June 20, 2022

Today is Juneteenth. And all good wishes to my African American friends and colleagues who are celebrating today. Both UAB and the VA are observing the holiday so I have a three day weekend and I used the first part of mine to sleep in after the excitement of the show this past week. I would like to use the rest of today to laze around, but unwritten progress notes, a lecture to prepare, and the usual unending supply of household projects and performing arts organizations requiring assistance in terms of planning will keep me busy until sometime in the evening.

Covid has been on the back burner the last few weeks while other life areas have taken precedence but I was jolted back to reality after receiving an email this morning about a potential exposure. I’m not worried. I’ve had both shots, both boosters, and natural immunity to omicron following my bout six months ago. I was feeling a little blah yesterday so I stayed home from a planned outing and went to bed early. I’m fine this morning. Hopefully noting will sneak up on me over the course of the day. It’s just a reminder that as much as the culture at large is moving on to a post pandemic mindset, we’re not completely out of this thing. I hadn’t looked for a bit so I checked the numbers. On a national level, they’re still rising but not at the rate they were a month ago, having flattened a bit over the last two weeks. The current hotspots are in the Rocky Mountain states and in Appalachia. Why that should be is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the virus is hitching a ride as people are escaping the sweltering summer heat to the relative coolness of mountain towns. Alabama numbers are similar. A general slow increase, but without a significant rise in hospitalizations or deaths. But it’s hard to say what’s really going on locally – the reported cases are those from testing done in hospitals or pharmacies or public health departments. Home tests have no convenient way to be included in the totals in this state. And most of the people of my acquaintance who have gotten sick recently have all been diagnosed with home testing.

The other big development is the approval of Covid vaccinations for children under the age of 5. The number of parents planning on getting their children a vaccine is distressingly small, likely due to the collapse of trust in expertise that politics has engendered over the last half dozen years or so. Actually, it’s been brewing a lot longer than that but that’s a subject for discussion another day. Katelyn Jetelina, who goes by the moniker YLE (Your Local Epidemiologist) has put together a very nice one pager on the vaccine for young kids based solely on the science and I highly recommend searching that out if you have children in that age group and questions. Her writings on Covid, while occasionally over my head as I am not a trained epidemiologist, are a great way to keep up on the latest regarding the pandemic and the science driving the response at institutions such as the WHO and the CDC. I find her a much better source than many of the more usual mainstream media writings which tend to over simplify or try to find some sort of clickbait angle to use.

Most of this past week, when not at work, was spent on the fundraising cabaret show, Little Black Dresses and Bowties. It was a Broadway Backwards or Miscast type revue where we all got to sing songs we would never be allowed to in the context of a real production as we would be the wrong gender or type for the role. With that in mind, we were somewhat genderqueer in our costume choices. I was the MC so I did a bit of a riff on my traditional garb as the MC of Politically Incorrect Cabaret – tail coat, white tie and vest (but without a shirt) for the top and pleather hot pants, fish nets and pumps with three inch heels below. The show was a success. I’ve gotten more compliments on my legs this past week (thank you Peloton and enjoying a good walk) and it has helped with coming out of my omigod I’m sixty funk. I did a lot of age jokes in my MC patter for the show as I’m pretty good at poking fun at myself. One I didn’t make, and should of, was that if I fell off those damned heels, I would have to yell out ‘Is there another doctor in the house?’.

It was one of the fastest turn arounds I’ve had in stage performance. Half an hour with the pianist on Sunday to figure out tempi and style. Meet and greet with the rest of the cast Tuesday evening and first band rehearsal and figure out some basic staging. The band was a standard jazz combo of keyboards, bass and drums and Sebastian Black, Lee Wright and Joe Cooley worked amazingly well together. Tech/dress Wednesday to iron out light cues and any other bobbles. Run Thursday-Saturday. We all had a great time as did the audiences and have decided that it should perhaps become an annual event. If it does, I’ll get smart and wear those pumps around the house for a few days prior to rehearsals. I’ll just have to come up with women’s up tempo Broadway numbers that I can sing. ‘Don’t Tell Mama’ was a good choice. Perhaps ‘Dance Ten, Looks Three’ for next year.

I have noting booked on my performance calendar at this time. I’m not worried about it. Sumer is a slow season for music-theater and something will eventually turn up. It always does. The venue we did this last show in would be perfect for Politically Incorrect Cabaret so perhaps it’s time to come up with another edition of that. If so, I think it’s time for a bit of a reboot. After nearly 20 years, those of us who survive from the original crew are getting a bit long in the tooth and I think I need to find some thirty somethings with an interest in political satire and street theater and cabaret forms and let them run with it. So, if you’re one of my local theater friends and you have any interest in this, drop me a line. The bigger theaters in town have announced their line ups for next season. I, of course, immediately scan them looking for parts I might be appropriate for. Not a lot has turned up so far. Choices seem to be trending female and young. I suppose I could get out one of Tommy’s wigs and put my pumps back on and audition for Truvy in Steel Magnolias, but I doubt I’d fit in with the rest of the cast – unless we’re all men and I just don’t see this particular company doing that. Oh well, any time I don’t use on theater projects can be used getting the next volume of The Accidental Plague Diaries ready for publication. We’re still shooting for September.

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