Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tricia's Back Surgery

We sent this email out to family and friends earlier:
(I'm posting it for people who's email I don't have)

We wanted to take a moment to let you know about Tricia's ongoing back problems. It has gotten bad enough that surgery is necessary to eleveate the pain. So, she will be having surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a herniated disc. Also, the doctor will be fusing the lowest vertabrae to the second lowest. While the surgery is not without risks, we are very confident that she will come out of this just fine. She will be staying at St. Vincent Carmel in the brand new Orthopedic wing. After a few days, she'll be able to go home for bed rest. The doctor said that for 2 weeks she'll be in a lot of pain due the the fusion. She'll pretty much be in bed and get up for the bathroom. It'll be about 6 weeks for her to recover from the surgery and she should be able to resume "normal" activities (like work and sewing again) in 3 or 4 months.

She'll be staying at St. Vincent Carmel for a few days if you wanted to visit or call. Let me know if you wish to and I will send you room and phone info. Also, she'll be at home and in bed for a while if you wanted to keep her company while I'm at work or whatnot. (Addresses and phone numbers from original email deleted 'cuz this is the internet).

If you have the inclination, please pray that the surgery goes smooth and is successful. Also, that the recovery process takes hold and goes well. And, while you're praying, you might as well say a word or two about our families and friends who are evacuating from South Louisiana because of Gustav.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Theatre Snob? Moi?

Sometimes, I think I'm a "theatre snob." I see a lot of shows in a year and there's not a whole lot of them I think are good. I know a good show when I see one, and I'm pretty sure I know a bad show when I see one. While I can appreciate the hard work, thought and effort that goes into creating a production, there's a difference between appreciating the effort and seeing a good show.

***Warning to my theatre friends, you might not like this post. If I say something about your show, please take it in the constructive criticism vain it is given.***

In the past month, I've seen three shows that numerous others have lavished praise on. When I say, "lavished praise," I mean what others say completely differs from what I saw and would say about the show. One show was actually quite good.

"Bare," presented by All Alike Productions and Zach Rosing Productions was one of the better shows I've seen all year (Check out some highlites here). Admittedly, my expectations were low because there wasn't much money to put into production values. But, the cast and crew did a good job putting the story together and forming a show that exceeds the production values. The only nitpicks I have about this show is a costuming detail and a thought about a leading lady. It's set in a Catholic High School where students are seemingly required to wear uniforms. But if memory serves, there was one or two "uniforms" that didn't match the others. By that I mean, most were in a blue and green plain skirt, and one or two were in a red and yellow plaid. My colors might be off, but the point is they were radically different from each other. As far as the leading lady, she created a great character and had some great moments. She has one hell of an emotional song in Act 2. Other's thought it was lovely. I would say it sounded like she was taught the song, but not trained to sing it. That is, some of the parts were at the top of her range and there was a bit of a "scream" to her singing. Of course, my ears are more sensitive to little things like that. So, take it for what it's worth. The emotion and the character were there, just a bit screechy for my ears.

Also, April, if you read this... You OWNED that character. That was the best I have ever seen you.

Then, there's "Seussical" from CCP. Actually, the only people I've heard saying great things about it where the people that were apart of the show. I'll say that right of the bat it would be difficult for me to enjoy ANY production of "Seussical." The book is just bad. Needless to say, I did not like it, Sam I am. Now, the leads were good in their roles. But some of the production staff's choices left me scratching my head.

For instance, they probably spent over $3,000 renting, buying costumes and wigs for the various characters. The Who's were all pink. If it was pink, it was worn. My problem isn't the color, it's lack of continuity. The Who's wore probably 10 different eras of clothing (60s, 70s, 80s, etc) but nothing went together. Kind of a hodgepodge of pink, rather than a thought out design choice. Then, at the very beginning, all of the Who's come out wearing their show T-shirt. When I realized one character had come out in this orange "Seussical" shirt, I thought he got to the theatre late and didn't have time to change. Next scene, they're all in their pink.

And, for some reason, some of the animals were "Lion King" inspired costumes, while others seemed to be actual animals, and still others were human personification of animals. I appreciate the effort to bring all this out, but the lack of continuity and vision really hurt the costuming.

Let's not talk about the lighting, sound, and orchestra.

Which brings me to "Pippin." "Pippin" made me a little mad. I've worked with most of the leads in Pippin. I've seen their and most of the staff's work, respect them all, and know of what they are capable. Still, the show left me kind of empty. So, much potential on that stage...

Actually, I think the "circus performer" concept and design was a great idea for the show. It was an interesting way to present the story. The execution wasn't all there though. If the leading player is supposed to be the "Ringmaster" of the "circus" and the ensemble are all "circus performers," why not the supporting characters and leads? I didn't see that they related to "circus" atmosphere at all.

There was a lot of hype on Indiana Auditions about the "magic" tricks in the show. Perhaps, that hyping is why I felt underwhelmed by the actual tricks. Aside from a sword-swallowing bit (that was throw away, off to the side to be completely missed if you weren't paying attention to that performer), there were two other magics tricks. Tricks that didn't exactly mystify me and all too easy to figure out the "trick" to them. Again, for the hype, I was expecting more and better magic. So, maybe the hype let me down.

Now, the acting was fine, the choreo was good (the actual dancing was off though), the songs sung well (Really, Ginger, the music was a high point for us), the set and stage design was brillant, as were the lighting design. But, all in all, it was a mediocre show.

I guess what bugs me is that mediocre seems to have become acceptable in theatre around here. Again, I can appreciate the hard work, the effort and the thought that every single one of the performers, staff and crew puts into any show. But, friends, don't settle for mediocre with your art.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just a theatre snob. Is that bad?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Little Nikita

This is Nikita. Other names include, Kiki, Little Nikki, Darling Nikki, and of course, Emma Sucker.

Emma Sucker, as in I AM A SUCKER!

The count is cats 4, people 3, dogs 1.

Let's see if I can figure out how this happened. We start with the cats, and add the dog. The other day, my son calls home and said he "rescued" a kitten and he's bringing it home to take care off. While he's walking home, the wife and I decide... well, *I* decide that we can give the kitten a temporary home while we look for a home. No giving the kitten a name. It's not allowed.

Speaking of finding the kitten a home...

FREE 4mo. FEMALE KITTEN TO GOOD HOME. Up to date shots. Will release to good owner after she's been spayed. Send application of adoption to ML via the interwebs. Please include a letter of recommendation from 3 sources, and a 5 page essay on why you think you would be a great owner for this kitten.

There, I tried.

So, we set the other cats up in another room in order to keep them away from this kitten while she's here. This is so they don't contract any diseases the stray might have. And, so we can slowly introduce the kitten to them.

Turns out, the kitten has fleas. Immediate flea bath. 2 of them, and the wife and I are picking and killing fleas off the kitten until 1am. I couldn't sleep that night because I was being attacked by fleas and itched the whole night. That's not true. I wasn't bitten at all, but the though entered by brain and stuck. I still feel itchy today.

The next day, I buy more flea treatment stuff - a spray for bedding that kills 'em and flea collars for the cats. They are indoor cats and we don't do any regular flea treatment because of that.

I get home from work and the kid is apparently calling it "Kiki." *grumble* Don't get me wrong, "Kiki" is cute and purry and all. And, she's been working all her angles in hopes of staying. She's already got the wife and kid. She's been working me over by cuddling with me when I sleep and being all cute and purry and all.

Trying to be responsible, I take her to the Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic for tests and shots. They give her good flea treatment that kills'em all. And she's tested negative for Feline leukemia and FIV. Since she's healthy, we've allowed the other cats to meet her. The office assistants asked me what to put down for a name. Steadfastly, I said, "Just put 'Kitty,'" explaining the situation. Temporary home and all. They teased, "You should just name it. You've got 3. What's another?" HA HA HA.

Not funny.

Hannah has been all hissy with "Kiki." Misfit has been all hissy with everyone after meeting "Kiki." Jack didn't care and Scooby (the dog) was fine with "Kiki." I was hoping to play the angle "We can't keep it because the other cats don't get along with it." Unfortunately, "Kiki" has suckered the other hissy cats. They have been spotted playing together. By playing, I mean pawing and running around each other without the hissing.

If you ask me, she looks Russian. So, I thought, "Nikita," would be a proper name. And, there's the problem. I broke my own rule. It started going downhill from there.

The thing I'm trying to focus on is that this kitten has sparked a greater interest in an idea I've had. For some time, I have been thinking about starting a non-profit no-kill shelter for strays and injured cats. I've never mentioned it because it was just a thought in the back of my brain. And it wasn't something I would have thought to actually do before retirement. I don't know. It just a thought.

But, I'll keep that thought in the back of my mind for now because I'm realizing Nikita already has found a home. And that's enough.