Sidereal ramblings

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Auditions two

Second night of auditions tonight -- two hours that could have been condensed into half an hour: no one showed up after that. Only five more students came in, two girls (plus two other girls who auditioned this noon) and three boys. If you're keeping track (and why would you?), I now have 31 people who've tried out, which means I have 31 members for my cast. I have the seven boys I need for my major and minor speaking parts. I'd still like another five or six guys for chorus parts and help doing some scene changes as well. We'll see if we can recruit. My musical director and I sat down tonight and did most of the casting. I've cast the major parts and many of the secondary ones as well. I won't post them for a couple of days. I'll want to read through the script again with the kids in mind to see how it plays out in my head.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Auditions, take one

We held auditions tonight after school for our fall musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. We had what I'd consider a good turnout, although as usual more girls than boys. In fact, a lot more girls than boys. I had 20 girls audition today, only 4 boys. I know of at least two other boys, both of whom talked to me, who are auditioning tomorrow night. I always hold two days of auditions, usually one after school and one in the evening, to accomodate those in sports practices and games. This afternoon, for example, none of the football players could've made auditions because they had practice, but tomorrow night they should be free. While I'm sure I'll get "enough" boys for the play, it won't be any extra. I figure I need at least seven boys, and it would be nice to have another five or six to be in the chorus/crowd scenes. Again, it begs the question as to why so many plays are so heavily tilted for male roles over female, when in high schools (and other theatre levels, I'm sure), there are many more girls interested than guys. One of the reasons I chose this play is that it has a large number of female roles, and relatively few males. And still, it looks like my options are going to be thin. (Actually, I should point out that all the boys who auditioned and/or talked to me so far are very strong actors.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Speech, apparently, is the word

We had a speech team meeting at school today. After six years of coaching our high school's speech team, I've finally figured out a few things. Instead of waiting for the speech season to start, at a time when I'm bogged down in directing the one act play, and we end up heading to our first speech meet with the kids woefully unprepared, I decided this year to start early in the year. Our goal today was simply to identify which kids were interested in being on the team, and what speech category they wanted to be in, and whether they had a "piece" for their speech. I think it was a great idea to get started now instead of four or five months from now. Last year, we had 18 high school kids on our team. We lost only three (two to graduation, one to another school), and should have added 8 who were 8th graders last year, in the high school now, giving me 23 returning members, assuming everyone was coming back.

Twenty-eight kids showed up for the meeting, including nine first-timers. A few former members didn't or couldn't attend the meeting, and a few told me there were not interested in being on the team. But I was amazed at the number of "new" kids we had show up today. We should end up with an even larger team than we had last year (30 including high school and junior high kids), our biggest team ever. It's now a matter of fitting kids into the "right" categories, and finding pieces for them to perform, but we've got a few months instead of a couple weeks to do that. I'm looking forward to speech season already.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Today is Walter's and my anniversary. For anyone who doesn't know, Walter is my cat. It was eight years ago today that he came from Lanesboro to live with me. I remember the date easily 'cause it was 9-9-99.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hold the Olives

Why do we like or dislike the taste of certain foods? Is it psychological? Physical? I was at the Subway sandwich shop earlier this evening, picking up a sandwich, at the "sandwich artist" there (a former student) suggested black olives. I had to tell her that I don't like black olives (or green olives, for that matter). When I was a kid, I wouldn't eat cauliflower, but I do now. I used to not like nuts, other than peanuts, but these days I'm alright with walnuts in ice cream or cashew chicken at the Chinese restaurant, for example. I also remember not wanting to ever try mushrooms as a kid, 'cause I was afraid they'd be poisonous; later in adulthood, I ate mushrooms with just about everything. I still can't stand the taste of olives, though. I wonder why that is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Misadventures on two wheels

Even after a week of workshop days and nearly a full week of school, I'm still maintaining a good schedule of bicycling almost every day. The last couple of days I noticed that my back tire seemed a little wobbly. Before going riding tonight, I checked the spokes and noticed some looseness there, and even one broken off at the center. Spokes help keep the wheel straight and stable -- who knew? We thought they were just for sticking baseball cards in to make it sound cool. I decided I'd better go straight to the local bike shoppe and have it fixed. When I was a block or two away, I hit some kind of small hole in the road and heard something snap, and my back wheel became essentially inoperable. I walked the bike (holding the back tire off the ground) the rest of the way to the bike shoppe. Larry, the bike shoppe guy, took one look at it, and figured I needed a complete new wheel, it was bent so badly out of shape. I left it with him and walked home. Maybe an hour or so later, he called me, said he'd changed three spokes, and the wheel straightened out remarkably. I was amazed that the fix was that easy (and relatively inexpensive). He told me that there were three spokes broken off in a row (two had to have come when I hit that pothole), and that caused the extreme warp in the tire's rim. I walked back over to the shoppe, and rode back home, having abandoned my regular ride for the evening. I'm glad to have the bike back so quickly; I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to ride at all this weekend.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Flood damage

I spent a couple of days over the Labor Day weekend in the Winona area. One of the reasons I wanted to go there was to see some of the effects of the recent flooding for myself. Someone said, you can read about the flood, and look at pictures in the paper, but seeing it yourself in person is quite a different experience. I quite agree. I drove from Lewiston through Stockton to Winona. One could see erosion along the sides of the roadway -- watch for fallen rock, indeed -- but the effects in town were more pronounced. Every household in Stockton (and I just drove through on highway 14) had a pile of trash at the end of the driveway, awaiting pickup. I saw numerous mud-caked, apparently totalled, cars in yards; and houses with much of the land nearby and underneath them washed away, foundations seemingly hanging in space. Later that day, I drove up to Minnesota City, but couldn't get very far as many of the roadways into town were still blocked off.

The next day I drove down to and around in the town of Rushford. The situation there is even worse. I'm told by my friend Stix who lives there that they're not expecting to be able to use their water supply for things like washing and cooking for another couple of weeks. As I drove around town, there were many, many more piles of trashed belongings in piles along the side of the street. Many houses were left wide open, presumably to air out and make it easier to get everything out of them; it was rather disturbing to notice open doors leading to empty rooms. Lots of houses had fluorescent painted symbols on them; some said "OK", others had letters and symbols that I couldn't interpret. I'm sure many of those houses are not now habitable or able to be recouped. The parking lot of the grocery store was filled with its fixtures: shelving and refrigerated units that I assume are no longer usable. There were signs up around town indicating that the local convenience store was open for "drinks and snacks" so I stopped in to buy a can of pop. All of the coolers and shelves from this store were gone as well. There was one metal rack holding bags of chips and a couple of glass fronted, refrigerated coolers stocked with pop. Oh, and scattered on every block were a couple of porta-potties. I was, more than anything, reminded of pictures of New Orleans, post-Katrina. Perhaps on a smaller scale, but the devastation seemed just as complete.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to my friends in the area, and to everyone affected by this tragedy. As signs all around Rushford proudly proclaimed: "Never ever give up."