Are We Still in Kansas?

lexi-dorothyFive years ago, Lexi was recruited to help the Chattanooga Symphony Opera (CSO) promote their instrumental score of the Wizard of Oz (WOZ) while the much-loved film played on a screen behind them. On March 2, 2012, Lexi’s new “Dorothy” – who Lexi knew from a different role in the previous production of WOZ – came to pick her up in a Pedi cab. They were to travel the streets and businesses of Chattanooga for the CSO promotion. On that day, one of Lexi’s life-long dreams came true: she was allowed in a restaurant!

Something else happened that day, too, while Lexi and her “Dorothy” were riding around town. As the line goes in the play, “The wind began to blow.” The darkening sky showed tinges of green, with swirling, ominous clouds. People looked up at the sky, stopped them and asked, “How did you manage the weather?” before running for shelter. Meanwhile, I was shut in the basement of the church, praying that Lexi didn’t get whisked off to Oz.

Note: Multiple tornadoes touched down in the Tennessee Valley area that day, doing extensive damage.

Lexi’s Memorial Service – Recorded

For those of you who were unable to watch live this morning, here is the link to the recorded service. The sound levels are not great on this raw footage, so please bear with it. They improve a bit into it. Later, when my dear, over-worked husband has a bit of time to work on the sound, I will repost it. But for those who don’t want to wait, here it is on Vimeo:

Lexi’s Memorial Service at St. Luke UMC

 

 

Memory Monday – Two Years Ago Today

Yep, as Lexi would have said, I’m at it again with those time-line thingies.

During September of 2014 Lexi was in rehearsal for her third run as Toto. We (Lexi and I) were working at the “church on the mountain,” as Lexi called it. From there, it was a mad 40 to 60 minute drive down the mountain, through downtown during rush hour traffic, and onto the interstate to get to the theater in North Georgia. Once we got parked, Lexi ran to the grass to relieve herself so that she didn’t have to take a break during rehearsal. Then up the ramp she ran and into the propped door, now focused and all business. This picture is of Lexi Toto hanging out with “The Piano Man” while listening to the director’s instructions to everyone.

Lexi with Piano Man

Lexi for Mayor Day 2

Hello friends, Lexi here again. If you missed my Campaign Propoganda post yesterday informing you why you need to vote for me for the Supreme Leader of Blogville your Mayor, you can check it out here. Today, we move on to reasons #2 and #3.

2. Let Them Eat Cake: I eat at the table with my people. I get McDonald’s food and real cake for my birthday. How is this relevant, you may ask. I know how to manipulate the people and I will both share my knowledge with you and fight for your rights. Like your right to eat cake.

This picture is from my 10-year-old birthday party. I had a Healthy Choice meal with my Mom and Dad and then my very own cake shaped like a dog. I know, kinda’ weird, but Mom meant well. Can you see the happy all over my face?

This picture is from my 10-year-old birthday party. I had a Healthy Choice meal with my Mom and Dad and then my very own cake shaped like a dog.

3. All Lives Matter: All dog lives matter. All cat lives matter. All pig lives matter. All bird lives matter. All rabbit lives matter. In short, All Lives Matter. I will not discriminate because of species, breed, age, economic status, color, or gender. Not so sure about snakes and spiders, but I am open to discussion on this.

Lexi for Mayor

Hello, I am Lexi. I have been nominated (by me) for Mayor of Blogsville, and I accept my nomination. I won’t go into my entire background, as you can read more about me in my posts, in my Kindle book, and in the About section of my website. I am told I need a platform. I think I will use the platform I have used in the past:

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There is plenty of room on my platform for everyone.

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This is my platform. It is also commonly called a stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I possess many skills, experiences and qualities that make me uniquely qualified for this position as the Supreme Leader of Blogville your Mayor. Over the next few days I will use some of my considerable counting skills to list them for you so you don’t have to figure them out on your own. I am helpful like that. Today, besides, my platform, I will list reason #1 to vote for me, Lexi:

  1. Proclaimed Actor: You may have noticed that my election picture shows me next to my Publicity Photo and Annie Award. My Annie is like an Oscar for people and I was the first-ever animal to receive one at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. I received my Annie for the “Director’s Choice Award.” Quite prestigious. I went on to star two more times in other productions of the Wizard of Oz. Why is this important, you may ask. Some of our greatest politicians have been acclaimed performers. Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono,  and Jessie Ventura, to name a few.
    Publicity shot 2006

    Publicity shot 2006 for Wizard of Oz

    Please be sure to check back tomorrow for reasons #2 and #3.

Memory Monday – WOZ Crew in Pictures

This month for Memory Monday I thought I would mix it up with a picture collage. Isn’t that why we take pictures, anyhow, to remember? This one contains never before posted pictures of my first time as Toto in 2006. You can click on the collage to make it bigger and easier to see.

The top left picture is, of course, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion. The Tin Man got mad at me once because I got away from Mom during his big scene, his solo performance, and danced back and forth across the stage with him. The audience was laughing when it wasn’t supposed to be funny. He may have forgiven me by now. I never had much interaction with the Scarecrow. A man made out of straw is liable to flop onto you at any time, so it is prudent to stay your distance. The Lion was my buddy. He carried me a lot, especially when things got a bit scary, like in the Wicked Witch’s castle. He didn’t even get mad the time I gently reached over and grabbed his nose between my teeth while I was in his arms on stage. It was just an affectionate nip, which, as a fellow animal, he seemed to understand.

WOX Montage

In the top middle picture, that’s me in Dorothy’s arms, sandwiched between the two witches. I was fascinated by the wicked witch. She was scary mean when we were on stage, but so nice to me at other times. However, I managed to upset her once too. *sigh* She was sneaking across the back of the stage, supposedly unseen by Dorothy and company who were at the front of the stage. I ran off from Dorothy (which Toto was always doing in the movie) and started following and barking at her. She started waving her arm wildly at me to get away, which, again, got the audience laughing. I felt it was such a success that I included that in my performance every night. She never seemed to get used to it. *sigh*

The bottom left picture is of me and the costume person. I liked her because she never tried to put costumes on me. She said I was perfect the way I was. *big smile* Finally, the bottom middle picture is my brother Andrew, so proud of me after one of the performances!

This is Lexi Toto with lots of great memories!

T-Lex

After work Friday, Mom and I met Dad in a restaurant parking lot. I knew it was a restaurant by the smells. I thought, “Finally, the lawmakers have moved into the age of enlightenment and I can now partake of fine dining somewhere other than at home.” Sure, there’s always Mickey D’s takeout.

Mmm, smells good!

Mmm, smells good! (from my last birthday)

But even when you throw in an ice cream dessert for my birthday, it’s just not the same. I only know this because of the one and only time I was allowed to enter a real live restaurant. See https://lexitheschnauzer.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/oz-was-almost-real/.

But no, instead of us all going in the restaurant, Dad hopped in the car with us – and I was very glad to see him, despite the aforesaid disappointment. We drove to the local Toyota dealership to see a man about a car Mom found on the internet. Apparently, our Toyota Avalon is starting to fall apart and my peeps say it is too old (13 years) with too many miles (almost 300,000) to sink over $4,000 into it.  Quite frankly, I would be glad to have another car since the air conditioning has totally stopped working in it and, with temperatures in the mid and high 60’s,  I have been panting. Now, before you judge me as a spoiled lover of comfort, please remember that I am a black dog still wearing a winter coat. And I go to work with Mom almost every day.

The young fellow’s name was Curry (he,he), and he fussed over me a lot. He said his lab just crossed the rainbow bridge and he misses  him a lot, but he is at work too many hour each day to start with another dog right now. I am glad I could help his need for canine contact. After Mom and Dad and I took the Lexus for a test drive, Mom told Curry we would all think about it and let him know the next day. I really didn’t understand this, since I could tell during the test drive that they really, really liked and wanted this car. It had everything on their “must have” list as well as their “would like” list”, and I could feel how excited they were. While we were saying goodbye to Curry, out of the blue Mom asked, “Did you go to see the Wizard of Oz at the Theatre Centre a few years back when you were a kid?” When he said he did, Mom pointed at me and said, “Meet Toto.” His eyes got so big and he shook his head like he didn’t believe it. Mom had to reassure him it was true, and he said that explained a lot about my perfect behavior. *smiles*

So, this is Sunday, and you can see where that car is parked today (Ok, maybe not. It is in our garage at home.)

Get in Mom so we can go somewhere.

Get in Mom so we can go somewhere.

You're taking too long. Maybe I can figure out how to work this thing.

You’re taking too long. Maybe I can figure out how to work this thing.

Mom wanted to name my new car Lexi the Lexus. Dad said no. So now, since it is a Toyota Lexus, she has named it T-Lex. Bwahaha. Daddy thought that was only nominally better, but she has already told the car that T-Lex is it’s new name, and it is king (or queen) of the road! Yeah. I don’t think she can take that back.

I am Lexi the schnauzer in T-Lex.

Memory Monday – Theater Finale

Before I tell you about my final gig as Toto, I remembered that I wanted to show you something from the first show. The Theatre Centre had these cool buttons made. That’s ME!

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Now, I am back to give you what you crave: details of my final appearance in a production of the Wizard of Oz.

It was spring of 2014. I was eleven years old, limber, sharp of mind, and jonesing to get back on stage.  My first Dorothy had been one of the managers at Rock City ever since I knew her. Every year she would hire Dad to teach Irish folk dance in March at Shamrock City and polka at Octoberfest. She deserted us left after having her second baby and Rock City hired a new person, Jonathan. During the Shamrock City gig in 2014 Dad heard Jonathan talking about bringing WOZ back to the Colonnade. Dad came home and told Mom she needed to go with him the next weekend and bring me and some of my calling cards. Of course we went, and the next thing we knew we were being asked to submit my bio for the play. It’s pretty impressive, so I know you will want to read it, too. Lexi’s Bio.

Even though it had been a couple of years since my last performance, I was still active in Freestyle. That kept me sharp and responsive to movements. I still did a bit of preparation for my part, which you can read about in a previous post. There were lots of rehearsals, too. I knew what to do, so I tried to help everyone else so we could just get on with opening the play. Here are some pictures from rehearsal:

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Why isn’t anyone up here rehearsing with me. Chop, chop, people!

 

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                                                   Always listen closely when the director gives directions.

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 See how close I am to the drop off? Mommy held her breath a lot.

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Hi I’m Toto. Nice to meetcha.

 

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That’s Dorothy on the left, Glenda the good witch on the right, and a couple of  munchkins in the background.

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This young man had never held a dog, so Mom convinced him to hold me. Now he wants a dog.

 Finally, rehearsals were over. Every night for a week we didn’t get home and in bed until eleven o’clock. Mom and I were exhausted. We were barely getting to work the next day.  And there was too much to do for us to sleep at work. Our schedule was get up, eat breakfast (me), go to work, eat lunch (Mom),  starve the schnauzer, go to the theater, rehearse and get treats (me), go home, get a treat (me) and go to bed. Over and over again. I lost a whole pound.

The play opened in September of 2014. I loved being on the stage again. It was on Mommy’s birthday that I posted my thoughts about it, which you can read here. Of course, I had a different Dorothy again. Here is a picture of us on stage. I know this is while we are in Oz because her dress is blue. In Kansas, everything is black and white. Isn’t it funny that I am still  black and white in Oz, BOL!

Me and my 3rd Dorothy

Me and my 3rd Dorothy

 I look at the picture now and am embarassed about my weight back then. No wonder she grunted every time she picked me up! What an extra 5 pounds can do to a little schnauzer!

On opening night, those munchkins kept getting in my way. They started dancing as I was entering from stage right and almost danced me right off the front of the stage. Now that would have been an opening night to remember! It shook me up. I wasn’t myself the rest of the night. I hear people say that, and I think it is funny. Who are they if they aren’t themselves? Of course, in my case, I was Toto. BOL. The next night Mom adjusted my entrance to be from stage left. It worked much better.

I performed every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, plus a matinee on Saturdays. I’ll tell you, by the time Saturday night came around I was almost too tired to walk onto the stage. I know my acting Saturday evenings suffered from it. At first Mom would take me out shopping – like to Lowe’s Hardware or the pet store  – after the matinee, just to kill time. We live an hour away, so it was too far to go home. When she realized how tired I was she let me sleep in my kennel in the wings, just off the stage. That helped, but I was still ready to go home. By the end of the second week I was posting about that.

One night my Dad came and watched me perform. I didn’t realize he was there until I saw him in the lobby at the meet and greet. He held me while everyone pet me and asked if I was his dog. He had the honor of saying yes. I was really tired from my performance so I laid quietly in his arms. However, when he put me down, I tried to scamper down the hall, where I could smell the Mexican food from some other event. I am never too tired for food.  After that, either Mom or Dad held me until it was time to go home. Drat, foiled again.

WOZ 3

The last day of the play was a Sunday. Before the curtain opened on the evening performance Mommy said she had something very important to tell me, and to listen closely. She said it was not only the last performance of this production, but probably my last performance as Toto. She said to do my very best; push away being tired and give them a show they will never forget. So I did. I acted my little heart out. I think it was my best performance ever. I took my final bows with Dorothy and the cast and walked to the door. I was too sad to say goodbye to anyone. At least I have my memories.

My all-time favorite thing…the stage. And this is a montage, so it counts as one picture, as Noodle said!

When all the world is a hopeless jumble, And the raindrops tumble all around, Heaven opens a magic lane. When all the clouds darken up the skyway, There’s a rainbow highway to be found, leading from your window pane. To a place behind the sun, Just a step beyond the rain. —- Somewhere over the rainbow…*

*The opening lines from the song “Over the Rainbow.”

Memory Monday – Wizard of Oz Part 2

Let’s see, where was I in recollecting my first experiences as Toto. Ah, yes, we had just met my now Auntie Jen.

Auntie Jen and cousin Piper

Auntie Jen and cousin Piper

In theater, there is something called a green room. It is where the cast can sit and rest between scenes, but most especially between the first and second act. I usually showed up about 15 minutes before the show started since I didn’t need makeup or wardrobe. It would be just in time to warm up my voice with everyone, as I previously posted. Besides, it was fun to see the stage manager sigh with relief every time I walked tore through the back stage door. One evening as I ran toward the warm-up room I smelled, then saw, someone walk in with baked goods and place them in the green room. During the entire play I couldn’t stop thinking about that. Now let me mention that as unlikely as it may seem, there are a few scenes that I am simply not supposed to be in, such as when Uncle Henry and Auntie Em can’t find me or My Dorothy after the tornado. It was during one such scene that I could no longer control my urge to eat those baked goods. Unfortunately, they were on the far side of the stage. Sure, I could have taken the long way around behind the back curtain. Bwahahaha! Who are we kidding? Even I know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that line took me straight across the stage. Like a good quarterback (my peeps brother Andrew watches a lot of football so I understand a bit of it), I made it through the first line of defense as I exited the stage, intent on my goal. The second line of defense closed in on me just before I could round the corner and devour what was calling me to it like a siren song. So I didn’t get my baked goods and Auntie Em was mad at me. 😦 Mom wasn’t very happy with me either, but gave me points for speed and determination. Points? She could have just given me baked goods.

I ran so fast everything became blurry.

I ran so fast everything became blurry. (reenaction)

In June I posted some Memory Mondays about my time as Toto. If you missed them, you can read them here. I was going to tell you all about winning my Annie Award, but that is included in the June post, too. I guess Mommy’s name is also on the award because she was my stage director.Annie Award

Mom actually made a schedule of when I was supposed to be on stage with cues and stage sides to enter and exit. If you are interested, you can see it here.

2nd Production of the Wizard of Oz (WOZ):

Early in 2010 I got called to star once again as Toto in a WOZ production at a convention center called the Colonnade in a town called Fort Oglethorpe in North Georgia.  I blogged about it at the time, also. Go ahead, click the link, it is safe. I got left out of the playbill, if you can believe that! I mean, who leaves the star out of the program? I wasn’t too happy about it, but Mom was steamed!

This time the director didn’t have a plan for what scenes I could be in or how much I could be on stage. Having had some experience at this, Mom called the shots for me. She let me go on stage a lot more, but not when it would have hurt the story line. She still had my playbook all marked up with when and where I was to enter and exit. Apparently, direction and routine appeal to her as much as they do to me.

I didn’t understand why there were long gaps between each scene as the sets were changed. At one such time I was with Kandis the Dorothy behind the curtain, bored with waiting and peeking out to see what I could see. Suddenly I spotted my Auntie Jen in the audience! I glanced back at Kandis, who was distracted with texting, and made my break. For the first and last time in my career I forgot the stage actor rules and tore down the stairs and into the middle of the audience, leaping right into Auntie Jen’s lap. I was wiggling all over, wagging my tail and even gave her a hug. She was beaming. I could feel the happiness radiating off of her. People in the seats near her were asking if I was her dog. “No,” she replied, “this is my niece.” ❤

We went to the Star Awards ceremony, which was held at the Colonnade. I fully expected to get another award, but those people forgot all about me – again. I made my point by running up on stage while Kandis (Dorothy) was singing Over the Rainbow. Would you believe she had her eyes closed and didn’t even see me! So I trotted backstage, lickity split, where they were setting up the food for after the awards. If I wasn’t going to get an award, I sure was going to get something out of being there. I came back out as she was finishing the song and this time I know she had to have seen me because people were chuckling. When she looked down, I slipped her and went back to the food. She came after me, though, and acted so very glad I was there. We went to the lobby and she wanted me to run with her and play with her, but I just wasn’t into it.  I was a bit bummed, no award and all, and I just wanted to get back to the food.

When the play was over, I did a final blog about it.

“Stay tuned” as they say, “for my final Oz blog the first Monday is January!” Great story! Great pictures! It is all about me!”

I (still) am LexiToto.