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“Theatre demands different muscles and different aspects of one’s personality.” ― Victor Garber

After about ten minutes into each theatrical production at Centerville High School, I tend to forget I am watching high school students – not college or professional – performing, and running the technical aspects of the show.

They are always THAT GOOD.

I look forward to theatre at Centerville High School as much as I do productions at two other outstanding educational institutions, Wright State University and Sinclair Community College.  I never wonder, “how will Centerille pull off this show?”  That’s a waste of time to even consider that question; CHS does it better than any other high school in Western Ohio.  I am always confident I will leave the auditorium a lot more excited than when I entered – and I always enter CHS’s lobby with a good deal of excitement because I know I am set for a damned good production.

Tonight, my theatre directing friends, Suzanne Grote and Aaron Jacobs, along with Suzanne’s niece, Erin, and my son, Quintin, joined me for AVENUE Q.  This quartet is always at my side for Centerville productions, and we never fail to marvel at the tremendous efforts and talent engaged at this high school theatre program.

I like it when the curtain is open upon seating in the auditorium because I have more time to absorb (marvel, shake my head, chuckle at little touches, and appreciate) Mike Cordonnier’s set designs.  Mike, like several of his Miami Valley contemporaries – Terry Stump at Sinclair Community College, Bruce Brown at nearly every other venue in town and beyond, the Wright State University crew – never fails to impress and surprise me with his creativity.  Mike’s superbly trained brigade of blossoming technical talent  can run a show with ease.

Joe Beumer’s clean, creative, and concise stage direction is a perfect marriage to Mike Cordonnier’s set designs and technical leadership.  There is an incredible amount of magic when you have Joe and Mike  charting the course.  And since Ben Spalding’s arrival as CHS’s choral director, the vocal talent, often accompanied by the instrumental direction of either Brandon Barrometti or Joshua Baker, has soared to new heights.

Centerville High School’s theatre program is outstanding in every way!

I had never seen a stage production of AVENUE Q, originally conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who also co-wrote the lyrics and music with Jeff Whitty’s libretto.  The school edition is not watered down to the point of dull-dom, as other school musical editions tend to be.  My colleagues who accompanied me tonight assured me this version was just as great as the original.  And the students – on stage and beyond – lifted this production beyond my already high expectations!

If the creators had been able to see this production, I am certain they would have appreciated, and enthusiastically applauded the phenomenal talents of these high school students, and their exceptional mentors/directors.

This Winter, CHS is set to present, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, and will conclude their 2012-2013 season with the Spring musical, SWEENEY TODD.

I am not joking when I say, “Centerville High School has one of the best, if not the best, high school theatre programs around.”

Go see their shows, and see for your self!

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I felt like a kid, tonight.  In fact, it felt like I had the excitement of all my birthdays and Christmases all combined.

Quintin and I met Brian Pollock at The Greene to watch the movie I’ve waited several years to see.

The theatre, at 6:30pm, was packed for the 7:00pm showing, and we sat down in the lower tier, or as Brian aptly stated, “laying down in front of the TV on the floor.”  I was thrilled to see the theater packed.  At first, when I saw the immense lines of young teen girls, I was hopeful that LINCOLN-fever had reached their generation; however, I soon learned they were there to see the new TWILIGHT movie.

My bottom line reaction:  BRAVO!

I am sure the historians will find fault with this movie.  Naturally, there were items I knew, or believed to be historically inaccurate, but this is not a documentary.  LINCOLN is a fictional account based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, TEAM OF RIVALS.  Tony Award winning playwright, Tony Kushner, delivered a tight, believable, and emotional script that highlighted some of our country’s greatest individuals set against the backdrop of the Civil War.

Before the movie even hit theaters, folks were complaining about Sally Field being too old, photos of the White House set not being accurate, or a myriad of other picky items.  Folks were concerned the script would not be accurate.  Again, it was a fictional account, based on actual events.  If we were to examine THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, GYPSY, and others, we would be appalled at the truth versus the fictional accounts portrayed on stage.  LINCOLN is no different.

Following a robust applause, the credits scrolled upward.  It was an impressive line-up of names!  I asked Brian if there any actors left in Hollywood to film other movies while this was being filmed.  Incredible performances from some incredible actors.

Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, as President Lincoln & Mary Todd Lincoln, were everything I hoped they would be.  I was not let down.  Hal Holbrook was brilliant, and I did love the fact that a former Lincoln-actor, LINCOLN (television 1974-1975), was included in this list of stars.  There was not one performance that disappointed me.

For me, the most delightful performance was delivered by Tommy Lee Jones, portraying Pennsylvania congressman, Thaddeus Stevens.  Outstanding!  I smell a supporting actor Oscar nomination!

Many have commented on Daniel Day Lewis’ voice in the movie.  I think everyone believes Abraham Lincoln had a booming baritone voice like James Earl Jones; however, Lincoln’s voice was described as “high pitched, thin and reedy.”  It served him well during speeches before thousands of spectators in an era without electronic sound amplification.  I believe Daniel Day Lewis captured Lincoln’s voice.

In the early stages, several colleagues were fearful of Sally Fields being 20 years older than Daniel Day Lewis, and not matching the 9 year age difference between Lincoln and Mary Todd.  I oft reminded the critics that Mrs. Lincoln, at age 44, looked much older, and with the blessings of Max Factor, Sally Field would be right in the ball park.

And, she was!

Sally Field has succeeded a long line of well-known actresses who have portrayed the first lady:

  • Jane Curtin
  • Donna Murphy
  • Sada Thompson (opposite Hal Holbrook)
  • Glenn Close
  • Ellen Burstyn
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Julie Harris (in the Broadway play, THE LAST OF MRS. LINCOLN, penned by fellow Ball State University graduate, James Prideaux)
  • Lillian Gish
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald
  • Ruth Gordon
  • and dozens more…

When Gore Vidal’s LINCOLN premiered on television, I was horrified by Mary Tyler Moore’s abrasive portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln.  With the combined script, direction and acting, I felt Tyler-Moore’s particular portrayal was just awful.  Sally Field, for me, personally, was Mary Todd Lincoln.  Ms. Field was terribly believable, capturing Mrs. Lincoln’s fire, intelligence, grace, doubts, feelings and frustrations of being left out of her husband’s White House work, charm, political savvy, tender and protective maternal nature, and a Mary that was very capable of holding her own in a world ruled by men!

Were there items I feel should have been included to better round out the character of Mrs. Lincoln?

Of course.  But this movie was not about Mary Todd Lincoln.  It focused on President Lincoln and those who fought to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  The writing and directing of this particular character was far better than previous attempts, and Ms. Field’s professional, and personal choices pleased me very much.

There were a few scenes that were historically adjusted, but those moments seemed to strengthen Mary Lincoln’s heartbreak and devastation at the loss of her son, Willie, who died within their first year of residency in the White House, as well as the fire and capacity that Mrs. Lincoln exhibited, much to Abraham’s success.

So… go see LINCOLN.

If you are a historian, take off your historian cap, as I did, and simply rejoice in the truly great work, and the fact that the Lincolns are currently a fairly hot commodity in motion pictures!

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A ton of work goes into this huge undertaking, and it is always so exciting to see the process pay off.

I was responsible for ordering the trophies, and pulling together the awards ceremony for the fifth year, and each year I have more and more fun with this component.

On the other side of the field, near the visitor’s concession building, I managed approximately 20 adults and about 13 student ambassadors who were busy checking-in band directors and serving as host/ambassadors to guide the bands to their warm-up stations, and finally, to the gate for performance.  It ran smoothly, and I am indebted to the diligence and pride of these wonderful parents and students.

I love the awards ceremony.  The seniors and several sponsor identified presenters gather for a brief training, and these students are always so pleasant, pumped, primed and proud for the duty that awaits them.  Their enthusiasm is always such a high-point to the conclusion of an event that involves weeks of planning, countless emails swapped, scratching well-laid plans and creating new plans – even at the last minute, enduring a few minor headaches, walking more in one day than I do in – well, let’s just say a week, greeting bands and directors, and feeling that flood of very slight let-down when the event is off and running. The awards ceremony is the icing on the cake.

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Hey Gang!

I have a high school senior voice/musical theatre student from Kettering’s Fairmont High School here in Ohio, who is writing her senior research paper on the musical theatre industry.  Her thesis statement is centered around:

How musical theatre has affected the American culture between 1920 to the present.

If you have any:

  • personal/professional thoughts on this topic
  • any sources to which she might turn

please feel free to share.

Her rough draft is due Monday, October 29th.

Thanking you all in advance…  Darin

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Mock trial finds

Mary Todd Lincoln was not insane

Re-enactment at presidential museum finds former first lady wrongfully committed

By Jason Nevel

Posted Oct 01, 2012 @ 10:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD —

Jurors in 1875 made the wrong choice in committing Mary Todd Lincoln to a mental institution, a retrial of the famous case found Monday.

The re-enactment was held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, with area judges serving as attorneys arguing for and against the widow of President Lincoln. The audience served as the jury.

In 1875, the nation’s former first lady was judged insane during a trial in Chicago and ordered to a Batavia sanitarium. She obtained an early release, and, one year later, another jury found her sane.

First Lady Mary Lincon

For more than 100 years, historians have debated whether there was enough evidence to ever commit Mrs. Lincoln to an institution. In Monday’s event, actors in period costumes portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln and her son Robert Lincoln, who filed the petition to have his mother involuntarily committed. The retrial lasted more than two hours.

The vote on whether to institutionalize the troubled first lady was 68 for and 159 against. A similar retrial was held Sept. 24 in Chicago. Audience members there also overwhelmingly disagreed with the initial verdict.

Beth Pendergast, a Springfield audience member, said she believed there was enough to prove Mary Todd Lincoln was insane based on her erratic behavior.

Historical accounts describe Mary Todd Lincoln as slowly going insane after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the death of three sons. However, some people argue Robert Lincoln was trying to protect the family’s reputation.

To open up the trial, Robert Lincoln, portrayed by Zach Kenney of Chicago, was questioned by a lawyer portrayed by Ronald Spears, a circuit judge in Christian County.

Robert Lincoln said his mother, for unknown reasons, thought he was ill and traveled from Florida to Chicago to see him. On the train ride there, she said someone tried to poison her coffee and steal her purse, he said.

While staying at a hotel in Chicago, Robert Lincoln further testified that his mother thought the city of Chicago was on fire, she could hear voices through the walls, and his mother thought he was going to kill her. There was also testimony about Mrs. Lincoln’s spending habits.

Having her committed was for her safety, Robert Lincoln said.

“I want to protect her and provide her the treatment she needs,” he said.

Mrs. Lincoln’s defense said she feared for Robert Lincoln’s safety because her three other sons had died of illness. Her actions were motivated by her desire to protect her surviving son, her lawyer said.

Actress Sally Field as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

This Saturday morning had a nice little twist to it.  We were up, showered, dressed, and out of the house by 9:45am, and eating breakfast at Panera in downtown Centerville where we were joined by Amy Kress, and her youngest daughter, Sarah, 6.  We moved next door to Town Hall Theatre to watch an 11:00am production of Disney’s adorable stage musical, LITTLE MERMAID, starring my piano student, Katie Kress, as Scuttle.  Katie was hilarious, cute, and did an amazing job with her terribly wordy patter song, “Human Stuff.”  Many other stage performers around could learn a thing or two about perfect diction from this 10 year old!  She rocked her consonants!

Quintin and I did the meet and greet following the show, and then hurried to the newly opened Mernards on OH-741, South of the Dayton Mall  where the original Walmart once stood.  It was incredible, but horribly crowded.  We loaded up on a few things and checked out.

At 2:00pm I attended a funeral of a student’s grandmother.  I will probably have two more this week: the grandfather of a student, and the mother of a former student who has been moved to Hospice.

I managed a quick nap upon my return home, and then we were out the door again.  We grabbed dinner at China Buffet, a shower curtain from Big Lots, and then purchased movie tickets at The Greene for FINDING NEMO in 3D.

With time to kill before the movie, we ventured over to Books & Company.  I quickly found a book on President Lincoln, LOOKING FOR LINCOLN: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN ICON.  Despite finding two errors in the book within five minutes, I still decided to purchase the photo-filled book.

FINDING NEMO was a delight!  Quintin and I laughed, and laughed a lot.  We marveled at the beauty of the 3-D effects, and were caught up in the journey of a father searching for his son.  Very neat.

The movie was followed with some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.

This day was absolutely perfect!  Quintin and I laughed so hard throughout the day, and by dinner our conversation incorporated our Russian accents.  There were times when we were both doubled over with laughter, and tears filling our eyes.  This reminded me of when I was 17, and all the fun times I had, and still have, with my own mother, and my grandparents.  Humor, and even plain silliness is a great form of glue!

It was a swimmingly good day!

Quinny checking out the new Justin Bieber calendar.

 

Quinny sporting his new hat from Menards.

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Last night, Quintin and I enjoyed a late dinner at The Noodle Company located in The Greene.  Afterwards, we grabbed some videos since he did not have to be at school Friday until 11:30am due to the on-going OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) for sophomores, only.  We settled down with Adam Sandler’s JACK & JILL, and though I am not a true Adam Sandler fan, I did laugh a good deal.

After the movie, I began the process of preparing my taxes, and remained at the job until 2:30am.  I slept, off and on, until 7:45am, at which time, I rose to get the morning chores completed – feeding dogs, taking my meds, sugar checks, breakfast.  The taxes were completed in less than three hours, thanks to continued preparation throughout the year.

In a few hours I will teach my regular lesson load, as well as some additional make-up lessons. Quintin has percussion rehearsal until 8:00pm, and I should be finishing up teaching.  Hopefully, we can grab another movie.

Saturday morning will bring several more make-up lessons, and then some fun time of hiking in Woodland Cemetery, or Carillon Park, until Quintin’s 5:00pm-9:00pm percussion rehearsal.

Sunday, I believe, is a completely free day… absolutely nothing on the agenda. It would be nice to trip down to Cincy to the zoo, or aquarium, but I’ve not made arrangements for the dogs.

Friday afternoon, I ventured to over to the middle school down the street to watch Fairmont’s PM-Concert Band in the OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association) perform their contest literature.  They received a II-Division rating.  Quintin worked as a judge’s assistant later in the evening.

Saturday, Quintin worked in the main office from 8:30am-Noon.  I was mentally, and physically, exhausted from a very long week, and remained in my bed/sitting room the remainder of the day, reading, napping and watching some movies.

Saturday night, after a quick bite to eat at Panera, we attended the production, CHILDREN OF EDEN, written by Stephen Schwartz. The production was beautifully sung – when you could hear it. The orchestra, which was very good, over-powered the entire production.  The only time I could hear the lush beauty of the music was during the few moments when the cast sang a capella. Even the dialogue underscoring was drowned.

Sunday morning was a flurry of activity: Quintin was up showered, fed, and at the high school for a 7:00am rehearsal call, preparing for their 11:38am performance at the MEPA contest in Centerville. I rose after Quint was gone – having slept three hours – and hurried to the National Museum of the United States Air Force to secure three tickets for the Presidential Gallery. Unfortunately, all parties needed to be present to present their identification.

At 10:15am, our dear family friend, and member of the god-parent team, Jeffrey Carter, arrived. Jeff, currently a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, judged a show choir competition in Fort Wayne on Saturday, and stopped by for a visit prior to heading on down to Cincinnati to see MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.

After chatting, and playing with the fury trio, we moved on to Centerville High School to watch Fairmont perform at MEPA. Uncle Jeff finally got to meet Quintin, following the contest, and they hit it off beautifully. We left CHS, and headed immediately to the Air Force Museum where we spent several hours.

Following dinner at Milano’s, we spent some time chatting at The Haasienda before Jeff traveled on to Cincy. It was such a nice visit, and we both look forward to seeing Jeff again this summer.

It was a busy, yet, very relaxing weekend!

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[Hit the play button on HOUNDS OF SPRING; listen as you read, and then, sit back and enjoy this fantastic piece of band literature by Alfred Reed.]

A beautiful day it is!  It is only 50-degrees this tenth day of March, but you could not ask for a more glorious day of sunshine, and Spring in the air. And tomorrow, those of us who get to set our clocks forward one hour will get to enjoy even more lovely days such as this.

Quintin was out the door to work in the office for the OMEA site until Noon. I satisfied any cravings shared by the office workers with a box of Bill’s Donuts.

I returned home to work in the front yard with the weed trimmer, and the leaf blower! Their electrifying sounds were music to my ears. How I love time to work in the yard, and that season is rapidly moving upon us.

I relaxed the afternoon away, watching some television, reading, and napping. I will now do some house work, and then get ready to go see CHILDREN OF EDEN with Quintin at the very close Playhouse South.

Tomorrow is percussion with MEPA at Centerville High School, and the arrival of Jeffrey Carter, friend/godfather, who will pass through Dayton for a few hours before heading to Cincinnati to see MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, starring Daniel Jenkins.

Navi, Chief and Flyer were not about to rouse themselves at 5:00am when The Haasienda began stirring as Quintin showered, and readied himself for a 6:00am rehearsal prior to the MEPA/Bellbrook HS competition.

After Quintin left, Mother and I talked most of the morning away over coffee, and enjoying the antics of the dogs who seemed to enjoy having a new audience for which to perform.

Fairmont’s percussion line did an exceptionally good job this morning, and walked away with a win in their newly elevated class.

Not too long after arriving home, Quintin was back, and we ventured to Hibachi Grill for dinner.

We lounged in my bed/sitting room watching episodes of THE MIDDLE, as well as Jerry Lewis’ WHO’S MINDING THE STORE, another movie, and now the end of The 2012 Academy Awards.

It’s been such a pleasurable weekend, and here are some photos to remember Mother’s visit…

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My alarm went off at 5:10am.  I squinted through very eye-lids to see the bathroom door closed, and heard the sound of water smacking against the bathtub… whew… Quintin was awake, and showering.  I smelled coffee I knew Mother was awake.  Chief was stretched out, lengthwise, against me.  Navi was curled up in the chair, and Flyer in her usual spot by the closet door.

By 5:55am, Quintin came in to give me a hug before leaving, and I decided to rise.  The sun had not even come up, and the dogs were not their usual peppy selves.

Mother and I grabbed cups of coffee, and are now watching some television.  Shortly, we will get ready and head to Bellbrook High School for the winter percussion competition.

I could stand a few more hours of sleep, and am forecasting a nap this afternoon following lunch.

 

Producer:

  • Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound
  • Is More Powerful Than A Locomotive
  • Is Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
  • Walks On Water
  • Gives Policy To God

Director:

  • Leaps Short Buildings In A Single Bound
  • Is More Powerful Than A Switch Engine
  • Is Just As Fast As A Speeding Bullet
  • Walks On Water If The Sea Is Calm
  • Talks With God

Playwright:

  • Leaps Short Buildings With A Running Start
  • Is Almost As Powerful As A Switch Engine
  • Is Faster Than A Speeding BB
  • Swims Well
  • Is Occasionally Addressed By God

Actor:

  • Makes High Marks On The Wall When Trying To Leap Buildings
  • Is Run Over By Locomotives
  • Can Sometimes Handle A Gun Without Inflicting Self-Injury
  • Dog Paddles
  • Talks To Animals

Orchestra:

  • Runs Into Buildings
  • Recognizes Locomotives Two Out Of Three Times
  • Is Not Issued Ammunition
  • Can Stay Afloat With A Life Preserver
  • Talks To Walls

Chorus:

  • Falls Over Doorsteps When Trying To Enter Buildings
  • Says, Look At The Choo-Choo!
  • Wets Self With A Water Pistol
  • Plays In Mud Puddles
  • Mumbles To Self

Stage Manager:

  • Lifts Buildings And Walks Under Them
  • Kicks Locomotives Off The Track
  • Catches Speeding Bullets In Teeth And Eats Them
  • Freezes Water With A Single Glance
  • Is GOD

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon

This morning, while relaxing, I watched the movie, FROST/NIXON (2008), starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and directed by Ron Howard.  I found the movie superbly crafted, and the lead actors were indefinably believable.  

Ironically, the other night, as I was preparing to fall asleep, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN came on television.

“Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them…       And then you destroy yourself.” – Richard Nixon

I was between the ages of 7 and 9 year when Watergate was hot on the airwaves.  I preferred watching the Watergate hearings on television over baseball practice – but, I had to go to practice.  The drama that engulfed our nation was inescapable, even at my age.  When my grandparents took me to Washington, DC in mid-July 1974, the air was thick with tension, and uncertainty. A few weeks later, my parents and I were vacationing at Myrtle Beach.  Mother called me in from the hotel’s swimming pool, and commanded me to to hurry up to the room. Within a few minutes of settling in front of the television set, President Nixon appeared before the camera, offering to the nation his resignation of the presidency.

President Nixon’s history continues to be researched, and translated, and probably will throughout my life-time. Now, that we have entered the 40-years anniversaries of the events that unfolded during Watergate, we will surely be reminded of the darkest hour of our country’s history that defined the end of the twentieth century, and redefined the presidency.

Before President Nixon died in April 1994, he had already defined his legacy through the many contributions throughout his years as an elder statesman.  I’ve always believed this president’s choices were similar to his predecessors, and those who followed, maybe more, perhaps less. I still believe he served the country with great courage, and tremendous dedication.

“Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do.”

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

Quintin has been enjoying his time with the Fairmont Winter Percussion ensemble, which has been sweeping up contests, left and right.

Here is a glimpse of Quintin’s primary love at the moment.  Several of the photographs are courtesy of Patti Rogers.

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Edward Baker “Eddie” Lincoln (March 10, 1846 – February 1, 1850) was the second son of Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named after Lincoln’s friend Edward Dickinson Baker, and the youngest Lincoln son to die.  Eddie died one month short of his fourth birthday.

Eddie’s remains are buried at Lincoln tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, USA. Both parents were devastated. Some historians believe Eddie’s death began Mary Todd’s journey to instability. A week after Eddie’s death, a poem entitled “Little Eddie,” was printed in the Illinois State Journal (a newspaper).  Despite a century dispute over the authorship of the poem, the author of this blog firmly believes it was written by Mrs. Lincoln for his mother spelled his name “Eddie,” while his father spelled it “Eddy.”

Those midnight stars are sadly dimmed,

That late so brilliantly shone,

And the crimson tinge from cheek and lip,

With the heart’s warm life has flown –

The angel of Death was hovering nigh,

And the lovely boy was called to die.

The silken waves of his glossy hair

Lie still over his marble brow,

And the pallid lip and pearly cheek

The presence of Death avow.

Pure little bud in kindness given,

In mercy taken to bloom in heaven.

Happier far is the angel child

With the harp and the crown of gold,

Who warbles now at the Savior’s feet

The glories to us untold. Eddie,

meet blossom of heavenly love,

Dwells in the spirit-world above.

Angel Boy – fare thee well, farewell

Sweet Eddie, We bid thee adieu!

Affection’s wail cannot reach thee now

Deep though it be, and true.

Bright is the home to him now given

For “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”‘


The final line is on the boy’s tombstone. The next child of Abraham and Mary, William Wallace Lincoln, was born ten months after Eddie’s death.

* The photograph included in this post has been in dispute since its discovery.  Some believe it is Eddie Lincoln, some believe it is his younger brother, Willie.  I, personally, have always believed it to be Eddie Lincoln.

At 5:15am, The Haasienda was ablaze with lights, and much activity, as Quintin got ready to leave with the Fairmont Percussion Ensemble for a major contest in Indianapolis.  The dogs were confused with the activity, as this morning’s routine was slightly different than the typical weekday/weekend morning.  After Quintin left at 5:55am, I settled back in my bed, prepared to sleep; however, I was wide awake until 7:00am. I did manage to doze a bit, but felt the day wasting away.

After getting the dogs through their morning routine, and eating my own breakfast, I began rearranging, and cleaning the living room.  By Noon, CNN was broadcasting Whitney Houston’s funeral.  I listened to the marathon-service while completing my chores.  I spent a good 9o-minutes rearranging, and adding more hanging photographs to the living room wall.  Once that was completed, I swept the entire house, and then deep-cleaned all the carpets and rugs.

By 4:00pm, Whitney’s funeral was finally winding down, and my chores were wrapped up with a thorough kitchen-cleaning.  I showered, and drove to Fox & Hound restaurant near the Fairfield Commons to have a three-hour dinner with my very dear friend, Suzanne Grote.  We had an absolute blast, as we always do.

At 8:00pm, I entered Gabriel Brothers, and found some great deals.  I ventured on to Kroger for a few groceries, and returned home to the enthusiastic greeting from Navi and Chief.  After another 90 minutes of additional tidying-up, I am now settled in bed with Chief and Navi at my feet.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will relax, teach a few lessons, and eagerly greet my son upon his return from Indianapolis.  The ensemble placed 3rd out of 18 exceptionally good drum-lines today, so tomorrow will be an exciting day!

I took this photo of the mourning doves several years ago when they lived above my deck.  I incorporated two lines of the text from Joseph Martin’s THE AWAKENING.

THE AWAKENING…

“I dreamed a dream, a silent dream, of a land not far away
Where no bird sang, no steeples rang, and teardrops fell like rain.
I dreamed a dream; a silent dream.
I dreamed a dream of a land so filled with pride
That every song, both weak and strong, withered and died.
I dreamed a dream
No hallelujah; not one hosanna!
No song of love, no lullaby.
And no choir sang to change the world.
No pipers played, no dancers twirled.
I dreamed a dream; a silent dream.
Awake, awake! Soli deo gloria!
Awake, Awake!
Awake my soul and sing, the time for praise has come.
The silence of the night has passed,
A new day has begun!
Let music never die in me;
Forever let my spirit sing!
Wherever emptiness is found let there be joy and glorious sound.
Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing!
Let all our voices join as one to praise the giver of the sun!
Awake, awake!
Let music live!”

Today was the first time I’d ever seen the musical, THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.   One of my voice students, Heather Barker, portrayed Logainnr Schwartzandgrubenniere, and Heather was absolutely hilarious! 

Heather began studying with me when she was in high school, and I had the pleasure to serve as the music director/conductor for Beavercreek High School’s production, THE PAJAMA GAME, in which Heather played the lead, Babe Williams.  Heather, then a senior in high school, was so impressive during the rehearsal process – always well-prepared, attentive, mature, and very professional in her manner, and behavior.  She ventured on to Arizona State University, and is now returned to Ohio to study theatre at Cedarville University.  It is a joy to be reunited with Heather as student and voice teacher, and to be a part of her continued growth as an actress.  Today’s performance as Logainne was re-confirmation that Heather is a very capable, talented theatre student.  I am so proud of her!

I was also very impressed with the quality of this Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre production!  It was class from the parking lot to the curtain call.  The facility, located on Miami University’s campus in Hamilton, Ohio is a very nice venue.

I would like to see more productions by this company!  It is definitely worth the drive!

And, again – KUDOS, Heather!!!

The pure, the bright, the beautiful
that stirred our hearts in youth
The impulses to wordless prayer
The streams of love and truth
The longing after something lost
The spirit’s longing cry
The striving after better hopes
These things can never die

“I just have to do something,” said Rev. Bob Smitley, interrupting his own closure to his brilliant homily for Rev. Greg King’s service of celebration. “When we go to a great show what do we always do at the end to show we loved the show?”

The applause began immediately, and the enormous crowd, nearly filling the large cavernous Ascension Catholic Church of Kettering to capacity, rose to its feet.

While the celebration induced the activation of the tear ducts, the heartache was continually battled by the superior force of laughter.  I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so much, and so hard, throughout a “celebration of life” service than the one offered in the memory of Rev. Greg King.

To know the King family is to know God’s truer message… love one another, and for crying out loud, laugh as much as you can.  I’ve been fortunate to know Greg’s beautiful wife, Patti, and two of his equally beautiful four children, Greg and Kristen.  I mostly saw Rev. Greg at band concerts, band contests, musicals, and at the church for a production of GODSPELL, directed by his wife.  I did not know him as well as Patti, but upon each meeting I was greeted with a deep warmth, and joy, that always re-ignited my own inner joy. He definitely had “a way” with people… with life.

Within twenty minutes of the service honoring Rev. King, I was thinking, “I wish I could have known him.”

The timid hand stretched forth to aid
A brother in his need;
A kindly word in grief’s dark hour
That proves a friend indeed;
The plea for mercy softly breathed,
When justice threatens high
The sorrow of a contrite heart
These things shall never die

The tributes from two of his children, son Greg’s through song, as well as his brother, sister, nephew, and nieces, were moving, inspiring, filled with hilarious anecdotes, and so much love, and magnificent affection.  It was one of those rare moments when I realized that this is the type of man I aspire to be.  Greg King is my role model.

I was overjoyed when I learned that he, too, wrote notes to his children all the time. I believe this, as a dad/parent, is vital.  Mother has written me notes, and sent cards, since I was a tiny fellow, and I believe I have nearly every one in my collection.  As a dad, I write little notes, and letters, to my sons.  I always believed I would find them tossed in the waste basket, but they are always tucked away in a special place.

Had I not attended the service, I would never have known just how much life was lived by this man, and just how much fun he had with life.  I felt so reassured that a father can joke, tease, wrestle, play practical jokes, sing silly songs, act crazy, elect to spend time with his children, be creative with parenting and discipline, talk to his children, throw food, and clown around with his children.  I always felt out of place in the parent-world because I am quite unorthodox as a single dad. I cannot wait for those moments to do things with sons – especially, laugh, and have fun. These are the same memories I want my sons to cherish – so many like the ones I know the four King children will always cherish. The stories from Rev. Greg’s family supplemented my belief that I am on the right track, and that I should proceed, full speed, ahead.

Once we become adults, we tend to let go of heroes, role models, and fellow teachers.  I love moments when my path crosses that of another who offers hope, confidence, and an opportunity for me to “look up” to someone.  Greg King has become that person for this chapter of my life.  Since childhood my number one hero has been Abraham Lincoln, and it only seems ironically appropriate that I write of Rev. King on President Lincoln’s birthday.

Let nothing pass, for every hand
Must find some work to do
Lose not a chance to waken love
Be firm and just and true
So shall a light that cannot fade
Beam on thee from on high
And angel voices say to thee
“These things shall never die.”

I heard the word, legacy, mentioned several times.  And what a legacy Rev. Greg King has with those who who loved him, and knew him best.  It is the kind of legacy we often dream of leaving… Greg King’s legacy is one we should all leave.

The King, as in Greg King, has left this earthly building; however, the spirit of the man – the husband, the father, the son, the brother, the uncle, the minister, the neighbor, the friend, the counselor, the mediator, the organizer, the worker, the leader, the follower, the instigator of pranks, the laugher, the clown, and the ultimate servant with a great servant’s heart – remains.  He shared with the world his own personal recipe for life.  Sadly, so many of us seldom realize that the same ingredients are also within our own reach until we are reminded by great men like Greg King. I am so grateful that I have been reminded that this same recipe is imprinted in my own spirit, in my own mind, and on my own heart.

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Photos I obtained/stole from Patti’s Facebook site.

** THINGS THAT NEVER DIE, by Charles Dickens, and inserted throughout the blog.

Some will scratch their heads for a second as they try to recognize this lovely lady.  Some will immediately go to the link.

This is the photograph:

If you cannot figure out who she is, go to Mystery Actress

I’ve been entertained by a plethora of varying reports on Madonna’s Super Bowl half-time production. The boards are lighting up with armchair-choreographers and directors this evening, and critiquing the 53 year old Queen Mum’s performance.

Fifty-three? Wow! And she can still move! Impressive!

It seems that most of the reports, both amateur and professional, were extremely favorable.

Quintin and I watched the performance on: http://idolator.com/6167342/madonnas-super-bowl-halftime-performance-watch-it-now

The basic critique from the camp that were not as impressed:

  1. Madonna was lip-syncing her entire performance
    1. Her mouth was not always together with the music
    2. She was dancing too wildly to have been singing

My thoughts…

  1. Lip syncing? No big deal for me. Considering the venue, and the fact that this is one of the most viewed moments in television the entire year, it would be a safer approach.
    1. If you’ve ever been in a large facility such as a gym, a football stadium, or huge concert arena, sometimes there is a very slight sound delay. Watch Jim Nabors singing “Back Home, Again, In Indiana” prior to the start of the Indy 500 – slight sound delay.
    2. Dancing too wildly? That was wild? Anyone who has ever seen a Hoosier show choir knows they sing and dance with far more motion, movement, and intensity that what I saw on the video feed.

Honestly, I thought it a great production. This is 2012. We expect spectacle. In past years we even got a peek at some boobage during a half-time show. How’s that for spectacle?

Madonna delivered a very entertaining product for the Indianapolis Super Bowl.

I saw tonight, for the first time, the Jim Leonard, Jr. play, THE DIVINERS.  Several friends told me that I would probably enjoy the production if one was in the area.

Well, Centerville High School produced THE DIVINERS, and it was absolutely incredible.  It is a fairly hefty piece to tackle, and as I’ve become accustomed to the excellent quality of any CHS production, I was not let down for a second.

To learn more about this play, please visit: THE DIVINERS by Jim Leonard, Jr.

The cast of teenagers was outstanding.  The cast included:

Buddy Layman – Evan Benjamin
C.C. Showers – Alex Roesch
Ferris Layman – Nick Beecroft
Jennie Mae Layman – Carly Marten
Basil Bennett – Brendon Embry
Luella Bennett – Erin Ulman
Norma Henshaw – Kate Robinson
Goldie Short – Liz Girvin
Darlene Henshaw – Jackie Mulay
Melvin Wilder – Slava Tchoul
Dewey Maples – Trevor Lucente

There were so many neat moments featuring each cast member in this exceptionally tight ensemble; however, Evan Benjamin ascended well past the fly space as Buddy Layman, who has the ability to predict when it’s going to rain, and also has a knack for finding water sources. But, he suffers an aversion to it. His near death experience from drowning left him impaired, and took the life of his mother, who rescued him. 

Evan, a high school sophomore, gave one of the most 3-dimensional portrayals of a staged-character that continually had me forgetting he was a teenager in a high school production.  He mastered the redundant lines of the mentally, and emotionally, strapped fourteen year old character, and often had me thinking of my own fourteen year old nephew who is Autistic.

Evan’s genes swim in a pool of incredible performing, professional artists, and I’ve enjoyed watching his parents, John & Martha, and older brother, Ian, now a Wright State University musical theatre major, on stage in many of Epiphany Lutheran Church’s summer productions.  I guess I should not be surprised by this younger Benjamin’s work; however, he surpassed the high quality performance I’ve come to expect from this exceptionally talented family.

I’ve never had the opportunity to see this musical, but have always been fascinated with it.  The music is incredible, and the arrangements for the musical are invigorating!

Go see it!  Enjoy it!                                            (For you, Mr. S___ with great thanks!)

About JERSEY BOYS… (from Wikipedia)

Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is a documentary-style musical, based on one of the most successful 1960s rock ‘n roll groups, the Four Seasons. The musical opened on Broadway in 2005, and has since had a North American National Tour, along with productions in London’s West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney and Philadelphia. Jersey Boys won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Synopsis

The story dramatizes the forming, rise and eventual break-up of the original four members of The Four Seasons. The musical is separated into four “seasons”, each narrated by a different member of the band. Act 1 comprises Spring (Tommy DeVito) & Summer (Bob Gaudio); Act 2 comprises Fall (Nick Massi) & Winter (Frankie Valli); each member has a different perspective on the band and his contribution to it.

Act I

Spring

The show opens with a performance of “Ces soirées-là“, a modern pop-rap song that was released in 2000. Tommy DeVito then enters the stage, introducing himself and explaining how the song is a cover of The Four Seasons’ “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)“. He offers to tell the story of the band, explaining how he started out with the group “The Variety Band” with his brother Nick DeVito and friend Nick Massi, eventually discovering teenager Frankie Castelluccio and taking him under his wing, teaching him everything he knows. (“The Early Years: A Scrapbook”) During these early years Nick Massi helped train Frankie to sing, Tommy went in and out of prison, Frankie changed his last name to Valli, Tommy and Frankie developed a good relationship with mob boss Gyp DeCarlo, and Frankie fell in love with and married Mary DelGado. Musically, the band was still struggling and kept changing their name and sound but without any dramatic success. One day friend and fellow Jersey boy Joe Pesci comes up to Tommy and says that he knows a singer-songwriter who’d make the perfect fourth for their band: Bob Gaudio.

Summer

Bob Gaudio takes over the narration, starting by telling the audience that no matter what Tommy says, he wasn’t plucked from obscurity by him, since he already had a hit single with “Short Shorts“. Bob goes with Joe Pesci to see the band perform, and is immediately impressed by Frankie’s voice. Bob performs a song he’d just written: “Cry for Me” on piano, which Frankie, Nick Massi and then Tommy joining in with vocals, bass and guitar respectively. They negotiate an agreement, though Tommy is at first skeptical that Bobby (then still a teenager) will be good for the band. The band eventually gets a contract with producer Bob Crewe but only to sing back-up (“Backup Sessions”). Crewe insists that the band has an “identity crisis” and needs to make a firm decision on a name and a sound. The band name themselves after The Four Seasons bowling alley, and Bobby writes them three songs that finally propel them to stardom: “Sherry“, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man“. In the wake of their success, Bob also chalks up a personal first by losing his virginity. (“December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)“) The band’s success means that they tour a lot more, along the way discovering the girl band The Angels (“My Boyfriend’s Back“). Unfortunately, the constant touring strains Frankie’s marriage to Mary, and they eventually divorce (“My Eyes Adored You“). The band continues to enjoy chart successes (“Dawn (Go Away)“) until after a concert the band is approached by a loan shark out to claim money owed by Tommy (“Walk Like a Man (reprise)”).

Act II

Fall

The second act opens with “Big Man in Town“. Nick Massi explains that Bob was so focused on the band’s musical success and future that he couldn’t see that the band had been in trouble for some time. Tommy’s been racking up debts, and a forgotten bill during a previous tour lands the band in jail over the weekend, which strains things between Tommy and Bob. Nick observes that Tommy became jealous of Frankie’s success and closeness with Bobby, and attempted to seduce Frankie’s new girlfriend Lorraine. The two never confronted each other about it, but the old friendship was not what it used to be. When the loan shark approaches the band for the $150,000 owed by Tommy, Frankie approaches Gyp DeCarlo for help despite Tommy’s insistence that he doesn’t need it. (“Beggin’“) The band, Gyp, and the loan shark come to agreement: Tommy is to be “sequestered” in Las Vegas where the mob can keep an eye on him, and the band will willingly cover all of Tommy’s debts. The band continues for a while as a trio until Nick declares that he wants out. (“Stay/Let’s Hang On!“)

Winter

Frankie takes over narration, explaining that though he owes Tommy a great deal, he’s aware that their relationship wasn’t ideal, and he never understood why Nick decided to leave. Frankie and Bob find replacements to keep the band a quartet (“Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me)“) until Bobby announces that he’s never been comfortable in the spotlight and that Frankie should be a single, i.e. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In his personal life, Frankie’s relationship with his daughter Francine is strained and he breaks up with girlfriend Lorraine. (“Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)“) Frankie continues to have success thanks to Bobby’s songs, and hits jackpot with (“C’mon Marianne“) and the almost-never-released (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You“) which Bobby fights to get airplay for. Along with the success of “Working My Way Back to You“, Frankie and Bobby finally finish paying off Tommy’s debts, and Frankie’s life is good until his daughter Francine dies from a drug overdose. (“Fallen Angel”)

Finale

The final scene is The Four Seasons’ 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, announced by Bob Crewe and reuniting the original four members on stage one last time. (“Rag Doll“) Each member takes a moment to address the audience one by one, explaining their pride of being with the band and what they did after. (“Who Loves You“)

The weekend was a delightful world-wind of activity, all centered around music and friends!

Friday evening after teaching, Quintin and I headed for Beavercreek High School where I served as a judge for the show choir’s invitational.  Friday was middle school show choir night.  Five competing show choirs and two exhibition show choirs from Beavercreek.

Saturday morning at 8:30am I was heading back to Beavercreek High School where I spent sixteen hours judging soloists, judging show choirs, eating a delicious lunch and supper, and catching up with colleagues, fellow judges, show choir parents, and friends.  I always enjoy Beavercreek’s weekend, but this seemed to be an exceptionally fun year.

Sunday morning was filled with house-activity of playing catch-up with items.  At 12:10pm we were out the door to UNO’s pizza downtown before heading next door to The Victoria Theatre to see Muse Machine’s production, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

I was seated next to three adorable elderly sisters who could easily have been USO girls during The War Between The States – they had me howling!  As I nestled into my seat I looked at my neighbor, and said, “I can tell you are gonna be trouble the whole time.”  She slapped her knee, and said to her companions, “He’s already got my number!”  The one sister had brought her fellow octogenarians to see her granddaughter perform, and each time the young performer was located in the mass of young folks on stage, they pointed, and without whispering, loudly exclaimed, and explained to one another where the girl was.  At one point, the lady next to me (who was slightly deaf) asked, “Are you enjoying this?”  I smiled, nodded.  She responded to my silent response with, “I am, too.  I saw the movie as a girl.”  She then turned to her sisters, and loudly said, “He likes the show, too,” accompanied by more verbal interaction.

Normally, I am usually irritated by loud talking during a show, but these ladies were so adorable that I did not mind.

After the show, we burst through the crowd to hurry home for three evening lessons – just making it in time.

Quintin and I closed out the weekend with a meal at Taco Bell, and spent a good 45 minutes chatting about life.

Back at home, I finished up some items and was sound asleep by 10:00pm.

A wonderful, wonderful weekend!

Patti, Kristen & Greg King

Last night I learned the tragic news of Rev. Greg King’s death.  He and his wife, Patti, were involved in a car wreck in South Dakota where they’d recently moved for a new parish.  Greg died at the scene, and Patti was in critical condition.

Their son, Greg, was one of my piano and voice students, and portrayed a very stalkerish, creepy “Jud” in OKLAHOMA! Their youngest child, daughter Kristen, was in marching band and good friends with my older son.

One of my favorite moments for senior night at the football games was seeing all the other parents bundled up in winter coats, and seeing Greg & Patti escorting their senior band child across the field wearing crowns and red royal robes/capes!  What a fun family!

The King family is terribly close, and has always served as a wonderful family-model.  They deeply love one another, and always seem to radiate the joy they share as a family.

The King Family - Jim & Patti, back row, surrounded by their children

I woke this morning, not remembering the news I’d heard less than twelve hours before. When I  was reminded, the dull ache from Wednesday night returned, flooding my mind, and soul.

When horrible things happen, we always tend to ask, “Why?”

Why do terrible things happen to good people?  When we truly analyze this question, we recognize that terrible things happen to good, and bad, alike.  There is no clear-cut answer as to why terrible things happen.  This is simply one of the items that accompanies us on our journeys.

Four grieving children are making their way to South Dakota.  My heart is heavy knowing these four vibrant, beautiful souls are making such a hideous journey.  All that awaits them is their mother, resting in critical condition, and now a widow.

Still, I know there is great beauty in this day.  Through the strength of the King family, and their solid vitality, humor, and joy in living, many of us will surely be touched beyond measure, beyond belief.  Though their hearts will deeply ache, I am confident their joy will conquer this moment, reminding us that life, despite its darkest night, will always be bright, and beautiful.

Since childhood I have always sensed energizing, protective, and unseen guiding presences in my life.  For several years a lovely lady visited me regularly during my sleep – or at least, what I thought was my sleep.  Today, at age forty-seven, I can still vividly recall this kindly woman’s moments shared with me from the age of four years until I was nearing junior high.  Often, these meetings included singing without any concern for waking my parents.  Other times, stories were told, Bible stories about the heroes were read, poems recited, or general small talk shared.  It was a year or so into junior high school that I realized the sweet lady had not paid a visit.  It seemed, however, she had been replaced by other motivators in my life, mainly music.

One day, perhaps around my sophomore or junior year of high school, my grandmother pulled out old family photos.  Many, many Sundays were spent going through the treasure trove of our family’s history told through photographs, but this particular Sunday, there was a different box, one I didn’t recognize.  Grandma Donna handed me some photos and after thumbing through several I recognized the sweet lady who visited me as a child.  It was my great-grandmother, Thelma Daugherty Barmes.

Sadly, seven years before my birth, Grandma Thelma was involved in a fatal automobile-train accident, expiring the following evening, January 16th, 1957, at 5:05pm.

Grandma Thelma was a wonderful musician; a pianist and vocalist.  One of my first vocal lessons came from my Grandpa Leroy as he relayed watching his mother teach a voice lesson when he was a small boy – Grandma Thelma instructed the student to keep the tongue down, and to sing towards the teeth.

In college, I became fascinated with the possibility of angels.  Several professor friends recounted personal anecdotes related to angelic activities in their own lives, prompting me to wonder if the visits from great-grandmother were – well, angelic visitations.

There are so many arenas dedicated to the study of angels.  I’ve scoured the topics, the varying beliefs, and the Biblical history of angelic beings, and I finally decided that since there will never be one consistent consensus on the topic, it would be my choice to accept the fact angels exist, knowing they had personally appeared throughout my life.  Today, I still believe I have an angel team that assists me in a variety of activities throughout my life-journey.  I have no idea who they are, or whether or not the same ones continually accompany me. Quite simply, I do not doubt their presence, and I trust them.

Over the past twenty years, or so, I have also come to recognize that fellow humans also serve a similar purpose just as the unseen-beings on my “angel team.”  I have countless experiences of brief encounters where someone, or some unexplained incident, has briefly, even momentarily, appeared alongside me on my life-journey to offer guidance, encouragement, or specific information I needed at that moment.

Coincidence?  Perhaps.

God acting anonymously?  Perhaps.

I do believe these positive beings are off-shoots, working on behalf of The Great Spirit.

Regardless who they are, what they are, from where they came, whether they are winged or wear halos, they simply exist in my life.  And how damned lucky I am for these special moments!

Last summer I was terribly ill, and it took me through mid-Autumn to fully recover my strength, and stamina.  My spirits sagged because I just did not have the mind-effort to write on the Wright Brothers musical.  I would open the file.  I would look at the words that suddenly appeared foreign and click shut the file.  It seemed as though my great-passion for this particular craft had died a sudden, unexplainable death.  I began searching for answers to the questions I proposed:

Does this musical suck? (Considering the combined talents of my wonderful, patient co-writers, Gail & Leslie, I knew the lyrics and music elevated my work)

Am I suppose to even be doing this?

Is something trying to tell me I should do something else?

It was a frustrating Autumn, and early Winter.  The most infuriating thing is that I have the ideal life as a writer, something not often afforded my friends and acquaintances who have been published, or produced.  I have my mornings and early afternoons free, and teach private lessons from approximately 3:00pm until 8:00pm.  One day a week I am at a middle school.  Since my sons have always been involved in extra-curricular music activities that often keeps them busy on Saturdays – another full, free day of writing.

My life is ideally set to fully, and passionately embrace this craft.  However, from the end of July, before I discovered my illness, to early winter, I felt absolutely dead inside.  I coasted through the holidays, and my post-Christmas vacation still found me emotionally uninvested, and dealing with the same illness, again.

This past Saturday morning I was reminded by my calendar text that there was a Writing Workshop set for Sunday at 2:30pm.  The workshop was geared for middle grade/young adult audiences, nothing actually to do with playwrighting.  I dismissed it.

Sunday morning something caught my eye while scrolling down Facebook. A terrific author, and inspiring personality, Katrina Kittle posted:

“Dayton Area Writers – TODAY (Sunday) at Books & Co from 2-3:30pm, hosting a free mini-writers’ workshop, taught by myself and the lovely Kristina McBride. The topic: Writing for Middle Grade and Young Adult Audiences.”

Meh.

I sort of dismissed it.

The sun, despite doing its thing on the opposite side of my house, was filling my bed/sitting room with a glowing radiance.  It seemed to beckon me for a hike with my teenage son and the three dogs. For several days I’d been dealing with a nasty situation involving an individual who felt compelled to self-appoint a mythical reign over a project for which I was serving as coordinator. That morning, after two nights of minimal sleep, pulsating pressure in the head, and the inability to fix the situation, I stepped back and handed over the reins.

Freedom.

A renewed energy quickly flooded my brain, my entire being.

Katrina Kittle’s reminder of the writer’s workshop reappeared on a later Facebook scroll.  For the first time in over six months I actually felt life creeping back into my soul.  I remember how invigorated I was when I heard Katrina speak about her novel, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, during one of our ACTION Adoption Service training sessions.  I had also attended several theatrical performances where Katrina played a psychologist assisting a patient through the horrors experienced both during the London Blitz of WWII, and years later on 9/11.  Katrina’s voice is captivating, and her spirit is invigorating, and infectious.

At this point I knew that my angel team was kicking in a God-wink.  Quintin and I discovered a movie he wanted to see (I did not) was at the same time, so we killed two birds with one stone. He hit the cinema, and I hit Books & Company.

As I grabbed my keys, preparing to leave the house, a song – one of my favorite songs – on Spotify began playing.  I sat down, and absorbed the message.

When a thing is wick, it has a life about it.
Now, maybe not a life like you and me.
But somewhere there’s a single streak of green inside it.
Come, and let me show you what I mean.

When a think is wick, it has a light around it.
Maybe not a light that you can see.
But hiding down below a spark’s asleep inside it,
Waiting for the right time to be seen.

You clear away the dead parts,
So the tender buds can form,
Loosen up the earth and
Let the roots get warm,
Let the roots get warm.

~ ~ ~

And all through the darkest nighttime,
It’s waiting for the right time.
When a thing is wick, it will grow!

The words to “Wick,” from THE SECRET GARDEN, was another God-wink for the day.

The workshop, led by Katrina Kittle and Kristina McBride, was my final remedy.  Within minutes of the workshop beginning, I realized the dead parts encasing my spirit were breaking through the earth.  That spark, as lyricist Marsha Norman explained in THE SECRET GARDEN, had been hiding down below, sleeping within… It was the right time.

After a meeting with a good friend I respect and admire, and another fun dinner with Quintin, I quickly returned home with the joy of the workshop’s reassurance beating within.  I opened my laptop, clicked on the file titled THE BIRD LET LOOSE, and opened the script.  Everything was familiar once again. There seemed to be a chorus of voices calling out from the pages, thrilled that I had returned. A reunion began.

It seems my angel team had led me, at the right time, to Sunday, January 8th, 2012.  Were Katrina and Kristina serving as angels?

Who can say.

For whatever reason, these two lovely ladies, as countless others throughout my life, were a piece of the puzzle that has continually courted me on this wonderful journey.  Perhaps some people, much like my family and teachers have always been, are the golden bricks that pave my own personal yellow bricked-road.

The passion is restored.  I am acknowledging, appreciating, and adoring my apprenticeship once again.

Can I say life is wonderful, and that I am so blessed?

You betcha!

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi

Well, in 45 minutes the curtain will come down on 2011 and promptly raise on 2012.

2011 was an interesting year. I read so many Facebook posts stating, “I’m so glad 2011 is almost over” or “2011 was such a bad year.” And on they go.

I honestly cannot say one year is any worse than another. It is what it is. It’s a year. It’s all about living, all about attitude, all about choices, and all about loving. I don’t see 2011 with any regrets. There were choices made based on facts presented, and actions taken. Life moved on through various scenarios, and the results were pretty much as calculated.

I kept busy as a dad, as a teacher, as a pet-dad, as a band parent, as a gardener and landscaper, as a musician, and as a person. It was a full year, and one on which I can look back upon with pride.

Several family members and friends passed on, and though saddened by their passing, I celebrate the time spent with them during my life’s journey. One particular departure saddened me greatly… my darling little Logan, my cat of 17.5 years. I miscalculated how deeply I would feel her passing, and miss her greatly.

Some new folks merged onto the Haasienda Highway this year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed their presence. Primarily, Navi and Chief, who joined us February 20th. Though exasperating as they travel merrily through puppyhood, they have already proved to be devoted, fun companions, as Flyer continues to remain.

Some folks elected to move on to other paths which I believe to be standard patterns in life… not everyone is meant to remain with us.  A few left prematurely, perhaps, but I respect their choices. And then there were some I disconnected their journey from mine, and I have no regrets. Some folks just need to be on a different path, just as I need to be on my own path. The ones I removed I celebrate as a blessing upon my path as I discovered they were poison leaking onto my path, just as they poisoned the journey of others.  I made the correct choice.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

All in all, life is beautiful. The journey continues in this, my 48th year, and I am making plans for new ways to make the coming year(s) more exciting, turning the journey into an even more thrilling course.

Fifteen minutes remain of 2011. I am grateful for this past year of learning, living, and loving, and for all the many blessings rolled into many facts of life.

It was a very good year.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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This morning I happened to view Matt Lauer’s TODAY SHOW interview/reunion with the actors portraying the family from THE WALTONS.  It was refreshing and uplifting to see these familiar, albeit, older faces.  I found myself smiling throughout the interview as though the seven children and Mama Walton were seated right before me.

What a wonderful gift they offered this morning.

As I strolled through my well-rehearsed morning events of letting dogs out to potty, feeding dogs, giving a dog an insulin shot, pouring my coffee, reading my emails, etc., I kept thinking about THE WALTONS.  When I was a child there were two to three television programs on every night that I could not wait to see.  Forty years later, I generally find myself eager to watch ONCE UPON A TIME on Sunday evenings, and THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY on Wednesdays.  That is it.  Nothing else really appeals to me.  Grant it, that allows more time to spend with my son doing homework, or other time-quality items, but I am still a little sad that my son cannot enjoy television the way I did in my youth.

What is more, we watched these television programs as a family.  This is how we do it in The Haasienda, as well.  As noted this morning by Matt Lauer to the WALTONS actors, “You sat down to dinner together.”  And yes, we sit down to dinner together in this house.

My mother did it that way, as did her parents.

Ma & Pa Ingalls did it that way.

Mama & Daddy Walton did it that way.

Mom & Dad Brady did it that way (but, damned if they didn’t have a maid serving their dinners!)

What was good enough for Mother, the Ingalls, the Waltons, the Bradys and countless other TV families is good enough for my family!

The families of the 1970’s had their own share of dysfunction, but it was all about the way they minimaliszed their dysfunction rather than highlighting it.  Grant it, there were those wonderful sitcoms, ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE JEFFERSONS, along with others, that highlighted their dysfunction, but in the end, their values always surfaced.  They also primed their dysfunction to be the comedic focus for each episode.  With the hideous reality programs, which I deplore, there is little resolution but plenty of notification that more sophomoric drama is to come.

I feel blessed to have grown up in an era where television was more value-centered, and less dysfunction-driven.  Those episodes, scenes, characters and theme songs are still with me today.

Why else would I take the time to blog about them when I should be cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, mopping puppy-tracked floors, etc.?

Quintin was featured in HEARTLINES, the national newsletter for The Adoption Exchange.

Read the article here:  Heartlines Fall 2011

 

THE BEACON - Fairmont Firebird 2011 Marching Band Show

One of my favorite weekends is returning to Indianapolis for the BOA (Bands of America) Super Regionals held at Lucas Oil Stadium.  For the past four years, Kettering Fairmont High School’s Marching Band has competed in this competition, and it is always a nice opportunity for Mother, even my brother, and his family, to attend this event.

Returning to Indianapolis is always special for me.  From the time I was small, traveling thirty miles South to Indy was always a big treat, and an experience.  Even at 47 I am excited to visit this beautiful city, especially the familiar sites along Meridian Street.

I decided to forgo getting up too early to meet up with several Ball State University friends, and left Kettering by 9:00am.  I drove Westward on OH-725, which turns into IN-44, enjoying, and taking in all the fall colors along the highway.  Of course, there is even more pleasure passing through the wonderful little communities of Germantown, Camden, Liberty and Rushville.

Just outside Rushville, I stopped to pay my respects, and snap some photos of Wendell L. Willkie’s grave site.  Mr. Willkie was born, and grew up in my hometown of Elwood, Indiana where both his parents served as attorneys.  Mr. Willkie later moved to Rushville, and was nominated by the Republican Party to compete against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940.  Willkie returned to Elwood in August 1940 to officially accept the nomination.

Despite missing IN-52 that would have taken me directly to downtown Indy, I managed to pulled into the parking lot of Shapiro’s Deli, immediately behind Mother, who had been delayed due to a marathon on the Northside.

Shapiro’s Deli is one of my favorite eateries.  It has become our traditional lunch-site each BOA Saturday.  While eating, we ran into Dr. Joe & Mavis Barnett from Elwood, as well as several tables filled with parents from our fine neighbors from Centerville High School.

At Lucas Oil Stadium we had an hour before Fairmont’s scheduled performance.  I am glad we got to see Center Grove High School’s marching band.  My cousins, Kari Hallett Miller, and Eric Hallett, are alums of this outstanding band program.  Kari & Eric’s parents, Judy & Jerry, also taught at Center Grove for many years.  The entire Hallett family would have been proud of their marching band!  Outstanding performance.

Fairmont Firebirds took the field with what was, perhaps, their best performance of the season.  The process of evolving into the complete BOA-concept can be rather tedious, but Fairmont is making strong steady gains each year.  Breaking into the BOA album of yearly competitors is tough.

Quintin spent some time with Mother and I as we watched Avon High School Marching Band – always a treat – and our guest collegiate band in exhibition, The Purdue University Marching Band.  What a spectacular performance by 360 non-music majors.

The preliminary competition ended, and I drove Mother through most of the downtown Indy congestion to the Indiana War Memorial.  There I bid Mother a safe trip home, and then strolled down Meridian Street with my camera snapping away.  The sun was just preparing its final descent on the day, and what a nice touch nature added to the photographs.

With this annual visit to Indianapolis the marching band season officially comes to a close.  I am glad that we move on from the season, but I am always so grateful, and thrilled, that my sons experience one of the greatest highlights as did I when I was in high school.

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Growing up in the late 1960’s, I was surrounded with many familiar words, or terms…

DMZ (demilitarized zone)

KIA

MIA

Viet Cong

Cambodia

POW

Tet Offensive

Ho Chi Minh Trail

On the evening news there were television images of helicopters and jungles.  I was glued to these images – not by a macabre force – but by the hope of seeing my uncle, Garry Jolliff, in those jungles or riding around in one of those nifty helicopters.  I can remember the thrill of having Uncle Garry’s letters read to me allowed by my parents.  I had a little rubber American GI doll that I called, ‘Uncle Garry.’  I watched the Bob Hope Specials, and sat close to the television set so I could search the crowds for Uncle Garry.

I was sure he would be there to see Bob Hope.

One night during one of the Bob Hope shows, I remember turning to Mother, who was standing behind the ironing board while the sweet smell of Spray Starch filled the air.

“Will I have to go to war?”

Since I was a very small boy, I am sure she was relieved to answer, “I hope not.”  However, there was also an expression on her face that was seared into my mind, and still vivid forty-odd years later.  I know that expression well.  My nineteen year old son is finishing up basic training, and the possibility of going to battle for an uncertain purpose looms in the near future.

Now, it is my turn to say, “I hope not.”

This evening, my sixteen year old son and I sat in my sitting room to watch GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM.  I knew most of the Vietnamese War jargon would be over his head, but I was certain he would enjoy Robin Williams’ portrayal of Adrian Cronauer.  And he did.  He asked how old I was when the movie came out…  twenty-three years old.  Did I like the movie when it came out?  Most certainly!  Robin Williams was a box office draw, and I returned to watch the movie several times while it was still in theaters.

Tonight, the movie was still hilarious, but I truly saw the movie for the first time.  It cried out to me like the musical, MISS SAIGON: ‘those living reminders of all the good we failed to do.’

Sunday, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I did not post anything on Facebook in regard to the modern day of infamy.  The same rhetoric was appearing over, and over on status updates, and nothing really spoke to me.  I am not saying I was not moved by the heart-breaking scenes that were linked across many of the television channels, I simply chose to remain silent.

Always remember… 

Never forget…

Tonight, when I finished watching the movie I thought back to my early youth when Vietnam was nothing but a very long, drawn-out, agonizing form of 9/11.  The dark foreboding of families fearing “the news” might be delivered seemed to linger, and in our own home, as well.  The nightly news tallied the number of soldiers killed that day.  Images of bombings, fires, tanks, helicopters, wounded soldiers blazed from the television set each night.  News of distant family and friends losing a loved-one in combat stuck in the air like the repetitive-scratchy sound of a record player that has run its course in playing a record.  There were scenes of destruction, scenes of a young spy being executed, scenes of Buddhist monks being engulfed in suicidal flames, scenes of… always, more scenes.  The day of 9/11 I saw the scenes live – much like scenes broadcast during Vietnam.  The days following 9/11, the scenes were repeated with numbness.

During 9/11, and especially this Sunday I heard about one hero after another.  As a young child, I do not recall hearing about heroes of Vietnam.  I remember Uncle Garry’s stories on the battlefield, and the story of the fellow soldier beside him on the helicopter who placed his own St. Christopher’s medal around my seriously wounded uncle’s neck – my uncle survived, but the soldier did not – but I cannot recall ever hearing anyone from that era referred to as a hero.

As I sit here in my study, typing out my thoughts of the movie, a National Geographic documentary on Henry Kissinger is rolling.  That voice, coupled with so many photos and video clips of the Vietnam era seems to be a sign that I will be conducting more soul-searching, more research.  For what purpose, I do not know.  Too many God-winks all in one evening.

The scars of WWII and the Korean War have all but vanished.  The scalding scars of Vietnam are healing, but will probably not be entirely extinguished in my life-time.  Two other wars have occurred since Vietnam.  But these wars talk openly about heroes.  It seems as though the Vietnam war had its own ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy but obviously nothing to do with Gays in the military.

I knew one particular hero who served in the Vietnam War.  He died nine years ago, physically crippled by wounds received in Vietnam, but a spirit that rose far beyond the jungles in which he fought.  When completely crippled veterans were only receiving 10% disability funding, Uncle Garry embarked on a mission far greater, far nobler than the mission he was coerced to serve as a twenty-one year old young man.  The veterans – those oft ignored heroes of ‘that’ war – now have full disability coverage.  However, I am confident they still live with those scars.  May God bless them, and aide them in their continued healing.

“And I think to my self, ‘what a wonderful world.'”

Tom Schedit, 63, one of the Miami Valley’s most popularly known performers, died Monday morning from injuries sustained in an accident.  Tom was a popular bag piper, guitarist, vocalist and storyteller who brought to life many incredible characters, especially, MacGregor The Pirate, through Time Machine Productions and Fannigans Isle.

“Tom… may a shipload of rollicking, fun-filled, musical angel pirates sing thee to thy rest.”

Abide With Me  orchestration featuring bagpipes

 

Celtic Commandments
Give thou thine heart to the wild magic,
To the Lord and the Lady of Nature,
Beyond any consideration of this world.

Do not covet large or small,
Do not despise weakling or poor,
Semblance of evil allow not near thee,
Never give nor earn thou shame.

The Ancient Harmonies are given thee,
Understand them early and prove,
Be one with the power of the elements,
Put behind thee dishonour and lies.

Be loyal to the Lord of the Wild Wood,
Be true to the Lady of the Stars,
Be true to thine own self besides,
True to the magic of Nature above all else.

Do not thou curse anyone,
Lest thou threefold cursed shouldst be,
And shouldst thou travel ocean and earth,
Follow the very step of the ancient trackways.
From the carmina gadelica, ancient celtic oral tradition
Pagan Carmina Gadelica by Mike Nichols
Original Carmina Gadelica in full

Deep Peace to You
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.

– Adapted from ancient Gaelic runes

I will be honest.

I only attend football games for the marching band.  Yes, I am now in my fifth year as a marching band parent so there is an incentive to get me to the games.  For me, I am paying $7 for a ticket to watch pre-game and half-time.  Later in the season, I will go to the game after half-time so I don’t have to pay $7 to watch the band’s post-game show.

I love baseball games and soccer games, but sadly, they generally do not have marching bands performing pre-game and half-time shows.

It’s not about the money.  It’s about – what is for me, personally – a waste of time.  I am one who likes to keep busy, and sitting through something that does not hold my attention is draining.  When I go to medical appointments or any place where I might find my self waiting, I have a book to read, or something to work on.  A football game is no different.  However, during a football game I generally go over to sit on the steps of the nearby school corporation’s administrative building to read or work.

Last night was an interesting night of football.

After the normal pre-pregame festivities of Step-Off, Entering the Stadium, and… (I guess that was it) I settled into my blue seat with a back next to a lovely lady and her trio of well-behaved, very polite daughters.  After a bit of chit-chat it was time for one of the most exciting (for me) parts of the evening.

The marching band took the field for pregame, and it was a special night because my son, Quintin, carrying two large cymbals, was marching for the first time.

My absolute favorite part of pregame is something that has become a tradition since it’s 2008 (I think) introduction: Script BIRDS.  The marching band moves to the backfield (visitor’s side for football folks) and winds its way out of a tightly packed blocked to spell out B I R D S in script formation.  This marching event was borrowed from The Ohio State University Marching Band’s Script OHIO and has become Fairmont’s crown jewel of the pregame excitement.

As I filmed the letters of BIRDS carefully connecting smoothly, out the corner of my eye I saw something that seemed to be caught somewhere between an impending disaster, and a video from America’s Funniest Videos: the Fairmont football team was plowing across the field at full force, heading directly toward the marching band just as it was completing the ‘D’ and preparing to move on to the ‘S’.  You could feel the fear wrap through the stands as the charging teammates barreled across the field seemingly blind to 200+ band members blocking their way.

Fortunately, the football players stopped within feet (possibly inches) at the edge of the ‘D’, dancing in place as they tried to figure this new formation.  The marching band continued moving through the team to form the ‘S’, and eventually, the football players realized they were in the way and moved to the sidelines while one player remained imprisoned by the forming ‘S’ (OK, that part was actually funny).

While this scene was playing out around the 30, over on the 50 the opposing team’s players had run onto the field but with a less crushing charge.  They hovered in the middle of BIRDS, bringing out a nasty chorus of “Boos” from the Fairmont stands.  Finally, the players were motioned off the field by zebra-striped officials.

Despite this game being the hottest competition of each opening season, the hottest topic was pregame’s near disaster.

For me, personally, the situation was over.  Thankfully, no one was injured (later in the game there was a band injury).  It was the first time since the band began doing Script BIRDS that there was ever an incident on the field – to my knowledge.  However, there was widespread grumbling in the stands, and beneath the stands, and not just from current, and former band parents.

The pre-speculation was to blame the football team for “being so stupid.”

Now, anyone who is mildly acquainted with well-practiced athletic teams and marching bands know that someone had to give the order to move.  I honestly could not see the team deliberately charging its own marching band.  I am sure this happens in some schools, but from my vantage point, the Fairmont directors and coaches have always appeared to have a mutual respect for one another, and this has always seemed the case with the students in both organizations.

Then, the blame was being sourced out to the coaches of both teams – but mainly to our coach whose players could have caused the most harm.

All I cared about, up to half-time, was heading home to rest, and download my photos for my mother to see (she is always proud of her grandsons).

While getting my popcorn, more out of boredom than hunger, one former band parent asked what I thought caused the near-onslaught of our band members.  My first reaction, kept to my self, was, “Why does my opinion even matter?  This is just part of your drama-ensued nature, Lady.” (You’d have to know this lady!)  Instead, I said that I was glad all was well, and turned to give my order – and thankfully, the parent followed my dismissal.

The next band parent, following me up the stadium ramp and stairs, asked, “What do you think caused the pregame incident?”

“Obama,” I tossed back over my shoulder.  “Everything seems to be his fault these days.  I say it’s Obama’s fault our kids nearly got crushed.”

He laughed and went to his seat.   I went to mine.

Later, on a Facebook post, the band director did note that it was the head official’s (ref) decision to send the football team in too soon.  

The score board indicated the first quarter was not over… one more quarter and then it would be half-time.

A gentleman seated two rows behind me must have been the same guy who sits with a group of drunk pals at Elsa’s restaurant in Kettering whenever there is a game playing on the large screen.  He is THAT guy that has the loudest, most penetrating voice, and is THAT guy who knows everything about the coach’s job.  Most are referred to as “arm chair quarterbacks.”  I simply refer to them as ‘loud-mouth, drunken asses.”  The LMDA behind me did not sound intoxicated, but was certainly loud and obnoxious.

However, he did something that makes me want to turn, and create a Jerry Springer moment in public.  He belittled players when they did not succeed with a play on the field.  This bullying behavior from spectators is wrong in any venue, but I find it severely inappropriate behavior when teenagers, or younger, are playing the game.  This kind of behavior should be always be removed from any game.  Finally, one of the folks across the aisle rose to say something privately to the LMDA.

The cutest moment was listening to the elderly couple directly behind me.

The visiting team’s band was attempting to perform their half-time presentation, but were held up by technical difficulties (electricity to their keyboard).  The couple suddenly became Howard Cosells with play-by-play commentary which cracked me up.  The seriousness invested in their comments made it all the more rich.

“I’ve still got that extension cord in the truck.  Should I go get it and offer it to them?”

“You mean the cord you used when you went to fix Helma’s porch light?”

“Hmm Hmm.  She just needed a new light.”

“Why didn’t you bring it in?”

“I forgot.”

The visiting band began their show, but directed it to their fans, and not to the Fairmont side.

“I’ve never seen a band march with the backs to the crowd.”

“Something new I suppose.”

“Why do they have lamp posts on the field?”

“Maybe some school football bleachers don’t have good lighting.”

“But they are not lit.”

“I should have gotten my extension cord.  Could’ve lit at least one or two of their lamps.”

Finally, it was Fairmont’s turn to take the field.  At the close of their presentation, the marching band moved towards the stands playing the fight song.  The lady behind me, having apparently forgotten about the lighting situation from the previous band, says, “I don’t like it when those one horns slide up.”

“They’re slide trombones, for Christ’s sake.”

And with that chuckle, I slid down the steps to make my retreat home.

An eventful game, indeed.

This note to band parents just arrived from the band director:

A few items “for the record”

  • The Band did a great job – Congratulations!
  • The Head Referee told our football players they had to take the field, however his timing was not in alignment with the planned game schedule the FHS athletic dept had published
  • The Alter football team was instructed to NOT go to center field but to angle over to the sideline
  • Band Student name withheld, who was tackled during the drum line 3rd quarter was checked out by the EMT at the game and is OK. He is here for donation day today.  This was an unfortunate accident and we will take measures to correct this for next week.
  • Thanks to all students, parents, and staff for a “memorable” first game!

If you have never been to a Fairmont High School football game, you are missing some pretty neat traditions.

The high school and football stadium, one of the nicest in the area, are several blocks apart.  At first I thought this was logistically impractical; however, now I see it as one of the neatest, most exciting moments one can experience.

At 6:45pm, in front of the performing arts wing, the entire band lines up for what is called, Step Off.  The band moves around the high school’s Southern campus inviting tailgaters and other fans to fall in behind the band.  The Marching Firebirds and trailing fans wind through a picturesque neighborhood filled with more cheering fans enjoying barbecue parties, fans waiting from their parked cars to join the procession, and fans who simply stand on their front porches to watch the band go by.

I mean, how neat is that?  Six Fridays each fall you have a 200+ marching band pass by your house.

While this is going on, there is a growing momentum at the stadium.  This particular night, I hurried to the stadium to catch the band’s entrance – clearly a major moment for Firebird football/band fans.

The announcer brings stadium attention to the marching band as it rounds the corner from the neighborhood, and this is often accompanied with cheers.  The band winds through the parking lot, through a gate, and then proceeds under the stadium seating which is heralded by the pounding of percussion.  The stands vibrate and shake while the fans go nuts.

Last night, as the marching band moved beneath the stadium, the announcer referred to the band as “the Pride of Kettering.”  Yes… it is!

It really is a neat tradition that rivals many college traditions, and if you live in The Miami Valley, it is worth the time to swing by and watch.

In fact, stay for the game and watch the pre-game production which offers another incredible moment when the marching band spells out a script “BIRDS.”

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‘1776’ – John Adams: “One useless man is called a disgrace; two are called a law firm; and three or more become a Congress.”

This afternoon, my 16 year old son, Quintin, and I drove 35 miles to Wilmington, Ohio to see Wilmington College Community Summer Theatre‘s production of  ‘1776.’  One of my Ball State University friends, Timothy Larrick, was to perform as Roger Sherman – “the simple cobbler from Connecticut.”

I was slightly hesitant when I read it would be a concert version, that several women would portray the delegates, andthat the director was also performing the role of John Adams.  I am always slightly leery of productions where directors involve themselves in the actual production.  Actually, I find it a tad bit on the tacky side.  Either direct the production, or perform in the production – do not attempt to do both as it seldom works, nor plays well.

The concert version was outstanding!   The focus was on the delightful script and music!  It was refreshing, to say the least.  I did not miss the costuming, the lighting, the scenic designs, etc..  The limited staging was most effective, and kept the show moving.

And the women?  Fantastic!  They blended in with the male ensemble, and carried their male-roles very well.  Stephen Hopkins, portrayed by Claudia Fowler, was not less funny, or growling.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with Steven Haines’ performance, and directing of this production which I found to be even more powerful, and poignant in the staged-concert setting.  Mr. Haines never once let me down for a second in his portrayal of one of my favorite presidents, and musical theatre roles.  As for directors performing in their own productions on purpose, Mr. Haines is a rare exception.

There were so many memorable performances…

Timothy Larrick as Roger Sherman…  Tim Brausch as Benjamin Franklin…  Wayne Dunn as John Dickinson…  Dean Feldmeyer as Richard Henry Lee…  J. Wynn Alexander as Thomas Jefferson…  Jack Filkins as Charles Thomson, secretary…

Bryan S. Wallingford mastered the role of South Carolina’s, Edward Rutlegde, so well, that I was actually despising the character as he attempted to squelch the movement.

Tricia Heys gave Abigail Adams an incredible multi-dimensional quality, and by the time we arrived as “Yours, Yours, Yours,” I was a tad damp around the eyes.  Her voice was lovely, and powerful to match John Adams’ mainstay, and her acting and beauty pulled you even closer to the patriotic-duo that helped lay the foundation of this country.

The last two-quarters of Scene Seven – the ending of the show – were incredible.  When the delegates had abandoned John Adams at the eleventh hour, I was on the edge of my seat with my stomach in a knot.

This is damned good theatre!  It was like seeing TITANIC… I know how the story ends, but if the production does what it should, I am pulled into their moment on the stage while abandoning any knowledge of history.  ‘1776’ certainly did the job!

As we were leaving, I told one of my friends, Aaron Jacobs, that this production had given me a fine dose of Vitamin-T (theatre) that I’d sorely been missing.  I felt rejuvenated, fulfilled, appreciative of the creators, appreciate of the WCCST, and most certainly, grateful for those true founding parents who stepped into treasonous roles knowingly fully well they were merely experimenting with a belief that they could succeed.

Ironically, I recognized a number of similarities between the portrayed Continental Congress, and our current Congress.  Nothing is ever accomplished quickly, and without agendas.

I wish there was a second weekend of WCCST’s “1776” as I would be shooing folks from The Miami Valley down to Wilmington this coming weekend.  And I would be returning, myself, to enjoy this production – again!

The company is listed as a community theatre; however, they were quite a notch above typical community theatre.   This was not community theatre.

This was DAMNED GOOD THEATRE!

Please be sure to check out Wilmington College Theatre Department and WCCST on Facebook.

What an incredible evening!

Dinner at UNO’s with Quintin was loaded with good humor, and great food.  I love eating at UNO’s prior to a show at The Victoria Theatre, or The Schuster Center, because there is that familiar electricity in the air that is not only energizing, but comforting, as well.  I absolutely love that feeling I get before a production begins.

Quintin’s eyes devoured the expansive, imposing lobby of the Schuster Center.  While at the ticket center, I personally met someone who had just written me that morning about my posts on Facebook.  It was such a nice surprise.

We took our seats – four apart – and the families began pouring into the auditorium.  Yes, it looked like a sea of young sprouts ready to watch Disney On Ice, but I love seeing the little peeps at the theatre, or in concerts.  Seated next to me was a plump little thing not older than 8 years, who had no control over her body, whatsoever.  Within a few minutes I had dubbed her Princess Bounce A Lot!

We were up in the upper balcony, and could not see the incredible dome which, to me, is one of the most gorgeous memorials to The Wright Brothers.  The dome is the constellation’s configuration above Dayton the night before the Wright Brother’s first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.  Every time I see it I am quite touched.

I don’t believe I have ever attended a production where giraffes simply walking across the stage received an ovation; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen giraffes on stage… well, perhaps in some productions of Children of Eden.  The opening number continued to build, and build, and build until there was this enormous wall of sound, and a scenic moment of set, costumes, lighting that was breathtaking.  I kept thinking how famous scenic & lighting designer, Jo Mielziner would have reacted to this moment – and the many more that were to follow.

I had thoroughly enjoyed the animated motion picture, The Lion King, when it first appeared on the scene years ago, tonight the story’s line came to life in a much richer expanse.  I love the themes where the protagonist has no idea when it is his time to step up the role for which he is truly intended.  I saw some Hamlet peek through, but more of Moses and Lincoln.  Good always triumphs over evil.

Several times I looked down the row to see how Quintin was taking in this epic experience.  I know I probably teared up a little as I watched him bounce to the music, his head toss back with laughter, and a smile remain on his face.   Following intermission, Princess Bounce A Lot and her mother were escorted to different seats, so Quintin joined me.  I could tell he was loving every minute.  After the show we walked over to Riverscape, and he cheerfully pointed out his favorite moments.

As I sit here, several hours following the production’s close, I cannot decide if I watched true musical theatre, or something beyond legitimate musical theatre.  At times, the beauty on stage seemed to be living scenery choreographed to music.  And, it truly does not matter.  All that matters is that I was fortunate to share this experience with a new son.

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don’t fit in anywhere I go?

December 31st is always a day for reflection, and this day seems particularly meaningful… several additions to our family… several farewells… wonderful students and their families… several students moving on to college while many former students moved to New York City or into teaching positions… and always, more personal growth.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

The first four months of 2010 were difficult.

Just a few days into the new year a dear cousin, who had been somewhat of a hero throughout my childhood, passed away with pancreatic cancer. Steve Daughterty was an incredible individual, and is sadly missed.

Life brings on a natural drama, but often, people prefer to create drama.  Those are the individuals with whom I can do without, and through the course of this year, I have distanced my self, and my family, from those who prefer to infest their poor life choices and hideous personal drama into my family’s life.   The events of the first four months strengthened us as a family, and secured the understanding that our family does come first.  And life has been grand!  However, we were greatly aided last April by several loving, caring, and dedicated family friends.

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don’t you see I want my life to be
Something more than long….

Sadly, I cannot remember much about this past Spring and Summer.  I know we had a ton of fun going to musicals, concerts, visiting family in Indiana, spending time with family friends here in Dayton, and kicking off Jose’s fourth, and final year of marching band.  We enjoyed visits to  Carillon Park, as well as many hours of hiking, and canoeing at Old River Park.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

June and July were somewhat busy with graduated students prepping for college.  I was also updating my home study through ACTION Adoption, half-heartedly, as I was not as hopeful of finding the right son to adopt.  Those roads seemed hopelessly closed.

The first of August I delivered Jose to his final marching band camp.  It was a tad bit wistful, but I also knew that the fall would bring on several more endings… so this was just the first.  Mother drove over to Dayton to celebrate the end of band camp with the parents’ show.

Then tragedy struck… August 24th, our beloved dog, Flyer, became gravely ill, and was suffering from pancreatitis.  We were told she would only have a few days with us, but through combined determination from our family, dear family friends and students, and tons of nursing, Flyer pulled through it.  By Labor Day she was acting as though nothing had ever happened.

The annual Labor Day Haasienda Celebration had adjustments due to my sister-in-law having three weeks remaining in her pregnancy.  Still, Mother made the trip, and Monday we enjoyed the parade and what has become our traditional potluck at the Lockharts’ home afterward.

With the start of school, the marching band season kicked into full gear. There were football games on Fridays and competitions on Saturdays through November.

The highlight of September came on the 21st and the 24th.

September 21st, my sister-in-law, Stacia, gave birth to a beautiful niece, Carolyne. Fortunately, that Saturday, my 46th birthday, was marching band contest-free, so Jose, Mother and I spent the day in Fowler with Destin, Stacia, Parker, Freddie and Carolyne.

September 24th, I spoke with a case worker from New Mexico who wanted to consider the prospects of matching me with a 15 year old Navajo boy on whom I had sent an interest form.

So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
So don’t ask where I’m going
Just listen when I’m gone
And far away you’ll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Marching band and adoption took over my life throughout October and November.  As marching band began to wind down, the adoption process began to wind up.

October 22nd, Jose and I, along with several other matching band parents of senior members, walked across the football field for senior night.  Two Fridays later, I was fully matched with Quintin, and two hours later, with my full support, Jose was enlisted with the Ohio National Guard.

Life was changing, and what blessings these changes were becoming.  A new son was joining our family, and Jose was establishing the start of a childhood dream – to be in the military.

The following week, Jose performed in his last marching band competition at Lucas Oil Stadium, and completed his last band concert.  Thanksgiving was spent with Mother, and then on to Fowler for Freddie’s birthday celebration.

Within five days, Jose and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Quintin, his foster family, and the wonderful folks at Red Mountain Family Services.  We had one of the most remarkable, and memorable trips.

December 10th, Quintin and his foster dad, Jun, joined us in Dayton for the weekend.

And then December 20th finally arrived… Mother, Jose and I drove to Dayton International Airport to bring Quintin home.  We had a beautiful candle lighting ceremony led by New Mexico worker, Janis Melendez, witnessed by family and members of our god-parent team.

The past eleven days have been so fulfilling with the arrival of Quintin, many kindnesses shown our family by my students and their families, Christmas in Indiana, fun times with family friends here in the Miami Valley, and now, our final day of 2010.

Our family is finding its own corner of the sky as we journey into 2011.  I am thrilled for the prospects of this coming year, and am eager to get it started.  I have my own personal goals, and corners of the sky I will establish, and will continue to assist my sons in establishing their own corners.  Jose will graduate and leave for basic and advanced training with the military.  Quintin will start a new life entirely with many promises of new adventures.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

So here is to a new year… a continued journey with many opportunities and thrilling adventures… the continuation of my family… the continuation of my brother’s family… and many more wonderful experiences – those anticipated, and those unexpected.

Many blessings to all our wonderful family and friends…

Love,

Darin, Jose & Quintin

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One of the most beautiful songs…

Two versions here:

One very traditional version, and one… well, techno version. It reminds me of something you would have heard at EPCOT Center in the 1980’s.

CARMEN OHIO – traditional men’s chorus

CARMEN OHIO… techno version

I found a great article in The Dayton Paper that lists all the upcoming shows but they were listed under the various companies. I made up a list of shows by their dates.

Keep in mind that I only entered the starting date for some productions, and there may be more performances.

For more information, please visit the following websites for each individual theatre company. Remember that many of the companies listed below can also be located on Facebook and Twitter.

Centerville High School Theatre

Sinclair Community College Theatre

Dayton Theatre Guild

Wright State Theatre & Dance

University of Dayton Theatre

Playhouse South

Cedarville University Theatre

La Comedia Dinner Theatre

The Seed Theatre Project

Human Race Theatre Company

Springfield Arts Council

Springfield Stageworks

Beavercreek Community Theatre

Dayton Playhouse

Don’t forget to support the various Children’s Theatre programs in the area, as well.

For outstanding high school theatre productions, be sure to check out Centerville High School’s theatre program – one of the finest student production companies in Ohio!

09/08/2010 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels LaComedia
09/17/2010 The Spitfire Grill Beavercreek Community Theatre
09/23/2010 August: Osage County Wright State University & Human Race Theatre Company
09/28/2010 Blue Man Group Victoria Theatre Association
09/30/2010 The Importance of Being Earnest Cedarville University
10/02/2010 Forever Plaid Springfield Arts Council
10/08/2010 Die Mommie Die! Dayton Playhouse
10/15/2010 Once On This Island Sinclair Community College
10/15/2010 Moon Over Buffalo Playhouse South
10/21/2010 The 39 Steps Human Race Theatre Company
10/22/2010 The Diviners University of Dayton
10/22/2010 The Sugar Witch Dayton Theatre Guild
10/28/2010 Anything Goes Wright State University
11/02/2010 Spring Awakening Victoria Theatre Association
11/04/2010 White Christmas LaComedia
11/05/2010 Grey Gardens The Musical Seed Threatre Project
11/10/2010 Drumline Live Victoria Theatre Association
11/12/2010 All Shook Up Centerville High School
11/12/2010 Wit Dayton Playhouse
11/12/2010 Dark Lights of Broadway Playhouse South
11/13/2010 An Evening With Sutton Foster Springfield Arts Council
11/26/2010 Precious Heart Dayton Theatre Guild
12/02/2010 8-Track Sounds of the 70’s Human Race Theatre Company
12/03/2010 A Christmas Carol Beavercreek Community Theatre
12/07/2010 The Wonder Bread Years Victoria Theatre Association
12/17/2010 Christmas Belles Dayton Playhouse
01/07/2011 Ravenscroft Dayton Theatre Guild
01/20/2011 Jeckyll & Hyde Wright State University
01/21/2011 Betty Buckley’s Broadway Springfield Arts Council
01/21/2011 I Hate Hamlet Playhouse South
01/27/2011 Diary Of Anne Frank Centerville High School
01/27/2011 Twelfth Night Human Race Theatre Company
01/28/2011 The Octette Bridge Club Beavercreek Community Theatre
01/28/2011 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Dayton Playhouse
02/01/2011 9 to 5: The Musical Victoria Theatre Association
02/02/2011 Fiddler On The Roof Springfield Arts Council
02/04/2011 True West University of Dayton
02/10/2011 The Last 5 Years Springfield Stageworks
02/11/2011 Fat Pig Dayton Theatre Guild
02/11/2011 Almost, Maine Seed Threatre Project
02/17/2011 Picnic Wright State University
02/18/2011 The Foreigner Sinclair Community College
03/03/2011 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers LaComedia
03/04/2011 The Wizard of Oz Springfield Arts Council
03/04/2011 Little Women Wright State University
03/04/2011 Golda’s Balcony Dayton Theatre Guild
03/11/2011 Mid-Life The Crisis Musical Beavercreek Community Theatre
03/11/2011 Beyond Therapy Dayton Playhouse
03/25/2011 Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Playhouse South
03/28/2011 The Drowsy Chaperone Victoria Theatre Association
04/01/2011 Smoke On The Mountain University of Dayton
04/01/2011 Bill W. & Dr. Bob Dayton Playhouse
04/01/2011 The Boys Next Door Dayton Theatre Guild
04/05/2011 All Shook Up Victoria Theatre
04/14/2011 Permanent Collection Human Race Theatre Company
04/15/2011 An Enemy of the People Seed Threatre Project
04/21/2011 Titus Andronicus Springfield Stageworks
04/22/2011 Blackbird Dayton Theatre Guild
04/28/2011 Hairspray LaComedia
04/29/2011 Hello, Dolly! Centerville High School
05/06/2011 A Piece of Heart Playhouse South
05/12/2011 42nd Street Wright State University
05/13/2011 The Women of Lockerbie Sinclair Community College
05/13/2011 La Cage aux Folles Dayton Playhouse
05/13/2011 Mauritius Dayton Theatre Guild
05/19/2011 Monty Python’s Spamalot Springfield Arts Council
05/26/2011 right next to me Human Race Theatre Company
06/03/2011 Barnaby Rudge Wright State University
06/10/2011 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Beavercreek Community Theatre
06/10/2011 Anyone Can Whistle Seed Threatre Project
06/14/2011 Disney’s The Lion King Victoria Theatre Association

I think I passed three of the most enjoyable days of my summer!

Thursday morning, I had a two hour lesson with one of my graduated seniors, Ryan Crouch, and as always, it was a great time – and tons of laughter.

Shortly after Ryan departed, Mother arrived from Indiana. She took two days off work from the police department to come see Jose’s band show a the end of band camp. She and I went to Mongolian Grill, and after a brief rest at home, we headed out to Wright State University where the Fairmont marching band has practiced all week.

We enjoyed the pre-game presentation, and especially the first completed movement of the 2010 competition. The percussion ensemble also played their feature which was already sounding great.

At the end of camp, two of my former students, Torrey Cowan and Chris Taylor, arrived. Chris’ apartment is just across from where our band practiced. Torrey was one of my field commanders, and served Springboro High School’s marching band last year, and did a superb job. I met the Taylor family in 1999 when Chris was eight years old. His older brother, Joe, and his older sister, Rebecca, were also piano students. Joe went on to play trumpet for SHS, and Rebecca began on flute, and switched to French horn her junior year – doing a remarkable job. Chris started on piano, and in fifth grade, at age 10, started saxophone lessons. By the end of his freshman year we were working hard on field commander preparations. Chris served as the saxophone section leader, and as field commander throughout his high school career. So, I had the Taylor family for ten years in lessons. Rebecca is working on her masters at WSU, Joe just graduated from WSU, and Chris will be a sophomore this fall at WSU.

It was so great to see these two former students.

After leaving camp, we had a traditional post-camp supper, this year at Steak N Shake.

Friday morning I prepared an egg casserole, and pancakes, and we enjoyed a great breakfast out on the deck where, for the first time in weeks, it was actually comfortable!

At 2:00pm Jose had his upper wisdom teeth removed. He was a brave little soldier, and handled it just fine. In fact, he is still doing fine, having bounced back with no problems.

We got Jose’s prescription for his pain medication (he has only taken one pill as of Saturday morning), and returned home where I prepared a spaghetti & meat balls dinner in the crock pot.

Mother and I drove to the beautiful Smith Gardens of Oakwood. We met my wonderful neighbor lady, Kay, who walked with us through the very beautiful grounds. While we were chatting, we saw a judge enter the garden, followed by a bride and groom, and two witnesses. At first I thought they were looking for a location to shoot some photos, however, I learned that they were actually performing the very private ceremony there. I offered to take photos for them throughout the ceremony, and several after. It was really great to be a part of their cherished moments, even if they were complete strangers.

We left the gardens, and bid farewell to Kay who was off to a birthday party.

Mother and I drove through Oakwood, down past Carillon Park and Old River Park – I even drove her to the former NCR headquarters so she could see the lagoon where Jose and I often canoe. We then headed to Big Lots for some odds and ends. While there, the executive director from ACTION Adoption Services contacted me to see if I could come in to teach the pre-adoptive class since the scheduled trainer was held up at work. I agreed to do it, and Mother went with me.

It was fun having Mother in on this class, which was about “Discipline,” as Mother participated, and shared some of her own parenting experiences, especially supplementing the fact that each child is very different, and not every child can be parented the same, exact way. It was a fun evening.

We arrived home, and had a bowl of spaghetti out on the deck.

This morning it was English muffins, cereal, sugar-free angel food cake with strawberries (what we would have eaten for desert had I not taught class), and coffee.

Sophie Lockhart arrived for her saxophone and voice lesson, and Mother really enjoyed getting to hear Sophie play. We also got to chat with Mike Lockhart for a few minutes.

After the Lockharts left, Mother returned to Indiana. Jose and I are now plotting the rest of our day.

This was just a super, super few days, and what a way to springboard into Beavercreek High School’s show choir for which I will be teaching this week.

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This weekend I discovered I had several text messages I had not checked. I have a cell phone but I am not as dependent on it as the rest of the world is. The text messages were from one of the neatest former students, Marlyn Strickland, a 2009 graduate of Beavercreek High School.

Marlyn, ready to enter his sophomore year at The Ohio State University, majoring in music education, sent this text on July 17th:

“Hey Darin! I was just curious how busy you would be on August 2nd. The corps I’m marching in is coming to Centerville’s show. It’d be awesome if you could come.”

July 30th, he sent a second text asking if I could come see him at Soaring Sounds in Centerville.

Sunday, I found his message and responded that I would make it out there to see him, and by golly I did.

Marlyn Strickland - a sweaty Scout

Maryln is marching with The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps this summer. During the fall he is one of those marching buckeyes at OSU – and since Fairmont’s marching band will be heading to OSU this fall for a competition, I will get to see Marlyn perform with OSU.

When the Madison Scouts finished performing – to a rousing burst of excitement from the audience – I found Marlyn’s family by the Elk bell tower. It was great getting to see Linda and Mark, his parents, and to meet his grandparents, sisters, and other family members. As the Scouts passed by from their post show meeting, Marlyn approached, and as a former teacher, it is always great when your kids get those big excited smiles when they see me.

Marlyn came to me his junior year to study voice, piano, and music theory. We also covered conducting, arranging, and basic teaching concepts. Within a few months, Marlyn was quite skilled at arranging and had several pieces performed. In fact, one arrangement was performed by a college band! Marlyn’s one hour lesson was seldom under ninety minutes each week. We were always absorbed in the material being covered, and always had a great time working together.

August 2009, Marlyn was one of 24 students to leave the studio. 23 of the students were heading off to college to major in music education or performance, or musical theatre. Although there were 24 students, there 41 lessons leaving as many had doubled on piano/theory to prepare for college. I love all my students but Marlyn was that one exceptional young man that was already on the wave length as most college sophomores.

I am confident he will be a sensation in music education, arranging, and anything else he pursues in music.

Marlyn, I am so proud of you!

Marlyn with his parents and sister

DEAR ABBY ADMITTED SHE WAS AT A LOSS TO ANSWER THE FOLLOWING:


Dear Abby,
A couple of women moved in across the hall from me.  One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid twenties. These two women go everywhere together, and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment.  Do you think they could be Lebanese?

Dear Abby,
What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on my VCR?

Dear Abby,  I have a man I can’t trust.  He cheats so much, I’m not even sure the baby I’m carrying is his..

Dear Abby,
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years.  It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.

Dear Abby,
I’ve suspected that my husband has been fooling around, and when confronted with the evidence, he denied everything and said it would never happen again.

Dear Abby,
Our son writes that he is taking Judo.  Why would a boy who was raised in a good Christian home turn against his own?

Dear Abby,  I joined the Navy to see the world.  I’ve seen it.  Now how do I get out?

Dear Abby,
My forty year old son has been paying a psychiatrist $50.00 an hour every week for two and a half years.  He must be crazy.

Dear Abby, I was married to Bill for three months and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.

Dear Abby,
My mother is mean and short tempered I think she is going through mental pause.

Dear Abby,
You told some woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor.  Well, my husband lost all interest in sex and he is a doctor.  Now what do I do?

This has been an amusing several days for news.

  • Lindsay Lohan is sentenced to jail and rehab…
  • Mel Gibson has been acting up, again…
  • Touch Down Jesus will be rebuilt – full body from Indiana limestone…
  • The Barefoot Bandit has alluded authorities several times this past week…
  • And the big item this week… Lebron James…

Hmmm….

First off, I had no idea who Miss Lohan was. In fact, I almost thought they were talking about J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez). I did a quick search and found out she was a supermodel, an actress and a singer. OK… cool.

For several days I read, or heard about this mysterious announcement to be made by Lebron James. Since I do not follow sports, and only half listen to television news I figured someone was getting ready to announce their candidacy for the 2012 Presidential Election. I mean, isn’t it about time for the campaigning to begin?

The comments on Facebook, and Twitter, are downright hilarious to me! You would have thought this young guy was discovered to be one of the ten spies returned to Russia yesterday. It reminded me of the night the Baltimore Colts were whisked away in a bus to Indianapolis – fans appeared furious that a sports team leaving their community! You would have thought Michigan and Ohio State University had switched fight songs (if you are from Ohio, you would understand the blasphemy, and severity of such an action!).

The Barefoot Bandit, whose real name is Colton Harris-Moore, now has his own Wikipedia site, and has 55,587 followers (as of this Saturday afternoon) on Facebook. Darling Facebook fan, Eddie Smith of England, who could probably stand to gain from a basic grammar class, writes, “Man your a legend, your story is everywhere in England… Everyone thinks your great!….. Keep going man never let them catch you!!!”

These items seem to be plastering the media landscape, and I have to scratch my head, and ask, “Why the hell should any of this really, and truly matter?”

People are furious with Lebron James for switching to tennis, or marrying Tiger Woods future ex-wife, or trying to steal Morgan Freeman’s contract for the upcoming Broadway production, DRIVING MISS DAISY, or whatever it is he does (yes, I know he is a basketball star from Ohio).

I don’t know why THE TODAY SHOW was so concerned with talking to doctor’s, psychologists, lawyers, and fellow celebrities to dissect Ms. Lohan’s ordeal. Are ya serious, Meredith Viero? An Oregon boy is missing, we have a major oil spill, people are suffering from the heat wave hitting the East Coast, and so many other items of greater importance – and yet the focus is on a celebrity’s legal battles. So what else is new?

When it was announced in The Dayton Daily News that Touchdown Jesus would be rebuilt with Indiana limestone, the critical, even cruel, comments began pouring in! People are furious that Solid Rock Church is spending their OWN money for a blasphemous structure (like cathedrals throughout Europe and here) to glorify God.  “But we don’t even know what Jesus looks like?” wrote one complaining comment. Well, neither did Leonardo da Vinci nor Michaelangelo, or so many other great artists. Should we paint over their masterpieces, or chisel away at the sculptures? I am certain the complainers have

  1. attended, or still attend churches with Christian icons, or set dressing
  2. never attempted to do as much for charity as the parishioners of Solid Rock Church
  3. have no church affiliation, or
  4. a new GPS so they no longer need TDJ as a landmark to tell them when they are closer to Traders World or Kings Island

Why are these particular topics so valued by the masses?

Why is the nineteen year old Barefoot Bandit more an international focus and Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda groupies are not?

While waiting to put some groceries on the conveyor belt at Kroger last night, I glanced over at the Rag Mags, and learned:

  • Laura Bush is divorcing George W. Bush because he is having an affair with Joan Rivers
  • Justin Bieber really has begun puberty
  • Billy Ray Cyrus is a much better actor than many believe, and will be cast in the title role of HAMLET in a command performance for Queen Elizabeth
  • Will Prince Charles have to pin back his ears to wear the royal crown when he becomes king?
  • Television’s Sister Angelica is secretly carrying Pope Benedict’s love child
  • Donna Summer has been cast to play Michael Jackson in the television rock-u-drama about his life?
  • Broadway’s newest production of LES MISERABLES welcomes Great Britain’s star, Susan Doyle, to play Young Cosette

OK, those were actually headlines I made up, but we all know that those do seem to be genuine from the Rag Mags on shopping store racks.

I wonder how many readers will read the above items and take them to be true?

The deck is damp from last night’s rain showers, but the air is crisp, and cool at 68-degrees. The morning is beckoning those of us who have been besieged by the overwhelming heat and humidity of last week to come outside and enjoy the kaleidescope and symphony of nature.

Charlie Cardinal is belching out a fine tune this morning, alternating with the two precious mourning doves (christened The MD’s) that were hatched on the limb that hangs over the deck. They appeared mid-August last year, and have remained a part of our family, now joined by Harvey the White Squirrel.

So often the two doves greet the morning, and bid farewell to the day with the gentle lament, a simple melody laden with no excitement.

Last night I spent another evening prepping for my quiz over “Introduction to Empty Nesting: 101” as Jose spent the second entire day and evening with brothers Brandon and Justin. The boys all seem to enjoy one another’s company, and have a good time, for which I am grateful. I cooked out on the grill, and ate alone on the deck while Flyer and Logan competed in a stare-down with my fork as it made food disappear. Most of the day had been sheeted with rain, and the evening turned out to be quite nice once the mugginess vanished. Only moments after leaving the deck, another shower poked its head into perfect evening.

Now, other birds have created a polyphonic chorus, accompanying Charlie & The MD’s. I hope to work from the deck for a few more hours on business and family items, and then will figure out something fun to do – perhaps a canoe trip is in store at Old River Park.

The MD's (Mourning Doves) Labor Day, 2009

The MD's on their same perch last February 2010

Charlie Cardinal

Harvey the White Squirrel

This morning had me hopping – doctor appointments, pick up prescriptions, and rush back home to teach a 10:30am lesson! Began the day with tons of energy, and by Noon, I was alternating between reading and napping.

The heat, even at 7:30am, was unbearable. Walking from my car into the doctor’s office had me drenched. Around 5:00pm the signs of a rain shower spread across the Miami Valley, and I stepped onto the deck to feel a cool breeze. I opened all the windows (finally), and let the curtains bounce. The rain showers came, and were over by 8:00pm. I hurried off to Kroger, and upon leaving the store was smacked with steam!

Back at home, I waited for Jose to finish marching band percussion practice at 9:00pm. We walked to Speedway for a slushy, and laughed in the kitchen for a while.

Tomorrow is a double dentist appointment – Jose and myself – at our new dentist. Jose aged out of his pediatrician dentist, and mine moved.

Jose has finished the first coat of paint on his room. I have not checked it yet.

This afternoon I looked through You Tube to find videos of Bess Truman, Senator Dole speaking at President Nixon’s funeral, and some other historical tidbits.

Now, I am sitting up in bed with my lap top, researching new diabetic medication I will be starting in a few weeks.

Other than that, it has been a somewhat calm day at the Haasienda.

It is Monday, 1:00pm. The end of the restful, and enjoyable holiday weekend is creeping upon us.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most perfect days we’ve had in weeks. Saturday was a bit steamy, but not too hateful. Sunday, however, returned with the higher temperatures, and humidity. Today is becoming its evil twin with highs expected to be in the lower 90’s. Tuesday through Thursday we are supposed to be in the mid-90’s.

Friday and Saturday were somewhat peaceful, and relaxing. Jose and I went to see ROBIN HOOD – quite good, and Saturday, Kelley, our delightful neighbor boy next door, joined us for the downtown Dayton fireworks. Several years ago we took a city bus down to watch the fireworks – and it was so simple! We walked out our front door, hopped on the bus, got off the bus downtown, walked several blocks to the river, watched fireworks, walked back to the bus, got off the bus right in front of our house. No traffic. No parking issues.

In 2001, I found a nifty parking place behind the United Methodist headquarters (commonly known as The God Box) next to the Masonic Temple. We were the only ones to park there! I could not believe it. Most years we have been on vacation over this holiday, and I figured our secret parking area would have been discovered by countless others. Nope! We arrived around 9:30pm, parked, walked a few hundred yards to the Masonic Temple’s hill (I always feel as though I am at the Custis-Lee Mansion at Arlington Cemetery), and watched a splended firework display over the river.

Sunday morning, Jose was out the door for work until 3:00pm. I made a cake, and chatted with Mother on the phone.

Cake: yellow cake mix with some lemon extract. Poured some of the batter into the pan and then scattered thinly sliced strawberries; added the remainder of the batter; backed; more strawberry slices, a packet of white icing mix with some almond extract added, along with some liquefied strawberry jam.

At 2:00pm, the cake and I headed next door for a cookout.

As always, the hours escaped me, and it was nearly 6:00pm when I returned home. I love spending time with my neighbors, who have become more like family. Since the crowd was not as large this time, I actually got to spend time chatting with Don who is usually kept busy at the grill, non-stop.

I came home, and began watching some television programs. At 9:00pm, The American Experience on PBS aired the conclusion of HARRY TRUMAN.

Ahhh…. what a unique politician, a giant of a man, and an incredible American was Harry S. Truman. He, along with President Lincoln, is one of my heroes.

This morning I was wide awake, as usual, around 4:00am. By 6:00am, I was retreating back to some sort of sleep, and lingered in bed to watch a great movie, WHITE SQUALL, based on a true story. Great movie!

Now, I am settled on the deck with my laptop. Flyer rests under my chair, and Logan is stretched out under another table across the deck. Jose is swimming with Brandon Tener.

What a great weekend….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Declaration of Independence

(Adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776)

The Unanimous Declaration of the

Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

……………………….

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

I discovered this incredible video by one of Dayton’s own young celebrities – Ryan Vallo.

I am adding Ryan’s text for those who may not have Facebook accounts.

“It’s 2010 and change is EVERYWHERE: our government, our environment, our economy, our culture. I’m Ryan Vallo, a 24 year-old from Dayton, Ohio. Join me as we travel around the globe to see how these changes affect our lives, our families, our communities, our nations, and our world. Welcome to…WE THE PEOPLE!”

Recently, Oprah opened a competition in search of a host with a concept for a new television show she will produce on her new network, the OWN Network. Now, I never send out these vote online for this that and the other email requests, however, I firmly believe in this television show concept. If you find yourself with a free moment, please follow the link below to view and vote for my video that explains my concept.

My apologies in advance for the poor image quality – it appears Oprah’s techs were unable to translate the web video file I sent, but the audio is at the least somewhat intact. Hope you are all well, and I SINCERELY thank you for your time and support as it is greatly appreciated!!! Vote for my video online at by 11:59PM on July 3rd!!!

OPRAH LINK:
http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=17418&promo_id=1

To view a better quality of the video, please visit YOUTUBE, but don’t forget to vote on Oprah’s website: COMING SOON!!!

Many Thanks,
Ryan Vallo

* A special thanks to my good friend David Sherman – without his assistance this video would not be possible!

Teaching only three days in the summer means long days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; however, having the additional two week-days – plus the weekend – to work around the house, write, and spend time with my are wonderful.

This morning I was wide-awake at 5:45am – which seems to be my inner alarm wake-up call – and decided to go ahead and water the plants on the deck. I did my morning routine, and decided that at 7:15am it was way too early to pull out the hedge trimmer. So, I read some emails, watched some of THE TODAY SHOW, followed by WILL & GRACE, and about fifteen minutes of ALL IN THE FAMILY. At 8:00am I was restless, so I tackled some indoor items, and ate breakfast.

I just finished watering the plants in front, greatly increased in their beauty thanks to Valerie Lockhart’s gifts the past two weeks. I cleaned the front door and mailbox – having painted the fence yesterday morning. The mail box may need some painting, too.

I have a full schedule of what I wish to accomplish today, mostly having to do with the yard. Jose has a work meeting at 1:00pm, and then works from 4:45pm-8:00pm, so I will plan my writing time in those chunks.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, and promises to be even more so today. The cool, non-humidity nights, so rare for the end of June in Ohio, were a welcome relief after the sufferings of the past several weeks. The rains came in torrents, briefly cooling off the air, but soon were followed by the steam.

This weekend promises to be fantastic for the July Fourth festivities – which are many here in The Miami Valley. I am sure we will canoe several times, maybe catch one or two firework shows, a parade, and hopefully time with some friends.

Other than that, there is just not much to report.


 

RED RIVER VALLEY
 arranged and adapted by Arlo Guthrie


From this valley they say you are going

We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile 

For they say you are taking the sunshine 

That has brightened our pathways awhile

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

I've been thinking a long time, my darling 

Of the sweet words you never would say 

Now, alas, must my fond hopes all vanish 

For they say you are gong away

Do you think of the valley you're leaving 

O how lonely and how dreary it will be 

And do you think of the kind hearts you're breaking 

And the pain you are causing to me

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

They will bury me where you have wandered 

Near the hills where the daffodils grow 

When you're gone from the Red River Valley 

For I can't live without you I know

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true
 



 
DONNA MAE CLARY-BARMES
May 8, 1924 - June 27, 1992

Although I am a passionate historian, I must admit that I was rather lazy in my study of Dayton history. Normally, I am on top of my historical surroundings, and learn as much as possible. However, when I moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1990, I was not at all certain I would remain here more than 3-5 years. I anticipated moving to New York City, or even to Virginia near Williamsburg, or Washington, DC. Perhaps I had an unaddressable fear of learning too much about the Miami Valley for fear of it gluing me here.

Twenty years later, I still feel slightly negligent in knowing Dayton’s history. I seem to know more about the Wright Brothers than I do most of Dayton, and the surrounding area. Still, it was not until the summer of 1999 that I even gave the Wrights a second thought. I had been to the Air Force Museum when my parents visited in 1992, but I found it agonizingly boring. My dad had to stop and read every placard, and photograph nearly every plane. Mother, still with tints of red in her hair at the time, was photographed in front of the plane painted with the title, “Strawberry Bitch.” Each visit to the museum still prompts a photo with a family member standing in front of the plane.

Seven years later I was on my three week vacation that took me to:

  • Niagara Falls (ugh… another story)
  • a drive through the Adirondacks
  • a pass through Schroon Lake
  • Stowe, Vermont to visit the Trapp family members (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) at the Trapp Family Lodge
  • Manchester, Vermont to visit Robert Todd Lincoln’s home, Hildene
  • FDR’s home/grave in Hyde Park, NY
  • Val-Kil, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home & retreat near Hyde Park
  • New York City
  • Flushing Meadows – the site of the 1939 and 1964 World Fairs
  • Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Sagamore Hill
  • Montauk Point Lighthouse at the tip of Long Island
  • Assateague Island to see the wild horses because my fourth grade teacher, Diana Lane, read us the book, THE MYSTERY OF ASSATEAGUE ISLAND in 1974
  • A brief trip through DC – only driving and looking, no stopping
  • A trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel
  • A visit with my aunt and cousins
  • The Outer Banks
    • Wright Memorial (merely drove around it and left)
    • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (which had just finished its hydraulic move the day before)
    • Ocracoke Island
  • A visit with my grandfather and family at Grandpa’s mission program in Southeastern Kentucky
  • Gatlinburg for three days with family
  • Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mary Todd Lincoln
    • Henry Clay home
    • ice cream at Cheapside
    • Lexington Cemetery

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I took advantage of this East Coast vacation, packing as much in as possible. I knew that once I began adopting children, this kind of vacation would be on hiatus.

The memorial at Kitty Hawk meant absolutely nothing to me. I drop past it, only to return since it had a Dayton connection. I took a photo, and drove on not wanting to indulge any time in listening to a (biased) NC park ranger talk about airplanes.

September 1999, while roller blading in Centerville’s Stubbs Park, I was resting on a rock when I noticed a tiny sparrow hopping in the parking lot, picking at some food dropped by patrons from the previous evening’s concert. I had always been terrified of birds growing up, so I had never considered how they got their bodies into the air, supported by seemingly fragile wings.

As I watched the sparrow my eye caught a jet floating through the sky as it prepared to land at Dayton International.

“How did that thing get into the sky?”

As I continued to watch the bird and the plane (no Superman), I heard voices of two young boys arguing. I even turned around, expecting to find two lads arguing.

Nothing.

The voices continued.

Finally I heard the one boy call the name of the other, and there was no doubt as to who they were, and why I was privy to their aggravated conversation.

The next day, I returned from the USA Air Force Museum with nine books on the Wright Brothers. I had received “my mission” while resting in the park.

Prior to that September day, I had never given the Wrights much thought. By April 2000, I was finally sketching out plots, scenes, and characters.

July 2000, I drove to Kitty Hawk, stood on the Wright Brothers’ Memorial and flew a kite to toast the start of what would be a fascinating journey for the next decade.

My goal was to finish the musical, then titled, TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, for the 2003 anniversary.

Gail Whipple - lyricist-composer

In 1998 I got a new saxophone student, Lucas Whipple – a neat 10 year old boy with a wonderful personality. I eventually began teaching his sister, Andra, piano and voice. Their mother, Gail, a fantastic musician (vocalist, pianist) was teaching music at South Dayton Preparatory School and asked if I’d please teach beginning piano there.

In January 2003, Gail and I were chatting about the Muse Machine musical we had just seen. Her husband, Tim, was the Muse board president. Gail and I began discussing musical scores, and she played a few of her own songs that were clearly “musical theatre.” I promptly asked her to assist me with TWELVE SECONDS TO THE MOON, and she agreed.

Leslie Merry, Composer

A month later, I hosted the first read-thru of the book with approximately 20 theatre friends at my town house. Gail attended, and brought her friend, Leslie Merry, introducing her as “a musician friend of mine.”

Within a few days, the trio of Gail, Leslie and Darin were embarking on our collaboration. Other than directing, this was my first collaborative effort, and I did not know what to expect with our first work session. I had tossed out ideas for styles on several songs. Quietly, Gail and Leslie tossed them back, presenting something completely different from what I was hearing… and it was magnificent. Throughout the years, I continued to toss to them what I was hearing in my head, and they provided something different… entirely different, and much more clever, and exciting!

As with any project, it evolved. The history of flight anniversary flew by and we knew that we still had a product. However, the Wrights’ story had changed. Their sister, Katharine, was now an integral part of the story, and it now began five years after they first flew at Kitty Hawk. We had uncovered more drama, and depth to their story – the story after the story with most are most familiar.

The working title soon changed to THE BIRD LET LOOSE, and the underlying theme was about “control.”

  • The secret to flight was in “control”
  • There was an international race to “control” the sky
  • There were battles over financial “control”
  • There were internal issues of “control” within the family circle

It was the right path for this musical.

Now, the 99.5% completed project is a grand mixture of our theatrical forefathers’ creations… there are hints of RAGTIME, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE SECRET GARDEN, EVITA, SUNDAY IN THE PARK, CAMELOT… the musical is dramatic, comedic, filled with suspense, interwoven with political intrigue (well, nothing that would arouse the interest of James Bond, but remember, it is 1908-1945)…

I was blessed to find a lyricist (Gail) who could arrange lyrics as wonderfully as Hammerstein, Lowe, and Rice, and a composer (Leslie) who could immediately whip out a strong melodic line rivaling Rodgers, Lerner and Webber but with a heavy flavor of Sondheim. And the score is, perhaps, more Sondheimesque. The lyrics, in many places, are simply too good to be true due to the clever, concise arrangement of thoughts and words. I would hand Gail a paragraph of thoughts, and she would return lyrics that made my jaw hit the floor. The lyrics and music, together, are outstanding, and I honestly believe their contributions to this project far surpass my work on the book. The three of us, each being musicians, have also contributed to one another’s individual assignments – which has been a splendid delightful process for we each trust one another, and are, too often, like one mind.

I humbly bow to my two collaborators, and will always be grateful for their magnificent contributions to the future success of this musical.

My personal journey with this project began a decade ago. The three of us were also working professionals, raising children, involved musicians, busy volunteers, and confronted with personal, and professional experiences that sometimes kept as from moving ahead on the project consistently. Before Gail’s family moved to California, we had many fantastic work sessions, and reading sessions (about six, in all). Now, Leslie and I will work together, and collaborate with Gail, using all the modern technologies.

What a thrilling journey it has been!

I started my day by teaching two three-hour pre-adoptive classes at A.C.T.I.O.N. Adoption Services from 9:00am-4:00pm.

I ran home, took a nap, and then drove the three of us up to Old River Park near the University of Dayton campus. The one hour canoe ride was warm, but so relaxing – and invigorating! I had a canoe all to myself while Jose and Kelley paddled their own.

What an enjoyable evening.

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As TOY STORY 3 neared its premiere, I chuckled at the Facebook group, started by older teens, “get out of my way little kids… I’ve waited 11 years to see this movie.”

The first two movies were incredible, and I could watch them over and over. I remember taking children of friends to see the movie a number of times so that I could see each release repeatedly. The animation was incredible, and the story plots were entertaining, and captivating – even to a grown kid.

I have to admit that I was ager to see this movie, as well. I grew up in an era where imagination still ruled our play time, and the main toy-technology seemed to be our race car tracks, train tracks, and my portable Snoopy record player. Or was it Pluto?

My favorite toys were King Arthur’s Castle (a huge monstrosity), Johnny West Best of The West dolls (the cowboy version of GI Joe), my Magic Disney Castle (complete with a magnitude of hand-painted characters), my North & South Civil War set, and The White House – a plastic molded structure with 37 statues of presidents (Nixon was president). They required no batteries, no electricity, no television… just my imagination.

The TOY STORY series always delighted me because the main character, the boy Andy, had these incredible toys that were so much like mine… OK, so he did not have the nerdy Civil War or White House sets, but he had the toys that required imagination!

Jose and I went to see TOY STORY 3 Friday afternoon, and I was thoroughly delighted, and moved. Hearing actors Tim Allen and Tom Hanks reunited as Woody and Buzz was music to my ears, as were the talents of Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, and Bonnie Hunt.

The end of the movie is Andy leaving for college. I must admit, I was slightly choked up as mother and son had a few moments together. I remember how difficult it was for my mother when I, the eldest child, left home for Ball State University, and I was always contemplating next June when Jose graduates and leaves for basic training. I soon realized that I was one of the few in the crowded theater not sniffling, blowing his nose, or crying.

As we crossed the parking lot, Jose said, “I am not gonna lie; I was kind of choked up at the end of the movie thinking about having to say ‘good bye’ to you next summer when I leave for training.

As a child, I was never a big fan of ALL IN THE FAMILY. I can remember my grandfather howling at the brash, crass comedy that too often escaped me. The show, even now, seems to exude emptiness, a hollow tunnel where dreams remain dreams, and dead ends. However, the past month or so, I garnered a new appreciation for the show which often airs on TV Land.

The writing was brilliant, and the writers seemed to keep a firm grip on the pulse of 1971-1979. This one particular episode this evening is when Archie Bunker, portrayed by Carrol O’Connor, lost his job and searches for new work. I can remember, all too well, the mid-1970’s when unemployment had sky-rocketed.

The humor is incredible! I could go on, and on about this show, but it would require far more time than I currently have to expel the tons of thoughts I have about this show.

The deck, at 1:15pm this Thursday afternoon, is cool, breezy, and filled with the irregular musical tones of the wind chimes. My lunch is finished, and I am now set to blogging, and working on other projects.

This has been a rather ordinary week here at the Haasienda del Shroyer. Not much to report. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was filled with lessons, thunderstorms, and various mundane tasks.

Yesterday’s heat and humidity made the day most uncomfortable. By 2:00pm, I had the air conditioning on, and due to the sun’s placement, my study was an oven the entire afternoon. Fans did nothing to alleviate the discomfort.

Most of my spare time has either been napping, from continuous fatigue, to watching a neat series of on-going documentaries, DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH. I love archeology, and any book or documentary that searches all types of history. This show is absolutely fascinating, and I have learned an incredible amount of history that has escaped me, especially the Lost Tribes of Israel! I do not know how I missed this topic all these years. So far I have watched, and enjoyed:

  1. Who Built Egypt’s Pyramids?
  2. Hunt for the Lost Ark
  3. The Iceman Cometh
  4. The Lost Tribe of Israel
  5. Secrets of the Nazca Lines
  6. Mystery of the Anasazi

Here is a video of the episode about The Lost Ark of the Covenant:

Other interests this week have been listening reports, and reading about the controversy between President Obama and General McChrystral. It is difficult to know which news program to watch as I am never certain as to certain affiliations. Oh, how the days of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather are so far removed from us!

My friend, Bill Hetzer, a retired army brass, did introduce me to war correspondent, Michael Yon, and I am truly enjoying his perspective – non-political!

My gut reaction to this entire affair: the general was wrong. I know it is not a written rule, but militarily, it is the unspoken golden rule involving the chain of command… “thou shalt not publicly speak out against thy commanders.”

Some of the succeeding commentaries from “locals” on DAYTON DAILY NEWS are absurd, and sometimes offensive. I cannot believe the lack of intelligence, and sheer stupidity displayed by some of the readers! It is one thing to be uninformed. It is another to be just downright stupid. Some of the comments are so far-fetched, and it is often tasteless to know some of these people are permitted a driver’s license, and the freedom to walk amongst other human beings.

Quite often, however, I believe some prefer to stir up an excessive amount of drama while hiding behind the fake names.

A growing number of posters are claiming this is the first time in US history where a commander has been relieved of his responsibilities during a time of war… ummm…. wrong…

A number of presidents have traded, or dismissed commanding officers. Lincoln did it a number of times during the Civil War, even dismissing the ever popular George McClellan. President Truman fired another popular general, Douglas MacArthur. President Bush, I believe, changed military leadership once or twice (however, I am not as knowledgeable on this).

If you want a good laugh, an opportunity to groan, or attempting to relieve constipation, scan through some of the comments… they will either leave you howling, scowling or boweling!

While returning from the Cincinnati Zoo Sunday, Jose and I decided to stop by Solid Rock Church to view the aftermath of the lightning strike, “the lashing out of Zeus” as many have dubbed it. We were not the only ones paying our respects to the charred remains, floating debris (burnt Styrofoam) and steel, skeletal structure rising out of the lake.

Saturday, I spoke with a friend who knew Rev. Bishop personally, and she explained how the Bishop family had personally funded the original $250,000 to build the sculpture, King of Kings, more commonly known as, Touchdown Jesus.

Sunday afternoon, I stood looking at the destruction with no particular emotion. I know there are Facebook fan pages now hurtling demands that the money proposed to rebuild the structure be used for other purposes – charity, mission work. However, I feel some disagreement with this sentiment. The structure was built, and funded by someone who owns the property. Would we wish for someone to come to our door and demand we paint our homes a different color, or change the landscaping of our yards? Heaven knows I would love to tell people with those concrete geese dressed up in bonnets and jackets to take a hike; however, that is their preference, their property, their right – not mine (but they should seriously consider goose therapy!).

And then there is the faction that condemns the Solid Rock Church of showing off their Christianity, paying homage to a graven image, etc.. Again, I have to step back and look at the entire picture.

For centuries, churches have been adorning their sanctuaries with Biblical artwork, even gaudy representations of Jesus, Mother Mary, Moses, and others from the long list of ancients. We have even seen Satin portrayed in artwork. I do believe there is a gigantic statue of Christ in Argentina, or at the tip of some cape in South America, and I have never heard anyone comment on it. In the Sistine Chapel, God and Adam are represented as a center-piece. Now, in its origins, the controversy was over God’s and Adam’s fingers touching – not about the fact that God was portrayed in art.

Again, I return to my thoughts: it is their business.

Last night there was yet, another article on the week old event, describing how the lightning strike has placed the church on the world’s media stage. There were a number of comments following the article, some understanding, others belligerent. Many, who claimed to be solid Christians, were casting more written stones than the elders cautioned by Christ as they prepared to execute an adulterous woman. I was not concerned, in the least, with those casting stones, but it did revive a thought of a popular wrist band: WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

One person wrote that Jesus would be appalled, even furious!

Hmmm… and this person knows this for a fact?

Would Jesus be amused?

Would Jesus just roll his eyes and utter, “Oy vey!”

Would Jesus high-five the Rev. Bishop, and then pose in front of the structure of Himself with three others to spell out, “O-H-I-O”? Or better yet, “H-E-E-B”?

For the life of me, I cannot determine why the venom flows from fellow Christians. Are Christians supposed to be critical of other Christians? And do these critical Christians have Biblical artwork displayed in their churches, or homes?

If they do, I would gently caution them from casting stones, and to gallop their hypocritical holy horse to another Christian corral. Rather than using energy to cast stones at a structure already demolished, why not use this energy to pray?

We could all pray for the Gulf oil crises, the families affected, the wildlife threatened or destroyed, the BP and government leaders making these very difficlut decisions…

We could all pray for our soldiers, and other personnel overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other military stations covering the globe.

We could pray for the economy, and those individuals, and families suffering? We could lend a helping hand to food banks, or other church or community efforts to comfort, feed and clothe the less fortunate.

And I have wondered how many of those bellowing about Solid Rock Church using $750,000 for charity or mission – are they, themselves, doing all they can for mission or charity?

We could pray for our schools, our teachers, our students.

We could pray for our families, our neighbors, our government leaders, those we know, and those we have never met.

We could pray that we, ourselves, are led to live a more Christ-like/God-like, spiritual perspective, and one less perceived by our own spiritual tunnel vision.

We could pray that, instead of casting stones, we could cast lovingly blown kisses of healing, humor, blessings, confidence, fellowship, understanding, peace, and love.

Yes, I found Touchdown Jesus to be gaudy, somewhat pretentious, but terribly amusing. However, I am well aware that to others it may have been a source of inspiration. For those of us who travel northbound from trips, the sight of TDJ indicated that those of us living in the Miami Valley were closer to home – much like the big blue arch is a source of “homeward-bound” for me as I travel to and from my native Hoosier roots. For those who have been touched, or inspired by TDJ, or will be with a newer structure… ENJOY!

For I would not want you telling me to not be moved, or inspired when I stand before historical sites of Lincoln, or the Wright Brothers…

At 9:30am this morning, we were out the door and on our way to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. With a stop at Dollar General for sun tan lotion and Gator Aide, we were walking into the zoo at 11:00am. En route, we had a great time chatting about a variety of things.

We were slightly disappointed that the gorillas were not as entertaining as they normally are, but with the heat, I was surprised they were even outside their caves. In fact, most of the animals looked as though they were miserable.

What always amazes me, and Jose generally comments on the same thing, is how so many of the animals remind us of our cat and dog, Logan and Flyer. They all seem to have very similar behaviors, movements, reactions, and characteristics. So neat to watch!

There were two sets of monkeys swinging from their fabricated jungle gym, and they were squawking, and bellowing to near ear piercing decibels. Jose and I were howling with laughter because they actually sounded like humans screaming at one another.

Other than tremendous heat wearing us down, there is not too much to report. We left the zoo around 4:00am, and headed back north, enjoying several great conversation topics.

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AM currently watching an incredible documentary, WACO: Rules of Engagement.

Wow! Amazing documentary, full of some deep information.

Jose and I just returned from seeing CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010). A very good movie, indeed.

I can remember seeing the original in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school. I recall very little of that movie, but seemed to be fairly accurate when leaning over to Jose and sharing upcoming moments. So much of what I remembered came directly from my high school Latin teacher, Diana Garner. Mrs. Garner was one of the most fascinating teachers I have known, and I cannot believe how much of her teachings are still with me in my professional life, as well as in every day life. Generally, I tend to rely on so many skills taught by Mrs. Garner, and my advanced composition teacher, Darren Paquin.

On the drive home, Jose and I discussed the many connections between mythology, and Christianity, and even some of the connectedness to STAR WARS. We discussed some of the similarities between the birth of Christ, and how it was very similar to various aspects of mythologies preceding his birth. Very interesting conversation, and good reading material for comparisons.

I thought the movie was well cast with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, and Alexa Davalos. However, accompanying Harry Hamlin in the 1981 version was a plethora of screen giants, some who were near the end of their careers, and lives, with the exception of Maggie Smith and Claire Bloom who are both still active in their profession, Flora Robson, Burgess Meredith, and Sir Laurence Olivier gave the movie a LOVE BOAT quality since the cheerful television show revisited so many aging stars.

The movie was good, predictable (naturally), and epic in many ways. I am always impressed, and amazed at how quickly technology has changed from my teen years to the generation of my son’s. I now liken my self to my great-grandfather on whose lap I sat as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Grandpa Garrett was only 6 years old when the Wrights first flew at Kitty Hawk, and at age 16 he bought his first horse and buggy. When he began farming, it was with a horse and plow. When Grandpa Garrett retired from farming in 1966, he sold his tractors, combines, tillers, and all other farm machinery. When he was born, the first telephone was installed in the White House. When he died in his 100th year, I received an email telling me he had passed away in the night.

One day, I hope to marvel with my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in the continued advancement of technology, reminding them that when I was a teen we did not have computers, cell phones, internet, IPods… hell, by the time my great-grandchildren are born, these current technological thrills will be extinct!

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

I have always been a fan of the musical themes associated with each division of our country’s military. When I was conducting bands regularly, I could not wait to conduct THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE.

Men’s Chorus, The Vocal Majority, performing THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE:

I loved turning to announce each branch of the service, and then see those who served rise, clap, and cheer. It was always, and still is, a moving sight.

My favorite military theme has always been “Anchors, Aweigh!”  My Uncle Ron joined the Navy about the time I was beginning piano lessons, and he bought me the sheet music for the Navy’s theme. It was way beyond my capabilities at that age, however, I worked up my own arrangement to play for him when he returned home. In 1987, my uncle was killed in an automobile accident, and for the past twenty-three years, “Anchors, Aweigh” still chokes me up.

One melody that has become my favorite is the virtually unknown Coast Guard march, “Semper Paradis.” Here is the song:

Today was the start of my summer teaching schedule. It had been delayed a week since a number of schools were not yet dismissed for the summer.

The morning began with the Bane children – Ellie and Jacob – who played the two children in last summer’s production, SOUTH PACIFIC. Ellie has been a piano student for two years, and Jacob began his saxophone lessons today.

It was nice to meet three new students today, and I am looking forward to meeting several more new students Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

The day ended with Sophie Lockhart’s lesson. Sophie walked over from next door’s Miami Valley Jazz Camp carrying three saxophones – her alto, a tenor, and a baritone.  She is such a good worker, and a smart musician, making her lessons are always such fun.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, kept Jose company as he cleaned out the car, and washed it. I will be taking it to a body shop to get an estimate on the damage from where someone backed into it.

Supper was brief, and I laid down for a nap which was not brief. Fortunately, I woke at 9:00pm in time to watch a PBS documentary on Andrew Jackson, narrated by my favorite actor, Martin Sheen.

All in all, it was a great day!

There is some tennis event on NBC. The skies above the Miami Valley have resembled a tennis match all morning… for a few minutes the sun shines, and shortly, the dark clouds hover… back and forth.

The storms for the past two nights have woke me, and the pounding rains lulled me back to sleep each time. Yesterday afternoon, and evening, the heat and humidity were unbearable. This afternoon, a cool breeze keeps the curtains in my bedroom dancing back and forth from the screen windows while the shadows of trees moves across the kitchen cabinets and floor. The wind chimes on the deck create a continues song.

I know my week was not nearly as busy as so many others, but for me, it was extremely busy. The past few days of relaxation, after nearly nine straight days of continuous activity, were most welcome.

Friday, after teaching, I ran a few errands with Jose, and then we settled on a meal from Steak N Shake. Neither of us were interested in doing anything, so we each settled on our own movies. I had received It’s Complicated from Netflix, but it just did not interest me; so, I settled on several on-line movies:

  • The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection
  • HH Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
  • The Bible According To Hollywood

Saturday morning alternated between rain and sunshine, so I settled at my laptop in my bedroom with several books, and my Netflix movies running:

  • Cold Case Files: Killer In The Country
  • The Jewish People: A Story of Survival

A little after Noon, I completed some household tasks, and started several loads of laundry. Rain storms hit pretty hard for a while, so I returned to my room and watched portions of several movies, occasionally chatting with Jose as he passed back and forth from the kitchen to the basement.

I drove Jose to work since the storms were striking intermittently, and ran errands to Dollar General and Kroger. Back at home I worked at my desk a little, keeping an eye on the sky and the clock should Jose need me to pick him up.

I decided to research a little more on Cornelius Vanderbilt, a minor character in the Wright Brother’s musical.

Jose arrived home from One Lincoln Park, and offered me a tray of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. As always, the chef created a triumph!

Jose descended to the basement to XBox360 world, and I turned on more Netflix as Flyer and Logan snuggled next to me. I know my selections would boar most, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these historical figures.

The story of the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek, Michigan, was extremely interesting, as was the story of hotel giant, Conrad Hilton.  The Kellogg brothers, and Conrad Hilton, were all incredible entrepreneurs, well ahead of their times.

Conrad Hilton was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor – who, to my surprise, is still living! Her sister, Ava had died, but I figured this other Gabor sister was also deceased. If you get a chance to Google Ms. Gabor’s more recent photos, please do. I will post them. Despite being in her 90’s, she still grabs some of the glamour… barely. I had not made the connection of this gentlemen to Paris Hilton!

I received an email from a student’s parent that she was watching Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I knew of the play, but had never seen the movie. She grew up near Katharine Hepburn in Connecticut, and watches all Ms. Hepburn’s movies. I decided to research it, and then pull up the movie on Netflix.

The movie, which includes Ms. Hepburn, also stars Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards (who starred in the original stage play), and a very young Dean Stockwell who is more popularly known from his roles in Quantum Leap and Battlestar Gallactica. I read a good deal about the 1962 movie’s director, Sidney Lumet (1924- ), and his style of directing. What a fascinating director.

I have a feeling I am being “encouraged” to study this director. I was introduced to Mr. Lumet’s work last night. This morning I was watching a morning news program Anderson Cooper, and Googled him. I had no idea he was the 3rd great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt – who I had researched Saturday evening – and the son of Gloria Vanderbilt – a wife of Sidney Lumet!

Coincidence?

I was so moved by this movie that I could not turn it off to go to sleep. At 2:45am, I finally decided that I must. I should have continued watching it as it was less than an hour that the newly arrived storms were waking me.

Upon returning from Fairmont’s graduation exercises, and running a few errands with Jose, I curled up in bed with my laptop playing a Netflix instant video on The History Channel’s Modern Marvels – Golden Gate Bridge.

Fascinating!

If you can grab a copy of this DVD, it is well worth it… fifty minutes of reassurance of the American spirit, community, and passion.

Here is a video from You Tube about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Last night’s rain showers cooled things off beautifully, the morning was crisp, and refreshing.

After Jose left the house to go take two final exams, I putzed around the house with a variety of things before showering and heading down to Miami Valley Hospital for my EMG.

I left slightly early because I never know how the traffic will be around the University of Dayton area. It is either a line or traffic due to regular busyness, or endless road repairs. I easily made it to the area in eight minutes, and decided to drive up to the pinnacle of Woodland Cemetery to look out over Dayton and the Miami Valley.

Here is the new structure at “the lookout”, and a view of Dayton.

I drove a few short blocks to Miami Valley Hospital, parked and easily found where I needed to be.

After filling out a few forms, I was escorted back to a room and asked to remove my shirt. Soon, Dr. Jillian entered, and began asking questions about the numbness, and tingling in my arms, hands, neck and head. And then the procedure began.

Quite interesting!

He used a device on various parts of my hands, arms, neck and shoulders that sent little shocks into each area. It would be a series of shocks beginning with very mild to very strong. After that was completed, he then inserted a fine needle into the various muscles. The muscle right beneath my thumbs was the most painful – but other than that, it was a tiny stick.

Here is a video about the procedure.

As he was continuing with the procedure, Dr. Jillian kept me chatting about what I did for a living, and when he learned I was a music teacher, he admitted that he enjoyed GLEE. At first he said that his daughter was a big fan, and that he felt obligated to spend quality time with her. I raised my head, and said, “Face it, your are a big old Gleek, and don’t try to use your daughter as the excuse for watching it.”

I was right!

When the procedure was completed he said everything was fine, and that there was no carpel tunnel.

Yea!

Lunch is over, Jose is watching television, and I am going to take a nap before teaching.

Having gone to bed at 3:00am Sunday morning, I was up, and moving right along by 7:ooam.

12:30pm, Jose and I headed to Delco Park in Kettering for the first event – Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party. It was great to see her parents, Mike & Joan Cordonnier, as well as Jill’s boyfriends, one of my favorite theatre tech geniuses,  Jackson “Jack” Gallagher.

After approximately thirty minutes, we departed for our next event and arrived home by 1:45pm to head next door for the cookout.

As always, it was an absolute thrill to be in the company of some of the most wonderful neighbors in the world. I was blessed with wonderful neighbors (Herndons, Fortners and others) while growing up in Elwood, Indiana, and I have been more than blessed with the kindest, most hilarious neighbors here in Kettering. Kay Moore, and her family Don, Laura, Jozi and Kelley Parker, and the Stephensons – Bob, Chris, Henry and Frank and I sat around the table and howled.

Jose left with Branden Witten to go to a grad party while I remained next door. Due to crossed-wires, we got off to a late start for Old River Park and Carillon Park; therefore, we postponed the canoeing, and went straight to Carillon Park for the concert and fireworks.

Man, oh man! I was not prepared for the enormous line of cars!

I got to see a ton of people, and had a nice, long conversation with Myra Michaels. The Pollocks arrived, missing the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s SOUTH PACIFIC medley. We sat behind the Kress family, and enjoyed the fireworks, and the light show and bell music from the carillon.

SPECTACULAR!

You really should read this Dayton Daily News article: Carillon’s Heritage Festival makes history by featuring new bell system.

When the fireworks ended, I chatted a bit with Amy Kress, and her parents. The Pollocks, Brandon, Jose and I walked all the way back to the NCR parking lot where we stood talking for a good thirty minutes.

Now, I sitting up in bed with my laptop, cooled off from the refreshing shower. Jose is spending the night with Brandon.

I am finally ready to sleep!

But what a WONDERFUL day this was! Many thanks to all those wonderful friends who contributed to making this a fantastic day!

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And the weekend continues…

After leaving Wright State University’s production HELLO, DOLLY (see previous post), I chatted with Mother en route home. By 6:00pm, Jose and I were to two of our scheduled grad parties for Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

We had a blast at both parties!

I got to spend time with the Weyrauch family and their guests – 95% of which were Fairmont band students.

They had a dunking tank in the back yard which was gathering much interest from the teens, as well as the trampoline, volleyball and food.

Megan was quite involved in the Fairmont music department – alto saxophonist, choir, show choir, and musicals.

This past marching season, Megan served as one of the marching band’s field commanders.

Megan is a beautiful young lady, and when you know her parents, Jim & Sherrie, and sister, Kaitlin, it is obvious why  this young lady is so special.

Megan will be heading to Wright State University this fall to study nursing.

You can visit her this summer at Kettering’s popular family joint, Magic Castle.

We left the Weyrauch home around 7:00pm and ventured back to our neighborhood for the Crouch party. Whereas the Weyrauch home was filled with band students, the Crouch yard was bulging with choir students – a completely different mix.

Ryan, like Megan, has been a super duper music trooper at Fairmont. Ryan was primarily involved with the choral program, but was also a noted piper! Ryan was in symphonic chorale – where he served as section leader and sometimes, student conductor; Fusion (vocal jazz) in which he sang, arranged, and often led rehearsals; show choir; and the musicals.

At graduation this coming Thursday evening, Ryan will conduct the senior choir in their final choral salute to their high school careers.

Ryan will be attending Bowling Green State University this fall, major in music education – choral.

I chatted with Ryan a bit – which is funny because I see him for 90 minutes each week, and we always have plenty to chat about.

I finally sat at a table with choir students to chat with Ryan’s girlfriend, Alex, and continued to give Bobby “Booby” Symes a difficult time.

Jose joined me at this table, and the Haas men proceeded to entertain their perspective halves of the long table.

Around 9:00pm, I joined several of the adults – John & Felicia Crouch, the Parretts, Tracey Witten, and a new couple I did not know – Rich & Bonita Palmer. Bonita looked familiar to me, but I could have passed her in the frozen food aisle at Kroger and still remember her face.

FINALLY… it was discovered that the three of us had not only been at Ball State together, but we three had been in the music department and marching band! We sat there for a good hour laughing about so many of our antics, and fun from BSU school department days. Rich had gone to school with Warren Central HS friends, Troy Allbright, and Shelley England – friends from Mid-America Music Clinics, and BSU, and Bonita had gone to high school with David Hall, another Mid-America camper and BSU music buddy! It was such a blast!

After the Palmers left, I sat chatting with the choir parents, and had a great time. However, I was appalled when I checked my watch and it was 1:00am!

Once we arrived home, I began preparing the potato salad for Sunday’s 2:00pm cookout at the neighbors. By 3:07am, I was finally in bed.

7:00am hit like a led pipe across the head, and I could not sleep. After the morning ritual, I prepared the potato salad, chatted with Jose, and sat down briefly to write this post.

At 12:30pm we will head to Delco Park in Kettering for Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party.

Jill began studying piano with me when she was six years old. Her feet did not touch the ground.

Around her fifth grade year she began studying saxophone along with piano, and developed into a fantastic threat to those in the Centerville Bands.

However, Jill’s main goal was to serve as field commander for the Centerville High School Band… and this she did for two successful seasons!

Jill has also been quite involved with the high school’s musicals – working on sets, or crew, and playing in almost all the pit orchestras. Jill’s dad, Michael, is the technical director, and manager for the Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School.

Jill, like Katie O’Neill (from previous post), has been like a daughter I never had.

This fall, Jill will enter Bowling Green State University, majoring in environmental management.

By 2:00pm, we will have returned home to join the Moore-Parker family for their annual cookout, along with our neighbors directly behind us, Bob & Chris Stephens. I always look forward to this gathering, as much as I do any Hoosier family gathering.

Around 4:00pm, or so, we will walk to the other side of the high school for a graduation party for Christina Suther, a marching band pal of Jose’s. Christina’s older sister, Vic, was one of my social studies students at Kettering Middle School.

Now, this is where the schedule becomes a little murky.

At some point we will end up at Old River Park for some canoe time, and then on over to Carillon Park for the Carillon Park Band, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the fireworks! I just am not certain of the time we will venture the 3 minutes north to the south edge of Dayton!

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46 years ago, Ball State’s Emen’s Auditorium opened…

46 years ago, the Ball State Singers were born…

46 years ago (this September), I was born…

46 years ago (this September), BEWITCHED premiered on television…

and…

46 years ago, HELLO DOLLY premiered on Broadway!

This afternoon, I was reminded of why I love the show so much! Wright State University’s theatre department produced another Stuart McDowell masterpiece with two so many outstanding performances by individuals, and a tight ensemble.

Of course, I was exceptionally proud of Will Hutcheson who played Barnaby…

…and Katie O’Neill who played Dolly Levi!

These two talents have evolved into incredible performers, and I cannot wait to see their careers flourish when they hit New York City this fall!

I have never thought of the main production number, “Hello Dolly” as a tear jerker, but it hit me this afternoon… much clapping and wiping away a few tears because I was so proud of these two future stars!

Thank you, Stuart McDowell, and the entire company of WSU’s HELLO DOLLY, and much love to Katie and Will!

The day seemed to drag… I felt drained, and exhausted for no apparent reason. I accomplished little until it was time to teach – and that perked me up, greatly.

Jackson Lockhart came to pick up Sophie from her lesson, and we shared some great laughs.

After teaching, Jose and I ran to Lowes to check out stone for some border work in front of the house, then to Walmart and Meijer, and Chinese for supper. We picked out some movies at Family Video and returned home by 9:00pm.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, joined us for the remainder of the evening, and is spending the night with Jose. I retreated to my bedroom with my three DVD set of HBO’s mini-series, JOHN ADAMS. I finished the first two parts (at 2:00am), and I cannot wait to finish the remaining four parts. What an incredible man, and even more, what an incredible lady – Abigail Adams! Wow!

Tomorrow I will accomplish some items around the house, then see HELLO DOLLY at Wright State University @ 2:00pm, and then hit two high school graduation parties – Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

Monday night one of my adult students introduced me to my first Lady Gaga song, “Bad Romance.”

When I was finished teaching, I sat at my computer and looked up the video on YouTube. Wow! What a great song!

I had heard of Lady Gaga, but was not completely familiar with her body of work. I began reading about her, and am so impressed with her story! A professional musician that studied composition at NYU’s Tisch! Impressive! And she is only 24 years old!

I think my son, and some of my students are surprised that I have become knowledgeable of Lady Gaga’s music. However, I am as impressed with her theatrics as much as I am her music.

In some ways, she reminds me of Madonna in the early days of her career. I am interested to see where this young lady’s career takes her.

Will she have the career longevity of Madonna?

Tuesday night, the cast of the hit television show, GLEE, performed “Bad Romance.” Here is an interview about the making of this particular scene.

And here is the GLEE 2010 TOUR recently in Phoenix, Arizona.

I haven’t been this excited over an artist since I discovered Bon Jovi two summers ago… yes, it was late in life!

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