Took a sick day today. After two days in the office struggling not to sneeze all over my desk, and knowing that the third member of our staff would be back from a brief vacation today, I decided to call in.
I'm pretty sure it's just a head cold; no SARS or Bird Flu or Norovirus or whatever, just a stuffy head, itchy eyes, and a bit of respiratory congestion. Hopefully, with a little bed rest and another good night's sleep, I'll be back on my feet by tomorrow.
Closed bothshows last week, and both ended on high notes with a number of sell-outs, including both closing nights. Hadn't been back to see the "Twilight Zone" since opening, and was quite happy with the results, and with the minor exception of a pesky table lamp that refused to work properly, the piece was executed exactly as I imagined it. Of course, the fact that about half the house was filled with friends, colleagues & supporters didn't hurt, but at the same time, they're not the sort of people who are shy about voicing criticism, and several indicated they thought it was one of the strongest nights they'd seen in the 10+ years of the series.
Coming up, I've got a number of small projects all bubbling away on the theatrical stove: I'm directing one of Annex's 365 Days/365 Plays slots - on July 4th, naturally - and am also helping out a friend with a short play directing project she's working on. Plus, Annex is still trying to hash out the productions for our upcoming 21st Season (the slogan: "This year, we're legal!"), plus what seems to be an ongoing, almost never-ending lease negotiation for our performance space. Still, all this will be wrapped up before I go on vacation, and after that, the remainder of the summer looks like smooth sailing.
Well, except for the somewhat substantial amount of maintenance work I need to have done to actually get the boat back in sailing condition, that is.
When It's Time For Leaving, I Hope You'll Understand
I'm in the process of finalizing trip plans. Looks like I'll be spending the first two nights in Philly, as there's a concert at the Mann Center For The Performing Arts that I want to see Sunday evening (and yes, I'm well aware of the irony of travelling 2800 miles just to see a band from Portland), and so I'm skipping staying in D.C. that night, since I'm hearing it would be nearly a three-hour drive. So now D.C. has been moved to Monday and Tuesday, and I'll spend Sunday playing tourist in Philly.
The Washington Nationals play a night game against the Astros on Monday, and Tuesday I'll most likely take in some sort of theatrical entertainment (evidently, in another stroke of luck, my hotel is very near what passes for D.C.'s "theatre district"), while spending the two days wandering up-and-down the National Mall and environs.
I'll probably spend a bit of Wednesday in Baltimore, and then it's back to Philly in the afternoon to drop off the rental car and check into the convention hotel for the remainder of the week. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be all that much going on in the vicinity of the hotel that night, so I imagine I'll be spending the evening with the delegates as they come in.
I've been given to understand there's some sort of big shin-dig scheduled for Thursday evening, so will probably do that, although Gogol Bordello at the Trocadero Theater is a tempting alternative, since The Police concert that night is already sold-out.
I believe we're pretty much on our own for Friday evening, and again, not much going on (although I could be a super-nerd and hit whatever's going on that evening at the Star Trek Convention across the river in Cherry Hill, NJ.) - Ahh, I see. There's a big music festival that weekend, so nobody else is trying to compete.
Oh well, I'm sure I'll find something worthwhile to do.
Long before Mythbusters, and decades before Seattle's own Bill Nye The Science Guy, Don Herbert, (AKA Mr. Wizard), was wowing precocious little tykes like myself with mezmerizing demonstrations of scientific principles, using an array of mundane household items.
Although his program "Watch Mr. Wizard" was probably already in syndication by the time I was old enough to remember seeing it (the original, Peabody Award-winning series ran from 1951 - 1964), I can still recall sitting in front of the T.V. on Saturday mornings, wondering what sort of amazing contraptions or mildly explosive concoctions he was going to show us that week.
I don't remember attempting any of his home-brewed experiments, but what impressed me, and probably millions of other kids during the mid-1960's, was the idea that "science was all around"; you could pick up just about anything: a rock, a bottle of bleach, heck, something already lying in the garbage can - and use it, analyze it, break it down, combine it with other things to create a seemingly magical result. But - and perhaps this was Mr. Wizard's greatest accomplishment - IT WASN'T MAGIC! It was science - and whatever it was he showed you, YOU COULD MAKE IT YOURSELF, if you had the right combination of ingredients.
By "demytholizing" science, by making it accessible, even commonplace, Herbert instilled in an entire generation the notion that science is a tool, one that helps us to explain the world around us, that provides us with all manner of useful substances and objects, and perhaps most importantly, that it is a tool anyone - even non-scientists - can learn to use effectively.
Given the abject scientific ignorance of most Americans, it seems like we could sure use a guy like Mr. Wizard around today, if only to frame these apparently incomprehensible matters in terms even a six year-old can understand.
My 92 year-old grandmother fell out of bed Monday evening and broke her hip and shoulder. This is her second major accident in the past several months (she broke her hip last fall as well), and well, when someone is 92 years-old you begin to worry about how much damage the body can take.
She's pretty resilient, my Grandma Justine, so with luck, she'll pull through okay. She apparently came out of surgery yesterday in fairly good shape, and it sounds like they were able to put the hip back together, with the help of lots of bits of metal - at this rate, we'll have to start calling her "RoboGram". The shoulder however, seems to be a different matter altogether, because she suffered a compression fracture, and from the reports, it appears the break is inside the socket, which I guess makes fixing it more problematic.
But, at least she's in hospital, pumped chock-full of pain-killers at the moment, so resting comfortably, and being well-taken care of. Still, have to keep the fingers - and toes, and eyes crossed, for her sake.
The Portland Mercury is sponsoring a 4th of July cover coloring contest (For those of you not in-the-know, this is Portland's "alternative newsweekly", and sister publication to Seattle's The Stranger.) The winner gets the glory of having their art on that week's cover, plus $200 - woo hoo, and all that. You can see the original drawing in the link above.
Regardless of what happens to the piece, it was a good exercise in terms of using someone else's line art, AND completing it in a single sitting (5 hours, if you're counting). Compositionally, it was a challenge, because of course you're starting off with basically a pen-and-ink drawing, and have to figure out both the color choices, and how to give it some dimensionality. Plus, I realized about half-way in, that it would be more interesting visually if I added a main light source in the direction of where the dog is looking, creating (hopefully) the impression that a large fireball has just gone off literally over his (well, it could be a her too, I suppose) head. So, I had to add some shadows, which aren't in the original, but I think the overall effect is much more dramatic.
I'm particularly happy with the way the little no-neck fellow and the bottle rocket he's just shot off turned out (and the Confederate flag is part of the original, not my idea), although again, it's a bit washed out here, due to the flash.
Back from the not-quite-long-enough longish weekend in PDX. Hit all the planned destinations after arriving Saturday afternoon, with the added bonus of wandering through the pre-parade assemblage for the annual Starlight Parade, a sort of century-old mashup of the Fremont Solstice Parade (sans the naked bicyclists - NSFW), and that thing they do at Disneyland with all the lighted floats.
The mini-family confab was also enjoyable, between meeting most of my brother-in-law's relatives for the first time, and seeing both my dad and grandmother recovering quite spectacularly (IMO) from recent medical issues (although the run to the emergency room Saturday night when my dad's wife, Judy, came down with some mysterious allergic reaction, as well as my aunt Caroline being stuck in the hospital with a gastro-intestinal problem, put a bit of a damper on the overall "everyone's doing fine" atmosphere).
Also, spent some time with my cousin, Robbie, whom I haven't seen in something like 15 years or so. He's had his own set of personal problems, but seems to have come through the other side with relative success.
Regretably, my "announcement" of the possibility of spending more time in PDX because of work doesn't look like it will come to fruition as soon as I had hoped. I found out this morning that the manager in our office there has been talked into staying on through the end of the year, so that we have more time to plan and coordinate a transition, but whether that will entail keeping the office open is still up in the air. Too bad, as I was looking forward to the opportunity of spending more time with my family down there.
Made it back to town yesterday with just enough time to race home, drop off the luggage, and grab a bite to eat before attending two meetings in the evening.
The Show opens tonight. The actors are in fine shape, and the technical elements have slowly been catching up-to-speed, although a few minor glitches persisted in the final dress rehearsal last night.
These pieces are technically somewhat more ambitions than the pair of episodes I directed back in January; more sound effects, and even some video footage, plus a rather significant change-over from the mainstage show, as well as between the two episodes, so the stage crew has been saddled with more than the normal amount of things to do. Still, they're getting the hang of it, and as of tonight, it's all in their hands, so I'm confident they'll step up to the bar.
Leaving tomorrow morning for a brief sojourn to "The Rose City". My aunt and uncle are hosting a high school graduation party on Sunday for my neice, and my dad and his wife are flying up from Redding for a couple of days, so we're turning it into a mini family reunion.
I rarely get down to Portland, even though I still love my old hometown. Going to hit the Saturday Market, and hopefully a quick - well, relatively quick - pilgrimage to Powell's (and possibly sneak in a visit to the infamous Voodoo Donuts) while I'm in the neighborhood, before MAX'ing up to my aunt & uncle's condo, who have been gracious enough to put me up for the weekend. Weather is supposed to be in the mid-80's on Saturday & Sunday, but cooling off considerably on Monday, so should be a pleasant, albeit brief weekend vacation.
Back on Monday afternoon. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and don't skimp on the sun-screen.