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July 13th, 2014

03:19 am - heave down the catfood an' heave-to yer dinghy
Every now and then we find bits of random detritus on the ol' hard drive and while I am not trying to imply there'll be any kind of lost blog entries from Abbie any time soon, I did want to bring to your attention a fine sea chantey that was written aboard Martha the Cat's own ship, the Flying Kitten. The appearance of the ink on the pages implies that the verses were added over time, and if the page numbering is anything to be believed (the song ends on a posthumous verse), there might be quite a few more verses out there. At any rate, here is what we currently have of the chantey about Martha the Cat, which was named by a crew member who apparently wasn't very imaginative.


Oh, Martha the Cat was a mighty fine pirate
The cleverest pirate 'pon these Seven Sinks,
When asked how she did it, she said "It's no secret:
A captain is only as good as she thinks."
Yes, boys,[1] yes
That is what Martha would do.
Martha the Cat helmed a mighty fast vessel
A frigate she was, Flying Kitten her name
Her figurehead was of a panther a-leaping
The colors she flew high resembled the same.
Yes, boys, yes
That is what Martha would do.
Now, Martha the Cat had a brother named Abbie
This brother, his appetite grew as he grew
For breakfast he'd start with a brunch and three lunches
And then finish off with a dinner or two.
Yes, boys, yes
That is what Abbie would do.
Well, Martha the Cat went out sailing one morning
The morning was fair and the water was nice
She sailed far away and came back in a fortnight
With her tail held up high and a holdful of mice.
Yes, boys, yes
That is what Martha would do.
Once Martha the Cat was brought up 'fore His Honor
His Honor, he said "We found you with the loot!
I've only one question to ask: did you nick it?"
And Martha replied, "I don't know... but I'm cute!"
Yes, boys, yes
That is what Martha would do.
Old Martha the Cat, she's now sailing far elsewhere
That elsewhere, it's somewhere you'll go and then stay
But a message I found in a bottle said "I'm good!
There's fine prizes here 'pon the old Milky Way."
Yes, boys, yes
That's where the good Kitten flew!

1. An annotation scribbled in the margin of the first page, written by Martha herself, explains that aboard The Flying Kitten, every crew member may be referred to as 'boy' because it is, in her particular cat dialect, the word for sailor. This has yet to be verified but we have top linguists working it right now. Top. Linguists.

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July 11th, 2014

03:01 pm - There must be a motivational poster which inspires execs to follow their most boneheaded visions
Just in case there is now a law which stipulates I always have to write about the wee beasties in this LJ, I will mention that Sonya and I left them alone for one night (one night!) and, upon returning home, discovered that they have transformed from kittens into miniature cats. Hestia's ears are growing into the large Siamese shape like her mother had; Autolycus is taking after his father with short equilateral triangles for ears. They will be four months old tomorrow. And now you know something completely innocuous about the kittens and that's all I should mention in this post, because it really is about a big big big loss for independent Boston theatre.

This is what I wrote back in January about the Factory Theatre, in which the Porpentine Players presented A Man for All Seasons during the cold month:
I maybe ought to take this opportunity to mention that the Factory Theatre is, indeed, located in a former piano factory in downtown Boston. The house appears to be in a former loading dock; it's a two-story bare brick room with enough length and width for a piano-totin' truck and all the mechanical hoisting thingamajiggers required to haul pianos into said truck. It is cold, it is drafty, there is only one bathroom and it's horrible; it is theatre in the rough and it is glorious, even if a bit masochistic.

The bathroom deserves special mention since it smells like a truck stop with kidney problems and the door locks every time and the key is usually lost so for god's sake prop the door open when you leave or we'll all be peeing out in the parking lot. The bathroom is also home to a very friendly cockroach who I presume acquired several nicknames, some of them pejorative and one of them pronounceable only by a shoe, from the cast and crew. (I called it Frankie.) And along with cockroaches, I learned this weekend that the place has spiders.
Yesterday word went quickly around Boston theatre people that the Factory had lost its lease and would be gone, gone, gone by the end of October. The rest of the renovated Factory was once artist loft space, but now it's mostly really expensive condo space which they call "high-end lofts" and let me tell you that's one of the greatest real estate euphemisms ever. Right next to "cozy with lots of character".

The Factory building management have decided that they would rather take out one of the last good venues for Boston fringe theatre, an actual source of revenue, and instead (so the rumor mill goes) put in a gym, something which the South End desperately needs because that's the only direction in which you can swing a dead cat without hitting one. But the rumor mill churns out the possibility that the gym won't even be open to the public; it'll be for the residents only. There goes another source of revenue for these genius Captains of Industry. GENTLEMEN, WE ARE MAKING ENTIRELY TOO MUCH MONEY OFF THIS VENTURE. IF WE WANT A GOLDEN BAILOUT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEVALUATE THE PROPERTY AND FAST. MIGHT AS WELL GET BIALYSTOCK AND BLOOM TO BLOW THE PLACE UP. The Factory's parking lot will be gated--not that theatergoing proles could park there anyway--but this will bar even pedestrian access, and apparently the theater itself is just too pedestrian to live.

Far from expressing relief that one would never again have to deal with the one-and-a-half-person-wide backstage area, the drafts, the cockroach bathroom, the light booth with practically no view of stage left ("I'll just count to ten after your line, bring up your special and have faith you're underneath it by then") and spiders who'll upstage you every chance they get, everybody what does theater around Boston is angry. The Factory Theatre may be a cramped, cold hole but it's our cramped, cold hole, goddammit. And what with it seating fifty people who are no more than fifteen feet from the players at any time, it presented a terrific opportunity for really intimate productions. AMFAS worked great there. You weren't sitting comfortably in an auditorium watching Sir Thomas More underneath a proscenium, no, you're practically sitting in his house. Or in his garden. Or on the banks of the Thames, or in the Tower of London, or or or, you get the idea.

The Factory is/was home to at least four or five resident companies; the Porpentines got their foot in the door (which isn't so hard to do when you have to keep it propped open with a rock). Nobody is going to take this without a fight, or at least a new venue search--but new venue searches happen all the time and turn incredibly depresso after a while. This is all I know for now, but I know that we collectively get mighty upset when a place we in which we play is taken from us. We'll see what happens. If it turns into a gym, I sure hope every single person paying to live there uses it and uses it often. I don't want the gym to fail if it comes to that; I just hope that the area is well and duly used regardless of what it ends up being. There's simply nothing worse than corporately-wasted space, and I can say this with great certainty and conviction because I was in Burlington this morning.

Long live the Factory Theatre; long live fringe with a capital or lower-case F[f].

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July 5th, 2014

03:46 am - in which kittens learn that freedom isn't free, or some other bumper sticker bromide
The kittens did not have a good Fourth of July.

Thursday the city of Somerville shot fireworks off at Trum Field, which is on the other side of Ball Square from us. We didn't go, having plans to later that evening to see the Boston fireworks from Prospect Hill. You could hear the percussive reports at home, nice bass thuds which were fun for us but sufficiently loud to unnerve kitten, um, nerves. Hestia ran into Sonya's room and hid underneath a picture frame; Autolycus was just really really really on guard for quite some time. The puir wee bairns.

The Boston fireworks had been pushed back from Friday night to Thursday because of * Arthur. The * means I am lazy and as of this writing have not looked to see if it's a tropical storm or an actual hurricane or what. I'll look it up later. Then the fireworks started fifteen minutes earlier than that due to another incoming storm with no name. Sonya and I knew about the former but not the latter as we traveled to Prospect Hill. All we knew was that good god that looks like the Esplanade fireworks and didn't they say 10:30 and maybe someone accidentally dropped a match in the fireworks box or something. (It's been known to happen.) We got to the hill, sat down with rushthatspeaks and gaudior and a friend of theirs, watched the rest of the show, and then we all got caught in the huge monsoon which hit us approximately five minutes after we started back to Highland. Rush kindly drove us home through glass-like sheets of water and the most ferocious cloud-to-cloud lightning (and a few ground strikes) I have ever seen on land. We made it home and discovered that the kittens aren't too fond of thunder, either, at least when they're not the ones responsible for it.

This, then, brings us to Friday, the actual Fourth, which saw us in Lexington for most of the day. The kittens were fed and watered and assured that no fireworks were going to go off near them tonight. They were cool with that.

At this point I should mention that these cats are learning new and wonderful tricks. Hestia is getting very good at jumping onto things. She can get onto the kitchen counter with a running start half the time. The other half she reaches the counter with her front paws, flails at the cabinetry with her back paws, and flops to the ground for some composure grooming. Meanwhile Autolycus, who has more difficulty learning mobility what with oversized paws and all, is obsessed with bottle caps. He loves to scoop a cap up in both paws, rearing back on his hind legs in the process, then stick the cap in his mouth and run off it with all proud-like. Sometimes there's the problem of not enough loose bottle caps on the floor. Autolycus has observed us drinking from one-liter and 20-ounce bottles enough to understand that if you want the cap off the bottle, you have to turn it. We have watched him grasp the bottle cap in both paws, again rearing up on his hind legs (both of them are going to be bipedal cats before the year is out) and then attempt to hop-circle around the bottle. He doesn't have sufficient grip to create any kind of torque, but my god he's got the principle down.

(Anyway, the joke's on him; he was hopping righty-tighty, not lefty-loosey.)

While we were out, Hestia learned to jump over the gate we keep at the top of our entry stairs so that little cats don't lurk by the front door and accidentally on purpose get out. This is a slightly dangerous endeavor, jumping over gates at the tops of stairs, but Hestia had so much fun hopping over the gate she apparently convinced Autolycus to give it a try and wouldn't you know, the little fellow succeeded. What fun! What victory! What naughty kittens!

Then came this thing called consequence which cats will never seem to grasp, no matter how many cognitive skills they develop. The gate was high enough for the critters to hop over from the top of the landing, yes, but the other side is one step lower. The resulting ledge was too high to clamber back over and when we came home on Thursday evening we found two kittens sitting on that low step out there in NO CAT'S LAND. We have no idea how long they'd been there, though it appears thankfully not long enough for one of them to really need to use the now-inaccessible litter box. They freaked out a bit when they saw me round the stairstep corner, both flashed that "Oh, shit, we're nicked" look, and tried to jump back over the gate simultaneously and at the same time. This plan failed: they crashed into each other in mid-leap, landed on the low step, scrambled to get out of the way, tripped over each other again, and generally scrambled around in PURE KITTEN PANIC. Hestia recovered and, upset, managed to clear the gate from the lower level and ran off to the water dish. Autolycus, meanwhile, tumbled down three or four steps, was very annoyed by the whole deal, and ran off to the water dish as soon as I undid the gate.

They are doing fine several hours later though Autolycus has since fallen down the stairs twice; first while chasing a mouse toy he thought had gone that way. We hadn't put the gate back yet and I felt really bad about it. The mouse hadn't even gone down the stairs. After I put the gate back up Oly jumped over just to make sure. He landed hard on his paws, tumbled again, and was really shaken for a while. I went out to check on him while writing this and upon hearing my office door open he ran with a prrrp at a bottle cap by my feet, slid along the hardwood floor with cap in paw, bounced off the wainscoting and looked right up at me with big bright eyes. We're going to have to watch that gate, but yeah. The Ex-Runt is gonna be okay.

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June 18th, 2014

Someone who just wanted to get a little work done


WHEREAS the afternoon sun comes directly into the living room and the dining room, making such places broilingly hot; and

WHEREAS we made the wise decision of locating our offices on the northernish side of the house with a triple-decker next door; thereby keeping them away from direct sunlight







Play By, Follow and Don't Mess Around with:

as set down by THE MANAGEMENT.

If youse guys want to stay in this nice, cool room, perfect for sleeping and being super quiet:

  1. DO NOT CLIMB UP LEGS. Even if you don't really mean it. Even if they're wearing long pants. If you want up on the chair, jump on the chair itself or ask politely. DO NOT attempt to SCALE THE VERTICAL HEIGHTS OF MT. LEGMORE. Too many attempts, O youth 'mid snow and ice, and you're out into the desert there under the harsh Tatooine suns.

  2. DO NOT FREAK OUT AND RUN AROUND ALL CRAZY. To do so requires nice, long stretches of surface upon which to work up a good running speed, and WOULDN'T YOU KNOW the best place for that would be the HOT SALT FLATS out there under the harsh Tatooine suns to which you will be SUMMARILY DISPATCHED.

  3. DO NOT FIGHT AND MEAN IT. Master Blaster rules Thudnerdome. Master Blaster knows sometimes kittens want to take a round or two in the Thudnerdome, AS LONG AS IT DON'T GET PERSONAL. Once it do get personal, and someone CRIES UNCLE, combatants must CEASE ALL FIGHTING YOU CHOWDAHEADS and COOL YUH JETS ALREDDY. Should HOSTILITIES CONTINUE, the combatant with whom Master Blaster is MOST DISPLEASED shall be BANISHED to the DINING ROOM WASTELAND under the harsh Tatooine suns and maybe we're overdoing it with the science-fiction here.

  4. DON'T EAT ANYTHING YOU SHOULDN'T. The Management reserves the right and will do its utmost to remove from the floor WHATEVER IMPLEMENTS IT FINDS that YOU WEIRDOS might find APPETIZING. This includes but is not limited to
    • FOOD
    • NOT FOOD
    • ETC.
    Previous experience with PROPER MOOCHERS has reminded us that CATS are STUPID HUNGRY and will TRY TO CONSUME anything that looks like oh seriously cat what are you thinking that's caramel off a wrapper no Abbie you damn idjit just no.


_____what_____ T. AUTOLYCUS (cat)

___whatever___ HESTIA H. (cat)

______us______ THE PEOPLE. (people)


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Today's letter comes from Mr. P. Paternoster from Fort Worth, Texas, who writes:
Dear Guy Who Gets Asked Things,

In the song "Charlie on the MTA", which is all about Charlie on the MTA, there's a verse about Charlie's wife giving him a sandwich every day when his train comes through the station. Why doesn't she just hand him a nickel so he can get off the train and be done with it?

Yours drooly,
P. Paternoster

Dear Pat,

The answer to this one is simple: Charlie the eternal subway rider and his train are caught in a trans-dimensional wormhole where time goes by a lot differently than it does here on our home planet. Thus, if Mrs. Charlie were to hand her husband a nickel this afternoon as the wormholed train comes a-rumbling through, Charlie would receive it in roughly 50,000 years--enough time for both the nickel to devaluate and the exit fare to be abolished, return, and get hiked up exponentially. Even if Mrs. Charlie (whose name is Sylvia, by the way, and she very kindly did not hang up on me today) were to deposit that nickel in an account at the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank, the interest accrued by the time Charlie receives the passbook would not be enough to cover the fare. Besides, the Five Cents Savings Bank was bought by Citizens Bank a long time ago and the account gets socked fifteen bucks every month. You do the math.

The Guy Who Gets Asked Things

But, Guy Who Gets Asked Things,

Wouldn't this time dilation also mean that every sandwich Charlie's wife gives him arrives completely rotted and inedible?

P. (not Pat) Paternoster

Dear Pete,

Yes, but he's too nice a guy to say anything about it.


The Guy Who Gets Asked Things (right) is a six-time Battle of the Network Stars team captain and has many amusing stories about his Uncle Max.

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June 13th, 2014

02:58 pm - quick, they're napping for fifteen minutes
Oh, say do you see what I see?
Kitten sittin' here in sweet serenity
I could cheer; the reason's clear
For the first time in a year Psycho Kitty isn't here
And look, a cat is napping there
On my lap down in this chair, and he's not eating my hair--

I sing hosanna, hosanna
Hosanna, hosanna
And he's cool

Come ye cool, cool, considerate cats
Not the kind who run around amok and get in spats
You have thread, trash to shred,
Towel beds, fuzzy heads
It's real nice, there's cat food to suffice
And fun toys to entice, like well-chewed-up felt mice

We sing hosanna, hosanna
Their inbreeding and weird manner
Means they're cool...

(I'd write more but now I can get back to, like, actual work instead of pulling kittens out of places they shouldn't be.)

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May 26th, 2014

06:56 am - The Well-Ingrained Cat-herd
I swear this LJ shouldn't turn into All Kittens All The Time but really

Twice now in a row I have blinked awake to start my day and found a cat curled up next to me. This is one of the three best ways to wake up as far as I'm concerned, and it's something that hasn't happened in ten months. I still miss Abbie every single day in ways large and small, and most every time we visit Sonya's parents in Lexington I go put a stone on his cairn and say hey there buddy what's up. Most recently, the dandelions are blooming around the stones. He is turning into flowers.

To say that I have missed a feline presence like the dickens is an understatement. It is amazing, after the loss of a cat, how many procedures of which one simply lets go and forgets. The kittens, however, are bringing back so many damn cat-herding instincts I had forgotten I knew. Settling squabbles and other assorted disputes. "Okay, okay, somebody needs a time out." Giving a firm NO when discouraging something they oughtn't do but they're doing anyway. Holding fast and giving that NO when they grab you with claws out or bite without licking after. Securing every single cord as they find 'em or you remember 'em. Making a specific set of sounds when feeding to encourage the right kind of Pavlovian response. Knowing nuggets of folk wisdom, such as making the feeding sound can lure out a cat in hiding or just plain around here somewhere but I can't see. (Advanced cat luring involves actually making good on your feeding sound and giving a treat to the nice, well-behaved, no longer behind the toilet cat.)

We're keeping the kittens confined to the living room and the dining room for now; our offices, the bathroom, the kitchen and most of the third floor are strictly off-limits. The kitchen is protected behind two sets of box barricades, the closest one two boxes high and just annoying enough to step over to warrant putting in a gate NOW. The other box barricade is at the other end of the kitchen hallway; the center where the office and bathroom doors are located has been officially designated a DMZ by the Authority on Kitten Control.

In No Man's Land, you enter and exit rooms at risk of invasion.Collapse )

The two other best ways to wake up, not in any particular order, are 2. with one you love beside you, and 3. with the realization that you don't have to get up now so go ahead, drowse back to sleep. These three best ways can be had in any combination, which is the beauty of it.

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May 23rd, 2014

06:22 am - Them cats
Earlier this evening Sonya sat on the living room couch occasionally making cat sounds. She made really happy sounds when the kitten sitting behind the couch made cat sounds back and the two of them ended up carrying on a decent conversation in spite of it all.

One of the things we wanted to do after we got married and settled in to our new digs was eventually adopt some cats, and now we are the proud ownees of two eight-month-old black polydactyl cats, a brother and sister. The girl is named Hestia after the goddess of home and hearth; she is also called X: The Unknown after our first visits to her foster home when we had absolutely no idea what kind of cat it was going to be. By the looks of it she is going to grow up to be like her mother, cunning and sleek with lovely almond-shaped orange eyes. Her brother, the seven-toed fellow we once thought was the runt of the litter, is Autolycus, after Hermes' trickster son and Shakespeare's rogue. He has sad-looking eyes which are turning green, and is learning how to get around on his extra-wide paws. I'm trying out Otto as a nickname, but that may have to wait until he gains fifteen pounds. Even then, we'd probably still keep calling him The Runt.

Neil kindly drove Sonya and I to Angell today to pick up the pair. They'd been spayed and neutered that morning--since when has that kinda stuff been outpatient?--and once we confirmed that yes, those were the two black cats out of the litter of black cats we wanted, we paid Angell a ton of money and got a ton of paperwork and promised never to feed them chocolate and left with the World's Most Pink Cat Carrier (And The Only One Left on the Shelf at Petsmart) full of four pounds of kittens.

The two were groggy from the sedation for most of the afternoon into the evening. They stayed in the carrier for an hour or so after we got home and then the Runt tentatively poked his head out, took a few courageous steps and began to explore his new digs. Hestia followed shortly thereafter, and we were entirely charmed and ready to take pictures. But the two discovered the under-the-couch and the behind-the-couch areas and promptly claimed that land in the name of Cat Forts. You cannot take pictures in Cat Fort Land; there is not enough light.

Our new little curtain-climbers take after their mother in color, build, and the fact that they'll ritualistically scratch at the floor by the food dish before eating (semi-feral Mama had to bury her food to keep it from the other cats, see) so I know they're both going to grow up to be insanely clever. The two did some research and determined that the best way to climb up onto the couch was to climb up the wooden frame in back. This research I might add did not include the reports on the front of the couch, which is much easier to climb. However, they were having fun enough behind the wood frame couch that ascent didn't seem to be the goal. They're small enough that they would get as far as propping up their forepaws on the crossbeam in the back, standing on their hind paws, and moving back and forth like a ballet dancer at the barre. If they're learning to walk on two legs we really are doomed.

The Runt is one of the biggest charmers ever, eight weeks old and already purring like a motorcycle. He fell asleep on my shoulder and he fell asleep under Sonya's button-down shirt. He loves his naps and if you're mostly stationary and mostly warm, you are the perfect nap spot. He's bright and gregarious, he'll run up to us when we come into the room, and he is one of the most affectionate nuzzlers I've known.

Hestia got off to a shaky start. She was already shy and nervous to begin with while exploring this new and unfamiliar environment. When I tried to pick her up (staying extremely conscious of her surgical stitching) she leapt out of my hands, drawing first blood. She gave me some very nice scratches on my wrist and my palm and near my eyebrow I don't know how. I do know that it wasn't even in self-defense, it was a side effect of the flight response. These kittens are still learning their abilities, their strength, their balance.

Poor little Hestia kept up the nervous defense. When Sonya's father tried to wrap up her in a towel (all we wanted to do at that point was cut the shelter collar off!) she yelled a lot, bit him, and ran off behind the couch. We decided it'd be best not to pursue picking up the cat any further--we clearly weren't doing her belly any favors--and let her be. She stayed under the couch, occasionally venturing up to the edge but backing away if we so much as made eye contact with her. Sonya was extremely worried that we'd traumatized the poor dear to the point of neurosis. I remembered several cats from long ago who had grown up paranoid and in hiding; they turned so after considerable cruelty over a period of time. Hestia was upset, but I believed that so long as she was not injured, she would regain confidence and trust if left to recover.

The kitten turned out not to be injured and grew more social in stages. She grew playful behind the couch, jumping around on the crossbeam, and then started vocalizing. I've heard both kittens chirp and peep; Hestia also squeaks and mews. She'd stop mewing when she got the right kind of attention--people seated on the couch peering down behind it was just fine. Standing people with hands still weren't.

Several hours later Hestia had grown much bolder. We were able to make eye contact with her again, and she started making longer and longer forays out from under the couch. Eventually she began exploring the rest of the living room with her brother. Since then she's shaken off most of her anxiety and grown sociable; she's let me pet her and has played the bite-and-lick game with my hand. I was happy that she grew tolerable of hands again. We haven't tried to pick her up since, and I don't think we will for a while yet.

Hestia is now sleeping on the window sill next to me. She discovered birds and the rest of the Great Big Moving World Outside, and stared for a while, ears twitching as she taught herself how to Listen. Then she ran out of steam and fell asleep. The Runt is asleep somewhere else, having tired himself out finally by chasing a sock around the room. I watched him pick the damn thing up with his super mutant paw and stick it in his mouth. These kittens of destiny have shown that they are adorable critters, holy terrors and bright learners, and we haven't even had them for twelve hours yet.

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April 30th, 2014

Back in the mists of the mid-90s, when I was a young sprat just barely turned twenty and believing myself to be invincible, I accompanied tikva to Washington DC and had a day's meal with her father who was then living in Georgetown. When I say "a day's meal" I do mean a full day because that's how long we spent eating with her dad, who had a fondness for fun ways to eat. He'd often have backwards meals, starting with dessert and ending with an appetizer. Or he'd go around from restaurant to restaurant, sampling a little here and a little there, and that is what we did on our fine culinary day out.

We started at some place I've completely forgotten--all I can remember honestly is that there was brick and vaulted ceilings and plants around us and it was kind of like a DC version of Fitzwilly's for anyone around who knows that stalwart of Northampton dining. I think they served sandwiches. We next took high tea at the Four Seasons, extending pinkies, nibbling on petit fours and listening to the pianist play the most delicate version of a bittersweet and beautiful tune which we eventually realized was the theme from Schindler's List. And then we went to Rocklands BBQ for our real meal. It was there that I had the first of many experiences with A Lot of Capsaicin.

Rocklands featured what it called a Wall of Fire: a large display featuring many, many kinds of hot sauces with names that promised certain death or at least an ass-kicking. I have since learned many barbecue joints feature similar Walls of Fire, including one in Marlboro which I frequented heavily during my exile there. To take a bottle from the Wall of Fire is to take your life into your own hands; the restaurant assumes no responsibility for what might happen should you make the conscious and sober decision to try some. I was at the time unaware of just how mind-blowingly hot some people liked to make their sauce, and I innocently picked one from the wall that came in a neat wooden coffin-like box wrapped in police caution tape. Clearly, I thought, this was a totally cool sauce from people who just liked to boast and that I'd sure enjoy it on my pulled whatever sandwich. (Whether I had the chicken or pork that day is immaterial. The relevant details have swirled back into that mist, anyway.)

I didn't know at the time that I was dealing with Dave's Insanity, one of the more prevalent hot sauces around and one which boasts on its label that you can strip your driveway with it. Not only that, but the wooden box-caution tape bottle was full of something called Dave's Insanity Special Reserve. It turned out to be a hydrogen bomb in a bottle but again, it was dealing with someone twenty years old and invincible.

A brief tangent on Scoville units, then: the Scoville is the measure of heat (the "pungency") of a pepper or similarly spicy food. A jalapeño or chipotle pepper can be anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 Scovilles. Cayenne and tabasco rank around 50,000 or so. Dave's Insanity sauce, made primarily from habanero, tops off around 150,000 Scovilles.

The Internet tells me that the Private Reserve sauce I had has been "reportedly variously from 500,000 to 750,000 Scoville units". Sure, great, I know that now. Back then, I heeded the keen advice of the counter man and put one single, solitary drop in the middle of my pulled whatever sandwich. The next thing I knew my eyes were opened WIDE and my mouth had suddenly turned numb. My sinuses weren't clear, they had been Roto-Rootered. And the back of my throat was reminding me that it existed, too.

Knowing enough to remember that carbonation and/or water were bad ideas when you ate something hot, I gasped for some milk. The counter man, who clearly enjoyed watching people in surprise, presented me with milk in the tiniest cup possible, the kind that usually contain chutney from the take-out place. I finished that sandwich, mostly because after a few bites I grew too numb to everything to be concerned. And when we walked out of that fine establishment, I could see through time and IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME.

I have since learned many fine things about capsaicin and its effects on endorphins, the brain's own doggy treat. I have also learned that roller coaster riding and other adrenalin-inducing activities produce the same kind of endorphin effect, and I have learned how to temper my spicy food eating so I can enjoy without much regret later on. I ate at a small, family-run Indian restaurant frequently enough to get to know the family; they started cooking me vindaloo the way they liked it, with full-on heat, "spicy yes", not the toned-down version for American palates. I'd leave that place full of vindaloo and a little bit of rice pudding and I'd have a Goddamned Vision Quest on the way home. And I married sovay, who shares slivers of scotch bonnet with me and who once ate a habanero whole. (To be fair, she thought it was a much tamer pepper when she took it off the plate. But she soldiered forth through the thousand-yard stare and everything.) I don't think I have devoted my life to the pursuit of heat, no. Spicy is a sometimes food, and I enjoy it during those sometimes.

There is a subset of spicy food likers who treat it as an exercise in masochism; they boast of sweating through the searing pangs and surviving the experience for another day. They go for the stuff that's made for heat, not for flavor. Dave's Insanity caters to them. Sure, it's super-hot and will make your endorphins dance the fandango, but it'll obliterate the taste of whatever you put it on. There's a reason I don't remember whether my sandwich at Rocklands was pork or chicken; the protein underneath had pretty much melted at that point. But I don't go for the endurance. I like food that tastes good. So I'm happy when I eat food which both burns my mouth out and tastes delicious while doing so.

There is another Washington restaurant which Sonya and I discovered did heat right: the Afterwords Cafe at Kramer Books in Dupont Circle features a goat stew made from scotch bonnet peppers and added to the menu, so it is told, by a chef homesick for his native island. We ate there in 2012 quite by accident, on the first night of a weekend in DC, and were so taken by the dish that we ate there again the following night. There's only one other dish I've ever immediately gone back for and that was the pickle-brined chicken at Cambridge Brewing Company. (Seriously. It is incredible. You eat it and then make mental plans to stock up on chickens and pickle brine for when you wash up on that desert island.) We've since had the goat stew at Highland Kitchen in Somerville, which is incredibly tasty but comes up short to the Afterwords stew.

Tonight in Somerville we had goat stew at Magoun's Saloon in Magoun Square as part of the place's monthly themed menu. Wednesdays of each month feature dishes on a certain theme: German biergarten stuff, Italian bar food, variations on burgers, or just plain bacon everywhere. We love what they do at the Magoun and try to make it as many months as we can. They've never failed us; the food has never been bad, just very rarely not-as-good-as-the-other-stuff. This month was the Heat & Hops menu, featuring a ton of spicy food and a ton of IPAs to go with. I'm not a big fan of IPA and Sonya hates the taste of hops, so we focused mostly on the food. I did, however, have a wonderful bitter (a room-temperature pint of bitter is a thing of beauty and a joy forever) and a mint chocolate stout which did its best to leave a wintergreen taste in your mouth.

The goat stew at Magoun featured a curry different from the Afterwords stew, not as sweet but no less flavorful. The menu said "West Indian curried goat" and I really really think green curry was involved because the last time I remember a taste like that it was at an old, long-since-gone noodle place in Amherst which would sell me huge take-out containers of green curry noodles with chicken for cheap. I have since forgotten that restaurant's name, alas (it was in that back section of buildings near Bueno Y Sano) but that taste will never leave my memory. The goat meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. We have grown to trust Magoun's to make good decisions when bringing out special dishes; we knew going in that they were going to focus on flavor as much as heat and damned if we weren't right about that. Even the plantains stayed sweet while the scotch bonnet and habanero peppers went to work. We both insisted the goat stew should go on Magoun's regular menu, but we'll settle for running over to have it whenever it's available. It just better be available in less than a year, that's all I'm saying.

We also had lamb meatballs in a bright orange harissa sauce which provided a much different burn. The stew had a slow burn, giving you a chance to enjoy the goat and the plantains and then gradually turning up the heat. The meatballs detonated upon impact, I mean WHAM--a mouthful of WHAT DID THEY PUT IN THIS AND IS THIS LEGAL. And yet the lamb tasted great through it all. You just had to chew very carefully and slowly so as to not get so much capsaicin-laden oil as once. So we did.

Since Sonya and I don't go in for the whole Ironman Don't Let 'Em See You Sweat thing (seriously, since water doesn't work as a cooling agent the whole concept of "eating it all without water" is silly--hydrate yourselves, people!) we were perfectly happy eating grilled pita, rice and french fries for our starch. Sonya said she welcomed each and every opportunity to scrape the oils from the roof of her mouth. I agreed, and the sweet pita was lovely in between. It wasn't a cure-all and I didn't want one. It kindly gave you a rest and let you continue at your own pace.

Dessert was a dark chocolate and chipotle pot de creme. I am not a big fan of chipotle usually; the smoky flavor usually tells me "Hey! You're eating at a place where chipotle is the New Hotness!" But somehow Magoun's did something fantastic with the pepper which let it show off a real dark, musky flavor which wasn't anything I'd tasted from chipotle before. They even put the damn pepper in the whipped cream garnish, which you could also use on the pieces of strawberries and candied ginger that came with. It was good and it went reasonably well with that stout.

We ate out in part to celebrate what would have been the cat's seventeenth birthday. Normally this would call for fish of some kind, sushi or 'n chips or whatever, but we were determined to make Magoun's before the monthly menu changed over to the Italian bar food. Thus we had a dinner tonight which would have, with the exception of maybe the whipped cream, been completely Cat Mooch-Proof, and wouldn't that have driven the little bastard crazy. We took the bus home riding some insane endorphin highs, and the smiles have not left our faces mostly because they kind of freeze into this rictus, y'see. Woo hah.

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April 16th, 2014

01:48 am - new_england.jpg
Courtesy wunderground.com earlier this afternoon and poorly-cropped for your convenience.

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March 28th, 2014

I've been kidnapped out in Kabul and tortured in Tangiers
But I've never been vomited 'pon while on the T

I was crucified in Crimea (then came back for several years)
But I ne'er had Beantown barf all over me

For the singular sensation of a stranger's regurgitation
As we entered Harvard station
Was an entirely new frustration, yes siree

And of all the things I've missed so far on my bucket list
Red Line chunder ranks at number ninety-three.

hooking up a generator to mr. coward's grave, powering a small city with it

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March 27th, 2014

10:18 pm - The pizza and beer were good, and we also had a great conversation about Led Zeppelin
I was eating lunch yesterday at the bar of a favorite North End pizza place, enjoying my slices of pepperoni and cheap beer before heading out into the mean mean cold and the wind tunnel that is Causeway Street. The television overhead had been tuned to a spring training baseball game (Washington over the Mets, 4-0, six months out of every year, yer blind, ump, yer blind, ump, you must be outta yer mind, ump, etc.) but as I ate the bartender grabbed the remote and turned to NECN because he had heard news of a wicked fire going on over in the Back Bay. Sure enough, there was breaking news about a nine-alarm fire raging--in the world of broadcast news, fires do little else but rage--and those assembled, waitstaff and customers alike, grew silent and watched for details. There were several listed injuries at the time, no fatalities, and an address: 298 Beacon.

"Holy shit!" an employee behind the bar exclaimed. "Can I, uh, leave for a sec?" The bartender nodded, and the holy-shitter ran out the door.

"Oh my god," someone said. "Does he live there?"

"Nah," the bartender replied. "But every time there's, like, a disaster and an address, he goes out and plays the numbers. And he almost always hits."

The winning lottery numbers yesterday were 0410. There turned out to be two fatalities: two firefighters trapped in a basement with no water and a sudden backdraft condition. I don't believe the two facts are connected and I know it doesn't make for a satisfying conclusion to an amusing slice-of-life story, but I'm pretty sure it's for the best. Nobody wants to hit the lottery on someone else's death.

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March 16th, 2014

03:01 am - Stab stab stabbity stab, speech speech speech speech speech
Alternate title for Pauline Kael fans: Speech Speech Stab Stab

Sonya and I went into Union Square today and we ate donuts the size of two fists and I drank some coffee in a cup the size of um I don't know which body part and then, this being the Ides of March and all, we watched Julius Caesar get got outside the Roman Senate (which, I never knew, was conveniently located near the big parking lot in Union Square).

This is why I like this town.

The Somerville Arts Council helped put it up with a group of young actors who ran the thing, and some high school Latin clubs got into it as well, selling Authentic Roman Dishes what didn't involve Garum or Silphium, the latter being a fennel-like plant so delicious that the Romans grew it unsustainably to extinction much like what we may be doing to chocolate now, and the former being a fermented fish sauce so delicious that they eventually forgot the recipe.

The event was part street fair with food stalls and a soothsayer and a caricature artist, and part Shakespearean theatre-in-the-very-round. Milling around the crowd were the principals including Caesar, Marc Antony, Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Cinna, the Professor and Mary Ann, all of 'em. At appointed times during the festivities (which included a Roman numeral spelling bee and chariot races with pedicabs) little Shakespearean scenes would flare up, though not without modern ad-libbing because. Scenes happened simultaneously; while Caesar was having a chat with a soothsayer in one booth, Cassius and Cinna hung out in another booth marked "SECRET CLUBHOUSE - NO EMPERORS ALLOWED". I did mention things got a little silly, didn't I? Cassius tried enforcing a secret clubhouse password (Cinna: "C'mon, you know who I am") and then read some of the forged letters he had been writing to sway Brutus over to the conspirators' side. Cassius had some good letter-writing ideas, including "Help us, Brutus, you're our only hope" and others of similar reference which I don't believe were in the original text, unless they fell out of a folio or something when nobody was looking.

The crowd played the part of the Citizens of Rome and were encouraged to hail or curse Caesar, depending on who was doing the cheerleading. There were free toga-tying lessons and, much like mythical collegiate toga parties, many people showed up in sheets of their own. One kid showed up in a Star Wars sheet toga. Fifty points for that. The kids really took to this, which was awesome: when the crowd was exhorted to air their grievances against ol' Gaius Julius, one kid (and I'm betting it was Star Wars Toga Kid, cause he seemed to be in the middle of everything) hollered out "Caesar stole my lunch money!"

Amidst the foreshadowing and secret plotting was the Dogs of War costume contest, which is pretty much what you'd expect right down to someone crying havoc to start it off. One cat entered the contest and, after being extracted from its carrier and plopped down on the table in front of Caesar, the conspirator-judges and the crowd, decided to withdraw its entry and head back to the carrier. Our hosts, good improv minds all, then hailed it as an animal so ferocious they could not afford to let it loose a second time for further viewing. The ferocious cat lost out to Ella, a pug who came dressed in the pelts of her enemies. I think I saw some squirrel and maybe some tabby.

Finally, after a truncated trivia contest (looks like they decided perhaps they didn't have time for three rounds of numerous five-part questions each) the toga wearers proceeded to walk down a tiny stretch of Somerville Ave from in front of the Precinct bar (which served, I suppose, as the Forum) to the aforementioned parking lot Senate. The sun disappeared behind the only dark clouds to come our way that afternoon. As the crowd was again encouraged to petition Caesar as he walked by, up came Cimber, kiss kiss went Brutus, and stab stab stabbity stab went the assassins, who had covertly passed around a bowl of red Karo syrup for blood-leaving purposes. It began to rain during the murder, and only during the murder, all the better to evoke sympathy from the gods--I can't quite credit the Somerville Arts Council for this kind of timing. Star Wars Toga Kid and several other kids then implicated themselves in the murder by getting ahold of the syrup bowl and just painting the hell out of G.J.C., rubbing it in his hair, even, well after the original conspirators had finished their deeds. It was awesome, real vengeance for that missing lunch money all right. Caesar tried his best to stay composed for his Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar but I'm willing to bet that once he fell face-down, he quietly giggled like hell, as you do when you're trying desperately not to corpse as a corpse. This is why I like this town.

It was a good afternoon out in spite of several personal neuroses. After the murder we good citizens of Rome reconvened at the Forum where Brutus and Mark Antony made their speeches in front of a discarded Karo-ed toga. At this point Sonya and I believed we had a bus to catch so we listened from the periphery. With but one mic for amplification against a loud, crowded road often frequented by siren-howling ambulances or police cars, the style of speech was of the "To be emotional, JUST BE LOUDER" school so we heard most of what folks were saying. The MBTA defied our belief, the 87 was mercilessly late in the midst of gorgeous late afternoon traffic, and we boarded the bus just as the event was wrapping up. As the bus pulled away I caught a glimpse of a grinning Mark Antony, now in his street clothes, holding and scritching one of the Dogs of War.

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March 10th, 2014

08:24 am - First they came for Cat Town and I did not speak up, for Wikipedia frowns on self-defense
This week, it appears, the Wikipedians have decided that the entry for my lil' ol IF adventure, Pick Up The Phone Booth and Die, just ain't notable enough anymore for their tastes after nine years of happily languishing about on the site and occasionally vandalized with huge pictures of cows.

I can do nothing and frankly, I don't see why I would. Authors are not supposed to speak up in defense of articles about their work; if the practice isn't expressly forbidden, it's at least incredibly gauche in the eyes of the Almighty Wiki Editors and my arguments, of which I have little to none, would hold as much water as a gnat's navel by sheer virtue of simply being the guy who came up with the thing. I'm not urging anybody to do anything on my behalf, either, because I don't dig the whole "GO FORTH MY PRIVATE ARMY AND LAY WASTE TO THOSE WHO HAVE OFFENDED YOUR LIEGE" thing and honestly, if the article sufficiently offends the Wikipedians' tender, obsessive sensibilities, let 'em take it out of their playground. The game is still listed in the archives and repositories which count for Interactive Fiction, such as the IF Archive and the IF Wiki, and there it will happily reside.

The only thing that upsets me is that it's a pointed reminder that fame eventually fades and popular culture moves on. This is no surprise and it's certainly no new lesson for me, but it still, well, stings, y'know? Notoriety, however, can flourish in the right circles. And I have to say PUTPBAD is doing all right, circle-flourishing-wise, for a one-joke game written eighteen years ago, and that's fine by me.

I wonder what to do next.

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February 20th, 2014

08:33 pm - So then that happened
The ankle is mending and I'm feeling better about it each and every day. I have gotten much better at walking around without crutches. Yesterday I tried to stay off them as much as possible while puttering around the house, and was able to move freely about carrying stuff. It is liberating. Today I found I'm also able to walk with Das Boot on, though it's still an uneven step and it rocks weirdly. Today I also took a shower in my own, mostly-grab-handle-free shower and felt safe. I just have to remember to take things easy, keep it slow and steady and not get ahead of myself.

I walked into Davis today for an appointment at Harvard Vanguard. Crossing Holland Street was more of a challenge than I expected because of a van which had parked right on top of the crosswalk by the curb entrance. It was one of the MBTA's "The Ride" vans and obviously waiting for someone at the doctor's office, but it had completely taken up all the space I needed to make it to the sidewalk. There were huge snowbanks on either side of the curb ramp, but I noticed there was a wee bit of a gap by the front of the van I could use, if I were clever and deft enough on the crutches, to scoot around and make it on the sidewalk. And, rather than do something proactive such as, you know, make eye contact with this van driver and look plaintive enough so as to have pity taken upon me, I crossed the street and scooted around the van's front end, as clever and as deftly as possible.

A young man, probably in his early 20s, came by on his bike and saw me clambering up on the curb. He got real mad at the van for this and, as I started walking towards the HVMA entrance, he pulled up to the driver's side window and gave the driver a real earful.

"You're blocking the entire crosswalk!" the kid hollered. "What's wrong with you? That guy over there on crutches, he had to climb over a damn snowbank to get by!" I was slightly embarrassed at this point because I hadn't wanted to make any trouble nor disturb any naps, but on the other hand I was amazed this guy had decided to stand up for someone he didn't even know. We made eye contact through the van while he was yelling--I smiled and gave a thumbs-up, then headed for the door. He biked off and the van stayed where it was.

It's been amazing how helpful people have been around here to one with a movement injury. You have to keep telling yourself not to take it for granted, that soon the crutches will be gone and you won't have this gigantic tell, that you better remember what people did for you so you can do the same for other injured souls. In the meantime, people hold doors for you, make seats available for you, and give you helpful tidbits of advice such as "be careful" and "don't fall" yet you don't begrudge the obvious. You also don't expect a complete stranger to yell at someone on your behalf, but it apparently happens.

The doctor's appointment went well, and Sonya and I had a very nice dinner in Watertown. I have never left the Deluxe Town Diner in any state other than Insanely Full To The Point Where You Don't Want To Hear Any More Monty Python Jokes About Wafer-Thin Mints Thank You. It's a very specific state to be sure, but one which is all too easy to achieve at the Deluxe.

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February 15th, 2014

09:25 pm - In this house there is a single shoe which has not been worn since Christmas
The sound is rhythmic, metallic, hollow. It is a downbeat followed, eventually, by a heavy footfall. The pace is deliberate and slow-footed but steady. Klink-- thud. Klink-- thud. Klink-- thud. The crutches have become a part of you, a part of your daily routine, a part of your most basic means of locomotion. If the conditions are right and the need arises you can go for speed, pushing hard against the ground and sending it away as you go. This stride is faster but steady just the same. Klink-thud, klink-thud, klink-thud, klink-thud...

The cast is bulky but not uncomfortable. It doesn't itch nearly as much as you worried, and the padding helps. The exposed toes get the worst of it, even with a sock underneath the theater tights. From time to time you wriggle them just to make sure you still can, as restrained as they are. You wrap the cast up in a plastic bag even when shaving or washing your hair, which is accomplished by lying on the bathmat and hanging your head over into the tub while a very patient loved one brings down the showerhead. You're pretty sure something has fallen into the cast and is resting underneath your arch. It feels like a coin from the way it sticks slightly and moves off when you swing your leg. Whatever it is, you're not about to try getting it out any time soon.

Stairs require special care.Collapse )

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January 26th, 2014

05:48 am - Dammit, Peter Parker, if you want to see the play you have to buy a ticket like everyone else
A Man For All Seasons closed its run at the Factory Theatre tonight and the overall production was, after careful consideration, introspection, and opinion gathering, Very Lofty Indeed. We had some slow performances as a run of any length will have but we also had some absolutely terrific nights where everything came together and we hit for six as director Jon urged us to do. I maintain hitting for six would have been easier if we'd had bats, but we seemed to adapt just fine. One of the powerful moments of the show was the incredibly moving and intimate scene in the Tower of London where Sir Thomas More says goodbye to his family one final time. All four actors involved, Ron, Jenny, April and Christopher, drained themselves every night working up to an emotional intensity which is tough to reach two or three times, let alone ten. And when this intensity is set in a small performance space so that no audience member is more than fifteen feet away, it carries. There were sniffles. Tears. Tissues deployed. I heard 'em, I saw 'em, some may admit to 'em.

Understatement, then: we had a strong show. People said some very nice things and we managed to sell out seven of our ten performances. On the one hand selling out the Factory isn't difficult since it seats, at best, fifty people who are very comfortable with each other. On the other hand are five fingers that say this is a damn fine accomplishment for the first production of a tiny shoestring theatre company; it happily means the Porpentines can plan to put up two more productions this year and I can't wait to see what happens.

The Common Man got around just fine on his crutches. Not a single trip or fall, I am proud to report, though I did sorta kinda crash a chair into a piano after one exit. (I thought the chair was not going anywhere. It had other ideas.) While most of my set changes had to be reblocked after the accident and given to other people I did keep a few I could do with my crutches, including bringing down a screen for the execution shadow play and pulling down a small string of banners for the trial scene beforehand. I did not execute Sir Thomas with a crutch, though during the first weekend I had to use it when the screen didn't come down properly. For the first few nights the screen was a roll of paper which was supposed to drop neatly between the audience and the chopping block. It never did. A little too weighty for the task, it would inappropriately bounce off the block, the basket for the head, or once, almost Sir Thomas. If and when this happened, Jon would cut the backlights entirely, and I'd slam the damn crutch down in blackout just to get the sound across. It was our contingency plan, y'see. I contingenced, dammit. And so did Jon, who installed a lighter cloth screen for the next weekend's performances.

I maybe ought to take this opportunity to mention that the Factory Theatre is, indeed, located in a former piano factory in downtown Boston. The house appears to be in a former loading dock; it's a two-story bare brick room with enough length and width for a piano-totin' truck and all the mechanical hoisting thingamajiggers required to haul pianos into said truck. It is cold, it is drafty, there is only one bathroom and it's horrible; it is theatre in the rough and it is glorious, even if a bit masochistic.

The bathroom deserves special mention since it smells like a truck stop with kidney problems and the door locks every time and the key is usually lost so for god's sake prop the door open when you leave or we'll all be peeing out in the parking lot. The bathroom is also home to a very friendly cockroach who I presume acquired several nicknames, some of them pejorative and one of them pronounceable only by a shoe, from the cast and crew. (I called it Frankie.) And along with cockroaches, I learned this weekend that the place has spiders.

From what I can piece together, the trial scene on Thursday night was enlivened by the unbilled appearance of a large gray spider, presumably living on the ceiling where the string of banners I have to pull were pre-set. Either annoyed by or curious about my crutch-banner-flailing, the spider decided to descend and check out what was going on. By this time, however, I had pulled the banners down, engaged in a bit of business with Cromwell, put on a fancy hat (I got to wear a lot of hats in this part and I sure like wearing hats!) and took my place as foreman of the jury. And wouldn't you know but my place as foreman of the jury just happened to be underneath both the spider and a well-focused special, which lit up the upstaging bastard as it made its way down right next to me.

I had no idea this was happening. I was too busy focusing on Cromwell's prosecution, Sir Thomas More's defense, and Rich's perjury. I was the foreman of the jury, see; I had to watch the trial. WITH GREAT ATTENTION. BECAUSE I AM PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS TRIAL BECAUSE I AM THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY.

Anyway. According to usernamenumber, who attended Thursday night, the spider ad-libbed its way down nearly to my hand. At that point I made, with that hand, an unrelated motion BECAUSE I AM THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY AND I AM REACTING, AS ONE DOES, TO SOMETHING SOMEBODY SAID which unnerved the spider enough to make a retreat back into the rafters. And I had no idea. How fortuitous for that reaction! I thought after hearing the story. And how nice I now know why I came home one night with bites all over my back. I must have met its friends. I don't like spiders but they sure like biting me.

I would like to report that the rest of the weekend was spider-free, but it apparently wasn't. The spider apparently pulled the same damn trick tonight, dangling perilously close to my hat, and once again I was completely oblivious because I WAS THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY DOOT DOOT DOOT HEY NONNY NONNY. I admit to being a little apprehensive about sitting under Spider Central after Thursday's incident, but until I heard about tonight's spider I was relieved that there hadn't been any further arachnid intervention. TO MY KNOWLEDGE.

Any lingering relief vanished quickly a few hours ago as I was telling the spider story over post-show drinks. Sharon, one of the Porpentine founders (and who, among other things, painted some marvelous heraldry for the set) was very surprised to hear the spider had come down again.

"Oh, you saw it on Thursday night too?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Last night. That spider landed on your hat and was crawling around. I was worried it'd make its way down onto your face!"

Tonight I experienced one of those rare moments when one feels so very blissful to have been so ignorant.

I have since been reassured that, knowing my incredible professionalism and solid steadfast love for The Art, I would have quite capably dispatched the spider and in-character to boot had it invaded my face. I believe it would have been well within character to shriek, flail about, and say some choice nine-dollar words BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY WOULD DO.


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January 15th, 2014

09:36 pm - We's in the paper with crutches even
The Boston Weekly Dig has an article out about our production of A Man For All Seasons and it has nothing but very very nice things to say about the show so you should go see it already. (If you can't and you'd like to support Really Good, Really Accessible Theatre in Boston, we've got an Indiegogo campaign lasting for a few more days.) Ron and April have earned all the compliments which the article bestows upon them, Jon is an amazingly adaptive director as the article suggests, and the rest of the cast is really really good, too. I feel a little weird about my ankle injury being the story's angle (for the benefit of the narrative, my ankle has turned into my leg) but hey, when one is presented with the perfect showbiz cliché I guess one runs with it and never looks back. What makes me happiest is that the article takes special care to mention that the Porpentine Players' goal really is to get good, affordable theater out there to the nice residents of Boston and vicinity. I am proud to work with them. It is so much fun.

Sonya and I are going to get a few print copies of the Dig to frame and put up around the house, as one does when one is featured so nicely in a print publication, but I love the web version for one reason: it features a glorious bit of juxtaposition what with the article's image being of me playing the Jailer (Sonya: "You look very attentive!" Me: "Am I acting and reacting? That's what I'm supposed to do!") and the background image being some man in bed, from another story entirely, who appears to be balancing a glass of liquor on his bare gut. Thanks to the magic of Web2.0 I appear to be staring disapprovingly at him as if to say "Oh man, if you spill that, we're never getting the smell out of the sheets." I haven't read the story with which he is associated; it's probably the cover story and I should probably read it. But you should read our story first, because it's rare that a fledgling theatre company venturing out on a shoestring gets this kind of nice coverage. But maybe, just maybe, and I truly believe this with all the believing I got, we've just got a damn good show what deserves nice coverage and then some.

We go up tomorrow at 7:30 pm in the first of four more performances, and then four the weekend after. It is a damn good show. I am so proud of it and every nice word it earns.

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January 14th, 2014

08:05 pm - This Livejournal is now all about walking
I have lived in Somerville for ten years now without a car, and in that time I've become very proud of how well I can walk. I mean it: When all conditions are optimal, I can put one foot in front of the other and then repeat like nobody's freakin' business. Right now conditions are suboptimal, but buddy you can bet that were I not in a cast, I'd still be walking around like a goddamn champ.

After several walking trips around home this week and last, I just did the map-measurin' math and have determined that my current effective range on crutches is a third of a mile, which is enough to get me into Davis Square on a good day if I have eaten and am feeling energetic. The walk involves a hill and I have to stop many times to catch my breath and give my hands a rest, but I can make it--and then promptly collapse onto a chair all sweaty and mutter something about that's it we're taking the bus. (People have continued to be very good to me on buses and for that I am very grateful.) I've also done from Mass Ave in North Cambridge down the bike path to Davis, but then I had to take a cab home because I just couldn't handle that last 1/3 mile. I don't like not being able to handle making it home on my own power.

It's amazing and a little depressing how the lack of mobility has severely reduced my scope of travel. To put things into perspective, Sonya and I routinely walk two miles between our home and Harvard Square, or three if our destination is Kendall. This summer we often walked from Sonya's old place in Winter Hill to Lechmere and sometimes beyond. We've walked a few times from the South End up Mass Ave, across the river and back home. And it was no big deal except maybe I got sometimes tired after a lot of walking. We are just Good Walkers, Dammit, and now I'm taking rest stops every 50 yards. I am extremely frustrated. I keep saying yay, it can only get better as I go along, but it doesn't lighten the fact that there I was, standing in a doorway avoiding the rain again, and I'm upset because I can't even walk from the Harvard Square Garage to the taxi stand by Out-Of-Town News without taking many breaks. S'demoralizing and it gets me angry and you can't get angry with the crutches no matter how much you want to because slamming them on the ground hurts your hands and they don't have ears to listen to your cussing-at anyway. And nobody else ought to listen to it either.

What bugs me the most is that I will be in this foot cast for nearly six weeks total which is just enough time for me to actually, you know, adjust to it all before starting the physical therapy and getting adjusted to walking again. My range probably won't improve for a long time. I will consider walks to Porter victories. You have to have some kind of victory to earn every now and then.

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January 5th, 2014

09:54 am - In which Pooh Bear throws down his crutches and says rude words indeed
I have spent a week and a half now on crutches and it has been both an illuminating and aggravating experience. The fun part is that getting around with a cast on is like constantly playing a game of The Floor Is Lava For Just One Foot. My hopping skill is steadily increasing and my balance on one foot has certainly improved. So far I haven't fallen over, but my crutches have. Multiple times.

They have this habit of falling when you lean 'em up against the wall, see, and it's ironic that the very things what keep me upright and mobile are the same things which can't stand up on their own while stationary--and that's after you make very sure they are leaning well enough against the wall to have some kind of angular bracing and you've kept a careful eye on them for half a minute afterward just to make sure they're not trying anything funny. But much to my constant consternation, these crafty little motherscratchers have an amazing sense of comic timing heretofore unseen in any other household object save the set of keys which hide themselves in plain sight until it ceases to be funny and you're nearly late for your bus. I mean you can lean the crutches against the wall, make sure they're supported well enough to withstand even a minor earthquake, sit down and go about your business, and then just as your guard is lowered and you've forgotten all about 'em, one decides to take the topple. There's the agonizing sound of the inevitable: a whisper of aluminum against painted wall, and by this point you're so fed up with this nonsense that you don't even bother trying to grab for the damn thing. Of course it's falling, you think. Let it hit the floor for all I care.

So the damn thing noisily hits the floor, with the familiar metal clank-crash accompanied by the dull thud of the rubber armpit not-rest. But it's not over yet. No, the movement of this falling crutch was just enough to jostle the second crutch and send it toppling towards a similar fate. Right on cue. Every. Single. Time. Oh, it is to gnash. So I've taken to carefully laying the crafty bastards on the floor when I don't need them. It works reasonably well and lo, there's the illumination, there's some enlightenment. I am learning things! Hooray!

In spite of gravity still having its silly little way with my crutches from time to time, things are progressing well. I've gotten the hang of walking around, I can walk at and slow down from a reasonable pace on flat ground, and I'm developing several gaits for my different characters onstage. The big challenge is building up my stamina on the crutches since I can still only stay upright and moving for much less time than I am used to. Today Sonya and I went in to Porter Square by way of the 96 bus, which picks us up at one of the closest bus stops to the house. It's roughly two blocks away and I decided to walk it.

It is, of course, the absolute worst time of year to have to get around on crutches, especially since we had Halfasnowapocalypse a few days back. It was warm enough to thaw and even dry up a bit today, which was lucky, and Sonya's advance scouting provided effective reports on icy sidewalk conditions ahead. I was happy to discover the crutches did reasonably well on hardpack snow and they sound pretty cool, too. A lovely dry squinching sound resonates through the hollow aluminum frames. Slush has to be vaulted over, and that's one of the more dangerous movements I can make on these things. All you had to do was find another spot if the landing pad looks icy. No problem this time around. But by the time we got to the bus stop, a mere roughly-two blocks away, I was exhausted and sweaty under my winter coats. It's a lot of physical exertion, a lot more than I expected. We ended up taking a taxi home from Porter after we finished having an evening there.

Another exercise I am half-heartedly enjoying is the constant balancing on my good foot. The balancing itself is fine, and I'm developing the skill of using my cast as a counterbalance and soon enough it should hopefully resemble instinct. Standing around on the one foot for too long, even if I'm supporting myself on crutches, can get painful to the point of cramping up. This ain't ideal. I'd like to see some improvements soon, but I bet my stamina will increase only slightly so I won't notice until one day when I suddenly realize I've been on one foot for seventy-two hours. I really hope my range improves soon because to be honest I really hate having such a limited range. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it to the Factory from the T stop, even though it's only a few blocks away. There's no cab fare tree in the backyard and even if there were, it probably wouldn't bloom in the snow.

The biggest frustration involving crutches, besides the fact that they keep fucking falling down, is that you can't carry nearly anything unless you're wearing a backpack or dangling a bag from around your wrist or having big pockets or keeping a stash in your shoe or something. I've been able to hold small books in a hand which still tenuously grasps the crutch, but that's about it. Forget hopping around with dishes. If Sonya's not around to help me with my plates, I eat in the kitchen where I can at least slide things along the counter. O if only the architect of this house had had foresight enough and lined the corridors with cafeteria rails! Then I could move everything as I pleased. Alas. I am grateful to have someone around to help me out, but not being able to do the simplest things gets aggravating. I have, however, gotten good at washing dishes while resting my right knee on a chair, so I'm not completely useless at chores. Just don't ask me to bring the soup bowl into the dining room.

So the moral of the story is that people on buses who give up seats for people on crutches are very very nice, and more people should be that nice.

Your pal,
Hopalong Spatchity

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