Thursday, November 15, 2018

First, I drink the Coffee...


But which stuff do I start with? There's the do-the-dishes stuff, and the clean-up-after-the-kittens stuff...not to mention the go-to-the-store stuff.

Better have another cup of coffee and figure it out.  Make a list.  Make another list.  Make a master list...

Hey...I got my name in the Statesman...I costumed a play called Doubt, A Parable, at City Theatre, and it got a nice review from Andrew J. Friedenthal, which made my day. Here's the text, as I have learned these links don't work forever:



Before it was adapted into the award-winning 2008 film of the same name, playwright John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt: A Parable” was an award-winning 2004 stage play (specifically, it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play). The straightforward, naturalist drama explores the struggle between Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the head nun and principal at the fictional St. Nicholas Church School in the Bronx, and Father Flynn, the progressive parish priest whom Aloysius suspects of sexual misconduct with one of the school’s boys.
Set in 1964, “Doubt” explores a time where the abuses of the Catholic Church were unseen and unheard by the public, kept quiet by a paternalistic theocratic system that was more interested in protecting its members than its parishioners. Though the rash of sexual abuse within the church has since been revealed (and was public knowledge at the time the play was written), the larger problems the play underscores resonate more than ever in the #MeToo era, as a dynamic new production of “Doubt” from the City Theatre shows us.
In many ways, “Doubt” is an exploration of female resistance to an abusive male power structure, utilizing informal networks and outside-the-system tactics in order to get around a set of rules designed to keep men unaccountable to women who see them do harm. It is also, however, a look at one man and one woman who are rock-solid in their beliefs about right and wrong, and what happens when those two conflicting belief systems meet.

Roemer knows that the caliber of actor here is what makes the production, and so he keeps everything else simple (with impressively natural lighting design from Andy Berkovsky and Kari Perez, and time-and-place-setting costumes by Ronni Prior and scenic design by Desiderio Roybal). The scenes of confrontation between George and Gross are positively electric, creating an immense aura of frightening tension simply through the skilled performances, bereft of any fancy stage tricks. Similarly, the clearly expressed internal agony of Brooke Culbertson as Sister James, a young nun torn between these two authority figures and unsure of whom to believe, provides the perfect surrogate for the audience, equally eager to escape from the room as we are to get to the truth.

Ultimately, “Doubt” intentionally leaves us with more questions than it does answers, as regards both the events of the play and the larger culture this parable is discussing. In a year in which we hear impassioned pleas in defense of the victims of sexual assault as well as in consideration of those who might be falsely accused of abuse (a rare occurrence for the level of concern it evinces), “Doubt” resonates perhaps even more today than it did 15 years ago. The only thing not in doubt is the high quality and stunning performances of City Theatre’s production.


Many thanks to Austin 360, The Statesman and Andrew J. Friedenthal!

So yea.  Despite fluctuating font sizes, here it is!  I'm chuffed.

Now, procrastination time is over, and I have stuff to do...

Monday, August 20, 2018

Catch the Wind

Catch the Wind

Jim and I never had an "our song."  We were around 50 when we got married, so it would have seemed a little silly...not that we ever had a real objection to being silly, but there are limits...

I've been sitting here this morning, stuck in YouTube, listening to version after version of this song, which I adopted shortly after he died, because it says how I feel.  That's the thing with music, isn't it?

Donovan confines the grief to "the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty."  That way, it's not so overwhelming, and I can deal with it.  "When sundown pales the sky" is another time I can deal.  Jim and I watched a lot of sunsets.  "When rain has hung the leaves with tears" is absolutely the perfect time to think about Jim, who liked to stand out in the rain.

It seems odd, really, that I can listen to this song, and cry, and move on.

James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" is about a friend who died by her own hand, or so I've been told.  I can't listen to it at all, and, by extension, I can't listen to any James Taylor, and he used to be a favourite.  But the grief in the song is so all-encompassing, and there's too much Jesus for me, I guess.  Every time I hear it, I have to leave.  Or sit down and ugly cry.  Those are the two things.  There is no third choice.  I don't go there.

So today I'm sad.  Tomorrow I'll be OK.  Maybe next year I'll be better.  I have an idea that the year I can sit down and listen to "Fire and Rain" will be a milestone of healing.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Another Day, Another Scumbag Family Murderer



Here we go again.  Chris Watts  has reportedly confessed to killing his pregnant wife and two daughters.

There are a few clues in this interview with him.

"I want her back so bad...I want those kids back so bad..."  with a smile on his face and that little breathy voice guys use to convince you they are sincere when they have no idea what sincerity sounds like. 

"Every friend I have has called every friend Shanann has that maybe I didn't know about..."  Just a hint of control issue there...

"This is earth-shattering..."  He doesn't LOOK or sound as if it's "earth-shattering."  Quite matter of fact in his tone.

"Bella WAS going to start kindergarten.."  At this point, they were missing, and he has no reason to put his daughter in the past tense.

When you watch, bear in mind that this is a man who thinks he is smarter than the police, and quite safe going on video for an interview about his family's disappearance. 

She was pregnant and they had declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago.  They had also moved to Colorado from North Carolina, and spent holidays with friends...so they had no family nearby.   The bodies have been found on the grounds of his workplace.

He looks more slick in the interview than Josh Powell did, but Josh never did confess and this guy  confessed the next day.

I hope more of the story comes out in spite of his confession, as I'd like to know if any more of my favourite clues are there.

Here is a psychologist's take on the above interview.  He may not have confessed at the time of his arrest.

Here we go:  this article states she was planning to leave him, having spent 6 weeks with her family in North Carolina, and taken off on a business trip to Arizona two days after she got home.  He had said he had "an emotional conversation" with her after she got home from AZ in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning.  "Emotional conversation" sounds like "fight" to me.  What do you think?  It didn't take her friend very long to report her missing, so I bet Shanann had confided in her that she had fears.

Also, all his talk that the house seemed like "a ghost town" is just silly, given that Shanann and the girls had been in NC for six weeks...how empty did it seem then?  Or did he have "company?"  Pure speculation on my part, but remember, I was the one who called the fact that Stephen Grant was boinking the au pair...

This article has a gem: Shanann Watts was concerned that her husband may have been unfaithful..."she said it came to mind that he possibly could have been cheating," is the quote from her friend.

This article has an interesting bit: "(Judge Marcelo) Kopcow also issued two protection orders: One preventing Watts from harassing or communicating with any witnesses in the case and another only allowing him to communicate with his attorney, law enforcement and other support staff." Unusual, as far as I know.

A few oddities about the search began to leak out that day. Shanann’s friends said her phone, keys and wallet had all been found in the house, ABC11 reported. Her car was still in the garage, per NBC News. No one who knew her said she was the type to just pick up and leave.

So we have
   ~possible controlling behaviour on the part of the husband
   ~pregnancy
   ~possible financial difficulties (impending medical bills due to hit in less than 6 months)
   ~marital difficulties.
   ~possible infidelity by the husband.

Seems like the only missing bit is if there was life insurance.  And confirmation of all these "possibles," of course.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

B J Machalicek


I took this pic of B J in 2006.  She played Kate for me in Sam Bass's All My Sons.  To be honest, I had expected to cast a younger woman in the role, but she nailed the audition, and I had to adjust the rest of my casting around her.  She had played the same role 20 years before, but was happy to revisit it.

Everything she ever did on stage was brilliant.  If you heard B J Machalicek was in a show, you bought tickets on the spot.  Didn't matter the show--you know there would be at least one performance in it that would be worth the price of admission, and then some.

Behind the scenes, she was just as awesome.  Professional, hard-working, kind...you couldn't ask for a better cast-mate.

Whatever a director asked her to do, she would do her damnedest to get right.

She directed the second show I ever did at Sam Bass...it was a melodrama and I was costuming.  If she had any reservations about being stuck with a novice costumer who knew nothing about melodrama, she never let on.

She taught theatre at several schools in the Central Texas area...she was at C D Fulkes when I first met her, and she also taught at Round Rock High School, Westwood High School and out in Florence.  When she retired from teaching, she sold caps and gowns and high school rings all over the district.  She just liked being around the kids.  She taught at the Georgetown Palace summer camps for years.

She did community theatre.  All the time.  She loved classic roles like Kate in All My Sons, or Linda in Death of a Salesman, but she also loved to kick up her heels in comedies like Hallelujah Girls or Christmas Belles.  A couple of times, I played characters who got dressed down by her, most memorably in Ladies at the Alamo.  Paid her back, though...I got in her face in The Oldest Profession, which was also a joy.

Actually, being onstage with her at any time, in any play was always a memorable experience.  She gave so much, and was so much fun to play with.

I want to be her when I grow up.

Goodbye, B J.  You are in my heart forever.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Cooking

Aidan told me the other day that I cook "like a peasant from the 1840s or something."

In a way, he's right. I've always been pretty good at anything that all comes out of one pot and benefits from being left on low for hours on end.  I love bread bowls and hand-held meat pies.  Of course, I haven't cooked on a wood stove since my teens, and my fireplace cooking skills don't extend beyond a campfire...and I use much more meat.

I've tried several different recipes for Cornish pasties and Scots oat cakes and such, without ever being satisfied with the results, but any sort of meat and vegetables I can toss in a pot usually turn out at least edible.  (I have been told that I set my sights a bit low, but I know my limitations.  I will always settle for edible.) 

I grew up on my mother's cooking, which varied from awesome (fancy stuff) to awful (vegetables).  So holidays were heaven, but the rest of the year was purgatory, at best.

Speaking of campfires (was I?), the Girls' Auxiliary badge I was the most proud of earning was Campcraft.  For that one, we were divided into pairs, and each pair had to get a fire going on the beach, using driftwood, in a stiff breeze.  We were given half a sheet of newspaper and two matches.  Beyond that, we were on our own.  My team was the only one to succeed, and all the other pairs came over and cooked their Mulligan stew (yum) in our fire.

I love making soups and stews meant to be eaten out of thick crockery bowls.

I loved my grandmother's Victorian china with its deep dinner plates.  Those people were serious about their gravy!

Generally, the kids would know when the Spirit was upon me. (Look out...Mom's getting out the iron pans!)  They would be surreptitiously checking the milk levels and the cereal boxes, hoping for a backup meal, just in case they would hate what I was making.  Experience had predisposed them to do so.

Still, they survived, and became good cooks, all. 

Mostly in self defense.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Hundred Acre Wood...Forever!

Dearly Beloved, I found out something Wonderful the other day. 

I have mentioned the Hundred Acre Wood several times over the years of writing here. 

There's this:

http://ronnisrants.blogspot.com/2006/02/house-in-wood.html 

and this:

http://ronnisrants.blogspot.com/2006/02/walk-from-school.html

There are more.  Just put "Hundred Acre Wood" in the search box.

I loved the Hundred Acre Wood.  There was always something new to discover, from a hidden meadow with flowers I never saw anywhere else, to a neglected orchard with the best plums and pears I had ever had.  There were paths made by animals, unusual wild edible mushrooms, mossy cliffs, a craggy mountain, rich meadows, trees to hide under or climb to hide in, wild berries to pick and eat on the spot...it was a paradise for a lonely child.

I have thought about the place many times over the years...thought about sitting on the back porch, looking up at the looming crag of Mt Tzouhalem, or gazing out at Cowichan Bay from the front porch.  Happy adventures exploring, and gruelling walks home from school in the snow.  The time I rode my bike to school, and almost ran right into a cow (an escapee from the school farm), and the many times I fled parental control and wandered the woods for hours, ignoring alike the faint shouts from Mom and the prodding of my conscience.

I suppressed the thought that the place was probably divided up into lots and sold, stripped and built up.  I perused Google maps, found out the St Ann's School is now a therapeutic organic garden known as Providence Farm.

Thanks to a Facebook group I recently joined, where members reminisce about the area and nearby towns, I found out that the Hundred Acre Wood is now known as Chase Woods, and is part of the Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Chases, who hired my parents to be caretakers of the place in 1957, held onto it until David Chase reached the ripe age of 98, and donated it to the NCC.  I am sentimentally thrilled by this.

Thank you, David Chase, for doing it right.  If I could ever go back there, I could see the woods much as they always were, but enhanced by walking trails.

Dearly Beloved, I am a happy camper.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Keith Urban's Adventure in Feminism



When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl 
How does that hit you 
Is that such a bad thing 
When you hear a song that they play sayin’ you run the world
 Do you believe it 
Will you live to see it?
Chorus:
Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover 
Healer, broken halo, Mother 
Nature, fire, suit of armor, sole survivor, holy water 
Secret keeper, fortune teller 
Virgin Mary, Scarlet letter 
Technicolor, river wild 
Baby, girl, woman, child 
Female
When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it
 Just cause she was wearing a skirt 
Oh is that how that works 
When somebody talks about how it was Adam first 
Does that make you second best 
Or did He save the best for last.
She's the heart of life 
She's the dreamer's dream 
She's the hands of time 
She's the queen of kings.

I've read that he is being accused of "mansplaining" feminism, but it goes way beyond that.  The first huge, glaring error is his use of "female" (the title) as a noun referring to a woman.  I have to ask, female what?  Human?  Because we have a word for that, and it's "Woman."  

Don't get me started on the little breathy sexy feminine sighs in the background every time he sings the title...I prefer to hear women roar, not sigh...

The first two lines are clumsy, with repeats of "somebody" and "hit."  The country feminist song is apparently not worthy of the songwriters' best efforts (it took three of them:  Shane McAnally; Ross Copperman; Josh Osborne).  

Every phrase describing what "females" are, qualifies them.  What about women who are NOT sisters, daughters, shoulders, lovers, etc., etc.? why can't he give us a little respect for just being ourselves...jammie-wearing, tired of working, chips and salsa snacking women?

I understand that he is trying to sell it to people who still tell women "Don't worry your pretty little head about that, little lady," but with this song, he's trying to appeal to feminists as well.

Sorry, Keith.  No cookie for you.