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Saturday, August 27, 2005

I went to bed early, woke up at two in the morning, showered, and went back to sleep, trying hard not to gag on the smell of groin which continued to thicken the air in my dorm. After waking again at eight, I returned to my parents and Trevor's hotel.

We hopped on an open-top double-decker sightseeing bus which went past most of the famous parts of the city in about ninety minutes, including Victoria Station, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, and the London Dungeon. I was probably most excited by the tour guide's announcement that Mozart once lived in this house. I've spent my whole life obsessing over that guy, and this was the first time I had ever walked in his three-hundred-year-old footsteps. The tour painfully reminded me that there is far too much of London to see in only a week. I narrowed my "must-see" choices down to the Tower of London, the Globe, Westminster Abbey, and and AAAAAND ... the Royal National Theater. By an amazing stroke of luck, both parts of Henry IV were showing there, and I had arrived the final week of the run. A phone call revealed that I could queue for tickets outside the box office on the days of performance; I decided to attend on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

First stop, though, was the Tower of London. It turns out that we had been completely ripped off by a merchant near the hotel who claimed that his overpriced tickets would get us through the lines faster. The ticket queues for normal-priced tickets weren't long at all and we had to line up with everyone else to get into the place anyway. Dammit. I hate being a tourist and doing touristy things.

The Tower of London connected me physically to a lot of things I had only read about; my heart was constantly fluttering with recognition. There on the left is the "STAIR UNDER WHICH the BOYES of EDWARD the 5th and his BROTHER WERE FOUND." You know, the ones that Richard III ordered murdered (at least in the play). On the right are two processional swords, "probably those of one of the early Lancastrian kings, either Henry IV (1399-1413) or his son, Henry V (1413-22). Speaking of the Henrys, in the "Line of Kings" display (what's left of it), there are some likenesses of both kings carved in wood which were pretty interesting. Look left again for Henry VIII's famous "OH MY GOD IT HAS AN ERECT PENIS" armor.

The whole complex was crawling with impressively large black ravens, and Mum reminded me numerous times that, as a baby, I imitated the sounds of the murder of crows in our neighborhood before I ever tried to speak to her (she blames this for my current taste in fashion). It wasn't till I was up close that I noticed their wings had all been clipped. Somehow that takes the magic out of having ravens wandering around the Tower grounds.

Poor Dad struggled to get around. We did everything we could to avoid straining him, but I didn't realize how weak he was. He told me quietly that he felt like a cripple, and though he was laughing nervously, I could tell he was troubled. Mum told me as we were wandering around that he refused to complain while sightseeing, but that if he overreached, he would piss blood in the evenings and be in terrible pain. Blood in his urine or stools was supposed to be cause to cancel the trip and return home, but he wanted so badly to travel that he refused to go home early or even call his doctor in Sydney for advice.

Mum and I tried to get Dad to go back to the hotel for the rest of the day, but he insisted upon coming with us to the South Bank of the Thames. He and Trevor rested on the promenade while Mum and I headed into the Globe Theatre.

Confession time: as worried as I was by Dad, I couldn't turn down the chance to take a look inside the Globe. I just couldn't. How could anyone with a true love of Shakespeare turn it down? Dad seemed happy just to see me happy, Mum caught my excitement on the way there (I was nearly weeping before we even reached the entrance), and a ticket seller at the door told us we could get in for only five pounds. Before I understood what was happening, Mum and I had been handed two stubs, pushed through a door, and found ourselves groundlings watching Pericles on the Globe stage.

It was wonderful, beautiful, tragic, hilarious - everything a Shakespeare play should be. We missed the first half-hour or so (thus skipping most of the bits that weren't written by Shakespeare) but the storyline was clear as day, even to Mum. By the end, both of us were in tears and cheering - I was especially taken with John McEnery, who - holy crap - also played Mercutio in Zefirelli's Romeo and Juliet a long time ago. Who would have thought? I was standing five feet away from Mercutio playing Pericles and bawling.

We emerged from the theater wiping our eyes and I settled into something of a funk. For a start, Mum wasn't calming down after the performance. The play had whipped her into a sort of religious frenzy, and she wouldn't stop talking hysterically about the Chinese zodiac and world peace. Secondly, I found myself suddenly missing Matt terribly. It didn't seem fair to me that I should be having such an amazing time while he missed out, stuck working back in Harrisburg. Thirdly ... for some reason, lately I've noticed that I tend to get the post-gig blues even when I'm not actually playing the gig. Is that strange? Sometimes I'll even get them after watching a movie. I don't understand it, but there it is.

I tried hard to mask my mood. I literally bit my tongue a few times to keep from trying to dampen Mum's frighteningly elevated mood. But the adage is true - you can't hide anything from your mother.

"What's wrong?" she asked me.
"Oh ... um ... I miss Matt, that's all."

She flipped out. I guess I should have learnt by now that Mum is only predictable in her unpredictability. Suddenly she was screaming at me that I loved Matt more than I loved her, and that after two years of absence, I surely should have been so happy to see her that I would forget all about my husband back home. Oh, it was awful. The bus ride back to the hotel was tense and awkward for all four of us, and when I tried to make up with her at our parting by giving her a hug, she started shouting, "You are a disease! Go hug your dad; don't touch me!"

As you can imagine, this put me in a wonderful frame of mind. For twenty minutes as I walked towards Bayswater, I held back hot tears and thought very seriously about flying home straight away. I knew I couldn't, though. I had to figure out a way to reconcile with her and straighten everything out before leaving, or my life would be hell.

But first things first. Time to get drunk and smoke an arseload of cigarettes. I met up with Eric (Gonzo), Tim (Chuck), and Manga Lookin' Missy. We ate a meal, went to the Black Lion pub, and ended up at St Moritz.

At about 2:30am, I realized I was too drunk and made an abrupt departure from the club in an attempt to get back to the hostel before puking or passing out. I ate half a greasy and overpriced hotdog to calm my stomach and somehow caught the right bus before fumbling my way into my dorm and vaulting clumsily onto my bunk.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The anticipation of seeing my parents had been a cloud over my head for a few days. I love my parents, but we don't get along very well in person, and the extra strain of travel and cancer can't improve our spirits. Matt and I took turns driving from Tioga County, PA, to JFK Airport, NY, stopping at an Iron Skillet on the way, where we sat adjacent to a family with a large retarded child who stared at me while ejecting food from her mouth with her too-thick tongue until multicolored chunks had dribbled all the way down her front. We also made a quick pitstop at Cliff's apartment and wandered around New York for a half-hour trying and failing to find somewhere to print color photos for the scrapbook I was giving to my parents as a gift. I had a moment of public impotent rage.

I fell asleep even before takeoff. I woke up in London, zipped through customs, and made a couple of quick calls - one to Mark, and one to the front desk of my parents' hotel, who told me they were due to check in in three hours.

Only an hour after touching down on the tarmac, I emerged from Paddington Station onto a London street for the first time in my life. My first impression was that England smells curiously like Australia. I always notice the smells of different countries first - America smells like corn syrup, plastic wrappers, and Walmart the second the door of the airplane opens. London smells like Sydney.

My second impression was of the glorious, wonderful tiny cars. All my life, I have had a passion for microsized cars that use barely any fuel - cars that appeal to carhaters - and when I saw a Smart Car parked a few blocks from the station, I found myself suddenly more excited about London than ever.

The third thing I noticed was that nobody speaks English in London. When travelling by myself, I eavesdrop habitually, but listening to gossip at a bus stop in London is practically impossible - the people next to you are more likely to be speaking Arabic, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, or some bewilderingly unidentifiable Eastern European language than English. Fifteen minutes after I stepped out of the station, I had been asked directions three times by overseas tourists even more clueless than I was. Of course, not all the non-English-speakers are tourists. Edgware Road is quite definitely a Muslim community, with everything from Lebanese restaurants to Arabic bookstores and Internet cafes lining both sides of the road. Flocks of women in flapping black burkhas float down the footpath at regular intervals, and men suck on hookahs and tiny cups of coffee mud at outdoor tables.

The Hyde Park Inn was adequate (I can't complain; the cost was very low), although my stay there reinforced my firm belief that men fucking STINK. Christ Jesus, the first time I walked into my room, the funk was suffocating. This was exacerbated that night by pussy-arse sleepers closing the windows to reduce the noise from outside. Why do men smell so bad? Why? I've slept in female dorms, and they're never so redolent of groin.

I headed back out of the hostel and sat down in Kensington Gardens for a while trying to get my head together. With my super-travel PDA+keyboard setup, I typed a long diatribe about the ball of stress in the pit of my stomach and my hopes and fears for the next few days which I won't post because it's even more self-indulgent than this blog entry.

Kensington Gardens is full of some of the fattest, tamest squirrels I have ever seen. They run right up to you and practically jump on your shoes. The reason for this was pretty obvious when I saw a little girl hand-feeding one of them. While some of them appear somewhat demonic in photos, most looked like characters out of Kenneth Grahame books.

Finally, I steeled myself and walked up to my parent's hotel. They were just checking in - Mum, Dad, and Trevor were in the tiny foyer, about to carry their suitcases to their room.

My family is very strange. My mum and dad are technically divorced, but they still live together. Trevor is Mum's schizophrenic boyfriend whom she met in a mental ward in Sydney. As much as I disliked Trevor upon first meeting him (a rather nasty story involving an attempted suicide on the part of my dad), I will admit quite freely now that he isn't so bad and that he certainly seems to make Mum happy.

Mum and Dad have been pretending to be brother and sister in their travels around Europe to "avoid questions" about the three of them staying in one room.

This would be strange enough by itself, but if you know the rest of my family history, you realize that this is business as usual in the Shong household. In fact, this is probably the most stable my family unit has been in years.

Dad has lost a lot of weight. His hair is greyer, and he moves slowly. I remember when I used to almost run to keep up with his brisk walk; now I must school myself to walk as slowly as I can to avoid tiring him. His skin feels papery, like the skin of an old man. He's quieter. But he's in pretty good spirits for a man dying of cancer. The trip (with an absolutely ludicrous itinerary) has done him a world of good, I think; now he feels he can die knowing that he's seen the world.

I didn't cry when I saw him. I think I was too emotional to cry - the overload switch blew. But it was a happy meeting.

My mother, now. It seems in the last two years, Mum has become a Chinese horoscope fanatic. I don't mean someone who dabbles. I mean the kind of follower that you would be afraid to sit next to on a bus. She can talk about the Chinese zodiac for forty-five minutes straight without you so much as nodding to acknowledge that you are listening. She has mapped out the animal-type personalities and lives of everyone she knows, including all of the people on the tour bus (in fact, she recited the horoscopes of several of her fellow travellers whom I had, of course, never met). Apparently, Matt and I will have personal problems when we turn thirty, and the only way to save our marriage will be to have a child in the year of the Dragon - 2010. We can even adopt a child that year if we wish, but it is crucial that we have a Dragon child, or all will be lost. She has used the horoscope to explain her relationship with Trevor, Dad's cancer, and pretty much the whole of civilization. Trevor's schizophrenia, which first manifested itself in 1980, was a result of my birth that same year. The Chinese horoscope, as she perceives it, is also intricately woven into Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, and all those religions' woes and successes can be explained by it.
I cannot chuse: sometime he angers me,
With telling me of the Moldwarpe and the Ant,
Of the Dreamer Merlin, and his Prophecies;
And such a deale of skimble-skamble Stuffe,
As puts me from my Faith. O, he is as tedious
As a tyred Horse, a rayling Wife,
Worse than a smoakie House. I had rather live
With Cheese and Garlick in a Windmill farre,
Then feede on Cates, and have him talke to me,
In any Summer-House in Christendome.

I was very happy to see my mother the first day we were together, despite the conversation. She and Trevor walked me back to my hostel while I told her the plot of King Lear and tried awkwardly to explain why it had affected me so much. We planned to spend the next day together, all four of us, sightseeing around London.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

THE GAMUT RETREAT

In which twelve brave souls brave the Pennsylvania wilderness in the name of theater.

On Monday afternoon, after a three-hour drive which included some requisite shenanigans (we realized half-way that we had left the directions at home), I found myself in a cabin at the top of a mountain in Tioga County (the "Pennsylvania Grand Canyon"). From the first moment I arrived, I was almost inseparable from my $150 piece-of-shit cello. I must have had my hands on it for at least four hours a day. It felt like orchestra camp. By the third day, my shoulders ached (satisfyingly, rather than in a way that indicates something is seriously wrong), and the fingertips of my left hand were bruised and significantly more calloused.

This was exactly what I need. I only hope I can continue to obsess like this in the coming months - even years.

Aside from riding bikes, sitting around campfires singing songs, stargazing, and being massaged at a spa in local Wellsboro, the company also intensively analysed Hamlet. The version we are mounting is an abridged adaptation for high school students which we will be performing intermittently from October; I'll be playing Ophelia, Horatio, and Guildenstern. Plenty of excitement there.

There will be a few more photos when I develop my black and white film from my "new" camera (I bought a Ricoh SLX-500 on eBay for $20 delivered to replace my cripple-shuttered Fuji). In the meantime, check out the photos I have here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I have two hours to finish sorting out everything I'll need to go out into the deep woods for a couple of days with the Gamut crew and pack for my trip to London. I need to send out some last-minute letters, drop my laptop at the theatre for Peter to use while I'm gone, find a six-pack of beer for the retreat, get money out of the bank to exchange when I get to the airport, and drop in on Morgan Stanley in the hopes that they'll give me a check with which to buy a cello when I return.

I'm flying out on the redeye this Thursday night and arriving in London on Friday morning. I'm terrified of meeting my parents. Mostly, I keep wondering what my dad looks like after two years, a cancer diagnosis, and the beginning of treatment. Is he suddenly old and haggard now? Will I see his death in his face? I'm frightened that I'll take one look at him and start to cry. But I'm also afraid that I'll bottle everything up and show no emotion at all, which would be even worse.

I hope my mother and I behave ourselves.

If you are in London on Saturday night and you wish to stalk me, I've set aside the evening for meeting with Internet friends. The plan is for me to wait at the Saigon Mekong Restaurant for a couple of hours. If anyone shows up, I'll have a friend. If nobody does, I'll eat by myself and cry into my vermicelli noodles.

Saigon Mekong Restaurant
48 Queensway, Bayswater, London, W2 3RY Map
Telephone: 020 7229 9111

Saturday August 27
7:00pm


I'll see you there. Or not.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Updates on various things:

CELLO
I saw a secondhand cello on Friday afternoon that I found entirely by accident on Craigslist. The owner bought it from Violin Makers in 1997 for $1,200 (I saw the receipt), took one cello lesson, and put it in a corner for eight years. On the inside label, it says it's a Hoffman, model SC2 (Strad Copy, maybe?), imported from Korea and tweaked in America according to MARC standards, whatever the hell they are. I found a reference to Hoffman violins here, but it doesn't seem to fit. The strings are old and cruddy, and the soundpost is floating around inside. But judging from the condition of the varnish, it really does look like it's just been sitting in a corner for eight years. The owner seems to think this is a good thing. I guess he doesn't know how much better string instruments sound when they are played regularly.

He's asking $1800, which includes a hard case, padding bag for air travel, and a (crud) bow.

It's difficult to decide what to do - I can't tell how the cello sounds and plays until the soundpost is repositioned and it's strung with a new set of good strings. Unfortunately, Violin Makers isn't open on weekends - I would have stopped in and asked for advice. Since he would have to supply a couple hundred dollars' worth of service and strings, and I'd probably buy a bow from him as well, I can't imagine he'd be too dishonest about it. Now I'll have to wait until I come back from the UK.

LONDON
I'm "busy" packing for London, which is to say, I'm moving very slowly and getting very little done. With shock, I realized today that I need to give my parents some sort of amazing present. Stupid Melissa! I should have thought of this long ago. So much for being a good Asian daughter.

I put my mind to it, and decided to throw together a scrapbook of photos, newspaper articles, programs, and certificates from the last two years. I haven't started on that yet, but I bought a scrapbook this afternoon.

After my wrenching experience with The Joy Luck Club last week, I thought it might be nice to get them a copy of the DVD or the book or something. Then I came up with a better idea. I could make my own audio book. I bought the paperback, and read the first thirty pages (one and a half hours) into a microphone tonight. Hrmm. Looks like this is going to be a much longer project than I thought. Maybe I'll give them the first couple of CDs when I'm in London and send them the rest as I complete them.

THEATER
The Popcorn Hat summer camp had their final performance today just before Jack and the Beanstalk wrapped. While teaching at camp and performing to kids were terrific, I am so glad for the extra time I'll have during the day now. There's a website to finish, and a tour to book, and about a dozen other little officy things I've had to put off lately and am eager to put back on the table.

Mind you, there's still a lot of acting to be done - we are beginning rehearsals for our abridged version of Hamlet (I'm playing Ophelia, Horatio, Guildenstern, a player, as well as narrating a couple of short passages). Oh, I'm so excited. I started going over some of the scenes under my breath on a bus home the other day, and I started crying. I had to hide behind a chair to avoid drawing attention to myself. It's probably a hormonal thing, but I'm hoping it's a good sign.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

After what seems like an eternity of procrastination, the new Tears for Agnes CD Shui has finally been pressed and is available to the masses. Tears for Agnes is Matt Dunphy, Jordan Smith, and Melissa Dunphy noodling around on various instruments and computers. You can check out a preview mp3 of the material from Shui on the Tears for Agnes website.

Half of the CDs is being sold at the Charles Village Record & Tape Traders in Baltimore. The rest are being shipped to CD Baby.

However, if you are itching to get your hands on a copy earlier than anyone else, you can help fund the cost of shipping to California by buying directly from me. The cost is US$15 shipped if you live in the US, and $18 shipped if you live elsewhere. If you order through us, we'll toss in a bonus CD-R with demo versions, video, scrapped songs, the "Drawn by a Still" EP, and other music we've done - several hours' worth, if I recall correctly.

To order your copy, Paypal the appropriate amount to melissa.dunphy@gmail.com and be sure to send along your name and address. If you are crazy and want to order more than one copy, email me ahead of time and we'll get you the bulk rate ;)

Also, the new Tears for Agnes website is going live soon. It will have background information on the songs, what stuff we used to make them, sound clips, a news page, and that's mostly it. Woohoo!

-- The Dunphys

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

All I can think about whenever I have thirty seconds of quiet is that bloody cello. I keep resisting the urge to call the shop owner and ask if it's still there. It doesn't matter if it's still there or not. This is a mid-range cello, not something amazingly special and expensive that will never come around again. If it's gone, it's gone, and I'll find another one.

Still. I keep thinking about it.

To this end, yesterday I decided I needed financial advice and called Morgan Stanley to listen to what our financial adviser had to say. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to the new$ lately.
Morgan Stanley to cut 1,000 brokers
Investment bank plans to cut financial advisers in its retail brokerage, according to internal memo.
July 28, 2005: 12:03 PM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley will cut about 1,000 of the financial advisers in its underperforming retail brokerage, the U.S. investment bank said in an internal memo Thursday...

As you've no doubt guessed, our financial adviser, whom we liked very much personally, is no longer working with the firm. This is news that furrows my brow. I hope he gets another job at another firm soon. Meanwhile, we have been assigned to another guy at Morgan Stanley.

This makes the whole asking-for-advice-about-buying-a-cello thing a little trickier. I trust Chris, but I don't know about this new guy yet, and I have to make an important decision involving money soon. Gah.

File under My-God-What-Have-I-Become: I want one of these so I don't have to put things in the impossible pockets of my tight jeans when I go to England in a ... Jesus, in ten days. Of course, I'd dye it black first.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I've been practicing hard all week. I've started playing the Dotzauer studies, and pretty soon I'll be moving onto real pieces of music. It's time to start thinking about buying a proper cello. Today I went to Violin Makers in Camp Hill and tried out about a dozen cellos that Quince had around the shop. I found a beautiful instrument that responds to me.

It's $3,600.

Hear that sound? Is that the bow grinding harshly on the string? Is that a loud metallic buzz in a tuning peg? No, that's the sound of my teeth gnashing, gnashing, gnashing. $3,600?

*sigh* It could be worse. Much worse. My viola is worth about that much - and cellos are, of course, more expensive than violas. I tried many more expensive instruments, and none of them played for me as well as the one I am considering. It's a good thing I don't have my heart set on a Steinway Grand or anything, right?

I also need a new bow to replace my current bow, otherwise known as The Complete and Utter Piece of Shit, and a hard case to replace my flimsy gig bag. So here are a couple of options.

Option 1
$3,600 cello
$400 pernabuco bow which I tried in the store (once again, worked better for me than many more expensive bows)
$445 Bam-style case
However, Quince will give me a discount, and I can get the whole lot for $4,200.

Option 2
$3,600 cello
$109 carbon fiber bow from Music123
$100 hard foam case from eBay
Total: $3,809 (I'd pick up a few other things from Music123 while I was at it, like a pendulum metronome and a set of strings.)

Option 3
I don't fucking know.

I'm going back to the shop later this week to play the cello again for a while.

In completely unrelated news, Matt is coming to two days of the Gamut retreat next week! I am very glad, not least because we won't be spending ten consecutive days apart. And I think he'll enjoy it despite himself.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'll admit that the first time we found a bat in our apartment, I thought the event had a certain humorous goth charm.

The number of bats we have found flying around our rooms has been steadily increasing since then. Today there were two separate instances of bat invasion. I don't know how they're getting in or what happiness they hope to find in our abode. The cat watches them intently but won't touch them.

They're getting bolder and meaner too. Today, one which we had trapped between two window panes in the lounge room kept lunging at me and chattering its teeth.

There's a tennis racquet in the hall cupboard.
True, Clark, it is quiet in here. Let's remedy that.

I don't know if it's because of the brain-withering heat, or because I had a two-hour outdoor fight call before lunch, or because I'm about to bleed, or because of my nigglingly raw throat, or because I'll be seeing my parents in a fortnight for the first time in two years, but I just watched the second half of The Joy Luck Club on television and bawled. my. fucking. eyes. out. It took maybe fifteen minutes for the tears to start welling, but as soon as they spilled over the edge of my lashes, I was an uncontrollably sobbing, face-crumpled wreck until the credits rolled.

It must be; every single Chinese (or half-Chinese) girl on the planet grapples with exactly the same issues. Maternal expectation. Failure to live up to maternal expectation. Desperate desire to win mother's pride. Guilt. Resentment. Low self-worth. Pain at the sudden realization of mother's own low self-worth. Sacrifice. Pain, guilt, and love at the realization of mother's sacrifice. Later: desperate desire to break cycle. Birth of daughter(s). Inability to escape cultural (genetic?) patterns. More sacrifice. Pain at the realization of daughter's own low self-worth. Heartbreaking struggle to reconcile feelings and experiences. Rinse. Repeat.

The Jews have their complicated mother-son relationships. White Anglo-Saxon sons always have issues with their fathers. But no culture in the world can do mother-daughter angst like the Chinese.

It's wonderful. It's awful. It's insane. Every scene I caught in The Joy Luck Club was reflected in my own family, and every story told has been told or lived by me or my mother in some way. I vaguely remember being recommended this movie and/or the book when I was in high school, but I never got around to checking it/them out. I'm not sure I would have understood back then, anyway. From twelve to seventeen, I was firmly stuck in 'resentment.'

Now I can finally say that I have cried while watching a sappy chick flick (it was critically acclaimed, but still ...) on the fucking Lifetime Channel. I am woman, hear me .. sob melodramatically into a tea-towel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

But at length, several thousand years after the earliest experiments, something was produced which seemed to promise success. A human ovum had been carefully selected, fertilized in the laboratory, and largely reorganized by artificial means. By inhibiting the growth of the embryo's body, and the lower organs of the brain itself, and at the same time greatly stimulating the growth of the cerebral hemispheres, the dauntless experimenters succeeded at least in creating an organism which consitsted of a brain twelve feet across, and a body most of which was reduced to a mere vestige upon the under-surface of the brain. The only parts of the body which were allowed to attain the natural size were the arms and hands...


Matt isn't going to come on the Gamut retreat. I am disproportionately sad, probably because my immune system is taking a knock, but also because I was really looking forward to hanging out someplace new with him for a couple of days, and getting away from the beloved tyranny of flickering screens and electronic summonses together.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Finally, I have a copy of last week's Central Penn Business Journal.



Click for the full story if you don't mind reading from a giant image file.

The relevant bits:
It is not unusual for actress Melissa Dunphy to write about her personal problems - including work-related issues - on an Internet blog site for the whole world to see.

The 25-year-old Australia native has written online about everything from her latest work project at the Gamut Theatre Group in Harrisburg to finding a bat in her house at 2a.m.

Luckily for Clark Nicholson, the theater's founder and artistic director, Dunphy is pretty happy with her current employer. Otherwise, she could publicly trash his acting troupe or release potentially damaging information.

Nicholson not only reads Dunphy's site, he often checks her blog to find out what is going on with his seven employees at the Strawberry Square theater when he's out of town.

"I like Melissa's blog. It helps in my business to intimately know my employees. I'm constantly soliciting information on how they feel about their jobs because they reflect that attitude on stage," Nicholson said. "It would probably be different if I had a lot of employees to keep track of, like Wal-Mart."


[Snipped: a lot of stuff by experts, satisfyingly similar to the thoughts I posted on here a while ago. I especially like Estrin's comments.]

Dunphy also tries to be aware that she could upset her employer if she said the wrong thing.

"When I blog, I blog in the moment. But there is a definite danger there. Obviously, if you blog about confidential information, you are responsible for that, especially with a small business," Dunphy said.
My god. Thanks to Wix for the link in his comment on my last post.

Change the Pennsylvania State Song. Sign the petition immediately. Although the chances of having a state song with the word 'queef' in it are admittedly small, there is so much of that song that rings true for me (I burst into peals of laughter on "Do you even know what a 'Wawa' is?") that I think I should do what I can.

Here's what I can make out of the lyrics. Fill-ins welcome. I'm relatively new to this state, so I can't be expected to work out everything. And also, I am the worst transcriber of lyrics in the world, and always have been.


We are cock rock
We aren't Screech (??)
We are Z-Cavaricci
We are laser-removed
Tasmanian Devil tattoos
We are third string
We are Puck
We are special people's pluck
We are the half-shirts
With irreverent spring break top ten lists

We are Munson
We are squat
We are flashing 12 o'clock
We are spread-out buttcheeks
Pulled apart so just the air leaks
We are Ishtar
We are tap
We are no right turn on red
We are the moustaches
The Beatles grew when they dropped acid

You are the heart-dotting i
In the word 'apologize'
Scribbled drunk on a postcard
Sent from somewhere volcanoes are
I am a heart with no name
Airbrushed on the license plate
Of a Subaru that was registered in Pennsylvania
We are Zima
We are barf
We are cinder block yard art
We are Baldwin brothers
Not the good one, but the others
We are Amway
We are Shemp
We are Sir David of Brent
We are the queef after
A pornstar breaks the gangbang record

You are the heart-dotting i
In the word 'apologize'
Scribbled drunk on a postcard
Sent from somewhere volcanoes are
I am a heart with no name
Airbrushed on the license plate
Of a Subaru that was registered in Pennsylvania

Do you even know what a Wawa is? No.
Do you even know what a Wawa is?
Do you even know what a Wawa is? No.
Do you even know what a Wawa is?

I'm in a state of P-fucking-A.


Bloodhound Gang's Campaign To Change Pennsylvania's State Song
Beginning this very day, the Bloodhound Gang, via the efforts of their campaign manager Bam Margera (Viva la Bam, Jackass), will begin the process of collecting enough signatures to compel a state representative to enter a bill into the legislature. That bill will replace Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner's cursed "Pennsylvania" with the Bloodhound Gang's glorious "Pennsylvania."

The Bloodhound Gang's Jimmy Pop states, "Pennsylvania sucks. Pennsylvania's current state song sucks. I can change the latter."


In other news which caught my eye:

Monday, August 08, 2005

New members add talent to Gamut troupe
Dunphy, 25, is an Australian who landed in Harrisburg via her boyfriend, Matt, who is now her husband of two years.

"I fell in love with Pennsylvania," she said of her first visit to the midstate in 2002.

In her home nation of 20 million people, Dunphy said, jobs in the performing arts and mass media are tough to come by. Oddly enough, she had better luck finding work in the small American city of Harrisburg than she did in her native Sydney.

She was cast as a fairy in Gamut's production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" last summer and also played in "The Tempest" last winter and "Henry V" this year. She made a favorable impression that led to an offer of full-time employment.

"I jumped at the chance," Dunphy said.

"Melissa is really talented, and she brings a lot of new talents to the company we've not had before," said Melissa Nicholson, who co-founded Gamut in 1993 with her husband, Clark, and serves as the company's managing director.

Among those talents is Web page design, and Dunphy already is in the process of remaking the Gamut site.


No! I said I fell in love with a Pennsylvanian, not Pennsylvania. Gah! Big difference!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I don't care what you all say; moths are cute.

Gosh, there's so much banal news to write about.

Our basement smells like Blood & Bone, a popular fertilizer in Australia which consists of decomposing animals, vegetables, and poop. Maybe two weeks ago, something blocked up the subterranean plumbing in the basement which drains our kitchen sink, and everything we ran through the insinkerator came spewing out of an overflow pipe and all over the basement floor. Of course, since we only do our laundry once a week (if that), by the time we noticed the carpet of decomposing chopped food scraps down there, the pumpkin seeds lying on the moist concrete had sprouted rather impressive three-inch shoots. I'm being very irresponsible about cleaning up the mess. Maybe we'll have full-sized pumpkins growing next to the washing machine in time for Halloween.

It occurs to me that American fertilizer companies could probably never get away with a product name as honest as "Blood & Bone." In any case, the smell is one of my least favorite in all the world. I remember once when I was a child, I found a bag of B&B on the ground in a hardware store carpark. It must have fallen off a truck. Curiously, I turned it over, and saw that the bag had burst open and was teeming with maggots.

Matt and I had a nerd-spat a couple of nights ago about the new Gamut site. He never told me that he didn't want the news box on every page (of course, I never asked). All is resolved now, but only after some knocking of heads regarding tables vs CSS and some frustrated and stubborn pouting on my part. Of course, after all that, I managed to tweak the CSS so that the internal pages fit his intention, and it didn't take anywhere near as long as I thought it would. CSS wins again!

I performed my first Popcorn Hat touring show, Aesop's Fables II, at a daycare center in Enola with Sean on Friday. Oh, lordy. Not only did I mess up my lines, I messed up the order of the fables. Luckily, Sean is talented and quick enough to cover my arse, and the show seemed to go down well with the kids. Yesterday, our performance of Jack and the Beanstalk was supported immensely by a crew of theatre-related friends and folk, and our combined energy threw the show into a terrific overdrive. When I'm a billionaire with my own theatre, I'm going to pay professional audience members to attend and boost shows.

However, in the middle of Jack and the Beanstalk, my neck seized up. Now I can only move my head from side to side after some considerable ingestion of ibuprofen.

This was not helped by a film shoot in Ellicott City last night for Two Front Teeth. They had to reshoot the Decapitated Elf Head in a Bag scene, so I had to perform with only my head while lying on the ground - not the most comfortable of positions when a muscle in your neck has developed premature rigor mortis.

Worse still, my neck area now hurts inside and out - this morning I woke up with an ominous raw throat. I can't rest - today and tomorrow, I'm shooting No Sanctuary, and I have another performance of Aesop's Fables in the early evening.

At least the impending illness goes some way towards explaining my recent lapses of intelligence, recall, and disposition.

A melody, he said, is the most fleeting of things. It happens and it ceases. The great silence devours it, and seemingly annihilates it. Passage is essential to its being. Yet though for a melody, to halt is to die a violent death, all music, the prophet affirmed, has also eternal life. After silence it may occur again, with all its freshness and aliveness. Time cannot age it; for its home is in a country outside time. And that country, thus the young musician earnestly preached, is also the home land of every man and woman, nay of every living thing that has any gift of music. Those who seek immortality must strive to waken their tranced souls into melody and harmony. And according to their degree of musical originality and proficiency will be their standing in the eternal life.

Now there's a religion I would be more than happy to follow.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Surely moths are the cutest creatures in all the world. I don't understand why so many men run screaming from them. Look at it! It's like a flying squishy fennec fox!

The Central Penn Business Journal still isn't on newsstands. Sheesh. I guess they rely upon subscriptions for the most part, because their non-subscription distribution sucks. Hopefully I'll be able to look at the blogging article tomorrow.

Yesterday I was paid to make a singing grasshopper costume and an ant costume. The fun never stops! I can't wait for the company retreat in a few weeks. We full-time company members are heading out into the wilderness for four days, lodging in a non-electric, non-plumbing cabin in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. I'm planning on cooking damper to eat while we discuss plans for the upcoming year and read through the abridged Hamlet we'll be performing in the fall. Also on the itinerary are horseback riding, hiking, biking, swimming, and possibly a day at a spa. And I'm probably driving straight from Tioga to NYC to fly to the UK. When I return, Henry IV will be cast, and my life will become a constantly accelerating spinning vortex of theatre for the rest of the year.

Everything in my life is going so well that last night I was seized with an attack of self-doubt which still lingers this morning. I always doubt myself most when life is coming up roses. It's probably related to the way I usually get sick when I relax or take a vacation. I can't put my finger on exactly what I'm doubting, but I have paranoid thoughts about my friendships and my abilities. There's nothing rational about it, and it's annoying as hell.

Stored here for future use:
<JadezukiMovie> tell him, hakuna matata when trying to smooth things over
<JadezukiMovie> tell him he has to poke his head out of the hole every so often and see the truth
<JadezukiMovie> if he says something off, you can laugh and say "what mook made that up?"
<JadezukiMovie> when talking about the administration, you could tell him, "cheetahs never prosper"
<JadezukiMovie> somehow the phrase "slimy, yet satisfying" could be used
<JadezukiMovie> here's a good one: "I'm surrounded by idiots. "

Oh, lordy, I'm so evil.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I-I-I LO-OVE TO SI-I-I-ING.

Currently on the singing menu is Mozart's "Bella mia fiamma ... Resta, o caro," and it's about the best fun I've ever had with a song. If Angela gave it to me because she figured I relish a challenge, she has me pegged perfectly. It's ridiculously long and full of very silly runs and arpeggios, and the second I took it home, I started practicing twice as much as usual. The only unlikeable thing about it is that, like many Mozart arias, the lyrics are incredibly sad but the music is totally gay. As in, full of gaity.
Goodbye, my love (Yay!)
I am leaving you forever (Wheee! La la la!)
I am dying (Hurrah!)
How terrible for me! Death separates us! (Go team!)
No really, this time, I am definitely dying for good (I feel like skipping!)

Of course, it's all in Italian, so nobody can tell what's going on, leaving the soprano looking a bit stupid as she sings disarmingly cheerful melodies with a miserable look on her face.

  • The flame war continues and continues. I actually think I'm being pretty nice to him at the end, despite the fact he called me an extreme activist.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I woke up about half an hour ago thanks to the three-part cocktail of an odd dream (about living in a seaside town surrounded by potential volcanoes), nausea from missing a pill and having to take two before bed, and a stiff neck from the Slow Andy gig at Bada Bings on Saturday night. The gig was enormous amounts of fun; lots of people attended whom I haven't seen in ages, and I managed to get fairly wasted on two and a bit beers and a shot of Jagermeister. Hooray for being Asian! So wasted did I get, in fact, that I forced Brian and Bill to stand two feet from the band, jumped up on stage and "sang" Gay Bar like a maniac, smoked three whole cigarettes, pogo-ed until my shoulders ached, and headbanged a little - hence the stiff neck.

Why do I headbang? I know it only leads to pain. I'm such an idiot. *sigh* Hand me the goddamn ibuprofen.