More public speaking, and I'll be freaking.

Practically pic-less. Sorry. Speeches speeches speeches. My goodnes. Kids, we can't find time to lift a hammer because we're talking so much! It's marvellous to be popular - but the Pack Leader is starting to wig out that we're so popular we can't get anything DONE. Eek. At the moment we've decided we're gonna have to put a moratorium on any more major events until the actors arrival - cuz we's got a get ready for them. And build a bar. And finish a ladies room. And and and and...

So no sooner after prom recovery than it was time to open our doors again to another nifty group of folks. This, ladies and gentleman, I hope will go down as one our most madcap, looney, wackadoodle events for a long time. Cuz if it gets any more harried than this, I'm gonna have to hide :)

See a while ago we were asked to speak to a small group of the Huntington Historical society. About, oh say, twenty people. They were going to have tenderloins to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nicks, and we would tell them all about the theater. Twenty peeps. No problem. In our sleep. Yah...not so much. So somehow that event got tagged on with the Kiwanis. Wait, you say (since you pay so much attention in anticipation of the soon-to-arrive blog quiz) you already HAD the Kiwanis. No, my little hamster... we had the DAYTIME Kiwanis. This is the NIGHT TIME Kiwanis. Ok... so that probably took us to like forty. Still totally do-able.

Well, then somehow, the gentleman who organized this whole thing did an interview in the paper and invited the general populous to attend. Come one come all. Give us your poor, your tired, your hungry for tenderloins. And suddenly it turned into a zillion people. So many in fact that we didn't have enough seats. By a LONG shot. So many that Rich had to get on the phone with the evening Kiwanis and ask them if we could have them ANOTHER night. They said yes. Which left us with seventy five. Yup. Seventy five. We have fifty seats. arghghghghgghgh.

So - here was the plan. The throngs would start off at Nicks. They would all have tenderloins. Munch munch. Yummy yummy. Then HALF of them would migrate over to the theatre to have cake. The other half would stay at Nicks and Jean Anne would give them her fun talk about the history of Nick's while we gave our talk to our group. THEN when we were both done...we'd switch. And group two would hear us, and group one would hear Jean Anne. Sounds good right?

Not. OMG. I believe the technical term was Fustercluck. Even though we weren't making any money doing this event, Rich thought we'd be able to take ticket orders for a few minutes between groups. Well - here's what happened. First group came over. Cake... yummy yummy, munch munch. They sit and we start our speech. Now our speech is like twenty minutes probably (it was a slightly trimmed version, mixed up a little from the previous incarnations). Well - apparently Jean Anne's speech was a lot shorter than ours...and Jean Anne wasn't able to keep them AT NICKS. So - in the middle of our first group... people start coming in from the second group. Margaret (who LUCKILY happened to be around) zoomed over to the door trying to keep it quiet, and keep them out. This was not easy - you know those movies where the here has a flaming torch and he's trying to ward off the hoard of zombies. Well - these folks weren't zombies - but they wanted CAKE. And they wanted to sit DOWN. So we're trying to give our speech - about 3/4 through it, while we become patently aware that there is a mounting crowd of forty people outside trying to get inside. Rich started talking faster than speedy gonzales on amphetamines. It started getting truly hysterical. Then some of the elderly people just had to come in to sit (one guy apparently pulled down the flap on the back of our truck and took a load off) - that Madge had to let some in. So these people enter in the MIDDLE of the speech, which we have to turn around and give to them AGAIN in ten minutes!

By the time we were done the people had been there so long, we had no time to hardly take questions - never mind trying to take ticket orders - we had to practically throw them out of the building to get the next group in, as we're flinging cake around for the next group since there was no set up time in between. And like less than 120 seconds after we FINISHED the speech we had to start the whole thing over again. I said to the people who had come in half way "Feel free to sing along". It was ridiculous - I felt Abraham Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents at Disneyland just looping over and over for eternity.

AND NOW PRESIDENT CARTER WILL TELL YOU ABOUT THE SUPPER CLUB 83417855z3hlihk7.jpg

Luckily everyone was in very good spirits - and even the first group who got evicted so quickly really enjoyed it and were very receptive. The seoncd group, with which we had more time, were really fabulous and asked some of the most interesting questions we've ever had. By the time the last of them had left I thought I was gonna keel over - it was just the weirdest event ever. And we'll never ever let ourselves get in that pickle again... but if we did we'll have to come up with a way to LOCK those people in Nick's kitchen with rottweilers at the door until it's time to swap :)

Ok - public speaking number one down.

Then the next day... The Pack Leader and I were being honored by a group called Huntington Alert. They're kind of like architectural Black Panthers :) They're this group that is dedicated to the preservation of Huntington...um...stuff. And this was their annual award ceremony. And they incredibly generously had decided to bestow upon us a 'Preservation in Progress" award. We've heard that a number of years ago a previous owners had gotten a Preservation award BEFORE they actually started doing any renovation...and nothing really got renovated. So we think that they wanted to protect themselves, HENCE the 'in progress" part of our award :) I think it's kinda cute. Anyway - so a number of local citizens were being honored for restoring houses or gussying up their storefront facades etc. So - the event was at the YMCA (you saw pictures of it, remember? We're hoping they might give it to us when they move to their new buidlling???)... and it was a small but extremely passionate group of preservation peeps. This was going to be only a mini speech (at these awards ceremonies you never know when the band will start playing and they'll cut to commercial, right?). So we decided that Rich would do the talking. But then he got up there and people were like "Joel why aren't you talking"... So Rich did the intro blurb and then we went up and answered questions. Mayor Updike was there and he took great pride in telling everyone that he carries Supper Club fliers in his coat pocket and managed to pitch the theatre when he was at an event in Peru (the birth place of Cole Porter). So lets all give out some hefty Mayor snaps.

I will also point out that at the end of this event they had some pretty spectacular munchies. There were these platters of cookies and lemon squares and stuff from the La Fontaine country club - and they were SOOOO good. At the chit chat afterwards we had a fun talk with a couple who flip houses for a living. And they got an award too. Which I thought kinda unusual - but heck, why not. I mean just cuz you're preserving something doesn't mean you can't make a buck, right?

So - that was event TWO.

THEN... yesterday was the Huntington Senior Expo. And we were supposed to talk for like twenty minutes. And I had NO idea what to expect. The last time we were at an expo in Huntington the stage was right in the middle of the food court - so we weren't sure how chaotic the environment was going to be. We decided that I was going to go solo on this one... we figured they'd only have one microphone - so we didn't think it was safe to plan on working as a pair. So the speech got trimmed down to twelve pages - with some new stuff geared to the senior audience... The stage was, thankfully, NOT in the middle of the food court - but set up in a very deep thrust so you had people on three sides of you. At first I was a little panicked cuz there wasn't a podium. Or a music stand. Or anything I could put the script on... and I was really concerned that doing this on my own (particularly in a weird kind of noisy environment where I felt I might rapidly start tanking and losing everyone's interest) that my hands would start to shake holding the script and I wanted something sturdy to HOLD ON TO. Rich was actually really nice and was like "ok this is ridiculous and you're insane - but if you want I'll go try and find you a music stand from the music department). And, whenever Rich and I do the speech together I grab a sip of water whenever he's talking - cuz my mouth dries out - but there wasn't really anywhere to put water. Rich said 'just hold it' But you can't hold a script and TURN PAGES while you're holding water. This is the madness of being jo jo. But I said i would suck it up. I was actually so distracted that in the process of having a conversation with the blind gentleman running the sound, I reached out to shake his hand without realizing he couldn't see me. Smooth.

So - even feeling super awkward just standing there feeling rather naked without a podium or anything - Rich said I did really well. The audience, despite all the ambient noise, were very attentive - they laughed and listened and people stayed through the whole thing. I had no idea how I'd done - but Rich said I was great, and he handed out flyers and spoke with people the whole time. We actually brought seven 8x10 photographs of the theatre to pass around and show people what the lobby looks like. Get this. We only got three back. Seriously. The old folks stole our pictures... just like that couple in dirty dancing - ya gotta watch those old timers, their crafty :) Right after us was a tap-dancing group called the Alley Cats that were completely hysterical and fabulous. The youngest member is sixty and i think the eldest said she was eighty nine. They did hey big spender. Seriously i wish i had pictures. This is one I found online - but their outfits the other day were much more in the black spandex, sequined and feathered vein. Imagine Barbara Bush playing Catwoman.

867059_550×550_mb_art_r0.jpg

So - as you can see - we've been pretty busy working off our little vocal chords. It's been fantastic - but we gotta get caught up in the renovation world big time. Bob and Janice are coming this weekend, so no doubt we'll get a lot done over the next few days.

I haven't had a chance to mention that all of the actors are officially contracted for the summer. I'm soooo excited about how incredible they all are. They have all sent us some music clips of them singing - stay tuned, the pack leader is editing them to upload them for a BLOG PREVIEW!!!

I just managed to send them the song run down for Hooray for Hollywood... it's SO depressing having to cut songs you love. Obviously there's just too much to choose from - so we'll just have to hope things go terribly well and we'll be forced, in great Hollywood tradition to do sequel. But it'll be like Godfather Two - not like Speed 2. Good. The song I was the most bummed about cutting was "Atcheson Topeka and the Santa Fe", largely because it meant we'd be able to get Dan and Winston here for the summer! Rich thought it would not be as effective in a cabaret setting. Well poop on him.

So - the bit above I wrote last night - and now I'm actually writing in the present tense - for like the first time on a blog in months. Whoo hoo - caught up kids! It feels pretty darn good. Rich was early to rise as usual and made an early start over at the Shit Box...which since people are now living there in about a month (and since it's undergoing it's 'exteme homo makeover' I feel deserves a new name. And I have a potential candidate for the new name. I think we should name it after the Southern Plantation Mame is taken to to meet Beau's family (when they sing Mame). The name of the plantation is - this is entirely true - Peckerwood. I love it. Winston will approve. Janice will probably not.

Anyway, a few hours later I joined him and we spent the day working at Peckerwood. Hee hee. We started framing in the new bedroom, which actually went remarkably smoothly. I couldn't figure out WHY - and then Rich pointed out to me that our kitchen has all those angled walls - and this was just a plain old box. Lemme tell ya - box a lot easier. So - 2x4s started going up. I also got the first glimpse at the new front door which you can see in this picture. The exterior needs a little new siding around the doors perimeter - but otherwise it looks really good. See - Rich didn't explain to me that the door was on the return corner - not RIGHT NEXT to the other front door. So when I actually saw this I felt a whole lot better.

new-front-door.JPG

And also - considering that they - y'know made a hole in the HOUSE - take a look at how relatively little damage there is around the door. If I'd tried to make a hole in the house - it probably would have come out a little more expansive... crater-sw0.jpg

This weekend I put in a major vote that Rich and Bob work on the bathroom and get the toilets running. Because right now Peckerwood has no working bathroom. And the jo jo has a small bladder. Luckily, for like the first time ever, we managed to coordinate our need to pee - so we didn't waste too much time heading back to the theatre for relief.

Madge and Larry dropped by for a quick visit. She's been dealing with her huge annual garage sale that she has at the house which incorporates items from practically every Eckert household (ie. the population of China). She was not a happy camper because the Herald Press managed to NOT PRINT her classified add. Normally, she says the place is swarming with people, and it was only dribs and drabs. Anyway - turns out her neighbor was also having a garage sale. It's the family that owns Z Place, a local pizza joint, and Margaret said that they were selling some actual full size Arcade Games (like real arcade ones). Rich has a thing for arcade games. When we went to Disneyworld he could have been perfectly happy spending the entire costly vacation holed up in their big arcade complex - forget about seeing Goofy. So - I'm just WAITING. And Rich says what does she want for them? And Margaret says 100 bucks. And I see the eyes START to light up. And then he says 'which games'. And Margaret says "Donkey Kong".

Well now we're screwed. And this, is my favorite part. Rich says "wouldn't that be nice to have in the house for the actors". Yes. The actors. Yah, and every time he was running to the hardware store and gone for six hours mysteriously, it would be FOR THE ACTORS. So i tell him we can go look at it. And we do. Tragically, Margaret misunderstood and they wanted $450 for them. Rich looked a little like someone had just told him the Tooth Fairy didn't exist the same day his puppy died. Poor Wittle Pack Leader. Sorry actors - no donkey kong.

Then it was right back to the house to keep plugging away. And - as you can see - we got the whole room framed within a couple more hours.

LOOKS LIKE WE CAN OPEN OUR OWN ACTOR ZOO. wall-goin-up.JPG

And, before the light started fading - we even started to get some drywall up. We would have kept working, but we didn't have the T square so we could only install full size sheets. We don't have the laser line over there either - and it's a whole lot easier to get the screws to hit the studs when we've got that. Rich definitely is getting speedy at the drywall though. LIke I said, you're supposed to put the first piece up at the top, and work your way down. So we've now got this piece of 2x4 wide enough to bridge two studs, with a screw at each side that he just screws into the 2x4 about four feet and a half inch from the top. Sits the dry wall on it, and maneauvers it in place. It's a LOT easier than trying to balance that stuff.

sheet-rock-1st-bedroom.JPG

On our way out, one of our neighbors stopped Rich for a quick chat. He mentioned to Rich that he was tired of owning a house and wanted to move out and find a rental. Then he said "The Lord had told him" to talk to Rich about buying his house. A few minutes later I asked Rich if the Lord has also told him we only paid $8,900 for the house next door to his?

Well - Bob and Janice arrive in the morning. And maybe by the afternoon we'll have the privilege to pee.

xo jojo.