaking of that, they're having a ticket selling competition. It basically involves you mentioning my name when you call in to reserve seats. The grand prize isn't that great - it's a gift card to the Subway in Lawrence. The theatre is nowhere near Lawrence, so I have no idea how they got that one.

This acting thing is pretty interesting. Good thing I'm doing this play, as it allows me the opportunity to ham it up. Serious actors need not apply. And since I'm not that serious of an actor, I fit the bill.

Not much has happened in the past week, so I'm afraid I don't have much to report. I can only think of a few things:

- I picked up the remastered versions of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Tusk albums. I wasn't going to, but then Borders gave a 25% discount to all educators this past weekend. How working for a library qualifies me as an educator I have no idea, but I wasn't complaining. I got them for a steal.

- I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on VH1. Only one of the inductees deserved to be there - Prince. George Harrison kind of deserved it, but I think everyone confuses his solo career with his Beatles work. Judging him based on his solo material only, I don't think you can persuade me that he deserved it. And ZZ Top and Bob Seger? Those choices I just don't get. ZZ Top plays blues rock. They weren't the first to do it, and they won't be the last. And Bob Seger's music hasn't aged too well since it was released. Really, do you think any upcoming bands cite Bob Seger as an influence? If they do, count me out on ever wanting to see those bands.

- Christy and I are in the process of planning the 3rd annual CCPL staff picnic. They doubled the price of the park shelter we used the previous two years, so we have to find a new location. We looked at one in Carmel yesterday afternoon, only to discover the shelter was positioned in a big mud patch in the middle of the woods. Not exactly convienient and not a place librarians would like to be. I think we're going to have it at River Heritage Park in Carmel, which has a nice shelter and restrooms, but no grills. So now we have to figure out what we're doing about that, since we were going to grill this year. (In the past we've had a pitch-in dinner, and people were willing to participate so long as it didn't involve bringing anything remotely close to a main dish. Our past picnic dinners have pretty much been chips and salads. Which is fine with me, but others complained. Others who didn't bring main dishes, that is.) We tried to play the community service card to get a discount on the old shelter, but no dice. The parks department held firm. Stupid parks department, always bringing the library down.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Day 2 of rehearsals, and we spent the evening practicing the opening number of the play, "Comedy Tonight". We were there about an hour before we had the piece nailed down. Now I just need to memorize the damn thing and I'll be good to go.

As we were walking out, I was talking with a fellow cast member who was saying that he had never gotten out of a vocal rehearsal that quickly before. He also wished that there were more enemble pieces in the play, but then he remembered that Sondheim didn't really write chorus-type songs. I just nodded in agreement, muttering "yeah". I couldn't name you another Sondheim play if you held a gun to my head. (Although I'm sure if I heard them I would know. But off the top of my head? Nada.)

I was introduced to the world of vocal warm-ups this evening. Never having really sung professionally before - but being one hell of a singer in the car and in the shower - I had to wing my way through these little exercises designed to loosen up my throat. (Hah, hah! Little did they know, but I had already done that by belting along to The Jayhawks all the way to the theatre. The Jayhawks = Great Sing-Along Car Music.) The last vocal exercise was one where we had to move up and down the scales while reciting the alphabet. Supposedly this would help us with our articulation. As the exercise continued, the tempo became quicker and it got harder to recite. I can't believe that I, a library employee, had trouble reciting the alphabet. I should be able to say that thing backwards by now.

After rehearsal I went to the gym and found myself whistling "Comedy Tonight" as I was walking in. So if any of you see me in the next two months, be prepared because I'll probably start singing it sooner or later. Apologies in advance if it gets annoying.

Monday, March 22, 2004

I'm baaaaaaaack....

And what news I have. Remember how I said it would be a friggin' miracle if I was cast in the play I auditioned for two weeks ago? Well, friggin' miracles do happen: I am now a cast member of Footlite Musical's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. My role is "Citizen of Rome". Judging by the read-through tonight, that pretty much means I'm in the first scene singing "Comedy Tonight" with everyone else and then...gone. Well, at least I'll have eight other citizens of Rome to keep me company throughout the rest of the show.

I was debating even doing it, after the director failed to contact me for two weeks to let me know that I was in. (She left a message yesterday afternoon alerting me that I was to attend rehearsal this evening.) But in the end I decided to follow Nike's advice and just do it. After all, I thought, as a citizen of Rome I probably won't have much to do and can get a feel for how a stage production works. That way I can go on to bigger and better things, if I so desire.

I could be totally off base with the citizen of Rome thing, but I don't think so. But you know what? I don't care. I'm just happy I'm involved.

And even though I might only be in one scene, that's one scene where I'll be wearing a toga. TOGA! TOGA!! TOGA!!! I'll be channeling John Belushi throughout my performance.

Friday, March 19, 2004

You know how TV shows occassionally go on hiatus? That's what happened here this week: My blog went on hiatus. But we'll return to our regularly scheduled programing this weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I've been reading in the paper about the student from Ball State who was murdered over the weekend. For those of you who don't know, he was at a party and decided to give a ride home to the three people who would eventually kill him. And what idiots those guys were. Why on Earth would you kill someone in a robbery attempt when all your victim has on him is $2? (Although, I must admit, sick as it is, the first thing I thought of when I saw that was the line "I want my two dollars" from Better Off Dead.) The victim was from Carmel, and Karen (my coworker who used to be a grade school teacher) once had him as a student. She said he was a good kid, that he behaved and didn't cause trouble.

I believe the party he was at was near where I used to live. Judging by the map in the paper, it was close. The thing is, they keep calling that area seedy and rundown. Those houses are all pretty cheap, but come on, they're filled with poor BSU students. We're not exactly talking spacious living quarters here.

I lived in two apartments during my tenure at Ball State: The first one was on Bethel Avenue at the Cardinal Villa apartment complex. The complex started out as condominiums for students, and then they added our apartment building on a few years later. Being inferior apartments, we were segregated from the condos. I didn't care, because it was an awesome apartment. Oh, sure, it got a little tricky when Ray and Amy - my roommates, who also happened to be dating - broke up with six months to go on the lease, but for the most part it was a hell of a lot of fun living there.

After Ray and Amy broke up and Ray went to England to study overseas, I was forced to find my own place. So I settled on Cedars Apartments, which was also on Bethel but quite a bit more dated than my previous luxury apartment. All the rooms in the apartment were in a straight line, so that you could stand at one end, look straight ahead and see all the rooms in front of you. It was like living in a long hallway for two years. My biggest memory of this apartment is that it had absolutely no air flow. It had two tiny windows, one at each end, but they were separated by a bedroom wall. I couldn't believe how sweltering hot it got during the summer months, which is mainly why I didn't opt to live there during the break. (Even though my bedroom in Pendleton had air and heating issues, it was still cooler than the desert that was Cedars.) However, the oppressive heat worked well for me in the wintertime. I do not miss that apartment. Well, OK, I missed it a little when I got my first heating bill this year, but that's about it.

I must say that when I was in Muncie I didn't experience any of the rowdiness that they refer to on the news. For example, even though I lived in that neighborhood, I didn't think it was out of control. There was an incident at Cardinal Villa right after I moved in where someone burned a cross on the property, but I'm not sure that actually happened. I heard it on the news, and when I asked Ray and Amy about it they looked at me like I had lost my mind. There were parties at Cardinal Villa and I did go to a few of them, but they were mainly sedate affairs. Although once some drunk frat guy tried to kick over our mailboxes. Dumbass didn't realize that they were set in concrete and weren't coming down for him no matter how hard he tried. All we heard was THWACK THWACK THWACK OW GODDAMN MAILBOX THWACK THWACK THWACK for about an hour. Why he wanted to hurt our mailboxes we'll never know. Maybe he got one too many pieces of junkmail.

I could go on about Cardinal Villa for hours, so maybe I'll add more stories tomorrow...

Sunday, March 07, 2004

It will be a friggin' miracle if I get a part in that play.

I wouldn't call my audition a total disaster, but it was an eye opening experience to say the least. I arrived a bit early to fill out my application and was assigned the number 6, which meant that I would be the sixth person singing. Fine with me, I thought. I wouldn't be first, wouldn't be last. As it turns out I would be right in the middle, as they had more people show up than anticipated and decided to do the auditions in 12 person groups. And I was surprised that I wasn't nervous at all. I figured then - and still figure now - that if I didn't get the part, it was no skin off my back.

As you all know, I chose to sing "Grow for Me" from Little Shop of Horrors. Christy and I chopped it down quite considerably, making it fit within their time constraints. We also came up with a little acting routine for me to do while singing it. Two problems with that:

1) Rehearsing with Christy at the library is totally different than singing and acting on stage in front of a bunch of people you don't know.

2) Rehearsing with Christy is nothing like running through the song with a total stranger who is playing your edited version for the first time. Of course, this is all while you're singing in front of a bunch of strangers.

I don't think I did too bad with the song. I hit the notes - "Grow for Me" has a lot of range in it - but I mucked up the choreography. It was a little daunting, and I admit that when I got up there, all of a sudden I felt like a fool and that if I did the choreography there would be a good chance I would screw up the words. I still moved around a bit, but not to the extent that we rehearsed. Judging against the first twelve performances, I would say I ranked somewhere in the middle, just like my assigned number.

Then came the dance audition. Christy had told me that normally they teach you some simple steps, that it's not too complicated because they just want to see how you move. Well, this audition must have been against the norm, because we had to learn this extravagant dance routine that involved kicking, crossing, and turning around while waving our hands in the air. I should take comfort in the fact that no one in our group of twelve was able to do it. If the director's aim was to see how her potential cast would look if they kept bumping into one another, stepping on each other's feet, and going the opposite way of everyone else, then she achieved her goal. I think it's safe to say we all failed that portion.

Finally was something they didn't tell us we would be doing - reading from the script. I had assumed since there was no mention of it on the website and that they were holding a second round of auditions Tuesday night that that would be the time they would do the reading. Boy, was I wrong. I think at this point the director had crossed me off the list, because I was given a token read. The majority of my lines were read offstage, but at least the one line I did have onstage got a laugh. I would say of all the people in my group, I was near the bottom of the acting category.

So I was dismissed, along with my eleven other cohorts. I'm glad I tried out, because I always wanted to see what it was like. But I don't think I'd do it again, at least not anytime soon.


Saturday, March 06, 2004

It's official: Coldstone's is now open near my house. I might have to get me some ice cream tomorrow.

I spent the day hanging out with Maydak. We went to Borders, since his team - he's a high school girl's swim coach - gave him a gift certificate from there. Some highlights from the day:

- There was a lady begging for change outside Borders. She was your stereotypical beggar - sunglasses, tin cup in hand thrust outward, sign that said "Disabled veteran" - but what was odd was that she was at the Keystone at the Crossing Borders. You normally don't see anyone begging there. I kept wondering how she got to that store, since it isn't exactly located in a walkable area. Was she dropped off by someone who would pick her up later? Did she cross 86th Street amid all the traffic, hoping that she wouldn't get killed? And did she sleep on the benches outside TGI Friday's at night? She didn't bother us, but she was gone when we left the store. Perhaps she moved on to the more lucrative Bath and Bodyworks crowd.

- Maydak spent his gift certificate on the new DVD Special Edition of Rain Man. I tried - unsuccessfully - to convince him to buy something I thought he'd really enjoy: The Josh Hartnett Scrapbook. No, Maydak's not gay, but I thought he'd like reading about the exploits and adventures of Josh Hartnett. Because, really, who wouldn't want to know more about the guy who gave such riveting performances in Pearl Harbor, Hollywood Homicide and Black Hawk Down?

- Before shopping we had dinner at Tony Roma's. They took away my favorite menu item recently, and the few times I've been back since I've been lost on what to get. The first time I was there post-menu change I ordered what I thought would be a chicken breast but turned out to be chicken fingers. Today I ordered what I thought would be a chicken breast but turned out to be more of a cornish hen covered in barbeque sauce. I may as well have ordered ribs, judging by the mess I made. Cornish hens = not very easy to eat.

- Maydak spent the evening catching me up on all the reality shows now on television. Fox had a program recently that was built like a regular dating show but instead starred midgets. NBC's Fear Factor makes a challenge out of seeing who can most fill a cup with raw juice sucked from a dead cow's intestine. Even The Real World is no fun anymore, what with all the participants hooking up with each other, getting extremely drunk every night and then vomiting everywhere. Call me crazy, but seeing Real Worlders vomit does not equate to quality entertainment to me. I don't miss cable at all.

Well, stay tuned for the next update, which will hopefully be soon. I have my audition tomorrow night at 6:30 and I promise to update, unless I'm wiped out.


Monday, March 01, 2004

I predicted 17 of 24 Oscars. I correctly guessed all the major awards, but the short films tripped me up. I thought it was a pretty boring awards ceremony, to tell you the truth. There were no surprises, no inflammatory speeches, and no real fashion disasters to speak of. I wouldn't call it a waste of 3+ hours, but it came damn close. Some thoughts:

- Billy Crystal is not funny. He used to be, back in the 80's, but his humor has worn thin. He did his usual Oscar schtick - the singing, the "What They Are Thinking" segment, the Catskills punchlines - but this time everything came across as tired and flat. Even the opening film, where he was inserted into clips from the nominated movies, didn't work. It felt like instead of actually making it funny, everyone just thought it was funny that they were doing it. And why is it that Billy Crystal can be on television fully naked with his hands over his genetals for twenty seconds and no one cares? Janet's boob was only on screen for 1 second and it caused this big uproar, yet no one's mentioned a thing about Billy's cup job.

- There was one funny moment in the opening film: Michael Moore, chastising the Hobbits for fighting a fictitious war, getting stepped on mid-sentence by a rampaging elephant from The Return of the King. It's nice to see he has a sense of humor about himself and the speech he gave last year.

- Tim Robbins gave a classy speech, the best of the evening.

- I've never heard so many people thank lawyers in all my life. People used to get up and give statements from their heart. Now they single out everyone, including their dry cleaner, butler, nanny, former art teacher from 3rd grade, and parking attendent. For the people thanked it must be thrilling to hear your name read. For the rest of us, it makes for dull entertainment.

- Oscar Robbery #1: Best Documentary. I saw The Fog of War yesterday afternoon before the ceremony. I saw Capturing the Friedmans last week on DVD. The Fog of War was 1/10 the excellent movie that Friedmans was. Friedmans had a compelling story. Fog had an 86 year-old guy lecturing you about war for 90 minutes. Friedmans had unique structure. Fog had 3,000 separate shots of dominoes falling over, symbolizing the effect of how one wartime action can affect every single action after it. Friedmans had characters you cared about. Fog had one guy who, in the end, admitted that he only told you what he wanted to say, not the truth. Friedmans made you think. Fog made you wonder when it would end. I hate the Academy.

- Mr. Peter Jackson: Couldn't you have least combed your hair? Or maybe tucked your shirt in? Or perhaps buttoned your top button and made sure your tie was on properly? Dude looked like a slob.

- I am so sick of Julia Roberts and her overinflated ego. I wasn't surprised when she made the tribute to Katherine Hepburn all about her. (For those of you who didn't see it, she read some Hepburn quotes and then made squinty faces, drawing attention to the fact that she couldn't believe Ms. Hepburn said the things she said. The end result was audience laughter to Dame Julia's reactions, not to Ms. Hepburn and her body of work.)

- Oscar Robbery #2: Best Original Song. I know I predicted that Annie Lennox and company would win for the Lord of the Rings, and they did, but in my heart I wanted to see "A Kiss At the End of the Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind take the prize. Seeing Eugene Levy and Catheine O'Hara performing the song in character made me hope Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole would get Oscars for their beautiful piece of work. Alas, no, it went to some knockoff Enya pap. And I love both Elvis Costello and Sting, but what were those shitty songs they wrote? Did they even have melodies?

- When did "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin become the de facto commercial song? I swear it was in 75% of the ads during the broadcast, usually for different companies.

- Am I the only one who thinks that this super-thin look is disgusting? Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman in particular looked so emaciated that I wanted to track them down and shovel eighteen Big Macs into their mouths. Ladies, please, eat something! But what do I see when I open the Indianapolis Star this morning? Our local reviewer, who I think is an idiot anyway, calling Renee Zellweger "pudgy". I didn't think she looked fat at all! She looked fine and healthy! Pudgy? Nah. And people wonder why a lot of young women have eating disorders.

- My favorite moment of the night came early, right before the show began. I saw the 30 minute countdown to the show on ABC, which was nothing but awkwardly conducted interviews done by over-enthusiastic hosts. At the beginning of the show, one of the reporters asked Keisha Castle-Hughes who she would most like to meet. She answered Johnny Depp. At the very end of the countdown, when everyone was in their seats, this same interviewer introduced her to Depp, who wisely acted like the cameras weren't there and talked to her one-on-one. You could see she was thrilled, and I must give props to Johnny, who turned what could have been a shameless PR stunt into something meaningful for her and, by extension, all of us. It was sweet.

I watched the Oscars at the Cinema Grill, a movie-and-a-dinner place in Nora. While it was nice to get out and spend time with friends, I thought it was hard to talk with everyone about the show because of how spread out we were. Plus they seated us near the front, and put me in the corner, which gave me a shitty view of the screen. My friend's argument was that seeing the awards there was like going to a party but not having to do any work. But I thought it took all the fun out of watching the show. (Don't get me wrong, I had a good time. It just wasn't as fun as it could have been.)

Oh, and if any of you bizzare people from the group behind us are reading this, Lord of the Rings is just a movie. A good movie, yes, but still just a movie. There was no need to applaud like madmen and scream with joy as it won Best Picture. And there really was no need for you to all put on crowns, pop open a bottle of wine and give a toast in Elvish when all was said and done. Again, it's just a movie.