Thursday, August 31, 2006

All That Jazz

You asked for it - r – you got it! From Pgirl and Galoots nups.
I’ll use nicknames to protect the innocent…

Left to right:
Stepbrudder Allen, Mr. Social, Duder, Brother Tim, Richard Roundtree, The Galoot (kneeling), Jimmy McJamestown, Scarface, Favor8 (with Bubba teeth) and Chibbs.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Metro

About a week after P-Girl and I were married, I was back in school, teaching theatre to a kindergarten class. One of the girls asked me a question, “Why do you have that ring on your finger?”. I told her I had gotten married over the summer break. She looked at me with a look of disbelief on her face, replying, “I’ve never known a man from the theater to be married.”

Many folks believe that most men in the theater are gay. I happen to be straight. In fact, most of the guys I went to undergrad and graduate school with are straight. We were the smart ones, because theater departments are crawling with the ladies and we were usually outnumbered!

I wasn’t helping my case as a hetero by my post-dinner actions tonight. About halfway through a walk around the block with the family dog, I realized:

1. I was wearing a t-shirt with the comedy/tragedy masks on it.
2. I was carrying my dog’s poop in a plastic grocery bag that swung to and fro in my free hand.
3. My dog is a standard poodle that used to look like an Airedale, but had recently been groomed and now looks more poodle-like.

We made it home despite a neighbor’s St. Bernard’s barking attempts to out us from a closet which doesn’t exist. I'm not gay.

P.S. Only two more nights until the next episode of “Project Runway”!


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Double Fantasy

I was a late-bloomer when it came to football-fanhood. Sure, I watched the Bengals lose two SuperBowls to the Niners, but I was hardly an armchair quarterback. I was in it for the community aspect.

Usually, televised Bengals games were the center of a Sunday ritual at my Dad's house which involved yelling at the television and eating my stepmom's chili. I didn't understand the game, but I certainly could recognize Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Chris Collinsworth, Anthony Munoz and Max Montoya. I can still do the "Icky Shuffle"!

In college, while most of my fraternity brothers spent the weekend watching college an pro football, I would hang out with my girlfriend, listen to tunes or head into a larger college town to watch independent movies. My sole foray into watching the pigskin was on SuperBowl Sunday when my fraternity would hold a rush. It was fun being a casual fan. Watching other guys sweat it out over bets they had made or pride for their team made me feel comfortable. I didn't feel any pressure at all.

I continued to all but ignore football throughout most of the nineties. Cousin Eddie would have family SuperBowl parties that were more a family reunion than a sporting event. In grad school theatre, there were a handful of sports fans. And most of the directors scheduled rehearsals on SuperBowl Sunday. I'd be lucky to catch half of the event. And, to be honest, I enjoyed the commercials more than the game by that point.

My view on football, and the N.F.L. began to change in 1998. P-Girl and I had been dating for several months and were in Jamestown for Mr. Social's wedding. This was the weekend before Halloween, which meant very cool weather in Western New York. On the day after the wedding, we headed across the lake on The Silver Fox (P-girl's dad)'s boat. It was a cold, dismal afternoon, and we docked in Bemus Point. Soon we were hunkered down at the Surf Club's small bar (tucked away in a small room behind the large bar). The place was empty, and the three of us spent the afternoon drinking bloody mary's, eating sandwiches and watching the Bills play. For the first time in my life, I really watched the game. It started to make sense. The Silver Fox was a high school football coach and didn't treat me like an idiot when I asked questions.

My education continued at home with P-Girl. She also knew the game and could answer most of my questions. Since we were living in South Florida, I watched what was available - Dolphins games. I didn't watch every one, but enough to remain interested. In the fall of 1999, I began to watch more. Dan Marino was taken out because of injury and his backup had to take over for five games. Backup Damon Huard went 4-1 and had to fight for every one. It was gripping and enjoyable. I was dissapointed when Marino was given the top spot back. His last game against Jacksonville was atrocius.

I'd seen enough to keep me going. I was hooked. I started watching some college bowl games (including some Michael Vick action at Virginia Tech) and some of the Florida college matchups as well. I even caught a few Bills games along the way.

When we moved to western New York in 2001, I continued to follow the Dolphins and caught a few Bills games. Unfortunately, an arrogant quarterback named Rob Johnson had the top spot for Buffalo. Doug Flutie came in as back up a couple of times, but mostly, that season was a wash.

Drew Bledsoe came to Buffalo in 2002 and delivered some of the goods, but not enough to keep the Bills from drafting JP Losman in 2004. It's been rough to watch at times, but I love our division and watching every Sunday.

And now I am going into my second season as part of a fantasy football league. Brother Tim created last year's AFFL (Awesome F***ing Football League), which saw his Drunk Micks and my Big Galoots end up #1 and #2 respectively. We only had six teams, and three friends along with us (the last team was a ghost team), but I had a lot of fun trading players and watching stats play out over each weekend. I still managed to enjoy watching the Bills, but now when they didn't do so well, I would have another reason (excuse?) to watch another game or two.

This season, the AFFL has been resurrected. Along with the newly named Drunkin' Micks and the Nancy Boys (formerly the Big Galoots), we have the Mighty Mews, Tom Landry's Hat, Scarface and the Vanderbilt Vandals. We're looking for at least two more teams, but can accomodate another 4. So, if any of you or your hubbies would like to join the league, drop me a line! So far we have the states of New York, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania represented.

I might also join the Wine Cellar's league which is run by CBS Sports. If any of you would like to name my new team, post it in the comments section. The winner will get a DVD copy of Paul Dinello's "Beyond The Door".

Friday, August 25, 2006

Beyond The Door

Yesterday afternoon found my co-worker, Grady and myself looking at the store fronts on the street below our offices. One of our tenants is moving across third street and their vacated space will be converted into a small performance space soon. We were brainstorming ways to change the facade of this particular building when Grady suggested we check out another store front.

The Palace Gallery is on the right side of our theatre lobby and used to be part of the operation. This fall, it will be remodeled to be an expansion of the box office and lobby. Grady took me to the basement to show me something. Occupying several closets were several boxes full of old newsletters, brochures, etc.

A few of the boxes held videotapes of short comic films from the 1990's. Our city is the hometown of Lucille Ball and every year there are two festivals held in her honor. A decade ago, the festival revolved more around comedy and there were screenings of short films.

I grabbed a few tapes to bring home, because I recognized some names as people from Second City. P-Girl and I sat down to watch one entitled "Beyond The Door". To our delight, it featured Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert from "Strangers With Candy" (and, of course, "The Colbert Report"). If any of you are fans, I suggest tracking this one down and watching it.

Maybe I can get it on YouTube...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In The Cradle

My dad reads my blog and P-girl's to keep up with Galoot family fun. I haven't posted in a while, (which he reminded me of last night), so, in honor of the big man's birthday...13 Things About The Biggest Galoot!

1. He has the exact same name as me. I'm not a junior or a "second".
2. He worked several years for the Gap and is married to my very cool stepmother, who also works for that company. Needless to say, the whole family (right down to Galoot Jr., P-Girl2 and the Wonder Twins - stepbro's kiddoes) has been decked out in classic clothing for over 30 years.
3. He is a very generous man who continues to offer advice, moolah and love as needed.
4. He is a tall man, clocking in at 6'4".
5. He comes from a large Irish/Italian family from New York.
6. He worked as a bouncer in Long Island back in the day.
7. He once concocted an alcoholic drink he dubbed "Joy Juice".
8. His speciality in the workforce was management. He's very good at working with people.
9. In more civilized times, he was in a street gang called "The Deli Boys". By "civilized", I mean they didn't kill people and they existed in the '60's.
10. Many meals in the '80's were accompanied by stories of his adventures with his younger brother, Tugboat. They were kind of like Twain's Huck and Finn, except they played lacrosse and lived on the east coast. Very funny stuff!
11. In the mid-eighties at Christmas time, Dad once brought home a video gaming system that had just been released (the company he worked for owned a toy store chain). We'd been making due with an old Atari and a Texas Instruments computer. But this one quickly took hold of us and never let go. It was an NES!
12. Much of his humor has been instilled in me. I take more risks in performance because of the examples he set.
13. His name was appropriated by a singer in the 1960's who is famous for a hit song about...math.

Happy Birthday Pop!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Anarchy In The U.K. - Fourfecta!

Yes, I have officially made the celebrity fourfecta!

Okay, I forced this one, but it was worth it. Tonight, I accompanied six of my students to see an hour long comedy-video-music-satire with Harry Shearer and his wife, Judith Owen. It was kind of like his radio program "Le Show".

I spoke to him after the performance. He was very gracious. Small clubs are the best places to catch celebrities - postshow.

In case you don't know, Harry Shearer is probably most famous for his voice work on "The Simpsons" - playing Principal Skinner, Rev. Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and Mr. Smithers. He also played bass-player, Derek Smalls in "Spinal Tap".

My fourfecta includes Shearer, Carey Lowell, Mike McShane and James Carville.

That is all for today!

Anarchy in the U.K. - 13 Things About Edinburgh

1. The Queen’s summer palace is about a mile from our dorms. She’s here this week and a couple of my kids claimed they saw her as we drove past on our way to the theatre.
2. During the month of August, the city is bombarded by tourists hoping to catch part of the many festivals held here.
3. Sean Connery has a place somewhere in town.
4. J.K. Rowling wrote some of her Harry Potter series at a local coffee shop while working here.
5. A dormant volcano lives beside the Queen’s palace and the University. It is called Arthur’s Seat and many people climb it daily.
6. There are several Starbucks in the city.
7. Public transportation is pretty affordable and easy to use.
8. Edinburgh Castle lies in the heart of the city, atop a large hill.
9. During the month of August, a Military Tattoo is held almost nightly in front of the castle. Several hundred performers from around the globe join Scotland’s military band for a musical event for 10,000 spectators.
10. Princes Street is a long stretch of road in New Town which houses many contemporary retail stores.
11. The Royal Mile stretches from Edinburgh Castle to the Queen’s place. Parts of it are shut down for pedestrian traffic during the Fringe.
12. Performers travel the Royal Mile, handing out thousands of show flyers to passerby.
13. The temperature here is ranging between the low and high 60’s.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Anarchy In The U.K. - 2.5

Just a quick one here.

As I waited for a bus to take our students to another show, one of the staff walked by us with an elderly woman and a younger woman. The younger woman looked very much like the actress, Carey Lowell.

The kids got on the bus with the chaperones (I'm hanging back until early afternoon) and I went to a reception office on campus. I bought a new phone card and thumbed through some newspapers, waiting for the women to leave so I could ask the staff if Carey Lowell was indeed one of the women.

Sure enough, it was her. The older woman was Lowell's mother and referred to her as Carey!

Celebrity sighting #2!

P.S. Carey Lowell was married to Griffin Dunne and now is married to Richard Gere.

Anarchy in the U.K. - Part Two

Smash decided he would limp through the show – swollen knee and all. I was sitting at the light board, anticipating a rough opening performance. The theatre seats only 81 and there were maybe 20 people in the audience. Half of those were students from another high school performing in the festival. They go for free.

When I brought the lights up, the boys playing Forest Rangers marched on stage. Smash, unbeknownst to me, had wrapped his knee in a towel with fake blood on it. Everyone who knew of the injury just lost it! It set the tone for the rest of the evening, to be sure. He worked the injury into the show, getting many laughs. The kids fed off the manic energy and delivered a good performance.

The rest of Monday and most of Tuesday saw no drama.

Conflict, however, found us at the last night’s performance. Allow me to do a bit of exposition…

The Festival Fringe is held every August and features 10,000 or so performers doing what they do best in several venues, large and small. The larger festival contains several smaller ones, including film, art and music. The one we’re part of is the American High School Theatre Festival.

Several high schools bring musicals, comedies and dramas here to perform. Each school does the show four times. Throughout the week, each school also sees performances by 4 other schools. Each school is allotted a two hour time slot. 15 minutes to load in, 90 minutes to do the show and 15 minutes to load out.

Our musical director chose “Little Mary Sunshine” to do. I agreed. It is a spoof of operettas that was written and produced originally in the late fifties. The characters are U.S. Forest Rangers, young finishing school ladies and Indians from the Kadota tribe. Each of these characters is written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Each is performed that way too.

When we arrived in Scotland, there was a director’s meeting. Among the attendees were 3 students and a chaperone from Arizona. They are here to perform a dance and monologue performance titled “Native Women”. They are most definitely Native American. As everyone introduced themselves to the large group (fifty or so), I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable if this group of Native Americans was scheduled to attend our show?” I also thought, “Gee, I should have sent a script for the schedulers to read.”

Sure enough, when we got to the theatre space tonight, the Native American group was sitting in the audience. The chaperone took several pictures whenever one of our kids was playing an Indian. Their students laughed a couple of times during the show, but never applauded. About halfway through the song “Me A Heap Big Injun” (yes, I’m rethinking the entire show now), the students and their chaperone got out of their seats and left the room. I wanted to crawl into a hole and curl up into a fetal position.
It only got better. They rode back to the dorms on the chartered bus with our cast. A few of our parents spoke with their chaperone. I only heard snippets of his dialogue. I think he said the kids were talented. But he also mentioned the word “insensitive”. Hindsight is twenty-twenty isn’t it? I must be blind…

Monday, August 07, 2006

Anarchy In The U.K.

As an obligation to my previous job (high school theater teacher), I have taken 17 teenagers to the United Kingdom. There is a musical director (my old supervisor) and three mothers along with us. Our mission - perform a musical at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotoland.

We began our trip last Tuesday night, taking an overnight flight to London-Gatwick. Shopping, sight-seeing and "Les Miserables" ensued for a day and a half. Most of the kids did well on this part of the trip. A few are creating some "drama" and one of the parents complains more than anyone with our group. I'd never been to London before, so the musical director and one of the kids showed everyone around.

On Friday we got up bright and early to catch the train to Edinburgh. The continental breakfast upset the complaining daughter and her child. I sent the child out of the lobby when I had enough of her smart-ass comments. Earlier, her mother tried to pull the "but we're Americans and expect..." card. I told her that wouldn't fly.

The train ride was very cool and we made it into our dorm rooms in Edinburgh by 4pm. After dinner and sleep, we had a morning technical rehearsal, then spent the rest of Saturday exploring Edinburgh. I was in my element here, leading a group of the guys through the old section of the city while the rest of the group shopped in the new part of town.

The lads and I hit secondhand stores, music shops, a computer dealer, comic book seller and an internet cafe on the way back to campus. We even started a gang - named after the first street we came to. Several of us now belong to the Montagues! My nickname is B-Ill. Other members include Master Rob, Tony, Pinball, Doc, Roscoe, and Smash.

Celebrity sighting - Mike McShane of the British "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" We chatted him up for a few minutes, then headed back to campus.

Saturday night was uneventful, except for some drunk college guys trying to pick up some of the girls in our group.

Sunday saw us hitting church for Mass (a field trip requirement - we're a Catholic school). After a quick snack, half the group costumed up to take part in the Cavalcade parade on Princes street. Over 100,000 spectators were there to take it all in. Several of the other high school groups followed a double decker bus with more singing teens on it.

About halfway through the route, Smash attempted a high kick and popped his knee. I assisted him for a few minutes, but couldn't make any progress. So he hopped on my back and I ran a quarter mile up the street to toss him onto the bus. We must have been interesting to look at.

After an emergency room visit (no serious damage) the two of us returned to campus and had dinner. The rest of the group was out and about, so we hung out. Smash showed me how to use garage band. We made a very hip dance mix.

Well, our first performance is less than three hours from now. More Fringe notes to come...