Thank you to everyone who read the little play from yesterday. I re-read it today, and I think it actually works. Sometimes, it's better not to think about things too hard. I wrote the play in less than a half-hour, and got something good out of it, so I feel much more confident to tackle other projects.
Today, I had no time to think. Mom wanted me for projects, Laurie needed me to finish packing, and I wanted me to go see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Mom isn't happy with the state of the house. Spring cleaning is in full force, and over the past couple of years, "Spring cleaning" has meant "re-doing a room."
This year, since I'm here, the room to re-do is actually the entire upstairs. A couple of nights ago, I came home from work and we washed down all the trim upstairs. Four rooms plus a hallway, plus her bedroom ceiling which, thanks to a leak in the roof last year, was re-plastered and needs a fresh coat of paint.
Since we were planning on re-painting the ceiling, Mom decided that the light rose color on the walls needed to go, as well. She wanted a soft green, which I think is a good choice. I already had two sample pots of blue for my room, so we decided that while we were in a painting frame of mind, we might as well take down the 1979 wallpaper in the hallway and paint that, as well.
But before that, we had to finish washing the woodwork today. I woke up a bit late (10am), and Mom was out shopping, so I hauled out a bucket and started on the kitchen. Our kitchen walls are yellow, and Mom has been complaining about how they aren't as bright as she thought they were when she re-did the kitchen a few years ago.
Well, the reason they weren't as bright is because they haven't been scrubbed within an inch of their lives for a long while. Mom is a great housekeeper, but a quick swab with a sponge isn't the same as a good scrubbing, which is what I did in the kitchen. It was like the restoration of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (except that it was vertical, not horizontal, and I didn't go in 1X1 inch squares). The bright, happy yellow reappeared.
With the walls and woodwork done, I ran my cloth over the ceiling, and realized that would need a good scrubbing, as well. Mom came home at that time and offered to use the mop (sponge-head, not string) to get to the ceiling. It looked great, until we got to the area just above the stove, which needed more cleaning.
I grabbed a bottle of Soft Scrub and went at it. That area looked beautiful...and the rest of the ceiling looked like crap. So I Soft Scrubbed the whole ceiling, and now it is a gleaming white.
Which meant the blades of the ceiling fan had to come down and be thoroughly washed, as well.
After a quick lunch, we tackled the office. I put on the CD player. She had Elvis in tray 1 (not right for this job), the Oak Ridge Boys in tray 2 (never good for me), and Gretchen Wilson in tray 3. I put Gretchen on at high volume and sang along with Redneck Woman, which amused Mom to no end.
"So you're a redneck woman?" she asked.
"I'm scrubbing your walls," I said. "I can be a redneck woman if I want to be."
I really like Gretchen Wilson. She has a good voice and her songs are fun. I've found I like a lot more country than I thought I did. I think it's the Mariah Carey syndrome of pop stars to want to do vocal gymnastics rather than, you know, hold a note for more than a minute. It seems impressive, but a clear, distinct note works much better. I'll admit to knowing the words to songs by the Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain (though she's more pop than country, in my book), Alan Jackson and a few others I see on CMT. Country isn't my first choice in music, but my iPod may have a few selections at some point.
We had planned on putting a first coat of paint on Mom's bedroom ceiling after that, but I insisted on the new ceiling paint that goes on pink and turns white as it dries, and the paint store she goes to doesn't carry it. They told her where to find it, so we'll do that sometime soon.
After finishing up the office, I headed over to Laurie's house. She's been unbearably stressed by moving this time around, so I offered to pack up her kitchen and the rest of her bedroom while she was at work today.
I started in on the kitchen, putting the TV on Retro-Active (my music channel of choice). I decided to be methodical about the process, and opened all the cabinet doors. When I had unloaded the cabinet, packed the contents (or put them in a pile to be packed with similar items), then cleaned the shelves, the doors could be closed, wiped down, and I could move on to the next set of cabinets.
It worked well for me, because I got to see progress. As more and more cabinet doors and drawers were closed, I felt like I was accomplishing something.
However, I must note that for someone who admittedly doesn't really like to cook, Laurie has a whole lot of cooking paraphrenalia in her kitchen. One cabinet contained eight pitchers. Eight! Laurie hasn't mixed a beverage in the entire time she's been in that apartment, but if she ever decides to throw an all-beverage party, she's well-prepared.
You wouldn't think so, but packing stuff is hot work, and the weather turned kind of muggy today, so I threw open the windows and worked without my shirt on. Sweating, filthy, shirtless, and singing at the top of my lungs to such classics as Video Killed the Radio Star, I must have been a sight. I had a moment of self-consciousness when a neighbor walked down the street, getting a good eyeful, but I figured that the fact that my ab muscles are no longer visible shouldn't stop me from being comfortable, so I did the Safety Dance and continued packing.
Boxes piled up above my head, and after a good sweeping of the floor, the kitchen was done! I celebrated by going into the bedroom and packing that.
Laurie admonished me to keep out the tools that she would need to hang, take down, build, and take apart stuff, so the first order of business was deciding what she'd need at her Mom's house. I put aside her toolbox, two drills (corded and cordless), a small hand saw, a package of drill bits, and her laser level. The rest, I sorted into the most general of categories (one box was marked "Curtains, Epilady, and Power Cords"...it was late, and I was getting tired) and boxed up.
I actually ran out of boxes by the time Laurie got home, but the only thing she has to pack tomorrow is her clothes, which can just be covered with plastic bags and hauled to her Mom's house. Everything else will go into her storage unit.
Laurie was very happy when she got home. "You're my bestest friend in the whole wide world!" she said.
The praise was enough, but I made her buy me dinner anyway.
After the cleaning and the packing, we went to dinner, to MicroCenter to buy a backup power cord for my laptop (Lara took my other one, though she won't admit it), and then to Revere Cinemas for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I haven't read the books since high school, and haven't heard the radio play for at least ten years, but I remember almost all the punchlines, and yet, I still found it hilarious. Is it a classic? I don't think so. Is it worth a full-price admission? Absolutely, if nothing else, for Sam Rockwell's performance.
It took me a little while to get used to Ford Prefect, Trillian, and Zaphod Beeblebrox with American accents (in my head and in the radio program, they were all British), but Mos Def, Sam Rockwell (in a wig that made him look like my best fantasy date come true!) and Zooey Deschanel (who underplayed Trillian wonderfully) made it work for me.
And Marvin. Oh, Marvin! When I saw the previews, I was so disappointed that Marvin was an all-white, short robot with a Pac-Man head, but it worked for me after about two minutes. Of course a chronically depressed robot would look like a kid's toy! Alan Rickman played him perfectly.
If I were a stickler for page to screen, I might have gotten annoyed, but it's been at least seventeen years since I read the books, so I didn't mind one bit. There was enough narration to give the highlights (the dolphins, the Guide itself, the explanation of the Vogons), and enough of the punch lines were there to make everything work. John Malkovich was hilarious in the short amount of time we got to see him, and credit really has to go to Martin Freeman for playing Arthur Dent as a totally believable Everyman. Arthur Dent can be a dullard if done wrong, but he was just great.
I've read pretty bad reviews for this movie, and I can sort of understand why. It's spotty, the plot elements don't all add up exactly as they should, and there's simply no way to get the utter hilarity of Douglas Adams' books into a two-hour movie. But I loved it, maybe because it was like visiting a bunch of old friends. (Laurie's screen name in college was Trillian, which always kept the stories alive in my head for some reason.)
As we drove home, Laurie said that there were some "little gems" that aren't blockbusters, but work for those people who like this kind of movie. Galaxy Quest and Mystery Men are two that we came up with, and I'd put this movie in the same category. It isn't for everyone, and some won't find it as funny as I did, so I can't say that I'd recommend it, but I liked it.
If only someone could make a decent adaptation of an early Tom Robbins novel, I'd be most pleased.
Now, I'm going to read my lines into my iPod recorder and listen to them a couple of times before tomorrow's mega-rehearsal. I need to have them letter-perfect so I can finally decide on a character for "Peter." So far, he's just a nervous Patrick, which isn't working one bit for me.
What I'd like is for a sort of early Woody Allen or a Hugh Grant type (nervous, twitchy, with stumbles and stutters and odd pauses). Someone that is more than a straight man to move the story along. Right now, I've been trying, but I've also been intimidated by the idea of being "the lead," and it's really brought my performance level down.
So I have to make someone up from scratch before Friday's opening night. I think I have something down, but I'm still not entirely sure. If I can hear it, I'll be better able to finesse it into a character, rather than some guy saying his lines. I'm going to run my idea by the director tomorrow before rehearsal, and ask him for very specific feedback on what works and what doesn't.
So I'm off to talk to myself for at least an hour. At least nobody's talking back.
The actor chooses lime green to find motivation...