Archive for July, 2011

A Feudin’ Festival

The end of a weekend full of fun and excitement.  Saturday was the final day of our annual Festival of Flags.  Around 10AM, our street was being bombarded by fire engines and police cruisers from surrounding communities as well as sporty cars that would travel the parade route.  Being right on the main route, our house is a wonderful, shaded point from which to view the extravaganza.  I must say that this year’s parade was very enjoyable.  It featured 3 area high school marching bands (two more than the last several years, the traditional pageant contestants, Citizen of the Year (who according to the local paper was born in 1984 yet graduated with my mother in 1966), various floats, and handfuls of candy.  I saw more adults run up the hill in front of the house than kids.  The three nieces all went down the street to the unshaded library lot.  I did not understand why because we were getting just as much candy thrown our way.  Ah, well…

After the parade, the sibs and I had a few hours to kill before the second round of Family Feud.  For whatever reason, our preliminary round was the only game played on Friday night.  I would have thought that it would be more beneficial to play the entire first round (8 teams in all) and continue with the semi and final rounds the next day.  It definitely would have been a little cooler.  We were told not to expect to play our second round game until 3-3:30.  However, the host breezed through the games and it was probably 2:15 when we took the stage.  Jeff printed out a huge banner and name tags complete with a symbol indicative of our own unique personas.  His was an OSU emblem;  Chad had a Cubs logo; I had a Star Trek insignia; Christi had a NASCAR auto; and Charnel had a baby bottle.

We played a team made up of employees of a local factory.  The three questions:

  • Name a beautiful breed of dog.
  • What does a fancy restaurant have that normal restaurants do not?
  • And the third escapes me.

We had control of the first question; however, there were 8 answers and after going through the line once, the responses got more difficult.  Daschund and shi tsu are beautiful?  Unfortunately our rivals won on a steal.

We got control of the second question as well.  I blew my turn when I said “menu” was something fancy restaurants have that regular one’s do not.  My thinking was that the menus are at the tables and not on a board ala McDonald’s and the like.  A bit of controversy…  Chad said “waiter” which got an X.  Maitre D’ was a correct response.  For whatever reason, my second brother thought that the two were synonymous… Sorry, Charlie.

Our fate was sealed when I faced off at the podium for round three and for the life of me I cannot remember what the question was.  I did get the number three response but my opponent came up with the number one and they never looked back.  A fun experience bonding with the siblings and there is always next year.  However, I wonder if a different host could be found.  Not that his honor did not do a fine job… We did stay and root on as the Perry family was crowned champions after they defeated Team Matsu (the team that dealt us our defeat).

A Shower In Indigo

Today was an extremely busy fun day  I had to run to Btown for my monthly poke and got a call this afternoon informing me that all is well and  they’ll see me in another 4 weeks.  From there, I set off to find decorations for a small baby shower, Lutz and I were preparing.  Around 4:30, I went to the shelter house to decorate.  I hope the guest of honor was a LITTLE surprised?!  Fun while I was there briefly, as always.  I had to bolt shortly after the festivities began as my siblings and I were set to compete in our hometown festival’s version of Family Feud.

The set left something to be desired.  Our oldest commented that he could have done a much better job… I would have to agree.  Have you ever played Family “Fued?”  I don’t think I would want to.  Our revered mayor played host.  He did a fine  job but could have slowed the pace a bit. We were done in 20 minutes. I was going to ask if he was going to kiss the girls on the teams, but decided against it.

The Shaf siblings took on the team of Main Stop.  We were relentless.  We won each of the three rounds.  “Name a place where you meet obnoxious people.” “Name an expression with the word HEAVEN.” “Name an activity teenagers engage in when they should be studying.”

After some debate, Jeff and I played Fast Money.  Since I went last, I was driven around the grounds in a cart so I couldn’t hear the questions and answers.  It would not have hurt too much to hear the answers since the smart one only got 81 of the 200 points needed.

  • Name a vehicle named after an animal.  J: Mustang; Me: Cougar (number 1)
  • Name any color of the rainbow. J: INDIGO?!; Me: Red (number 1)
  • Name a College that generally has a good basketball team. J: Ohio State; Me: Notre Dame (first thing that came into my head)
  • Name a Cable Network beginning with the letter “C.” J: CNN; Me: C-SPAN
  • Which President has the most streets named after him. J: Washington; Me: Lincoln (tied for top answer).

Indigo may be a color of the rainbow but apparently not a very popular color of the rainbow.  In fact, I think I read that it had been downgraded.  In the end, we totaled 211 points and move on to round two!  The rest of round one begins tomorrow at 1PM.  Six other teams play (3 games total) before we take the stage sometime between 3 and 4 o’clock!  Would be nice to see some Jamiahsh fans come and cheer us on!

There’s No Place Like The Merry Old Land Of Oz

Yesterday was quite the busy day.  It began around 9AM as I went to the area chamber of commerce office to sell tickets for FCF’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  Quite an experience (fun but at times busy).  Answering phones, waiting on the line of theatergoers, marking charts, getting the tickets, running credit cards, and attempting to keep an accurate count of sold tickets was fun.  Of course there were down times, but by 5PM, each of the 4 performances were really close to 300 with Friday night just one ticket shy of 400.  I found it amazing that Thursday night’s opening is the second strongest.  Sunday afternoon is a typical slow day but Saturday night?!  Ah well… it was only Tuesday.

After selling tickets, I had a few hours before I needed to be at the Arts and Ed building to sit and review said show. I must say that it was much easier to review Oz since it remains one of my perennial favorites than it was my first time doing a review for (Cr)OKLAHOMA!  It certainly took less time… or maybe last night’s show ended sooner.  I must apologize for any omissions to the cast as I attempted to include everyone including the adorable Toto.  At review time, the programs had not yet arrived and a full cast list was unavailable.  However, most of it was available on the theatrical group’s website.  So after completing my task, and forwarding it on to the President, my second review will soon be on the printed page, if not on the screens of cyberspace.  Hopefully, it will appear before the show completes its one weekend schedule.

There’s No Place Like The Merry Old Land Of Oz

by Jamy Shaffer

In 1900, Lyman Frank Baum published the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz having no idea the impact that the little children’s book would have on the world. Twelve sequel novels, stage plays, and silent movies followed. However, it was the 1939 beloved classic motion picture starring Judy Garland that would catapult the tale to atmospheric proportions. This weekend only, under the very capable direction of Beth Schweitzer, Fountain City Festival presents the most faithful stage adaptation of the cherished film.

McKenzie Frazier leads the cast as Dorothy Gale, the young naïve farm girl who dreams of going “Over the Rainbow” and escaping the dull, lifeless Kansas prairie. Miss Frazer who is in her late teens does a fine job of portraying the young dreamer by use of subtle body gestures and a childlike voice that give Dorothy just the right mix of naivete and, at times, fear.

As in the movie, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion each are characters from Dorothy’s Kansas life recreated in more colorful, dramatic fashion. Brian Coon is exceptional as Hunk who, in Oz, becomes the man of straw with no brains. Coon’s agility on stage is phenomenal as he falls down, picks himself up, and puts the stuffing back in.

Casey Wood delivers a dramatic Hickory/Tin Man. Even for a character with no heart, Wood does a fine job of portraying the emotions he lacks. His stiff movements on stage are wonderful as he stands as if posing for his statue.

The third friend Dorothy encounters along the Yellow Brick Road is hilarious slapstick at its finest. Adam Coon is brilliant as the Cowardly Lion. Even as Zeke, Coon is remarkable as he runs away in the face of danger. Once in the costume of the fearful king of the forest, he goes all out with his perfect comedic timing and fabulous stage presence.

Amy Vondeylen is hideously delicious as Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West. Her over the top, extremely melodramatic, villainous portrayal is sure to draw hisses and catcalls from the audience.

Caprianna Parrish brings a delightful, airy quality in her portrayal of Glinda, the Good With of the North. Her costume, like many of the other characters’ is almost a direct replica of the original film version.

The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz himself is brought to fine life by Tom Schweitzer. His showman approach to the character is just the thing needed to portray the humbug who is a good man but a very bad wizard. Hopefully, this comes as no surprise to anyone.

Anyone who has ever seen Keith Day in action knows what a fine character actor he is. Mr. Day displays a great sense of warmth but befuddlement as Uncle Henry along side Sarah Schaper as Auntie Em. Later, he brings the same greatness to his role as the Guard at the Gates of the Emerald City.

What is Oz without the adorable munchkins? There will sure to be a collective sigh and laughter as Marlee Yoder, Katherine Seaman, Vivien Ewing, Hannah Goodrich, Kayla Arnold, Veronica Nichols, and Lizzy Canield portray the female variety. Austin Damrod, Cory Yosick, Jesse Short, Seth Short, Milo McRobbie, Logan Psurny, Mason Frazer, Mason Bassett, Wyatt Short, Keegan McCashen, and Micah McCashen play their male counterparts.

The three apple trees who seemed to have a larger on stage role than in the movie are played by Jeremy Scott, Jared Wigent, and Thomas Vandal.

Some of the Witch’s Winkie guards (“O E O Yo Ah”) are played by Cameron Lyons, Austin Teegarden, Mason Bassett, Wyatt Short, Evan Raub, and Jeremy Scott.

Other Emerald City Ozians are played by FCF stalwarts Ron and Linda Jinks, Noelle Goodson, Sara Yosick, Nanci Frazer, Briana Gearhart, Megan Fry, Maddi Heisler, Kathleen Walsh, Remy Cousino, Emma McCashen, Chloe McCashen, Heather Teegarden, Edwina Phillips, Sandy Bowers, and Faith Stambaugh.

So… take your own journey along the Yellow Brick Road and go Over the Rainbow as FCF presents The Wizard of Oz. Thursday July 28th – Saturday July 30th at 7:30pm and Sunday July 31st at 2PM. Unlike years past, the show runs only one weekend at the Bryan Arts and Education Building. Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Bryan Chamber office or by calling 419-636-2247. Don’t miss this cherished family-friendly show!

(Jamy Shaffer is a veteran community theater performer who has been involved in more shows in the Northwest Ohio region on and off stage than even he can count.)

May I Return….

What a day!  I took two of my nieces to Journey Oz as the cast and crew prepared for what is sure to be a WONDERFUL production next weekend.  I once again will be playing reviewer Tuesday night.  Today, the cast and crew provided an on and back stage experience tailored to the entire family.  Munchkins, Winkies, the Wizard, Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Dorothy were on hand for photo ops and previews… and “her little dog, too.”  Alyssa and Sydney were both quietly excited at the site.

After, Megan texted me and asked if I would like to accompany her to an area production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which starred two thespians I have had the honor of performing with previously.  So after grabbing a bite to eat and dragging her to church as I had to sing, we headed out.  Tim has really grown as an actor and delivered a FINE performance.  Crystal as always was stellar as one of the trio of narrators.  This is the first time I have known of a production utilizing more than one narrator and it worked nicely.  The entire cast looked like they were having such an outstanding time.  In every show, it is important to believe that the people on stage are actually enjoying what they are doing.  Joseph perhaps a bit more than any other because it can easily slip into “cheese.”  The gentleman portraying “Levi” is the husband of a friend of mine who I have known since my pre-school days.  Could not find him after the show to congratulate him.  Just one of many shows that never gets old for me either watching or performing in.  Nine months is a long time.  But soon I will be on stage delivering the list of songs I have been perfecting.

A very fun day spent with loved ones doing things I love to do.

Sydney and Alyssa with the Cowardly Lion

All Is Well

It is OVER!  The phenomenon that began in 1997 with the British publication of a little book entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and continued through 7 books and now 8 big screen adventures has reached its climax.  All I ask is that it ends here.  To go back or to move forward would cheapen what has come before.  I cannot recall a pop culture phenomenon that has endured, captivated, and caught the world’s (for better or for worse) attention.  Millions of children (and adults as well) began reading the novels of “the boy who lived.”  These same children grew up with each page turn, every movie frame as the core cast of the films remained the same throughout the octology.  I found it enthralling to follow Daniel, Rupert, Emma, Matthew, Tom, and the other young actors progress from naive 10-11 year olds into 20-something year old seasoned performers aided by a cadre of many of the finest British thespians.

I dare say that never before (and very likely never will again) has the world experienced the likes of such a series.  Midnight book/movie releases; a game invented from the pages; a theme park; college classes; and I’m sure a myriad of other items devoted to the world have appeared.

I was (as I’m sure millions of other fans were) a bit nervous about what to expect from the printed pages being transferred to movie screens.  Apparently,  the worry was for naught as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has vanquished several box office records in its path in the first 5 days of release.  This afternoon, I spent the extra money to attend my first IMAX 3D experience.  I was blown away by the pre-movie graphics and announcement to say nothing of the main feature itself.  There were moments that I could tell that were filmed traditionally and transferred but the total experience was breathtakingly immersive.  I would have enjoyed the film itself on a regular screen but after investing the last decade plus in the characters, I felt that the farewell needed to be experienced on a grand scale.  Thrilling, wondrous, emotional (any fan who isn’t moved… well…) action packed.  The best of the series?  Definitely… YES!  However, I like to think of the movies as a whole.  Things that were left out in the transfer to the movies… most notable in the Half-Blood Prince.

Goodbye, friend of Hagrid!  It has been a magical adventure.

Should Have Gone And Fed The Ducks

Well… another year plus 3 days older.  This year has definitely been one of the most personally dramatic I have ever faced but with God’s protective presence through my wonderful family and once again the very best friends He has put out there for me, I feel that I am nearing as close to a full recovery as possible.

I always enjoy doing special things on my birthday.  This year, I was lucky enough to have a 4 day holiday (I will be paying for it since I now work until Tuesday without a break… I can handle that).  Saturday, my parents and my oldest brother celebrated with me at The Factory restaurant.  This is one of at least three family named (Don Hall) restaurants in the Fort: Triangle Park and the Gas House are two of the others… if memory serves there are a few others.  It had been years since we had eaten at the Factory and that being the case I decided on that.  Being only 5PM on a Saturday, there was not much of a crowd so we were seated right away.  The selection was NOT at all what it used to be.  In fact, I almost wished that I had decided to go to Triangle Park which has a small pond in which ducks and a few swans are known to gather looking for bread crumbs.  However, my surf and turf was wonderful.

Sunday (the actual big day), I was invited to spend the day with my second family.  This year, there was no other place I would rather be.  C&L saw me and continue to stand beside me as I improve more and more each week.  To say that they and their family are really special is an absolute understatement.  We met a few other friends at church service and then went to brunch.  On the way, I had two little ones trying to play with the windows in the car. Their mischievous plans were thwarted as they discovered that the driver’s door has a window lock. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!  Then back to the house and some play time with the littles.  Around 6, I had to make my exit as I had forgotten to bring my meds.

Monday, more fun.  I volunteered to take the three little ones to church while L took T to her camp.  Later, I had a meeting and was invited to help celebrate another guy’s birthday (he CAN’T be three already… I distinctly remember the day I was called informing me of his arrival).

Tuesday… a day to relax and think about nothing.  Started reading the original Gaston Leroux Phantom of the Opera. Not as dry as I thought it might be in fact it is pretty good so far.  Perhaps I will compare and contrast the longest running Broadway musical and the novel somewhere down the line.  I did get our team signed up to play Family Feud at our annual village fest on the 29th at 7.

All in all a Happy Birthday.  NOW I have to find a day to see the final chapter of Harry Potter opening this weekend.  Definitely on Tuesday since I close every night through Monday.  Anyone care to join me?


And I Had To Catch It On Baseball Tonight

WOO HOO!!!!!!  Captain Jeter has done what few other have done and the first Yankee to do it!  I have always thought (well for the past several years, anyway), that Derek has been and continues to be a star in not only the way he plays but the in way he presents himself off the field.  A real classy guy!  Yesterday at 2PM, number 2 hit a homerun in his second time at bat.  Why is this so special?  This homer was DJ’s 3000th lifetime hit in the ‘stripes!  Something else the superstar shortstop did that he has not done in a bit… he went 5-5 at the plate!

The fan who nabbed the ball showed a tremendous amount of class himself!  Instead of cashing in, he gave the ball back to Jeter.  In return, the phone salesman was awarded with four tickets to each of the remaining Yankee’s home games as well as autographed balls and bats.  I know what some of you are thinking… he’ll sell those and make a mint that way!  😉 I hope not.

Why couldn’t he have hit it when the game was carried in our area?  AH, WELL DJ3K!

Almost There

Well… it has been just over a year since I BEGAN taking voice lessons.  For obvious reasons, I have not had a full year’s worth.  However, I think I have made fine progress in the 8 or so months I have had.  I am SOOOOOO close to polishing the 10 songs I have chosen to put before an audience including 3 or 4 selections which require more than one voice.  One piece was described by K as being very difficult to sing not because of the notes but because of the character.  Perhaps, but it is a fun character piece that I am so excited to finally be performing… definitely the one which needs the most polishing considering I just picked it a few weeks ago.

One of the other pieces is having a bit of intonation problems.  Written in the key of C… one of those that should be easier than I am making it.  As a test, it was suggested that I put my finger in my ear to hear what I was flubbing.  VOILA!  Not only did it help the intonation but created a fullness that was missing from the song.  Now all I have to do is get the finger out of my ear.  Not one of the most comical of songs.

As far as the repertoire… old favorites, new challenges, ALL FUN and I can’t think of any that all ages cannot enjoy (well… maybe one, but that has been taken care of).  So… now I need to get these other talented individuals on board whom I have had in mind since picking these songs.

Carte Blanche

Just finished the latest 007 novel (if it is going to be a few more years before the next movie… glad someone was commissioned by the Ian Fleming family to write a new one).  Carte Blanche is yet another reboot of a classic character.  Bond is introduced as an agent in his early 30s who is a veteran of the Afghan War.  To me the last two movies which combined as a reboot failed horribly by being something the franchise is not.  They are WAY too serious and totally dismissed what is so fun about the classic Bond movies.  However, they are all back in the pages of the first official Bond book penned by an American, Jeffery Deaver (author of such suspense novels as The Bone Collector which became a Denzel Washington/Angelina Jolie film).

Supporting Cast:

  • M… Bond’s boss is once again a male character.  I enjoy Dame Judy Dench as the head of MI6 but liked a return to the classic male figure
  • Q… Quartermaster… weapons guy who provides agents with the most advanced weaponry available…. whether or not it comes back intact at the end of the adventure is always fun to see.  Sadly missed in the last two movies.
  • Miss Moneypenny… a bit different role in the books than in the movies but also missed in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
  • Felix Leiter… CIA Agent who has more of a cameo role in this one.

The Bond Girls:  There are three in this one.  One of the three MORE than lives up to her name.  Another is as icy as Pussy Galore, herself.

The villain: Severan Hydt. Quite memorable.  I don’t think there has been a Bond villain quite as interesting in quite a while.

Of course, 007 is sent on a hazardous mission with Earth shaking consequences and millions of lives at risk.  All of these elements combine to bring James and company into the 21st century.  The reader is even provided with quite a bit of backstory into the life of the secret agent that ties directly into the action.  Exotic locales, breathless action sequences, and twists, including an ending most unusual for a Bond vehicle.  Let’s hope the movies get back on track.

Another Director For The Heavenly Choir

This past week saw another great musician and conductor leave the confines of his earthly existence (morbid way to start, I know).  Ray has been ver instrumental in the formation of a community choir in my hometown for the past several years.  Each summer at our hometown festival, he gathers a good size group and leads them in a selection of patriotic songs.  I also recall singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in an alumni choir directed by this fine man at high school Christmas concerts a time or two.  Each of Ray and Joan’s children developed and nurtured a passion for music.  Kevin, their oldest, is the music director of a school in Texas. Growing up,  I remember seeing Kris, Kermit,and Kyle in musicals and in show choir.  After graduating from THE Ohio State University, Kermit subbed a number of times for band and choir.  He would grab the second sousaphone and we would jam out to some pep band music… GOOD TIMES!

This summer’s Festival of Flags chorus will be in need of a new leader.  Unfortunately, Ray suffered a massive stroke and heart attack and was called to direct an even larger chorus.  Emily must have needed some help directing up there… of course, nearly three years is an awful long time 😉

Rest in Heavenly Peace.