howeird: (Captain in the Bath)
So many conflicting things to say about this. Let's start with why I went:
The very talented Cliff McCormick is playing Clyde. Cliff played Jekyll & Hyde in the Palo Alto production I was in, 7 years ago. He was great to work with, did the very difficult part justice, strong voice and great control. The ultimate professional while still being fun to work with. Also, the music for B&C is by Frank Wildhorn, who wrote the music for J&H. I auditioned for J&H because I fell in love with the score.

About the tech: This production is done on a bare stage with a few random platforms leading up to a cinema-size silver screen lashed to a frame with rope through a series of large grommets. Very rustic. All through the show, projections on the screen provide the background scenery, except at the start and a few times during the show when they play video of the children who are young Bonnie and young Clyde. The actual children never appear, even their curtain call is recorded. Especially at the start, but not so much later in the show, the projection video hands off to the live actor(s) coming out from the wings. The good news is when done well, this is very impressive. The bad news is the poor quality of the projection sabotaged the effect, and sometimes the timing was off as well. Other tech - the follow spots are atop ladders built against the wall, and the operators sit behind them. Very uncomfortable, and awkward.

About the acting: I didn't recognize Cliff. He's a Facebook friend, I have seen him in concert since J&H a couple of times with one of the women Hyde kills (they were an item, at least professionally, for a couple of years), so I was very surprised that I had to read the bio in the program to be sure it was him. He shaved his beard and hit the gym for this show, and put on a Texas accent as well. Allison F. Rich, playing Bonnie, was very good, but I was totally stunned by Clyde's sister in law Blanche, played by Halsey Varady. Her bio says she has played almost every leading lady in SJ Stage's history. Frankly, I think she would have made the better Bonnie. Rich is a tall leggy blonde, Varady is very petite - more like Bonny Parker IRL. Rich was also the music director, which is interesting because her intonation was off all night. Noel Anthony Escobar impressed with his beautiful voice in the preacher role, and his convincing switch to the sheriff. Again, had to check the program to see it was the same guy. Weak point was the cop in love with Bonnie, Ted Hinton, played by Michael Doppe, who struggled with words and notes and what key he was supposed to be in, and was completely unconvincing as the avenging angel his character is written to be. Also not quite up to the level needed was Will Springhorn, playing Buck, Clyde's brother. Some of that was the script, which changes Clyde's IRL stronger older brother into a henpecked weakling. He did well on the one song in which he was featured.

Also doing well in their one featured song were three women of the ensemble, beauty parlor customers Jill Miller, Courtney Hatcher ands Ashley Garlick. Their number You're Going Back To Jail was one of the few memorable tunes in the show.

Which brings me to the music. In a nutshell, Wildhorn wrote every kind of music he knew, and a few kinds he didn't. Most of the numbers are too long, not tuneful, and Don Black's lyrics seem to have been wedged in sideways. In J&K, Wildhorn had the honor of one of the best in the business, Leslie Bricusse, to work with, and a lot of time to try out the songs. Black is no Bricusse. The cast (and the band) handled the wide ranging music pretty well, McCormick's part was especially challenging.

One thing that did not work for me may be the fault of the script, by Ivan Menchell or director Michael Navarra, or both. This production makes it all about sex. Bonnie and Blanche spend a lot of time in period lingerie, Clyde even does a (tasteful) implied nude scene.

The show runs through July 27, more info at their web site.  
howeird: (Default)
Friday was a late night and so is tonight.

Friday, lots of work at work, lunch at Togo's which was a special treat because there were two redheads working, one old enough to be the other's mom. Who knows? But the older one was very freckled, with bright red hair, the younger had that alabaster complexion with closer to auburn hair.

After work I had sometime to kill so I went to the Starbucks of the usually full parking lot, but there were parking places and places inside to sit, because most of the customers were taking their orders to go, which provided a steady stream of Friends of Spandex candidates. I studied my lines over an iced mocha, but looked up often. :-0

7:30 it was over to Santa Clara Players were three friends were in Arsenic and Old Lace. And another friend runs the box office and was producer. My friends did well, but it was horribly directed, and makeup sucked, and the leading man was dropping lines all over the place. He's supposed to be in his early 30s, but his hair was gray and he carried himself like a 50-year-old. The villain was horribly miscast, much shorter than the leading man (the part was written specifically for, and mentions Boris Karloff several times). And he wwsn't scary enough. But he knew his part well. Teddy was excellent except for on HUGE detail. He couldn't play the bugle. Hardly got a blat out. The whole show revolves around him waking the neighbors with his bugle.  Director should have gotten him lessons. I thought about trying out, because I play bugle, but I'm done with stage plays, too many lines to learn..

Dr Einstein is a friend I had not seen onstage before, and he was excellent. The two police officers had much bigger parts than I remembered (I directed this in college in 1969).

And I never thought I would say this, but the woman playing Elaine was way too sexy. Actually it was the costume. She's supposed to be a preacher's daughter going to the theater with the leading man, but they had her in a diaphanous pink gown with way shiny earrings. Should have been something much more conservative.

There was no pre-show or intermission music, but they played snippets of songs as the lights came up on the two acts, and during the curtain call. The lights-up music was vaguely wrong, I can't remember what it was, the curtain call was to the Adams Family theme, which was disgustingly WRONG. A&OL is not about fun-loving freaky but harmless creatures, it's about criminally insane cold blooded murderers. Another horrible call by the director.
howeird: (Hawaiin Shirt)
Costco, picked up the box of scanned slides and the two DVDs they were scanned to. Had just enough time to copy them to the PC before heading back to Consonance. There are so many of the solid musician types there this year, made me miss [livejournal.com profile] lemmozine. Seanan is elsewhere, which I think raises the level of musicality a bit, and lowers the chaos factor. The latter may or may not be a good thing. Brooke is also elsewhere, and I miss her music & energy & creativity. And am sad that tragedy struck her in a way which makes it impossible for me to sing my favorite song of hers which I am capable of singing. There are a couple I like better but my mouth doesn't know what to do with the lyrics.

I got there in time for the 2x10s, the first person on stage sang boring bardic balladish balderdash. Steve Savitsky came down from his transplanted home near Seattle and sang his old tune about how his house is always open to all on one night of the week, except maybe now it isn't. And he sang a song he wrote about/for Naomi, which was very touching and I would have asked him for a recording to send to my cousin who has MS except for the bit about how Naomi's SO stands beside her, because cousin's husband bailed when she got the diagnosis. Brett Glass, whom I had not seen in so long I still don't recognize him, sang a cute Time Lord song accompanied by his laptop orchestra. Jane Mainlander, who is often the most entertaining person at the con, bored me with a couple of songs about Sherlock Holmes spin-offs. One was a tribute to Joan in Elementary which I thought fell short. Needed a more upbeat tune. Nick pleaded con crud and instead of singing told the story of the Pied Piper. His voice sounded fine, and while he is a wonderful storyteller, it didn't work for me. I needed a trick ending, or something.

International guest Rika Körte, who impressed me singing harmony last night, did an entire set above her range, and the sound people made it worse by over-modulating. Nothing in her set was memorable. A good chunk of it was in German.

Interfilk guests Robin Holly and Jonathan Turner were mostly entertaining. Jonathan did most of the singing, he has a bad habit of swallowing the words at the end of a line, especially punchlines. He did a funny one about how he won't sing Bob Dylan.

Home, pulled some weeds using the claw thing I'd bought a while ago for that purpose, but many of the weeds were too deeply rooted to get them all.

Did some more processing on the photos, renamed them, and started the upload to Flickr. Left the machine on as I returned to the con.

Clare Cook was a first-timer with a 30-minute set, mostly Clancy Brothers, and she thinks Irish Rovers originated the song The Merry Minuet. She updated it in a way which was charming and awkward and not entirely necessary. I liked her alternative ending:
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.. woman..person of indeterminate gender


And that brought us to the GoH concert, Margaret & Kristoph. Mark Osier sang their intro, to the tune of Let It Go from Frozen. Brought down the house when he changed the chorus to "They're our GOH" (pronounced "go")

As usual, M&K gave a consummate musical performance with only a tiny bit of filk content, and they brought up several people to help, with Brett Glass playing bass on a few numbers, one tune he had Brett, Paul Kwin, Maya & Jeff, Jim Partridge, Paul Kwinn and Beckett Gladney (on harmonica) to sing about things lost in the dryer, and lost beer.

They got a standing O, did an encore, and then things broke up for open filk. I went across the street looking for food (it was almost 10 and most places were closing) and found a restaurant called Chef Wang's Indian Chinese. Staffed by Indians, I was the only non-Indian in there. I ordered the Manchurian lamb but I think they gave me beef. It was very spicy. My sinuses and tear ducts have been completely irrigated. The corn & crab soup used fake crab. I can check this place off my list.

Home, put the final touches on the Flickr set, caught up on FB and fed the cat. And had some ice cream as an antidote to dinner.
Some photos behind the cut )
Flickr link is -->here<-- 


 
Plans for tomorrow:
Study lines
Con at noon
Rehearsals at 7
howeird: (Default)
March Fools Day is the day in 1961 when JFK established the Peace Corps. I served in Thailand from March 1975 to July 1977. More on that later.

Today started with a trip to Fry's to get a replacement power brick for my laptop. I keep the original one in the laptop bag, and it still works, but usually I run it on battery, as God intended, and charge it from a spare power brick at home. That one died. I wanted a 60W Toshiba, but all the retail ones these days are 90W and above universal (they come with a set of plugs, one of which will match your laptop).

Fry's was on the way to the photo shoot. Miki, the model, is one of those women which prompt cries of outrage from the average and larger-than-they-want-to-be-but-it's-not-PV-to-admit-it women on LJ and FB and Twitter...ad nauseum of "nobody looks like that! These must be Photoshopped!" Here's Miki, the only photoshopping I did was to adjust the contrast level and maybe crop the background.
Cut because I care )

I got some good shots, and since this one was lingerie and not nudes, They are all mostly work-safe. It wasn't a very good shoot compared to the last two, for a number of reasons. The host did several lighting setups, all of them were difficult to shoot in. I won't bore you with the details. The model kept changing poses and expressions faster than the lights could re-charge and she sucked at taking directions.

I won't be doing any shoots for at least another 2 weeks, what with rehearsals and Consonance con.

Home, processed the photos, had dinner, threw a load of laundry into the washer and drove to Foothill College to see their production of Little Shop. Nutshell review:
The girl trio was spectacular. They sounded like they had been singing together for years. I asked after the show, and they hadn't. The whole production was way over-choreographed. The guy playing my part lost his character a third of the way through - he went from somewhat believable NY Jewish shopkeeper to Red Skelton in two easy steps. He managed to get cut from one of the musical numbers and some of the choreography, and they slowed down the two numbers where he has tongue twisters. They had a large cast, our director has chosen to make one guy play many parts, which I think is stupid and a Big Mistake, this show had a different person for each part, which meant they had some serious vocal power as an ensemble chorus. The female lead was very good, the male lead was okay. The band was excellent, but the sound system wasn't. All the cast were miked, and whoever was on the audio board had it cranked up too high. Toward the end there was feedback. We also had some mikes being bumped backstage at the start. The set was good. Costumes were iffy, except for the stunning red sparkley dresses the trio wore at the end.

Home, here I am.

Plans for tomorrow:
Janice's 70th birthday party at noon at her condo's community center
Rehearsal at the theater. My first time on stage there in 14 years. Or backstage probably. I doubt if we will rehearse on the Little Princess set. Sunnyvale has a big dressing room/rehearsal room backstage.
howeird: (Default)
Feels like Friday.
Work included the distraction of a new build for the current product, and with it a test I could do easily to verify a bug was fixed. Continuing to research Teletext and wrote some more test case one-liners. Many of them I have no idea how to actually do the tests. Those require the box to get its input from a satellite feed, and we don't have any European feeds that I know of.

Lunch was Boston Market, the half rack of ribs was good, but twice as much as I should have eaten. Small, dry cornbread. Not very sweet sweet corn. Decent loaded mashed potato. The very large plastic glass they give for soft drinks is a keeper. Finished the second Giver book, Gathering Blue. It isn't a sequel to The Giver but is billed as a "companion book". Nope, I don't buy that either. Totally different characters and setting, and different magic. Started #3, which is a sequel to #2 right off the bat. I love her writing. YA book which doesn't make me feel overqualified.

Looked up the remodeling company which was suggested by a friend and advertises in the community magazine, but there are no Yelp reviews and BBB doesn't know about them. Not a good sign. The mfg rep said she would send references, and we got a new magazine today which I'll do some checking against.

Put the small Seahawks logo decal on the car, and the a little too large college sticker, which was falsely advertised as a window cling.

Home after work, did my best to avoid it, but eventually sat down with the music and the script and tried to learn the words to my songs. Not very successful. The phrasing and cadence of the song lyrics is counter-intuitive, and there is no place to catch my breath. Will need much help at the rehearsal Thursday with music director. The theater is occupied so we'll do it at his house, where we had the first read-through.

Tried playing the two versions of the songs I have from Amazon, but neither of them matches the script. One comes close but they chop out the intro to the Big Numbah. :-(

In other news, have been infuriated once again by Da Meedea warping a story for sensationalism. Arizona passed a bill, which the governor has not yet signed, which simply allows a business owner to refuse to serve anyone on grounds it would violate business owner's religious beliefs. But instead of reporting it that way, they are all calling it the "anti-gay" bill.

Yes, someone whose religion holds that homosexuality is wrong could refuse to serve gays. But it also allows a Jewish deli owner to refuse to serve men who are not wearing a head covering, or a halal store owner can legally turn away women customers whose arms are not covered. That would make it a "right to bare arms" issue. I'm sure that with enough research, a Navajo could come up with a reason to 86 someone on religious grounds. "You are trespassing on sacred ground, leave!"

I am all in favor of allowing a private business to choose its customers. Just as I have a choice in which businesses I patronize. It should work both ways.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work
Bingo at the community center. A tough choice because there's a NASA talk at Foothill too, but I probably could not get up there in time.
Put in some more script time
Change the sheets
howeird: (Don't Vote)
Or not.
My whole day was all about seeing an all-female production of 1776, which was originally written for all men except for two women (Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson). Took light rail, met Janice at the theater, The Theatre on San Pedro Square is cleverly hidden behind Peggy Sue's, it's a very comfortable 300-seat venue with great sight lines.

I got what I expected - a very talented group of women acting and singing their hearts out but utterly failing to convince me that they were the Founding Fathers. A large part of it was they were not in costume. Another chunk was there was no set. The furniture was decidedly not period.  

The cast was miked, but the sound system was not surround or even true stereo so there was no audio clue where the person was on stage. Music was electronic, and the sound booth did a horrible job of balancing it, so I often couldn't hear the words. They had this obnoxious church bell effect which was rung at what appeared to be random times, and also tolled as each delegate came up to sign the Declaration. It drowned out the roll call.

Well worth going to for the level of talent and the novelty.
Janice gave me a ride home. It's been raining and blustery on and off all weekend.

I took down the flag pole with the US and Thai flags, because it is rude to fly national flags in this weather. Makes it harder to find my house, though. Maybe I'll get another pole and put up my old obsolete Coast and Geodetic Survey flag. That was designed to fly on ships in all weather. CG&S was absorbed by NOAA in the late 60s. I got the flag because I worked in a NOAA warehouse as a summer job when they decided to toss the old flags. I can't find an image of this one online, it has a yellow sinusoidal projection of the globe in the center, the ones I'm seeing online have simply a triangle, or the NOAA bird inside a blue circle inside the triangle.

But imagine this, in yellow in the center:



Domino has been a nudge all evening. Well, during dinner, which was two courses. Corn chowder then I finally dug the last two sourdough English muffins out of the freezer and nuked them with margarine and swiss cheese. Dessert was sliced banana under chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. And a heart-shaped shortbread cookie half dipped in chocolate.

Tivo supplied the entertainment, I watched two episodes of TMZ and the latest Shark Tank. The latter lived up to its name, the final presenter had The Next Great Smartphone Thing™, and all the sharks were jumping each other to make a better offer. Better for them, not for the presenter. He finally took the highest $$ bid which also meant giving up the most equity.

Also spent some Quality Time programming the Tivo to record the gold medal rounds of the sports I really want to watch. Luge, skeleton, speed skating short distances. Unfortunately that will mean a lot of FF-ing through biathlon (yawn) and figure skating (WTF, judges?).

Put out the garbage/recycling. One of the many things one gives up owning a home is the luxury of taking stuff out to the dumpster whenever one wishes, and not paying attention to what day it is. Except now that I think about it, the dumpsters were full most of the time.

Did look at prices for Nissan Leaf. $30k. I probably can't afford that, unless I can get $15k for the Corolla.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work
Maybe BASFA
howeird: (Default)
Usually every other week on Wednesdays afternoon the highlight of the week is my 1-on-1 with the boss. He's not just the boss, we're also friends, we use the same model Nikon, we share an attachment to Thailand. He even built a house there.

But things are crazy for him lately, he is tasked with way too much paperwork and database building for the upcoming new product (work which other companies would hire two other people to do) and between that and family obligations he changed our last three sessions to Thursday. This week it was canceled entirely. :-(

I caught up on some audio analysis, and there was a follow-up needed from the Monday demo (I'd found a a couple of bugs in the code and needed to show Automation Guy so he could pass them along to the programmer).

And AG also reminded me there was a response to a code bug I had filed which claimed the script worked just fine when the coder tried it. Turns out the coder had made a mistake in the documentation, putting a lower case letter in a variable name where it needed uppercase. AG merely had to change the doc. Linux is funny that way, "Output" and "output" are different variables.

Spent a little more time browsing websites for CNN, BBC, KGO and whatever the local NBC channel is.

After work I killed an hour at the former batcave Starbucks, reading on the Nexus Kindle app, James Gunn's latest novel (he is 90), Transcendental, and it's quite good. Much, much more fluid writing style than that last China M. book.

Home, on the front porch was a small packet from Amazon, the Taylor Swift DVD, Taylor Swift: Journey To Fearless [Blu-ray] (2011). Popped it into the DVD player, and was amazed. I bought it to see what all the Grammy hype was about, and now I know. Not just a pretty face/body. It's the story of her 15-month world tour, and her show is almost as much a theatrical performance as a concert. Amazingly well directed, rehearsed and performed, many of the songs are more pop than country. Lots of costume changes, and the backstage stuff with the cast and her parents looks like the two or three best musicals I've been in, where lifetime friendships are the norm. Production values vary widely,  range from home video to phonecam to HD music video and everything in between. Lots of segments with her mom, a few with her dad, many with her best friend, a couple with each cast member. It's a long show - they present it as a three-episode mini-series. Worth full price. It will be very interesting to see if she has a long music career or gets married, makes babies, and disappears. One thing I have to say to those bozoids who made fun of her Grammy performance, is she performs with a lot of passion, and doesn't need to scream to show it.

Somewhere in there dinner was Marie C, with Breyers' oreo ice cream for dessert.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work
Maybe go downtown and see the all-female 1776. I'm not fond of the show, and even less fond of women playing men's roles in a historical piece, but I have so many friends in this thing I have to see it.  

2013

Jan. 1st, 2014 02:48 am
howeird: (Domino_yawn)
Not a very eventful year, but the events which did occur were major.
- The company I work for was sold to Google, the unit I am in was spun off and sold to Arris.
- My last remaining uncle passed away, my mother's sister's husband. She is my last living relative of my parents' generation.
- My first brother in law was taken suddenly by cancer. My oldest sister's husband, the only sane member of my Israeli family, days after his 76th birthday.
- I bought a house. Technically a manufactured home in a retirement community, but it was still a gut-wrenching process
- Part of moving required surrendering my half-Siamese, half-Labrador cat after only a year. The most affectionate cat I ever owned, but this turned out to be a good thing for Domino, who hated him and was terrorized by his playfulness.
- My only American nephew became a dad for the first time. They named him Wesley, because, "As you wish". I think he is my 27th grand-nephew/niece. I lost count of my older sister's grandkids at 22.
- In April I was in a craptastic production of Brigadoon. The less said about that the better.
- Bought a new Yaris for cash. Traded it in the next day for a new Toyota. The dealer lost my HOWEIRD plates in May, I finally got replacements in December.
- Ye Olde Towne Band in Los Altos was fun for the third summer in a row. 
- Attended Conflikt and Consonance filk cons.
- Was a panelist about 10 times at Westercon 66, made some new friends and rubbed elbows with the man who wrote The Trouble With Tribbles

A bevy of whale watching trips with heavy lenses at the ready for hours on end gave me tennis elbow, as a result I didn't do much photography the rest of the year. The elbow is finally back about 80%. In addition to the tendinitis I also sprained or fractured the elbow just enough to make it very painful to bump on things, when I crashed it against a door.

The 2014 calendar came out well. For the first time I used more than one photo on some pages, and only left a small number on the cutting room floor. Next year I need to switch to a format which is not spiral bound, to save postage and customs hassles.

Attended many shows which friends were in, saw Reilly & Maloney in concert and Uncle Bonsai. Saw the girl who played Dorothy to my Cowardly Lion in 1986 land a leading role on Broadway.

Plans for 2014:
Stay employed
Continue breathing
Maybe do some more theater. Maybe.
howeird: (Party)
But first, how my day went. I slept in, which did not amuse Domino who wanted her morning treats. Procrastinated until about 12:30, went to Home Depot with a list of things I needed for the house, expect to actually to the work tomorrow:
Hummingbird feeders
Brackets to hang them from the porch posts
An indoor bracket to mount somewhere in the kitchen for my 3-tier fruit basket
A fire extinguisher, because the house was supposed to already have one but didn't
Wood screws and anchor screws
did not find the kind of box cutters I wanted. Probably need to get those at Lowe's.

Continued on to Central Expwy and Menlo Park, an hour early for my coffee/movie meetup. As I was walking to Starbucks from the parking lot, a friend in Seattle called who had received a calendar, wanting to know what that metal tube thing was. She was the occupational health nurse at Moffett back when it was still a Navy base, but she and her husband retired up north before AT&T Park was even on the drawing board.

Janice was right on time, we had a short (for us) chat and then walked to the cinema, just in time to be a minute or three after the movie started. Philomena. Oh my, what a story. And so much good acting! Excellent tech, and the flashback 8mm home movie snippets are priceless, a fine example of how a movie can improve upon the book. One thing which threw me is how often the title character makes surprisingly out of character statements and decisions for a thoroughly indoctrinated middle aged Irish Catholic woman.

J invited me to join her and a couple of our mutual friends for dinner, but I was wanting to stay up for midnight, which she doesn't do, so I went home, planning to stop at the nearby mega-Safeway for egg nog. They were completely out. In the spaces which were labeled for 7 varieties, here were 186 quarts of house brand vanilla cinnamon flavored, and that was all.

I did get the rest of my short shopping list, turkey franks, pizza dough, ice cream, Ritz crackers and cheese in a can. The first two for making pigs in blankets, which is my traditional NYE snack.

Obsessed, I detoured to Piazzi's, and got a quart of their over-priced Bud's egg nog, which is all they had. Not satisfied with that, I turned off the freeway at the first of my two possible exits and turned right instead of left to go to Lucky's, which had insanely cheap half gallons of both regular and light egg nog, so I bought 2 regular. The egg nog is really an excuse to use up some of the bulk nutmeg which I bought a couple of years ago and have barely made a dent in.

Home, unloaded the car, gave Domino her treats, took a nap until 9:30, gave her her half can of Fancy Feast, poured a glass of nog, opened the crackers and cheese and finished a roll of ritzes and shared some canned cheese with the cat. Finally cleared all the flotsum off the kitchen island and made the pigs n blankets, put them in the oven, and watched some Bones on TV. Which I rarely do, but everything else on was total crap.

Flipped channels, settled on KRON 4 which is now a local all-news channel except when they are playing failed syndicated junk and paid misinfomercials, because they claimed to have live from SF complete with fireworks from three angles. Unfortunately they chose their three least attractive, non-talented staff to host, outside in the cold. So I also had a button set for Ryan Seacrest, and managed to catch Miley Cyrus' act, including her finale, a touching rendition of Wrecking Ball. Not just the song, but the fact that the audience sang along so loud she was able to hold out her mike to catch that for a few words. One thing filk has taught me is few things are as rewarding for a songwriter as hearing the audience know all the words.

Pigs in blankets turned out excellent, I only ate half (they are great leftovers) and set KRON to record while I watched the NYC ball drop. Toasted the new year with egg nog.

Then played back the KRON recording, and saw spectacular fireworks with craptastic sound track, I would rather hear the bang of the explosions. So I muted the TV and did hear explosions - there was probably a fireworks show on my end of the bay, but where the house is located I can't see. May have been from the Hindu temple across the street, they are big on blowing things up.

Plans for tomorrow:
One last morning to sleep late
Put up hummingbird feeders
Hang the fruit basket
Install two more towel racks in the main bathroom
Find a lace for the fire extinguisher
Drink more egg nog
howeird: (Default)

Mostly reprinting here what I said on FB:

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in dueling cleavages. An ending which makes The Sting's look straightforward. Christian Bale learning a Bronx accent little by little until by the closing voice-over he sounds like he was born under the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. Bradley Cooper winning this year's award for Most Overacting in a Feature Film. And the hair. This movie is all about the hair. My hat is off (so to speak) to:
 Kristen Barry ... hair colourist / hair stylist
 Stacey Butterworth ... wig maker: Jennifer Lawrence
 Elizabeth Cecchini ... hair stylist
 Kathrine Gordon ... department head hair stylist
 Raul Hernandez ... hair stylist
 Michelle Johnson ... assistant hair department head
 Amanda Miller ... wig maker
 Shayna Passaretti ... additional hair stylist
 Emma C. Rotondi ... hair stylist
 Rene Vaca ... assistant department head hair stylist
 and to Jeremy Renner for rocking a classic Elvis do, as well as portraying the challenging role of sincere politician.

Amy and Jennifer ran through lots of costumes, most of them very sexy. The men's outfits did not work for me - the costumers made too big an effort to not dress any two people the same, in an era where most men did dress the same. The FBI supervisor's boss looked more like a mobster. The supervisor looked more like a farmer making a court appearance.

 Schemes within schemes within schemes, and a who's doing what with/to whom with whom (or is it who?) to make your head spin. It's a long movie, 138 minutes, but I only wanted to check my watch twice (but I wasn't wearing one).

 Excellent acting, directing, cinematography and a soundtrack made up of pop music of the disco era, often with a mean sense of humor. Almost fell out of my seat when they played "White Rabbit" in Arabic. The original parts of the score were spot on, by quadruple Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Danny Elfman. Audio was mostly excellent, there were a few lines which I couldn't hear. There was one scene showing Amy from the back which was probably done with her stand-in, because it was out of sync (her head was moving in the wrong way for the words she was speaking). Those scenes are shot blind - they are easy to screw up.

 Some great character acting by Paul Herman as the mobster lawyer, Elisabeth Röhm as the sincere politician's wife, and an uncredited Arabic-speaking Robert De Niro.

Worth full price.

howeird: (Default)

The first half of Plan A was to see American Hustle at 11:50 at the AMC, which is pretty close to home. Matinee senior price was $7. The second half was to see The Hobbit in IMAX at 2:20. But with 20 minutes of trailers, 138 minutes later was too late to do the second half, and the place was packed, so I went home. Met my next door neighbor in #6, she said she was widowed 3 years ago, she had company which saved me from a real conversation. She has a pretty thick accent, I think Philippines.

Was hungry, but it was too early for a meal. I made popcorn, but that wasn't enough so I cut up more sourdough batard and had a triangle of goat brie with that, as Domino stood on my lap trying to intercept the cheese as I spread it on the bread-ettes. I gave her a few fingertips worth.

Tivo had one episode of Restaurant Stakeout, which was another miracle success. This time Willy totally failed with most of the staff, and what finally saved the place was the owner doubling the staff, and the chef providing cheat sheets to the dumb as rocks android wait staff for the daily specials.

Elementary stepped into the future, I am thankful they resisted the pressure to make it a Christmas tree festooned episode. Instead they promoted the Christmas spirit by nailing the head of a Holocaust victims' fund for triple murder, money laundering and drug dealing.

Since I had time and a decent kitchen, dinner was a minor production number. Put some egg noodles (twisty) on the boil, sauteed two slices of onion and a tablespoon of crushed garlic in corn oil, added 1/4 lb of ground beef, a dash of sage and a dash of ginger, and when it was almost cooked poured in a few shots of Canadian whiskey.

Drained the noodles and put them on a plate, dumped the ground beef on top. Should have used a bowl, it got cold quickly. Domino loved the little bits of beef I gave her.

Afterward she got her Fancy Feast and I got my Breyers Thin Mint ice cream.

Watching high school football, a local school called De La Salle is very good. There are some college teams they could hold their own against.

Made a poor man's egg cream. Love my SodaStream because now I always have seltzer handy. Just fill a glass halfway with seltzer, top it off with chocolate milk. They make lactose free 2% now. Yummy.

Plans for tomorrow:
Post office, buy a lot of stamps and apply them to envelopes with calendars in them.
Maybe see The Hobbit, but not in IMAX.
Visit the office, request a larger garbage bin.

howeird: (Inigo Montoya)
Today was a company day off. They give us two days for Turkey, Jesus and Janus. My plan for a while was The Big Shed Project.

It was amended a little because mornings have been cold, but afternoons have been warm. So this morning I hit the matinée showing of Frozen in 3D, which has been getting rave reviews.

It started out charming, with some enjoyable music, but soon degenerated into a very violent plot with forgettable songs and a frenetic score to match the heart-stopping action.

Idina Menzel, who was the green witch in Broadway's Wicked played the ice princess. This is an actress with a gorgeous singing voice, but they kept her to mostly dialog and much of it shouting. OTOH,  Kristen Bell plays the younger princess and sings quite a bit, including a duet with Prince Hans, voiced by Santino Fontana. I can find no evidence of either of them singing professionally before. They did well, but the songs didn't require much range.

Olaf the snowman is ridiculous, and a great attraction for the kiddies, but I would not have brought a child to this very violent movie.

As is my habit, I stayed through the 10 minutes of credits for the Easter egg. It was there, but it was a throw-away. However, there is a disclaimer cleverly hidden in the credits toward the end which was worth the wait.

Speaking of movies, my biggest disappointments this week are that two movies which I otherwise would have loved to see are starring men who both do not fit the part, and can't act. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a childhood favorite book, and the movie starring Danny Kaye was pretty good. It would be spectacular re-made with modern technology and a Mitty who was of Kaye's calibre. But Ben Stiller? Gag me. And Saving Mr. Banks would have been fun if someone with enough acting chops to make us believe he is Walt Disney was playing opposite the extraordinary Emma Thompson. But Tom Hanks? Save me.
By the time the film was done, it was in the 60s outside so instead of catching The Hobbit 2: Spare The Air Day, I went to The Milk Pail and spent about $65 on cheeses. And that's even though they didn't have my favorite French sheep cheese. Some cheeses for snacking, some for fondue.

Then home, to do The Shed Project™.

This has been on the drawing board since I moved in. The house has a storage shed out at the end of the driveway. The previous owner had shelves installed left, right and back wall. The shelves on the right were too deep to get the door open wide enough - you had to shove stuff inside, close the door and then move the stuff where you wanted it. The shelves at the back made the space too short for my bike. And they were too close together vertically to hold any of my stuff.

So the Project was:
- Completely empty the shed
- Remove all the shelves on the left and back and one from the left and stack them off to the side
- Knock off all the shelf holders from those (this needed my heavy plumber's wrench. Well, a hammer really but I was too lazy to get it out of the closet)
- Put the bike in facing the door
- Stack all the tubs of stuff against the back wall
- Put all the camping gear on the left-hand shelves
- Add musical instruments, music stands, the big cooler and the microwave

It took about 2 hours. But now it's done, yay!

Parked myself in front of the TV and played the currently recording Tivo of the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State got clobbered early by the Beavers, but managed to raise their score to something less embarrassing at the end. I think Oregon State's coach gave them some help at the end to try to make a game of it.

Also watched some of The Long Island Medium marathon. One of the best cold readers on the planet, but she's strident and I can only take so much of her.

Dinner was duck soup. Yes, I know it is Marxist. But I had in the freezer taking up too much space the ribcage and other assorted bones from the duck I roasted the weekend I moved in. Threw those into a pot, covered with water, added a little salt, a tablespoon of crushed garlic, a couple of twists from the pepper mill, some bay leaves and a few leaves from my Kaffir lime tree. Then a tablespoon each of split peas and barley, and two of dried lima beans. Simmered for 90 minutes. The whole house smelled ducky. And it was yummy. Could have used more salt and barley. After two bowls of it, there is enough left for another meal.

After I write this I am running a bath in the lovely deep "garden style" tub because I am sore all over from the shed project.

Plans for tomorrow:
Dishwasher
RMA a couple of Amazon purchases
See another movie
howeird: (Default)
This morning I was still very sore, so I filled up the tub and had a soak instead of my usual shower. The tub in this place is deep and wide and only a wee bit too short. But the depth makes up for that. I threw in some bubble bath and achieved significant bubblefication. There is enough room around the tub for Domino to circumnavigate, so she did, many times. Between the tub filled with me and the bubbles, she was mystified. I had never taken a bath before in her presence, I don't think.

My plan to get to the Los Gatos JCC by 2 was almost thwarted by the cliff-hanger ending of the Ravens game. But the network cut to commercials and the 49ers game with 4 seconds left on the clock and the final touchdown under review.

I got inside the JCC just as the director was giving his pre-show blurb. Not exactly on time, but not so late as to be forbidden entry. I would have made it before he started if there had not been security theater at the front door. Non-members had to show ID, and have their names written in the log. So if you want to do something bad, become a member. It's always the quiet ones.

The show was a reading of Tevye and His Daughters, three chapters from it. It was billed, I think, as a staged reading but there wasn't any staging to speak of. I went because I knew two of the cast, and had met the director at a pizza party while he was playing Tevye in local production of Fiddler.

They did a good job. The cast was well chosen, one man was double-cast as the tailor and the student, and he did such a good job putting on an accent and changing his personality for the latter that I didn't recognize him.

There was a talkback session afterwards, and I was very impressed by the eldest cast member, who had taken a very small part, but is obviously an experienced actress. Her bio in the program hints at that.

Janice was stuck at Mame which ran long as I knew it would. Over-choreographed shows do that. So no coffee chat.

Home, watched the wrap-ups of the football games, and most of the Saints game with bouts of unpacking. Was able to break down two livingroom boxes, and two or three kitchen boxes. My main motivation in the kitchen was to find the large glass roasting pan so I could make the duck I'd bought and defrosted yesterday. This included also finding the wood block with the kitchen knives.

According to the instructions on the duck wrapper it needed about 3 hours at 350°. I had cored & sectioned an apple, and sliced up two oranges and cut a third into 9ths. Stuffed the duck with most of the apple and some of the orange sections and covered it with orange slices toothpicked in place.

While it was cooking I watched football and set up the webcams. The layout here is very different, so except for the cam on the home theater speaker, they all went to different places. I'm not getting a signal from the last one, but I suspect that one is a knock-off, it has never worked well. I may go online and order a replacement. Also found a copy of the right Sony manual and re-adjusted the receiver to the best of the 15 surround sound choices. Finally am hearing the subwoofer. And crowd noise from the football comes from all directions.

Also installed one of my three under-cabinet kitchen lights.

Also need to replace the thermostat with an electronic one. The manual one is broken - it has long ago lost its "current temp" indicator, and the markings on the thing are so small that a tiny change can result in 5° difference. I've installed those before, it's not hard.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work
Shop for a thermostat and a replacement for the kitchen track lighting fixture. USPS sent me a Lowe's coupon.
Home, football 

Sunny Day

Nov. 17th, 2013 11:44 pm
howeird: (Default)

Yesterday's library trip netted three audio books, which I ripped last night to the iPod. Listening first to The Scarlet Letter. It was required reading in school but I never read it, I can't remember why. There are two possibilities - one is that I was expert at listening to the class discussions and gleaning enough from what the teacher and students said to participate and pass the tests. The other is that it was required before 9th grade in Seattle but after 9th grade in suburban NY (I moved west in mid-9th grade). I doubt that, though, because in every subject I took, except Washington State History, I had already learned everything they taught us in 9th grade in Seattle. And some bits of 10th, 11th and 12th.

Also on the list but not read, I picked up Pride and Prejudice. The third book is a posthumously published Michael Crichton work called Pirate Latitudes.

The plan was to see the 11 am showing of Thor in 3D, as I was en route my youngest sister called, we had a very short chat since it is not far to the cinema from my place. Long enough to catch up a little bit at least.

Turns out Flixter was wrong, the showing was 11:10, which meant I could have chatted a lot longer.

I also saw Ender's Game playing in 2D at 11, but I want to see that in 3D. I suppose I should look online to find out if there is a 3D version, not IMAX.

Thor II, actually. I liked the premise, that the 9 worlds are entering convergence and barriers between them are becoming fuzzy, but the special effects did a miserable job of showing this. There is some fine acting from Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. In a league of his own is the actor playing Bad Guy™ Malekith. Telling you who would be a spoiler. Jaimie Alexander's warrior princess is far more attractive to me than Natalie Portman's completely unconvincing astrophysics PhD. Tadanobu Asano is completely wasted in a barely larger than cameo role, while Idris Elba does a fine job in what should have been a tiny role (Heimdall) but the writers have made him a pivotal player, bringing diversity which was not in the original Asgard.

There are some attempts at comic relief, which fell flat for me, there is not a lot of humor or clever repartee in the script. The score is excellent. Audio mixing is so good I didn't even notice it. 3D was used to give depth to the movie, not to throw things at the audience or make us dizzy. Some of the makeup and costume special effects were very well done, some may have been CGI. Hard to tell anymore. But it all boiled down to effective design.

The Loi Krathong scene was very touching.

Way too much gratuitous violence and destruction.

Worth senior matinée price.


A quick trip home turned into a bit of football watching, the Raiders got off to an excellent start. Not so the 49ers.

Was meeting Janice for coffee in MV at 5:30, I usually get there an hour early to play on the laptop and secure a good seat. Loaded up a shoebox full of chef's knives and other extra kitchen implements I never use, and another small box of coffee cups and small glasses and soup bowls which are breakable and I have too many of, and a mattress cover and took them to Goodwill. GPS said there was a drop-off in MV either by Target or across the street by DQ, but I didn't see one so went to the one in Palo Alto. Despite the detour, I was at Starbucks at 4:00. Almost ran out of things to do online.

Had a good chat. Janice is to blame for giving me the idea of buying a mobile home so I told her all the crapola it put me through. She missed out on the FB stories because she was off for the last 3 weeks touring India, which she said was a daily revelation. Mumbai was a lot cleaner and more modern than she expected. The Ganges funeral pyre industry is a nonstop fire factory. And so on. I'm looking forward to photos. India is not on my list of places to visit.

Home, made the second container of Costco split pea soup for dinner. Yum! And a piece of Black Forest cake for dessert.

Earlier in the day as I was on the computer, Domino tried to jump up onto my lap, I gave him a boost and she stayed parked on my right thigh for about half an hour. And she sat on my thigh while I was watching football. She knows something is up. Not too surprising, since (a) I keep the bedroom door shut and (b) all the shelves are empty and there are lots of boxes stacked up. Kaan also has done his share of jumping on my lap, and I had to chase him off the top of the piano twice.

I was going to bring the CPAP to Goodwill, but decided to try to find the paperwork and return it to the place that sent it to me, but it looks like I threw that out. Maybe Kaiser knows.

Plans for tomorrow:

Work
BASFA

howeird: (Default)

At least I felt like I was this morning when the alarm went off as usual at 7, but I turned it off and turned off all the lights (they go on automagically at 7 too) and slept for another hour. Still got to work on time.

Needed 2 trips to the car, one for the very heavy package going to an eBay customer in FL, and the other for my cooler and netbook. While looking in closets for packing projects I found my ASUS netbook, which used to be my main travel computer, but it was slow and the screen is half height which meant I couldn't use it to work remotely. It is light and has an 8-hour battery and fits in a very small space. And then came tablets, but tablets don't have keyboards, or if they do they grow to be as big as a netbook.

Anyway, I took it to work, logged it in to the guest network, and started with Norton updates, which took more than an hour. And then there were 91 Microsoft updates. And after those installed there were 3 more. Took most of the day, but most of the time the machine just sat behind me cranking away. The new guest network is frustratingly slow.

In other news, apparently tomorrow my lab network connection will be by laser beam. In an attempt to bypass the idiotic firewall which Moto & Google had put in place [long story], our lab guy bought some relays which are hard-wired from the lab to something that looks like a UFO spy saucer, which shoots the data over a laser beam to a receiver which looks like a miniature anti-aircraft gun, and then is hardwired to our GigE adapters.

Continued verifying old bug fixes, took on one which soaked up way too much time because it needed me to force an update to fail multiple times.

Lunchtime UPS, two packages, an order from American Reading Glasses and a DVD I bought on eBay of a star-studded 1969 sci-fi movie called The Monitors. Susan Oliver (Peyton Place regular), Guy Stockwell, Larry Storch, Avery Schreiber, Sherry Jackson (teen daughter in Danny Thomas' Make Room For Daddy), Keenan Wynn, Ed Begley Sr., Adam, Alan and Matthew Arkin, Xavier Cugat, Senator Everett Dirksen, Stubby Kaye and Peter Boyle. 

Slight panic when mfg rep called and asked if I had heard from my insurance agent. Apparently the escrow people were having trouble reaching the woman who did my estimate. I reached her first try, she had been out sick, and yesterday was a holiday. she was about to fax the final quote over (we had to add flood insurance, because there's a slight chance of flooding in 100 years, based on surveys done before the freeway was built between the house and the Bay).

Also got a call from the school teaching Friday's uke class asking if they could change the time to 6:45 instead of 7:30. I said no. The time was the main reason I chose that class over the earlier one.

Home, watched  The Monitors, enjoyed seeing a stellar cast's video application to The School of Bad Acting. Misdirected by Jack Shea** (whose later discredits include Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons, Silver Spoons and Designing Women), shot on what looks like super-8 film boiled in developer fluid (contrasty & grainy). It was shot in non-contiguous scenes which were chopped together in a Cuisinart by rookie film editor Patrick Kennedy who went on to edit Airplane!, and while the video editing was horrible, the audio is pretty good except when the alleged music (by Fred Kaz) blares out or is so far in the background it can barely be heard. This was Kaz's first movie score, nd  was only hired to score a movie once more, in 1971.

The plot is simple: The Monitors are bowler-and-overcoat-wearing nondescript space aliens who have invaded the Earth, imposing peace and prosperity by gentle force and a barrage of propaganda. Most of this is on TV PSAs, complete with inane jingles sung in 4-part harmony. And lots of testimonials. Leading Man falls into an anti-Monitors group and along the way attracts two gorgeous women, both of whom are Monitors lackeys.

The film is interrupted several times by poorly done dream sequences, daydream  snippets and special defects.

Base on Hugo and Nebula nominee Keith Laumer's 1966 novel, It could be a really good movie if it was remade with a world class movie director, film editor and composer.

**Shea died in April at age 85


Today's packing achievements were small. I put the B&W negatives from the scanning company back into the box they came from and sealed that up. And I filled a medium sized box with whatever was on the top & bottom shelves of the small clothing/linen rack in the bedroom.
 
Plans for tomorrow:
Work
??

howeird: (Default)

The only useful things I did today were:

  • See Gravity in 3D at the local cinema
  • Change one of the litterbox cartridges
  • Vacuum up Domino fur in her three favorite places on the carpet.

The rest of the day was spent at home, watching a very sloppy 49ers victory, an even sloppier Redskins loss, and sitting on the patio reading from the Kindle app on my Nexus tablet.

For the last hour or so of the Sunday Night Football game, Kaan curled up under my right arm and went to sleep. Domino climbed to the top of the short cat tree and stared at us.

For lunch I made a banana malt. Dinner was a Marie Calendar frozen thingie. I really wanted to make the lamb shanks, but those are in the fridge, and after making them I would need to put one in the freezer, but there was no room in the freezer. With one less frozen dinner, now there is.

Gravity review
I was expecting something else.


I kept waiting for the space alien invasion. This definitely hampered my enjoyment of the movie. The trailers I saw did not say why everything was exploding on the space shuttle, so I was not prepared for a completely earthborne phenomenon. The space alien invasion never came. And space aliens did not even kidnap Sandra Bullock and torture her until George Clooney sacrificed himself to protect her.

It was simply a story of survival against overwhelming odds, using Good Old American Know-How®™.

I saw it in 3D. It was also available in IMAX 3D, but IMAX theaters give me vertigo just getting to my seat. And 2D for a movie set in earth orbit, I am sure, would fall flat. They only pulled the "corpse comes from nowhere and pokes its head into your face" trick once. The rest of the time 3D was used effectively and realistically.

The realism was almost total. They missed two very obvious things. Sandra's underwear and Sandra's hair. Astronauts wear what looks like long johns with catheter tubes. Sandra wears a grey athletic half-T and black boy shorts. Astronaut hair poofs up into a halo. Sandra's hair maintained its Pantene Pro-V silkyness. Her undies were very distracting for me, because they were not form fitting and left too much to the imagination. And they were not authentic. I figured if you were going to dress her in something non-spec, you may as well chuck it all and go with sexy. 

They have her go into panic attack mode, and Clooney says all the right things in all the right ways to calm her down. The script is well-written, I think, except for one little racist detail. Toward the beginning while Clooney and Bullock are EVA doing actual work, Paul Sharma, playing the voice of a character named Shariff, with an Indian accent, is playing bungee jumping with his tether close to the craft. He sounds like a childish idiot, not like a qualified astronaut who knows we are all listening to him.

They went for the subtle ending. We really don't know for sure if she makes it home. Helicopter sound effects would have been nice.

Speaking of sounds, the score, such as it was, was way too loud at the end, and way too loud everywhere else it poked in. Which was not often, thankfully. Which reminds me of one other technical mistake. They have Clooney broadcasting Bad Country Music™ from his EVA suit for all to hear. AFAIK, there is no way to do that in a EVA suit, and it would be a safety no-no even if it was possible.

Ugliest credits ever. I didn't stay for Easter eggs, if any.


Worth matinée 3D senior price. Especially because there were only about 10 other people in the theater, not enough for misplaced laughs or cheers to reach critical mass.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (team meeting as usual)
Doctor? Or at least call the advice nurse. My elbow is killing me, despite icing it half of the day.
Ask for employment verification letter & apartment verification letter.
BASFA or MNF

howeird: (Danvers Hookers)
Last night I joined a standing room only audience at Newark, CA's Memorial High School theater to see Stage 1's Les Miserables. Before I start to nitpick, so that you don't get the wrong idea, I was one of the first ones up and one of the last to stop applauding during the 7-minute standing ovation.

Non-spoilers first:
There are about 50 people in the cast. I counted more than 60 names in the program, but some of those played more than one part. It is very hard to costume that many people, each of whom had at least 3 costume changes. Unfortunately, it showed. Costumes were mostly adequate, few were more, most were less. Javert was cheated out of what should have been progressively ornate uniforms, wearing a greatcoat for his last two iterations. That was a FAIL. Valjean wore pretty much the same thing throughout. Cosette's dresses were atrocious. The only example of planned costuming was the matching dresses for all the woman in the factory scene, a symptom of making the costumes in the order that the show takes place. Police & army uniforms were far from authentic period or
complete.

The director blew it on several levels. Blocking was like a children's pageant, one long line across the stage, no groupings, no levels, boring.

The program lists a choreographer, but I saw no choreography. Not that there needed to be, it isn't that kind of musical. Javert and Valjean fight hand to hand, very poorly staged, could have used a fight choreographer.

Audio. Every member of the cast was wearing a horribly apparent mike, glued to the forehead, with the wire coming up the back and loosely over the head. Disgustingly distracting. And while the sound was clear and totally feedback-free, it was also non-directional, and the way the show was directed, it was hard to tell in the group scenes who was singing. FAIL.

Orchestra. It's a difficult score. On the whole they did well, but as the show wore on, the oboe and first violin went out of tune, and because the conductor only conducted the orchestra and ignored the actors, there were several missed cues on stage, and times when leads had to rush to get together with the orchestra. I was also a bit put off by the conductor having the orchestra take a bow before the start of the second act. That's not the etiquette I was brought up with.

Set. There was not much of one. Just a backdrop which never changed, even though the scene changed. The barricade was a clever construction in two parts, half rolled in from stage left and the other from stage right, with stage hands inside it hidden by a burlap flap. Once onstage it bolted together. It was able to rotate. That was well done.

Lighting. The theater has minimal lighting facilities, they did what they could. The follow spot operator was spot on.

The cast. Lots of people on stage all at once a couple of times. Almost everyone had at least one solo singing line. Every voice I heard was professional-grade. Quite amazing.

Dean Christman as Jean Valjean was very good, it is a grueling part and he survived it well. His voice cracked several times, and his rendition of his final scene was a bit uninspiring.

Jess Martinez nailed it as Javert. Extraordinary combination of voice, acting skills and attitude. He played a heroic upholder of the law, not a Bad Guy™.

Ben Decker as the Bishop did well in this small but critical role.

As Fantine, Kristen Del Rio was adequate. The craptastic costumes and wigs did not help.

Piper Sperske as Little Cosette was very cute until she started to sing, and then she was transformed into a little girl who could use some age-appropriate voice lessons.

Diminutive Elmer Strasser played the part of Thenardier as a sleezy little twerp, reminded me of Fagin, but without the sense of majesty. He was very, very good, I wanted to throttle him every time he appeared. The Mrs., played by the very large Belinda Maloney, was a superb foil. Both of them would have benefited from competent costuming.

Young Eponine was a total WTF, partly because of a lack of talent, and partly because of something in the spoilers section.

Nico Duchez nailed it as Gavroche, he did so well that I didn't recognize him - even though we had just done Brigadoon together and he was paired with me in a lot of the stage schtick. He has grown. But also he was allowed to act. I forgot how clear his voice is. Part of not recognizing him is he is billed as Nickolas in the program.

Eponine is played by a high school junior named Angela Busgano. She was ever so close to perfect, just a couple of vocal snags away. And maybe a couple more major acting roles under her belt, too.

Robert Lopez was okay as Marius, a little wooden acting but great vocals.

And Brian Palac got to show off his voice but not his acting skills as Enjolras. I have seen him a few times, he is better than this, but woefully mis-cast.

Final ding is for Cara Wodka playing Cosette. Kinda like watching a puppet. Great voice, but when she goes to dialog there is no way I am believing she is in love.


So, some spoilers. During the chain gang scene, they cut the part where Valjean shows his super-human strength, which ruins the follow-up where Javert recognizes the guy who pulls the cart off of the man it fell on. To add to the mistake, they have Valjean struggle mightily to raise the wagon just enough for the victim to be pulled out from under - and immediately two cast members grab a handle and right the thing easily to roll it offstage. Completely destroys this critical plot device.

They cut most of the violence against Fantine, which makes it unbelievable that she is suddenly in the hospital on death's door. Again, fight choreography could have saved this scene.

Little Eponine is white as an aspirin, she is in a curly wig, and is as Caucasian as can be. Grown-up Eponine is Asian, with dark skin and straight silky hair. Little Eponine is apparently a relative (daughter or granddaughter) of the Bishop. Non-traditional casting is one thing, (Lea Salonga is my favorite Broadway Eponine) but this was a FAIL.

What makes Brian Palac mis-cast is he is about 5 feet tall, and very slightly built. Not the image of a Great Leader. But also his acting was many stops short of firebrand.

In the Eponine death scene, she has been shot, the script says she is covered in blood. It's in Marius' lines as he holds her. We can see her white blouse when her coat opens. It would have been so easy for the blouse under the coat to have been blotched with red. The white blouse transported the scene from 7 Kleenex to maybe 1.5.


I'll leave it there. Despite the little failings, it is still worth making a trip across the Bay to see. It runs one more weekend.

Les Miserables
Stage 1 Theatre
Newark Memorial High School
Newark, CA
Link here.
howeird: (Satan Claus)
Not.
Going out to the car this morning there was a garbage truck by the dumpster, but it was only the recycle one. No time today to do the dump thing anyway.

Work was another day of letting the machines crank away and monitoring the video. Nothing strange with the quality, but the content sure was bizarre. First there was the shooting at the Navy base. I have a relative who works there sometimes, but she is on this side of the country today. All the alleged reporters did their best all day long to not find out anything along the lines of who what when where or why. Even the police were sending off a false report of a suspect whom they said later wasn't even a person of interest. There were many helicopters buzzing around the area.

Then there was Colorado, where there were many helicopters buzzing around the area, looking for survivors of the massive floods. It was just one dam break after another. Probably exacerbated by the erosion caused by the massive forest fires earlier this year.

America's cup did not go well for the home team. They seem to not have the faster of the two boats.

But the most important item is They™ crowned Miss New York as Miss America, totally ignoring her flailing attempt at talent (Bollywood dancing? Gag me with a soggy roti) and her rambling, squeaky voiced answer to the finalist question. Miss California IMHO was the better choice, and Miss Florida should have been runner up. Both showed more poise and grace, with a more upbeat attitude, I think. But I don't think it will be a disaster, and if she uses the scholarship money to become a doctor as she said she plans to do, that's a good thing.

Lunchtime started with a trip to the PO to mail another birthday card to my soon-to-be-60 sister (she gets one a month until she hits the big 6-0) and to drop off the eBay sale item. 15 minutes wasted in line because some bozo in DC thinks someone brazen enough to mail a <?!?!?> won't be brazen enough to hand it to a postal clerk. Sheesh.

Halfway to work there's an iHop, I made the mistake of letting them put me in a booth. The way I am shaped, my tummy wedges against their tables, and it is very uncomfortable. I justified not moving by thinking I was there for a quick lunch, would not be there long, and there were screaming children in the back room where the chairs are. But service was glacial, and the screaming was still very loud from where I was sitting.

After work I went to the car and phoned my sister. The car's bluetooth is a lot clearer than the earbuds, since the audio comes from the 4-speaker system, and there's a directional mike. By the time we were done chatting it was too late to stop at UPS or the beauty supply place, so I went home, swapped my button down for a Westrcon T-shirt and went to the [livejournal.com profile] basfa meeting.

We were still down a few people who were not yet back from Worldcon, or who were suffering from con crud in its various nefarious forms. There was much humor, but also much cross-talk by the people flanking me. The auction item I brought sold for $5, which was reasonable, but I expected it to go for more than that. My review flopped. No one got the joke that Megapython vs. Gatoroid could be misread as Gatorade. And once again the rumor of the week which should have won got derailed by too many add-ons. Sigh. Brevity is the soul of wit, people. And while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is rarely as funny as the original. </rant>

Plans for tomorrow:
Work
UPS
Beauty supply
Peninsulaires voice lesson #2 (of 6)
howeird: (Howard The Duck)

I slept in, but not too in because at 11:15 I wanted to be at [livejournal.com profile] mettemu's and Bryan's mold making demo. As usual it was informative, fun and a study in improv. I took many pictures with my real camera which I'll upload when I get home.

I had a late lunch at the hotel eatery, the menu was on Xerox paper with a Westercon logo, and was very limited. I had a Cobb Salad which probably would have arrived sooner if they had not taken the time to make the chicken disgustingly lukewarm.

I wasted time in the lobby and in my room and the green room and then went to the Folsom room, which is the largest of the panel rooms, to catch the end of the Dr. who podcast. Two of the three podcasters were on the Comedy in SF panel with me yesterday. It was entertaining.

In the same room next was a panel I was on, [livejournal.com profile] johnnyeponymous moderated, and also included Ctien, David Gerrolds and the lovely Rebecca Inch-Partridge, called A Single If...

Chris took suggestions from the audience, and we discussed them, I mostly provided comic relief and bad puns. It was fun.

I killed time for an hour, then moderated the panel on Exomusicology. I was afraid we would run out of things to talk about but with a great set of panelists and very participatory audience we ran out of time. Cliff Winnig, Frederick J. Mayer, J.E. Ellis and Lynn Gold were the panel. It was a full room and only one person left early.

6 pm, time for dinner. I figured if I was lucky I would be back by 8 or so and catch the two featured bands. But this happened:

I went to a place named Bandera, which Google and Yelp both recommended for steak. It is about a 10 minute drive from the hotel.

It was a 35-minute wait to be seated. The place is pitch dark and extremely loud. People shouting over people shouting over people shouting over... I almost turned around and walked out. After my drink order was taken I was forgotten for about 15 minutes.

I had the prime rib, which was huge and delicious, and came with a nondescript lump of mashed potatoes, a generous cup of au jus and a tiny cup of excellent horseradish sauce. For the diet Coke, they brought the can, $3 for a 25-cent item. They charged for each can. I also ordered the roasted peanut cole slaw as an appetizer but they brought it with the main course. It was peanuts mixed into shredded purple and green cabbage topped with Italian vinaigrette, with too much pepper. Not my idea of cole slaw.

Nobody checked on me for about an hour.

The much-touted banana cream pie was all display (whipped cream, banana chunks) and not much pie.

The bill came with dessert. I put my Discover card down, face-up, easy to see what it was. A server took it, then brought it back saying they don't take Discover, and walked away. I put down an American Express card and waited another 5+ minutes for someone to collect it. The check came back pretty quickly.

The prime rib was great, but not good enough to ever go back there. The service was so slow I barely managed to justify a 10% tip.

Back to the hotel. By now it is 9:45. I listened to the Phenomenauts for 3 minutes, but ran screaming from the over-modulated distorted) audio and mush-mouthed singers. It hurt.

But that meant I was able to write this at a reasonable hour, and will get to bed likewise. No parties for me tonight, the rooms are too small and they are mostly aimed at drinkers.

Which reminds me of something incredibly rude which happened last night. Shortly after the lights went out I poked my head into each party room to see if it had a view of the fireworks. At the Casino Royale room, a woman in a purple dress blocked my way, and said they were no longer serving drinks. As if the only reason anyone would want to be in the gambling room would be to drink. On my next pass about 15 minutes later, she had blocked the doorway with two chairs. Horribly rude. I won't be going back there.

Plans for tomorrow:

If I am lucky and wake up early enough, the 10 am panel "Where is my Tricorder?" is on. I know where it is. My cousin Harvey has a patent on it.

11:15 I'm on a panel about storytelling, which I probably shouldn't be on because that's not something I do. I can be comic relief.

12:30 I'm on a panel I should be on - how to choose a book - read page 119?

4:15, I'm moderating  a panel I shouldn't be on, Finding Your Muse. The good news is everyone else on the panel will probably have a lot to say on the subject

Masquerade is at 8 pm, followed by Match game R-Rated which I am not on the panel but will volunteer to be a contestant because Lisa said I should.

howeird: (Default)
Drove to Redwood City, had a snack at The Melt (grilled swiss with bacon) and went to see the third and final reading of Sexbot 2600 at the Dragon theater. Over the course of three weeks, with changes by the playwright each week, most things improved, some stayed the same. He added two words to the end of a many-times repeated line (repetitive testing of software games was a theme) which made it so much better. The company CEO is the Bad Guy, he's a lot more crude and abrasive than anyone I know who has the smarts and personality to develop computer games. Casting was flipped from what I'd have done - the sexy blonde played the QA tester nerdling, while the woman of size played the sexbot.

But all in all, a well written show, and do-able in a theater with more access to special effects. Of the three shows I saw, The Killing Jar was the most suited for a Dragon production. I still don't know where the name comes from. Nobody gets killed. There are no jars. Possibly, since it is set in the Vietnam War era, and two of the characters was in a war, it is a mistaken reference to the Plain of Jars.

After the play and a feedback session, I went across the street to the 20-plex and saw Ironman3 3D. Pretty good, but I think they went a bit too far in making the heroes fallible and the villains indestructible. I lie what they did with Pepper's character, but I don't think her one-night-stand rival was nearly pretty/sexy enough. Ben Kingsley does it again - incredible character acting job. Didn't know it was him till they showed the final credits. Which, BTW, were the best final credits concept I've seen in years. The Easter Egg was almost worth staying through 9 minutes of boring B&W credits to see. The house was half full, only 7 of us stayed.

Home, completely forgetting to stop off somewhere and get a new food dish for Domino. Oh wait, 7 pm on a Sunday the pet stores are closed.

Dinner was steamed dim sum (Ha gow & Sui Mai) with celery & hummus & PNB appetizer.

Plans for tomorrow:
Work (early team meeting)
BASFA?

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