Friday, September 30, 2005

Infertility Treatment Legislation

I'm about to take a very unliberal stance on an issue. I'm not doing it to show I'm not a liberal or anything. It merely reflects my worldview, which defies a simple one word label. The state of Connecticut has enacted some interesting legislation regarding insurance companies and infertility...

The thrust of the article is that the state is going to require health insurers to cover many types of infertility treatments. The catch is that the requirement will come with an age limit. They won't have to pay for treatments from women over the age of 40.

I have no problem with the restricition. While I feel for the would-be parents who will be denied the opportunity to have a child because of this, I can find no legal reason why coverage should be required at all. Where in the Constitution does it say that we have the right to have babies no matter how much it costs to create them? The success rate of fertility treatments starts to fall off after age 35. The success rate for women over 42 is down around 4%. Is it fair and just to require the costs of this be spread out to all the other people on that insurance? Because that's what insurance companies do. They raise rates until they have optimal profit.

I do agree that if people want to have a child so badly that they are willing to go through reproduction assistance, being denied would have detrimental emotional health effects. And, as reproduction is a natural and healthy part of humanity, if something were not working, it could reasonably be construed as a health issue that needed fixing. So, I don't think it is outlandish to ask health insurance to cover these things. But, these health "problems" are not so grave that they need to be resolved regardless of chance of success or cost.

And don't jump in with arguments like, "Well, they support Viagra! They should support this!". That's not truly relevant to my point. If you are making the case that their policies are skewed against women, you may be right. After all, there is no age restriction for the man in the legislation. But again, you can point back to the point that an erection is a normal, healthy thing and if a man is incapable, he has a health problem. Health insurance ought to consider fixig the problem. The problem is that erectile dysfunction has an easy and comparatively inexpensive fix. So the lower cost is used to justify the coverage. Persoanlly, I think if Bob Dole can't get it up, he should go out and buy his own damn Viagra. Let the insurance company shift that money to something useful. I am opposed to the idea of health insurance covering Viagra across the board when they don't cover what I consider to be more important things.

What's more important than Viagra? Or in-vitro? How about contraception? I think there are far more health issues associated with unwanted pregnancies than either of the other issues combined. The cost to resolve would be comparatively low. Yet many health insurance companies do not coverage the more common forms of contraception. Hearing aids is another good one. Insurance companies won't pay for hearing aids unless they are forced. What's more important? A long shot pregnancy or a two year old boy being able to hear at a time when he is doing most of his cognitive development.

I think people expect health insurance to be the cure all, pardon the pun. If it can be done by a doctor or in a hospital, then by gosh, my insurance should cover it! The problem is, if everyone was paying $5000 a year and getting $15000 worth of services, the whole system would collapse.

So, what am I missing here? Other than the fact that studies should be done on how the age of the man and health of his sperm affects the treatment, what exactly is wrong with this policy?

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Viva Mexico!

So, we are leaving for San Felipe in less than 4 hours. The car is almost loaded. Who needs sleep. Sleep is for the weak. Until we get there. Then, sleep is for me! ;-) I have some Terry Pratchett for the drive, some good healthy snacks, and mucho agua. I don't have that slick feature that lets posts trickle out at predetermined times. So, I'm going to publish this article to tell you there really aren't going to be any posts until I get back on Sunday. I'm also going to throw another post in there that will be post dated. You'll see it before it is supposed to be there, but no la importa.

Repeat after me. Dos cervezas, por favor. No mas tequila. Donde esta el bano? Digame! See you on the flip side!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How did I miss this?

This week is Banned Books Week! This is the week when people are encouraged to go to the library (or bookstore) and read something that some narrow minded person doesn't want you to read. I was surprised to find some books on the 100 Most Challenged Books list. Harry Potter is there, of course, as are many books dealing with magic. Many books dealing with homosexuality in a positive way are likewise condemned. And people apparently don't want you to read stories about racism either. But did you know that Judy Blume has two entries on the list? "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain and "The Giver" by Lois Lowry are also on there. We listened to a wonderful unabridged recording of "The Give" narrated by Ron Rifkin. I can't see why anyone would want this banned. I wish they listed reasons for the challenge next to each book on the list. That way I could know to which evils I was exposing myself to. Come on, everyone! Think a banned thought today!

Hat tip to Anne-Marie for the heads up.

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Intelligent Design?

Ok. No disrespect to those I know who take the Bible lierally, but this is getting ridiculous. Penguin migration and mating behavior is proof of an Intelligent Designer? Here is the money quote:

"To think that natural selection or even the penguins themselves could come up with the idea to migrate miles and miles multiple times each year without their partner or their offspring is a bit insulting to my intellect. How great is our God!"
I'm tempted to lay out a plausible evolutionary premise as to how the penuin behaviopr could have evolved over time, but since these people don't believe in evolution, I want to take a different tack with the quote. I do like the quote ending. Kind of makes you wonder how ID can be considered science...

But if you want insulting to someone's intellect, how's this? Let's look at the kakpo, shall we. Anyone who has read Douglas Adams' excellent Last Chance to See knows that the kakapo is an endangererd, flightless parrot. They lived on New Zealand and had no mammalian predators. As such, they lost the need to fly and eventually lost the ability. If you don't believe in evolution, then we can just say they were always flightless. when the Europeans colonized, they brought predators, such as the domestic cat, with them. This nearly killed off all the kakapo. This was made even easier by the fact that kakpo have a distinctively pleasant aroma that has helped predators find them easily.

So, this strikes me as proof that they were NOT intelligently designed. After all, what can be the purpose of placing a species of birds that is tailor made to be hunted and killed on an island with no predators and then allowing predators to later come there and all but wipe them out. I know, I know. His ineffable wisdom. I can't possibly understand. But if he wanted them to survive, there had to be a better design. And if he wanted them to be wiped out, why did he need to have predators do it. I know! He put them there as a food supply for when the predatory animals arrived!

Wait. If that were true, then the kakpo would breed easily and plentifully to ensure the food supply is not lost. After all, if an animal got used to eating easy meals, they might lose some of their hunting skills. Then when the easy game was gone, they would starve. So, surely the kakapo must breed like rabbits, no? No. Males attaract females by use of a low frequency booming sound that carries for miles. You know, kind of like a subwoofer. So, it is hard to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. Assuming they get together and mate, they will produce one to four eggs. They won't do it again for another three to five years. Additionally, the males are not old enough to reproduce until around age five and the females around age ten. Sounds to me like the food supply is not even going to reach equilibrium. So, that's not intelligent.

I know! It's a test. We have to save these, the weakest amongst us, to demonstrate our compassion to the world around us. Yeah. A nice, scientifically provable test.

Why do I want it to be provable? Because you want it taught in my child's science class.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005


NY Yankees8863.583--
Tampa Bay6489.41825.0

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Gas Gouging

So, gas climbed by almost a dollar a gallon in the wake of Katrina. Then they realized that the damage to the fuel supply was not as great as originally predicted. It has come back down by less than a quarter. Now Rita is on the way, and they are talking about raising prices again. Lost in all this is the fact that they raised prices earlier in the summer in anticipation of a bad hurricane season. So apparently, the strategy is to raise prices as a precaution before a disaster occurs. Then, if a disaster actually does occur, raise them again in response. If the The Lowell Sun is to be believed, it's not the station owner that is the cause. The costs are being handed down from on high and accusations of price gouging are running rampant. The producers are taking their share, but so are the credit card companies. They have upped their cut per gallon. Fortunately, the President has said he won't tolerate it, so I'm sure we'll all be seeing refunds soon.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tarot Meme

Hat tip to Jocelyn

Quiz created by Polly Snodgrass.
FIRE OF AIR. Serious and intellectual, you live in the world of thoughts and ideas. You grasp things quicker than most and are a master debater. Your verbal skills are unparalleled; your conversations are stimulating. You are concerned with issues of justice. Your standards are high, so there is danger of becoming too moralistic. While truth is generally an honorable thing, chew on this: "Why Yes Herr Strudel, my neighbor IS hiding Jews in his basement!" You're Christopher Walken in Suicide Kings.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Hell Meme

Picked this one up from James. It's pretty entertaining.

Bill Gates, Objectivists, General asshats
Circle I Limbo

Parents who bring squalling brats to R-rated movies, Militant Vegans, Libertarians
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Oakland Raider Fans, Leonardo DiCaprio
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Compassionate conservatives, DMV Employees
Circle IV Rolling Weights

The Pope
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

Racists, Creationists, Rednecks
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Republicans, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Scientologists
Circle VII Burning Sands

Qusay Hussein, The New York Yankees, Uday Hussein, Southerners who say they aren't racist even though everyone knows they are
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Saddam Hussein, NAMBLA Members, George Bush, Osama bin Laden
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Funny Thing...

Well, the show is going into closing weekend and I can modestly say that it has been a success. The audiences were a little lower than I would have liked, but that is partially due to it being an outdoor production. Because of this, we don't have a matinee on Sunday. This is traditionally when our older viewers come to see us. A lot of them don't like to go out at night, and all our shows are at night, for lighting purposes. Regardless, we've been putting out great energy every show and have avoided any major stumbles. The cast is top notch and we have a lot of fun together.

The reviewers like us, too. Here are three that I have seen.

The Pomerado was probably the most accurate review with the kids pages coming in second. The North County mention came in third. The Pomerado reviewer picks my favorite scene in the show as hers:
Undoubtedly the best scene in the play is when Pseudolus and Hysterium conspired to trick Miles Gloriosus by disguising Hysterium as a woman, and a dead woman at that. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

I diss the NCTimes review mostly because I'm not sure what she was watching. She claims Bruce's portrayal of Pseudolous was a refreshing change from other productions where he is played "over the top". Bruce was very over the top and very funny. He had frequent ad-libs and played to the audience often. she was right that his performance was good, but she cites all the wrong reasons. According to the review, Mia aka the young virgin Philia, is "sweet and youthful". Duh! She's fifteen. It's hard not to be youthful at that age. My favorite line of the review, though, is the commentary on Lycus, as played by my friend Craig. According to her, he "plays the flesh-peddler Marcus Lycus as a flamboyantly gay Gypsy". I guess you'll have to see for yourself whether or not that is true. His costume is flamboyant. But a gay gypsy?

We had a lot of fun with that review during the pickup rehearsal. There's an exchange between Pseudolous and Lycus. Lycus says, "You, Pseudolous, are a true friend." Pseudolous is supposed to respond with, "And you, Lycus, are a gentleman and a procurer". This being pickup rehearsal, we take a few liberties. "You, Lycus, are a flamboyantly gay gypsy". Raucous laughter was had by all. But Lycus got the last laugh. During the son "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid", he enters during the final encore and joins in. He came out in a sequined robe with a hot pink belt. The rest of us weer laughing so hard, we could barely sing or dance.

To sum up: an enjoyable run that will go down in the annals as one of my favorite shows to have been a part of.

Up next for me is a dinner theater comedy called "Haunting Melody" in which I play a security guard who can only speak in fortunes.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

There's a Perfecly Good Explanation, Officer...

The show is going quite well. I have not yet posted about it, but we are doing well, getting good reviews, and having a good time. This is a first for my wife. She's never been in a show before. It's been good for her self-confidence. And I don't think she has regretted any part of the process. Well, any part except for last Friday...

The problem wasn't really during the show, so much as after. Through a series of events, we were all a little tense and on edge. These inlcuded rehearsal for a small park performance that we were doing for the theater, me being in a bad mood because I had to eat my dinner cold, and Josh having accidents in both sets of clean clothes we had for him.

So, the show went well and we were hanging out chatting until Josh had his second accident. This was the kind that required wipes to resolve. I got him cleaned up and deposited him in my wife's car. Meanwhile, she was having a discussion with my daughter about the Saturday park performance revolving around Maya's sudden crisis of confidence. End result, Maya stormed out of the car, Josh was buckled into the car and covered with a blanket, and my wife drove off in a huff without so much as a "see you at home".

I got Maya into my car and we drove off. As we drove, we noticed a police car over holding some Fiday night delinquent over at the side of the road. We passed it by, me giving Maya a talk on safe driving all the while. Then we saw the 'delinquent'. It was my wife! We kept driving as there was nothing we could really do there and I didn't want to startle to officer or put him on edge. I thought that might somehow make the situation worse.

Just as I was turning onto our street, my cell phone rang. It was my wife. She wanted to know where I was. Apparently, she had expected me to stop and was upset that I had driven past. I told her I didn't expect her to be there long. She'd either get a ticket or a warning for whatever it was she did and be on her way. I didn't want to set the officer on edge. She couldn't see where I was coming from and told me to double back. She had warned the officer that I might stop.

"So, what did he bag you for?" I asked as I pulled into a parking lot and began my U-turn. She replied somewhat matter-of-factly, "Suspicion of drunk driving." That caught me off guard. "What?!?" I blurted out. She said, "I guess I changed lanes back before the light without signaling and he felt it was more of an erratic swerve." Lovely. "So, after talking to you, he still thought you might be drunk? I mean he's had you there long enough to make up his mind, hasn't he?" She agree that under normal circumstances, I'd have a valid point, but "there's also the issue of my makeup," she pointed out. I had forgotten that. In the show, she plays a courtesan, a woman for permanent sale. Because of this, she had to go heavy on the makeup. So, we have a swerving, heavily made up woman out late on a Friday night. "Well, there's no law against wearing makeup", I countered, even though I really didn't need to convince her. She told me she had been explaining the show and her role to him and aws probably on the verge of getting a warning when the officer glanced in the back seat. Joshua had fallen asleep and shifted, kicking off the blanket. The officer shined his flashlight in the back. "Why is the boy naked?" Oh, boy. Swerving, made up, and transporting a naked child. He had retreated to his squad car to think it over giving her time to call and summon me back to the scene.

Maya, in the meantime, had gotten upset. "What if they take Mommy to jail? What if they take our car away?!?" I reassured he that everything would be fine. "You don't know that! It's al my fault. I should never have been so difficult. She was probably thinking too much when she drove!" "It's not your fault, and she is not getting arrested," I reiterated. "Mommy is a big girl. If she was too angry to drive effectively, she would have told me and we would have dealt with it."

We were almost back to the 'scene of the crime' when she called me back. "He's letting me go." I was curious. "Warning or ticket", I asked. "Warning," she sighed, "turn around again and head home. See you there."

We all made it home without incident and Maya calmed down a bit. It's still on her mind, though. Since the event, we have had to endure such questions as: "What will happen to Josh and me if you both go to jail."

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Gotta Love FEMA

I was listening to NPR on the work this morning and managed to hear another FEMA official say something stupid. I didn't catch his name, but he seems destined for greatness in this administration. He didn't talk for long, but he managed to put his foot in it. He was being asked about the people's frustration levels at not getting aid fast enough. "The people just need to be patient. They have to follow the process. We're in the same boat as they are." He was alluding to the communications challenges. But seriously. The same boat? You don't have a home to go to? You hardly have any food? You've lost everything and may be missing family members? You don't have a job? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you FEMA. Feigned Emotion, Moronic A**holes.

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So, it didn't take anywhere near as long as I expected for me to hear Katrina "humor". It was on a radio show called Mancow's Morning Madhouse. Think poor-man's Howard Stern. It's bad enough that this piece of trash replaced an entertaining morning sports show that I used to enjoy on my drive to work. The station is sometimes on in the morning because I check the scores on my ride home in the evening and forget to switch it back to NPR. Tuesday morning it came on, and before I could change the station, I heard them doing a "bit". It was a fake commercial advertising "Girls Gone Wild - New Orleans". Apparently, it's funny to juxtapose clips of real women complaining on the verge of tears that they have no food or water for themselves or their children with a studio guy doing an exaggerated black man's voice saying "Take off your shirt." Then another real clip. "That's no reason you can't take off your shirt" Another clip. "But you still should take off your shirt!". If you et a chance, go to their website and let them know what worthless human beings they are.

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Some Bush Administration Shots

Just a few amusing things that came up yesterday during our drive to and from lunch as we discussed the mismanagement and incompetence of the administration.

"You know, this is the first time in Dubya's presidency that Democrats and Republicans are all on the same message: We need more troops in the Gulf."

"It's not the President's fault. He can't really do anything to help. His skills are not in the area of flood management. He's more of a fund raiser. Now, if it was a lood of hundreds, he'd be right there."

Finally, I turned to Jim, who was driving. Jim is ex-Navy and a conservative, like much of the population of San Diego County. The rest of us in the car have more liberal views. I asked him, "Jim, what's it like to be in San Diego and yet be stuck in a car full of liberals." He didn't miss a beat. "Let's me concentrate on my driving."

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Acetone in gas?

Gas prices are soaring, but I'm sure they are legitimate as President Bust said he would "not tolerate price gouging" at the pump. My wife and I both have Toyota Camrys, which are both better than trucks when it comes to MPG, but not by a whole lot. I thought the Camry was supposed to get great milage. Turns out, for mine, the combined mileage is 26 MPG. I'm only seeing 23. So, clearly, my car needs some tuning, but it isn't going to get much better. And I'm about a year away from a Prius or Insight or similar purchase. So, I've been searching for anything I can do that might improve my fuel economy. That's when I discovered this. It's a wiki on using acetone as a fuel additive. As near as I can tell, if you find the right concentration for your car, you can squeeze an average of 20% more out of your fuel economy. For me that translates to 4.6 MPG or about 70 miles per tank or 2-3 days more per tank. I'm going to give it a try and report my results later.

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And Now, the Katrina Rants...

Note: The first paragraph has been changed slightly to reflect the tone of the rest of the piece. Originally, I said there was plenty of blame to go around, and that is true. But that was more a device to get the links included in something other than a list fashion. James called it being "balanced". I call it "not proofreading".

The finger pointing from Katrina is now under way in earnest. Plenty of people are blaming the president, and justifiably so. The President's people are trying to shift the blame to the local goverment, which is their usual MO. There's also justified righteous indignation over some of the racism uncovered in dealing with the tragedy. Over at Legal Fiction, Publius contends that it is not so much racism, as it is post-racism, an interesting term he has coined to explain a very real phenomenon. So, what do I think? Glad you asked...

First off, I think that the Bush bashers have some legitimate points. Do I think the whole thing was his fault? Of course not. But I am tired of his faithful automatically dismissing the criticism. I think it's a little too easy to just dismiss the criticism as Monday morning quarterbacking. There were plenty of screwups along the way that did not have to presuppose a catastrophic flood on top of the hurricane. And this list does not include any of the history running up to hurricane season. All my major complaints deal with the preiod surrounding the storm itself.

Manpower - It was clear early on that the disaster was beyond the scope of the local emergency plan. Part of the problem was that they didn't have the personnel to do all that needed to be done. That is where FEMA is supposed to come in. FEMA should have sent people down there ahead of time. Had them stationed within striking distance ready to mobilize the moment the storm passed. There were buses that could have been used to evacuate, if only someone was there to drive them. Order could have been kept if there were enough uniformed personnel to stand guard and respond to crises. New Orleans already had all available police and rescue out working.

Supplies - So, we knew a Category 4 hurricane is going to hit New Orleans. We may have only known for 24 hours, but we knew. THAT was the time to start mobilizing FEMA resources. If we had supplies in place within short distances of the storm as well as the means to deliver them, help would have gotten there much more quickly. It's true that if we had done that and the storm had weakened, we would have wasted a couple million dollars. But that is a part of what risk mitigation is all about. It's like buying insurance. You buy it and are covered if something really bad happens. If it doesn't, the money is just spent.

Leadership - This is the big one. This is the one thing that a President can be personally responsible for. A strong leader inspires confidence and instills hope. While the storm raged, Bush was beating the war drum in San Diego and playing guitar while people were drenched, drowning, and desperate on the Gulf Coast. Not exactly an image that inspires conidence to the rest of the county. On his way back, he dipped below the clouds on Air Force One to survey the damage. When he finally set foot on the ground, days later, he wasn't anywhere near the most squalid conditions or the most desperate people. His "team" wasn't doing much better. Condi was shoe shopping and going to a Broadway show. Cheney was nowhere to be seen. And Mike Brown, the underqualified head of FEMA was talking on NPR, denying that the conditions being reported at the convention center were true. He actually tried to slur the credibility of the reporters circulating these rumors. It was then pointed out to him that an NPR reporter was on the scene and confirming the stories. All he could say was that he would have to look into it. After the report was over, NPR read a follow-up statement from Brown acknowledging that conditions may be worse than he was led to believe, but that they were making every effort to help the afflicted. He didn't even have the decency to come on the air and say he was wrong.

What emerged was a picture of arrogance and indifference by those in charge to the trapped, dead, and dying. At a time when people needed to know that their government was there, it wasn't.

But not everything that happened was bad. Look at the positives, ew though they may be. The American people came through in ways that put most of our leaders to shame. Texas, a state I normally have disdain for, came through in a huge way. They took on refugees. (And that is what these people are. Evacuees can go back. Most of these people can't.) They took on burdens to their infrastructure, finding jobs and education for the victims. Not long thereafter, other states followed suit. There even are refugees being housed here in an Diego. Everywhere you look, drives for supplies are being held. People are flocking to the Gulf Coast to give, not only money, but time. We are being reminded that red or blue, most of the American people are decent people who care about each other. It's just are leaders and some vocal minorities who are buttwads.

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Before I post anything else, I really feel like I need to comment on Katrina. I've been collecting my thoughts on it. I've read several good posts on the subject. Some have been political and some have not. I agree with Steve that this was far worse than 9/11. September 11th was tragic and shocking in the same way as Pearl Harbor, but the loss of life and property paled in comparison to tragedies such as Katrina and the tsunami. We could focus our anger after 9/11. Someone was responsible. With Katrina, the impact is far worse and farther reaching. We can't attack anyone to feel like we've avenged our fallen. We are the culprits through negligence, ignorance, and incompetence. So, instead of feeling united and motivated to great acts, we are ashamed, disgusted, and saddened. Those are not good building blocks for recovering from a tragedy.

My heart goes out to the victims, surviving and not. More importantly, my money goes out as well. Cymer is doing a dollar for dollar match for all employee contributions to the Red Cross. That will help in the long run. In the short run, they need supplies. There is a volunteer organization on the ground there that is not governed by the red-tape as the governmental agencies. If you send them supplies, they will distribute them. If you send them money, they will buy supplies locally. The address for supplies is

Volunteer Kitchen, Food Bank and Distribution Center
Pine View Middle School
1115 West 28th Avenue Covington, LA. 70434
you can make monetary donations at the Veterans for Peace website.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

They Don't Call it Drama for Nothing

As you may have read in an earlier post, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" opened this past weekend. The show has had many challenges during the rehearsal period. Two of the main characters were away for vacations during this time, and not at the same time. I'd estimate a two to three week stretch where we didn't have major players at rehearsal. This makes the staging, reacting, singing, AND dancing difficult. But we overcame it. We also had a hard time holding on to Proteans and Courtesans. There are three Proteans. We started with only two, made it up to four, and ended with three. However, only one of the three was someone we started with. But we overcame it. There are six Courtesans. We started with three Courtesans. We got up to four. Then we lost one. We went on a spree and made it up to six. We lost one of those about two weeks before the show went up. But we managed to find a replacement. We overcame it. We didn't have any costumes until the week before the show due to a variety of reasons. We even overcame that. Several people pulled together and made some pretty impressive costumes on short notice.

So, we entered production week on somewhat shaky ground, but confident that with time on the set, we could iron out the kinks. The set took all day Saturday to assemble. There were some details that still needed finishing, but they were manageable over the course of the week. Our artist needed to come in and do some painting. (She's fabulous, by the way. Wait till you see the pictures!) So far, so good.

Then we hit tech on Sunday. Our lighting designer came in and started to focus the lights and catalog how the dimmer packs were arrayed. That's when we discovered that about a third of the front lights were on a circuit that kept blowing. We needed to recable several lights. We had slots for them as we were removing some of the back lights. But we needed a lift to do it. And the lift wasn't there. This also meant we couldn't focus the lights. So, we did what we could and pushed the rest off until Monday.

Monday was supposed to be our cue-to-cue rehearsal. That's when we don't really do the whole show. We skip from technical cue to technical cue so that the lighting and sound operators can make smooth transitions. Since the lights weren't focused, and in some cases wired, we couldn't do that. So, they did the focusing and wiring while we did a speed through. A speed through is where you just do all the lines with no emotion or pause. You just run through the show as quickly as you can to make sure everyone is up on their lines. We skipped all the songs during the speed through. Then when the lights were good, we ran through selected pieces of the show that needed work. We also all took turns with the orchestra. We hadn't run any of the songs with a full Orchestra before. By the end of Monday, we at least felt good about the music, lights, and set. Still no full run through, though.

Tuesday night, we were set for a full run through. The set was mostly done. The lights and sound were ready. We even had most of our costumes and props. Things started off reasonably well. There were more fumbles and mistakes then you want to see that close to opening, but nothing that couldn't be overcome. Well, almost nothing. The Courtesans made their entrances and did their solo dances at the appointed time. One of the Courtesans was still shaky on her dance. But she had been working at it. They decided to help her by shortening her dance. There were two problems there. Her music did not lend itself well to being cut in half. Her friend's music did. So, they cut that and swapped the accompaniment. That led to the second problem. Nobody told her it changed. So, she found out that she had somewhat different music when she went out to do her bit. This flustered her and she messed up her dance again. She was angry and embarrassed. So, when the scene was over, she told the other Courtesans that she quit and headed for her car. There followed a frantic exchange where the other Courtesans, including the one that rode in with her, tried to convince her to stay. In the end, she agreed to hang out and wait or Richard, he director, to chat with her at intermission. We arranged for a ride home for the friend, but her friend went to keep her company in the car. She swore she was not leaving. In retrospect, I don't think any of us was surprised that both the car and the girls were gone by intermission.

So, now we were out two dancers seventy-two hours before curtain. No problem. We'll just get more. Our assistant choreographer stepped in to ake one of the roles. She never auditioned because she was going to be away Labor Day weekend. Still, better to only need a replacement for one weekend than two. We had her in costume by the beginning of the second act. When they weren't on stage, the Courtesans began an intensive teaching session with her for cues and timing. We still needed to find one more. Imagine my surprise when I sat down for notes to find a girl come walking out from backstage in a glittering bikini top and a skirt made of scarves. She looked familiar, but I couldn't place her. Then, it hit me. It was Nick's sister! Nick is playing Hero. He's too young to drive, so she had just stopped in to pick him up. And she left as a member of the cast. Of course, she had just started a job in the mall and with school startin was only scheduled for weekends. She had to go in and ask her boss to give her only day shifts so she could bail us out. But she did it and we had overcome once again. We'd have some intensive practices Wednesday to get our newest cast members up to speed, but on we would roll.

Wednesday was the vandalism I posted previously under the heading "Why Do Some People Suck?". The police came and checked it out, but the damage was not significant enough from a monetary perspective for them to try to gather any evidence. Where is CSI when you need them? I bet they could have solved it in a single episode. Plus I would have gotten fingerprinted and questioned! Repairs would have to wait until Thursday. We had a rehearsal to do on most of a set.

Thursday night. Final dress. The set was back together. We had all the roles filled. We had all our costumes, props, and makeup. We were ready to roll. We even started pretty close to on time. It wasn't a flawless rehearsal, but it was going pretty well. At least until the Fire Department showed up. Captain Roberto had come over from the station in the park to see about keeping the noise down. Apparently, they were trying to sleep at 9 p.m. on a Thursday and we were impeding that. Richard attempted to have a cordial conversation with him. After all, this was our last rehearsal before the show. There would be no more week nights where this would happen. Captain Roberto would have none of it. He stormed off and we resumed rehearsing. At least until the Police arrived. The Police had received a call from the Fire Department complaining that we were violating our permit. As we didn't have a copy of the permit with us, we had to take their word for it in spite of their weird assertion that our permit only allowed us to rehearse until 9pm. This assertion was weird because we couldn't start rehearsing until it was dark, which meant 8pm. Why would we get a permit for one hour of rehearsal time for a show that runs two hours?

Well, we tried negotiating with the Police. We used the same arguments as we did with the Fire Department. The officers were unsympathetic. "Once someone calls us, we have to shut you down." They claimed that the hardline stance had nothing to do with the fact that the firefighters were the ones who called. "We suggest you shut it down. If we get called again, we have to issue you a citation." That didn't sound too bad. "How much is the fine?", the director asked. The Police could see where this was going and made an addendum. "We could also revoke your permit."

Well, this went on for an hour and it got to the point where it was not worthwhile to try to run the second half of the show. So, we bagged rehearsal, cursed Captain Roberto, and decided to try to run some stuff before curtain on Friday. "On more thing," the Police added, "your permit is only good until 10 p.m. on weekends." That was more problematic. The show was almost two hours without intermission, and there would certainly be an intermission. More adversity to overcome.

Although there were some creative suggestions like having someone set a fire on the other side of town at 9:45 so they would be too busy to complain, we opted for a more legal solution. The theater's artistic director was able to get the end time pushed to 10:30. Even if we were to run over a little, by the time the Police arrived, there would be nothing to bust us for.

Friday was opening night. What would today hold? We still needed to run the chase scene in act 2 a couple of times and go over the courtesan parts with the new courtesans. Oh. And deal with the flooding. Flooding? Yup. Allegedly, a water main broke and flooded the audience area and the orchestra pit. I think the firefighters did it. But the water got cleared and there was enough blazing heat that the ground was dry by the time the house opened. We did our rehearsing without costumes and just about finished by the time the audience arrived.

So, just a bit of adversity in production week. Next time I'll tell you how the performances went.

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