Garland but not forgotten. Dec 1.

Well we tried. As the citizens of Huntington that drove past the theatre from midnight to five am on Friday morning can testify, the garland on the marquee looks amazing. As the rest of Huntington can now testify, it is no longer there. After hours and hours and hours in the very, very cold weather. And hours. The pack leader spent forever cavorting about the extension ladder with gloveless frost bitten hands securing the stuff with various McGyver like hooks and wires and suction cups. Seriously. Here was how the system finally went. Cinder blocks placed in the top of the marquee secured 50 pound test fishing line which hung over the marquee and down to it's bottom edge. Attached to each loop of fishing line was a caribeener (mountaineering hooky thing). From the ladder Rich would wire the garland using florists wire attaching it TO the mountaineering hook. This was holding the weight. The hook and garland were then secured to the marquee using heavy duty magnet hooks to hold in place and prevent the wind from catching it. And, at around midnight when we finished stringing... it looked stunning.

In the morning it was not stunning. Rather, it looked stunned. As in a deer run over by traffic. Which, in fact it had been. It turned out that it was not the insanely complex hanging system, or the magnets which had failed us. It was the florists wire. It wasn't strong enough apparently and snapped. So half of it was still up and the other half was coiled like a large green caterpiller along the front of the building and into the street. Rich was going to try and reattach it all until we realized that one of the strings had been run over by traffic and would need substantial surgery. And it was FREEZING. And, he finally admitted, that even he couldn't take the cold. The work has to be done without gloves - and to spend another three hours up there was just not possible. So. With great regret - the garland came down. IF there is a warm day we might decide to give it another shot. My concern is there is always a greater risk involved when you have multiple points of attachment. If you have one place where something is hanging from then only one can go wrong. We have four. So that just multiplies it. What we need to do, really, is wait until we tackle the sign eventually - or rather the underside of the marquee - and we will have permanent hooks installed. Poor Janice was nearly heartbroken having spent hours and hours twisting and fluffing and wiring. And sacrificing her elbow. But, I'm afraid, it will probably have to wait until next year. Something to look forward to for Rose who told Rich she thought the building would like nicer with more lights. Sorry Rose - we tried. Don't send uncle Vinnie. Unless Uncle Vinny has a heated genie lift and some teamsters - then by all means - send them along. :(

We did manage to get another phase of the decorating done though. This store in Bermuda used to pipe Christmas music out onto the sidewalk through speakers - and I always thought it was the niftiest thing. So we're doing that. We've got like a hundred Christmas tracks on shuffle that are playing all day through the box office. There was a great, great, long, impassioned debate because I wanted a) to only pipe the Nutcracker because I thought it was classy and wouldn't drive people crazy since they hear all the other Christmas music everywhere else; and b) if we WEREN'T going to use the Nutcracker then I thought it should only be orchestral versions - like Boston Pops etc. I was vetoed. Janice and Rich were adamant against it and I think actually did a Huntington wide poll asking everyone with a pulse they could find. So I lost. But at least that means that Huntington is hearing the confirmed bachelors blasting the Judy Garland and Barbra Striesand Christmas albums across Jefferson Street. So I suppose we're representing our peeps. And every hour or two I get a track from the Nutcracker. What, I'm a sugar plum fairy...shoot me.

While licking our wounds over the death of garland (wasn't that the stonewall riots?), we got to work on the new gym. Janice and Rich had already cleared out the crap like I mentioned last blog. Now it was painting time. We masked everything, hauled the sprayer up the balcony stairs and into the room. And then Janice and Rich suited me up like I was about to go into a plague outbreak and shut me in. No really. They shut me in. Apparently I'm the only one they thought would look good painted head to foot with green paint.

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So they shut me in and I sprayed. Until my glasses got covered in green haze and then they let me out for a minute. And then they shoved me back in. And I sprayed again. I went through two sets of goggles - because it's a small room, so the haze has no wear to go but around you. See....


Which is precisely why not theater space will let you use spray paint IN the auditorium...because it settles on the lights. Anyway - I was wearing a mask and everything - but the glasses gave their lives for even coverage. Since I had to be able to walk back out through the theatre balcony I was also outfitted with the fancy dancy shoe covers Aunt Cheryl sent us. In some circles they are known as shower caps.

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So the sprayer did it's thing... and three gallons later (the original color we had to cover was really dark) - it was done.

The pack leader had a brilliant thought as we were about to clean out the sprayer. Since we had it all set up - and we had a gallon left of the green - why didn't we take advantage of the opportunity (the sprayer is quite the ordeal to clean out - so the fewer times you have to get it going the better) and SPRAY THE HALF BATH. (the old bathroom). So we hauled the thing down the balcony stairs, out the theatre, down the street, in the apartment, up the stairs and into the half bath. The pack leader balancing the sprayer and the dangling can of paint in which the sucker hoses were resting all the while. So we get to the half bath. The half bath, as you know from my six months of bitching about how awful it was, is TINY. Like well - the size of a half bath. So painting it with an industrial sprayer does not really allow for a whole lot of movement. Or any. The good news was that it was done very quickly. The bad news was after the first two seconds with my finger on the trigger the entire room was a giant green cloud that was like seeing through moulding cotton candy. Of course Janice and Rich had me trapped - so there was no danger of the spray carrying into the apartment. I'm actually amazed they let me out before it all settled - just in case. :)

Around that time the doorbell rang - and our favorite non-pork-related blog fan, Margaret (who chastised me heartily in the middle of Walmart the other day for denying Huntington more frequent blogage) arrived. She had read about our FIRST garland hanging debacle and had brought us those plastic ties that have teeth that you draw through and they lock. Brilliant. She is sooooo nice - she brought us like this giant cannister of them and we were so inspired by the ingenious idea that, should weather permit, we will probably be stupid enough to try again. If not the ties are DEFINITELY part of the master plan for next year. I tell ya - watch out Hillary - I say Margaret for Prez. Cookies and Twist Ties for all.

We were about to head to Fort Wayne to go to Sams Club and pick up the foam flooring squares that we wanted to put in the gym room when the doorbell rang again. It was Jean Anne with her sister from Oregan, Linda, in tow. Linda had been reading the blog (admittedly she just wants to find out dirt on her sister...but a captive audience is still and audience :) ) so she was curious to get the fifty cent tour. By the time we finished taking her through the theatre, the glassy-eyed look of disbelief was akin to the average patron at Nick's if Jean Anne decided the special on Monday was going to be Monkey's Brains. Which I hear is a nice compliment to Malibu Blend. Anyway - we THEN took her through the apartment to see what we had actually DONE and she started to seem less inclined to call the mental hospital to come pick us up. Although she does think we need a maid. But seriously - if you take the screwdrivers, socket wrenches, utility knives, carpet scraps, loose molding, caulk, rebates and other construction equipment out of the apartment - there will actually be space for us to put other stuff away. So we'll get there :) Ok and we're messy. And pack rats. But once there are shelves in the utility closet and another few racks in the half bath closet - we'll be a lot better off.

So Linda was super cool and it'll be fun because she comes to Huntington every six months or so - so it'll be interesting to have someone to show the building to in increments of progress. Which I think used to be a ride at DisneyLand. The Increment of Progress presented by General Electric.

So - we went to Fort Wayne. During which I spent half an hour trying to pick out a roll of wrapping paper. See - in my not-so-distant past when i used to spend money on more frivolous things (rather than...oh...shit boxes) I, like I am genetically disposed, took Christmas wrapping very seriously. It involved a vast array of wrapping papers, ribbons, bowdabras and other paraphernalia. Wrapping the present at the Froomkin house can frequently cost more than the gift. However. Not anymore. So I'm pretty much allowed to have two wrapping papers this year - not my usual eight hundred. And I was supposed to pick out a roll that had at least 50 - preferably 100 feet. Which narrows your patterns down considerably. So I sat gurgling in a huddle at Target trying to pick out wrapping paper until Rich eventually helped me find a roll that I was happy with. It was either help me or beat me to death with a 100 foot roll (they're heavier). The moment they nearly incarcerated me when was I rejected a paper I ALMOST liked because I said "the printing press didn't line up". See, if you look at SOME wrapping paper, (for some reason the Disney stuff is very often like this) they don't allign the printing press correctly. So when the paper goes through for it's second color pass in the press the pattern ends up not allligning. So, for instance, Tigger ends up not being completely orange - he ends up having an extra edge on one side that is pure yellow, and an edge on the other side that is pure red. It's out of allignment. Things like this matter very much to the Jo Jo. It's why his plays look pretty. It does not matter so much to the Najuch's who tried to lure me over to the kitchen knives section for some 'product testing'. I'm weird. I know. But you'll never look at wrapping paper the same way.

Then we went to Steak And Shake. Which, would be completely uneventful if it was not for the interesting couple behind us. A guy and a girl. Together. He was quite the alpha male. And it seemed he was out to impress. First, he ordered for her. At Steak and Shake. First he ordered her cottage cheese, and then decided she could have fries. Then later, he said to her "smell this table." She was not keen. "No, no smell it. You have to smell the table. Trust me. Smell the table". She smelled it. "Doesn't that smell gross?" (Ah, romance). "It smells like someone wiped it with a dirty rag". Then - and this was truly impressive. He sent BACK his meal because it didn't meet with his approval. This would be normal if his meal had not been.... A grilled cheese sandwich. He sent BACK a GRILLED CHEESE. Apparently he thought that the menu said they used three pieces of cheese and this only had two. I would like to know how you tell how many slices there are on a MELTED cheese sandwich. Anyway. She got herself quite the catch.

When we got back home we slotted together as many of the full pieces of the work-floor jigsaw stuff as we could that didn't need trimmed.


And today, after doing some work that I had to get to my Producer (when i suddenly realized he's an Orthodox Jew and can't receive any email after sundown on a Friday!) I managed to get the rest of it trimmed and fitted. And it came out pretty darn nifty if I do say so myself. Those tiles cut like butter - and as long as you measure twice and make sure you have the slots all lined up right - you can make it really spiffy.

Tonight the pack leader and I (who had been working with Rose all day on a power point presentation for the Visitor's Center) carried the giant home gym thing upstairs. We had to take the thing even further apart to get it upstairs, so by the time it was in place we looked at the multitude of pulleys and cables like sheep trying to do algebra. Luckily we were able to download the assembly manual from online - so while I'm away the packleader will be keeping himself off the street by figuring out that engineering wonder.

So I'm off tomorrow for three days to my former homeland. It's gonna be nice to be in New York for a few days... it will NOT be nice to be there in winter. I HATE New York in winter - which is probably great - because it means I won't get too sentimental about and it miss being there too much. See New Yorkers have to walk everywhere - and when it snows - it stays on the sidewalks and around the sidewalks. So you are walking through SLUDGE all day. It ain't fun.

The cast for the reading is finally put together. Alan Tudyk ("3:10 to Yuma", I Robot, Knight's Tale, Firefly, Ice Age, Dodgeball) tudyk_td270248_150×200.jpg

Doris Belack (Tootsie, What About Bob?, Opportunity Knocks, Naked Gun 33 1/3, Prime, and Law and Order SVU (as a recurring judge). tastetest_belack.jpg

(I Lovvvveee excited)

Anna Clumskey (who you would know as the girl from My Girl and My Girl 2). 75621430.jpg

And...get this... Molly Ringwald. 244ringwaldmolly100506.jpg

So - I'm gonna try and go to bed and get some rest and not freak out about screwing this up and them thinking I'm an idiot. Wish me luck.

xo. JoJo