Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cough, Kiss, Lines!

Home from work - sick with some sort of upper respiratory thing: chest congestion, cough, sore throat, kind of clogged up. No energy. But the show must go on.

Last night the kids and I went to the first rehearsal of The Christmas Carol. Though sick, I went because I didn’t want to miss anything. We read through the entire play. I hope the director doesn’t want me to play the part like I read it last night as I don’t think I could replicate the hoarse voice once I get better.

We enjoyed seeing the various people developing their characters for the first time. It was not uncommon to hear and see their voice and/or delivery change with each line they read as they tried out new ideas.

For the first time in my budding acting career, I have lines (plural). In The Music Man I had a line (singular), and in Oliver I had a non-speaking role. Now in The Christmas Carol I actually have lines that require me to flip the pages in the script! I am Father Pilgrim. Many/most of the characters in this production were unknown to Charles Dickens. The basic story line is the same, Scrooge, Marley, three ghosts – but it’s the details that make it fun. It takes place through the ages, from cave-man times to “the future”.

M plays Adolescent Belle (the young love of Scrooge) who appears during the early scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Much to her shock, she has a “love” scene – one that requires her to kiss Adolescent Scrooge in a rather romantic fashion. She is mortified! But after the kiss, she and Scrooge get to sing a duet. That makes up for the kiss – I think.

The Dude plays Random Reveler One – a little party guy who runs around announcing that Christmas is coming. He has one solo line, and another short interaction with Random Reveler Two. He is pretty excited.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Drat the luck of a poorly timed San Diego business trip. Not only am I missing my son’s parent-teacher conference (Now I’m one of those kind of parents!), I’m missing my first ever “call-back” for an acting role.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the phone last night and it was Margo (Music Director for Rosetown Playhouse’s production of The Christmas Carol) inviting both M and I to call-backs. No call-backs for little kids (Dude) at this time. Sounds like their roles will be assigned later.

This is very exciting news. M is pumped! One problem: call backs are tonight, and I won’t be here. I’ll be in San Diego. I apologized to Margo and said I realized this could take me out of the running, but Margo said she would talk to the Director (her son) and see if they could schedule me for Friday afternoon after I return. She said that she wants to give me a chance to show what I’ve got (in the acting sense, not like Brett Favre).

Keep your fingers crossed!

It looks like busy times ahead with several special meetings of the Planning Commission and my budding acting career with Rosetown. Too bad my paying job gets in the way.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm a Believer?

There's been a change in plans in the frantic last minutes leading up to the Rosetown Playouse auditions. While I know I'm going to sing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, I'm stuck on the poem/monologue I have to recite.

Unable to get past, "Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash," in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, I've decided to go with what I know. I plan to recite the lyrics to a pop song. Given my vast knowledge of Beatles tunes, perhaps I'll pull a Peter Sellers and do Hard Days Night. I'm also toying with I'm a Believer by The Monkees (words and music by Neil Diamond, of course). Either way I plan to deliver the lines with feeling and "meaning" - should be fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home Office: Running Dog and Barfing Cat

Business today respects no time. You report to an office for your regular 8 hours of butt-in-chair time, you carry your BlackBerry everywhere you go, responding to emails during your waking hours. You awake to read the emails from your associates in India. And, you agree to present via WebEx at 7:30 am from your kitchen.

It started out well. Shana and M had just left for school. The dog had been fed and walked. The Dude was still asleep, but I could wake him after the call and still get him to school in plenty of time.

The WebEx starts. The cats are hungry. Usually we have the Dude feed them – but he’s still asleep, and Patches is howling. Patches is an old cat, an ex-smoker – 4 packs a day by the sound of her meowing. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. I feed the cats.

Now Duke needs to go out. Out he goes – and he takes off running. Running I say – a rare occurrence these days. Off I go in pursuit, in my stocking feet. He sees me coming, and ducks and cuts with the finesse of an NFL running back. I collar him and drag him into house just in time to start presenting my portion of the show.

Now the dog is pacing and I ask myself – does he really need “to go” or does he just want to run? I start presenting, and my laptop goes into stand-by mode. I’ve lost the connection! Luckily I’ve printed off the slides and I continue on. I’m walking and talking, trying to distract the dog when Patches starts wretching on the couch, and Duke runs over to see if he can help “clean up”. Luckily it’s not much, and I clean it up without missing a beat on the call.

Somehow the call ends; thankfully, Duke has held it. All this drama and its only 8:00 a.m.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bah Humbug!

Sometime yesterday the theater bug bit me again. I had been telling myself for months that there was no way I could participate in the Rosetown production of A Christmas Carol. I simply didn’t have the time. But all that changed yesterday.

Why did it change? It hit me on the walking path yesterday as I walked along, grumbling about my lot in life. I came “this” close to veering off to the dark side, feeling sorry for myself and sliding into what looked to be a rather long-term mope. Instead, I thought – why not do something about it? Why not do something you really enjoy? Well – I enjoy community theater, and auditions are next Monday and Tuesday. It was a no-brainer.

For the audition I need a song (a cappella), recite a poem or Christmas story from memory, and do a dance – which they teach you that night. For the song I’m thinking God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen which I always associate with A Christmas Carol and happens to fall into my very limited vocal range. When I explained this to M, she said in a slightly derogatory tone, “Yeah Dad, the range is like ‘this’.’’ She was holding hands about 4 inches apart from each other. Sorry Miss M, not everyone can hit the E above high-C or whatever she can force her vocal chords to do. So, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen it is.

I’m stumped on the poem/story. Last night I was toying with the idea of reciting the Christmas story from Luke (King James Version) ala Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s a bit cliché – but it seems simple enough. Maybe I could do it with a blanket draped over my shoulder – might help them remember me if a lot of 48 year old guys audition.

For the dance – well I’ll just say a short prayer and hope I don’t trip.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cats and Mouse

The day begins on an interesting note. While walking Duke in the athletic fields behind our house we passed an owl (Great Horned I believe). He/She was sitting on the top of the football goal-post. It was dark (5:45 am) but you could make out the owl’s outline and see its head spin slowly around as it followed us as we walked 20 to 30 feet behind it.

We arrived back home to discover Roscoe and Reggie – the two more adventurous cats – had left a mouse for our inspection/enjoyment. It was quite dead, and Roscoe posed over it proudly while Reggie paced around behind him. Roscoe let me pick it up and dispose of it without incident. On other occasions, when they have a mouse we (the Dude and I) end up chasing the cats around the house, forcing them to drop it so we can take the mouse outside and release it. Of course, that’s when the mouse is still alive and who wants to give up a live (or partially alive) mouse? They are so much fun. Next time, if I’m home alone that is, I will just cat nature run its course. Once the mouse is good and dead, the cats will tire of it and probably even bring it to me.

Work continues to be busy, and I’m especially busy making up for time lost traveling. I missed two days last week for travel, and two days generate a ton of email. It feels like I’m always playing catch-up. After my regular “stand-up” meeting and a rather unproductive email exchange, I needed a mid-morning mental health break so I escaped to the walking path.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


[The best macchiato - at the Nook - perfect drink at the time.*]

The Westin Philadelphia – today’s office and home away from home

I’ve got to hand it to myself. I’m getting better at business travel. I can pack in under 15 minutes, and I no longer stress out about leaving the kids and Shana home to fend for themselves. Not that I ever needed to worry – but that’s just me – I worry about things.
This marks my 6th trip since July, and I’ve got one more scheduled for this month.

Back when I traveled 2 or 3 times a year it was fun – a perk of the job. Travel was a chance to see a new city, stay at a fancy hotel, and eat at nice restaurants. I still see new cities, stay at fancy hotels, and eat at nice restaurants – but at some point this business travel thing kind of “jumped the shark”.

The Dude was a bit upset when I packed last night. As he said, it’s not that he doesn’t like spending time with Mom, but I’m traveling “all the time” in his eyes. On the other hand, Maria thinks I’m a “rock star” with all this travel – she thinks it’s quite glamorous.

The only direct way to get here with enough time to make the afternoon appointment was to take the 7:15 flight out – arrives 10:50. That left plenty of time to wander around. After wandering I had lunch at El Fuego – very nice. After lunch I actually napped a bit.

Rather than feeling refreshed when I awoke, I thought my throat felt funny. I haven’t been sick in so long (rats I just jinxed it), but that’s only because I haven’t sat still long enough for the germs to catch up.

I had one meeting late this afternoon, then a nice dinner with a colleague. Now I’m just sitting in the hotel, catching up on email and watching the Twins lose.

Four more meetings with customers tomorrow. It should wrap up around 3 – plenty of time to make the flight home!

*Back story on that macchiato: I had time to kill before my 4:00 pm meeting and had not had any coffee since morning, so I stopped at a Starbucks. The baristas were very chatty and incredibly friendly. That's pleasant I thought - until they screwed up my order - gave me DECAF for pete's sake! I didn't notice it until about 5 minutes into the drink when I turned the cup to see the box next to Decaf was checked. It was too crowded, and I wasn't in the mood to object - so I left in search of another coffee shop. A half block away I discovered the Nook - it was quiet and peaceful. It also had a friendly barista - but not so chatty that he gave me decaf. In fact he fixed the most incredible macchiato I'd had in quite some time.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Go Team!

Don’t know why I agreed to do this, but like most things I hesitate to do, it turned out fun. Friday night I attended homecoming at Roseville Area High School (pronounced RAHS to the local). Both Maria and I had a moment of panic when we arrived. (She confessed to this later – Sunday morning actually.) This picture sums it up. I stuck my BlackBerry up and snapped the crowd, and got Maria’s face in the bottom half.

The reason I attended – the rule that middle school kids cannot go unless accompanied by an adult. No limit on the number of kids that can be attached to a grown up, so the number of middle schoolers outnumbered their “chaperones” by about 20 to 1 – or so it felt.

I did have a good time – sitting by myself with the other parent/chaperones. RAHS beat Hastings