Sunday, June 28, 2020

I hope this doesn't become a trend :(

I just unfriended someone on FB whom I've known since he was a teenager (he's now the dad of 7).  He not only didn't get, and didn't seem to want to get, the reasons for the Black Lives Matter movement or why the confederate battle flag is offensive, but when he responded to other people on a post, he was dismissive and derogatory.  Sorry, kid, you're outta here.  I miss the teenager you were, and wonder what you're teaching your own kids. 😥

Unfortunately, someone who's a FB friend because she's an expert in historical clothing and, by extension, social history, is a conservative who has a tendency to edge toward snark.  I don't want to unfriend her too, but the way things are going, what with the pandemic, the protests, and the pending election, I'm not too sanguine.

The one other conservative on my F-list was the parish secretary for yoicks.  She once described Trump as "prayerful"!  I don't know where she got that idea, but she may be headed off my list too.

I don't want to work in a bubble but if all my conservative friends are drinking the pro-confederate flag, anti-BLM, "Trump can do no wrong" koolaid, I don't know how long I can turn a blind eye.

"I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does."

I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does. Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:
1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. PERIOD.
2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
3. I believe education should be affordable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.
9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc.).
10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is the enforcement of present laws and enacting new, common sense gun regulations. Got another opinion? Put it on your page, not mine.
14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?
15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be? I think that about covers it.
Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.
(c) 2018 Lori Gallagher Witt

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

I guess it's that time of year again :(

Last night the Chief had to take me back to Urgent Care because my asthma was getting bad again.  It started with Wednesday's rain, and not being able to get the vials for my nebulizer until Saturday.  They had to give me a triple neb dose and 120 mg of prednisone.  Needless to say, I wasn't good for much today.

I gotta get this under control soonest, so I can start practicing in earnest for my Messiah gig; listening to recordings & following along in the score can only take me so far.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Back in the chorus again

Friday night I auditioned for a(nother) production of The Pirates of Penzance, asking for Ruth.  Knowing one of the other women going for that role, I didn't really expect to get it.  However, when I didn't get called back for the role, I realized I was kind of expecting I would at least get a callback.  Not sure why; given how few roles there are for older women, there was bound to be stiff competition, and the woman who auditioned right after me (also going for Ruth) sounded impressive from out in the hallway outside the audition room.  It didn't help that I was working against an asthma flare (which had me in Urgent Care that night).

Ah well, Pirates is one of the best for women's chorus.  I'll go into it already knowing the music, and not having to worry about memorizing lines will make it easier to design the show as well as be in it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Busy theater spring

I really loaded up my theater schedule this year.

First up was The Gondoliers.  Not only did I get to style 4 hedgehog wigs and a man's wig with buckles (those rolls on the sides), plus wigs for a couple of other folks that were set-and-forget, but I was also in the show.  Oh, and I made 7 headdresses for the married contadine of the ensemble and had a heckuva time figuring out how to anchor the *@&$%! things to everyone's heads.  That made tech week and the run even busier than usual, because I had to age one of the men, do final makeup for a few of the men, eyeliner for one or two folks with less-than-steady hands, AND had to keep tweaking that blasted buckle wig.  I dubbed it my "problem child" because I had to take it home and restyle it at least twice, in addition to all the backstage tweaking I had to do.  Still, it was a fun show, and I was happy with how the "hedgehogs" turned out.  Not as big as I'd hoped, but not at all bad for a first attempt.
one buckle wig (L) and 2 hedgehogs (C, R)



What's wrong with "The Play that Goes Wrong" - MAJOR spoiler alert!

The Chief & I found ourselves in NYC over the weekend and managed to find time to see The Play That Goes Wrong.  I knew people who'd seen and loved it, found it very funny.  We didn't; yes, it had its moments, but a "gut-busting" laugh riot?  No.

Warning:  The rest of this post will be full of spoilers.

The premise is a fairly incompetent college/university dramatic society putting on a murder mystery.  Two of the "stagehands" end up getting pulled into the action, at first reluctantly, but then deciding they like it when the audience applauds for them.  The character playing Cecil is your worst ham, smiling at the audience or repeating a bit if they applaud.  Funny the first time or two, but it can get old.

As you can guess from the title, the whole play is full of one mishap or disaster after another.  In fact, the whole "plot" is merely a vehicle to carry as many actor's and tech's nightmares as possible.  This means you find yourself wondering what's going to go wrong next, and when.  As a result, pretty much every performer on stage has to be good at (sometimes very) physical comedy, which probably left most of them with a whole lotta bruises.  The cast we saw did an excellent job at physical comedy, especially Maggie Weston and Matt Walker (Florence and Cecil).  Maggie got dragged upside-down & sideways through a window in Act I, and Matt took pratfalls, executed somersaults, walked into things face first, and generally made it look as though he'd be black and blue from head to toe by the next morning.

The set includes a platform, appropriately furnished, that represents an upstairs study.  Over the course of the play the downstage end drops a few inches two or three times, while there are people standing on it.  My first thought was "Are they OK?!"  Now of course I know that there is no way such a bit of business was allowed without making completely sure they could pull it off safely.  Still, it would be so easy for something unscripted to go wrong that I couldn't relax, for the performers' sake.

There were a few moments when something would happen or someone would say something and the people on stage would pause, or they would draw out a sight gag, milking it for all it was worth.  I know it was done for comic effect, but I felt that in most cases they let it go on too long.

The performers did do a good job, but they were upstaged by the special effects of the disasters.  Those were so well staged (the shifting platform, a trick floorboard, things falling off walls, and so many more) that it's easy to see why the set won a Tony.  The engineering involved in creating those effects so they could be controlled with exquisite timing was impressive!  (We couldn't help but wonder how long it takes the crew to reset everything for the next performance.)

There were a lot of references to actor's nightmares (e.g., an actor redelivering a line, causing everyone else to repeat a scene) and tech's nightmares (a stagelight sparking as its support falls), but a whole play based almost entirely on stringing them together was a lot funnier to the people coming up with the idea than it was to at least these two members of their audience.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

"Wig school" was so much fun!

DePaul University's Theater dept. offers a week-long wig styling & maintenance class, which I attended at the end of June.  There were only 7 of us, plus 2 students who worked in the university wig shop and were assisting the instructors.

I was a little intimidated to learn that I was the only amateur in the class.  Everyone else was a theater professional, most of them in some aspect of costuming (cutter, draper, wardrobe) who wanted or needed to learn about wigs because they sometimes got tapped for "wig duty" for one show or another.  Two of us had also taken the wig-making class taught the week before.  I might consider taking it in some future year, but for now this was plenty.

They showed us SO MUCH!  The size curls you get from different rollers, ways to color a wig (temporarily or permanently), how to wash a wig, how to wear and clean the lace on lace-front wigs, how to do your own wefts, how to do fingerwaves, and so much more.  Most of our time, however, was spent on styling wigs - setting the styles, drying them, brushing them out, then styling them.  I wasn't terribly successful - only got 2 right on my first try - but I took a lot of notes on what I didn't like and how to fix it, which is probably more helpful.

It was very productive, in that sense - we each styled at least 5 wigs in just 5 days' time:  an 18th-century man's wig, a modern man's wig, and at least 3 add'l styles (1940s, 1640s, and pre-Raphaelite for me).  I took so many pictures that I actually maxed out the data usage on my phone, for the first time since I got it 3 years ago.

Now I want to re-do some of the wigs I styled for my spring shows - the 1920s curls would look better, the 1780s "hedgehog" wigs would be bigger, bushier, and generally better.  As for the Duke's buckles, well, my first lesson was to use yak hair instead of the slippery, silky, static-y stuff on the wig I was trying to work with.  (Those side curls were the bane of my existence - I had to reset them for every performance!)

Gimme a period show to style, somebody, please!  I'm itching to use all my newfound knowledge! 😁

Another lovely birthday bash

Several years ago we learned that my former pastor and the Chief both have July birthdays, so we started having joint birthday parties.  Sometimes it was just the 3 of us, sometimes more; sometimes we grilled, or cooked in, and last year we experimented with having an Italian place cater it.  (Not bad, but not as good as we'd hoped.)  This year the Chief decided he wanted to host a group for lunch at the Italian place.

Today 10 of us assembled at noon and filled up a round table, so we could all face each other.  The restaurant serves groups of 8+ family style.  This meant that we chose a salad, an appetizer, 2 pasta dishes, 2 meat dishes, and 2 desserts for the table to share.  They brought out 2 plates of each item, with the salad & appetizer coming out together, and starting around the table.  We quickly found that passing the dishes around, and "who wants the last stuffed mushroom?" or "anyone want more lasagna?" only added to the fun.

Not only were we celebrating the 2 birthdays, but 2 of our number were newlyweds, adding to the fun.  M, who's a talented photographer, got pictures of everyone on her phone, including the plate of pretty little cookies w/ lit tapers anchored in a strawberry, presented to each of the birthday boys.

The service was leisurely, which was just fine - we had a group that didn't get to gather nearly often enough, and the new groom was new to most of us, so we had time to get past introductions.

What a wonderful way to pass nearly 3 hours on a perfect summer afternoon - the day was not too hot, the humidity was (finally) low, and there was a nice breeze.  The Chief is already talking about what he wants to do next year - go back to this restaurant, find a different one, or do something here at the house?

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Practicing theatrical owies

The director for this show wants 3 of the characters to look a bit the worse for wear when they make their entrance at the end of Act II (they've been in prison).  To practice that makeup, I gave myself a black eye last night.  Not as realistic as it could be, but not bad for a first effort.
Tools of the trade

You should see the other guy! 😁

Saturday, June 01, 2019

What a semester it's been!

It's been a very busy semester musically.  The MT workshop did 2 cabarets and performed at the university's annual "open house" (every department pulls out the stops to entertain and advertise to family, friends, neighbors, and more).  The concert choir sang a world premiere with one orchestra the week before spring break (good thing my boot was "concert black"), then sang with a 2nd orchestra at the end of the semester, including a performance at CARNEGIE HALL!!!

I learned a lot, sang a lot, and generally had a good time.  Good thing I only took those 2 classes or it would have been a lot more stressful.