Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 31st

Chaos has descended. The kitchen was ripped out yesterday after a weekend of feverish packing by me and Tommy. They want to do the master bath next but we're not quite out of there. We hope to have the top two floors vacated by the end of this next weekend and then they can run riot up there for a while. In the meantime, I'm dealing with the bank which is dragging its feet over the refinance and trying to get the architect to do the additional drawings the city is going to require. Then there's the engineer, the need to get all the various decorative elements ordered etc. etc. It's getting old and tiring. Not to mention that we have hit a major heat wave so it's nigh on impossible to move anything outside without collapsing from heat exhaustion. I will be very grumpy for the next few months.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday, July 27th

I haven't gone off on a political rant or tangent for a while. I'm not going to now, just post a list of some recent executive orders out of the White House and let folks draw their own conclusions...

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10990 allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has broad powers in every aspect of the nation.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday, July 26th

The contract is signed. The initial payment is in process and Tommy and I are embarked on the major remodel that's going to cost about as much as the house did a decade ago. I guess we aren't going to be moving for a while. I'm still in that 'What did I just do?' state of shock that tends to accompany all significant financial transactions. I just keep telling myself that I could pay cash for the whole thing out of the little nest egg that Steve left me so it's not that bad but I don't always believe myself.

The contractor's guys are less busy than they thought so the work is slowly beginning. This is weeks earlier than we anticipated so Tommy and I have been running around trying to play catchup on the work we need to do. The new kitchen appliances have been ordered. The new sink and faucets are ready for the cement countertop people. We ordered the new front doors. The POD arrives on Monday so we can start shifting furniture out of the house and demolition can proceed. We're cleared for the work on the house with the city but we still need additional permitting to build the new storage room and we're working on that this week and next.

I hate moving. I live by inertia. If nothing else, all of this will necessitate a bit of a cleanout of the junk that lives in all our closets and drawers. Playhouse should be getting a lot of prop donations in the near future.

At the same time, I have to get ready for a bunch of speaking gigs the next few weeks. Fortunately, its all canned talks but I do need to do some tweaking to make sure they're ready for audiences. Unfortunately, they're all donated unpaid gigs to various aging advocacy groups.

Work is back in full swing. It's like I was never away. I hate that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday, July 20th

Life has resumed its usual patterns with me being back at work and Tommy being back in school. There's not a lot of anything unusual going on. We took last week as a bit of a catch up on Birmingham cultural life. Saw a production of 'Damn Yankees' (in which the local talent ran rings around the expensive Equity import) that was amusing, but not as on fire as it should be, a decent cabaret featuring friends Bill, Emily and Lucas and 'Fuddy Meers', one of David Lindsay-Abaire's absurdist comedies which is also amusing and well performed but doesn't quite have the over the top quality that would take it to dangerous places. We were supposed to go to a new play, 'Blackpool and Parrish' but I threw my back out on Sunday morning and had to spend about 24 hours doped up in bed to be functional for work on Monday so I took drugs and rewatched the long cut of 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Birmingham has joined the IMAX family so Tommy and I paid the premium to see the latest Harry Potter on the really big screen and it was good fun. The movie works, the visual look is fabulous, the performances are great, but it feels very perfunctorily written and edited. It's one of the shorter Potters and misses some of the richness of character and moment that some of the other films have had. It could have been ten minutes longer without dragging and given more of the plot room to breathe. Various characters are dispensed with after about a minute and a half and we never really do figure out what the Order of the Phoenix actually is. Another Potter weekend this weekend as the last book arrives via UPS. I imagine every truck in the country will be out and about delivering it on Saturday. Something like 3.5 million advance orders between Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

We're descending into contractor land over the remodel. The final contract is being spelled out and we should be able to start in a couple of weeks. It's going to cost the earth but needs to be done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday, July 10th

Tommy and I are back at home, road trip done. I still have the rest of the week off so we're catching up on various small domesticities. Various appointments, some trips to the cinema, cleaning the house, meeting the contractor, haircuts, that sort of thing. The cats are happy to see us back and have been leaping all over us; well, leaping is probably too strong a word - let's just say they're less imperious thatn usual.

The last piece of the trip was a success. After overnights in Indianapolis and Cleveland, we arrived in Manhattan and checked into the Best Western President Times Square where we spent four nights in a roon roughly the size and shape of a walk in refrigerator. Fortunately, we were usually out and about. Had a number of very good meals. (A find was Iguana, a Mexican place on 54th between 7th and 8th), did our usual shopping at such places as Colony, Patelson's and Drama Books. Had time to see four shows during our stay:

Deuce - Terence McNally's latest isn't much of a play but with Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes holding forth in what amounts to a two character effort, it was worth it. Angie is 81 and Marian is 78 and they're doing 8 shows a week. A meditation on aging and career and public adulation, it's supposedly about retired tennis pros having their swan song but it is much more about two fabulous actresses heading into their twilight years.

A Chorus Line - Basically an exact recreation of the original production with a new cast. It's faithful to Michael Bennett, enthusiastically performed, but just doesn't work the way you want it to as it's playing to a 2007 audience rather than a 1977 audience. Society has changed but there's been no reinterpretation of the piece to take that into account. It's more like watching an old movie than a dynamic work of art.

110 in the Shade - First chance to see Audra McDonald on the NY stage. She's great as is John Cullum and I really liked the material and wonder why it isn't revived much more often as it's quite well constructed as a show with a lot of good material in it. Done with a simple, but evocative set on the Studio 54 thrust. It's a show I could see being done locally quite easily.

Spring Awakening - This season's critical darling. I liked it, Tommy liked it a bit more than I did. The messages are great. An enthusiastic and talented young cast. Jonathan Groff's naked bottom. It has a lot to recommend it but it didn't catch me the way I thought it should. I think maybe it's the music - very 2000s Destiny's child type arrangements. The melodic lines just didn't speak to me. Maybe I'm getting old.

We zipped back home from NYC in a couple of days and last night, I went into the hospital for a long overdue sleep study. As expected, I have severe sleep apnea (it's due to the configuration of my chin and throat and not the usual type - genetics, it'll get you every time. I get to sleep all dolled up with a CPAP machine for the indefinite future. I am not at all excited about this development but I will give it a try if it will give me more energy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday, July 2nd - Cleveland, Ohio

Tommy and Andy's tour of the upper midwest continues. After leaving Chicago, we headed down to St. Louis for a couple of days. The downtown hotels were fairly empty and we got a real deal at a very nice Hilton a couple of blocks from the Gateway Arch. As neither of us had ever been there, we headed up the arch on a strange cross between an elevator and a rock-o-plane along with several hundred of our closest friends. Lovely view from the top, if a bit unnerving. Can now cross it off the life list and never have to do it again.

The reason for St. Louis was to see Tommy's voice teacher from Montevallo as Tamino in a production of 'Zauberflote'. Put on by a samll opera company in a Disciples of Christ/UCC church near Forest Park. Not a bad production for a limited budget and some fine singing, especially the Pamina. Had a very good dinner in the CWE at a bistro called Moxy which we found through the online Zagat guide.

On Sunday, drove to Indianapolis where we spent a lovely few hours doing laundry before dinner and then settling down with architectural plans for the remodel only to recognize they need to be completely redone as the original designs and what we want have drifted further and further apart. Today, we've gone as far as Cleveland where we are looking out the hotel window at the blue waters of Lake Erie before entertaining ourselves this evening with dinner and a walk. Tomorrow, off to Manhattan.