Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reader Quiz

I frequently get quizzes sent to me, but this is one I actually like from a teacher point of view.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Friday, November 10, 2006

NaNoWriMo 2006 -- Part One

The following is my attempt at National Novel Writing Month for 2006. I make no guarantees nor apologies for its (lack of) quality. Nor will I claim that my novel is appropriate for all age groups. This is a first draft, and as such is completely unedited. This is also a work of fiction. Names, characters, places which bear any resemblance to any real person/place/thing is coincidental and should not be read as if it has any significance whatsoever. Should you continue to read, you do so entirely at your own risk.

You must love danger:-)


Just how E had entered the darkness, she did not know. She could not remember arriving, only being here. And not being frightened. Intellectually she thought it odd that she wasn’t frightened by this absolute absence of visual stimuli, but she tried to silence her inner complainant so she could focus on the world around her. For while she had no idea where she was, she sensed that she was definitely somewhere and that this place was not just a room. This place was vast. She had no thought that she’d be able to walk to a wall and feel her way out. Well, she did have that thought, but she dismissed it as unlikely. But she tried anyway.

E stood, arms outstretched. Fingers reaching for surface. Finding only space. She waved her arms around her, not in panic, but in curiosity, before venturing to take a step. It had not occurred to her that the vastness of space around her that she felt so strongly might include the possibility that she was standing on the only space of floor. She took one step forward. And fell.

This was not the determined fall of a skydiver. Or the panicked fall of the murder victim. Or even the resigned fall of a suicide victim. This was the oddly welcoming fall that she had experienced over and over in her dreams. The type of fall where she could look out over all the world and revel in it grandeur. The type of fall where just as she began to close on the ground, and panic began to rise in her chest, she would suddenly discover a natural ability to fly.

But there was no world to look out on. Just black. No ground to sense approaching. Just black. No ability to fly. Just black.

The black reality of it all grew on E. The somewhat sudden realisation that she was utterly alone left her hollow. She could deal with the black. But alone? She’d never been alone in her life. Not for one day. In vain, she began grasping around her as she fell. Grasping for someone to hold onto. To save her from this isolation. To tell her what to do, what to think. But she fell. Alone.

There was a time when E would have given everything she had to be alone. To be free of the human relationships that she felt weighed her down, but from which she could not be released. While she loved her family, she had begun to hate the fact that they all seemed to need her so much. To rely on her.

She was oldest. Smartest. Most reliable. Most selfless. Most without a self. She had devoted herself to keeping the family together. Despite her father’s drunkenness, her brother’s addictions, her mother’s illness. She had held them all together. And in an odd way, they had kept her whole. She had no idea what it was like to not be needed. To do only what she wanted. But she didn’t want. She just gave. Herself. Her time. Her love. Her money. Her life.

When she was small, E always dreamed of running away to the circus. She wanted to be the pretty girl on the trapeze. She got to fly and spin to roars of applause. So E practised spinning and swinging on the cherry tree out back of the old house. She could even swing off upside down and land on her feet. But mostly she loved just hanging upside down looking at the house.

The house had been in the family for three generations. Great-Grandfather Wilmingstead had built it all by himself. He started with what was now the study. It was in the center of the house. It was a small room with a wooden stove and chimney and in the first days of the house, it was all there was. But it had a roof. And heat. And that was all Great-Grandmother had said she would need before she would come to the new world. So he had built it on the land he’d won in the poker game. Of course, he never told her that’s how he got it. He had “found gold and decided that land was a less dangerous way to hold capital”, so she’d sold the gold and bought the land. No one ever questioned the legend. He had all the papers. But Great-Grandma always knew. He never could really lie to her. Not really.

So the house started small. And each year, if the harvest was good, Great-Grandfather would add a room. First the bedroom – now the den. Then the kitchen. Great-Grandmother wanted a real kitchen. And an icebox. She was tired of having to trek out to the cold-frame to get her food, only to find that the foxes had found a way in again. Next, they added the front porch. And a bathroom… with plumbing! And a second bedroom. For the kids. Then they extended the porch. The dining room came next. Great-Grandfather was becoming quite the local celebrity. He’d just been elected to council and Great-Grandmother insisted that she couldn’t hold the dinner parties expected of them in an old, lean-to kitchen.

When Great-Grandfather died, the house was fifty years old. Great-Grandmother couldn’t run the farm alone, so her oldest son, E’s grandfather, stayed on. When he got married, he decided the house was too small to raise another family, but Great-Grandmother wouldn’t let him move. So, just like his father, he added onto the original. Only this time he built up. Grandfather built the second floor, one piece at a time.

E’s father, D, used to tell stories of the year that the staircase went up to nothing. No door, no second floor, just the rafters. Seemed Grandfather could afford to build the stairs that year and nothing else. D used to hide up there when his father started drinking. The harvest had been bad that year and he had promised Grandmother a new bedroom upstairs, but he just couldn’t deliver. He was frustrated. And took it all out on those who ‘cramped his space’. Grandmother used to send the kids outside when he got into one of his moods, but it didn’t always work. It’s hard to run outside when there’s two feet of snow. So they’d hide in the stairwell to nowhere.

The next year, Grandfather ‘came into’ some money. Grandmother used to say that he’d sold part of the land. But Great-Grandmother said he just started playing poker like his father. Said she made him quit after he’d won the jackpot. So he started working on the house again.

Unlike his father who had built the house to meet the needs of an increasingly larger family, C built because he couldn’t bear sitting around. He needed to do something. Great-Grandmother wouldn’t let him gamble. Grandmother wouldn’t let him drink. The kids wouldn’t let him be. So he locked himself up the stairs and built.

Great-Grandmother had only wanted a bedroom, but her husband was determined to give her much more than that. Each evening, after he had worked all day on the farm, Grandfather would skip up the stairs and start banging and sawing away. He wouldn’t let anyone help. Or see what he was doing. He had covered the outside with tarpaulins, so from the yard you could only tell that the house was getting taller. He would work up there for hours after supper. Until bedtime. He’d call down a good night to the kids from above their bedroom, but he wouldn’t leave the top floor until his lamp burnt down. Then he’d faithfully lock the door and creep quietly down the stairs to bed.

The day that Grandfather finished the second story was one that E had heard about her entire life. It was the bane of her father’s existence. He moaned about it every time he got drunk. He’d talk about how the birds sang more sweetly than ever. The way the sun glistened on the dew. The way the air smelled fresh and new.

Grandfather invited the family into the yard for the unveiling. He let the kids pull the rope on the tarpaulins. They fluttered in the breeze, then dropped to the house’s foundations. And there, above the old, lovingly pieced together first floor, was a Victorian second story. Complete with gingerbread accents. It was remarkable. Grandfather had carved every intricate detail himself. Hammered every nail.

The neighbours didn’t know what to think of this Victorian level perched upon the old family cabin style first floor. The family just wanted to see inside. Grandmother was allowed up the stairs first. She had no idea what awaited her behind the door. She climbed the stairs carefully, making sure to hitch her skirts out of the way. She inserted the skeleton key Grandfather had given her and turned the knob. As she stepped onto the landing, she gasped and the kids rushed forward to see.

The landing was bathed in sunlight. Looking up, the kids expected to see a lightbulb. Instead they looked up, and up, and up. The skylight seemed so far away. The landing was flanked by six doors. Each one a different colour. Each one bearing a name. One room for each of the children, one for their parents, and, most thrilling of all, a second bathroom.

The extra rooms meant that Great-Grandmother, who has persisted into her nineties and still lived with the family, would finally get her own room back on the main floor. No longer would she have to share with her four grandchildren. Nor would they all have to scramble to share the same bathroom that Great-Grandfather had built sixty years before. At last they could all have some privacy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NaNo 2005

Well November is on its way, which means another attempt at NaNoWriMo.  I never did post my ‘novel’ from last year (3109 words), so here it is for anyone who cares.  Beware, it contains some ‘mature’ content… but mostly very immature, poorly written content.  Proceed at your own risk.

     “Run!  Get away!  He’s coming right for you… Don’t just stand there like an idiot.  I said run!”
     “Oh shut up!  No one paid to hear you yell at the screen!”
And the popcorn rained down on Angélique’s head.  She was just thankful that tonight the barrage didn’t include pop.  That was a bitch to get out of rayon.
Fed up with the stupidity of the film, and her own stupidity for getting sucked in and actually caring about one-dimensional stereotypical characters, she crouched and ran out of the theatre.
     She didn’t usually react that way to films, but she didn’t usually go see slasher flicks either.  She preferred romantic and thoughtful foreign films.  But they always reminded her of Darren.  Well, not so much reminded her of him, but didn’t do enough to distract her thoughts.  She was always thinking of him.  What she should have done, should have said.  A futile waste of precious brainpower.  That’s what he would have called all this brooding, but he was causing her to waste all this energy, so it was really all his fault.
“Stupid waster,” she muttered as she ducked into the foyer… and promptly ran into a red flannel chest.  “Oh… sorry.  I didn’t see you there.”
     “Hard to see whatyer not lookin’ at.”
     “Uh, yes I guess it is.”  Angélique took the opportunity to finally look at the wall of a man standing in front of her.  A red flannel checked shirt, jeans, suspenders, and a toque.  Definitely not normal movie garb.  Then it dawned on her.  “Python fan by any chance?”
     He chuckled.  “Fan?  Well, not really.  Just working.  I’m part of the singalong stage cast.  Getting ready for the 9:30 show”  He thrust out his hand.  “Jack.”
     “Angélique” she said, shaking his hand.  “So are you one of the straight lumberjacks, or the poufter?  Oh god, I can believe I just asked that.  It’s just that in the sketch, there’s –“
     “A lumberjack in a dress.  I got it.  Not a problem.”
     “I still feel like an idiot.  I’m not usually so forward… or incompetent… or…”
     “Covered in popcorn?”  He reached out a hand and plucked a perfectly puffed yellow blossom from her hair.
     “Uh, no.  This isn’t my usual look.  I guess I just got a little carried away with the movie and the other ticket buying public didn’t really appreciate my editorializing.”
     “Then you should come to the singalong tonight.  I can get you in.  People love that stuff there.  You can tell the Frenchmen to stuff it as loud as you want.  ”
     “And risk being crushed by a cow?  No thank you,” she laughed.  “But thanks for the invite.  I think I need to go home and clean up.  I don’t think I’ll last long reeking of popcorn.”
     “Well, you know where to find me if you change your mind.  I’ll be playing all week.”  And with a wink, he strode off into theatre C.

     She stood still for a moment, then pulled her jaw off the floor and took a deep breath.  ‘What an ass!’ she thought.  ‘Just watch him be the gay one.’  Then checking to see that no one was looking, she shook the loose popcorn out of her long mane of auburn hair and quickly walked out to her car.
     She loved her car.  It wasn’t anything special or new, but it was finally hers.  She even admired all the dents she had not-so-lovingly tattooed onto its once brilliant pink surface.  
“You bought a pink car?” her ex had incredulously screamed.  Well, yeah.  It’s a car and it’s pink, but it was much more than just a ‘pink car’.  Darren saw the car as the epitome of demasculisation and refused to ride in it.  Which turned out to be a good thing really.  Now that she had a car, she didn’t need to rely on Darren for transport anymore.  Not that she couldn’t cope without a ride.  She had taken public transit her whole life up until the time she started dating Darren.  But he insisted that she always ‘get a lift’.  The world was a ‘dangerous place’ and public transit was no place for his special girl.  That seemed sweet… for the first few months.  Then Angélique began to really hate his insistence that he control their every outing.
     Her new car allowed her to move more independently.  She no longer had to ask Darren for rides, or arrange to get picked up when she went out.   They still went out together, just in separate vehicles.  Darren wouldn’t ride in the ‘chickmobile’ as he called it, and she usually just wanted to practice driving her own car.  So they met places.  And left separately.  And soon enough, just started going separate places.  Well, she tried to go separate places.  Now that she could travel without having to rely on Darren, he kept calling her, always asking her where she was and when she’d be home.  He’d never been like this before, but he’d always driven her everywhere, so he never had to ask before either.  And all this calling was making Angélique feel trapped.  She had never believed Darren when he said she must have just bought the pink car in an underhanded attempt to get rid of him – she had just always really liked the colour and as the display model from the breast cancer promotion it was on sale – but she could see now how her car had really helped her to see the light.  Darren was a controlling, manipulative, jerk… and her pink car had saved her.
     She could still feel the bruise from when he had pushed her into the side of his car.  But the bruise would fade away.  What she would never forget was the blissful sight of Darren getting smaller and smaller in her rearview mirror as she drove away from him forever that night… in her pink car.
     She had decided a few days earlier to leave Darren, but he was out of town and she didn’t just want to leave him a note.  She had dropped by his place while he was gone.  His roommate Bert let her in.  And she picked up all the stuff she’d left there in the months they’d been together.  She had arranged to pick him up at the airport.  In his car of course.  That’s when she had planned to tell him.  On the drive home.  But when he got off the plane, he was a little drunk.
     “You know, I been thinkin’ we should move in together.  You know, save all that drivin’ back and forth.”
     What a romantic thought! Move in together.  Why?  Because I love you and want to be with you always?  No!  I’m too cheap to buy gas, that’s why.
     Angélique had no idea what to say.  There was really no good way to put it.
     “Actually, Darren. I’ve been thinking while you’ve been gone too.  I don’t think this is working out.  I’ve –“  SLAM!  He body checked her into the right fender.
     “You what?  I’ve been busting my butt all these months, pretending to like ballet and even washing your friggin dog, and it’s ‘not working out’?  What the hell does that mean?”
     Darren was never the brightest of the guys she’d dated, and she couldn’t help but laugh at him.  He was the only guy she’d ever met whose language improved when he was drunk.  Too bad his grasp on reality wasn’t affected in the same way.
     “I don’t even have a ‘friggin’ dog.  And even I hate ballet.  Who do you think you’re talking to?”  And that was it.  It was over.
     She was single again, and as she awakened from her reverie and checked her rearview mirror, it dawned on her that the lumberjack was just inside the cinema.  She didn’t really have anywhere to go.  At home she’d only be faced with all the boxes she had yet to unpack.  And she did really love the Python movies.  And singing.
     She checked her hair for stray popcorn, grabbed her hairband off the gearshift, and got out of the car.  One last check.  Lipgloss in the side view mirror.  Then she waltzed right back into the theatre.
     “One for Monty Python, please.”
     “Uh, yeah,” said the cashier.
     “Is there a problem?  Is it sold out?”
     “Uh, no, it’s just.  Weren’t you just in here a minute ago?”
     “Yes, actually, I was.  Why?”
     “Covered in popcorn?”
     “It’s just that’s what the note says: ‘Pass to Python for Popcorn Hair Hottie.’ “
     “Oh.  Well I guess that’s me.  So, I don’t need a ticket?”
     “Nope.  Just tell the usher you’re popcorn girl and go right in.”
Popcorn girl?  No, even better Popcorn Hottie.  A few minutes ago she would have probably just left of embarrassment, but she had to admit, it had been a long time since anyone had called her ‘hot’.  And even if it was only on a Post-it, it still was a good ego boost.  She could even have some fun with this one maybe.
     She wandered over to theatre C and waltzed up to the usher.
     “Ticket please,” he said mechanically.
She leaned in to him, her long hair falling forward.  “Smell,” she said.  The usher just looked confused.  Then putting on her best sexy voice, she whispered in his ear, “I’m Poppy.”  The usher still looked dumbfounded.  Then a wave a realization passed across his face.
“Oh, I get it.  Poppy.  Popcorn and hottie, right?  Ha ha.  Yeah, go on in.”
Then he laughed.  It was at that point she remembered exactly why she had stopped dating younger men.  They never got it the first time.  Their brains always seemed to work like old computers.  It took them forever to compute, and even then they didn’t always even appreciate the simple beauty of the program.  At least Lumberjack wasn’t younger.  Or at least he didn’t look it.
     Come to think of it, he was the only theatre employee who didn’t look adolescent.  Is that a requirement of all theatre employees?  That whatever their age, they always look about 17, and have really bad acne?  She chuckled as she considered that her little tease was probably the most action the usher would see in weeks.  Yeah, he could sneak girls in and that might get him some action, but realistically who’s at the theatre to pick up on a Monday night?
     Then again, who would think to meet a Lumberjack at the movies.  She ducked up the theatre stairs, and grabbed an aisle seat.  Then the first actor came out to introduce the event.  And it dawned on her.  Her lumberjack wasn’t really some great adventurous Canadien.  He was an actor.  An actor who worked the Monday shift.  At Monty Python singalongs.
“Great,” she groaned.  Well, at least she got in free and she could sneak out early before he saw her there.  The lumberjacks weren’t until much later in the film.  She’d have lots of time to escape.  Or so she thought.
“Hi,” someone whispered behind her.  “I was hoping you’d come.”
     With all the shuffling of the audience, she couldn’t tell where the voice came from until she felt the tall mass crouching down beside her.  Lumberjack was there on the stairs.
     “Oh, yeah.  Well I like Python a lot,” she began whispering.  “Eric Idle wrote such great lyrics.  But Michael Palin’s really my favourite.”
     “SHHH!” hushed the people in front of her.
Lumberjack laughed quietly,     “I can see how you get popcorn in your hair.  We haven’t even started and you’re ticking people off.”
     She wanted to just sink in her seat, but the upholstery was sticky, so instead she made to get up.
     “Oh, don’t go.  Just ignore them.  They’ve been here five times already anyway.  I gotta go get ready.  Will you be here after?  I want to take you for coffee.”
     “Uh—“ she began, not sure how to decline without further pissing off the hushers.
     “You do drink coffee don’t you?  It’s okay.  They have tea and stuff too.  And really good coffee cake.  But it doesn’t actually have any coffee in it, in case you don’t drink it.  Pretty stupid name for it then really.”
     She giggled.  She had been going to sneak out, but his rambling was just so cute.  He was nervous.  Well, either that or he lacked conversational skills, but going to coffee and confirming that would at least make her feel better about not really going out with him.  It was only coffee.  And cake.  But cake doesn’t have to mean anything.
     By the time she had finished rationalizing everything, he had gone and the opening credits were running.  “Always look on the bright side of life,” they sang.  Why not?  She decided to just settle in and enjoy.  And go for coffee.  For cake.
     The show was cool.  And after they went next door for coffee.  She felt a little odd walking into the café with a Lumberjack, but the staff all greeted him as he came in, so it wasn’t too bad.  They grabbed a bistro table near the coffee bar and the barista leaned over and asked for orders.
     “I’ll have my regular.  And…”
     “Oh, a skinny decaf mocha please.”
The barista popped back behind the machinery, and the steam powered beast came to life.  A few minutes passed in silence, then their orders arrived.
     “Thanks… So.”
     “So.”  At this rate she’d never find out if he could converse.
     “What’s your ‘regular’?”
     “A double tall extra hot doppio with caramel drizzle.  And a coffee cake.  Not the healthiest of post-show snacks, but you gotta have some vices, right?”
     “Yeah, I guess.”
     If he considered coffee and cake to be vices, she hated to think what he thought of all the standard vices.  Not that she had many.  She was pretty much clean now that she’d dumped Darren.  Stupid men.  Could that be an addiction?  She could just see it now:
     “Hi.  My name is Angélique and I’m a stupidmanaholic”
     “Hello Angélique.”
     “I have been an addict for 14 years, since high school.  I always had lots of guys ask me out, but I only ever chose the dumbest ones.  I know I have a problem and I want to change.   I want –“
     “So,” he said quizzically, snapping her out of her reverie, “what’s your sign?”
     “My sign?  Really?”
     “Well, not really.  I just couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say.  And you’ve just seen me in this really dumb theatre thing, so I’ve been trying to think what to say to sound intelligent.”
     “Well, I don’t think of Python as dumb theatre.  I actually considered doing my thesis on their contribution to humour.”
     “Oh.”  The dejected look on Lumberjack’s face told her that was absolutely not the right way to go about helping the conversation.
     “Oh.  No… sorry.  I didn’t mean to sound offended.  I was just.  Sorry.  I haven’t done this in a long time.”
     “You mean talk to people?”
     “No.  I mean date.  Oh—“
     “Hey, it’s okay.  I’m good with calling this a date.  Besides this has been the longest conversation I’ve had with a woman in a long time.”
     “Really?”  Okay.  This doesn’t sound good.  What’s the exit strategy?  Finish the coffee, then leave.  Or spill some coffee and sneak to the WC and out?
     “Yeah, but that sounds really lame doesn’t it?  I mean, it’s the longest English conversation I’ve had with a woman recently.  I’ve been working overseas… not many English speakers.”
     “Oh.  I see.”  Okay.  That’s better.
Then awkward silence.  Sips of coffee.  And toying with the coffee cake.  And more silence.
     “Good coffee,” she said.  Vainly trying to jumpstart the conversation.
     “Yeah.  I come here all the time.  The cake’s the best.  Want some?”  He held a fork out on offer.
     “Well, as long as it doesn’t have any nuts in it.  I mean it looks great, but I’m allergic.”
     “Really?  Me too!  It’s nut-free.  And so’s the Danish.  And the chocolate biscotti.  Weird eh?”
     “What?  Biscotti without nuts?”     “No, just that we’re both allergic.”
     “Right.  Look, I don’t know that this is really going to work.  You haven’t spoken to women in a while, I’m just getting over a bad breakup with a guy who wouldn’t let me talk to other guys.  Talking doesn’t seem to be a winning idea.”
     He didn’t agree with her right away.  He didn’t disagree either.  He got up from his chair and walked out the door of the café.  She was stunned.  She’d cut dates short before, but she’d never been the one left at the table.  She stared into her coffee, then took a long, slow sip.  All she could think was that she wished it had had caffeine.
     Then the bell on the café door tinkled and a tall man wearing a plaid shirt was standing beside her.
     “Hi, I’m Jack.  Is this seat taken?  Mind if I sit down?”
He took the seat.  She giggled.  He smiled.  But she kept laughing.
     “Is there a problem?  Did I sit on something?”
     “No,” she tittered, “it’s your name.”
     “Jack?  What’s so funny about that?”
     “You know.  Jack… the lumberjack.”  She laughed again, flashing a big smile.  He couldn’t help but join in, and notice how her brown eyes lit up when she laughed.
     “I’d never really noticed that before.  It is kind of odd.”
Soon she stopped laughing.   She stared into her coffee again.  Jack stared at her.
     “Well?”  He asked.
     “Well what?”
     “Isn’t this the part where you tell me your name?”
     “Oh, sorry.  I’m Angélique.”
     “You sure?  I heard your name was Poppy,” he laughed.  A nice deep chuckle.  “Sorry.  Brad never could keep quiet.  It’s all over the theatre.  Some old broad made a pass at him.  He’s thrilled to finally get at least some action.”
     “Thanks a bunch.  ‘Old broad’, eh?”
     “Hey, his words not mine, Angel.  Can I call you Angel?”  Puppy dog eyes.  
     “Yeah,” she sighed.  She never let anyone call her Angel, but for some reason at this precise moment in time, she really didn’t mind. “As long as you tell me what Jack is short for.”
     “Short for.  Nothing.  My name is just ‘Jack’.  It’s on my Drivers’ License and everything.  Wanna see?”
     “No, just checking.  I guess my ex was really wrong then.  When I left he said I wouldn’t succeed because I ‘didn’t know Jack’, but now that I do, I guess I can’t fail, eh?”  Jack laughed again and stared deep into her eyes.  He leaned forward across the table.
     “Now, how about that cake?”


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ashland's over

Well, I was so busy the last few days in Ashland that I didn't even bother to see if the computer was free. Tuesday we saw "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in the Bower theatre. Neat place. It seats 600, but only has aisles on the sides, so the rows are very long but it means everyone gets to be closer to the stage. I went to dinner before the play with some folks from class. We ate at a restaurant outside next to the creek that runs through downtown. It was really nice. Apparently we're an unusual group for a Summer Institute in that we socialized lots out of class, but it seemed pretty normal to us. In the play, the lead actor, James Newcombe, was amazing, despite the fact that hardly any of us really loved the way he was directed in the part. He came and spoke to us Wed. morning and, while he was very subtle about it, it was fairly clear that he wasn't yet happy with the production. Of course, we did see only its second performance after only two previews, so there are still a few kinks to work out in the process. The most contentious issue among us was the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde. This is the first production to use only one actor to portray both, so there are no prostetics or makeup for Hyde... he moved more freely and quickly than Jekyll and was much more childlike in his demeanor. We also argued about the script. This one (David Edgar) introduces a backstory for Jekyll: his father ignored him and favoured his sister. So there's a Freudian justification for his actions as Hyde. I thought that was a cop out really. When I read the novella, which I finished the afternoon of the play, the whole point seemed to be that Hyde's evil comes from his own (and society's) repression of emotion. We did have really good discussion about the play though, so it worked for our purposes;-)

Wednesday we did more scoring in the poetry section, and other stuff. After class (can you tell which is more interesting?), I went to dinner with Sylvia (our instructor) and Jon (the other "experienced" AP teacher) at an Italian restaurant. Jon and I split the four-course dinner. Not cheap, but very good. Then I walked to the theatre. We were in the outdoor theatre this time for Cyrano. It was amazing!!!!!!!!!!! Even more so because the lead actor was the understudy in only his second performance. Wow! So awesome. Totally worth the drive! Of course, he dies at the end, so it's super tragic... I cried all the way back to the dorms. But the translation they used really worked. I wasn't sure which one they were using, and it turned out they adapted the three Burgess translations together. The dramaturg for the production, Barry Kraft, came to speak with us on Thursday. That way cool too. He's currently playing Lear in the Marin Shakespeare Festival, so he even performed a bit.

Thursday and Friday were more classes. Of course the fun parts were the meals. Thursday I went out with a group to the Standing Stone Brewery. We stayed for hours. The food was good, but the company was what took so long;-) Yesterday, I went for lunch after class was over to Dragonfly. I'd read reviews about it and it was as good as all the hype.

After lunch I went back to finish my shopping at the gift shop. I won't be getting much at the outlet malls unless it's absolutely perfect... I've probably already spent my limit:-) I did, however, get a poster for free. They gave me the sample of the Heraldry poster because they weren't going to carry it any more. I love free stuff! Anyway, I left Ashaland about 2.30 and drove up I-5 to Salem. I stopped in Albany for dinner and a break from sitting, but got to the hotel about 7p m. This place is great. I have an executive King suite, which is just as neat as it sounds, but only cost me $74. But King beds are HUGE. It took more effort to get out this morning than getting out of bed really should;-) Anyway, I'm going to go grab breakfast then go off to the Oregon Garden. I'll stop in at the Woodburn outlets, and maybe swing by the ones at the Gorge, but not shopping a lot won't bother me. I'm planning to go to Waye's tonight, so I'll call him later when I have a better idea of when. Anyway, see you all later.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ashland Day 5

Well, I've just completed two days of classes. So far, so good. I already have TONS of paper to go through, but it all looks useful. There are only twenty or so in my class, most from Oregon and California, but a few from Washington, and another Canadian too. It IS a small world though. My roomie is a lady who has just been hired at Woodland HS, so she'll be working with my cousin who also just was hired there. And the other Canadian worked with Mom and P.W. Who knew?

The campus and town here are very small. I'd bet UBC is bigger than the whole thing really... at least in terms of the walking distances between the dorms and our classroom. Not even a mile. Somehow things always look bigger on maps. The room isn't huge either. We each have a closet (one side has a shelf and drawers, hanging on the other), a bed, and a desk with two bookshelves above. The dorm is perfectly situated, however, mere metres from Starbucks (even closer than the plaza to school) and a grocery store, so I'm having no trouble at all feeding myself. My room also has a fridge, but my roomie has a meal card, so it's all mine... all two cubic feet of it! We also have A/C which is great, even though we haven't needed it lots so far. Now the only obstacle to good sleep is the bed, which is really very hard, but at least it's not lumpy. Can't complain much at this price really.

Today we started scoring papers. Only two of us have taught AP before, so that was quite interesting. The rubric was new to everyone else, so we only did a couple before we took a break. We'll score poetry tomorrow though and that's the one I'm really looking forward to because it's the question I think many of my students didn't do well on.

Tonight we're going to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Bowmer theatre (the one I haven't seen a play in yet), which is indoors. And tomorrow we see Cyrano in the Elizabethan theatre (open like the Globe). Both should be great. The weather has cooled down a bit though, so I may actually need my blanket this time, unlike last Friday when it was still pretty warm in the evening.

We've made some 'adjustments' to our class schedule so we got out early today... this computer may not have been free otherwise, but I might be offline until later this week. End submission. ;-)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ashland Day 3

I saw the Folio and King John yesterday. Good stuff. The theatre for King John is really quite small, but the staging was neatly done... except for the part where Arthur is supposed to leap from the wall... no jumping quite logically, but they did some lame video of the actor jumping with corny sound effects on the backdrop while she snuck down the back stairs. Kinda cheap... and she didn't 'play dead' very well do start with. Too stiff. All those years doing lifesaving simulations really makes me sensitive to playing unconscious and dead well:-) The rest of the play was great though. The program said something about Shakespeare relegating the female characters (Eleanor, Constance, and Blanche) to minor roles, different from their real-life roles, but I think they almost stole the show. Yeah they cry and whine a bit, but they have reason to. And they did it soooo well. Oh well, guess I'll just have to go read the play and see what I think of the unedited text. Anyway, I'm just about to check out of the hotel in Medford and head off to the backstage tour. TTFN.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ashland Day 1

Hi All,
I got here from Wayne's without any trouble, which is certainly more than I can say for my trip to Wayne's... lets just say I'm not really fond of border lines, Sea-Tac traffic, or construction. Anyway, I got here about 4pm and checked in to my hotel in Medford. I'm staying at the Windmill Inn and so far it's great. That may change after breakfast tomorrow, but it sounds good:-) It's a pet friendly hotel and the American Kennel Club has some folks... and dogs staying here as they're performing/showing at the county fair or something like that, but I haven't really heard any of them, so it shouldn't be a problem. The pet-friendly thing is obviously a big seller for the chain. They have doggie biscuits at the front desk and everyroom has two door signs: one is the standard "do not disturb"/"make up room" sign while the other is "pet in room". Kinda funny walking down the halls to see all these pet signs, but I guess then housekeeping, etc. won't let them escape if they come to deliver/clean. The whole place is also smoke-free. They even have a declaration on the check-in card about it. Cool. A definite change from Europe. They also have a computer, upon which I'm typing this, in the lobby. And it's free. Another improvement on Europe:-)

After dinner (left over Alfy's from lunch yesterday :-) and left over salad from lunch today ... I LOVE my cooler bags and those ice packs!) I went to Ashland. I drove down I-5 to get there. It's really only a 15 minute drive as it's only 12-miles to the south end of town (that's the end where the Univ. is so I drove past to scope it out a bit). Then I drove over to the Shakespeare Festival and parked in the public parkade there. Okay, so parking doesn't sound exciting, but it's $3 for the whole day! Ah! B-lot memories ;-) Anyway, I walked the few metres to the festival and the "Green Show" was on. It's a dance/music performance they have in the 'courtyard' between the theatre entrances each night at 7pm (shows start at 8.30). It was pretty neat, but I couldn't resist scoping out the gift shop before the show. There is WAAAYY too much stuff for me to buy here. I think the only things I didn't want were the Shakespeare bobblehead and the action figures... cause I already have them! Sooo annoying to know I only have $300 duty free... and that doesn't go as far when our dollar is doing well. Any chance it'll tank on Monday after I've paid my hotel??? Nah, I didn't really think so either.

Yes, I did actually get to the show. Tonight I say "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and it was very good, but I have to say the dog really stole the show. Maybe that's why Shakespeare never wrote another play with a dog as a main player? The entire production was very well done. Laura would've loved it too. Verona as Amish-ish country, Milan looked like a fashion catalogue (you know, polo shirts and argyle sweaters... and tennis whites), and the exiles in the forest were full-on punk. I'm absolutely convinced that some of the costumes either came from Hot Topic or are already in Laur's closet;-) I have to see if they have any pictures of them in the gift shop... maybe a postcard:-) The theatre itself is really cool too... nope, I take that back... it's in Ashland so it's really very hot and stuffy. But I'm pretty sure that's why the shows start so late. This one was in the outdoor theatre that looks an awful lot like the Globe. I had a 'cheap' seat at the back of the main floor, but it was a great seat. Maybe not as cool as the ones without the balcony overhang, but a terrific view. The seats for Cyrano next week (for the AP course)will probably be the 'better' ones though... they charged us enough for them.

Well, I've rambed enough and it's 12.25 so I better go crash. Gotta be in Ashland for the folio by 11.30 so I may get to sleep in a bit. TTFN.