November 29, 2006

And then Munu blowed up.

Had a pretty good meeting this morning, despite the potential for disaster. We had a bigger docket than usual--21 cases--but still managed to finish up in an hour and fifteen. I remarked to one of the committee folks that theyíve spent a lot longer on half as many cases.

Overwhelming amounts of work tend to focus the mind, I suppose.

Then I got in here and shuffled reams of burdensome red tape and boilerplate, as well as some actual paperwork, and finally got free for a minute, which was spend finding out that it appears the volcano on Munu finally erupted and sank the entire island and the thriving civilization that once was built upon its verdant cliffs.

Oh well, serves Ďem right for building on a volcano, right?


Anyway, I donít know whatís wrong with, other than itís probably something spam and server related, as it usually is.

SO, maybe after lunch someone will have cured things.


Itís still down, [or, obviously, it was until it got fixed and was able to post this] and Iím not quite sure why Iím even writing this if thereís no guarantee that Iíll be able to publish it today. Maybe itís just a bad habit, like fingernail-biting, or screaming at people in elevators.

And to make things worse, Iím all bothered.

Letís just say last night was very long.

It started with a stop at Target (since itís on the way home) to pick up some mini DVD-Rs for the camcorder, some salad fixings, and a small can of sliced black olives. I like Target, but only because itís on the way home and has those particular items. Its low-price, high-design preciousness still irks me, though. They try so hard to be hip, but their general tone-deafness to the local market is still there, impossible to cover up.


Iíve mentioned this before, but the schools around here all require clear backpacks in order to make sure students donít do something unsafe like sneak a gun into school in them (the safe way being concealed in their opaque and mean-looking long black overcoats). Sure, itís a stupid, non-helpful thing done to give the illusion of security, but whatever, they still have to have clear backpacks. And every year, the local Target gets in millions of backpacks, none of which are clear. So they hang there on the rack all year. Again, what-ever. Waste all the money you want, fellows.

But this year I noticed something that was even more compellingly idiotic.

A brace of backpacks with the wildly popular logos and insignias and hologram-protected indicia of the University of Oklahoma.

Okay, I realize they buy lots of things, and the buyers probably canít be expected to know that one college is different from another, or even if they DO realize that, realize that there are these things called ďconferences,Ē and that a school in something called the ďBig 12Ē is different from one in the ďSEC.Ē

But still, surely there has GOT to be someone, SOMEwhere in Target who might think to themselves, ďHey, you know, instead of trying to sell Sooner merchandise in our Alabama stores, why donít we try Alabama and Auburn opaque backpacks that few people will buy?Ē Or for that matter, ANY SEC school.

Anyway, the point is, it belies your image of hip trendy style-sense-omniscience when you canít even get the most basic things right.

And not only that, they gave up a long time ago having the guy with the tennis ball on a stick polishing up shoe marks. Slackers.

At least they DID have my mini DVDs and salad and olives.

Then to home, where the rest of the family was going to have a nice lasagna and salad. Oldest, on the other hand, had a dress rehearsal for the musical production sheís in, and last night was deemed by the playís director/playwright The Night People Could Come Video the Performance.

Which meant that I would not get to have lasagna, because I had to be at the theater at 6:30 SHARP! And it was now 6:10. Also, Boy broke the nose piece off his glasses and they needed to be fixed, and so I shoved them in my pocket with the idea Iíd drop by Wal-Mart on the way home and get them fixed after the recording session.

Maybe all thatís what made me even more susceptible to grouchiness, or maybe Iím just a fusty old coot with no humanity.

But I have to say, theater people are really off-putting.

You know, as an artsy-fartsy sort myself, I understand about pride of authorship and the whole artistry thing where youíre trying to do something bold and creative and worthwhile and meaningful and all that junk. I really do. I understand the elitism part of it--I mean, who wants to be part of something mediocre?

You play ball?

You want to win the championship.

You win the championship?

You tend to hold yourself a little differently because you did something no one else did--at least that year.

Those sorts of things--the artful presentation that makes a portrait something higher and better than a billboard, that makes a great piece of literature something greater than an assembly manual for a bookcase--those things are what make civilization.


There is also something to be said for knowing your limitations. All of the pretentious high-handedness, the twee insipidness, the pseudo-intellectuality, the preening, the flightiness, the dithering ditziness, the overwrought flamboyant melodrama--all of the stereotypical affectations of Theater People--are not pleasant to be around even among people who are actually proficient at their craft, but even MORESO among people who arenít major leaguers.

Look, we tend to give geniuses a bit of leeway in such things, because of their genius. But merely copying their outlandishness and priggishness DOESNíT MAKE YOU A GENIUS, no more than pulling on a ratty sweater and wooling up my hair makes me Albert Einstein. Shouting to everyone in the theater that YOU are an author doesnít really mean you are. Spouting half-baked stupitudes such as ďhalf of acting is reactingĒ does nothing but make you look silly. And dangitall, when did it become REQUIRED that EVERYONE in a theater production has to act like catty twits like Jack on Will and Grace!? Does EVERYONE have to act like some shallow mewling hyperactive ponce? Men, women, gay, straight--do you ALL have to be trying out for the road company of La Cage?

For the life of me, I canít imagine Gary Cooper or John Wayne prancing around between takes talking in syrupy falsettos about shoes--and for that matter, I canít imagine it being done by a Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. Whatever happened to being a grown-up?

And speaking of grown-up, another beef I have is the same thing as it is with Target--if youíre going to tell me that youíre THAT good, shouldnít some of the more simple things, I donít know, SEEM A LITTLE SIMPLER TO GET DONE? You, Madame Directoress, keep screaming at everyone to ACT! yet you donít seem to notice that the soldier returning from abroad coming in the door has on desert camo fatigues, rather than his class A uniform, duffel, and a COAT. Since all anyone has done on stage is talk about how COLD it is outside, it just looks stupid. Can you not spend a few extra minutes to at least TRY to find something that looks right?

Oh, and this thing of being An Author. Look--call yourself what you want, but just remember that if you have to keep reminding people what you are, youíre probably not doing a very good job in the first place. Thatís why I have to keep reminding people over and over that Iím a tricycle. Also, it might be worth noting that when a little kid in the audience says the rehearsal is boring, it might not be the fault of all your nervous high-strung actors on stage. Might be the script, you know.

Thereís something to be said for acting like a professional, even if the production is strictly an amateur one. Maybe itís just me, but I always have believed the mark of a true professional is being able to do the most uncommon, difficult thing, and have it look so simple that even a simpleton could do it. No fuss, no fidgety, squirmy, mugging for effect--just git Ďer done. Itís quite irritating to see the opposite in play--where even the most simple tasks immediately elevate themselves to a hysterical crisis as everyone runs around flapping their hands and screeching and then congratulating themselves when they manage to plug a cord back into an outlet.

The worst part? Feeling like Iíve just shot someoneís puppy for even saying these things. I can picture thereís probably someone whoíll see this and start crying and flapping their hands and screaming about how unfair everyone is and how I couldnít act my way out of a paper bag. A big FATTY FAT paper bag, thatís WET THROUGH AND THROUGH WITH HOT TEARS OF ANGUISH! See, thatís the other thing--this idea that everyone wants all the adulation that they see stars getting, yet they donít want to hear criticism. Thatís when you hear all the excuses about it only being [insert lame excuse about, itís only community theater, the lack of funding for the arts, having to rely upon volunteers, evil creeping Republicanism, etc.]. It sure would be nice if theyíd remember all that stuff before waxing hyperbolic about their incredible talent and all. And to remember that talent is a better way of obtaining recognition than it coming as simply some sort of Theater Entitlement. Yes, I know--another puppy bites the dust due to my cruelty.

Anyway, I think itís a great show and full of great people who are the best in the world, and itís ALL right in my own little progressive, diverse, and forward-looking small town! RAVES ALL AROUND! KUDOS! LOVE IT! LuV iT! LOVE IT!


Since there were a couple of cast members absent due to family emergencies (deaths in the family--people are SO INCONSIDERATE!!), we were told that if we wanted to, we might want to elect someone to come again on Saturday night (which was deemed to be the night when everything would probably be at its best) and set up ONE camera and make copies for everyone. Well, the heck with that--we were coming to the Thursday show, and a rehearsal video was actually good enough for me.

SO, as the other videographers were huddled in their little klatch, I just stood off to the side with my little tripod and camera and fidgeted with the buttons. That is, until I sensed someone right behind me.

Is there not ANYONE in America who isnít a living, breathing, stereotype!?

Pushy, rude, aggressive, nasally, full of self-loathing, condescendingly superior, able to dispense disdain and mawkishly induce guilt without the least bit of effort--I will say no more about him lest I be accused of harboring every anti-ism in the book.

ďHey--the other guys and I elected you to be the person to film on Saturday!Ē

He said this with the chipper nonchalance of someone used to giving people orders and having them carried out. Of course, his way of giving orders was by being chipper, so it made it look like a suggestion instead. As if I would just love to be at their disposal with MY equipment and be responsible for seeing to it that everyone got copies.

ďUh, no.Ē

He affected a dumbstruck air, as if he couldnít believe I wasnít going to be a team player.

ďWeíre not going to be here on Saturday--weíre coming Thursday night.Ē


He said it with the type of inflection that you give to someone when they PROMISED to do something for you, and then backed out at the last moment, leaving you holding the bag, and yet youíre too nice to yell at them for being inconsiderate. All that with that one little word and that little downcast look and that slumping shoulder and that edge of irritation that anyone would dare not do what he said.

He stood there a second and then half-shouted to the others in the group that I wouldnít do it.

Hey, guy?

Hereís one for you, and one for the tiny horse you rode in on.

Oh, and that thing about being there last night at 6:30 sharp to start filming? Didnít start recording until after 7:30. Didnít finish up until after 9. Meaning I didnít get to go to Wal-Mart to get Boyís glasses fixed. Couldíve gone beforehand had I known there was going to be an hour wait. As it was, I had to try to epoxy the nosepiece back on after I got home. Grr.

You know, some nights, itís just best not to mess with someone who hasnít gotten to eat his lasagna.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at November 29, 2006 02:31 PM

Heh. You decribed the theater..excuse me *theatre* world perfectly. Can you imagine how frustrating it can be for a type-A organized professional who also happens to be a talented actor to perform in that environment? Jeez, save the drama for the performance!

That's why I refuse to do community shows. At least in church productions, people tend to behave nicely when throwing artistic tantrums.

Posted by: Diane at November 29, 2006 03:19 PM

Being able to disagree heatedly without lots of hand-flapping and smelling salts is definitely a good thing.

Speaking of which, I'd like everyone to be sure and come see my upcoming one-man stage production of Twelve Angry Men.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at November 29, 2006 03:32 PM

So was this "Worked up Wednesday?" We can have a rant for every day of the week.

Posted by: Jordana at November 29, 2006 09:30 PM

The theater people are behaving just as I assume they will. However, I wonder why, even if the local Target people have no control, the inventory systems donít get that stuff moved down the road. The whole point of point of sale and having everything managed from HQ is to keep the stuff moving to where it sells.
Shelf time loses money.

Posted by: jim at November 29, 2006 10:12 PM

Well, Jordana, you have to remember that the start of my snit was on Tuesday, so it was still somewhat timely.

Jim, it really is a mystery. It could be that the store performance isn't what everyone anticipated and they're just awaiting the inevitable closure. The staff certainly seems all eaten up with apathy.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at November 30, 2006 08:18 AM

your rant cracked me up - i found you accidently. i grew up in a school before metal detectors and definitely before clear backpacks - but plenty of guns in the school. our administrators prefered to randomly throw us up against walls and search us or our lockers. I think i'd take the clear backpack even if doesn't make a lick of difference...

Posted by: clear backpacks and safety at November 30, 2006 05:08 PM