Ohio COVID-19 Journal Day 27

By the grace of God, the five of us are still hanging strong here at Louie Lodge, today being Day 27. Here’s what I know:

The organization genes run strong in my 12 year old daughter. She has taken it upon herself to start cleaning out drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, God bless her. You know those utensil drawers you can’t quite close because it’s overflowing with stuff? Marie Kondo would be proud.

I’m so grateful we all have a small, adorable Maltipoo to keep us company in this craziness. One of our favorite nicknames for her is Pupperton, which sometimes morphs into Snuggleton, and recently after a bath: Flufferton. Just in case someone in the house isn’t feeling all that snuggly, we have our pup to turn to. Seriously, thank God for her.

There’s no getting around it: March was a sobering month but nothing like the prospect of flipping the calendar to April with the frightening thought that some of us won’t live to see the end of the month. April 15 in the US is predicted to be the peak and as we entered the month, April 19 was supposed to be Ohio’s peak.

However, the Ohio models show that our social distancing efforts are working. We might be a week or two out from the peak which has plummeted to 1,600 new cases a day from recent estimates of 9,800 per day.

That’s incredibly good news. We are flattening the curve. To quote Dr. Amy Acton:

Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Director of Public Health, April 6, 2020

School resumed remotely, in some fashion this week. The kids received their assignments from each teacher as of 9 am Monday in an online portal our school district uses, and they have a week to complete them. Teachers are holding “office hours” to answer questions and some have posted videos to explain concepts or lecture. It’s not quite the same thing as the real thing of course but we’ll see how it goes. I doubt they will return to physical classrooms this academic year. Some kids in our school district do not have access to computers but they can get access to district-provided Chromebooks which is wonderful.

Dance classes have resumed, fully online too. Ryun continues to pick up a few more private students for online classes and my work continues online en force.

I really haven’t left the house other than the occasional walk with our dog. What I have done is taken the time I have otherwise spent writing using it instead to connect using Facebook Messenger video calling with a friend in Moscow I haven’t spoken to in over 25 years, and I’ll be doing the same with another friend in London this upcoming weekend. And I probably ought to do the same with another 30-year friend in Japan since they just went into a state of emergency there. It’s amazing that technologies exist to allow us to do these sorts of things.

And as if things weren’t interesting enough, we awoke at midnight to the emergency signal on our cell phones advising us to take immediate shelter in the basement, which we did for 30 minutes while an F1 tornado promptly touched down in our town. We were spared but a few houses a mile from our house did not fare so well.

A few things brought a huge smile to my face this week, as it did for a lot of people. The first Randy Rainbow’s tribute to Andrew Cuomo. If you haven’t seen his parodies, you are missing out on some seriously clever entertainment. The part where he mentions Chris Cuomo made me belly laugh for a full five minutes. Did I ever need that.

And for the record: seriously, Chris has got to pull through.

A local cartoonist whose name I wish I knew so I could give credit created this parody of Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton using the theme song from Laverne and Shirley as the basis.

I strongly recommend John Krasinski’s Some Good News, already on Episode 2, which brought tears of joy to my eyes in that it allowed me to remember when I saw Hamilton on Broadway.

And finally for the pure feel-good vibe of it, is this family lip-synching to Hold My Hand. Watch Dad. I mean, daughter is pretty darn good but the tree that apple fell from is impressive!

Seek out the joy, peeps. Seek out and share the joy in these crazy times.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Hail Hamilton!

I’ve been offline for a couple of days. Drove 6.5 hours one way from Ohio to New Jersey and back this past weekend to visit an old friend of mine who beguiled me with tickets to Hamilton to celebrate my big birthday this past year. That last sentence should be enough to explain that she’s a pretty good friend.

We took the train into New York City Sunday afternoon. Got out at Madison Square Garden and walked to the theatre district. Oh man, was it ever cold! She’s a former resident of the city so she had her earmuffs firmly in place but I’m a silly Midwesterner who thought I could get away with gloves, a warm scarf and a hood. Nope. The city is WAY cold in the winter when you walk blocks and blocks…

Anyway, we get inside the theatre and I discover we were sitting seven rows from the stage, house right: so so close.  The Richard Rodgers Theatre is pretty intimate to beginIMG_6786 with but still: what a delightful surprise. It was Javier Munoz’s last performance in the lead, having taken over for Lin Manuel Miranda who originated the role and wrote the whole thing. The audience was uncharacteristically rowdy from the perspective of my prior Broadway experience, and totally pumped up for the show. Javier appeared on stage to extended applause and whoops, as did a few of the other lead actors.

From the opening line of the show, you could tell it would be different: an in-your-face, gripping story of a man who overcame unbelievable odds but whose accomplishments aren’t lauded.

Until now.

About 15 minutes into the show, tears streamed quietly down my face. I couldn’t believe how remarkable this performance was. Not that I’m a Broadway aficionado, but what art form tells the story of the Revolution? What musical virtually avoids all spoken word but raps and sings throughout? Tell me what Broadway event showcases modern dance and hip hop throughout the entire performance? I’m telling you, every single word was punctuated by a movement or gesture at just the right moment by the principals and cast. This wasn’t mere stage blocking…this was magic. The cast mimicked a hurricane, they became part of the set, props in a scene…

The words flew out of their mouths like rolling waves of history. So so fast. It was as if you had to hear an entire phrase and absorb it on delay to appreciate what they were saying. The speed of the speech was incredible. And it’s rap so it freaking RHYMED! You can claim that you hate rap and you therefore have no interest in this show, but I beg you to reconsider. The best kind of rap is storytelling with soul. And that is Hamilton.

How can you even begin to appreciate how much dialogue is in this show? At 3-5x the rate of any other type of entertainment? This is a story being told with speed, dynamics, rhythm and rhyme, poetry and motion, not to mention color. The deliberate multi-cultural casting of the show is brilliant. As a line the playbook says: the story of America then being told by America now.

I swear, it seems that growing up we studied the Revolutionary War starting in 1st Grade all the way through 8th Grade. Memorizing dates and battles and commanders in a meaningless haze, to the point where I had zero interest in revisiting any of this history. Boring. Mindless. Yes, we formed a new country. Yay. Men died. Understood. We kicked the British out. Yep. Got it. Heard it, read it, been there, done that.  Yada yada. I know that sounds flippant. Arrogant. But nothing I had heard about the early days of our country really jazzed me.

Until now.

This telling gave you an appreciation of who these Founding Fathers were, what motivated them, what doubts they had along the way, and what qualities they had that mirror Americans today. And how every single one of them came from somewhere else, with their own dreams for success in this land, the French, English, Caribbean, and Dutch, to name just a few back then. That’s the beauty of theatre. It stirs emotion in you that makes it somehow relatable. I’m sitting there thinking of what characteristics Hamilton and Washington and Jefferson and I have in common. I’m still thinking about it, the connection of Founding Fathers over time to their American child: me.

There were moments in the show that blew me away. The music was a constant until one point in the show, when maybe Hamilton is actually using spoken word or maybe not, when the absence of accompaniment had an almost klieg-light effect on what he was saying. There was another poignant moment when the music became a heartbeat, and you could hear a pin drop.

And King George was hysterical throwing a subdued hissy fit. Every single restrained line was absolutely delicious. And it seemed that his words could be just as relevant to us today as they were intended to be at that point in history.

It was breathtaking. It was freaking genius, every single bit of it.

It’s been three days now since I’ve seen that show. I keep humming the themes and phrases that repeated throughout. I marvel at the remarkable drive of Alexander Hamilton, not to mention the irony and tragedy in the line, “I am not throwing away my shot”.

All I can tell you is, hands down, Hamilton is the most amazing artistic performance I have ever seen. A total game-changer in terms of entertainment. The story of an old world told by a new world. I am forever changed having seen it – so so proud to be American – and I urge you to see it in New York or in a city near you when it tours.




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