Dad is here. Yay. So the reason for no blog for the past couple days was the annoying internet issues continuing. Sorry, sorry, sorry. The solution, for those of you UNLIKE me who understand this kinda thing, was that we needed a new router...so hopefully it's all dealt with. Until just now the internet connections would only allow Rich OR I to use the computer, but not at the same time... which was super sucky since the period of time when I can work is when the pack leader is BUSY working :) So anyway - back on track.
So Froomkin Sr. arrived - which, for the first time EVER meant that Team Froomkin has outnumbered Team Najuch... and therefore the new administration in power took the reins immediately and accomplished...
absolutely nothing. :)
Ok - that's not ENTIRELY true... we measured some molding together. Wrong. It's all going very well. What? Our people don't build. We kvetch. I'm only half Jewish which explains why I kvetch WHILE I build. Anyway - the deal is that we decided to use Dad's visit to take a BREAK. Yes, you heard it... an actual like day off. A mini vacation in fact. Sadly the pack leader isn't entirely at rest - because he's still the one who has to drive everywhere...and he's also taking care of web clients. But in terms of substantial manual labor - we've called a much needed moratorium. We'll probably get back to some things early next week...but right now we are very much enjoying the fruits of our labor and enjoying the kitchen and the bathroom which are now in full and fruitful use. The rest is also slightly enforced. The Jo Jo is injured. Remember a while ago on the blog I said that my wrist was hurting and I thought I'd screwed it up somehow. Well, over the last weekend it continued to act up - and finally yesterday I went to the doctor. Oy. Turns out I have tendonitis. Tennis elbow in fact. I particularly love the fact that I have an injury which, even though sustained while doing more manual labor than I've ever engaged in throughout my whole life, is named after an elitist pastime. Yeesh. I mean why can't it be called "Construction Workers Plague" or something??? Whatever. So the Dr. said I'm supposed to rest it for like a week to two weeks. I know the Pack Leader thinks I'm faking. Honestly, having not done anything hefty with it for the past two days... it's already feeling much better. And I have a nifty little splint thing that has a tiny balloon in it. And balloons are always welcome.
When Dad took the big tour of the premises, he pretty bowled over. Bowled over by how vast the project was ("it's a big project...gosh it's a big project...it's a really big project") but also by how much we've actually gotten done. He was really impressed with the bathroom and the kitchen - which was nifty.
Dad has already met the entire, as David would put it, 'cast of characters'. He is now a regular fixture at Nick's kitchen every morning (since he rises many hours before I would even consider). In fact I'm a little jealous because Cindy likes him way more than me. I think it's because Dad has been needling Jean Anne to build a smokers iso-booth in the restaurant - and Cindy digs that idea. He sent a cuban cigar home with Jean Anne for Kenny - so I think we won some major brownie points on that front :) He even met Natalie Elle, who whisked him into her office to meet her contractor Marlon (Yoder - remember, he of the Luke Skywalker gag?). I think Natalie harbors a pipe dream that either Bob and Janice or my parents will want a cosy vacation complex near their children where they can come and visit to see the plays we put on. I don' t think it's gonna happen any time soon. My mother isn't buying a house in America that's anywhere more than fifteen minutes from a Crate and Barrell - it doesn't matter HOW close she'd be to me.
Dad's primary charge while he was here was to take care of my Mom's Christmas list while he was here. Not like her shopping list for gifts for her...like stuff for everyone. See normally she gets off the island once a year and goes shopping and this mammoth mall called King of Prussia with her best friend...but she can't get away this year because the family cat is sick. So - Dad - not the most gifted power-shopper has been sent with pages of instructions and clippings from catalogues. So we've been trying to whittle down the items for the past couple days. It's actually be pretty nice, because I love malls...LOVE malls (we don't have them in Bermuda where I grew up - and they don't really have them in London or Manhattan - so it's still like being in Disneyland) and we haven't been in a mall SINCE WE GOT HERE. Since we arrived in Indiana we've been in like Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot and PetSmart. And that's it. So this is a very welcome change of pace.
It's also a little weird - because it's a true demonstration of how much our lives have changed. I mean our needs are just totally different and the change is pretty rapid. I didn't even go into a Banana Republic (which used to be major xmas stomping ground) because there is just no point. Everything I wear every day is covered in paint. And the nice clothes I do have are just sitting in the closet unworn. So as much as I love merino wool... and cashmere scarves...and all that good confirmed bachelor stuff....it's just not gonna happen. Hopefully by the end of next Christmas we'll be on the cusp of welcoming patrons every night into our theatre and I'll need to be all Queer Eyed out to the nines every night. So that's something to look forward too. Meanwhile... 10 jeans from Walmart suit me fine.
Speaking of confirmed bachelors - what's the DEAL with shopping malls? Why do they all flock there. I mean it's like every gay guy in the state of Indiana decided to get a job a shopping mall. It was very weird. I mean I was glad I wasn't dressed too well because I swear people would have asked me to get them a price check in EVERY store. Weird. Well - good to know if we get really lonely we can always go to a Williams Sonoma.
So yesterday we shopped at the mall in Fort Wayne and today was in Indy. Rich would not let me ride the nifty carousel at the mall in Fort Wayne :( I mean it had a giant carousel BUNNY...c'mon. We also discovered that there seems to be a photography obsession 'round these parts. Like there were so many portrait studio kiosks it was kind of astounding. At the mall in fort wayne we were kinda surprised to see that even local Ignory McNasty had a kiosk. Rich keeps explaining to me that it's the big 'senior year book picture' phenomenon that is totally new to me. In my day a photographer showed up at school, with no notice, you combed your hair, sat on a stool for eight seconds - and that was your yearbook picture. Here yearbook photoshoots involve hang gliding, flames, being shot out of a canon...it's big doin's.
Day one of Saul-o-mania involved us imposing minor tourist attractions on my father which we, on our normal schedule, would never take the time to go see. Tomorrow we are driving to Rich's parents house for the night so that we can take him to the Ford museum...which is AWESOME. It's huge and has like the wildest stuff - so i'll take lots of pics. The museums here were a little more modest - but kinda fun...so I took lotsa pics. I'd still iike to get to Amish country, Lincoln's boyhood home, and the American Indian museum while he's here - cuz I know it's the last chance I'll have to convince the pack leader to make the trip.
Anyway - first stop we thought my dad might enjoy was the Sumner B. Sheets Wildlife Museum. Here in our very own Huntington. Here's the deal with this place. It's a bunch of stuffed animals. Like taxidermy. Quite a heap of them. But the REASON it's interesting, is that they were all killed by the same dude. Sumner Sheets. A pig farmer. (And, as you know, we support any pig-related business around here). So apparently, as the social-interraction-hungry docent informs you when you arrive, "Sumner Sheets dreamed of doing THIS from the age of six". Now, when they say THIS, they kind of give you impression that what they mean is "From the age of six he dreamed of providing land-locked midwesterners with an exotic display of wildlife for the whole family to enjoy". What they ACTUALLY mean is "From the age of six, Sumner Sheets wanted to shoot anything that wasn't a carrot". (except presumably pigs..which would be bad for business...lose him money...and prevent him shooting more things?). So Mr. Sheets (who is apparently still with us, but now a little less spry, travelled all over the world at every chance he got, hunted whatever and wherever he could, and then brought it all home to Huntington. And he hunted a WHOLE LOT. It's quite astounding really. The man managed to bag a remarkable amount game in his lifetime. In fact, as the eager guide told us, "I'm glad I wasn't married to him". Now, you know how I said that on a weekday we like to pop in on Rose and Phyllis because we worry they might die of lonliness in the Visitor's Center? Well - compared to this poor lady, Rose and Phyllis are workin' the gift wrap section of Macy's on Christmas Eve. When we walked in she looked at us like we were a mirage. And she MADE us...i mean MADDDEEEE us sign the guest book. In fact she was pretty darn excited dad was from Bermuda because they have a list of places where people have visited from and Bermuda was a location from which a) they had never had a visitor and b) Sumner Sheets had never shot anything. (i was a little worried Mr. Sheets might roll up in a motorized wheelchair with a musket to try and stuff Dad, since he'd be able to kill two birds with one stone, as it were). And considering what a hard time my Dad's had finding Hanukkah candles 'round here to take back home - I think local school children would be as likely to see a Jew in their lifetime as a zebra. He actually did have some endangered species there which he had killed - but they were all apparently procured legally under conditions when the animals had been endangering human life. Although was not entirely convinced by the "this hippopotamus killed two men"... I mean I know hippos are nasty..but you don't really often hear CNN reporting on Man Eating Hippos Run Amock. Do you?.
Which actually reminds me of a funny story I've been meaning to tell you. i"m working on this new play for which a producer in New York is trying to get a workshop put together in near future. Anyway - a big demonstration between the difference doing business in New York and Huntington. The producer tells me he thinks he get a star we are courting for the lead lines up and wants to try and book the invited reading for December 10th. I say to him "But, aren't you worried that with holiday parties and stuff that December 10th is a little to close to Christmas for people to be available." The producer says to me: "Oh. When is Christmas?". I had to laugh. In New York...you can find Hannakuh candles.
So anyway - back to the Wildlife Museum. It was kind of fun because I got to take lots of goofy pictures and Dad got to tell us his Steinbeck-ian fishing/hunting/foozball stories regarding various and sundry wildlife with which he has had a particular history. Particularly Marlin.
NATALIE INTRODUCES DAD TO MARLON. DAD DECIDES THAT CONTRACTORS ARE A LITTLE FISHY. AND DOESN'T TAKE THE BAIT I THINK SUMNER CROSSED THE LINE SHOOTING THIS FELLA. THIS GUYS ABOUT TO GET A SERIOUS BASS WHOOPIN' WHOEVER DID THIS...PLEASE EMAIL ME...I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND. HAVING RUN OUT OF AMMO, MR. SHEETS RESORTS TO KILLING THE CROCK WITH A CEMENT ROLLER SURPRISINGLY, LOCAL AUDITIONS DID YIELD A PROMISING EVA PERON PARDON ME, IS THAT "JOVAN MUSK OX" YOU'RE WEARING?
Alternate caption in spanish: OX Y MORON :) (y in spanish means 'and' but is pronounced 'ee'. Cmon keep up kids :)
(on the Golden Girls Sophia always called the other women Howler Monkeys).
So that was the Wildlife Museum. So if your in Huntington and you want to entertain the kids (and the "Stop the Mad-Ness Brothers" aren't having an auction) take em for a couple hours.
We then hit the Huntington Historical Society. Which yielded fewer photo ops. It was a neat place - chock o block with town memorabilia. During our visit Rich rooted around like a groundhog through photo archives trying to find pictures of the theatre. They actually, suprisingly, had very little about the theatre at all - although there was not a "history of Pork-world" display either - so clearly someone has missed a few major landmarks along the way. Rich actually had a very interesting theory. Since almost every picture of downtown is taken from the courthouse, he's convinced that the guy who owned the camera worked on that end of the street and never walked down to the other end. :)
But like I said - they did have some nifty other stuff:
In other food related issues...we were walking out of Jean Annes the other day and Claudette (the impassioned Chairman of the Pumpkin Competition) stopped us as we were leaving the restaurant. She told us that downtown was having an event called "Christmas in the City" and, at the recent meeting, "it was suggested that we might want to participate". (How exactly does someone else suggest you might want to participate?). Anyway, apparently, "They have Santa Claus visit downtown...and IT WAS SUGGESTED that the two of you might want to be elves". Elves? I asked her if it was some kind of social profiling.
We were a little baffled - I mean weren't not like THAT short, right? The hysterical thing was we were supposed to make our OWN costumes. To be elves. I actually said to Claudette, "Um, Claudette, when you say 'it was suggested', you mean YOU, right...you suggested it". Yup. She told us that there weren't any other roles available except Mrs. Claus and she didn't suppose we'd want to do that.
Foolish foolish girl.
Immediately I went into five minutes of my cockney Mrs. Potts voice saying things like: "Well you just got no idea how much reindeer food costs these days, and he just has to have EIGHT of them doesn't he?... How many bloody Hokey Pokey Elmo's can one woman MAKE I ask you???... in my day you got a dolly and you glad to have it. Well he doesn't let me get out very much...and when he DOES he takes me to a street where they've only got fifteen ruddy antique shops. I mean, really luv, I've been living in the same gingerbread cottage since 1885...don't you think I've GOT enough antiques??"
Rich vetoed the idea. I was crushed. I've always wanted to be Angela Lansbury.
Anyway - it turns out that we were already going to be at the In-laws for Thanksgiving during the gala event... (which JEAN ANNE managed to figure out, bless her cotton socks) so we won't be elves. This year.
I also wanted to tell you about our pretty hysterical time at Smokey Bones rib place last night. Dad really likes ribs - and Bermuda is not exactly rib-shack central...so we took him to this place called Smokey Bones we really liked when were there once. So we ended up with this AWESOME waitress...but for some reason our food took a really long time. And they were out of their awesome cornbread (which was completely heartbreaking for the jo jo... I actually said to the waitress "we can only afford to come here when HE'S paying...and you're OUT OF CORNBREAD??") Anyway - so as we were waiting for the food...and waiting... and waiting... my dad (who would normally be impatient at such a long wait - but was in a really good mood)... says to the fun waitress... "when's the funeral?" she was puzzled...and thought she'd heard wrong as said "what funeral?" And then he says "for the chef".
Clearly I'm not adopted.
So anyway - it turns out the computer somehow lost our food order. So the waitress was like apologizing up one side and down the other...the manager comes over and says he's so sorry...desserts on him... they'll take a percentage off our check... like the guy felt BAD...cuz we were waiting like an hour. But, since our sassy Effie-like waitress was so much fun, we didn't really care.
Finally they got the order back in the computer. It comes. And Dad's is cold. He mentions it to the waitress - NOT wanting her to take it back. They practically ARM WRESTLE for her to take the food away from him because she is like "you are not WAITING that long and then letting me serve you COLD food child". She won. So then the manager comes BACK - (not that we like ever asked to talk to him) - at this point the poor guy is like on the verge of an attack...he's like "we're going to take your meal off the bill... I'm so sorry... please take my first born child and my daughters puppy..."
Anyway - the most classic part of the night was my Dad... little grey-haired Jewish dude, says to the sassy black waitress (in TOTAL seriousness): "You know you remind me of my late dead twin sister".
I spit up diet coke through my nose. I actually knew what he meant - she was a big girl...and very funny and loveable. But her face when he said it was a picture.
A big, big part of yesterday was me dealing with my first official cake commission. Ok, yes OF COURSE Jean Anne got it for me... whatever. But her niece wanted a cake of a certain famous purple dinosaur and asked if I would do it. And, I said yes before my Dad planned his trip... so yesterday Dad turned into my kitchen bitch. But he was AWESOME and we had a really good time. Rich was in no way shocked that the cake cost more for me to make than I charged - but I had to buy a bunch of supplies that I won't buy again - AND it was fun - AND if I get to do more I'm already figuring out ways to make the profit margin a little more...um... partially profitable :) The cake was actually really stressful to do - I think because I've never actually been paid to do one before - normally they've always been gifts and things. So I didn't want it to suck - because even though lots of people charge money for lots of sub-par things - I have this real hangup that if you asking people to pay you for something you have to be REALLY good at it. (which would explain why I am neither a cab driver On Star navigator). So my real problem was that I tried to get a little to fancy for myself (that's what happens when you watch Ace of Cakes. (You WATCH Ace of Cakes on TLC right??? It's awesome. Except he charges $500 minimum for a cake...which makes it a lot easier to be awesome)). See I tried to put these sort of highlights on Barney to make him more dimensional. Not good. Dad kept saying "um...i don't get it." And I'd try and fix them and he's say "I still don't get it". So I said "Dad - you look tired" and sent my sous chef to bed. Eventually I re-iced Barney and managed to fix it pretty well (he did look better though before I tried to get all big for my britches). THEN I wanted the cake to say "I love you, you love me...Whitney's two today, whoopee". But I accidentally wrote "Whitney two today" without the "s" at the end. ARghghg. So I had to surgically remove the whole Whitney so I could fit it n properly. So I did that. THEN I realized that I spelled Whooppee with only one 'o'. Now granted, two year olds are not big sticklers for grammar and spelling - but it was the principle of the thing. So I had to take off the Whoopee. But then I realized that Whoopee would not fit in the space I had with the extra O. Arghgghgh. And see the "I love you, you love me" rhyme thing took quite a while to think of...(Barney sings this dumb "I love you, you love me song") and I wanted to get Whitney and Birthday into it. But come up with an 'eee' rhyme at the end was not easy. I saw a thing online that said something like "I love you, you love me, nancy's three so let's party" but that means the stress falls on parTEE which is a false rhyme. And, as a lyricist, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My father, trying to be helpful, suggested "virginity" as a rhyme - but that isn't so easy to work into a cake message for a two year old. Unless you want the father to beat the crap out of you. So - at one am - I came up with Yippee (and checked the spelling) and was quite pleased with meself. I also at the last minute became panicked in the middle of the night that I had used to much red, white and blue and Americans would think it was a 4th of July cake. Rich, in the morning said "Joel, it's YELLOW and PURPLE!" - which, to be fair, are not even independence day colors in like Zimbabwe. I was still worried that it would EITHER taste terrible (I did this new trick of adding pudding mix into the cake batter which I found in a recipe book...but was pretty nervous about it) or that they wouldn't like it. I was calling Jean Anne today like every four minutes from the mall going "did they eat it yet...is anyone vommitting???" But she said everyone loved it... even after they tasted it. Yay!! So... Jo Jo Cakes is officially available for all your purple dinosaur cake needs.
Anyhoo... today was the big Indy mall... lots of shopping for the Donna Sue list (which entailed approx 200 cell phone calls to Bermuda attempting to not screw things up. With my Mom, desperate to be off the island, saying things to me while I'm in the middle of Restoration Hardware like "What do the Christmas Decorations look like?". We spent the day trying to cross check items with her in catalogues and on line and trying to describe things as "sparkly gold...not glittery gold..." There was one set of art work in Crate and Barrel which she was enamored with - but when my father learned that the large slabs were made of volcanic stone he said there were limits to how much overweight his luggage could actually handle. But we actually got a lot of the list dealt with - and Santa is going to bring me a very, very, very warm fake-fur lined hoody thing from Abercrombie that will keep me warm in this subzero theatre. (I wasn't even going to GO IN to Abercrombie because there are much more practical gifts that Rich and I need than trendy clothing (that once upon I time I lived in every day)...but my mom practically threatened my life if I didn't go in and try on this hoodie thing she'd seen online. What, I'm weak. And even Dad is cold here. My father - who was raised in WINNIPEG - where Penguins go when the arctic "just gets too humid". And he was asking for extra blankets. So it's cold. Saul cold. Which is not like Joel or Donna cold (to my Mom and I the inside of a volcano is usually a little drafty)...it's REAL cold.
So that's about it. And, as some person with my kind of sense of humor expressed it at the Wildlife Museum: