Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm so proud of the kids at school. They've taken another public action to help support the teachers facing lay-offs. This morning, they got LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia to show up at a 7:15 am rally in front of the school.

This is the third rally they've organized. We've had plenty of media coverage (though today's was disappointingly light).

Board President Garcia continued the same-ol-same-ol rhetoric about budget woes (but didn't address the fact that millions of dollars are being hidden in back-door budget lines)
Some of the kids managed to 'stay' on the line past the first bell (and perhaps a teacher or two...) much to the consternation of our own administration (the principal did sneak in a few words with Monica during our rally -- taking her away from the opportunity to answer some crucial questions from students)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Way cool

Sometimes, you're just in the right place at the right time.
Last Thursday, I got an email from the LA Dodgers Booster Club (I've been a member since 1997). The Dodgers were looking for some volunteers to help with rehearsals for their home Opening Day celebrations. Would I like to participate?
You becha!
Friday afternoon I get to the stadium and find a group of people waiting for the rehearsal. Turns out that there are two rehearsal groups - one to fill-in for Dodger players and the other for an on-field display.
I got in with the display group.
We went behind the centerfield wall and national flags from 30 different countries were being handed out. I tried to get Japan first (I went to Tokyo in 2007 and saw three JPL games), but it was given to a woman. I got China (I went to Tokyo via Beijing), but when Scotland came up I swapped (my grandfather was born in Dundee).
We rehearsed our routine -- marching along the warning track; stop; wait for a music cue; march towards the infield and line up along the outer rim; wait for some announcements and the national anthem; march back out along the warning track and through the centerfield gate.
The flags were fairly large (the poles were close to eight feet long) so we had to use harnesses.
We repeated the process two more times (with a couple of tweaks - one significant change had us rimming the inner infield grass).
The next day (Saturday) we had another two hour rehearsal. We were rocking.
Monday morning (Opening Day) I get to Dodger Stadium at 9:30 am - three hours before our performance. We were given plain dark-ash tee shirts and got to hang out as the final touches were put on the stadium.
Shortly after we started our final preps - we were already inside the stadium, Dodger owner Frank McCourt came through the centerfield gate. The person with China took a picture with him (his request), then Norway got a picture. I pushed my way up to him and asked if he'd take "one more, with Scotland" He said, "Well, I wouldn't want to anger my Irish ancestors, but OK.
The actual performance started. While we were waiting along the outfield wall, I found myself five feet away from multiple Cy Young Award winner (and starting picture for the visiting San Francisco Giants) Randy Johnson. He's about 6'7 and weighs in at about 6 lbs (well, maybe a bit more, but he's skinny as a rail).
We continued our routine - I stepped on first base as we went into position - in front of over 57,000 fans. Once our part of the ceremony was over, we headed out (and I stepped on third base!)
My moment in the sun was over. An amazing thrill (even though I've been on the field before - I've done First Pitch three or four times, along with a couple of other special events), this was very different.
When I got home, I checked my TiVO of the pregame show and I got about 1.5 seconds air time. I'm also a minuscule blur on the front page of the Long Beach Press Telegram.
And the kicker -- the Dodger Boosters were supposed to be in the "fill-in" group (no actual game day performance!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Page from Pepe

After reading Pepe's blog about the week from H-E-double hockey sticks, I thought I'd add my own.

AKA "It was a long year last week."

Monday we had a tough rehearsal. Still lots of squirreliness (as posted).

Tuesday was supposed to be "get home right away" but I got caught in another meeting with our MESA/Science Bowl team (I'm not a Science Bowl coach, but I happened to walk into the teacher's room after school and got drafted.

Wednesday was a double-dip. After the "dress rehearsal", I had to boogie downtown for a major UTLA House of Reps meeting. I had to miss my sub-committee meeting and just got into the main meeting for the start. We had some major debate on the new contract (the House finally voted to recommend a "no" vote to the general membership). We next had more raucous debate on proposing a one-day strike (illegal) to support the pink-slipped teachers. I finally got home just before 10pm.

Thursday was performance day (see below).

Friday I had to get to school extra early (apx 5:30 am) because I was part of a committee hosting our annual Spring Break breakfast. It was a great event, everyone enjoyed the food and camaraderie, but I was on my feet the whole time. We also had to get 10-week report card grades in before noon. After school was another meeting with the Science Bowl team.

Saturday was another early start for the MESA Day finals at USC. I had to be at school by 6:15 am. About a quarter of the kids hadn't submitted all of the paperwork, so I had to chase them down before they got on the bus, then as we were trundling down the 110 I had to put the paper work in order. Then, when we get to the site, they tell me "you can just hold on to the paperwork." Next, 90% of the restrooms were locked -- not good planning with several hundred middle schoolers on campus (not to mention a certain Advisor). By the time I got to the hospitality room I was ready for a major explosion.

But, we did really good in the competitions, taking about a third of the available medals, including sweeps in Geometry, Algebra, and Craftstick bridges.

And today is the first day of Spring Break; real baseball is on the air and Fido did good when I took him for his nail trim. Maybe I'll make it after all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pass the Tony, please

Well, Performance Day has come and gone.

We were supposed to have a full dress rehearsal Wednesday night, but had so many interruptions, restarts and stops for just-plain-foolishness new never got through everything. We had to stop after one squirrel jumped off the stairs backstage (screwing around) and twisted his knee (our star drummer, too).

I was supposed to do my death makeup for the first time, but that didn't happen either.

This morning, again, we were scheduled to have a full run-through/dress rehearsal before the afternoon performance. I finally did get a chance to do some makeup (thank the maker for the two girls who helped!) With less than 30 min before our first audience was to show, things were still very much Squirrel City (but, fortunately, our not-so-flying squirrel drummer was fully recovered).

Then, amazingly enough, magic time.

The backstage area was quiet. Everyone hit their marks (well, came close at least) and we finished just a few minutes over the allotted time.

There were a few gaffs (I had one myself -- I missed by crossover cue (with curtains closed) and had to wait for the next -- this meant my makeup artist had about three min (instead of about 10) to get me ready for death. But she got it done, and the gasps from the students when I appeared well-bloodied and pale were most satisfying.

Our Macbeth pulled off a nifty bit of improv when, just before my ghostly entrance, Banquo was delayed (again, makeup difficulties) Lady M, Macbeth, and some of their new entourage and drinking toasts to celebrate their usurping ... Banquo misses his cue, so Macbeth orders "some refills!" It worked.

The kids in the audience really seemed to enjoy the show... lots of cheers (and oohs! for a throat-slit teacher :-))

The evening performance went even better (I hit my cross-over cue), and, all-in-all, I was very pleased (and also very glad the whole thing is over and done with!)

I'll try to get some pics from parents...