Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

View The Rude Awakening Journey in a larger map

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cleveland, pt. 3 - Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog...


Yes, you guessed it, we went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And yes, we took the dog.

Now, after reading the last entry, I can imagine you would think such a move foolhardy - or maybe just asking for trouble. I assure you, we were fully prepared to turn right around, proverbial - and actual - tails between our legs, and head straight home at the slightest sign of trouble. One look askance, one prohibitive attempt, one word from anyone in uniform, we were ready to turn & go. Honest injun.

What instead did we get? Smiles and open access all over the place. Leave it to the Rock Hall.

Let me just say - we were generally afforded easy access to most public areas. It's not like all of Cleveland was on lockdown. Far from it. But after our last experience, we were understandably a little gun-shy. But rather than consternation, we got enthusiasm. Where before we had the fuzz, now we had fuzzy-eyed smiles. And it was such a great challenge for Tag. Loud noises, thumping beats, dark areas with people milling about, floors with lights underneath, escalators (!), and all sorts of new environments. He did great.

Granted, he was a little interested in sniffing the wheels on Elvis' purple Cadillac. So we kept moving. And made sure to take regular potty breaks.

But his was the admiration of all the staff, openly accepted by everyone around, and - as always - to their own frustration, because as everyone knows: you don't pet a service animal with its vest on, 'cause it's at work. Even if it's an adorably sweet, 8-month-old Yellow Lab puppy learning to serve a future handler with all the faithfulness and determination of Rin Tin Tin, you don't pet a service animal with its vest on. In fact, if you are in any close proximity to the animal, you're doing its handler a favor not to even look at the animal, not to even acknowledge it. It needs to learn that, regardless of how large the crowd of people around it may be, there's only one person to be concerned with, one person to be responsible for, one person to be seeking the approval of - its handler.

Even if you're just standing there, smiling at it, or offering an open fist in a show of harmlessness - you're tempting the dog to distraction. You're not actually making the dog any calmer - you're just making yourself calmer. In fact, the best way to calm a dog, to show that you're no threat, is to ignore it. But some people think that they have to calm the dog, when in fact they're only calming themselves.

Because some people are just scared silly of dogs. Some people are scared silly of dogs even if they're 8-month-old Lab puppies. Some people, who might work as ushers at the movie theater where Tag and I went to go see "Watchmen", might back up and go three or four seats deep into a row as you pass, afraid that he's going to take a bite out of them. Some people, passing by you in the mall, might even ask if he's a pit bull.

Yes, it really happened. As the owner of a pit bull myself, subject to condemnatory stares as if I threaten limb and life by walking such a deadly beast on the street, I have to laugh at this on so many levels. I know pits have become the very face of evil in urban America, as if they were Osama bin Barkin himself, but has the spin gone so far as to call all canines into question? What irrational fear is next? Kittens? Pasta? Oh dear...

ANYway, the Rock Hall is one of those museums which looks like you're only going to need to spend a couple hours there, and then you leave wishing you had the whole day to slowly look at the exhibits. And it's often not the exhibits that you think you'll be fixated on that you actually spend most of your time appreciating. David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust costume? Sure you want to see it. Michael Jackson's sparkly glove? Of course. But what about the recorded interviews with Jerry Wexler, the reporter-turned-producer who first signed Led Zepplin? Brilliant. The video clips of bible-belt personalities proclaiming the evils of rock & roll? Hilarious. The note written by Mick Jagger in which he asks the editor of Rolling Stone what he gets in exchange for agreeing not to sue for rights to the name "Rolling Stone" or the use of the image of his lips & tongue? Fascinating. Rock has always been as much business as art. As much showmanship as craft.

But it's also been the product of far more committed artistry than fits on a CD jewel case insert. Witness the development of black musicians in the early part of the decade, and the negotiations they had to go through to get recorded, heard, paid. The early guitars built out of baling twine, plywood and screws that buckboard-riding troubadors carried on their backs during the depression. The rejection letters for early albums, now proudly displayed like trophies. It's a cool museum because it actually gets you closer to the lives and work of its inductees, and that's the inspiring thing.

My favorite was the series of still photos of early Screamin' Jay Hawkins - he looked like a young Nat King Cole. But a few concert 'stunts' became popular, and soon he had a whole new career. Like Alice Cooper and his oh-so-carefully constructed stage persona, so at odds with the Scottsdale golfer we know today.

There is the business of the art.
And then there is the art of the business.
And then there is the art of the art.

And all three struggle for dominance in any popular art form, I imagine.


And lastly, but certainly not least, we paid a visit, during the Monday day off, to the home of Angie's grandmother Margie and her husband Kenny, in Tiffin, Ohio.

A little background, before we begin.

In 1822, Josiah Hedges built the first frame house and saw mill on the Tiffin side of the Sandusky River river near the juncture of Rock Creek. He named his settlement after his good friend and Ohio’s first governor, Edward Tiffin. Bitter feelings soon surfaced between the two communities on the opposing banks of the river. Tiffin, at this time, had very little to offer as compared to Oakley (later called Fort Ball). Hedges practically had to give land away to induce settlement. The elite settled in Fort Ball, while Tiffin just barely survived until the two towns merged in 1850.

Agriculture was the mainstay, but the discovery of natural gas in 1888 brought industrial growth. Plumbing, furniture, automobile & machine parts, machine forging, metal fabrication, and insulation. Heidelberg College was founded in 1850 by the Reformed Church in the United States (now United Church of Christ), and Tiffin University, a business and liberal arts school, was founded in 1888. The mid-census estimate in 2005 was 17,438.

Had Tony Reed & Marianne Hoover never left, it would have been 17,440.

Of course, progress and youngfolk being what they are, they did. And the rest is history. But Kenneth and Marjorie Seislove (Marianne's mom remarried about 25 years ago) remained. And two more immovable community pillars I cannot imagine. Many and ribald are the stories I have long heard. And attendees at Angie's and my wedding would have had the opportunity to meet "Grandma Margie," but I had yet to meet Kenny. He of "Judas Priest, Kenny!" fame, one of Grandma Margie's more famous expressions. Another was the frequent and innocent inquiry, "Hmm. I'm dry. I think I need a highball. Anybody want a highball? I think I'll have a highball."

So yes, we had highballs. Which, in the Seislove household, is whiskey and 7Up. Other recipes may use bitters, grenadine, vermouth, ginger beer, brandy, gin, and who-knows-what-else. But like everything else in Tiffin, the highball is simple, straightforward, not particularly fussy, and strong enough to pack quite a punch. If it wasn't highballs, we were drinking Kenny's homemade wine. Which, I have to say, was a pretty good dessert wine. It also packed quite a punch.

Margie's just recovering from a hip replacement surgery a few weeks ago - her first time in a hospital. She took one pain pill the day after, and it's just been Tylenol ever since. Very. Hardy. Stock. Nonetheless it's slowed her down a bit, and Kenny's been doing some of the cooking. But of course, on the way home from the hospital, knowing that Angie and I were coming to visit in a little while, she stopped off to get some fixings for a pie. She made it that evening. As you do.

Kenny, meanwhile, also into his 80's, only recently discovered that it might be prudent at his age to find help when trimming tree branches on a ladder, gravity being yet older than Tiffin. But they have a beautiful kinda-ranch-style home on a few acres, with a garden that was dead asleep at this time of year but which pictures can prove is positively Edenic in the summertime.

They are also two of the most wicked players of Hearts as I should ever hope to encounter. Not just good. Not just practiced. Wicked. And remorseless. If they played Hearts in Vegas, it'd be a bloodbath. If the Queen of Spades were an icepick, Margie would be a murderess. If stone faces cut diamonds, Kenny would be in high demand.

But a couple of fine, home-cooked meals helped us heal our wounds. That and a couple more highballs. And as we spent the evening in the guest bedroom, reading and falling asleep, Angie made a fun little discovery which, all ye Reeds herewith yet reading, I'll invite you to inquire about. It's really a story best heard aloud and from her...


What else? Who knew I had so much to write about Cleveland? Not I. It's not like so much really happened. We had a decent time - and for all my glib derision, I could easily tell that there's far more to Cleveland than what's apparent during two weeks in the middle of winter, downtown & without a car (we parked ours at the Cleveland Playhouse actor housing for the stay). And as we headed out to Toronto the following Monday, we drove through a lovely park, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, where a long swath of land comprises adjoining gardens and parks in the name of 35 (and still growing) separate culturally designated greenspaces - everything from Serbian Gardens to Armenian Gardens to Ukranian Gardens... As the website says,

The Gardens embody the history of twentieth-century America. They reveal the history of immigration to, and migration within, the United States. They comment on how we have built communities and constructed our identities as individuals and collectives. The gardens reveal the stories of the major conflicts that gave shape to the century: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. They also provide insight into the large social, economic, political, and cultural upheavals that roiled through the nation during the last century: the Great Depression, suburbanization, the Civil Rights Movement, and the deindustrialization of America's industrial heartland.

They are also beautiful. Touching in their quiet majesty, humbling in the modesty with which major world events are symbolized, and inspiring in taking on so large and enduring a project of civic development, one that reminds them of so much of the world around them, even as the world around them marches on so potentially indifferent to its existence - for instance, making cheap jokes at their expense on some random website, like your humble author.

As as we wound our way out of town, I thought back to our visit with Marge and Kenny, to my own hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, and to a tombstone I saw in the Erie Street Cemetery, on 9th & Erie, while walking Tag one day. It's a shabby old cemetery, but still there, in grand - if grizzled - testament to the funereal aesthetic of its day: death - and the dead - are to be hallowed and heard.

One tombstone marks the graves of Lorenzo Carter and his wife, Rebekah. Lorenzo takes credit as being Cleveland's first white settler. He first built a log house for his family, then established a trading post, general store and central gathering point in the Flats for Cleveland's settlement. It is hard to imagine Cleveland as a vast, wooded, untamed region. Yet, the Carters persevered, raising 9 children and fighting against various diseases and the elements. The plaque above their tombstones reads:

They remained--Others fled.

For all of us who have fled for big cities, for big paychecks, for dreams to chase elsewhere, and for ghosts to leave behind - these typically simple, Ohioan words remind us of the value of our humblest beginnings, our earliest nurseries, and even our deepest scars of memory: without them, all of them, we would not be.

Cleveland, pt. 2 - Barking & Entering

Long story short: the bowling alley called the cops and I got kicked out with my service dog....

Now, this is a story that, once I get started, anyone who knows me will hear during its recounting, faintly in the distance, the sounds of trumpet blare and cavalry charge. So keep in mind the author's predilection for The Good Fight. That being said, well aware as the author is of this predilection, he actually performed pretty admirably and with appropriate restraint, if with some admitted posturing and righteous sneer.

OK, so - short story long:

I get there with Tag, after having taken him on a 30-minute walk. It was a Sunday night, end of a five-show weekend, and Tag had had his share of crate-dwelling. So I thought it would be good to take him on a healthy walk before putting on his vest and taking him indoors again.

Duty done, he donned the vest and in we went to The Corner Alley. I introduced to the host myself and my service dog as such, wearing his properly identified "Service Dog" vest. We proceeded past the restaurant section, past the pool tables, to the bowling alley. Tag was excited, looking around, but quiet as a mouse and under my control the whole time. The concept of people lining up one after the other to grab and throw at great velocity what - to him - were simply oversize versions of the tennis balls he uses to fetch was AWFULLY attractive to the 8-mo. old puppy, service training or not. He was riveted to them, quickly turning his head from one to the other, and often standing up and then sitting back down. But he stayed put, he wasn't yelping or whining; and he & I simply stayed behind the familiar half-moon bench, nowhere near the food, nowhere near the bar. And we watched the company bowling just as happy as you please.

Now it was clear to me that as patient as Tag was being, with all the commotion and noise he was unlikely to lie down and fall asleep like he usually does when we take him out to a restaurant or a movie. There was just too much unusualness to look at. And I was figuring on staying and watching for about twenty minutes or so and then taking him back to the hotel room. I was just going to give him a chance to get accustomed to the environment, and then we were going to leave.

However, not eight minutes after we were there, the manager - a man by the name of Jeff Poe (click on photo #9) - came up to me. Smiling and the very slightest bit apologetic, he explained to me that while he loved dogs, had a couple at home himself, he understood that Tag was a service dog in training only and he wouldn't allow him inside his establishment. They served food there, after all (and here began the insinuation I was trying to 'pull one over' on him), and he couldn't have 'pets' there. I returned his smile and explained that Tag wasn't a pet, he was a service dog.

"But is he your service dog?" he asked. Well, I explained, for the purposes of defining any kind of ownership at this point, yes he would be considered my dog, or at least in my care. "But are you disabled?" he asked. I explained that actually my MS does legally qualify me as 'disabled;' but no, I freely admitted, this service dog was a dog in training, in my charge for the purposes of gaining experience in public settings. And according to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service animals should be afforded all access to public accommodation as would be able-bodied individuals, at work or in training, and regardless of the level of disability of their handler.

That's where the disagreement began. Very quickly, the guy says, "Look, this is gonna go one of two ways: either you're going to leave on your own, or I'm gonna have you thrown out." Fine - the gauntlet was thrown down. Call the cops, I told him. I'd rather at least be thrown out by the police than by his flunkies. At least cops wouldn't get violent and I'd have a badge number to file a complaint with.

"Look, I serve food here," he said.

"Handicapped people have to eat too," I said.

"But you're not disabled. What's your disability?" NOTE: even his asking this question is illegal, according to the ADA.

"It's not about my disability, it's about the dog getting the necessary training and exposure to ably perform as a service dog. Where else can he practice being in a restaurant, other than being in a restaurant?" Bear in mind, also, that we weren't actually in a restaurant - the restaurant was on the other side of the business. We were in a bowling alley.

"Look, this is my business, I can ask anyone I want to leave."

So now he was making this about being a business owner. I could have continued to argued about the compromises willingly undertaken by any business owner within a society of commonly-held laws, but I realized how futile it would have been, and simply restated my point: it's the law, man. It's the law.

Although after he called the cops and I waited for them to arrive, I did keep talking to him. I didn't swear, I didn't yell (though I did refuse to allow him to interrupt me and was sure to finish all my sentences). The fact is that, more than most states, Ohio goes particularly far in guaranteeing the rights of all service dogs and their handlers, at work or in training. It's specifically spelled out by the Revised Code Section 955.43 that "The dog must either be serving as, or be in training to be, a guide, leader, listener, or support dog."

However, such specificity was lost not only on Mr. Jeff Poe but also on Cleveland Police Department Officers Ryan (badge number 1675) and Grady (badge number 1686). These two boys in blue were very polite, very friendly, and in vocal agreement with me, after we had left the bowling alley and were talking on the sidewalk outside of course, that I had EVERY legal right to be there with my service dog in training. But that they felt it was their responsibility as police officers to help serve the requests of the local business owners. And so, as I summarized back to them my understanding of their peacemaking efforts, it was his right to kick me out, and my right to sue.

Which is, of course, wrong - it would be like saying "We know black people have a right to bowl here, but he has a right to kick them out and they have a right to sue." But obviously, I wasn't going to press the issue. Not without actually living in Cleveland, not with a trip across the Canadian border coming up, and not with somebody else's dog for which I was responsible.

So, I took Tag back to the hotel and returned to the bowling alley. Angie had continued speaking with Mr. Jeff Poe to see if she might reason with him, and perhaps the tears of a pretty blonde woman who wasn't spouting the Revised Code of Ohio's Civil Rights Law back at him were simply a more effective tool, but he seemed to soften his position greatly, to her at least. But when I came back fifteen minutes later, I was there for a good hour afterwards and he made no effort to reconcile a damn thing.

So - according to my rights under the ADA, I filed a Title III complaint with the US Department of Justice, alleging improper expulsion on the part of the business owner and the police; I filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office; I filed a complaint with the Ohio Commission on Human Rights; I filed a complaint with the Cleveland Better Business Bureau; I filed not a complaint but an informational letter with the station commander of the Third District of the Cleveland Police Department in which I stated that while respected their intention to simply defuse the situation, they were in error in enforcing the business owner's request; I sent copies of the letter to both of the officers; I filed letters of complaint to the Corner Alley manager Jeff Poe and the general Manager Scott Gotto; and I even filed a complaint with the Greater Cleveland Bowling Association, for good measure.

Now - I must repeat, the cops were very cool about it. And in fact, in subsequent calls to the District office during which I spoke with the Sargeant on Duty, I was given to understand that the officers' supervisors were well aware of the officers' mistake. And I wouldn't be surprised, given Officer Grady's later phone manner when efforts were made to get an incident report (with which to file the above listed complaints), that he and his partner had been sternly spoken to. So I didn't make any formal complaint with the police department. Teachable moment, everyone learned a lesson, leave it at that.

But I thought this point was particularly interesting: both officers (and the bowling alley manager) tried to ameliorate the situation by explaining that they were ‘dog lovers.’ I need to be clear on this - the issue has nothing to do with a person’s love of animals. This is not a pet, it is an instrument of utility. It requires training on site. As far as the legality of its presence, at work or in training, it is considered the same as a wheelchair or a crutch. Regardless of the level of disability on the part of its handler and so long as there is no undue disturbance, it is legally accepted in all areas of public accommodation. Period. (They might as well have said, "Oh, don't get me wrong. I love handicapped people. Really. I've got a couple of 'em at home myself. But I know enough not to bring 'em to work or to a restaurant with me.")

A service animal is not a pet any more than is a wheelchair or a cane – it is a necessary tool for individuals with disabilities. Naturally, the on-site training of service animals, both by people with disabilities and without, at public accommodations such as The Corner Alley, is critically important. Such exposure makes all the difference between a reliably effective & capable service dog and an unreliable one. A service animal cannot be trained to function in a restaurant or any public accommodation without being allowed entry. When properly identified, under control, and not causing undue disturbance, there is no reason why a service dog in training, regardless of the disability status of its handler, should receive any less consideration than any service animal at work.

Nevertheless, not a week later, as Angie was running her errands and dropping off some mail at the post office, she was finger-wagged by the postal worker that "pets" were not allowed, and in the future, she was not to bring her "pet". All the same points were made, all the same appropriate service-attire was clearly in evidence, and this was even a government office, but still - the same confusion was made.

So, we're pulling out the printer again....

Cleveland, pt. 1 (Cleaveland? Cleavland? Cleevland?)

TRUE STORY: Moses Cleaveland, born in Connecticut, Yale graduate, soldier in the Revolutionary War, captain of the then-newly-formed Corps of Engineers, member of the Connecticut convention that ratified the US Constitution, shareholder in the Connecticut Land Company, founded this city on the banks of the Cuyahoga in 1796. Afterwards, he promptly turned around and went back home to Connecticut. He never, ever returned.

So you see, Cleveland was in fact founded as a place to be from, rather than a place to be. By 1820, 24 years later, the population tipped the scales at 150. Tourism was obviously one of its weaker industries.

ANOTHER TRUE STORY: Originally "Cleaveland" was spelled like the Land in which you Cleave things. As was its namesake. But in 1830, the first newspaper, the "Cleveland Advertiser," couldn't fit the extra "A" into the headline title, moveable type being what it was. So "Cleaveland" became "Cleveland."

Why it didn't become Cleavland or Cleevland or Claveland is a matter best left to personal speculation, but the new spelling was readily adopted by the "public." All 150 of them. Let's be generous - call it 175. But to go through the trouble of changing the name of a town for the sake of a newspaper readership of 175 seems like an odd business decision, one rivaled only by the notion of even starting a newspaper for 175 people, of whom probably only 30 could even read at all. But business acumen, like tourism, seems also to be a civic challenge.

Perhaps such a site was inevitably destined to be the City of Rock 'N Roll.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In we rolled to "The Forest City," "The Cleve," "The Land," "The Metropolis of the Western Reserve," "America's North Coast," and "C-Town" (hence the grocery store chain?), as it has variously been called, on a frigid, Minneapolisian night. It was a cold soon to thaw, soon again to descend, soon yet again to thaw, soon once more to ... you get the idea. We went from sweaters to shorts, back and forth, the whole time.

It was big city living, after our week in East Lansing. They had sidewalks. They had third floors. They had Subway. What more can a body ask for? And so we settled in for a two week visit, content to walk the streets that gave birth to the "Record Rendezvous," Leo Mintz's little shop specializing in "black music," later termed "race music," later termed "rhythm and blues." Alan Freed bet the bank on Leo's little record store with his Cleveland radio program "Moondog Rock'N'Roll Party," and one year later he capitalized on his corner of the market with the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first ever rock concert billed as such. And it was right here in Cleveland.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So we settled in for a two week visit. Two weeks of taking Tag down to the lakefront, to play Fetch The Green Bone. Two weeks of nightcaps from Danny, the bartender at the Wyndham Hotel, where we're staying, whose Hendrick's Gin martini was once touted by Richard Thomas himself as an exemplary example of the species (that being back when I toured here and stayed at the same hotel, and played at the same theater, the Palace, with TWELVE ANGRY MEN).

The last time we stayed here, however, there was a massive construction project going up and down all of Euclid Avenue, involving cement mixers, dump trucks, street-tearing-up machines, and much commotion all beginning at 7am. These being mortal enemies of all actors and other late-sleepers, we left Cleveland so much the blearier because of it; but I am here now to say that this massive construction project, this public transportation coup, this gem of general population locomotion, has finally been completed.

It's a bus lane.


Anyway, it was quieter downtown, to be sure. Dead quiet. Like the kind of quiet that makes you start listening for the "clink, clink, clink" of some gun-slingin' lone wolf, ready to stare down his adversary along the main drag only recently vacated by townsfolk who shuttered the windows behind them as they ducked inside their pueblo-style saloons and barber shops.

Much like old Moses Cleaveland himself, lots o' folk have left town, here. And businesses. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's downtown. Maybe it's the weather. And it's not like children could have played 4-square in the streets. But it was quiet.

Tag did his best, though, to be a goodwill ambassador, even charming the eye, during one morning walk & romp, of one city councilman Joe Cimperman who, in a fit of enthusiasm and generosity, bequeathed to us his City Council Member's pin, which sports the official Cleveland motto: "Cleveland: Moving Forward."

A bold choice, seeing as it's so close to: "Cleveland: Let's go, people." I mean, I understand the concept behind it. I just think they need a better publicity agent.

At any rate, he tells us, "I love your show!" and gives us his card. We thank him and offer to have our company manager contact his office about some complimentary tickets. And in the most effusive manner possible, he explains that although he's never actually seen the show, and while he doesn't have time to make it to any of our sixteen performances, he's "one of those people who can sing the soundtrack to 'Rent' before they even see it," which seems to make sense, if you only ever buy the album and never attend a performance. But love is a many-splendored thing, and if - for City Councilman Cimperman - love is best held at a distance, than so be it. He was glad to have us there, and we, Starbucks in hand and dog wandering about a lushly green, downtown city lawn, were just as glad to be there.

The week passed uneventfully, and as Sunday rolled around, we looked forward to the weekend out that company management had planned - bowling at The Corner Alley, in downtown Cleveland. Bowling is a fun endeavor for a bunch of actors. We're none of us very good at it, although it being a musical theater company, there are at least several graceful - if fruitless - poses struck among us in the pursuit of a strike. But bowling is rarely about the game and almost entirely about the companionship, so of course, we thought, what a great opportunity to take our service-dog-in-training.

Monday, March 2, 2009

East Lansing, MI

You know, there are just those cities you go to that there's really not that much to say.

East Lansing.

The name pretty much says it all.

The discovery for the week was Woody's Oasis. Because really, when you think Mediterranean, you think East Lansing. And when in East Lansing, where else does one go for a "falafurger" at 11:30 at night? Angie and I also sampled some local brews there. Not surprisingly, Michigan has some good local beer. And Woody's offers buckets of six at a time, and you pick from a list of bottled local varieties to be kept on ice until you get around to them with your meal.

Our hotel, the Candlewood Suites, was not particularly promising at first, to say the least. We moved in, only to find ourselves in a small studio "suite" directly - and I mean DIRECTLY - below the tile-covered lobby floor. Every high-heeled shoe, every wobbly-wheeled rolling suitcase, every sliding back or forth of the refrigerator door in the "Candlewood Cupboard," keeping Lean Cuisines & Hot Pockets cool for the next customer - we heard it all. And Tag, who at this point, after a day-long drive in a car with two strangers and then unloading in the cold, dark, Michigan night, was wondering just what the hell he'd gotten himself into.

However, the next morning, Candlewood generously made amends by not only moving us but placing us, at no additional charge, in a one-bedroom suite at the end of the hall. This suited everyone MUCH better, especially Tag, who now had two rooms to run back & forth from. Or, if not run, at least to stretch his legs between.

What else to say, really? The theater, oddly enough, was under construction - or renovation - WHILE we were still performing, which led to some difficulties: concrete dust everywhere, the need to have the 'airborne particulate' count counted, and all sorts of difficulties on the part of the crew during their load-in & load-out.

There was an evening viewing of "The Big Lebowski," white russians included, that helped to pass one cold winter night. And Tag enjoyed the golf course next to the hotel which was on winter hibernation, resulting in the absolute PERFECT terrain for fetch ever dreamed by man or beast. You can see the video here, on the Dog-Swap Blog.

Other than than...I got nuthin'. You know, it was East Lansing. I mean.... East Lansing.... I mean..... oh.... man, it was a week that just came & went... Sometimes a week's just seven days...