April 17, 2014

Puttin' on the Ritz

It isn't often that someone offers you a free trip somewhere, much less housing at arguably the swankiest hotel in Philadelphia.  When Drexel called to invite the Spousal Unit for a campus visit, we expected that they would cover his travel.  What we did not expect was that they would also be covering my travel, or that they would be putting us up in the Ritz-Carlton of all places.  Helloooooo, decadence!  It's hard to believe that yesterday morning I was scrubbing my own toilets and yesterday afternoon I was answering emails from the Ritz about how they could "better personalize your service" and, oh, "what would you like in your honor bar?"  Because those two things go together.  But if Drexel wants to schmooze me too, who am I to argue?

Mario the Magnificent, Dragon Extraordinaire.

Our trip this morning started off with a bang--literally.  On the way to the airport, the Spousal Unit and I had to leave early so we could drop the Resident Diva Dog off at the kennel.  As soon as we got there, I opened the door and turned to grab the dog's leash before she could bolt out the door over me in her excitement to examine the calling cards of the innumerable pets who'd been to the parking lot before her.  As I turned to climb out of the car, I promptly slammed my head into the top of the door frame because I possess all the grace of a drunken rhinoceros (think hippos in tutus à la Fantasia).  Still, I figured if I was going to be a head-banger, then I might as well distract myself from the throbbing dent over my ear by composing a little ditty to the tune of I've Been Working On The Railroad:

Mary smacked the car door this morning,
Then Mary muttered loudly, "Ow, ow, ow, ow."

[And by "ow," I mean "string of enthusiastic swearing."]
Mary smacked the car door this morning...
And rung her personal Liberty Bell.

Mary whacked her head,

Mary whacked her head,
Mary whacked her head and swo-o-ore.
Mary whacked her head, 
Mary whacked her head,
And now her scrambled brains are sore.


Ginger Whack-a-Mole

And because I didn't want to forget these things so I could blog about them later (since that's what I frequently do and why I've been so bad about writing lately), I started dictating them into the notes app on my phone, which resulted in the Spousal Unit looking at me like I had perhaps done more damage to my head than he first thought.  On the one hand, he should be used to such things by now.  On the other hand, it's payback for forgettingto bring his CPAP machine, which basically means that now I'm going to be spending two sleepless nights in a swish Philadelphia hotel while he makes objectionable noises that I can only equate to the sounds a velociraptor might make if it were attempting to mate with a cement mixer filled with hardened chunks of concrete and a pre-oiled Tin Man.

On the plus side, because we had to get the dog to the kennel when we did, we arrived at the airport much earlier than usual, allowing plenty of time to cruise through the interminable security lines and checkpoints.  As usual, the Spousal Unit escaped the TSA Glove of Love, while I was given the Traditional Pat-Down of Unmitigated Smartasses®.  At least the grope du jour was efficient and unenthusiastic this particular time.  I've got to give the Atlanta airport props; considering how many people go through there (94 million a year, according to our pilot), they're surprisingly good at not letting invasive security procedures get out of hand.

Apple's latest governmental contract:  iPat.

Security: Not just for lonely adults anymore.

Once through security we still had ample time to grab a bite of something to eat other than a reconstituted potholder burger and soggy fries.  After hoofing it down a different concourse, we finally settled for Longhorn Steakhouse.  Generally speaking the food was tasty enough, though my salad was swimming in vinaigrette in spite of my asking for it on the side, and the bread (which you apparently have to request specially at the airport restaurants) was frozen in the middle.  But I chose to Let It Go (see what I did there?)  I was mildly surprised to be given a plastic blade in lieu of a real steak knife but realized that I can now rest easier knowing our national security has been ensured as a result of my sacrifice and that Longhorn's making me feel like I'm eating in an institution out of a Ken Kesey novel is purely coincidental.  Probably.

Keeping steak secure for travelers everywhere.

After lunch we headed back to our gate just in time to begin boarding.  I admit I smirked smugly at the Spousal Unit because I got to board in Zone 1 while he had to wait for Zone 2 because he doesn't have the gold Delta Amex card and I do. Plus Drexel's administrative assistant made our reservations separately.  Clearly I'm a very supportive spouse.

The flight itself was uneventful, aside from a few "woohoos" from the back of the plane as as we took off;  turns out half our plane was loaded with a high school girls' volleyball team on its way to a tournament.  Everyone found them amusing, particularly before we deplaned when one of the attendants wished them good luck (resulting in even more raucous cheering) and welcomed the "other five of you on the plane" to Philadelphia.

As it happens, the volleyball team pretty much dogged the rest of our day.  First, I had to wait in line with several of them in a bathroom with only 5 stalls.  Afterwards, I headed towards ground transportation to get a shuttle to our hotel, which involved me negotiating a rather surly desk clerk.  Eventually the shuttle came, however, and we were loaded up our luggage along with four other people.  The shuttle started to drive off, slooooowly, only to stop a few yards ahead at which point the driver disembarked and promptly disappeared.  Some 15 minutes later he came back and installed one of the many volleyball players on our shuttle. Then he disappeared again.  This time he appeared to be arranging shuttles for the rest of the volleyball team with 2-3 other drivers.  Once again he climbed aboard and started to drive off, only to stop again.  A few minutes later, two more people were climbing aboard.  For a shuttle that's supposed to be running every 10-15 minutes, I found it interesting that no fewer than three vans were stalled across from the terminal for a good 30 minutes.

Can you dig it?

With 9 passengers crammed in like sardines, the driver finally decided to head out.  Just before hitting the highway, he turned to ask where all of us were going.  One by one, voices called out: "Hampton...Marriott...Home2Hilton...Courtyard..."  Then us.  "Ritz-Carlton."  I know it's probably foolish of me, but I was painfully aware of everyone looking at us with raised eyebrows and for the first time in years felt like sliding down in my seat a little to hide.  I imagined everyone thinking, "If you're posh enough to afford the Ritz, then why are you riding on a smelly, nasty airport shuttle??"  Of course they probably weren't paying the least bit of attention, but it still made me feel self-conscious and I had to bite my tongue to keep from explaining, "Someone else is paying...we're not snobs, I promise!"  (Meanwhile, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..." kept playing through my head on a loop.)

A couple of minutes later our respective destinations no longer mattered because we all became instant comrades-in-arms when we discovered that our driver could have put any NYC cabbie to shame.  He was whipping through the downtown city streets going a good 20 mph faster than the limit and coming so close to other cars as he pulled in and out of spots to let off passengers that half of us kept our eyes shut while he was doing it.  Since it was clearly going to be an interesting ride I took out my notebook and started to take notes old-school since my phone was out of juice.  Writing on that trip was challenging because it rapidly became clear that this particular shuttle's chassis was not blessed with shock absorbers; we were jounced all through town like small children in a particularly over-inflated bouncy house.  My handwriting resembled that of an arthritic, cocaine-addled physician, and not just because the only pen I in my possession had just moments before chosen to spontaneously dismantle itself.

True story.

The entire trip probably took 45 minutes, 90 if you count the Great Volleyball Transportation Negotiation of 2014.  First we drove through a less savory part of town (at which point I began humming the theme to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in my head), then we passed the famed Reading Terminal at Arch and 12th.  Next, we turned towards someone's hotel and got to watch dubiously as our driver bore down on some pedestrians crossing the road, gesticulating angrily at them to hurry across.  I'm pretty sure he was even revving the engine ominously at them as he kept lurching forward inch by inch.  Once around the corner our drive got close enough to a man waiting to climb in his car that I'm pretty sure he grazed the guy's backside.  Perhaps he was thinking "Buns-zai!" at the time. The remaining passengers exchanged glances of consternation.  At the stop before ours, a lady got whispered to us as she got off that she hoped we made it to the Ritz in one piece and that she hoped we enjoyed it there.  Sadly, she wasn't really joking.

Starring Walter Wait.

Since the Shuttle Ride of Impending Dismemberment, things have gone pretty smoothly.  We are now ensconced on the 15th floor, directly across from City Hall, which I discovered looming over us when I opened the curtain.  And now, as I sit here typing, my window is illuminated by a a glowing orange Big Ben-esque clock tower and a statue of William Penn is presiding over my work.  I guess you could say the Penn is mightier than the Shuttle.

Bigger than your average nightlight.

On the other side of our corner room, directly across, is an apartment building.  Each living room and dining room are made of wall to wall windows that you can look right into, and I can't help wondering if one of them houses an Ugly Naked Guy like in the show Friends.  One of the apartments does house an enormous television, which I can see clearly from my desk and which reminds me of a junior-sized version of the big marquis in Times Square.  Right next to the apartment building is a sculpture of a giant clothespin, which stands there in the middle of Philadelphia as an epic "WTF??" for tourists everywhere.  There are mints on the nightstand, bottles of water with a Ritz-Carlton label, and a bathroom with a glass-encased shower stall and a plush bathrobe.  And there may or may not have been a suspicious shutter click emanating from the toilet stall, to which the Spousal Unit responded with "You just took a picture of the phone, didn't you?" Mea culpa, dude...I guess you can't take me anywhere.  What can I say?  All the free airfare and hotel rooms in the world aren't going to keep me from secretly feeling just a little bit like a fraud who's going to be caught out at any moment.  I simply don't do pretentious well...apparently I'm far too busy embarrassing the Unit by behaving low-class.

Add caption

Still, it's nice to see how the other half lives on occasion if for no other reason than it makes me appreciate even more what I already have and more aware of what I don't really need.  Best of all, while the Spousal Unit gets grilled by Drexel professors for a potential job, I get to traipse all over the City of Brotherly Love on my own, taking in the sights while trying to decide if it's a viable place to live.  Deciding what to do on my day out was daunting, however.  Just looking at the list of available museums was enough to send me squeeing paroxysms of joy, never mind considering all the other arts and activities available both here and nearby.  There's no denying the place has a rich history and lots of potential; the real question is whether or not we could afford a home bigger than a refrigerator box or newer than the clock tower staring down at me.  One step at a time, though...one step at a time.


[Editor's note:  Taking a picture of a phone in the bathroom may be déclassé, but it's still a hell of a lot better than posting one which includes an awkward reflection in the silver toilet paper cover of the photographer in mid-snap while, um, deployed on the throne.  Mercifully, I noticed said reflection moments before I uploaded this post and am therefore not subject to unfortunate memes or plastered across tumblers all over the internet.  Thank heaven for small favors.]

April 15, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Times, they are a-changin'.

Like everyone else, I've had periods of transition or change or difficulty in my life.  But because "easy" would be too boring, I like to stack such transitions one on top of the other until I have a nice Dagwood-style chaos sandwich.
Mmmmm...chaos.  Tasty!

Four years ago, the Spousal Unit left Autozone in Memphis to take a new job in north Georgia at a small start-up company that was doing interesting things in the area of network storage.  The company's founder wanted to hire the Unit enough that he set out to schmooze me and the girlie into acquiescence by flying us down here first class.  He even sent a limo service to pick us up from the airport, which the first time any of us had ever been in one.  And let me tell you, we were GIANT dorks about it, too.  The girlie and I examined and pushed or pulled all the buttons and switches, no doubt annoying the driver just like on every TV show ever, and we poured ourselves glasses of soda to drink on the hour drive just because we COULD.  I was by far the worst, doing the princess wave at passing cars (as though they could even see me behind the tinted windows) and saying stupid things like "I'm in a limo so I'm better than you" or "Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?" and then giggling wildly.

Sadly yes--I am that person.

Upon arrival to the Garden Hilton downtown, we discovered that we had been given not one but two rooms, each of which had a basket of local goodies waiting for us inside.  They had even taken the time to get student-appropriate goodies for the girlie's basket.  Nice touch, that.  After depositing our luggage, we were showed to a black SUV parked next door that had been rented for us, presumably so we could look like a bunch of Feds while exploring the neighborhood.

The visit went well, obviously, since the Unit ended up taking the job.  And we even behaved less like classless hicks on the way back in the limo ("Driving in limos is sooooo mundane now...")  So much for novelty.

New jobs sound great and exciting and all, but dealing with the resultant moves when they're flanked with a high school graduation and college departure?  Not so much.  The Unit ended up working down here a week or two a month and telecommuting the rest of the time while the girlie finished up her last three months of school.  With graduation behind us, we did a blitzkrieg of house hunting over Memorial Day Weekend, prepped our current house for listing, and moved all of our stuff at the end of July during quite possibly the hottest week of the year.  Three weeks later, we drove the girlie and a minivan full of her possessions north for her first year of college.

The Dudette abides.
In less than three months' time, we bought and sold a house, moved--TWICE, and I found myself in an unfamiliar place with no family or friends anywhere nearby to help me transition.  Needless to say, it was challenging. 

True story.

Pretty much.

Now, four years later, I'm about to do it all over again because at the end of January, the Spousal Unit was laid off from the network storage job.  Yay for unemployment!  (Not.)  So I find myself, once again, with a graduating girlie and about to coordinate two interstate moves simultaneously.  Because it was such fun the first time.  Frankly, I'm starting to feel a bit like a parental stalker or something since moving when my kid changes schools seems to have inexplicably become a "thing" now.

Still, I'm kind of looking forward to the change at this point.  Not the process, of course--that will blow.  But sometimes change is good, and it doesn't hurt that this time my kid won't be leaving home 30 seconds after I move to unfamiliar territory.  Besides, if I'm honest, Georgia and I haven't been the best of pals these last four years.  Between the broken wrist, crushed toe and two hangnail surgeries, never mind being forced to succumb to bifocals, it has become clear that Georgia has been trying to oust me like a bad transplant since I got here.  And that doesn't even count the surprise appendectomy because apparently I can't even get appendicitis like normal people.  I know, I know...you're all shocked.  I guess that's why the South calls Northerners who won't leave "damn Yankees."

Subtle.

Even so, I've made several wonderful friends since I got here and I will miss them all terribly.  I've gotten to travel a bit more and to enjoy a life that does not revolve around my child's school schedule.  But it's time for a change...it's time for the next big adventure.  

It's time for the world to BRING IT.

February 13, 2014

Winter Olympics Theme Songs

I admit it; I'm an Olympics junkie.  I have been ever since I was in high school, when all anyone could talk about was the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid (which was anything but placid at the time).  Summer or winter, when the Olympics is broadcast I am glued to the television like some wide-eyed limpet, regardless of the sport.  In fact, when the Olympics is on, I'll watch sports I would never otherwise give a second glance (I'm looking at you, Race Walking and Cross-Country Skiing).  I just can't help myself; I get caught up in all the Olympic spirit--not just in rooting for the home team or in watching athletes medal, but in all those side stories of people upholding sportsmanship and class to a degree that's not always seen outside of the Olympics.  Like this time, when a Canadian ski coach replaced a Russian skier's broken ski so he could finish his race with dignity instead of crossing the line broken and battered and demoralized, or the freestyle skier who is taking home 4 puppies he rescued from Sochi's stray dog extermination program, or the speed skater who gave up his spot to a teammate who had a better chance of medaling in one event, even though he hadn't qualified for it.  There is just something about the Olympics that makes athletes (and we spectators) rise above petty rivalries and which brings out the best in us all.  And of course, there's also The Pants--Norway's Men's Curling team and their gloriously loud and exotic pants.  I adore those pants.  I still don't really get curling, but if a bunch of hot men wearing fantastically inventive pants want to yell "Harder, harder!!" at the screen as though personally inviting me to play with their stones, well, then, who am I to argue?  They are welcome to sweep me off my feet.

Anyway, while watching the Games this week I keep seeing ads for the ski jumping (presumably because it's such a big deal that women are ski jumping these Games for the first time.  And always during these ads are set to the wildly appropriate lyrics "'Scuse me, while I kiss the sky..."  Eventually it made me start wondering about what theme songs the other events should have, so I came up with this list.  You're welcome.



Biathlon:  Bang Bang (alternatively, Happiness is a Warm Gun)

Bobsled:  With A Little Help From My Friends

Cross Country Skiing:  500 Miles

Curling:  Everybody Must Get Stoned (alternatively, If I Had a Hammer)

Downhill Skiing:  Flirting With Disaster (alternatively, Don't Stop Me Now)

Figure Skating:  I Feel Pretty

Freestyle/Mogul Skiing:  I Love Rocky Road

Hockey:  Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Luge:   Slip Slidin' Away

Short Track Speed Skating:  Wipeout

Skeleton:  Suicide Is Painless

Ski Jump:  Defying Gravity

Snowboard:  Livin' On The Edge

Speed Skating:  Ice, Ice, Baby


September 2, 2013

Speaking Stones

Yesterday morning the girlie took us to her new church in New York.  The building itself was very lovely example of Gothic/Romanesque architecture--very old-school, though much newer than it looks.  I had the pleasure of joining the girlie's choir and singing with her, which makes this the third different church congregation in which I've sung this month.  I'm starting to feel like a choral dilettante.  The girlie was most excited for us to meet her favorite minister and hear him preach because he bubbles over with energy and enthusiasm as much as she herself does.  And his sermon was indeed quite good; it's refreshing to hear someone a little more realistic and progressive after spending a couple of years being hammered with nearly every kind of hate and prejudice available my previous pastor, who I think would feel far more at home in Westboro Baptist Church.  But that's a whole 'nother story.

Asbury UMC

Anyway, after the service, we stopped to check out the famous Mount Hope Cemetery near her school in which such such notable people as Bausch and Lomb (yes, the contact lens people), Hiram Sibley (founder of Western Union and instrumental in the purchase of Alaska), Dr. Carver (father of the Transcontinental Railroad), and several politicians, poets and inventors are buried.  Perhaps the most famous residents of this particular cemetery are Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.  Given that this weekend is both Labor Day weekend and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the "I Have a Dream" speech, it seemed very important to me to pay my respects to these two pioneers for equality and justice, who labored their entire lives to improve the lives of others.

I must admit, I was a bit surprised by the small size and overt humility of Susan B. Anthony's gravestone; somehow it seemed that someone so notable should have a marker as large as her impact.  In retrospect, however, perhaps the humble stature of her stone is more appropriate after all.  I particularly liked the rocks (a Jewish tradition to show respect and remembrance) piled atop her grave and the dreamcatcher peeking out from beneath them.

Susan B. Anthony, Suffragette Extraordinaire (and doyen of confusing quarter-sized dollar coins).

The Anthony Family marker...notice that Susan B. is listed on the "Equality" side.

Frederick Douglass' marker was as surprising as Anthony's was, though for the opposite reason.  It was HUGE.  It was also covered with blue letters, which we thought odd till we realized that they must be oxidized copper, like the Statue of Liberty.  To the left of Douglass' grave was a memorial about his second wife and to the right was a stone bench placed there by some Lincoln HS group or somesuch in remembrance and respect.

Frederick Douglass, famed orator and staunch supporter of African-American's and Women's rights

Nod to the missus.

Memorial

After paying our respects, we got back into the car and began to wander around the massive cemetery of nearly 200 acres looking at stones.  I gotta say, old cemeteries are cool.  The headstones are infinitely more interesting and elaborate than many newer ones and you can't help but feel the weight of history when viewing them, particularly when passing sections devoted to servicemen or firemen such as these:

Graves of servicemen from the Civil War to the modern era.
Memorial to fallen firemen; one of the markers in this section had a stone fireman's helmet on top.
At one point we passed a gravestone shaped like a little bear and all went "awwww!" at its cuteness till we realized it was the marker for an infant who did not survive his first year.

Cutest and saddest headstone ever.

Seeing all the different memorials and stones was fascinating.  I can understand why one of the professors at the girlie's school regularly holds a class called "speaking stones" in which students do tours of this cemetery and research the various people they find interred there.

Of course, I am still me, so we also got a bit silly when we started to see humor in stones juxtaposed near each other.  (Reverence has never been my strong suit.)  We began to think that some of the stones had been so placed just to mess with our heads.  For example, we passed a monument for the Corning family, which was right next to a marker for the Glass family.  Hmmmm.  We saw one for Starkweather, which seemed oddly appropriate given the general snowiness of the city and the fact that the monument was shaped a bit like a lightening rod.  Probably the funniest was the mausoleum for the Pringle family, which naturally led to a spate of jokes about the chips.  These were not helped by the fact that nearby was another marker for the Popp family.  You just can't make these things up.

Once you Popp, you can't stop.
(Like you weren't thinking it.)
Philander had two wives.  Hmmmm.
Such a pain in the glass.
(And yes, this is the guy who made your casserole dish.)
"If I had a Hammer, I'd hammer out a gra-a-ve stoooone..."
Cyrillic headstones are just cool.
But beware, because there are Spies in the Russian section.
This guy likes to keep his hobbies in plane sight.
Peter Christ just doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?
Industrialized society brought to you by Steel Gears.

We saw the headstones of some of the slightly less famous residents as well, including the following:

Half of Bausch and Lomb
Father of the Transcontinental Railroad
Founder of Western Union and the largest university-affiliated
music library in the country at the Eastman School of Music.
The Hopeman family, for whom the University of Rochester's 50-bell carillon is named.

Regardless of the number of famous people interred or amusing stone juxtapositions, Mount Hope Cemetery is a peaceful place filled amazing architecture.  There are mausoleums all over, many with stained glass windows inside.  There are obelisks and fountains and memorials beyond numbering.  Some markers are wildly specific and others vague, merely stating "Mother" or "Father" or "Daughter" or "Wife."  All are beautiful in their own way.










Fred and Sue B. could not have asked for a more poignant or expressive place to rest from their many labors.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.

September 1, 2013

Dormageddon

Yesterday, yet again, we helped the girlie move into her dorm for the coming year.  But this isn't just any year, this will be her SENIOR year.  I find this concept baffling since I'm pretty sure that she was a high school senior only 10 minutes or so ago.  I mean, I know I'm not getting any older, so how can she be?  It's a mystery.

After arriving in town Friday evening and grabbing some dinner we drove out to a friend's house to reclaim her car, which he had been watching over while she was home for the month of August.  What exactly he was watching it do I can't say, though I like to think he used it to herd his alpacas around their pen in lieu of a more compact and furry 4-footed herding companion.  After all, even a poor little Saturn should be allowed to dream big.

Saturday morning we went to collect the girlie's room key, went to the storage unit to load up our rental minivan (Stow and Go seats, you rock my world) and headed back to the dorm to unload.  Because the girlie's roommate is of the awesome, she stashed one of the giant orange utility carts littered around the campus in the suite for us after moving herself in earlier in the week.  This was quite the boon since those carts tend to be hard to get on move-in and move-out days.

I'm pretty sure that cart has a pig snout.

We loaded up the first cart and started to take it upstairs, only to discover a magically deserted second cart with which I promptly absconded.  Thus began what amounted to a move-in bucket brigade, with the hubs and the girlie taking one cart and unloading it upstairs while I loaded up the second cart at the car, then swapping them out and starting all over again.  At one point during the proceedings, a couple of German students who were standing outside having a smoke bemusedly watched me loading up carts.  Halfway through my second cart, they finally commented that my student had "packed the entire house."  While not expressly true in and of itself, her collection of SCA accoutrements over the last three years has nearly doubled the paraphernalia housed in her room.  When I was nearly done loading, one of the boys did ask if I needed any assistance, by which point I obviously didn't.  So much for chivalry.

Because we couldn't get everything from storage into the van in one go (yay, armor!), we once again hid the orange cart in the suite, released the second, and took a lunch break with the girlie and her roommate.  Then it was back to storage with a quick trip to Target on the side.

One trip to Lowe's, two to storage, three to Target and 4 orange carts of chattel later (never mind the 6 packs of bubble-wrapped books we took on the plane), we finally got the girlie moved in for her senior year.  The first Target trip was for standard cleaning/restocking sorts of supplies.  The second was for a curtain rod for her closet and a pack of underpants because she couldn't find any clean ones, having not had time to wash her Pennsic clothes before flying home.  The third trip was to return the curtain rod (which turned out to be the wrong size) and to exchange said underwear for the correct style.  I should have gotten a picture of the underpants and curtain rod for my collection of awkward shopping photos, but didn't.  I did get this one, though.

"Brain bleach on Aisle 6..."
The truly sad part was discovering today at the airport that I still had a Target gift card in my wallet, which somehow got missed on ALL THREE of the Target runs yesterday.  Clearly I need to staple it to my shirt or something because I'm pretty sure this is about the 10th trip I've made to a Target since receiving the card and I still haven't managed to use the blasted thing.  Ah, well...one of these days I'll finally achieve the elusive bullseye.

We spent the rest of the evening nomming pizza and catching the end of the recent Les Misérables movie.  Frankly, I still can't take Russell Crowe remotely seriously in the role of Javert; you'd think he'd be good at that sort of character but his clear preoccupation with getting the singing right (which he didn't, considering he sounded most of the time like he had a serious sinus infection or possibly a dirty sock wedged down his esophagus) rendered him virtually incapable of any acting barring the odd scene or two (when he notably was not singing).  On the plus side, when all the deceased characters came back at the end to sing the finale, I got to watch the hubs nearly spew soda up his nose when I casually commented "I see dead people."  So it was all good.

In spite of the approximately 900 trips around town, move-in went relatively smoothly though I find it difficult to believe that the next time we schlepp the girlie's possessions, it will likely be to take them off to her grad school residence.

Time really needs to stop flying past so quickly.