My new Vox Amp

I have a new toy.
I have been teaching myself to play the guitar. I mean really play it, not just hit the rock power chords of “Freebird” like I did way back when.

The toy? A Vox amPlug Headphone Guitar Amplifier – Classic Rock version.

It is tiny, about the size of a standard deck of playing cards split in half lengthwise. I plugged it into my Peavey T-15 electric guitar and was amazed at the sound quality. And because I used my MP3 player ear buds I was the only one who could hear it. I can practice without disturbing the rest of the household.
I strummed “Horse With No Name” for bit, and then (ahem) hit the “Freebird” power chords.

Now I have no excuse not to learn to play.

This is so cool!!


Are We Letting the Terrorists Win?

{The political lamp is lit}

The world in general, and the USA in particular, is overcompensating about terrorist attacks. Yes, terrorist attacks are terrible. Yes, we here in the United States need to take precautions that events similar to those that happened on 9 September 2001 are less likely to succeed. But at the same time we should not embolden terrorists by overreacting.

By definition the goal of a terrorist is to inflict terror, with the goal to disrupt and change how we behave.  From where I sit the terrorists are winning.

But I am wondering why the collective “we” are overreacting?  Part of it has to do with our media that makes every news story item sound like it is the end of the world.  Over the holiday’s four French citizens were killed in Mauritania.   Local law enforcement have given “an al Qaeda cell” credit for the attack.  This attack, added to the constant threat talk of all terrorist groups, resulted in the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar rally motor race.   In a quick search I found two news articles in which four people were killed by gangs here in the USA on the same day (I am sure there were more, but I stopped looking at 4.)  Should we have canceled the BCS Championship Football Game because of this threat?  What if local law enforcement had give an al Qaeda cell credit for the gang slayings?  How about then??

People get angry at me when I toss statistical facts at them to show how out of proportion their, and our government’s, reactions are.  Back to 9/11.  Yes it was tragic, should never have happened, and should have caused us to be more vigilant.  But do you know what else is tragic?  Statistically every month more people die from auto accidents here in the USA than died on 9/11.  So why hasn’t more government time and money been spent on better automobile safety regulations and more effective traffic law enforcement?

But, no.  Our government does exactly what the terrorists wants.  It overreacts.  It changes its foreign policies.  It attacks a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no capability to mass-destruct anything.  It holds people, indefinitely thus far, in prisons technically not on our soil, for the sole purpose of circumventing our own rule of law, and leaving these suspects to rot in prison without a fair USA style, honest to goodness, day in court.  Our popularity world wide has fallen drastically.  And it is all because our government’s reaction to 9/11 was to become thugs; which is exactly what the terrorists wanted.  They wanted to prove our government was evil, and it worked.

I could rant even more, but I think the core of my point has been made.  We are letting the terrorists win.

Guess Who’s NOT On Time For Dinner?

The recent dearth of posts here at Blogtide Rising is partially due to my participation in a comedic dinner theater production–Guess Who’s NOT On Time For Dinner?
Performing in community theater has been wonderful for me. Not only is it fun, but it has been a great outlet for dealing with work related stress. I was looking forward to this particular production because the author/director wrote my part specifically with me in mind. I think it worked out well. There were times during rehearsals when he and the other actors were laughing at my portrayal of my character.

The play itself was marvelously funny. The author, Delmar Burkitt is a local playwright with two plays published by Elderidge Publishing Company. He enjoys audience participation, and this play had a lot of that. The play takes place within a restaurant that is set up on the stage which is where the audience is seated.  Most of the cast are restaurant staff–with a few customers tossed into the mix. The waiters are actors and we actually took (limited) orders and served the audience their meals. The major acting segments took place prior to drink orders being taken, in between each major meal service, and of course after dessert. The in between times were filled with live entertainment and with the wait-staff actors doing a large amount of improvisation with the customers as we took their orders and served them food and drinks.

I was an overly nervous waiter on his first night working solo. I taught myself how to make my leg shake as if I were terrified; and how to shake a pitcher of iced tea so the ice would rattle while I was pouring yet still keeping the spout steady so that I really didn’t spill anything (the trick is to shake up and down, not side to side). I had a brown paper bag that I hyperventilated into when a (fake) tray of drinks was dropped by one of the other actors.  Other cast members playing the waiters were a young lady with a *fake* cold, a forgetful gentleman, a bookworm, a chatterbox, a college student studying forensics, a klutz, a music lover with headsets constantly blaring music, and finally a multiple personality disorder sufferer who decides to experiment by not taking his medicine before starting work.

The ad libs were wonderful, especially those of Woody Roll who played multiple personalities hilariously. The live entertainment was real, and was necessary to give the audience a chance to eat because as long as the actors were on stage interacting with them, very little food was eaten. Boone Brabson and Nancy Cupp performed several popular country songs including “Margaritaville“, “Luckenbach, Texas” and “Crazy”.

It was tremendous fun, and Delmar was even asked to take the show on the road to Circleville, but he declined. It will be some time before I can be in another of Delmar’s productions. He is writing a play for the Waverly High School Drama Club, and won’t start on his next community theater project until after he recovers from that.

As always, Delmar’s productions are for charity and this time the beneficiary was the Waverly Enrichment Group.

Tales, Gossip and Scandals of 1850

Our town kicks off the fall holidays with a celebration called Jingle Bell Weekend. Craft shows, mini concerts, social gatherings and a parade in downtown are hallmarks of this outpouring of community spirit and good cheer. In recent years there has been a walking Lantern Tour of the historic neighborhoods of Waverly, Ohio. This year’s performance was last night, November 17th, 2007. The first stop of the tour provides hot drinks and cookies to those participating. Stationed along the route are actors that entertain the crowd and provide historic information about the town. Taken together, the performances at each stop make up a complete play. The performance was titled “Tales, Gossip and Scandals of 1850”.

This was my first year participating as an actor. I was one of the lucky actors that made up the “town council meeting” segment, and spent the evening indoors with the refreshments. Most of the troupe spent the evening outdoors while the temperature dropped from a comfortable 50 degrees to just above freezing. Still, most people said it was the best weather a Lantern Tour has had for the past couple of years. This year had the largest audience the tour has ever had, and the organizers broke them up into manageable sized groups for the space available at each stop. We performed our parts of the play four times during the evening.

Acting is fun. I think I do a good job as a community theater player. After most performances I have audience members approach me and tell me what a fine job I did. It is a real ego boost (like I need one!) The best part for me is when I get direct reaction from the audience during the performance. This year I got a good laugh as the town council chairman when I merely rolled my eyes and slumped my shoulders as another character repeatedly interrupted the proceedings.

After our last performance we, the town council actors, shadowed the last group of tour participants around to each stop. The crowd was laughing at each performance, and so was I. Most of these actors will also be in a mystery dinner theater play I am in. That play will be performed in early December 2007. They are a fun bunch of people to work with.

This performance is part of my 101 Things to do in 1001 Days list.  Scratch Thing #22. Give 101% into performance for Jingle Bell skit.