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The Bard himself was no stranger to borrowing, but what he inspired in others was a desire to continue his stories with his characters, using his voice as nearly as possible. Here's a lovely example, "Falstaff's Wedding," by Mr. Kenrick, taking the great sinner from where he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb by an faithless friend and carrying on in the nearest he could manage to the voice of Shakespeare.

You can read it on the screen here, and turn the pages of a facsimile edition (from the library at Rice University, where I worked for a while) as you go, or you can download it. If I were you, I shouldn't even bother with any attempts to turn the words into plain text, as archive.org has shown themselves to be fairly awful — and not in a good way — in that regard.

Speaking of awful, LJ has been doing stupid things to links lately, so here's the above link again, written out plainly —
http://www20.us.archive.org/stream/falstaffswedding00kenr#page/n7/mode/2up
— for you to copy and paste into a new browser window, if you wish.

Let me know what you think, if you develop an opinion. I haven't read very far into the play yet.
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One of my favorite TV stars has passed on. Sheriff Andy Taylor, Matlock, whatever you remember him as.

I first knew him from his comedy record, "What It Was, Was Football," which he recorded in 1953, and which was still being sold in the record store where Dad had his studio in the early 1960s. He broke through to fame with "No Time for Sergeants," first on stage and then as a movie (he teamed with Don Knotts for the first time in the stage show). In 1957 he was daring enough to star in <i>A Face in the Crowd</i>, which turned his folksy persona on his ear by making him an outwardly charming snake in the grass with a mean temper.

My favorite role of his might be the bad-guy rancher in <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewVwSrVSKS4">Rustler's Rhapsody</a>, where he was perhaps the only sane person in a movie full of western stereotypes. The scene linked shows some of what he did with the part, as well as setting up another classic moment later in the movie.

Griffith reprised his role as Andy Taylor in a couple of parodies. When Ron Howard hosted Saturday Night Live, he makes a cameo in a take-off on his old show (where Opie returns to find that Mayberry has become a sink of corruption and villainy), and they also harked back to Mayberry in a short political film from the last presidential go-round.

Well. Everybody dies, sooner or later. But I don't have to like it. And I don't.
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Theater seems to have been on my subconscious mind last night. I dreamed I was at a familiar venue, trying out for (apparently) Peter Pan, and the audition didn't go so well. I was unusually frank about it. "What's the problem?" I said, in a clearly irate fashion. "I can sing as well as him, I act better, and I can fly, for crying out loud. Doesn't that count for ANYTHING?"
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ACK-ting!

Nov. 17th, 2009 11:22 am
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Finally, I'm back on stage. Not since "Company" in 2003 have I trod the boards, and I have missed it something fierce. In 2003, we went to China and became parents, which made me too busy to do anything. In 2005, things were under control enough that Cathy said I could try out for "The Music Man" at CNU... but then she was in the process of changing jobs, and I couldn't be sure of being at every rehearsal, so I reluctantly bowed out. Up through 2008, I was trying without success in Massachusetts. In 2007, I at least managed to audition a time or two, but couldn't crack any of the groups.

In 2008, we came here to western NY, and for a year or more, I never knew about any auditions. By the time I found out about a given show, it was a couple of weeks from taking the stage. (Now I find out that at least one of them could have still used a chorus body at that late date -- live and/or learn.)

Finally, it all came together for me, and I got the coveted part of Chorus Member in Pittsford Musicals' "Carousel," including a brief talking part at the very end. It's so great to be hanging around theaters, hobnobbing with my fellow thespians, and of course, being up on a stage with people looking at me. Hopefully, it'll be on to bigger and better things (for me -- the show itself is fairly big and it's going great).

We're halfway through the run. Two performances on Saturday and a matinee on Sunday down, a Friday night and two more Saturday shows to go. Sarah came to the Sunday matinee, and bless her heart, she seems to have been fairly attentive to all three hours of it. I showed her to as many of my fellow theater folks as I could afterward, and then we went to the chili party, which was pretty conveniently close to home.

Aspects of daily life continue. Sarah had a tooth hurting her and we took her to the dentist where she screamed in the chair while they tried to pull it quickly so they could go home. We're changing dentists next year, and I hope next year comes soon. The tooth was infected, so it was all probably quite painful for her, even with anesthesia. Yesterday she and I got new watches. Her old one got left outside, so she is paying for 2/3 of the cost of the new one. My old one no longer lights up at night (despite putting in a new cell), and after a couple of years of that, I decided to replace it as well.

I got all the leaves out of the front yard. Remembering that raking while I had a slight cold last year gave me pneumonia for my birthday, I got the blower out and let electricity do the heavy lifting. I think it's the first time in ten years I've used the thing, but results were satisfactory. It was even kind of fun.

Exercise has taken a back seat to the show, but I'm getting back on track with the daily walk (between one and two miles) and the stretches from the physical therapy I've been taking to try and mitigate some of the side effects of still being alive.

Also, I have been getting a fairly steady stream of inquiries about my professional services, some of which have resulted in paying work. That said, I should probably be doing that instead of this, but I wanted to catch up a little. Cathy's finishing a term paper for her class. She's not in love with what she did, but it should get her by. Sarah is done with sports for a while, but she's taking Tae Kwon Do (influenced, perhaps, by the impressive Shaolin Warriors we saw at the college). Her spelling is good at school, and though she doesn't study her Chinese vocabulary enough, she still does fairly well in class. We throw a tennis ball back and forth in the morning while we wait for her bus. The other day she gave me a cut-out heart she'd colored and written "Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you" on it. The spelling was erratic, but darn, what a sweetie.
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We had supper at King Buffet, a family favorite. It was Sarah's turn to choose. We headed first for the stuffed clams, but they weren't out. I think I may have managed to eat more lightly this time. Near the end, the stuffed clams showed up after all, and Sarah and I each had a couple. Then it was time for the main event of the evening, the Shaolin Warriors, live on stage at Nazareth College.

Cameras of any sort were expressly prohibited during the high-energy precision show. The eighteen men and two boys of the troupe all seemed to be able to do standing flips and were amazingly limber. It looked dangerous as anything. Partway in, they went into the audience and started recruiting kids to go up on stage, including Sarah. They stood them in two lines, and the grownup started making moves for them to imitate, then would pass among them correcting their position and stance. I wished I could have taken a picture, but even if I'd turned off the flash, the camera would have made a noise, and I would have gotten a blurry picture and been ejected.

They also brought some adults up to the stage later. I didn't volunteer.

At one point, they did the impressive stunt of having a man lie on four swords with a board full of nails on top (nails sticking out both ways) and another man on top of that. Then a cement block was broken on top of the top man. That was the only thing they did where I knew how it's done (the points distribute the impact; the breaking cement absorbs the blow), but I imagine it required a lot of control to lie on the swords without squirming. You wouldn't catch me doing it.

They also included some bits of comedy here and there. Every now and then there was a knockabout moment with one person cuffing another. They performed a drunken number, with pretended guzzling from gigantic pots and much weaving and passing out along with the impressive weapon work and tumbling.

They did precision fan work (of much interest to me, as I had done precision fan work as a chorus member of CNU's "Mikado" in 2000), spear work, sword work (The swords they wielded at each other seemed very flimsy, but I don't mind that. The ones they broke over their heads seemed solid enough.), knife work (One man held heads of lettuce or cabbage to his stomach and shredded them at lightning speed. The boys, as always, cleaned up anything that landed on the stage.), and cudgels. The whip displays were impressive and loud.

Perhaps my favorite stunt was with short lengths of rope. Sitting on the ground with the legs out, a performer (or perhaps I should say a monk) could whirl the rope in circles on the ground, and jump it. Sitting on his ass, he could jump rope, hopping up an inch or so each time the rope went around in order to clear it.

It all took place in the new theater at the college, which looked spiffy. My daughter has now performed on it before I had a chance to. The only technical aspect I felt like criticizing was at the end of music cues -- instead of a smooth cutoff, it sounded like a cassette tape being paused. The music got strangled about half the time. Sounded very clear while it was playing, though.

It was solidly entertaining. All of us, including Sarah, were enthralled.
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Yesterday was the busiest day of the week for me. In the morning, I had 'Art Ambassador' for Sarah's class; my first time as classroom coordinator. For this, I get a mixed grade. I did arrange the date with the teacher and get it on the calendar. I did not inform the other volunteer parents for the classroom. I got there and realized that nobody's going to do that for me this year. I was going to tell the teacher we'd have to reschedule, but as I got there, the substitute (both classroom teachers were out sick, as I recall) was telling the class we were about to do the project. I conferred with him and we decided to go on and give it a shot.

I went through the checklist, locating most of the items except for copies of the handout, so I took the master to the office and requested twenty, and for the next hour we kept the kids supplied with brushes and watered glue and tissue paper strips to glue down. I showed the Eric Carle video and the display board one of the other parents had made. Sarah had been present for the session where I was shown these things, and she was a valuable and very forward volunteer in helping get things done. We proceeded from step to step. After the glued parts went off to be hung up for drying, each of us took a group of kids to wash their fingers for the second part. I took the girls, with Sarah leading the way. Oh, she loves being in charge.

Things got tricky when we brought out the stencils (one kit for a caterpillar, one kit for a butterfly), but we managed to enforce sharing of the kits and of the limited scissor supply. I headed off some potential difficulties by telling them to number the pieces like the stencils so they'd know if they had a complete butterfly or whatever.

The handouts arrived before they left. As kids were finishing, I praised their work and urged anybody with free hands to pick up some of the leftover trash. They left, and I finished cleaning up and putting things away, with just enough time left to hasten homeward for the anticipated installer from Sears, bearing a new dishwasher. Sarah and I had gone a couple of weeks ago to pick it out at the store. There were phone messages, and I thought it was going to mean some delay with the appliance, but it turned out to be the author of a book I had just converted, telling me that one of the photos had vanished in the PDF. I fixed that and sent him the corrected file with apologies.

It turns out the installer was running late, so I was done with lunch when he came. That part went fine. Old dishwasher out and gone, new one in. Still, I had less time left than I thought, so I had to wait on the next part of my day until Sarah was home.

I told her when she got off the bus that we had to go out and do some things together. She suggested an alternative, but when I checked with the other parents involved, it was not workable. We went to the fire station together, and she got to see me get a flu shot. Then we went to the post office and I sent a thumb drive back to the author. Then we took a Pokemon tape back to the library, and I paid the overdue fine. Sarah vanished into the children's library, and for a while I just browsed the shelves. Libraries can be quite enjoyable. I'd been there on Tuesday for a luncheon honoring volunteers (of which I am one), and if I'd known, I could have returned the tape then. We got home half a minute before Cathy arrived. She had been at the grocery store, finding out that I had forgotten to call in a refill of Malathion for Sarah's head bugs. Oops.

A package arrived. It was the replacement for a shelf in the door of the fridge that had broken some time back. I put it in place with a sense of accomplishment. Then I relaxed a little and fiddled at the computer. Cathy made a tasty supper of stir-fried meat and Southwestern vegetables. Sarah helped me collect household trash and recycling and get it out. I couldn't tell exactly if I was required at rehearsal, so I went anyway and found that I could return home. I did find that our choreographer's husband was doing better (the car they were in was hit head-on by a drunk driver a few days ago, and he was badly hurt; she was injured, but not as much) and passed the news to another cast member who showed up as I was leaving.

This gave me time for stretches. I'm taking physical therapy to try and stretch some of my muscles and keep flexibility in the sacroiliac area. Only there are so many stretches now, that it takes the better part of an hour to do them all. Still managed to get to bed a little early and sleep pleasantly until morning. I got up and heard Sarah bossing her imaginary big brother, Sean, in the living room. Sean can't seem to do anything right. Her imaginary brother Alex doesn't get nearly as much criticism.

I didn't find out until today that Soupy Sales had passed on, which made me a little sad. He was a funny guy. Sarah mastered shoe tying earlier this week. I heard her tell Cathy that she didn't need Daddy for that. This is, of course, a good-news/bad-news thing. Daddy likes to feel needed, but then, Sarah says it was Daddy that taught her how to do it, and she just suddenly realized what Daddy meant. She seems concerned now that she doesn't tie them quickly, but I told her that will come. I put her ponytail up for her. We didn't play catch this morning because of the light drizzle.

Today is a day bright with promise. I showed Cathy a card that had been placed in our mailbox from a local piano tuner, and after I called them about their rates, she said I could get the piano in the music room tuned, and the sticky key unstuck. I'm looking forward to that. Tuning it myself has been gratifying enough when it comes to making bad notes stop being so bad, but I lack the chops for putting the whole thing in tip-top tune.

It's been a busy week, but Thursday was definitely the busiest day of it.
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Rehearsals for the play are going fine. We sing for an hour, then we choreograph numbers for two more. I've started bringing the big portable fan from home to put a little breeze in the room. Whenever my dance partner and I aren't being actively rehearsed and instructed, we use the time to confer desperately so we can figure out what we're supposed to be doing. We prevail upon two or three of the quicker studies for help. A couple of days ago, the choreographer got everything we've done so far up on the web page, so I've been constructing the most perfect possible cheat sheet. Things are going great.

Sarah has her bunk bed now. The guy we bought it from trucked it over and helped hold the ends up while I slid the cross pieces in so Cathy wouldn't have to do it. Got the whole thing together, and she's sleeping in it now for the second night. She went with Cathy to get linens for it. I went to Target with her to get a chair for her to use with the desk underneath, and we'll get her a lamp pretty soon to replace the one I borrowed from the sun room.

So far, she has no homework from school. That starts in October. She does have homework for her Chinese class, which she already says she's tired of. It's hard for her teacher to keep the attention of the half dozen or so kids (ages 6-7) in her charge. After about ten minutes, they spend the rest of the hour squirming and crawling and goofing off to keep themselves awake.

I'm getting back in the habit of walking each day. I started off doing just over a mile, then expanded my path to slightly under a mile and a half. Today I tried a new route that turns out to be just over two miles and takes me out of the neighborhood. It was pretty hot in the middle of the day, but it might be tolerable in the evening.

Speaking of hot, I looked at the weather on my home page this morning, and it said it was 121 degrees here. I clicked the link to find out more, but it said it was in the 50s. I returned to the home page, and things had heated up to 123. Gosh darn Congress.
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OH --

Sep. 12th, 2009 10:18 am
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I auditioned for the part of Jigger in "Carousel" a few nights back. I had Cathy bring me sound tracks, a libretto, and the vocal score, and I sang his songs in the living room for a couple of weeks. First time I managed to catch an audition here. It went pretty well. I sang confidently, danced along with everyone else, and showed that I can stand still on stage when someone else is doing their bit. Only I didn't get to actually read a scene, and I wasn't summoned to callbacks -- which, we were assured, was not a bad sign. Then I waited for a call.

-- WE ARE THE BOYS OF THE CHORUS --

The call came. I am in the Townspeople's chorus. My heart sank, of course (of chorus), but I understand that this is part of the audition process for me. It's not always easy to crack a community theater group: Cathy says they probably have it half cast before the first audition, and I expect she's right. So I get in with one miniscule part, and after that either the powers that be will have learned that I am capable of good things, or I will have learned that the powers that be are morons who are not worth bothering with. In the mean time, I will get to hang with actors and choristers and develop the sort of familiarity with a classic score that can only come from weeks of rehearsal.

-- WE HOPE YOU'LL LIKE OUR SHOW! --

Mind you, being in the chorus is the hardest thing in the show. It's more work, more dancing, and way less fun. You have to watch people doing what you want to do. Well, except I have a speaking part as well. I am the School Principal. Listen:
Enoch Snow, Junior!
Miss Louise Bigelow!
Our speaker tonight is the most popular, best loved man in our town, Doctor Seldon--
See? I already know my lines! And I'm coming to grips with my character. I figure he's a bitter alcoholic.

-- WE KNOW YOU'RE ROOTING FOR US --

Tomorrow, it begins. After six and a half years of no theater apart from two Poe readings and a triple role in a reading of Richard III at CNU (an interval which corresponds almost exactly with the amount of time in which I have been a father), the long dry spell is over. This could... this should... lead to bigger and better things. Substantial roles. Getting out of the house. God willing, I'll even make some friends.

-- BUT NOW WE HAVE TO GO!
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