Back stage at Orchestra Hall at the moment. Actually, I’m in my dressing room. No dressing is required; I come with clothes already on my body. There are no trappings of stardom here – just four bottles of water, some Kleenex, and three towels. I gather the last one is for those who sweat profusely before a performance. I will admit to endampening myself a bit in the early years, but ten years on I think I have the hang of this. Say your piece and get off the stage without running into the people who are coming on the stage.

I go on in ten minutes for a little pre-show introduction. I like those; breaks the ice. I’m having a cup of coffee at the moment, although I really should amble over to the stage and check my mike. That’s professional stage lingo, incidentally. We “check” our “mikes.” That’s a microphone if you’re not in the industry.

Utter madhouse out there. Several hundred kids in tuxedos and black dresses. It does wonders for your faith in Western Civ to be here.

Okay, back in a minute. Have to go address 4000 people. Incidentally, this is what it looks like outside today. Before the concert, that is.

That's Peavey Plaza - in the summer it's filled with water. The tall building is the world HQ for Target. Below, the scene across the street: the WCCO TV building in the foreground, the USB building above.


Perfect spring day, incidentally. I decided to put up the new gazebo. Unlike the previous Target gazebo, which was made out of wood with metal braces, this one appears to be made of aluminum foil. I don’t like it as much, and I liked it a lot less while attempting to put it up. It also has a “vent” on the top, which as far as I can tell serves no purpose except to let in rain. It’s not like CO2 will build up when you’re sitting outside in a seven-foot-tall structure that’s open on all sides.

7:04 Full house tonight. I mean, full: sold out.

I had to introduce a couple of board members making a presentation, and as I walked back offstage I heard the audience start to laugh. They were also laughing back stage. This is not a good sign. It’s one thing to screw up in front of 4200 people, but to not know what you did wrong is a different fish-kettle. Then they told me: I said one of the fellows was a board member from 1983 to 1900. Oh. So I went back to the mike and vamped something about the space-time continuum, and that was that. The audience was kind; you can always feel when they’re on your side, or at least not actively opposing you. After the presentation – which was for the 20th anniversary for Manny and Claudette – I went back out to the mike, expressed my hopes for 20 more. Applause. Let it die . . .wait for it . . . “which would bring us up to 1940.” If you can tie off a bleeding gaffe within five minutes, there’s a good chance the patient will make it.

8:02 PM Gah: hungry. You can’t eat before the show, because it makes you logy and dulls the senses, but I’ve only had three pancakes and a bag of carrots today, and I’m about ready to fall over. Halls’ Throat Lozenges do not a supper make.

The Repertory Orchestra played “Duel of the Fates” from “The Phantom Menace,” and they had a chorus of 100+ behind the orchestra. Holy crow, that was fine. One more orchestra, then I’m done talking, and I’ve nothing to do until I walk out on stage for the final bow. 

LATER: outside after the show.

In the summer this is one of the loveliest towns in the nation.

Productive weeend. Went to Home Depot. I had a list in my head. For once I knew where everything was. For once I wouldn’t have to waylay an orange-smocked worker who was already encumbered with six other requests for the precise location of water-fountain PVC pipe. I headed into the store but did not take a cart, since I intended to hit the head first, then start shopping. As I headed towards the bathroom a fellow in an orange smock raised a hand:

“Can I help you?” he said.

“No, but thanks.”

“Really? Anything you need to find?” he said.

This has never happened before in the history of my Home Depot trips. It’s one thing for the fellow to ask if he can help; it’s another for him to ask twice. So I said:

“Well, I need a pump for a water fountain, and that’s going to be outside in Garden. I need a hose reel, and that’s over there, by the back door into Garden. I need some small halogen bulbs, and they’re over there by Lighting, and I need an air filter, which is on the end cap down there.”

He laughed and said I didn’t need any help, from the sound of it.

“No,” I said, “but in six weeks I’m going to come in here looking for something, and I won’t know where it is, and I want you to stand right here just like you are now until I return.”

He said he’d try.

Off to shop. I did not get the Hunter brand air filter machine as my wife requested, because they didn’t have one. Honeywell would have to do. I did not get a hose reel.  I have a problem buying the same damn thing to replace the old damn thing. They only have Suncast, and that’s the company that makes the one I have now. Main design flaw: cheap plastic connectors. Your hose fits snug at first, but eventually something cracks or breaks and water sprays everywhere. So I went to Menard’s, the local version of Home Depot. It’s a different experience. For one thing, the ceilings aren’t nine miles high. They have everything Home Depot has, and they have an indescribable local vibe married to a regrettable late 70s / early 80s color scheme that somehow makes it all seem less, er, corporate, man. I checked out the hose reels: Suncast. Sigh. But what ho: Hunter air filters. Sigh. I put one in the cart, then checked out the fountain pumps: a better unit for a better price. Bought it all, realizing I’d have to go back to Home Depot.

Went back to Home Depot. Stood in the RETURNS aisle. The clerk asked for the reason: “Wife requested a different brand.” He nodded. Married man, then.

Oh, but that was just part of the afternoon’s extravaganza. It really was a fruitful excursion, and when it was done I was exhausted. Headed home, put everything away, and since the family was out I laid down for a quick blissful Saturday afternoon nap. No go: the dog whined. The dog thought something should be happening. People should be having supper and he should be having scraps. The whines were interspersed with snorts of disgust and sighs of despair. I turned on the air filter machine to give me some white noise, only to discover it made a ticka-ticka-ticka sound. So there I am: whine whine ticka-ticka-ticka snort sigh ticka-ticka ALL RIGHT ALREADY. I got up, the nap trajectory now snapped (although I had had a minute of near-sleep; I know because I had imagined Easter Island heads in an isometric perspective on a strategy board-game, and thought: why did I think of that? It’s the sort of thing that tells you how close you were to actual sleep.) Let the dog out, again, and he spent ten agonizing minutes finding le spot juste. I trotted out with a bag to get the leavings, and –

When my wife came home she said Jasper had gotten into the guacamole earlier. I informed her that the guacamole had gotten out of Jasper.

New Matchbook. See you at!