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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Twenty-Four Little Hours Brought the Sun And Flowers

Just got back from the theatre, where as of about 3:00 p.m. we had nearly completed half of Phase I-B. As I predicted yesterday, we didn't come anywhere close to completion, but at the same time, this part of the project clearly will go much more quickly than the first part, so realistically we only need a couple of four-hour work calls interspersed into the next two months to "git 'er done", as the kids around here say.

We'll spend a couple of evenings next week getting the space cleaned up and ready for an audience Friday night, then we move right into rehearsals for the next show, which for me personally means the heavy lifting is done for awhile - at least until we schedule some other massive project, like say, hanging a light grid or some-such.

Which also means of course that now I have no more excuses to not get back into the gym on a regular basis.

So, I've got the rest of the afternoon to clean up and relax before meeting a friend for dinner and a little show put on by some other friends this evening. Then two glorious days of completely unscheduled nothingness before heading back to work on Wednesday.

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Posted byCOMTE on 3:40 PM

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gonna Die With A Hammer In My Hand

Mucho on the news front, but have been tres busy, hence just now getting around to posting.

Dale was released from hospital on the 26th, and if his subsequent blood tests show good results, they expect he'll be released to go home on the 3rd. I had initially planned to drive them back to Longview, but unfortunately, my boss isn't going to be back from vacation until the 4th, so no chance to clear the extra days off, and in any event, I'd just have to turn right around and come back the next day anyway, as I've got New Parents dinner duty on the 5th (Ida and Yellow Dog birthed their wee bebe on the 22nd (Nora Somerville Jorgensen, born 12/22 at 12:22 p.m.), and an Equity Membership Meeting on the 6th.

On the theatre side of things, I've temporarily resumed by recently divested PR position, as the person who had intended to take over the slot found she was in over her head, and so I'll be handling the reins again until a suitable replacement steps forward.

Also, we've been slogging away trying to get Phase I of our sound mitigation project completed, and I'm proud to say that, as of 5:00 p.m. today we are a literal hair's breadth away from finishing Phase I-A (installation of the first layer of cotton insulation, along with the 2x4 framing needed for Phase II, which will involve installing two layers of sound-deadening hardwall), and even managed to make a tiny start on Phase I-B (second layer of cotton insulation). It's been a dirty, back-breaking task; after pounding nails, hammering wood cross-bracing into position, and screwing it into place all Thursday and Friday evening, and all day today, I finally hit a wall around 4:00 p.m. where my upper arms went into muscle fatigue to the point that I could no longer hold a drill over my head steady enough to fit the bit into the screwhead. Even as I type this I'm actually supporting my arms against my rib cage; when I stop, they instinctively fold up towards my chest, as if the upper half of my body were attempting to curl up into a fetal position. In addition, I started getting leg cramps from packing a tool belt laden with about 30 pounds of tools, screws, etc., but, due to a thoughtful Christmas gift - thanks Dad, the money was well-spent - the new belt made the process part of the job easier, even if it exacted an unanticipated toll on the Ole' Bod. But despite the aches-and-pains, BenLau and I raced through the last three 36-foot sections in record time, and we are now literally only six pieces of wood from finishing this first step. Fortunately the second half of Phase I will entail far less sheer brute force, so tomorrow we'll be back at it for a few more hours trying to get as much done as we can.

Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get I-B finished by then as planned, which means we have to try to squeeze out another day or two somewhere in our insanely busy production schedule over the next couple of months to get it done, before we call in some actual professional dry-wall installers (or, barring that some Union stage carpenters) to do the second half of the project in March.

Oh, right. And we've got our monthly late-night cabaret coming up in a week, so we have to clean up the huge mess, and get the space ready to greet the public by next Friday.

But, that can wait. Right now, I'm going to take a long, hot shower, in hopes it will relax my arms (and hopefully clear some of the recycled blue jeans out of my lungs) enough to fix some dinner.

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Posted byCOMTE on 6:17 PM

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Fellas, I'm Ready To Get Up And Do My Thing

Yesterday's hospital visit brought clear signs of improvement: Dale is more awake and alert, his voice is stronger, his personality is starting to reassert itself, he's able to make some minimal efforts towards self-ambulation, and he was even able to breath without the oxygen line by the end of the afternoon.

All-in-all, a pretty decisive leap from the day before.


Posted byCOMTE on 11:40 AM

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

London Calling, At The Top Of The Dial

Can someone versed in these things check my RSS Feed (Left Column, right below "Radar Pings")? Let me know via email that you were able to subscribe, then I'll post a test message to verify the feed is working properly.

Thanks in advance.


Okay, looks like the new RSS feed is uploading properly (thanks, BenLau!), and I'm guessing those two or three of you who actually subscribed to AtomFeed are getting this as well.

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Posted byCOMTE on 6:04 PM

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Why Don't They Let Me Go Home, This Is The Worst Trip I've Ever Been On

Just got back from spending 3 1/2 hours with my Mom in a hospital room watching over an old man trying to breath - and according to her, today was a GOOD day.

I hadn't seen Dale for about three weeks, just after his final infusion treatment, and he looked like a wreck then; now, even though everyone assures me he's out of the woods and actually on-the-mend from the flu virus, he looks like he's aged 20 years. He's lost probaby 15 or 20 pounds, most of his hair has fallen out as an after-effect of the last round of chemo, and he can barely speak after having had a respirator tube stuck down his throat for more than a week. Still, like my Mom said, at least they've taken that out, along with the IV lines, and the catheter, and he is able to sit up, and even get out of bed with assistance. But, I can't help but wonder what he must have looked like three or four days prior, when the virus was still kicking through his system - "death warmed over" probably wouldn't have been an exaggeration.

Clearly, he isn't getting out of hospital in the next few days; my obviously unprofessional guess is he'll be in for at least another week, and then probably one more week in Seattle, just to make absolutely certain he's recouperating, before they clear him to go home. Naturally, everyone is disappointed, not the least of which being Dale himself. When my Mom just casually mentioned her brother and sister-in-law coming over to Seattle on Tuesday, he started choking up; and this is a guy who, in my experience at least, rarely drops that stereotypical adult-male stoicism.

And my Mom's been doing this as a daily routine for well over a week, not to mention the numerous hours and days spent sitting in various hospital treatment waiting rooms for more than three months now. I have to give her credit; although he's the one enduring the pain, the discomfort, and the humiliation of being able to do almost nothing for himself (I discreetly stepped out of the room when he asked to go to the bathroom, figuring that between my Mom and the nurse, it would be better to get out of their way, but mostly to at least give him whatever small amount of dignity I could, considering that two women - albeit one his wife, the other a medical professional - were standing over him all the while), but she's been right there the entire time, lending whatever support she can.

We finally left shortly before 2:00 p.m., when he was due for some sort of treatment. I didn't get the details, and Mom wasn't really sure about the purpose, but apparently it requires him to be put under some sort of an oxygen tent, and the doctors and nurses have to don self-contained resperator units, so it's something that entails a relatively high level of decontamination, considering we were already required to gown, glove, and mask up before entering the room. We stopped for a quick lunch before I dropped Mom off back at the hospice hotel. She looks pretty beat, probably from worrying and lack of sleep, but otherwise, she's optimistic. After all, they've already come through the worst part, and she assures me there has been significant progress made since Dale was admitted, so I just have to trust her on that count.

I told her I'd drive her back over to the hospital tomorrow. The shuttle doesn't run on the weekends, and she's been taking the cab back-and-forth, which really add up - I scolded just a little, since, I reminded her, I could easily have driven her over, if she needed. I'm hoping I'll be able to see a little of the improvement everyone else has been reporting, and I'll probably feel a lot better about the situation if I can get some first-hand verification.

We'll just have to wait and see.

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Posted byCOMTE on 3:37 PM

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Friday, December 21, 2007

He Was Heading For Pennsylvania, And Some Home-Made Pumpkin Pie

So, just got the official word from the Moms: Dale will be in-hospital at least through the weekend, which means the odds of his being released to go home next week have been effectively reduced to zilch, which in turn means "Christmas In Seattle".

My aunt & uncle who live near Port Townshend will be coming over on Christmas Day, and we'll do a brunch or early dinner out, so there will be at least some minimal family-gatheringness in store. After that, I have an invite to an "orphan's Christmas" with a bunch of my theatre friends, so I'll be spending part of the Holiday with a sort of "different branch" of my extended family.

No idea at this point whether I'll be heading south at all. Again, unless Dale gets clearance to go home before next weekend, then my vacation time is gone, and I'll have to stay here, or at best do a same-day turnaround; will just continue to play things by-ear.

It'll be interesting to wake up in my own bed Christmas morning, something I don't think I've done more than once or twice since I graduated from high school. I will sort of miss the ritual of pulling chocolate bars, deoderant, and odd tools out of my 47 year-old "Mickey Mouse stocking", though - some traditions you just don't give up on, no matter what.

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Posted byCOMTE on 2:38 PM

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Patch Of Green In The City Plot

The Holiday Season has been shifting into high gear this week. Monday evening we had a little soiree at the theatre, and Tuesday evening, a friend of mine threw together a little festive musical concert at a local watering hole.

John is a disgustingly talented person, as are far, far too many of our mutual friends and colleagues (sadly, I cannot include myself among this exalted host, being completely lacking in anything even remotely resembling musical ability), to the point that he can just bash out an entire album's worth of self-written and recorded music on a complete whim, something which has apparently become an annual seasonal tradition for him.

And of course, he's nice enough to pretty much give the stuff away. So, if you like what you hear, feel free to download the entire album's worth, and maybe send a couple of $$ his way, just to encourage him to continue.

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Posted byCOMTE on 10:10 AM

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Please Have Snow And Mistletoe And Presents On The Tree

Just got off the phone with my mom. Turns out Dale is in hospital for ten days, not the three she was given to understand when he was admitted last week, because they'll need to do several days of physical therapy with him once he's able to get out of bed. So, he's doing better, hasn't come down with pneumonia (which apparently is fairly common with this particular bug), and is off IV fluids, although they've still got an air-tube down his throat to be on the safe side. But, the upshot is, they most likely won't be able to go home until at least the middle of next week, so it looks like I'll be spending Christmas in Seattle for the first time in 22 years.

I suppose I could go down south without them being there, but just doesn't make a lot of sense, since I'm probably of more use to them up here. Mom isn't going to be able to do all the packing and moving when they do get checked-out, so she's going to need help with that. Plus, she's an absolute terror on the freeway; she hardly ever drives more than a few miles, and even that short of a distance makes her nervous, so I'm angling to convince her to let me drive them down, whenever that happens.

Most of the family is naturally upset by the news, but they'll get over it. The main thing is to make sure Dale can leave with his immune system intact and as much of his physical strength restored as possible. So, if that means delaying Christmas for a few more days, well, so be it. The presents will still be sitting there under various and sundry trees, and maybe for once things will be a little more relaxed, a little less hectic, and everyone will appreciate the experience all that much more as a result.

All things considered, I can't think of a better holiday gift.

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Posted byCOMTE on 4:35 PM

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

What does one do for an encore after defeating "Spider Solitaire" at "highest difficulty level (four suits)" AND in alternating suit sequence (HSDCHSDC)?

Are there no more challenges to overcome? No more mountains to conquer?


I suppose I can always go back to "Minesweeper"...


Posted byCOMTE on 10:01 PM

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'll Make You Happy Baby, Just Wait And See

My friends Ida and Yellow Dog are about to have a wee bebe (the official due date was the 7th, but they're expecting it to be more like the 15th, which I'm also rooting for, since it will make it easier for me to remember, seeing as that's also my Pop's birthday), and yesterday they threw open the doors to their newly-settled apartment for a baby shower.

My other friend (and Ida and Yellow Dog's downstairs neighbor) Brynn acted as social director. When I asked her a few days ago whether I could contribute anything in the way of snackages, she replied "bring sandwiches". So, I scanned the Evite list to determine the number of potential attendees (this is the way such things are determined in our bright, shiny, internet-enabled future), I came up with a rough number of about 100 servings - that's a LOT of "sammies" my friends.

Fortunately, sandwiches require very little in the way of cooking, just a sufficient level of organization and prep-work. So, after a late night/early morning to bed after Friday night's Spin The Bottle (another rousing renditionof our annual "60 Seconds Max" showcase), I was up at the crack o' 8:30 (thanks cats!) to prepare 100 sandwiches of various varieties:

- 12 peanut butter & jelly mini-bagels ('cause don't all kids love PB&J?)
- 20 cucumber & butter on white (crusts removed, of course)
- 24 turkey and cranberry sauce on multi-grain
- 20 meatloaf and mustard on potato bread
- 12 mini quesadillas on home-made corn tortillas
- 12 mini "salsadillas" on same (for my lactose-intolerant & vegan friends, of
which apparently there are quite a few)

Now, mind you, these were all half to quarter-sized sandwiches, so it's not quite as daunting as it sounds, although any project of this level is a challenge in my "Barbie Dreamhouse" sized kitchen; just finding room in my Incredible Shrinking Refridgerator" was problematic. But, the extra half hour of unsleeping proved crucial, as I had everything cut, sliced, spread, assembled, plattered, baked, and foil wrapped in plenty of time to allow for showering, dressing, and lugging it all down to "Red Dwarf" in time to make the 1:00 p.m. start.

And from all perspectives it appears to have been a smashing success. I & YD have a fantastic aparment overlooking CapHill's Volunteer Park, with a picture-postcard view of Mt. Rainier out the kitchen window. The place is rather intriguingly laid out: except for the living room, there's narry ten feet of continuous wall space in the entire place, which branches out into unexpected turns and oddly-shaped rooms, sort of like it was designed by a very tall rabbit, or perhaps prairie dog. Even so, it's remarkably light and airy, and even though the climb up three flights might get downright annoying (although certainly a great way to keep the calves toned - and I don't even want to think about how people get their furnishings up and down the narrow staircases), once you get there, it's utterly charming. Plus, it's a two bedroom, so they have a separate nursery all set up and ready for action (it was give a pretty thorough test-run yesterday).

Oh, and they have a rooftop deck one flight above with a 360 degree view of the surrounding neighborhood. Um, yeah.

One important realization that came to me during the course of the afternoon: man, has my extended social circle suddenly gone "baby crazy". Of the roughly 40 people who showed up during the course of the afternoon, and out of about a dozen married couples in attendance, there were something like eight or nine kids, ranging in age from about five I believe down to a three month-old, if I heard correctly. Most of the little ones were less than a year old, so this has in fact been a fairly recent occurance for many of them.

And there are more on their way, literally any day now. I know they can hardly wait, and the rest of us look forward to saying "howdy" to the little gal or fella, whichever it turns out to be (they know, they just haven't made it public, although I have it on what I consider good authority that Ida's physical attributes are apparently "telling".)

So, welcome to the world whoeveryouwillbe - you're joining up with some good company.

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Posted byCOMTE on 9:36 AM

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

High Water Risin' Six Inches 'Bove My Head

We're slowly wringing ourselves out from Monday's record deluge. We were relatively unscathed up here in Sea-town, with some flooding, a few brief power outages and a couple of washed-out roads, although outlying areas were hit a lot harder. I-5 between Centralia & Olympia is still closed, and from the sounds of things will be until the weekend. Still, this is the second time in just slightly more than four years we've broken our one-day rainfall record; thanks to climate change our "hundred year storms" are rapidly becoming something to look forward to on a nearly annual basis.

Thankfully, I live just below the crest of a hill, and most of the houses on block have sufficient yardage to absorb even this considerable amount of precip and runoff; folks down-slope from us weren't so lucky. Also, my basement apartment is quite well sealed, so no worries there. Still, scooting home on "Little Nellie" that evening was an adventure, as there was standing water on the roadway in several places along my route. Good test for the rain gear, which succeeded in keeping my warm and dry for the commute.

Although it's been a relatively slow week all the way around, I've got plenty of things lined up for the weekend: a late-night show tomorrow, a baby shower to attend on Saturday afternooon, followed by an evening at the theatah, then Sunday I'll be shopping for our annual union holiday party on Monday afternoon.

Hopefully, by then our precipitation situation will be more-or-less back to normal.

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Posted byCOMTE on 10:32 AM

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kickin' It Old Skool

Interesting weekend at the theatre. Aside from getting exactly half of the sound battening in the air, and most of the wood cut to shore up the remainder; in addition to prepping the space for a staff meeting and a play reading for tomorrow, not to mention our monthly late night cabaret coming up on Friday; we had a visit - no that's not exactly correct - we were joined in our two-day work party by one of the founding members of our theatre company, a guy who literally hasn't been around for about fifteen years, but who heard we had some new digs, got a curious itch to see what we were up to, and decided to drop in yesterday to lend a hand - despite the forecast of a snowstorm, which did in fact hit mid-day (alas, it's all just a distant memory by this evening.)

Every institution has its history and mythology, and in the Annex chronicles, Micha Rice ranks as one of the "founding five", who along with fellow Bainbridge High School alums Dave Skubinna and Garrett Bennett, and Mike Rainey and John Lawler, created and established Annex Theatre, and who moved the company over from the island to Seattle in the late 1980's. For the first few years of the theatre's existence, these guys were its face, its core, and its leadership. Over the course of time, all of them eventually left the company, (Dave, regrettably, died of AIDS in 1994), passing on the torch to a newer, younger generation of artists who caught the bug, and just happened to land on the doorstep of the venerable space they held at 1916 4th Avenue from 1987 until 2000.

I happened to be one of those newbies, although I had a prior connection due to my friendship with Dave and Mike, both of whom I'd gone to school with at Western Washington University from 1983 - 1985. We all moved to Seattle (or thereabouts) shortly after graduation, and ended up working, along with a number of our fellow drama department alumns, at Ticketmaster Northwest, then located inside the bowels of the Kingdome; in fact, so many of us ended up working there (at one time there were about a dozen of us), that we quickly dubbed the place "the Western Theatre Alumni Club". It was from there that most of us joined the Annex Company, although of that group I'm the only one still actively involved in the organization.

Anyway, back to the main story: I drove up to the theatre yesterday morning, and was parking "Little Nellie", when I noticed this guy, 40-ish, portly, wearing a motorcycle "bunny suit", snapping pictures of our facade. He looked vaguely familier, but I couldn't place him. After I'd stowed my gear, he walked up and asked if I was part of the Annex group. When I replied in the affirmative, he introduced himself, and naturally, I knew who he was as soon as he said his name.

So, Micha spent about four hours yesterday, and three hours today helping us install the sound baffling, which was truly awe-inspiring. Again, keep in mind he's been out of theatre for more than a decade at least; just working, doing his thing, like most people. But, for some strange reason he gets this urge to reconnect with something that at one time held a great deal of importance in his life, and lucky for him there are people still keeping this thing he started going - and he even happens to recognize a couple of familiar faces out of the fifteen or so folks who also showed up on Saturday to help out - AND we're all there because we're trying to create a NEW SPACE in which to do this thing that we do - that he used to do, but doesn't anymore - but, who knows? MAYBE he can do it again.

It just made me feel (and based on reactions, I don't think I was the only one) very proud - and humble - to have Micha there in our midst, sweating and straining through the task at hand, while at the same time drawing that thread which connects everyone who's ever been a part of this merry band we call Annex Theatre just a little bit more tightly together. A little of the Old Skool In The House, but not so much riffing on the past (although there was naturally a little of that), but focused on building our future - together.

And I think he left feeling something too: that he was welcome, not just for the sake of his past contributions, but for being willing to give of his time and energy, and to put a little bit of himself into the new space and the new Company.

Welcome back, Micha. We'll keep the light on for you.


Posted byCOMTE on 7:50 PM

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