Monthly Archives: August 2009

I am Waiting for Guffman!

I’ve talked about being in a community theater play.  The other night, my friend Suzanne, our director, told us that a friend of hers, a professional actor and playwright in New York,  is coming to see our show.  He’s currently writing a show that he’s done readings for producers etc. as he tightens it up; soon, he’ll be casting it.  I immediately joked, “Hey, that means we’re waiting for Guffman!”

If you don’t get the reference,  Waiting for Guffman is one of Christopher Guest’s comedy movies filmed as a fake documentary; it spoofs community theater:

From imdb: An aspiring director and the marginally-talented amateur cast of a hokey small-town Missouri musical production go overboard when they learn that someone from Broadway will be in attendance.

So the joke is that they’re already bad but think they’re great and can actually go to Broadway.  Guffman is the name of the Broadway director who is coming to see their show.  If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s worth watching, even if you aren’t in community theater.

(Little note: the movie has some cursing, so don’t watch it with your kids and then be upset that I didn’t warn you. 😉  )

Anyway, so here we are, our little show in South Jersey, and we (might) have a professional from Broadway coming to see us.

Now! Let’s start off with me saying: I am very well aware that we are amateurs, doing the best we can, taking that seriously,  since people are going to spend money to see us.  But we are not a professional New York (or any other city) show.

Even so, I’m excited that this guy might see us.  That is, I’m excited if he happens to say I did some good things. 😀   I know some people don’t care or are even put off by that kind of thing.  In fact, when someone mentions someone coming to review their shows, they don’t want it because “who are they to judge what I do?”.    But I do like feedback, including –constructive– (that’s the keyword!) criticism.  Last night, for example, I asked John about how I was doing and he gave me suggestions on how to improve.  Plus, if someone in the audience or someone I know comes up, pointing out things that they enjoyed, it makes me feel good that I did a good job.  I think this guy understands he’s not going to see professionals and will gauge the show by the amateur standard.  If he thinks I did a good job and maybe has tips on what I can do better (as an amateur), I’d love to hear it.

Plus, he’s a playwright!  I’ve written shows, so I’d love to hear what it’s like on the professional side.

Having said that, if he does come to see the show, I hope I don’t know until it’s all over, because otherwise, I’ll be nervous knowing he’s out there! 

And if he does come and hates my performance, then I hope he’ll remember this very sage advice:

I am SCREWED for rehearsal tonight!

We’re supposed to be off-book.   I had the best intentions about doing nothing but learning my lines for the past two  nights.  Then this happened and that happened and here I am!  4 hours until rehearsal and I only know half of Act I and a few pages of Act II.

Time to panic!


…my friend Suzanne, who is the director, might be reading this…

Who’s ready for rehearsal! Me! That’s who!

Look, just look at how ready I am! Everything is rosy!   I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready! 

If it looks like I don’t know my lines, it’s the other person’s fault.  I’m not looking to be petty, and I’m not naming names , but you know how it is: someone else messes up their lines and YOU’RE the one who looks like you screwed up.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

As for me:

“Oh, Alice!  Please don’t leave the family!”

Thank you!  Thank you! You’re too kind, really!

Rehearsals for You Can’t Take It With You:

I thought I’d show you a couple of pictures I took at rehearsal last night.

What!” you say.  “Who wants to see that?  I came here because I thought you’d talk about interesting like that Vick post or updates on the big sites–”

But remember, I just got a new camera phone, so I’ve gone back to taking photos of everything!  It’s like when I show you 209 photos of my dogs   or looking at 147 photos of a baby smiling the exact same way and then you find out the kid had gas.  This is better though because there’s only 2 pics…  and I think everyone is gas free.

John at rehearsal Here’s John!  I caught him right before he gave me that hand gesture that says how much he loves me.  He does that a lot in photos.  In case you missed it a couple of posts ago, it looks like this: 

We’re playing a husband and wife in this show: Paul and Penny Sycamore.   It’s such a joy to work with us in a show, as our friend Suzanne, who’s directing,  could tell you.  Last night, for example, I crossed the stage to stand near John during a scene.  The  WHISPERED conversation went something like this:

Me:  Suzanne wants me to come to you at some point in this scene.  I think this will part is good because it refers to the big discussion we (our characters) had a minute ago.

John: I’m supposed to interact with Alice soon.

Me:  Okay.

John: So go back over there until Suzanne tells you to come over here.

Me: She did tell me to come over here!

John: Oh… you said you picked this spot to cross over.

Me: I said she told me to find a spot! Stop directing me!

John: I am not directing!

Suzanne stopped the scene at this point, laughing, and told the 2 actors doing their scene that she had to stop because “I have an insurrection going on over here.”   I thought we had been quiet.  Maybe I shouldn’t have hit John with my script; that might have kept our “discussion” under the radar.

Moments before "the discussion".  Notice how THRILLED the audience is! ...snore...

Moments before "the discussion". Notice how we're THRILLING the audience! ...snore...

Ocean City NJ!

Ocean City NJ!, originally uploaded by eblackwell.

And the first pic with new phone! You can tell it has a full keybord because I’m typing more! It’s turned into a beautiful day and we’ve stopped to eat a fave: Kactus Kafe!

With all the Michael Jackson music playing…

… as a tribute to him since he died, why don’t they ever play Ben?

What, you don’t know the MJ song Ben?  Well, here you go!

There it is: a ballad about friendship, about outcasts now being less lonely when the world is against them.   So why isn’t this on the airwaves as much as Billie Jean?

Maybe it’s because, if you know the song, you know it’s about a psychotic killer and his pet rat that he trained (amongst a hundred other rats) to kill people.

MJ’s Ben was written for the movie sequel to Willard — about a man exacting his revenge on society for making him an outcast.  At the end of the first movie, Willard dies, but Ben, the lead rat, survives.  (Or so I’ve heard; I never saw either film, even as an adult.) He gets his own movie and Michael Jackson sang the title song.

Of course, the song has nothing in it that’s about the plot of either movie.  The only tie-in is the name Ben.  It’s not like the lyrics are:

Ben is this killer rat I know!

I taught him how to do it with one deadly blow!

I’m guessing that’s deliberate, so MJ could sing it anywhere and it was a huge hit for him.  I do remember when they played it on the radio into the 80s — and I remember asking my older sisters who was Ben, and them delighting in telling me.  I was scared to walk past storm drains for months.

But here’s where my sarcasm backfires on me: so much time has gone by that most people don’t know it came from that movie.   Jackson sang it into his 20s, and quite a few singers have done covers of it, right into American Idol.   People who are hearing for the first time on Idol or on sources like youtube are falling in love with it, downloading it, getting ringtones of it, or buying it.

So my attempt at being so clever has blown up and left the question:

Why aren’t they playing this huge hit of a song as part of Michael Jackson’s career on the radio? For that matter, why don’t they play Will You Be There?  I actually liked that song.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go pet my friend’s pet rats: Lucy and mini-Morgan, the namesake for my dog Morgan.  (OK, I added the mini, kind of like Morgan’s mini-Me.)

Let’s have fun with LOL Celebs!

Time for some laughs!

I had to include this one!  Yzma, from one funny movie!

I had to include this one! Yzma, from one funny movie!

And now, to bid us farewell as I end this post….

Magic Meets Trip Report

John and I arrived for the long weekend on Thursday night, later than we thought after John used a “shortcut” to get to Commodore Barry Bridge.  We knew our friends Carol and Gary were already there at the same place where we were staying, and as we guessed, they weren’t just in the same section but right next door to us!  We saw Gary at his laptop, so we knocked on the window.  Like all good friends, he opened the window and greeted us with a warm welcome:

“There goes the neighborhood,” he said.

The Blackwells are here!

The Blackwells are here!

They came outside and after discussing our mutual trips, everybody said good night.  We saw them again the next morning as Gary walked their dogs, Zac and Zoe, and we had our three nut jobs out:







Gary had made a new top for our Mickey lamp post (you can read about that in “Birth of a Mickey Lamp”) and gave us a nice GPS software package for our laptop.  As a thank you, we knew he and Carol were big Disneyana fans, so we got them a 1971 Walt Disney World Pictorial Souvenir book.  It even has a great section on our favorite resort, Fort Wilderness.  I was so happy that they liked it!

I did still show off my vintage Fort Wilderness shirt and jacket which they took well. They do have custom FW signs for their camper after all!

Our subtle tribute to our home away from home: Fort Wilderness!

Our subtle tribute to our home away from home: Fort Wilderness!

John and I both volunteered for setting up for the weekend’s events.  Last year, we mosied over after talking to Gary and Carol until lunch time, and the other volunteers looked at like, “Hey, thanks for showing up when everything’s done!”  This time, we actually got over there early so we could be of some help! What a concept!

Making “magic” takes a lot of people, but we had fun doing it and it was a great chance to meet up with good friends, like Tacey, Deb, Linda…  We got busy — and special thanks to whoever brought in the coffee and the greatly timed soft pretzels!  I jumped on both of those like I had been chained in the basement for a month.  And it was so sweet of my husband to yell, “Erin, drink your coffee from a cup, please!  Don’t just pour the whole box into your mouth!”  Or telling Deb that I never work at home as I did  for the All Ears tables.

Volunteers had been at work already on Thursday night, including someone leaving a little joke for Mike Scopa:

Sign says The Dread Pirate Scopa

Sign says "The Dread Pirate Scopa"

So here’s the Before shot:

Pretty, but wheres the magic?

Pretty, but where's the magic?

Team All Ears’ Michelle and I helped put together the AEN tables, joking about how the other team members would get there and rearrange everything.  We did decide to make it a tradition to have an All Ears pins Mickey on the table.   So it was a homage, not, as we were (jokingly) accused of :  “you guys ripped off our idea from last year”.  That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

Michelle even interviewed me for one of All Ears’ audio tweets as we set up the table.  I’m sure it was brilliant, filled with insight and warm charm, but just in case, I didn’t listen to it. 😉

Of course, as we set up tables, centerpieces, etc.  the Dream Team Project set up the silent auction for the Make A Wish foundation.  I tried to get John to go over there with me, but he wanted to be surprised by what was offered when it opened on Saturday.  That killed my secret plan of “Look at THAT, honey!  I would so LOVE to have THAT. hint, hint!”

Our friend Tacey gave John a nice surprise: this great, embroidered Trail Ranger Jessica Rabbit shirt:

Friday wasn’t just for setting up, but for a sort of 3 events: a little get together with food and giveaways, then Magic Tunes – a name that tune game, and a karaoke meet.  All of this, plus a little collectibles market to kick off the night, all raised more money for Make A Wish.

We got to meet more friends like Scott Thomas, who I worried wouldn’t be able to make it.  Deb Koma, Glo from Miami, Sandra, Terry and Stephanie… it was so FANTASTIC meeting up again!  Beci and her team for Mouse Fan Travel had someone’s little girl at their table as they finished setting up, and I chastised them, reminding them that we have child labor laws in this country!

Mike Scopa gave up his karaoke ticket for auction, and when a young woman wanted to go but couldn’t meet the auction price, Deb Wills and All Ears’ Glo from Miami jumped into the auction for her.  Someone else put up their karaoke ticket, raising another $150 for Make A Wish!  I wish I had gotten the name of the young woman who went because it was important later, but instead I would call her Karaoke Girl whenever I saw her, which she seemed to like. Thankfully!

I finally got to see our friends John and Cathy at the Magic Tunes, and I was really impressed at how good some people were!  We got to the point with the really obscure music with making things up like:

The bride’s dance at our wedding!  It actually ended up being the old Transportation pavilion theme.


What John hears when he sees me smile!  And it’d actually be the exit music for the old exhibit at Space Mountain.

Another great favorite was the song from the Canadian pavilion, and I excitedly said to Carol and Gary, “Listen!  The song for your country!” to which they gave me absolutely blank stares.  So I added emphatically, “You know – Canada?!” 

Here’s a piece of trivia: did you know they play “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” at the Canada Pavilion? Neither did I.

Last year, during a Michael Jackson song from “Captain EO”, Lou Mongello did a quick moonwalk, not knowing it was recorded and on youtube within 30 minutes.  People shouted for him to do it again; to sweeten it, they offered money to the Make A Wish donation, which was Lou’s project.  By the time it was done, it was hundreds of dollars (I think $800) for Deb Wills of All Ears, Beci of Mouse Fan Travel, and Lou to do it.  Wow! And here they are!

And because he instigated the whole thing, Beci got Mike Scopa to take his turn:

Some lucky kid will never know they got their Disney World pass just from those few seconds of some really … um, good dancing!

And then, on to karaoke!  We ended up in one corner of the room, but mingled with everyone.  It took a little while for the singing to get started, but we were looking through the books pretty quickly.  I thought of finding something fun, some novelty song.  I found the perfect song, but as I wrote it up… well, the age old situation rose up:

I went with the red guy on the right, and entered my friend Cathy’s name to sing….

…. The Mighty Mouse theme song.

In my defense, I showed it to her husband John before putting it in and got a big thumbs up!  Sufficite to say, when they called her name, she didn’t go up and gave me such a LOOK! The next day, she had this to say about it:

My husband John sang and for the people who thought he could only do “Mack the Knife”:

Let me be serious for a moment: Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be karaoke singers.  Because this is the sort of people who hang out in those places:

Look at Gary trying to hide behind us, like he wasn’t there!

And a little more education: John A. ordered a Scotch and soda.  The bar waitress asked him what kind of soda.  We joked all weekend: Mr. Pibb.  Then Deb Wills told us of a nice place actually giving her Scotch, ginger ale, and olive.  Yum.

So Friday was a day of meeting friends and having laughs.  And we had a whole weekend to go!

Saturday started early too with meeting at Perkins for breakfast and getting over to the ballroom for last minute checks and set up.  I admit I stirred up the waiting crowd with “Wait until you see the good things in there!”  The volunteers did a fantastic job because here’s the finished ballroom!

After the Meetskateers were finished!

After the Meetskateers were finished!

One centerpiece with the Winnie the Pooh snowglobe:

And the other centerpieces with the Tinker Bell snowglobe:

And a view of the auction tables in the back:

The All Ears.Net tables with some great gifts for our guests and Debs wonderful Flying Dutchman poster

The All Ears.Net tables with some great gifts for our guests and Deb's wonderful Flying Dutchman poster

We took a moment for photos:

Deb is founder of All Ears.Net and John is founder of The Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders

Deb is founder of All Ears.Net and John is founder of The Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders

The Magic Meets volunteers

The Magic Meets volunteers

I even learned where the name All Ears came from: Deb Komas son!

I even learned where the name All Ears came from: Deb Koma's son!

They had a lot of great sessions like one on moving to Orlando and Deb’s and Beci’s talk on Adventures by Disney. Listening to them, I was ready to jump on to the first trip to take me to Ireland. Then, when Beci described standing in Walt’s apartment, looking at the window as he had, sitting there on the couches we’ve seen in so many pictures, she spoke with such feeling, it moved me. Carol and I told her so at the end of the talk.

The whole day wasn’t one of decorum and lumps in the throat as one can see here by the “mature” actions….

Winnie the Pooh wouldnt drink Scotch!  It has no honey in it!

Winnie the Pooh wouldn't drink Scotch! It has no honey in it!

…. of a certain table:

You got a gift, my friend!  No, you!

You got a gift, my friend! No, you!

When the day was done, over $26,000 was raised for charity including someone who, after meeting a Make A Wish family, raised $10,000 on his own!  We did our share: we didn’t win any auctions, but John did a good job competing for something he found out I wanted (thanks, hon!), which also drove up the amount of money the charity got!  And Karaoke Girl came up to us, on her own, and matched the donation Deb and Glo had made for her the night before; now you know why I wish I had learned her name.  She’s starting in Disney’s college program in September.  You’ll be a great cast member, KG, with your generous heart!

Friends of mine won some of the auctions; I was happy for every one of them, and thankful for everyone who was so generous for their bidding!

Deb Wills autographs her poster sold for charity to Terry on the right.  With All Ears Linda in the middle.

Deb Wills autographs her poster sold for charity to Terry on the right. With All Ears' Linda in the middle.

We collapsed that night.  I think all the fun, late nights, and early mornings hit everyone at once.  Plus the little bit of Scotch that I tried — ooo, mellow!  So it was a quiet night…

We were supposed to go to Hershey on Sunday, but Morgan decided it was much more important to nip at a bug bite or something else in the middle of the night, and chew off a chunk of fur and really aggravate her skin.  So instead, we took care of the hurt pooch and plan instead to celebrate John’s birthday in September in Hershey!   That made Sunday a relaxing day with reading, hanging out at Carol and Gary’s – Zac and Zoe even allowed Elphie to come over again — and napping.  But I did miss not getting over to the Sunday events and Hershey, because it meant we missed a chance to talk and say goodbye to all our friends.

Monday was the day we packed up; so did Carol and Gary.  We’re going to try and meet in October when they’re in Jersey for a pin event.  The fun always goes by too fast….

But not this trip report, huh?  You’re probably thinking, “When is she going to shut up already?”  I will now, after this pithy closing….

….  um….

Don’t do drugs!  Do I need to show the kind of people who drink Scotch and Mr. Pibbs at karaoke again?  I thought not.

😉  Magic rules!