Sunday, March 19, 2006

Oscar Party

Allegra and I hosted an Oscar party in our new pad, complete with party games and themed menu. Games included your standard ballot, with prizes going to the top two with most winners picked. And Oscar Bingo, where each guest was given a blank Oscar grid in which to predict things that would happen on the award shows. Each empty square was filled in with things like "Winner will thank God," "Jack Nicholson will appear onstage in sunglasses" and "Jon Stewart will make a Jews in Hollywood joke." First three to shout "Oscar" got a prize.

But the thing Allegra and I were most proud of, where we thought we were the most clever, was with the menu. I typed up menu cards for each item:

  • “Revenge of The Fifth”

    Absolut, Malibu Rum
    Best Makeup Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • “Bread and Jam for Frances McDormand”

    Carr’s Crackers and Dickinson’s Preserves

    Best Supporting Actress: North Country

  • “Rachel (Hefe)Weisz(en)”

    Paulaner Hefeweizen

    Best Supporting Actress: The Constant Gardner

  • “Goblet of FireWhiskey”

    Jack Daniels

    Art Direction: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

  • “Heath Ledger Bar”

    Heath Candy Bar

    Best Actor: Brokeback Mountain

  • “Baby BrokeBack Ribs”

    Baby Back Ribs

    Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Directing, Original Score, Screenplay (Adapted), Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain

  • “Munich Paulaner”

    Paulaner Oktoberfest

    Directing, Film Editing, Original Score, Screenplay (Adapted), Best Picture: Munich

  • “The Constant Gardner’s Salad”

    Strawberry Spinach Salad

    Best Supporting Actress, Screenplay (Adapted), Original Score, Film Editing: The Constant Gardner

  • “Willy Wonka Movie Candy”

    Nerds, Runts, Everlasting Gobstobber

    Costume Design: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

  • “Reese Witherspoon PB Pie”

    Reese’s Peanut Buttercup Cheesecake

    Best Actress: Walk the Line

  • “North Country Hot Dish”

    Hash Brown Casserole

    Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress: North Country

  • “Walk the Lime Chicken Skewers”

    Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken Skewers

    Best Actor, Best Actress, Costume Design, Film Editing: Walk The Line

  • “March of the Penguin Strips”

    Cap’n Crunch Chicken Strips

    Documentary Feature: March of the Penguins

  • “Wallace and Gromit’s Giant Vegetable Competition Sampler”

    Carrot/Celery Sticks & Dip

    Animated Feature: Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of The Were-Rabbit

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


If my toes don't warm up soon, I'm afraid I might just lose them. Today was my first day back at the theatre since we got 10 inches of snow. Due to poor planning, I wore black loafers rather than boots. Treacherous conditions on the sidewalk made things slow going, so I just missed a bus and had to wait 15 minutes. My toes were already numb and I hadn't even started to wrangle buses yet.

You see, I work at a nonprofit theatre that hosts "An evening of theatre during the day" for school field trips. My job title is "Usher" when I work the weekday matinees. But my duties include not only ticket tearing and handing out programs, but also concessions and bus wrangling. That's right, Bus Wrangling. Like I'm gonna lasso me a school bus on Brokeback Capital Hill (the theatre is in St. Paul - Capital of Minnesota). Bus Wrangling involves meeting and greeting busloads of middle school students, teachers, chaperones and typically grumpy drivers that arrive to see "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Wranglers start meeting buses at 9:15. Buses should arrive anytime between 9:20 and 9:45 at the absolute latest. So they usually arrive at 9:50, 10 minutes before 10:00 curtain. Which means another half hour outside. Which is what happened today.

Once all students have been escorted across the street and into the theatre, announcements made, tickets torn, programs handed out, students seated (and re-seated by teachers when they realize problem kids have sat together), the show can begin.

The Diary of Anne Frank runs from February to May and this is like the 5th year the theatre has been doing this, so things pretty much run like clockwork:

When Anne screams in fright during an Act I nightmare, it is time to get the soda out of the cooler for concessions. When the family starts to sing the Chanakah song, intermission is about to begin. In Act II, when you can hear "ooooohs" and whistles coming from the audience, Anne and Peter are about to have their first kiss. [When I hear this cooing and giggling, I always think to myself, "What are you? 12?". And then I remember that yes, they are.]

When the siren sounds that the SS had surrounded the block, it is time to once again head back outside to meet the buses, making sure they haven't arrived too soon in violation of our contract wth the city, or too late, leaving students in the cold. When the House Manager radios me on the walkie talkie and says "The Nazis have arrived," then I know the students will be out shortly.

With my toes already refrozen from the 2nd wrangle, I head back out to wait for the return bus. That is when I had my "Groundhog Day" Ned Ryerson moment. I stepped off the curb into a seemingly shallow puddle, only to find my right foot in a slush-filled pothole up to my ankle, water going over the top of my loafers into my shoes. "Watch out for that last step, it's a doozey!"

No amount of heat on the bus could penetrate that cold wet sock, leaving me in fear of permanent frostbite damage.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ridiculous Shenanigans

I just finished a half hour phone call with Washington Mutual Bank. I had a checking account with them when I lived in California. I didn't close the account before I left California because I was driving cross country during my move and wanted to be able to use the ATM at Wall Drug, know-what-I'm-sayin? When I moved back to the Midwest four years ago, I called to close my account. I was told that I could not close the account unless I came into a branch in person. Well, the reason I was closing the account was because there were no Washington Mutual branches in my town. So, I opened a new checking account, withdrew all but $1.00 from the Washington Mutual account, put my meager savings into a the new account and promptly forgot about the old one. I lived with my parents for a little while after the move, and I found out a few weeks ago that Washington Mutual has been mailing paper statements regarding my $1.00 balance to my parents' house for four years! I left California about 45 months ago. With monthly statements at 37 cents each, that is $16.65 the bank has spent to let me know I have one dollar in Berkeley. My parents politely suggested I call and have the statements stopped. Since I don't have an ATM card or checkbook for that account anymore, I called their 800# and suggested we just call it even. If anything, I owe them money. I said, "Take it! consider it a donation to your financial institution." They said the only way to stop the paper statements was to sign up for online banking. Why would I want online banking with a bank I don't bank with anymore? Couldn't they just press a button? I was put on hold. A supervisor returned to say that the other way to stop the mail would be to write a letter to an address in Los Angeles requesting that they send me my $1 and close the account. "Seriously? You want me to spend 39 cents to get one dollar, a net profit of 61 cents?" There had to be another way. Finally, the supervisor clicked a button that would stop the paper statements, but I was told federal regulations prevent them from closing my account. So my one dollar will stay in Berkeley.

UPDATE (one year later): Despite assurances that the paper statements would stop, my parents have informed me that they've continued to receive them. How long with WashMu continue to waste postage on an account they won't let me close?