Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Can't Add

Today I was filling out my time sheet, making sure to account for all the vacation days I took last week. I checked the numbers with the most current vacation balance on my paycheck and discovered I accidentally took an extra eight hours I didn't have.

Whoops.

It's my own damn fault. Instead of scheduling entire weeks off like normal, I cherry picked the days this year and chose one here and one there. Somewhere I lost track. And when I was scheduling my time off for Buffalo, I simply didn't account for one of the days. The HR person was out today - of course, the first time in nearly seven years I need to talk to her and she isn't there - so I have no idea how I'm going to make it up. I'll probably have to lose one of my comp days for the holidays at the end of December. Oh, well. That'll learn me.

So I'm already locking down next year's vacation schedule. I know a week will be spent in Buffalo, a week will be spent in Vegas, a week will be spent hopefully in NYC, and a week will be spent sitting on my ass in Fishers.

Yes, I get four week's vacation, which is a lot. Come to think of it, let's blame the library for this mess. After all, if they weren't so generous with their time, I wouldn't have had this problem.

Nah, I stand by my original opinion: It's my own damn fault.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Call Me Harold

Friday is the library's Professional Development Day, which basically means the entire staff sits in the Program Room and listens to some outside speaker try to motivate us. Blah blah blah, these kind of things always make me feel like I'm back in college. Because that's pretty much how I could sum up 92% of the lectures I attended at Ball State: Blah blah blah.

Of course, that explains why my grades weren't that great.

Anyway, there is one highlight of PDD, as those in the know call it: The AV Manager, who's a veteran of many shows, and I always provide some entertainment before lunch. For the past few years we've taken popular songs and rewritten the lyrics so that they have to do with the library. We also add a theme to hang the songs on: Two years ago we dressed up in winter coats and sang reworked Christmas carols. Last year we did a takeoff on Avenue Q with some puppets borrowed from the Children's Department. (Only without the swearing and puppet sex.) But this year, when we were planning what to do, we decided it was time to try something different. We wanted to do an entire show, but we knew that we had only been allotted fifteen minutes to entertain our masses.

Solution: We took an existing show - The Music Man - and cut it down to fit in that time frame. We also enlisted two other theatrical vets on staff to perform with us. Why that show? Because it features a librarian. Plus the four of us are very familiar with it so there would be very little memorization involved.

I'm Harold Hill. My lines are pretty basic, like "Are you the librarian?" and, "Say, Winthrop, you should join the band." We sing very abbreviated versions of the songs - I only get two verses and a chorus of "Seventy Six Trombones" - and have elminated the majority of the characters. Marcellus? Gone. The Barbershop Quartet? Gone. Mrs. Parroo? Gone. That "Egads" girl? Gone. Like I said, it's pretty streamlined.

We rehearsed it today. Our audience is either going to love us or stare blankly at us and wonder what in the hell we are doing. Hopefully it will be the former, because I don't want to get pelted with someone's lunch if they're unhappy.

And, yes, we actually do have a Marian the Librarian on staff. She works in Reference and I'm sure she's sick of people singing that song to her.

Monday, November 28, 2005

And The Inductees Are...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were announced today. And, believe it or not, they finally got it right. This year's group:

  • Black Sabbath
  • Blondie
  • Miles Davis
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Sex Pistols
It's been a crime that Sabbath, Skynyrd and the Sex Pistols haven't been inducted until now. All three bands were extremely influential in their particular genres of rock, causing the Hall to lose a lot of credibilty when they were ignored year after year. However, the cynic in me wonders whether these acts were included more for boosting television ratings than merit; members of both Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols have said that they believe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke and that they would publicly mock the ceremony if they were ever inducted. What better way to juice the ratings than induct them both in the same year?

Oh, well, I'm just glad they're finally included. Sabbath pretty much invented heavy metal, just as Skynyrd created Southern Rock. And the Pistols? You could argue they were the Monkees of the punk scene, a group created solely to turn a profit. Whatever they did, worked; they're the most successful punk band of all-time. Even some of the dowdy librarians I work with own copies of Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. That's just amazing to me.

Including Miles Davis in that group baffles me. This isn't the Jazz Hall of Fame. Sure, Davis dabbled in rock sounds, but mostly what he performed was jazz oriented. I could see inducting him as an influence, but including him as a major rock performer just seems bizarre.

There are two bands missing from this list: Kiss and Van Halen. I don't like Kiss at all, but I recognize the fact that they've been hugely influential on rock and roll, especially in stage presentation. And Van Halen is a joke now, but their legacy is incredible. Kids still pick up guitars today because they hear an Eddie Van Halen solo from 1978 and want to play just like him.

Two personal picks for next year: The Cars and Devo. The Cars because their body of work has held up rather well, and Devo because...alright, Devo is a long shot, but I love 'em anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rain Day

I spent four hours this afternoon working on my new iPod, downloading tracks into it, erasing songs to make room for others, etc. Before you go making fun of me because I spent four hours pretty much doing nothing, remember what it was like outside today: rainy and miserable. It was the perfect rainy day project.

And don't think I skipped out on any chores to goof around. I cleaned the house this morning. Oh, sure, I could have been more thorough in my cleanliness, but hardly anyone ever comes over, so I let some things go. For example, my floors. Eh, they can be swept next week.

I also ventured out to the grocery store after discovering that milk doesn't last forever. Guess I should have cleaned out the refrigerator before I went to Buffalo. Because nothing says "Welcome Home" like curdled milk and wilted lettuce.

And the gym, let's not forget the gym. No one was there, always a plus. I love it when I can actually choose my treadmill instead of being forced to use Ol' Broken Belt because he's the only one available.

I also paid my bills, which means Mr. Insurance and Ms. Marathon Gas Card will be happy. Once I buy stamps, that is. Until then they'll have to wait.

And let's not forget all the laundry I did. In fact, I'm still doing it; my jeans are currently in the spin cycle. It's so great to have everything clean after months of being behind. Thankfully I never reached that "Do a Load of Laundry or Go to Target and Buy Clean Underwear" stage. We've all reached that point at least once in our lives. And, if you're like me, you usually wind up with more laundry to do when all is said and done.

So I think I earned the right to spend four hours playing around with my new iPod. God, when you read all that I did today, you'd think I'd be exhausted. In fact, I am. Good night.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shuffled Back To Indiana

I don't have much to report today. I spent between 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. in transit, nine with my parents and one on my own, traveling from Buffalo, NY, to Indiana. You know Ohio? It's a large state. And my parent's Buick has the mileage to prove it.

We ate at Burger King for lunch. There's some Star Wars watch promotion going on that seemed to occupy a lot of our counter lady's time. She was sent on a wild goose chase by a six year-old to find a particular watch that, I believe, featured a "White Guy". Since white guys make up 99.6% of the Star Wars universe, she could have just handed him a random watch and sent him on his way, but instead she kept looking and looking for the right one. Then, when she finally took our order, she looked at me like I was crazy because I didn't want the combo meal. Why would I want the combo meal when I don't drink soda? (The only New Year's resolution I've ever kept. I will celebrate my third year of no soda in 2006.) She retaliated by "forgetting" to give me a cup, forcing me to steal the largest one I could find behind the counter. Ha! That'll teach her...something.

It's not exactly taking down the system, but it's a start.

Damn You, Dog!!!

We gave my niece and nephew their Christmas presents tonight after dinner since we won't be seeing them in December. This year I bought my niece her very first game, The Memory Game. You know, the game where you line up cards with pictures on them face down in a grid and take turns turning two of them over until someone finds a match. My niece didn't have much time to play it before she went to bed, but afterward my sister and I busted it out and played a few rounds.

And Val kicked my ass. Like, six times.

You would think that matching up cards with pictures of elephants on them would be an easy thing, but you'd think wrong. Seriously, finding that elephant was a bitch. Everytime I thought I was turning him over, there was that damn dog staring me in the face, taunting me. "You thought I was an elephant did ya? Fuck you!" I hate that dog.

I personally think I lost all those rounds not because of my (fading) memory skills but because Val always got to go first. The rules specifically state that the youngest person playing gets first chance to match, but I'm sure that was written to stop fights between the intended age group (3-6) and not for a couple of people in their early thirties. To be fair, Val did offer me first match a few times, but I declined. I did not want to win The Memory Game on a technicality. I wanted that victory to be pure. Unfortunately, it was not to be. And I blame that dog.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I Hate A Parade

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I spent the day eating. And eating. And eating some more. Oh, and I also watched the first eight episodes of The Cosby Show on DVD. That Vanessa. What a character.

Is it just me, or does the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade really suck ass? I watched it this morning and was surprised by the fact that it was the lamest parade I had ever seen. Look! There's a big balloon in the shape of a cartoon character! Oh, look! Another balloon in the shape of a cartoon character! Oh, guess what! Coming down the street is another balloon in the shape of a cartoon character! Where were the floats? The marching bands? Hell, the Shriners? Seriously, if it wasn't a cartoon character, Macy's wasn't interested.

At least the show gets bonus points for having Rod from Avenue Q interview people in the crowd. But they immediately lost those points for not having him sing "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada." I'm sure all the eight year olds watching the parade would have loved that.

Future Vet Assistant

I had lunch today with my 2 year-old niece and we spent the majority of the time looking at the want ads. Because, you know, I think it's time she earned her keep. So I found the perfect job for her: Animal Hospital Receptionist. She likes animals, a plus. She can also make all the animal noises when asked, which I'm sure Animal Hospital Receptionists are required to do at a moment's notice. And she can use a computer, if by "use" you mean beat the crap out of the keyboard in the hopes that it does something. But I knew she needed a competitive edge to secure the job. So I taught her how to say this:

"Hello, thank you for calling the vet. How may I help you?"

We practiced it about thirty times and each time she got better. Then we did some role playing to make sure she was good to go:

HER: Hello, thank you for calling the vet. How may I help you?
ME (AS CONCERNED DOG OWNER): I would like to schedule an appointment for my dog to get his shots.
HER: OK.
ME: Could we do that Thursday?
HER: OK.
ME: What time?
HER: 10:30 in the morning. That's in the morning.
ME: Sounds good. Thanks!
HER: Thank you. Goodbye!

I think the job is hers if she wants it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Gervais v. Carrell

I caught an episode of the American version of The Office tonight and surprisingly enjoyed it. I'm a huge fan of the original British series and think it's one of the funniest television programs I've ever seen. (Although I still thought the overall ending of the show, while good in an "awwwww" sort of way, didn't fit in with what came before it.) And I admit it, I've been an opponent of the American version since it aired. Because, really, how can you top perfection? That moment where David Brent busts a move while doing the robot and making beat box noises? Classic. And any show that includes a song called "Free Love on the Free Love Freeway" gets a pass from me.

But the American version succeeded on several levels that I didn't expect. For one, they didn't try to mimic the original series. The characters all had new names, and while they fit somewhat similar profiles - the clueless boss, the two co-workers that flirt all the time, the arrogant pencil pusher - there really wasn't that much ported over in terms of character development. And the actors all turned in entirely different performances than their British counterparts. Sure, the boss is still a fool, but he's a different kind of fool. For another, the storyline was something the British series never tried: Who do you invite from work when you're throwing a party? I spent a lot of the thirty minutes laughing, always a good thing when it comes to comedy.

It's nothing I would seek out to watch, but I'm going to stop claiming that the American version was a bad idea. And for any of you who haven't seen the British version of The Office? Rent it tonight. There's nothing else on TV anyway except crime scene shows and sitcoms starring Jim Belushi.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Vanna

Yesterday's post about the posse was a popular one. Michelle even sent me an e-mail saying, "Write more about me!" so...um...alright.

Michelle, where to begin? First of all, I could not have asked for a better Vanna. She really was perfect for the role and played it to the hilt. And like I told her the other night (morning?) at Denny's, without her I don't think I would have been able to do it as well. She really did bring out the best in my performance.

But the coolest thing about her is the laughter we shared. These three words will inspire gales of laughter from the two of us, a wince from Cragun, and blank stares from everyone else: "The Cragun Hug." I was laughing so hard Sunday before the show that I thought I wasn't going to be able to speak.

I have many favorite Michelle moments from the show, including:

* Our slow dance during the "Charlie Brown" dance break on Sunday.
* How at the end of each show my tux jacket would be covered in her makeup.
* Our ad-libs when she was bringing up an audience member to spin the wheel.
* Doing the tango.
* Watching her fight back laughter as Cragun and I tried to make her laugh during that weird purple commercial at the end of the show. ("Dat's wat we do.")
* Our ritual of "fighting" right before the curtain rose.

And, of course, many of the off-show moments as well, including:

* Our neverending mocking of the Cragun House in Lebanon. Sorry, Beav. We find it funny.
* "Want to go to Denny's?" she says at 2:30 in the morning. Of course, I said yes, because for dinner I had...
* $5 cheese cubes.
* Playing the worst game of pool in the history of mankind.
* Friday night: Watching her headbang to "Living on a Prayer". Saturday: Listening to her say, "I think I gave myself whiplash."

I could go on, but as this post is mainly for her, I will stop. Seriously, there are about 6,000 other great moments we shared during this show. We've already vowed to work together again - which I think is a great idea, since we play off each other very well - and I look forward to that day. Hopefully it will be soon.

So there you are, my Vanna. A post just for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Posse In Effect

There's been a good reason why I haven't been around. I've been working on Lebanon Follies for the past few weeks and haven't had a spare moment to update this thing. The show was this weekend, though, so everything will now return to normal.

We had a great run. Because I was a game show host I spent the majority of my time running around onstage. I swear I lost ten pounds. And, because I had to shout a lot to keep the excitement up, the upper registers of my voice are now completely gone. I sound like I've been smoking for 40 years.

I'm also a founding member of The No Name Posse, so called because no one could think of a better name at the time. (It was late and we weren't in the mood to be creative.) We even have a secret handshake, if you can consider raising a fist in the air and yelling "POSSE!!!" very loudly at random intervals a secret handshake. I'm sure we annoyed the hell out of everyone during the cast dinner tonight. Tough. They're just jealous because they're not in the posse.

What will the posse do? Why, go out searchin' for bad guys and bring 'em back into town, duh! Oh, wait. We're not that kind of posse. Basically we'll just get together and drink, if we can ever find a bar that's open.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

New Toy

I bought a new DVD player today. My old one - which, I have to admit, I never really liked - started acting crazy a few days ago. Since I actually like to watch my movies without them skipping around on me, I decided to swing by Best Buy this afternoon and buy a new player. I had very few requirements:

1. It had to be a name brand.
2. It had to be a single disc player. (My last one was a six disc changer that had five slots open 99% of the time.)
3. It had to be under $75.

I met all three goals: It's a Sony player that cost $75. Fleetwood Mac was the first CD I listened to on it, Adaptation the first movie I watched.

I also took the opportunity to weed my entertainment center from all extraneous equipment. The broken Laserdisc player? Gone. The cassette deck that hasn't been used since I moved? Gone. The VCR? I left that one, but not because I use it. If I removed it, I would lose my clock.

It's been an expensive but fun past 30 days. I bought a new iPod, upgraded my Internet service at home to DSL, and now have a sleek new DVD player. Maybe someday I'll actually spend my money on home improvement.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Foam Cornea

Ever gone to the eye doctor only to have him tell you that the contacts you've been wearing for three years were too tight? And that because of this you have an impression of your contact etched into your right eye? I have. Monday morning.

Thanks to my old eye doctor - who I will not be seeing again - I am now back to wearing glasses for at least a month until my cornea heals. According to New Eye Doctor, my cornea is like a piece of foam that will eventually spring back to its normal shape. Unfortunately, unlike foam, this process is not immediate, which means I'm back to having four eyes for the time being.

This should make Follies interesting since I don't want to wear glasses onstage and am pretty much blind without them. Thankfully I'm standing behind a podium for nearly the entire show.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween. I dressed up as a...I didn't dress up. I didn't even get home on the 31st until 7:00, and by that time the kids had pretty much ransacked the neighborhood. Good thing, because I didn't have any candy to give them. (If I keep candy in my house, it gets eaten. This has been proven before.)

Follies is coming along. I encourage each and every one of you to come see it, because it will probably be the only time you will ever get to see me as a game show host. Unless there's a game show producer in the audience who believes I'd be the perfect host for a new edition of Tic Tac Dough or Press Your Luck. No Whammys!

I bought the new 60gb video iPod last week. Temptation is a bitch, let me tell you. I sold the old 'pod to a friend, so at least I offset the cost somewhat. I consider this my reward for making it through the Hillsboro show without going completely insane.

I also switched to DSL Internet service at home last week. I have the equipment but haven't hooked it up yet since my account doesn't go "live" until tomorrow. But after that point I'll be able to e-mail people from home very quickly.

It's officially winter. I know this because my hands are super-dry, which means they're dry, but with super powers: The power to crack! The power to absorb tons of lotion yet not get any better! The power to drive me crazy!

I'm in the Tech Center and there's a woman in here that reminds me of Ruth Fisher from Six Feet Under. She means well, but she's very needy and really annoying.