Sunday, May 30, 2010

RIP Dennis Hopper

His earliest films (appearances in Rebel without a Cause, and a strong turn in Giant, Easy Rider)are my favorite. I also enjoyed his more recent films, including his classic role in Speed, and the hysterical villain in George Romero's Land of the Dead. RIP, Dennis.


Chris and I in our matching coats.
Explanation? When Chris's father retired, he got a whole bunch of giveaways from the company he worked for, including several Carhartt jackets. He got one for both me and Chris in a very thoughtful gesture.
Hence the picture. Next winter, we are really going to have to coordinate which jacket we are wearing on which day, for fear that this will actually happen.
Either that, or become a dynamic duo, fighting crime around Seminary Road.

The Stairway to Nowhere

My Mom took these pictures and emailed them to me. My parents are in the process of renovating their back porch, and one of the things being replaced was the stairs that go up to the porch. After removing the stairs, my dad hauled them down to the "burn pile" to be disposed of. Seeing this image, and knowing that I would get a kick out of it (I love that she knows my twisted sense of humour so well) she took these photos to send to me. She called it "The Stairway to Nowhere", which is exactly what I call it and have named this post. Thanks, Mom. And, uh...Dad - be careful up there! That looks a bit dangerous...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cell 3:The Death of Goodship Greenie Part 2

As many of you have read in the previous post, Cell 3 - The Death of Goodship Greenie, this is day 2 of my captainship of the rescue ship(phone), HMS Candy Apple.

This is a shoddy vessel(phone) at best. The whole thing feels like it is about to come apart in your hand, and I don't know how long she'll hold. I have been searching the horizon(Internet) for a rescue ship(new phone), can see none in sight that I feel up to commandeering. The choices on these shiny new vessels(phones) are far too much for this humble Captain's mind to wrap around.

Meanwhile, aboard the wanton hussy of a rescue (phone)vessel HMS Candy Apple, rations are running low, several of my contacts have scurvy, and it is really really hard to text.

I have considered many options of new vessels(phones), but cannot come to a decision, and need to before the cracks in the Candy Apple start getting bigger, which looks to be soon what with the rough waters I am navigating. Hope is holding out that we will see a ship soon, and that she will have more than enough room for all of my crew(contacts).

I sail this shoddy vessel into this holiday weekend in hopes that it can make it till next week. She has to make it to next week. There is no other choice.

I will write more when I know more, and not a bit more till then.

Stephen Gregory Smith
Captain of the HMS Candy Apple

20 Worst Drinks in America 2010

An eye opening look at some ridiculously high caloric and sugar content in commonplace drinks.
Check it out HERE.

RIP - Gary Coleman

At age 42, Gary Coleman passed today. Full details HERE.

Curb Appeal

The actual Amityville Horror house is up for sale.
If I had $1.5 million, I would SO consider making it my home.
In related news the field in Field of Dreams is also up for sale.

Dog Surprises Officer After Being Freed From A Fence

Tropical Outlook: Very Bad

NOAA came out with their Hurricane Season outlook yesterday, and maaannnn is it awful looking.
They predict a 70 percent probability of 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph) .
To put this in scope, this was about the same outlook as the year of Hurrican Katrina.
Full details HERE.
Also, an interesting post by NOAA on about how "Hurricanes Vs the Oil Spill". Check it out HERE.

PARADE - the workshop

Here are some great photos taken by Mark Ramont of the workshop of Parade at Ford's Theatre that I did a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breaking News: New Oil Plume found in Gulf

This just keeps getting worse. I can't believe it. Full story HERE.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Today

Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 900 PM EDT
According to, it should start coming into the DC Metro area around 8pm. Plan accordingly.

Flash Flood Watch Today

Flash Flood Watch
Expires 4:00 AM EDT on May 28, 2010
Statement as of 8:50 AM EDT on May 27, 2010
... Flash Flood Watch remains in effect from 5 PM EDT this afternoon through late tonight... The Flash Flood Watch continues for * portions of Maryland... the District of Columbia and northern Virginia... including the following areas... in Maryland... Anne Arundel... Carroll... Harford... Howard... Montgomery... northern Baltimore... Prince Georges and southern Baltimore. The District of Columbia. In northern Virginia... Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria and Fairfax.*

From 5 PM EDT this afternoon through late tonight* scattered thunderstorms will form late this afternoon and move slowly move toward the south. Heavy rain will be possible from any storms... with greater coverage expected this evening as a cold front arrives. Rainfall rates may exceed one to two inches an hour which could cause flash flooding across the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas.
Precautionary/preparedness actions... A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.

Signature's 2010 Open House

July 17, noon to 8pm
Signature's FREE open house is back – this time in July – with a full day filled with the music and mayhem you've come to expect from Signature! With performances and events in the Theatre and out on our plaza, you can't beat a day of free entertainment for the entire family!
The Open House is a part of Target's Arts and Wonder Free Family Event s that take place across 80 institutions and 30 states during the third week of July.
Call 703-820-9771 for more information and for updates on schedules for both the Sizzlin' Summer Cabaret and the Open House.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

JULY 20, 8PM: Stephen Gregory Smith & Karissa Swanigan

Yes, that's right - July 20th at 8pm at Signature Theatre, Karissa and I will be bringing you "Least Complicated" - a cabaret about laughter, love, and all of the grade school dances in between. Featuring songs by Ingrid Michaelson, Heart, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Matt Conner, Rufus Wainwright, The Pretenders, The Indigo Girls and more.


Sasquatch Sightings Continue in Virginia

Bigfoot has been making the local Virginian rounds, apparently. Spotsylvania County - you might want to read THIS.

Wow...I kind of hope it's true. lol

The Alaotra Grebe is now extinct.

The Alaotra grebe, a flightless water fowl from Madagascar has been declared extinct. Very sad when a species is forced into extinction because of man. So sad that this gorgeous creature will never grace this earth again. Full story HERE.

Cell 3 - The Death of Goodship Greenie

When you are sitting at the bar and everyone whips out their flat screen smart phones, it makes your phone and you seem dumb. Especially when you have had it for years and it looks like a pair of jeans that you have had since 1998. Which "Greenie" does look like. Like my former phone, it ate my face. I had black gaff tape over the metal so it could not make it's metal contact with my cheeks, eating in with every phone call.

It didn't take pictures, it did barely anything, but it was free.

So "Greenie" was fine with me.

"Greenie" started to exhibit erratic behavior of late, shutting off randomly, and not keeping it's charge. This behavior began to escalate, and I was sick of it.

In the meanwhile, there are calls to be made and texts to be responded to.
Thus started this morning's quest. Now faithful readers of this blog will recall my other epic battles involving cell phone drama - the first being my battling zombies and The Kiosk Queen,
Then I had to return and fight her and the zombies a second time.
Finally there was the death of Mr. Goodbar and launch of Candy Apple.
Now, literally speaking, I just finished reading Dan Simmons' The Terror, which tells the tale of Captain Francis Crozier in his expedition to find the North West Passage in the 1800's, so much of what you are about to read comes through me, via that.

I started the day yesterday and knew as I looked at Greenie to see the time and as soon as I picked the frail thing up, she shut off. I knew right then that her time was done. Whether scurvy, or some other illness had claimed her, I knew that she was no longer in fit shape to sail. I ran to my reserve phone chest...(which to be frank is a yellow plastic Garfield lunch box that I have had since the first grade - it now is a box in which I store old cell phones and chargers - SPECIFICALLY for this emergency situation)..
I pulled out my old standby vessel, Mr. Goodbar.

After assessing his seaworthiness, and after charging him for an hour to no avail, I knew that he would sink one mile out. That left only - Candy Apple.

Oh Candy Apple. How I loathe thee.

But she was the last rescue ship available, so she would have to do. Until we reached our new rescue ship in several days, we (or rather I) would have to make due with the rotten old Candy Apple and hope she would stay afloat long enough.
Now I never liked Candy Apple. She was a wanton ship. Hard to steer, flimsy in construction, and really difficult to text from. Greenie replaced her about 3 years ago, and until now, had been just enough ship(phone) for me.
I was never into those fancy know the ones..."Smart Phones"...pesky things that light up like a billboard and drain their own battery charge within the first hour you have them off the cord. I didn't want to ever get one of those because I didn't want the temptation of always being able to jump onto the Internet, for fear of NEVER BEING OFF OF THE DAMN THING. But it is a wee bit embarrassing when everyone pulls out their smart phones and you pull out what looks like a toy phone from the 90's.Yet I would shrug off that feeling of phone envy and try to be tough about it. I'd say *with an inflection of braggadocio* "Aww, who needs one of those tin cans. All I need is a phone that works. I don't need bells or whistles...if I want to get online, I will get on a computer, if I want a camera, I'll use my camera. This phone suits me just fine."

Oh yeah.

That has always been my rebel without a smart phone stance.

It makes sense in a way...I don't even like different kinds of food that I eat to touch each other on the plate - so why would I want a phone to be a computer and a camera at the same time? That's CRAZY talk! I like things plain and simple, cut and dried.

But then...I started seeing things that they could do.

Did you know that you can get weather radar screens on those things? I could check the radar from wherever I was at any many times have I thought - I wish I could see a radar right I could, if I chose to...

But I digress. I had decided to sail out Greenie's remaining days as long as she would sail, and when the time was right, then - and only then - would I decide if I wanted to buy a phone that was "smarter" than myself.

But then Greenie decided to cut her time shorter than even I had thought. So we have decisions to make.

But first - I need to evacuate the ship.
The main problem being that Greenie decided to shut off about once a minute. Since my "Sim" card was full, and many of my current contact numbers were saved to the phone, not the Sim card, I needed to erase numbers from the Sim card and save other numbers to the Sim card that were only saved to the phone before. But the trick here was that the phone would shut off every minute or so.

So I had seconds at a time to scroll down Greenie's (roster) Contacts and decide who was unfit to sail on Candy Apple until we all reached the new rescue(phone) ship. So many shipmates were deleted. So many people that I realized that I never talk to anymore were erased. My thinking was that if I have not talked to them in the past 2 years, I don't need their number. Also, the advent of Face Book has rendered calling many of these people useless. If I want to get in touch with some of them, I could write to them on Face Book. Impersonal? Maybe. But there were some numbers that I really wouldn't want to call anyway.

Seriously, look through your phone's contact numbers - you will find many numbers in there that make you think...?...why do I have their number - what could we possibly discuss? Or - Who is that? How do I know a Denise? Etc. Or Patti LuPone. Why do I have her number in my cell phone? Am I going to call her and catch up any time soon? "Hey Patti, remember when we did that show together in 2005? Wasn't that fun? yeah...just calling to say hey. Hey Patti. "

Yeah. It's not gonna happen. Deleted.

All the while, Greenie keeps shutting off every minute or so.
I'm literally at the gym, on the Elliptical doing this, scrolling down, deleting, or saving from phone to Sim those who previously were only saved to phone due to lack of room on Sim.
I'm panting, and focused like a mad man on Greenie's tiny screen. My eyes are wide, I am a sweaty mess, all the while deleting and saving...S...I've made it to the "S"'s. Power off.


In a mad moment of me thinking in the thoughts of the book I just read and the analogy of Candy Apple as a lifeboat making total sense in my head, though I have not shared any of these thoughts with Matt...who is at the elliptical to my left - I blurt out "I'm at "S"! I almost have all crew to the rescue boat!!!"

He doesn't even really pay attention to what I have said. He looks at me for a second, then goes back to watching the TV. I am quietly grateful for this, as I realize my madness has been verbalized.

I finally get through all contacts and press save to Sim card. It begins saving.

It is a breathless several minutes as the long save is taking place - me praying that Greenie doesn't shut off in the middle of the process - thus rendering all of my work pointless.
Finally, the save was complete.

I quickly powered Greenie down and said a few words from Psalms quietly. I then performed an autopsy. I cracked open Greenie's back and pulled out her Sim card. I slid her Sim card into the wanton hussy Candy Apple's back and promptly stitched her up. I pressed "Power on" and she vibrated to life. I immediately rolled my eyes upon seeing her tired old screen and wallpaper. She was a shoddy ship, but she would have to do. I put Greenie's remains in my gym locker, and took Candy Apple back out to finish my work out.

So here we are at day 2 aboard Candy Apple. Still no rescue ship(phone) in sight and none likely to be until payday...this is two days from now. We can only hope that Candy Apple is a sturdy enough vessel to stay afloat and keep her remaining crew dry for two more days.

I will write again tomorrow as we sail on towards the great unknown.

Stephen Gregory Smith
Captain of the HMS Candy Apple

Gillian Luau

Our dear friend and neighbor, Gillian Shelly recently had a birthday. To celebrate, we decided to throw a "Luau" at our place. Several items were purchased from Party City, and then we were in business.
Chris laid out Beach towels all over everything.
I put "Scene Setter" backdrops on the walls and windows. We inflated several small flamingos and monkeys, and one inflatable palm tree.
The place looked like a ticky-tacky Polynesian paradise. I was in love.
I made a sign that became the poster of the event.
I found a picture of Gillian from a show that she did and picked a catchy slogan.
Sure, it sounds harsh, but I knew that she would appreciate the grim sound of it, Gillian being just as big of a horror movie junkie as I.

Here she is, Gillian tribal warlord goddess, posing for her birthday photo.

And then we started to limbo. Yes. Limbo. I put "Limbo Rock" on and we all took turns - even Buddha.

I particularly love this shot. Karissa basically hinging totally in half while Buddha sits there and almost looks like he is laughing. Too cute.
It was a fantastic time, and I don't think I am going to take the decorations down all summer. They are too much fun. I wake up every morning to inflatable animals and trees and a fake Polynesian skyline. What could be better?
Aloha, Jill.