Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Show and Torture

During our walk, Susan mentioned the pool closing party next month and said tickets were being sold for the last time on the eighteenth, yesterday.  Went to the clubhouse after breakfast, saw a few neighbors at their Stitch and Bitch meeting (they're all knitters, quilters, sewers, etc.), chatted and found out that yesterday was...
...yes, the nineteenth.  However, Jack D., activities chair, happened to come in and said, yeah, yeah, you can come, but this time I hope your check doesn't bounce...
...he's a card.
Before I left, talked with Howard R., who had been president of our board of trustees for many years.  He's a sharp guy and he and Diana are one of the few couples that come from the Philly area rather than north Jersey; they used to go to Atlantic City every year as kids.  We discussed the woeful economic times in A.C. and agreed there's a broader situation: the whole country seems to be slipping into something different from what we had always known. No empire lasts forever and ours, we believe, is going down.
Picked Aline up and we went to The Grapevine for lunch.  They've improved, I think, and we were satisfied.  To Wal-Mart after, where we both got this and that; dropped her off about 3:30, then picked her up again at seven.
Last night was tech rehearsal, so was a bit chaotic, but the show is shaping up very well (good thing, as we open the day after tomorrow).  Also, we're now in the venue where we're having the show, always a relief.  Set looks great and is at an angle, i.e., diagonally across a corner, an imaginative innovation.  We rehearsed several songs and went over the first act. Tonight: dress (I want to work up a great costume) and a full run.
WIDER:  Following is one of the best treatises about torture I've read.  What kind of filth are we bathing in when we pass this off as excusable for ANY reason?  It's disgusting and shameful.
http://www.salon.com/2014/08/16/patriots_dont_break_laws_why_excusing_torture_is_an_american_catastrophe/

Breakfast With Baby

Just an everyday day.  Cleaned the master bath, washing rugs, scrubbing shower, mopping floor and so on.  Went to Shop-Rite for chicken, made a big salad (why aren't I skinny as a rail?), and otherwise occupied myself with activities too boring to list.
Got a call from brother, Jim (Virginia).  Happily, he's well and his wife, Therese, is doing reasonably all right after surgery on her neck. She's out of rehab and can drive, but can't fully turn her head; not sure if this is something that will right itself in time or not.
Jim and I discussed the heart valve thing.  He's the oldest of my three brothers and had his replaced first (pig), about eight years ago. A few years later, youngest brother Frank (California) got a cow part at the Cleveland Clinic (both his sons are doctors and decided on there as the best place to have it).  Now, of course, Larry (Florida) is recovering from his bovine implant.  Oink, moo, moo.
High point of the day was Breakfast with Baby, which I've enjoyed several times before (it's evening for me, of course).  His Mommy and Daddy put a phone on the table (a phone that takes pictures--wow!) and precious little K. shows off his eating prowess (messy, but effective) while his adoring Nana interacts with him.  He now imitates others and what fun it was to clap, put my hands on my head, lean over, and have him follow suit.  He even initiated actions, saying "waw, waw, waw," touching his ears, and so on, and was delighted when I repeated.
He wasn't so delighted when Daddy tried to get him used to a bicycle helmet. They just bought a new bike with a seat for Baby and he must wear a helmet, but if yesterday was any indication, they'll have a war on their hands getting him to keep it on.  K. emphatically rejected it--doesn't like hats of any kind and this is hard plastic.  Let's hope he gets used to it eventually or excursions will be limited.
Aline called after; she saw The Book of Morman on Broadway on Sunday and I can't wait to hear all about it.  We discussed our date for today (we usually spend Tuesdays, her day off, together).  Will go to lunch, pick up a few things at Wal-Mart, then attend rehearsal tonight.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Fine and Fun

Now this was a fun day.  I left early to meet Betty in Margate for lunch; thought I'd be held up on the Parkway, but wasn't, so stopped at Mary H.'s.  Had a nice chat with her.  Jokingly asked if she was going to the reunion, but I knew she wouldn't, as she hates them. Said she went to the twenty-fifth and the fiftieth, so would attend every twenty-five years.  She pointed out that the only people from our class she wanted to see, she already did, and she had a point. Said there were too many people who considered high school the best part of their lives and thought what came after was mostly downhill.  Yep.
Left Mary's with a good fifteen minutes to get to Margate and the restaurant--plenty of time. However, I hadn't remembered the damn parking situation.  Drove around for more than twenty minutes, trying to find a spot; what a drag.  Finally parked back on Monmouth Avenue, several blocks from the restaurant.  Got there in an annoyed mood, vowing never again to meet somebody on the island in the summer for lunch...
...which was silly, and I simmered down quickly.  Had a rare, rare--yum!--hamburger and a Blue Moon.  We got to the theatre in plenty of time; show was at 2:00 and we had excellent seats on the third row aisle.
The show was terrific.  It was The Sound of Music, performed by congregants of Beth El Synagogue, many of whom are friends of mine from Players & Playwrights.  (P & P was founded by people from that temple.)  I never cared for the movie; I think the story line--heavily fictionalized, whether people know it or not--is saccharine and what's sung might realistically be called "McMusic."
This, however, was a stage play, of course, and we found it greatly enjoyable.  My friend, Dayle F., played a nun, but was just in the chorus.  It was double-casted (why don't we do that sometimes?), and my friend, Denise B., who has a fairly major supporting role in half, was to go on in the evening performance.  Sorry I didn't get to see her on stage, but she was there after and we chatted with her.
Left about 5:00 and happily, traffic was light.  All in all, a fine, fun day.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

P & P Meeting and High School

Got busy yesterday.  Stripped my bed, washed those sheets and another load, re-made it, showered, put on my new top, and high-tailed it down to Egg Harbor Township for our Players & Playwrights meeting.
It was there because somebody--I'm not sure whose responsibility this was--neglected to reserve either the Ventnor or the Margate library branches.  I can't understand why this isn't done for the whole year: every third Saturday from 1 to 4 pm, but somehow it wasn't; last month, we met at Bernice's in Margate.  It's a pain in the rear not to have a public meeting place.
The traffic going south on the Parkway was beyond belief.  I sat for a good twenty minutes halted in a long, long line trying to exit to the various beaches.  However, I got to Rachel's in time.
We read the first act of my Fatal Family Reunion, which I explained was a dinner theatre murder mystery, and it went very well. I took the part of Aunt Barbarella Corpuscle-Crenshaw myself.
The critiques were generally favorable and I got some useful suggestions, too.  I plan to revise and bring the second act next time.
We also read Joe L.'s short play.  Joe is over 90, a retired oncologist, and can no longer type; he dictates to an assistant.  His play was fair, but not great.  He's very prolific and what's funny is that he usually includes a lot of sex in his plays.  We remarked on that and he cheerfully admitted it.
The other play was a tedious re-write by Jim L.  Very slight, if you ask me and, frankly, my mind wandered while it was being read. He may or may not ever get it done and I don't care one way or the other.
I found it annoying that Bobbi and Alexis walked in at about 1:10, but at least we hadn't quite started. However, Linda came a full 45 minutes late, along with the man she had brought--late--last time, too.   I'm not clear on whether he's a relative or she's his caretaker or something, but I find it hard to be patient with people who are chronically tardy.
Good meeting, though.  Our leader, John P., is having one of his plays performed in November at Johns Hopkins.  I'm toying with the idea of possibly going south for it.  My nephew, Patrick, is an otolarynologist there.
Met Betty after for early dinner at Applebee's and my pal, Louise S., came along.  I'm not a big fan of the restaurant; had salmon, which was so-so, but enjoyed the social aspects.
Got home to find a message from brother Frank, Patrick's father, and I called him back.  He wanted to ask me about having the Fitzsimmons girls and Betty for lunch; he went to school with Margaret Mary and he'd like to get back in touch with her. I'll send her phone and e-mail address.
We talked about my upcoming reunion, which I'm still not sure I'll attend, although I got a message from classmate Jeanne P., urging me to.  I mentioned to Frank that high school was about the most miserable time of my life, although I don't think others realized that.  Frank said he felt the same way.  At one of his reunions, he said, a classmate stood up and said they were the best years of his life. And who was that?
It was Jim "Mo" McHale, late brother of my friend and fellow blogger, Pat R.  Mo was a good basketball player, also tall and handsome, and I assume popular, which is the be-all and end-all of high school life, so I guess he was in a different strata.
As for Frank and me--we survived it, but would never want to go back.

V. and S. and Assassination

Various and sundry.  Went to stores in The Big City (Manahawkin) and got--well, various and sundry.  Called Mary Jo F., who lost her husband a few months ago (he and I had been in the drama club together) and we made a date for lunch next week. Betty called; I'll meet her at Applebee's for early supper after the P & P meeting today.
Made a big salad for lunch.  Trimmed, washed, sliced, and diced Swiss chard, onions, and garlic and stowed in it fridge for dinner; stirred fried it with hot dog "coins" and a little American cheese and it was tasty.
Late in the day, old school friend, Betty Mae McG. W. called.  Her present residence is an "independent" (or "assisted"; can't recall which) living facility in northern California.  She has some vision and other physical problems, so she needs to be there.  She had had a good-sized home, but is reconciled to being where she is.  We talked about the fact that I, too, will be moving from a pleasant, roomy--if not palatial--home to a small apartment.  I'm not sorry about that decision--family trumps all and I'd live in a rooming house if I had to--but I may look back on it with a little sigh.
Betty Mae recently lost her sister, who was only thirteen months older than she and they were very close.  Two husbands and a son also "preceded her in death," as the obits say.
We discussed the upcoming sixtieth class reunion for our alma mater, good ol'--or bad ol,' depending on how you look at it--Holy Spirit High School, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  We agreed it was one of the miserable times in our lives (although it didn't seem that way from the outside).  In my case, with a few notable exceptions, I don't care to associate with my fellow grads.  Don M., for instance, is a religious fanatic and never lets one forget one is destined for hell unless one is on exactly the same cockamamie track he is.  Many of the women, conservative, righteous, soulfully Catholic, and yearning for the old days when they wore pointy bras and the colored knew their place, are such crashing bores it's a chore to interact with them. Will I go?  Dunno, as I seem to have misplaced the invitation, sent--of course, why would anyone think otherwise?--via snail mail.  Betty Mae wants me to report back on it, so maybe I'll ask Betty for the address.
Maybe?  Who am I kidding?  The day may come when I'm able to resist such an occasion, but it ain't here yet.  Sure, sure, I'll go and then kick myself, maybe.  
WIDER: I don't know why I continue to be so shocked and disheartened by items like the following.  I must remember to keep repeating, "this is the way it is, this is the new normal, this is the way it's supposed to be, now just ignore it and shut up."
http://www.emptywheel.net/ 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Farm, Rehearsal, and K.

Skipped the walk and got up to my friend's house by a bit after 9:00. Rode with her to the farm and we got onions, tomatoes, Swiss chard, watermelon, garlic, and squash.  Divided it back at her house, then she and hubby left for a family (his) reunion, and I drove home.
Spent time preparing some of the veggies, with other chores, and on the computer.  Later went--well, somewhere or other, but so mundane an activity, I don't even remember.  Picked Aline up for rehearsal at 7:00.
Last night, we just "read lines," but it was so much fun. We added and modified a bit--opening night is a week from today, so we have plenty of time (ha!)--and had a ball. Desi seemed in a better mood than usual; he was a bear all through Hedda, which may reflect the directorship burden.  He suggested a slight change in my delivery of a particular line, and it was a good idea.  He did it respectfully, with an implied compliment, too, and I thanked him.
Neither Tonya (taking daughter Emma to college in Texas), Dave (also out of town), Bob, (dunno), Brittany (ditto) nor the mayor (ditto) were there, so Jim filled in for all.  Great hilarity all around.
As we finished up (before 9:00, which always pleases me), we started talking about the fact we have Surflight Theatre for November.  We discussed a radio show play, which met with great approval and excitement, especially by Jim and me.  I recall seeing one years ago by the theatre arts department at Rider and it was terrific fun and so enthusiastically received.  It demands little in the way of sets and hearkens back to the forties, the heyday of radio. I love the idea and definitely want to be involved.
I'm late with this deathless prose, as I just spent a good portion of an hour viewing adorable little K. in various videos.  I had requested more--I really feel I'm there when I see him--and his parents were kind enough to promptly respond.  Loved seeing the little angel--a full year old in less than a month!--eating a meal, playing with a balloon, then books, and especially, having fun with Daddy.  How he laughs and what a lucky little boy to be born to such parents!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fatal Family Reunion and Corruption

Spent a lot of the day editing, revising, and generally shaping up the first act of my Fatal Family Reunion.  Sent it, along with an explanation (it's a murder mystery dinner theatre, so pretty broad and outlandish), title page, and cast list to John P., our director of Players & Playwrights.  It will be read at the meeting on Saturday and I want to play Aunt Barbarella Corpuscle-Crenshaw myself.
Roasted chicken pieces and had them for a meal I often eat about 4:00 or whenever I feel like it; guess it could be called "linner." Trimmed and otherwise prepared squash and onions and popped them in the slow cooker; stowed in fridge.
Called Miami brother, Larry, to extend best wishes for his valve replacement surgery tomorrow.  My other two brothers, Jim and Frank, had the same procedure several years ago, and came out fine.  Larry said they gave him a choice of a pig or cow valve and he chose cow.  Guess he didn't want to be associated with a pig--he's had a weight problem most of his life--but I told him now he might start giving milk.
Drove to Manahawkin to pick up a few items, then down Dock Street to the water.  We had had heavy rains yesterday and the road was partly flooded, so I didn't park.
Will go up to my friend's shortly and we'll pick at the farm, then she and her hubby will attend a family reunion (his side) in the Catskills over the weekend.
Rehearsal tonight at the H.'s tonight; looking forward to when we can get into the Community Center--I think, Tuesday.
WIDER:  How people can still put their faith and trust in any elected "representatives" is just beyond belief.  Can't wait to get this add-on operational--devised, incidentally, by a 16-year-old high school kid: 
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/08/track-whos-buying-politicians-with-greenhouse-browser-add-on/

Lunch And Rehearsal Yet Again

We finally got to The Old Causeway for lunch. Picked Aline up at our usual--12:30--and traveled to Bay Avenue, Manahawkin, under cloudy skies.
Susan had asked me to give her a full report on the place, as it's her turn shortly to host her dinner group.  I can tell her the food was excellent; I had a "'po' boy" (fried oyster sandwich), which was delish washed down with a cold one on draft.  Service was friendly and efficient, although the place was packed.  Nice atmosphere, also, without too many cliche-ridden decorations (the nets and oars and lobster traps in most of these nautical-themed places leave me cold), and big windows looking out over the marsh.  The only negative, it seemed to me, was that the place was rather noisy--not, though, due to my pet peeve, loud elevator music, but simply with people talking, so it wasn't a big minus.
After, we explored a bit, then drove to the SOCH Thrift Store, which I had enriched with my treasures a few days prior.  Aline wanted to look for a top to wear in the show. Tried a few on, but didn't find any. I then took her to Unshredded Nostalgia to see the fabulous room after room of antiques and "collectibles"--every item imaginable--over which she oohed and aahed.
After--by this time, it was pouring--I took her to my place to see the Little Precious on the whistle-blowing video, plus some of the American Jewish Life newspapers, for which I wrote so long ago.
Took her home about 4:00, then jumped in the shower, dressed, and drove back to pick her up for rehearsal.
Because it was raining, we met inside, concentrating on the second act.  It was great fun to sing in the chorus and back up the soloists; all are just terrific.  The show includes "an unknown stranger" and the guy who's going to play it (a very small part) is our mayor, Art Midgley.  He came last night and gamely, if woodenly, recited his lines.  I thought it was a stroke of genius on Jim's part to invite him to be in the show; not only should it--we hope--draw other township officials, but it'll be funny and cute to have the well-known mayor of Little Egg Harbor Township on board.
Art himself seems the quintessential small-town official.  Short, chubby, and bland as only a small-town official can be, he's about 60 or so, and puts me in mind of one of those old-time character actors who used to make a good living in Capra movies.
Still raining when we got home, but it was before 9:00, which was fine by me.  My wine and chips, then bed, and slept like a babe.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Old Papers, Rehearsal, and Robin Wiliams

Hauled out two big boxes that have been moldering--maybe literally--in the garage for years, and before that in the basement on Lower Ferry.  One contains newspapers and a few magazines headlining "historic" events, such as Nixon's resignation, a man on the moon, the assassinations of the Kennedys, and so on.  Would love to sell them, but somebody told me those kinds of publications are the ones people save, so weren't uncommon.  Think I'll ask Jim at Unshredded Nostagia.
The other box contains copies of American Jewish Life, for which I wrote for years when I lived in Ewing.  (The publisher, Sam Jacobs, lived next door to us in Ewing.)  Read some of my articles, and they're okay, I guess; similar to the profiles I now write for The Breeze.
Aline was working until 6:00 and, as we had arranged, I picked her up at the bank where she got off the bus and went directly to rehearsal.  Went through the whole production, including the songs, and it's shaping up very nicely.
After dropping A. off, I didn't get home until 9:30 and, for the first time in several months, I had Chardonnay with my chips.  I had been substituting iced tea--didn't want to get in the wine-every-night habit--but now that I've opened the bottle, I may continue, as I feel no ill effects
WIDER: The outpouring of shock and dismay at Robin Williams' death could have been predicted, of course.  He was famous and rich and accomplished; we all felt we kind of "knew" him. I think that gives the lie to the oft-repeated pretense that all lives are equally precious.  Surely not.  What about that four-year-old blasted to bits in Gaza?  What about that semi-literate bum "accidentally" strangled by a police officer?  What about the rabbi swept away in the Nazi Holocaust? What about the slave in 1820 Mississippi? Are they worth as much as Robin Williams?  If so, where are the solemn words of grief for them?  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not A Lot And Bombs Away

Before our walk, I brought Susan half of the big watermelon I got from the farm.  She was pleased, as her in-laws are renting a house on Long Beach Island, and she'll take it there.
Did lots of wash, put together a salad, prepared beets and other veggies from the farm, and otherwise completed chores.
Worked for several hours on the first act of Fatal Family Reunion, which I intend to have read on Saturday. I'm annoyed with myself because I have several different versions and am not sure I dug out and am honing the best.  Also, this is a murder mystery dinner show--not the usual with Players & Playwrights and don't know how it will be received.
Recorded my "cue lines" for Tony and the Heiress and rehearsed.  I should be off-book for rehearsal tonight.
Took a drive to Forked River to clear my head in the afternoon and to Acme after dinner.  Betty called and we chatted, making a tentative date for early dinner on Saturday; I'll be in the area for the P & P meeting.  Other than that, not a whole lot went on.
WIDER:  "When countless innocent people are facing a massacre, and when we have the ability to help prevent it—the United States can’t just look away," the President said. "That’s not who we are. We’re Americans.  We act.  We lead.  And that’s what we’re going to do on that mountain."
The Dear One was, of course, talking about those sitting ducks in Gaza. Bombs will be dropped on Tel Aviv, in order to save the Palestinians from the on-going slaughter....  
Oh, wait just a minute--I've got the wrong innocent people.  It's Iraq's innocent people we're bombing, I guess.  Well, what the Hell; there are innocent people all over the world just waiting for us to come and bomb them.  I mean, bomb their oppressors. That is, bomb them and their oppressors.  Or something.... BOMBS AWAY!