October 1, 2019

Time for another long post I suppose. It’s been a few weeks. I’ve had some ups and some downs – last week in particular was rough and I’m not entirely certain why. I just know that life’s minor annoyances were getting to me and causing some major emotional swings. I think it’s because I don’t have anyone with whom to share them and let off steam. It’s caused me to be a bit short with people (sorry if I’ve been rude to any of you). In the past, when I would get like this, it was usually a sign that I needed some time away. I actually have a free weekend coming up so I’m thinking I should use it to escape somewhere for a couple of days but I’m having a hard time getting myself out of a rut to plan anything.

It’s at least partly the weather. Here we are the first week of October and it was about 100 degrees out today. We’ve had week after week of hot and humid and no rain. Everyone in North Central Alabama is miserable. Things are finally supposed to start cooling down this weekend but I’ll believe it when it actually happens. The never ending July has put a huge stress on my HVAC causing the downstairs unit to more or less give up the ghost. (It is cooling down to about 80, but no lower). It is due to be replaced on Friday and I will be many thousands of dollars poorer. Having to write that check makes me not want to spend too much on myself at the moment. It’s my Scottish heritage showing. The heat stress is also wreaking havoc on the landscaping and lawns, despite my remembering to water (and having the water bill to prove it). I’ve never been much of a yard person, and this climate makes that even more so, and I’m more than ready to downsize into a condo on that score. It’s going to take a while to get my life in order in other departments though.

A lot of the energy over the last couple of weeks went into this year’s Politically Incorrect Cabaret – Demo-loution which we performed last Saturday evening to a sold out crowd. I wrote the show over Labor Day weekend but in the three and a half weeks between first draft and performance, so much insanity has erupted in DC that it was already somewhat out of date by the time we got it on stage. At least we had made the wise decision to focus more on the Democratic side of the coin this time around because there’s no way I could have written a satire on what’s happened to the Trump administration over just the last week. Instead, we had Elizabeth Warren doing ‘Imagine’, Kamala Harris doing William Finn’s ‘Change’, a ‘September Song’ sung to Bernie Sanders, and Marianne Williamson with her version of ‘The Rainbow Connection’. My opening number was a rewrite of ‘Dance Ten, Looks Three’ rewritten as ‘Thoughts and Prayers’. With luck, we’ll do another date or two of this show somewhere but it will need some retooling for political changes which, if anything, seem to be speeding up.

I’m having a dispute with the management of the storage company where Tommy and I stored all of our theatrical crap including the physical assets of CenterStage productions. The overhead lights (cheap fluorescents) have burned out and, when I asked that they be replaced so I can see what I’m doing in there, I was informed that it would be too expensive for them to do so (high ceiling) and I should just bring a flashlight. This is not sitting well with me and I haven’t decided what my next response is. They’re part of a national chain so I suppose I could call their corporate and complain. I could always just move out but that’s going to be a job and a half. I need to come up with a long range plan for all that stuff as part of my downsizing but I don’t know that anyone else has adequate storage either. If anyone from the Birmingham theater community has a brilliant idea or two, I’m willing to listen. In the meantime, I guess I bring a flashlight.

I don’t have a theater rehearsal for the next three weeks. My next project, Dear Brutus, has first read on the 21st. The only thing on the docket outside of work is Symphony chorus rehearsals (a Brahms piece and Borodin’s Polsovetsian Dances ) for a concert right after Halloween and church choir. I suppose I better start working on my Dear Brutus lines. It’s a play I hadn’t encountered before. Sort of an EM Forester cast of characters gets caught up in A Midsummer Nights Dream fantasy written by JM Barrie of Peter Pan fame. My character, an artist, is dissipated and unhappy, but comes alive when he meets the daughter he might have had in the enchanted wood. I’ve also set a goal for myself of completing two chapters of the book I’m working on over the next few weeks as I have less on my plate. I’m tackling some of my ideas around aging and dementia.

Two relatively brief trips coming up: SF Bay area from 10/23-27 for my 35th Stanford Reunion. (I’m trying to decide if I bring my red sport coat). Then Seattle for Thanksgiving week. I’m here for the holidays and toying with the idea of reviving Tommy and my famous Sunday after Christmas open house but haven’t fully decided. If I do, it will be a different kind of party and I don’t know yet what that would look like.

I haven’t told a story for a while. I’m trying to think of a good Stanford one that I haven’t already written down. The early 80s were a transitional time socially with the rise of Reaganism and it was very much reflected in my college experience. When I arrived at the tail end of the Carter presidency, the upper class people (sophisticated older adults of 20 and 21) took classes based on interests and trying to be well rounded individuals. When I graduated three and a half years later, the under class people (impossibly naive children of 18) took classes based on how they might impact their earning power later in life. It was a huge cultural sea change brought about by the rise of the Yuppie. I did a combination. I was a double science major in chemistry and biology but I also took at least one course a quarter that was something different – Japanese religious traditions, History of the Roman Empire, Introduction to Petroleum Engineering, Shakespeare, History of the American Musical Theater. I think I had courses in 19 different departments by the time I graduated. I remember my first quarter. My father drove me down and dropped me off at the dorm for Freshman orientation along with two suitcases of clothes, four boxes of books, a bicycle, a typewriter, and a box of miscellaneous school supplies. The internet was in its infancy, there was no web, there was no word processing and registration required thousands of us milling around the floor of the basketball arena doing everything by hand. I loved it.

Most of my college life was based around classes, dorm life, and theater. I didn’t leave campus too often. I didn’t have a car and the Stanford campus is huge, requiring a couple mile walk just to get anywhere. I did partake in a lot of the usual rituals, including football games. I have one college football claim to fame. I was at Stanford in the fall of 82 when Big Game (the rivalry game between Stanford and UC Berkeley) was played at that other school. I had stage managed the Gaieties that year (a theatrical spoofing campus life that is produced every year at Big Game weekend) and a bunch of us from the show went up to Berkeley together to see the game. At the end of the game, Stanford had won. Hooray! However, in one of the most famous plays ever, the ball not having been whistled dead, was carried back by Berkeley for a last minute touchdown through the Stanford band which had prematurely rushed the field including a poor tackled trombonist. We were sitting just above that end zone but couldn’t follow the whole thing and sheer pandemonium broke out in the stands as no one could quite figure out just what had happened. It wasn’t until we could get out of the stadium and see the newscast and replays that we were able to fully figure it out. I’ve been to a few college football games since that one but I am unlikely to ever witness anything quite like that again.

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