Mural, mural on the wall

Welcome to My Abstract

And so the walls of Waukesha became kickass, arts in the community flourished, and everyone was reminded there’s more to life than function.

Welcome to My Actual Post

Photo swiped from the "mural's" blog. Nice folks. Check 'em out.

First there was Chris Vincent’s mural that went up on the side of Discount Liquor. There was crud, then there was nothing, then there was this giant thing paying homage to all the quaint, homey stuff that makes our town quaint and homey.

I realize there was a process involved in getting it up there, and that the whole thing took some time, but am I the only one who doesn’t remember much in between there being nothing and there being lots of stuff?

I wonder if the artist was ticked about having to incorporate the Discount Liquor parking sign into the painting. I’d’a been a little annoyed, personally. She doesn’t look too mad in the picture, but it’s hard to tell from this distance. Maybe DL paid her off with some sort of Free-Wine-A-Month deal? She should take that. I’d take that.

Today on my way to the library I noticed another mural going up in Ye Olde Historic Towne of Waukesha, this time over in the fashionable “West End.”

Side note: Did you know we had a West End here in Waukesha? I didn’t know we had a West End. We always just referred to it as “the part of town by Planned Parenthood a  couple blocks past the House of Guinness right before the road curves at the war memorial that’s always covered in spiders…”

The Waukesha Tattoo Company's new mural

So anyway, I happened to drive past this new mural as the artist (whose name I didn’t get because I’m a doofus and forgot to ask) was taking a break from his work, presumably to bask in its coolness. Being the sort of adult who doesn’t get into the whole “responsibilities” thing, I had plenty of time in the middle of a work day to stop over and ask Mr. Umm… about the piece.

Apparently Mr. Umm does stuff like this all over the darn place. He gets commissioned out for everything from palatable-corporate-pb&j stuff, to crazy-sledge-hammer-tree-trompe-l’œil stuff like this piece here on the side of the Waukesha Tattoo Company.

You: The Waukesha Tattoo Company in Waukesha’s hip West End?

Me: Yes, that Waukesha Tattoo Company.

If you live around here it’s worth checking out. May as well check out the inside too, while you’re at it. This shop won 1st place (out of a whopping 35 entrants) in the “Best Tattoo and Piercing” category on this year’s WISN A-List. The pics on their blog of the interior are incredible. What a gorgeous shop. No joke. I’d office here. I wonder if they rent out space to non-tattoo/piercing artists… Oh my God. Can you imagine setting up a writing table in a place like this?! *sighs dreamily*

ETA: Facebook to the rescue! The WTC mural artist is Adam Nilson. Check out his website and tell me the rest of his trompe-l’œil stuff didn’t totally blow you away.

Welcome to My Conclusion

The sledge hammer in the picture isn’t real, and I apologize for the corny title of this post.

*twitch… twitch…*

Two things which are currently ticking me off:

Oh oh oh wait! The ferrets just did cute, wriggly, ferret stuff! :D Slightly less ticked off now, but I’m sure I’ll work my way back up there as I write; no worries!

1) My (fading, happily) memory of the Danny Gokey look-alike in the silver sedan by the Goodwill in Waukesha this afternoon.

So I’m at a stop light, right? And it’s just me and this other car in front of me and we’re in the left turn lane, right? So the left turn arrow comes on and I can see the guy in front of me is just kinda lookin’ around, taking in the sights, whatever. It’s a gorgeous fall day so I totally understand. Lost in his Autumnal reverie he doesn’t realize the light has now been green for three seconds. (I counted.)

So I give ‘im a little “Beep!” on my horn. A “Beep!” so short and high pitched it sounds like I’ve traded in my Toyota for a Tonka. The kind of “Beep!” people give when the light has turned green, several seconds have passed, and the person at the front of the line hasn’t moved. I didn’t invent this particular beep, folks. It’s been around since before my time.

So I beep, dude looks up at the light, and makes the turn. I follow suit.

We’re driving along and he gets into the right lane while I stay in the left, and he starts to slow down. We’re both still a few miles over the speed limit though, so I figure he’s just a speed-limit-conscious driver.

We’re nearing my turn to get to my apartment so I put on my turn signal and slow way down as I enter the left turn lane. At this point punk ass Danny Gokey wannabe LAYS ON HIS HORN AND PULLS IN BEHIND ME, TAILING ME- HORN STILL BLARING- UNTIL I MAKE MY TURN, AT WHICH TIME HE SWERVES OUT TO MY RIGHT, COMES ALMOST TO A STOP TO MATCH MY SPEED, AND GIVES ME A GRIN AND A TWINKLE-FINGERS WAVE BEFORE SPEEDING AWAY.

What. An. Aaaaaass.

I don’t know why that got to me as much as it did. I kind of hope he’s like that all the time so he has more opportunities for it to come back to bite him.


2) Directors.

The following didn’t happen to me. It’s just my delayed reaction to a conversation I had with a friend a long time ago about something that happened to them with a director I’ve never worked with. It only ticks me off when I think about it. And right now I’m thinking about it. Except I’m thinking about it with a lot of run-on-sentences and excessive back and forth between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, so um– sorry for any confusion. :S


"Pompous Bastard" by Tanner Morrow (Click to see his other stuff; very cool)

If you act… well… and a lot… and a director pats your head with platitudes suggesting you ‘keep auditioning’ and not let it ‘get you down’ when they don’t cast you in a part you didn’t want but which they continually insisted upon you, it is both annoying and insulting.

Didn’t they listen when you said (repeatedly) you weren’t interested in the part? Didn’t they figure maybe you know better than they do about what you like enough to make it worth the commute, the rehearsal time, and giving up a month of weekends? (Particularly if it’s a part you’re not getting paid for: you’d sure better at least enjoy it.)

And– they have your resume! They can see you’ve been acting for years. So maybe by now you’re used to the “sometimes you’re cast, sometimes you’re not” dynamic. Right? Maybe by now you’re adult enough to not throw in the towel after their rejection, even if they don’t encourage you to ‘buck up little soldier’ as though you were some pouting middle schooler. I mean– just guessing here.

*pffft* Based on how many people are like this I sure do!

Don’t directors  realize how pompous it sounds when (in the absence of the right kind of relationship) they try to coach actors in things like the golden morality of ‘branching out’ in the roles we’re willing to play? Surely the fact we’ve been doing this for years gives us some insight into what parts we are and are not interested in, no? Or into what kind of parts are worth branching out for?

And I’m not talking about actors who just don’t know what they’re capable of, or what they enjoy. I’m talking about experienced actors who can say with total certainty “I am in no way, shape, or form interested in playing this particular part,” and about the kind of directors who can’t accept a “No.”

You will not woo me with “top billing.” You will not entice me with reassurances about how it’s “The Lead.” Do you think I don’t know these things already? And do you honestly believe all that matters to every actor is having the most lines?? It doesn’t matter if I’d totally rock at a role if playing it would make me regret getting involved in the first place. Are souls really so cheap?

And maybe the director is right; maybe the nay-saying actor would be ideal for the role in question. But once an actor has to beg or insist about it, then casting becomes more about the director’s ego than about getting the right person into the role.

Actors! Stop playing parts you hate out of some misguided sense that it is a sign of artistic maturity! (Enormous, totally respectable exception: Paying gigs for working actors. Y’all dudes are kinda stuck taking whatever comes up in that regard, but it’s an admirable kind of stuck. I applaud your commitment and your flexibility.)

“The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” James Baldwin


Wesley in his favorite sleeping position

Hm. Guess I’m more philosophically peeved about that second one than I’d realized…

Okay, that was it. Those were my two lousy, stinkin’ things. And I’m already feeling much better.

Isn’t writing therapy great?? We should all have blogs.

Blogs, broccoli and granola in our bellies, and ferrets fast asleep upside down in giant, homey cages in our living rooms while the final episode of Xena plays on our TVs.

Wesley just woke up to scratch. Okay: Full un-ticked. ;)

One week to go!

Hair stuff, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, tooth brushes, Tylenol, Neosporin, floss

A week from today my mom and I will be driving to my grandma’s (Mimi’s) house in Chicago before Mim’s and my flight on Saturday to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Excited as I am about the trip, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I think about how much I have left to do before we leave. I’ve gotten a lot of things done already, except that so much of it is stuff y’can’t see, so sometimes it feels like I’ve accomplished approximately zilch. But I can live with that. ;)

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can’t see are attending a new church here in Waukesha, El Buen Samaritano, to work on my Spanish. My comprehension is SO much better than I had hoped it would be seeing as I haven’t used it in 6 years nor studied it in 9. Whoops! But speaking? Wharbargl… It is hard… and I am le tired… I first learned about the church when Aaron and I met the pastor, Rosa, at an event in Frame Park about a month ago. I’d hoped to attend every Sunday until our departure, but missed one week for a wedding, and another week to attend Elmbrook to hear Jill Briscoe speak. It’s been great to go when I’ve been able, though. Such a warm congregation.

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can see are finding some great children’s books to leave with the mission, and picking up a few meds ‘n’ things for distribution. Nowhere near the quantities we’ll ultimately need, but Mimi’s the one fielding that part of the trip, thank goodness. I’m just the nOOb trying to find small OTC medicines to cram into every available space in my suitcase. ;)

(And thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s donated goods, time, and financial assistance toward this trip. I’ll take as many pics as I can so hopefully you’ll get to see some of those goods in use!)

Wahoo! So many books!

As for the books- sad to say but a few will undoubtedly not make the trip. They’re just so stinkin’ heavy! It’s possible to pay extra for luggage over the weight limit, and for taking extra bags, but with all the medicine Mimi has gathered we’re already at the ultimate baggage limit. While that is actually great news because it means we’re taking along as much medical aid as we’re physically able to carry, it’s also a tough reality for me to face on a personal level.  The need for books, for education in general, is just so great. And as education and reading are so close to my own heart I want so much to be able to get involved in some way in connecting those things with people who need them.

There’s always the mail, though. And donations to existing education-oriented groups. And additional trips… ;)

To give you a taste of what it takes (me, anyway) to get ready to spend a month volunteering with medical clinics in the Western Hemisphere’s 2nd poorest country (after Haiti), here’s a snippet of what’s left on the ol’ To-Do lists…

Tryyyying to write something to share

Write: testimony, 2-3 devotions, update red journal from Mimi
Email: Pastora Rosa, Laurie, Mimi’s peeps at MC (“about me”), Old Dave
Shopping: lightweight tops, capris, dresses (2), shorts, watch, netbook, netbook case and sleeve, heavy-duty sunscreen
Books/Research: Finish “Intermediate Spanish” book, attend EBS for Spanish review, taking blood pressure, field pharmacy organization tips, maps
Pharmacy: pack OTC meds, print 360 labels, downsize packaging on purchased meds
Paperwork: Confirm passport is still good; make copies for mom, Mimi, suitcase
Pack: books; meds; netbook (cord, mouse, case); camera (charger, memory cards); cell (charger); clothes (shorts, capris, dresses, light tops, jeans, swimsuit, scrubs); shoes (walking, dress); toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray)


To Do List...s

Write: Blog update about trip (books, meds, basic itinerary), thank you to M.K.
Email: Jerry W. re: health ins, Marcy R. re: SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, Mark S. re: German dialect tapes
Shopping: David’s birthday present, apt keys for mom ‘n’ dad
Ferrets: baths, razor talons snipped, wash cage/misc, transfer to mom & dad’s house, buy more food
Apartment: laundry, clean kitchen & bathrooms
Job Search: reschedule/attend Remployment class; update resume/job site profiles;  resume to dad to submit for me with list of potential employers
Online: Change Facebook password and give to Becca R., cancel Blockbuster, arrange for bill payment
Call: Bank re: using card abroad, Cell carrier re: int’l usage rates
Fax: Student loan deferment forms

Brodie sleeping... somehow

7/23: 8 pm “Hair” at Sunset Playhouse
7/25: 11am Church, birthday lunch
7/26: 3 pm RTW audition (1:30 arrive early to read the stinkin’ script first!!)
7/30: 9 am Drive to Chicago with mom
7/31: 5 am Fly to Houston> Tegucigalpa…

I don’t know where I’d be if not for Aaron and the fam. They’ve not only graciously agreed to stop by my place to pick up my mail and check on my apartment while I’m gone (Lord knows the only things of value in it are my netbook and passport and those’re coming with me…), but my folks have also agreed to watch the weasels for the entire duration of the trip. Yippee!! The boys are very excited to stay with their cousin, Patches, and to show their Mimi how good they are at using their litter boxes at least 60% of the time…

And just like that it’s 5:35 pm. Time to get crackin’ on crossing a few more items off the ol’ list before heading to Sunset Playhouse tonight to see their production of Hair. (Pics should be available on their Flickr account soon.) Everybody’s raving about this show, and I’m not surprised in the least!

Beads, flowers, freedom, happiness everyone!

Short-Sleeved Gill Tee

Welcome to my Nothing post. It’s here to remind me to write an *actual* blog post about Waukesha Civic Theatre‘s upcoming production of “Crimes of the Heart,” running February 5-21, 2010, which I am in and about which I have written far too little given how seriously rockin’ it’s going to be.

For shame, little Ruth. For shame. So now every time I see this post– oh the guilt! How it will eat away at me!

Until I write that real post. And delete this one. Ta-da! In the meantime: Vvvvvvlog.

ETA: Waukesha Civic Opens ‘Crimes of the Heart’
Russ Bickerstaff

The last full month of winter opens with a pair of local productions that explore the strange convolutions of human passion and the lengths to which people will go to pursue happiness.

On Feb. 5, Waukesha Civic Theatre opens its production of Beth Henley’s 1980 dramatic comedy, Crimes of the Heart. It’s the story of three adult sisters who reunite in Mississippi and confront the dark paths along which their hearts have led them. A larger-than-usual group auditioned for the show, resulting in a very promising cast. Donna Daniels plays the oldest sister, Lenny, who has been looking after their grandfather. Ruth Arnell plays the middle sister, Meg, who has returned from Los Angeles after a faltering singing career. Jenny Kosek plays the youngest sister, Babe, who shot her husband because she “didn’t like his looks.” Mark Neufang will direct the show.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through Feb. 21. …

ETA: Dark Comedy On The Edge of Milwaukee
Russ Bickerstaff

The trip out to Waukesha is a bit further than I’m used to going for a show. I don’t make it out that far for a show, but as there was nothing else opening this weekend and there were people involved in this production who have done work I’ve seen elsewhere before, I was looking forward to the long journey west. …

Director Mark Neufang introduced the show opening night. The initial feel of it is very reminiscent of the type of fare that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on stage in a suburban theatre with a generally older demographic than one might find attending studio theatres in town. Things progress and we meet playwright Beth Henley’s three Magrath Sisters—the first of three shows to open in the next couple of weeks featuring three sisters.  Ruth Arnell, Donna Daniels and Jenny Kosek play the three sisters… a cast that has developed a really good rapport to connect-up with a very cleverly-paced Beth Henley dialogue. Between the three lead actresses and a really stylish Michael Talaska set, the production quickly becomes one of the best dark comedies to hit local stages this season. There’s Jenny Kosek at the end of the play dragging a lighting fixture behind her. And she’s contemplating the oven. And it’s a really funny, really darkly comic moment. Much of the action leading into that moment was executed really well. It’s not what I expected out of a trip to Waukesha. It’s well worth the trip.

Waukesha Civic Theatre’s Crimes of the Heart runs through February 21st. A full review of the show runs in this week’s Shepherd-Express.

ETA: Four Shows With Three Sisters
Russ Bickerstaff

My wife’s two sisters came over yesterday. The three of them were in the kitchen making cookies as I worked on bits of writing that I was attempting to get done. The three sisters motif was particularly strong this weekend, as my wife and I had also attended a show about three sisters the previous night. It’s a motif that’ll be carried out on a number of stages in the next few weeks. …

Now through February 21st, Waukesha Civic Theatre presents Crimes of the Heart— Playwright Beth Henley’s award-winning comic drama about three sisters meeting-up in a small hometown in Mississippi. My wife told me that the dialogue was quite true to what conversations between three adult sisters are like—particularly when the three are all talking at once. The three actresses in question (Ruth Arnell, Donna Daniels and Jenny Kosek) may not have a real strong family resemblance between the three of them, but the rhythm of the rapport between the three of them feels very authentic.

What’s good for the goose…

A killdeer chick

A killdeer chick

Birds of a feather

According to Wikipedia, the killdeerfrequently uses a “broken wing act” to distract predators from the nest.” According to every summer since my family moved into our home in Waukesha, WI this is 100% true and incredible to witness firsthand.

I don’t know how many killdeer nests my parents have in their yard as I’ve only ever seen one of them and I don’t know how territorial they are, but I do know there are usually between 4 and 8 adults living on their property every year, and every early summer they’re accompanied by baby killdeer that are just about the cutest winged things you have ever seen in your life. Love those long stick legs!

Killdeer nest on the ground (we mow around them) so they’re regularly low enough for the casual observer to take a good long look at them, plus their long legs keep them high enough off the ground that they’re easy to spot running around, and they pull that “broken wing act” any time you’re within 20′ of their nests so they’re perfect for seeing Nature’s brilliance in action. They’re great birds. Move near some.

I was at my folks’ house this past Wednesday afternoon when my brother came home and said he’d just run over a baby killdeer on the driveway. He hadn’t seen it in time to avoid hitting it and clearly felt pretty badly about the whole thing. I surely do love that young man. I didn’t want the dog to go bothering the body, so my brother and I walked down the driveway with the intention of moving it into the bushes to either decompose in peace, or to become the meal of something a bit more used to hunting than my family’s spoiled shitsu bichon.

When we reached the chick we discovered it was still alive but had a badly broken leg. I scooped the bird into my hands. He was warm and soft, and so young he didn’t have feathers yet, just down that looked and felt like fur. He opened his beak the tiniest bit, a piece of brown grass still in his mouth, to let out a few quiet chirps as I checked his body with careful fingers. His right leg was fully dislocated, and bleeding.

I kissed the air above his head and wondered if I could kill him myself to put him out of his misery, but I knew I couldn’t do it. What if I made a pig’s ear of the attempt and just ended up injuring him more? And even if I was able to do it quickly and efficiently… I just don’t have it in me. So I said “Thank you Jesus for birds” and laid him in the bushes near his nest so the mother would at least have all her brood accounted for even if one was going to die.

I went inside the house with my brother to wash the blood off my hands and to find my dad to “take care of” the bird, but he wasn’t home so we did nothing with it. I felt equally sick at the thought of killing it or just leaving it be when it must’ve been in so much pain. Accidental deaths of innocent animals just breaks my heart.

All these terrible things going on in the world- war, famine, disease- and this is what makes me cry? But those other things– they’re just so big. So enormous and distant that I can’t wrap my head around them. And if I could, what then? Stop weeping over wounded animals because it’s not the worst that can happen? I am so glad there are people in this world like my Mimi or like my friend Stephen who have a heart for those who are suffering, who have the strength to do more than just weep, and who have the guts to actually do something about that suffering. And me? I guess I’m just the type to love the people I’m near, and get all teary-eyed over broken birds.

When God closes a door he opens a window to let the geese in

I was at the park today with friends when we overheard a woman who works at the park telling a coworker about a Canada goose nearby that sometimes follows her around and whom she had named Geraldine. My friends and I saw the goose to which the woman was referring, but we assumed it just liked to be nearby to catch fallen picnic fare and continued on our way.

We stopped at the end of a sidewalk near the park’s primary boat landing to get a better look at the water’s edge, when I noticed “Geraldine” peeking out as us from behind a lamp post. We stood watching her pecking away at the grass beneath her feet for a moment before picking some leaves ourselves and holding them out to her. She seemed a little unsure of us at first, but that didn’t last long and soon we were sitting on the ground testing different types of greenery on a very friendly, hungry Geraldine.

Feeding Geraldine

Feeding Geraldine

We offered her wide stalks of water grass, but she didn’t seem to care for it. We tried flower pods and thistle blossoms, but those were also a no. She seemed to enjoy the round leaves (read: weeds) that grew throughout the lawn, and the long blades that grew up between the sidewalk cracks and in the gravel along the river’s edge. She was also a big fan of our shoelaces. And pant legs. And bracelets. And leaning against our legs while looking us straight in the eye. And having her sides and belly rubbed. She even let me slip my hand between her wings to give her a nice long scratch after she’d done so first with her beak.

We must’ve sat there with her like that for at least an hour, feeding her grass, rubbing her belly, and studying all her weird little details. Her feet? Feel like leather. Her tongue? Edged in sharp grooves like a serrated kitchen knife. Strangest thing. And she never once hissed or tried to bite, though if we offered too short a piece of grass our fingers were likely to be included in her delicate little chomps. And she was personably vocal, offering sweet barking sounds when she wanted more grass, quiet honks as she wandered between us, and kind silence while we stroked her beautiful back. Another surprise to me was how wet her mouth was. I don’t know why I expected her to have a dryer tongue, but whenever she’d catch an errant finger it would end up dripping with goose spit. Who knew?

A little girl of about 5 or 6 and her brother of about 4 were out walking in the park with their grandparents when they spotted us. We invited them to come pet Geraldine, which they loved for a solid 2 minutes before running onto the pier to chase ducks. About 20 minutes later, while laying in the grass with Geraldine’s warm body nestled in the crook of my armpit where she sat munching on leaves, a girl and her boyfriend rode by on bikes and stopped to ask if this was our pet. The guy stayed on his bike, but the girlfriend was only too happy to come down and pet and feed our new pal, an enormous grin on her beautiful face. There is just nothing like something feathered and friendly to bring a smile to people’s faces. Just nothing like.

Thank you, for Geraldine.

“My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you… you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore always seek to praise God.”

– from Fioretti di San Francesco d’Assisi

Two more reasons to love Waukesha, WI

Would that all houses were purple and sunflowered!

Would that all houses were purple and sunflowered!

I’ve always enjoyed living near the heart of downtown Waukesha, WI, particularly in the week and a half it’s not covered in snow. It’s just such a casual, charming, friendly little town, and for all the complaints I’ve heard- and uttered- about how confusing it can be to navigate when you’re not used to the area, I even love the streets.

I’m a big fan of the direction the town is taking as it cleans itself up, brushes the dust off its dancing shoes, gargles a little mouthwash. It just feels safer, cleaner, and fresher than it did before. I have to say, though, that the one thing I wonder about is how a town this size can support so many coffee shops and art galleries.

They’re all great, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t walk a block without tripping over some quaint little someplace or other where you can grab a cup of joe (delicious, accompanied by friendly service) or buy a local resident’s latest foray into abstract painting. Some places even let you do both. And every time I see one of these places I think: Who the heck is around to drink enough coffee to keep each cafe viable? Who the heck is around to buy enough art to keep each gallery viable? This is Waukesha for crying out loud, not the Third Ward or Cedarburg! I know it’s changing, but is it changing quickly enough for these places to make it when they’re competing in such close proximity?

And then? I heard another coffee shop was moving into town. I couldn’t believe it. Even more unbelievable was that it was to be set up in the purple flower house on St. Paul Ave. where another coffee shop had just gone out of business last year. As nice as it is as a consumer to have the extra variety, I just couldn’t imagine what this place could offer to make it worth walking a block off the main drag for, especially in the exact place another coffee shop had failed.

But folks, I’m here to tell ya’: It’s worth walking a block off the main drag for.

Cafe de Art

136 E. St. Paul Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186

The name of the place is Cafe De Arts and if you like coffee (or tea, or sandwiches, or salads, or desserts, or colors, or free wifi, or Turkish people) you are hereby assigned to check this place out. You owe it to yourselves. Really.

I stopped in this afternoon around 1 to see what the place was all about and was immediately struck by the warmth of the decor. The thickly painted wall art, the custom made doors and tables, the reds, oranges and yellows of the decorative fabrics, all set off by the natural beauty of sunshine and a fresh breeze, made the environment so welcoming I knew it was a place I could easily stay all afternoon.

While reading over the wall menu I was approached by the woman who would soon take my order. So charming, very pretty, all smiles. We met by the dessert case and I asked if the baked goods inside it were made there on site. She told me she makes them herself right there in the kitchen and then went over each one with me, giving me the names- none of which I could pronounce outside of “baklava“- and main ingredients.

I hadn’t been planning on ordering anything to eat, but the feta and parsley stuffed pogaca (pron. pogasha) on the top shelf looked too delicious to pass up so I ordered one to accompany my chocolate and vanilla blended mochaccino.

While waiting for my order I made myself comfortable on one of the leather couches by the flat screen TV which at the time was playing Turkish music videos, one of which was this video by the adorable Turkish pop star Yalin. Isn’t he cute?! The woman I’d spoken with before, who I later learned was Gulten Munzur, wife of owner Ayhan Munzur, soon brought out my pogaca and coffee and I was instantly in cafe heaven.

My drink was strong; very flavorful, very rich, very drinkable. It lacked the “coffee bitterness” I’m accustomed to, without tasting as though the bitterness was perhaps still there but masked by sugar and flavored syrups. As a testament to the freshness of the ingredients and the fact that they had no fancy additives to hide behind, I found myself having to swirl my cup once or twice to mix things back together a bit. And the pogaca, which I’d expected would be cold and flaky, was actually warm and quite soft much to my delight. It’s like a very moist roll that looks like dense bread but tastes like fresh feta cheese. And the glazed top was more than just a nice visual touch– it was delish.


A commercial coffee roaster similar to the one at Cafe de Arts

As I was finishing up, Gulten came by to ask how everything was and I could only tell her it was wonderful. Ayhan soon came around to tidy up a table two other patrons had just vacated and also asked how I’d liked everything. We chatted a bit and he was just so personable and friendly it would’ve been impossible not to like him as instantly as I’d liked Gulten.

He asked if I had seen their roaster on my way in and when I said I hadn’t he brought me up to the front of the cafe and showed me a machine I’d’ve sworn was part of an old locomotive refurbished to decorate the living room of a steampunk afficionado. I don’t know how I managed to miss it when I first arrived. It was this enormous black and gold… thing which he was clearly quite proud of and which really was quite impressive.

He went through the process with me of how the roasting is done, showing me the small, green coffee beans as they appear before roasting, how the hopper is filled, how the temperature is controlled and varied to alter the strength of the roast, and a handful of the final product. Amazing. I told him if he ever decides to sell the beans dipped in chocolate I’d buy their first pound.

And in case you were wondering, you can purchase (non chocolate covered) pounds of their coffee beans for somewhere in the neighborhood of $9. (Don’t quote me. I’ll get the actual price and update here soon.) Another ‘variety is the spice of life” part of the whole gig is they import their beans hundreds of pounds at a time from all over the world, and roast them fresh every couple of days so you’re never drinking last week’s brew.

They’re celebrating their Grand Opening (link is to Facebook event page) this Tuesday, June 30th, from 6 – 9 pm and I am definitely going to be stopping in. If you live in the area this place absolutely must make it onto your “must visit” list; I cannot recommend it highly enough. And since they’ve just opened recently after moving here from Turkey-by-way-of-New-Hampshire I cannot recommend highly enough that you visit sooner rather than later to be part of jump starting this promising addition to the local small business community. I get the impression they already have a loyal customer base, which is not at all surprising, but they really deserve your patronage too. No foolin’.


After my impromptu guided tour of Cafe de Arts I headed across the Waukesha State Bank parking lot to check out “The Cemetery Club” at Waukesha Civic Theatre for their 2pm pay-what-you-can performance. Sunset Playhouse put on this show last season and I heard it was wonderful but wasn’t able to make it, so I made sure not to let it pass me by again. Especially not on an afternoon when I could name my own ticket price!

The entire experience was absolutely engaging. Director Brian Zelisnki pulled together a remarkable cast of delightful and talented actors who connected so dearly with their characters it truly felt as though they were living out each moment for themselves on that stage.

G. Chmiel, F. Klumb, J. End

Chmiel as Ida, Klumb as Doris, End as Lucille

Joan End’s “Lucille” was loud and funny and wild, and just perfectly drunk enough in Act II that you had to wonder what was really in the tea props. One of her closing scenes had tears rolling down my cheeks it was so touchingly well played. I hate crying in public, but in that moment there was no stopping me. Thank you, Joan.

Fran Klumb’s “Doris” was  humanly solid, comedically smooth, and professionally real. She has this great way with a line where you’re so floored for a moment by her timing and delivery that you can’t even laugh right away because you’re too busy thinking “Wow!” She was perfectly cast in that role. Loved her.

Gladys Chmiel’s “Ida” was a particular treat for me as I am quite the Gladys Chmiel fan. It was all I could do, all anyone could really do, to keep from wanting to run up on stage and hug her throughout the show. Her performance was so tender, her focus so devoted, her dancing so cute, that I cheered for her all the way. Gladys never disappoints, and this show was no exception. Brava, friend.

Supporting this central threesome were Doug Smedbron as “Sam” and Rhonda Trickey as “Mildred.” I’d only ever seen Doug in “Social Security” and “Season’s Greetings” at Sunset Playhouse so I was excited to get to see him in something with a little more stage time. His portrayal of Sam was perfect. Just perfect. Cute as a button without being schmaltzy, cautiously dedicated without being detached, and believable believable believable. I can’t work with him soon enough.

Rhonda’s “Mildred” only appeared in one scene, but watch it and tell me you had any idea she hasn’t been playing roles like this for years. She balanced giggly, oblivious flirtatiousness with respectful stage sharing like a pro. This was her first play ever, but you’d never know it. No rookie hamminess, no “backting.” Good on ya’, Trickey. Keep acting.

Good on all of ’em, really. One minute I was laughing out loud, the next I was gasping in shock, leaning in for more, or brushing away enormous tears. I only wish I could’ve seen it sooner so I could’ve encouraged more people to check this show out for themselves. There are still two performances left, but one starts in 12 minutes so I’m thinkin’ this blog won’t be directing anyone out to Civic for that one. But if you’re free for their closing performance tomorrow, Sunday June 28th at 2 pm, do attend. It’s guaranteed to please.

And I’m guaranteed to be late if I don’t wrap this up and head out soon! Such is the life of a busy Waukesha socialite. ;)

Wining ‘n’ Dining in Waukesha

Ray’s on South

Ray's on South

Ray's on South

I visited Ray’s for the first time this afternoon and was so pleased with every aspect of the place that I had to write this entry just to have a place to talk about it. So far I can only speak for their Stacked Deli Shaved Roast Beef with provolone and a side of tater tots, but oh those things I would speak are massively flattering. The sandwich was delicious, and the tots were as crunchy and awesome as food should be when it had previously been reduced to little more than a yummy childhood memory. The staff are friendly, the dark wood furniture is gorgeous, the booths are roomy, the bar well appointed, and I believe the place is smoke free. I didn’t see any signs saying as much, but I also didn’t smell any smoke or see any ashtrays. The icing on the cake? Free WiFi! I can’t recommend this place highly enough. Go as soon as you can, and then go back.

Generations at Five Points

Another Waukesha joint I would recommend is the newish Generations tapas bar. Nice little place between Tha Shop and the CricKet store at the 5 point intersection. It’s got a nice, clean feeling atmosphere, and a pretty sweet menu that changes monthly. It’s one of those tidy little places referred to as “chic” by locals who’ve grown tired of having to choose between the area’s competing menus of deep fried bar food. The bartenders know their game so the drinks are well mixed, and the waitstaff are universally friendly. I haven’t tried the food yet but everything I’ve seen looks like a must-try. The specialty martinis veer towards being a bit pricey, but the environment you’re paying to enjoy is a nice one so I’d say it’s worth it for all you martini guys and gals out there. Like Neighbor’s (under the old and the new owners…) it can get a little too loud given the size and shape of the space when there’s live music, but most nights it’s perfect. And at least the music they play there is good.

Chill, Fine Wine & Martinis

Gulden Draak

Gulden Draak

I plan on trying out Chill some time soon. Anybody know anything about it? I didn’t even know it existed until I parked near it today but it looks like a neat little place.

ETA: Had a drink at Chill tonight and it’s definitely worth stopping by if you’re into smoke free locations with architectural character. The overall crowd leaned just north of 40, just south of AARP, and seats about 14 people comfortably. If you’re fortunate enough to be one of those 14 people it’s really quite nice, though with limited floor space it’s not really ideal for standing around. It’s kind of like attending a house party at the home of a college professor who taught a course you never thought you were interesting enough to take. The bar itself is small- about like the stand alone type you might purchase at a high end furniture store to scoot into the corner of a nice sitting room- with room for three chairs, one bartender and a few shelves of high end drinks. I didn’t look at the wine list- because who am I kidding: I know nothing about wine- but the martini specials all sounded yummy. In the end I decided on the Cherry Squirt and it was delish, though a tad strong for my taste. Chill also carries two neat sounding brews I’d never heard of before, each of which weighs in at a hefty 10.5% alcohol: Van Steenberge Brewery’s Gulden Draak and Piraat Ale. The only real downside to the place is that it’s not open very often or for very long; a few hours most week nights, and 6 to 12 on Saturday evenings. If you can get in, however, it’s worth a peek.

Sprizzo Gallery Caffe

Sprizzo Gallery Caffe

Sprizzo Gallery Caffe

Holy cats! I haven’t been inside Sprizzo’s since they moved into their new location across the street from the old one but wow does it look sweet from the outside. And that patio/yard area? I NEED to enjoy a coffee out there some Saturday afternoon this summer. NEED to. I passed by this afternoon during the Art Crawl and my eye was immediately caught  by a series of large paintings they had hung on the outside patio wall. Are those always there? Any for sale? Fun and lovely. The fact that it’s also got that smoke free/free WiFi combo makes it all the more appealing. Oh yeah– and the food’s good too. ;)

In conclusion, check out this super cute slow loris:

All the world’s a stage…

… and unfortunately: Stages Pass! So hurry and get your tickets before these stages pass:



Spiral Theatre
Torch Song Trilogy, by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Mark Hooker

Torch Song Trilogy is a very personal story that is both funny and poignant. Torch Song Trilogy chronicles a New Yorker’s search for love, respect and tradition in a world that seems not especially made for him. From Arnold’s hilarious steps toward domestic bliss with a reluctant school teacher, to his first truly promising love affair with a young fashion model, Arnold’s greatest challenge remains his complicated relationship with his mother. But armed with a keenly developed sense of humor and oftentimes piercing wit, Arnold continues to test the commonly accepted terms of endearment–and endurance–in a universally affecting story that confirms that happiness is well worth carrying a torch for.

Location: Spiral Theatre at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire Blvd., Milwaukee, WI; (414) 248-6481 (Call for tickets or email info@spiraltheatre.com)
Dates/Times: February 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 pm and 8, 15 at 2:30 pm
Cast: Enid Barnes, CJ Darnieder, Jordan Gwiazdowski, Mark Hagen, Brian Richards, Kelly Simon
Facebook: Event Page

ETA 2/9/09: I want to write up the show before closing weekend sneaks up on me, but until I get a chance to do so and if you’re reading this post before then: This is absolutely a must-see. And if you’re familiar with the script, fear not! It’s been cut down so you won’t be there all night. ;) It really is fantastic and if you’re on the fence about heading out to see it this weekend, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. You will thank me a hundred times. Feel free to thank me with presents and cash. ;)



Spiral Theatre
Die Mommie Die, by Charles Busch
Directed by: Mark Hooker

The year is 1967, and Angela Arden is a washed-up pop singer who’s married to movie producer Sol but is involved with an unemployed actor named Tony. When Sol turns up dead, all fingers point to Angela. Leading the charge is Angela’s daughter Edith, who’s eager to get even by killing her mother. Edith’s brother, however, is not so sure that mom is to blame.

Location: Spiral Theatre at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire Blvd., Milwaukee, WI; (414) 248-6481 (Call for tickets or email info@spiraltheatre.com)
March 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 at 7:30 pm
Will Elwood, Jordan Gwiazdowski, Mark Hooker, Gloria Loeding, Nathaniel Press, Sandra Stark, Jenna Wetzel
Facebook: Event Page (Coming Soon!)


mark-hookerA note from Spiral Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Hooker:

“Don’t miss Spiral Theatre’s LAST SEASON in Milwaukee.  Spiral’s producer and my partner Dave Berg are relocating to the Twin Cities. Dave had a job offer that he could not refuse. We’re sad to leave but excited for Dave’s new opportunity. We are amending our season slightly to accommodate our sudden and unexpected departure.”‘

Milwaukee will miss you two and the fun times and great art you’ve been a part of here. Best of luck to you both in all your future endeavors in Minneapolis!



Waukesha Civic Theatre
Don’t Dress for Dinner, by Marc Camoletti
Directed by: Mark E. Schuster

Be prepared for an evening of riotous confusion as this breathtaking farce races through a romantic week end gone awry. The setting is a New York farm house. The plot is a carefully planned weekend with a chic mistress. Bernard has remembered to arrange every detail; a cordon bleu chef; wife sent to visit her mother; and best friend invited as a cover. Foolproof plan? Don’t count on it.

Location: 264 West Main Street, Waukesha, WI 53186; (262) 547-4911 (Call for tickets or email boxoffice@waukeshacivictheatre.org)
Dates/Times: March 13 and 14 (8pm), 15 (2pm); 20 (8pm), 21 (4 & 8pm), 22 (7pm); 27 (8pm), 28 (2 & 8pm), 29 (2pm)
Cast: Ruth Arnell, Donna Daniels, Scott Fudali, Mark Neufang, Matthew J. Patten, Chelsey Peterson
Facebook: Event Page

Tres Audiciónes

After a weird ’07/’08 theatre slump, in which for the life of me I couldn’t find as much as usual in the local circuit I wanted to audition for, I currently have three auditions coming up in January alone. Sweeeet! Let’s hope that proves to be a trend for the rest of 2009, eh?

And before anybody starts whinin’ or gripin’ or finger waggin’: I had a blast with the shows I did in ’07/’08. I’m not knockin’ ’em. There was just this weird chunk of time in late ’07 and mid ’08 where there weren’t as many options that were enticing to me personally as there generally are around here.

Below is a li’l vloggy vid about the stuff I’ve got coming up. Below *that* is a testament to my inability to present anything in a non-redundant fashion. (Basically I just fleshed out the video with what I actually wanted to say but which I couldn’t capture on video without it getting all  rambly and obnoxious.)

Actually: It *did* get rambly and obnoxious. Go figure. I cut it down from 14 minutes  of thinking out loud, so for those of you who’d feel bad pressing play on the video, but then not finishing it when you saw how freaking LONG it was (but would sit through it anyway just to be nice): You’re welcome.

The Part Where I Repeat What I Just Said In the Video, But More Wordier Like

The first show I’m auditioning for is a farce at a theatre I’ve worked with a few times before and have really enjoyed. I’m excited because if it works out it’ll be tons of fun to work on and loads of laughs to perform in, and that’s an enormous part of why I do theatre in the first place: To have a good time. If it ain’t fun, I ain’t interested. (Not that it has to be a comedy, or that there can’t be hard work, or anything like that. I *heart* dramas and hard work! It’s just got to be worth the time and the money I put into it, and some shows/theatres just aren’t worth the sacrifice.)


Backstage for "The Philadelphia Story"

You can keep your divas and your politics and your drama to yourself, thankyouverymuch. Me? I’m looking to have me a swell old time. And a farce at a great place with wonderful people? What’s sweller than that? Oh man– and jumping from a period comedy in fall to a farce in winter? How fun would that be?!

I only know of one other actor who is also for sure auditioning for this one, but he’s very kickass and funny and all that good stuff, so if I could get into it alongside him and one other fellow I’m also crossing my fingers about, then DAYUM! That’d be an awesome time. :D

The next show I’m auditioning for is a black comedy at a theatre I’ve never worked with before, but with a director I *have* worked with before, so we’ll see how many butterflies I bring with me to that one. It’s a long shot among long shots for me, but I welcome the opportunity with open arms and a big ol’ grin. ‘Cause see– that’s the thing about auditioning for parts that are long shots: That audition may be the closest you ever get to performing in any of those roles, right? So you may as well enjoy every moment of it as much as you can, right? Right.


Half of the "Wait Until Dark" cast... and C.J. ...

The final audition I have coming up is the Milwaukee General Audition near the end of the month. That one’s a bit tricker in that you can’t book a time slot for it until January 19th at 9 am, all the slots are taken by 10 am, and the audition is only about a week later. This translates to having to have headshots printed before you even know if you’ll even need them, monologues prepared which you may not end up using, (though having headshots and monologues at the ready is not a bad thing by any means), and if you’re fortunate enough to be employed *quashes waves of jealousy* then you have to ask off for that entire day long before even the call-in day on 19th, when in the end you may end up being free for work that day after all if no spots are left by the time they get to you.

That MGA… *tsk tsk tsk* She’s a tricksy mistress, no?

The pluses about the MGAs are that you’re allowed to attend for up to two years in a row, there are representatives present from 15-25 theatres, agencies, etc. (16 this year), and even if you don’t get any calls out of it you’re still being seen, and that’s worth a lot.

Just try not to get too bummed out when you find out someone with zero inclination toward acting and no availability that season gets a time slot, and you who act for a living weren’t able to get one. Ha ha, sucka…

I wonder if I could act for a living. Would it alter my perspective on performance to a point that I wouldn’t be able to relax in it as much? Hm. Maybe it would make me enjoy it even more. Hm again.

Question about headshots: I only have 3 or 4 copies left of my headshot, and I need a total of at least 16 by late January for the MGAs. I’m broke as Lindsay Lohan’s moral compass, so going out and getting a bunch of prints made- no matter how good the deal!- is probably out of the question for me at this current time. But I also can’t just pop photo paper into my parents’ printer and expect anything reasonably useable to come out. (Plus they’d be 8 1/2″ x 11″ instead of 8″ x 10″ that way, a definite no-go, and I don’t know if I trust myself with scissors enough to trim them.) Suggestions for affordable alternatives?


ermine-2I had a dream last night where I was outside in the snow and this gorgeous, pure white ferret came running up to me wanting to play. She looked like a standard albino except that her eyes were black and her hair felt more like thick rabbit fur. She was crawling all over me, she came when I called her (her name was Virginia), and she was just the friendliest most charming little mustelid you’ve ever met.

I was with my Mimi at some point shortly after that and we were walking into a house that I believe belonged to people related to us. The house was in total disarray, no one appeared to be inside, and the back door was wide open. When Mimi went to look out the back door to see if our family members were outside, Virginia jumped out of my arms and started running away into one of the nearby bedrooms. I ran in after her and scooped her up before she could get lost in a pile of clothes under the bed. I stood there holding her and laughing, talking that silly talk you use with babies and small animals, when I noticed she now had patches of dark gray in the fur on her belly, had completely lost control of her bowels, and was bleeding.

I started crying and running through the house trying to find Mimi to ask her what I should do while this delicate thing in my hands wriggled and chittered at me. I didn’t know what might’ve happened to her before she’d found me and I’d only had her for a few minutes so I didn’t know if she was ill or had a history of being abused or anything.  Images and conversations began flooding through my brain about her previous owners and I knew they had treated her terribly and had tested different chemicals and drugs and things on her. Not for science, not for medicine. For ignorance; for spite.

In these visions I saw her poor little belly filled with metal and germs. It was sad. It was awful. This poor, soft, defenseless, friendly little thing, bleeding in my hands, was totally unsaveable. God it was just awful.

I woke up before she could die.

And now that I’m depressed over the death of an animal that doesn’t exist, and you’re wondering how we ever became friends in the first place, how ’bout a quick subject change so we can still part on decent terms?


New Year’s resolutions. Got any? List ’em in the comments below. I don’t know as I plan on getting into all that hoo-hah myself, but we’ll see…

Ruth’s Eye Movement: A Dream

There were a few months in college when my first class wasn’t until 1 pm, so I used almost every single morning to write down the previous night’s dreams. During that time I was able to dream very vividly, and to remember the dreams quite clearly, so I was able to pour  into Word page after page of plots points, characters, and Technicolor story arcs.

It was awesome.

It’s been a long time since I’ve remembered my vivid dreams as frequently as during that semester, and when I remember them now I’m usually lacking the time or the energy to write them down.

Except for last night’s dream. Unfortunately I only remember the last portion of it, but I’m glad to have at least retained something, because this one– this one I needed to record.


I was me, I was my own age (26), it was now, and I was here in Waukesha.

zac-efronI was dating this “cute” boy of about 19. Not cute in any way that makes any difference to me, but cute in the way 19 year old boys try to be cute these days. Tan, muscles that look out of place with such baby faces, long, side-swept brown hair over the eyebrows. The kind of guy who’d never turn my head in waking life. The kind of guy who’d only register on my radar if he jumped out in front of me in the crosswalk, and only then because I’d think what a shame it was that some mother just lost such a soft looking child.

Teenage Boyfriend would regularly come over to visit me, his cute but pudgy 19 year old buddy ever in tow to play Back-up Idolizer in the event no one else could be found to fawn over Teenage Boyfriend’s eyebrows and vitality. He’d sit on the couch next to me and make a show of draping his arm broadly around my shoulder, but then never look at me. Never speak to me. Just while away the hours gabbing and showing off his conquest to the chubby friend who so adored him. He’d brag to his friends that he had a 26 year old girlfriend as though that was some great feat, and I’d endure his being 19 and mentally absent around me because he was cute for a young’un, and it was nice to have the company.

One day- the day of the dream- he asked me to give him a lift to go see this girl he knew. He kept insisting it wasn’t a date, even after he showed up at my place in his best shirt and oceans of cologne. He told me how great this girl was, and how pretty. How much alike they were, how much fun she was. He told me he was taking her out for dinner, and how they had somehow gotten hold of some alcohol and were going to get drunk together later that night. He kept telling me nothing was going to happen, and then winking and nudging me while saying that if something did happen how could I blame him because “both of them are so hot.”



I agreed to give him a lift. I even encouraged him to ask this girl out if she seemed interested in him. I was a 20-something cougar and he was just a joke to me by this point. A mere presence. An embarrassment. A body warming a seat on a couch I don’t really own in a living room that stopped being mine as soon as I awoke. He told me no, no– it’s not like that. It’s not a date, I’m not trying to get her to go out with me. I just nodded, joked that no one could resist him, and walked out to the car. Attractive men live on the reassurance that they are irresistible, and for better or worse I live on the reassurance that I fill a need.

ford-15-passenger-van“The car” I drove him in turned out to be one of those large, white, passenger vans they use at schools and day-care centers, with several long rows of seats, all equipped with shoulder strap seat belts that came down from the ceiling. When we got in to drive to this girl’s house I discovered Chubby Friend was already in the van to tag along. As was my mother. My real mother. My waking life mother. She was smiling and cheerful; happy to see me and to have my company as we drove the tangled streets of Waukesha. I don’t recall feeling shy that she saw my laugh of a kiddie boyfriend. I just remember being glad she was there so I wouldn’t feel so alone in spite of all this other company.

I drove us past the park by the library, up the street past the apartments where Kate and Janet, Rachel and Arielle, and Sean and Tish used to live.  Teenage Boyfriend rattled on about how cute the girl was that we were about to go see. Chubby Friend listened intently. Mom smiled graciously. I came to full stops and used my turn signals.

In one of those shifts you only find in dreams, we were suddenly out of the van and walking to the girl’s house. And the streets were no longer the streets of Waukesha. We were someplace else. A small city. No litter in the gutters, no dirt on the sidewalks. Everything was clean and quiet. Every alley was wide. Every building was the color of a coffee shop I couldn’t afford in a neighborhood I’d never visit. And the sun was almost set.

Teenage Boyfriend was getting nervous. He said he remembered how to get to the girl’s house– a few more blocks down, and then a few blocks to the left– but that he couldn’t remember what her house looked like. He started getting anxious about the falling darkness, too, as the scent of his cologne began to wear off. I turned to him on my right and suddenly– dream shift– he was a girl. A short, small-framed, dark haired, olive skinned girl of about 17.

And just like that we were in danger and on the run. I took her by the hand and we darted quickly down an alley. A car curled around a corner to our left, its headlights shining on us. We made a mad dash for the alley across a street we’d come to and ran as fast as we could. Two blocks down, one to the left. We hadn’t gone far enough to get to the home of the girl we were seeking, but we were at least still heading in the right direction.

The dark haired girl whose hand I was holding was suddenly back to being Teenage Boyfriend again when we were back on track. When we knew where we were going. As long as everything was going according to plan he was himself. But the moment things were in chaos, the moment we lost our way, he shifted back to this small, frightened girl younger than himself and latched on to me for help. This didn’t bother me. I’d rather baby-sit youths than date them.

Mom and Chubby Friend found us catching our breath on a sidewalk and, reunited, we resumed our trek to the home of some nameless, attractive young girl so much more appropriate in every way for my boyfriend, but who he still insisted he was just going to go visit. I began to grow annoyed with him for thinking I was as big a fool as I’d have to be to accept his protestations as being remotely likely. I said nothing. I didn’t care. I didn’t want him. He was a child. But it was like I suddenly wanted him to want me, at least a little, at least for show, at least for now, because I wanted him to be worth all this trouble.

We reached a street we thought could be the girl’s. Teenage Boyfriend told me he was unsure if this was it or not. I looked ahead and there on the right was a white bridge that looked like it had been made from pieces torn from the wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was beautiful all lit up against the sky, which was now completely dark. It was beautiful and white and sturdy. It was beautiful and clean.

main-drapeDo you remember crossing this to get to the girl’s house before, I asked young Boyfriend. But before he could respond, an enormous Main Drape the brownish color of strawberry preserves dropped swiftly and silently into place on our right between us and the bridge, hiding it, and the street it was on, from view. The only direction we could go was to the left. We turned.

To our left was a house-lined street you cannot find anywhere but in a Stephen King novel set in a carnival and made into a movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. I felt like I’d walked into one of James Roland‘s nightmares without the “James Roland Guide To Waking Oneself Up.” Each house on either side of the street wasn’t so much an actual house as it was a N’Awleans mausoleum, a booth, or a tent. Yes- I could see that now. They were ragged backstage circus tents back from their final tour of the universe. And in an instant the street itself wasn’t even a street anymore. It was a waterway.

Stringy men on floating platforms poled their way up and down this sudden canal, as stars winked on high above our heads. Strings of bare bulbs buzzed as heat fell onto the tents, each decorated like the temporary encampment of some displaced Vodun priestess. Collages of religious figures, chains of beads and mud, canvas wilting in the heat, rocking chairs immobile on front stoops extending cautiously over watery lawns out to the waterway ahead; it was like death. Like so much rotten, floating death.

I knew we had to walk down this street to find the girl’s house. No longer to bring my boyfriend to her, however, but to save her. To rescue her from this place. I’d share my couch with her, my kitchen, my bed, my locks on the front door. She could even have my boyfriend; anything to get her out of this place.

voodootombI looked down the sidewalk comprised entirely of rickety front stoops and began planning how to cross them. Each one was made of odds and ends tied together and floating on the murky water of this hellish bayou, and none was more than 3′ square. Some stoops looked like sections of fencing attached to the base of the tent’s front entrance via bits of cord and wire. Some were more like single fan blades, or the arm of some unlucky chair that had fallen into the water and been spit back up after whatever lurked beneath the surface realized chairs are not as good for eating as people are. As we are. As we would be if we took even a single misstep while making our way across this floating walk.

I turned back to my group to warn them to be cautious before we began jumping from one floating, disconnected stoop to the next, when I noticed my mother was no longer behind me. I turned back around to face the walkway in front of me and there she was, already blazing a trail atop the floating “bridge.” She was picking out her steps slowly and carefully, her arms out for balance, her head down, her eyes scanning the wet boards around her for which ones looked least likely to tip her into the water and deliver her up to the dangers beneath its surface.

She hadn’t gotten far, maybe 10 feet from us, when she reached a section of the path where every piece floating around her looked too narrow for even a single foot, or too disconnected from the other stoops, or too wet and slippery to bear her up if she lept onto it over the great distance between it and the step before.

I opened my mouth to cry out to her to tell her to stop, that she didn’t need to go on ahead, that we’d find some other way. But it was too late. Her foot slipped on a wet, rocking piece of insignificant wood, and the water between the stoops of two of the tents swallowed her up with so insignificant a splash the water could have been made of damp bread.

There was no motion beneath the surface, no bubbles, no splashing. I frantically scanned the walkway for the best path to reach the point where she’d gone down, but could find no way to get to her without getting into the water myself.

I spotted one of the rafts lazily patrolling the canal like a crypt keeper in a town where there are none left but the dead. I called out to the sun worn man atop it and begged him to take his tiny craft to where my mother had gone under and rescue her. His taut, tan face wrinkled into a grin as he rasped something to the effect of “No.”

I jumped. From one slick board to the next I jumped. I screamed. I cried. I didn’t look to the canal to my right, nor to the tents to my left. I just looked down. Down at the rickety path bobbing below me as ripples of the bayou washed over it and over my sliding feet.

I got to where my mother had gone under. So much time had passed with no movement from that place, with no hand coming up above the surface, with not a single bubble of air. Perhaps 10 seconds? Perhaps 20? It felt like days.

I didn’t want to reach my hand into the water. I didn’t want to be dragged under. I was in a nightmare. I was in hell. I was in this town doing something I didn’t want to do for someone who didn’t even care about me, and in the process I was losing one of the people I love the most in the world. And on top of it all, here I was on the verge of losing myself to save her when I didn’t even know if she was there anymore to be saved.

But I couldn’t leave without trying to bring her back. I couldn’t run away not knowing if she was alive and if I could have saved her. It was like being stranded indefinitely in that moment in a horror movie where everyone in the theatre is screaming for the protagonist to just go, just run, just leave the others behind to be killed so at least one of you will live to tell the tale and warn others. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t leave. Not my mother. And whatever I did I would have to do it alone while Teenage Boyfriend and Chubby Friend cowered together on the last bit of real sidewalk at the entrance to this horrible place, immobilized by their fear.

I dropped to my knees on the stoop beneath me; the boards comprising it began to break apart. I thrust my hand into the water in front of me and waved it around, half hoping to feel something, half fearing it. What if I did feel my mother and it was just her body? What if I didn’t feel her at all?

What if I felt something else?

I felt nothing. I got nowhere.

I dunked my head into the water in front of me and to my surprise I could see. Not much, and not well, but I could see. It was like the water had light of its own. Dim light. Dirty light. My field of vision was awash with brown and muck and floating debris. Bits of leaves and broken boards floated past me. Gnarled branches nearly struck me as more and more things I couldn’t identify swam in front of me in a current that didn’t seem to exist at the surface.

I picked my head back up out of the water and caught sight of another man on a raft. I called to him. No response. I had a vision of my mother. I thrust my head back under the water along with enough of one of my arms that I was likely to tip into the water myself any second.

And then I did.

There were no bubbles. And though I kicked and thrashed at dangers I could not see and could not guarantee existed, I knew somehow that my movements were not disturbing the surface above where I went down.

And then I saw her.

Her glasses were still on her face, which had turned pale. Her eyes were open and glassy, her mouth wide. Something mechanical looking, something about the size and appearance of a tarantula’s leg, peeked out from inside her mouth where it gripped the left corner of her lip.

I suddenly didn’t know if I wanted us to live anymore or not. Perhaps it would be better if we both died so this would be all over than for me to get us out and revive her so she had to remember this horror for the rest of her life.

kraken450I reached for her and pulled her to myself. I tried swimming to the surface but it was rougher going up than down as the water thickened like refrigerated grease. I pushed her head above the surface, and then my own. I called to the boys to come grab her, to get her out of the water. I felt like something was coming toward us, something worse than thick water, debris, and mechanical creatures with bodies I couldn’t even imagine.

But they didn’t come. They dropped to their knees on the sidewalk and cried. They screamed. They held each other and pointed towards us. They called to the river men and begged someone to help us, but their cries went as unnoticed as mine had.

I began losing her beneath the water again. My face dipped and I saw something black, shapeless, and violent with ugliness move toward us with a painful slowness from far below. Something evil. Something the size of a house. I reached my chin up and out towards the night air one last time, and then she was gone from my grasp.


And then I woke up.

I don’t really know if I’m glad that I was able to remember that to write it all down or not, to tell you the truth. I don’t have many nightmares, nor have I ever, really. But would it have been better to have forgotten this?

The Philadelphia Story at WCT

ETA: This post has been getting lots of hits lately from people searching online for info about Kris Kingstad, Waukesha Civic Theatre’s beloved properties mistress who passed away August 25, 2010 of lymphoma. She was diagnosed some time during the winter of ’09/’10 (as far as I know) and her condition began deteriorating quite rapidly in recent weeks. She was in the care and company of loved ones when she passed.

She was a wonderful woman. A consummate professional with a beautiful heart, an encouraging spirit, a fun sense of humor, and a brand of humility you don’t often find in the theatre. She was loved and appreciated by many and will be greatly missed.

There will be a celebration of her life at Bevsek-Verbick Funeral Home at 10210 W. Lincoln Ave in West Allis, WI on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, with a short service to follow. The interment is not open to the public.

Those wishing to honor her memory with a gift are being encouraged to donate to the Lymphoma Society and Waukesha Civic Theatre.


Hi all.

I’m in a show that Previews tonight; “The Philadelphia Story” at Waukesha Civic Theatre on Main St. in downtown Waukesha. It’s been loads of fun to work on so it’s almost a shame to reach opening weekend because it means the experience is nearly over! Though I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the prospect of having our evenings back to ourselves, so I imagine we’ll get over it. ;)

Synopsis, etc. of the show from the WCT website:

Tracy Lord, the privileged, spoiled, divorced, and uninhibited daughter of the Philadelphia Lords, is engaged to be married, but that doesn’t stop her from beginning a whirlwind adventure. Her fiancé, her ex-husband, a reporter, a scheming brother, a Broadway dancer, and her father all contribute to the mayhem, culminating in a hilarious turn of events and an unexpected ending you won’t forget.

The cast includes Ruth Arnell (Tracy Lord), Ramon Campos (Mac & Doctor Parsons), Ruth Caves (May), Jeff Davis (Willie Tracy), Eric Eggers (Sandy Lord), Will Elwood (CK Dexter Haven), Haley Gray-Hoehn (Dinah Lord), Beth Keller (Elsie), Jenny Kosek (Liz Imbrie), Ann Morrow (Margaret Lord), Mark Neufang (Mike Connor), Jeff Porter (George Kittredge), Jim Volden (Seth Lord), and Scott Wendelberger (Thomas).

Reva Fox is the Director. The production staff and crew includes: Costume Designer Aleta Bernard, Co-Properties Designer Kris Kingstad, Wig Master Anthony Mackie, Stage Manager Debi Mumford, Sound Designer John Santroch, Co-Properties Designer Monica Santroch, and Scenic Designer, Master Carpenter and Set Decorator Michael Talaska.

Performances are Fridays – Sundays and run as follows:

Friday  Saturday     Sunday
Nov 7-9 8 pm     8 pm              2 pm
Nov 14-16 8 pm     4 pm/8pm     7 pm
Nov 21-23 8 pm     2 pm/8 pm    2 pm

Ticket info from the WCT website:

Individual tickets are regularly $19.00 ($17.00 for students and seniors.) Tickets may be purchased over the telephone with VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express during Box Office hours or Mail orders are accepted any time. Mail orders are processed in the order in which they are received. Specify show date and time, and mail order to WCT, P.O. Box 221, Waukesha, WI 53187. Please enclose $2 handling fee per order.

Box Office: 262.547.0708
Fax: 262.547.8454
E-Mail: boxoffice@waukeshacivictheatre.org

A side note on tickets:

I believe there are cheaper rush ticket options available, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about when they’re available or how much they are. I would strongly recommend that you contact the box office by phone when purchasing your tickets to confirm the rush time/cost, and to confirm ticket availability before waiting to show up to get in. There is also a Pay-What-You-Can option during the final Saturday matinee (2 pm, Saturday November 22nd).

This is one of the friendliest, most amiable casts I’ve ever worked with. I’m proud of what we’ve all worked together to accomplish, excited about the opportunity to work with Reva (audition for her if you can!), and looking forward to sharing the fun with you. And if you should come out to the show, let me know you’re there so I can be sure to pop out and say hi. :D

Adventures in Auditioning

I auditioned for a show at a local community theatre tonight and I have to say it feels like things went fairly well. There were two characters I was interested in, and while I only got to read for the one of them once, I got to read three or four times for the other character and got to stick around ’til the end. So… that’s a good sign, right?

Jobless as I am… sigh… I figured since I had the time I’d attempt to do my hair for the audition. (If you know me, you know spending time doing my hair is a little out of the ordinary for me.) I’m not *all* thumbs with hair styling, but I am *fairly* thumby about it. But tonight? Tonight it worked and I am so danged proud because if it hadn’t I’d’ve gone wearing my hair in a bun.

Like I always do.

Every day of my life.

Since I was 16.

And because I am super proud, here’s a pic of the finished product. Ta-da!! :D And when I arrived at the theatre I was so glad I’d bothered because Jenny and Nicole both looked HOT and I would’ve felt like such a disrespectful cad if I’d shown up in my usual, semi-casual audition clothes. :S

My fingers are crossed pretty tightly on this one. With everything going on everywhere else in my life it has become even more helpful to have something to go to in the evenings. To be a part of something where somebody needs me and where I can contribute something real, check tasks off a list, see a project to completion.

There’s just so much going on these days that can’t be “completed.” So much that can’t be checked off so we can move on to the next thing. To be able to be a part of a process where you can see something through from beginning to end– it’s a beautiful thing. A therapeutic thing. A thing I need.

I hope it happens…

There were a few familiar faces there this evening, which was nice. Several people I haven’t seen face-to-face in months, though sometimes I forget that’s the case since I see most of them online on a fairly regular basis.

One o’ the ol’ familiars was a woman I did a show with at that same theatre last… May? June? It was great catching up with her. She’s got so much going on in her family right now- a major illness and a teenager with a newly acquired license; yipes!- and apparently there’s more to come. That seems to be the story of a lot of people’s lives these days; intensely difficult situations blindsiding families and we all just sit back and go “Well. That happened. Goodbye everything… So what’s for dinner?”

Talking with her I wasn’t able to really talk with anyone else before the auditions started, which actually really bugged me. Sometimes I forget just how much my social life is entrenched in the theatre until I miss an opportunity to reconnect at an event like this, and the absence of those connections hits me like a ton of bricks after the fact. I mean- Jenny K. was there and we’ve been friends for 7 years. Did we exchange more than two sentences? Nicole G. was there. Did we exchange more than one? I didn’t even get to read with either of them!

One of the people I got to read with tonight who makes me hope even more that this works out is a girl who tried out for the younger sister of one of the main characters. Gem of a girl. She just closed a show there and I can only imagine she was great asset to it.

I just reread what I’ve written here so far and it’s all so vague that I’m bored reading it and I’m the one who wrote the darn thing. *sigh* I just don’t like putting certain details into blog entries until I know how things are going to go, you know? Maybe I’ll come back and insert names and links after I know if I made it to callbacks, or, if I make it, I’ll wait until after they’re over.

26 years old and I’m still afraid of jinxing things? Ah phooey on that.

And now to even things out, a picture of my favorite stage makeup ever. When I originally tried it out I knotted buttonhole thread and stuck it into my eyebrow blood and told people in the caf I’d gotten my eyebrow pierced and that the piercing had ripped out when I took my sweater off too fast. Granted it all looked a little different then than it does here, but… close enough, yeah?

Vague and pointless entry: Over.