Posts Tagged ‘Berkeley’

Spelling Bee: First Rehearsal

In Theatre, Uncategorized on April 25, 2014 at 8:06 pm

March 8, 2014
Thoughts on my first rehearsal for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Berkeley Playhouse, as dictated to my phone while moving my car during a break at rehearsal. I will include both what my phone perceived and my attempt at translation, followed by elucidation as needed. Enjoy.

“Thoughts on my first rehearsal for spelling bee Playhouse, largely based on well everything. The cast appears all to be under 30, possibly even under 25. I feel like a dinosaur. I’m wearing plaid vest red tie navy blue shirt weather double batch the next AM., is that matters is that I feel so old in this cast I think I could I’m old enough to be something simple father.”

The cast appears all to be under 30, possibly even under 25. I feel like a dinosaur. I’m wearing a charcoal plaid vest, red tie, navy blue shirt. Overdressed. Will have to slob it up over the next couple months. This is a new experience for me: I feel so old in this cast, I think I’m old enough to be their father.

“The directors very attractive.”

The director seems to be a lovely human being. That always helps. I say “seems” because I have made the mistake of believing first impressions in the past, and it did not turn out well for me. So, I’m cautious. But she really does seem to be awesome. Time will tell, and I will trust with a grain of salt.

“I’m determined to be on my best behavior in this cast, but generally that’s true of every cast I will try to come apart. At the moment always comes when I make jokes that actually, it doesn’t always come. But it could come. And since I suspect that the majority of my doctors last year for from 510, and specifically Berkeley California, then I am cautious about making jokes. So dot dot dot its tricky.”

I’m determined to be on my best behavior in this cast, but generally that’s true of every cast of which I become a part. And the moment always comes when I make jokes that upset or offend someone. It doesn’t always come, actually. But it could come. And since I suspect that the majority of my cast hail from the 510, and specifically Berkeley, California, then I am cautious about making jokes. So … it’s tricky. I always assume that Theatre People will get my jokes, will be entertained by my schtick. Apparently, however, I am an acquired taste. Having been attacked and vilified by complete strangers — in a Theatre group — on Facebook, I am cautious. I will try to stay silent, say nothing, interact with nobody. That is a very difficult challenge, because I’ve hardly left the house since last May. I feel a bit like Robinson Crusoe thrust into a garden party.

“Interesting the first two musical numbers reversed are considered group members in which I do not appear to sing it note I have spoken words with them and I suppose it was good that I was there, but. No focus is given to my aunts music is fun absolutely fine, not necessarily I’m entering the cafe close email goodbye.”

Interesting: the first two musical numbers we rehearsed are “group numbers” — in which I do not appear to sing a note. I have spoken words within one of them and I suppose it was good that I was there, but: thus far, no actual focus is given to my material in the music. Which is absolutely fine, we had a lot of material to cover. Panch does not sing anywhere within the score. I hope that we’ll get them nailed down before it gets stressful. I can already feel how peripheral I am to this production. I’m entering the cafe across the street to refresh my beverage before returning to rehearsal, so I will close this email and say goodbye.


Interesting to note how accurate some of this was.
As of this writing, we have two weeks left. The reviews are all stellar, and there are currently some cheap tickets available via Goldstar: http://www.goldstar.com/e/81887

Searching for Sibley

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

My nephew came with my fiancee and I yesterday in search of Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. In my mind, it was in Berkeley somewhere above the Lawrence Hall of Science. I don’t trust my GPS to get me to the right spot these days, so I thought I should ignore it and ask my nephew, a Berkeley High (keyword: high) alumnus. He said he knew how to get there. So we went to Berkeley, took a right on Claremont and climbed the tiny, winding, steep streets in the fiancee’s 2010 Honda Civic until the nephew deemed it appropriate to turn left. This initial left turning was at the intersection of Claremont Avenue, Fish Ranch Road and Grizzly Peak Blvd.

Locals will know that we were wrong. Chuckle at our expense as you read further: it seemed to me that we were headed in the right direction. However, at the moment when the nephew said to turn right and we’d be there, I couldn’t help but notice that we were driving into Tilden. Not Sibley.

My first clue came from the sign that said STEAM TRAINS, before we even reached the official entrance. There is only one park with Steam Trains in the East Bay Hills: Tilden. We drove toward the golf course, ended up back on Grizzly Peak Blvd., and I realized that we were indeed in the wrong region. “Take Grizzly Peak,” I said. “Back toward that crossroads where we left Claremont. I know where to go, now.”

The fiancee did just that. I followed our progress on the GPS. It told me, eventually, that we were inside Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. I watched us drive over the double red lines of the Caldecott Tunnel. Right around the time that we reached the intersection of Grizzly Peak and Skyline, I became frustrated and re-set the GPS to take us to Sibley. Following its instructions, we then took a circuitous, labyrinthine course through the residential streets below Grizzly Peak and Skyline, eventually ending up back on Grizzly Peak, heading back to the first crossroads of Claremont, Fish Ranch and Grizzly Peak. This time, still following the GPS instructions, we turned right on Fish Ranch Road. It took us down the back side of the ridge to the Orinda side of the Caldecott Tunnel, over the tunnel to … a creepy back entrance to the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. We followed the road a little further past a parking area on what I have since learned was the eastern approach of the original tunnel, known variously as the Kennedy Tunnel, the Inter-County Tunnel or the Broadway Tunnel. Before seeing that road and getting curious about it, I had been told — and believed — that this tunnel was originally part of the pre-BART Key System.

The Key System, for those of you who don’t know, was a system of electronic trains and streetcars that served the East Bay and, to the best of my knowledge, connected with various other local electric streetcars and trains in the greater Bay Area (I’ll update this as I learn more). The lower deck of the Bay Bridge originally had two railroad tracks on the south side for this specific purpose. (My mother used to take those trains to San Francisco with her friend Barbara. They smoked cigarettes and were tres tres chic.) GM pulled some major shenanigans in the late 1950’s, basically buying the Key System through a front company, replacing its board of directors with GM cronies, and cutting back service until they’d replaced everything with buses. For a more detailed history, check here. Guess who fought this transition? Every city council in the East Bay. Guess who won?

If you’re the kind of person who likes moving pictures (and if I have whetted your appetite with all these words of electric trains), you might enjoy this short film.

So: the old tunnel is said to have been open to pedestrians after the Caldecott Tunnel opened in 1937, but closed in 1947 for safety reasons. This is fascinating to me, because I know that my older brothers were exploring the old tunnel as recently as the early 1970’s. Apparently the western end has been completely sealed — we drove right past it in our GPS-led wild goose chase — but the exact condition of the eastern end of the old tunnel remains, as of this writing, a mystery.

Attentive readers will ask the question, “How is it a mystery if you were on the eastern side of the ridge, on Old Tunnel Road?” Thank you for being attentive, attentive readers. The answer is simple: the approach to the tunnel is fenced off, as that area is controlled by the East Bay Regional Parks District. And since the original purpose of our quest was to explore the Sibley Volcanic Preserve, we parked near that back entrance and started walking up a very well-paved road.

Friends, sometimes I have trouble breathing. This was the case a ways up that road, so we turned back to the car and I talked the nephew and the fiancee into indulging me: “You have to pee, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, let’s find the entrance I was actually looking for.” By the time we reached the Skyline Boulevard entrance to Sibley, my lungs were doing just fine. Here’s the kicker: when I reverted to the GPS for directions at the intersection of Grizzly Peak and Skyline an hour or so before, we were literally a couple hundred yards from the Skyline entrance to Sibley. Annoyed as I was at having chased the wild goose via my fuckmook GPS, I now know many things of which I was previously unaware. Thanks, Garmin! You suck, but it’s educational.

I felt amazing after our sunset hike, but the entire reason that I wanted to go to Sibley was to do some research for Notes From The Future. There is a specific entry that uses Sibley, but I had never actually been there before yesterday. I had used the Interwebs to get a view of Mt. Diablo from the Berkeley / Oakland hills, and thanks to our friends at Google Maps, I was able to get a general idea of how things would look.

Specificity is preferable to generalization. And, while we made quite a nice bit of progress into Sibley, we were forced to return to the car when the sun had set. I was unable to reach the spot I sought, thanks in large part to the educational tour led by our GPS. So I will be heading back there this week, with plenty of water for Maxwell and a camera for tasty goodness. Any local geologists care to join me? I’m just a little bit obsessed with geology and volcanology and will make you talk for hours.

[Update: Apparently there is a separate tunnel, known as the Train Tunnel, somewhere on or near Pinehurst Road. I have yet to see or even approach either end of that tunnel, but will make a point of exploring a bit next time I’m in the vicinity. Perhaps that was the tunnel my brothers explored. From what I understand, it is just as thoroughly sealed as the Kennedy Tunnel.]