Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of the Emerald Isle, enjoy a little Enya. And thanks to CatPants for letting me know about VideoCodeZone.

We are supposed to make much revelry tonight and tomorrow, but Mrs. Z was feeling puny this morning, so we're not certain what the future holds. I've been informed I may need to take over as, in her words, "Party Master."

I'll brief you Monday.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

After the storm

Photo by T.J. Salsman

So very much to write about.

First of all, thanks to all of my readers who expressed concern for our safety after the storm. This was a time it was very good to be living in an English basement downtown. Our apartment proper was undamaged, though the complex’s courtyard showed the signs of the storm. (The patio furniture was smashed and twisted together.)

Furthermore, because we live so close to St. John’s Hospital, we were two of about 2,000 residents who has their power restored within an hour of the storm’s passing. It was surreal to, at 10 p.m., circle our block, which looked relatively normal, but look just a block away into a pitch-black void. It was much like the moment of realization for the lead character in “Dark City” in which he almost falls into space. Though the experience was unsettling, at least we were able to return to the comfort of our well-lit home. Others weren’t so lucky.

photo by T.J. Salsman

It was only when daylight broke and pictures started hitting our local media that I was able to grasp the scope of what had happened. You could tell it took our local media by surprise, too. It’s one thing to report on a twister in a rural central Illinois town. It’s quite another when it’s your city that looks like a war zone.

photo by Shannon Kirshner

Still today, three days after the storm flattened sections of both the west and east side, about 20 percent of Illinois’s capital city has no power. Mrs. Z and I are truly blessed, and we’re grateful. Meanwhile, life goes on.

And Muni casting went on. I will be playing FDR in “Annie Warbucks” (the fourth time I have played Roosevelt on stage), while Mrs. Z will be in the chorus of “Aida.” Unfortunately, it means me and the missus will be two ships passing in the night for most of the summer. This means we have to celebrate while we can.

And celebrate we will, starting tonight at the Hickory River Smokehouse, home to Springfield’s finest barbecue. And the celebration will continue this weekend, as we embrace our alcoholic heritage and revel in honor of St. Paddy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Once more, with feeling

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Yes, it's that time again. Muni auditions have arrived. This is me reading for Daddy Warbucks, moments after having read for Amos in Chicago. There have been no word on callbacks yet, but it's only 72 hours until the longest night of the year. More on that Monday.

Right now, however, life has a melancholy vibe. My mother has had pneumonia for two weeks and is entering her second round of antibiotics and her first round of Predazone.

I did get some good news this morning. Mrs. Z received the February Employee of the Month Award at her workplace. Way to go, baby!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Core despondence school

While I’m not at the “Suck, suck, suck, suck, SUCK!” stage, I have felt myself slipping into a melancholy state the last day and a half. Perhaps it’s a convergence of several nagging items:

Concern over my mom’s health. She has what I guess would be called “walking pneumonia,” in that she’s not in the hospital. But it’s never fun to hear someone you love suffering on the other end of the phone. She cancelled lunch with me today, so I know she’s really not feeling well.

Resignation over upcoming auditions for The Muni. There just aren’t a lot of meaty roles for me this year. I’ve had a great last 12 months as far as that goes, so I’m not as desperate to be cast as I normally would be under the same circumstances. But by the same token, I’m finding it hard to work up any enthusiasm for a fortnight that is usually the source of breathless anticipation and intrigue.

NFL labor strife. Admittedly, this doesn’t have much of a direct bearing on me personally, but one of the many reasons football is my favorite sport is it’s historical labor stability. Now, the landscape is just about to change forever, and it makes me sad for the immediate future of my favorite team and the long-term future of the sport in general.

It could just be my latent genetic tendency toward bipolarity manifesting. And that itself would be cause for a whole new level of joy.


Thankfully, as Mrs. Hammen says in “Airplane,” “At least I have a husband.” Err … a wife. And it was the inimitable Mrs. Z who this morning coined a brand new catch phrase. I’d like to share it with all my dear readers in hope it will spread faster than the Numa Numa Phenomenon. The phrase: "It's roller derby now."

DEFINITION: Entertainment that, having started out innovative and unique, has degenerated into appealing to the lowest common denominator.

ORIGIN: Mrs. Z and I are watching VH-1 as we get ready this morning when Madonna's new video for "Sorry" comes on. Mrs. Z, never having seen it before is inclined to dismiss it at the beginning.

"Oh, it's another boom box disco video."

But it holds her interest, which peaks during the dance break.

"So what ... is she keeping the rappers from rapping by doing yoga? Who knew that would work? This is great!"

But then, Madonna and all her posse start roller skating for the balance of the video.

"Oh," Mrs. Z comments. She sighs deeply. "Well, it's roller derby now," and starts to leave the room.

"I think you've invented a new catch phrase," I say.

We chuckle in agreement.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ulysses lists

I have been racked by guilt over posting not a thing worth clipping and saving in past weeks that I have put off procrastination and decided to let my words flow in what some may identify as an homage to James Joyce. Others may just say "What the ...?"

The Chicago trip is fading into a burnt sienna memory even as plans take shape for a longer voyage in summer. We hope to revisit the sporty theatricalness of The Exchequer Pub, the spicy homestyle goodness of Harold's Chicken Shack, and the 24-hour-a-day instant gratification of Dunkin Donuts. Fie on thee, Mel-O-Cream, thou sad impostor!

But now, thoughts turn to the longest night of the year, in which my theatrical destiny shall be decided. Four shows beckon -- Annie Warbucks, Chicago, Aida and The King and I. And none may well bid me enter.

And now ... respite.
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