Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Best. Housewarming Gift. Ever.

Thanks, Scotto.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inside and Around the New House

It's pretty hard to take pictures of the inside of a room, but what the heck.

This is one side of the closet in the master bedroom. The other side is just as huge.

Karen loves the purple carpet in the guest room.

I'm not so crazy about the cheap red carpet in the studio. One of two things is going to happen: I'm going to leave it for its sound-baffling qualities, or rip it up, re-finish the hardwood floor, and put an area rug down on the recording side of the room (which is going to be separated by a curtain.

The view from the studio window.

The dining area, attached to the kitchen. I love the stone floor tiles, hate the lavender paint and seashell border.

Dinette counter.

Weird 1960s decorative feature. I'm not sure what's going on here.

The kitchen proper. We're very excited about the side-by-side fridge.

The "den," adjoining the living room.

The living room / home theater. Note the fireplace. We love the wall of exposed brick. The paneling is, shall we say, less than modern, but it's a nice dark color, which will be great for home theater. You may have noticed a preponderance of ceiling fans. Every room but the den has one.

The back yard.

Pretty trees.

And finally, the house from the back.

I welcome your decorating suggestions and reserve the right to ignore all of them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our New House!

Karen and I closed on our first house on Monday afternoon.

Sorry it's the same picture again; I haven't taken a bunch yet.

It's on the south side of Richmond, near the intersection of Chippenham Parkway and Jahnke Road, not too far from Cynde's place and the old Richmond Shakespeare offices. I'm going to need to get EZ Passes for both cars; there are tolls a-plenty down there. What's awesome is that our yard backs up to the wooded area of Powhite Creek Park, an untamed wilderness of forests and paths that are great for hiking and mountain biking. Apparently, there are plans in place to connect Powhite Park to James River Park by a bike path, which would mean that Karen and I could literally ride our bikes from home to Belle Isle straight through parks.

There's a lot of work to be done; the paint colors are pretty much awful, I need to schedule radon remediation, and we need to have some dead branches cut off a tree. Also, the previous owners left loads of junk they couldn't be bothered to move in the sheds, which is pretty infuriating. I guess that's the price of our haste to close before the end of the month.

We have two and a half weeks to move. Yikes.

I'll be by to take some more pictures this week.

Monday, September 24, 2007

School Board Versus Clown Shoes Update

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, with a handful of edits by me.

School Board Offices a Mess
Eviction aftermath astounds employees; Confidential papers left out at City Hall

Monday, Sep 24, 2007 - 12:09 AM Updated: 01:07 AM


As Richmond students head back to school today, administrators return to a disorienting mess left at their City Hall offices.

In the aftermath of an attempted after-hours eviction on Friday, rooms with confidential student and employee records were left open. Offices packed with boxes and furniture looked like supply closets. Murky puddles streaked across floors from powerless refrigerators. Trash cans and unplugged electronics sat on desks next to personal mementos.

Among the more alarming developments, school officials said, is the potential exposure of student records, financial filings and employee information left vulnerable when movers came through.

"The rights of the children have really been violated in this," said Richmond School Board member Betsy Carr.

The offices were left in that state after Mayor L. Douglas Clown Shoes' top staff ordered an eviction of school administration quarters for Friday night.

As about 150 movers flooded the building, the School Board sought an injunction. Circuit Judge Margaret P. Spencer issued a temporary restraining order just before midnight Friday, stopping the move until she can hear the case Wednesday. After her order, movers started replacing what they had removed.

The disarray that remained in school offices has paralyzed several central office functions, and it could take weeks to get operations back to normal, Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman said yesterday.

Standards of Learning testing for summer school students could be postponed, she said. Some student records are unavailable. Substitute teachers cannot be dispatched. Job applicants will not hear back from human resources for some time. Paperwork for special-education meetings may not come immediately.

"Is it going to be difficult? Unbelievably," Jewell-Sherman said. "Does this take us off our task? Very much so. But will we allow this or any other distraction to take us off of our primary mission of educating our students? Absolutely not."

Jewell-Sherman considered closing schools today for an all-hands-on-deck effort to restore essential central-office functions. But she said yesterday that class instruction is more important.

She asked central office employees to report to the Ashe Center at 3001 N. Boulevard today at 8:30 a.m. for a briefing on the situation and duty assignments.

"We'll be taking inventories and looking at everything," Jewell-Sherman said.

Among the areas to be checked is the electronics room used by the public information office and television production staff. Also, school officials do not know if anyone viewed school files. They do not know if anything is missing. Carr questioned if background checks were performed on the movers.

Many school employees had taken personal items home just in case the storm that had been on the horizon for years made landfall without warning. Clown Shoes has been trying for two years to boot the school offices from City Hall.

Several employees had even started packing their offices -- Jewell-Sherman began this school year with a stripped-down office that was half-packed.

This weekend, the most disrupted floors were the 12th and 13th, where instruction, exceptional-education, student-records, grants and nursing offices are housed.

Gloria Graham-Johnson, who works in the exceptional-education department, returned to her office yesterday for the first time since Friday morning to find its contents -- student records, staff-development information, legal correspondence -- boxed up.

It is a mystery what is in any of the boxes or if they even belong to the cubicles in which they sit.

"It's like, what in the world?" Graham-Johnson said surveying the room. "It's just a mess."

Steven Bolton, a writer/producer in the public information office, scanned the piles of boxes in his office wondering what was inside.

"All of the bookcases had my files organized," he said.

Yesterday, the shelves were empty.

"How many days are we going to have to spend just to get back in business at a cost to taxpayers?" he asked.

During the day on Friday, the rumor mill churned at City Hall with speculation that Clown Shoes would soon act on his intent to remove the school administration.

Administrators launched contingency efforts, including having staffers monitor the building all weekend. But those plans were derailed when an e-mail from the city press secretary's office appeared in computer inboxes at 4:18 p.m. stating that the building would close to city employees at 5 p.m. and not reopen until Monday at 7:30 a.m.

Before they left, some school staffers posted no-trespassing signs as well as copies of a City Council ordinance requiring the city to continue renting to the school system for $10 per year. The mayor and his chief of staff had declared that ordinance -- which Clown Shoes did not veto -- to be invalid.

By Friday at 7:30 p.m., movers flooded the offices and started hauling away items. Clown Shoes wants the offices to move to a rented space at 3600 W. Broad St.

School Board members and administrators who saw the offices late Friday and early Saturday said they were in better condition yesterday. Cubicles had been reassembled, but power to phones and computers was still spotty.

Harold Fitrer, assistant superintendent for administration and support, was glad to see that the person who had moved into his office had left.

"We came up here Friday night, and there was a guy sleeping on my sofa" with the TV on, he said.

On the heels of this weekend's events and Wednesday's court hearing looming, School Board member Carol A.O. Wolf said the school system will press ahead.

"We've got miracles happening every day in our schools, and that's not because of City Hall but despite City Hall."

It's one thing to play politics with education in a hypothetical or planning sense; arguing the merits of your plan versus an opposition plan, decrying corruption or incompetence, insisting on a change. I've seen some of the bad--and the surprising good--of No Child Left Behind, and I'm right on board with the idea that our educational system needs an overhaul of monumental proportions (though I must add the caveat that I believe our parenting systems to be culpable for most of the problems in schools and on the streets).

It's one thing to argue with the School Board, to disagree on policy, or even to want them to move to save the city money--heck, even to legally compel them to move is a little slimy, but acceptable. It's another thing to completely disrupt the School Board's function in the middle of a school year, directly endangering the education of at-risk youth. (My friend Chris Anthony would insist here that "all youth are 'at risk'." She would be right, as she usually is.) More than the education is endangered here; with personal information left out for anyone passing by to see, these children's lives have been endangered by their mayor. Somebody please explain to me any angle by which this action can be viewed as even remotely acceptable. You want to talk about an impeachable offense? Endangering the education and lives of children has to sit very close to the top of the list.

So well done, Mayor Clown Shoes. Swingin' it low and heavy, and we're all really impressed.


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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Doug Wilder is a Pair of Clown Shoes

What a freaking pair of clown shoes mayor L. Douglas "Napoleon" Wilder is. I can't wait to move into the Richmond City limits next month so I can not vote for him. Even if he doesn't or can't run again, I will take great pleasure in filling out a ballot for Not Him.

Mayor Clown Shoes (his new official name on this blog) evicted the Richmond School Board from City Hall last night at 5:30, getting movers to take all their stuff out. The School Board and City Council have been among the mayor's greatest opponents, mainly because they have the audacity to have different ideas than Clown Shoes occasionally.

The eviction comes after the Clown Shoes office announced that investigators had evidence that a computer in the office of Council President William J. Pantele had been used to access pornography online. No contacting his office or the School Board first, just a press release.

Apparently, the School Board move has been discussed as a cost-saving measure for a few years. But it's typical Clown Shoes nonsense to make an autocratic decision without actually consulting or informing anyone--twice in one afternoon, no less.

In the wee hours of the morning, a judge ruled that all the materials had to be returned to the offices. The judge was astonished that total strangers (the movers) had access to children's personal information in school board files, and commanded that the files be returned to safety and security.

Good old Clown Shoes. No risk (to innocent children) is too great to make a point about how powerful you are. Whip it out, Mr. Mayor, for all to see. The man simply cannot conceive of the idea that any initiative not originating with him has merit. This is what we get for our first elected mayor in decades? Give me corruption over this arrogant, ignorant incompetence.

Times-Dispatch article.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Closing on Monday!

Dear friends,

Karen and I are scheduled to close on our first house:

on Monday at 3:00. Please pray for us as we go through this kah-razy process. We are stressed beyond imagining with Richard II, tour promotion, training events, and the Chesterfield Fall Music Festival, not to mention Karen flying up to Pennsylvania next weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm Playing the Chesterfield Fall Music Festival

This Saturday, September 22, I'm going to be one of four artists playing at the Chesterfield Fall Music Festival, sponsored by the Amazing Grace Coffee House. The other artists include Somewhat Undecided and Dale Traylor.

The festival runs from 4:00 to 8:00 at the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, 9601 Hull Street Road. Here's a map. It's free, and there are cheesesteaks!

I'm scheduled to start at 5:45 and could go as long as 7:00. Dang, that's a lot of music! I'm going to bounce between piano and guitar, as is my wont of late, and a lot of new songs are going to make their public debut. I'm very jazzed about this show for itself, but also as a way to try out some material in preparation for the November 11 show at ComedySportz, which will be recorded as a live album.

I hope to see a bunch of you there!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Richmond Braves Win the International League Championship!


Karen and I were in the house tonight as the Richmond Braves won their fifth Governors' Cup International League Championship.

Trailing the Durham Bulls 2 games to 1 in the championship series, the R-Braves had game 4 rained out on Friday night, necessitating a double-header scheduled for today. Game 4 began at 3:00; if Richmond won, game 5 would follow at 7:00. I had rehearsal for Richard II from 10:00-5:00, but Grant Mudge sent me a couple text messages from the stadium to keep me posted. Good thing, too; the game was pre-empted on the radio by both the Virginia Tech game and the Hokie postgame show. I can understand losing a previously-unsceduled R-Braves game for a Hokies game, but the postgame show? Anyway...

Grant's last message was 1-1 in the bottom of the 6th. By the time I got to the Diamond, it was the top of the 8th, 4-1 Braves. Grant was sitting with the Thrifts in row G of section 108 (boxes between home and first), and there were open seats with them, so we joined them. It was cooling off, so I called Karen and told her to bring something long-sleeved for herself and for Grant, who was wearing shorts.

Final score of game 4: 6-2 Braves. Karen arrived and game 5 commenced.

If game 4 ended well, game 5 started downright brilliantly, with the Braves scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st and never looking back. Outfielder Doug Clark hit a three-run home run off the right field foul pole, followed on the next pitch by Carlos Mendez's dinger over the left field fence. The rest of the game seemed to feature a succession of Durham hitters swinging their arms out of their sockets, as if trying to hit a 5-run homer. What started as heart looked more like desperation with each inning.

Sitting six rows from the plate gave loudmouths like Grant, Karen and I some wonderful opportunities to make fun of the names of Bulls hitters. Hey, they're on the road; I feel no guilt. It was easy to make fun of Evan Longoria, calling him "Eva" (as if he's never heard that before) and asking him how his husband Tony Parker is. E. Johnson inspired me to chant "E. Jooohhn-son!"

But we really seemed to get into the head of Jason Pridie (pronounced "pretty") by singing "I feel Pridie! Oh so Pridie!" every time he came to bat. Poor Pridie boy went 0-for-5 tonight, striking out the first three times we sang his song. And they were bad strikeouts, swinging wildly from way behind in the count. I really think we pissed him off. I feel kind of bad about that. Initially, we were just singing it at the beginning of his at-bat, but he came to the plate with two outs in the 9th, and by then we had our entire section singing with us: "I FEEL PRIDIE! OH SO PRIDIE!" Before each. And. Every. Pitch. This resulted in a game-ending fly ball to deep right. Braves win. Jason's Pridie.

This is the second time I've been in the stadium for a minor-league championship, and there is nothing like it. This joins the 1999 Arena Cup (go Albany Firebirds!) among the greatest sports experiences of my life. Seriously, I'd take this above watching a Phillies, Red Sox, or Redskins championship on TV any day. There's just nothing like being there.

I'll post the T-D article tomorrow. Until then, I want to share the sheer joy of tonight's experience as best I can. So enjoy some pictures.

Eva(n) Longoria: Swing and a miss in game 4.

The Governors' Cup: on display in front of the stadium, awaiting a new home.

One of many Braves runs scored early in game 5.

The scoreboard: happy if you're a Braves fan, sad if you're one of the scores of Durham fans who drove up from North Carolina today only to sit behind the visitors' dugout and watch a crushing double-header sweep. Give them credit: driving three hours to root on a minor-league team is being a real fan. I complimented a group of Durham fans in a beer line.

The R-Braves enlist the help of Governor Tim Kaine to lift the heavy Governors' Cup. Kaine--a friend of Richmond Shakespeare and a genuinely good guy in my experience--showed up midway through the second game. His kids were there all day, including a boy wearing a "KAINE" #1 Braves jersey. God bless the Kaine family, friends of both sports and the arts.

So the Braves win their first IL championship since the magical 1994 team, which featured such obscure players as Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez, and future Chipper Jones. Is there a major-league future ahead for Doug Clark, Carlos Mendez, and winning pitcher Kevin Barry? Could be. For now, I'm just thrilled to have been there when they won their minor-league title.

Next up: a one-game king-of-the-hill game Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against Pacific Coast League champion Sacramento. I'll have to settle for ESPN.

I feel Pridie. Oh so Pridie.

News from the R-Braves website.

Richmond times-Dispatch coverage. coverage.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jon Jansen... wooo....

I had a conversation about football with the pastors at Redeemer Lutheran Church (where I work) yesterday. This is a fairly common occurrence; it is a genuine blessing to serve with other sports fans, even if one of them is a Yankees fan. Jim Byork mentioned that the Redskins have not had a really great quarterback since Sonny Jurgensen. In fact, it could be argued that the Redskins have had only two great quarterbacks in their 75-year history; Jurgensen and Sammy Baugh, the greatest football player of all time. Jim's point was in line with my personal belief: that great offenses, and quarterbacks in particular, are often the product of great offensive line play.

It's a fair point. As great as Joe Theismann was for a few years, the Redskins' success in the 1980s was really centered around the Hogs. Great seasons by Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, and even Gus Frerotte and Brad Johnson were hardly the norm for their careers; in fact, the best of the bunch is probably journeyman Johnson. I have high hopes that Jason Campbell is going to buck the trend, but of course I felt that was about Heath Shuler and Patrick Ramsey, too...

Which brings me to the subject line of this blog: right tackle Jon Jansen, my current favorite Redskin on the roster. Wait: does it count as "on the roster" if he's on injured reserve? Maybe not, but he's still my current favorite Redskin.

Jon Jansen suffered a fractured dislocation early on in Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, and is gone for the season. After a fairly routine play, Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas rolled up Jansen's ankle, breaking his fibula and dislocating his ankle.

This makes the second full season that Jansen, a horse who played much of 2005 with two broken thumbs, has suffered in four years. 2004 was lost to a ruptured achilles in preseason. Jansen a well-known and respected player the league wide, has inexplicably never been to a Pro Bowl, unlike his counterpart, left tackle Chris Samuels, a comparable player. (Samuels is another personal favorite; you might remember him from the NFL commercial where he cries in a classroom at the end of Little Women, immediately denying that the book is his.)

Jansen, cornerback Shawn Springs, and broadcaster Chick Hernandez used to co-host a casual Redskins interview show called Monday Night Live on Comcast SportsNet. It was held in a restaurant in NoVa and featured a wide array of guests and local musical acts. A few years back, they had linebacker LaVar Arrington, another past favorite, on the show as a guest. Here's a transript from my favorite part:

Hernandez: Who's your favorite Redskin?

Arrington: Jon Jansen. (Brief pause. Then:) Wooooooooooo!

(Later in the same interview:)

Hernandez: Your favorite Halloween costume?

Arrington (instantly): JON JANSEN! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

In my house, any time anyone says "Jon Jansen," Karen and/or I automatically shout a high-pitched "Woooooooooo!" like LaVar Arrington.

Now there is no woo. Or it's a quiet, sad woo. Jansen is out for the season, and while backup Todd Wade is a more than capable substitute, I'm going to miss my boy Jon. It breaks my heart to see a team's fortunes turn on the twist of an ankle, even a team I hate; sports should be determined on the field, not in the O.R. But when it's a player I love, at the beginning of a season where I think the Redskins are going to be one of the biggest surprises in the league, it's just heartbreaking.

So get well, Jon Jansen. We'll see you in 2008.

I mean: Get well, Jon Jansen. Wooooooo....

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Iron Man Trailer Is UP!



EDIT: I just watched it a second time and it almost made me cry with its pure awesomeness.

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R-Braves Coming Home to Fight for the Championship

Boys and girls,

The Richmond Braves are tied 1-1 in the International League Championship Series, and the two or three games remaining will all be played at the Diamond. Through a freak of scheduling, the wild-card Braves have home-field advantage against the division champion Durham Bulls. The winner of this series plays the Pacific Coast League winner (Sacramento vs. New Orleans) in a one-game winner-take all AAA Championship game in Oklahoma City on September 18.

Come out and see the Braves. Come out because I can't get out of Richard II rehearsal Thursday or Friday nights.

Their website is, but it only seems to work about half the time...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

I've pulled this post and all attendant discussion. I've decided that I don't want to make my friends and family angry if there's no attendant benefit.

My prayers for this day are with the families of everyone affected by war, and for those who would seek to kill us, for whatever reason.

Monday, September 10, 2007

This Week: Character Voices Workshop

This Tuesday, September 11, Richmond Shakespeare is holding a workshop in Character Voices taught by yours truly. There is still plenty of room for students! Come out and learn how to talk in funny voices.

7:00-9:30 PM at Second Presbyterian Church (5 N. 5th Street). A mere $20!

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

The R-Braves Are in the Governor's Cup Finals!

Richmond beat the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees 4-3 last night to earn a spot in the International League Championship Series. The Braves rallied in late innings the last two nights to win the series three games to one.

They begin the battle for the Governor's Cup against the Durham Bulls Tuesday on the road. It's another best-of-five series, with the R-Braves at home Thursday, then Friday and Saturday as needed. If the series goes to game five, I'm THERE Saturday. As much as I love the majors, there is a really special connection when fans show up for minor league playoffs.

Durham is a serious rival from the IL South. The two teams know each other very well, and split the season series 8-8. I fully expect this series to go the distance.

Apparently, you can watch the games on We were busy watching the extended version of King Kong last night, so I forgot.

You can read the Times-Dispatch article here. I'm reprinting the Minor League Baseball article below 'cause it's awesome.

R-Braves edge Yanks to advance
Three-run ninth sends Richmond to Governors' Cup Finals
By Caleb Pardick / Special to

Iker Franco delivered a key RBI single during Richmond's three-run ninth inning. (Joy R. Absalon/

On Friday night, the Richmond Braves rallied late after being stymied by a solid pitching performance in the third game of its International League opening-round series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

On Saturday afternoon, it was more of the same.

The Braves pushed across three runs in the ninth inning on their way to a 4-3 win over the Yankees in Game 4 of the best-of-5 series.

The Braves will take on International League South Division rival Durham in the Governors' Cup Finals. Game 1 is Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Richmond defeated Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 6-4, on Friday night, scoring four times in the eighth after being shut down by Matt DeSalvo for seven innings.

Facing Yankees reliever Ben Kozlowski on Saturday, Larry Bigbie walked to lead off the ninth and Doug Clark singled. Ross Ohlendorf replaced Kozlowski and got Carlos Mendez to fly out.

A minor controversy occurred with the next batter. Wes Timmons, who successfully checked his swing twice to bring the count to 2-2, was hit by Ohlendorf's next pitch on another half-swing. Home plate umpire Kevin Causey appealed to first-base umpire Troy Fullwood, who said Timmons did not swing. Yankees manager Dave Miley unsuccessfully disputed the call.
With the bases loaded and one out, Iker Franco delivered a line-drive single that scored Bigbie. Richmond manager Dave Brundage initially signaled for Clark to stop at third, but after seeing center fielder Brett Gardner bobble the ball, sent Clark home to tie the game. Timmons advanced to third on the error.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play, and I stayed back got the pitch I got and made good contact," said Franco. "I have to give it to my teammates for putting me in that position."

Derrick Arnold, who spent the entire regular season at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center to plate Timmons with the go-ahead run.

"Any day you come to the ballpark, you hope you could be that one person to change the game," said Arnold, who was promoted to Richmond on Tuesday. "When I woke up this morning, I didn't think I was even going to get to play.

"I just got up here a week ago, but I never thought once I'd come in today and win the game. Any time you get a chance to do something like that, it's unbelievable."

Clark, with teammates gathered around him in the jovial visitors' clubhouse after the game, gave Arnold the game ball amid cheers from everyone.

"We told him when he got here, 'Visualize that one play that you're going to make for us to help us win a ball game, whether it's sliding in and taking out a double play or getting a squeeze down,'" Clark said. "Today, it was a sac fly."

"Every game this series was tooth-and-nail, but we just ended up coming out on the good end of it," added Brundage. "It's really impressive to know that we play with so much heart."

"[We and Durham] know each other very well. The season series was 8-8, and I expect the same type of play," he said, of the upcoming finals. "I like our chances just because this teams plays as a team. We won this series as a team."

Braves reliever Phil Stockman (1-1) allowed a walk in 1 1/3 hitless frames to pick up the win, while Joey Devine saved his third game of the series, working around a single and striking out one in the ninth.

The Yankees were on top for most of the game, scoring in the first on a two-run blast by Jose Cruz Jr. They maintained control, thanks to seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball from starter Jeff Karstens, who issued two walks and fanned seven. Ohlendorf (0-1) yielded one run on one hit in one frame.

Bronson Sardinha ripped two doubles and scored a run for the Yankees.

NOTES: Richmond reliever Chad Paronto, who disagreed with several of Causey's calls, was ejected on his way off the field with two outs in the seventh after being lifted by Brundage. ... The Braves last took home a Governors' Cup title in 1994. ... Despite not recording a hit on Saturday, Bigbie still leads all International League hitters with a .556 (5-for-9) average. ... Scranton/Wilkes-Barre stranded at least one runner (12 total) in every inning on Saturday. ... After Clark's second-inning double, no Richmond player reached second base until pinch-hitter Barbaro Canizares' leadoff double in the eighth. ... The Yankees stole only two bases all series after swiping six in each of the final two games of the regular season. ... Andy Cannizaro, who hit a solo homer in the first on Friday and left the game after being hit by a pitch on his forearm in his next at-bat, did not play in Game 4. He said he thought the beaning by Braves starter Francisley Bueno was intentional.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ange Hamm > The Man

My little truck got towed on August 7th.

I had parked on Meadow Street across from the alley behind Tabernacle Baptist, in a space between a driveway and a "No Parking" sign pointing the other way. I had parked there frequently in the time Richmond Shakespeare has been at Tabernacle. It's a nice space. There's a shade tree and everything.

Here's a picture of the space, with a black Camry in the place of my CR-V, which was unavailable to be photographed at the time the photo was taken.

Clearly, this space is perfectly legal at all times.

I called to find out if my car had been towed, and no one had any record of it. Not the police, not the towing company, no one. I was beginning to think the truck had been stolen, but it turned out that the local towing incompetents had misspelled my license plate on their forms: "TRADISH" instead of "TARDIS-H." I was told condescendingly that vanity plates are a problem when you get towed because they are often miswritten. So it's my fault your jackass towtruck driver can't transcribe seven letters in order? Not to mention the fact that the logic of this statement eludes me; you expect me to believe that someone is more likely to incorrectly transcribe "MY VETTE" than "JKR-1372"???

The reason given by Siebert's for the towing was "street cleaning," despite the fact that there were no street cleaning signs of any kind in the space. I checked the rest of the block just in case: no signs. Just for the heck of it, I drove up and down the street in Karen's car just to be sure. There were no signs of any kind, temporary or permanent, indicating street cleaning anywhere on Meadow Street. Anywhere. There were, however, temporary street cleaning signs on other streets in the neighborhood, for other days of the week.

Karen drove me to Siebert's, I paid my $60, and took my truck.

The next day, I called City Hall to find out how to contest the ticket. I was transferred or given another number no fewer than six times before finding a police officer who could (or would) tell me anything. One of the things he told me was that no fewer than 130 cars had been towed for street cleaning that day, and that his backlog of complaint phone calls was days of work long. He gave me the right number to call and suggested that I ask them to fax me the form required to contest the citation, but warned that, depending on whom I talk to over there, they may or may not require me to come in to fill out the paperwork in person. He was right to warn me; a very sour lady insisted that they NEVER do this by fax (despite the fact that a very senior police officer had just told me that they do). I would have to drive downtown to City Hall.

This I did, filling out my paperwork and getting a court date of September 6 at 2:00.

Which brings us to this week. I went to court to contest my ticket, photos in hand. I was the third nearly identical story the judge heard, but I was surprised at how few people were in the courtroom; there couldn't have been a dozen. A little old lady was called a couple names before me. She had come into town to visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and had been towed under identical circumstances to mine; no street cleaning signs in sight. Her case was readily dismissed, but the poor lady was shaking and in tears before the judge, she was so nervous and humiliated to have to come to court. She had even brought three friends with her for moral support.

I spent no more than 30 seconds before the judge before she dismissed my case as well.

She sent me out to the clerk, where I was informed that I would have to drive back to Siebert's to get my refund, since that's where I paid. I drove out Hull Street Road to the craphole that is Siebert's and got my refund.

All this for $60.

This entire process has been infuriating to me. There is no way on earth that Siebert's didn't tow my car without full knowledge that there was no signage to indicate that I would be towed for parking there. Nothing in the world will persuade me that every inconvenient, time-consuming, humiliating step in this process was not specifically designed to encourage citizens to say, "Oh, well, it's just $60. It isn't worth the trouble to contest it." Clearly, the light turnout in the courthouse indicates that many people decided just that.

This is the kind of crap that inspires people to start militias. The government should not seize my property in order to extort money from me to get it back. Rightfully contesting my ridiculously false citation shouldn't take two trips to City Hall and over six hours of work-week time, especially in the internet age. My government should serve and protect me, not scam money from me then place obstacle after obstacle in my path when I wish to correctly seek recompense. And it certainly shouldn't make a nice old lady who'd never seen the inside of a courtroom cry in public.

So I got my $60 back. There's no telling how much I lost in gasoline and productivity to get it, but I got it.

Ange Hamm 1, The Man 0.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Andrew Hamm Narrates "RV 2007" on HGTV

Last year, I got a call pretty much out of the blue from Brainbox Talent and Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland, asking if I would be available to record a voice-over that week. I had submitted my voice to them several months earlier for a gig I didn't get and promptly forgot about it. Well, producer Jason Nicholls liked my voice, needed a younger-sounding artist, and had a tough deadline coming up. That, and the fact that I'm non-union, combined for a pretty cool experience recording what was essentially a "draft" track for Brainbox to submit a rough cut to HGTV. A one-afternoon gig, "more than beer money," as Jason described the pay, and a pleasant drive up and down I-95. Cool.

A few months later, Jason called me again. HGTV liked the show, and they liked my voice enough to want to use me for the final product. Another drive up to Maryland, another afternoon of talking, and more than more than beer money. A handful of lines needed to be re-recorded a few days later, but I was able to do that remotely from my home studio and send the files up to Brainbox via email. How awesome is that?!

Then a sad thing happened. I got so tied up with Doctor Faustus and Twelfth Night that I forgot to check when the show was airing! My national V/O debut and I totally missed it! I've been bumming about it for months.

But lo and behold! HGTV, knowing everyone in America will be watching football, is rebroadcasting RV 2007 this Sunday at 5:00 PM! So you can tune in during football commercial breaks to hear my stupid voice yapping about travel trailers and other such stuff.

Unfortunately, I will be busy playing music for Christ Church's birthday party while it's airing, so I will have to settle for the lesser thrill of watching a videotaped broadcast rather than the excitement of hearing my voice on live television. But I'm still excited as heck!


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Richmond Shakespeare's Training Department Rocks It Out for Year Two!

Note to readers: this announcement is going to sit at the top of the page for a while. Scroll down to check for new posts.

It's here! The schedule for Richmond Shakespeare's Fall 2007 Training offerings! We've made a strong push to bring in big-time talent to teach this year, and we've moved our six-week class to a "dark" night to accomodate working actors' schedules.

Now if we can get some more of the people who said they were interested to actually come to some classes, we'll be good.

Richmond Shakespeare
Training Department
Fall 2007 Schedule


Shakespearean Scene Study
with Director of Training Andrew Hamm
Mondays, October 15 through November 19, 7:00-9:30 PM
This class is designed to come to the student wherever they are, with essential knowledge for beginners as well as a creative place for more experienced actors to stretch out and play in a demanding classroom environment. Always wanted to play Hamlet or Juliet? This is your chance to prove that you can--or to learn how. Shakespearean acting isn't just for Shakespeare enthusiasts; nothing will help your ability to work with modern texts like understanding how to play with the richest and most beautiful dramatic literature ever written. Instructor Andrew Hamm has worked as an actor, director, and teacher in Richmond, Washington D.C., and New York, recently appearing as Feste in Richmond Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and directing Doctor Faustus. Some homework (memorization, etc.) will be required. 12 students maximum. This is an adult class, but some exceptional high school-aged students may be accepted. Cost: $150.


Acting Like a Person
with Jennifer Massey
Tuesdays, October 16, 23, and 30, 7:00-10:00 PM
A scene study class that promotes “imagination” as the key to creation, “Acting Like a Person” is a special three-week offering. Using the principles of “natural law,” each student is encouraged to “do less an actor, so you can do more as a person.” The goal is believability and a truthful experience; the focus is on self-preparation and self-sufficiency. Acting Like a Person explores: How to truly absorb the story, how to prepare on your own, how to get out of your own way, how to assess and improve your own work, and how to incorporate direction and bring it to life. Instructor Jennifer Massey is a member of SAG, AFTRA and Actor’s Equity, and has appeared on film and television, as well as all over Richmond’s stages, most recently in the Firehouse Theatre's acclaimed production of The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath. 7:00-10:00 PM, 8 students maximum. This is an adult class, designed for professional-level actors. Cost: $125.


Character Voices
with Director of Training Andrew Hamm
Tuesday, September 11, 7:00-9:30 PM
Changing your voice for extreme characters, animation, voice-over and radio is not only marketable, it’s a heck of a lot of fun at parties. This workshop will focus on the four dimensions of voice (pitch, tempo, resonance, and phonemes) you can alter to create a “character voice,” as well as techniques to inspire, develop, and catalog voices. Instructor Andrew Hamm has made extreme characters and multiple-character roles a specialty, ranging from Mercutio to Cassius to Lady Capulet. he has also been the voice of Spider-Man, several puppets, and the narrator of HGTV's RV 2007. 20 students maximum. High school age and up! Cost: $20.

with David Sennett
Tuesday, November 6 (THIS IS A CHANGE), 7:00-9:30 PM
You don’t have to have a great ear or know the International Phonetic Alphabet to learn dialects. Learn how to speak like a twit. Impress your date's mother, bore your friends, prepare to joust with the Greeks at Harvard. Next, learn how to irritate a twit. Offend your date's mother, tell off your friends, prepare to rumble wit da boyz. In two hours, master the basics of the Standard British AND the Brooklyn dialects, and have some fun while you're doing it. Instructor David Sennett is an Equity and SAG actor, teacher, director, and producer who has appeared nationally on stage and screen. 15 students maximum. High school juniors and older. Cost: $20

Contemporary Violence
with Drew Vidal
Tuesday, December 11, 7:00-9:30 PM
This class will offer both beginning and experienced actors an opportunity to learn hands-on how contemporary violence is created onstage. As the focus will be on contemporary theatre, participants will be working unarmed and untrained. In addition to learning techniques for performing stage violence safely, participants will take away a unique approach to choreographing their own stage fights. Instructor Drew Vidal has worked extensively as an actor and fight choreographer in Chicago, Richmond, and Washington D.C. Drew choreographed the combant for the Richmond Shakespeare festival's acclaimed Henry IV, Part 1 last summer. His work can been seen in D.C. all season long at the Shakespeare Theatre's productions of The Taming of the Shrew, Tamburlaine, and Edward II. 15 students maximum. Participants should be attired in clothes that do not restrain or hide movement, with soft-soled shoes not worn outside. Any jewelry should be left at home, and contacts worn or glasses fastened. High school age and up! Cost: $20.

Drop me a line at with any questions.

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Style Weekly's "Arts 25"

I was very pleased to see my dear friends Scott Wichmann and d.l. hopkins in Style Weekly's "The Arts 25" this week. I'm actually a bit embarrassed at how few of these artists' work I'm familiar with.

But I'm really thrilled to see my good friend (and boss) Grant Mudge on the list as well. He is the engine that makes Richmond Shakespeare run (I just make it a little shinier). Go pick up a copy, but I can't resist reprinting it here:

The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Grant Mudge
by Edwin Slipek Jr.

For Grant Mudge, compelling theater — whether a classic play or an interpretation of a literary work — doesn’t require lavish productions.

When Mudge was a struggling young actor and director he worried about how he could afford Christmas presents. He had an idea: “People make things for gifts, don’t they? I’ll write and perform a play.” Mudge adapted A Christmas Carol and during succeeding holidays regaled an ever-growing audience of kinfolk and friends.

Now he’s the artistic director of Richmond Shakespeare, and an outgrowth of that play, A Christmas Carol for Two Actors — which he co-adapted with Cynde Liffick, the company’s director of education — is one of its annual staples.

Like the rest of Richmond Shakespeare’s upcoming season — Richard II, Measure for Measure and As You Like ItChristmas Carol is performed with an emphasis on the word, not necessarily on elaborate sets and costumes.

“Shakespeare’s works are challenging to produce and perform, but audiences immediately know that there’s something timeless and inexhaustible about Shakespeare,” he says. “The plays don’t change, but you do.”

Richmond Shakespeare is in its 23rd year, but since Mudge joined in 1996 it’s added a touring program and a summer season, The Richmond Shakespeare Festival. Initially, the company’s fortunes were shaky because of constantly changing performance venues. Now the company is ensconced in the Gothic revival chapel of Second Presbyterian Church, and presents its summer season at Agecroft, the Tudor-era mansion that was transplanted to Windsor Farms from England in the 1920s.

With plays cast from local talent and auditions held in Washington, D.C., and New York City, the company tours extensively. Under Mudge’s leadership, Richmond Shakespeare has reached 120,000 people in 23 states.

What is Shakespeare’s staying power? “Anyone can walk in and know what is going on. There is absolute clarity of text,” Mudge says. It’s this reliance on the primacy of the text that frees Richmond Shakespeare plays from being heavily designed.

“There is a sense of the original [Shakespearean] theatrical practices in our productions,” Mudge says. “We use universal lighting where the audience and the players can see each other. This was standard before the advent of turning lights off in the audience.” He admits, however, that the outdoor summer productions tend to be less “universal.” More lighting attracts more insects.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Marisa's Ice Cream Blog

Brab Brubaker has joined the blogosphere with a page devoted to one of the most important subjects in the world: ice cream.

Check him out over at Marisa's Ice Cream and help get him off to a delicious start.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Appalachian State is HOT HOT HOT!

Thanks to MegECass110 over at Armchair GM for finding this gem. I give her all the credit.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

What a Day in Sports

You expect the opening day of College Football to be big and boisterous and exciting, but this year it was unique. Some random thoughts on what I got to watch and listen to yesterday:

Appalachian State Mountaineers 34, Michigan Wolverines 32.

Holy smokes. Would ya look at that.

A lot of the press this morning is reading this way: "1) We knew Appalachian State was a good program, but 2) Who knew Michigan could blow it this badly?" Well, I'm going to take the opposite view: "1) We knew Michigan has a long history of blowing National Championship aspirations with an ugly September loss, but 2) Who knew Appalachian State was this good?" I'm wracking my brains trying to think of a bigger upset like, ever, in any sport, and I can't come up with one. I'd say the Texans beating Dallas in their first game, but Dallas hasn't been good since 1995. This is the equivalent of a minor league team beating the Yankees, except bigger. Maybe sweeping a series with the Yankees.

All I can say is, three cheers for Division 1-AA.

Incidentally, Caitlin Upton, Miss "give maps to U.S. American students so we can help South Africa" Teen South Carolina announced this week on the Today Show that she plans to attend Appalachian State. Coincidence?

Virginia Tech Hokies 17, East Carolina Pirates 7.

After an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring the 32 victims of the April massacre, the Hokies looked drained. The game was unremarkable; sloppy VT offense covered by world-beating defense and special teams. But this was the first major sporting event for Virginia Tech since the world changed in April, a chance to move on and define the school by something other than unimaginable tragedy.

I didn't get to watch much of this game; I had errands to run and band practice. But here's what I really loved about the game. In a departure designed so no one would boo, both teams' marching bands participated in the pre-game festivities, and both teams charged onto the field simultaneously to massive applause. How great that was. I would advocate making that the rule for all college and high school sporting events.

Boston Red Sox 10, Baltimore Orioles 0.

The one game I got to watch a lot of was this one, which I saw from the fourth through the end. Pretty darn good one to choose, since it featured a no-hitter from Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz.

Scouts and Sox fans know Buchholz's name, but few others do. His start was of the emergency variety, to give Boston's injured and aching starters a night of much-needed rest. Who knew he'd be giving the bullpen the night off as well? Buchholz's no-no came in his second freaking major league start, which is somewhere about 16 miles beyond unbelievable. It's not, however unprecedented; Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter in his first career start, and Wilson Alvarez, like Buchholz, in his second. Holloman won three games that season and nere returned to the bigs; Alvarez won 102 in a serviceable career, playing until he was 35.

Buchholz, 23, would have merited a close look even if second baseman Dustin Pedroia hadn't made that incredible diving catch to save the no-no late in the game. This wasn't a fluke like Holloman, and looks to be a harbinger of at least Alvarez's potential. Buchholz is known for hitting upwards of 96 on the speed gun, but he mowed down Oriole after Oriole with a fastball in the low-90s, a devastating changeup, and a curve that bit deeper and deeper with every inning. The last pitch of the game was the whole night in a nutshell, a filthy diving curve dipping right past an oblivious Oriole with a bat slung helplessly over his shoulder. The future looks promising for the Red Sox rotation if Buchholz takes this success and runs with it.

Don't ignore the fact that the Orioles, though struggling this year, had not been shut out this year until Buchholz came along. This was just what the Red Sox needed after the Yankee sweep, not just a shot in the arm but a massive and completely unexpected one. Buchholz wasn't supposed to draw national attention last night. He wasn't even really supposed to win, honestly. He was supposed to eat up some valuable innings and give Wakefield and Schilling another day. Who knew?

What a great day for sports.

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