Saturday, July 29, 2006

Back to Britain


Saturday, 7 October 2006 - 2.30pm
SANDS UK Annual General Meeting

Presented by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society
Site TBA
London, UK

Since meeting with the folks at SANDS last March, we have maintained contact and we are discussing the possibility of a tour of the British Isles slated for late next spring. First, however, they felt the need to convince me to return for one performance this October. It's their annual conference, and in order to sell the production to the rest of the organisation, they wanted to show me off.

Did I write organisation? I meant organization.

But I do have a job. So I will be boarding a plane Friday evening, arriving Saturday morning, doing the show that afternoon, and getting on another plane Sunday afternoon so I can arrive home ... Sunday afternoon.

But first I have to direct Hamlet. At least I get to rest up for a month before running a marathon. How did this happen, I really need to keep a better calendar.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, D*ckhead.

I have already celebrated 37 birthdays, and by my count eleven of them were spent either rehearsing a play or performing in one. That doesn't count the night I just went to see a play.

Tomorrow I turn thirty-eight, and I will strive to put on a happy face. The five-inch long stitch on the back of my son's head makes me want to shoot myself.

Wednesday, July 26, 1972
Fourth Birthday. One of my earliest memories. We were in Maine, staying that year, for the only time, in The Log Cabin.

Wednesday, July 26, 1978
Tenth Birthday. Saw the In-Laws at a movie theater.

Thursday, July 26, 1979
Eleventh Birthday. I had a birthday party in my house in Bay Village. Mom made spaghetti.

Monday, July 26, 1982
Fourteenth Birthday. We were in Maine. My parents surprise my with an Apple II+. Brand loyalty is a powerful thing.

Tuesday, July 26,1983
Fifteenth Birthday. We were in Maine.

Thursday, July 26, 1984
Sixteenth Birthday. Lugo, Spain, a long and painful exchange student experience. On my birthday, however, I receive a fat letter from my best friend. I get kisses from the girls and yanks on the ears from everyone. Arden gave me a cigar. That night Mary and her boyfriend Mario take me to his sister's where we talk and drink and eat sausages. Late, late at night (early next morning) I dance pirouettes in the square in front of the Cathedral.

Friday, July 26, 1985
Seventeenth Birthday. Neither my best friend, nor my girlfriend were in town. I had dinner at Don's River City Cafe with Mom, maybe Denny, probably Grandfather.

Saturday, July 26, 1986
Eighteenth Birthday. Can't remember. Might have been a party (not thrown for me) at Lynn and Laura’s where my girlfriend and Erin gave me lacy underpants. It was a private joke.

Sunday, July 26, 1987
Nineteenth Birthday. Had a performance of Singing In The Rain that night at Huntington. Erin borrowed the key to my parents house and made the place up for a "surprise" party, though I knew she was doing it. It was cool ~ a bunch of people, younger people, came for the beginning of the party, which was over by 12:30. I was about to pack it in when a larger group of people, the older members of the cast and crew, showed up with bottles in hand, asking if the party was still going, and my birthday party stretched well into the rest of the night.

Tuesday, July 26, 1988
Twentieth Birthday. We had rehearsal for Eden on the River. My roommate and I were already beginning to not speak to each other, but she was honestly upset when she discovered she forgot it was my birthday. "Oh No, Major F*ck Up!" I believe she cried, and got my a Hostess Cupcake with a candle in it from Super America.

Wednesday, July 26, 1989
Twenty-First Birthday. Must have had rehearsal that night for Eden on the River. Spent the day making daquiris for anyone who dropped by using the huge bottle of Bacardi I had bought that day at the State Liquor Store and my new blender my mom got me.

Thursday, July 26, 1990
Twenty-Second Birthday. Second night of big hot tub party in Athens. My girlfriend and I had birthdays on consecutive days (hers is today, akshodry.)

Friday, July 26, 1991
Twenty-Third Birthday. Dinner at Friday's in The Flats with my girlfriend, Scott T. and at least one other person. Afterwards we found the new, not yet Grand Opened Metropolis nightclub, which was very cool then.

Sunday, July 26, 1992
Twenty-Fourth Birthday. Was in NYC visiting Toni and Harris, and my car had been stolen. This night we saw Blue Man Group.

Monday, July 26, 1993
Twenty-Fifth Birthday. Dinner at Friday's in The Flats. A friend of my wife’s took our picture in the center of an apartment building in Little Italy.

Tuesday, July 26, 1994
Twenty-Sixth Birthday. I had kind of blown off my wife and she was angry at me for it. Or maybe it was that I had just started sleeping with Toni the weekend before. I had a rehearsal for Romeo & Juliet that night and didn't tell anyone it was my birthday until after rehearsal when everyone had left.

Wednesday, July 26, 1995
Twenty-Seventh Birthday. Again, a rehearsal. Okay, not a rehearsal, a photo shoot, for the first Night Kitchen production Bummer. Again, there were beers at Edison’s in Tremont, without telling anyone it was my birthday.

Friday, July 26, 1996
Twenty-Eighth Birthday. A post-show party for the Realistic World 3 turned into a skanky "Truth or Dare" game. I really pissed off Trish, and Dan tried to have sex with me.

Saturday, July 26, 1997
Twenty-Ninth Birthday. Toni, Con and the kids go to the Rock Hall (I Wanna Take You Higher exhibit), the Great Lakes Science Center (Star Trek exhibit) and have dinner at Friday’s. Balloons, yay!

Sunday, July 26, 1998
Thirtieth Birthday. Attended a reading of Cole Cuts, and dinner at Gamekeeper’s Lodge. Sauteed Ostrich. Delicious.

Monday, July 26, 1999
Thirty-First Birthday. I have no idea.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000
Thirty-Second Birthday. The culmination of a three-week swing through the South. We visit the Mummies of the Insane in Phillipi, WV and arrive in Athens for an extended weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2001
Thirty-Third Birthday. Rehearsal for the NY Fringe production of Toni’s play, Angst:84. I was assistant directing.

Friday, July 26, 2002
Thirty-Fourth Birthday. Toni surprised me with tickets to the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, and tea at the Ritz Carlton. That night there was a performance of Henry IV at Tri-C West, and drinks at BW3s (though I wasn’t drinking.)

Saturday, July 26, 2003
Thirty-Fifth Birthday. The I Hate This 35th Birthday Party.

Monday, July 26, 2004
Thirty-Sixth Birthday. No record of festivities. Preparing to leave for Maine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Thirty-Seventh Birthday. Breakfast with the family at the Inn on Coventry, then a 12-hour technical rehearsal of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Beers at Becky’s followed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Will try and get photos up soon, and a more detailed entry, but for now let me tell everyone that Orson is just fine. He's safe in bed, at home. The swelling has gone down and, except for the 5 inch stitch down the back of his head, he looks entirely like himself. Now, if I could only keep his sister away from him, I wouldn't worry so much.

UPDATE: Here's a photo - Saturday morning, a visit from Z.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"The Disease of Theories"

Making sense of a mysterious pregnancy disorder.
by Jerome Groopman
New Yorker, July 24, 2006

... After just two months of work, Karumanchi had a promising result. “I was sifting through all of these data, and I said to myself, ‘It can’t be this obvious,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘It can’t be the predominant factor in preeclampsia, because people would have discovered it by now.’ This couldn’t be just waiting for me.” (more)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The second-worst time in my life.

Yesterday Orson and I were having a late-breakfast. He was buckled into his booster-seat. I went into the kitchen for a moment. Orson pushed himself away from the table, fell over backwards, and hit his head on the metal floor-lock of the rear sliding door of our house.

He screamed, I panicked and felt his head. There was a soft-spot. I called 911 (never done that before) and the guys arrived shortly thereafter. Paramedics are, apparently, schooled in making you think there is nothing wrong at all, and that you may be overreacting. That soft spot? Just the bruise. And about that part, they were right.

"Is he bleeding from his nose?" one asked. No, I said, that was plum juice. He laughed. "And we're supposed to be professionals." They asked if we wanted to go in the ambulance, though they would have left me there if I had asked them to. I guess that's their job. By the time we were ready to go, Toni had returned from an interrupted yoga class and she went in the ambulance and I followed in the car, loudly cursing myself and trying not to say out loud that I had killed my own child.

Friday morning, pre-op.

It was a long day in a thankfully empty E.R. at University Hospitals. Toni stayed with Orson - who seemed fine. He hadn't passed out or vomitted (a fact we would recount a million times, always with the same surprised reaction from whoever was asking this time) and was smiling and generally being himself. The paramedics thought he would just have a large bump. The folks at the E.R. thought he may have a slight dent, but nothing serious. I particiapted in the harrowing act of strapping Orson down to take X-rays, then left to pick Zelda up from school.

I stayed with Z. all afternoon, an afternoon that went from sunshine to dreary storm clouds and back again, until Kelly came over. Meanwhile the reports from Toni went from, "you were overreacting" to stomach-churning horror. Yes, there may be a dent, but it's nothing serious (and the X-ray computers shut down for awhile for good measure) then they decided there was a slight fracture but he may be able to go home - but they'd need to run a CAT scan - and finally the diagnosis that he had a depression fracture, which may or may not be pressing against his brain, and they would need to operate.

I broke my son's head and now he requires surgery. There's no more delicate way to put that.

Returning to the E.R. I met the team. The best pediatric neurosurgeons at Rainbow Babies' and Children's Hospital, which is to say, the best pediatric neurosurgeons in the world. It was at this time that I remembered to say I was grateful I was living in Cleveland, and not, say, in Baghdad, or Baalbek. Or Chicago.

Friday morning, pre-op. Parents attempt to put on a brave face.

They would make an incision, try to "pop-out" the fractured skull if they could, or remove it if they couldn't, repair it with absorbing plates and pins and put it back. There would be no dent, the plates and pins would eventually disolve. And they would check the membrane around the skull to be sure it is intact, repair it if not, so there would be no complications as he grows older.

That was announced in the late afternoon. And hearing it described that way, by those people, I felt a slight relief to the anxiety I had been enduring since ten that morning. Knowing something could be done was better than any fear of what it was they were actually saying to me.

Toni spent the night with O. I went home to take care of Zelda. This morning we visited both of them before taking Zelda to school, and then I returned to the hospital for the surgery, scheduled for ten, though they didn't get to him until twelve-thirty. A two-hour operation was predicted.

After sobbing silently for maybe half a minute, I pressed everything back down again and we were free to have lunch together while the operation took place.

Friday afternoon, post-op.

Toni was a bit delirious. She'd had lunches at the cafeteria at U.H. many times before, usually on our way out of midwife appointments at MacDonald. But this was different. I didn't rush her, I told her not to get addled, to decide what she wanted first, then pick it up (there are several counters offering a wide variety of food, from healthy to not) and buy whatever she wanted. We sat at a table and I said, "Welcome to my world."

Sitting in that atrium, anxiously stuffing my face is something I have been doing on and off for five years. But I'd never done it with her. First when she was in labor with Calvin, then a few times after Zelda was born (that was all right) and then when Orson's delivery had stalled. I am sick of eating in the atrium at University Hospitals. But at least this time she was sitting there with me.

We went to the waiting room, where we made cellphone calls and were generally miserable. As two-thirty approached, I commented that they would certainly not be getting us right at two-thirty.

I was wrong. The doctor walked in right at two-thirty. Everything went according to plan, the fracture was bigger than they thought, and pressing down on the brain a lot, so it was a very good thing they went in. The membrane was intact. The surgery was successful. Orson was going to be fine.

We caught sight of him a they wheeled him by. He was awake! He was himself. He is Orson.

The rest of the day we took turns holding him, trying to comfort him when the morphine waned. Toni and Orson are there now. I am home with Zelda and her MP (Con.)

Accidents happen, they say. But this was stupid. The one thing I did right was call 911, everyone else who has kids and has commented on it admits they wouldn't have. Even Toni - though if she'd been there, I don't believe she'd say the same thing. But if awful, stupid accidents like this must happen, I am intensely grateful everything else went right.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Time Piece (1965)
Directed by Jim Henson

This has been going around (thanks, Brian) and I just wanted to share. A surprisingly clever short film, I can't get it out of my head. If you are a real geek, and admire the work of Ernie Kovaks, you will dig this, daddy-o. That Jim Henson, what a beatnik. Wow.

God, I miss him.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Excitable Boy

An Active ‘Hamlet’ at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass.
NY Times, 07/15/06

LENOX, Mass., July 12 — So is he or isn’t he — mad, that is? In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” that’s what everybody asks everybody else about its title character, and scholars and theatergoers have continued to pose the question for more than 400 years. But for the folks at Shakespeare & Company, the invaluable and indefatigable 28-year-old troupe that prides itself on clarity in interpreting the canon, the answer is obvious: Of course, Hamlet is mad — but mad as a hornet, not as a hatter ... (more)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Happy birthday to me (a few years late.)

I turn 38 in a couple weeks. So it was a belated thrill to discover photos from my 35th birthday, pictures I've never really looked at. I was trying to make some sense out of my office and happened upon the disk - they were from Mark C.'s camera, but he didn't get me the disk for another year or so. Better late than not at all.

It wasn't just a party, it was a fund-raiser. I thought I knew how to throw one of those, but apparently not. We needed to raise money for the first Fringe tour of I Hate This, this was the first outing of the show following its premiere at CPT back in 2003. I figured throngs of people would be lining up to drop fifteen bucks on three special benefit performances held at Dobama Theatre before moving onto Minneapolis. A small crowd actually did.

What was worse was the idea that - since the scond day of performances was my birthday - we would throw an actual birthday party for me, following the show. Kinda gross, I know, celebrating my 35th birthday after a show about a boy who never really got one.

It was Nick who pushed me into taking it seriously, as in serious fun. He planned an awesome, adult party. I blogged it way back when. That part worked, what didn't was stictly tying the two events together - $25 to see both the show and the party afterwards. The actual performance got the lowest turnout of all three perfs that weekend ... but a bunch of theater types showed up in time for the party, and we let them all in for $10 each.

We got it straight the following year - one benefit performance only (more special that way) and it was free. THEN I hit people up for cash after bows, reminding them we needed money to eat and live in New York City for ten days. Ask people for $15 up front, and they stay away. Get a crowd to come for free, and they give you $20 as they leave.

Seeing those photos was a treat, though. That was like the beginning of the journey this play has taken me on. I am glad it still has a life, every situation I have had the chance to perform it has come with its own unique after-effects. The CPT run was nearly sold-out, it was a bit of a reality-check when few people attended these benefit shows. But the party afterwards was a reminder of how many folks I have supporting me, how many great friends I have, the different theaters which have done so much to contribute to making this all possible.

David's 35th Birthday Party Photo Gallery

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Blog Jump

Okay, here goes. I have been keeping another blog. A running blog.

Part of training for a marathon is letting everyone know you plan on running one. I would have preferred to keep the other blog secret, mostly because I may or may not have to disclose certain intimate physical details (don't read it if you don't want to hear about big, ugly plantar warts) but I could use the encouragement. This morning was extremely troubling. So I'm putting it out there.

This is a photo of my cousin J.T. (actually my cousin's son J.T., but they're all cousins to me) running the NYC Marathon in 2004. When I turned 35 in 2003, I made a public announcement that I would go 26.2 miles some time before I turned 40, but seeing pictures of J.T. in New York clinched it for me.

J.T. is a strong, young man. I am a goof with an iPod. But it's something I have to attempt. Er, you're not supposed to say attempt - It's something I have to do.

As long as I don't completely damage my legs before I get there.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The Dirty Shakespeare Company lives!

Not even a natural disaster can stop us!

Due to the heavy flooding of the Susquehanna River, the Dirty Shakespeare Company's debut production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was postponed. Company founders Joshua Brown and Kelly Elliott are thrilled to announce that the production will be seen in Cleveland for a limited engagement of two performances only! The DSC will perform this fast-paced, stripped-down, rollicking version of one of the Bard's most popular comedies at the Coventry Elementary School Yard in Cleveland Heights, on the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. Performances are free and open to the public. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.

The mission of the Dirty Shakespeare Company is to produce Shakespeare's works as simply and faithfully as possible, with a strong focus on the language, poetry and story. The company's debut production of Midsummer was rehearsed over the course of one week while the Cleveland-based actors were in residence at the Splash Magic Campground. For more information on the Dirty Shakespeare Company and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, contact producer Joshua Brown at 216-246-2855 or joshdbrownATadelphiaDOTnet.

Who: The Dirty Shakespeare Company
What: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Where: Coventry Elementary School, Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard
When: Saturday, July 8 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, July 9 @ 1:00 PM
How much: FREE!
Why: Free Shakespeare! Do you need another reason?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cleveland, America!

An exhibit of 120 platinum portraits of odd, interesting and unusual characters living in Greater Cleveland by Herbert Ascherman, Jr.

Western Reserve Historical Society
July 8, 2006 - May 31, 2007

On a summer morning last year I was called to Herb's studio to have my portrait taken as Mr. Shakespeare on behalf of Great Lakes. They had been nominated for (and would win) an award in Northen Ohio Live last fall, and one of the studio shots ended up on the cover.

Herb has been taking pictures of interesting Clevelanders for two years. He asked me to walk out onto Coventry for a few snaps, and what you see here is what will be on display through next Memorial Day. Not sure if I can make the opening reception. If I do, I will be wearing pants.

Clifton Hill

For the record:
From 25 Great Escapes
Cleveland Magazine, September 2005

Clifton Hill
Niagara Falls, Canada

So you’ve done Niagara Falls. You took some pictures, walked through the gardens, and wondered if it’s a coincidence the statue of King George V resembles Sen. George Voinovich. But you haven’t truly had fun at Niagara Falls, Ontario, until you’ve hiked up Clifton Hill.

A tourist trap on steroids, this strip features family-friendly and truly tasteless attractions. One of the most notorious is the Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum. Once content with displaying Bonnie and Clyde’s (reputed) “Death Car,” visitors are now introduced to life-size figures of mass murderers, such as Richfield’s own Jeffrey Dahmer peering into a fridge.

Clifton Hill is littered with haunted houses, such as Nightmares Fear Factory and the curiously named The Haunted House, but the “X-Files”-inspired Alien Encounter recently closed, and is now the site of the Classic Iron Motorcycle Museum. Dedicated to true motorcycle enthusiasts, look for rare Harleys on display, including the “hog” Dan Aykroyd rode to lead John Belushi’s funeral procession.

Scarier than all of the haunted houses and waxworks put together is the Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre, which features an informative history of the falls — and then sends you over the falls in a barrel.

From the unusual to the bizarre; Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum manages to feel a lot less pre-fab than the Guinness World Record Museum up the street, though each commemorates Robert Wadlow — the tallest man who ever lived — as a life-sized figure. Ripley’s dedicates more space to regional oddities and Niagara lore.

If all this leaves you and the kids feeling stressed, unwind at Dinosaur Park Miniature Golf, located behind the Ripley’s Museum, where you can play 18 tiny holes surrounded by growling, stationary dinosaurs.

— David Hansen

Clifton Hill
4960 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario. (905) 358-3676

See also: Niagara Falls: U.S. vs. Canada - Roadside America

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

God bless America

In 1996, ten years ago, Toni and I took our second great road trip. We were headed to Maine, but decided to traverse through Canada instead of up New England ("Up New England!" I guess that's also how I'm feeling right about now.)

First night, Niagara Falls. Young lovers, Niagara Falls. Cool. I'd only ever been to the Canadian side, twice before, with my family. Mom was big on taking visitors there, people from other countries for example, and my participation would be an after-thought.

In fact, the first time I ever glimpsed Niagara Falls was the last time we took Canada to Maine, in 1976. We drove past it. Dad was trying to make time to Toronto and figured we could just spot it through the windows and keep going. I'm not making this up.

Mom's excursions were day trips, with garden tours and lunch at the Skylon. Big fun for a twelve year-old. So picture this - I'm 28 years old, Toni and I walk from our B&B up to the Falls after dark. It's all lit up in that tacky way they do that, with the changing colors. But I'd never seen that, so approaching it, by foot, after walking by all these houses, and seeing the Falls at night all lit up, pretty impressive. We watching it for a while, talk, and then she asks if I want to head up Clifton Hill. I say, "what's that?"

And she leads me up the Hill from the Falls, and it's a freaking carnival! A toursit-trappy, haunted housey, putt-putt golfy fun yard! I thought Niagara was all natural wonder and clocks made out of flowers, but now - it was like one of those dreams where you open a door in your house, and there's this part of your house you didn't even know was there, and there's gumball and pinball machines, and there's a party going on and it's all really, really fun!

So Niagara was stunning beautiful, and now it was also stupid fun, too. We had a late dinner in a family restauarant and then went into their Ripley's or something. It was a gas.

Then we celebrated New Year's 2001 there. You know about that. Calvin was with us, he was very with us. It was bitterly cold, but we took him on a horsey ride, and watched the Falls and we were happy and in love and going to have our first baby. We went to the aviary and I made a wish in a fountain that didn't f*cking come true. We haven't had occasion to be back.

I occured to Toni that we could be here for the Fourth on our way home. I naturally thought, great! Canadian side! But because Justin made me feel so God damn guilty - okay, no, because they've gotten serious about pre-existing border crossing laws - and with make them stricter on January 1, 2007, now you need "proof of citizenship", a driver's license not good enough, next year you must have a passport - we decided not to risk and wasted time or hassle and just see it from the American side.

I'd always heard bad things about the American side. I mean, you can tell from the Canadian side that the view must blow. And one of my favorite episodes of This American Life is all about Niagara Falls, NY, and what a ghost town it is. Now there's a big casino ... in the middle of a ghost town.

Well. Goat Island is also a state park. "The oldest state park in the U.S.," they say. And it is, a nice, American state park. Just as there is on the Canadian side, there's alot of dumb stuff here, too. But it isn't within viewing distance of the Falls. There's picnic benches and large lawns and a great pedestrian track, and you can't get a car near the Falls (not like the Canadian side, where you can drive right past it.) Sure there's a restauarant and a gift shop, but only one of each. And a big-ass statue of Nikolai Tesla, I had no idea that was there.

America did right by the Falls there. What is so totally unfair, is that not only do the Canadians get the better view (though some sights on the American side are still grotesquely beautiful) but they totally f*cked up ours with all their sh*t. I swear, there are five new high rises on the far side of the Falls, and certain old ones, the Motorola tower and the Skylon look really dated and hideous. And you see the cars over there, right by the Falls. I used to look at the poor old Americans on the other side and think, there isn't much there there. Just trees and bushes and tourists.

And wouldn't that be nice?