Hope You Got Your Shots.

A rumble started in our neighborhood last week. A three-way rumble, amongst the people who still have their Halloween decorations up, those who already put their Christmas decorations up, and those people who take their holidays one at a time.

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In New Jersey, nothing says gratitude like a giant inflatable turkey. Sadly, no one house had all three sets of decorations up, and the giant inflatable yard menorah was noticeably absent this year.

If you’re traveling for any of the upcoming holidays, my post over at Family Circle may make you feel better. Just make sure everyone’s had their shots.

Drew Gehling, who plays Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys Broadway is doing a weekly vlog about what really happens backstage in New York. My favorite part of this one is Miles Aubrey’s opening magic trick. You think you know someone… I had no idea he could do that to a quarter. You can see me in this episode too, passionately talking with my hands and out of the side of my mouth about comb filtering. Also, some handsome actors take their shirts off.

Actors are fun at parties. Ballet dancers are interesting in everyday situations.

For more wildlife-based eye candy, here’s a short collection of some of the best shots you’ll ever see, on Rense.com

The last link today is a great story about how the best moments in life are rarely planned out. Poor Timing, Beautiful Surprises by Ariana Gruver.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Punk Rock Eulogy

There’s a statistic that says if you make it into the latter part of your 50’s clear of cancer and heart disease, there’s a good chance you’ll live well into your 80’s.

But there’s a corollary: all the other stuff that can take you out before you ever hit 60. Things you can die from at 18 or 53, 31 or 45, birth or 27.

Brain tumor, birth defect, suicide, landslide, broadside, embolism, aneurysm, undiagnosed diabetes, untreated depression, untreated alcoholism, overdose, stroke, heart attack.

No matter how many times it happens, it’s devastating when someone dies unexpectedly.

An acquaintance of mine– a really great stagehand– died all of a sudden last week. He was only 45, putting up a show, and his heart gave out. No warning. I can’t get him out of my mind even though I only played through his town twice.

How does someone you’ve worked with exactly twice leave a mark like that?

When you’re a stagehand on the road, everything changes with every move: Your home, your workplace, your co-workers. An awful lot of how it goes depends on the local crew in the new town. They can make your life easy or make it a living hell.

They can either tell you how to get in & out of the best BBQ joint in town on the lunch hour, or give you wrong directions on purpose. They can load your show in like a dream before you even ask for anything, or they can unplug cables on the sly. They can tell you how to make friends with the head carpenter or set you up to unwittingly play into their long-held feud.

When you played through Providence, Pop didn’t make your life easy or hard; he made your life interesting. He was a truly unique individual and had so much in his life in addition to being a stagehand. Outspoken doesn’t even begin to describe him. If you played through Providence and he liked you, he made sure to stay in touch through email and text before there was Facebook. His was, of course, one of the first Facebook friend requests I received.

He was so punk rock, in the truest sense: no bullshit, and never concerned about what people thought of him. His ideals, his friends, his family, and his work ethic were sacred. He always helped people get what they needed.

He was a staunch union advocate. He backed artists and spread the word on Kickstarter projects. He turned people on to local bands and was quick with gems of history from the scene. He sent comic books to little kids when they had surgeries. He spread the word for fundraisers.

When I posted about #4 being Gene Simmons for Halloween, he sent me a picture of himself as Gene from back in the day. He emailed me when a new guy I had trained played through Providence to tell me what a good job he was doing, how he was holding his own. When my niece Colby died, he shared with me how he was born prematurely and his own twin didn’t make it.

My favorite Pop memory was a small, perfect moment on a work day. We started the show call and I put on Queensrÿche’s Operation Mindcrime to test my sound system, quite possibly the most ridiculous thing that feeds my soul, and walked the house. When I went back to the console I saw Pop sitting in the seats with another stagehand. For some reason I thought they were having a meeting and said, “Sorry, Pop, I’ll cut the music,” and Pop goes, “Nah nah nah, leave it. Turn it up.”

I turned it up. Someone dimmed the house lights. Other guys drifted out and sat down in the dark to listen. We played the album out until they opened the house.

People die young and you’re left there going, What the fuck? 

Would they give anything for it to not be over yet, or in the moment they passed, did they suddenly understand everything they came here to remember?

I don’t want to spend much time thinking about that. I’ll get my own answer soon enough. I picture asking Pop that question and him saying, “Nah, nah, nah, leave it. Turn it up.”

Will do, Pop.

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Chris Popoloski’s Obituary

IATSE Local 23 Photo Gallery

Mindcrime:

Go Play With Yourself. And Don’t Lick the Minivan.

One of my favorite writers has a new book out. She’s Canadian, eh?* The book’s been out for a week or so up there and is totally smoking Calgary as we speak. Today is the US release date, so to celebrate I’m giving away a copy. And I’m listening to Rush while I’m writing this. That’s like, Canadian squared.

You’re welcome.

Leanne Shirtliffe’s new book is Don’t Lick the Minivan- and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Kids.

That’s a change from the original working title, which was Get That Train Off Your Penis. (Man, if I had a dollar for every time I said that. . . ) Fret not, there is still a chapter with that title.

Leanne rocks because:

  • She writes with the unique perspective that only a parent of twins who gave birth to them in Thailand could have.
  • There is a complete absence of mean-spirited snark in this book.
  • There is an abundance of ironic, tongue-in-cheek, smart humor that comes from a genuine love for her family.
  • It’s hilarious.

Did you know the rule stating that subjects of passport photos must have their eyes open also applies to newborns? She can tell you all about that.

Here are some other gems I learned from Leanne’s book:

  • If you maim your child, your spouse will help you out more.
  • If you need assistance while changing a baby’s diaper in an airplane bathroom, light a cigarette.
  • Lazy parenting creates kids who are self-starters.
  • Never tell your child that the ice cream truck sells ice cream. Tell them it sells vegetables.

Leanne also writes about depression. The post-partum kind that shows up late, and then returns again even later. How real it is, and how she deals with it. It’s more prevalent than people are owning up to, and you don’t have to just be a bio parent to experience it. Most importantly, it’s not the end of the world. Leanne’s book is as full of hope as it is humor.

Oh right. The giveaway!

In a fit of total unoriginality, I have decided that to enter the giveaway you should leave a comment in the comments section about something you have once said to a kid, or heard someone else say to a kid, that you never thought anyone would–or perhaps should– say to a kid.

Here’s mine:

When we first got custody of our kids, within six weeks I was out of town on an extended trip to open a show booked long before all this happened.

I was standing downstage center with the rest of my crew, rigging up the center cluster to hang when I got a call from #3.

She was having a rough day for an eight-year-old. She was being forced to do chores along with everyone else when she didn’t want to. She was sure she was the most oppressed little girl in the world, that her life was completely unfair. She said CC had told her to finish cleaning her room and then – of all the nerve!– was forcing her to go to the park with the family.

#3: Nobody understands what it’s like to be me!

I’ve been there. Sometimes you just need to be alone. In my mind I was picturing her at the park and activities she could do by herself while still keeping her father off her case by going with the family. Swings, maybe, or hobby horse.

And in a lull in the activity around me, downstage center surrounded by stagehands, I said to my new step-daugher:

Maybe you should just go play with yourself.

Damn prepositions.

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What have you said or heard that you never thought would be said to a kid?

Leave a comment in the comments section through Friday, May 24 at midnight EST and I will pick a winner purely on whatever the hell I feel like doing. If you don’t have a funny story and you’re just a desperate mom who needs a laugh, put that in there. If the winner lives in the US, they have a choice of hardcover or electronic version; if they’re outside the US, it’s electronic.

Go buy Don’t Lick the Minivan!

*not to be alarmed, they took all the errant u‘s out in the book. That’s why I can still say she’s my “favorite” and not my “favourite”.

WINNERS UPDATE: I decided to award two books, because I felt like it. One goes to Alexandra-who-needs-to-start-her-own-blog-because-she’s-funny and one goes to Misty from Misty’s Laws because I was afraid she was going to sue me  she really needs this book. If you didn’t win, please go buy the book because it’s truly fantastic.