Friday, June 30, 2006

Brushes with playwriting greatness ...

FYI: Full-color brochure for the 15th Perinatal Bereavement Conference.

In the mess hall this afternoon I made eye-contact with Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics) but alas, I do not get to hear him speak. I am the spouse, not the writer.

Oh, and this morning we had breakfast at the Red River Restaurant, a joint they say is frequented by near-Plainfield resident David Mamet (Shut Your $%&*@, You Lousy @$#%&).

Mister Mom

One great advantage of going somewhere new is that everything you find there is new. This, at first blush, seems obvious. But as it is usually Toni who drafts our itinerary when we travel, and it is also Toni who traditionally has to find satisfying diversions for the children on a daily basis - Toni or Kelly - I have found myself, over the past few days, simplifying what was at first a mad attempt to have something wildly entertaining to do every single moment of the day.

Such mania led me, on Tuesday, to drive over an hour with the kids to South Burlington for some childrens' theater. This wasn't a waste of time (though I could, like Sedaris did in Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol rather trollishly critique the young actors' work) but I did find myself, in the interests of time, settling for a rather sad pizza joint for lunch, and then drag the sleeping children to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, where Orson remained asleep and Zelda was terrorized by the sight (and loud sound) of stuffing being injected into a bear carcass.

We've been staying closer to home since. This is just fine, as the Monpelier/Plainfield area offer a number of swell sights. After discovering the Kellogg-Hubbard Children's Library yesterday, today we returned for what is possibly the best storytime anywhere. Not only did it last an hour, Zelda lasted an hour enjoying the back and forth engagement of books and songs, and it concluded with a craft. Thanks, Megan!

Only Orson was bored, because lately he simply wants whatever looks interesting which is out of his reach. A fish hanging from the ceiling? Well, nothing else will do, then.

Yesterday it was the Cabot Creamery. Tell me, when exactly did sites of in terest begin their presentation by offering a thuddingly boring video? People used to tell us the history of a place as we went along (which was great) now we get an A&E style documentary about cooperatively owned Vermont dairies and darnit, I got out of the house so they kids wouldn't be watching tee vee.

Of course, for the two minutes they sat for it, it was the only tee vee my kids have seen all week. So that's been a plus. Also a handicap, at least when I have the desire to go to the bathroom alone or something.

The tour of the creamery, by the way, was a hit - though, again, we had an issue with big, scary machines. That crate cheese.

My off-time has been rigorously enjoyed. I have been rising at 5 or 6 to take in a run, today the woman from the help desk and I ran together, and she led me through an old trail I never would have found myself. The evenings have been spent desecrating Shakespeare or, as was the case last night, I had been asked to participate in one of the informal readings that happen every evening, just a hodge-podge of whatever everyone else is working on. It was different to feel involved.

It has been odd, being the guy with the kids. I have no idea how my presence has been received by the other young women in this dorm. I have been the only man living in the building, and that's been kind of weird, frankly. And if you were a young Grad student working in a high-intensity writing environment, you might resent having to deal with little kids running around or having tantrums in the middle of the night. But the women in their 30s or older treat me like some kind of saint when they learn who I am and what I'm doing here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Writers' Camp

If I have any followers of this blog left, you might be wondering just where in the hell I have been. Sorry. It's been a difficult two weeks, and by difficult I mean heavy-lifting, annoying illness, preparing for two weeks out of town, dressing up like Shakespeare difficult.

The garage sale would have been a complete bust if it weren't for this one young woman and her new house. She took the Nortons' bed, the Turners' big-ass chair, our neighbors' armoire, futon and grill, and our three-piece set of cabinets. I also got rid of all the Bad Epitaph chairs and other odd set pieces that had accumulated in my basement and sat there for seven years. (And yes, I pocketed the money, call it storage fees.) Other than that virtually no one showed up.

And where the hell were you, anyway?

So after schlepping tables and chairs up and down three flights (and even down the street) with only the big, strong arms of David Hansen to help me, I was a little whipped. Then came the cough and the cold (which I still have) three tons of laundry and generally trying to predict what we may or may not need here in Vermont.

Yes, I am in Vermont. Plainfield, Vermont, home of Goddard College. It's funny, the way they use the word "college" because it's really a summer camp for total geeks over the age of thirty-five.

Toni is persuing her MFA in creative writing, and I am Mr. Mom for ten days, which is more than fair. At the moment it is raining like hell, which is has done since the middle of the night last night, and will continue to do for the rest of the time we are here.

Which is where? Toni was right, Plainfield is like Friendship, ME, only without the ocean. Which means, there's just a lot of trees here. Trees and rain. And unshaven men in their forties in shorts and Tivas who make me feel good about my sex appeal. And women who are predisposed not to notice if I even have any. It's VERMONT.

So. What to do? Yes. What to do ...

Well, while I am trying to figure that out (I do have a script of Hamlet here I am working furiously to f*ck up) here's a little news:

2006 Ohio Society for Professional Journalists Awards
Best Radio Documentary

First Place: I Hate This WCPN Cleveland

This prize is awarded to the best radio documentary produced. The documentary must be devoted to a single topic and be at least one-half hour in length.

Very nice. Thank you. For everyone's information, there are no "best radio drama" categories for these things, because no one makes those. So they put it up for Best Doc, which is weird, but hey, we won.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Own a Piece of Dave

SATURDAY, JUNE 17 9am - 3pm

Cleveland Heights, 1194 Castleton Road

IKEA bed & shelf unit; baby toys, equipment & clothes, strollers, car seats; matching stereo cabinet & corner shelves; kitchen appliances & decorative items; guitar; posters; books & videos ­ and much, much more.

Come by, say hi, walk away with a gigantic Lichtenstein or possibly a Bad Epitaph Theater Company coffee mug.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Earlier this week, I was sitting on a wall on Coventry, waiting for Zelda & Toni to come out of the custard place. Orson was zonked out in the stroller. It occured to me that it was on a June day, like this one, fifteen years ago, that I met up with my friend Rich to check out an apartment on Mayfield, right around the corner from Coventry.

Not counting a 12-month lease spent in Broadview Hts., I have been an East Sider for fifteen years.

Crazy. That building, the one I was facing, hadn't even been there fifteen years earlier, that was where the Cleveland Shop was, and Hunan's was in that building instead of up the street.

A frined of mine once told me, with glee, about the fire in 1992 that destroyed that building. She worked in the (former) Arabica next door, and as the firemen were doing their job, she and some fellow employees tore through the water-soaked basement and ripped off as much non-perishable coffeeshop items as possible.

Scott T. and I used to do a gig every week that summer at Chuck Mosbrook's Open Mic nights, right out there in "The Yard." We must have been terrible.

I can't say I miss those times. I didn't fit well, as a person, in my early twenties. Part of my job this time of year is interviewing new candidates for actor-teachers at GLTF, and I am always impressed with new graduates who actually have a clue as to what they eventually want to accomplish - or better yet, have no idea and more humility and awareness than I did at that stage in my life.

That, and the clothes were just awful.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oh, that's right. Sh*t.

A hookah bar opened up downstairs in the lobby of the Bulkley Building. We call it, affectionately, The Hookah. You can sit in the window, watching the destruction on Euclid Avenue, and smoke a hookah while enjoying bab sandwiches and listening to Egyptian movies on tee vee. Word is some of the tenants have complained about the smell (it doesn't smell like cigarette or cigar smoke, it smells like very strong incense) and Otto's got on their case for selling corned beef. I guess that's in the lease, only Otto sells corned beef in the lobby of the Bulkley Building.

The best thing is not I don't have to go across the street to Star*ucks to get overpriced, burned coffee anymore. At least not until this place closes, as every other business that has held the space has done for the past two years.

Anyway, it is June. For me that means feeling really logey and a little bit lost. It's the weather, and the sore throat I have been nursing since last weekend, the end of the school year, the end of the show, cleaning up and putting everything away - it's the end of things, and there's a little lag-time before anything new begins.

That and I have not been running since Friday. Just hasn't happened. Then I get this in my email:

Dear David Hansen,

Congratulations! You're in for the experience of a lifetime, the ING New York City Marathon 2006! We are thrilled that you will be joining us on Sunday, November 5 ...

Oh that's right. Forgot about that. Hmn.

Monday, June 05, 2006

This Is My Job

The year-end Great Lakes Theater Festival actor-teacher party was this evening. I am still a little woozy - it has been a very long week. Jumping back into Night Bloomers after our dizzying replacement weekend was disorienting enough. There's little pressure in jumping into a few surprise roles, but after one weekend, people expect you to be good at them.

It just never let up during that show. It was intense enough, just doing it. But when there's someone with Tourette's in the front row, or the moon hits a quadriplegic in the face, or a cast member bugs on you, or you have to put the moon on a stick, or (finally) you get a drop-dead case of some twenty-hour something that hits you with the shivers for your final two performances ... I just wanted to say, can I just do this fricking show once, without all the drama?

And then, still a little under the weather, we put together this evening's event, which was funny because I spent a good part of the afternoon fixing up the house, and then we didn't spend any time in it. Not complaining, it was beautiful outside, the whole crew just camped out front and never left.

It hasn't been since 2003 that all of the actor-teachers have been present for this wrap-up get-together. And that's been a shame. I have great affection for the people I work with every year, but I don't think it's a coincidence. The reason people have been missing generally reflected interests which are larger than the job itself, and sometimes that's hard to take. I almost went off on one of our company for wanting to attend a callback instead of come, but he was here, and apparently it's a conflict he was able to work around.

It's an intense job. These people go into unfamiliar schools every week, just two people with the lessons we have given them, and they strive to make young people appreciate classic drama. Sometimes the partnerships are strong, and sometimes they aren't. Sometimes the respect cuts across all the actor-teachers and sometimes it doesn't. I wish, regardless of how any one of them feels about the way others work in specific, the fact that they are out there, somewhere else on any given week, is understood and appreciated just for the very fact that they are out there doing it, too.

Does that make any sense at all?

It was a great, successful year. All four teams got so many great notices from the schools this year, it was truly amazing. We must be doing something right.