ceebeegee: (Default)
So, yeah. It has been an eventful week, month, spring. An incredible amount has happened but the last week especially has been absolutely wonderful.

The most important news, of course, has been about my beloved school, Sweet Briar College. As I mentioned in my last entry, the interim president decided along with the board to close the school, even though there was no real need to do so. (That is, we were in decent financial shape, we still had a very large endowment, etc. ) Nobody could understand how the interim president and the board had come to this decision, especially since they decided not to share any of their documentation with us. So the Alumnae Association has been waging a very fierce battle to overturn the decision. This has been a very bitter battle indeed and there are certain alums who quite frankly I no longer welcome on campus. The interim president has a very checkered past in academia, since he was actually fired from his last job as a college president, from Trinity College in Connecticut. And the fact is he only got the job as interim president of Sweet Briar because his wife was an alum--we think in fact that he was actually brought in solely to close the school, even though of course none of that was disclosed to us last fall.  One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole mess is that they were calling us to donate to the annual fund right up until the day before the announcement to close. This notwithstanding they had decided at least a month ago to close. Which means that all of the money that they had been soliciting for the month of February would be going to close the school, not to continue Sweet Briar. Of course they didn't bother to tell us that. This ended up being a key point in one of the many lawsuits that were pursued to halt the closure.

Anyway, so the interim president was married to an alum who was actually kind of disturbingly supportive of her husband throughout this whole mess. At some point in March she addressed the Atlanta alumnae association and went on this rant about how Sweet Briar was "different" than it used to be in her day, how the students weren't the same and it was better that Sweet Briar should close, and, well, she graduated in 1969 and I personally heard a lot of coded racial language in her rant. I had a difficult few weeks, because anytime someone senses something like this, as soon as you bring it up somebody shushes you, saying oh no, no, don't bring up race, you know that they didn't mean it like that. I ran my thoughts past Ryan and Tracy and after maybe six weeks or so other people were starting to say it as well.

ANYWAY. My main point is that the interim president and his wife are both absolute wretches, worthless worthless people. (At one point we were comparing Team Kill Sweet Briar people to Harry Potter characters--I said that Alum Wife was Wormtail. I still cannot get past how eager she was to close. To close SWEET BRIAR. What the fuck is WRONG with you?!) But in the end it didn't matter because after three effing lawsuits they finally agreed to mediation (after a lot of delaying) and settlement. And we, the alumni, or getting the keys to the college. We are basically getting everything we want, except of course we have to pay for the interim president's golden parachute, as well as the cowardly board who voted with him. Not happy about that but frankly it's a small price to get rid of these despicable people. 

So now we are, according to the terms of the settlement, have to convert the pledges that we made to support our efforts, to cash. Which honestly isn't that difficult--Sweet Briar alums love our college so much that we are willing to give it all the money that it needs. But we are also looking ahead to the future – – we will be open this fall, and we want to retain our faculty, we want to retain our students, we went to try to keep everything as it was as much as possible. So tonight we had a fundraiser and it was pretty cool. I met some awesome people, including the husband of an alum who has been a big big part of this effort. He too is crazy about Shakespeare, and I was talking to him about how I wanted to do a reading of a Midsummer Night's Dream as a fundraiser. I said that it is been a long term dream of mine to do an actual production of Midsummer on the campus of Sweet Briar, which would honestly be an amazing amazing realization of that text. It is an absolutely stunning campus--the idea of performing Oberon's I know a bank where the wild thyme blows or Puck's And we fairies that do run/by the triple Hecate's team/from the presence of the sun/following darkness like a dream... (at twilight no less) is breathtaking.

Anyway, so alum husband was very, very impressed by our conversation and suggested starting a Shakespeare Festival on campus during the summers. And really seems to want to pursue this and gave me his business card and his wife is one of the most important people re: Sweet Briar right now so who knows, maybe this could actually happen. I think this is a fantastic idea and would love, love, love to make this happen.

There's a lot more to talk about but this is it for right now.
ceebeegee: (Default)
 Having some bad knee problems.  Walking everywhere because of the job and my knees are in a ton of pain so I went to the orthopedist Wednesday.  OH MY LORD HE IS HOT. And he remembers me from my knee injury from three years ago. I don't remember he was that hot last time, perhaps I was in too much pain then to appreciate him properly ;) He put me on a six-day regimen of medication and ice and, well, we will see. It hasn't made a huge difference so far but we will see. If that doesn't work we are looking at shots of cortisone or some other medication, which is still better than surgery.

Which I will have to have on my horrible feet. The bunions just keep getting worse and worse and the left one absolutely must get surgery. I'm hoping to keep it conservative so I don't have to spend too much time in bed, and I think if I have it around Christmas or Thanksgiving I won't miss much work. I will worry about the other foot later.

They have been giving me TONS of classes which is great--the money is terrific--but I am exhausted all the time. I am literally working 7 days a week. But at least it's interesting work--I do love my classes when they go well. But it's taking atoll on my body--on the one hand, I'm losing a metric shit-ton of weight which makes me VERY HAPPY. Losing a lot of weight for me is a relative term. I'm a small person with a small frame--if I gain or lose more than 4 pounds it's very noticeable. And for the past few years, ever since The Situation (I was quite skinny during that mess), the weight has started to creep up a little bit every year. But right now I fit into all my old stuff, yay! So that's one good thing about the work schedule I'm on. But on the other hand, I'm worried I'm deteriorating a bit. I know I'm not as fast on the soccer field as I was last year. Maybe I should join a league for older people :/

In other news the interim President and Board of Directors at my beloved alma mater, Sweet Briar College, have attempted a coup and are trying to sell the school out from under us. Yes, this is really A Thing. They are trying to close the school and sell off the land. The whole thing is absolutely horrifying--the "President" did a lot of whining about how Sweet Briar just couldn't survive, it's "a co ed world now" and then stuff started coming out about how he was FIRED at his last stint as college President--Trinity College in CT actually kicked him out, he was so hated there. During his tenure there the college's ranking dropped like 100 places in the nationals rankings of liberals colleges.  And he and the SBC Board absolute, point blank REFUSE to show us any documentation or discuss anything with us--they (mostly men, of course) just keep insisting over and over Sweet Briar has to close and why are we being so emotional and hysterical? (Why, we're all on our collective pink and green periods of course, you misogynistic fat FUCK.) The alumnae have banded together and formed an organization called Saving Sweet Briar (501(c)3 status pending) to stop this outrage and we're enmeshed in a lot of legal proceedings. So far we've gotten two injunctions--they can't use any monies to sell which were not raised specifically for that purpose. (One of the more outrageous aspects of this is that they were calling for donations UP UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT, even though they're already decided to close. Of course they didn't tell anyone. Nope, we all just got calls and letters asking us to donate to Sweet Briar--asking us to fund their fucking golden parachutes. Jim Jones (interim President) and Paul Rice (Board member who is pushing for this) = LYING LIARS AND THIEVES. Jones and Rice are buddy buddy with Mark Herring, the Virginia AG (they all went to UVA together) and we suspect there's some kind of crony deal to carve up our beloved school.  The other injunction is a six-month injunction prohibiting them from touching any assets (they can't sell anything). This has hamstrung them but they are lying liars and thieves and they've already been caught shredding documents--they may just go on trashing the school anyway. They're having an all-class reunion this month but I won't go--as I told Mom, if I ran across Jim Jones I would have a difficult time not spitting right in his lying face. 

Ao anyway, that's been on my mind quite a bit for the past two months. 
ceebeegee: (Default)
The Preakness is this Saturday--Tim and I are gonna watch it at a seafood place near Rock Center. It's called City Lobster--it's kind of pricy but the crabcakes are really yummy. I have a soccer game tomorrow and then another one Saturday morning, plus softball that afternoon.

So I signed up for reunion and apparently everyone who signed up before some kind of deadline was entered into a drawing and I found out last week that I'd won the drawing. The prize is a set of four plates:

I think this is them. Aren't they lovely? All my friends were emailing and Facebooking me with congratulations. I didn't even know I'd been entered! Someone asked me if I was going to mount them on the wall--no way. I curate very carefully what I want on my walls, I'm going for minimalism. But I will definitely use them. Maybe I could host a dinner party?

Looking forward to reunion. I switched around my work schedule so I can leave earlier and get there earlier--I'm planning to arrive by 7 or so. PICTUES.

Oh, and I had an interesting dinner last week. When I sent in my registration forms, I also signed a non-binding letter of intent to name Sweet Briar in my will. As poor as I am now, when I pay off that mortgage I will be sitting on a pile of money. That neighborhood is only going to get better, and 20 years from now it will be worth quite a bit. And I don't have kids (although I do have two nieces and nephews and yes, I will cut them in ;) so I have to think what I want to do. And I love Sweet Briar, so I'm happy to name them.

I got an IMMEDIATE response--the director of development emailed me and invited me out to dinner (she was planning to come up to NYC). We ate at the Sea Grill 9very nice!) and she absolutely pumped me for feedback about Sweet Briar. What is my most lasting impression, why did I love it, how did it help me in my career, etc. etc. I realized that I actually had a useful platform. And when she was telling me I could structure the gift any way I liked (slush fund, 25% to theater, whatever), I started talking about the state of higher education. I said I'm very concerned about the spiraling costs and the race to the top with college costs. Especially for someone whose entire adult life is a paean to the humanities--when college costs are through the roof it restricts people's choices. It becomes ridiculously impractical to consider majoring in music or English or history when you're trapped under the burden of student loans. But college isn't vocational school--you shouldn't be trapped into having to major in something practical like pre-med or business. I said it's very important to me that we have a strong financial aid program with forgivable loans and merit scholarships (such as I had).

Anyway we had a great conversation. I think she was trying to work out who I was, because I definitely look much younger than most of my class. But, at the risk of sounding conceited, I think I impressed her.
ceebeegee: (Default)
Had another Dolphman soccer game last night--exactly like last Friday, we won 3-0 and I scored another goal between the goalie's legs :) The team decided that was like--my thing now, and Seth (our goalie) labeled it CBGenius! Isn't that cute? :)

Just registered for my Sweet Briar Reunion which is coming up at the end of May. I really cannot wait for this--I had to miss the last one because of Ore so I am especially anxious for this one! I haven't seen the campus in 10 years! And very sadly, two of my former professors have died since then, including my favorite English professor. He wasn't even that old, I don't know what happened. Anyway I signed up for a riding session because NOTHING will keep me away from the Sweet Briar fucking gold standard Harriet Rogers Riding Center! I'm skipping some of the a la carte items like a luncheon and Saturday breakfast because I think they're way overpriced ($25 for breakfast? $35 for lunch? I don't think so) but you'd better believe I'm going riding. Holla holla!
ceebeegee: (Riding)
So I found a stable in my neighborhood--hurrah!

The last place I rode regularly was Kensington Stables in Brooklyn, which is a few blocks away from Prospect Park and has a ring there. Kensington is okay but has a couple of disadvantages--1) It is QUITE a hike to get there. 2) I hate to sound dismissive but their facilities ain't all that. I trained at probably the best college program in the country--this is our ring:

In fact that picture doesn't give a good idea of how huge that ring is--you could easily fit THREE classes into the SBC ring, it's the size of a football field. Sweet Briar also had an enormous campus on which to hack. The Kensington ring is tiny and kind of busted-looking, and we never went on hacks even though Prospect Park would've been lovely (maybe no bridle paths there?). This would not be so bad but Kensington wasn't exactly cheap, and I didn't really feel it was worth the money. 3) As I said it wasn't exactly cheap. Kensington wasn't outrageously expensive by any means (as NYC stables go, it's fairly reasonable) but still, I could only afford 1-2 lessons per month. My instructor never seemed to remember that. She kept saying "next week, I'm going to give you [horse's name]" and I kept having to remind her "not next week, remember, I can only afford it every few weeks." Eventually you get tired of having to say out loud "yes, I am POOR, can you please stop trying to push me into another lesson I can ill-afford?!" Like, are you getting a commission or something with every lesson?

So anyway, that was my experience with Kensington. There are about 4-5 other stables in NYC and I thought I had scoped out every one of them. One in Forest Hills, one in Jamaica Bay and two in the Bronx. The one in Pelham Bay seemed like a possibility but I wasn't sure how I would get there--take the 6 to the end and then the bus, but it seemed like a long walk on top of that. Anyway a few weeks ago I had a softball tournament scheduled on Randall;s island so I Google-mapped it to see where it was. I noticed on the map there was listed a "NYC Riding Academy"--as I said I thought I knew all the stables in the city, so I checked them out. They've been around for awhile--the owner is this OLD guy who is committed to making riding affordable. This all sounded very interesting so I called them up and booked a lesson.

I showed up (BTW, I can WALK to this place! It's just across the East River so I cross the highway at 111th St. and then walk down to the footbridge to the island at 103rd St.) and the owner talked to me for awhile. He is seriously old, 83, although he looks much younger. We talked about training, what kind of riding I like, etc.--he picked out a horse for me but she was refusing the bit so I ended up with another, much more spirited mare named Scarlet. The instructor was a Brit who was quite good and understood the horse--we were most working walk-trot, although I cantered once. We worked the trot a LOT, especially working to control Scarlet who wanted to GO. Sarah (the instructor) was critical at first and then quite effusively complimentary--at one point she said "there isn't one rider in 20 who could get her to do what you're doing." I have to say, I LOVE the spunky ones! I love the challenge, the danger, the SPEED. Once you've hacked across campus with a pony who doesn't just want to canter, he wants to flat-out GALLOPand take a fence or two, a sedate little gelding just ain't the same!

When I dismounted Sarah said "you're going to be in pain tomorrow" and I said "I know, my first lesson in six years" and she squeaked "you didn't tell me THAT!" I untacked the horse and cleaned her up and then one of the stable hands told me the owner wanted to talk with me. I went over to his office trailer where Sarah was chatting with him--I sat down and he asked me how I liked my first lesson. I was of course raving--the intructor was great, the horse, everything. He talked a long time (the man does go on!) but the gist is that I shouldn't worry about the money too much. I can pay what I like (a suggested donation, essentially) and if I'm really poor, they'll work something out. He also mentioned instructing--as in, *I* could instruct which stunned me. The thing is, when you ride at a place like Sweet Briar, the varsity riders there are AMAZING, the best in the country, they routinely collect IHSA and ANRC titles. Team, Individual, they've won them all. This fostered in me--not an inferiority complex, certainly, but let's just say I had a very realistic and healthy awareness of how much I have yet to learn as a rider. But literally everywhere else that I've ridden, people have made reference to how experienced they think I must be. When I rode in Dublin, hell, all I did was MOUNT and they knew right away I knew what I was doing! (Which is not that surprising--good riding is all in the seat.) The training at SBC really is phenomenal.

So I went back last weekend and worked the horse (another one this time, a gelding named Magic) in the ring for a half hour, being instructed by the owner. Then he said I was "doing so well" that I could take Magic outside the ring, to a copse of trees on the other side of the property and work him there. OutsideoutsideOUTSIDETHE RING, yeehaw! By myself! I had a GRAND time working on my own and then after a half hour, he had me turn over Magic to one of the younger students, a 12-year old, and also instruct her. I was kind of thrown into this, but I think we actually did good work together. Magic was fine with me, I only had to use the crop the very first time, but was lazy with the girl. Not sure if he was tired or--I actually have this theory that the more you progress as a rider, the easier it gets. And not only because your skills improve, but because the horse can sense you know what you're doing and is more likely to obey your commands. At any rate Magic was fine with me but lazy with the girl, so we worked to overcome that.

The best part of the day was that after all this, Dr. Blair (the owner) told me that I could come over during the week and ride FOR FREE. You can just imagine my reaction. Also my Mom is visiting this week and brought my hardhat. (I detest wearing those plastic ones. 1) They look like bike helmets and make me feel 10 years old. 2) I want my hat decked in VELVET, dammit, I'm a Virginian!) I put it on and started humming "My Friends" from Sweeny Todd and said out loud "at last my head is COMPLETE!"

Jack that heel down low, Clara
Ease up on the reeeeeeeeins!
ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
Last night the current President of Sweet Briar appeared at a cocktail party hosted by an alum in her Park Avenue apartment. All NYC-area alums were invited so I showed up to schmooze a bit--Christian told me that the SBC President is really into theater, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to meet her and make a good impression, all for Project Thyme. Nice party--LOTS of smoked salmon and other nibblies, and everyone was very friendly. (Sooooo nice to hear some Southern accents.) Schmoozing accomplished.

Lots of theater coming up--Anya and I are going to see the campus production of The Wedding Singer tomorrow night--I want to meet with some of them if I can and possibly find out how to put in a bid to direct. Can't hurt to build up some on-campus credits. And then Ashley is performing in The HMS Pinafore the next two weeks, so I have to catch that as well. Also Michael Clay (Marley in Xmas Carol '07, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Scrooge in Xmas Carol '09) is doing Twelfth Night (LOVE that poster!) in Midtown--haven't seen that in a while, must see! Here's the thing, though--I get a little antsy at having to see Ashley in Pinafore because it's not a cheap ticket--the least expensive is $25--and Ashley's only in the chorus. If she were Josephine of course I'd love to see it--but spending that much money to see her in chorus? Argh. I'm so poor right now. But I want to support Ashley and I know she loves working with this group. Here's hoping this production isn't focused on the music at the expense of the comedy. I just wish I could get a student rate--they nail you bigtime for service fees, $4 no matter what (phone, credit card, mail) if you buy it in advance.

Oh, and I saw Sleep No More Tuesday night. Very interesting--it's kind of a haunted house/theme park version of Mackers (i.e., immersive, environmental, non-linear) if Stanley Kubrick had directed it. I kept thinking of two Kubrick pieces in particular--The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. It's interesting but it's a LOT of money for kind of an incomplete experience. But I did like it very much.

Softball tomorrow--first game of the season! Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Sweet Briar)
[singsong]♫ I just got a Macbook ♪[/singsong]

Eeeeh! It's an itty-bitty dainty lil' Macbook Air--can't wait to play with it! Naturally tonight is the night I HAVE to do laundry--no play until later. I was verrrrry tempted to get an iPad but ultimately went with the Air.

Anya cracks me up--she really "gets" Tibby's voice, his whiney, "poor pathetic me" inner monologue. (As Tesse would put it, "I've never been fed. Ever.") The other night she started singing songs from Hair in his voice--"Easy to Be Hard," and the opening of "The Flesh Failures" ("We starve...") are especially appropriate.

Still plowing through Medieval Warfare: A History--I'm trying to get way ahead on the readings for the second half of the semester. Just finished a chapter on naval warfare.

Ryan and I did what Duncan and I did last year (Duncan had rehearsal last night) and talked to students from my alma mater--we met them at the Gershwin Hotel last night. Had a BALL, the students were thrilled to talk to us, even though most of them were not theater students! (The trip is for arts students in general.) They asked us all sorts of questions, so thoughtful too! They were very excited to hear my production company is named Holla Holla Productions--that's a Sweet Briar cheer! ("Here's to ya, Sweet Briar, Holla Holla Holla, nothin' that you cannot do..."). I didn't get a chance to talk to Christian about the Thyme project afterward (she had to run out) but from what little she said about it, it seems she's still working on it.

Tim's party overlooking the parade route is tomorrow! Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Columbia)
So we had our history final the Tuesday before Christmas--it was modified open book in that we were allowed to have in hand the last text we studied, Le Livre de la Cité des Dames by Christine de Pizan, and we could even have notes in it, but we were not allowed any other text. (And yet, we were expected to be able to cite and reference those texts.) So, a little different from the exams for Roman History. Naturally of course I studied like crazy for it--I went through the book with a color-coded system, highlighting 8 different themes we'd discussed throughout the semester, like the use of the vernacular, contemporary women's writings' treatment of the body, that sort of thing. This turned out to be VERY useful--once I saw what the essay questions were, I had the quotations and references immediately at hand, I just had to flip through the book, looking for the color-code for that particular theme.

However we also had to reference Roman de la Rose--from memory. Luckily I'd pulled several quotations dealing with most of the course's themes, and as soon as we received the exam I turned it over and wrote down my memorized Roman quotations. This took some time, as did my outline for my essay, so by the time I actually started writing, it was almost 45 minutes gone. But write I did, for the next two hours in a blue book. (Mom asked me if we still wrote in blue books--I said yes indeed, and I always wanted to sneak one ouot as a souvenir. But then through my proctoring I found out that's a common means of cheating--people will take them, write out the answers (presumably to advance essay questions), and then sneak them back in. So now they stamp the blue books with stamps specific to that exam period--it was a red star this past time. I still can't get over how the exams are all proctored--at Sweet Briar and, I'm pretty sure, at Mount Holyoke, all exams were on the honor system with no proctors. Sweet Briar took the honor system VERY seriously--we were required to memorize the pledge (What do you want, it's Virginia!). I still remember the final sentence--I will report myself, and ask others to report themselves, for any infraction of this pledge.) ANYWAY, I think I did okay on the exam; we still haven't gotten them back. He told us that our final papers were in his outbox so after I turned in my exam, I went over to his office and snaked it out of the box--A. Whew!

I did love the Dante, found it fascinating to write about--my topic examined circle imagery in his Paradiso.

Initially Dante’s choice of imagery seems self-explanatory—medieval pre-Copernican cosmology was rife with spheres, with Earth at the center of the universe surrounded by concentric rings wherein the planets dwelled, ultimately topped by the fixed stars, the Primum Mobile and the Empyrean. But a closer examination reveals Dante’s clever and imaginative exploration of this conceit, one which ultimately proves as simultaneously crystalline, musical and absolute as Dante’s vision of the heavens themselves.

Sooooo much to explore there--music (dance and the music's circular tonality--paging my BA in music!), Commedia's rhyme scheme (which is terza rime (ABA BCB CDC)--each triplet is a circle that sets the ground for the second line), even that the term comedy originally meant song. Against that I contrasted the idea of light imagery:

[Dante] is only a visitor to this blessed realm; he cannot wheel endlessly around the heavens basking blissfully in affirmation, he must progress as far as possible until his journey has ended. And so Dante uses light imagery to contrast with his circular musical metaphors—light for music, sight for sound, the challenging for the affirmative, an open-ended straight trajectory for that which is curvilinear and cyclical. Light of course cannot bend, and light as a metaphor for unbending truth and a vehicle by which to ascend suffuses every canto, nearly every stanza of Commedia.

And then held them up against each other:

The inherent push-pull tension between the two constructs of circle/line, music/light (“when each clock-art both drives and draws,” 91, line 142) is brilliantly illustrated by the poetic structure of the poem, those tight little aba, bcb, cdc tercets—one rhyme anticipating the next, a chain mail of circles that advance little by little, forming a rosary of epiphany and transcendence.

When I wrote the paper in early December this was all going swimmingly and I was basically in the clear, just had to write the conclusion--and then I saw that I'd missed something. The professor's notes for the paper specifically said we had to bring in at least one other contemporary writer. I PALED. I was going through all the other mid-late writers--"Who do I know? Can't write about Bacon, I've already done him [I wrote about Bacon in my previous paper]--ORESME, I know Oresme." Seriously, I was pretty much panicking. I was able to get out a few paragraphs, about a page, on Oresme and circles, then got back to Dante and squeezed out a conclusion. So, nice to know that worked out.

After the final, I could just relax and enjoy the holidays but naturally I've been anxiously checking the SSOL (Student Services Online) to see if grades have been posted. Finally, two days ago, they had--an A for the semester, yeehaw! Now, on to Laws of War (and a byGod TIMELINE) in the Middle Ages!
ceebeegee: (Columbia)
Interesting article on cheating methods in college, and how colleges have evolved to try to catch the cheaters--I read it with something of a professional interest, since I now proctor exams at Columbia. The whole proctor training session at CU was a paradigm shift for me, since both my undergrad colleges (Mount Holyoke and Sweet Briar) had honor codes, and hence unproctored, unscheduled exams. At CU the proctor has to be aware of how many times a student leaves to use the bathroom--they're allowed two, maybe three, visits. Man, my junior year I left my hardest exam (advanced music theory) for the last exam period--I'd brought home a bunch of books from the library to go over stuff but when I walked in, my roommate was having a mini-party, and then my Mom called. One thing led to another and I did not crack those books once--I drank quite a bit of peppermint schnappes and then woke up the next morning right before the exam. I ran down to the center and sat down, and for the next three hours I alternated between scribbling out complicated analyses of Mozart, Bach and Haydn in blue books with impromptu bolts for the bathroom. (I got an A, by the way :) But you can see how this would've been suspicious at Columbia! Mem'rieeees....I haven't been able to stomach the taste of peppermint schnappes since ;)
ceebeegee: (Riding)
As Duncan mentioned, my alma mater Sweet Briar asked us to host a chat with current arts students. The students are all on Spring Break this week, and the woman in charge of this, Christian Carr, organized an arts-oriented trip to NYC for the week, for credit. They visited museums, saw shows, etc. Originally they were going to come to a Timon rehearsal but we had to change those plans when Timon was pushed back to the fall.

They're staying at the Gershwin Hotel--I've seen pictures of this place before but never visited there. It's gorgeous, very visually striking. We sat in the lobby and were served cheesecake and champagne, and talked to them about what producing actually entailed, the difference between producing outdoors and indoors, what difficulties came with the job, how my experience as a director/producer informed my acting, various playwriting questions for Duncan, all sorts of things. Most of the questions were more interesting and thoughtful than I expected--for example, I usually get asked how being an actor informs my experience as director, not the other way around. And Theatrical Girl asked me "if you had an unlimited budget, which two Shakespeare plays would you most like to do?" I thought about it and said "probably either The Tempest or the Scottish Play. You need something magical for Tempest, some kind of lovely special effects--you don't have to have them, but that's how I'd like it, it's a very spectacular show." And with the Scottish play--I said there are a lot of bad productions out there because 1) its nihilist message is difficult really to comprehend, it's an extremely dark play, and 2) everyone loves it so it gets done a lot. Hence, badly. But anyway, you need atmosphere to help with that nihilism. You need to do it in an enclosed space and take the audience on that journey.

I was talking to them about how Shakespeare straddled the medieval and Renaissance worlds like a Colossus--some of his themes emphasize the importance of social structure and how things go wrong when you challenge that (an essentially medieval value). But he was also the first humanist, the first writer to capture so much of humanity, of personality, in his writing. Every one of us knows someone like Mercutio, the too-smart-for-his-own-good mouthy teenager, or Othello, driven mad by jealousy. Everyone of us can identify to some extent with Macbeth, who starts the play as a good man and who is corrupted by his own ambition. Duncan and I also talked about The Thyme of the Season. Here's a thought, Duncan--maybe we could take that production down to SBC and perform it there. They do book-ins all the time at Babcock.

It was really a lot of fun. They were seated all around us, and at first they were a little shy--one girl, who had the most theatrical experience (albeit mostly technical), asked a lot of questions and then eventually the others started raising their hands as well. We talked for quite a while. Somebody said something about visiting campus and giving a talk there and I said that I'd thought about suggesting one, but wasn't sure if they'd want that. Theatrical Girl assured me, oh yes! They'd love it. The head of the department, Bill Kershner, had just started there when I was a junior--in fact he cast me as the Emcee in Cabaret. It'd be wild to go back with him still there! After the talk Christian was talking to us--Duncan and me--about both going down. Hey, as long as they're willing to pick up the tab for travel expenses (and of course they'd have to put us up but that's no biggie, they have an inn right on campus), I would LOVE to go back. I was talking it up to Duncan, saying what we could do, and I said "and we could hack! You ride, right? Bring your boots and your hardhat and we could go out for a hack!"

On another note--this is a tiny annoyance, but it is one nonetheless. When I sent out the Mardi Gras invitation, one person emailed me that she couldn't go but could she send me a check for Tipitina's? I said sure, thank you, gave her my address. After the party, I sent out a "thank you, we raised $X" message and she replied with another request for my address and a promise to contribute. Again, I gave her my address. Two weeks go by, still haven't heard. I email her again, asking if she'd gotten the emails since she hadn't responded either time (i.e., with a quick "got it, will send it out soon"). She said she was sorry, "life got in the way," but she'd send me a check. Two weeks later--still nothing. I give up. I'm sending the money in to Tipitina's.
ceebeegee: (Mercutio)
Romeo and Juliet is sliding into place, like a massive cruise ship docking :) We are starting full runthroughs today and are still putting together costume pieces. The show's look is pretty simple--black and white (men are black, women are white), and red and green (Capulets are red, Montagues, green). I wanted to emphasize how strict the boundaries are in this piece, and also help the audience tell who was whom, especially with so many women playing men. This has been enormously stressful to produce, for some reason--I have literally been jerking awake in the middle of night stressing about shit, and suffering some weird kind of attacks where I can't breathe or start choking suddenly. Very strange and upsetting. But it's coming together--and as importantly, my performance is coming together. I'm starting to feel a lot more in command--I've been running my lines so obsessively that I can play with them now, explore them, think around them. I'm no longer daunted by the Queen Mab speech--I don't have it nailed yet but I feel confident about it. The one thing left that's still a little daunting is the death speech--I don't think I've ever died yet on stage. But I LOVE my two scene partners, my Benvolio and Romeo--they are an absolute blast to do the show with. Very giving, accomodating--they go along for the ride. And they tease me non-stop, so I frequently have to threaten them with ass-kickings. It's all good.

I love all the members of the cast--I interact with very few of them on stage but I had a cast party for them the other night which was tons of fun. Jodie (Juliet) and I had a long talk in my room where she was raving about the show and the experience and what a great time she was having. She's actually much more mature than I realized for someone so young--she is as unabashedly feminist as I am. Woo hoo! She loves the Holla Holla cheer (Holla Holla Productions is named for the Sweet Briar cheer, called the holla holla--"here's to ya, Sweet Briar, holla holla holla, nothin' that you cannot do-o-o! Here's to ya, Sweet Briar, holla holla holla, nothin' that you cannot do-o-o! Workin' for the good and workin' for the right! Always doin' somethin' and doin' it right, so here's to ya, Sweet Briar, holla holla holla, nothin' that you cannot do-o-o!" Don't ask me why it's called a holla holla, not a holla holla holla :)

Charlie (our Friar John and Lord Montague) said the COOLEST thing to me at the party. He pointed to me and said "I've figured you out. I've decided you are a doer." I beamed and said "YES! Yes, I am. Do or do not--there is no try." I just know I'm going to be glowing about that for awhile. That is high praise indeed, at least to me. Don't sit around (I mean, in lieu of action). Don't complain. Don't be negative. DO. My favorite line from The Untouchables--"What are you prepared to do?" I am a Sagittarius to a fault! (The funny thing is, I was wearing a Sagittarius-themed tee-shirt at rehearsal Saturday.) It's true though--it's the guy in me. DO DO DO. Make it happen. Make your own reality.

Man, I REALLY am such a Sag! It's such a great sign, though. The Archer, a fire sign, we're athletic, impulsive, very forward thrusting. I've always felt it was a masculine sign, in some ways.
ceebeegee: (Riding)
Ugh. Not feeling too well today. I lovelovelove Trader Joe's Spicy Soy Chips (high in protein and fiber and they satisfy my urge to crunch, plus go great with melted cheese--what's not to love?) but they make my stomach feel funny the next day. Ugh.

Wednesday night I hung out with a Sweet Briar friend of mine who was in town for a conference. She was staying at the SoHo Grand but I suggested we hang out in Hell's Kitchen, a neighborhood I know much better. We had a GREAT time; we ate at El Centro on 54th St. and then went to Vintage for after-dinner drinks. Allyson is so supportive and warm, I just love getting together with her. She's so honest about her life and the ups and downs of parenthood (she has three little girls). Her oldest is getting into riding but her husband really wants to nix that, saying it's more dangerous than motorcycle riding or skiing. Naturally as a rider and a girl athlete, I'm all for it! However it doesn't help that one of our friends from Sweet Briar got injured a lot--Kate just shrugged it off and continued to ride anyway, but she's had several bouts of surgery and her knees are shot to hell. I told Ally that most riding injuries are in eventing and steeplechasing--equitation and dressage are much tamer (and, *cough* more boring but I didn't say that! But it's definitely true that the danger is what makes it interesting). Once you start taking jumps, the risk factor goes up. But still, girls should be encouraged in sports if possible; it teaches them so many useful attitudes and skill sets. Teamwork, ownership of and pride in your body, pride in accomplishment as opposed to appearance/relationship status...

On Saturday Paula and I hung out--we went to the new New Orleans-style restaurant on Restaurant Row, called Bourbon Street, where we rhapsodized over one of our favorite movies, Spike Lee's School Daze. (LOVE that movie! Lovelovelove "Good and Bad Hair"--"it ain't even real!") The food was pretty good, fairly authentic-tasting. I had cheese grits, Cajun red-beans-and-rice dip with chips, and shrimp jambalaya, and for dessert Paula and I shared this amazing cafe au lait creme brulet. (Ugh, don't want to think of food right now.) And they had Abita and Dixie, including Blackened Voodoo, my favorite. But the mixed drinks were ridiculously expensive. $13 for a Cosmo? A margarita on the rocks? That's outrageous. The beer wasn't expensive, I don't know why they're soaking us on the drinks. And they didn't have hurricanes--they said they weren't making them yet. Hello!--you have a NO-style restaurant, you probably should have the signature NO drink! The staff was really good though, very friendly (both the manager and the chef stopped by) and I liked the atmosphere, although it was a little too clean and shiny. I showed Paula pictures of the real thing on my iPod, I have great photos of seedy places like the cheap-ass bar on Lee Circle and the Old Absinthe Bar. Mmm, seedy New Orleans...

Afterward we met Ryan at Vintage and sucked back martinis. Walter from Oberon was there and he and I schmoozed--he wants to audition for Romeo and Juliet. He's actually playing Tybalt now in another production and I was all "hey, come audition for my show this summer!"

In other news, last week, Dani and I caught Mickey at the sink with this:

Note that there are no fewer than TEN little jars of Colman's Mustard! And that's just what was in the refrigerator! There were another 4 jars in the cabinets. PLUS 2 containers of another brand of mustard (French's?) and two of wasabi sauce. I just thought it was so endearing, all his tiny little jars of mustard. Men and their condiments!

Going to the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival this Sunday with Ted--what fun! Homemade soaps and Mickey Dolenz...
ceebeegee: (Riding)
A friend of mine from college is coming into town at the end of the month--she's attending a conference in the SoHo area and wants to know if there's a reasonably (!) priced hotel in that area or convenient to it. Any suggestions?
ceebeegee: (Beyond Poetry)
I've been making lots of updates to my website lately--I added a lot of pictures, I'm going to be adding some more video soon, and also recording some vocal tracks to upload. Also, yesterday it occurred to me that I already have some vocal tracks on my iPod, of various live concerts I've done. I listened to a bunch last night--obviously I'm not going to use any from high school (God forbid! nobody wants to hear my thready little voice singing "Turtle Dove" or "Bridge Over Troubled Waters") but there are a couple from college I could use, plus the Mozart Litany for which I was the soprano soloist. (My theory is that Mozart was having an affair with some hot soprano when he composed that work, because she has an AMAZING amount of solo material. Two full soli complete with cadenzas, plus several quartets.) I'm-a use "Hostia Sancta" and "Panus Vivus," edited, of course. On the other hand, "Agnus Dei" starts off with a rather nice sustained note...I definitely have to edit them because I don't want the faster runs in the clip. I do them fine but not great, and I don't want any vocal clip on my website not to show me off. Runs have always been my biggest liability as a classical performer. In "Glitter and Be Gay" I can do the chorus "A ha ha ha ha ha" section fine (and I attack the perfect fourth and the major sixth intervals rather well indeed, if I do say so myself ;) , but I slip a bit on the ascending runs at the end of the chorus (that leads into "Pearls and ruby rings/How can wordly things take the place of honor lost?")

Audacity has some great little editing features, a whole ton of ways to improve the sound quality. This is good because the recording of my junior recital is not the greatest--I'll have to pump up the sound and reduce a LOT of hiss. The mike was not as close as it should've been for that one. But I'm going to use "Down East," a beautiful little American art song by Charles Ives. It shows off my voice nicely (very sustained melody line) and it demonstrates my musicianship--it starts off with an extremely chromatic, just-barely-minor section, then transitions into a sweet lilting melody and even samples "Nearer My God, to Thee." Beautiful little pieces--I love the Ives. I may or may not include the Schubert lieder I performed--I haven't listened to them lately but as I recall, "Die Yonge Nunne" is good but I go a teeny bit sharp in "Gretchen am Spinnrade" (in the "und ach--sein kuss!" part). Well, if you're going to go sharp, I suppose when Faust kisses you, that would be the logical place :D
ceebeegee: (Default)

This is that gorgeous view from Monument Hill, looking down on the heart of the campus. Monument Hill is on the dairy route (see below).

This is on the West Dell, near Babcock, the general performing arts building where I lived as a music major and a member of P&P, the theater tap club. Tap clubs are the closest thing Sweet Briar has to sororities--they're selective societies with some differences: you can be in more than one, you don't live in a house, and you aren't rushed, you're "tapped" (that is, woken up in the middle of the night and hazed for a day).

This is the Bell Tower, a campus landmark in the middle of the Quad.

One of the several ponds on campus, on the way to the Boathouse.

This is my friend Krista and me, on the last leg of the dairy route. At that time Sweet Briar had a working dairy, which is why when Playboy did an article on colleges they called us the preppy milkmaids (a nickname which stuck). The dairy route was a three-mile route that went past Monument Hill, the stables and then the dairy. Many students would jog or walk it regularly, as I did. I look pregnant in this picture, due to the way my tee-shirt is poufing out.
ceebeegee: (Riding)
Kelly and Letham and I have been planning to go riding together for while--I brought my riding gear from home when I first moved here but have never gotten around to finding a stable. Today we finally went, along with Nicole, a theater friend of Kelly's. Letham knew of a stable in Forest Hills--I got up at the crack of ass this morning and met them in Midtown and we drove in together in Leth's sporty lil' silver convertible. Kelly and Leth wanted to get there early because the place didn't take reservations and we were worried we'd have to wait a long time if we weren't first, so I got up at 6:30 this morning. *groan*

But it was completely worth it--this was the most fun I've had in forever. I rode a lot in college--Sweet Briar has some of the best college riding facilities in the country, and we routinely trade off the IHSA championship with UVa (and, I think, the University of Kentucky). I continued riding for awhile after college, mostly lessons and hacks, although I showed from time to time, but haven't done it since 1995--riding is an expensive interest on a starving actor salary. But I loved doing it--it is an addictively fun athletic challenge. It's the control of an animal several thousand pounds heavier than you, it's the relationship between you and the animal, it's the test of your skills as you urge the horse into a faster gait...and best of all, it's the sheer physical thrill when you go really fast. At Sweet Briar my favorite thing about riding was hacking--not working the horse in a ring but riding on the trails and the fields. Cantering that horse--or better yet galloping--across a beautiful green meadow with the smell of boxwoods and cows surrounding you...man, it doesn't get better than that. Riding is as close as you get to flying (besides maybe skiing).

So we each got a horse and my horse, Magic, was a skittery little thing. Because of my size, I usually have to ride a pony rather a full-sized horse--you control the horse through your seat (that is, how you actually sit, and through the pressure of your legs) so the more leg you have relative to the horse, the greater your control. Kelly kept teasing me about riding a horse "a full 17 hands!" I joked that would be like one of those maharajahs, sitting stop an elephant. We rode into Forest Park and rode along the bridle paths there, every now and then trotting or cantering. Magic was certainly a challenge--he had definite opinions about who should have control! And he had a very energetic canter but such short legs that every time we cantered I would fall behind. So then I'd have to extend his canter and every time I eased up on the reins, he would duck his head down which would 1) unbalance both him and me, and 2) you can't give a horse his head completely--you have to have some rein. I mean, I'd love to take off but not unless I'm in a more forgiving environment (that is, not surrounded by trees!). And at one point Letham's horse started acting up, bucking a little bit, which Magic did not like, and for a couple of minutes we both had our hands full. But I love that--I really enjoy the athletic challenge of a spunky horse, it tests your skills. Who wants to walk sedately the whole time?

We rode for about an hour. It was such a good time--when we got back to the stable I seriously did not want to get off Magic. It was just so much fun. Here I am after our hack:

As soon as I got home, I took the longest, hottest bath I could and then I took a looooong nap. *Groan* Every muscle below my waist is trembly and weak.


Mar. 5th, 2007 11:04 am
ceebeegee: (I can't take it any more!)
On Saturday I went to the Upper East Side to conduct an alumna interview for Sweet Briar. The interview went well (she's adorable--very well-read and intellectually curious) and I am planning to recommend her to the admissions board. Afterward I intended to go to the internet cafe and the bank but when I stepped out, the day had turned at least ten degrees colder. I was suddenly seized with shivering and decided to go back home and change into something warmer, then go back downtown. I took the train home, shivering the whole way, and when I got back to my apartment, took the longest, hottest shower I could--at least 25 minutes long. I just could not get warm. Then I made soup, which I wasn't hungry for. Gradually I realized I was actually SICK--I felt achy and weird, and I took my temperature and it had gone up to almost 100. For the rest of the evening I kind of stared at the TV and wrapped myself in blankets. I eventually went to sleep but of course had a terrible time of it.

The next morning I almost couldn't stand. I had to call Michael to say I wouldn't be able to go to Romance, Romance that evening, and he was kind enough to bring me some ice cream (the only thing I could think about eating). My temperature had gone up to 101.8 by this time. I dozed a lot and around 4 pm, I started feeling a little better--I could at least move around the apartment. The rest of the day I ate some and coughed a lot.

This morning I was coughing quite a bit--I have to go to work, then to rehearsal, then BACK to work. At rehearsal I'm going to ask Karen if she can cut it short--I just don't have the stamina for a runthrough today.
ceebeegee: (Default)
I had a great conversation with Krista last night. We're trying to firm up arrangements--my college reunion is this weekend and Krista and I are rooming together, and she's going to pick me up at the train station. I can't wait to hang out with all my Sweet Briar peeps. And the campus will be absolutely gorgeous, as usual. I wish I could post some of the pictures I've taken--it's truly one of the most beautiful campuses in the US.


ceebeegee: (Default)

February 2017



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