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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Pet Peeves

By
Published on July 18, 2008

Happy summer, blog readers. Greetings from the dunes of Cape Cod, where I am recuperating from Symphony Space’s 30th Anniversary Season and preparing for Season #31, which doesn’t have to have any special milestone celebrations, just the usual sustained artistic excellence!

But I don’t want to speak yet about the exciting plans for the coming season in literature, music, film, dance, and all the rest. There’ll be time for that later.

You know the way newspaper columnists often use the summertime as an opportunity to hold forth on less serious matters? Well I thought I would devote this Summer blog to somewhat lighter—if not exactly trivial—matters. I would like to discuss two pet peeves, and what I might be able to do about them.

PEEVE #1: BOTTLED WATER ON STAGE
I’ve been pleased to follow the trend that has now turned many people—but not everyone—back towards satisfying our need for constant hydration with good old New York City tap water, and away from trendy, over-expensive, and ecologically unsound use of fancy bottled water.

Now what people do in their private lives is of course their own business. If you insist on carrying a bottle of water with you at all times, I guess I can’t persuade you to stop. Even here at Symphony Space, we have some employees based in the west offices on our second floor who dare not set out on a safari across the Saharan wastes the width of our balcony over to the east offices without fortifying themselves with one or more tall bottles of Dasani or other luxury aqua. They do this even though we have good water coolers on both the west and east sides. I only mind when they bring along their water bottles to meetings in the conference room and end up spilling the precious H2O all over the agenda. And I really get annoyed when a bottle held by someone sitting on the little red couch in my office talking to me spills over and douses the couch pillows yet again. But all that is still private use of bottled water. What I am really against is the use of bottled water on our stage by performers. It just isn’t classy. In fact it looks sloppy, and as Artistic Director I think it is my duty to discourage if not forbid it. But you might not believe the resistance I’ve encountered. “Oh, Isaiah, I have to have my water with me, what if I get dry?”

“What’s wrong with it?” some thirst-averse actors, singers, and musicians inquire. “Why are you so uptight about it? It’s only water.” Well, I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. It looks stupid. And it clutters up the look of the stage. And, inevitably, a bottle or two get kicked over and rumble noisily around.

If you attend Selected Shorts, you’ll notice that the small table on stage—the one with the vase of flowers, next to the readers’ microphone—usually has a pitcher of water and a couple of nice clean glasses. If a reader needs a drink in the middle of a story, he or she can stop and take one. But please, no chugalugging from a bottle.

The green room, just a few steps off stage left, has a wonderful water cooler so anyone can juice up just before entering the stage.

Maybe it’s a matter of highbrow vs. lowbrow culture. You don’t see a string quartet at Carnegie Hall enter the stage carrying their instruments and their water bottles (at least not yet!), but jazz or pop or Broadway musical singers, perhaps spoiled by the bottles of water that litter every recording studio, think nothing of doing so. Of course we’re not Carnegie Hall, but I say this has gotta stop, and this is my blog!

Where is this all heading? Hamlet enters, caring Yorick’s skull, a dagger, and a bottle of Poland Spring?

PET PEEVE #2: THE DECLINE OF THE “T” SOUND IN THE MIDDLE OF WORDS
Anybody interested in having “sexual innercourse?” That’s what it sounds like if you fall into the increasingly evident trap of eliminating the middle “T” sound in words. It’s “intercourse,” not “innercourse.” This blog is on the internet, not the innernet.

An actress friend of mine told me her voice-over agent actually encourages her to omit medial t-sounds, claiming it sounds more colloquial and less stuffy. Well I’m not innerested in that nonsense.

I’m planning to vote for Barack Obama, but I may not if I hear him dropping his middle t’s. I think he may have said “heating costs will rise when winner comes” but maybe he said “when winter comes.” I certainly hope so.

Please watch your middle T’s or Sanna Clause won’t bring you anything next Chrissmuss.

Enough grouchy blogging. I’m gonna go to the beach. Where’s my wa-er boddle?


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