13 August 2017

We saw a wonderful play at Annapolis Shakespeare Company on Saturday evening: Alice and the Book of Wonderland. It’s a brand new show based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (well, duh, me), adapted by Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken.  Laura Rocklyn plays a marvelous Alice. The six remaining cast members: Ian Charles, Bill Dennison, Olivia Ercolano, Brian Keith MacDonald, Jackie Madejski, and Johnny Weisgerber – well, they cover the balance of the 24 characters in the show. Over time, each runs off, stage left, and seemingly moments later appeared stage right in fresh costume and makeup. Holy cow, do these folks work HARD to get us up and clapping!

Extra ovations for Mr. Dennison’s twitchy White Rabbit: by turns frightened and arrogant; Mr. MacDonald’s Knave, who clearly takes a page from the Book of Black Adder codpiece fashion; and the superbly evil Red Queen (Crash! Cringe!) played majestically by Ms. Ercolano. Also we were wowed by the costume wizardry of Sandra Spence!

It’s a magical show brought further to life by projections of artwork from Carroll’s original book, as well as a projected Cheshire Cat (portayed by the face of Mr. Weisgerber). From Rev. Dodgeson rowing with the girls to the Mad Hatter’s tea party to the Mock Turtle’s sad song, the show had us riveted throughout. This is a play that is child-friendly, but with sly adult references and pin-point precise topical political commentary.

There are FOUR MORE stagings of this production, next weekend (8/18 – 8/20/2017), before it goes back into the vault. If you’re DC-local, you really should go. Oh, yes. We also just ordered our flex passes for the upcoming 2017/2018 season, and we’re really looking forward to seeing all of these wonderful actors in new roles for another year. Join us, won’t you?

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but our condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who died at the hands of an apparent domestic terrorist (in my opinion), James Alex Fields, Jr., in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017.

 

6 August 2017

Well, Marcia’s home from Michigan. She went up for the week to visit family, and had fun. Lexi spent the week eyeballing me and asking when Marcia was going to be back. This is that look:

Lexi wants Marcia home

Lexi wants Marcia home

Along with doing a bit of remote work each day (and going to the office for a few hours on Tuesday), I got a lot of chores done around the homestead. Garage clean up. Mowing. A couple of days of pressure washing the deck and stamped concrete pad. All-in-all, a fairly productive week. Today we did the shopping, then I roasted coffee and relaxed. No bad thing.

Also, I read a wonderful short story by Chris Pourteau called Unconditional: A Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. All I can tell you without spoilers is that this is told from the viewpoint of the family dog. Oh, and it’s my current favorite short story of the year. I was getting ready to put on my short list for a Hugo nomination when I learned that the story is from 2015. Ah, well. Good news: I get to go find more of Chris’s work and see if I enjoy it as much. I found the story in At The Helm: Volume 1: A Sci-Fi Bridge Anthology.

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Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Tech. Sgt. David Board, 49, of Barboursville, West Virginia, died on August 2 in Kuwait in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.
  • Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Indiana, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.
  • Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, North Carolina, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.

 

16 July 2017

I guess I’ll just start with the bad news, and get that out of the way. RIP George Romero and Martin Landau. I’ve been a modest fan of George Romero’s work over the years, although I’ll grant that his influence on many of the directors and actors I enjoy most was huge! I am gutted, though, to hear the news of Martin Landau. Yes, yes, yes: we get old, we die. I’ve loved Landau since Mission: Impossible and Space 1999. His skill as an actor was consummate and I mourn his passing.

*      *      *

On the “Ooooh. Interesting!” front, I’m pleased to see that BBC revealed that Jodie Whittaker is to be the thirteenth Doctor. (Apparently) unlike a bunch of johnny-come-lately dudebros, I’m content to see a good actor take a long-established role and stretch the boundaries once again. Yup, I’ve been sad knowing that Peter Capaldi is done, because I’ve enjoyed his Doctor quite a lot. Now: rooting for Jodie, I am.

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Next up: great fun. Last night, we saw the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of The Tempest for a second time. We already had these tickets when we got invited to Opening Night, and frankly, both Marcia and I can’t get enough of this wonderful groups work. For me, I enjoyed being able to focus this performance on some of the side action going on around the main characters in each scene. Bill Dennison gave us Antonio with a deep lack of conscience, portrayed with an extra (and poignantly current) opportunism. Does that come naturally, Bill? Also, new company member Ian Charles’s  Trinculo gave good exasperation in the face of abuse by the sprites, Tony Tsendeas’s Stephano, and John Bellomo’s Caliban. Not least, Jurden Payne’s Ferdinand played marvelously as he fell like a rock for Olivia Ercolano’s Miranda. All such wonderful actors. The direction. The setting. (The humidity and mosquitoes, oh my!) There’s one more week to go, if you’re local or visiting, try to get tickets!

Oh, hey: this ASC Tempest page has several pictures from Opening Night. You can even play Spot the Brian!

Next up: Alice and the Book of Wonderland.

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DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

9 July 2017

I’ve got a shaking frightened dog sitting on my lap, thanks to the asshats who are once again setting off fireworks in the vicinity. This is going on 9 days, now. Poor puppy…

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More Annapolis Shakespeare fun: A bit on the spur of the moment, we decided to accept an invitation to the reception for opening night of their production of The Tempest, running in the garden at Charles Carroll House in Annapolis. Yup, this means that we’re seeing this production twice, and I couldn’t be happier. Opening night was a joy. (They have one picture up at this time on their Tempest event page on the Book of Faces. Marcia and I are in the background well back of the Sprite in the aisle.)

Starting a flash and a bang or five, the production opens with an innovative bit of magical of fabric manipulation to evoke the storm and the ship beset. As the storm and sea recedes, the stranded characters are revealed laying on the beach (err, stage … well, grass, to be pedantic). As they wake and wander off onto the island, they are beset again, by enchantment and sprites. This fine production brings the audience deep into Shakespeare’s tale, and doesn’t let go until the lights fade to black.

I’ve not seen The Tempest in decades, so the story is fresh for me. Shakespeare’s superb command of language and meter yields the directors, Donald Hicken and Sally Boyett, superpowers to wield in staging the show. The staging and choreography complement the lovely setting, providing the actors a fine canvas upon which to ply their craft. While all of the cast are outstanding (unsurprising with this Company), Laura Rocklyn’s Ariel shines both in her interactions with Brian MacDonald’s excellent vengeance-obsessed Prospero, and as she bedevils the castaways with the assistance of the Sprites. Jordan JC Payne’s Ferdinand and Olivia Ercolano’s Miranda as the young lovers are sweet and marvelously played. The big surprise for me was John Bellomo’s less-than-civil Caliban – he played the role powerfully and with great humor.

How much did we like this production of The Tempest? We’re going to see it again during this show’s short run.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska, who died on July 3, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from wounds received during an indirect fire attack.

2 July 2017

Hey, y’all. I’ve been busy. But first:

Annapolis Shakespeare Company. They made us happy again! This is our second season enjoying their production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, in the courtyard at Reynolds Tavern. Supper first, then the show. We had Bill, Brian, and Johnny on the bricks Tuesday evening, bounding through this rollicking tour of 37 plays in about 90 minutes. I’ll be the first (or perhaps second) to admit that most of the plays get fairly short shrift in the production. And I was deeply disappointed that, for the second year, they continued to ignore two of the famous adaptations of the Bard’s work: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. That said, we love, love, love this company and this show. The company was also in rehearsals for two upcoming shows, The Tempest and Alice and the Book of Wonderland. Because the boys were working, a few of the other actors took advantage of the night off to take in the show as well. We spotted and went to say hello to Olivia and Laura when we arrived; Sue got there later. They’re in weekly production for Abridged through September, so if you’re in the area or going to visit, take in the show. You won’t be disappointed. And you may see us there again, it’s worth doing again. And again. Highly Recommended.

Yes, we’re already scheduled for The Tempest and Alice. Be there.

*      *      *

Work this week was productive. This weekend: chores, and remote work today: patching of systems against a recent CVE. A little bit of telly, and a head injury rounded out the weekend. Well, not super exciting, that last. I was hanging a couple of pictures up high in Marcia’s office, and turned while standing on a chair. The room fan was spinning and clipped me in the forehead, leaving two shallow parallel scratches. I really should have stayed up there, turned my head to the side, and let it clip me one more time, leaving a ‘#’ mark, as in #ouch!!!

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Gratitude. Ciao!

28 May 2017

In entertainment news, we attended the theater last night. Annapolis Shakespeare’s Donald Hicken gave us a superbly directed production of Richard III. Visiting actor Kurt Elfmann was wonderful as the murderous, treacherous, and slimy Richard. His introspective Richard was for me most compelling. ASC company member Brian Keith MacDonald played both Brakenbury and a strong, well-executed (heh) Buckingham. It’s tough playing second fiddle to an erratic schemer. I don’t but wonder what sort of role models he had for that, these days?

Also ASC regulars: Olivia Ercolano and Laura Rocklyn (Lady Anne and Queen Elizabeth, respectively) lent strength and passion to their portrayals. Doomed in their interactions with Richard, the women in this play do their best to survive at the cost of horrid compromise. Dexter Hamlett’s George (Duke of Clarence) also stood out for me, playing out his character’s fate and pain with dignity and power.

The whole cast, some eleven in all, built an exquisite mind palace for this play, making do with but three pieces of furniture in the black box of the company’s education stage. Well-designed  and executed (there’s that word again!) music, drums, and lighting provided the necessary complement to this powerful Shakespeare history. Runs at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company through June 11, 2017. Highly Recommended.

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It’s a holiday weekend. So of course it’s been raining straight through. We just cracked a year’s worth of rain, some 44″ worth, since I last changed the battery in my backyard rain gauge. That year’s worth of rain did, however, take 15 months to fall. So we’re still a bit short. Friends over for supper and games tonight, and anticipation of a relaxing day, possibly with some wood-working thrown in, for the actual Memorial day. Here’s how Lexi handles a rainy holiday weekend:

Rainy Day Lexi

Rainy Day Lexi

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, of Loganville, Georgia, who died on May 26, in Al-Hasakah, Syria, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover related incident.

14 May 2017

First: She’s a good dog, Brent – 42/10.

Lexi

Lexi

Lexi, above, at one of her favorite activities: watching DogTV ™ from an ottoman at my upstairs office window.

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Second: Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. You know who you are! My personal celebration in honor of mothers everywhere is listening to a lot of Bangles music tonight. Yay!

*      *      *

Our second streak of Seattle weather in May finally broke today, after several grey days and a couple of inches of rain. We reached the mid-70’s. That meant I could get out and take care of the mowing, and do some weeding out of the front flower beds. I’ve still not cleaned out the main veggie beds in back, for a variety of reasons. I’m leaning hard towards giving the garden a pass this year. We had such a bad year last year…

*      *      *

Penultimately: Today is 10 years with my current employer. Please note that I’m still nowhere near the median tenure for the firm, which is currently hovering around 17 years, IIRC. What a wonderful bunch of folks to work with.

*      *      *

In local entertainment news, The Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Richard III opens on Friday. It’s the first production in their new 99 seat black box theater. We’re looking forward to the show, and if you’re in the area, you should join us. We love this team of creative folks and are sure you will, too!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we’re grateful. Ciao!

8 May 2017

A good week, past. Got lots done at work, including some annual testing that went as well as can be expected from a technical perspective, and finished an hour ahead of schedule, which is wonderful, for weekend work. The balance of the weekend went to chores: from roasting coffee to cutting the hay in the front and back 40’s. Seriously, about halfway through the back yard I stopped and sent a text to Marcia asking her where she was with the baler, because stuff was piling up…

Oh, I also managed a couple of hours back on the coast road to Nova Prospekt, playing the Half Life 2: Update release. Much better visuals, etc – it’s basically Half Life 2, remastered. See this article from GameSpot for more details.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, who was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab on May 5, in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

23 April 2017

Hullo. For my birthday this year, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Cabaret 2.0. A fund raiser for the theatre that’s still a-building, we had a lovely evening of song, mostly Broadway musicals in origin. Wonderful. Upcoming: Richard III, Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Miser, and Alice and the Book of Wonderland (an original work). That wraps the current season, and we’re *also* really looking forward to the next year’s shows, too. But we can’t get our tickets for that, just yet. Are you in the DC area? Visiting? You *really* should treat yourself to a show. You’ll love the Company and their work. Seriously.

*      *      *

That was the fun part of the weekend. The rest involved:

  • Fixing a leaking toilet.
  • Replacing the bits of drop ceiling affected by said leak.
  • Patching a raft of production systems.
  • Bathing the dog.
  • Mowing the front yard once.
  • Mowing the backyard for the first time of the year. Twice. It was nearly knee high. Sigh.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

19 March 2017

It was a fairly uneventful work week, if by uneventful you mean a snow-day in mid-March. Three people made it to the office on Tuesday: I was one of them. We have an external vendor event on Tuesdays, and while it *can* be put off in an emergency, an inch or three of snow doesn’t stop me from getting the job done. I did my early morning work remotely, then spent about 45 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. Then off to work, and stayed there from 9 to 12.

*      *      *

The weekend, though, has been fun. I started out Saturday with a few chores and coffee roasting. Then I went over to one of the local lumberterias to pick up the materials I needed to build Marcia’s new closet system. Clearly, I chose the right transport for the job:

The right tool for the job - BMW M235i for the lumber run.

The right tool for the job

I unloaded the car, and broke down the long boards in the garage to rough design length before hauling downstairs. That pine is going to be the slats on the shelves, eventually.

*      *      *

Yesterday evening, we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare, in their new digs, for an evening cabaret of show tunes and sonnets. It was a lovely two hours of show, followed by a spot of mingling with cast, crew, and audience. Great fun. Next up with ASC: Alice In Wonderland (I think. It may be Richard III, in May … getting a new theatre operational is challenging).

*      *      *

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and started making jigs, in order to repeatably make the parts that will end up being part of Marcia’s new closet:

Fabricating main supports using a 30° jig

Fabricating main supports

Much of the initial work was done on the table saw, for both the main supports and the backing wall attachments. Eventually I also hauled out the mitre saw for some angle cuts and working with the poplar I used for creating the supports for the hanger bars. Those got a through-hole put in them with a 1.32″ Forstner bit (in a specific location via stops), then cut to the right size on the miter saw, then a bunch of slots, etc. cut in batches on the table saw. The final bit before assembly was to round over all the outward facing corners, freehand, with a round-over bit on the router table.

Hanger bar supports in process

Hanger bar supports in process

I finished up the day gluing, pinning, and screwing the main support assemblies together. Here they are with spare parts: When I make a batch of identical parts, I’ve found it’s a good idea to make a spare or two while the setup is together. That way, if I ruin a piece, I don’t have to setup to make just one more. It costs little bit in materials, but saves a bunch of time in case of mistakes. Not to mention I’ve got templates to work from if I decide to build something similar again.

Support assemblies completed

Support assemblies completed

What’s next for those is to cut and add some slat attachment surfaces along the top edge of those supports, then sand and finish them. Then I’ll make the slats themselves. Everything will get sanded, stained, and a coat or three of poly. THEN we can dismantle Marcia’s closet, patch the walls, sand, paint, and assemble the new closet system. It’ll be a while, yet. But the job is finally started, so we’ve got that going for us.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. We are grateful for that. Ciao!