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2003q1-finalist.jpg (22857 bytes)Thank you so much for your nomination of my entry, Time for a Rant for a Diarist.Net award in the "best rant" category.  If you have an on-line journal and are so inclined, I'd thank you even more for your vote!   Congratulations to my buddies for their nominations too... MarnSunshyn, Michael, and Terri...and a BIG congratulations to Steve on being nominated for a well-deserved "Legacy" award.  Check out all the entries and vote your conscience!


1 June 2003

We saw a most extraordinary film recently. It was a French gem called 8 Women and was the offering of a film festival which was running in Davis.

It's an Agatha Christie-esque mystery of 8 women trapped in a house in a snowstorm. The master of the house is upstairs taking a nap as each of the women is introduced--the daughter home from college brought home by her mother (Cathleen Deneuve), the younger sister, the bitter spinster aunt, the daffy grandmother, the housekeeper, the saucy maid, and the sister-in-law.

The younger sister goes upstairs to wake up her father and then comes down to announce that he has been murdered--a knife protruding from his back, as he lies in a pool of blood on the bed.

Obviously one of the women is the murderer, and it is for the exposition of the story to uncover the truth.

It's classic murdery mystery faire with lots of unexpected twists (such as the characters bursting into song at various point in the script), with an ending that takes even the "murderer" by surprise.

It was the first movie I've seen in a long time where everyone left the theatre laughing and talking about parts of it.

afoot.jpg (18464 bytes)I enjoyed it on two levels. Not only was it a fun movie in and of itself, but it brought back memories of one of the more special periods of my life: Something's Afoot.

Something's Afoot is a musical parody of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians.  

The Lamplighters produced this little gem of a show in 1985 and it stands out as one the highlights of my years working with the company. Gilbert was the director, as well as the musical director for this show. My friend David was in charge of props--there were were a ton of them in this show.

sa-set.jpg (25576 bytes)The show also had one of the most beautiful sets in Lamplighter history.  It was a shame that nobody took a photo that did it justice.  For what is essentially a community theatre, the set designer/builder (Stephen McCandless) produced a 2-story English manor house that was so elegant we all wanted to move into it.

The premise is that five people are invited to spend the night in a mansion on an island. Each of them, of course, has his or her secret, and unbeknownst to each other, they all have paths that cross. Of course, after all have arrived, a terrible storm comes up, which washes out the road and the bridge and they are stuck there. The master of the house (whom we never see) is found dead by the butler, who is blown up as he stands on the stairs and delivers the news to the invited guests.

The rest of the show consists of each of the guests, and the house staff, each being killed in various bizarre ways: one is hit over the head by a newell post, one is "eaten" by a Ming vase, one is choked by a bunch of spears hanging on the wall, one is blown up in a kitchen explosion, two are poisoned and one is killed by a poisoned dart fired from a shrunken head hidden inside a "pouf." (a "pouf" is a round couch-like affair)

For the dart effect to work, Gilbert needed someone small to fit inside the pouf to manipulate the shrunken head, so he asked Paul if he'd like to do it. It involved Paul coming out on stage in the dark before the lights went up for Act 2 (while the pit band was creating a diversion) and then after he killed the colonel at the start of the act, he had to lie there for the rest of the show.

I was Gilbert's assistant on the show, so attended almost every rehearsal and for the final week, Paul and I moved down to stay with my mother because there were tech rehearsals every night.

Because I was always around I got to be part of the "orchestra." Uh....sort of. In the first musical number, the music is interrupted periodically by the arrival of a new guest, each of whom rings the doorbell. Gilbert had it in his head that each "ring" would have a different tone to it (though they were all the same bell). He planned to ring the bell himself, while he was conducting the band. I convinced him to let me be the bell ringer. Talk about being a nervous wreck opening night. I only had to ring the bell five times but I was so afraid I'd do it "wrong." But once I got over opening night jitters, it was fun to attend each performance and to feel like I was a part of it all.

There was something special about Something's Afoot. Everyone involved in the show has such a special place in their heart for it. Maybe it was because it was such a small show--no chorus, no large orchestra. There was genuine affection among all of the people, on stage and off stage, who were involved.

At the last performance, Peggy Ray Roberts, the actress who played Miss Tweed (the "Miss Marple"-type character) even called Paul out from under the pouf to take a bow. There were tears all around.

That was a golden time in my period of participation with The Lamplighters. It was 1984 and we couldn't possibly have predicted that in two years, 55 year old Gilbert would be dead of a heart attack and Arthur Conrad, who was the butler in the show, would be dead of AIDS.

But thinking of that time makes me smile. The memories are no longer painful. They are very sweet.


There are four reasons why people murder:   revenge, passion, lust, and greed...

~ Miss Tweed, Something's Afoot

(I may have the quote somewhat wrong--but that's where the title of today's entry comes from)

Yesterday's Photo

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Paul and the shrunken head

One Year Ago
Making the Commitment
(I sign up for an organized bike ride)

Two Years Ago
Sleeping Sickness
(I can't stay awake)

Three Years Ago
When Life was Simple
(The Farmers Market)

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