"Where's Celexo?"

I'm celebrating my 100th post today: it all started back on Nov. 17th, as I was laid up with a broken foot, and look how far we've come. In honor of this milestone, I've decided to enter story number 3 into the vast collection of Celexo's Great Stories. Past editions include the great debacles in Vegas and on the camping trip from hell. And today's story, titled "Where's Celexo", is quite certainly a debacle to the nth degree.

The Time: 2003, Summer
The Place: Opera Theater of St. Louis, as Celexo was working his first union crew gig
The Players: Celexo, age 24; Celexo's Dad; Andrea, aka "Goth" Chic; various other crew members

That summer was quite an enjoyable experience for me. It was the first time I had worked on an official backstage crew before, and it was doubly interesting because the company worked in repertory, which meant that instead of producing one opera at a time, they put on an entire season within the span of a month (or 5 weeks?). Anyway, this meant that crew members had to break down and load in a new show everyday, sometime twice a day (matinee + evening shows were a pain in the rear).

So, as crew members, we had a lot of down time in between acts, in between shows and sometimes we were required to be there to break down and load in a show at 11:30PM, then be back the next morning for rehearsals of a different show -- ugh, it was not exactly a glamorous schedule.

The union guys had a lot of fun with it...actually, I think they had a lot of fun with alcohol. Pretty much every show/load in-or-out ended with us all sitting out on the loading dock drinking beer. What's wrong with that?

Well, as we all know, alcoholic use tends to fog your decision making process, and once you couple that hindrance with a backstage romance, hoo boy watch out -- you've got yourself a humdinger.

Enter: "Goth" chic, or Andrea as everyone called her. Being single that summer, and plied with copius amounts of alcohol, I entered into a (rather questionable) relationship with said "Goth" chic. It was exotic, at the time, to say the least, and I enjoyed the rather antithetical coupling of me (uber-preppy/dorky) & her (black clothes, bleached-blond hair, pale skin).

I also enjoyed the fact that she rented an apartment about 5 minutes away from the theater, when I was staying w/my parents that summer, about 40 minutes away from the theater. This made those quick turnaround days very easy on the system.

Often during that summer, those of us who were at least 21 liked to frequent a Monday-afternoon blackjack tournament at a local casino (I never won, but placed 2nd once and in the money a few different times). Anyway, this fateful Monday night I stopped by the tournament, played, lost and left to meet up with "Goth" chic (as she wasn't 21 yet, she couldn't get in the casino).

Once I arrived, I turned off my cell phone for reasons escaping me although I'm sure they were good at the time. Now, the remainder of the story shifts perspective from what I know to what I heard the following day. I spent the night at "Goth" chic's apartment, apparently oblivious to the hilarity ensuing outside in the real world.

My parents, god bless them, must have thought I was still a teenager -- not the post-graduate, has lived on his own now for six years person that I actually was -- and got worried when I didn't come home that night.

My dad, god bless him, frantically drove to the casino to search for me assuming that I'd been mugged and was lying helpless in a ditch, or even better, that I'd been in some sort of gambling induced haze and was still playing blackjack (alas, this was prior to my poker-playing days*). He couldn't find me; duh, I'd left hours ago! But, he did talk to a security guard, and perhaps a state trooper -- am I making that part up? I can't quite remember...

Anyway, his next step was to call the technical director at the Opera Company, but dad waits until 8am, or so. This is where the story veers into a Terry Gilliam-inspired romp: apparently, the TD tells my Dad about the relationship, and gives him "Goth" chic's number. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of that conversation -- if only one of them would have mentioned a terrorist or something, the FBI would have recorded it!

The next thing I know, "Goth" chic is answering a phone call from my father -- remember, I'm 24 years old!!! -- asking if I'm there and if I'm all right.

Well, you'd think that this story would be over right here, right? Um, no...it gets better. So, of course the TD tells everyone about the early-morning phone call, and eventually some joker prints up a million sheets of paper with the phrase, "Where's Celexo?" on them. I was pulling them off the backsides of set pieces for the remainder of the season.

So, remember kids, always tell your parents where you're going or else they'll freak the heck out...oh, by the way, Mom: I'm going out to see "Jerry Spring: The Opera" right now, so don't worry if I don't answer the phone.

See you all soon,

* Ironically, I remember a certain tenor in the company who joined us every now and then at the casino who actually played poker. I couldn't believe that he did -- I was so jealous, and overawed because the poker room, at the time, was this really intimidating place for me.


Long time coming..

Hello all,

Sorry I've been so delinquent in my blogging lately. I've been working 24/7 at the booth, and on top of that, I've been writing my first ever conference paper. The conference is actually right here in Cambridge. I think it will be small (around 40 people or so), but nonetheless my first paper garners a little bit of attention -- and stress!

I just wanted to point out a few new features that I've added to the right sidebar of this blog. Below my acronyms, I've added two new features: my Twitter updates and my del.ici.ous bookmarks. If any of you are like TW, whom I've had to drag kicking and screaming into the 21st century, you'll probably not be aware of either of these new features.

Twitter is almost like a blog -- except really short. It allows you publish a 140-character statement about whatever you prefer -- what you're doing, reading, eating, thinking, etc...I use it to update, educate and entertain.

Del.ici.ous is a different animal. It's considered "social bookmarking". Essentially, every user has a page where they post links of things they're reading. You can follow other people, and see how smart they are! I use it a little differently...I use it as a reminder of what looks interesting, but haven't had time to read yet. Check out the recent addition about what's been found under the New York Harbor -- ugh. Also see the NYTimes review of the Boston Ballet's recent performance highlighting the 100th anniversary of the Ballet Russes -- rest assured that my reveiw is much more positive than the Times.

See you soon,


The Great Baby Ploy of '09

It's not exactly a secret that I'm a tiny bit baby crazy these days. A few weekends ago TW & I went to a birthday party for a one-year old! Owen, the son of good friends of mine from grad school (and poker night), turned 1 and was feted by a bevy of other one-year olds (did I use all those words correctly?). Well, a number of these kids were cute, but some were not; some kids were well behaved, others were holy terrors. The holy terrors belonged to, what TW & I judged to be, awful parents -- funny, right? The cutest kid, by far, was absolutely adorable; he couldn't keep his eyes off me, and once he locked on he just stood there and stared, and stared...he was "look the other way, I'm stealing your baby" cute. Case closed.

On to the question: is the baby crazy an act? TW can't quite make up her mind (it's a good thing she doesn't read this blog!). It wouldn't be the first time that I've used babies as a bud of a joke concerning TW. Two Thanksgivings ago I told my entire family that TW & I were getting married over a year from then; I then discover that TW & TMIL found a great place to get hitched and it was going down this past July. So, once I return home for Christmas, I have to tell everyone that TW & I "had" to get married early, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).

Well, the baby crazy is not necessarily an act. But, I do realize that I can use it as leverage to help me get something else that I'm crazy about: a dog! I know that TW doesn't want kids anytime soon -- "Wait till we both get jobs" she crys -- but, I think that we're getting closer to the dog...really. In fact, I think a dog will definitely help me get through my fellowship year next year. I'm terrified of the cabin fever that is entirely possible from my lack of outside working; so, what would a better way to get out of the house than walking a dog? I think it's perfect...so, I'm slowly but surely working my way there.


"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"

Well, I must admit that the bar was set pretty high for Junot Diaz and his book, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." Two years ago, I couldn't turn around without seeing this book on a top-ten list. It even won a pulitzer prize...

(A.O. Scott's NYTimes review is a pretty good primer; so, if you end up reading this book, which I wholeheartedly endorse, I would recommend paying attention.)

The titular character is practically a background character. Once you finish this book, you'll see the world through the eyes of Oscar, his mom, sister, and roommate; you'll get your fill of history (Dominican-Republic style), dictators -- well, I guess just Trujillo, but Castro makes an appearance -- and plenty of science fiction. At one point, Oscar claims his life's goal is to become the Dominican Tolkien -- and he includes enough references to Mordor, Sauron, the Nazgul, et al, to fill a notebook.

On the surface, this novel is a coming-of-age story about a fat, nerdy Dominican kid growing up in New Jersey. But its deep structure is more concerned with the power of myth (in the DR, they have a particularly potent curse called the fuku). Rooted in the cruel regime of Trujillo, this curse expands outward to (seemingly) influence everything in the DR -- or, at least Oscar and his family perceive it as such.

I particularly enjoyed the history: I didn't know much about the Antilles (or the Caribbean in general), and I tend to enjoy history. This particular strand resonated with me because I recently TA'ed a class on Global Hip-Hop. One of the more interesting topics in that class concerned the migration patterns between NYC and the Caribbean -- a topic that is central to the Oscar and his family. And again, it was another fact of which I was unaware.

My only concerns about the book were its mixed language...were you're writing about a family transplanted from the DR into New Jersey, and you want to keep it realistic, you're going to include Spanish -- it's a must; but, unfortunately for me, my Spanish chops are non-existent. But, I soldiered through the statements that I didn't understand and pieced together some meaning from the general context. Overall, it's not a deal breaker -- but, it's an issue nonetheless.

If you're looking for a deeply-layered novel, which reads almost like an Intro to Cultural Studies, and constantly surprises you with new points-of-view, then this is your book.


Meme it up...

In lieu of the two posts that are percolating in my head, I've stumbled across this meme in a British architectural journal/website. Titled "My (non) digital life," it playfully addresses the modern phrases of digital life yet applies them in a very analog fashion. So, I thought I'd give it a crack (mind the rail/take the tube/what's on the telly) -- remember, it's a British meme.

What's your favourite (sic) site?

In St. Louis, I love sitting on Art Hill, looking out over the lake and Forrest Park while eating a Fatted Calf cheeseburger. In Boston, I enjoy walking near the intersection of Boylston and Tremont streets; it's got virtually everything you could want/need: eating in Dim Sum in Chinatown; reading in the used bookstores; walking around the Boston Common; and seeing shows in the Theater District.

Do you use social networking sites?

My social networks are flung far and wide; I do not use them, but I do participate within them.

What are you watching?

Currently, I'm watching the pages fly by in my book, "The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao."

What was the last thing you bought online?

I didn't necessarily buy it, but I won $5 from a friend when he set the line on him losing golf balls at 5. I immediately took the over and I'm still waiting for payment.

Where shall we play?

On the pitch! It's another Britishism for what we Americans would call a soccer field.


RBOC: Proctoring Edition

Well, it's that time of year again (finals time) which means that TW and I are helping the Registrar administer finals.* That sounds much more important than what we're actually doing: we deliver blue books to each exam three times a day; otherwise, we sit in a room and hope that there aren't any problems.**

I have a few things on my plate at the moment, but I've been wanting to bloviate/blog about a few things...in random bullet form.

  • TW and I saw "Spring Awakening" last night for the first time. I really enjoyed it, although our seats were so good that I was distracted by a lot of the technical aspects: crew, music, lights -- it's a pretty minimal show, but with a few new effects. I'm always drawn to figuring out how they do this or that, and it's a major reason that I enjoy live theater. Luckily, I'll be going back to see this show in a few weeks -- when TW's mom -- comes to visit us in Boston. She's been dying to see the show, so I'll get another shot at enjoying the show from an entertainment point of view.
  • Farhad Manjoo, Slate's resident tech writer, has an interesting post (up yesterday) about how he hates RSS feeders. They strip out the soul of blogs by giving you a sanitized version -- I completely understand this, and agree with a number of his points. I'm giving his method a try, for now.
  • The summer movie season has officially began, at least for TW & I. We went to see a 10:20am showing of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" over the weekend.*** It was entertaining in a $5 way...in the poker scene, look out for one of my favorite pro poker players (just a heads up, so to speak!). We've also seen "State of Play" (liked it), along with a few rentals: "Indiana Jones & the Crystal Skull" (seriously, I still like this movie!); "Hellboy II & the Golden Army" (the movie itself kind of sucked, but it was incredible to see Guillermo del Toro use a full-movie budget to create all the wacky characters...can't wait to see this guy's version of "The Hobbit"...it'll be awesome, in a "Pan's Labyrinth" kind-of-way, hopefully...

* I wonder how 'normal' people gauge time? 9-5, M-F, I guess you get to look forward to 3-day weekends, right? Well, in the Ivory Tower, we have a much different system of time...Sept-May gets broken down into semesters, mid-terms, finals, beginnings/endings of class -- it's a whole new world!

** We actually do a little bit more than that, but for your purposes -- we sit in a room from 8:45am to 11:15pm for six days.

*** How's that for a title? Seriously, it pretty much screams: come see some backstory, but you know there's a whole franchise behind it..."X-Men Origins: Storm/Slug/Sloth/Anteater"


Can you guess...

...which cousin was involved in the production of this clip? FYI: this mashup stars the St. Louis Five -- my three cousins (on my mother's side) and my brother, of course.


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