Friday, August 25, 2006

Naked Trucker and Meeting the Carrozzas

Hey, hey, we met the in-laws last night! Carl, Anne (Kyle's parents) and sister Laura. Such nice people! No surprise there because Kyle's such a great guy. It was fun seeing them all interact with each other.

We all went to the second Naked Trucker and T-Bones taping. The studio was in a non-descript clump of buildings in Hollywood. The set reminded me of the Red Green set. Lots of rustic junk and road signs. The special guest seating was at tables down in front. We were at the back behind the cameras. I just reaized we had a totally different experience from the people seated in front. What they saw was more like a stage show while we saw a television taping. It was pretty entertaining seeing the crew do their work.

They pretty much ran the show all the way through and then did the retakes at the end. They were filming the live portions that will be interspersed with the pre-recorded scenes, some of which take place in the Trucker's truck. There's one very funny scene where T-Bones breaks into a record executive's house and takes a bath while the Trucker (naked) waits on the front porch. There's also a segment that features the Hitchhiker of the Week. This time it was Will Farrell.

At the end it got pretty long with all the retakes they had to do. It was pretty uncomfortable sitting for that long and since we had already seen all the jokes the laughter was less fresh (they were also recording the audience's response). At the very end they had a big birthday celebration for David Koechner (T-Bones) and one of the crew guys. They brought out a couple of huge cakes. After we sang Happy Birthday and they blew out the candles they released the audience and ushered us out! Har! They teased us with cake and then kicked us out!

Afterward we went to the House Of Pies and had dinner. After about an hour and a half Gruber (Trucker) showed up with Tommy, the guitarist for the band. We had a nice chat with them. It's always nice talking to Gruber. He's always enthusiastic and interested in everything. I'm glad the Carrozza's got to meet him. Afterward he hugged everyone goodbye. Kinda funny since he's about 6'4 and Anne's 4'11! He also gave us some info on how we can get guest tickets. Next time we'll be at the tables in front! Woo-hoo!

Sunday Carl, Anne and Laura are coming over for lunch and a TV's Kyle Band jam. It'll be fun showing them the stuff we've been working on. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Snakes on a plane!!!!

We saw it this afternoon. It's a silly romp. Man, them snakes is crazy!

Dad's home. He and Dede came over just after we got home from the movie. They said Ruth is doing well and has adjusted to her new life in the residential care facility. They said it was a real good trip.

So, we're all home now. Back to life as we know it. Time to get back on the diet and start walking Rubidoux again. The tour left me with a few physical concerns that I'll get checked out later. I want to see if they'll heal on their own.

Lots of work to do around here. The yards and front porch need cleaning. Lots of tour laundry to do. General cleaning. Kyle's parents and sister are coming out from New York so I'd like to get the place clean before they come over. I'll attack that tomorrow.

I felt that end-of-summer change in the air. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We're home!

Tired and wiped out. Everything hurts. Let the healing begin.

Our plane was delayed 5 hours. That's 8 hours hanging out at O'Hare plus 2 more on the plane waiting for them to install a part and do the paper work. The inflight movie was RV with Robin Williams. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

It's good to be home. Yesterday I went to my chiropractor, gonna go again tomorrow. My back is whacked. The fingers on my fight hand are still numb but it's getting better. It's hard to type.

Good gawd, that was a lot of work! We had a good kitchen crew but things started to go south at the end. Liz got lazier and lazier as time went on and at the end she wasn't doing much of anything. The rest of us had to work much harder to keep things going and since the guys were doing a bit too much socializing that meant I was doing most of the work.

The banquet went well. We served roasted pork loin, shrimp skewers, steamed rice, fried rice, apple sauce, watermelon, green salad with Nutella croissants and cake for dessert. They gave out awards and showed videos. Afterward Eddie-san gathered everyone back together for announcements. Then he had me come up to perform my song. I wasn't sure if I should do it since we were ending on a feel-good moment and I thought it might piss everyone off, but since he announced it I figured what the hell. I accompanied myself on the uke. Here it is.

Who stole Aleric's wallet?
Who stole Aleric's wallet?
He's a real sweet guy, doesn't deserve the hassle
If you're the one who took it
You're the world's biggest asshole

He needs his ID to get his butt on the jet
If you just give it back
We'll all forgive and forget
(Except probably not at this point since it's gone on way too long. I just wrote it that way because I couldn't come up with a rhyme for "lying, thieving, heartless bastard")
So, if you took Alaric's wallet
Give it back and it'll all be ok
(Remember karma's a bitch)
Give it back and it'll all be ok!

Oh my god, they went NUTS! When I sang the first line they got a little quiet but then one by one they started laughing. When I sang "world's biggest asshole" they cheered! When I spoke the part about not being able to rhyme "lying, thieving, heartless bastard" they cheered again. When I sang "remember karma's a bitch" they leapt to their feet. I couldn't hardly finish the song! They really loved it! I was so glad they went along with me on it.

At the beginning of the tour I kept a journal but as time went on I just couldn't keep up with it. Thank you, Jim, for guest blogging for me. I'll be posting stories as I remember them. They probably won't be in chronological order. So much happened on this trip.

The kids were awesome, most of the adults were pretty cool. We had some major breakdowns. Physically, I was way over taxed. I'm sooooo glad I exercised and lost some weight before I did this.

I hardly saw Paige most days. I'd see her in the food line or here and there for a few minutes. But we had some good, close times. I'm glad I got to share this with her. She was transformed by this experience. You can see it in her face. And MAN! She's a kick-ass mallet player now. I asked her if she's going to do this next year. She said yeah, but maybe she'll try for a Division 2 group. Her ultimate goal is to join the Blue Devils, a Division 1 group. That's my baby!

Yamato is a Division 3 group which is pretty small. They basically perform between the 30 yard lines. Div 1 groups cover the whole field and the sound they produce is massive. They're the top dawgs.

I guess that's all I'll write for now. Blogger seems to be having some problems this morning.

I'm glad I did this. It's an experience that will stay with me for a long time.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

At the Police Station

Donita called again this morning; she'd just spent several hours at the police station filing a police report on a student's stolen wallet. She's pretty sure one of about three or so kids did it, and it was a prank that got out of hand, ending with the wallet probably thrown in the trash and hence becoming almost unrecoverable. His folks faxed an ID to him, and he should be able to fly home, but the American Yamato kids have been behaving quite dishonorably, trashing the elementary school they're staying in and getting in fights and stuff with each other.

Today is the "free day" in Milwaukee, but Doni stayed and filed the report with the police. Besides, she said, the kitchen staff has to stay and prepare tonight's banquet. She wrote a song about the wallet theft that she might perform tonight at the banquet. So no look at the city's longest street.

They have figured out the carry-on situation; anything that they couldn't take on carry-on will ride the RV home and she'll pick it up later this week.

Kind of a down end to a mostly good tour; i'll be glad to give them both hugs tomorrow after they get to LAX.
This is probably my last tour update, and tomorrow or the next day Doni can log on herself.

So, that's all from me at home base,

- Jim

Saturday, August 12, 2006

At (but not in) The Finals

Howdy, 'tis Jim. I just talked to Doni again; Unfortunately, Yamato didn't make it into the finals. Doni suspects that the judges may have ganged up on Yamato a bit, and also the head of the color guard hurt (sprained? broke?) her ankle, and so there was a major gap in the color guard formation.

They watched the DCI Division 1 finals last night, and Doni said that they were really great. Division 1 consists of the largest bands. There was also an "aging out" performance by the group of people who will turn 21 in the next year; Doni said they were all amazing players, but the selected song was dumb.

Doni's body continues to adapt to her schedule; now just 2 fingers on one hand are numb at times; her back is really stiff, though, so she plans on going to her chiropracter as soon as she can after she gets home.

Paige is still doing great, and wants to move up to Division 1, with her ultimate goal the Blue Devils. So she'd be in a different corps next year; I hope we can somehow afford it; she has six years until she "ages out".

I'm really looking forward to seeing them both again; Monday Lindsay, Rory, Ben, Me and maybe Mary or Kyle will drive to LAX to pick them up at their scheduled time of 5:02. We'll see if there are delays etc then, of course.

Dede just got here; tomorrow early morning she and Stan are flying to San Antonio, TX for a week. That'll be good for him, he'll get to see his sister Ruth again while she's still around, and I'll be glad to get a break. Stan's been mostly fine; I think he's really been trying to be good to me during Doni's absence, which I'm grateful for.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wisconsin update

Howdy, Jim here again.. Doni called last night, and all is basically well. Doni's getting pretty fed up with a few co-workers, but I'll let her talk about that later if she wants. They're done with traveling and are sleeping in a Wisconsin school for the rest of the tour, and she's really glad about that. No more teardown/setup. Her hands are doing better, and Paige is still doing great.
Since the kitchen staff has moved out of the RV, they didn't really know what was going on there Monday night, but found out Tuesday morning that a driver and a couple other staff folks had had a, um, "party" in there, and not cleaned up after puking in the bathroom. Booze bottles everywhere, and quite stinky. Apparently the perps got to do some mopping yesterday! Hmmm...
Not very good role modeling, I'd say. Anyway, everyone's fine.

The band gets to do laundry today, and tomorrow the national finals begin, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals tomorrow and Friday, and then finals and awards on Saturday. Go Yamato!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Enroute to Iowa

Jim here, I just talked to Doni. I'm going to keep this short because I'm tired.

Paige is still doing great, and Doni's doing well, but her hands, legs and feet are hurting. We're hoping she'll be able to recover once she gets home next week.

The missing RV returned, and they're altogether together again, so that's good. They've traveling a long way the last two days, but now they're going to settle down around Wisconsin for the next week before returning to Riverside.

The band moved down to 4th place, and then back up to 3rd. They've been rewriting the show, and everyone says the band is doing great, but they just didn't quite get the points a couple of times. As you can see below, the scores are very close. From the Yamato site:

Score Track
August 6th, 2006
Michigan City, IN


August 5th, 2006
Dubuque, IA


August 3rd, 2006
Jackson, TN


August 2nd, 2006
Van Buren, AR


(I think it would probably be insensitive to go into details here, but three people who are close to the Lang family (but not in the Lang family itself) have died in the last week, all traffic fatalities. We just heard about the last two tonight, and are still pretty much in shock. I called Doni tonight to let her know; we're all handling it okay so far. Doni's sister-in-law Mindy is coming by tomorrow morning to let Stan know and be there with/for him. Thank you, Mindy.)

That's all for now,

- Jim

Friday, August 04, 2006

Doni checks in from Tennessee

(Sweet Sixteen Paige with her birthday crepe at rehearsals in the heat in MoVal a couple of weeks back)

Howdy folks, Jim here again...

Paige's boyfriend Rory called yesterday asking what I'd heard about Paige, and since I'd heard no news for days, I decided to bite the wax tadpole and call Eddie the Yamato director. He answered right away, and I asked him to let Doni know I'd like her to call me. (Gee that was easy, why didn't I think of that before?) About twenty minutes later, Doni called. She said that she hadn't called because her cell phone had been out of range a lot, and had tried to call but it wouldn't work, but it was okay then.

Doni just called again with an update. She and Paige and the show overall are doing fine. They're a little bit behind today's schedule, still enroute to Ottawa, IL for a day of rehearsal and laundry. The band had (gasp!) McDonald's for breakfast, because of the messed-up schedule.

Here's the main reason the schedule is tweaked today, as I understand it: Yesterday (or the day before?), the generator in the "rock star" RV (for Yamato's directorial and musical staff) broke down, which meant that they had no power for air conditioning, refrigeration, laptop and phone charging, etc. When they got to last night's destination, the folks coming off that RV were pretty messed up from the heat and humidity. They thought that the generator could be fixed in Nashville, which they were headed for, so folks got what they needed for that afternoon off the RV and sent the driver (who is from Nashville) ahead to fix it.

They haven't heard from the driver since. What was supposed to be a short trip has turned into two days without that RV. So now they had a bigger problem; how to get the full staff from point to point! They all took the short trip to the stadium together in the kitchen RV, and dt one point, they planned for all 19 (?!) of them to ride in the meal staff's RV, for the next big arm the next day, which would have been pretty cramped, but instead they rented another RV, which the Yamato staff are now using. I hope it's just some mixup which has left the driver incommunicado for the moment, but I'm somewhat concerned because most of the Staff's stuff like laptops (which they need) are on that RV (along with Doni's uke!!).

Yamato staff members keep praising Paige to Doni, which naturally causes Doni to cry (she's an easy crier), but it's great. They're all saying how much they respect Paige, how Paige keeps working hard to figure out how to make everything work better and make people's performance tasks easier (the directors are continually revising the show) and how big an asset she is to the band. Paige is awesome, they say! She's doing great, and Doni says Paige is just having a wonderful time.

Yamato came in second (instead of first) for the first time since Riverside yesterday, and Doni thinks that maybe that's a good thing, to keep them on their toes. Doni saw a little bit of their performance, and she thought they were really good and tight.
They are, after all, headed to a national competition next week.

Doni's hands are doing better. It started as full numbness upon waking, then became soreness upon waking, and now it's occasional tingling fingertips upon waking, so we think her body is getting used to her current change in lifestyle. Worrier that I can be, I'm quite relieved to hear that it's getting better. Her legs and feet aren't aching much anymore either, and overall she sounds quite happy to me. The more she learns about her management, the more she thinks that they have problems (I'll not name names; maybe she will when she gets back), but so far nothing really dire has happened, and she really likes her co-workers.

It turns out that Isaac (the band's chef's) folks had a cabin in Berry Creek, CA when he was a kid (that would be about ten or so years ago), which is where my brother and I went for several summers when we were teens, and where our favorite water haunt (Milsap Bar) is! So Doni's enjoying talking about that with him.

Hopefully the RV driver will show back up with everyone's gear, but regardless Paige and Doni are doing pretty dang well.

Meanwhile, Lindsay, Kyle and I have been having a blast seeing Tally Hall at the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Wednesday and then at Spaceland, a club in LA last night. I wrote a lot about that on my own blog here. Be sure and check it out! (Doni's jealous of us getting to do that while she's having a very different experience, but we consoled her by telling her that we are all going to go see the television taping of the new "Naked Trucker and T-Bones" show for Comedy Central when she gets back.)

That's all for now,

- Jim