Friday, November 23, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Performer

As many of you probably already know, I belong to an '80s dance company that performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade yesterday. How did this happen? Well, the group--the Spangles Dance Company--made a Christmas video last year that we posted on Facebook. That video was seen by a friend of a friend of our director, and that friend of a friend just happens to be a Macy's executive! Long story short, the Spangles were asked to perform a 90-second routine in the parade.

We had about four rehearsals to learn and perfect our routine, and then we had a 25-minute camera blocking rehearsal on Tuesday night at 10:55pm on location in front of Macy's. Well, we were supposed to have a 25-minute camera blocking rehearsal. We got all dolled up and waited for our turn after the Broadway musicals (Bring It On, Annie, and Nice Work If You Can Get It) rehearsed, but somewhere along the line, the schedule got thrown off, and since the NYPD had a strict 11:30pm deadline for the street to open back up to traffic, we had zero minutes in the actual space and zero assistance with blocking. Luckily, we're used to being thrown out of places by the NYPD (Grand Central Station and the Post Office are just two examples), so we made the best of it and tried to figure out our spacing on the sidewalk. On the bright side, we did get to wait in a small holding room with a man that is no stranger to parades--Ferris Bueller himself!

But let's get to the good stuff. Here's what happened on Thanksgiving Day:

4:20am  Wake up call!

4:50am  Got in a cab and headed to the Hilton Garden Inn on 35th Street. Our fearless leaders, Deb and Ted Spangles booked a conference room so we could create our signature MAC look (#sponsorusplease) and our giant 80s hair. 

5:00am  Arrived at the hotel. There were already spectators claiming front row spots behind the parade barricades.

6:00am  Since the conference room didn't have mirrors, we went to the nearby hotel gym to primp. There were two Asian ladies on the treadmills. I'm sure they were thrilled to see us there. I mean, I always want to inhale hairspray when I work out. I had actually started getting my hair in the groove by putting in sponge curlers the night before at 5pm. I tried to remember the way my hairdresser set my hair when I got a spiral perm and use the curlers in that same pattern. I was delighted to see that when teased, my sponge curls turned into a giant frizzy hair halo. Truly thrilling.

6:20am  We put on our bedazzled outfits. Sure that it would be freezing outside, I put on as many layers as possible. So when all was said and done, I was wearing: one pair of dance tights, one pair of shiny dance tights, knee socks, legwarmers, dance trunks, two tank tops, t-shirt, hoodie, and fingerless gloves.

6:45am  We left the hotel and hopped into two vans that took us to 81st and Columbus, where we were supposed to meet our Macy's handler (meaning the woman who was supposed to shepherd us from place to place), but she was having subway trouble, so we all filed into a nearby Starbucks to wait for her. We took pictures to pass the time.

7:30am  The very understanding Starbucks people allowed us to wait inside, not eating or drinking, just taking up room and probably frightening customers away. Thank you, Starbucks! Hilary was still lost in subway-land, so we decided to head to our waiting point, which was the Museum of Natural History. We filled past giant balloons and shivering marching bands as we walked inside to use the museum bathrooms. (I hear that the marching bands have to meet in Central Park and use port-o-potties. Poor things.) The bathroom line was loooooooong since we were waiting near a 200-girl dance group. I thought I would be cold, but they were wearing unitards that exposed their backs and their ankles. Poor, poor things.

8:15am  Hilary finally appeared! We primped and practiced and added more and more layers of hairspray to our hair, nervously waiting for the parade to begin. And freezing. We all had hand warmers, so our hands were warm, but that was about all that was warm.

The ladies along with Deb and Ted
9:00am  The parade began. We could hear random busts of cheering, but it was hard to tell what was happening.

9:15am  A gentleman led us to the barricade so we could easily feed into the parade when our turn came. From there, we saw a number of floats: a fun looking group (Jimmy Fallon and the Roots), a tired old man (Don McLean), a bunch of teenyboppers who were making kissy faces to anyone and everyone (The Wanted), and a fella wearing the tightest red pants I've ever seen  (Neon Trees).

9:45am  Finally. FINALLY, THEY LED US INTO THE PARADE!!! Eek! We were all completely freaking out, of course.  An announcer of some sort said something to the effect of, "And now, hailing from Queens, is a high-energy dance company that pays tribute to the 80s. Spangles Dance Company, join the parade!" And we were off. We started off down the street, alternately waving, walking, and dancing to songs ("I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "Jesse's Girl," and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun") that were played through a giant Macy's star speaker that was being driven down the street in front of us. And also in front of us were two strangers dressed as majorettes who were carrying a very official banner with our name on it!

10:00am  We reached 64th Street and I had suddenly gone from freezing to sweating. I absolutely couldn't believe it! I had tried so hard to prepare for the cold that I couldn't believe I was warm. Hilary, our handler, suddenly became our holder of hand warmers as we each got too hot to keep them in our gloves. In addition to the people lining the streets and packed onto bleachers, there were thousands of people looking down from above--in windows, on balconies, on rooftops, and more.

10:15am  We reached Columbus Circle. Making that turn from Central Park West to 59th Street was the most exciting part of the parade route for me. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's so picturesque and open. We also got warmer and collectively chose to unzip our hoodies.

10:30am  We made another turn and danced down Sixth Avenue. The sheer volume of people lining the streets was completely overwhelming. They were giving so much energy to us that we really wanted to give a lot of energy back to them, especially since they had been waiting for hours. As a result, we were really starting to drag. We had been awake and anxious for six hours, and we had been walking/waving/dancing for 2 miles. And we still had our televised routine to perform. We all consciously tried to conserve our energy and cool down.

10:45am  We reached 37th Street, where we were instructed to stop dancing and just prepare for our performance. We were obviously freaking out. And reviewing our steps. And adding more hairspray. And reassuring each other that we all looked great for our close-ups.

10:55-ish am  We were finally on the Macy's star. The camera people directed us to take our places on stage during a commercial break. We had no idea how long it would be, so we anxiously held our first position while waiting for the music to start. It took so long to begin that my right foot began to cramp.

Holding during the commercial
 But it finally started. Even though the steps were a blur, I remember being really conscious of trying to enjoy everything as it happened. And since it was a random, one-of-a-kind, surreal experience, enjoying it was easier to do than I expected. The music came on, as I expected, but what I didn't expect was hearing the voices of Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie narrating our dance as we were doing it.

10:57am  And just as quickly as it started, our moment in the sun was over. We finished our 90-second routine and continued marching and waving down 34th Street--all the way to the giant 8th Avenue Post Office, where we took our official group photo. On the way, we passed the Hammerstein Ballroom, where we successfully auditioned for America's Got Talent. And we had already been kicked off the Post Office steps while filming "Get Outta My Dreams and Into My Car" so it seemed like life had come full circle for the Spangles Dance Company.

Here's the unofficial picture

 What's next for us? I'm not sure. We got a bunch of entertaining tweets, hundreds of people "liked" our Facebook page, several girls asked for audition info, and one person even wants us to perform at her Christmas party. I'm not sure where we'll be, but I can't wait to body roll into our future!  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Radio City: Swingville

I totally did it to myself. I angered the swing gods.

At least, that's what we say here in the Radio City dressing room when you do one or more of the following before a performance in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular:

* stay out late
* forget to buy eyelash glue
* skip the red lipstick
* had one too many the night before
* don't shower

I stayed out late last night. I undoubtedly angered the swing gods.

As many of you know, I am a swing in the show, which means that I am an understudy for three of the singers. Normally, I get to the theater between 8:30am and 9:30am, leisurely pour myself a cup of coffee with half a packet of Swiss Miss with marshmallows (we call this a ghetto mocha), put on a little makeup, and check my email. That way, I would look as if I could go onstage at any time, just in case someone falls down the stairs or something. (But since that only happened once in my four years, I mostly expect to do this as an unnecessary precaution.) Well, today my lovely morning routine was rudely interrupted when Mrs. Claus called out sick! PANIC ENSUED.

With just 30 minutes, I had to put on heavy stage makeup, put my hot rollers to work, find my costumes, go over all my lines and spacing, and step out on stage. The latter was especially terrifying because swings don't have an opportunity to rehearse on stage at all, let alone with unfamiliar costumes and microphones. And since Mrs. C. was the sickie, I would also be singing a solo while wearing a ginormous dress with hoopskirts and climbing up and down the Christmas train.

As you can image, I was more than a little nervous.

Luckily, that early morning hour infused everything with a dream-like quality. It barely registered that I was standing on stage in front of 6,000 people and singing something I've never sung in public before. And somehow, I was still relaxed enough to enjoy it. I looked around at all my friends on stage and had a grand old time. It was a Christmas miracle!

And I'm so, so glad that first unplanned performance is over!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Radio City: Animal Orientation

As you may or may not know, the camels are the real stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I'm talking real live camels, people! They travel to Bethlehem in the Nativity scene at the conclusion of the show.

Don't ask why I'm making that face.

The camels are not alone, however. The show also stars sheep and a donkey.

Since these animals are not exactly house pets, their handlers introduce them to the cast at Animal Orientation. Here are the things I have learned at Animal Orientation:
     * Sheep behave like dogs.
     * Donkeys like to eat French toast.
     * Camels' hips are way up on their backs, so they can kick you if you're standing anywhere in a six-foot radius.

The camels take a daily constitutional around the block.
Some very lucky (or unlucky, depending how you look at it) dancers play shepherds and get to stand with a sheep in Bethlehem, which earns them Animal Pay in their weekly paycheck. This is a real thing. Simply for standing there with leash in hand, they get extra dough. So in addition to learning animal facts and cautionary tales at Animal Orientation, they also get up close and personal with their sheep.

Even though we rehearse for at least four weeks, the animals only arrive the day of our final dress rehearsal. Why? They're pros. Ted the Camel has been doing the show for years. And loves it. I swear he even smiles and poses for pictures. He and the other two camels live in a little room (aptly named "The Camel Room") on the right side of the stage. The sheep and donkey live in a pen one level down from the stage; they ride the elevator up to the stage, hit their marks on stage during the show, and ride the elevator back downstairs. Seeing six sheep in an elevator is definitely a treat.

This year, Animal Orientation was set for Thursday at 2pm, but the camel truck broke down on the Thruway. So it was rescheduled for 10pm that night.

In case you're wondering, all of the above is completely true. I swear. Don't believe me? Take a gander at this little video I made in 2007.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting Makes Me (Red, White, and mostly) Blue

Voting used to be fun. Or at least my memory of it was.

I would go into the giant seafoam green voting booth with Mom or Dad, they'd draw the privacy curtain, and they'd let me press buttons on the marvelous machine that would help choose the next president. A hush fell over that small space as the heavy curtain material quieted the hubbub of the waiting room, and the only noise was the satisfying click of the buttons as my little fingers pressed them. And best of all was the giant metal lever that I got to pull to reset the machine to keep my parents' votes a secret from everyone else.

I can't say that I quite expected that same magical experience when I voted today, but I did expect maybe ten percent of that magic.

I didn't even get one percent.

Since I had rehearsals starting at 9am, I was at my polling location by 6:30am. Of the two initial greeters, one was helping someone else, and the other did NOT look like she wanted to help me. She gave me the bored-slash-annoyed stare of a teenager who is on the last ten minutes of her shift at Blockbuster and desperately wants to shut down the joint and hop in the car with her new boyfriend who just got his night license. Um, didn't you volunteer to be here, lady? And it's only 6:30am. If you hate life now, you're gonna hate it a lot more by 9.

Of course, she couldn't find my address listed in her book and suggested I was at the wrong location. Luckily, I brought my postcard that said I was most certainly in the right place. She begrudgingly shepherded me to one of three district lines.

Based on her reaction, I had zero confidence I was in the right line, so I grew antsy when the volunteer running this new line seemed slooooooooowwwwwww. There were only four people ahead of me, but it must have taken over ten minutes for her to process them. When I got to the front of the line, I could see why.

Her fingernails.

They were a good two to three inches long--so long they started curving downward in that creepy way that you just know can't be sanitary. They were freshly painted. Lime green on the right, purple on the left. Oh yeah, and she was a lefty. It's not that I think left-handed people are slow, but she seemed to be moving in that way that lefties do when someone makes them use a pair of righty scissors in school. On second thought, her only instruments were paper and pen, which are equal opportunity items, so I'm back to blaming the nails for the holdup.

She handed me my giant paper ballot in a manilla folder, which I took to the "voting booths," which were more like small podiums with an empty diorama on top. Almost like a much cheaper version of the Jeopardy set. The dividers were cardboard, and I'll be shocked if they're sturdy enough to make it to the end of the day. And anyone could easily look over and see the items I bubbled in on my Scantron form. It felt way more like taking a test than voting for our nation's president. Where was the curtain? Where was the satisfying clicking noise? Where was the glamour, the romance??? Where????

I next had to walk to some video game-looking machine and feed my "ballot" into it, sort of the way you feed paper into a Xerox machine. (There were no signs telling me to do this, mind you. I could easily have left my ballot there and walked away.) I got a happy little flag on the screen with a "Thank You for Voting!" message, which was the only bright spot of the entire event.

And to top off my misery, THERE WERE NO STICKERS!!!!!

I mean, come on, people. I got a sticker in 2008. Where's the 2012 version? This is America. And as Americans, we deserve rewards for absolutely everything we do. I mean, credit card companies reward us for spending money, for crying out loud! I need my voting reward! STAT.

I didn't get it, sadly. And as I stumbled out into the cold air, I sighed for myself and for America, knowing that it will be another four years before my faith in our voting system can be restored.

So in 2016, BRING BACK THE STICKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, for a little more of the romance, check out my images of Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center!

This map magically appeared on the ice overnight! They'll color in states tonight...

Front view. Check out all the cameras.

News anchors report from inside these multicolored treehouse-looking things.

Here's all the equipment the networks try to camouflage. Unfortunately, it makes everything more difficult to see if you're actually there in person.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

God Bless(ed) the Marathon Runners!

This angle is a tad deceptive, but there were hundreds of people on the altar!

Bless me, Father, for I have shin splints.

Okay, okay, I didn't think that one up. I borrowed it from an article that discusses St. Patrick's Cathedral's pre-Marathon Mass. I had a Radio City wig fitting at 5 o'clock, I decided to head over to the 5:30 Mass at St. Pat's afterward.

As it turns out, I arrived at the Mass that had been designated for the NYC Marathon runners. Even though the Marathon was canceled, the priest decided to say a blessing all the same.

I'm sure that by now you've heard all the controversy about the Marathon. Should we have the Marathon to celebrate New York City's resilient spirit? Or should we cancel it to reserve resources for those still suffering from the impact of Hurricane Sandy? I must say that I was on the fence about this one. There really wasn't a good solution any way you sliced it. If I were in Staten Island without power for the sixth day, I would be FURIOUS that there was an extra generator sitting in Central Park as a backup for the media tent. But if I were from Kenya and had been saving money and training my whole life to run this year, I would be absolutely crushed.

So when more than two hundred runners made their way to the altar for the blessing, I lost it. I completely teared up. It just seemed so sad and beautiful and heartbreaking and lovely all at once. The priest said something to the effect that though the runners would not be in the official race, God would be with them as they ran through their daily lives. I'm so glad I was there to be a part of it.

Of course, I spoiled the whole thing by evaluating the "runners" on the altar. Some brought their families up there, which was fine. But I couldn't help but wonder...were there any fakers up there? Any people who just wanted to see the view from the best seat in the house? And of course there were those who delayed the conclusion of the service because they couldn't stop taking pictures up there. I was only sitting ten rows back, so I could basically hear what they were saying: "Okay, take a picture of me with the priest. Okay, now I'll take one of you with the priest. Now me again. Not too close, I look terrible in this light! Okay, now one of all of us." And on, and on.

Luckily, the closing hymn brought it all back home.

O, God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Hits Hoboken: Floods, Fire Alarms, and Freak-Outs

(If you like pictures better than words, scroll down!)

Well, readers, the tribe has spoken: I would certainly be the first person voted off of Survivor.

Hurricane Sandy has taught me many things, but the most glaring is the fact that I am absolutely terrible in crisis situations. I either make bad decisions or hem and haw until the bad decision is the only option left, and either way, I whine until the whole ordeal is over. This is not something I'm proud of. I like to think of myself as a Scarlett O'Hara racing against Sherman's fire--lying, cheating, stealing, or killing to get to safety at Tara, but I am much more a Melanie, lying in the back of the wagon, unconscious and moaning while being rescued by a stronger, more decisive person.

Before I confuse you too much, let's back up to the beginning. I have a charming (meaning: old), comfortable (meaning: small) apartment in midtown Manhattan. Like many New Yorkers, I assumed talk of this hurricane was wildly inflated. We're New York City! Hurricanes can't touch us! They wouldn't dare! So I went about my business, turning a blind eye to every single meteorologist in town.

But when the tunnels and bridges and subways started closing, my blind eye suddenly saw the light. I grabbed brownies, stromboli, and an umbrella and raced for the nearest cab to Hoboken. You see, after surviving 9/11 and two blackouts in the city, I simply did NOT want to be trapped in Manhattan a fourth time. It always makes me remember this submarine movie I once saw (it apparently made such an impression, I can't even remember its name) about a vessel that had begun to flood. The captain had to make the tough decision to close off a section of the sub even though one of his men was trapped on the other side of the door, causing him to suffer a slow, painful death. Being in Manhattan during an emergency makes me feel like that poor schmuck who was in the wrong part of the sub at the wrong time.

So I went to stay with friends in Hoboken. I was still so sure that the storm would only end up as a blip on the radar that I didn't even bring a change of clothes. Or even a coat. Sure, Hoboken was in a low-lying area, but any flood or power outage would be over in 12 to 24 hours, right? Plus, if it ever got really bad, I wouldn't be on an island. I could easily driven--to safety.

All day Monday, I was poised for the predicted downpour and the downed power. I kept my phone plugged into the computer, which was plugged into the wall so I would be at full charge if the power went out. I wrote funny Facebook posts to friends, I cooked extra food in case restaurants wouldn't be able to deliver, and I watched the news, which claimed Sandy would hit town by 6pm.

Six o'clock came and went with nothing more than a mediocre mist. I smiled, knowing I was right all along, and starting planning my return to the city.


I noticed a stream of water running down the street, which seemed odd considering the light rainfall. When I looked again ten minutes later, the street was covered. In another ten minutes, the sidewalk was submerged by at least a foot of water. And it was still coming fast! The Hudson River seemed to be making a visit to Hoboken. Panic officially set in. Panic with a capital P and that rhymes with T and that stands for TROUBLE.

The beginning of it all...
Oh, we surely got trouble right here in (Hudson) River City. In fact, we got several feet of trouble in the form of sewage/rainwater that was surrounding the building. I kept staring at it as if it would stop or disappear. But it didn't. Then, the fire alarm went off followed by this prerecorded message: "THERE IS A FIRE ON YOUR FLOOR. PLEASE EXIT THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY." Ummmm, exit the building to where exactly, Mr. Disembodied Voice? Into the Hudson? I don't think so. Panicpanicpanicpanicpanicpanicpanicpanicpanic.

Apparently, there was no fire on my floor or anywhere else in the building. The alarm was tripped when water poured into the basement of the building.

Basement stairs

And if that wasn't enough, a transformer just outside the window started smoking. Unfortunately, there was still power at that point, which allowed me to watch this horrifying video of a transformer exploding in Manhattan just moments before.

Blessedly, I somehow fell asleep that night and woke up to a building that didn't have power, but did have new waterfront views.

That day, people sort of stumbled around, taking pictures of the disaster in disbelief. I honestly can't tell you a single thing I did that morning other than stare at the water, talk to other building residents, and hang out in the lobby, which was powered by a generator (thank goodness!) that provided an excellent opportunity to recharge phones and laptops ( Neighbors offered power strips for everyone to use. One motherly neighbor even set up a waffle and coffee station. Another glass-half-full neighbor found that his alcohol cabinet was also half full and had a barbeque/frat party in the interior courtyard. This is not to say that everything was a jolly holiday. It was actually more like one of those all-inclusives you get a web deal for in Cancun where the water gives you the runs, someone steals your passport, and you get upcharged for everything. So you booze it up and befriend other guests to avoid allowing the trip to become a total bust.

I discovered that I could still use the gas stovetop, and made several meals by the light of a candle and an unexpectedly useful light-up Brookstone shaving mirror. In fact, I seemed to be obsessed with food and the preparation of it because it was the one productive thing I could do. Well, that and watch the fire hydrant outside, which was my gauge of how fast the water was receding. Monday night, it was totally covered. By Tuesday morning, the cap was visible. By nightfall, the arms were visible. As you can imagine, this was an extremely productive and time consuming job.

Can you spot the hydrant?
What were the unproductive things I did, you wonder?

Worry and whine. Whine and worry. And I didn't even have wine to go with my whine. Wine actually would have decreased my whine.  But there was no more wine. Just whine.

When I woke up on Wednesday, the first thing I saw was the almost-bottom of the fire hydrant! The second thing I saw was a woman in a kayak rowing around the building to shout information up to residents who were starved for news of the outside world. I was so fascinated by the kayak that I missed the information. Anyway, it turned out that the mayor and National Guard were in the lobby to tell residents that help was on the way! The National Guard would return at two o'clock to transport people to City Hall. I wasn't exactly sure what I would do at City Hall, but it sounded better than hanging out for another day with no electricity and a dwindling food supply.

In fact, things were definitely looking up in general on Wednesday. A number of people decided they couldn't take being trapped anymore, so they put garbage bags over their shoes and pants, secured the bags with duct tape, and waded through the water to...I'm not sure where, but I hope it was to safely. Some nutjobs skipped any protective measures and left in flip flops and shorts. Just like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, they crawled to freedom through a river of foulness I can't even imagine. I sincerely hope they burned any clothes that touched the sewage and took scalding hot showers afterward.

Shorts. I mean, seriously gross, buddy.
Watch this couple on the video clip below!
Some people drove out of the parking garage through water that practically covered their wheels. This seemed like a fantastic idea...until one red sedan's wheels locked and sent it floating away.

So the options were: sit in the apartment twiddling my thumbs and and hoping the water goes down enough to drive away; or hop on board with the National Guard, walk 14 blocks, and pray the line for the ferry to Manhattan isn't eight hours long. The first convoy was filled almost instantly, so that wasn't an option. We had just about decided to wait it out when TWO convoys appeared. It was a sign. Actually, it was more of a coincidence, but still. In retrospect, it was a sign.

We were helped aboard the truck and the hurricane suddenly changed from being a drag to a delight! I was positively giddy with the thrill of it all. Little ol' me was being rescued by the National Guard! I am a refugee! A friend texted me about a possible escape plan, and I replied, "Ummm...I'll get back to you. I'm sort of being rescued by the National Guard at the moment." The whole thing was sort of preposterous in the best possible way. The headline for the operation could have been "YOUNG PROFESSIONALS SEMI-DRAMATICALLY RESCUED FROM A LUXURY HIGHRISE." A World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer crew captured the whole thing, and if you have a lot of time on your hands and look very closely, you can see my black North Face backpack being put on the truck. You can't see me because I'm woefully short.

After an oddly long ride through gallons of dirty water during which we were trailed by a CNN truck, we arrived at City Hall.

When I started the mile walk to the ferry, I wasn't sure what I would find there. Along the way, Washington Street was bone dry, and some businesses were open and operating without power. The shelter was packed, and there were several homes that happened to have power who graciously used extension cords and power strips outside to help charge phones. The atmosphere was communal even though the situation was dire. You could almost forget about the hurricane until you saw something like this mangled boat dock.

Amazingly, the ferry line was practically non-existent, and other than waiting for a teenager to make change for tickets by hand, there wasn't a single hitch taking the ferry to 39th Street in Manhattan. There was an angry mob waiting in Manhattan to take the boat across the river to Jersey, though.
NY on the left, NJ on the right
Almost home!!!
After that three-hour journey, I can't tell you how excited I was to get back to my own apartment that had (ironically) never lost power. I cheered out loud as I flipped each light switch--because the lights actually turned on! I took a long (hot!) shower, turned on the (working!) television, and got out some (properly-refrigerated!) brie to celebrate my return home.

I know that not everyone was as lucky as I have been. Thousands of people are still suffering from horrifying circumstances, so I don't mean to make light of the situation in any way. I am eternally grateful to the National Guard, all the building workers who battled the waters (and the residents' frustrations) for days while sleeping on air mattresses instead of in their own homes, and volunteers who assisted others in every way possible. You are the Scarletts who helped this poor little Melanie make it back to Tara. And if ever circumstances are reversed, I will happily cover up the murder of a pillaging Yankee on your behalf.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Daily Messenger is FAMOUS!!!

I'm interrupting coverage of Hurricane Sandy and coverage of Radio City rehearsals (which, in an unprecedented move, were cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy) to announce that The Daily Messenger from Canandaigua, New York is famous!

I get the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day emailed to me. It always includes a definition, examples, and fun facts. I was THRILLED to see that The Messenger was quoted today! Way to go, Richard Hermann!

Merriam-Webster Logo  
Word of the Day
October 28
ad hominemAudio Pronunciation\ad-HAH-muh-nem\
1 :
appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
2 :
marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
The governor's only response to the criticism of his new policy was to launch an ad hominem attack against those doing the criticizing.
"This democratization of the online media comment world results in both a lot of angry, nasty and downright insulting ad hominem attacks, followed quickly by ad hominem attacks by email commentators on each other that make for salty and entertaining, if not particularly edifying, reading." — From an editorial by Richard Hermann in the Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, New York), August 30, 2012
"Ad hominem" literally means "to the person" in New Latin (Latin as first used in post-medieval texts). In centuries past, this adjective usually modified "argument." An "argument ad hominem" (or "argumentum ad hominem," to use the full New Latin phrase) was a valid method of persuasion by which a person took advantage of his or her opponent's interests or feelings in a debate, instead of just sticking to general principles. The newer sense of "ad hominem," which suggests an attack on an opponent's character instead of his or her argument, appeared only in the last century, but it is the sense more often heard today. The word still refers to putting personal issues above other matters, but perhaps because of its old association with "argument," "ad hominem" has become, in effect, "against the person."

Friday, October 26, 2012

"I can't. I'm in tech."

Ahhh, the joys of tech.

Never heard of it, you say? Then you must not have watched the so-bad-it's-good episode of Smash in which Karen told her live-in boyfriend that she couldn't decide if she wanted to get married because she's in tech.

Once an entire show has been taught and practiced in dance studios, the director and choreographer work with stage managers, designers, and other members of the crew to put the show on stage with lights, microphones, props, scenery, and more. This is a slooooooow process with a lot of stopping and starting. It often means very long hours and very little sleep.

We all moved into the Radio City theater yesterday. Because it's such a huge space (6,000 seats!), we are assigned different quadrants to lounge in--Rockettes are mid-house left, singers are lower house left, and dancers are upper house right. And lounge we do. When not working or watching others work, we chat, snack, play on our iPhones, and even write blogs.  :)

Where were we before this, you may wonder? Well, the Radio City stage is used for a ton of concerts (the JoBros sold the joint out two weeks ago), so it's off-limits for us during the early part of rehearsal. Because there are only two rehearsal studios in the building, neither of which is nearly as big as the actual stage, we rehearse in a church basement on Ninth Avenue. Seriously. It's a giant basement that is big enough to be divided into two stage-sized spaces, 4 common rooms, a lunch room, a music room, a physical therapy room, and several offices. There are sprung dance floors, soundproofing equipment, mirrors, and more. The amount of work that goes into transforming the basement for just a month of rehearsals is insane.

We started at the top of the show yesterday (Spoiler alert--it's a 3-D movie staring Santa Claus!), and after working 1pm-10pm yesterday and today, we are only at the fifth number in the show. Sometimes, I kind of hate tech. It's just so slow and boring. But there's something different about teching at Radio City. The house is just so huge and grand. It feels like a privilege to be here when it's virtually empty. It makes me feel like Annie when Daddy Warbucks takes her to the movies. I mean, how many other people get to do this?

Please remind me of this feeling in a few days. I'll probably have forgotten it by then.